…and it’s from the Phillippines! At the weekend we went to a cocktail and cake party. Officially a GENIUS theme for a party, my two favourite things combined! It was a new bunch of people I hadn’t met before and it was really fun to meet new people. The cakes were fantastic too – oreo and red velvet cake was my absolute winner. We had a really good time but a lot of the talk was of the club we were heading for later. Everyone was raving about it and to be honest Bond and I were mystified. We had googled the place when we got the invitation and it looked like a total dive bar…still we wanted to be good sports so we ate our last bit of cake and downed the last of our cocktails and jumped in a cab.
We ended up at Club 7 – now if you live here you may already know it, if you don’t then let me offer you an insight. It’s a really low key place with decently priced drinks, they even have these beer pump things (technical name of course) on the table. Now affordable drinks in Dubai are already a winner…but the real reason to hit Club 7 is the entertainment. When I saw the stage I was intrigued by what we may be presented with and I was blown away by the talent we saw! It was like watching ‘Britain’s got Talent; Philippines addition’.
First off we had a band, the voices on these girls are incredible! Seriously I was in awe of them belting out chart toppers all while busting out some major moves. Each member did great solos and they were all super talented. The next act were a dance troupe – I had NO idea people’s bodies could even move the way these guys can. It was incredible to watch, they body popped and flipped themselves around and had the most amazing control of their bodies. I couldn’t believe my eyes! After they had finished another band came on who also proved to be fantastic. They belted out some real classics and chart toppers and we were all really enjoying ourselves. I was DESPERATE to dance so when people finally hit the dance floor I grabbed Bond and we threw some shapes…let’s just say that the dance troupe didn’t rush to hire us! Still we had a lot of fun and soon our whole group were dancing.
We stayed pretty much till the club closed dancing and singing along and enjoying ourselves. My feet were very sore the next day but it was totally worth it! I had fun and I racked up a few thousand steps on my fitbit…a success all round!
Now to plot our next visit…
It has been FAR too long since I wrote but since getting engaged I have been spending all my free time obsessively looking at wedding related stuff! It turns out that there is an awful lot of tulle to wade through – metaphorically and literally when I tried on dresses! Anyway I have put pinterest and Brides aside and have had a lovely day of catching up on various blogs I love – it’s been wonderful to read the adventures you’ve all been up to. Now I figured I owed you a bit of an update and a promise to be a more regular blogger, I have really missed it myself so hopefully this will be an easy promise to keep!
Since getting engaged Bond and I have been celebrating almost constantly. First we took a trip to the UK for our friend’s beautiful wedding (many tips for our day were noted!) in Surrey at Cain Manor. It truly was a stunning venue and a moving day, all the speeches had me in floods – there was a lot of love in that room for sure. It was a wonderful start to our trip as we were also able to see old friends and dance into the wee small hours!
From the wedding we drove in our rental car to Bond’s parents in Devon. The driving was mental, the roads suddenly seemed so narrow after Dubai and of course for Bond it’s the first time he has driven me in the UK since I got my licence, it transpires my back seat driving is even more irritating back in blighty…you’d have thought he would have been grateful for my helpful hints really!? On arrival we were greeted with some fizz to celebrate and Bond’s mother had made us a special engagement fruit cake which was terrific! It was lovely to be back and to catch up with my future in-laws. The following day my sister and brother in law to be joined us too! I really enjoyed being with them all! The weather was glorious for our whole stay, we were able to go for long walks and do some all important shopping. Oh how I have missed TK Maxx!! I spent a few days in Devon and then headed back to London leaving Bond to spend bit of time with his family without me.
I braved a Train (with tickets I had efficiently pre-booked online and thus ended up in first class as it was cheaper, only in the UK eh?!) for three hours and as we got closer to London it got greyer and greyer and started to rain. I was most peeved!! The city I grew up in had not dressed up at all, especially disappointing as I went right past the Shard and it just looked rather sad being lashed by the rain. A quick taxi and then I was able to have lunch with an old friend, it was a comedy of errors from all the lights going out and then the fittings all springing a leak! Anyway we were able to see the funny side about playing musical chairs, never a dull moment…
As I had all my luggage I took another taxi (my word the cost compared to Dubai still shocks me!!) and went to meet my friend who is an incredibly talented designer. The plan is that she will make me the dream wedding dress…we had fun talking about sketches and catching up. A lovely experience all in all!
Soon it was time to go to the Lansdowne Club to see my amazing American adopted family who had come over for my mother’s 60th birthday! It was so fun to see them after what has been far too long! A little while later my parents finally arrived and soon it was really time to celebrate all together – the engagement, my mother’s birthday and of course being reunited. We had a wonderful dinner and just chatted and chatted, I enjoyed every minute and I just wish we got to spend more time together!
The next morning after a decent nights sleep I went to see my best friends new house AKA the cottage of dreams, it is GORGEOUS!! For years it’s been her dream to have her country cottage and this place is just blissful. I couldn’t be happier for her! She and her fiance are loving it there and are now in the thick of wedding planning now that the house has all come together. It will be fun to be each others bridesmaids especially as we have found bridesmaids dresses we both love so now we can buy each other one! A result for sure! After our champagne breakfast we went back to London to go to Browns Brides to try on some dresses for ‘inspiration’…my aunts and my mother joined us at Browns and soon I was encased in more dress than I have ever seen before! It turns out that the bridal industry doesn’t cater for midget and even in heels on a MASSIVE box I was still drowning in fabric. I am lucky I have a friend who can help me out in this because I tried on a Monique Lhullier that cost more than a decent car and felt underwhelmed…it turns out you can take the girl out of the black body con but you can’t necessarily shove her in a wedding dress and make her happy…please wish me luck and any ideas would be welcomed!!!!!
From dress shopping we went to have a restoratative beverage and then my mother and her bestie headed to high tea, those women know how to live for sure! The aunts, my bestie and I headed back to the Lansdowne to meet the uncles and to get some drinks on board!! We sat in the courtyard and had yummy cocktails and got a tiny bit tipsy…we then comandeered my aunt and uncle’s room and changed for dinner. I had invited my bridesmaids for dinner at the Ivy Kensington as I had little presents for them and I wanted the excuse to see them! We had a lot of fun gossipping away and I think the gifts were a hit so that was lovely. I am so lucky to have such amazing women in my life – and now I ge to dress them however I like mwahahaha (just in case they are reading, butt bows AND stomach bows ladies…get ready!!)
On Friday I went with my mother to look at potential London venues and summarily wrote them all off. It turns out that EVERYWHERE has a ‘special entrance’ that doesn’t really feel terribly special at all and rather feels like you’re losing out on all the magic of the main place! I was a tad despondent because I felt the dream crumble to dust and I just didn’t know what to do but my mother is a resolutely positive person who felt we could make it work so I was all smiles by the end of the day. Just as well as a rather special someone was going to have her big party!!!
Mummy and I went to the Lansdowne club and made ourselves look pretty…Dad had put Bond into service blowing balloons and ordering cupcakes so I had a bit of time on my hands! Soon people began to arrive and so I went to get my mother so she could make her entrance for her big party!! So many people came from all over the country and even the globe which was just wonderful. There were lots of speeches and it was a really joyous event all together. My in-laws all came and met my mob so that was really great, they all commented how much love there was and it’s true. We have manged to find great friends and we were lucky enough to be born into a pretty special family.
On Saturday Bond went to have lunch with his friend to see if the lovely guy would agree to be his best man! Thankfully he said yes and we are both delighted and certain he will do an excellent job! While they had their man time I went to meet the Americans for a bit of quality time which was lovely as my parents were at the Trooping of the Colour. Rather generously every year the Queen throws her parade on my mother’s bday and this time she actually went along and watcehd in style. Pretty fitting for a 60th! We managed to spot the Red Arrows flying by while we were having lunch which was amazing too!
Later I went to meet the family for tea! The whole lot of us took over a corner of Richoux, my cousins were there with their kids and my uncle and aunt came too and Bond joined us to meet the youngest generation. The ‘minis’ as I call them are all growing far too fast for my liking and will no doubt tower over me like the rest of the family! It was fun to see them and to be presented with art works and to see that the eldest is doing his level best to keep his English up so he can speak to his mono-linguistic cousin (namely me). I had great fun asking them to be flower girls and page boys and I think they will look adorable, so long as they stay at least a head shoulder than me…
After tea my parents and Bond and I headed off to open our birthday presents. I am now 30 and Bond is about to be and so my parents wanted to give us our pressies in person. We were both spoiled rotten!! My big gifts were a Kate Spade golden party bag and a black Diane von Furstenburg handbag with metallic lining – I love them both and they add glitz to any look! Bond received a smart wooden watch box so he can keep his new watches in style! We are very lucky indeed! They had also found lots of fun couple presents and even romantic food, heart shaped salt for example!! The Germans have all sorts of fantastic ideas.
In the evening Bond and I hosted a party at the Army and Navy club for all of our friends to celebrate the fact that we are now 30 and engaged! We were so touched by the amount of people who made the effort to be there with us. They spoiled us with gifts and cards and made us both feel really special. All in all it was an incredible evening that lasted into the wee small hours and left us feeling a tad worse for wear the following day.
On our last day in London we mainly ran errands and tried to avoid the rain before hopping on our flight back to Dubai.
Since being back we have celebrated our birthdays even more – including a trip to the Burj al Arab for amazing cocktails and a cinema trip to Finding Dory so that I could recapture my inner child! We just enjoyed a long weekend for Eid al Fitr where we mostly relaxed and recharged our batteries which was just what we needed!
For those of you who manage to read to this of this epic monologue – thank you and apologies for the essay!!!
Sorry I have been a bit MIA recently, work has been crazy busy and also there just hasn’t been a whole heap of news!
HOWEVER this weekend was super special and I can’t wait to share it with you all!
On Friday morning we woke up at 3 am and headed to a secret destination. We ended up at the Dubai Outlet Mall and got in a bus where we were whisked off to an air balloon!! I have always wanted to go hot air ballooning and this more than lived up to my expectations. The weather was AMAZING and we got to see sunrise over Dubai which was incredible. Honestly I was blown away! The guy who was operating the Balloon was great, Donatus pointed out all the spots and landmarks. I couldn’t believe the amount of greenery that has been developed in the middle of the desert. I loved every second of it, we were really lucky to have a nice fun group too. We landed with a bit of a bump and then we got into the most stunning Audi A8 with a chauffeur to head to the next secret location.
We drove for a few hours, we mostly slept to make up for the early wake up call. As we were both a bit peckish we took a quick stop at a mall, naturally there was an ice rink even though the mall is in the middle of nowhere! We stopped and had donuts at Tim Horton’s (my fave!) before we headed back to the car, then in another hour we ended up at the Anantara jetty and jumped on a ferry to the hotel.
Bond told me that we were staying at the Anantara Bani Yas desert Island Resort and spa. I was so happy as I have been desperate to go there. When we arrived I was ecstatic. Without doubt this is the most gorgeous place I have EVER been in my whole life!!! When you arrive they serve you hibiscus juice which is so yummy, and they give you a cool towel to freshen up. I knew from the first second that this was going to be an unforgettable experience!
We got escorted to where we were staying, Bond had booked us the most amazing private villa with it’s own plunge pool and terrace. It was beyond luxurious, I have never stayed anywhere like it in my life. They had decorated it all with rose petals and towels in the shape of swans, I was OBSESSED with the towels, they were so cute and fun. We had a lot of fun enjoying the pool, Bond was laughing at me gamboling about, I swam 100 laps…which would be more impressive had the pool not been two metres square! We had a yummy ceaser salad by the pool and then got ready for the next part of our adventure.
Bani Yas is a nature reserve, and believe it or not there are Giraffes and Cheetahs roaming around. I honestly could not believe what I was seeing when we went on our safari drive. I fell in love with Giraffes, they roam free and are totally wild. The nature reserve is run to keep the animals as wild as possible. The gazelles are leaping all over the place – they are so cute and endearing really frolicking about. Mark who was our safari guide was lovely and so informative and passionate. Having started the safari thinking giraffes were cool but not a patch on penguins he totally converted me to these majestic animals.We were able to see sunset as well and honestly it felt exactly like I imagine being in an African game reserve might feel. I totally forgot I was in Abu Dhabi!
When we had finished the safari we went back to the hotel to change for dinner. Bond poured us a glass of champagne and then we walked out to the beach where he had arranged for a private dinner. The lovely Ali served us some more champagne and brought over cocktails. He was attentive and charming. Soon we wandered down to the beach to enjoy the view which was just beautiful. When we came back to the table Bond dropped to one knee and proposed! I was more than happy to say YES and I am delighted to share with all of you the best moment of my life!! I don’t know if I will ever be able to put in words how I feel at this moment – I am still floating on a cloud!
The next morning we woke up and had a yummy breakfast and then off to the spa! This is my hand blissed out post facial…it was perfection! The ladies were so sweet and excited for us, it was the perfect end to the perfect weekend. Sadly we did have to go home but as our driver was SO lovely even the return home was a treat.
I urge you all to go to Anantara Bani Yas – it’s a paradise on Earth staffed by angels. Bond, if you’re reading this, I love you, this was the PERFECT proposal and you’re the best fiancee I ever could have hoped for!
This week I have massively slacked off on my blog, I just got really busy and I am only now finding time to write this over due post. This is now going to be a roundup of the weekend and the week…here goes!
So this weekend we decided to have a quiet Thursday night and tried a new Pizzeria which was great! Now if only I could remember the name…sorry!! Still I am sure we will order again and I will update you all then. It was a lovely evening in and we finally started watching ‘Mad Men’ – I know I know we are WAY behind the times! So far I am really enjoying it but I am waiting for it to really kick off.
On Friday we met up for a pool sesh which was lovely! Then I even managed to fit in a gym session, I powered through and did an hour on the treadmill…I seem to have twinged my knee a tad so I took time off the C25K and took some advice from a gym buddy. I upped the incline and reduced the speed and the calories seemed to MELT away. I nailed through nearly 400 calories. I stretched off afterwards and even felt fresh in spite of the fact I had pushed myself quite hard. I figure if I do this a few more times I will lose some of the weight I have gained quick enough to make a difference to how my dresses fit…fingers crossed!
In the evening I undid my hard work by going for dinner with Bond at Nezesaussi at Souk al Manzil. It’s a great South African Sports bar and if you like your meat then I can’t encourage you enough to go. The food is EXCELLENT and super fresh. The pork ribs were especially wonderful, the marinade was delicious. We ordered some divine wine from Stellenbosch which was a definite highlight. I am so keen to go back and try the sausages as I bet they are excellent. I definitely recommend it if you want a relaxed night out with excellent food! I had most definitely overdressed for the occassion so to make up for it we decided to go for champagne cocktails at the Manzil courtyard hotel. It was really great to toast Bond’s success with the marathon. The manzil is really lovely, very laid back but chic and has a nice buzzy atmosphre. also if you like Shisha then definitely check this out as they had lots of flavours! All in all it was a really fun Friday night!
On Saturday we decided it was time to run some errands…so off we went to Mall of the Emirates. First Bond needed new shirts (need is a stretch, he said need but I think it was more ‘want’) so off we went to Hackett and he got two new additions to the collection. From there it was time to get a vase and we lucked out as Marina Home was having a sale. From there new flat shoes for me from H&M (which were an actual need!) and then on to the dreaded Carrefour…which I will not regale you with, one because I don’t want to bore you and also I don’t want to relive it!
Sadly the weekend had to end sometime and so on Sunday it was back to work. I braved the gym again but it was really full of people which was a shame as I wanted to do some toning. I also did a yoga session so I felt really smug by the time I got home! In fact I have begun to enjoy yoga this much I got up this morning and did two sessions to make up for the ones I missed while I was doing all the car madness. Who knows I may soon be like Adriene…well a girl can dream!
On Monday it was the leaving do for one of my closest friends at work. We have had lunch together practically every day since I got here so it is quite a wrench to say goodbye! She is off back home to China and I miss her already – even though I know this is the right move for her. Anyway we had cake during the day with everyone and my boss made a lovely speech which moved us both to tears! Then in the evening a load of us met up to go for drinks at the Jetty Lounge at the One and Only. The Jetty lounge is a really lovely spot where you can enjoy a luxury experience right on the ocean! They do great food and cocktails and have a decent wine list too! We all had a really good time hanging out together and reminiscing about old times. It was an oddly sad but fun evening…
Tuesday night I said goodbye to Percy Peugeot…I had decided to buy my colleague’s car when she announced her emigration. This meant it was time to return Percy to the owner all the way in motor city. Anyway it was not the most emotional goodbye really as I was SO excited to have my own wheels the next day.
For those of you who have not bought a car in Dubai yesterday I learned the hard way that it is not the easiest process!! One of the guys from work came too so he could say a last goodbye and also to save myself taking a taxi. The three of us got to work…first you take your car to the ‘testing centre’ where they apparently check the car is safe. Then you fill in some forms which turned out to be a major hassle as my insurance company had in fact registered me incorrectly! Anyway two and a half hours later I had my car registered, insured and salik tagged (for the toll booths throughout Dubai)…if any of you are going to do this then for sure take the VIP service like we did, I can only imagine how many hours it all takes otherwise!
Anyway now I have a new car, it’s another Peugeot 308, silver this time and with a much nicer interior. So far it’s driving really well and I like the feeling of responsibility of car ownership!
All in all a hectic but fun week really!
This weekend we are off to brunch at the Westin to celebrate Bond completing the marathon madness!!
…and decided I was ready for week 3 day 1 even though I was SURE I was still on week 2 day 3! Anyway the app was having none of my complaints so I decided I better bite the bullet. I had done my ten minutes on the bike and stretched and so there was no more procrastinating to be done…
I fired up the treadmill and thought, gosh this is FINE, what a lot of fuss over nothing! I did my 90 seconds of running and then my 90 seconds of walking like a champ and then Sarah Millican says ‘well done Pet now for 3 minutes of running’ and I nearly hit the roof! THREE MINUTES??? Is she mad I thought as I started my running…and then I kept running and running and it felt like a LIFETIME, honestly I thought she was never going to pipe back up and say walk! When she finally did I felt like a champ for making it through, and then I got to walk for 3 minutes which was great. Then it was back to running for 90 seconds and I was so relieved, I thought I was over the worst of it but I was WRONG! Sarah pipes up again and says ‘off you go for another 3 minutes – you can do it’ and I am sure she meant to be inspiring but it failed and instead I found myself hating her for three minutes, only to love her again when she said I could walk. My relationship with Sarah is a bit of a rollercoaster I have to say. I walked my three minutes and then thanked my luck that it was just 90 seconds from then on!!
This session was a wake up call that I really needed to do this to get fit! It shouldn’t be so difficult for me to run 3 minutes and I certainly shouldn’t feel the need to curse my favourite comedian during it! Today is my rest day and then tomorrow I am back to it…hopefully having done it once I will find it easier to do it again!? Fingers crossed anyway!
In happier work out news the yoga is still going well so hopefully I will keep both up and soon be a fitness guru! Well at least a person who can run for a few minutes without wanting to cry?!
With Bond away I made a few plans to keep myself busy! On Thursday I indulged my love of Sushi and ordered in from Sushi art and then made skype calls – thanks to modern technology I actually had dinner with friends from the comfort of my sofa!
On Friday morning (post yoga of course) I went to meet the legal eagle for a breakfast at Leopold’s which was yummy. My poor friend is going through a rough break up so I was glad to be able to see her and offer her a friendly ear and some advice. I am hoping that soon she will be back in good spirits! Until then though I will be here for her whenever she needs. It’s tough enough to go through a break up but when you’re far away from your parents it’s even harder. Luckily her mother is going to come out for a visit which is usually a great tonic.
After lunch we may have gone for some shopping…there was a HUGE sale at Essential Antwerp which is a store I love. We went in and of course I left with new trousers and a bag! The Legal eagle got a really fun t-shirt too. All in all a big success and a lot of fun having a mini fashion show. That said it was a wake up call to really stick with my new regime as I have gone up two sizes! Now is the time to crack the whip before it gets any harder.
We then went for a walk but it got rather too hot as we had both dressed for the rain in the morning and so we ducked in to ‘Pots, Pans and Boards’ for a restorative beverage. Yet more chatting and enjoying the view and then it was time to head home to see Bond cross the finish line of MdS which was an amazing moment, I felt so proud of him for managing it! Luckily I had plans with another friend so I was able to celebrate a bit – though of course the real celebration will be when Bond gets home!
For the evening I met an old friend from London who is visiting at the moment with a view to moving here eventually, I can’t wait till she does. We agreed to meet at Sho Cho in Dubai Marine Beach resort so that we could have yet more sushi. Music to my ears of course as I love it! I would THOROUGHLY recommend Sho Cho, the atmosphere is relaxed and fun, not at all pretentious which is always a bonus for me. The food is really excellent, very fresh and there are lots of great choices too. They even have a happy hour so it’s not too expensive. All in all a fantastic evening had by us both and we are keen to go back one day. Dubai Marine Resort is lovely, you sit right on the water which is fabulous and the whole place is just really well done – it’s low key but chic, just my kind of place!
As my buddy drove we decided to go back to her hotel for a night cap, a decision we both regretted rapidly. She is staying at Vida Hotel and the service at their pool bar is actually non existent…we waited for AGES to get our drinks (bailey’s on ice, so hardly complicated!!) and then having drunk said drinks at a table shoved out of the way we waited a ridiculous amount of time for our bill. It was really a shame because the hotel otherwise is lovely. Beautifully decorated and the restaurants are all terrific (I LOVE La Serre) and the other staff are all charming and helpful. My friend requested to move rooms and was moved within half an hour. It’s just a shame the pool bar let it down!
The next morning I woke up and had a great skype with another old friend, she was on fab form and it was so lovely to hear all her news. As I was in such a good mood I decided to keep up the high and did my yoga session. This was the hardest yet but I got through it – even if I did question why a dog would choose any of these positions, as for the cobra he really needs to be told what the word comfort means!!!! Still I finished it off and then got ready for the rest of my day.
I had agreed to go and be a mystery shopper for NARS so off I headed to Mall of the Emirates. I would THOROUGHLY recommend going there for a make over or even just some tips. Their products are fabulous anyway and the make up artists are super helpful and don’t blind you with science. She talked me through the process of what she did and even advised me against certain products she thought it was unlikely I would actually get much use out of. I really liked that she wasn’t pushy at all, it made me want to go back. The final tick in the box – my friend thought I looked GREAT!
Having met said friend at her hotel we pulled on our gym kit and headed to Kite Beach for a nice walk. It is absolutely beautiful there, and we watched the sunset which was perfect. We would have walked further but hunger defeated us…off we headed back to her hotel to change and then head to PF Changs for dinner. We walked over to Dubai Mall and managed to catch the fountains which were playing to my grandmother’s favourite song ‘La Vie en Rose’, it was really beautiful and moving for me. If you haven’t seen the film then definitely do…but make sure you have tissues! She really had a tragic life and your heart will break for her. Once the fountains had done their thing we grabbed a table and got to grips with our ordering…we went for the lettuce chicken wraps, prawn dumplings, schezuan beef and VIP duck. All of it was delicious, though possibly we had eyes bigger than our stomachs as I couldn’t even begin to finish the duck. Clearly I am not quite the VIP I think I am…
Post dinner we headed back to the hotel for a cup of tea and a chat and suddenly it was 11.30 so I high tailed it home with a bid to being fresh for work this morning…that was somewhat foiled by Bond who finally got his phone back and called me for a chat! I was so happy to hear from him I kept him on the phone for AGES, sleep be damned! I can’t wait to see him now…it feels like a lifetime since we were together.
All in all I have to say I had a really lovely weekend and I am so lucky to have good friends to keep me company while Bond is away!