Love is…radar graphs?

I have always liked the ‘Love is…’ cartoons, if you haven’t seen them before do click on the link as they are really charming.  I have also included a couple below to add context!

love is

love is cake  love is pyjamas

Anyway I think of them sometimes when strange things I do cause P to say he loves me.  They sprung to mind yesterday when I helped P with a project and he was so pleased with what I did he took me for dinner and bought me a gorgeous dress from my favourite store C wonder.  It was really lovely of him to treat me and to make me feel appreciated for what really wasn’t hard work!

The story behind the cartoons is really cute too, Kim Casali started drawing the cartoons for her husband Roberto.  She would hide the notes in places he wouldn’t expect to find them, pockets or under his pillow or in his suitcase when they were going to be apart. She eventually got a job working as a cartoonist for the Los Angeles Post and had a very succesful career.  Sadly she passed away in 1997 and now her son has taken over the cartoons.

I am gutted I missed out on buying a personalised cartoon for Valentine’s Day at Selfridge’s in the pop up shop they had.  Maybe next year!  I am very pleased they have created an app and now I can get a cute cartoon every day.  I hope they make you smile too.

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Beach book

Heaven scent

A while ago my company did a book sale to raise money for charity.  As I was new to Dubai I was really excited to have an opportunity to buy some books to fill my new Crate and Barrel shelves.  In my excitement I may have picked up a couple of trashier reads to take to the beach with me.  Anyway these have been languishing on said shelves but last weekend I decided to give one a try.  I didn’t want to take my gorgeous new ‘Gulf Wife‘  hardcover to the beach and my kindle was dead so I grabbed Heaven Scent and headed off for some sun.

This book quickly became a guilty pleasure, it really was such an enjoyable light read. I read it in the bath and on the metro and just about any time I could. I began to care about the characters and I wanted to find out what happened to them all.  The premise behind the book is that a wealthy heir to a French perfume house married an unknown English woman right before he died.  Naturally the family are concerned as to who this woman is and whether she will lay claim to their business.  They invite her to Provence to see what she is about, and make it very clear they are deeply suspiscious.

It really was a joy to learn about this large and very close if somewhat dysfunctional family and the many tragedies they have struggled through.  It’s not an exaggeration to say they seem like a family cursed, the amount of early deaths that have befallen them!

The arrival of this widow changes everything…but I will leave you to see if it’s for the best or not!

It definitely was a great book to read while soaking in the sun, even though I was in Dubai I could easily picture lavender fields and Parisian streets.  I recommend it if you want to lose yourself in something very trivial but good natured.

I will have to check out more books by Sasha Wagstaff once I finish ‘Gulf Wife’ by Jocelyn Henderson which I am thoroughly enjoying so far.

Totally terrible take out

Afraid that maybe we were getting stuck in our ways on where we order food we decided to try a new place.  The menu looked promising and so we called and ordered from Z Pizza.  Well I have NEVER ever seen a more disappointing and limp pizza.  Honestly it looked like cardboard and tasted about as good.  The chicken wings were acceptable, but the sauce they were drowned in was far too spicy. The parmesan garlic bread was actually tasty but incredibly dry.  So much so I was almost impressed that they had managed to create something so chewy.

When you google them this comes up ‘Hungry? Honor your appetite with food from our delicious artisan menu made from better-for-you ingredients. Satisfying healthy appetites & healthy lifestyles!’  and let me tell you it’s hogwash.  My appetite was offended and I have never seen anything less artisanal.

So disappointing was this ‘meal’ that we ended up skipping it and went back to our old faithful NKD.  They promptly delivered better food, but sadly P found a hair in his salad. It was the final insult!

Thankfully saladicious came to the rescue and delivered us yummy Nutella tart which saved the night!

Avoid Zpizza at all costs…you have been warned!saladicious

PF Chang’s Reunion

Last night my lovely friend S arrived from London and we agreed to meet for dinner at Mall of the Emirates.  I was thrilled when he decided we should go to PF Chang’s because I have wanted to go for ages but P doesn’t especially like Chinese food.  As he was unable to join us due to work commitments (poor diligent P!) we decided to take the chance to indulge in some main stream Americanised Chinese food and really catch up!

It was so lovely to see S and hear all his news, he just finished an intense masters and is now looking for work.  Sadly he has already lived in Dubai and doesn’t wish to do it again so he won’t be joining me on my adventure!  He also has a nice girlfriend but she’s in NYC and a NYLON relationship is really hard work, both emotionally and for the bank accounts.  I hope that whatever happens he ends up happy with the situation.  We have known each other for years and he’s always been a kind and good natured person who goes into everything with the best of intentions.  I hope to see more of him while he is over here.

Anyway after we had spoken for AGES we decided that we should get some food. S had the lemon chicken and I had the Mongolian beef.  Each comes with a decent portion of rice, he had brown and I had white.  We both thoroughly enjoyed both dishes which were decent in size but didn’t leave us feeling uncomfortably full.  This was lucky as we had both been debating cheesecake and we still had room to split one!  It was absolutely delicious and we were glad that we decided to stay at PF Chang’s instead of going to the Cheesecake factory which I also love.

I would recommend PF Chang’s if you fancy a bite to eat while you’re at the Mall as the food is really good.  The decor however is VERY dark and we both thought it was far later than it was.  Also as we were both quite tired we found we were yawning as it was so dark you could almost have a nap!  Definitely not a lunch spot…

changs

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

miniaturistA few weeks ago my friend made my day by sending me a book in the post.  It was so lovely of her, she sent a sweet note and my face broke into a HUGE smile.  Sometimes it’s the small gestures that mean the most!  She had been reading the book and suddenly thought I’d enjoy it and so amazon was called in to service and tada I received a brand spanking new copy of my own all the way in Dubai.

When I began reading it I saw why she felt so compelled to share this book.  It’s the same reason I sent a copy to my mother and why I am writing this review.

EVERYONE should read this book, it’s beautifully written and compelling and I could not put it down.  I stayed up late reading it and had long baths just for the excuse to read more and more.  I devoured it and was sad to finish it.  I am hoping Jessie Burton is chained to a typewrite somewhere writing her next book…metaphorically obviously!

The problem with reviewing this book is that it would be all too easy to ruin the magic which would be too sad.  The basic premise is that a poor Girl (Nella) from a previously wealthy family enters into an arranged marriage  with a wealthy merchant (Johannes) in 1686 in Amsterdam.  His sister and staff and dogs also live in the house and all these characters add a lot of depth to the over all feel of the book.

You only need to read a couple of chapters to realise that there is a lot more to all this than meets the eye.

The reason for the title is that Nella receives a Dolls House replica of her own house from Johannes and enlists a Miniaturist to furnish said item.  It is from this moment on that things just go from strange to surreal.

Honestly though I already feel I have said too much, get yourself a copy and send one to a friend and please share your thoughts.  I’ve made it easy for you, just click on amazon and you’re ready to buy!

I’d love to know if you enjoyed it or if you think I over sold it!

My new aspiration…

rolls royce logo

One day I want a Rolls Royce! Now previously if you had asked I would have said an Aston Martin or Maserati. However last night changed EVERYTHING.

In JBR there was a fantastic exhibition about Rolls Royce cars and how they are made.  I had NO idea the detail that went into each car.  No two cars are the same, and you can literally make the thing entirely bespoke.  You can go so far as choosing an original colour and naming it after yourself, then you can have in laid woodwork with a picture of ANYTHING, they had the Dubai skyline as an example and it was gorgeous.  The young man who was there showing us his work was amazing.  At 22 he is a real craftsman who is learning from the best in the business.

rolls royce ceilingThey showed us the ceilings that you can have made  with LED lights depicting the stars.  You can choose any night sky you wish and have them lay it out for you, for instance the night sky of the night you were born or any other special occasion.  They are beautiful and I love stars so it appealed to me.  It may seem gauche but in reality it is so pretty.

There are picnic baskets the like of which I have never seen with crystal decanters and a gorgeous chopping board and silver cutlery.  It makes you want to picnic all the time, which for me is a big deal as I loathe eating on grass!

The real winner for me though was the umbrella it comes with.  It stows away in the front door of the car so that you or your chauffeur (that’s kind of the implication to be honest!) can get to the umbrella easily and not feel a drop of rain.  Well that blow dry needs constant maintenance! You can tell that this is a British car as soon as you see the amount of engineering that went into this umbrella! It is practically a work of art and you can of course have it in the colour to match the rest of the car!  It would almost be worth moving back to London to get to use it!

umbrella door

The exhibition was so well done, all the details were explained simply but stylishly and you really felt the love the people have for their brand.  The gentleman we met was so passionate about it all, it was really joyous to hear and see him talk about how these cars get made.  It was also fun, they had a game where you could design your own Rolls and then race it!  I was RUBBISH and trashed that poor lovely car but I had a great time anyway! Just before we left though we played with the interactive Spirit of Ecstasy wall. The Spirit of Ecstasy is the hood ornament that Rolls Royce is iconic for, and when you stood in front of the wall and moved your arms the wall came alive with stars!! It looked like you were throwing stars out from your hands!  I loved it!  To be honest I would want that wall in the car too and I don’t doubt they could do it!

If the exhibition comes to where you live definitely check it out, it really is beautiful and leaves you in awe of what two men from very different works of life did when they brought their combined genius together and made their passion come to life.

Strive for perfection in everything you do.  Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.

Sir Henry Royce

Helping heroes

At the weekend P and I attended an amazing charity event at the British Embassy.  It really was beautiful.  The trees were all decorated with fairy lights, McLaren had provided some amazing cars which I just gawped at.  I love fast cars even though I don’t drive! The food was delicious and plentiful and the champagne flowed all night.  We met some really fun and interesting people and just really had a blast.

The reason for the party was beyond admirable, the Embassy wanted to open their doors to raise money for a charity doing all it can to rehabilitate wounded soldiers.  These veterans may be emotionally or physically hurt and Help for Heroes does whatever it can to help.  That may be by getting them physical therapy or counselling, it might involve sending their kids on holiday or giving them a modified bike.  Whatever it takes to make these people whole and happy again the charity aims to do.

I knew a bit about the charity as it has been doing amazing work in the UK for a while now.  I even know a wounded veteran who was helped by them and participated in one of their bike rides to Belgium.  However having heard amazing speeches that evening by Bryn Parry and General Dannatt who founded the charity and keep it going now I was beyond impressed.  It is amazing that four people sat in a room and managed to make this happen, they have raised over 62 million pounds since the foundation of Help for Heroes and have made sure that every penny is spent on great causes and helping our veterans.

Their website says this about how they started:

Help for Heroes (H4H) was founded by Bryn and Emma Parry who were moved to ‘do their bit’ after a visit to Selly Oak Hospital in 2007. The first task, suggested by General Sir Richard Dannatt (then Chief of the General Staff) was to fund a swimming pool at Headley Court (the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre near Epsom in Surrey).  Because of legal restrictions it wasn’t possible to channel the money raised through existing Service charities for a capital building project so a new charity had to be established. Help for Heroes was launched on 1 October 2007. 

During the night people bid on amazing items, most were fabulous holidays away and the sums spent were huge.  I believe they raised 300,000 pounds in one night.  Apparently over the course of four years the Dubai expat community has raised over a million.  I was happy and proud to be pariticipating and supporting the cause.  I am already looking forward to next year.

If you wish to support they sell great merchandise, for a small sum you could change someone’s life and let’s face it that’s priceless!

Funny the things you miss!

There’s not much I miss about the U.K except my friends and family beyond online shopping (Dubai needs to step up in this area!) and a really good cup of tea at my desk. Apparently no one can make tea as well as we do!

That said there is one big thing I do really miss…British humour, you’d be amazed by how often I have made a sarcastic joke to be met by blank expressions or worse found I have caused offense.  It’s amazing how quickly a joke stops being funny when you have to explain it! Also once the moment has passed a joke can just die on it’s feet.  My French colleagues are lovely but they do not get sarcasm at all and their comic timing is totally off.  I am sure they are hilarious in French but in English not quite so much.  The Indians do seem to get it, I guess years of British rule have left a mark.  That said they tend to be far too nice to be sarcastic, but at least they laugh when I am!

My biggest surprise on the humour front has been my colleagues from the Philippines, these guys do GREAT sarcasm with disarming charm.  For a nation who seem to be made of smiles (seriously the loveliest people I have ever met!) they can laugh at me with the best of them.  Now when I need a good laugh I don’t automatically have to head to find my fellow Brits but can instead find a smiling Philippina and be guaranteed a laugh and an ego boost.

However this made me laugh today and gave me a wry smile about my home city so I thought i would share.  Enjoy the laugh!

tube signOn that note I am off to see my friends for a giggle, hey it’s the weekend practically!

Rain really?!

rain

One major factor to moving to Dubai was the weather.  After a lifetime of London I felt like I had endured enough rain to last a lifetime!  When P said he had got a job out here and that he would only go if I would join him I leaped at the chance.  I am not very adventurous but the appeal of sunshine and a change was too much and I knew he would look after me and make sure everything would be alright.  I was right and we are very happy.  Weekends are spent at the beach or by the pool and even when it got roasting during the summer I didn’t mind because looking at the sunshine from the air conditioned comfort of fabulous restaurants or sitting on our balcony with a lot of iced water made me happy!  I am now even a tiny bit tanned, having been called ‘vampire’ on my arrival this has been no mean feat.

Now try to imagine my chagrin last night when it rained, quite heavily, on me while I was going about my evening buying supper?! Now it has rained once since I have been here and amazingly the streets flooded and my local friends were SO happy, however that happened at night and didn’t affect me in any way. Thus I hadn’t been rained on since I moved here (except once, but that was in London so can’t really be counted against Dubai!)  Up until last month I had an 8 month ‘dry spell’ and it was magical.  I don’t even own a raincoat here for heaven’s sake or an umbrella!

Yesterday I went to Leopold’s and picked up quiche and salad (if you haven’t been please go, it’s wonderful food!) Having got my yummy food I headed out and gasped as big raindrops hit my head! The gentleman in the restaurant said ‘isn’t it exciting!’ and I simply agreed because believe me when I say the Emirati population truly do find this thrilling, and they will not hear otherwise even from a jaded londoner who has been rained on countless times!

The rain doesn’t really bother me, once every few months is nothing and the fact that it’s newsworthy makes me laugh.  That said, let’s not have it to often eh Dubai, it would lose all it’s wonder after all!

Miraculous Mother

Yesterday was Mother’s day in the UK.  My mother now lives in Germany and I am in Dubai so I sent a gift via my dad, a card via the internet (emirates post is a joke!) and arranged a skype date.  My mother was greatly amused that dad recieved a parcel labelled ‘Green Go Go mascara’ to his office and said that was almost a gift in itself! Fortunately the earrings weren’t marked else eyebrows would have been raised!

Anyway we made the best of long distance and she loved her presents and my dad took her to see the imitation game and we had a nice chat and all in all we decided it wasn’t too bad being far apart.  Though of course it would have been more fun to be together and when I see her in June for her birthday that will be lovely!

Then I went on facebook as you do and realised that on some level I totally failed at mother’s day…no one sent me the memo that said that this year Mother’s day was going to be like the Valentine’s of family! I get that everyone has terrific mother’s (though seriously guys none of them have a patch on mine) but really do we need to tell the world?  Don’t we all assume people’s parents are lovely and are happy for our friends?  I think that all this gushing is a bit weird and it doesn’t really do it for me.  Also let’s not forget that really this felt like an opportunity to show how generous the kids were.  I am not sure but it all felt very odd to me and I don’t recall ever seeing it before.  I am all for saying someone’s amazing…but I know it meant more to my mum to hear it directly from me and to see the effort I made privately without requiring fanfare!

mum