Saturday, 16 May 2009
But...I haven't ridden a bike for at least four years. So when I hauled my bike out from under the tarpaulin I saw that it needed a bit of a service, so I took it to the local bike shop just down the road and he sorted it out for me.
I collected the bike today and decided that I should take it out for a spin. I was only out for about 15 minutes and probably covered just over a mile, but that was enough (plenty enough) for me for a first day out.
Clearly I need to build up a bit of strength before I even think about cycling to work, but at least I know that I can still ride a bike!! Those thigh and knee muscles certainly remembered what to do even if they did complain a bit.
P.S. This fab little website called Mapmyrun actually reveals that I did a fraction over two miles!!
Sunday, 10 May 2009
As you can see, I was lucky enough to be one of those that won the ticket lottery to get two tickets for the Big Weekend as hosted by the BBC at Lydiard Park near where I live.
The big blue tent that you see behind me is the Main Stage tent where the biggest audiences are anticipated. There were also other stages - “In new music we trust”, "”introducing…” and an outdoor stage – all full of performers both familiar and unfamiliar.
There were 34 acts in total – starting at noon and going all the way to the close of the day at 10pm. As it is only just gone 8pm you can see that I did not stay all day, but I did enjoy what I did see, particularly as this was the first time that I had ever been to something like this.
So, I saw…Alesha Dixon, Scouting for Girls, Ladyhawke, Chase and Status, Sound of Guns, Marina and the Diamonds and I could have seen a lot more but with so much going on it was difficult to pick and choose what might be good. The headliners of the show appear last and so unless I stayed until the very end I wasn’t going to see them (the Prodigy, Lily Allen and Franz Ferdinand).
I didn’t mind leaving early as I had had a good day, seen enough, and was tired and needed to walk about 3 miles home while it was still light. Besides, the tickets were free so it didn’t bother me to leave early!!
As I had two tickets, I invited my cousin from Cardiff to come with me and at the very end of the day she decided to buy a cat hat! (naturally I threatened to walk at least a hundred paces away!)
Saturday, 9 May 2009
Given that Dubai is a Muslim country there is more than one mosque around. However, this particular mosque holds tours several days a week in the hope of fostering greater understanding of cultural differences.
Naturally we all have to dress more circumspectly before we are allowed inside – long sleeves and trousers/skirts with the women covering their heads.
We were permitted to take photographs of the inside of the mosque, and it truly is a beautiful place, very ornate and beautifully coloured.
The tour lasted just over an hour and our guide showed us through the process that Muslims have to go through before they pray – washing three times – one arm and hand and then other, one lower leg and foot and then the other, the face, the hair and then washing out the mouth – all three times each to be absolutely certain that they are clean.
Once inside the mosque (having left our shoes outside) he told us more about the Muslim religion and how they pray – we were encouraged to take photographs and ask questions. I actually asked whether it would be rude of me to ask a Muslim woman to lift their face coverings in order to lip read them (otherwise life could be very difficult!). The reply was that the coverings are worn out of personal choice and not any religious demand and so I could indeed ask without fear of offending anyone.
All in all it was quite fascinating and I am glad I went.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
If you love shopping then Dubai is definitely the place to be! There are several malls of all sizes and they are nothing like the rather plain (aka boring!) shopping centres in the UK.
These are truly palaces dedicated to shopping, they may look fairly ordinary in some places with the usual escalators and shiny floors….. (that's me on the left by the way!)
but others have some fabulous objects within them such as dhows or elephants…
Some of them are set up to look like the old souks (markets)
All of which is very different, beautiful and amazing, but the artwork that truly stunned me was this utterly incredible waterfall with divers. I must have stood in front of it for quite a while, rather transfixed by what I was seeing.
The funny thing was seeing some of the familiar shops but with names written in Arabic! On the left of this sign it says “Debenhams”!!
Dubai is definitely a mecca for the serious shopper, the biggest mall has about 1,400 shops – yes you read that right! There are some smaller boutique type malls that feel more personal. However, no matter the size or shape, they are all usually very well air conditioned and end up being the place to be because you can shop without getting caught up in all the heat and sand that makes Dubai what it is.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Mum and I didn’t buy very much at all, mostly because the import costs of bringing in all the goods means that things cost a bit more in Dubai than they would here in the UK. We did manage to get some souvenirs though, I picked up a couple of scarves and a lovely arabian looking metal bowl and Mum found herself a gorgeous metal coffee set – six tiny cups set around a tall coffee pot on a silvery tray – of course, it now takes pride of place by the fireplace at Mum and Dads!!
Monday, 4 May 2009
We were in Dubai for a week, so yesterday’s post just wasn’t going to cover it was it? The Royal Family in Dubai want to make the place attractive to the tourists, only there really isn’t all that much to see in amongst the sand.
So, the Maktoums (Royal Family) decided to build it so that they will come, and boy – did they build it!! In fact, they are still building with what appears to be entire stock of cranes in the whole world – they are building shopping centres, business centres, resorts, amusement parks and so much more – including the tallest building in the world.
It doesn’t look that tall in this photograph but it really does stand out from everything else in Dubai and is called the Burj Dubai which simply translates as Tower Dubai and is over 800 metres tall – this next photograph really demonstrates how it towers over everything else in Dubai.
Apparently this building is going to host pretty much everything that is it possible to have in one building – shops, businesses, homes, hotels, swimming pools, and I am sure there are a lot more things but I just can’t think of any right now. (the official website also says that there are 15,000 square feet for fitness – whatever that means!!)
Not only do the Maktoums ask for the tallest building in the world, they also build things like indoor ski slopes. Now you might think that that is nothing unusual after all we have a few in the UK although the ones we have are nothing like the one in Dubai. The ski slope in Dubai actually has real snow! It is so funny to think that in a place that is hot and full of sand you can still go skiing!!
Sunday, 3 May 2009
You must think that I never even went to Dubai!!! It has been well over a month since Mum and I went to Dubai to visit my Aunt and Uncle and I still haven't put up any photographs or told you anything about it! (shame on me!). So...I thought that I had better say something about it before I forget what we had done.
We had a fairly early flight so we decided to get to the airport nice and early and get some breakfast there. We were in fact so early that as we were having breakfast we saw the main drop-off area go from dark to light - we saw the dawn!! (which, if you know me - I just do not do!)
Anyway, the flight over was long but uneventful - what was really fun was that the plane had two cameras just for intrepid fliers like us - one camera on the nose and one facing down so that we could see what the pilot saw on take off or look down to see what was underneath us - such a cool idea!! Although I can appreciate that those with a fear of flying might not like that quite so much!
I forget just what the temperature was when we got there, but it was certainly warm! As Mum had been to Dubai before she offered me the front seat in the car so that I could gawk at everything!! It wasn't far from the airport to my Aunt and Uncle's house, but what I could see of Dubai was that it is a very modern city - all skyscrapers and new buildings, at least at this point I couldn't see very much that was of the old city.
We didn't do much that evening as we were tired and it was fairly late by the time we arrived as our flight had been delayed taking off from London. The next day however we went up what seems to be the only mountain in Dubai - the Hajar mountains - there was a road that went nowhere except up to the top of the mountain to a carpark and then back down again! Mind you, there was also a hotel and a rather posh looking private residence at the top.
The views from the carpark were pretty impressive, the photographs look a bit hazy but you could really see quite some distance. In fact we were so high up that as we drove up this very very bendy eight mile road my ears popped!!
Of course, we had to have lunch in the hotel on the mountain top. I thought that I had a photograph of me enjoying lunch, but it would appear that those photos are in Mum’s camera not mine!!
It was an interesting lunch – a set menu with various arabic style foods. The starter was bread with lots of different types of dips, I even surprised myself by being a bit adventurous and tasting some them – and I liked them too!! I wasn’t prepared to be quite so adventurous with the main meal but there was enough on the buffet table for me to pick and choose. Mum and I shared a plate of puddings because we wanted to try all the different offerings available so we picked a little bit of each. What I remember most is this very strange hard fried doughnut type thing – it was weird.
After lunch we went to see the local oasis. It’s not what you think, at least it wasn’t what I expected as I expected to see an open space with a pond in the middle and lots of greenery surrounding it.
There was certainly a lot of greenery, but the actual water source has been corralled and managed so that it can be used to better effect. In the next photograph you can see channels in the ground – each little walled garden has it’s own set of channels, which I thought was a rather effective way of distributing water, it is just that this did not even meet my usual ideas of an oasis. It was however, very green and shadowy and I thought that it was a very nice way to spend an afternoon.
And I think that this post is getting long enough. Will write more later as I wouldn’t want to bore you all at once!