Archives for the month of: November, 2012

We arrived in Dubai on the 5th November after the 6 1/2 flight from London with Royal Brunei – a very smooth ride, good service and and good food.  It felt wonderful to escape the cold weather and layers of clothes in London and to arrive into 30 odd degrees in Dubai.  The 4hours time difference from London meant that I slept until nearly 11am the following day (nothing to do with the  bottle of good red wine that I shared with Alan). That evening we went to a new Iranian restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious meal of hoummos, baba ghanoush, bread, fish and various meats.

Maurice and I started on our regular exercise the following day with a nice walk down to the beach in Jumeira and a swim in the beautifully refreshing and clear water.  We both felt ourselves thawing out after wanting to hibernate in the cold weather.

Alan cooked us a delicious meal before flying off to Hong Kong the next morning and we went for our morning walk and swim.  It is a pity that at such a lovely beach doesn’t have any cafes or a toilet block.  There are a few small round changing huts that were locked when we went to look at them.  It was just lucky that we were staying a few streets away from the beach.  In the afternoon we went to the “Mall of the Emirates” for a look around.  “Ski Dubai” is located there so that is a big crowd puller.  The cafe in front of the ski area has a (fake) roaring fire in an enormous fireplace which feels out of place in Dubai.

The weather was very pleasant for our stay and after another morning swim and then rest, we ventured on the metro to the “Dubai Mall” to join the other thousands of people who gather around the mall to watch the music fountains that play every half an hour.   It is an enormous mall with intersting restaurants, cafes and every conceivable shop. Shopping in Dubai would be fun with a few hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that every brand ever invented has representation there.  Having said that we did manage to buy a  piece of hand luggage for a very reasonable price and “Carrefour” does have some bargains.  There were 3.85 Dirhams to the AUD at the time.

We went for our morning swim and in the afternoon we caught the metro which is very reasonably priced and a very efficient service to the Dubai Marina area where we walked along the Esplanade and then explored the “Dubai Marina Mall” which was smaller than the “Mall of the Emirates” or the “Dubai Mall”.   We caught a taxi (which are also very reasonably priced) to a little restaurant called “Chalet” where we had a tasty meal of fish and lamb and walked back to Alan’s house.

There is a great amount of traffic on the roads between about 3.30pm and 10pm and most drivers think they are on a formula 1 track.  Even the taxis try and get you to your destination at break neck speed even if it isn’t required.

I got up early about 8.30am! and Maurice and I went for our last walk down to the beach and for a wonderful swim in the clear, calm waters.

We went to the “Mall of the Emirates” and met Patrick (who we had seen briefly in Ireland) and had lunch with him at a nice cafe called “Rich”, a fitting name for a  Dubai cafe – another is called “Gold”.  Patrick had a “Yorkshire Pudding sandwich – which turned out to be an enormous type of baguette and the casing was Yorkshire pudding mixture.  Very unusual but he said it was delicous.

Alan came home from a three day trip to Hong Kong and we went in the evening to a very good Afghani restaurant called “Barbeque Delights” on the Esplanade in the Dubai Marina area.

Alan took us to the airport and the Emirates terminal which covers a vast area.  We left Dubai on Emirates on the 12th November for our 2 hr 50min flight to Mumbai.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Michael  (the ex boss of Autoglym) picked us up from Luton Airport on the 25th Oc tober.  He and his wife Ruth have a beautiful house and extensive gardens in the Chilterns dating back to the 1700’s. They have two standard poodles nicknamed “the Taliban” for the destruction they wreaked as puppies.  Ruth was at the ballet when we arrived so Michael took us to his local pub the “Full Moon” a typical English pub with lots of horse brasses, wooden beams, low ceilings and log fire.  It is a lovely part of the country with rolling hills covered with forests.  The Autumn colours were beautiful.

The temperature dropped considerably with days of 3 and 5degrees up here in the Chilterns (Buckinhamshire) and down to 0 degrees at night.

The following day was a most frustrating day as Maurice and I went in to the Indian visa office to try and get our visas processed quickly as this proved impossible in Ireland where they suggested we go back to Australia to get them!  They also wanted to see our visas for entry into Ireland – and of course we don’t need one!  The day started off with a train ride from Chesham into London which cost us 40 pounds return for a 1hour trip into the city.  When we got to the visa centre there was  a very rude African woman on the reception desk who told us that our passport photos were not the correct size (even though we were told by the Indian embassy in Dublin that they were OK) and then we had to get change for the 16 pounds that it cost us to get 2passport photos each.  The photo machine then broke down and we had to call someone to fix it.  We were then told that there was no way of expediting the visas and it wuold take 10-15working days.  Business visas could be expedited but as we are not on business this information was of no use to us.   The girl did say that if we “knew” someone we may be able to get them quicker.  We spent most of the day in a “starbucks” coffee shop where we could use skype and wifi to email various people and then raced back to the visa centre to actually lodge the application forms with our passports.   We also phoned our agent in India who had a contact who had a contact at the Embassy in London and then Franca’s husband Dayle in Canberra did his best by contacting the Embassy in Canberra and emailed and spoke to a very helpful head of chancery.  We caught the train back to Chesham and couldn’t contact Michael or Ruth as their phone was out of order so we caught a taxi (luckily we knew the way back to the house) where the  driver spoke virtually no English and didn’t know where he was going.  Michael and Ruth were relieved as they couldn’t contact us and didn’t know how we would get back. One of the not so good days.

We did get a bit of sunshine the next day and we all went via Aylesbury (where my grandmother was born) to “Waddesdon” one of the many family houses of the Rothschilds.  It originally encompased over 5000 acres. It is now run by the National Trust with many volunteers but the upkeep is maintained by the Rothschilds.   Ruth who has been on a tour of Buckinham palace said that is a humble abode compared to Waddesdon.  It is impossible to describe the opulence of the place.  Each enormous room is more more ornately decorated than the next with collections of priceless gilded furniture, paintings, porcelain and marble.  Versailles pales by comparison.  We had a nice afternoon tea in what was the original kitchen.

We had a lovely dinner party at Michael and Ruths which was very entertaining with four  friends of theirs that evening.

The following day the sun shone in the morning so we set out for Marlow and Henley which are two lovely towns.  We had a “Cream Tea” which was very varied and filling at the “Compleat Angler” in Marlow which is a lovely location right on the river by the chain bridge.  We needed no food in the evening sa the “tea” was very filling.

After a bit of trouble with my Irish sim card we got in touch with Mary’s sister Geraldine who lives also in the Chilterns.  She managed to find Brazier’s end house and picked us up and took us to her home in Bledloe through the lovely Chiltern range.  We met Nigel her husband who cooked us a delicious risotto for lunch.  They have done a wonderful renovation job on their “horseshoe cottage” which is in a lovely country setting.  Geraldine dropped us back and later we went to “Carluccio’s” restaurant in Berkhamsted where we had a very nice Italian meal with Michael and Ruth.

Next day Michael took us to Amersham to get train to Baker st  and we then took a taxi to the Victory Services Club where Maurice is a member.  We met up with our friends Gavin and Jim from Melbourne and went out to a Lebanese restaurant down Edgeware Road.  There are many Lebanese restaurants with lots of people smoking shisha pipes outside in the cold.

In the morning we went for a morning walk around Hyde park in the sunshine.  The mornings have been sunny every day and then by the afternoon the wind picks up and it gets overcast and colder.  The four of us then went down to Westminster by the houses of parliament and took a Thames cruise down to Greenwich where we walked around for about an hour.  Greenwich is full of large impressive buildings and the leaves were falling from the many avenues of trees which looked very pretty.

On the way back we saw a  rescue team who fished a man out of the Thames. He apparently  jumped off London bridge into the river.

We had been recommended a restaurant next to the Ritz hotel called the Wolesley.  It was built as a car showroom in 1921 and taken over by Barclay’s bank in the late 20’s when the car manufacture went bankrupt.  It is a beautiful building and works perfectly as a restaurant.  The meal and service was excellent.   We had booked to go to “Skyfall” the new James Bond movie at the Odean afterwards which was handy as it is opposite Marble Arch and around the corner from the Victory Services club where we were staying.  The movie theatre was packed and they obviously had the heating on.  We nearly expired and were nearly down to our underwear by the end of the movie.  The contrast between the cold outside and the usual overheating inside the buildings is sometimes hard to take even if you dress in layers.

On the 1st November another sunny morning we caught the tube to Victoria station and then the train to Sydenham Hill near Dulwich which only took 15minutes where we visited an old friend of my mothers.  Eileen who we have met over the years now lives in a nursing home as she is a bit wobbly on her legs.  She is however extremely “on the ball” at 90 and we had a lovely afternoon with her.  She and mother met in Frankfurt after the war when they both worked for the British Control Commission.  I’m sure she will get a telegram from the queen in 10years.  Her mother died at 102.

Maurice and I went for a long walk down Edgeware Road and eventually found an Italian restaurant recommened by “trip advisor” called “Zonzo” which proved to be very good.  We are finding restaurant prices here in the UK quite expensive compared with Italy, Germany and Ireland.  Might be OK for UK wage earners but not when translated in to Australian dollars.

We checked our online visa application and to our amazement we saw that our passports were ready for collection at the visa application centre.  We high tailed it there and were extremely happy to know that we could fly to Dubai on Monday as planned.

We then wandered along Oxford St as far as Oxford Circus station where we met up with Maura and Tony.  It was great to see them after 7months of being away.  We had a lovely meal together at a nearby Italian restaurant.

On Saturday we caught the tube and then train to Clapham Junction where we went to see Maura’s daughter Fiona and husband Matt.  She has a  two year old Joe and new 2 1/2 week old baby Sam.  They are both very cute.  We enjoyed lunch at a lovely French cafe with Maura and Tony and then Maurice and I caught the tube to the Victoria and Albert Museum and had a look around there and then went over to the Natural History museum which had a wonderful exhibition and competition of wildlife photography.  There were some exhibitors under 10years old who had taken some fantastic photos as well as the adult exhibits.

We went back to the club for a bit of a rest and then caught the tube to the West End and had a bite of dinner at a great little Japanese restaurant called “Taro”and then to the Prince Edward theatre to see the Jersey Boys which was a wonderful musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  The music, voices and dancing were fantastic and we both really enjoyed it even though Maurice isn’t one for musicals.  London seems to be full of thousands of tourists from every nation at the moment and it is a bit like being in Beijing with the crowds along all the central streets.

On Sunday we woke to the first really rainy, grey day here in London so we had a relaxing time at the Club with Maura and Tony and Dan (another cousin of Maurice’s) and Alice Bree coming to lunch.  We had a nice long lunch with them and then after we saw them off,  Robert and Damian who were in London on business came to the club for a few drinks.  We had an early night ready for our early morning bus (6.30-7am) to the airport and the Royal Brunei flight to Dubai.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.