I am here! We are in a villa! We have no stuff! We have an Ikea sofa-bed, which is surprisingly comfy, although sleeping with the hum of the air-con fans and no curtains has taken some getting used to, not just for me, but for Roxy too!
It was the most uneventful flight ever. I had a whole row of seats to myself (boom!) and the hostess took it upon herself to decide I needed two G&Ts at once rather than the one ordered. That’s good service. Heathrow departures is not as exciting as arrivals. But, I did learn that if you aren’t going to leave the airport (I, for various reasons, decided it would be a good idea to arrive 6 hours before my flight) you can drop your baggage of early, get through security without panic or queues and enjoy the pleasures of duty free the bar and free Wi-Fi for a good few hours…
20 Important things I have discovered in my first week in Dubai:
1. Springs 14 (specifically the entrance to Lake 6) smells like just peeled starchy potatoes. Constantly. Or shit. On some mornings it has definitely smelt like poop and I’m pretty sure you can’t blame it on muck spreading here.
2. In the middle of the night our refrigerator likes to do its best impression of popping a cold one. Honestly… it goes POP tsssssss… and I genuinely wish it was harbouring beer, but it isn’t.
3. It is harbouring gin though. You can pick up duty-free in Dubai airport WHEN YOU LAND, and nobody questions it.
4. There are parakeets! They’re like the pigeons of the UAE. Although there are pigeons, more specifically laughing doves. They sound like regular doves, I haven’t actually witnessed one laughing yet. They’re about half the size of a normal dove and a lot more svelte.
5. SUNBIRDS! They’re like tiny hummingbirds and eat nectar. Also, Mynah birds. And one (just one) Jemima Puddle Duck. I hope she’s not too lonely.
6. COCKROACHES! GRASSHOPPERS! ANTS! They have all been spotted in our house. Not too keen on the old roaches I have to say, big buggers!
7. I said it was American before, but the more I’m here, the more and more I notice it, and it seems like someone took all their ideas, bastardised them slightly and dumped them in the middle of the desert. Trump is also here, one of his golf courses (surprise surprise!) is in the middle of the desert.
8. Getting lost is really easy. Miss your turning and you’ll miss the next six and you’ll need an extra 15 minutes just to get back to where you went wrong initially.
9. Everything must be done at half the pace that you are used to, otherwise, you will break out into a horrific sweat and need to go shower. Even Roxy has realised this and walks around the lake a lot slower now!
10. If you don’t have a car, getting anywhere is a nightmare. Luckily, we’re in the only part of Springs that has an access bridge across to the town centre.
11. Cats. There are a lot of cats. They have a TNR (trap, neuter, release) scheme which is run by volunteer residents in Springs. They collect all strays, get them neutered (at a reduced fee I believe) their ear gets the end chopped off and then they are released so that they can’t breed with other strays. Quite a few people feed them as well. There is a regular cat meeting at the end of our street. It feels like you’ve walked into a private conversation when you go past… being watched by judgy cats. Also, they like to wail incessantly. In the night.
12. Dogs. So many dogs! Luckily for Roxy, there’s an on-lead policy (which seems to be ignored on Saturdays), so we’ve only had a grumble at a couple of dogs whose owners have no idea that dogs have personalities.
13. There’s some weird affinity to the number 92. I might be reading too much into things, or it’s a sign from the occult but the main radio station (somewhere between Radio 1 & Radio 2 with a tragic 90’s playlist to match) is called Dubai92, and the big cycle ride round Dubai is called #Spinneys92, and… I did have another reference, but I’ve forgotten it.
14. Supermarkets have lots of everything, but not what you want. It’s like shopping in Aldi or Lidl on a large scale. We have, however, managed to purchase some honey in a bottle shaped like a bear.
15. It’s ridiculously crazy to read where everything is imported from, tomatoes from the Netherlands, Waitrose own-brand pringles from Canada (yep, Waitrose is here), cooking oil from Mexico, Robinsons squash from the UK…
16. Driving. All rules go out the window. I would say be vigilant, and hope for the best!
17. The Irish Village is awesome. There are probably loads of better places, but I’ve only been here a week and you’re allowed to take dogs, and the food is good. The drink is… imported.
18. Sunrise/Sunset – pretty much the same, just the sun goes in the opposite direction. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I would say that’s because there are no clouds to cause pretty shapes and formations. In fact, there are just no clouds. Ever. (This is strictly not true, because I’ve seen several clouds, one was even brave enough to block the sun for a few minutes which is unheard of.)
19. Irrigation. Everything is irrigated. You see a tree? You can bet there’s a pipe around the bottom of it, keeping it alive. Which is nice, but when you’re out in the desert you want desert, y’know? Not pipes strewn everywhere, once buried but due to the nature of sand are no longer hidden from view.
20. Rules. Nobody follows them. There are lots. Nobody follows them.
21. Tim Horton’s Vanilla Latte is waaaaay better than Starbucks. Jus’ sayin’.