Tuesday, 30 October 2007

From the desert to the Tasman Sea (or "Two Weeks Without Laban")

Its hard to believe that after waiting so long for the trip back to NZ/Aus to happen, it's now been and gone. We left Dubai on 12 October on the Emirates direct flight to Sydney which takes 14 hours. We arrived early on Saturday 13 October and having used all available airpoints and travelled business class we had a Emirates supplied chaffeur and car waiting at the airport to take us to Colin's parents' place where we were staying.

Almost from the minute we arrived it was full-on the whole time we were there. I tried to catch up with as many people as possible but I ran out of time to see everyone I'd wanted to see, and I have to apologise that I eventually resorted to some last minute phone calls.

On one gorgeous day we "ran away to sea" and caught the ferry to Watsons Bay. We did a local walk up to South Head and along to the Gap. We wandered back down to the bay, had fish and chips at Doyles and sat in the garden bar of the Palace hotel enjoying the afternoon with a couple of schooners, then caught the ferry back to Circular Quay.

While we were in Sydney we went to the Motor Show and there are some photos here.

Between 19 - 22 October I went back to New Zealand and lurked around the Wild West of Auckland for the first time in probably 7 or 8 years. Photos are here. I stayed with Rae and Brad who drove me round some of the "old haunts" including a visit to the house at Steamhauler Track. Some things in Auckland have changed greatly, the development down at the Viaduct Basin was fantastic and it was also good to see the Britomart train station finally operating. The growth and expansion of the Western suburbs was amazing but further out in the sticks not much has changed at all. Bought an Edmonds Cookbook too!

The day after returning to Sydney I went up to the Gold Coast to visit my parents and lived. (James rode shotgun with me.) A couple of days before coming back to Dubai I had lunch with my former bosses from Maddocks at the Italian restaurant inside what was the GPO in Martin Place. I also quickly became a regular at the gym at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues.

The flight back from Sydney to Bangkok was surprising because it was nearly empty and most people in the economy section were able to have a row of 4 seats for themselves and actually get some sleep. It was 'flat bed' without the First Class price! Unfortunately after the stop in Bangkok the plane filled up and economy class reverted to the usual uncomfortable, crowded nightmare that we all know and hate. Only good thing is that the plane was a Boeing 777 which has a small gap between the window seat and the plane wall so you can lean your head on your pillow against the wall while attempting to get some sleep. On the Airbus there is a much larger gap between the window seat and the wall as a result the pillow falls down the gap and you can't lean against the wall. This is all very important in the cramped confines of Cattle Class where any seating position which even vaguely resembles comfort is a huge bonus.

Yesterday Colin won tickets for 'Jumana'. In November we're going to Oman to Bahla Fort for a special visit organised through the Architectural Historical Society; the launch of the new Honda Accord; a trip round the Bastikiya windtowers in Dubai and this Friday I'm doing a desert driving course in the Disco so I'll be able to scoot round the sand dunes like a professional. Cathy and Stan arrive next weekend and I'm looking forward to that. They are bringing chocolate fish and afghans - what more could a Kiwi want?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Welcome home.....

Yes, as a nation we Kiwis keep it all in proportion. Last time the AB's lost the World Cup we changed the government, but this time its personal..........

Saturday, 6 October 2007

It's a drag in Umm al Quwain

Last night we went down to Umm al Quwain to the drag races which are held there the first weekend of the month. There's more photos here. We 'accidently' got into the VIP parking and then wandered down pit lane looking at all the cars. While we were looking at the cars, we met Joe Lepone the American racer who is in Dubai to establish the drag races and train the drivers. He showed us one of the cars which has 2,300 horse power and has more take-off power than one of the space shuttles. The meeting didn't start until late because of Ramadan, scheduled start was 9pm but the first race finally got under way about 10:30pm. We watched the races until the driver of one of the Supras blew up his engine half way down the track and showered the track with oil and engine parts holding everything up. By this time it was nearly 11:30 and with an hour drive back to Dubai we headed for home. We'd already done a bike/car run to Hatta in the morning, we don't waste our weekends!