Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas in Kuwait…

…Sucks.

I could just leave it there. But you may as well read the whole sorry tale.

The decision to work over Christmas came about a long time ago. Flights would be expensive, my mum usually works Christmas so I’d have to go to them (and therefore not see anyone else due to everyone being so dotted about the country) and someone had to work it. I thought if I fell on my sword and volunteered I’d have points in the bank for when I wanted time off at the same time as other people.
I didn’t count on spending the whole week so miserable though.
I wasn’t the only one. Some of my friends stuck around as well and we all felt it. Christmas was happening to everyone else, somewhere else, and we were on the outside looking in. We tried to make the most of it but every single person wanted to be anywhere but Kuwait.
We booked a table for ‘five star dining’ on Christmas Eve. The advert had said ‘watch our restaurants transform into a winter wonderland and share that special night with loved ones in a cosy ambience of tinsel and Christmas lights’. Fully booked they said. Don’t be late they said. We walked in and saw one miserable couple not talking and at the next table were a couple with a baby. No one else, just lots of empty tables. And one tree and a bit of cheap tinsel does not a ‘winter wonderland’ make. It was like having Christmas dinner in a Travelodge. There was a good spread though. Salad bar, sushi bar, cold meats and pates, hot dishes, carvery (which the waiter called a craving… it took a while for the penny to drop) and a huge choice of miniature desserts. Shame the quality of the food didn’t live up to appearances. The turkey was dry, the veg was hard and it took a lot of hand gestures and several members of staff to get gravy. It was one of those really frustrating Kuwait conversations:
“Do you have any gravy?”
“Gravy mam?”
“yes, gravy. For the turkey” *mimes the pouring of gravy over the plate*
“Cranberry sauce?”
“No, gravy. For meat”
“There is stew over there mam”
“I don’t want a stew, I want gravy for this plate”
“Mushroom sauce mam?”
“No, gravy”
“I will check mam”
*wanders off, talks to several people, disappears. Someone else comes out*
“Are you OK mam?”
“I’m waiting for the gravy”
“Ok I will check”
*wanders off. Returns with a bowl of thin brown gravy that looked more like stock*
“Can I have a spoon?”
*hands me a fork*

Eventually we have success and the now almost cold brown water ends up where it is supposed to be, trying to soften the meat. However it then ends up sloshing over the edges of the pate as I walk back to the table. Did I say this was five star? I’d have given anything for a Toby Carvery right then!
By the time we escaped Kuwait’s answer to Fawlty Towers it was getting quite late. This meant that Christmas Day we were all tired, miserable, missing our families and at work. As the UK woke up and Facebook and Twitter went beserk, we were ready to hide under our desks and cry.
Thankfully we had a ‘gathering’ to go to that night so after a quick chat with the folks I got dressed up and headed over to a friend’s for ‘a few nibbles’. A few nibbles turned out to be a platter of canapés, cold meats and cheese from Dean & Deluca. At least the misery of Christmas ended on a high point.
Until the alarm went off at 6am Boxing Day. Another day of work. A day made a lot harder by the cocktails and 1.30am finish.
But… I came away with a massive doggy bag of party food and cheese which means Boxing Day evening on the sofa, with leftovers and the Downton Abbey Christmas special on the TV. So it’s not all been bad!

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The Dubai Sevens

So here I am, sat in the Marhaba Airport Lounge at Dubai airport killing time. So the perfect chance to blog about my latest trip. The Dubai Sevens.

It’s no secret that I love my rugby but the Sevens series has always been something I’ve been particularly excited about. But, due to financial constraints all but the London leg were a distant dream. I think I took the job in Kuwait partly because it made the Dubai Sevens achievable. And boy was it! Flights, hotel and spends suddenly didn’t seem like I needed a second mortgage so I decided to make it a 5 day trip. Even if you don’t like rugby I’d highly recommend this event. It’s a beer festival in the desert with some rugby on in the background. It was also quite surreal to see a 4 foot image of a pair of boots carrying the caption ‘Andy Vilk, fastest world’s sevens player’ or in my past ‘the dude that would have been best man had my wedding gone ahead’. That was a special moment for me. Look how far I’ve come.

My two closest friends from the UK joined me for the trip and we did Dubai in style. I got the twin bedroom with camp bed upgraded to a two bed suite that made my UK home look pokey and was congratulated on my bar choices for the long weekend.

The first night we kept it low key. The first morning we went to IHOP for breakfast to set ourselves up and then hailed a cab to the ground. I was informed the ground was miles away from the city and they weren’t exaggerating. There was that much desert I saw camels like you see sheep in Buckinghamshire. Hundreds of the things just chilling on the sandy expanse each side of the motorway.

Walking in to the ground was exciting but nothing matches the shivers you get entering Twickenham. The Sevens stadium in Dubai is more Bath’s ground in the desert… Scaffolding and open to the elements. But the elements are 30 degree sunshine!

The England team were as exciting as an England sevens team always are (although not quite as decorated as the Ryan, Amor, Vilk, Varndell era were) and smashing Wales on the second day was a particular highlight.

Sat behind us on the first day was a lovely British guy working in Qatar called James and we shared the excitement if the pork ribs stand in a way only the expat community can. We also swapped numbers so a Doha trip is on the cards soon. James also had fancy dress which I soon stole and was a Mexican for the latter part of the event. Note to self; fancy dress is obligatory next year.

The trip home on the first day was painful and when the hardened drinkers went out, we went home to bed. Poor form from a girl that’s usually the last one standing at Twickenham.

I think the highlight of the first day was seeing my old rugby buddy Andy though. He now lives in Oman but when he lived in Bath we’d always do the Wasps vs Bath fixture together. Especially the St George’s day one. To see him in Dubai at the Sevens was special.

The next day however, going home was not happening. This was helped by the free sparkling wine at the wine bar. It seems I have wasta even in Dubai. That or I write so much drivel on twitter that one of my followers decided I needed a livener. Thank you to Chris for entertaining my friends by completely flooring me with the comment ‘it’s no wonder you’re single’. Not usually lost for words, I stood there dumbfounded and my best mate started planning my wedding to a random South African from Twitter just because I had no come back.

So we hit Barasti that night. Barasti is a beach front bar I knew I wanted to hit on the trip but it surpassed expectations. We joined a table of two guys; one Irish and one American. Next thing I know I’m dancing barefoot on the sand for 4 hours drinking bull frogs. Bull frogs taste like refresher sweets. And are bloody lethal thanks to the gin, vodka, tequila and god knows what else that’s in them. Mum…. I only had 3.

At 3am we headed home sunburnt, merry and satisfied we had properly ‘done’ the Sevens.

The rest of the trip involved a golf cart down the jetty to 360 bar, a 35th floor rooftop bar and the most amazing dinner at Maya overlooking the beach. Dubai I salute you. I thought you were cheap and tacky but you’re actually more like an adult playground. And I want to play again.