Friday, December 31, 2010

The Hogmanay One

The last day of the year. Just another day. I guess. It is the day in which you MUST celebrate and/or do something extra special. In order to do that though, you have to pay over the odds to go to the places that you would go to any other day of the year. Take the Cellar round the corner. It's a lovely place to go for a couple of glasses of wine. It's not all that expensive. Yet, they wanted to charge £100 each for a ticket to their Hogmanay evening. As we say in Scotland - I dinnae hink so.

It's the same the world over though, isn't it?

Even here in Dubai. No surprise there.

Instead, I am raging against the machine and staying home and having a BBQ outside on the balcony. Plus, I can see the aforementioned Cellar from the balcony and I can see their stage and light show whilst avoiding the crowds. Clever or stingy. You decide.

A few words about 2010, I guess:

An important year. There, I've said it. Actually, it's been remarkable on a number of different levels. The prospect of getting married next year is certainly the biggest thing I've ever, ever encountered. Not only the actual proposal - which in hindsight was a bit mental, but the fact that someone else that I'm not even related to might actually want to be with me. ME. A shock in itself. I'm still in a daze about it, even though that happened back in the Spring. I'm sure more will be mentioned on that in the next few months. It's definitely been a life changing event and let's face it, a bloody great happy one.

I'm not get too emotional at this stage.

I feel a list or something might be in order. I've not done that for a while but it's all the rage. Seemingly. Not that I care much for trends. I mean, I don't even have a twitter account or a Blackberry. I do have a Macbook though. Shame on me. It's good though.

OK, I'm not sure I can compile a music related list because I've kind of missed out on 'new' stuff this year. I've been fairly narrow in my choices this year. I really enjoyed the XX. That was a fantastic album. LCD's album has taken a bit of time to warm to me. I just have visions of the 1st album - the riotous nature of it all with that kind of 'unproduced' feel to it and I wanted all the subsequent albums to be like that. Of course, that is a silly thought. This new one is more 'grown up' and sounds more coherent. Perhaps not as groundbreaking but it definitely has it's high points. Daft Punk brought out something. Always a good thing, even if it was a soundtrack. Kitsune have continued to release some telling compilations. In fact, they are the only Cd's that I have consistently bought this year. I have Number 10 playing now and it's a very strong collection of songs. And a double CD to boot. Elsewhere, not really sure. Songs have come and gone and, for me, so have bands. Nothing has really 'stuck'.

Man of the year is not that Facebook dude that Time magazine selected. What a faff that was. There really is only one person that can claim to be - that is, apart from my goodself. And that would be the bloke behind Wikileaks. Whether or not he was right or wrong is a personal opinion. The fact that he did and in the manner he did was nothing short of revolutionary. Gone are the days of sword fights, demonstrating on the streets etc, the new battlefield is the internet. He has opened that to general public and at the very least, he has opened peoples eyes to what on earth is going on. Whether it's true or not is almost a secondary consideration. The fact is, the information on view does raise a mountain of questions and if Mr X in the street has actually have stopped and thought 'hold on, that's not good' then job done. It's interesting that the real 'enemies' are the ones who have urged others to assassinate him or suggest he has blood on his hands. What a nonsense. I hope it continues and I hope that it makes people question things more readily.

I haven't got anymore lists at the moment. How pathetic. Perhaps next year I'll have more time to make lists. After all, that's what separate us from the others.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Christmas One

Yes, the Christmas one.

Alas, it was one in which I woke up non-fatigued and 100% not hungover. A small miracle of sorts. I do recall a Christmas Eve out in downtown Cheonan a few years ago in which a bunch of us guys played 'golf'. Yes, golf in numerous bars. It was a great night, I think but my goodness did we drink. The very next day was messy to say the least. I seem to recall the Christmas Eve before that at Woolly Boolly and being particularly ill the next day. Shocking what you do when you're young.

Christmas though this year was the same, but different. Home with snow outside and a certainly lady staying for her first Christmas in Edinburgh. I enjoyed it. Whether she did is another matter!

The day was totally fine. Eating mostly and to be honest, not too much drinking. A little bit TV as well. The Royle Family was excellent in parts. I was never a fan of it but since I saw the Christmas edition last year, I knew I had to watch this years. Beside, nothing else was on, was it?

And that was that. Nice.

The Birthday One

Yes, the birthday one.

Another year down and I find myself hurtling towards early mid-30's. Goodness, what a terrible thing to type. Time alas, does not run backwards only forwards. This time however, I was home and surrounded by snow. That is quite uncommon actually. The bit about snow that is. It's tended not to snow on my birthday which is surprising.

I was out for lunch in the town centre which was lovely, followed by a trip to the old style sweetie shop round the corner. All those old sweeties that you used to have when you were young were there. Everything. And all in those old style jars. Then, down to the best man's new hoose and a visit to see him and his new addition. Back up the toon and to the Christmas market, followed by a whirl on the big wheel. And my god, it is a big wheel. And a bloody cold one at that. On the first revolution we were stuck right at the top, presumably to let people far down below off and new people on. I should have been marveling at the view. Instead, I was shivering. It was baltic, with a strong cold wind blowing. The rest of the ride was a bit of a let down purely because I was so cold.

And what do you do if you are freezing cold?

Have mulled wine!

Just one glass however.

For dinner it was tapas then after that, more drinks. We went to the local pub round the corner from my folks home to find it totally packed and totally full of 15 year olds. When I say 15 year olds, it's not just a figure of speech, everyone was 15 years old. Now, it could just be my age but it really wasn't. One wee guy in front of me at the bar could not have been even 15. He had a 'passport' for ID but no way was he 18. Never in a month of Sunday's. All very surprising particularly as it was the busiest I've ever seen this pub in my life and I've been going there since I was 18 myself.

But, I had to get home just in case Santa came to visit.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


There are days in which you just can't be bothered waking up. Today was this day.

Unable to sleep for most of the night, and needing to return to work after holidays. A very bad combination. I did manage to drag myself out of bed and into the shower. And even to the office but when passing the threshold into the office, I found myself becoming increasing miserable. Wishing I was elsewhere, that's for sure. As the day went along, the office phone rang a few times but I just couldn't muster myself to answer it. It would only have been people wanting to give me stress and frankly, I could live without the irritation of it. 100+ E-mails in my inbox didn't really help either. That's what I get for going on holiday.

When it was the end of the day, I was delighted. Out that door. To console myself, I went out and bought a 42 inch TV for the apartment. It wasn't a spur of the moment thing I must say but it did make me feel a bit better. It's huge. But, with the living room we have, it looks totally fine and not out of place as some large TV's do. Looking forward to watching it!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The big, new, glossy Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport was meant to signal the end of queuing and make the process of arriving and departing Dubai an enjoyable experience. The size meant that it could cope with the projected increase in passengers exiting and entering Dubai. On the evidence of yesterday, that isn't the case.

All was well until we hit Immigration. Big queues. Massive in fact. There are 50+ desks for staff to sit at in order to process everyone coming in. Where even half of them open? No. Hardly any were open and at each one that was open the queues were very long. They were all of similar length as well. It was a case of pick one and wait. And wait we did. Over 40 minutes to get through. At 1 am in the morning. Not great. Not great for Emirates as well given that Terminal 3 is exclusively used by them. Why aren't more people on duty when they know when the busy periods are? It's silly. In fairness, the little dude at the desk was relatively friendly. Goodness knows why given the amount of people he would have to see.

Anyway, finally we departed the airport and finally we got 'home'.

Monday, December 27, 2010


And that was the end of the trip home. 2 weeks just flying by as it frequently does. Woke up early to find that there had been a further 2 or 3 inches of snow. Urgh. Not great given that we have to drive 50 miles or something through it to get to Glasgow airport. Needless to say, the initial part of the journey was slow. The roads were quiet but they are also hilly and with a number of bends and twists. Thankfully, they were passed with the minimum of fuss. As we continued, the snow turned into rain and that made things a bit easier and indeed, we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

The flight itself was mostly OK. It did get a bit bumpy when we were flying over the North Sea towards Europe. That was the first time that had happened. So, for my dinner, I thought I'd have some wine, some lemonade and some tea. Not in the same cup, but in quick succession. Big mistake. Due to the way in which the cabin crew collect all the empty plates, people had already got up and started queuing for the bathroom. I had to go however but found 4 people infront of me. I knew that I had to keep moving. If I stayed in a queue, things might not turn out so well if you catch my drift. So, I bypassed the toilets closest to me and went down the plane to the next set. There was a queue there too. Again, I had to keep moving. More toilets were spotted right at the back of the plane and it seemed that there was no queue. I made a beeline for them. Well, I went as quickly as I could given that I was on a plane. Thankfully, the toilet was empty and in I went. I locked the door and went about my business. It was a wonderful feeling. Truly wonderful, despite the plane hitting a bit of turbulance forcing me to realign my stance somewhat. I didn't care. I had made it.

The rest of the flight was a breeze. Getting through Immigration was not.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Oh and the Christmas Edition will be posted in due course as well.

Merry Christmas though!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It's still cold. No snow, but bitterly cold. The snow is on the way. Seemingly. I'm getting a bit fed up of it in fairness and I've only been in the country since Monday. It's all lovely to look at but in practice, it's crap.

But, life goes on. Changing bank accounts, a bit of Christmas shopping and a look at wedding rings. I'm a man of simple taste and style - insert funny comment in here - and so it's not particularly a hard task to find a ring for me. It's the future missus who will have the headaches. Alas, a simple plain ring will suffice. It's not the design of it for me, it's the significance of it which is infinitely more important. We didn't buy any this time but we have an idea which is more than we had when we began.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I / we had booked a wedding venue earlier this year. It was a big, big relief to have done so and I was very pleased to have secured what was essentially our number 1 location. It was kind of funny because I had only ever seen the venue on the owners website and in people's photos. From what I had seen, it was an excellent venue and I was not worried in the slightest.

But now that I was back in Scotland, it was time to go and see it in the flesh, albeit under 6 inches of snow and ice. I was not to be disappointed. It's fantastic!

It's an old castle, some 300 years old or thereabout with stag's heads on the walls, a big staircase, old portraits on the walls as well. Let's just say, it's 'atmospheric'. Outside, there are extensive gardens with trees and bushes and ornamental foundations and the like. At the far end, is a big pavilion in which the reception will be held. In addition, its fairly secluded with a single track road upto the castle itself. I really think it's wonderful and I'm delighted with it. I only wish that I could 'fix' the weather so that it will be a bright, sunny day. Regardless of the weather though, it'll be ace!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I was knackered last night. I tried to stay up as long as I could and I did well. But, come 10pm, that was it. Time for bed. It's 'only' a 4 hour time difference but even still. I was up at 4am Dubai time aka midnight UK time. I was up for 22 hours. Hardcore, I am.

Today was the day for sorting my bank situation out. I always pay a visit to the bank on my first day back in order to sort things out and to change all my foreign currency. They were nice and pleasant enough but I'm not sure I'm all that happy with them at the moment. My ISA only gets 0.5% which is shockingly bad. That will have to be changed in due course. Thankfully though, my ATM card works and that's good enough for now.

The rest of the day was for Christmas shopping. I've mostly completed it but there are a couple of more things to get. Did I get them? No, not really. Oh well, I still have time. I do roughly know what I want so that's half the battle.

Oh and it's still cold and snowy.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Has arrived. In Scotland. It is cold. And at times sunny. At other times, very foggy. In fact, it was very foggy at the worst possible moment. The moment of landing. It was very clear and sunny until on our final descent. Literally with less than a minute before touching down we could see nothing at all. Nothing. The only way I knew we had touched down was the slight 'bump' when we hit the runway. Visibility was down to less that 10 metres. Honestly, I could see the grass verges at the side of the runway. It was very strange indeed. Credit to the captain for landing in that. Yet, when we got outside the airport and onto the motorway it was all bright sunshine.

Anyway, the flight itself was relatively good. Only occasional 'bumps. The only downer of sorts was having a 'large' bloke sit next to me in the aisle seat. He was big. But, no real issues on that front.

Alas, it's cold and snowy though not as snowy as it has been. Holidays are here again!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I had so much to do in my final day before going on holiday. I got to the office early as I knew it was going to be one of those days. I didn't think that I'd get out on time and I had fully expected that to be the case. All morning I literally did not leave my desk and when I had to, it was only because I needed the toilet. It was all admin stuff like marking and collating results of the tests I had been doing. I also had our monthly newsletter to do. I can't say I really enjoy doing it but I get on with it because I have to. I somehow managed to get that done as well. With an hour of the working day to go there was a glimmer of hope that I'd get out on time. That glimmer increased to the point in which it was a certainty that I would get out on time. That though, wasn't confirmed until 10 minutes to go. Talk about cutting it fine.

The 'out of office' was put some my outlook, the computer was turned off and my desk cleaned. And out I went. Not to return for 2 weeks. Nice.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Thirty people, in shorts and t-shirts standing on a stage, singing Christmas carols in the middle of Dubai surrounded by other people in shorts and t-shirts who are sipping mulled wine and eating mince pies is an odd thing to witness. Then, once the singers had left the stage, a 20 foot Christmas tree was lit up for the first time.

Bizarre sight.

I guess Christmas is on it's way.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


I had a bad day. Actually, it wasn't at all a bad day until I drove home from work. That should be the best part of the day alas, it wasn't and it put me in a bad mood.

The drive home from work takes about 10 minutes in total and should not pose too many problems at all. That said, I am aware that it's best to be on guard in the streets around you home. Anyway, on the way home I was cut up, not once, but twice by total ignorant c*ckheads who essentially had decided that they owned the road and everyone else was simply in the way. Of course, they have big fat 4x4's and tinted windows so you can't see who they are. They are all big and brave behind the wheel. I should just let it go but no, I get on my horn and give it good, solid, loud blast. I do think I should get a louder one but that's a different story. The 2nd such incident got me thinking. I would love to get a camera on the front of my car. When any idiotic or selfish acts occur, I should take a quick photo of the offender. I would then post the offender on some website. A name a shame kind of thing. I wonder if that would be illegal or not. Would love to do it. But, I digress.

Two incidents on the way home, quickly turned into a 3rd. This time, it was 2 guys crossing the road. They decided to cross the road when I was perhaps 50 feet from me. One of them knew I was coming and so quickly crossed over. The other though calmly continued at the same pace. And so did I. I wasn't stopping. Why should I? He shouldn't be in the middle of the road when cars are coming. Would he walk in the middle of the road at home? Of course he wouldn't. He saw that I wasn't stopping then gesticulated for me to stop or at least slow down. I don't think so mate. I gesticulated back that he should get off the road. Perhaps not the best move but it was true. Get off the road, you c*ck. That's twice I've used the word 'c*ck'. Idiot.

It's funny how you're day changes.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


So I went to this place called 'Global Village'. It's about 30 minutes drive away into the desert, just off the main highway. It opens from November until February each year and is essentially a big village with different pavilions. Each pavilion is a 'country' and within each pavilion are 'things' from that country to buy. In total there were about 20 countries or so. There was also a big food court and a funfair. Yes, a fun fair with a big wheel, dodgems and the like. It all sounded quite good, particularly the bit in which you can go to a certain country and buy authentic stuff from said country.

In reality though, it's not a great as it sounds. In essence, it's just a big market. I wouldn't necessarily say that the items on sale are a. anything special or b. from that country. On top of that, it was seriously packed, with local people, surprisingly enough. A number of them had those 'granny' shopping trolley bags that are (in)famous back in the UK. It seems that they go and stock up on whatever it is they need to stock up on. It's a bit strange.

It was an O.K day out but not something that I would really want to go to again. I could go to Satwa for instance to get textiles or I could go to Karama to but genuine fake bags or to Dragon Mart for everything else. But, even though I criticise it, it was really busy so something must attract the punters. Each person has to pay 10 Dirhams to get in and there were easy thousands of people there. Easy money, it could be argued. The thing is, with all these pavilions, it would be so much better had the people who run it, invited the respective national tourist boards to run them and to show off what was good about there country whether that be the food or places to visit etc. It would be way more informative and interesting, that's for sure.

But, who am I and if the people who run it are making their money, then what the hell. It does though give the impression that whatever people offer here irrespective of how rubbish it is, people will still go and pay to get in. Me included.

Friday, December 03, 2010


Dry your eyes England, dry your eyes. It's not coming home and it won't be coming home until at least another 16 years. Yes, FIFA have decided. Fairly, of course, that the 2018 World Cup will be in Russia and the 2022 World Cup will be in that hotbed of footballing culture, eh, Qatar.

Nothing political in that. My arse. It was all just a charade. All this lobbying and doing deals to get votes. All a nonsense. Political, premeditated and wholly shrouded in corruption with FIFA and its delegates implicated from the word go. It was a farce played out infront of the world in order to give the illusion of a democratic decision to award the World Cup. FIFA has consistently shown itself to be a power unto it's own. Devoid of having to answer to anyone. They quite clearly do not have football at its heart which is frankly unforgivable. 'Spreading' the appeal of football is the tagline but it's not. They are rotten to the core.

The irony being, I actually could not care less about where the World Cup is held. I'm sure the bids were of a high calibre and the presentations made were excellent. Hats off to those individuals who probably worked like demons to make it all happen. England were surprisingly 'knocked out' early on but as I mentioned above, it's politics baby, all politics. They were never in with a shout, let's be honest. Russia got it yet even their leader couldn't be arsed attending. Why? Because he already knew it was in the bag.

As for Qatar. Stadiums look nice. In pictures and that is what they remain, only pictures. How they will negate the 40+ C each day remains to be seen. In fact, where are Qatar placed in the FIFA rankings? Quite low I would have thought. 1st round exit I would have thought. Oh, but perhaps FIFA will give them a bye to the next round or fix it so that they have an easy group. How they got it is a mystery.

Of course, I could be misreading all of this and it could have been all above board and legitimate. I doubt however. I really doubt it.