Thursday, August 17, 2017

April

What an amazing month March turned out to be, we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary for an entire week, starting of at Le Meridien Al Aqah and finishing at Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, with a trip to Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Emirates Golf Club inbetween!!  The weather has finally broken and we are experiencing a rise in temperatures, it's no secret I prefer the hotter months over the cooler ones. It's Easter this month, so I hope the Easter Bunny is really kind to you all. Have a fabulous month wherever are you are.

GA

Geordie Armani

Yesterday I was invited for lunch by the Singapore International Culinary Exchange, or as it is better known SPICE.  As some of you are aware I have been pretty much housebound recently so I was rather excited about this event which was  held in Seven Sands at the World Trade Centre.  It must be 10 years since I was in the World Trade Centre.  The traffic was a bit of a nightmare due to Gulfood taking place at the Exhibition Centre but I got there and met up with the Fooderati Twitterati, who all had fabulous flashy cameras and notepads, me being me had a small bright pink leather hand bag, an iPhone and a new lipstick.

We all took our places and were given a brief introduction to SPICE, which is "An international gastronomic initiative collaboratively fronted by International Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board and SPRING Singapore. Its mission is to establish Singapore as a global innovative culinary capital and a must-visit food destination, raise international awareness of their most celebrated and exciting culinary names, and make Singapore food an integral part of the global food scene"

Singaporean Chef Haikal Johari and Jordanian cheft Khalel Mustafa went on to present us with some amazing food.  Haikal started with a scallop carpaccion, with fois gras mousse and Yuzu foam, followed by Lamb with Rendang, Tamarind Jus and Spicey Cabbage followed by a Singapore Sling "deconstructed".  I have never eaten Singaporean food before so this was a real treat for me, and it definitely won't be the last time I try out Singaporean food. I am on a one woman mission to find some small back street cafe as a comparison to five star fine dining with Chef Haikal. Chef Khalel Mustafa presented us with Pan-Seared Sea Bass and Prawns and "Kuay" pie tee.

The event was well organised, beautifully presented and I can safely say thoroughly enjoyed by all of us who attended it. Through SPICE I have a new passion in finding out more about Singapore and the culinary delights it has to offer, and I mean more than just opening a packet of noodles!  Yet again there was no Dinner made that evening in CASA GA ...

I dedicate this article to @sally2hats @the_hedonista @inafryingpan @girleeannyen and the guy who isn't on Twitter, and if he does join can I suggest he uses the ID @notontwitter

 

 

 

 

It's something I have been wanting to write about for some time now, so eventually after literally months of thinking about it I have put pen to paper so to say.

Living in the Middle East has it's challenges for all of us. There are many things that we fail to understand in our daily lives.   Nothing is in black and white and there is always the "but it's a cultural thing" comment thrown in when the black and white explanation doesn't actually make any sense.

Last night I watched a short documentary about women veiling in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is my understanding that there is nothing in the Quran that says a woman has to veil, and conflicting websites say that it is not compulsory to wear an abaya.  However in Saudi Arabia, the wearing of an abaya is compulsory to all women, veiling however isn't and is left to the individual, though the majority do choose to veil.

When we discuss Saudi Arabia I think I am safe to say that it is one of the most extreme Muslim Countries in the Middle East, and is often described as the Biggest Women's Jail in the World.   Women historically are not allowed to work but over recent years there has been a small improvement in local media and women are slowly moving into radio and television work. This appears to me to be the right of the rich and high ranked Saudi's and not offered to those lower down the ranks.

As women aren't normally allowed to work, there are a few exceptions like teaching and the medical profession but these jobs are mainly undertaken by expatriate woman as opposed to Saudi's. It was interesting to see a local lady and her guest entering what appeared to be La Senza. What was even more interesting was that the male shop assistant would be serving these ladies and taking their measurements.   In a society where women are not allowed, due to cultural reasons, to show their body to men outside of their immediate family, I did find this very difficult to get my head round.

Modesty in Islam is a much talked about subject around the globe and we as expats in the UAE are no different when it comes to the intrigue that surrounds veiling and dressing conservatively.  I know girls that veil; girls that don't; girls that abaya; girls that don't; girls that shayla; girls that don't. There are Muslim women who neither veil or abaya and wear Western dress at all times, as that is how they have been raised "culturally".  It is a decision that only they can make, it is for them to be comfortable with.

But what I particularly like is a trip into the toilets at any Mall here in the UAE where you will always find those modest, abaya'd and shayla'd ladies applying as much mascara as is possible and a nice splash of luminous pink lipstick, via their perfectly manicured red fingertips, after all they have to remain modest at all times ....

Been a while since I updated this section of the site, for various reasons.  The sprained ankle is taking so long to heal.  I now also have a badly bruised shoulder which is making it difficult to do anything, including up until last night even sleep.   Things seem a lot better this morning so give it another week and I am hoping to be back on track with Sunjay,  to finish off the rest of my personal training sessions. 

I luckily won an over night stay at the Al Wahda Grand Millenium in Abu Dhabi, and my little family and I will be heading there for 24 hours relaxation this weekend.

Thanks for reading and your support over the last couple of weeks, you know who you are.

GA

Live each day as if it's your last, a phrase we often hear following a bereavement, one we take on board and then kind of forget once things get back to normal. If you are in my twitter world you will know that in the last ten days we have had two very upsetting deaths to contend with.  I won't go into all the details but I know alot of us are feeling damaged emotionally and finding it very hard to come to terms with.

Let me refer to them as The Big Guy and The Little Guy, they won't be offended by this and it suits them perfectly.  The Big Guy, we all knew that he had fought a strong brave battle with cancer and we were all party to what he went through, we were all able to offer support and tell him how much we thought about him, what an inspiration he was to us all, when he passed I was devastated, but I was expecting it and it wasn't a shock when I heard the sad news.  The Funeral took place on Sunday, there were flowers, family, friends, colleagues and a Vicar talking about Twitter, The Big Guy would have approved of this.

The day before the Funeral I learnt that The Little Guy was having problems, had collapsed, was in the hospital, pray for The Little Guy we were told, we all prayed, we all waited, we all watched, we all cried when he passed away, so so sudden, no time to say goodbye, no time to share a joke, no time to give a hug, he was gone. Ironically The Little Guy passed on the 1st Anniversary of my website, he loved this website, he retweeted that Idiot's Guide to Twitter about 50 times, that is why it has been the most visited article I have ever written.  It was because of him I even wrote it in the first place, I can remember him pestering me to tell him how it all worked properly, as if I knew, hence it was called an Idiot's guide as it had been written by one.

When we lose one of our flock it hurts, it goes right inside your heart, it makes you feel as if you are going to be physically sick.  I think most of us have felt like that over the last ten days.  We have all asked the question, why?  No one knows why, it's just life. 

I want each and every one of us to take time out to tell the people in your life that are important to you, that you love them, pick up the phone, send a text, tweet them!! do it however you want, just make sure you do it, because if there is one thing I wish I had done, it would have been to tell The Little Guy what a great person he was, The Big Guy knew.

Rest in Peace

Love always

Debbie x

As readers will know I have a seven year old daughter so I am well aware of the cost of bring up a child. It is expensive to provide children with everything they need, let alone what they want, these days, but I have recently found out just how much her education is likely to cost once she finishes her main schooling. And the numbers are shocking!

If Mitten went to university in the UK she would be charged as an overseas student and even now the cost could be as much as £18,000 (AED 100,000) a year. To study medicine is even more costly so I do hope she doesn’t want to become a doctor or a dentist. Her curren ambition in life is be a Nurse. And then on top there is the cost of renting somewhere to live, books, food, transport etc.  If it’s pricey now, what will it be in 10 years time?

The numbers are quite scary and still it isn’t cheap if she studied in the UAE. I am told that the best colleges in America can easily be more than twice that cost, but people know this and start ‘college funds’ when their children are young.

I know that education is really important and gives a lot of choices, but I wasn’t fully aware of just how expensive it could be for older children. I am glad we have found out as we are lucky in having plenty of time to plan for Mitten’s future. We are saving now and intend to have enough to pay for what she wants to do in 10 years time without bankrupting ourselves then.

I was given information of these costs and what to do about it by my friend Keren Bobker who is an experienced Independent Financial Adviser. She has just posted details about this and of a cost effective plan on her financial blog, so I urge you to take a look and speak to her about how you can also plan for your children’s futures. She’s totally ethical and gives good, honest advice.

http://financialuae.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/saving-for-a-future-plan-for-education/

And if Mitten doesn’t want to go to university, then I’ll have a big pot of money to spend on myself, so everyone wins!  After discussing this subject with Mitten she said that if she does want to go to University she will get Aunty Keren to pay for it, clever kid eh!

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