House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Free The Bellies

All this sunshine in the UK will not be without its consequences.

All ye Climate Change Nay Sayers, you need only look around your nearest Tesco's hypermarket, as the mercury starts to creep up and UV levels head past 'Burnt to a Purple Blistered Mess' & towards 'Irreparable Damage' to see that something is about to happen.

And that Something isn't going to be good.
And, it isn't going to be pretty.

'IT' is the sudden, & widespread, divesting of a Nation's clothes.

The Summer Wardrobe can be a wonderful thing. Words like 'wafty', light-coloured, natural fibres, cotton, floaty, cool - these are Summer clothes keywords.

Trust me. Everyone is excited to break out the flipflops.

When I lived in the UK, I had whole host of vests, shorts, sandals and flipflops all just waiting to leap into action when given the nod.
As I recall, they were a patient lot.
They needed to be.
There was a long wait between gigs.  

Sometimes, you make the mistake of bringing them in off the bench too soon, and pay the price in goosebumps.  Hunched up and cranky at how chilly you are, you fantasise about getting home and into those ancient, but best, trackies and slipper socks.  

Sweetie, we have all been there.
About 24degC, that's when you can go Strappy Vest, but still, bring a Cardie, would you?  

Now, as Life can be perverse like that, my Dubai Friends will confirm, we must endure the exact polar (pun intended) opposite of this Seasonal Wardrobe trial.  

Many a cousin of the Vests, the big brothers of Shorts & the Great Uncles and Aunts of Flipflops lurk within the dark, dehumidified recesses of a DXB Expat's wardrobe.

Lurking, waiting.
Quietly chatting amongst themselves.
Perhaps reminiscing of the last time they were all together. An Autumnal trip to the UK. A European city break maybe.  

Yup, we the Expats of Dubai (of my circle anyway) long for the Days of Jeans, Boots and Jumpers.
*gasp* dare I say it?
Gloves, hats & scarves!
(I did it. I dared)  

When living in the UK, the sign that everything might be ok & Winter might actually Bugger off for a bit, were daffodils. One's soul would soar at the sight of their jolly, sunshiny yellow heads.
Spot them and you know you are in the home-stretch.  

For me now, living in Dubai, bored of all that damn blue sky, heat and sunshine, I watch for A Sign too.

That is The Sign.  

As soon as we get to that, BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, the Boots are on. (Granted, I hold back on the Hats & Scarves a while longer).  

Anyway, back to that 'Something' happening in Tesco's, & all around the UK.  

Shirts are off.
Everywhere, they are off.

I think I shall go to a shop. Put my shirt on? 
WHAT?? Are you saying not everyone wants to see the EXACT proportions & vastness of this beer gut? 
That can't be right, I have put alot of time and energy into this. 
If someone should be intimidated and feel the need to move out my way when The Mountain of Beer & Belly should rest against them at, say the Checkout or in front of the Magazines, so much the better.  

So, what I have learnt is this, in the UK, for some people, when the sun shines, shirts are seemingly optional in all manner of public places. Ditto underwear.  

Not to be a fashion fascist but, to my mind if you are going to venture into VestVille, a bra or some alternative support device is a good thing.  
The bra is your friend.
Honey, those things will end up down there soon enough, thanks the Cruel Japes of Time, give the Girls a break and let them have a rest in a hammock, not the trolley handle.  

Also, FYI, I am fairly certain that 'dangling by your elbows' is NOT where a Bra Strap should be optimumly and most usefully located. 
From there, they will find themselves unable to fulfil their raison d'etre.  

Of course, I spend pretty much 10.5 months of a year living in a place where modesty is of significance importance.
Some might say too much. Some might say to its credit.

In honesty, despite my glib observations, I find the diversities of people, people largely just getting on with their lives in the UK, NOT actually worrying about what other people think or judge, hugely refreshing.  

No one gives a toss here what the hell you do or look like & that is a breath of fresh air.

Dubai can be a bit homogenous in some respects.  

So, despite what I have said above .......set those Bellies free & let your taa-taas swing loose and long, if you want to ...........but maybe not at the supermarket?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Daydreaming, of a Holiday before it Happens

Nothing like ramping up the ol' pre-holiday fever, whilst driving along in, close to, 50degC temperatures, staring out at sand, sand, dust & sun.

In this final run-up to our trip, I have been daydreaming about all the things I am looking forward to during our upcoming trip.

It feels like it adds days to our holiday, which is a jolly thing.

I have distilled them down thus:

NOT being in 50degC temperatures & being away from the sand, dust & sun
Just for a bit.
And what is going on with the kabillion% humidity these last few days??!

NOT having to steer with just the tips of my fingers. 
Tough call this, hands welded to a burny, roasting-tin-hot steering wheel OR everyone in here dying in a fiery ball of flames.

oh, the Trees.
To save me repeating myself, you can see last year's Hug a What Now? post.
"Gorgeous, lush green big OLD trees.  Juicy, rich trees. Rounded, friendly leaves, not spiky, resentful & tense with the effort of staying alive"

 Suffice to say, brace yourselves, Trees.

The chance of some Welly action
Again, things won't have changed since last year's Her Soul Yearns for a Welly
Seriously, Glorious Sunshine can get stuffed, I need me some rain.

Being with Family. The family that have known me since I began. The family with whom the British half of me shares real history.
Family that have stories that I keep meaning to write down so they don't get lost.
Family that I have known since THEY were born.
Family that I sadly, only ever see on these trips, but who are no less important to me because of it.
Nothing lifts the spirits
like crossing the bridge and
finally spotting this sign
(& now, cue panic-scrabbling for the toll fare)

Yes, Wales.
Wales feels like home in the UK now.
Wales = Family too.
Wales is very special to our family.
Love Wales.

The bread. The chips. The crisps. The bacon, cheese and mushroom pastries.  Basically, the carbs of Britain.

Even if they flummox me with their ever-changing technology - Self-Service Counters this is the year you will not intimidate me.
Rows and rows of alcohol. Just sitting there. Waiting for me to purchase, no limits, no judgement.

The Colours
The Greens.  The Yellows. The Blues. And, yes, the Grey.

The Driving
So orderly. So well-mannered. Trust me, relatively speaking it IS Orderly & well-mannered.
See you on the M4, Purple-faced Man

The Radio
ahhhhhhhhhhhh, hello again BBC Radio 4 & 5Live. And all you others.
Live, and in context.

The Bookshops
I can and will spend a fortune in bookshops.
Books bring me the Happy. 
And, the anxiety of overweight suitcases.


The Coming Back To Your Own Home again
Love that. However, obviously, it is always tinged with some sadness.
But it is a marvellous thing nevertheless.
All your own stuff, your pets, your car, catching up with the Here Friends - that is all worth looking forward to too.

Don't love it. Never loved it. Best not dwell on it.
Packing sucks. There is nothing more to be said on this.
Petrol prices
Boring Dubai expat moan but ...... OUCH. Best not dwell on it.
The Indigestion
(see above, Food) No matter, a fistful of Rennies and I am good to go again.
Those Extra Kilos
Thanks for nothing, British Carbs and my greatest love/foe of all ..... Fish & Chips.
Running out of time 
And not getting to see all the people that I would like to.
Feeling bad that we cannot travel the length & breadth of the country
A common complaint for many of us, I know.
It boils down to this - Try to do it all, ruin what is supposed to be a holiday.
The Leaving Bit
Without a doubt, the very worst bit.
but also (see above, The Coming Back to Your Own Home again)

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Moroccan Bath of 2014

The back-story

"Hey," I said to a Friend, "I found this amazing Spa deal on FB, must be a Ramadan Special. Fancy it?"
She said "Sure".

What happened next, I blame her for entirely.

If only she had said 'Naaaaaaaaaaah."

So, turns out "I too much liking your body" will make you feel really uncomfortable at the start of a Moroccan Bath.

Who knew.

This, from very cheerful but exasperatingly chatty Massage Technician, as she sat, swinging her legs watching me undress.

Lady, this isn't a floor show.


(this will be my sole train of thought for the next 40 minutes, though it will feel like 40 days).

From hereonin it will become increasingly, & horribly, obvious that I am very actually going to hate this.

One doesn't wish to come across prudish (perhaps, in that case, One should avoid using words like 'One')


a Princess (I am aware that this falls smack-bang in the #FirstWorldPains category of woes) but, seriously?

No private dis-robing area?
No robe or towel at all, for that matter?
Not even freaking leaving the room to give me a moment and the chance for a few deep breaths?!

You are just going to sit there, swinging your legs, head cocked to one side cheerfully, & copiously sharing with me your every, no-holds barred observations as 'stuff' is eyes-firmly-fixed-to-a-point-on-the-wall, agonisingly 'revealed'.

I am a British AND Chinese. Historically, neither of my people are known for their exhibitionism & 'grooviness with nudey bodies' culture.  #tooBritishforthis, also #tooChinesetoo

Why didn't I stop?  For the same above reason.  Neither of my people like to 'make a fuss'.

I will not go into the sweaty, scrapy nuts & bolts of it - if you have had a Moroccan Bath, you will know what has been endured.
We will look into each other's eyes and we will see the knowingness reflected back.  We will know the places we have been taken to.



I have since learned I know many who have trodden the same Ouchy, Red Raw Path of Humiliation but no one brings it up.
Seems people, non-Moroccan People maybe? only ever have ONE Moroccan Bath.

Dear Lord, Moroccan People, what is up with your baths?????!!!!!

Me, I like a soaky, drifty-away, relaxing bath, ideally with a book.

If I am screwing up my face, making noises like "oooof!" and "YEOW!" it would be fair to assume:
a) I am not relaxed &
b) I am not having a nice time.



Yes, my skin was super-soft afterwards but, jeeez, the return of soft-skin was not enough.
Turn back the clock about 25 years and we might be on to something here.
If the experience could do that, you might see me back but no, I am done.

Final Thoughts
Apart from the Too-much naked, Sandpapery nightmare, the other Low was the 'sitting perched on the edge of an empty bath for the steam' part of it all.

First, nothing happened. Just me, naked as the day I was born, sitting. Perched.
No steam.
Only self-consciousness.

Then, from the depths of somewhere, cappuccino-like burbles began and steam began to percolate out of the nozzles around me.  The glass doors were shut, I was sealed in.

Time might have passed easier had I been able to read but, steam, sweat and paper are not friends.

I could see my magazine, through the steamed up glass doors, sitting there in the little shelf.  Just out of reach. Mocking me. Taunting me.

So near. So far.

My magazine and, my pants.

For that?


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