Monday, 30 November 2015

Just keep running

I am not the best runner, but I feel with a sport like running, there is no need to be the best…unless you have aspirations of becoming an olympic sprinter. Sure my posture and stride could probably do with a professional review, but it’s an activity that doesn't discriminate on the basis of ability. Everyone can run, it’s just a matter of finding your style, your speed and your stride. 

And as someone who despises competitive sports and group exercise, mainly because I don’t have a competitive personality, in running, I feel like I have found my comfort zone when it comes to exercise. 

I took an executive decisions a few months ago, right around the time i turned the grand old age of 27, that i needed to review my diet and exercise regime. My relationship with food is a whole other story, but when it comes to exercise, I had become way to sedentary. With summer, and the 46 zillion degree temperatures encroaching, it probably wasn't the best time to be starting alfresco exercise but lets face it, start with the worst and it only gets better. 

But I have deduced from a series of conversations with myself, that the best way to get me engaged in exercise is to take me outside, and refer to it as activity rather than exercise. The interesting thing is, in London I never craved to be outside like I do here in Dubai. But the lifestyle here affords you the luxury of living life outside and that’s the part of my expat life that I relish everyday. I wake up and look forward to the beautiful weather, the opportunity to swim outside, walk along the marina, enjoy eating on a terrace without the need for a cardigan. And be able to run outside, feel the air and have a direction, rather than engaging in a monotonous process on a treadmill. I would rather run outside as the sun sets and drink enough to water to at least attempt to combat the dehydration that inevitably occurs when running outside in 30 + degrees and extreme humidity, than run with the harsh wait and winter rain, that usually arrives in August in England, lashing my face. 

It turns out that running in the evenings when the temperature still hovers around 35 and the humidity sits heavy in the air like a blanket, is my kind of a challenge and I won’t be defeated by it. Throughout the summer, I have persisted to run outside, with the exception of maybe 2/3 weeks when going outside to run would have been a death sentence. Sure ending a run along the marina in those conditions, inevitably means I look like a puffy, not to mention sweaty, tomato and I certainly keep the security guards in my building amused as I bound through reception. But the inner satisfaction i get from taking on the Marina Walk is worth all the redness! 

I am making a real conscious effort to move, especially now the weather is what I can only describe as heavenly for November. I certainly feel the benefits both in my physical and mental wellbeing, of generally being more active. Part of my push on this quest was having the pleasure of getting to know some pretty cool and hugely inspirational dudes who have taken the simple concept of movement and ramped it up a notch with rewards from some of the coolest companies in Dubai. I mean come on…. give me a free Taqado Burrito for simply moving more and il be your biggest advocate. 

Styck App is my iPhones most loved application and i find myself checking it a regular intervals to see how many steps i have racked up. And while I'm not competitive with others, it seems Styck app has brought out my need to compete with myself, encouraging me to move more tomorrow, to add another day of 7,000 plus steps to my streak. Or maybe its just the free burrito spurring me on. 

It’s such a simple thing, being able to monitor my movement so effortlessly and hold myself accountable but it works.

Whether it is that free burrito, the accomplishment i feel in myself or the notion that I'm not getting any younger and my body needs to be more of a temple, I am more active and healthy in Dubai than i have been ever in my life. Which given the  sheer amount of amazing food options in Dubai and my inability to resist, is somewhat of a miracle! 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Island Life

Cyprus: a small island on the outskirts of Europe that boasts a unique and privileged geographical location, a rich history and a deeply rooted culture, and the place I called home for three years. 
Cyprus as an island gave me a lot, not least a beautiful bronzed, year round glow thanks to the endless hours of sunshine and delicious Mediterranean weather on offer. But it also gave me a family and afforded me the sort of friendships that never die, even when you depart the confines of the island. 

It taught me about the history and conflict and intense background that has made it the place it is today. And it gave me knowledge; I learnt the language, the culture and the cooking. But for me one of the most interesting things about the island is it's rich history and I don't mean the rise and fall of Ayia Napa as the 20-somethings party destination of choice. And while I have heard first hand accounts of the conflict Cyprus was engulfed in, I never really understood the severity of it. 

So when I returned this summer for 2 weeks of Mediterranean sun and relaxation, I decided on a pretty relevant choice of reading. The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop tells the story of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 and aside from being a brilliantly written piece of literature, it makes the historical elements of the countries background, digestible. 

It's all to easy to forget the history of a place, a person or a relationship. I look at granny, sitting under the vine leaves in the shade, in the garden of her house that she moved into when she fled her home in 1974 and I never really understood the events that she had lived through. 

I take in every inch of the landscape from the light blue sky to the dusty terrain, the lush green mountains and the deep blue ocean. I make sure I appreciate every word of Greek spoken to me and I make a conscious effort to scour my brain for the correct pronunciation of the Greek words I still remember. I immerse myself in the culture around me and capture every expression of the people I miss on a daily basis.

Now I soak up every moment of my time on the island and think how lucky we are to enjoy it so carelessly. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Total Silence

The total silence that has pervaded this page over the last six months is rather inexcusable. Life throws up some pretty interesting obstacles along the way and assigning time to a creative outlet, at a time when my brain is any but creative, felt almost rude.

A lack lustre blog post is no ones friend. 

I didn't start blogging with the thought of it becoming a full time job and to rack up millions of followers, nor did I start because I like shouting about all the "amazing" things that we do. I started it because I love words, I love conversation and anyone who has met me in the flesh, spent any considerable time with me or is a work colleague who unfortunately shares an office space with me, will politely or not so politely tell you that I am rarely silent. And on a side-note the things we do are rarely "amazing" because despite what people think, expat life isn't all cocktails and staycations. 

But nevertheless, sharing everyday moments, the rare "amazing" moments and everything in between, with family and friends far away is important. And the blog allows me to have those conversations, albeit one sided. 

Sometimes you need to take those conversations offline and pick and choose what you share with the rest of the online world. And honestly, sometimes it's sheer disorganisation and crazy that means blogging gets thrown on the back burner. 

A lot has happened since February; visitors have been and gone, friends have departed Dubai, we have packed, moved and unpacked in a new apartment, celebrated birthdays, escaped to our happy place of Cyprus, made new friends, changed jobs and adopted a healthier lifestyle. 

There's a lot to catch up on!

Monday, 2 February 2015

New Year Mantra for 2015

Instead of resolutions, which lets be honest I never stick to anyway, I'm going to adopt a mantra for 2015. And since it is now the 2nd February, this seems like a good time to share it. 

#1 - Guard your time
Since it is almost February and I am only just getting around to writing this, you could say I am guarding my time well. I think I got too caught up in time in 2014 and worried about how much or how little was dedicated to a particular activity. 

#2 - Let kindness rule 
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in emotions, become bitter, resentful and angry but those negative emotions never lead to anything good. A little bit of kindness goes a long way. 

#3 - Create good habits
This one I am taking on board in many ways. I need to up my fitness game and actually commit to a proper exercise routine instead of the wishy washy attempt at exercise I have been engaged in until now. I need to fix my eating habits in line with this too. Some days are good, some days are bad and most days, a chocolate brownie are included in my diet. Note to self, must maintain self control. For me good habits extend further than this and lead back to guarding my time, I need to find a work life balance and utilise time for good habits like reading and writing. 

#4 - Choose to focus on the good
Because the bad has a way of overpowering everything but in reality that is because we let it; we pander to the bad and stress and worry and it all too quickly becomes an overinflated version of what it originally was. And lets face it, there is always a little piece of good to cling on to, no matter what situation you are faced with. 

#5 - Start each day with goals 
Manage your daily expectations and start with a few achievable goals which can be managed and met throughout the day, no matter what gets thrown your way. Simple things like going to the gym, making a home cooked dinner or reading a chapter of that book can be easily ticked off the list and you will feel a sense of accomplishment rather than emptiness come bedtime. This is one I really need to work on!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Visiting Season

My first visitors have been and gone and with them I think they took a piece of me. 

It was the most glorious week showing three of my bestest friends around this chaotic and shiny city that I call home. And although I was working for a lot of the time, we soaked up the hours we had together and made some amazing memories along the way. 

Drifting down the marina and out into the ocean with these ladies was a pretty lovely way to spend a Thursday evening and reliving our university days, tearing up the dancefloor, allbeit in a slightly different setting that back in England, was just what I needed. 

We explored the mall, wowed at the Dubai fountains, stood in awe of the views Dubai has to offer, visited the Ripe Market, soaked up the sun and wandered round the Al Qasr hotel. I think it is safe to say the ladies enjoyed pretty much every minute of their short trip.

As much as I loved having them here, the problem with visitors is just that, they visit. And when they leave they take a little piece of you with them and all those feelings of home and thats when the stark light of expat life falls over you. It's those few moments post departure that hurt the most but it is the sacrifice we make as expats I guess. 

At least we have the memories. And the photographs. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

First visitors

This morning, my first visitors land in Dubai and I am filled with excitement, anticipation and nerves. The nerves mainly brought on by the ridiculous weather that battered Dubai yesterday. I mean the last thing you want is for visitors to arrive from chilly London and be greeted by torrential rain, extreme wind and thunder. But hey, mother nature is unpredictable right. Fingers crossed she gets her act together. 

I am excited to have three familiar faces crash land on me from London because christmas was a good two weeks ago and obviously I didn't get to spend proper time with them because of all the festive obligations. To spend evenings with friends I used to see everyday through our university days is going to be blissful and I am pretty sure I wont want them to leave. 

Im nervous to host my first guests in a new city, one which I am still discovering. I am a worrier and I worry that people wont have a nice time. But half of the reason they are coming is to see me and the other is to see Dubai, so at least if they're are disappointed with Dubai, which I am sure they wont be, they get to see my silly smiling face. Now I just need to juggle work and three beautiful blondes landing shortly and we will be fine. 

I will say one thing though, I am organised for their arrival; a freshly cut spare key and a fully charged phone with credit and apps ready for them to explore the city with. I figured if I cant explore with them at least give them google maps so they have at least half a chance of not getting lost!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Good intentions mean nothing....

I had such good intentions for 2015 and the blog, and so far I have fallen at pretty much every hurdle. I have spoken many times before about wanting to get back on the blogging horse and for one reason or another I never seem to quite make it. Which leaves me wondering my motivation has gone?

This blog used to be updated daily. It was my release after a day of work but I now spend my days writing and this must have had an impact on some level. Now it seems that I get my release after a day at work, from the gym of all places. Which is doing wonders for my fitness and it was about time I took my fitness a bit more seriously but that means the blog has become an afterthought again.

And I am usually so organised. I used to have a notebook that had ideas and notes about blog posts. I used to schedule posts days in advance after a mammoth writing session but that doesn't happen anymore either. I promised myself I wouldn't too hard on myself but it's difficult when my blog used to so abundant with content and I used to look forward to writing it.

Well the only person to blame is myself so let's see how the rest of 2015 pans out. Maybe my motivation is lurking behind February's door.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Eggspectation, JBR

Eggspectation on the walk in JBR is quite possibly my new favourite place for breakfast. A sweeping statement I know since we all know how loyal and loving I am of the breakfast options at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club. However it's nice to have a change of scenery right and the gazillion of egg options doesn't hurt either.

Eggspectation has a great interior with chunky wooden tables and cosy little booths. Just the two of us, we had a relatively tiny table but I spied a huge table to seat about 8 which I would have like to called home with my eggs and coffee and a laptop in one of those romantic dreams in which I spend my days writing my book. Anyway back to reality.

The eggs were delicious. I had a smoked salmon benny and my eating partner in crime went for the lobster version. Perfectly cooked eggs with a delicious hollandaise and a whole heap of fresh fruit on the side which was a nice change from the usual grilled tomato or something equally generic.

Considering it was packed at 10am on a Saturday morning the service was pretty swift and no one asked us to give up our table even after over 2 hours and just 2 humble plates of eggs later.

Plus it has a nice little terrace that overlooks the beach if you want your breakfast alfresco. All in all I was very impressed with Eggspectation. And despite what the name may suggest they have a whole menu for lunch and dinner.

sunday sound #3 young

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

the reality of life post-christmas

We have been back in dubai little over a week and I think it's safe to say I have the obligatory post London blues. It's not about the place it's all about the people. Although London at Christmas does have an amazing magical quality.

When we booked our flights it sounded like such a long time but of course it flew by all too quickly.

We landed on Christmas Eve and since our arrival was somewhat of a surprise, we kept a low profile until Christmas Day. My family knew we were coming but the boyfriends mother didn't and lets just say that her reaction to have her her son and his girlfriend on her doorstep on Christmas afternoon, all the way from the Middle East, was pretty priceless. 

Christmas was the usual amazing combination of warm, satisfying English food perfect for the -2 temperatures we were dealt and a plethora of sweet treats. We spent days catching up with friends and family and lazy evenings in cosy Christmas themed pubs and watching our fair share of Londons best Christmas TV.

And of course a trip to London for me, must always include a few things; a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum, a trip to H&M, dinner in China Town and a visit to Selfridges. All of which I managed to tick off this time.

Until next year London.