You can now read this modern classic at:
Enjoy! I know I did…
You can now read this modern classic at:
Enjoy! I know I did…
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
So we embarked upon a rag-tag of opportunities and spontaneity, filling our free time (of which there doesn’t seem to be much these days) doing things so as to please and satisfy our adventurous spirits. Nothing too taxing or foolhardy, as we might have done in days gone by, merely doing stuff so as not to be sat indoors all the time. The sun is shining and the heat is on the up, up, up so let’s get out there and enjoy it all while it lasts.
It started with a trip to the Royal Opera House to see an unusual version of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’ where the story had been changed from a Christmas to a birthday. Maybe it was done so as not to offend the predominate religion out here or maybe a clever adaptation to inject some enthusiasm into what can only be considered a well-worn, tried and tested storyline. It appeared to work but left some of us confused as we waited and waited for the appearance of a Christmas tree. It was well into the second half when the penny dropped. Never mind, ballet is ballet and the dancing bit is always a nonsense as far as I’m concerned. Of course, to aspiring ballerinas, such words could be devastating.
Well aware of how cold and miserable it is in other parts of the world, southern England for example, we try to be thankful for the warming rays that we feel practically every day, throughout the day and also throughout the night as it goes. No aching bones, no chilblains and certainly no frozen toes or faces, the sun never fails to lift our spirits and ward off any depressing thoughts of the economy, a general election or an unequal work/life balance. In the cool of the evening, we often take a short journey to the end of the road and walk along the public beach. There are posher beaches close by, where ex-pats hang out with their Pimms, but we prefer the homeliness of the local sands and the local people that go there to relax, wash and race their cars. Yep, it’s probably one of the few places left in the world where there are no restrictions as to where you can drive your car or ride your quad-bike. Golden sands are regularly churned and the peacefulness of the lapping surf broken by revving engines and the spinning of wheels. In some ways it’s a good thing as there are no Big Brother, Nanny State do-gooders telling you what to do and where to do it but on the other hand, it does kind of ruin it for those that are not involved in the mechanical monster thing. Personally, we have to remember who was here first and who it all belongs to; we don’t complain – only to eachother perhaps. We live and let live. Wouldn’t you?
We continue to experiment with any number of new ideas and many of those new things involve food. Continuing with the much lauded and highly acclaimed series ‘Fish I Have Mostly Eaten’ we add to the list to prove our sense of adventure and, well, just for the hell of it really. We still find it odd that not so long ago, in a town somewhere on the south coast of England, we would pay an awful lot of money to view exotic fish swimming around in a tank. Here, we eat them for next to nothing.
This tasty morsel was fried and believe me it was mouth-wateringly delicious. The large scales were bit of a bugger to deal with but the flesh was nothing less than pure heaven. This pretty Parrot-Fish, exactly the same as you would pay good money to gawp at in a commercial aquarium, was our lunch. Cheap as chips (but we didn’t have chips as it happens) he slipped down a treat and it could only have been improved upon by a drop or two of a chilled, Premier Cru Chablis. Ah well! We live in hope.
At this time, we are sat in the garden planning where to head for next. The glorious return of His Majesty, after a spell in Germany receiving treatment for an illness, has caused an outpouring of emotional loyalty and we are all expecting a public holiday to be announced. One day, maybe two or even more. Whatever comes our way, we plan to make the most of it because there is still so much more to be seen. So much more to be done.
Why goodness! I haven’t really got time to finish…
And this, I can assure you, will be your very best friend for ever and ever and ever
See what’s be written about it:
“A stunning read…”
“Five stars, seven if I could…”
“Couldn’t put it down, wouldn’t put it down…”
“Should be read by every person on this planet…”
Of course, I said all those things but then that’s just because you haven’t had the time to say them yourselves yet.
Go to Wattpad.com and search for the title Slugs, Snails and Casino Tales.
Read it and I’ll post the second chapter if there’s enough interest (the second chapter is well weird!). Tweet it, instagram it, facebook thingy it, get all your friends and enemies to read the darn thing so I can make a few quid. Blimey! I’d do it for you if you were the literary genius – but you’re not and I am so tell everyone and get them to read and rate it. You wouldn’t want me to send the boys round, now would you?
“What a read. A refreshing insight into the mind of a lunatic…”
Well, you never know…
It certainly has been a long time since we last met. One would expect that we have been busy, busy, busy and to all intents and purposes we have. Unfortunately, we have not been busy with exciting adventures – just life really. We wanted to experience both festival locations this year so we trundled along to Nassem park to see a herd of dinosaurs. Not real dinosaurs, of course, but as real-looking as they can be without having a heartbeat. Animatronics are quite good these days and there were no joins to be seen on their flesh-like foam bodies. Life-sized replicas of all the popular, and very extinct, creatures with names far too long to type were there. Very realistic roars and gurgles came with each specimen although someone did question how we would know what they really sounded like. We could all be so very, very wrong! Nevertheless, speakers blasted out supposed mating calls, roars, whistles and groans then we all pretended that they were alive and ran for our lives.
The head swished back and forth, it bobbed up and down, the jaw chattered and little arms scratched at the air, but enough about the wife – Guffaw! We then had the very clever idea to video the animatronics and make a hilarious movie where the models seemingly come alive and chase us around the park. It’s all on the video camera waiting to be uploaded. Waiting, just waiting…
There was a fun fair that too looked like it was from another age. An age before health and safety that is; rattling machinery and metal, clattering and swinging with unnatural forces which we were sure would herald catastrophe. We quickly and quietly moved along. A pleasant evening as things go and we can proudly say we were a part of the Muscat Festival 2015.
Still, not everyone was happy about it…
Still, you’ve gotta laugh – I did!
Short and sweet – but then so are we…
The changing of the seasons; hot and sunny, warm and sunny, cool and sunny bring about those primal changes in us. Exciting summer adventures to be had, overseas trips to enjoy, winter breaks to plan for – so much to do, so little time to do it.
The kick-start to this year’s warm spring, to be hastily followed by a scorching summer, comes by way of the annual Muscat Festival – which is not unlike a county show really. This is our third visit and although one might expect it to be a bit same(ish), which of course it is, there are still enough new things to keep us interested and delighted at the local bash. Unusually, this year we made a number of purchases from the ‘Around the World’ exhibitions of arts, crafts and all things fancy. We came away with a kite on a stick which, though it might sound a tad dull, is in fact an extremely good toy and it cost us no more than the loose change you might find at the bottom of a pocket where fluff is made. After this initial purchase from ‘China’, we went crazy with a rather gaudy necklace from “Tanzania’ and a make-up/pencil case from “Uzbekistan’; the latter being beautifully embroidered and the former very much a matter of taste. The child, we decided, should be tattooed – as a mark of ownership and just in case we needed to identify her should she ever get lost. Job done!
We enjoyed a cup of sweetcorn kernels with lemon and salt, which is a hugely popular fast-food snack in these parts, followed by a large swirl of candy-floss on a stick (cotton-candy as we now call it) which caused the uncontrollable urge, for those susceptible to a sugar rush, to run amok for fifteen minutes before collapsing into a sorry pile and moaning about everything and nothing. Such is a kid’s life. Cleverly, we arrived just before opening time at around 4pm and left as the crowds were pouring in, thus avoiding the five hour traffic queue that was reported when the world and his dog decided to head home at the same time. If only all life was like that.
Domesticity, shudder at the mere mention of it, still takes precedence and it seems an age since we embarked on any meaningful, mad-cap adventures where we risk life, limb or even a child. As much as the intention is there, there is always something more pressing that prevents us from getting out and about. Have we lost our adventure mojo? One would think so but were you to witness our feverish activity whilst planning this year’s summer hols (and a winter extravaganza too), you would indeed be praising our spirit. This may well be our last chance to pass off myth as reality before someone gets too old and wise to know better. How long will it be before the axe of stark realisation falls to inflict the gaping wound of awareness and those seasonal presents that are left under the tree are surely courtesy of Mum and Dad and not the rotund chap, all beardy and dressed in red with a ho, bloody ho, ho, ho!? We have it in mind to head north, way north, to see the certain gentleman before it’s too late.
Hanging about the house does have certain advantages; you manage to get around to all those niggly little jobs that always seem to be put off until later – like buying a live crab and cooking it, for example.
Having researched the issue on the internet (well it all looked so easy at the time), things never quite turned out as planned. That’s the problem with your celebrity chefs’ cooking shows and Christmas books – everything always turns out so bloody perfect! Well not mine, matey! People need to know this sort of stuff. People need to know that they are not perfect and that it’s okay to cock it up in the kitchen (move along now, no euphemism here). Maybe a new TV series is needed – ‘REAL COOKING’ – fly on the wall stuff with the good, the bad and the downright dangerous. Masterchef has had its day, it’s too nice, too normal; we need something new that we can all relate to, something REAL LIFE. This immediately brings to mind a past attempt at reality TV. A pilot episode of ‘Nude Men Fishing’ was filmed but never quite made it to the editing suite. Could have been a hit, me thinks. This was to be followed by a second series of ‘Nude Men Sailing’ but that one didn’t even get passed the pub door. Only one other old man could testify to this being absolutely true – name and address supplied. Anyway, I digress. If you would like to spend 29 minutes of your valuable lives watching a silly old codger try to kill, cook and eat a mud crab then this is definitely for you.
If not, then here is a synopsis of events; buy crab, realise it’s alive, put in freezer to ‘sleep’, stab in the eyeball to make sure it’s dead (genuine error as it should have been the mouth but which hole is which?), back in the freezer as he’s obviously still alive’ (the stabbing sparked him into action, I can tell you!), tie him up, put it into boiling water but pot is too small, procure industrial size pot from canteen, boil him, cool him in ice, break off his claws and legs, eat the contents of his head and the meat from claws, make a small sandwich with remainder, retire for a nap. A certain spider-crab caught off the Isle of Wight and immediately cooked onboard the good ship Tom B’ aside, this was the finest, tastiest crab ever consumed. It will certainly be repeated but for now, there is a lobster giving it large at the fishmongers. It really was absolutely brilliant! Astonishing! Bit like a good book I know.
As the first chapter of a much anticipated novel nears completion, the job now at hand is to find a literary agent who is willing (or stupid enough) to take it on to punt around for a publication deal. Rave reviews accompany the opening chapter; ‘The new Harry Potter for the next generation’, ‘an exciting and devilish good read’, ‘a breath of fresh air in a stale world of clap-trap fiction’ “I couldn’t put it down, I still can’t, I carry it around with me everywhere’, and ‘an exciting new writer of sheer brilliance with a blinding talent for writing best-sellers that simply rakes in the dosh’. Admittedly all self-acclaimed but that should make those publishers sit up and take a bit of notice, eh? Maybe an anonymous benefactor will raise some funding on a ‘fund me’ website and get this literary masterpiece into print. Maybe not? Suffice to say, it’s a ‘rollicking good read’, based on many a true story gained from twenty-five miserable years in the casino industry; ‘a revelation with laugh out loud anecdotes’ (author’s acclaim again). Get in touch publishers and agents but only if you want to strike it rich with ‘a genius of the pen’ (I really must stop it now). For your delectation, a short extract from ‘Slugs, Snails and Casino Tales’.
Chapter 1 – Business as Usual
“Get his money!”
How do you top that?
Until the next time,
Run fast and stay low,
It really was a matter of time before we exhausted all the good things to do, only to be left with the mundane. Work takes precedence these days, just as much as it does and would anywhere else we were to find ourselves. The advantage of that is, of course, it pays just enough to procure one or two of life’s luxuries and the odd trip overseas once or twice a year.
In the interim, between adventures that is, we have taken to amusing ourselves with a Japanese Fighting Fish named ‘George’. For the ‘a-fish-ionados’ out there, it is a Betta fish. Unfortunately, this breed has been bred to fight so he lives alone, less he kills or gets killed. George? Well, he is rather curious.
As for work, one has to be forever mindful that one is only a small explosion away from meeting one’s maker. Work in the crude oil business is often very rewarding but very, very dangerous!
As I stood at the source of the smoke and flames, I considered my lot; I evacuated as per my own policies and procedures and thereby live to tell this sorry tale.
With little else to amuse us during these cold, winter months, we often perambulate about the mall to find warmth, amusement and the weekly shop. Sad that we are, we delight in a new pastime with our new friends. It is a fad that will catch on and you heard it here first – the worldwide phenomenon that will be DigiBirds. We have two that we are somewhat fond of and sing along with every day. What fun, what joy…
If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, check out our two friends at:
Blimey! Have we really become so sad that we have resorted to a couple of mechanical, plastic toys to entertain us? Too right we have, SING ALONG NOW…
Apologies to one and all for such an appalling blog post but that’s what boredom and idle hands will do for you.
Happy New Year!
P.S. When is the cut-off date for saying that?
Minutes roll into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, so on and so forth. It seems an age since anything of note happened. The sun continues to shine, warm rays easing the pain of ageing bones and joints and were we to become any more laid back than we already are, we would probably fall over.
Courtesy of this year’s National Day, we were all granted a four day weekend to do with as we wished. The prospect of facing another period of ‘house-arrest’ by staying at home was to be avoided at all costs so, we hopped into the Ferrari and headed for the world’s fastest rollercoaster. (Yes – a Ferrari!) We embarked upon the usual decision making process, sleep in the dirt (camping) for a few days or relax in the warm embrace of a five star hotel somewhere in the United Arab Emirates – it really was a no-brainer. We motored in the Ferrari – (YES! – A FERRARI – GET OVER IT!!) towards clean sheets and a regular, buffet breakfast. The UAE border is some three hours or so away, followed by a short(ish) delay at a seemingly organised but quite chaotic border crossing, then a couple of hours more on empty roads to our latest, most favourite destination, wonderful Abu Dhabi. What we particularly like about this place is the feel of it all, the openness, clean lines, modern ways, attitudes, relaxed lifestyle, sumptuous wealth, modern cultural interests, things to do and see and the chance to shop, shop, SHOP! During our last visit, we barely had time to take any meaningful photographs and sadly, it was pretty much the same this time around. Far too much time was spent gawking at architecture that defied gravity, if not belief, to remember to lift the camera and immortalise the image by pressing a button. Maybe that’s just an excuse for us to return again soon?
The world’s fastest roller coaster accelerates to a staggering 240 kph in 4.9 seconds. That’s 0-100kph in 2 seconds! It pulls an acceleration of 1.7Gs with a maximum of 4.8Gs so your eyeballs gravitate to the back of your head and last night’s meal is ushered into making an unwanted appearance in your trouser seat. As an aficionado of roller-coasting activity, Disney World, Disney Land, Mammoth Mountain, Dreamland Margate, I can attest to this particular roller coaster, the world’s fastest, as being pretty dammed quick. Swim goggles are issued to protect your eyes as you hurtle around 2.07 kilometres of track; how we marvelled at the money that is spent on entertaining those who have, when those who do not, are literally starving. There, I’ve said my bit and if that puts me in the same league as Sir Bob, then I humbly accept my knighthood. But I digress. We parked up in front of the rollercoaster and set the camera upon a fence post to capture this enduring image of the pre-apocalyptic family who has everything.
We checked into our hotel next door to the Yas Marina Grand Prix circuit where we could watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix in style. I distinctly remember asking Lewis if it was this weekend…
It was last weekend that the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton. In lieu of the fact that we would not see state of the art ‘rocket ships on wheels’ hurtling around a track, we spent the day at Ferrari world next door where we could do all manner of things Ferrari. We had a Ferrari lunch, rode on a Ferrari roller-coaster, drooled over the new ‘La Ferrari’, had a Ferrari ice-cream, rode in some Ferrari tyres (just like a spinning tea-cup ride I suppose), pretended to be winners on the Ferrari podium, raced Ferrari go-karts, watched Ferrari movies, rode in Ferrari simulators and finally bought some Ferrari souvenirs. If nothing else, we lived and breathed Ferrari. The building itself was also a spectacular piece of design engineering shaped, unsurprisingly, in the Ferrari marque. At the end of the day, a lot of Ferrari fun was had by one and all.
Being who we are, we were immediately upgraded to Premium visitors and handed complimentary tickets to Waterworld, where we took full advantage of this freebie the very next day.
A frenzied collection of brightly painted tubes, slides and enema inducing ducts, spouts and conduits welcomed us to Yas Waterworld; the UAE’s first MEGA waterpark. Hordes of families, mainly of Indian origin, swept through the park with their Premium wristbands visibly proud upon skinny, brown wrists. An overt display of superiority, deriding us ‘’regular’ guests, as we watched them parade along their designated access to the front of the queue. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t busy like a ‘Sunny Summer Bank Holiday weekend in Brighton – Phew! What a Scorcher!’ sort of busy, just busier than we have been used to of late. There were more foreigners than you could point a stick at and anyone who is not us, must be the foreigner, right?
We managed an early white-knuckle water ride, before crowd domination set in, and it scared the little one senseless. In some parts of the world this might be considered abuse but out here, it’s all considered a part of the growing up experience. Not to be deterred or persuaded by incessant grizzling or the gripping of fence posts and stamping of feet, we embarked upon a strict regime of challenging experiences for the child that would serve her well into adult life. Not being exactly sure how this was to be achieved, we duly signed her up for the ‘Pearl Diving’ experience. In a 5 metre deep water tank, cunningly designed to look like the bottom of an ocean with fake treasure chest, discarded anchor and some very convincing rocks, an audience would watch through the vast expanse of glass frontage as the ‘Pearl Diver’ risked asphyxiation for a pearl oyster. With very brief instructions to don mask, hold breath, dive down to the bottom and grab an oyster, we ushered the kid to the front of the queue by means of poking one or two fingers into the middle of her shoulder blades and employing a firm, rapid jabbing motion. In the end, the whimpering and whining became an embarrassment so the head of the household had to forsake his front row seat and chilled Pepsi to go and get wet in order to procure the oyster that seemed so desirous at the time.
I, the Master Pearl Diver, earnestly began rummaging around in the sand at the bottom of the huge tank then finally held aloft, for approval, a small, brown shell. By this time, ageing lungs that have suffered so many years of mistreatment and neglect, gave out and it’s a bloody long way up when your oxygen supply has been depleted, I can tell you. Nevertheless, there remained a personal requirement to surface with a contrived air of theatrical grace! Gingerly we all waited whilst the attendant cut open the oyster to reveal…
…a squidgy mess resembling the contents of someone’s congested, nasal cavity. But wait! There inside the slime was a shiny white pearl the size of a Birdseye frozen, garden pea. At this point it all got ugly as the family fought over possession. Finders-keepers did not apply in this instance, apparently, so having risked life and limb to get the enamel covered grit, I was not allowed to keep it. Also, one pearl does not a pair of earrings make. Having been carefully cleaned with table salt and set into a silver cage flanked by two dolphins, the pearl was finally delivered to the sprog to love, cherish and remind her of this moment in her life. Whilst some things are best forgotten, this picture will serve as an eternal reminder.
Waterworld was a lot of fun but the intolerable wait for the best rides was too much to bear. Instead, we enjoyed the lazy rivers and many of the other attractions that are less attractive to those teenagers and adult kids that frequent such places of watery fun. As the sun began to set, the chill set in and the crowds thinned out. We emerged from our private cabana (tent) to make one final tour of the park before leaving, only to find that some of the best rides were unexpectedly available. Yeeha! We took a few turns on the snake tubes, cleverly securing the offspring with a tight grip of adult shins under her armpits (because her bum was too small to wedge in the innertube raft). An unusual position for rafting granted, however it served its purpose and if you cared or dared to ask her opinion, she would undoubtedly say, “It was AWESOME!”
Fortune continued to favour the brave as we found out that the country’s second largest mall had just recently opened. With no particular purchases in mind, we aimlessly wandered around the many, many, many shops that make up the Yas Mall. Anything and everything a shopaholic might desire appeared to be available here. Interestingly, I found that I could not, if I had the penchant for doing so, buy a Rolex! I may have missed a few shops but it seemed to me that my particular taste in luxury goods was not being catered for here. The mall, large though it is, seems to be missing something that the Dubai Mall has definitely got – an attraction, a centrepiece, a focus! Remember the fish tank in the Dubai Mall? The Yas Mall doesn’t have the same WOW! factor. Admittedly, there was a waterfall with some coloured lights and some arty stuff hanging from the ceiling but nothing to knock your socks off. It’s still new so maybe we’ll expect something extravagant in the near future.
There are two brands that are easily recognisable throughout the world; one being the yellow ‘M’ of McDonalds and the other the blue and yellow of IKEA. We saw both but were hypnotically drawn to the home of household goodies. Why, we only popped in to see if we could find a table light! As is so often the case in these circumstances, we finally emerged from the store with a trolley full of soft furnishings, kitchen gadgets, glassware, flat-pack furniture and several packs of paper napkins (plus holder with integrated weight – very innovative). The one thing we didn’t get was the table light!
As you can imagine, it was a fun few days in Abu Dhabi and exhausted as one is after such a break, we began to ponder the idea of making it a permanent feature…
Disclaimer: Just to put the record straight, not everything written here is exactly the way it happened or indeed, the whole truth. A large amount of literary licence has been employed for no other reason than ‘because we can’. Please bear in mind that no little ones, kids, children, sprogs or any other fluffy creatures were actually harmed, cajoled, abused, coerced, forced or anything else detrimental, into doing anything they did not want to, during this actual event or any other event, expedition, adventure ever spoken or written about, implied or intended. Anyway, the kid knows better than to complain!
And, as for the Ferrari…