Friday, 18 January 2013


Arrived in Dubai for my second visit absolutely wiped out. I had misjudged the flying time (only 6 hours), the time of leaving (10:15 p.m.), and the differences in time zones (+4 hours). What this means is that I ended up with 2 or 3 hours sleep and arrived at 7 a.m. Dubai time. By the time I got to the hotel, checked in etc, it was about 8:30 a.m. And I'm not getting any younger. Laid down on the bed, just for a couple of minutes. Of course, I fell asleep. Roused up at one stage to check the time and it was about noon. The next thing I knew it was about 2 p.m. So much for one of my 2 days in Dubai.

Got something to eat and figured I would go for a bit of a walk, just so I could say I didn't waste the whole day. The street my hotel is on is quite busy. It has a section in the middle, fenced, with benches, trees, and a walk way. Lots of men sitting on the benches, chatting. Men walking up and down the street. Cafes near the hotel, more benches on the side of the road. Men in the cafe, drinking whatever, chatting. Found a supermarket and thought I woulld see what it had. Same sort of things in Dubai as in London as in Australia – Cadburys chocolate, colgate toothpaste, Special K, vegetables and fruit, a delicatessen counter with cold meats. Men standing around chatting and shopping.

I think I saw about 4 women the whole time I was out. I wonder where they all are.

I didn't feel anyone was staring at me, or anything like that. Just felt very uncomfortable. I saw a young girl wearing very short shorts and a very short sleeved top (not recommended for Muslim countries), but no one was paying her any attention. Maybe that was the problem. The lack of attention for the very few women walking down the streets.

Right now I'm listening to the calls to worship. It happens at least 3 times every day that I've heard. One in the morning, one around noon and the other in the early evening. Apparently there is a Qibla sign in every corridor to indicate the direction of Mecca. I've been looking but still not found one. Just googled it so now I know what I'm looking for.

Just logged into my blog again. I noticed it the last time I was here. The writing at the top is in Arabic. When I do a “Preview”, that too is in Arabic. I've reset the time on my computer to Dubai and my computer is doing things in Arabic. Rather funny to see. My writing is still in English which is great. I would hate to have it all suddenly changed to Arabic !! Problem is, I can't work out which icon says “New Post” so I can post this!!

18 January 2013

Friday, 11 January 2013

Gentleman's Afternoon Tea

I spotted this sign the other day when we were shopping.
I've been to Lady's Afternoon Teas before. They are awesome.

The first one is at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford and the second at The Vines in Perth.
Slightly different set up in that the sandwiches were at the bottom and at the Vines, the sandwiches were on the top. Apparently the 7th Duchess of Bedford invented the afternoon tea in the early 1840's.

“Traditionally dinner was not served until 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening and the Duchess often became hungry, especially in the summer when dinner was served even later. She ordered a small meal of bread, butter, and other niceties, such as cakes, tarts, and biscuits, to be brought secretly to her boudoir. When she was exposed she was not ridiculed, as she had feared, but her habit caught on and the concept of a small meal, of niceties and perhaps tea, became popular and eventually known as "afternoon tea" “

Originally, according to one site, “In the 18th century it was custom for highborn ladies to receive callers with their morning tea while “abed and bare-breasted.”

So this was for “ladies” and “gentlemen” apparently. Where did the gentleman's tea originate? From what I can read, this is a new invention.

According to the Telegraph:
I'm not quite sure what to make of its latest incarnation, the "gentleman's afternoon tea". Up and down the country the traditional afternoon tea has somehow been deemed too ladylike for gentlemen. Instead, starched napkins are being smoothed down in preparation for mini fish and chips, black pudding, pork pies, scotch eggs and "rustic" chunky sandwiches with crusts defiantly on, presumably washed down with a vat of builders' tea.

There is a site (at least one I should imagine) that describes exactly how one should behave at an English High Tea from how your spoon should be placed on the saucer to how to split your scones and the order that one should eat your food.

I found one “Gentleman's Afternoon Tea” menu which included:
  • Poached oyster with bloody mary relish
  • Seared steak with peppers and mushrooms on toasted sourdough
It looked like a 4 course menu, concluding with a cigar and a tankard of Jack Daniels “Gentleman Jack” - whatever that happens to be – to finish off the meal.

No alcohol or cigars for the ladies.

11 January 2013

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


It's funny how things just seem to happen sometimes. I'm currently in Norwich with friends. Colin, is a history buff and has worked around Norwich Cathedral for years. He is currently looking at Medieval graffiti in churches around the area. We wandered through Norwich cathedral yesterday and he was showing me examples of medieval graffiti. It never occurred to me that graffiti was not just a modern concept. People have been writing on public buildings for centuries.

Here's an example of modern graffiti:
This won't last. Once repainted, it's gone forever, except in my (and others) photos. Mediaeval people really knew how to make lasting graffiti. They didn't have spray paint and with limited resources this was how they did their graffiti.
This one apparently is backwards writing for some reason.

Not all graffiti was written. Many were symbolic as this one.
Anyway, how did I get from a title of storytelling to the topic of mediaeval graffiti?

That same evening, we went to a party – a house warming party – a bloke called Dave. I knew of Dave, had met him online, but not managed to meet him in person on my last visit to Norwich. I knew Dave was a professional storyteller and knew that there would probably be some storytelling that evening. I had no idea what to expect, but was looking forward to a new experience.

There were heaps of people in a small English cottage. Stairs!! Well these were the worst I've seen. Narrow, steep, no railing and not straight. Dave and his partner told me the story of trying to get their double mattress up these stairs – on inch at a time as the mattress wouldn't bend around the corners. Lovely little cottage.

At some stage during the evening, someone started talking about storytelling, so Madeleine left the comfort of the bonfire and headed inside.

Dave sat down on a chair by the Christmas tree and started talking. Started telling a story. There's no point in talking about the story. It was about a cutpurse (a pickpocket), his wife and his baby. The interest was in the setting, the style of telling, the actions, the inclusion of the crowd. A most amazing experience

Here's Dave telling his story. 
Doesn't he just look like a storyteller?

The story was quite predictable and I had a pretty good idea what the ending would be, but the way it was told, was fascinating. So involving, that during the telling, I kept wanting to shout “this is what's happening”, even while wanting to hear the story work it's way out.

Much to my surprise people started asking about who was going to tell next. Then a young woman gets up and tells a mythological story from native America about men and women discovering sex. Using hands and voice to get her point across.
Then I realised that there were probably about 8 – 10 people in the room who were storytellers. A group of them who meet regularly and practice their storytelling skills and learn from each other. Some did it professionally, some just at parties and amongs friends. But they were all interested in storytelling.

Apparently people all around the world storytell. There is a group even in Perth. Miles away from me, so not something I will likely get involved in. An interesting experience.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Monday, 31 December 2012

The Eden Project

We didn't have very long to stop here and it's really a multiple visit place. I'd heard of it, but never seen it. We decided we had time to stop for an hour just to check it out. M&K had been before but of course, I hadn't. It was totally awesome (the only word I can use to describe it).

Cornwall is full of clay pits. Clay and tin mining and smuggling. Daphne Du Maurier's book Jamaica Inn was set in Cornwall and on my last trip into this part of the world, we stopped at Jamaica Inn. I thought I had written about it, but can't find anything. So maybe not.
This place was an old clay pit. And some very clever people, got together and decided to start this project.
Their book says: “The Eden Project, an educational charity and social enterprise, creates gardens, exhibitions, events, experiences and projects that explore how people can work together and with nature to change things for the better. Project one: creating a global garden in a 50m-deep crater that was once a china clay pit as a symbol of regeneration.”

It opened in 2000 and has grown from 5 staff to over 500 plus volunteers.

There are 3 domes which encapsulate different environments.

And those domes contain some of the most wonderful things I have seen in one place. It just shows what can happen when people put their mind to something. In the middle of Cornwall, in the Uk where it's cold and wet outside you can see plants and animals from Africa, and other rainforest countries, and from Mediterranean countries. We only went into the rainforest area. So there is much more we didn't see.

It's a place for children and adults. Every penny they make goes back into the project to improve and add.

The giant bee reminding people of the place insects play in the ecology of the world.

One of the signs that I found most attractive!!
So every time I eat chocolate, I'm saving rain forests?

We wandered the rainforest. Plants galore. Many I'd seen before, many I hadn't.

I remember these ones from somewhere in my past. It's an anthurium andraeanum or the Flamingo Flower. I seem to remember having one when we lived in Brisbane.
I had to keep wiping down my camera lens. It was so hot and muggy that it kept fogging up. Makes for some great photos sometimes. Here's one.
Right at the top of the dome was a viewing platform. As you can see there are at least a million stairs to get up there. Would give a great view, but not on our agenda for this day. Or probably any day if truth be told!!!
The whole project is about sustainability. There is a place to eat and they make all their own food, from the project, they recycle all their water. I went to the toilet while we were there. The toilet bowls are stained and there is a sign above the toilet to say that they were clean, but that the recycled water can leave stains. I commented to M&K that with our obsession with white being clean, many people would have problems using recycled water for flushing loos, simply because of the staining.

Long benches for eating at. Lots of good food. And a great feeling about the whole place.
And this was the kitchen area. You could look down and watch what they were doing. Not a great photo..........
One problem with the place is the hill it's on. It's a long way down. Stairs or ramps. But I wouldn't want to push a wheelchair up the ramp. We went down by the stairs and I came back up by the ramp. It was a loooooooooooong walk.

Periodically on the way down, I spotted these cutting off corners.
These were stairs for children to run up and beat their parents up the hill. I can just imagine M as a little person, going up these and thinking they were wonderful!!

It was definitely a place to return to at some stage, next time with more time to explore.

That's all for today folks.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Friday, 28 December 2012

English Bed and Breakfast

The English B&B are interesting experiences. Usually upstairs, often up many scary stairs. The ones in Bradford on Avon were stone stairs outside, and exactly the wrong height for normal people and therefore very uncomfortable to walk up. They looked lovely, but were really hard to go up
The place in Bath, was awesome. Except for all the stairs. You can in at road level, to M&K&F's room. The only thing on that level. To get to the dining and living area, you went down a long flight of stairs. To get to my room, you went up a long flight of stairs from the road level (or 2 flights from the living/dining area), then you went around a corner, and down another small flight of stairs. There were 3 more levels above me, but they weren't my problem.

Tonight, we had one long flight of stairs to a landing, then a couple more off to each side.

Stairs here tend to be steep, and long.

My legs are not used to stairs.

The other thing that English B&B's seem to have a lot of is mirrors. The last place we were in, had ginormous mirrors in each room. Even large ones in the bathroom. They seem to like mirrors in front of the toilet, so when a woman stands up, she can see everything she doesn't want to see.

Wardrobe mirrors. you know the wardrobe doors that are mirrors. Yes, those one. At the end of the bed, so that the first thing you see when you wake up is your morning face. Not a good look. Luckily I'm very good at ignoring mirrors. I know they are supposed to make small areas look bigger, but hey.................
 I think these were “in” in the 80's.

Showers: Most of the B&B's we've been in have private showers. However, I reckon that you often need an engineering degree to work them. This one seems simple enough. In the last place, they had an old system and a new system hooked up together and you had to turn this dial, and then that one, and eventually you got some hot water. Similar situation in Bradford. I actually need someone to work it out for me before I can have one.

The B&B we are in tonight is quite simple. One shower head, and a tap. One of the places we visited today had two shower heads and a number of taps. Didn't take a photo cause I felt it would be a bit impolite to ask if I could photograph their shower!!

All very interesting. My legs are getting used to the stairs and don't groan as much as they did a couple of days ago. Hills they are still struggling with, but improving. I'm used toa city where you drive everywhere, and if you walk, it is mainly flat, and houses are one story, so no stairs to go up. Certainly not steep narrow ones.

Catchya all.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Solar Powered Bins

I love Google.

I've been seeing these all over Bath
Not quite sure what the purpose of a “solar powered” bin was. So I Googled, as you do.

Turns out they sense when they are full and compact the rubbish. They have lights on them which say when they are full and when needing compacting. Although why the lights flash I'm not sure as they appear to do the compacting automatically.Maybe to warm people to leave it be while it compacts. Saves on time and money having to empty the bins and apparently
Banes council is also considering paying for an upgrade to the system which would send a text message to refuse staff saying the bins are ready to be emptied. '

Love it!!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Roman Baths

Awesome. They give you a little thingee that you hang around your neck and gives you an ongoing dialogue about what you are seeing. Each display has a number, and you typr in that number, and you get the history of that display. There is even a special one for children, which apparently is great and keeps the kids interested.

What to say about the baths. So much information.

As you come in, you can see Bath Cathedral overlooking the Baths.
And the statues along the walkway. Many of the important Romans have been sculpted and watch over the baths. They are quite recent in comparison, late 1800s.

Looking down from the terrace you can see some displays that depict what would be happening at the time
And an entrance to the baths and niches where people would sit and enjoy themselves. A bit like our swimming pools today.
The water is steaming hot, and I tried to get a photo of the steam coming off the bath, and the bubbles as it boiled. I'm not sure how well I succeeded. Will have to wait until I can see the photos on a bigger screen. This I gather is the main bath, and it all flows from one into another and as it goes becomes cooler so it was suitable for people to bathe in.
This is the best picture I could take of the way the underground water flows from one bath to another.

The water looks really murky and yukky. They were apparently using the baths up until about the 1970s until someone got sick with meningitis. There are signs all around about not swimming in the baths. Talked to one of the tour guides and he was saying that if you fall in accidentally they will offer you a place to dry out and to dry your clothes and help you medically if you get sick, but if you jump in on purpose, you are on your own. I wonder how many people fall in accidentally on purpose.

There's a whole museum part as well that talks about the original religious aspect for the baths. One of the things they talk about was that people would send curses to other people. If you threw the curse into the water and it floated back up again, then you would be cursed rather than the person you were aiming it at. So they used to write the curses on metal and throw them in. I wonder how many feet were cut over the years on rusting metal!!

Apparently there was a whole process people went through when they went into the bath, from a changing room, where the temperature was warm, through to a room where they oiled themselves up, and then into a “sauna” room. Not sure where they went from there.
This is I think the Great Bath.

And then you came back to the present with the usual gift shop, and then out onto the road and back into the 21st century.

Monday, 24 December 2012