Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy New Year

We hope you had a wonderful christmas break.

I had to work, but Christina and I managed to get out for dinner with some friends and enjoyed a wonderful evening of good food, good wine and good company.

Dale, Meredith and Tory back in Central Australia visited their friends' place for the day. They have three boys around Tory's age, so apparenty they had a good time.

The photo of Meredith and Tory was taken in our house on 25 Dec 07 and is one of the best we have.

New Years Eve we are off to the Al Ain Golf Club for a bash with around 18 other people in our group. We'll no doubt run into others we know too as the circle of places to go here is small, despite the city being sprawling and having around 400,000 people.

We hope you have a Happy New Year event and a 2008 with all that you wish for.

Best wishes

Robin and Christina

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Four Days in Damascus, Syria

G'day, Having been to Damascus during the National Day holidays in the UAE, I thought I'd best give a report. It was a busy weekend with a flight out of Dubai early Friday morning and arrival at Damascus early morning. We settled into our hotel and after a short break hit the pavement. Needless to say, we went to the souks (markets) which are huge and extend for miles. You can buy almost anything from needle and thread to food and canvas goods. You want it, they've got it.

Much of the stuff they have is available in the UAE, but Syria is much cheaper as their currency is worth almost nothing. Damascus is in a bad state of repair reflecting the difference between the oil abundant UAE and their dirt poor Arabian cousins. I never saw an Indian or Asian person while there (unlike the UAE whose population is mainly Indian and Asian) until we got to the departure line at the airport. White Caucasians like us and our travelling companions were also scarce which meant that everyone had a good look, even small kids, who had probably never seen whites before. Interestingly, jews, Christians and muslims all live together in Syria and do so apparently harmoniously sharing religious icons, churches, mosques and so on. It's an example that could perhaps be helpful in other less tolerant places.

We did a day trip to a place 60 kms away called Maalola and visited the Marsarkis Monestry built in the fourth century AD and naimed after Saint Sergius (Sarkis) whoever he was. We also toured The Monastery of Saint Takla which is set amid sandstone cliffs and while we were there, churchgoers were singing and the sound was broadcast around the neighbourhood.

During our stay we contributed to the gross domestic product of Syria while attending several lovely restaurants, most notable of which was yet another Golden Dragon (I've been to dozens of these!). The food was lovely and of course, our six companions were lovely to be with too.

Despite arriving back at Al Ain around 1:30 am the morning I had to front for work, it was a wonderful experience and made me yet again aware of how lucky we are that we can hop on a jet anytime and return to our beautiful country. We don't have to beg for a permanent visa or citizenship. Australians really do live in a Lucky Country and we should all visit overseas occasionally to remind us of that.

Double click on the photographic strip to make them larger.



PS: I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains ....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

From India With Loot

Today is an eventful day, even though we are in the Middle East. It's Federal Election Day in Australia, the outcome of which could change dramatically the future of our great country; it's our grandson Tory's sixth birthday, and Christina is back from India.
As would be expected (for anyone who knows Chris), she has brought a lot of "loot" back with her. (See photo)
The loot consists mainly of silk and cotton clothing, materials, a few metal bowls, incense, sandal wood scent, a silk tie for me, pashminas, and some small miscellaneous odds and ends. Some of the clothing is for Chris, some other items are for gifts and the rest is stock for us to sell after we return to Alice Springs.
We've decided that, because of the exchange rate between the UAE Dirham and the AUD, we are going to spend as much as we can here rather than bring money home where its relative value will be much less. The cost of living here is very much lower than in Australia. So anything we want, we'll buy before we leave eg, like a flat screen television.
Part of our plan is for us to stock up with some stuff to sell at the Todd Mall Market which runs every second Sunday in the cooler season. We'll have some Arabian and Iranian carpets, Indian clothes, some photo prints of places in the Middle East etc. If it works well, we may even import some of the products or visit annually and buy up ourselves.
Chris says she had a great experience in India and can understand how the many Indian expats living in the UAE, despite very low pay (in comparison with what I earn) and often poor accommodation, consider themselves well off. She saw some examples of extreme poverty in India and said that most of the toilets, showers, kitchens etc, were primitive.
Staying with an Indian family enriched the experience as she got a taste of life in an Indian family, how individuals relate to each other, and other insights that wouldn't have been available had she stayed in a tourist area hotel.
Next week we have National Day holidays and will by flying off to take a look at Damascus in Syria. We'll be there almost four days. It's a tough life, but someone has to live it.
Stay well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not Out of Africa, But Off to India


Yesterday Christina flew to Bangalore in India with our next door neighbour Kal.

Kal has family members there and, when she asked Chris if she'd like to come over for 10 days, Chris jumped at the opportunity. After all, what is living in the UAE for if it isn't travel?

So, Kal's husband Andrew and I drove to Sharjah up the UAE coast last night and dropped the ladies off at the Sharjah Airport. Sharjah is very traditional Islam; you can't do anything that looks like fun. And the male toilets don't have urinals just in case someone peeks at your you-know-what and gets turned on. It wasn't until after I had kissed my wife of 30 plus years goodbye in public that I realised I could have been arrested, whipped and deported for doing such a lascivious act in public. Filthy beast!

Anyway, once I found that the thought police hadn't seen me, or if they did, didn't take any notice, I saw a female couple holding hands and fondling each other and wondered what type of culture condemns acts of affection among those of us who are heterosexual and married and accepts public affection between same sex people. Have I missed something in my many years, or am I just confused? God knows.

My Domestic Manager and best friend is off on a junket and I'm home alone to fend for myself in the best way I possibly can for the next 10 days. Now, will it be the Horse and Jockey Bar or Pacos at which I dine tonight?

Minnie, meanie, miny, mo ....

Best wishes


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Haloween at Al Andalus Housing Complex


The housing complex in which we live is surrounded by a huge concrete perimeter fence. Our duplex is in a corner of the complex and the roadway outside is a circuit shaped like a "U" thus there isn't much traffic down our end. But there are seemingly dozens of kids ... perhaps indicative of the fertility and age group of most of our neighbours!

Unlike Australia, where we don't celebrate Halloween, here there is a large number of Canadians and fewer Americans who, as well as the Scottish expats, celebrate annually on 31 October. It's been a novel experience for us to be involved in the Halloween tradition with our friends and families and kids we've never met before.

Numbers of people who live elsewhere actually propel themselves to our street to join the celebrations. There was a good number of people this year. Christina went all out and made a fishing pond (hook a fish and get a prize), some suspended sweets people had to eat from the end of string without using their hands to steady the string ... that was interesting. The kids loved Chris's collection of popcorn and sweets and played the fishing game and also some apple bobbing in a water-filled large rubbish bucket. Fortunately none of the kids fell in.

The photo shows our friends Mutlu and Dawn who had both dressed down for the occasion. Muti and I managed to drink some water with grape in it and eat a few snacks including some wonderful quiche Chris had made especially for the occasion. I took a number of photos of the occasion to add to our growing collection of stuff from our Adventures in Arabia.

Stay well.


PS: We have a holiday coming up in December (UAE National Day) ... yes, another one, and will be travelling to Syria with a group of friends. Before that, Christina is off to India with Kal whose photo appeared in a recent blog edition. She's going for about 10 days. It's a great life and someone has to live it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Christina's Brother and Wife Visit Al Ain


We were delighted recently to have Gordon and Lyndie Minett from Brisbane visit us for six days. Although they were only here for a short time, we managed to cover quite a lot of territory. Chris and friend Michael took them on a tour of some Dubai souks and malls, they attended an iftar dinner at the Al Ain Women's College (the evening meal after the Ramadan fast), the Al Ain Museum, Jebal Hafitt (mountain dividing Al Ain and Oman) and the Mercure Inn Hotel, Pacos Bar at the Hilton, the Al Ain and Al Jimi Malls, and Abu Dhabi yesterday.
The photo was taken at the front entrance to the outlandishly stylish Emirates Palace Hotel and shows Lyndie, Christina and Gordon with water fountain at the rear. We had intended to have lunch at the Emirates Palace, but unfortunately, during Ramadan daylight hours they run only one restaurant which was charging Dirhams 300 per meal plus the 16% tax and service charge. That's over $100 AUD, so we decided lunch would be a peanut brittle bar in our car while sitting in the car park (eating in public during the fasting period is an arrestable offence!).
Gordon and Lyndie departed early this morning on their way to Italy.
Ramadan ends at the end of this week and we have Thursday through Monday off for a religious holiday called Eid Al Fitr (God knows what that means in Arabic).
We probably won't go far afield, but may take in some more of Oman and some places in the UAE where we haven't yet been.
Stay well.
for Christina and Robin
PS: I've launched a new ebook called, "The Breast Cancer E-Book" which has 230 pages and almost 100 articles about a range of breast cancer related issues. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness week, so every sale I make, 60% will be donated to a breast cancer research fund. Click on the title if you'd like to read about it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Al Hamra Fort Hotel and Beach Resort


We've just returned from a delightful stay at Al Hamra Resort near Ras Al Khaimah at the north-eastern tip of the UAE. We took the three hour drive up after work on Thursday evening (our Friday) and stayed overnight Thursday and Friday nights with six other friends.

After settling in Thursday evening we had a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant, one of several restaurants at the resort. After dinner we returned to one of our friend's rooms for a drink and chat. Most of us were tired (helped no doubt by the wine), so we retired around 11:30 pm.

In the morning Chris and I woke up early and sat outside our room, had a cup of coffee and listened to music from her iPod ... Roy Orbison's "California Blue" and a few others of Celine Dion and John Farnham, the names of which I can't recall. I tried to take some photos of the wildlife, but the high humidity fogged my lens and made it impossible at that time of the day. Later I was able to take some shots as evidenced by the photos at left.

During the day we hit the beach for a swim and later in the day friend Michael and I went for a tour of the establishment to look at the "architecture" ... beautiful shapes and colours. We found a nice spot on a balcony where we had a couple of German ales while we watched a parade of scantily clad, lovely ladies (and just one or two stunners) walking to and from the beach. It was a very pleasant way to fill in an hour or two given the scarcity of visible female skin at Al Ain.

Later the seven of us went to another restaurant where we wined and dined and sang with a Phillipino singer who had a very nice voice and sang a lot of old songs from the 60s and 70s. While I can't remember the 60s, (I had to say that!) most of us remembered the songs and were able to make a positive contribution. After dinner we went to the Malibu Nighclub Disco for a dance or two and returned to our rooms at a suitably late hour after getting our daily exercise jiving and generally romping about the dance floor. Chris and I would have stayed longer, but the cigarette smoke drove us out. Some of our friends danced on.

After a drawn out, social breakfast, several of our group went swimming, I took several photographs, we packed, paid our bill and departed shortly after midday. We arrived back at Al Ain around 3:00 pm and although we had a totally enjoyable weekend, were pleased to escape the high humidity of the coast.

Best wishes

for Robin and Christina

PS: Double click on the photos to get a better view.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ramadan and Great Photos


In muslim countries such as the United Arab Emirates the Holy Season of Ramadan has commenced. During the four weeks of Ramadan, muslims who follow the traditions of Islam fast from sunup until sunset ... no water or food of any kind. After sundown, they then feast. The shops are absolutely chock full of foods and food cooking implements ... some very large pots and pans to accommodate the large Arabian families.

At the college our day is condensed into a six hour day and many of our students turn up tired from eating and drinking all night and not sleeping. But we still endeavour to ensure learning occurs, it's just a bit slower than usual.

On a different note, while at Salzburg I took a photo of our friend Kel who spent some time with us for the first part of our holiday in Europe. We were having lunch at a restaurant and I looked up to see this perfect image for a photo ... a nice smile, colour, shape and contrast. Snap! ... and here it is.
I've entered this photo into a couple of photographic competitions, so wish me luck.
Best wishes
PS: I've been hard at work upgrading my site ... take a look here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back to the Grind


All good things come to an end. And there's only so many ancient churches, Roman bridges, museums, cobble-stoned town squares etc that one can look at without everything becoming a blur.

I'm back to the grind and Chris is back to housekeeping and social activities. She will also be continuing her voluntary work assisting Emirati students with their English, working four hours per week.

We had a wonderful holiday visiting Germany, Bavaria, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Switzerland, England and Scotland. The countryside in Germany in particular was spectacular ... green, green, green! The history of these countries, in comparison with our Australian history, is staggering; buildings, swords, armour suits and personal implements 900 years old or older. I kept wondering about the lives of the owners of the many artifacts I had seen. At one time in Scotland I stood in a cell block within a castle and wondered what poor souls had spent years of their lives shackled looking at the same walls at which I was now looking. Spectacular!

Without going into great detail, the photos from top to bottom herein are:

  1. Christina in the London Eye
  2. The London Eye (30 minutes to do a complete circuit)
  3. A young lady and her father taking a traditional route for nuptials at beautiful English town, Reeth
  4. Salzburg countryside from Salzburg Castle
  5. A structure in a roundabout at Maastrich, Holland which symbolises the European Union

NB: Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Best wishes

for Robin and Christina

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sitting at Munich Airport

London? Been there done that. We visited Big Ben, the Westminster Chapel and Minstry, the Kew Gardens, Buckingham Palace (saw the changing of the guards)and took a ride on the London Eye. The most notable thing about London for us was the cost of everything. It´s so very expensive.

We had a delightful time at Reeth, a lovely country town outside Leeds, and stayed at Leeds for a couple of days with friends. During our stay we visited York and soaked up a heap of the history.

Anyway, we have arrived back at Munich, from where we set out from Dubai several weeks ago and travel by train to Oberstaufen in the morning where we spend a week at our timeshare. The week after we move to Mitterfels for another week in a timeshare and then back to the UAE ... and work.

We are having a good time and enjoying the sites, although it´s been hard on the feet.

We will attach some photos to our nex post, so watch this place.

Best wishes


Monday, July 09, 2007

Today We Leave Brussels

Today we are departing Brussels after a three day stay.

We have already been to Munchen, Salzburg, and Maastricht and have been enjoying ourselves getting immersed in the history and occasionally the large variety of beers and wines available here. It's potent stuff, but some of it is absolutely tasty.

We have found Brussels the least nice location, but an hour's train travel away is a lovely old town called Brugge (Pronounced Bruje)that has many photographic treasures of old streets, village squares, churches, towers and statues. In fact everywhere we have been in Europe we have found statues and religious artifacts, usually of the Roman Catholic variety ie, Virgin Mary and numerous saints this or that.

Today we are off to Amsterdam to see its delights.


Robin and Christina

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Our European Holiday


Today we fly from Dubai to Munchen, Germany to begin our six week "summer" holiday junket.

We'll be visiting Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, England, and Scotland with most of our time being spent in Germany and Austria where we will be staying in two of our timeshare partners' resorts.

We return to Al Ain on 13 August 2007.

If you are out and about in any of the above countries and feel we may be able to get together, have a look at our itinerary here: and see if our paths might meet.

We'll no doubt have plenty to report on this blog as we move around Europe, so keep coming back to read all about it.

Best wishes


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Our Stay at Grand Hotel, Jebel Hafeet


Thanks to our friends Michael and Gayle Dougall, Christina and I had an overnight stay at the Grand Mercure Hotel, Jebel Hafeet last week. Jebel Hafeet is part of the mountain range that divides Oman and the UAE and the hotel is two thirds of the way to the top.

Also on Jebel Hafeet are a couple of small tourist cafes and a huge palace owned by one of the numerous Sheiks who run the country.
Michael and Gayle had shouted us this stay for my birthday in April and it was the first opportunity we had to take the time out to spoil ourselves.
After work Wednesday we left around 6 pm for the 20 minute drive to the hotel. On arrival we unpacked and dressed for dinner. As it was still early, we visited Lawrence's Bar for a drink or two and then strolled down to the poolside where a South African barbecue was in progress.

There was a range of different meats including chicken and beef kebabs, some lovely mince called botootie (or something similar) and a great range of delicious
vegetables. I had a glass of Australian red wine and Christina had a soda water.

Although it's been very, very hot during the day here, it was pleasantly warm with a gentle breeze at the poolside. An attractive Fillipino lady sang songs in the background as we dined and we could look out at the lights of Al Ain. Sadly, as is usually the case, the sky was cloudy brown over the city making it pointless taking photographs.
We returned to our room around 11 pm and retired for the night. In the morning I had hoped to take some photos of Al Ain without the haze, but even before the sun rose I could see the mist in the sky. I eventually gave up on any ideas I had of some spectacular city shots.

In the morning we had breakfast at the restaurant and, as there was so much lovely food, ate more than we needed to and much more than we usually eat for breakfast. We returned to our room to read for an hour, then played 30 minutes of squash and had a swim and a slide down the slippery slides before showering, changing and heading home early afternoon.
It was a delightful break from the usual routine and we appreciated it and the generosity of Michael and Gayle for making it possible.
The photos above are self-explanatory. Double click on them to see the large view.
Best wishes
for Christina and Robin

Friday, May 25, 2007

Fujairah Trip via Massafi


Last weekend I had to work at Dibba on the east coast of the UAE. a couple of hours drive from Al Ain. I was supervising national English examinations. The firm paid for Chris and me to stay in the Sandy Beach Hotel overnight.

While I worked my butt off supervising exams in a Dibba Al Hasn gymnasium, Christina lazed about the hotel swimming, reading and generally living the life of Riley. (Who the hell was Riley anyway? He must have had a good life as everyone keeps talking about it.).

We finished our exam supervision rather late ... about 6:15 pm after which Chris collected me and we travelled home via Massafi which has two rows of shops, one called the Thursday market and the other a few kilometres away, the Friday Market. Needless to say, in this silly place, both are open every day.

At Massafi we visited a pottery run by a sole Indian man who pumps out earthenware pots like the Australian cricket team pumps out runs. The photo above is of Chris looking for pots to buy. We bought three, two small ones and a larger one like the one she has her hand on in the photo. We imagine they will look nice sitting near the back door of our Tmara Mara Circuit house.
Today we had lunch with work colleagues at one of their houses and tonight I'm attending the inaugural dinner of the Al Ain Mature Men's Club which I organised (quite accidentally) to coincide with "Women's Night" at the Casa Romano Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel. I've been having regular day dreams of wall to wall Oriental beauties all day, but I'll probably find just a sprinkling of Western women (probably of the 'we hate men' ilk.)
It's a tough life, but someone has to dream it.
While I'm wining, talking rubbish and ogling at the sights (hopefully), Christina will be attending a student's wedding with another work colleague. When Emiratis get married, the men and women have separate celebrations and there is no mixing of genders (since funny things happen when you let them get together). I do understand that after the ceremonies the bride and groom are allowed to mix and it's highly likely that they even copulate like rabbits after decades of suppressed sexual energy. But, I'm not sure about that.
Hope this finds you having a great time too.
Best wishes

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Older Guy and The Young Boy


When Tory came to visit me and my students recently, Christina took this great shot of us in my staff room.
He'd been to visit two student groups, one studying Business and Software Essentials with 23 young ladies and another studying Human Resources Practices with 13 final semester ladies.
Although a bit shy at first, he soon came out of his box and began to talk to the girls and accept the many chocolates, stickers and other gifts they bestowed on him.
As we walked about the college, students whom I've never met, smiled at him and said "Hello". They don't see too many kids with fair hair, blue eyes and a lovely light tan, so he was somewhat popular.
In the latter class he played computer games with a group of girls and spoke to them using a few words of Arabic which I had asked him to speak. That delighted them. Now that Tory is back in Australia and back at school, some of the girls still ask after him.
One of the benefits of getting older is that you can become a grandparent. When one of my work colleagues sent me an email with a photo of his grandson on the bottom and the words, "If I had known being a grandparent was so much fun, I would have had my grandchildren first." I knew exactly what he meant. Being a grandparent is just wonderful.
Cheers for now.
PS: If you know anyone who needs a web site, somewhere to park it, 10 email addresses and an opportunity to make money, please send them to

Friday, April 20, 2007

Medal Arrives 36 Years Late


It arrived 36 years late. No, it's not a strange story about a postal article that fell behind a cabinet in Melbourne Central Postal Office and was found 36 years later. It's a story about being recognised for service 36 years after the event.
Here's the Australian Defence Medal the government has given me in recognition of my service in the Air Force. Better late than never eh?
I'm not quite sure what to do with it ... you can't eat it or drink it, but it must be good for something. Maybe I'll just store it and my kids can sell it after I move on.
The most difficult part of receiving this medal was collecting it from the Al Ain Post Office. Widely reputed for its total incompetence and inefficiency, the post office excelled when my insured parcel arrived. It took no less than four trips from Christina and me to collect it. We found that only one person has a key to the insured parcels cabinet and if he goes to prey ... or isn't at work, nothing moves out of the insured parcels cabinet. We found that preying takes at least 30 minutes; that when the postal computer says "delivered" it doesn't actually mean that a parcel has been delivered. But eventually sanity prevailed and I picked up my parcel ... the one I had waited 36 years for.
Best wishes
PS: What has Tyra Banks got that you haven't?

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's All About Me!


Well, I had the best birthday ever, despite having to work on 12 April 07.

I was having lunch in our staff lounge at Al Ain Women's College with a number of colleagues when Christina, Meredith and Tory unexpectedly entered with a cake, biscuits, slice (Christina's special), and custard tart.

We had a nice little feast and everyone wished me happy birthday as I blew out six candles. Then, when I got home at 4:30 pm, this lovely, folding bar was waiting for me. It looks much better than it does in the photo. It's hardwood engraved and with embedded brass pieces. It folds up into a neat cabinet. The top has unfolding segments at each end to make the bar top longer, and both doors open out. I've only opened the right door showing the wine rack so you can see the engraving on the left door.
It was made in Pakistan and is a truly lovely piece of work. It will look lovely in our house at home next to my wine rack which is about the same colour.
Maybe one day, you will be able to lean on the bar top with me and have a drink.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chris Meets Big Brute in Thailand

Wow! When Christina told me she had found a "Big brute in Thailand" my imagination went wild. Then she came home with this and other shots of her and Meredith with this big brute. (Take a look at the size of the paws!).
The two girls and Tory had a wonderful time at Phuket and Bangkok as would be expected and managed to damage their credit cards as well as get in a lot of swimming, sight seeing and shopping.
Meredith and Tory have been with us almost a week and it was lovely to see them. I was envious of Chris flying off to Bangkok, but when Tory and Meredith arrived, it was all worth the wait. All three have nice tanned skin, but Tory takes the prize as his skin is lovely tan and blemish free (no freckles like some of us). And the blue eyes (which he inherited from me (skite, skite)), look nice among the tan. Lucky guy!
We still have another three weeks together and plan to make the most of it. Summer is approaching here, although the evenings and mornings still have a little coolness to make it nice and pleasant, but before long it will be 50 degrees Celsius and time to go on our overseas jaunt to Europe to see how the other white people live.
I'll report more later towards the end of the holiday.
Every best wish
for Christina, Meredith, Tory and Robin

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Christina Heads to Thailand


Christina flew to Bangkok yesterday and will have met Meredith and Tory this morning for a short holiday at Bangkok and Phuket before flying into Abu Dhabi where the latter will holiday with us for a few weeks.

Meredith and Tory spent a couple of days at Perth enroute to visit Tory's "other" grandmother.

Summer is approaching and the weather at present is absolutely great here. Our complex now has a pool and a fully functioning gymnasium which are free to use if you provide copies of your photos, passport, rental agreement etc etc. Nothing is straightforward here. Interestingly, for a place with an almost unheard of crime rate, everyone is suspicious and businesses don't trust anyone. I'm not sure whether the crime rate is low because of the stringent processes and procedures to prevent it, or whether it's just low.

To a large extent I think the crime rate is low because 90% of the population is expatriate, courts mete out tough justice and if you are an expat part of a sentence is deportation. Workers are on such a good wicket here they can't afford to get the flick.

As an example of punishments, a British guy 30 felt an Emirati women's bum with his hand at the airport recently and his penalty was 3 months detention and a 3,000 AED fine (A bit over $1,000 dollars AUD). Can you imagine what the penalty would be in Australia ... $75 and a 3 month good behaviour bond.

Our visitors will be able to suck in the nice weather and use the pool while I'm at work earning a Dirham or two. However, I expect the summer heat to arrive quickly now and by May, days with 50 degree heat will be normal.

Christina has been doing some voluntary work at the Al Ain Women's College helping the English staff and seems to be enjoying it. Apart from a craft group, committee membership on the Emirates Natural History Group, the rest of her time is spent sewing this or that and most recently, planning our mid-year trip to several of the European countries.

Other than that, we both appear to be in good health and are still enjoying our stay here.

Hope this finds you and yours well too.

Best wishes

for Robin and Christina

PS: My latest website is at

Friday, February 16, 2007

Heading Towards Summer

It's been a few weeks since I posted anything here, so I thought I'd show you a shot of a lovely house entrance we saw during our recent Oman trip.

Fences and grand entrances are a cultural thing; Arabs have apparently retained the seige mentality from the days when their fellow Arabs marauded every part of the country stealing women and other valuables. Everything has to be fenced here, despite the almost non-existent crime rate and many of the fences would be worth 10 times more than our Alice Springs house.

Similarly, the vast acreage that householders occupy here is astonishing by our standards where developers are endeavouring to cram as many duplexes into as small a space as possible. It's even more astonishing when you consider the size of Australia and the smallness of the United Arab Emirates and many of the Middle East countries, the only exception being Saudi Arabia which is huge (but mainly sand!).

We had a lovely few days at Muscat, the capital of Oman; visited the Grand Mosque (which is indeed grand), saw the Sultan's Palace, went to the Muscat Gold Souk and generally tripped about the city. The traffic engineering is excellent and the city is attractively adorned with Arabic structures that go over the road (like a bridge), and jut up out of the hilly landscape. It's a very nice city.

We bought two Arabic coffee pots (similar to those on the gate above) and a few small trinkets at the souk and of course took hundreds of photos.

Now I've just finished my first week of teaching and we are counting the weeks off until our mid-year jaunt to Europe. God it's a tough life. The weather here, at the tail end of winter is absolutely delightful as we head towards summer.

Stay well and keep visiting our blog.

Best wishes

for Christina and Robin

Monday, January 29, 2007

Al Ain Air Show


Yesterday we attended the Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2007 and watched those remarkable men (and one Russian woman) in their flying machines.

The weather was perfect and I managed to take 277 photos before the battery on our new camera chucked it in. One of the shots of the British Red Arrows at work is at left. [Last year one of my photos was shown in The Australian]

We arrived at 12 pm and watched some stunning flying until around 5.00 pm and then went home via Al Ain Mall where we had a quick snack (no cooking or dish washing for us last night!)

We bought an Air Show T shirt for grandson Tory and I bought a baseball cap with a jet on the front for my cap collection. We expect to be off to Dubai tomorrow or the next day to meet up with our good friend Alison Pyper (from Alice Springs living in Kuwait) who is visiting an Arab Health Conference/Expo. Christina is going to attend the conference too (probably tax deductable) and I've volunteered to be left at a local watering hole for the duration, although I doubt whether I could last the distance. I'll have to find something else to do earlier in the day and hit the watering hole later in the afternoon ... maybe I can go shopping at one of Dubai's numerous malls.

Hope you are well.

for Robin and Christina

Saturday, January 20, 2007

College Mid-Year Holidays


Here in Topsy-Turvy land (Northern hemisphere, winter in January, different culture etc), the mid-year academic holidays occur in January. So, on Australia Day we commence our two week break before the second semester begins in early February.

We have decided to travel to Muscat, the capital of Oman, our neighbouring country and do some camping. Although we've been into some of Oman, we haven't been to Muscat, so this is a good opportunity to do it. Friends who were there recently said people were swimming, so it's obviously not a Canadian winter.

We've reached the half-way point in our contract. It's hard to believe we have only been here 18 months as so much has happened. It will no doubt take some settling in when we get back to Oz given the relatively higher costs of living ... we won't be able to dine out as often, that's for sure. Just the price of diesel will kill us.

On another note, I've had some trouble emailing people with Bigpond email addresses so I'll be checking email bounces soon with a view to rectifying the situation. This might involve my transferring my email addresses for blog subscribers to an alternative email provider. Either I, or the Emirates ISP I use isn't popular with Bigpond. If you are a Bigpond subscriber and want a Gmail account for your email, send a message to me at (change the AT for @) and I'll invite you to set up an account. It's a much better service than anything Telstra has and it's free. It's much better than Hotmail and Yahoo as well.

Hope all is well at your end as it is here.

Best wishes

for Christina and Robin

PS: Our new business at is slowly increasing its sales and when we advertise in Australian news media soon, it should increase much more. There are some great books so I've got to make sure I don't spend the profit buying my own stuff.

Monday, January 08, 2007

On, On Into the New Year ...


Well, another year is down and another has begun.

Thanks to our friends Michael and Gayle Dougall from Mount Isa and local friends too numerous to mention, we had a great Christmas and New Year period wining, dining and socialising. As I say more often these days, "What else could one want in life but good food, good wine and good friends?" We have certainly been blessed with all three and have a few other creature comforts too.

Michael and Gayle have driven off to Muscat in Oman today and of course I'm at work for this and the next two weeks until our end of semester holidays begin. Since Michael and Gayle have been here we've been up to Jebal Hafit for lunch, tried out the fish night at the Al Ain Intercontinental's Wok Restaurant ... delightful. We've driven to Abu Dhabi and up along the UAE coast as far as Dibba returning via Mussafah Friday Markets (the Friday markets that are open every day!). Chris and I also attended the wedding of Oscar, one of my work colleagues which was a Philipino affair. Good to see someone else taking the road to matrimonial bliss.

Between us we've taken several hundred photographs of the elaborately decorated roundabouts in the UAE (mainly Al Ain) and streets, mosques, parks and gardens, events and friends etc. These will add to our fond memories of our time in the UAE when we are back in Alice Springs wondering why we ever returned. We're bound to wonder that given the cheap cost of living here compared with that in Australia and particularly Alice Springs.

As another year dawns, we look forward to continuing our journey in the UAE, holidaying in Europe during the mid-year break, and consolidating and preparing our financial and other affairs for our eventual return to Oz in mid-2008.

We hope this finds you and yours well and you follow our lead and get a blog so we can keep in touch more frequently and easily. M&G have now got their own blog and have promised to update it at least monthly. Time will tell. On Friday M&G will have flown out of Dubai and Graham and Anne of Bundaberg arrive for a few days on their return from visiting family in England.

Every best wish


for Robin and Christina