So what have we been up to this week? Well I had my first full week of work, which went very well, and felt very odd when I finished for the week on Thursday. Friday did still see lots of blackberry activity, which is not ideal and does put me in the bad books with the Entertainments Manager at home, but the bills must be paid.
Rach met up with a friend from work and his family at the Jumeirah Beach Club, a 5 start hotel where you can join on a yearly membership to use their facilities, private pools (x5), private beach, use their dinghies, windsurfers, gym, etc, etc. All sounds lovely and Rach and the kids had a great time with everyone, and met a few kids who go to DESS (Charlotte and Oliver's school). The only unlovely part is the price - about £11k a year for a family of 5! That rules that one out then!
On Wednesday I had my performance review at work. That went well so we thought we would hit a restaurant at the Fountains at Dubai Mall to celebrate. It's the Worlds Largest fountain show, and this video doesn't do it justice, but I will post it anyway. The big building I zoom onto is the Burj Kalifa (Tallest building in the world at the moment).
Rach and the kids hit the park behind our hotel a few times this week. Picture here is copyright Charlotte and taken from our apartment:
Later in the week we booked to view a villa. It wasn't quite right, but the agent showed us a couple more he had on his books while we were there. They also weren't quite right but all for different reasons. The hardest thing we are struggling to get to grips with is the "taste" or rather the distinct lack of it, in the bathrooms. It is like going back to 1950's England with green suites, pink tiles and brown flooring, but this is in a 5 year old house, or a "fully renovated" bathroom. It beggars belief and would actually be difficult to live with.
On Saturday we viewed another villa, which was the best we have seen to date, but still lacked a certain something. The agents then showed us another, which was absolutely lovely and only 2 mins walk from the beach, but as in all good "New House in the Country" programs, which are essential viewing for all respectable housewives, when they revealed the price, we were rather disappointed. It was about £8k pa over budget, but they could be flexible apparently... A call to the agent today revealed that they seem to have suffered from a bout of arthritis this particular week.... So the search continues.
Friday saw us head to Creek Park, which is a gorgeous park right by the Creek and right behind the kids school. The aim was for us to test the school run, but it took us no less than 3 attempts to get the correct exit off of Sheikh Zayed Road. The roads are just so confusing here! After an hour wasted finding the school (actually not wasted, essential to avoid stress next Sunday!) we hit the park. They have a cable car that stretches the full length of the park, but high winds meant it was out of action which was a shame, so we had to satisfy ourselves with Frisbee (didn't realise that Frisbee is a brand not a "thing" - interesting), climbing frames and round-a-bouts. All good fun.
On Saturday we switched he hire car for a larger number, a Toyota Fortuner (mid sized SUV). We have signed up for a month, so that we can take the pressure off of finding a car and a house at the same time - but then I went car hunting again in the afternoon! I dropped Rach and the kids off at a colleagues house to go for a swim which Craig, Olsey and I headed to Al Awir, a massive used car place 15 mins outside of Dubai. They have about 50 car dealers in one place, with around 5,000+ cars of all makes and models. Think of the tackiest car dealer back in the UK, which is probably called "Quality Motors R Us" and double the tackiness, then lose the ability to communicate with any sales flair (or indeed English), add in the term "Full Option" (which they say about every car they have), and then park all the cars so close together that you can hardly get past them, let alone in the bloody things - and then you pretty much have Al Awir.
The strangest part is that you can buy pretty much any car you care to think of - be that a Hummer, Porsche (I wish), Ferrari, Lambo, right next to Ford, Audi etc. You walk into the cheapest looking building and it has 3 supercars in the showroom with a grubby looking salesman who has just woken up from his 3 hour afternoon nap. All very strange. Craig got a prize to part ex his current car for an updated version, but he wasn't impressed with the price. We bid the guy goodbye and then got followed to the car with questions of "how much do you want for it?" It was all a bit Life of Brian "You haven't even haggled yet! I can't sell it to you until you haggle!".
I liked a few cars, but we got there at 3pm and they all close from 1 to 4 for their afternoon nap. We tried to wake one of them up, as we could see him asleep on the sofa inside, but telephoning while waving at the window did nothing but raise his eyelids for a few seconds before they closed again. Oh well. We did wait until 4 to get a price on a Mercedes GL450 (none of the cars have prices on!!) - a lovely bit of kit, and with good reason, it was 50% over my budget. So I guess that means I can't afford the GL500 down the road either then.... Back to the Ford's for me then! We came away empty handed but I will go back (when they are open!) to look at a few more in a couple of weeks.
This next week should see us view lots more houses and hopefully find the perfect one - fingers crossed.
Right, off to do a couple of Skype calls now - that thing is excellent and have saved us a fortune in call charges!