It’s spring 1972 and we are hurtling towards our second leave; the time has flown by. Two years ago, I would have had my doubts, that I would have still been around to utter these words, let alone with a smile on my face, how wrong I was. time has flown by.
What I now want to know is can we spare the time, to go on leave? What a daft question I can hear you saying, actually not so sure!
In the two years we have been here we have witnessed and also been part of some amazing changes, which quite naturally, have made our lives so very much more enjoyable. The major change was obviously the opening of the Country Club, where the longed for golf course, is being put through its paces on a daily basis by the avid golfers in our mist.
Up until that moment it has been tough going, as recreational facilities were extremely limited, there was the swimming pool at the Bustan Hotel and, of course, miles, and miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Naturally, if swimming wasn’t your preferred sport you were up a proverbial gum tree, although you could have enjoyed a Heineken or two whilst wallowing in the shallows along with the rest of us.
I was so very fortunate being able to make use of the little Sailing Club tucked down beside the Al Macktoum Bridge, without which I am utterly convinced I would have gone stark staring mad!
There was also a new attraction and that was the incarnation of the Abu Dhabi road, which provided thrills and spills galore, no bouncing over the desert these days. Just wiz over the Al Maktoum bridge, drive straight ahead for a mile or so and you will then connect with the new road, yes, that’s it folks, Abu Dhabi here we come. You can then put your foot down and hope for the best that at the very least a herd of camels wouldn’t decide to dash across your path and also that you wouldn’t encounter a very excited local who had abruptly abandoned his camel for a shinny limo.
Needless to say, he possibly wouldn’t have had the first clue as to how to drive as no driving tests were required, don’t be silly, the ignition was turned on and off they sped. Yes, it was devil take the hind most. You had to hope and pray that you wouldn’t encounter one of these mad cap drivers on your travels actually, not too sure which was the most terrifying, a four-legged camel or a two legged local
If you didn’t relish a boring Friday cowering indoors trying to avoid the searing heat you could always join a Wadi Bashing party. I found myself on one such expedition and between you and me thought the whole experience quite excruciating They say ignorance is bliss but for the life of me I couldn’t imagine a worse way to spend a day, I know, I know, I’m a heathen!.
For the uninitiated a Wadi is a dried up river bed, it’s main component being boulders which come in various shapes and sizes thus providing an extremely bumpy ride. I would advise anybody embarking on such an expedition not to have eaten beforehand! I rest my case!
It goes without saying that it would have been rude to turn down such a wonderful invitation, especially coming from our TOS chums, who knew the territory inside out. We were assured that we would be in safe hands and that we would have the time of our lives that depends!
I had been told on numerous occasions how enchanting Wadis were, that they were host to masses of flora and forna, unlike the desert, I was intrigued, especially as there was a dirth of vegetation in our normal stamping grounds. In retrospect should have stuck to my tried and trusted desert tracks, then at least I could have baled out when the going got tough, and wouldn’t have had to hang on for dear life, thinking that, maybe my end was nie. Please God, or is it Allah get me out of here! Pronto. I have important news for anyone who cares to listen; you can leave me behind next time, thank you so very much.
Thought maybe I had moaned and groaned enough to ensure that I would be excluded from any more of these hair rising excursions, I was so wrong. This time it was a camping trip somewhere on the seashore beyond Ras Al Khaimah, yes, once again my arm was twisted beining told that it would be a wonderful experience, silly me! Obviously, we didn’t possess any camping gear, not even a Billy can, no problem, we were told as it was another trusted Amy exercise everything would be adequately taken care of!
This time, we had to set sail at lunch time on Thursday, rendezvousing somewhere in Sharjah, with the idea of arriving at our destination late afternoon, which turned out to be a little sandy beach complete with rock pools nestling under a mountain range. Well, well, so far so good, who on earth had discovered this lovely little spot? Better watch out possibly being lulled into a false sense of security?
Camp was set-up with very little help from me! Don’t know one end of a guy rope from another. There seemed to be an awful lot to organize but, as the afternoon sauntered into early evening sun downers were eagerly being anticipated, these were sipped and savored whilst once again marveling at yet another glorious sunset, for which the Gulf is justifiably renowned, green flash or not, just stunning!
Goodness knows what was on the menu sufficed to say we didn’t starve. I was just about to say so far so good, but as day turned into night it was the signal for the mosquitoes to make their presence felt, oh my goodness, how did one combat these little perishes? The answer was that one didn’t what were we to do, not a lot because even dashing into the sea was a little problematic, maybe lurking sharks. Discretion was definitely the better part of valor, as on this occasion mosquitoes were possibly the lesser of the two evils!
It was now time to retire, another tricky situation presented itself us girls were allocated the tent whilst the boys were going to be kipping around and about. Seemed fair enough but it was stiflingly hot in the tent so we abandoned it rather smartly, I don’t really need to tell you but a most uncomfortable night was endured by one and all. I can’t quite get my head around all this malarkey and it’s meant to be fun! For some maybe!
What is that noise? Sounds as if we are about to be overpowered by maurders, this is too much. Actually, it transpired that the gentle chanting that we could here was from the fisherman, just along the beach, who were hauling in their nets, relief all round. At last day brake, still alive, Wonders will never cease,
Without any more ado we morphed into a bunch of happy campers looking forward to relaxing and enjoying ourselves before heading off early afternoon. Brilliant, with that our eardrums were blasted by the piercing screams from one of the kinder in our midst, we seriously thought that she was being devoured by a shark, no she had trodden on something vicious like a sting ray and the conscientious of opinion was that she needed medical assistance rather fast. That put paid to my first and last ever camping trip, shoosh, can’t say I’m sorry.
We usually repaired to the Colone’s house for sundowners after our lazy Fridays and today was no exception, actually think after all the excitement we all needed a rather swift stiff one..
Normally, at this time on a Friday we were relaxed and happy which was usually the signal to strike up the band, figuratively speaking. We had in our midst a pal who had a beautiful voice, she normally took centre stage serenading us with delightful songs particularly from Gilbert and Sullivan, and tonight was no exception. Much to my delight, one of her party pieces was ‘I’m called Little Buttercup’ which has remained a firm favorite to this day.
I have to tell you that I was not blessed with much of singing voice but it would have been terrible if I hadn’t reciprocated by performing my very own version of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’, always eagerly awaited by my adoring fans!
I have attempted to sing this song, normally out of tune, here there and everywhere everyone always knew what was coming consequently, there was usually a backing group waiting in the wings, whilst the rest of the throng usually bade a hasty retreat. As they say in the movies, play it again Sam.
We will shortly be going on leave, I do wonder though if we are heading home or leaving home such is the effect Dubai has had on our very being.
Thank you for tagging along with me, sitting on my shoulder, whilst I have recounted tales of joy along with numerous tales of woe, together we have happily meandered through this desert Kingdom. I am now bidding adieu to you and Dubai, my first port of call being London, where I hope to hear that Nightingale Sing in Berkeley Square.
That certain night, the night we met, There was magic abroad in the air, There were angels dining at the Ritz, And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square
I will be back shortly bringing with me more Adventures of a Girl Wearing Pearls; when I hope you will join me.
In the meantime, keep smiling, keep reading and look out for a big surprise from the Girl Wearing Pearls! xx