Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year. I will be celebrating new year in Melbourne which should prove to be fun.

Normal blogging service to resume later this week.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. I have to admit having just had a nice barbeque I do not feel very "Christmas" right now in Perth. I am sure that will all change tomorrow when I see my little nephew open his presents.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Perth Out Loud

After a very relaxing flight into Perth - immigration and customs were a breeze. It was great to be picked up by my sister for the short journey back to their "duplex". A bit of an odd name as I usually think of a duplex as a building with two floors (this would be called a town house in Perth). Here it describes a semi-detached home. After a busy day of Christmas shopping I noted again the little differences in day to day phrases i.e.

UK vs. Perth
Pre-Order vs. Raincheck
Credit Counter vs. Layby
Duvet vs. Doona
Chav vs. Bogan

I am sure there will be plenty more - but these were a few that caught my interest.

My main purpose of being in Perth is to spend Christmas with my sister, her husband Keith and my little nephew Julian. I of course think he is totally adorable (but then I would think that as his Uncle):

After a fun filled day with Julian and with his Grand Mom babysitting we drove into Perth City to an area called Northbridge. A lively place with lots of bars and restaurants:

We headed to comedy club called the "Laugh Resort" situated above a pub the "Brass Monkeys" - by some very odd coincidence that night a family friend - Danny had been invited to perform a spot at the club hence our visit there.

I had seen Danny present to a public audience before - that was giving the Best Man's speech at my sister and Keith's wedding some three years ago.

This evening Danny was the first act on, following the intermission. The acts prior to Danny were very middle of the road, this would be the most polite way I could describe them. Danny's ten minute performance was a real breath of fresh air, on what so far had been a rather dour evening of entertainment. He immediately connected with the audience and I noticed a change in people's body language as they leaned in, keen not miss any nuances in his jokes.

I have always found the best comedians to be the ones you could imagine have a beer with and them entertaining you all night with amusing stories. Danny fitted this mould perfectly. He finished his routine with a cracking shaggy dog story which left this author and most of the crowd wanting more. Danny well done mate - the few nerves you had gave you tremendous energy leaving the other acts in the shade.

Overall 9/10 - Perfect - but I wanted more!

Danny giving it "large":

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sven, Sven, Sven Goran Eriksson

The ex-England manager somewhat randomly made a visit to the Dubai office last Thursday. Sadly I was in Turkey as I would have liked to ask the chap a question or two!

Australian Gold

Tomorrow I fly to Australia for Christmas in Perth and New Year in Melbourne with a visit to the Test match in between. I have been planning this trip for some time and am surprised at how quickly it has come round.

The flight down to Perth is my "Golden Ticket" and will earn me Gold with Skywards - Emirates frequent flyer program just before the cut off date of the 31st of December when Tier miles are reset to zero.

The main advantage with being a gold card holder with Emirates is the ability to use the lounges when not flying business. A great bonus as the company I work for enforce a strict economy class only policy (fine for me) - which without lounge access can be pain on long layovers.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Rather than mention the distinctly average remake of the great sixties movie - I thought I would mention the restaurant I recently had the pleasure to visit in Istanbul last week.

With the Pope's recent visit and the Turkish having a hiccup with their EU entry - they have been making world headlines. However on my second trip to Istanbul I only managed to sit in record breaking traffic jams but also eat some rather spectacular fish dishes in a restaurant called "Poseidon".

It was great to have a native Turkish speaker along with us and to my surprise I did not see a menu all night. On my last trip to Istanbul we visited another excellent fish restaurant - but this time I noticed the faux pas me and my colleagues had made. The waiters bring over a large tray with a number of cold starters on - last time we simply got these on the table and started to dig in - this time I find out they are actually for display purposes only - once you have selected they will then make fresh dishes and serve us each could not have been too bad last time as no one mentioned anything to us!

It was with some regret I did not bring my camera with me as the display of fresh fish outside of the restaurant looked like a scene from 20000 Leagues Under the Sea - with all manner of interesting looking fish and other sea food. I am sure through the five course meal we sampled a great deal of it with a rather fantastic Jack Dory served fried and filleted as a main.

I sometimes feel rather humble I am able to experience all of this.

Blog Upgrades

Earlier today I took the opportunity to migrate this Blog from the regular application to the new Google Beta Blog application. While this keep the blog looking more or less the same the new version has some really nice features which improve maintenance of the site:

1. Labels - finally I can categorize my posts and I have now labelled all of them
2. Instant publishing - once I have made a post I no longer have to wait for the whole blog to be re-published. Only the latest update is published
3. Template editing - a whole new drag and drop interface for this

A worthwhile upgrade and probably now approaching a Web 2.0 application.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Following the recent Hummer HUB trip I went on, Wheels magazine in the UAE ran a feature on it. I was a little surprised when I picked up a copy of the this magazine to see a little reference to my good self as well as making an appearance in one of the numerous photos:

" We congregated in a rocky valley and stopped for lunch at mid-afternoon. This was the point of the event, when Hummer owners exchanged experiences, stories and accessorisation advice. A fellow H3 owner called Aaron White shared his moment of glory with me as he recounted rescuing a Toyota Land Cruiser from certain death by thirst and starvation, which was stranded in the dunes near Big Red.

As Aaron told his story with a wicked glee, I pitied the owner of the Land Cruiser, who is now forced to live a life of shame — he will no doubt regret accepting cheeky Aaron’s assistance for the rest of his days. Aaron went on to chastise the Land Cruiser owner for being ill-equipped as he proceeded to show me his snatch rope, travel air compressor, air gauge and gloves.

He’s the sort of man you could do with on a deserted island (that is, until you ate him)."

The full article can be seen here. I want to thank Mark for taking the time to listen to my ramblings and I would urge people with the slightest interest in this to pick up a copy of Wheels magazine at a modest 2 Dirhams.

Just to prove I was not making it all up - here is the video of the Hummer performing its first recovery, which happened to be Paul and his Land Cruiser. Probably best with the sound down as there is quite a lot of wind noise:

Shopping, Chopin and Terracotta Armies

I visited Warsaw on only one previous occasion over nine years ago. I clearly remember taking the impression that the old town was beautiful, the people were friendly and it was still very much an "eastern bloc" country. Last week on my visit I still found the old town to be beautiful and the people friendly but now Warsaw has undergone dramatic change and feels like a modern European city which is developing at a quite staggering rate.

On arrival at the new international terminal of Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport I was surprised at how quick it was to get through - however I still had to go over to the old terminal to find an ATM for some Zloty.

On driving through to the hotel I was startled by the number of new modern buildings and hotels that had sprung up in the interim nine years. The Palace of Culture and Science still dominates the city central skyline:

I was presenting at the quarterly partner "Akademi" - this was held some 150km outside of Warsaw in a resort location called Spala. I can imagine in the summer the forest location would be very nice but in the depths of the winter it was a little bleak. The local team did a great job with the event and had high attendance though like last week in Moscow it can be tough to listen to four hours of presentations not understanding a single word.

On my way back from Spala to Warsaw some of Poland's growing pains became evident. The road system struggled to meet the demands placed upon it and a single accident on the main dual carriageway back to the city sent the Taxi driver on a rather adventurous route across the Polish countryside. A journey that should have taken one and half hours was doubled but I had fun talking to the driver in a strange mix of broken English and German.

A little weary from the journey back, I was determined to see more of Warsaw in its new form. So hopped into a cab and went to visit the newest Mall in Warsaw - Blue City:

I am kind of spoiled when it comes to Malls living in Dubai - but with over 250 shops it certainly had a lot space to have a good window shop. What did catch my eye was the exhibition on the famous Chinese Terracotta army - something I have always been fascinated by. I paid my 20 Zloty and had a fun 20 minutes looking at the replicas:

After that I headed to the Old Town Quarter. I certainly started to feel very Christmas-like when I saw the huge tree outside the Royal Castle:

and the square had a number of the restaurants with decorations on - in the summer the square is packed full of chairs and tables. Winter tells a different story:

With the aid of my Ski Dubai hat on - I kept walking around and took a couple of photos of some impressive buildings. St Anna's church:

Not sure what this building is - but I liked the look of it...

I had a very pleasant trip to Warsaw marred slightly by the fact that it is a long journey from Dubai with a three hour layover in Vienna. It is hard not to draw a comparison between Warsaw and Moscow - as a English speaking westerner, Warsaw wins on the user friendly side of things as English is widely spoken, it feels safer and is much cheaper. Either way I look forward to return trips to both cities.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Light Fantastic

While sitting in my lounge last night watching a movie - a glinting of light caught my eye. This was not unusual as Dubai Marina is lit up well at night, with the various construction projects and towers - this one was slightly different.

Upon inspection there are now three rather magnificent beams of light marking out the development of a new building development. A little research on the web found this to be Bay Central a hotel and two residential towers. I do recall seeing an intriguing ad in the Gulf News and coupled with this makes it one of the best marketing launches of a development I have seen in a while.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dubai Rugby 7s - and the heavens opened...

On the 35th Anniversary of the UAE's creation as a recognized country it was the final day of the Dubai Sevens. As an avid rugby fan I (like many others) had been looking forward to this for some months. It was a little sad that unlike the glorious weather last year the heavens opened and torrential rain was the order of the day.

I usually would not mind too much - but the combination of no proper wet weather gear, no shelter in the stand, no seats to sit on and most of the ground simply turning to mud made it feel more like Glastonbury than the Dubai sevens.

The covering on the stand was really only meant to keep the sun off and not the rain:
Posted by Picasa

After watching a few matches and getting very wet - I retreated to the beer tent. But too little too late - me and my friend were simply too cold and wet so ventured outside to get a cab home. This proved to be more of a challenge. First we had to negotiate a bit of a lake:

Then some heavy machinery:

Not to mention a water pump:

and an hour long stand in the taxi queue:

I at least got to see England beat Australia which I think just about made it a worthwhile trip. My friend ruined her favourite pair of "Geox" shoes and I can probably be labelled a "fair weather fan".

I am looking forward to the next Dubai sevens with excitement and will be packing both sun glasses and a cagoule.

Congratulations to the Arabian Gulf team for making to the finals of the Shield and to South Africa for winning the overall competition.