It has been a week of ups and downs since arriving back in Abu Dhabi. The downs have mainly involved the aftermath of the defrosted fridges and freezers that greeted me on Sunday, plus some issues with the internet in the villa (there is nothing like internet issues to drag you down after a long day at work), and of course missing Jo and the kids.
The issue with the defrosted appliances is almost resolved, although there are still some lingering smells to be dealt with, and I suspect the main fridge / freezer may be a write off due to some of the noxious liquid having seeped its way into the inner workings which I cannot get at to clean.
A cry for help on Facebook and Twitter resulted in a number of helpful suggestions which could be split into three areas: items to put in the fridge to absorb the smells, items to use to clean the fridge thoroughly, and finally suggestions that I should cut my losses and buy a new fridge immediately.
In terms of items to absorb the smells, suggestions have included: bicarbonate of soda, raw onions, charcoal, coffee granules (used), tea bags (unused), cotton balls soaked with vanilla essence, oranges sliced in half, lemon slices, vinegar, and last but not least cat litter. I’ve tried a number of these, but found that I was running out of space to actually store any food, so I gave up.
I have also tried most of the cleaning suggestions, including salt water, vinegar, and bleach, but I have stopped short of the Reader’s Digest suggestion of WD-40. I know WD-40 is versatile, but surely this is taking it too far.
Anyway, either I am becoming accustomed to the smell or it is fading a little (perhaps disguised by the job lot of air fresheners I have dotted around the house), but the real test will be when Jo arrives back on Wednesday. If she keels over as soon as she opens the door I suspect we will be contacting the insurance company on Thursday morning!
Enough of smelly fridges and onto the “ups” of the week, which of course include Burnley beating Chelsea for about 60 seconds on Monday evening.
Other highs include getting stuck back into work, which is very busy after Ramadan and holidays. I’ve also made an effort to keep myself busy in the last week before the family returns, rather than moping around counting the days. Before I went on holiday I’d finally (it only took a year) got into the habit of going to the gym regularly (I managed 18 of 21 days in a three week period in July), and yesterday managed to get back over there – motivated by the need to lose the weight I put on whilst in Spain, but also by the fact that I only let myself watch Homeland (which I am really enjoying) when I am on the exercise bike.
Despite the temperatures still being high, I’ve also been out on my bike a couple of times. On Tuesday I was at the Yas Marina Circuit where I did three laps of the Grand Prix track, and this morning I did a circuit of the Al Wathba Cycle Track. These are both fantastic facilities. I’ve commented previously about how good it is that they open the Grand Prix track to the public every Tuesday evening (and ladies can also go on Wednesday evening). I was beginning to feel like an “old hand” this week as I guided a few of the “2014 expat intake” (August being a time of year when there is an influx of new people, just before the schools go back) on what they needed to do to register, and then watched them excitedly getting their photos taken on the start / finish grid. Mind you, I still get a buzz going round so I get how they feel.
Al Wathba is a world away from the bustle of Yas Marina on a Tuesday evening. It is a purpose built 15 kilometre cycle track well off the beaten track, it feels very much like the middle of the desert. It has solar powered floodlights, which a team of workers was very diligently cleaning at 8am this morning, meaning that it can be used 24 hours a day. I am sure it is sometimes busy, but when Jo and I went a few months ago we were the only ones there, and I only saw three other riders this morning. It is kind of surreal cycling round the track surrounded by sand dunes. Anyway, I managed one lap before I succumbed to the fierce heat and headwind.
On my way home I decided it was high time to break my UAE geocaching duck. I’d noticed on my phone that there was a cache near a strange looking structure not far from the cycle track so I went to find that, and was successful after 15 minutes rummaging in the sand.
The cache itself isn’t the interesting bit, but the structure is definitely intriguing. Apparently it is exactly what it looks like, a giant bird cage.
In the middle of nowhere.
With air conditioning.
Only in the UAE!
Reading old logs on the geocaching website suggests it is (or was, it looked disused to me) a bird cage that belongs to a senior Government official who lives nearby, and is / was used to house falcons and other birds, particularly (perhaps) any that need quarantining. Whatever it is, and whatever its story, it is another example of the fascinating things you can stumble across here.
The final “up” of my week was last night when I went to the auditorium at the Emirates Palace Hotel to see “David Blaine: Real or Illusion?”. Two comments on this one. Firstly the Emirates Palace is unsurprisingly a great place to go and see a show, being extremely luxurious. It was a mistake to eat before I went as the food and drink on offer looked excellent. Popcorn served by a fully kitted out chef anyone? A very enticing chicken shawarma perhaps? And don’t those fresh chocolate éclairs look divine? Fair cop, maybe I did find a little space in my stomach to sample one or two things, but I knew I was going out on my bike today so hopefully that’s excusable.
As for the show itself, I wasn’t sure to expect but it is fair to say that I, and most of the audience from what I could tell, walked out of there with my mind blown. The first part of the show involved various card tricks, and other illusions, culminating in him pushing an ice pick through his hand (don’t ask why) with some very close onlookers from the audience (including the lady sat next to me, who insisted that she wasn’t a stooge, and it had really gone through).
Before going I joked on Facebook that the show better not consist of him sitting in a tank of water for two hours, as that wouldn’t be very entertaining. Well, I’d like to apologise, because sitting in a tank of water is exactly what he did for the finale. Apparently the longest that most people can hold their breath under water is three minutes (and for most of us it is considerably less than this), but last night David Blaine did it for just over ten minutes. Apparently he has done over 17 minutes previously so I don’t think 10 minutes was ever going to be a problem, but they managed to make a spectacle of it, and rather than it being boring it was absolutely riveting. Maybe you had to be there.
Actually, given his fondness for illusions that involve him being in boxes or enclosed spaces of one type or another, maybe David Blaine should consider using the “Abu Dhabi bird cage” for his next challenge. How many days can you survive in a giant aviary with food and water in the sweltering sun?
Anyway, I’d better finish there or I’ll be in danger of breaking the world record for someone blathering on without saying anything particularly interesting. As always, thanks for reading, and if you feel like showing your support, please feel free to like and / or share this post using your favourite social media channel(s).