Monday, October 29, 2012

Sand storm in Abu Dhabi

A sand storm whipped up out of nowhere today, these are usually caused by "Shamal" winds coming over from Iraq, KSA or Kuwait. It brought the visibility down pretty low in some parts. I took a couple of pics and a short video to show you.

And a great video caught here by Matthew Smith of The National...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sesame Street Day

My day today was brought to me by the number 5 and the letters OMG!

I got confirmation today that I have won a $5M deal that  have been working on. Had a Gareth Cheeseman moment...

Then tonight I beat my personal best by running the entire lap at the Yas Marina Circuit (5.5KM) . Now, I have not run that kind of distance in over 20 years, so I feel suitably chuffed with one's self, one might say! So in my "couch to 5K" programme I have reached the 5K nearly two weeks early. Thinking about 5k-10k next. Hmmm. Dunno yet.....

Here's the stats of tonights run...

Made me smile....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2 days in Riyadh

I had a short business trip this week to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Riyadh to be more precise. I had heard lots of horror stories about Riyadh and everyone commiserating with me over my trip etc., but honestly I didn't think it was too bad. Obviously, as with anywhere, it is different visiting rather than living somewhere, but as a trip it was ok.

I had been told that for my first visit, it could take ages to get through Immigration in Riyadh. It is infamous for long queues and they have to take finger prints, thumb prints, inside leg measurement and anal swabs (actually, with the number of Saudi homosexuals I wouldn't have been surprised by the last one, but prints were good enough). I think i just got lucky, 'cos I was through in about 20 minutes.

They did make you feel really at ease with the landing card mind you ...

... good job I left my Anadin at home.

Riyadh is a very large city with somewhere around 5 million. It is the capital of KSA and houses all the major government ministries. I had meetings in the two most prominent towers in Riyadh...

...The Kingdom Tower

... and the Al Faisaliyah Tower

I know there are folks that read my blog that will appreciate this, but if you are not in the cabling/networking industry, go and make a cup of tea at this point....

Just across from my hotel there was a "souq" - market - of electrical shops. Within about 100 feet I found shops selling SYSTIMAX, Belden, 3M, R&M as well as the usual Chinese crap I expected to find (including some Excel by the way guys!)

Here's some of the shop signage....

This one was particularly well stocked!

So the trip wasn't so bad, but not an attractive place at all. Maybe I will need to go back at some point, but until then, Abu Dhabi will do me just fine!

... these did make me smile on the way back to the airport...

The worst Immigration problem I faced was back in Dubai (T2) where I had to join the queues from hell and it took me an hour just to get through Immigration - jeesh! And then I got Mr Sleepy taxi driver from hell to take me home. He was literally, constantly, on the point of falling asleep! He was veering all over the road. Without asking, he stopped at a garage to get coffee (I wasn't going to stop him!) and then continued. I usually keep my seatbelt well and truly fastened in UAE taxis, but for this guy I felt I needed to be at the ready to dive forward and grab the steering wheel if necessary! Fortunately, as this blog would suggest, I got home safe!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Abu Dhabi Big Band at Abu Dhabi Film Festival Opening Night

On Thursday night we played a gig at the Emirates Palace for the opening night of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. The EP had a pretty tight security lock down for the evening, as there were various Sheikhs in attendance along with a Mr Richard Geer! As a result we were not allowed to drive ourselves in to the place, but had to meet a bus at Marina Mall to bus us into the tradesman's entrance - how undignified!

When we got there we were taken through the bowels of the hotel to our 'green room" , which was beside the auditorium and appeared to be a ballet rehearsal room. On the way I saw a couple of interesting signs....

...well I guess the least they can do is give him his own lift!

...if in doubt, read the instructions!

...I thought about practicing my Plié and Retiré Devant, but didn't want to scare anyone with my bare legs....

While the opening night film was showing (Arbitrage starring Richard Geer) , we went out for our sound check. The back of the EP had been transformed into a very posh garden party venue, which looked amazing.


After sound check and before our set, they took us back inside for some food, where we experienced the usual EP hospitality with a lovely buffet spread, which I have to say is probably the best gig food I have ever had!....

The gig went really well, with some great comments afterwards. There was a small press piece on The National's blog of the event which you can read here. Basically - a good time was has by all. 

However, we knew he was there, but there was no sighting of the Lesser Spotted Dick !

 The National

 (I'm top right, but obscured by a Bass Trombone!) :-)

Friday, October 5, 2012


It was a sad week this week, as we had to have Milo put to sleep :-(

Caz took him to the vet because he had been limping, on and off, on his leg for sometime. It turned out he had a tumour all around his leg. It was only a matter of time before he started suffering badly, so the kindest thing was to let him go. It was so unexpected and heartbreaking. He will be badly missed.

If there is a doggy heaven, then he will be there having a whale of a time running and chasing all the other dogs and barking his head off!


Ok, I admit it, I have been a bit of a slacker when it comes to blog writing lately! Sorry about that.

In summary:

A couple of weeks ago now we went home for a long weekend. It gave us chance to see cute little Alfie, our Grandson. It was a tiring short trip, having clocked up over 1000 miles in 4 days, but it we had a really nice time with the family - we even managed to fit in a visit to my mum and dad. So all good.

We have been keeping up with our fitness campaign, running three times a week on a "Couch to 5K" programme - even running in Coventry when staying at my daughter Jessica's place. I'm now on week 7 or 9, running 25 mins continuous. By week 9, you run for 30 mins continuous. Who know's, maybe after that I'll do a 5k-10k programme?? You can follow my progress here.

The weather is just starting to wane a bit, so the good weather of the winter is just around the corner - yippee!