All posts by fran2312

How not to be a tourist in Dubai.

I am what is known as an “anti-tourist”.

I’m someone who doesn’t do what all the other tourists do. Or maybe I’m just not very good at being a tourist. I’m the person who went to New York and didnt go up the Empire State Building, to Jasper and didn’t go on the Skytram, to Botswana and didn’t go on safari, to Paris and didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower.

So what leads me off the beaten path? Well, I’m the type of person who finds the everyday life, the hidden histories and the delightful obscurities in different countries more interesting than taking selfies in front of monuments. In New York I was side-tracked by street workouts, a combination of athletics, calisthenics and sport performed on street furniture in Manhattan. In Jasper I spent my hours sitting by Moose Lake, waiting for the animal for which it was named to make an appearance (I was eventually graced with the appearance of a mother and two calves). In Botswana my husband and I were spontaneously invited to a local family’s BBQ as we walked along by the Chobe River. In Paris, an unlimited Metro Pass and a healthy sense of adventure led me to Belleville, Paris’ working-class cosmopolitan neighbourhood, where the array of cultures is dizzying to say the least. You get the idea.

Should I be fortunate enough to visit Dubai, my time there would actually be planned with military precision, based on copious internet research of travel sites and a compilation of the top places to visit based on traveller recommendation. My tendency to distractibility aside, I am generally a very organised person. I would print out details of each attraction and plan a rigorus schedule to encompass them all.. But the truth is, I may well not get to see the Burj Khalifa, despite the fact that it is is on my bucket list. I probably would only see Jumeirah Mosque from a distance. The camels would, no doubt, trek across the sands without me and the Dubai Mall  would close without my custom.

As a self professed anti-tourist, I know that something else would catch my attention-some tempting local market or souk selling brightly coloured fabrics or aromatic spices, the lure of  taking a wooden abra across the emerald waters of the Creek. a waft of music from a warehouse, a glimpse of the intricately carved doors in Al Bastakiya, a gathering of people appraising Dubai’s up-and-coming street art, the tantalising smell of authentic Punjabi curry on Satwa Road-and my plans will disappear like dew in the desert. Dubai’s opulent facade, spectacular beaches and buildings and unrivalled shopping opportunities are undoubtedly what attracts thousands of visitors each year, but they are just the dazzle on the surface of the diamond that is Dubai.

What would I do for three nights in Dubai? I cannot say for sure, but I know it would be fabulous.

Sweet Dreams


I dream of getting a good night’s sleep. Or rather, I DON’T dream because I never actually actually get  proper night’s sleep on our current mattress.With broken springs galore, saggy bits and even the odd tear, this mattress has seen better days. Look carefully in the photograph and you can make out the dip in the middle that my husband and I roll into each night.

The 23 year old mattress on our marital bed suffers from being last on the list of things to replace in the home, invariably bumped down the list by domestic crises ranging from cracked TV screens and temperamental ovens to emergency operations on family pets and my son’s “I don’t really have to go if you can’t afford it..but everyone else in my whole school is going” educational trips abroad.

So, Furniture Choice’s Sleepeezee Cool Comfort 2000 Breeze Double Memory Foam Mattress ( sounds like heaven to me. The name alone sounds like poetry. On the Sleepeezee I would sleep easy, renewing my energy to deal with whatever life should throw at me next.

My workdesk transformation



When I changed career-from mortgage advisor to painter of miniature models-my desk changed too! Here is my new workspace (below) as compared to my old, boring one.

My new desk is both functional and personal. On it I have:

A bespoke paint cabinet, designed and made by a friend

2 lamps for maximum lighting

A skull for decoration

All my tools

A metal mug to drink from
Photos of all my family (on the left) to inspire me as I work
A colour chart
A large Jaja binks toy that got as a booby prize for coming last in a Star wars tournament (watching me from the cabinet)!
This is my life, my work and my passion, all on one desk!

Flushed with success

Thailand, 1990.

My sister and I were travelling round South-East Asia during our university holidays. After weeks of staying in in the most basic accomodation, we splashed out the equivalent of £10 to stay in a luxurious hotel in Chiang-Mai with an ensuite bathroom.

Eating unfamiliar food had taken its toll on my sister and, 24 hours into our stay, she emerged from the bathroom to say that the toilet was blocked. With temperatures in the nineties, this was definitely not something we could ignore so she called down to the hotel desk and sheepishly admitted what had happened.

Ten minutes later a cheery man knocked on our door, saying that he had come to “Fix toilet”.  He disappeared into the bathroom, leaving the door ajar, with no apparent tools to assist him other than a large smile.

My sister and I looked at each other. We had to know. In silent mutual agreement, we went over and peeped around the door.

What we saw has since been related at parties, family events and anytime anyone mentions a toilet situation. Our trusty “plumber” was balancing on one leg, with his other foot down the toilet. Clad only in flip flops, he was nudging at the blockage to clear it. After a few minutes of dedicated footwork, he flushed the toilet, swirled his foot in the basin to clean it and said “Clear poo with shoe.”

And that, my friends, is one way to fix a toilet that you will not see on Youtube.

I am part of the <a href=””>#Blog4Sanitation</a> movI am part of the <a href=””>#Blog4Sanitation</a> movement setup by <a href=””>Splashdirect</a> to raise awareness of the importance of global sanitation. <a href=””>Learn more about World Toilet Day</a>.ement setup by <a href=””>Splashdirect</a> to raise awareness of the importance of global sanitation. <a href=””>Learn more about World Toilet Day</a>.