Saturday, 24 March 2018

Back in the UAE!

I arrived back in Abu Dhabi just before midnight on 6th March. Elated but a little tired! Didn't do much for the next few days, apart from going to The Club & watching rugby. It was nice to catch up with friends though.

The front wood


Enjoyed a morning visit to Mushrif Palace Gardens on 15th March. It was great to be walking around one of my major old birding haunts again. The weather was perfect, but the birding a little slow:

Oriental Honey Buzzard

Shikra

Male.

There are now several pairs breeding in the city.

Alexandrine Parakeet

Oriental Honey Buzzard 1; Shikra, (a nice adult male); Hoopoe 3; European Tree Pipit 1; 2 Pied Wheatear; 4 Common Redstart; 8 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler; 7 Desert Lesser Whitethroat; 8 Chiffchaff; Menetries Warbler 1 & Daurian Shrike. Perhaps the best record was a Pale Crag Martin over the helipad.

Abu Dhabi Racecourse: a green oasis,
 amid the desert

European Tree Pipit

Pied Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

The nearby Abu Dhabi Racecourse held 1 Great Cormorant ; 1 Little Grebe; Eurasian Curlew 1; 2 Common Sandpiper; 2 Indian Roller; 7 Pied Wheatear; 3 Isabelline Wheatear; 3 Northern Wheatear & a lone Desert Wheatear; 3 European Tree Pipit; 1 Flava Wagtail & 3 Daurian Shrike.

Angie & me

Spent the evening with Angela at The Club. She is emigrating to Australia very soon & so the evening was tinged with sadness as I might not see her for a while. But she has a whole new life to look forward to with her husband. Exciting times!

At The Westin Hotel.

Terry, Gary & me!
The boys were a bit worse
 for wear!

Karen started organizing her shifts in Doha, so that she could have a break with me here in Abu Dhabi. And the clever girl managed to pull it off! She arrived late afternoon on 16th March & hit the ground running, as we went straight to The Westin Hotel, to spend the evening with friends.

Marie, Raha & Karen.

We are just weird people!


The kids were there, 
so we had some fun!


Very cute!


Reem & Mariam with Trevor, 
the tortoise.


Trevor, is now over 20 years old!
The family inherited her 
(Trevor is a girl)
 when I retired & left the UAE.

A workman found another 
tortoise & gave it to the girls.
So we now have two!

The next morning was spent chatting to Raha & Marie upstairs in the villa. Reem & Mariam were there as well & we all had a good time.

At The Vista

That evening we had a lovely meal at The Vista. Nice to be on familiar territory again! It is a lovely place to catch up on things & we had a wonderful time together.

The adult's beach, at The Club.

At The Wharfe Bar

Part of the outdoor
Wharfe Bar.


The view from the adult's beach.


Spent most of our days here in & around The Club! It was nice to continue where we left off in The Maldives!
Looking towards the marina
 from Galleria Mall.

I had not been there before.

Me thinks I have been
 here before!


However, one day we went shopping for a pair of men's sandals. This is what we bought & no sandals in sight!

Clare at one day old in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Our final day together,
 well for this holiday at least!


Ahmed & Clare on their hols!

On 21st March it was Clare's birthday, she was 29 years old! Hard to believe really. But Toni sent this photo which I thought had been lost! Clare & Ahmed had just returned from a holiday in Spain & Portugal, so they both got to meet Karen just before she left for Doha.

Before we knew it, I was driving Karen to the airport at 3 am on 22nd March: our little holiday was over! As ever, far too short. See you soon girl!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A brief sojourn in The Maldives.

Well the date has finally arrived: 23rd February. Karen is flying from Doha & myself from Abu Dhabi, to Male in The Maldives. We haven't seen each other for quite some time due to our respective commitments, Karen working in Doha & me travelling around southern Africa, but we kept in daily contact & we both eagerly anticipating our holiday.

Bandos Island

The Maldives are a vast archipelago of over 1,000 islands, stretching more than 800 kms north to south. Around 200 islands are inhabited by the local population with around 80 islands being purely island resorts, such as the one we were staying at.

We have arrived! 
Our transport to the island in the background.

Everything went smoothly & we both arrived on time! It was hot & sweaty, but we were both relieved to see each other had actually made it! We enjoyed a ten minute boat ride in a nice yacht to the island of Bandos, our home for the next eleven nights.

Reception

Our bit of beach, opposite our villa.

Our home!
Karen had brought several pairs
 of high heeled shoes,
 but flip-flops rule here!

Karen & I.

Our first evening, very tranquil.

We were taken to our Jacuzzi Beach Villa & unpacked & settled in. Then went exploring & found out how tiny our little bit of paradise actually was! A twenty minute walk took us around the island! it was beautiful though & we spent the evening watching the sunset at the nearby Huvan Restaurant. a perfect ending to a lovely day!

The villas.




These Agamid lizards were common.





The Spa




Beautiful beaches & secluded bays.


The beach close to our villa.




Crystal clear water,
 great for frolicking in!




Dr No anyone?






Hi!


It's good to be here!


Hello!



The next morning we went to the spa, but everything was so expensive that we decided to give it a miss! We then hit the beach & sea for the rest of the morning.

We arrived one hour early because
 there are no clocks here!

Pat & Martina


Pat, Martina & us!


The Dhow cruise!


We decided to stage our own fake wedding!


We sent these shots to my girls,
 but they didn't fall for it!


I thought this shot would get them
 believing, but no!


I thought it was the best
 fake wedding ever!


In the afternoon went to the very nice pool & met Pat & Martina, a lovely couple who are living in Kuwait. They were here to renew their wedding vows & invited us along for the event the next evening. The 25th went by in  flash! More beach & pool fun then got ready for the main event of the day on the beach! It was a lovely evening with some great people.

Early morning at The Sea Breeze Restaurant

Karen doing some Tai Chi in the morning.

It is a lot more difficult than it looks!

I tried it & my backed ached a lot!


You are just showing off now!


Grey Heron


This bird was always fishing from here & here's why!






Black tipped Reef Sharks

In the daytime!


Early in the evening!


The girls!


The boys!


Me & my girl!
On the 26th we spent sometime with Pat & Martina & then enjoyed a lovely dinner in the evening.

The rest of our time here just blended into a haze of lazying, swimming & dining. The days seemed to fly by. Time just disappeared! If someone had told me I could spend twelve days on a tiny island doing next to nothing & be happy, I wouldn't have believed them. Mind you the company was good!

Evening at The Huvan Restaurant


Early evening....

Developed into this spectacular sunset!


Another day in paradise!


Picture postcard setting!






The pool area was really nice.






This is really funny, it started to rain 
& we were the only people left by the pool!!
Fear of getting wet maybe?




The beach opposite our villa, 
which quickly became our beach!




One of these feet is not mine!


Conservation is taken seriously here.


Karen doing what she does beautifully!


Whow!
Karen, having another day off!




Sunset, opposite our villa.




One of many evenings like this.


The Sea Breeze Restaurant


Karen at The Sea Breeze


Early morning at The Sea Breeze


There are plenty of shaded walkways
 cris-crossing the island.




Golden collared Fruit Bat.


Very common on he island








Getting a good photo at dusk proved impossible
 without a flash






Me, outside the Thai Restaurant.






How to treat a lady!


I am afraid it is not ours!


All good things come to an end!
Leaving the island on the boat.


We both enjoyed an amazing holiday which exceeded all our expectations. It is wonderful to report that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together!