Touring Dubai Part 1

It was an early rise as we left Oman for the UAE to hang out with the younger and brasher Dubai.

Dubai is like an adventurous new graduate out for a night of beaches, tequila and mayhem on Daddy’s credit card! It’s lavish and in your face, but measured and enterprising when its older brothers are in earshot. This is the land of bigger, taller and more impossible than anyone else; where competition is game and where, if you drop half a million GBP on an apartment, you’ll get a free Lamborghini to park on the drive!

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We arrived on a cool February morning and this trip was beginning to feel a little bit ‘hashtag lads on tour’! Note the unimpressed passenger.

Whoever founded this establishment deserves a medal.

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Our hotel was in the Al Barsha district, an optimistic stones throw from Jumeirah beach and the Burj Al Arab (the Sail Hotel) on the main road between Downtown on our right and New Dubai to the left.

First and foremost- WiFi!

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The very reason we were all in Dubai in the first place was, of course, for our play and so after getting settled, we headed off to the theatre to conduct some serious work fight over dressing rooms!

My attempts at capturing the auditorium were less than successful…

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Maybe they knew I’d blog their pretty faces! I tried again….

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…and after the Springbok and Gazelle had finally found pastures new…

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This was to be our home for the week! A beautiful, intimate but deceptively large space with great facilities and a Costa Coffee front of house! How could we complain.

We unloaded our personals in the dressing rooms and took a whistle-stop tour of The Mall of the Emirates. For those unfamiliar, the Mall of the Emirates is a tiny inconsequential mall, lots of shops, restaurants and an indoor ski- centre, much like every other shopping complex you’ve seen. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture- probably because I was so distracted with the sheer audacity of it all that I simply forgot where I was…. in space and time! What planet was this?!

This from the telegraph should wet your appetite!


Malls are already on my radar for Room 101 and I had to escape back to normality. My route out of the mall took me through and out of the very opulent Kempinski Hotel, past the parked-up super cars, onto the highway and right in front of a local police car. A Lamborghini police car.

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Still not finding anything remotely normal, I ordered some flowers for the room from a little flourist nearby- sadly not quite Emma Vowles Totnes but the best I could find in the given circumstances- and reached for some room service Dubai style!

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I very safely spent a normal evening getting acquainted with the roof- top bar.

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and our glorious views of Downtown. In the distance you can see, towering above the rest, the World’s tallest building- The Burj Khalifa. He’s the tall one in VIP with 20 empty bottles of Dom Pérignon Vintage!

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The next morning we all hopped on a bus to the far end of the Palm for some very touristy water sliding at the Atlantis Water Park– out of season, of course, but blissfully quiet and with no queuing!  The weather was glorious and there’s never a wrong time for a Mary Poppins reference.

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As this is Dubai, I wasn’t at all surprised to find the vertical 100ft high water slide, titled ‘Leap of Faith’, that drops you through a shark tank at the bottom! When in Rome, I say.

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You’ll be happy to know that I survived the Leap of Faith, as this certificate will testify.

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With more of my life in tact than expected, and clearly on a winning streak, I decided to chance my odds of survival on the next death defying ride. I think we termed this the ‘Ring of Men’. Equally terrifying.

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…and if you ever find yourself at a loss after accidentally lodging your shirt 40ft aloft in a palm tree  (don’t ask!) then Jimmy, below, will be sure to lend his body weight to its retrieval.

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The patient amongst us trialled the metro back to the hotel. The rest, myself included, hopped in taxis. Not before venturing to Starbucks for latte with a sprinkling of religious banter for the journey home.
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An enormously fun first few days in Dubai!


J. X

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Lazy Sundays

So with my first Sunday off from the show I got to revel in what I love best….the Lazy Sunday.

I had the whole day planned out from breakfast in the village to walking down to the Farmer’s Market through Greenwich Park….as soon as I peeped out the curtains these ideas were quickly dismissed….RAIN!

Breakfast at home was much more appealing!

Note the presence of our largest umbrella as we prepare to venture out.

I actually do like nothing more than having the excuse to curl up on the sofa, so after braving the rain we returned to massive mugs of tea accompanied by pick and mix and homemade soup with crusty bread….

I am currently trying to get the channel changed from the rugby…why is there no rainy Sunday afternoon film on?!
A x

Written in the Kitchen

For the last four years, my dear old grandmother and I have been working together to bring the poems of her life to print. Throughout her colourful life, she’s been jotting them down, with no agenda but that of her own enjoyment. However, it was a casual conversation in the Autumn of 2008 that set the ball rolling in a more formal direction.

There have been many, many drafts and, owing to her lack of sympathy for email, even more brown envelopes stuffed with re-drafted pages sent back and forth between me in Devon/ London and her home in Bath.

Today, however, we finally find ourselves nearing the end of the journey with the arrival of the first physical draft. The collection, entitled ‘Written in the Kitchen’ is just that. Written, edited, formatted, re-written, re-ordered, published and re-published in the Kitchen. In fact, all from the kitchen table!

We’re almost ready to launch this little book, which is soon set to feature in Waterstones. It’s a real gem stuffed full of the eccentricity of a theatrical old lady!

I will of course keep the blog updated on its progress.

j. X

Mothers and Facebook

It was interesting to hear yesterday how my mother’s initial acceptance of facebook has now grown into it becoming a part of her life like the rest of us. I set her up on the book of face in 2008 as a means of my sharing my photos and such like from my student days studying in Leeds, but now, she she’s quite the active user! Facebook say that the average age of their users is rising. I can’t help feeling my mother’s partly responsible.

With yesterday being her birthday she was revelling in the increased attraction to her wall, and ‘couldn’t believe’ so many people had ‘remembered’ to send her their good wishes. I couldn’t bring myself to shatter her joy with an explanation of facebook’s multi-wall-birthday-post feature. So I left it. This time. I don’t think it’s something she’s yet discovered.

Although I had noticed she’d knowledge enough to ‘like’ each birthday wish, as is the custom mark of appreciation on such an occasion.

Blissful ignorance perhaps.

j. X

(N.B. Mother: My intention was not to suggest you are as old as some of the ladies depicted in the photograph above).

Photo credit:

A Roller Coaster Year

It has been a roller-coaster 11 months for me and so I felt it apt to start our blog with a brief few words on my time in Shrek. This time next week I will have finished my time as part of the original London Cast of Shrek the Musical, playing Teen Fiona and Tweedle Dum at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

I chose not to stay for another year as I believe that in this profession you need to be brave and take risks. For me, as someone new to the business, when you don’t have kids or a mortgage to pay, it is the prime time period to get out there! You enter this industry knowing it is one of the most unstable, kept achievable by the passion you have for it. I think creatively you need to push yourself while you can.

Shrek has been an amazing starting block for me and I have met some of the most amazing people and from them, have learnt an awful lot.  I’m so excited about what the future holds but sad to know that this time next week it will all be over.

A x

first steps

So this is the very first entry to our new blog. Not that either of us have had a blog before! I thought I would kick things off after doing the guy thing in setting it all up whilst Amy merely enjoys the process.

I tap at the keys as I recline on our new sofa which accompanies our new flat. We moved over two weeks ago and, to be honest, were beginning to outstay our welcome on the floor!

So here we are. The beginning of our combined blogging journey. We hope you enjoy it with us.

J&A. X