And here it is. The reason why we all come (apart from tax free salaries obviously). The winter has arrived in all it’s glory, and for the next four months we can enjoy endless warm sunny days spent perfecting our tans and eating BBQ food and forgetting entirely why we hate the place so much from June (May? April?) to September.
Today was shared equally between the polo club swimming pool, the garden and the park outside our back gate. My son thinks it’s Christmas, he’s had more fresh air, fun and exercise than in the last six weeks put together. So have I. We are out to dinner tonight and I am actually looking forward to sitting outside sipping a chilled glass of something and letting my hair blow in the breeze, rather than wondering what to wear that will cover up my swollen ankles and show the least amount of sweat.
This particular time of year is precious and short lived, an approximate six week period when the evenings are light enough and warm enough to enjoy a sundowner with my husband whilst we give our son his dinner, and when the days aren’t so scorching hot that you need to seek shade like some demented insect everytime you go outside. Everyone is more social, more relaxed. Visitors flood in and the city takes on a completely different personality as the tourists take over and the rest of us finally realise we can come out of hibernation and start enjoying the outdoors again.
Due to a serious lack of friends and family coming to visit us this year (yes, I am bitter and yes, it was a dig), we are deprived of our usual excuses to hang out in all the touristy places and instead we are in the rather unusual position of being able to please ourselves when it comes to how we spend this wonderful season. And so I am slowly filling our calendar with BBQs and brunches, dinners and drinks, and trips to the desert and the beach in order to make the most of it.
Somewhere in and amongst all of this, we have to find time to celebrate Thanksgiving too, and so rather bizarrely I have spent a few mornings in the past week planning a turkey dinner and buying Fall decorations for the house, which of course seems completely at odds with what the weather is doing. But by Thanksgiving the weather will have changed again. Living in a desert that is so brutally hot for half the year, the assumption is that it won’t get cold, but in actual fact, it can get pretty nippy in the winter. Indeed, by December there will be a chill in the air that, for us natives at least, will make evenings too cold for strappy dresses alone and it will be time to bring a cardie and stick on your Ugg boots to keep yourself warm. (For shame, everyone wears boots as soon as the temperature drops below 70 here, declaring it ‘cold’, although personally I think it has more to do with being completely and utterly bored by the summer clothes we’ve been wearing since March than actually feeling anything remotely resembling cold.)
I don’t know how many more winters we will have in Dubai but it’s time to start enjoying them before we return to winters spent in perpetual darkness in the frozen wastelands of northern Europe. Too many years have rushed by in a haze of visitors, work and babies, and I feel that now is our time to really enjoy it, before it is too late. So here is my winter 2011 manifesto, a list of ways to make the most of our life here and enjoy the great outdoors in the best way Dubai can offer:
I will take the opportunity to relax by the pool for half an hour after my gym session, instead of heading home in a blind panic to the cool of our air conditioning. I will take my son to the beach every weekend until Christmas, a promise I fail to live up to every year but this year I really mean it. I will make the most of the romantic candlelit dinners by the sea with my husband and of dinners with friends in the garden. I will eat out of doors whenever possible even though I have to go through the hassle of lighting up a million torches and candles to ward off mosquitoes and see what the hell it is I’m eating. Having spent my formative years holidaying in France and Spain, and having been known to indulge in the occasional pub garden in the UK, it feels distinctly odd even after six winters here to have to enjoy all this warm weather in the dark, but I will dine outside every night I am able until it is too cold to feel my toes. I will spend time with my family and take the simple pleasure of watching my son giggling non-stop as my husband runs around with him.
In short, I will feel the joy that Dubai tends to strip away simply by being hotter than hell for half the year, and when I get on a plane at Christmas I will bring that joy along with my suntan. I will let the cold English countryside sting my eyes and ears and I will don my hat and gloves to make snowmen in Salem, and know that if I try hard enough, I really can have the best of both worlds.