So we have just arrived home from a glorious 11 days in Tuscany, back to Dubai, Ramadan, blistering 45 degree heat and school holidays. Let me tell you, there is no greater shock to the system. I knew it was coming: on our final day we stumbled across the beautiful village of Montepulciano and sat in the sunshine eating lunch and sipping on a fine glass of vino, when from a shady corner a saxophone quartet burst into life, playing Carmen and Debussy amongst others. It literally bought tears to my eyes halfway through my Caprese when I realised it doesn’t matter how much we make the most of where we live, beautiful moments like this will never, ever happen here. We left Montepulciano and arrived at our hotel to find another mini music concert being set up for the evening, entitled ‘Love and Roses’. It was suitably corny – bongo drums and guitars accompanied italian-accented versions of Stevie Wonder and Judy Garland, and a couple of sopranos attempted the British Airways theme tune – but again, not exactly something you’d see pop up in the Madinat any time soon. Sigh.
We are pasta fat-tastic too, after gorging on all the fresh ham, cheese and vegetables we could lay our hands on. We drank our own bodyweights in Chianti. And of course, all this in the company of our family, playing volleyball in the pool, enjoying the sculptures littering the gardens of our villa and wandering through the great cities of Florence and Sienna. It was heaven, a tonic to the past month or so which has been hectic and stressful in any number of different ways.
But now we’re back. And Dubai, by contrast, is horrific. The traffic is awful, our friends are all gone and the air is heavy with heat and sand. This week reminds me an awful lot of the Summer That Shall Not Be Named, when I was eight months pregnant and stranded here in splendid isolation. Except I have a near-four year old now to occupy and a hell of a lot of writing to get done, and as it’s Ramadan I’m completely without daytime trips to coffee shops and lunches which is making things drag a little, to put it mildly. But unlike the Summer That Shall Not Be Named, I get to escape again in less than a week, to England’s green and pleasant land. And I don’t care if there is a heatwave or perpetual rain when I arrive, I will have another wonderful month of music, flowers, food, friends and family to soak up before we return.