“Welcome to my home on the internet!”
Having already been to the United Arab Emirates in April for a Desert Reunion and having the most super time, staying at the Al Ain Hilton and meeting-up again with old friends, travelling with my youngest Son Jo and reliving the time we spent there in this desert oasis more than thirty years ago, I must say it was an exciting and truly memorable time. So I felt very lucky to have yet another brilliant holiday at the beginning of June. It was such a holiday that the enchanting visions have stayed with me, my mind returning to them daily such were the very beautiful surroundings.
It was a gorgeously pleasant holiday staying at a most elegant Hotel set in the most perfection cove location. “The Domes Noruz” in Chania Crete was such a perfect experience from the first meeting with the absolutely charming staff to the entirely fabulous and very special stay throughout. The room, an “upbeat suite” with fabulous plunge pool and jacuzzi on own terrace was perfection. I must add this is a fairly new hotel so everything has that new and prestine feel about it. A huge bed so comfy, so spotlessly clean with top quality bed linen changed daily.
The room was very large with a walk- out terrace and every added comfort you could possible need.
The hotel set in flowered walk-way grounds has three swimming pools, one interior in the wellness centre and two further outdoor pools. One pool is designated as a quiet area, perfect if you wish to read or just relax quietly.
Having said that there is music at the other larger pool and a fabulous rooftop bar with views of the beautiful setting and of the cove and bay. The rooftop bar is perfect for lunch or just to partake in a cocktail at any time of the day or at the best time of the day while watching the sunset. This is an adults only hotel so plenty of sophisticated life just everywhere! Fabulous breakfasts, fabulous lunches and dinners with a wonderful array of just every culinary delight you may desire. Fresh figs and exotic fruits to the best local pastries I have ever tasted to a full cooked breakfast. The waiters remembering your choice daily for coffees/teas and special juices. The restaurant at night takes on the most gorgeous ambience and the food is just delicious such a perfect place to be as the sun sets. The lovely attentive waiters brought several complimentry dishes for us to try. It would be so easy to end up with more food than you could ever manage still I suppose for some!. Here shown below, a lunch tapas.
As I mentioned before this beautiful modern hotel was set in the most perfect location. A stunning peaceful cove.
I am no longer a young woman but was able to swim everyday in the calm sea, a good level clear location. This place rejuvenates! The water is so clear you could see your feet and swim for a really good distance on a plateau. I loved it, just a few steps into the calm sea.
The views daily are beautiful, the sunsets amazing. You can walk to other nearby taverners in the evenings should you wish and there are good ones too but really everything is here in this very special hotel.
A gym and very well appointed wellness centre is also available for those that enjoy a massage or a little beauty therapy. Or for those that really want to remain fit and toned while here. Well trained, excellent, perfect staff will take care of you in a most pleasant atmosphere.
A visit to the old port town of Chania is not to be missed while in Crete, such a special place with quaint lanes of shops, taverners and bars to visit. Also I feel a must, is a trip to the very well maintained English War Cemetery-a very moving experience, I certainly found it so. Try if you can to visit the old port town and harbour of Chania just as the sun is going down, to sit and watch the spectacular sunset is quite something.
I cannot recommend the ” Domes Noruz” hotel more highly. I am a well seasoned traveler and have been lucky enough to enjoy many first class hotels but I enjoyed this special hotel with its sleek modern lines and this holiday more than words can say. I do recommend for those that like things done in the most perfect understated manner. Great for honeymooners,, great for those with a sophisticated palette, great for those with a romantic soul. Just great…
I took a walk along the little mews and lanes of my nearby town yesterday, passing by the old Workhouse and on to the Old Dispensary. It was a pleasingly warm almost summer day. I stopped long enough to take this photo but sat further for a while on a nearby wall. I have a good imagination and sat pondering how many times over the years folk had gone with hope in their hearts to collect medicines from this dispensary. I dreamt of how they would have looked, the clothes, whether they walked or cycled or came by horse and cart, or even a carriage., there is a lane immediately alongside after all. Life no doubt would not have been easy and the cost of a doctor great. The chemist sat tightly next to the old workhouse in a small mews with old cottages nearby, reminding me of so many television period dramas.
As I sat I dreamt of another era, of long dresses and capes, of black shiny horses and gallant gentlemen. I dreamt of rogues and vagabonds too and of a life before. I dreamt of child chimney sweeps. I thought of the poverty of some, maybe many? I dreamt of children caught in epidemics with no answer for them. For there were many during this time, influenza, diphtheria, tuberculosis and so many more. I wondered deeply of the folk who lived in the nearby cottages. Still quite beautiful but were they then?
Nestled between two nearby rivers would have meant plenty or rats and the disease they bring. No toilets inside, no electricity but a much simpler way of life but with hardships and a much tougher life. Still I’m sure many pleasures dwelt within too!
More than a few I suppose would never ever have left this small town in Lincolnshire and even now this can be the case. My young garden-helper tells me, that he had never been to London but HAS been to Skegness some 20.4 miles away…he is twenty-three! I suspect this is not unusual.
After I had sat for a while dreaming of days gone by, a young lady came and sat nearby with her take-away meal and what seemed like many little pots of tomato sauce, her lunch I suppose, she proceeded to dot the sauce over everything – we smiled – I am sure it was very tasty but smelt strongly of grease and so much of modern times… I tried not to sigh and not to look at the grease leaking through the paper bag and thought how all of a sudden “The great black shiny horses had came up and licked the frost from my dream…” I turned and continue my walk.
**~The Workhouse was in use from 1735 to 1837 and the Dispensary gave ‘Medical Aid to the Poor’ between 1789 and 1866. The Public Dispensary was also a dental surgery for a time.. Colourwashed
rendered brick with a roof hidden behind a parapet. 2 storey, 3 bay
front with doorway to left, with plain doorcase, overlight and
panelled door. 2 glazing bar sashes to right. 3 glazing bar
sashes above. Dispensary opened in 1789 and was sponsored by Sir
Joseph Banks and was used until 1866. Source: Horncastle Town.
A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness… It finds the thought and the thought finds the words. ROBERT FROST, The letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer.
Manchester – 22 May 2017
Dark these recent stormy skies
battleship grey, gloom filled evening
entangled with tears…
Blood spills in joyous places from
young music revellers,
it flows warmly away
on their recent faces of smiles…
It is not the teaching of Islam
for there is no religion
that would condone this act
your souls are damaged
by promises of a utopian heaven
for this is NOT the teaching of Islam…
Your minds are radicalised,
soaked from poison dripped evil,
do you not understand what is happening?
Listen and STOP!
This corruption of your spoilt minds,
brain-washed by evil despots
who are themselves the infidels…
This is NOT religion, it is NOT the teachings of Islam.
To walk on desert sands, to feel the warmth of the rust coloured grains between your toes,
the magic of this gentle land will steal your heart to return once more…
this land will embrace you, it will fill your eyes with wondrous visions, this torpid heat, indolent, inert and lazy will slow your pace
the vivid clarity of light, the cobalt sky will relentlessly cover you, it will embrace you, it will open tired eyes to see much further than the desert sands…
the silence of the desert will calm you, it will intrigue and bring serenity but it could also fatally teach you respect!
surreal the colours of sunset, vibrant, bathed in reds, enhancing the beauty
as does the ‘call to prayer’ like a knell at parting day…
this diorama just a spectacular painting, where artist’s brush chooses to change hourly, as the desert changes its colours as if a chameleon
this rhythm and flow…this energy of life proves as natural as breathing,
the colours mock and tease us, pumpkin, magenta, vermillion, amber, all colours of the palette are here,
it is haunting, a delightful sanctuary, a restful utterance of joy which speaks to me,
it is meditative, it is a powerful authority, so often the face of courage,
it is the desert, for It is the desert…
“No man can live this life and emerge unchanged, he will carry however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match” Wilfred Thesiger.
The words of Wilfred Thesiger are important here for me, as having just returned from what is affectionately known as the Oasis City of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates I have a little story to tell. For this land leaves a certain something deep within your heart, something that is indescribable.
With so much written and read about the Middle East everyday, in every newspaper, every newsreel, constantly bombarding us with tales of sadness, never much joy comes to us about these Middle Eastern lands.
It is then important I feel, to write my words here. So much fighting is shown each and every day, so much talked about, so many violent acts, such terrible loss and disregard for life is ours to see and hear daily…
But I want to tell you a little tale that occurred to me while shopping in the souks of Al Ain and I wonder if we would have behaved in the same manner or reached out ‘the hand of friendship’ when shopping in shall we say London, or even the suburbs. I would like to think yes, I have to hope yes, but I wonder in this current climate that has change us all, changed the way we view the Middle East, altered people thoughts radically and has in fact cast a shadow that has befallen this country of ours.
I travelled back to this most peaceful part of the world after more than thirty years and I state with a true heart and a clear conscience that the Emirati people are probably one of the most gentle races I have ever encountered.
Respect has always been a top priority when travelling in the Middle East – you know – “when in Rome do as the Romans do” and I have embraced these guidelines, when living there, and all of my travelling days. I am always polite and courteous, it goes without saying really, never any different from home but aware of the respect that must be afforded to these gentle people and I also smile a lot, which always seems to break-down any barriers that may occur.
And so to my little tale of trading friendships:
I was shopping in a rather beautiful perfumery shop – outside of the lush marbled malls but still in the main town of Al Ain. It was a very fine establishment and as we approached the shop (my son and I) we could see clearly that there was a local woman completely covered from head to toe shopping with her servant girl, their eyes down cast and with a demur countenance. The local woman was in deep conversation with the shop keeper, the small servant girl quietly waiting to carry her mistress’s purchases. The local lady seemed to be selecting gold covers for tissue boxes or maybe gold covers for her perfume bottles?
We paused at the entrance to the shop, as not to disturb the lady and as my son was contemplating entering, the owner of the shop opened the door and welcomed us with customery greeting and offered small sealed cartons of water to both of us and placing a chair for me (it was in excess of 43c that midday, so I was grateful to sit awhile) we very happily entered the airconditioned shop. It is normal to be greeted this way and nothing unusual about that but sometimes the ladies of this land do not wish to make personal purchases while other men – other than the shop owners – are present. We knew well of this custom but were pleased to enter.
It was a stunning shop, full to the brim with perfume bottles, scents and oils, many bottles and items solid 24ct gold, the smell was divine, not overpowering as some may think. Subtle, light jasmine aromas, nothing heavy. I went to the other counter well away from the woman who was in active conversation with an assistant. I did not look her way and nor did Jo but I took the grateful seat offered at the counter and after normal greetings we proceeded to test the oud oils and perfumes. Now all who know me well, understand that I favour and always have done, the scent of roses. I love Chanel No 5, the way Chanel uses the early May roses for the sweetest smell and also Coco Chanel – these are the scents I would choose every time above all others so I had a real fancy to buy some Essential Rose Oil…
The smiling helpful shopkeeper started to open copious small bottles of these essential oils and reached to dab a selection on my wrists and lower arms and also to Jo’s arms, when I had run out of space! I tried to find the right word for Rose. “Rosa”, “Rouge” even the Arabic word ‘Warda’ meaning rose. I tried’ Zahra’, which I know means flower but no Rose essence appeared. He was not an Arab, but an Asian gentleman and most helpful in fact but I could not seem to convey Rose to him. Jo tried too but to no avail. This interchange went on gently and quietly for some time. Every possible scent was applied but none of them my favourite rose, I have a good ‘nose’ for it. My eyes are not so good these days but my sense of smell has always been acute, I know the smell of roses a mile away and one good ‘sniff would confirm. He continued with more potions… No rose essence appeared…
It was a lovely experience in this beautiful emporium, no doubt about it but unbeknown to me it was about to become a very special day, such a joyful memory, such an unexpected delight on this very hot April day in this oasis desert town.
Here my small tale unfolds: Unexpectedly the Arab lady came up behind me, slowly and silently – her face completely covered in full burkah – she lightly placed her lovely hand on the counter and spoke very quickly and directly to the helpful assistant. He immediately turned to a small bottle tucked way towards the back, was this the ‘rose,’ perhaps a precious commodity in the desert. I didn’t think so, for I had see roses in gardens of hotels not like our English roses but roses never-the-less.. The Arab lady with the oh so beautiful eyes that did not look at Jo once, keeping her eyes downcast and towards me took the small bottle from the assistant and tipped a small amount of the essence on to the silk of her robe. She looked at me and indicated that using material was the real way to test several perfumes, she lifted a small piece of her cuff and indicated that I should do the same, then she passed the bottle to me and I tipped a tiny amount onto the rather brightly coloured chiffon scarf I was wearing – wishing I had worn something rather less bright at this point – she smiled broadly, I could see her twinkling eyes change above her burkah, then she placed her hand uppermost indicating this was indeed the ‘rose’ I had been looking for. Without a word another smile appeared beneath the mask, a look that can only cross between two woman – this time one Eastern and one rather elderly English lady who needed just a bit of help in finding her hearts desire.
And this is where my question is asked – would we have done the same in a London store? – would we have backed away, would we have assisted in a genuine manner, without fear or prejudice? Would we have indeed been fearful? I looked straight at her with my green eyes and bright blonde hair and my made-up face and I smiled. I am tall and statuette, she was tiny and dainty but between two woman a bridge had been built, an understanding made. But I ask, would we have offered the hand of friendship? Would we have helped, got close and engaged. You are probably saying as you read this, “well of course we would” but would you? Really would you – say in a large London Store?
I smiled and thanked her in my best and most profuse Arabic and she draw back to her selections and her purchases (and very fine they seemed to be) The Arab lady appeared content and let out a little sigh as she retreated, that indicated she was happy to help. I, very pleased, made my small purchase of my lovely fragrant rose oil, it was parcelled beautifully in an outer bag, crisp with gold coloured handles and gilt lettering and we paid, said our Salem’s and made our way to depart..
Jo made his way towards the door to exit and I followed, passing by the lady and the servant girl, both with their eyes cast-down. As Jo passed, he thanked them but neither answered or raised their eyes, As I followed and passed by the lady, I again offered my thanks and much to my surprise and delight she gently reached out her lovely hand to mine and held it, then lifted her full Burkah and bowing her head she kissed my hand and whispered, and at the same time looking directly into my eyes, she spoke quietly and gently, nodding her head and not taking her eyes from mine, as the words were said – and in any language meant – “all that was needed was a woman to take care of it”
She studied my face for a while, taking her time and smiled, her beautiful dark kohl eyes and abundant lashes, looked directly into mine and again lifting her veil she kissed my hand, holding it gently for a time, then replaced her veil over her burkah and covered her face. I was so humbled and as I exited the shop, my eyes were brimming over with tears, how this woman had touch my heart, how this woman had reached my soul and even writing this now I know I can never do this experience justice with my words, but my heart was so full of tenderness for the reaching out of this hand of friendship.
This hand of friendship, that if we could all manage, men and woman alike, then where would the world problems be? How then could this world full of hate and bitterness continue?
Jo looked at me and having seen the whole interchange, I stepped out into the fierce heat to join him, to the sound of his deep intake of breath…
It is almost two years since my youngest son Yousef (Jo) married our gorgeous Julia. A perfect day in a perfect setting, Julia and Jo chose the “Five Arrows Hotel” part of the fabulous Waddesdon Estate for their wedding venue.
Waddesdon Manor was built for Baron Ferdinand Rothschild to display his many collections and entertain the then fashionable world. Formerly a Victorian Coaching Inn, the building is a delightful Victorian mix of authentic English style, half timber with elaborate elizabethan chimneys, much wrought ironwork and built in the late 1870’s, now an elegant boutique hotel.
I left early on the Tuesday morning from my home in the Linconshire Wolds prior to the wedding to book into the hotel early, a mother has to do these things. I wanted a ‘feel of the place’, to ‘drink-in’ everything I could about this fabulous venue. In fact the entire hotel was booked to us for three days in preparation for this special day, making all the rooms available to guests attending. I was given a choice of rooms and selected a lovely large airy room in the new wing, as light is helpful for aging eyes – I would need to get my hat on straight at the very least! – and the ensuites would be new and efficient. I am sure they are in the original part of the hotel too but it would be at least a shade dimmer in those stunning Victorian rooms. My room was gorgeous overlooking the courtyard below, Mama was very happy. The weather that week was particularly good so the ornate and verdant gardens were at their best and May in England is the most perfect month for a Wedding and pretty flowers always enhance the photographs in my humble opinion. I enjoyed my pre-stay very much, the food at the Five Arrows is particularly good, a gourmet menu for sure. They have a fantastic selection of Rothschild wines from vineyards around the world and a list of hand-picked guest wines have been chosen by their wine expert for their quality. The attention to detail is very special, a some-what old fashion approach to fine dining and something I truly love.
The bachelor dinner the night before the wedding was held in a private dining room, plush dark wood furnishings for table and walls casting lovely candlelight and a burnished glow across the table and the guests. Special friends, the brides father, the best man, and relations from Egypt attended. It was incredibly special and I am at a loss for words here. The food was mouth-wateringly delicious, the wines clearly chosen to complement this fabulous meal and marked well the occasion. I was and am extremely proud of my Son Jo, who arranged everything with such care and such meticulous attention to detail and I am proud of the amazing man he has become and the choices he has made. Of course my thoughts throughout this evening and the Wedding Day were often of my late husband Hamada, who would have been delighted with everything, I know how pleased he would have been at the elegance of this chosen location.
The morning dawned a perfect May day and after breakfast a short visit to Waddesdon Manor with our Egyptian family was a must, they were thrilled with the magical turrets and declared we should all live there and occupy a turret each! After returning to the hotel I walked slowly round the gardens and marvelled at the perfection of the day, the dining room was entirely perfect, the table flowers stunning and the sky a cornflower blue! So with a very happy heart I went to get ready for this oh so special occasion. Guests started to arrive in their finery, such beautiful young people, dear family members, how I would have loved my parents to have been there, seeing and congratulating this lovely couple and one of their very dear Grandsons on this special day. Jo was resplendent in a navy and grey dress suit as were his best men, even the wedding Mercedes had our family name as number plates, a lovely touch. It was enchanting to see this pretty venue, terrace and gardens filling-up with laughter and happiness and as the wedding ceremony was to be held in the old dairy it was only a step away…
As our stunning Julia,Jo’s very gorgeous bride arrived there were audible gasps from those present at the beauty of this young woman. My heart was full to bursting with love for this young couple and filled with hope for their life together. Beautiful singing accompanied the wedding service, the opera voice, clear and lilting, rose in praise of their love, the service was just perfect. We emerged into the brilliant sunlight as friends and family gathered round to congratulate and to the many cameras all trying to capture this fabulous occasion. Champagne was served, orange juice and beers – it was warm – and delicious canapés arrived on the terrace, official photos were taken, we gathered, chatted and greeted and then later into the hotel for a most sumptuous wedding breakfast, the usual speeches and to view and later eat the most perfectly beautiful cake.
An evening of musical entertainment followed. Fusion music from around the world drifted across the courtyard with many happy faces relaxed and enjoying the warm evening but no faces were more ecstatic than those of the beautiful bride and handsome groom, no smiles bigger or brighter!
Of course it’s difficult to put into words the magic of this special day but two years on, my mind is still filled with so many visions of this enchanting wedding, I pray I shall never lose these memories or the joy that was encountered that late May day…
The months fly by or so it seems these days. It can hardly be almost three years since the last desert reunion and my poem written of this time, of our meeting in London, but it is. This coming April I plan to return to the desert once again back to the garden city of Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates. How exciting this will be after first going their 32 years ago. It will be nice to see old friends once again and to view the amazing changes made to this arid land of sun and sand. My poem of the last reunion is shown here:
Reunion – Jewels Nightclub – Piccadilly London April 2013. read more…
My 2017 Wish: ❤️
When I was younger, I never thought about losing someone I loved, silly me, how naive but I thought as I loved my Mother and Father utterly and entirely that they would be there forever, well at least until they were VERY old. Then the years passed quickly and so did they and they weren’t…Then a few short years later I lost my ‘ best love’ ! I recently looked at my old address book and was saddened at the names crossed through, friends no longer here. 😔
❤️As a New Year starts, 2017, a once thought of faraway number for me, may I ask you something dear family, dear friends, may I ask you to love and cherish those precious to you. Hold them tight, never take them for granted, give them loads of hugs and tell them you love them❤️
My constant consolation in life is that I told my Mum and Dad and my ‘ best love’ often how much I loved them – we all did – it’s a family thing perhaps but it wasn’t always so but how very important you know, for one day you may ‘ turn around’ and ‘they’ have gone…
Do it at the start of this New Year, ❤️do it today❤️do it now, say it often,hold them close❤️for love, if you feel it, is the greatest gift you can give, it is also the greatest gift you can receive. Tell your children, your wife, your husband, your partner, your lover, your mistress, your dear friend, your pet, that you love and cherish them if you do ❤️Never miss the chance, for life is so fleeting and memories are all that remain when those you love are gone, remember love is the greatest and most powerful gift of all! ..❤️
” I may speak in different languages of people or angels but if I do not have love I am a noisy bell or a crashing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy. I may understand all the secrets things of God and have all knowledge and I may have faith so great I can move mountains but even with all these things, if I do not have love, then I am nothing…”