My husband was offered a job in Abu Dhabi and with five children to support between us there was no way he could afford to turn it down.
Then I was offered one on the same newspaper, so we all moved from the south of France to the Middle East. I had no idea what to expect. The closest I had ever been to an Arab country was Turkey, and Istanbul at that, which is half in Europe anyway. Whatever else, I expected it to be so much more removed from anything I felt was "home" than France was. After all, France is only a train ride or a minute flight from London. By comparison, Abu Dhabi is practically the other side of the world.
Living in France: The English Trap. This expat said au revoir to the French dream. Why running Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is a dream expat job.
Warm climate trekking tips
Expat life on the border of Switzerland and France. Give me a break: stop knocking Dubai. Guide to living abroad: Abu Dhabi. Fast-forward three years and it is a very different scenario to the one I expected.
Of course, we are miles away from home, but actually I feel more "at home" here than I did in France. For a start, everything is rather helpfully in English, from the street signs to the call centres to the schools. In France my work environment was English, as I was writing for the newspapers back home from there, but now I am the editor of an English-language magazine which is part of the only British-style newspaper in the region modelled on The Telegraph in fact, and set up by Martin Newland, a former editor.
It all started with a backpack
When I shop I go to what is possibly the most over-priced supermarket in the world, but it stocks products from Waitrose. In short, the culture we are exposed to is more or less totally British. This was very much brought home to me during the royal wedding. There we were in a large marquee, big screen in place tuned to the BBC in London what else?
We all stood up when the congregation sang God Save the Queen and there were Union Jacks all over the place. I suspect that none of the 6, or so street parties actually taking place in Blighty had such a patriotic feel to them. Rinse your clothes as regularly as possible to get rid of the salt. Sunburn can ruin a trek. It can make carrying your backpack unbearable and even the smallest amount of sun on your skin can cause immense pain.
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Sun protection cream is all well and good, but you can sweat that off. Instead, cover your legs with loose-fitting trousers, your arms with a long-sleeve shirt with a high collar and cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat. And without healthy, happy feet, trekking can become a painful slog.
Love in a Warm Climate by Helena Frith-Powell (ebook)
Take plenty of pairs of socks and change them regularly. Rinse socks out at the end of the day and let them dry fully. Generally speaking, small animals, such as insects, are more of a problem than large animals in warmer climates because they carry diseases and are often poisonous. A good idea is to build a little gully, cm deep, around your tent.
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