I've FINALLY got a tiny little window of opportunity to write a quick post. I have to fight for access to the computer now the children are off school. My son apparently 'needs' to be on it in order to look up wrestlers on eBay and Amazon (figures - not real ones) to buy with money he really doesn't have, or else to play a weird pc game called Worms 2; my daughter 'needs' to go on Rightmove look up properties which we don't have the money to buy and to chat to her friends on Msn or make comments on Bebo. I could go on my laptop - why is why I bought the thing in the first place - but despite doing everything according to instruction, I can't access the internet via the router we bought.
So, while I was paying attention to my mother, driving her around and about to look for properties to buy so she could be nearer us (yes, it's true) and vying for online time with the rest of my family, several things happened on my blog. First, the poll closed with a majority voting for me to put a less scary picture up. So now I have a new one. It's meant to serve as some kind of corny visual metaphor for my midlife crisis, it's not ideal, but I haven't had time to find another one and it'll do for now.
Second, I got a rockin girl blogger award - hurrah! - from Debio/Land of Sand which I now proudly display. Being new to this whole thing and being short on time lately, I've only become familiar with a handful of other blogspots, some of whom already have the award. But after careful consideration - I'm going to hand it to:
Mutterings and Meanderings
Because I enjoy all of their blogs.
I was also tagged by Debio and am now duty bound to list my favourite restaurants. As we have so few decent ones where I live, I'm going to include eateries from other places we have lived. None of them are upmarket or particularly wonderful, but all hold a firm and nostalgic place in my memory. By some coincidence they are all Chinese or South Asian restaurants.
1. Omar Al Khayyam restaurant in Muscat - also known as Alauddin.
This was one of the very first places I went to eat when I moved to Muscat. It was incredibly busy at the time - mainly full of seasoned expats who all seemed to know eachother, including (unnervingly) my husband who had been out there for a few months before me. I felt so different from them all - pale, white, self-conscious, still wrapped in my London personality. But the food was good and atmosphere great. After that we frequently ordered takeaways from Alauddin's and it was one of the few places I really trusted when I was pregnant. My favourite order was Chicken Tikka Masala takeout/Vegetable Chow Mein.
10 years later we went there with our children on a visit to Muscat. Unbelievably, they remembered us and without any prompting we were welcomed by name as if we had never left.
2. The Chinese Garden, Al Khuwair - next to the Ice Skating Rink in Muscat.
I don't know if it is still there, but it was a funny little restaurant in a weird sort of complex which housed Muscat's only skating rink. The decor was fantastically kitsch with plastic flowers and greenery draped around white trellises which acted as table dividers. We went there often with our flatmates who included a very tall welshman and a diminutive Singaporean nurse who loved the hot and sour soup. My main memory of the place though was of the nurse, in her clipped Southeast Asian accent, ordering Chili Crap(crab) Balls.
3. India Palace
Abu Dhabi is full of fantastic restaurants - rather like Dubai. But I loved going to this one, not only because of the great Indian food, but because of the way it looked. Outside it was clad in a white faux palace, like the Taj Mahal which lit up with hundreds of white lights at night. Inside the tables were laid with shiny golden plates and massive brass lanterns hung from the ceilings. Most nights there was a little stall within the restaurant where you could watch a craftsman making jewellery and trinkets which were also available for sale. The children loved it, and like all places in Abu Dhabi, they were always welcome.
4. The Chinese Restaurant in the Novotel.
My husband used go there on his visits to Abu Dhabi previously when he was staying at the Novotel. He told me he would happily sit there in the evenings with a good book and a huge frosted glass of beer. We went there on the first night out on our own, leaving our children with the wonderful maid.
Though situated next to the disco on an odd kind of mezzanine floor with a strangely low ceiling, I loved the feel of this restaurant. It kind of reminded me of chinese restaurants back home in England, but offered far better food. It always felt like a bit of an escape to be there, plus I also adored the chilled lager which came in massive glasses.
5. The Gurkha Palace, Farnborough
I passed this restaurant many times before I finally went there. For some peculiar reason, it was my daughter's doing; her first choice of a place to go on her birthday. I later found out that she chose it to please me, just because I kept wondering about it and commenting on it as we drove past.
As it turned out, we all loved the place. Situated on a busy main road opposite the town's airport it was a haven of peace and tranquility - another escape. White walls, rich red carpets and chairs, decorated with beautiful pictures of Nepal and Kukri knives/Nepalese paraphanalia, gentle music playing in the background. On Sundays, they have a buffet full of all the things I love to eat and they also serve the obligatory huge glass of Nepalese lager that leaves me feeling all fuzzy. It has been our family choice of venue for a number of important days now - including Mother's Day. I think I particularly like it because it reminds me of our various lives overseas and takes me back there, albeit briefly.
So now to pass the tag on to:
At my Kitchen Table
Mother at large
Blimey, that took me ages, we haven't had any lunch yet and the kids have fallen into a TV-induced coma.