Adam Bird

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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Dubai

Dubai at night

Oppulance isn't something that Stephanie and I are too familiar with, but that could all change come September when we finally find out just where Mum and Dad will be sending us on our first voyage as Mr and Mrs.

Due to the inevitable future loss of income to the Emirate state from it's oil production, Dubai is looking to the future and how to ensure that it remains ahead of the rest of the world in earning income. Dramatically investing upon the thriving tourist industry has seen a boom of construction projects not seen anywhere in the world. Dubai has also understood that quantity is nothing without quality and have strived for perfection in everything that gets the planning departments approval, nowhere more so than the Burj Al Arab, a place where one thing is for certain. Unless Mum and Dad have been secretly hoarding millions of pounds in their underwear drawers is that we won't be staying at the the worlds only seven star hotel, although it's a place which must top our list of "to do's".

In fact, like Antigua, we could easily lay upon the beach all day for a week, but we'd be depriving ourselves of some of the worlds most unique sites and experiences.  For example, something like twenty of the top two hundred tallest building in the world are situated in Dubai, with plenty more on the radar, including the current worlds tallest - the Burj Khalifa.  The building itself stands at a staggering 2,717ft tall, which is only 500 feet less that the UK's highest mountain and has an observation deck at floor number 124, another place to certainly visit - if we are feeling brave enough!

Not only are supertall hotels, offices and residential buildings occupying what until very recently was wide expanses of desert, the Emirati are also expanding into and under the sea. Huge swathes of land have been deposited or dredged from the sea to create palm shaped archipelago's, or little islets which combine to look like a view of the earth from above. If that wasn't enough, the next architectual boundary looks set to be broken with the worlds first underwater hotel, the Hydropolis, which is pure science fiction becoming stark reality.

So if it's not the world tallest, or the worlds only seven star hotel we'll be in the worlds largest shopping centre or the worlds largest indoor snow dome or lazying around a river at one of Dubai's waterparks. In fact we could venture out down the road and pop into another one of the states that make up the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. A month before the last race of the Formula One season we could pop into Yas Marina and have a track day, although we'd be slightly too early to visit the new Ferrari Formula One theme park, which opens at the beginning of October. Plenty more to see and do indeed!

In fact, being on our honeymoon I can see how it would all unfold. Stephanie, laying on her sunbed, drinking her non-alchololic cocktail, reading her Jordan bestseller with her feet in the warm Gulf sea, whilst I, facing the other way looking at the cranes admiring the slipforms and steel strusses providing strength in the crossbeams. Afterall, I have a secret obsession with all things construction so we'd both be in our element.

Looking at September temperatures in Dubai, I may actually have been a tad premature. The highest recorded temperature has been 48° which is about 38° more than is physically humanely withstandable. After all the research and things to see, we'll only end up venturing as far as our hotel lobby!

With Dubai being the second place on my Mum and Dad's list, a place we never envisaged being there, we look longingly at the European destinations that we first thought of, which is where I'm heading now, but, you'll have to wait for that, I need to read all about it first.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Antigua

Antigua

Last I heard, Antigua was an island in the Caribbean, and according to Wikipedia it still is! So you can imagine mine and Stephanie's surprise when we read our list of possible honeymoon destinations and Antigua was sitting pretty at the top! We had been talking all about the possible European cities that my parents could possibly send us and out popped this humdinger!

In fact, it shouldn't have come too much as a surprise and on analysis it probably isn't. The full list is populated with places that Mum and Dad have been to, after all, we couldn't possibly go on holiday to a place that Mum and Dad haven't been to before!

With any place you visit, we always like to do a bit of research, but finding out the day before we go, where we are going is going to leave Stephanie and I desperately hunting around for a Fodor's Travel Guide within the airport departure lounge. But with the Internet it makes life so much easier, Mum and Dad are keeping tight lipped and so we'll be relying on the Internet more so than ever!

Places to go, places to see, local customs, local history. It all makes your visit all the more rewarding. And so, Antigua and Barbuda, part of the 'West Indies', which manages to evoke thoughts of Viv Anderson, Brian Lara and the world famous "soul limbo" cricket theme tune, even though I wouldn't classify myself as a cricket supporter in any way, shape or form!

Antigua does sound like the perfect honeymoon location and having already seen some past holiday snaps the clean, white sanded beaches and crystal blue waters will be more than a perfect backdrop for us to enjoy our first days of Mr and Mrs'dom. But is there anything else other than Sun, Sea, Sand and...?

Hmm, well. Anyway, plenty it would seem! Antigua is believed to have 365 beaches, one for each day of the year, which is perfect for us, we would leave with only another 358 more to see, but you go all that way, you want to see something a bit special and do something a little bit different. Well, we could visit Nicole, at her house, where she will teach us how to cook an authentic three course Caribbean meal. Or if either of us are feeling particularly brave, we could take the rainforest canopy tour, a high thrill zip line tour above the canopy of the rainforest below!

Coincidental occurrences could also be seen as "signs" which lead the way, then they cannot come any closer than the VC Bird International Airport, named in honour after Vere Cornwall, the first prime minister. Alternatively we could have lunch, or an al fresco cocktail at Indigo on the Beach, on the way over to Great Bird Island either way, all names synonymous with the family - could be signs that we are on our way!

Every silver lining has a cloud attached and Antigua is no exception - particularly in September!  Hurricanes! As is always the case within the region around that sort of time - it's possible things could get a wee bit windy!  Which would mean braving mother nature or getting evacuated to main land USA, or Venezuela, whichever is safest. Failing that, at a long shot, the islands could get hit by the BP oil disaster leaving us unable to sample the snorkeling Antigua is famed for!

With all new information and facts found and filed away, I've got to leave the virtual Caribbean landscape and head back east to the second location on the list!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

World is our oyster

As the days stroll by and we eat into 2010, we grow inevitably closer to England's World Cup destiny, my 30th Birthday and of course, the day Stephanie and I get married. Exciting times for us indeed, but it in the last few days the excitement has just upped a notch or two!

Since I last wrote, Stephanie and I have settled in nicely in our new jobs, so that they now just feel like jobs and have lost the "new" element, such is life. In the past three months we've made new friends, learnt new things and have had lots to contend with, like getting burgled and having to buy a new car whilst sorting out the insurance on the as yet unfound old one. Gillingham being relegated, Liverpool missing out on the top four and the start of the World Cup which saw the usual delirium as the nation obsesses about the national team.

It would have been easy to write about any of these things, but Twitter and Facebook make my life easier, I can say something in 140 characters and a click of a button, I can do it reactively and "live". So sitting down writing a blog about, in the scheme of things, not very much, hasn't been worth the while. But, with the wedding plans coming to fruition I now have a very valid and exciting reason to write!

Stephanie and I, invites sent, suits ordered, dresses made, shoes brought, menu's chosen, flowers booked, cake in the oven and goodness knows what else came to an alarming halt in our wedding plans when we came to "themeing" our table names. Rather than Auntie Maureen sitting at table number 1, we thought we could name the tables after something, which is all the rage apparently.

So we thought of things, rubbish things mainly, named after birds for example, but who would want to sit on the "blue tit" table? Or named after aisles in Safeways where we met. The "Frozen Food" table anyone? We thought about it, threw some stuff around and got nowhere very fast, until we sat and had a chat with my Mum and Dad.

They said that they would like to send us on our honeymoon and asked us where we would like to go. Stephanie and I looked at each other, and well, what can you say? If you say, Hawaii, thinking the world is your oyster and they say "we was thinking more this country", you end up looking a bit greedy, or if you try and be polite and say "Prestatyn is nice that time of year" they could equally turn around and say "excellent, Prestatyn it is, although we was thinking somewhere a bit more exotic like Aruba" then you've ended up looking rather stupid. So we did the sensible thing and said "surprise us".

With the honeymoon now sorted as well, we were still left with the table predicament, yet somehow I had the genius idea of combining the two.  With Gatwick being the top table, the other tables could be named after places and during the course of the wedding day, we'd have a grand "reveal" and learn which "table" would be our destination!

Stephanie was sold straight away, which left Mum and Dad to be convinced. Easily done, they loved the idea as well, although not convinced with the top table name we changed it to "London", and ironed out a few more of the details - which will be revealed on the day!

With the plan settled, we needed to ask Mum and Dad to provide us with 8 places, one for each of the tables so that we could, firstly let the Little Silver know who is sitting where, secondly create the relevant decorations and finally, do some research into where we might be going so that when we get there we know a little bit about the place!

Every since the plan was finalised, Stephanie and I have been ruminating as to what the "places" could be. We were pretty much in agreement that they would be European City breaks, as part of the deal was that Mum and Dad would be having Oliver for five days. So we've since been talking about Barcelona, Vienna, Prague and Rome getting ourselves hyped up and talking about all the sites and sounds.

It finally reached a crescendo on Monday night of this week, Mum sent me a text saying that she would be sending me an email with all eight table names. Stephanie and I sat there all night watching the football, waiting for the "you've got mail" icon to finally put us out of our misery!

As we sat and read through them and I had told Stephanie where they were, we sat there stunned, overwhelmed and both of us peed ourselves just a little bit with excitement! Not only did we have our one of eight, we were also told that we are actually going for seven days, and not to worry, Mum and Dad would still be having Oliver!

What started off as a minor predicament, we've ended up creating a monster of excitement and intrigue, as Mum and Dad have managed to carefully compile a list of places that if you went to just one, it wouldn't matter in the slightest that your not going to any of the others!

Now that I've been given the perfect excuse for reasons to write about something over the next few weeks I'll be researching each place and revealing the "candidates" one at a time just as an attempt to build some anticipation for those not yet in the know.

More importantly, it gives me a little respite, the chance to think of the words, how on earth do you say thank you to parents who make there kids dreams come true?
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