Sun, surf, Eagles and a missing meerkat

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The last week in Dundee is now merely a blur, how Leigh and I got everything done I do not know but it went down to the wire. We painted rooms, cleaned carpets, shifted furniture, gave furniture to charity as well as numerous bags of toys, clothes and general clutter, sold a car, sold a “travel system” (pram), cleaned, re-siliconed a bathroom and completed a long list of little DIY tasks that had been on the back burner for a couple of years. After all of that there was little time to spend with friends and family to say good bye, and I felt sorry for little Emily who must have wondered what was going on as the only house she has known was slowly dismantled.

Our first stop on our journey back to Australia was Dubai, there only seems to be 2 seasons in this Emirates hub; really really hot summer and hot summer, we pitched up in the former and as we headed out of Terminal 1 at  1 am it was a stifling 37 degrees! Our sanctuary for 5 days was the 25th floor of the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek, we couldn’t fault the place, nice big room, great food and the staff were friendly and helpful. Emily poured on the charm to anyone who would give her a little attention (and some who didn’t), saying bye to the entire restaurant after breakfast or dinner was a daily ritual.img_4875

Much of this stopover was about having a relaxing break after the hectic month we had had, but it is in our nature to get out and explore, we had stayed here a year ago for a couple of nights so had done a whistle stop tour of the main attractions but never spent any amount of time at any one place. Dubai doesn’t really lend it self to getting out for a walk; with 42 degree days and the concrete jungle intersected by busy roads and freeways, you really need some sort of transport, and the hotel offered a daily shuttle service to the Dubai Mall. What ever your opinion of modern architecture is, Dubai is impressive, from pearling backwater to this large futuristic city-scape with a vast infrastructure. Because it is built on a flat desert there is no natural back drop behind the glistening sky scrapers, and with the identical gold metro stations suspended in mid-air and other weird and wonderful structures you get the feeling you are in a science fiction movie.img_5105

Dubai Mall is up there as one of the World’s biggest, but once you are consumed into the bowels of the labyrinth you could be in any modern shopping centre in the world, most of the shop names are familiar, there are just more of those out of reach boutiques here where the price tags start in four figures and rocket up from there. We are not big shoppers but we are big fans of eating, unfortunately Dubai Mall’s food offerings didn’t quite match the scale of its shopping experience. What it does have that most malls don’t is a large walk through aquarium and zoo, complete with sharks, penguins and crocodiles (not in the same tank) and is well worth a couple of hours. The Dubai Mall also has access to the World’s tallest building the Burg Khalifa; we zoomed up the 125th floor (in the worlds fastest lift) you can go up to floor 148 if you pay a fair bit more, the views were spectacular especially the extent of the water features and fountains that surround the Mall. If you are a more prepared than we were, I recommend booking an Aquarium and Burg Khalifa combo online to save a Dirham or two.img_5108

One place that had caught our eye form our vantage point on the 32nd floor whilst having breakfast was Children City, a large complex surrounded by a lush park boarded by the Dubai Creek. Upon investigation it looked a great spot for Emily to burn off some energy; a large soft play area and a hands on science and history centre for bigger kids. It is also walkable from the hotel which was easier said than done in a 43 degrees day, poor Emily melted. Children City? More like Child Village on the day we visited, I think we were the only ones there, apart from a large contingent security guards and staff, but we all had an enjoyable afternoon there before brisk walk back to the air-conditioned comfort of the hotel. Emily and I went back to the park in the late afternoon, when the park comes alive, lots of little kiosks selling drinks and food and various rides for kids, still very quiet, more stray cats than people, who are also kept hydrated with water feeders dotted around the park.img_4987

So that was Dubai, a nice wee break for us all but we needed to get back to work and find ourselves a Motorhome in Australia. Emily travelled well on both flights and Emirates did a wonderful job on both legs by finding us 3 seats together ( under 2s aren’t allocated a seat unless you pay for one) so we were able to spread out and she always slept through meal time, and was even able to watch a movie or two.

Home for the first 2 weeks in Perth was an Airbnb in Sorento close to the white sandy Northern Beaches, it was a lovely Studio complete with deck and lemon tree at the back of Nicole and her family’s home and had everything we needed. Out the front was a beautiful fish pond with with 4 large Koi Carp and many smaller fish, we couldn’t go past it with out Emily wanting to have a look and when satisfied a wave and a bye.img_5271

These first 2 weeks were part holiday and part Motorhome shopping, Perth is very spread out so it was easy to do long distances and not leave the city’s environs, we were north of city centre and unfortunately most of the vans on offer were South so we had to be mindful of Emily’s comfort especially as she is no fan of sitting in a car seat. There was one place close by called KB Campers so we paid them a visit on our second day, they sell mainly ex rental motorhomes, there wasn’t much in our price range, but they showed us one that had just come in that we really liked: (We ended up buying this one but it took us almost 3 weeks to do the deal – that’s another story/blog).img_5288

Between Motorhome hunting we dipped our toes into the Indian Ocean on more than one occasion; at the rugged Burns Beach with waves crashing, the calm protected waters of Hilarys Boat Harbour and Australia’s only licenced beach; Fremantle’s aptly named Bathers Beach. The weather was warming up and Emily absolutely loved it, you have to hold her back as enthusiasm for being in the water takes over. We visited many a park for Emily to run off a bit of energy, including Perth’s jewel in the crown; Kings Park which was at its best with the spring wild flowers all in bloom.img_5206

We also visited Perth Zoo, and ended up buying a zoo pass that will get us into all the main zoos in South Australia, NSW, Victoria as well as Perth of course. The day we were there a baby meerkat went missing, we had nothing to do with it, and initially wild birds were blamed. I did notice when we were looking at the meerkats there was no one on lookout (usually a meerkat climbs to the highest point to warn the others of any danger), so slack security there, they must be getting a bit complacent in the zoo environment. The birds were off the hook when the missing kitten/pup was found over 100km away in Beverly, Police were investigating if it was stolen…….it wasimg_5226

Speaking of birds of prey we arrived in Perth in the middle of Eagles mania, not the feathered variety but the team of 18 men who run around a large round field chasing an oval red leather ball, kitted out in Blue and Gold, called the West Coast Eagles. This is Aussie Rules (AFL) and it was finals time, Perth’s West Coast Eagles had made the Grand Final against the passionately hated Collingwood Magpies from Melbourne. I first settled in Perth in 1994 and arrived at the same time of the year, the Eagles won their 2nd premiership that year, but I had no interest and equally no understanding of the game back then, this year they won their 4th Grand Final and although I had been away from watching this game for sometime I was able to rekindle my passion whilst viewing a classic contest. We joined the 40 – 50000 fans at Langley Park to welcome the victorious team back to the West the following day, our Hotel at the time was a stones through away so it seemed a good cultural experience for the family to enjoy.img_5316

So that was our first 4 weeks away from Dundee, enjoying the mostly balmy Australian spring sunshine, the great outdoors but always with one keen eye on Motorhomes for sale, not loosing sight of the big picture.img_5380