Desert Christmas

Friday, 27 December 2013

Spending Christmas in Doha was never going to be easy.

For me personally, this is the first Christmas in all of my 26 years that iv ever spent away from my family. I think I've only ever spent Christmas Day away from home once or twice but only as a kid, and even then it was spent with my parents and relatives.

Now the 25th has been and gone, and I thought I'd share a few snaps from the weeks leading up to Christmas, and the day itself. I didn't take many pictures on Christmas Day because to be perfectly honest, I just wanted to get very drunk on cocktails and hope the day would pass as quickly as possible!

In a bid to inject a bit of festive cheer into everybody because, to be frank, nobody seems particularly happy here at the moment and nobody really wanted to be here over the festive period, Sara Jemma and I threw a little house party at our place for the team.


I got my Nigella on and baked a few festive treats on Christmas Eve for my flatmates and neighbours.

We popped down to the St Regis beach in the morning to get a quick snap by the sea in our Christmas jumpers.

We ate brunch at Spice Market in the W hotel. The food was incredible (an endless stream of fresh sushi, Asian salads, freshly fried prawn tempura, dim sum - there was even roast turkey and almost all of the trimmings for those wanting to embrace the Christmas dinner tradition). Lovely waiters and waitresses kept our glasses topped up all day long (red wine, white wine, bubbles, mojitos and everyone quickly got very, very merry!). We did a secret Santa round the table (I of course was predictably bought a jar of Nutella, and a very lovely jumper!)

After dinner we went for a few drinks at Mayurs. The boys decided to play Fifa so I slipped downstairs to meet a new friend I'd made at brunch for drinks, and then we all headed back to our apartments later on to carry the party on in the bar with a few games of pool.

I disappeared back up to my apartment by ten, face timed my family and predictably got very upset and emotional, and then went to bed hugging a tube of Pringles. Rock and roll desert Christmas!

Maybe it's the time of year and the fact that it emphasises more than ever how much I miss my family and friends, but I do wonder, having been in Doha for 5 months now, how I am going to get by til the end of the football season, let alone until the lease runs out on my apartment in October. I always said I'd stay for three months and then re evaluate how I'm finding it. Then I said I'd stay til Christmas and re evaluate in the New Year, and here I am. The past 5 months have definitely had their fun times, but right now the good times don't nearly outweigh how hard it is here to be truely happy.

With that said, if I'm going to be here into the New Year, I need to enter 2014 with a better attitude than this. Doha is never going to be home, and living here certainly isn't a permanent move, so I need to start accepting it for what it is and making the best of being here. I'm here for a reason, to make my life back in the UK better and easier in the long run, so I need to focus on my goal to save like crazy and try and have a bit of fun on the way.


Tis the season

Monday, 16 December 2013

Normally by this time, I'd be really excited about Christmas.

But being in the desert just doesn't feel right at all, and has left me pining for home.

I love my house at Christmas - my mum is the most tasteful Christmas decorator ever. Everything is simple, yet beautiful, from the faux snow covered fur tree in the lounge, to the home made floral centre piece on the dining room table and the home made floral garland on the fireplace, to the Nativity in the hall. She even hangs a sprig of mistletoe in the living room, and the lounge always smells of Christmas spice candles.

In the run up to Christmas she bakes shortbread and Florentines, which we'll have on Christmas morning while we open presents. We'll have sausages and apricots in bacon too, because none of us can wait until Christmas lunch, washed down with champagne.

My brother and my sister in law will come over and bring the dogs, who will lay in a sea of wrapping paper watching us opening our presents.

Come lunch time, my mum always makes an amazing Christmas dinner - a huge roast turkey, a gammon joint, all the trimmings. We'll pull crackers, tell our cracker jokes, and then play a daft game round the table (last year we all had to wear celebrity masks and ask questions to find out who we were, and a game of wind-up reindeer racing - I won!) Normally we have way too many desserts - home made Christmas cake, chocolate log (my favourite), pavlova, and a giant cheese board.

After lunch, more drinks and board games, a Christmas movie, and a nap thrown in there somewhere, followed by dipping back into the cheese board! Perfect day of eating, drinking and quality family time.

Needless to say, Christmas in the desert won't quite be the same. That's not to say we aren't trying to be as festive as possible. We've bought a tree for the apartment, lit the Christmas scented candles, and our presents are under the tree.

A big group of us from work are here for Christmas, and we've booked a table at the W hotel at the Spice Market restaurant for their Christmas brunch. We're all taking part in a secret Santa, so everyone will get a gift at the table. It will be a day of eating lots, drinking lots, and making the best of being away from our families.

Iv got a feeling I'm going to struggle - this will be the first Christmas in 26 years that iv spent away from my parents. In a bid to cheer me up and get me in the Christmas spirit, my mum sent over a parcel of comedy Christmas jumpers which will all be getting an outing at some point over the coming weeks!

Now here's hoping Santa brings me what I've asked for this year!