2018 | Ups and Downs

At first glance this seems a bit of a desolate landscape, but for a large part of 2018 this has been home for me. I’m currently working on a project in Kuwait, and whilst here, I live in an apartment that is located in the second of the two smaller buildings in the middle of the picture. The area around is not the best, it’s pretty much a giant building site, but the apartment itself is modern and comfortable.

Perhaps this sums up many aspects of 2018 for me, and Mrs E – some rather challenging times, but we have also experienced wonderful highlights too.

Lows and Highs

The low points of this year have centred on health and work issues, some of which I discussed in my post ‘Three Months On‘  but without going into detail, suffice it to say that throughout this year, more than any other in recent times we have both had to dig deep, but with the love and strength of each other and those around us we have battled through. We are optimistic for the year ahead, which promises new and exciting opportunities.

For me, the year started in serious relaxing mode – I had finished my project in Saudi Arabia just before Christmas 2017, and decided to take some time out. Those early weeks of 2018 were spent in the UK and Cyprus, before heading back to Dubai.

An idyllic Cypriot cottage – typifying the peace of Cyprus

February featured one of the high points of the year, when we stayed for a long weekend at the wonderful Ritz Carlton Desert Resort, in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The resort had probably the best accommodation we have ever experienced, not least because of it’s heavenly private pool; this combined with the peace and tranquility of the desert setting made it just perfect.

April took me back to Cyprus, where I was able to spend time with my son Alex; our visit included a relaxing afternoon cruising around the Cypriot shoreline, celebrating his birthday.

With the arrival of May, my self imposed ‘time out’ from work came to a close – I had the opportunity to take on a project in Kuwait, so despite really enjoying my time away from emails and excel, I decided to take the plunge, and start a new adventure. Since then, both Mrs E and I have been regular commuters on the short flight between Kuwait and Dubai, ensuring that time apart is kept to a minimum.

The wonderful Sky Lounge at The Radisson Blu Hotel, Kuwait

Trips back to the UK have provided other memorable moments this year -the chance to catch up with family and friends during late June was very welcome, especially as it gave me the opportunity to share some of the world cup games with my sons. I also visited a few old haunts, not least my favourite pub – The Plough.

A further visit in October fitted well into the ‘making memories’ category, as we spent time in Liverpool – Mrs E, being a big Beatles fan, had wanted to visit ‘Double Fantasy’, an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool about the relationship between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was really fascinating; we got to see many rare and unique items from that period, including John’s hand-written lyrics for their iconic Christmas song, ‘Happy Christmas (War is over)’

But the Beatles experience didn’t end with the exhibition, we also visited ‘The Casbah Coffee Club’ – which for those that don’t know (including myself, prior to this trip), it was at The Casbah, that the Beatles began their gigging career. The nearby Cavern Club is far more synonymous with their early days, but it was at The Casbah that it really all started.

Thoughout this visit, the most wonderful thing for me to see was the pure joy that these places bought out in Mrs E – such is her knowledge and passion for The Beatles, that these were like pilgrimages for her. But visiting the Casbah, and also its sister exhibition ‘The Magical Beatles Museum’, involved something even more special than seeing all the wonderful treasures on display – we got to meet and chat with Roag Best – brother to the ‘5th Beatle’, Pete Best – happy days!

Surfin’ with Roag!

Fast forward to Christmas, and Santa bought this coveted piece of vinyl by The Beatles, with Pete Best on drums:

Travels

Although I have taken some 36 flights this year, the vast majority have been between Kuwait and Dubai; aside from these, and my trips to the UK and Cyprus, the only other places that I have made it to were brief visits to Nice in the South of France, and Cairo in Egypt, both for business meetings.

On the Nice trip, I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to nearby Cannes, to watch the England v Colombia World Cup match – England famously won after a penalty shoot out – a great evening!

World Cup fun in Cannes!
The Kempinski Hotel in Cairo, my home for the short stay – not bad eh?

‘Social’ Activity

I’ve continued to enjoy working on content for ‘ExpatSteveBlog’, and published 18 posts this year prior to this one, with the most viewed post being ‘Three Months On’, although the most liked post was ‘A Desert Staycation‘ which was written about our stay at the Ritz Carlton Desert Resort.

Over on Instagram, I posted 155 photos throughout year, and have even started to dabble with ‘Insta Stories’. My most liked photo was this one, of the iconic Kuwait Towers.

But another instagram picture, also from Kuwait, gave me cause to smile – it was taken in the city’s giant ‘Avenues Shopping Mall’ and features the stunning entrance to the Mall’s cinema – a few days after I posted it, it was reposted by the Mall itself. Typically on my page, I average around 20 – 30 likes per photo – over on the ‘Avenues’ page, my picture received 219 likes, it felt like I had gone viral!

Reflections

So, as the year draws to a close, and we look forward with great anticipation to 2019, we can both reflect on what has been a challenging year, but one that has bought wonderful memories in amongst the tougher times.

Still a novelty for me – Christmas Day on the beach in Dubai – 23 degrees!

Thank you for the continued support, both here on the blog, and also over on instagram; I really do appreciate all the likes, comments and views.

From my family to yours, wishing you a happy and healthy 2019!

My favourite selfie from 2018

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