Sunday 20 May 2012

Long hot Saturday

I was up early on the Saturday morning for a golf date withe Pete. So early, in fact, that I was first in the restaurant for breakfast at 0630. Having enjoyed that, fortification for the day ahead, I got a taxi out to the Els Club in Dubai Sports City for 7.30 to meet Pete and knock some balls on the range. It was unpleasantly warm even then as I adjusted to the hire clubs. Fortuntely we had buggies, otherwise I would have been done for by the first tee. Joining us to make up a four, it turned out, was David Provan and Paul Darling, fellow PC guests from Sharon's team.

The course was long and set up for a competition that was off straight after us. Pins behind bunkers on 200 yard par threes with lightning greens weren't going to do us any favours. I struggled all day, managing only one par and pretty much giving up the ghost as the mercury passed the 40 degree mark. The fairways were cut through a half-occupied estate of identikit cube-shaped villas, and bounded by sandy wasteland. Enter there at your peril. The temperature rose even higher if you dared seek a wayward drive amidst the scrub. By the end I was capable of raising the club and letting it fall on the ball, not to much effect. The others fared better by degrees but the Bermuda grass and hogs back greens and 6800 yards and desert heat were too much for me!

I bade Pete farewell and taxied back to the Madinat with David and Paul. Sharon had a bot of a late night and then a morning working out in the, fortuntely, air-conditioned gym. We ended up having a lazy afternoon, me more so than Sharon who headed out while I caught up with some much-needed zeds.

After 4pm we reconvened in reception, by the pool of petals, beneath the domed ceiling with its map of the UAE painted on it, before transferring to our Toyota Landcruisers for the drive into the desert. On the way we passed a lorry, recently tipped over on the road - not the most heartening sight before taking to the dunes in a high-powered car!

We paused briefly to let the air out the tyres, so that the cars would have more traction through the soft sand, then we reloaded the cars and were off, the anthill mob following one another over the dunes. Our driver was good fun and up for a bit of egging on, more so than some of the others who were going through the motions. It wasn't particularly life-threatening but we had a few slides and jolts and near misses with the lethargic driver in front as we would our way deeper into the dunes. Eventually we stopped in the desert for some refreshments as the sun dipped sharply towards the horizon. Sharon and I, and Hannah and Gavin and Alain and Graham, clambered on to the backs of some camels to lead the party up and over a dune in the dusk, to enter the caravanserai which was the scene for the evening's entertainment. The camel ride was more alarming than the dune bashing and I think I ended up with mild whiplash as the camel plunged to its knees, Sharon yelling in front of me.

We were seated at long tables in the open air, beneath the desert sky. Many of the ladies availed themselves of the henna tattoos that were on offer, in between partaking of the barbecued meats, curries and various Middle Eastern dishes that were being served up. In the midst of it all we were treated to some belly dancing. Fortunately, this didn't turn into audience participation - we were content to watch the two dancers do their thing. One was considerably better than the other. After the festivities we slowly cleared the camp and returned to the jeeps. Again, some drivers were more up for it than others: slaloming through the sand (because, our driver claimed, he was driving on full tyres and needed to keep swerving to avoid being stuck) and driving for prolonged periods with their lights off - a rather scary prospect in the black night of the desert.

Once back at the hotel, a few went in search of TV coverage of the Champions League Final while we went to Anne Marie's room. I had to content myself with watching the penalty shoot out by crowd reaction. The best CNN could do was film people's reactions as they watched the denoument in bars in Germany and Kenya. As it happened, Chelsea won. It was a long and tiring day in the sun for me.

No comments: