Thursday, 31 December 2015

1st Doha Christmas

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays  or whatever you want to call it!

This has certainly been a different one..........but a great one!

I really did not know what to expect, but was surprised by just how 'into it' all the shops are. There is no shortage of Christmas decorations up. Everywhere you go, the malls, the shops within the malls, the hotels, even driving down the roads and looking in the office windows you can see trees.

Both sets of parents paid us a visit which was good to get them away from the cold of the UK! I think they have had a great time and certainly got to see everything from a different perspective.

We had Christmas dinner in the villa, and the food was a "turkey to go" from the Radisson Blu hotel across the road. We went over to the hotel to collect it came back to the villa and it was such a smooth operation it took all the hassle out of things.

The food was excellent and plentiful and no complaints at all.

Boxing Day was a brunch day, and we all headed over to Marsa Malaz Kempinski at The Pearl. Held in the Sawa dining room, this was our second brunch here and lived up to expectations. Excellent food, service and company. We had met up with some of our friends and they also had one of their sets of parents over for the holidays. Two of the sets of parents knew each other from UK as well, so it wasn't 'complicated' if you know what I mean.

The kids were delighted that both "Shimmer" their "Elf on the shelf" and Santa/Father Christmas had managed to find us okay since moving from the UK.

There was no snow, so not a white Christmas, and don't think there was any sun either! The rain started on Christmas Eve about 6pm and didn't stop until sometime on Boxing Day!

I suppose one big benefit being here was Nadia managed to hunt through the handbags in the "Via Domo" area at Villaggio! Yes, spoilt again........

With other sight seeing and dining experiences thrown into the mix, it made for a very pleasant break, and now here I am offshore again, ready for New Year!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Sukar Pasha - Great food, great setting......

Making the most of the winter sunshine, sitting outside at the Sukar Pasha made for an excellent lunch. Service was great, food was excellent. The outside area is carpeted in artificial turf, choice of low and high tables. Order and food was prompt and no complaints. Loved the mixed grill!

Review posted at:

Sunday, 27 December 2015

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Sawa - Boxing Day Brunch - Excellent!

On arrival, we thought something was up as the main entrance to the hotel was closed and went in via the 'VIP entrance' next to the bridge roundabout, don't know what the matter was, as when we left the normal entrance was back in operation.

With the poor weather outside, we were glad we had booked an inside table (2 tables of 8 side by side), although the original table we had selected wasn't the one we ended up with due to them having to re-arrange everything to cater for those who had booked an outside table. (We asked when we arrived, just in case it was a mistake, but they explained everything fine).

Obviously the hotel can't book the weather, so no point get worked up about nothing. With parents over from the UK from Christmas, we wanted to ensure they had a great day and without question they had a great time. The staff were excellent, the food was excellent, the bubbles, wine, beer and cocktails kept flowing and the plates were rarely empty! I remember the band setting up and thinking this is going to get loud, but in reality, once everything settled down and everyone was enjoying themselves, the band was no problem at all.

It all lived up to expectations and was of the usual high standards expected and comparing to visits earlier in the year was on par. The cooked to order rare beef off the grill was perfect.

Both sets of parents thoroughly enjoyed their visit, and my dad expressed how it was such a good value at the price per head for what is effectively all you can eat and drink, and how you wouldn't get that level of service or standard for the same price in the UK!

Thanks for another great afternoon.......

Review posted at:

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

[TripAdvisor Contribution] The Village - Great food!

We dined upstairs in The Grill @ The Village located in Souq Waqif.

The food was plentiful and excellent. The waiter was excellent help and advised on which dishes were huge and could serve multiple people.

The cream of chicken soup of the day was excellent and the mixed kebabs was a plateful that couldn't be finished and ended up coming home in a take out!

Very pleasant.

Review posted at:

Monday, 21 December 2015

[TripAdvisor Contribution Ipanema - Don't eat for ages before you go!

Located in the city centre of Doha, in the Marriott Marquis (next door to City Centre Mall), Ipanema on the second floor offers a great continuous flow of 'off the skewer' service.

Here with some work colleagues, we started with a few drinks at the bar while everyone arrived (10) then headed to the table. The place was quiet and not many other diners there at this time (Tuesday early evening).

The Go/Stop coasters on the table were a sign of things to come. The staff came out round after round of skewers with all types of meat products with the occasional poultry and grilled pineapple thrown into the mix. With some of the choices simply slid off the skewers onto your plate, others were carved off the skewers by the Passadores.

By the end of the evening I was ready to burst and if I had gone on any more think I would have had the meat sweats for days!

A very pleasant evening indeed!

Review posted at:

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum

Huge displays of everything and anything, for old american cars to F1 car, historic documents, pictures, clothing, deep water wells inside, a plane, skeletons, armoury, fossils. Certainly didn't expect to say a tray of English and Scottish arrowheads!

Several parts were closed for re-design of the exhibitions, but the place was still huge. The cafe was now open although didn't visit it.

Not really suitable for really small children, as the temptation would be to touch all the displays.

The place was very tidy, clean and air conditioned.

It was 15QAR per person (8 and over) and under 8 was free. A photography ticket was an additional 50QAR.

Review posted at:

Sunday, 20 December 2015

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Bentley's Grill - Great service and a great meal

Popped over for some birthday dinner with parents and kids. Absolutely cracking steaks and the others also all enjoyed their meals. Staff were excellent and when they found out it was my birthday they provided a whole 'Birthday' cheesecake which was very nice. The waitress also put on an impressive 'flaming coffee' making display.

Review posted at:

[TripAdvisor Contribution] Carluccio's - Spot of lunch in the sun at The Pearl

Minestrone soup and breadcrumb chicken made for a very tasty quick bite to eat while out for a Sunday stroll around the Pearl.

Review posted at:

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Maintenance Again!

After having spent time cleaning up around the garden, I had noticed that there was a small pool of water that just wasn't going away. When I first spotted it I thought it was just from when the gardener had been out watering the place, however after a couple of days it still being there I took a closer look. This is when I noticed that there was actually a pipe coming out of the path with the water trickling out of it. To being with I wasn't sure, then thought this is maybe the drain from the roof that I had never worked out where it went. Previously this pipe was hidden in the undergrowth, but since cutting everything back it was now accessible.
I headed up onto the roof and sure enough the roof was wet and turned out the water was coming out a bleed/vent line from master bedroom was tank. The pipe had been rubbing on a concrete support and developed a pin hole.

The second problem was the main indoor water tank. It wasn't filling up, and I would have to put my hand in it and wiggle the float to kickstart the pump and start to fill the tank. After having had to do this 4 times in a few days it was starting to get annoying.

I went round to the management office, I had reported the leak a couple of days earlier, but they hadn't turned up yet, so reminded them about that and also about the float.

Before I had managed to get back to the villa after going the long way round as Sasha was with me on her scooter, the maintenance guys were already at the villa.

I found the plumber taking the pipes of the outside tank (which had nothing wrong with it) and told him it was the upstairs tank.

He put the pipes back together and while he did this another guy started to change the electric float. The outside guy then proceeded to fix the leaking pipe by simply cutting out and replacing a 30cm section using a couple of pipe unions and a new length of copper pipe.

So that was those problems fixed.

Well, almost.

I noticed the tank upstairs wasn't filling frequently, but almost ran empty before refilling, so I adjusted the length of the cable hanging in the tank to adjust the 'Start' point.

Also, I noticed that the tank outside was now leaking out the overflow. The plumber had accidently rotated the float valve when re-attaching the pipework he took off by mistake, so it wasn't cutting off now until much later, enough to let it flow out the overflow. Again, I loosened everything off, and re-adjusted the float valve and all good now.

Palm Trees 101

I came back from offshore and thought that the palm tree in my garden was looking a bit worse for wear and thought it could do with a bit of a tidy up.

There appears to be two styles of maintaining trees and had spotted both driving through the streets of Doha, the first is the smoothed trunk (which is painted white near the bottom in some places) and then the other is the stalks are cut really short leaving a tortoise shell appearance on the trunk.

Unfortunately I didn't take a recent photo of the before, but did find the tree in my garden in the corner of another photo and cropped it out and as you can see below it looks a bit of a mess.

I prefer the really smooth appearance and had no idea how this was achieved. Time to hit Google. First off I searched for "How to dress a Palm Tree" and got a heap of results relating to dresses with pictures of palm trees on them. After refining the search to "Palm Tree maintenance" i had a look at a couple of the gardening sites returned, but they still didn't really tell you how to do it, but were really only offering the services to do it. I then spotted this video link and the guy showed exactly what to do.

Excellent, so into my tool box to see if I had a sturdy knife, yep, blunt as anything, so sharpened it up crudely on the surface of some smooth concrete and set to work.

After a couple of hours I had managed to finish about 5 foot of tree base, and couldn't reach any higher on my step ladder. It was enough for the time being as my hands were a bit battered and grazed, bleeding etc, from rubbing on the surface of the tree. (I did have gloves, but they were already in a poor state from digging in the garden mud, so were as stiff as board, so elected not to use them).

It was a pretty messy job, filling a couple of wheelie bins full of off cuts, but also, the amount of dust, sand that was falling out of the gaps, and not forgetting the beasties, I don't know how many different types of insects I came across, but fortunately none that tried to eat me alive!

As you can see in the picture below, it is starting to look better from the section done at the bottom, compared to the section still to do at the top.

Now I just need to find the big ladder that is usually lying around the compound somewhere and get the top section done some day!

Monday, 7 December 2015

AirCon Annual maintenance.

Arrived home from offshore today and there were a couple of bikes sitting at the front gate, coming in I spotted what looked like workmens shoes lying at the front step.

Opening the front door and heading inside, I went and dumped by bag in the front room then headed to the kitchen to be met with a guy holding a jet wash gun (in the house!). I said 'Hello' and asked what was broken and he simply said, "I'm cleaning".

Ok I thought and headed upstairs to find another guy mopping the floor.

They were into everything, cleaning all the vents, filters and even stripping down the fan units outside and greasing and cleaning them.

Proper thorough job and left no trail behind them!

Wasn't until he presented me with the paperwork to sign before they left that I noticed on it "Annual AC Maintenance".

Makes sense now.....:-)