Where the Streets are Paved with Gold

So many expats in Dubai scarper the minute the school bell tolls for the last day of the summer term. Lurching towards 9 weeks of book/test/teacher – less holidays uber-excited kids are catapulted out of classroom doors. However which way one describes the desert summer heat, be it ‘oppressive’, ‘sizzling’, ‘sweaty’, ‘unbearable’, ‘hell on earth’, ‘hell’s sister’, ‘hell on rollerblades’….you get the point…..surprisingly it could be bearable if one didn’t have 3 very active kids to entertain…..

For me, it is crucial to keep the kids entertained whilst simultaneously burning off their boundless energy so that at the very least, an 8 hour sleep through the night is a veritable certainty rather than just a mere pipe dream. A pinch of fresh air and a nub of the unfamiliar of home make for the perfect recipe for inquisitive, engaged, contented bubs (with the added bonus of possibly allowing Mummy a lie in – I know….the Oxford dictionary defines ‘lie in’ as ‘Remain in bed after the normal time for getting up: if I’m not due anywhere I’ll lie in until something kick-starts the day!).

As my 3 reconnected with their familiar haunts, I noticed DS1 had acquired a new ‘activity’ to his list of ‘things he loves to do in Ireland’. Indeed it seemed this activity was his favourite.

Unlike Dubai, my hometown in Ireland is a quiet-ish (compared to world cities), pavement rich town. If you need milk, you walk to the shop. If the kids want to go to the park, you walk. If you want to go to the beach, you walk. That is one of the best parts about being home during the summer, walking is a necessity (and to an extent replaces Dubai’s indoor gym workouts, and all without even realising you are actually exercising).

Walking everywhere gives you time to notice things that are just an unnoticeable, uninteresting blur when you are driving. Walking becomes like a voyage of discovery: you notice the new shops, the old shops, the vacated shops. You stop off at the newsagents to buy the local paper. You collect early fallen conkers and ripe pine cones from the pavement. You jump into every puddle (well, maybe the kids do!). You avoid walking on the pavement grooves (this one is easier to join in with!). You push every button on every pedestrian light (because the more you hammer it, the quicker the lights will change!!!). You guess the time it takes until the light turns green. You amble through the church and light a candle. You play the lottery and hope for the best. You buy fruit and veg from fruit and veg markets/outdoor shops. You lick ice cream on a breezy beach. You scald your mouth on freshly cooked fish ‘n’ chips whilst shivering on the boardwalk.

This summer walking presented DS1 with the opportunity to add to his piggy bank stash! Dropped coins. Coins left in parking meters. These were just the start. Before we knew it, he was on all fours in every shop, scouring the monochrome tiles for glittering pieces of copper. Realising he often couldn’t reach the coins that were daring enough to roll under freezers, counters, cash tills, he acquired a stick with which to shuffle them out into his overexcited little hands. A morning at the Amusements proved almost more than he could take. Stick in hand, he prodded, poked, slid, shuffled, enticed and scooted out every coin that had been dropped in the previous 6 months…..honestly, the bouncers must have been happy to see the back of him!

A booty of AED20 in one morning was his best haul……gotta say, he beat me hands down. Let’s just say, the Irish Lotto took a lot more money off me than it returned……

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