x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

At home in a new land

In March, it will be a year since I packed my bags, said many a teary goodbye and landed in Dubai.

In March, it will be a year since I packed my bags, said many a teary goodbye and landed in Dubai. I'd only visited the UAE once before - for a few days in January - and was genuinely happy with my life in the UK. Nevertheless, something just told me that moving here would be an adventure and that everything would work out. And you know what? So far it has.

Ten months in and I feel remarkably settled in my new home. It's not that I've forgotten London; life over there just seems a hazy world away. While I miss my friends and family, it's only every so often that I'm struck by a real pang of homesickness and even then it comes about unexpectedly - a shot of Oxford Street on Sky News over Christmas or an e-mail from my sister casually mentioning a weekend spent at my parents' house.

I can't help but think that feeling cold when the temperatures dip below 25'C is a real sign that you've become accustomed to life here. Those at home will be amused to hear it, but I was so chilly the other morning that I even pulled on a thick pair of tights.

My resilience to the cold isn't the only thing that has changed. I spent last January working on a television food show filmed in north London. A tight schedule dictated that we needed to arrive on set by 7am, to start prepping the food. Living in Battersea, it took a short bus ride (on the No.44), a schlep up the underground Victoria line and a 15-minute walk to reach my destination - all undertaken before it was light and while wearing mittens, hat and scarf. Now that's a commute I don't miss.

In the past few months I've become accustomed to dirhams and fils - no longer feeling the need to convert everything back into pounds in my head. Other changes include realising that it is possible to become blasé about giant shopping malls with huge aquariums or indoor ski slopes.

The summer months taught me that sometimes you just have to admit defeat and retreat indoors because it really is too hot to sunbathe. And despite favouring sunsets at sea, I've learnt that there are some real stunners out in the middle of the desert, too.

These are far from profound observations, but they are part and parcel of an everyday life that I've come to really enjoy.

Provided Spinneys stays well stocked with Marmite, I rather think that this will continue.