x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Scuderia 250 Supercar Club

Helena Frith Powell tests the Scuderia 250 Supercar Club, the first and only high-end sports car club in the Middle East.

Helena Frith Powell checks out the front of a Ferrari F430 F1 outside The Westin hotel in Dubai.
Helena Frith Powell checks out the front of a Ferrari F430 F1 outside The Westin hotel in Dubai.

WHAT WE TRIED: The first and only high-end sports car club in the Middle East. For info, email info@scudiera-250.com or visit www.scudiera-250.com

WHAT WE HOPED FOR: A red Ferrari driven by a George Clooney lookalike. As I didn't have the Dh55,000 needed for membership, I couldn't be insured to drive any of the cars the club owns myself, so I had to be allocated a driver for the test drive.

WHAT WE EXPERIENCED: Joy of all joys… a red Ferrari F435 driven by Tim Conniff, the sales manager, who as luck would have it bears an uncanny resemblance to George Clooney.

But before we could roar around town I had some paperwork to complete to emulate the real process, which goes like this: 1. First you register on their website, www.scudiera-250.com. A very nice lady called Susan comes to your office or home, and you fill in a form, which on a scale of form-filling in the UAE, is as easy as working a Formula 1 gearbox (very easy since you ask). 2. Then you pay your membership fee, which is on one of four levels starting from Dhs55,000 and going up to Dhs135,000 for the top membership. There is also a one-off joining fee of Dh10,000.

The membership entitles you to points, which you use to borrow one of 30 cars the club owns. These include a Lamborghini Gallardo, an Aston Martin DB9 and a Porsche 997 Turbo (is there any other kind of Porsche?). 3. You collect the car in Dubai or they bring it to you, whatever suits. They deliver to Abu Dhabi. The club will be limited to 250 members - hence the name - and membership will entitle you to an average of 50 driving days a year.

"It is a great way to enjoy high-performance cars without actually incurring the expense of owning one," says Conniff, who estimates that the cost of owning a Ferrari for a year is around Dh280,000 if you take into account insurance, depreciation and maintenance. "You get all the driving experience without all the cost."

THE FINAL VERDICT: A perfect solution for credit-crunch-hit car enthusiasts. Everyone will think you own not one but several drop-dead cars. And the best of it is that you get your own car valet-cleaned while you roar up and down the Atlantis tunnel in a red Ferrari as I did. It's an experience I highly recommend, with or without the George Clooney lookalike.



Part 11: memorise two letter Scrabble words On the surface, Scrabble is the wordsmith's game. However, Scrabble is also a maths puzzle, like Sudoku, just with words. For the best Scrabblers, the words themselves are simply obstacles in the way of amassing points. And nothing is more devastating than the two-letter knockout. In all, the Scrabble dictionary recognises 101 combinations of two-letter words. There are the simple ones - at, do, it, of - but it's the obscure that impresses. So here's a primer on two-letter triumphs. To start, every note on the diatonic music scale - do, re, me, fa etc - is fair game. If you are serious about learning them all, find an online list, then memorise to your heart's content. Until then, here are some of our favourites:

Aa - a form of lava Ai - three-toed sloth Al - East Indian tree Em and En - measurements in the print industry Fe - periodic symbol for ferrous and a Hebrew letter Hm - to express thought Ka - Egyptian spiritual term Mu - a Greek letter Oi - to express dismay Op - abstract art form Sh - as in what you say at the cinema Qi - from Chinese philosophy Xu - a monetary unit in Vietnam Za - the frat-boy term for pizza

Watch out, Oprah. As if being a fabulously fit movie star, rock star wife and friend of Madonna isn't enough, Gwyneth Paltrow now has her own lifetyle blog called GOOP, instructing readers to "nourish the inner aspect". Critics, and there are many online, will snort at her attempt to dole out perky advice on how to live like her. Fans, however, will be able to read about her fitness routine, favourite hotspots and exhibits around the world, recipes for detox diets and tips for dressing in her "uniform".

Tired of searching for a postbox? Next time you're due to go for dinner at one of the hotels in town, take your stamped and addressed envelopes to the concierge desks and ask them to mail them for you. No one has ever declined our requests just because we weren't guests.

Earth Hour, a global event in which people turn off their lights for one hour to show their support to fight climate change, is on March 28 at 8:30pm this year. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah and Sharjah are among the cities pledging to take part. Visit www.earthhour.org to declare your intent to turn your lights off, and you'll start receiving newsletters with useful energy-saving tips.