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  • Hot! As soon as we came out of the airport you noticed it. At 6am it was 31 degrees. We arrived at the Radisson Blu Deira Creek Hotel and enjoyed a light breakfast before heading out to explore. Accross the road was the wharf for the floating restaurants and further along the creek were the working dhow, loading all manner of goods. Fridges, tyres and textiles were being man handled on and off. We crossed over the road and found ourselves in the souks. It was still early and most of the shops were closed so we wandered through the narrow lanes taking in the sights and sounds of the area waking up. Finally we stumbled upon the Gold Souk. It was a sleepy covered area with a range of jewelry shops which spread out over a couple of hundred meters. The heat and sore feet were starting to get to us so we made our way back to the hotel to the comfort of air conditioning, cold drinks and a lie down.
    After a short break we decided to head out again. We found the closest metro stop and made our way to the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world. 1200 shops, a 3 story tall waterfall, an ice skating rink and an aquarium. There was even a dinosaur skeleton? We braved the heat again to watch the fountain show which was a little underwhelming. However the view of the world's tallest building, the Burg Kalifa was certainly impressive.

    Back to the hotel for a well earned rest and then dinner on one of the floating restaurants. What a difference night time makes. All the boats are lit up like Xmas trees and people outside them touting for your business. We chose the Rustar, which we discovered once aboard had 3 levels and could hold 400 people. Nowhere near that many on board tonight. The food was great and the views of the other boats and the world going by certainly made a great finish to our first day.
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  • First Stop Dubai! I had a really comfortable flight with emirates. My plane arrived about 0.30 am and after a short time i received my baggage back. Now i had to sleep several hours at the airport before going to the center. On day 1 i visited mainly the Dubai Mall which is amazing huge. I reached it after a approx. 2 hour walk with my backpack cause the metro station at my hostel wasn't open as early as i've been there in the morning. Was definetly no fun cause the temperature was feeling nearly 40 degrees already. But made some sport, also good. 🙄😂 In the evening i admired the water fountaine show in front of the burj khalifa. The show was so nice in the darkness with all the lights and animations. The next day i went to the beach and took a last meal in the Dubai Mall before going to the airport and flying to the next destination in the afternoon. Dubai was good to stay for 2 days but its quite enough for sightseeing there.Read more

  • My travels are nearly over. It's been everything I wished for and more. I saw much more than I expected and what I've seen has put a lot of popular culture into context.

    (As an aside - if I type the letter "C" one of the words suggested is castle).

    The flight was quite uneventful, there was a large number of kids in the cabin but apart from one poor baby screaming as we descended they weren't really noisy.

    I was a bit bored though, I watched more than 10 hours of tv on the way over and the programs don't seemed to have changed. I had hoped to sleep but that didn't happen.

    Back to my trip - my favourite place was Pertisau. Even without the Chalet connection it is still a lovely place to visit. The highlight was making it to the Dripping Rock. I literally thought "I can go home now" as I saw it.
    I surprised myself with the walks I did.

    I discovered I really like train travel. I much prefer it to flying, even the long trip from Paris to Munich was good.

    The two places that I wouldn't go back to? Dijon and Cardiff. I think with Dijon I was looking for more of a village experience and that's not what Dijon gives you. Cardiff - that was partly coloured by a poor choice of hotel and the great book posting debacle. Just as well I did post them though as I posted about 6.2kg and my checked baggage weighed 34.5kg. My allowance is 40kg and I bet that extra kilo would have cost a lot more than the postage for the books.
    I'm pretty sure I had less than 20kg when I left Perth. I did buy a small suitcase to hold the stuff I bought.

    London was so much hotter than I expected and the sheer number of people was overwhelming. My favourite experience was seeing The Bodyguard, Hyde Park was also good.

    In Munich I loved the English Gardens, they were so cool and refreshing. I was surprised at the amount of potato I ate.

    Paris surprised me at how much I enjoyed it. I hadn't planned to necessarily go up the Eiffel Tower until I saw it. My favourite though was the Musee d'Orsay.

    It was interesting in that the three mainland European countries all have instructions in 3 languages: the native language, English and a third.
    In Germany it was French, in Austria Italian and in France Spanish.

    Of all the English places I visited I think Yorkshire was my favourite, especially when you consider the dales as well as the moors. In fact wherever I went if there was an opportunity to go via the moors I did.

    Scotland is beautiful, I wish I had been able to see more. I'd like to think I will go back at explore more of the highlands.

    Wales - Pembrokeshire was beautiful, by then I think I was getting a bit travel weary and only explored the immediate area and did not do it justice. I'd have liked to learn more about the birds of the area.

    I think I found the right balance between having a planned schedule and flexibility for thins that I wasn't expecting. I found planning two activities for the day usually filled the day with unplanned stuff fitting in around those activities.

    I have well and truly caught the travel bug, I hope to visit Ireland and Switzerland in two years, just need to start saving.

    The things I'm most looking forward to when I get home? Seeing my brand new backyard, seeing Edie and of course R. I've missed her, in the last 20 odd years I've never been so long between seeing her.

    Thanks to all have read, commented and enjoyed my blog. I'll probably change the settings to private in the next few weeks.

    Some photos that didn't make it in the original posts.
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  • Today we headed to the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Ground in Abu Dhabi. The game was played on a neighbouring field. Having lost the toss and been sent into bat, Arman Khan and Jamie Percival put together a solid 110 - run opening stand aided by a plentiful supply of wides and no-balls. When Arman departed (43 off 44) due to an unfortunate run out, the captain John Oliver strode out. However, only 3 runs later, Percival had to go after a well fought 33 of 43. One of the younger members of the team, Ross Hegginbottom, then strolled out to produce a majestic 46 off 46 not out. After this performance, his tour average is a remarkable 59. However, for the time being, it was the John Oliver show: languid cover drives amalgamated with strong defensive shots. Although he had to depart to a brilliant catch after a beautifully played 25 off 32, he had set the perfect platform for Hegginbottom, Adam McMurray (10 off 11), Ruiaridh Russell (Strike Rate of 300!) and Callum Bell (20 off 12) to accelerate. Through Bell's powerful strokes and Hegginbottom's well judged shots, The Glasgow Academy mustered 230/5 runs in 35 overs. An interesting note was that running between the wickets had improved a lot from the last result. To say that The Glasgow Academy were in high spirits when fielding would be an understatement. Heads were held high and voices were raised. The opposition had been heard downplaying our school team and this boosted our morale immensely. And boy did it show in our opening overs. John Oliver and Arman Khan ripped the top order to shreds. Both bowlers put 110% effort into each ball and every fielder made a contribution with their voice. This set the tone for the 5 wicket haul Arman picked up, but also the aggression of our other bowlers. The wry comments continued from the opposition but we had set out to end the game early. With 5 wickets down, Greg MacMillan and Rick Mukhopadhyay kept the pressure on, and the latter picked up a wicket. Good bowling performances followed: Alastair Fry 3-0-17-0, Euan MacDonald 3-0-11-0 and Adam McMurray 2-0-10-2. In the end, Arman finished things off the game by dislodging the bails in fine fashion with a ferocious delivery to collect his fifth wicket. Notably, captain John Oliver not only picked up a wicket with an excellent spell of fast bowling, but led from the front by influencing a run out and bagging an absolute stunner of a catch. However, individual mentions were trumped by the immense pride and team spirit that The Glasgow Academy displayed today to bring the opposition down from the clouds and seal a victory by 83 runs. Now for the next game tomorrow!Read more

  • Our last game was played against the Sharjah Cricket Academy XI at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Having won the toss, captain John Oliver decided to bat in the sweltering heat, and this turned out to be a masterstroke. A sensational batting performance then ensued - an innings full of class, aggression and patience. Arman Khan brought up his fifty in 36 deliveries whilst Oliver calmly reached his half century off 49 deliveries. This unbelievable opening partnership lasted 81 balls and yielded an astonishing 168 runs. However, Oliver had to leave after a close LBW decision but Khan did not succumb to the pressure. In fact, he struck a further 4 4's and 3 6's to score the first ever century by a Scotsman in the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. When he retired after the mammoth 59 ball century with 14 4's and 3 6's, the run rate had hit 9.5 per over and the middle order - consisting of Jamie Percival's patient 17 off 34, Fraser Gordon's steady 14 off 14, and Ruiaridh Russell's quick fire 28 off just 22 deliveries - bolstered the team total to 278 off the 35 overs. An innings of such brilliance is incomplete without some dazzling statistics, so here they are: Arman Khan's tour average is 96 and his tour strike rate is a sensational 104, John Oliver has made scores of 25 or above at strikes rates above 75 in all 4 matches and above all, The Glasgow Academy's average score in 35 over matches is now 234 (above a run a ball). But it is not so much the numbers as the beauty, ease and confidence with which all our top order batsmen played that impressed everyone. John Oliver's regal cover drives, Arman Khan's glorious chips to the deep midwicket boundary, Callum Bell's strong shots down the ground and Ross Hegginbottom's wonderful cuts have become everyday sights and this can only be described as a privilege. However, following our first game, we knew that any score could be chased down by some of the opposition batsmen. In fact, things were looking very bleak at 33 for no loss of 4 overs. Nevertheless, John Oliver (7-0-32-1) kept faith in his bowlers and in his own ability and this paid off when he rattled the stumps to send one of the openers back. However the newcomer and the other opener soon built a good partnership and suddenly, the game seemed have been taken away from us. Having tried a variety of options, captain Oliver plunged new depths with his ingenuity. He brought on Arman Khan, who was unable to bowl pace due to the pulled muscle he had picked up the other day and hence, had been unable to open the bowling. But Oliver threw him the ball to bowl spin and placed the utmost faith in him. As they say, fortune favours the bold, and this certainly held true when Arman was rewarded with 2 wickets off his first 3 balls! Although a hefty fourth wicket partnership threatened to turn the game on its head, Greg MacMillan (7-0-32-1), Arman Khan (3-0-25-2) and Jamie Percival (6-0-39-2) ensured that The Glasgow Academy secured a 59 run victory. In particular, the fielding was spectacular, with Adam McMurray bagging two brilliant catches in the deep and Arman Khan picking up one at short cover. Fraser Gordon is also due a mention, not only for 2 match-winning stumpings, but also his eagerness to keep for the majority of the match when Fayz Siddiqui had to leave due to a finger injury. Overall it was another strong team performance. We had been warned that this side was better than the first to whom we lost by ten wickets and our victory is evidence of how far we have come on in this tour. It has been a pleasure to offer coverage to all those reading but it would not have been possible without the help of the teachers but more importantly, the brilliant players who have given me so much to write about. Personally, I know that not only are they great cricketers, but they are also amazing people. Thank you.

    Rick Mukhopadhyay.
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  • Today's match was played at the famed Sharjah Stadium on an international size/standard field. Captain Arman Khan chose to bat on a lovely track, but The Academy opener, Ross Hegginbottom, was dismissed for a 12 ball duck. While Fayz Siddiqui and Ruiaridh Russell attempted to resume normal order, the batting team were left reeling at 35 for 1 after the first 10 overs. However, Siddiqui gifted his wicket after scoring 9 off 17, and Russell departed to a misjudged delivery, to leave The Glasgow Academy struggling with 60 for 3 at the halfway mark of 15 overs. Enter John Oliver and Arman Khan, who fought to rebuild and leave a platform for our ruthless middle order to up the scoring rate. Things took an unfortunate twist at this point, when Arman Khan (11 off 14) pulled a muscle rendering him unable to bowl or bat for the rest of the game. Similarly, Oliver had to depart again after a patiently constructed 28 off 36 to an outstanding catch at backward point. However Jamie Percival (21 off 25) and Adam McMurray (17 off 9) took the score into their stride to produce a respectable 145 for 6 in 30 overs. Our usual middle order blaster Callum Bell could not repeat his previous feats when he fell for a first ball duck. As with the previous game, fielding was spectacular. Under the floodlights, temporary captain John Oliver opened with a brilliant spell of fast bowling full of finesse and swing to produce outstanding figures of 6-0-30-3. At the other end Ruiaridh Russell maintained the pressure (4-0-32-0) but was unlucky not to pick up a wicket. Jamie Percival took over from Ruiaridh and produced a wicket. He bowled a very short delivery, deserving of at least 4 runs through deep midwicket, but John Oliver had different ideas. With a flying, diving, jumping effort, he managed to bag his second stunning catch of this tour. Eventually, one by one, wickets were collected by Percival and Greg MacMillan (4-0-24-1). However, to win this game, a stroke of brilliance was required. The next section of this narrative only attempts to recollect the superhuman ability and determination of one player. John Oliver collected a hard hit shot at the midwicket boundary (international size boundary of the stadium) rolled over on his shoulder and knocked over the stumps to produce a direct hit I am privileged to have witnessed. It is not so much the physical prowess as the hunger to win, the desire for victory that impressed all eyewitnesses. Therefore, the game was held in fine balance, but a 57 run 8th wicket stand brought the two sides' scores level. At this point Adam McMurray bowled a delivery which would whirl a few kilometres above Adnan Iqbal at long on. With a look of fear, Iqbal took the catch. The next ball, the opposition chased down the target and won by two wickets. But Adnan's catch, Oliver's brilliance, Percival's calm strokeplay and Khan's determination to lead his side on the field meant that this was a day to remember. As a squad, the improvements are beginning to make vast differences to the score lines. Now to our last game in the same stadium against their very own eleven.Read more

  • Following a light lunch and a brilliant tour of the city, we headed for the much-hyped dune bashing experience. Stomach-twisting, terrifying, novel and simply spectacular are just some of the adjectives that spring to mind when describing this phenomenon. Soon we arrived at a campsite where we enjoyed a tasty dinner, some beautiful belly dancing, a wonderful camel ride and an exhilarating performance with fire. Now we're getting psyched for tomorrow's game versus Winchester College!Read more

  • Following the breakfast, we set out for Al Dhaid Cricket Village. The match was played with a desert and a couple of camels in the backdrop. After a good first innings score of 195/6 (Siddiqui 42(33) and A.Khan 38(68)), we unfortunately lost the game by ten wickets. Nevertheless, many lessons were learnt and the game was thoroughly enjoyed and played in high spirits. Now off to dinner!

  • Yesterday's glorious victory was followed up with a lovely dinner and McDonalds' ice creams. After the morning's gym-swim session where MOST people attended, and another brilliant breakfast, we went to visit the ICC Cricket Academy. We were treated to a tour of the wonderful facilities and even watched Kent and Essex training. Now we are getting prepared for our penultimate game against the Mercedez Benz XI!Read more

  • Following a 'gruelling' pool session we set off to watch 2 Pakistan Super League matches. Between them, we were treated to a brilliant dinner as well as frequent snacks and drinks. On the downside, we were also treated to some rather horrendous music on the 60-90 minute bus journey to the stadium and back. This really needs some work; anyhow, onwards and upwards to our first game tomorrow preceded by a gym-swim session!Read more