Weekly Ponderings 8

Friday, 27 February 2015

This week I was excited about...

The Qatar Open returning to Doha once again, this time for the women's tournament. As Rich produces the TV coverage for beIN Sports, I always enjoy getting the opportunity to be part of the action...sometimes quite literally!

This week I was reminded...

Just how hard my colleagues work to deliver great results under demanding circumstances. We had a hectic week, but I have a lot of admiration for this collection of Brits, Aussies, Ukrainians, Germans, Greeks, Qataris etc. that have come together to make up a very dynamic team out here. Some of them have also become very good expat friends too!

This week I appreciated...

  • Another excellent blogger's meet-up organised by the gorgeous Doaa from Food Bloggers Qatar. A group of Qatar's best-known food bloggers got together at Il Teatro in the Four Seasons Hotel, and had a great time getting to know each other as we sampled the delights coming from Marco Alotti's kitchen.

  • Cuddles with this little munchkin who is now three weeks old and SO MUCH BIGGER than the last time I saw him!

  • A fabulous lunch at my favourite restaurant, The Anvil Rooms for their New York City Restaurant Week. Doaa and I caught up properly over succulent starters, more-ish mains and utterly delectable desserts. More on this in due course!

Quote of the week

I hope you had a smashing week! 

Are you interested in writing for Follow Your Sunshine?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

I'm taking a little break from my usual Thursday guest spot this week. I've been beavering away at work, and as a result I've needed a little breather from organising the blog (and the rest of my life!) while I concentrated my efforts there.

However, if you're enjoying this little Thursday guest spot, then fret you not, it will be returning next week with a vengeance! In fact I have a really fab one lined up for you...she's one of my favourite bloggers so I'm extra excited.

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to the fabulous guest posters that have contributed to this spot over the past few weeks.
I've been so honoured that AngieJaimeSaraRosalyn and of course, my very own Rich agreed to write for Follow Your Sunshine. They're all such talented bloggers in their own right (yes, Rich, I'm including you in this!) and I want to personally thank them for adding so much value to my little space. You have certainly made the blog more interesting and insightful (not to mention given everyone a break from my constant wittering!).

You can have a scroll through all of these scrummy bloggers' posts in one place here.

So now it's over to you! Would you be interested in getting involved? I would love to keep these posts running up until the end of April, so please do drop me a message below, or via my contact page / social media if you fancy contributing. I don't have any criteria, other than that you already have an established blog, and a passion that you would like to write about. If it's travel, food, inspiration or lifestyle-related then even better!

I look forward to hearing from you :-)

Polly xx

6 'Hilarious' Dad Jokes to Cheer up Your Wednesday

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ugh. It's Wednesday. Is there a single person in the world who likes Wednesdays? I don't think so!

In my part of the world, it's the day before the last day of the working week, and everyone is shattered and starting the wind down to Friday and the weekend (particularly after the stonking week that my colleagues and I have had...but that's another story). In most of the rest of the world, it's 'hump day': the week is seemingly still stretching far into the horizon and two days of rest seem like a long way off.

With this in mind, I thought I'd attempt to cheer up your Wednesday by offering you a selection of my very favourite 'dad jokes' (for which I've taken inspiration from my very own, very 'punny' father himself).

Dad, with my nephew Ollie, showing us all that age doesn't necessarily equate to maturity

Here we go...

1. Just ate a frozen apple. Hardcore.

2. "Dad, please can I have a packet of raisins?" "No raisin why not!"

(My dad loves a food pun so there are many variations on this theme. In fact, I'm pretty sure he spends all of his spare time thinking them up and then just waits until someone makes a comment appropriate enough for him to whip one of them out)

3. Have you heard about the corduroy pillow? It's making headlines

4. There were two beetles. The smaller one was the lesser of two weevils

(another one of my dad's favourites)

5. How does the man on the moon get his hair cut? Eclipse it!

And finally, this one is not my dad's, but I have a funny feeling that this dad would get on very well with my own:


Happy hump day!

Cheer us all up and add your favourite dad joke in a comment below!

What I Wore: Ode to London Fashion Week

Monday, 23 February 2015

I LOVE London fashion week! Christmas and family occasions aside, it's the time of year when I miss living in the Great British capital the most. The excuse to get dressed up, the endless people watching, the thousands of different outfits being proudly paraded around the streets for all to see. It's the one week when clothes-wise anything goes: from high end demure couture to homemade quirky brights, I love it all.

In a little ode to fashion week, I thought I would let you have a sneak peek of the pieces that made up three of my recent evening outfits - and where I got it all from.

1. Night on the tiles

2. Romantic date

Dress: Mango. Belt: Zara (last season). Clutch: ASOS. Sandals: Club Monaco (last season). Watch: Georg Jensen (similar).

3. Food with friends

Dress: Reiss (similar). Belt: Oasis (last season). Bag: Mulberry. Pumps: Club Monaco. Bracelet: Kate Spade (last season).

What are your go-to pieces this fashion week?

Review: Comfort Eating at Japanese Restaurant, Megu

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Most people have a particular place that they like to visit when they're feeling a little glum. For some this is somewhere associated with good memories, such as an independent cinema house or the place you went to on your first date with your other half. For others it's somewhere that's good for the soul, like the rolling hills of the British countryside, your local Church or your mum's house for a long old chat.

For me, the place I choose to go to for a bit of comfort usually involves food.

And in Doha, my top choice is usually Megu, the modern Japanese restaurant just outside my front door. What is it about this establishment that has meant it has meant it has gradually become my place of refuge when I'm feeling a bit out of sorts? Allow me to explain.

The restaurant is a stone's throw from home, meaning that I can be there in two minutes flat should I suddenly feel the need for a little cheer.

The view of the beautiful Arabic domes of the restaurant, as seen from my balcony.

Discreet and tucked away, there is an exclusive feel to the place, from the private elevators that whisk you up to the first floor restaurant...

To the excellent service and attention to detail that you receive once you are up there.

The circular, domed interior is plush, yet comfortable.

And the outside terrace showcases a stunning panorama across the marina of The Pearl, framed by the a giant window arch. The view looks equally as evocative whether you're there for a bright and breezy daytime lunch...

Or a romantic nighttime date.

I met my blogging buddy, Rosalyn at the restaurant last week for a catch up, and to let off some steam (you can read Rosalyn's account of our visit here). There is something particularly comforting to catch up with someone who just 'gets' you when you've had a bad week.

And even better, who understands the absolute necessity to capture the perfect photo before you even contemplate eating.

We opted for the lunchtime deal which is a steal at 140 QAR (25 GBP) for 3 courses. Greedy little food bloggers that we are, we decided to share most of our meal so that we were able to sample twice the items on the extensive menu.

To start, fresh and delicate Tuna Tartare.

And Crispy Friend Asparagus on sticks which was cooked enough to be crunchy on the outside, and yet still firm and not overcooked on the inside.

Next up, Rosalyn had opted for herbed chicken breast and crab rolls which were a delicious fushion of Japanese and European flavours (I didn't try the rolls but she assured me they were great!).

I went for the sizzling steak, which I had remembered from my last visit was an absolute cracker.

I wasn't disappointed.

The meat cooked away atop onions on the hot stone in front of me, and I struggled to remember a time that I had eaten steak that was that tender or tasty. Eating this dish was like being wrapped in a huge, snuggly blanket on a cold rainy night. The ultimate comfort food.

It's amazing what a bit of time with food and friends can do for your state of mind, isn't it?!

When all of the above was combined with cheesy truffle fries when they were brought to the table, I suddenly hadn't a care in the world.

Now, after all this perfection, dessert didn't go down quite as well as I would have liked. My Pana Cotta, albeit beautifully presented, was a funny texture and a little sour.

I looked on enviously as Rosalyn tucked into her Creme Brulee, which I knew to be amazing, and reminded myself to order that next time (and every other time I ever go to this place again - it is that good).

As we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, I was reminded of the last time I had visited Megu, just before Rich and I had jumped on a plane back to the UK at Christmas-time. I was in a similar mood when I'd walked through those doors - a little down-beaten from working hard and more than ready to see my friends and family again.

But sitting there with a tasty sesame-encrusted crunchy asparagus on a stick in one hand, fruity cocktail in the other, everything just somehow felt OK again.

Maybe it's the tasty food, maybe it's the ambience of the place, but I'm pretty sure that Megu has magical healing properties.

Do you have a go-to place when you're feeling in need of a pick-me-up?

Guest Post: 6 Things I've Learnt Since Moving to Doha

Thursday, 19 February 2015

After 18 months in Doha, I've learnt a few things. It's nothing like anywhere I've been before, so there's been plenty of surprises as well as ups and downs in that time but mainly it's just flown by. 

Chatting to Polly over lunch last week got me thinking and these are a few things that I've learnt along the way.

1. Nothing gets done quickly here. I had to go to 3 appointments before my medical (to get my Residency Permit) was even done. I'm starting to get used to things taking so long here. If it should take a day, I'll expect a week, and if it's supposed to be a week, I'll expect a month. For an organised person like me, it's tricky but I've just got to learn to let go or nag everyone around me. 

2. I used to be rubbish in hot weather. I would start to melt in anything over 25c but now anything less than 30c is chilly. I've just had my third expat winter abroad (after a year in Spain before I came to Doha) so 16c now feels flipping freezing. This does make time back in the UK rather difficult, and so I spent most of my time in a onesie, but sunbathing in February half term? You just can't beat it. 

3. Driving here is not like the UK at all and I'm in no rush to get on the roads for myself. Seat belts, car seats for children and hands free kits don't seem to have become popular here yet which makes for some sticky situations. Give me sedate English roads any day. 

4. I knew living in the desert would be different, but half the time, I feel like I'm on another planet. I don't just mean cultural differences though. Between those, the time difference and being 3,000 miles away, I just feel so out of the way and tend to forget what's going on with everyone, even though I'm usually good like that. I even have moments of "omg, I'm getting married in a few months" because it all feels so unreal to me. 

5. It takes time to settle and that's OK. This is the biggie for me, as I really hated it here at first. To the point that I cried pretty much every day for my first term (I'm a teacher) and Rich seriously considered if it was worth us living apart for a couple of years. I hated my job and it took time to meet people who I really enjoyed spending time with, but now I have, life is so much better. At first I felt like I was doing it "wrong" but everyone does things in their own time and I've got to a really happy place now. 

6. I realise now that I really love my food. I would eat out here every night if I could because the choice is amazing, far better than anywhere I've lived before, and the food at the hotels is just insane. I could either be referred to as a bit of a foodie or a glutton, and quite frankly either is OK with me. 

Life away from close friends and family has a knack of changing the way you see and do things, out of interest and necessity, but I do love it and can't see my fiancé Rich and I moving back to the UK anytime soon. Doha is a great city and I'm sure we'll have lots of great stories to tell our grand children.

Rosalyn x

Thank you so much for your honest and extremely relatable post, Rosalyn! Rosalyn is the author of Dream Days - my first Doha-based guest blogger (apart from Rich of course!), and a new friend out here in Qatar. I've been lucky enough to get to know her better over the past few weeks, and was over the moon to discover that she is as approachable in real life as she seems on her blog. She writes an engaging and honest account of expat life in the desert, including helpful reviews, intermingled with beauty posts and some fanstastic book recommendations. Head on over for a peruse here!