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Posts tagged ‘desert’

Tow hitch featuring 2” receiver

In the olden days – ie prior to last week – whenever Husband went biking he had to drive out to Arabian Ranches to pick up Mark’s trailer, bring it home, load his bike on it, drive to the desert, unload the bike, pose, conduct aerial stunts, hump the bike back onto the trailer, drive home and unload the bike, drop the trailer back to Mark and drive home again.


In fairness, just typing that exhausted me, never mind actually doing it. Roughly every three months, Andrew would say: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! How about I buy a bike trailer?”


It was always heart-rending watching the light in his little eyes slowly die as the voice of reason (me, in case you were in doubt) listed the reasons not to: (1) there’s nowhere to keep it; (2) no, it won’t fit in the cupboard under the stairs even if you throw out your vintage collection of Phillips screwdrivers and half of your boxes of Stuff; (3) no you can’t bloody store it in the bloody living room; (4) we’re leaving the country in 12 months/ 9 months/ 6 months anyway; (5) it’s summer so you won’t use it enough to justify the expense; (6) it’s winter so . . . well, I can’t think of any reason relating to winter, but please revert to reason #1 and repeat loop.


About four months ago, Andrew discovered a device that could attach onto the back of the Yukon – similar to a side-mounted bike rack but for a motorbike. The only trouble was that it required a rear tow hitch for support and the Yukon didn’t have one.


After a couple of weeks wherein Andrew diverted phenomenal amounts of energy towards muttering about what sort of a four wheel drive doesn’t have a rear tow hitch, and what sort of person would buy the sort of four wheel drive that doesn’t have a rear tow hitch, and that’s not to MENTION the fact that it only has two doors, Andrew asked me to call GMC and ask how much a tow hitch with 2” receiver would cost. You might wonder why I was required to call GMC – in fact, I wondered as much myself – but at that stage I would have placed a reverse charge call to Osama Bin Laden if it would only stop the griping for the love of god.


GMC said they didn’t have a tow hitch in stock; they could order one, but it would take a couple of months to arrive, cost US$ 450. Andrew converted the griping to thankfully largely silent inner reflection and eventually – I’m not sure why – he decided not to purchase the tow hitch. Perhaps he felt he would miss the conversational outlet afforded by the great trailer debate.


Fast forward four months, when Andrew spotted an advert on the Spinneys notice board for a second-hand motorbike carrier.


“Let’s go and look at it,” he suggested.


I thought he was going to gaze wistfully at it, prod and shake it, maybe smell it for a while, but US$ 260 later Andrew emerged with the motorbike carrier.


Of course he couldn’t use it, because we still had no tow hitch. Andrew suffered a delayed reaction, and then one day shortly afterwards, he called me from work:


“Niamhie! Niamhie! I need a tow hitch.”


“Jesus, not this again.”


“Yes but, I need a tow hitch.”


“What the hell am I supposed to do about it-”


“Glad you asked. Call GMC and tell them you want a tow hitch-”


“I CALLED them ages ago, remember? It’ll cost US$ 450 and if it’s not in stock, it’ll take them up to two months to get one-”


“Oh no, that’s no good.”


“Well, when do you want it?”




I rolled my eyes so vigorously, I’m sure he heard it down the phone.


“And hang on- why am I calling GMC? YOU bloody call GMC!”


“No, you have their number.”


“Here! I’ll give it to you!”


“You have a relationship with Moorthy-”


“I bring my car in, he services it! I’m not sleeping with the man-”


“Aw Niamhie!” Yes, can you believe it? He took out the wheedle. “Aw! Aw! Aw Niamhie! Come on, you KNOW you’re so good at this sort of thing-”


“Phoning? It’s not that difficult, you know. Almost foolproof, even.”


Of course, I ended up calling Moorthy, who put me onto John in the workshop. There were no tow hitches in stock. I thought of Andrew’s disappointment, the light dying in his bleak little eyes, the incessant brain-melting bitchin’ 24/7.


“Listen, is the item stocked in any of your other workshops?”


“I’m afraid not, Madam.”


“Ok. What about a second-hand tow hitch? You have any of those lying around?”


“No Madam, but I can check.”


Andrew didn’t take the news well: “Did you shout at him?”


But then John called back and – wonder of wonders – he had found a second-hand tow hitch (probably boosted from some truck out back). He said it would be in the workshop for collection by 11:00am. It was US$ 270, but because we had such a good relationship (no, I’m not sleeping with him, either) he would give me a 35% discount, which would make it US$ 170.


Andrew collected and installed the tow hitch the same day. I am glad to report that meaning has returned to his life – and peace to mine

Modern Cain and Abel parable

Husband’s brother, The Bro, started as he meant to go on, eating his way through the house like a giant locust (there are no walls left, and only a portion of the roof). His 24 year old metabolism, at the peak of its processing powers, is an awesome thing to behold.

Two days after he arrived, Husbandoffered to take The Bro dirt biking. Cue great excitement and lots of manly flexing of muscles using bungee cords. Since The Bro had never been astride a motorbike before, I thought I might tag along for the entertainment.

We drove out to the desert and parked at the lip of an oval of hard-packed sand. After unloading the bikes, Husband commenced the tutorial with a brief demonstration. Clenching his buttocks for effect, he was still strapping on his helmet as he roared off on one wheel in a spray of sand.

Husband is not normally the flashiest of characters, but he turns into something of a showman on a bike. He performed a few aerial somersaults before careering back to us, braking at the last moment so that the front tyre nudged my shin as the bike skidded to a stop. I was only disappointed he didn’t produce two doves from the petrol tank.

Then it was The Bro’s turn. Husband’s instruction was – let’s call it spare:

“Right, here’s the brake. Here’s the clutch. Anything else? Oh yes. Here’s a push.”

Throwing his shoulder into it, he launched The Bro over a dune. The Bro gave the bike maximum throttle, released the clutch, and careered off in a wild yawing effect. For a couple of seconds I was sure it was all going to end in tears – or, more accurately: spurting blood, broken bones and ruptured spleens – but somehow The Bro managed to gain control of the bike. He completed a wobbly circuit of the desert bowl in first gear.

“Right,” said Husband briskly upon his return. By his tone, I could tell he was proud of his protégé’s progress. “To change gear, you tip this lever with your toe. Up to change up. Down to change down. Am I missing anything? Oh yes . . .”


Watching The Bro’s erratic takeoff, this time with an inadvertent wheelie thrown in, I thought perhaps Husband should spend a bit more time on the basics – like stopping, starting, staying upright; stuff like that. I was taking him to task when The Bro disappeared behind a sand-dune.

“Where’s he gone?” I fretted.

“He’s fine.”

“That terrain is pretty choppy.”

“No worries! Woman.”

Off in the far distance, we could hear the bike engine shrieking at maximum rev.

“Has he got it out of first yet?” I asked.

“No. Oh hang on, yes, he has now.”

Suddenly there was a sharp blast of rev and then . . . silence.

Husband and I looked at each other.

Find him!” I squawked, doing a little panic shuffle. This, in case you were wondering, is where I trot back and forth on the spot, bumping into as many proximate objects as possible.

Husband slewed off on the second bike while I prepared my speech to his parents in the event that The Bro had broken a leg. I didn’t want to consider what else he might have broken (Husband always scoffs at the notion that he might break a neck or a cranium. “It’s only sand!” he says whenever I raise the issue, as if hurtling head-first into a dune at 60kph is equivalent to settling gently into a mass of goose-down).

Husband returned ten minutes later without his t-shirt. No doubt he had proffered it to stanch the blood – but from where? Nicked finger? Broken nose?

Severed arm?

“Is he ok?”

“I’m not sure.”

We unhitched the bike trailer and drove the Yukon to The Bro. Although he looked all right – well, no spurting blood – he was making sound effects like a punctured accordion. I was encouraged when he correctly identified how many fingers I held up – although I’ve never been sure what the purpose of the test is, apart from confirming the subject is roughly sober.

We got The Bro home and stuffed him full of Brufen. Thereafter there was more moaning than pain (admittedly The Bro might not agree with that diagnosis). (In fairness, I was only able to accurately measure the moaning.) (But surely he couldn’t have been in THAT much pain?) Over time, The Bro perfected a gorgeous, breathy little gasp which somehow managed to simultaneously convey his stoic agony, his ongoing despair over starving children in the third world, and all the wasted opportunity squandered in his young life.

In between complaining about the lack of sympathy and how the hunger was killing him, The Bro maintained he had broken his tailbone.

“Which is worse: the hunger or the pain?” I’d ask.

“That is such an unfair question.”

Looking on the bright side, his injury gave him the perfect excuse not to get spanked at squash. He also managed to bravely stuff his broken tailbone into a rubber ring and fire himself up a water chute at Wild Wadi.

Apart from the lack of clucking and my ongoing refusal to dress up in a nurses’ uniform, The Bro would find it hard to deny the fact that I was an unwavering source of practical support. I sang to him to take his mind off the pain and regularly dosed him with Margharita, which he claimed was more effective than Brufen. And at least I didn’t try to make it worse – UNLIKE SOME.

The Tuesday after the biking incident (‘accident’ implies nobody is to blame), The Bro being relatively confident that his broken tailbone had limited impact on his ability to pose, he and Husband were set for a Lad’s Night Out. They swept out the door on an exuberant tsunami of aftershave.

Five minutes later Husband called. He’d had a car crash up the Springs Drive; yes, he and The Bro were ok; no, he wasn’t sure what the damage to the Lumina was; no, the other guy’s car was totalled; oh and could I come and collect The Bro while he waited for the police? He’d also be grateful if I brought the insurance papers, thanks.

When Husband had slowed for a speed bump, an Aramex car had driven right up the Lumina’s arse. The Aramex driver admitted that he had dropped his electronic orders device on the floor . . . and bent down to pick it up. The bonnet of Aramex Guy’s Toyota was a crumpled mess and his airbags had deployed.

From a distance the Lumina looked sound, but the boot wouldn’t close properly, and the frame was shunted in under the back doors. (For the next couple of days, whenever Husband drove the Lumina, drivers on the Sheikh Zayed road would slow to 120kph in the next lane, knock on the passenger window and shout at him that the back door was open while helpfully pointing at it.)

Poor The Bro had recommenced moaning with renewed vigour, so I got him installed on the sofa with 600mg of Brufen and a bucket of margharita. I went back to the scene with a cup of coffee for Husband, but the police had arrived so I drove on and pretended I didn’t know him. Hey, I love the guy, but there is nothing on earth that will induce me to spend time with the UAE Fuzz.

Apparently the Lumina’s chassis is bent. Although it can be repaired, it is expensive and is unlikely to pass its next registration. Therefore, we’re going to have to try and persuade Aramex Guy’s insurance company to write the car off


We spent the last few months getting the house in order. However, before applying too much time/effort/money/chintz on the decor, we decided to get the housewarming out of the way (our reasoning being that it’s easier to paint over graffiti than wash it off beige flocked walls).

Right before the party, Dubai threw its annual rain shower – which lasted two days plus assorted encores. That Thursday, I got up at 06:30 to go to the beach for a dip. I was aware that the morning was particularly dark, but put it down to the fact that my eyes weren’t fully open. As I charged down Sheikh Zayed Road, it was as if I was the only thing moving; the rest of the world was absolutely still. At the beach the sea was dark and twitchy.

Raff and I were towelling off after a 1000 kilometre swim when it started, and it rained like an angel run amok with a divine fire hose. Driving home with wipers on hyper, I had to pull off the road because I could not see the front of the car.

It is only a 10 km drive from the beach to our house, and by the time I reached the Springs the whole place was flooded – roundabouts under three feet of water, rivers washing down the footpaths. At home, the garden was a paddling pool – we had asked the builders to lower the level by half a foot. It was probably just as well, since the ground floor would have been flooded otherwise.

The following day fifty-six people turned up for the party. I wasn’t aware we knew fifty-six people in the whole world, never mind in this region. They all wedged into our living room – well not quite: we put two in the laundry room, and there had to be at least one person occupying the guest bathroom at all times. In the end, the house could not contain the horde and there was an overspill into the soggy garden.

Being Irish, I always over cater, ever concerned that someone might die of malnutrition on my watch. I mean, how do you explain that to the police? In preparation for the party, I had cooked for a fortnight. Every square millimetre of every level surface hosted vats of food: hummous, tabbouli, kebabs, salsa, guacamole, nachos, pesto pie, olives with rosemary, sun-dried tomato dip, garlic bread, a variety of salads, potato salad, chicken drumsticks with barbeque sauce, steaks and lamb legs, baked potatoes, cakes and fudge. As you can see, the Arabic and Mexican guests were well catered for – shame none turned up.

We are still eating leftovers two months later.

Later that night, we fell into bed exhausted (and admittedly not completely ebriated). At some sinfully dark hour of the morning, I was woken by the sound of empty beer cans rolling around the garden paving. Every time the cans stopped rattling and I was reconsidering unconsciousness, the wind would pick up again.

Eventually, tiring of waiting for Andrew to get up and address the cacophony (I prodded him a few times but he simply snored louder), I wrapped a dressing gown around me and padded off to see to the mess.

Five minutes later, the garden freshly de-cannified, I returned indoors and groped my way up the stairs. Feeling my way across the top landing, I was in front of the bedroom door – mid-yawn – when Andrew leapt out at me. After nearly choking on the yawn, I sorted that out and let out a great roar.

He maintains he was coming to check on me, but the timing was such that he can only have been lying in wait behind the door.

He should consider himself lucky he didn’t wind up having my leg surgically removed from his scrotum


Keren, Mark and Wayne mock Miles as he tries to extract his car from a sand dune

Fairly common sight in the desert

Arty: skyline

Sand, lots of

Husband after just two beers

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