Its nice to be back in Dubai after the chilly almost zero temperatures of South East England. For those of you in the frozen north I thought I’d describe Middle Eastern winters…

Winter here is a time to do all those outdoor things which everyone else does in the summer. Sight seeing, days at the beach, camping (admittedly in the desert which is a bit difficult to do in the Home Counties), actually sailing rather than lolling about trying to get cool in the sea by an anchored boat, lounging by the pool, walking outdoors, BBQ suppers and cultivating flowers (mostly petunias which are amazingly hardy).  The air conditioning is off and the patio doors are open most of the day unless it’s windy, in which case the washing remains firmly inside behind closed indoors. A day of wind earlier this week converted our balcony to a sandpit, battered the petunias and whisked away our neighbours undies. Now trips outside end with sandy footsteps across the floor inside. I’m beginning to understand why everywhere has tiled floors, carpets just couldn’t cope.

It is a time of clouds; most of the year the sky is blue and the appearance of cloud is a thing to remark on but since November there have been periods when clouds fill the sky for several days at a time. Evening temperatures drop a little but not as much as they do further north and a thin cardigan or jacket is required. Occasionally it even rains and when it does it can be spectacular. Not Indian monsoon-like for hours and hours but in a couple of hours sufficient rain falls to flood streets(good drainage isn’t a priority in many areas) and cause a good few car accidents. On the plus side the rain washes away the dust so when the sun comes out again palm trees and plants are freshly green rather than grubby grey. The effect is almost like the new leaves of a European spring.

Indoors is often warmer than outside but mostly nights are as warm as days – as I write at 21:00 it is currently a comfortable 24 degrees indoors and 20 outside. The average daytime temperature in London is usually around 21 degrees June to August with 12 degrees at night (the Met Office figures for 2010 show last summer in the UK was slightly warmer than the 30 year average).  So there you have it. For a few months of the year life in the Middle East is almost like home and we can forget the hum of the air conditioning, the fact that water from the cold tap can almost scald the unwary and that the effort of walking down the street necessitates changing every stitch of clothing afterwards until next May or June.