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Family Life, Food & Entertainment

Al Bustan Brunch

01/03/2016

Brunch is a big thing in this part of the world. Social occassions, family time, eating, drinking. Whatever your reason for brunch it’s sure to be a good time.

When the Al Bustan Palace invited my family and I to try their brunch at the Beach Pavillion who was I to refuse?!

Sitting down to lunch with sand between my toes and a gentle ocean breeze was a very welcome change from my usual Friday lunch times.

Thankfully we still have a few weeks of decent weather left to enjoy these outdoor treats until the summer is upon us again.

001 Beach view

The selection of starters are a dream come true for the sea food lovers. From prawns and oysters to crab legs and smoked salmon they had it all.

001 Prawns

001 Mussells

001 Prawn plates

And for those who like bubbles with their food there are options for that;

001 Veuve

The main courses came from the grilling stations outside on the lawns and offered a selection of great quality foods like steak, lobster tail, chicken tikka, biryani and lamb.

001 Outside Grill

001 Biryani

After a belly full of nuggets and pasta from the kids selection Spencer moved on to something more grown up, and his favourite for the day, chicken Biryani.

001 Biryani lover

My sweet tooth always gets the better of me and lures me towards the dessert selection. There were many delights to choose from and also ice cream much to the delight of my child who demanded a second helping.

001 Meringue

001 Strawberry dessert

1 Brownies

001 Cheese

001 Spencer tasting

001 Spencer messy face

After plenty of food it was Mummy & Spencer time as I took him for a walk along the beach and to stretch our legs.

001 Mummy and Spencer

With plenty of space to run and play whilst Mummy and Daddy are brunching there is also the option for the kids with a play area complete with bouncy castle, drawing station and balloon animals.

I watch on nervously as Spencer shrieks with delight as his Dad throws him on the bouncy castle.
He LOVED it!

001 Bouncy 1

001 Bouncy 2

As the sun begins to set it was time to pack up and head home with full stomachs and happy memories.

001 Boys walking

It was a beautiful setting and experience at the Al Bustan and definitely a place we will return to as a family. Visit their website for more details.

Have a great week.

Heather x

Food & Entertainment, Other Stuff

Cocktail Master Class – Left Bank

27/08/2015

Straight up. On the rocks. With a twist – All terminology relating to drinks but do you know what they actually mean? Ermm… Nope.

I would consider myself to be well practised in the fine art of drinking cocktails but when it comes to actually mixing a good cocktail my skills are somewhat lacking.

With the dream of one day being able to serve guests something a little more swanky than a vodka & coke I enrolled myself on a cocktail making master class.

Of course drinks are always more fun with friends so I rounded up a couple of girlfriends and headed down to Left Bank for an evening of chatting, drinking and chatting whilst we drank.

Espresso Martini. Two words that are music to my ears. When I heard that this little beauty would be on the agenda for the evening I just knew we were on to a winner. Lets get started!

001 Espresso Martini start

Ready to teach us his Jedi ways was Left Bank’s bar manager, Alvin, was prepped and ready to begin.

After a tour of the bar and we understood the set up he then progressed to teach us the essential equipment of a good bar and the skills how to use them. With all that new knowledge under our belts it was time to put it into practice.

The contents were measured, muddled and mixed and when it was time I shook that cocktail shaker with all my might. As liquid spilled out and my fingers felt like they were falling victim to frostbite I wondered how bar staff make it look so easy?

Pour the contents into the desired glass, pop in the straws and decorate with chosen garnish and Voila! You have one slightly impressive looking cocktail.

Of course for the sake of research we must sample our creations…

001 Cocktails at Left Bank

001 LB drinks making collage

The drinks just kept coming with every enthusiastic trainee ready to take their turn and attempt their own creation.

001 Cocktail making 1

My drinks weren’t quite as impressive as the Left Bank staff can whip up with ease so I won’t apply for a job just yet. However, Not disappointed by my own efforts I left feeling merry and confident to then create some of my own concoctions at home. And in my book that is a successful evening!

001 LB cocktails collage

If you fancy trying the cocktail making class at Left Bank you can call at 2469 3699 or find them on Facebook.

And on an ending note – Always drink responsibly and NEVER drink and drive.

Family Life, Food & Entertainment

Eat, Lift, Sleep, Repeat – Part One

19/07/2015

If your ‘better half’ came to you and told you that they have signed you up for a gym membership AND you will have your ass kicked by a personal trainer you might be a bit insulted? Well I was pretty livid. How dare he!

My initial reaction was to call my husband every swear word I could muster whilst crying about how fat I was and how he obviously doesn’t love me anymore. I probably burnt a few calories just jumping to all these conclusions but If I had listened to the rest of his speech I would have understood his motives better. He explained again that he wanted to help as I had been spending so much money on a gym membership that didn’t motivate me. Being a practical man he found me a new gym and trainer that would give me the best chance of getting the results I wanted so I would be a happier wife. He is a clever man really but a voucher for liposuction would have been nice also…

I wouldn’t describe myself as unfit or hugely overweight by any means, I eat good food and I lead an active life but I just didn’t have the knowledge or the push on my own to ever achieve what I dreamed of especially in a dull, uninspiring gym. Joining Elite gym has been the first step to something life changing for me. After just 10 days of a proper, clean diet and training hard my body shape was already starting to change for the better.

The first offenders to be kicked out of my crappy diet were croissants and sugary coffee, an addiction from too many Mum & Baby coffee mornings. I still REALLY miss my weekend pizza delivery but I much prefer that the roll of fat over my jeans is slowly reducing and that tastes better than any Dominos!

001 Clean Eating collage

Many of you have asked me to share details of work outs and how I keep myself fit, so here is the secret – Eat, Lift, Sleep, Repeat. It’s bloody hard work, meal planning, a lot of weights and an inhumane amount of sweat but this is what is working for my body. I will use this blog to show my progress along the way to the end result, partly because if I share with the world then I can’t quit because you will all know that I failed.

But I’ll warn you now, The pictures might not be pleasant – I will be sweaty, no make-up and with lifting weights I probably will look like I am giving birth but this is going to be a hard, honest journey.

These are some pictures of today’s workout where we focused on the chest, bicep and abs.

001 Bicep curl

001 Chest push

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes but if you are not happy in the shape you are in then do something to change it. If your excuse is “I just don’t have the time” Then think of it this way – Working out 4 times a week for 1 hour at a time leaves you another 164 hours left in the week to do what you want. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?

001 Abs push

001 Fly Wires

Part of the journey is taking the dreaded “before” pictures and admitting to all your flaws and wobbly bits but I’m determined that in a few months time I will have some great “after” pictures of a fitter, stronger body to show as a comparison. Until then the before pictures are far too embarrassing to share.

If you want to know more about Coach Yoka and Elite gym you can find them on Facebook and Instagram. And no, he didn’t pay me to write this 🙂

Food & Entertainment

Blue Carpet Nights at the JBB

30/03/2015

Since I posted about the Travelling Bartender at the John Barry Bar, click here, Many of you have asked me how I managed to wangle an invite to such an exclusive event.

Well my lovelies I’m here to tell you the secret…

These events are swanky and sophisticated – there aren’t many of them in Muscat that’s for sure – and a fab excuse to get dolled up and get your drinking dancing shoes on. But as the saying goes “you gotta be in it to win it”, so click here for the link to put your name down on the list and receive an invite.

There is an event this Tuesday so you better be quick before the numbers run out.

JBB Blue Carpet - series 3

Expat Life, Food & Entertainment

Canadian Stampede 2015

07/03/2015

Yeeee Hawwww Cowboy!

This weekend was the 22nd annual Canadian Stampede held in Muscat. The event was theeee talk of the town and probably one of the biggest & best Expat parties of the year. With tickets selling out in just a 5 hours I was lucky enough to nab a couple. Thank you, Becca!

Both myself and my husband are indeed Scottish. However, he likes to think of himself as an honary Canadian. Hailing from Banff, Scotland, he jokes that he should really be from the sister town of Banff, Canada. He certainly acts like a Canuk – playing ice hockey, drinks beer, he says the F word a lot annnnnd he drives a truck. That is pretty Canadian right there isn’t it?

01 Stampede Sherriff

Before we even got there came the disagreement – Would you call it a ‘checked’ or a ‘plaid’ shirt? We agreed to go along with it for one night only and call it ‘plaid’… One time only, Erin!

Anyways, all kitted out in our plaid/checked shirt and rocking the denim we were ready to party the Canadian way.

Held at the PDO Ras Al Hamra club, it was transformed into a real Canadian rodeo themed event to be seriously proud of. Complete with hay bales, Shooter bar, TeePee’s, enough beer to see us through a long night and a dance floor big enough for everyone to join in together do the two step.

The massive buffet of food was served, all Canadian of course. With hearty servings of fried beans, chilli and potato wedges followed down with Flapper Pie and tasty Nanaimo Bars. You Canadians make some pretty decent food!

Once our plates were clear & we had suitably filled our hungry tums it was time to head for the shooter bar. Yeee Haaaw!

01 Stampede Girls

01 Stampede drinks menu

The night was full of chatter, laughs and catching up with old faces that we haven’t laid eyes on in a while.
Every now and again I was dragged in the direction of the dance floor to force my uncoordinated limbs into a line dance. It wasn’t pretty but I sure did try.

#Bromance

#Bromance

01 Rss

01 Stampede Collage

Colin isn’t keen on being in many photos but here it is, A rare picture of me and my cowboy together.

01 Wagon Couple

When we were all danced out it was time to grab our horse and saddle up, well actually jump in a taxi, and head for home. Just to add, never drink and drive. It’s a fools game.

The Stampede was a great night out & so much fun to dress up and do something different without being cheesy and lame.

I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year!

Food & Entertainment

The Travelling Bartender – Blue Carpet Nights

04/03/2015

Sipping a cocktail and enjoying the live jazz band it was like being transported to a different world. These kind of nights are rare in Muscat but when they do happen it makes them all the more enjoyable.

Last night I headed along for a sophisticated night of live music and divine cocktails at the ‘Blue Carpet’ event at the John Barry Bar in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. This was an invitation only night.

The event welcomed back the wonderful travelling bartender, Mr Denzel Heath.

01 Denzel

I had the pleasure of meeting Denzel at an event in December of last year where his expert cocktail skills left me feeling a little tipsy. Oh, who am I kidding I was hammered!

Since then he has become a bit famous in town with the ladies heading along to swoon across the bar as he creates a cocktail to their tastes.

01 Coffee drink

This time round I vowed that my night wouldn’t end like last time and I would still be feeling fresh for the next day. That takes strong will power that I simply do not have. These drinks are too delicious and before you know it you are ordering another round. Ooops.

01 Raspberry drink

I would love to tell you that the night ended gracefully as I collected my bag and headed for the door at 10.30pm but then I bumped into some more people I knew and then a few more.

So 10.30pm turned into 4am as I finally called it quits and jumped in a taxi headed for home.

In true Hyatt style it was a fantastic night with fun and interesting people.

01 Shots

You can swoon over catch Denzel and his addictive creations at the John Barry bar until the 7th March 2015.

If you want to attend the next Blue Carpet event (minus Denzel)  you can request an invitation by visiting their website, click here.

Adventure Time, Food & Entertainment

Ed Sheeran in Muscat

01/03/2015

You must be living in a cave if you didn’t know Ed Sheeran was coming to town – it was literally the talk of the town! On Hi FM radio, Internet, Facebook, Instagram people were buzzing with excitement. This is literally the biggest show of the year and not one to miss out I joined in the excitement and went along.

I will apologise now for the quality of the photos in this post, these are mostly from my iPhone as I didn’t want to drag my big DSLR camera with me.

Just two nights previous Ed had won two Brit awards for British Male Solo Artist and Album Of the Year. His album “X” has sold 5.8 million copies worldwide.

Welcoming such an high profile name and the ‘man of the moment’ to our humble country is a BIG deal. Even more so because live music has so many ridiculous restrictions in Oman, that is a story for another day.. It was no shock that this concert was a complete sell out!

The venue for the evening was the outdoor amphitheatre at the Shangri La hotel. Set in a beautiful location with palm trees surrounding the venue it is an intimate and stunning venue.

Photo credit - Hi Fm

Photo credit – Hi Fm

Just as the venue was filling up with eager fans waiting to see the flame haired hero the weather took a turn for the worse. The wind picked up and the heavens opened on the crowd below spitting down large fat rain drops in quick succession. It was like a mini hurricane blowing into the venue. As we only get around 10 days of rain per year in Oman this was quite unexpected and no one was dressed or prepared for the weather.

Cue worried faces and shivering teenagers.

Thankfully for me I was able to hide out for the worst of the weather in the comfort of the piano lounge, perfect timing! And by chance hop on a random shuttle bus so we didn’t have to walk to the venue. Very lucky indeed!

Getting shelter from the rain in the Piano Bar.

Getting shelter from the rain in the Piano Bar.

The gig looked sure to be cancelled but thankfully just at the last minute the weather eased off, the stage was slightly drier and ready for the main man himself to make his entrance. Us Brit’s aren’t scared of a bit of rain!

Clearly still a little delicate from his Brit awards celebration, who can blame him?!, the ginger haired legend played all his best songs from “You Need Me, I don’t need you”, “Thinking out loud” to the most recognised “Sing” the song where he paired up with Pharrell Williams.

Even though Ed was alone on stage with only his guitar to accompany him, no live band, he put on one heck of a show!

You know it’s a successful show when thousands of people are dancing in the rain singing along!

I haven’t danced so much since a school disco way back in 1995 🙂 What a great night!

01 Group photo

Massive thank you & well done to all the guys for bringing such an event to Oman, I can’t wait to see who is next.

01 Group photo 2

PS- Come follow me on Instagram @heatherlouiseduncan for all the latest & funny pics that don’t make it to the blog.

Food & Entertainment

Singapore Nights at the Shangri La

10/02/2015

As a big lover of Asian cuisine I am keen to try new dishes and flavours, when the Shangri La announced their new Singapore promotion I headed along to sample some of their signature dishes.

The last time I visited the Asia restaurant at Shangri La was during their Thai promotion which I thoroughly enjoyed (Read all about it by clicking here)

Arriving with an empty stomach I delved straight into the prawn crackers as we awaited the first dishes to arrive. Below are two of my favourites from the menu;

Salad of Young Mango With Prawns - Shredded mango, prawns, coriander, red chilli, fish sauce with fresh lime juice.

Salad of Young Mango With Prawns – Shredded mango, prawns, coriander, red chilli, fish sauce with fresh lime juice.

All the dishes were delicious but my favourite by far was the chilli crab. The tomato and chilli gravy was insanely hot but so delicious that I just couldn’t help but go back for more. Every single last morsel was moped up with a hearty slice of fresh bread. Now that’s my kinda food!

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab - Wok cooked sizzling crab in a thick tomato and chilli based gravy.

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab – Wok cooked sizzling crab in a thick tomato and chilli based gravy.

When the chefs come to chat to us boring media folk it is now my “thing” to ask for a picture with them. Thankfully they are all gracious and with a great sense of humour. So here I am bringing back my joke….

What do you call a ‘selfie’ with a chef? A CHELFIE!

01 Chelfie

If you visit during the promotion you are also in with a chance of winning a nice little competition…

01 Singapore comp

The Singapore promotion is on until 21st February 2015, don’t miss out!

You can get all details of Asia restaurant by clicking here.

Food & Entertainment, Other Stuff

Festive Shortbread Biscuits

17/12/2014

Christmas is coming and the Blogger is getting fat, or maybe it’s the goose. Maybe it’s both of us?

Today I was whipped up some deliciously easy and very festive shortbread biscuits.

I wanted to share this easy peasy recipe with you so you can impress your family and friends over the Christmas period.

Here’s a few things you will need:

2 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of icing sugar
2 Tbsp Caster sugar

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Sift Flour and salt together and set aside.

In separate bowl sift icing sugar, add the butter and cream together until smooth.

01 Pastry

Gradually mix in the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Don’t over do it.

Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to rest for 40 – 60 mins,

Roll dough out until 1cm thick. If your dough is too crumbly to roll add a small bit more butter or a tiny splash of milk.

01 Raw Stars

01 Raw Stars2

Use your cutter to cut the dough to shape. This small star shape from Lakeland (1 omr), it is cheap but the Christmas effect is perfect.

Transfer dough cut outs to the baking tray. Sprinkle a generous amount of caster sugar onto the raw biscuits. It is Christmas after all.

Pop in the oven for around 15 mins or until the tops are starting to turn golden and the underside is firm.

01 Cooked Biscuits

Once cooled, sift icing sugar on top for a Christmas snowfall effect.

Now is the most important step – kick back with a cuppa and enjoy your spoils.

01 Tea and Biscuits

I may or may not have eaten 4 whilst I took the pictures… The Blogger is definitely getting fat.

Food & Entertainment

A Little Taste of Thailand

11/11/2014

If, like me, you are a lover of Thai food I know just the place that will get your taste buds excited.
With authentic decor and beautifully fresh ingredients the Asia restaurant at the Shangri La is a luxury dining spot for lovers of Asian cuisine. A little drive out of town but well worth the distance.

I headed along to sample their current “Taste of Thailand” promotion and get my fix of delicious Thai food.

Popular guest chefs Yanavit Theerasomboonkum and Montri Piyavinichaikul have jetted in from Bangkok to showcase their talents especially for this event.

01 Asia

I sampled a few delights from the set menu of the evening

Goong Hom Sabai - Deep-fried prawns in rice paper

Goong Hom Sabai – Deep-fried prawns in rice paper

Som Tam - Traditional papaya salad with beef tenderloin

Som Tam – Traditional papaya salad with beef tenderloin

Gaeng Kiewwarn Gai - Green chicken curry with jasmine rice

Gaeng Kiewwarn Gai – Green chicken curry with jasmine rice

Kho Niew Mamunag - Mango sticky rice

Kho Niew Mamunag – Mango sticky rice

After we were all suitably stuffed it was time to hunt down the chefs for a chat and to take a few snaps.

01 Chef picture

Then the hilarity kicked in… What do call a selfie with a chef? A chelfie. Hee hee

Chef + Selfie = Chelfie

Chef + Selfie = Chelfie

If you want to catch this promotion at the Shangri La it is running until 21st November 2014. Be sure to book, especially on weekends.

You can find all the details of the Asia restaurant by clicking here.