16.30 hours: Goldy sinks a(nother) raker on the 18th at Abu Dhabi National GC to conclude a quality round of golf. Good wee track, nice to walk for a change (cart paths only, with the HSBC coming up in January). Electrolytes running low.
18.30: Gargantuan BBQ feed at the Turliks' house under the warm blanket of a Dubai evening. Corona has never tasted so good. Chris despite his Welshness can actually cook too (sausages done to perfection).
19.45: Off to bed for a couple hours' shut eye. Deep, deep coma.
23.00: When Bart wakes me up my body refuses and gives him the proverbial finger. He shakes me once more and eventually I acquiesce. We each grab a ginger beer and march to the truck. It's golf time.
23.30: Under floodlights we find our carts and hit a few practice pitches. Not a soul at The Emirates Club, other than our four, the odd greenkeeper and Andy an affable northerner who's kindly agreed to stay longer and turn the lights off behind us. (The Emirates Club agreed to leave the lights on especially for us, requiring a generator and extra staff - LIFESAVERS!). The Dubai skyline is lit up brilliantly in the background.
00.00: Tee off. Ball's surprisingly easy to see (provided you stay on the right hole). Goldy and I have a cart each; Chris and Bart are in the 3rd craft. They're holding pins, raking bunkers and generally being legends. Well, Chris was anyway...
1.00: Front nine done (back nine of the Faldo Course, as it happens). JP 2up. Very enjoyable stuff this.
2.00: Finitto. 2 hours flat, on the dot. JP wins 5 & 3.
2.20: Back in bed, trying desperately to sleep once more. Doesn't take too much effort and before I know it...
7.00: Turlik's mug pokes itself into Bart & my room (seems we're always sharing...). Battle stations; time to pack.
8:00: We're out the door and bound for Dubai Airport...
8.30: Battleaxe of an airline official picks a fight with puregolf2010. Over something so petty as "baggage allowance". We're suitably unimpressed but as per usual roll with The Emirati Punches. Our entire time in the UAE has been filled with quite wonderful people, and the last person we're interacting with on Emirati soil is a tyrant. Fortunately one bad apple doesn't spoil the barrel in this case. Anyway we re-pack 26 kilos of luggage into our hand luggage and proceed on our merry way. How arbitrary...
10.15: At last we board our plane only to realise that it's half full. Effectively then we're flying business class, in the sense that we have a row of 4 seats each to ourselves. Lie down, have an OJ, and commence reading. Time passes by without any hassle. I watch a movie on the life of Che Guevara (Chevolution), a documentary on 500 Great Football Goals, and listen to a couple of operas Carmen and one by Puccini (La Boheme?). With only a few hours to go we crack open a Heinken and play some cards on the floor at the front of the cabin. I end up as Scum which is not a title to which I'm accustomed. After only a couple of games an officious eastern european hostess tells us it's against Emirates policy for passengers to sit on the floor (despite the fact that the plane's empty). Of course it is. The other hostess, from Greenock no less, was much more affable and indeed not unstriking. We prefer to chat to her.
2.30: We land on Australian soil for the first time since 10 May. Customs doesn't present any problems and before we know it we're in the back seat of Ned Stokes car - our new friend (an Irish expat from Limerick) who has kindly opened his door to us for the week. Seems like a legend of a human being. And just like that the next leg is upon us.
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