The sun may be shining brightly, but there is plenty of reason to feel festive over here in Doha, if you are willing to make a bit of effort.
After complaining about how un-Christmassy we were both feeling in this hot Muslim country last week, Rich and I decided to go on a hunt for a Christmas tree to help make our flat feel a bit more festive.
We quickly discovered that Christmas had come to Doha after all, it had just been hiding down one of the aisles in Carrefour.
As ever, they had gone for a very classy and minimalist display…
We all know that when choosing Christmas tree decorations, it helps if you put on a festive hat to get in the mood
And of course, dressing in matching Christmassy colours helps you to get into the swing of things.
When we got home, we couldn’t wait to get the tree up and start decorating, with the soft sound of Michael Buble crooning some Christmas classics in the background.
We even managed to track down some advent calendars so we could officially start the countdown to the big day…
Now, in order to complete the Christmas cheer, all we needed to add was friends.
This week, we were invited along for a festive meal at Hayley and Ian’s flat.
Gary and Donna had brought along a personalised Christmas tree decoration for each of us. I loved my little bear with a heart which is now taking pride of place on my tree!
And Hayley and Ian seemed pretty chuffed with their decorations too.
The most Christmassy thing we saw that evening was the huge gingerbread house that the hotel had erected in their cafe.
“Excuse me, am I allowed to help myself to some of this?”
Later in the week, I headed out with Julia Keys, Rachel Gray (Richard and Andy’s wives), Nicky, Lianne and Jess for a girly dinner at a seafood restaurant in Katara cultural village. Everybody’s upcoming plans for Christmas were the main topic of conversation.
Some of the girls are staying out here over Christmas, and while some have family coming over to visit, others are spending the day itself with friends. Something I’ve really started to notice over here is that because you’re such a long way from home, the good friends you make quickly become your extended family. You share a lot more things out here, and that includes your turkey on Christmas day.
We finished off the week with a proper Christmas gathering at ours, complete with Christmassy games in the form of Who’s In The Bag? and charades.
Jason McAteer, Rich and Nicky (AKA ‘Nicky’s Team’) clearly didn’t take the game that seriously at all…
And our team (‘Yes Nigel’) soon discovered that their competitive (read cheating) ways meant that we were in with no chance, so resolved to just have a bit of fun.
This didn’t stop Luke from getting into the zone every time it came to our go of course.
All in all there were some excellent acting skills displayed. Take it from me, if your various football punditry, reporting, producing and hairdressing careers fall through, there is definitely a place for you all on a West End stage.
This morning, I woke up with a bit of a fuzzy head, feeling very happy.
You CAN have a good Christmas in Doha, you just have to seek it out and make sure you get into the spirit of things.
All of this Christmas spirit has set us up nicely, because tomorrow we are flying back to the UK, for friends and family and mulled wine and carols and Christmas markets and cold and hopefully snow!
I’ll tell you all about it on our return.