Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Friday Brunch Brunei style

We were all very giddy come Friday, for the famous Friday Brunch at the Fairmont. The Friday Brunches of the UAE are rather legendary, and Anna who had done one a while back in Dubai, was really excited!
Heels, dresses and lippy on, ready to go!



We had asked a few of friends here to come along too, so all together there was 20 of us enjoying what the Fairmont had to offer this specific day. We split up, so that the kids had their own table, and us adults had our own:



Better that way, because the kiddos were all done very quickly, and spent most of the afternoon like this. Well, the girls did, we didn't even see the boys so they must have been hiding in another soft sofa corner somewhere...


All the ladies, and Leni:


Martin must have missed the memo about wearing blue?


I was so busy having a good time I hardly took any other photos at all bar these few snaps. I didn't even remember to photograph the food, until I got to my dessert plate... Om nom nom..!


We weren't ready to go home when brunch was over at 4pm, so we continued to our friends house, and Anna got to enjoy a few shots with Annica.



Anna and I were very content and called it a night come 8pm (the advantage of starting early!), but certain other members of our group didn't come home until very, very late that night... Ha ha, I guess they were trying to party Brunei style; but I can tell you - Abu Dhabi got the better of them the following day...

Fab five days

We've had our last visitors for the season this weekend, the Wallace-Scotts from Brunei. Andrew has been stopping in a couple of times previously on his trips to London, but it's taken Anna well over two years to make it so it was a hugely anticipated visit!

They arrived in the early hours of Thursday, so after a bit of a sleep, they were ready to take on what Abu Dhabi has to offer. Obviously we started with the mall..! Deli lunch and a spot of shopping at Yas Mall - a must first happening for any visitor from Brunei!

In the afternoon, they wanted to check out the box I used when I first came over, and went to CrossFit. So I signed them up for a MetCon session. Nathan and I came along - and watched! (I had done Zumba already in the morning, so was quite happy just spectating!)
Here they are, all happy, before the WOD:



And after, still smiling but slightly more "glowing"!


In the evening we had a quiet dinner at home, as we were pacing ourselves for our big day on the Friday, where we had a lush Friday Brunch booked in! A good first day!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Grade 6 Student Led Conference

This morning it was Lucas' turn to have a Student Led Conference. He had put together a portfolio with assignments and tests he was particularly proud of, and got to show them to us and discuss them, the grades and the work he had put into them with us.


We got a good giggle when reading his self-assessment sheet about his IB Learner Profile. As an answer to the question "What are your strengths as a thinker?", he had put down "I think about what I can do to get better grades"; and his plan on how to improve that was - "Think harder". 
Love it! Good plan!

Monday, 23 May 2016

All downhill for the last month

Linnea had an extra day off on Thursday as when they do the Student Led Conferences, the students are only supposed to come to school for their assigned time slot. Hers wasn't until 2pm, so she had the whole day with me before that.
Yesterday both kids were home from school, as it was a teachers only day at RIS - and tomorrow it's Lucas' turn to be home, after only going to do his Student Led Conference at 8am.

Add to that the start of Ramadan in another two weeks, with school days by then and for the last four weeks getting reduced to only 5 hours between 8.30am-1.30pm... it certainly feels like school is already winding down big time.

Anyhow, it was nice with some extra time off this weekend. Nathan was away working, of course (I don't think he has had a weekend off since February!), so the kids and I were on our own.
On Friday we went to an open day at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. As I wrote in a previous post, getting a swim in could be a costly affair here, so better make the most of it when opportunities like this arise.




We also managed to squeeze in a play date for Lucas, and a sleepover here - with pizza night!

Saturday I went to the gym in the morning (oh yes!), and later in the afternoon we went to Yas Mall to watch the new 'Angry Bird' movie. Kids liked it, but I actually didn't think it was a movie you need to see in the cinema.


We saw a poster for a familiar story though - 'Pettson and Findus', how funny, a Swedish movie here in the UAE! It's a shame our kids are a little bit too old for it.


Yesterday after I'd had a Zumba class in the early morning, and Nathan was back from work; we decided to do something different and actually went to the beach, Yas Beach. Lucas hadn't been since they revamped the whole thing. They've done it up really nice, even added a couple of swimming pools. We all enjoyed a few hours there in the nice weather. Both kids found friends to play with, and Nathan and I enjoyed the subtle but somewhat cooling breeze, it was a perfect day at the beach!

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Every week should start like this

Every week should start like this! (Yes, my weeks still start on Mondays, Sunday is just the warm-up...) Look what I was up to this morning, together with a bunch of crazy, happy girls from SWEA! We went boating, and swimming by a white beach in this clear green-turquoise water:


This morning I took the opportunity to get out to sea again. During our 2+ years here, I've only been on a boat once (only a few weeks ago actually), so when SWEA put a morning boat trip on their May schedule, I was quick to sign up.
We were almost 20 people on three boats, going out to Baharani Island this morning:


Wind in our hair and the Royal Palace in the background, with Maria, Nickan and Pia:




The water was so clear and beautiful and had the perfect temperature to cool us down a little bit, as it was well up into the 40s this morning.


We anchored up on a beach, so that we could set up our 'fika':



Gorgeous sandwiches, fruit, coffee, juices and... - cinnamon buns! Mmm... delicious!




We were only out there for a few hours this morning, but what an energy boost!!
Now to go do the school pickup... blergh... back to reality!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Student led conferences

Yesterday we were invited to school for Linnea's Student Led Conference. This meant that Linnea herself was showing us around her classroom and also showing us some of the work and the projects she has been working on and also demonstrating a few of the working methods they have learned.


Nathan had one of those work days when he had a short return flight in the morning and later in the afternoon another flight to go overnight in Muscat - but with a couple of hours in Abu Dhabi in between. Just enough time to come along to the conference!



The pride of the 4GO class:

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Our waterhole

One of the biggest downsides with our compound is that it has no communal pool. They did initially promise one would be built, but we fairly early lost hope about that, so we have other solutions for going swimming and keeping cool.

There are only two public (free) beaches in Abu Dhabi, and since they both are both downtown we have actually not been to either of them. Otherwise if you want to go for a swim, you either have to pay an entrance to the private beaches (at least 50 dhs per time), buy a pool day pass at any of the hotels (even more expensive), or own a boat!
So our solution - a family Annual Pass to the water park is actually not a bad idea! We have had an Annual Pass two years in a row now, and made sure to make good use out of it!

It's practical because nearly every visitor we have wants to go to the water park, and then we can join without having to break the bank each time. We also often go just for a few hours on a weekend morning before the big rush, or after school for a few hours. When you have a pass, you don't have to feel you have to do it all every time - some days we just go to float around in the lazy river, some times the kids only do the slides, or the wave pool, or the surfing; and sometimes we just lie in the sun and relax.

Our current pass expires at the end of the month and we have decided to hold off on getting a new one until we get back after the summer. It'll be too hot to even be anywhere outside in June anyway.
So at the moment we are making the most of it - we have been the last few Tuesdays (when the kids finish school early) and met up with friends of the kids for some midweek fun.


Yesterday it wasn't much fun for Linnea though, as she misjudged a wave in the wave pool and tried to do a backflip in the water, but ended up scraping along the bottom. She scraped her lip, her nose, her forehead and everything in between. There was a lot of blood but after rinsing it all off, she was all good again, albeit with some big scratches right down her face... Our little clumsy clown...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A night out

We sure lead a different life here, compared to in Brunei, where we would dress up and go out almost every weekend. Nathan will go out every now and then, but I certainly am no party animal and it had been so long since I last went out, that I thought Friday night actually deserves it's own blog post!

Most people here will actually meet "out", rather than doing parties and dinners at home - hence you need to bring the big wallet because everything is so expensive and frankly, we would rather save that money, or spend it on other things.
Also, we have no maid which limits us somewhat. Of course, there are babysitters around, but that involves forward planning, so no last minute fun evenings out for us.
Lastly, we seem to socialize differently here as we don't have many friends in common. Nathan will hang with his colleagues and bike buddies over beers at the pub every so often; but I meet the few friends I have during daytime, while the kids are at school.

Anyhow, back to Friday night, when I actually did go out!
Pia and I went along to a Danish get-together at a bar down at the Cornice, Asia de Cuba. Pia is married to a Dane, and since we both have somewhat connections to Denmark, for once we thought why not!



We had a great night out at the beach deck of the bar. Yes, it was a little bit warm, but still ok actually. We enjoyed the live music and the cold beer, chatted away with some new people and even danced a little bit!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Coffee morning

In Brunei, us "ladies of leisure" used to meet a lot more at each others houses, both for drinks, dinners, BBQs but also coffee mornings. Mostly I guess because there just wasn't enough nice places to go for coffee, you quickly ran out of options.

Here it is a different story. I have actually not been to many of my friends houses, as we mostly always meet out. Both because there are so many nice coffee and lunch places here, but also because there are actual MALLS here, so it's easier to meet there - while you do a spot of shopping maybe..!

Anyhow, I felt like getting some girls together for a good old coffee morning at my house again, last time was before Christmas so it had certainly been a while. Today I invited a group of Swedish friends, and four of the girls came over this morning, for some homebaked 'fika' and chit-chat.


And no, my friend Linda didn't eat all the cake... she's due to have a little baby in just two weeks! Very exciting!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Underwater

Pia brought their GoPro camera and shot some movies both over and under water at the Pearl Diving trip. Here you can see Lucas go down with the rope, on one of his tries:

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And here's Linnea, who didn't manage to stay down just as long:

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Dolphin spotting

Here's a short video where you can see how close the dolphins actually were to our boat on the pearl diving trip. Thank you Pia for the clip.

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The friendly neighbourhood dog

Our German neighbours went away on holiday last week and since their new maid hadn't turned up as planned, we offered to dogsit their labrador Emma. It was really nice to have a dog in the house again, and since she is a very good dog, she was very easy to look after.



She walks off the leash and listens very well, so taking her for walks was an easy task. She enjoyed to have her belly scratched and we played a lot with her ball.


Emma, the friendly neighbourhood dog. She loves being outside in the afternoons with all the kids of the compound, pretending to be one of them. She sometimes participates in the fun, sometimes just sits and watches them play when she gets too hot.


Emma, the eye in the sky, keeping an eye on the movements in the compound! :)



We gave her back last night and it was rather empty this morning not having a happy pup greeting us when we woke up...