Sunday, 29 November 2020

Corona Diary, Day 262-268

Day 262, Sunday 22 November
Here we go, another week. The days roll by. Not much going on today. A bit of studying, a bit of training, a bit of cooking. Just your regular Sunday.
Beef broccoli stir-fry for dinner.

Day 263, Monday 23 November
I had a lunch date today in the city with one of my colleagues from the Louvre Abu Dhabi that I hadn't seen in a very long time. It was really nice to catch up, I felt so invigorated the whole afternoon after, from some fresh conversation and new stories!
We made a Thai coconut chicken salad for dinner, which was a surprising success. I had my doubts putting it together, but once it was smothered in the dressing - what a winner!

Day 264, Tuesday 24 November
One good thing with not leaving the house, is that I don't have to put on any make-up. Not that I wear a lot normally anyway, but letting my face just stay au naturel during all these stay-at-home days has actually been rather nice. Today was one of those days.
Mexican stack for dinner, om nom nom.

Day 265, Wednesday 25 November
Today I tried something new for the first time - padel. So much fun, I already have next session booked!
I met Nathan in the door when I got home, as he was on his way to work. So dinner got late as we had to wait for him to come home, but it was worth it - Greek lamb keftedes, lemon potatoes and veggies.

This whole week we have been sitting outside to have our dinner, but, it's been getting to the point where we need hoodies now..! 26 degrees and a breeze tonight for example.

Day 266, Thursday 26 November
Today I was at the LAD with two colleagues. As per usual a quick walk around in the galleries (I finally managed to get a photo of the salamander, inside the Bonifilius Basin!), and then we had lunch - outside, since their restaurant had opened again. I LOVE this time of the year!

Lucas went to see a friend after school, and I spent most of the afternoon unpacking Christmas. Have to get it all out for Sunday, First of Advent and all!
Pasta and sausages for dinner.

Day 267, Friday 27 November
We had an early family lunch at Yas Marina today, really nice. We had planned to get to the mall before the masses, to have a quick look at some of the Black Friday offers, but it was already crazy busy by the time we got there. We only got a few bits and bobs which we had eyed up before and hurried out of there. It actually, for the first time in Covid, didn't feel very safe at all.
Linnea went to see a friend, and Lucas met up with a few friends too. I set up the Christmas tree, and Nathan and I watched TV and chilled with take-away pizza for dinner.

Day 268, Saturday 28 November
Just a homely day for us, which nobody did mind. The kids will be off school for a few days next week since it's National Day and Nathan is on leave, so we will do another little staycation then. Chicken burger for dinner, and Nathan and I have started another mini-series, the "Undoing".

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Trying the craze

Something that has been on my list to try for quite some time, is Padel. I've noticed how it has become this enormous craze in Sweden lately, and not only there, all over the world. I just read that it is the world's fastest growing sport, no wonder it seems like everyone is playing Padel! I do understand why - it is an easy game to learn, and to play.

It is a mix between tennis and squash and the game is played in doubles on an enclosed court, surrounded by glass walls and metallic mesh.

I joined a tester session on Wednesday with SWEA, there was 8 of us so we spread across two courts. We had a coach, so we there was time to both get taught the basics and coached a bit, and to play a few games, it was great fun!

I have already booked two more sessions!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

The great hopelessness

I woke up today feeling the blues of the great hopelessness rolling in again.

I usually spend some time each morning with my morning coffee reading the news, and honestly, there is not much in the news these days that is uplifting, quite the contrary.
I glance through both Swedish media, NZ news and our local news reports, and it's been particularly interesting throughout 2020 to notice the different picture that is painted in each place. Interesting to get different points of view, but also surprising at times, and rather scary.

Lately the extremely one-sided reports in Swedish media about the "Swedish model" have started to decrease. I get the impression from the news, but also from my social media feeds, that it's only now at this point that many in Sweden are realizing the severity of this pandemic and its effects. Or not.
The Swedish PM talked to the nation tonight for the second time during this Covid-crisis (and only the fourth time in history) - and asked people to be more responsible, to do their part. I can't believe that was needed, how some people seem almost surprised that Covid is still around.
Well *duh*...
This is no little bump in the road, this is a whole Mount Everest we need to conquer. And even when we do, if we succeed, I really don't think life will ever go back to "normal", or to whatever it used to be. Finding a vaccine seems to be the only way out of this, but what happens when a new strand of the virus emerges? Back to square one? Starting all over again, with lockdowns and restrictions?

Some days it all feels just endless. All these big questions with no answers, not always easy to deal with.
I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Corona Diary, Day 255-261

Day 255, Sunday 15 November
I try to fill my week with at least one "activity" per day, may it be an outing, a lunch date, a Zoom-call or a shopping trip. Today I went to see a friend for a beach walk close to her house. Hung about all morning and enjoyed the sea and the sun, felt like I was on holiday!

I think a lot about the rhythm of life at the moment, and how it used to be. How did I have time last year to do my studies full time and work and manage all the other things that "normal" life involves? And more importantly, do I want to go back to that kind of rhythm (read stress)... really?
Prawn pasta for dinner while we couldn't help by starting the new season of 'The Queen' which came out today. We had said we would save it until we had finished our current series, but... just too exciting!

Day 256, Monday 16 November
Nathan and I had a few jobs to do at the mall this morning before I met Frida there for lunch. It had been too long since I saw her and it was too short, but nice nevertheless of course! Chicken Jalfrezi for dinner.

Day 257, Tuesday 17 November
Training. Study Group. Studying for Uni. Dinner. TV. My life feels quite square at the moment, but I don't mind it too much actually. I miss working though, more and more each day.
Nathan was at work all day and after he got home in the afternoon we sat outside for a bit with Linnea, and played some cards. Such nice weather at the moment. I really want some cosy outdoor lights to create some ambiance, but I can't seem to find any nice battery operated ones.

Day 258, Wednesday 18 November

Even though we are far from the Groundhog Day-feelings of the spring, some days still have that notion of same-same to them. Mostly I do enjoy the humdrum, but today I felt a bit numb, and a lot bored. Not even the weekly Uni-lecture cheered me up.
Usually we might do a take-away at the end of the week, but today I was so totally uninspired we had McDonald's for dinner. Yup. That bad.

Day 259, Thursday 19 November
Today Nathan was up early for a morning ride with a mate. I discovered a new place for lunch and Lucas went to the bowling alley with a few friends after school. Lentil dahl for TV-dinner. Sadly we now have finished both 'The Queens Gambit' and the fourth season of 'The Crown', so looking for a new series to watch.

Day 260, Friday 20 November
Nathan went actually flying today, for a change, and the rest of us had a homely day for a bit before Linnea and I took Lucas to the mall. He was going to have dinner with friends; and Linnea and I did a bit of shopping at IKEA. She got a big Christmas tree for her room, something she really wanted. We were so lucky, they just put one in the right size in the bargain corner as we walked passed, so we snatched that up!

Day 261, Saturday 21 November
I actually hate the weekends. Yup, I do.
The only reason we observe weekends at all is because of school. Nathan obviously doesn't work normal weeks or normal hours even; and neither did I previously in any of the jobs I have had. It was only when we had kids and they started school that we got kind of a "normal" rhythm, or base line if you wish. Although Nathan has been working for many, many (well most) of the weekends, in full or in parts; so we have never really had that TGIF-feeling (or TGIT here in Abu Dhabi...) at the end of the week, or those family weekends together.
I actually never feel as lonely or as bored as I do over the weekends; because my friends here all spend theirs with their family as their husbands work normal weeks - so no one wants to play. Not even my own family unfortunately, they are all homebodies and hard to excite with anything.

So in a bid to make at home a bit more cosy since we spend so much time here, my project of the day involved mounting new lights outside. I had been looking for some bulb-looking ones with a yellow light for a while, but since I couldn't find any I decided to get these string lights from ACE yesterday. We tried out the newly lit space by having dinner outside (hoki fish parcels and sweet potatoes) and it also worked for some card playing. But... it's not quite there. Hm, I'm not sure if it's the lights or the way I've hung them. Argh, gotta keep working at it.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Off the beaten track

Yesterday Linda and I decided to go discover a new place for us, one which has been rather hyped lately on FB and in social media, called Elysium. It is situated a bit out of the city, or rather outside our normal areas where we move about, in Shakhbout City. Only was a 15 minute drive though, and yes, we understand the hype.

It is located in a villa that has been blown out and refurbished, and has a big garden full of flowers. I can really see why it's so popular, especially now in the winter months when you can sit outside and enjoy all this green. Would be a great place to bring small kids to, as they could be let loose in the huge garden.

Inside was cosy and beautifully decorated too. The food was nice, but we mostly came because of one of the extra things offered here, the 'latte art'. This is where you can get a photo of your choice on your coffee! We had to try, of course! Pretty cool!

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

The New Normal?

I guess we are not the only ones who have been watching a lot more TV than normal these days, or rather this year. One thing that strikes me watching all these series that were made pre-Covid, is how much people all touch each other - well, normally. Shaking hands, hugging, cheek kissing, high-fiving etc etc. Seeing that, and people in big groups, really close to each other, kind of make me shiver and shrug a bit each time at the moment.

It certainly is different times now, we have a "new normal" to relate to. I wonder a lot about how many of our adapted habits will change forever? Maybe hand-shaking will never come back but the fist-bump-hello will stay instead for example? Will this "new normal" become the normal-normal?

In our house we have a box by the door with all the things you need on a daily basis now when you leave the house. It's not just "wallet, keys and phone" anymore, it's also "mask, hand sanitizer and gloves". We have spare masks and wipes in the cars and in our bags.

If entering someone else's house, the very first thing we do always is ask for the bathroom, to go wash our hands. We say hello to our friends by waving at each other and stay and sit at a safe distance from each other at all times, whether in or out. I have really changed my behavior and I must admit if someone gets too close to me, I do get a bit uncomfortable now!
My house has (even more than before) turned into my safe haven, and being at home with my family is where I feel completely at ease and think of none of the above. My safe bubble.

I have also been thinking about this terminology that previously was not really needed and all the "new" words in our vocabulary, like lock-down, social distancing, quarantine, e-learning, community spread, Zoom, N95, key worker etc. It's interesting to note how we have all become experts in statistics, we know the difference between an epidemic vs a pandemic, what antibodies do, what a super-spreader is and why it's important to "flatten the curve".
Add to these words also all this new slang that have been popping up, words that have morphed and changed in meaning and been added to the common vocabulary. Have you heard about the coronapocalypse, covidiots, the 'rona', the coronacoaster, quarantinis, mascne or coronacations for example? All so innovative, being a bit of a linguistic nerd, it's actually quite fun to notice these developments!

I do wonder though how we will remember this time in the future; and especially what the kids will remember from this time. Hopefully that we spent a lot of time together, in a positive way.
That life was smaller, in a good way. And slower. And that what mattered was the little things.
Maybe the "new normal" isn't that bad?

A morning in Hidd

Sunday morning I started the week in the best way possible - with some sun, some sea and a friend!
Petra lives in Hidd, which is a newer development on Saadyiat Island, right on the beach. So lush, beautiful and green (and way, way over our budget unfortunately!). I felt like I was in a resort on holiday as we walked down to the beach.

There was NOBODY else on the beach, apart from the odd jogger. Totally Covid-safe activity! We left our small camp behind and went for a walk about 2,5 km out towards the end of the island before we turned back.

We saw traces of the dhabi, the local gazelles that roam the island:

After turning back we had the whole skyline of Abu Dhabi city in front of us as it was a really clear morning.

I was going to get to try her SUP board, but unfortunately the sea was a bit too rough for a beginner, so that will have to be next time. We just had a swim instead, the water is still the perfect temperature.

After our walk and a swim, we went back to her garden as both her kids are e-learning from home and it was time to get them lunch. I had a swim in their pool and we had our lunch outside in the gorgeous weather - and I had total house-envy! Oh how I would love to live like this, well, who wouldn't!? I guess Nathan works for the wrong company, ha ha - we need a bigger allowance!


Thank you Petra for a great morning!

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Corona Diary, Day 248-254

Day 248, Sunday 8 November
So this week started with new rules, again, on entering the emirate. We had hoped it would let up soon, but instead it's getting increasingly difficult. Now you need a negative PCR or DPI test not older than 48h, to cross the border into Abu Dhabi. If you are staying on you need another PCR test on the 4th day, AND a further PCR test on the 8th day. Yeah, we are not going anywhere anytime soon.

I went to Hudayriyat Island with Linda, a bit of a walk and a swim to start the week!
Nathan went to the SideHustle warehouse to help Chad out with labeling the newest shipment, and the kids had school. Our favourite Skinnymixers pork fillet and homemade bearnaise for dinner while we started our latest series 'The Queens Gambit'.

Day 249, Monday 9 November
I had a busy day on Monday. Morning walk at the Mangrove Park with my friend Kathleen and in the afternoon two Zoom trainings with the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Unfortunately it was also a day of bad news. First there was another round of firings among the pilots, although it seems like Nathan kept his job this time as well, phew. Such a stressful time this is, feeling like your whole livelihood is in jeopardy all the time. Of course it turned out to a bit of a down day for Nathan, facing now to have to say goodbye some of his colleagues and friends, again.
Then school very disappointingly let us know that "We will welcome all students back to school in January" actually means there will be a one week on-one week off schedule for the Grade 6-10 students. Booo!

Lucas went to have dinner with his friends at the Mall and I had a bit of a walk-about there when I had dropped him off. Checked out the Christmas stuff in the shops to cheer me up, and started actually looking forward to decorating and enjoying the festive times. I might let Linnea convince me to start earlier than I had thought.

Day 250, Tuesday 10 November
We had about 3,5 hours of virtual Parent-Teacher conferences this morning, which by the way worked even better than the normal ones I would say! All on time and with none of that endless walking back and forth between buildings! Good feedback mostly, for both the kids. No surprises, just the usual stuff really - "can do better", "need to push a bit more", "could do with some better time management" etc.
Having done all the conferences in one go then meant the rest of the day (and tomorrow) is free, as conferences are always scheduled across two days.

Linnea went to the mall with a friend, and I went and checked out the newly opened 'Art Space' there. Nathan had a sleep since he was about to go flying all night, and then we had our favourite fast food combo sushi & shawarmas (so easy) for dinner.

Day 251, Wednesday 11 November
An extra day off. Nathan landed early this morning and had a bit of a sleep. The rest of the day we were all just lounging around at home.

Day 252, Thursday 12 November
So I was in the city today, at the Jysk shop, and at the second Art Space location.
Linnea baked the first gingerbread cookies of the season (all by herself!), and after a quick trip to IKEA to get a big 10 L pot (in preparation for one of the weekend dinners) we had some Creamy Satay Chicken for dinner and watched TV.

Day 253, Friday 13 November
I dropped Nathan to spend the afternoon and evening at the Craft Beer Event at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Linnea spent her afternoon perfecting her icing skills on her gingerbread cookies, and I cooked a great herb-crusted eye beef fillet with cauliflower and parsnip mash for dinner. Winner dinner, even with the kids!

Day 254, Saturday 14 November
One of those days that I am not very fond of, that feels like a waste of life - especially now when weather is so good, and while we can go out. But I seem to be the only one who wants to "do things". Linnea did go a friends house for a few hours while Lucas hid in his room and Nathan lazed in front of the TV. I attempted to do some studying but gave up and have one of those afternoons just staring into the blue (ha ha, who am I kidding - into the beige!) instead. *Sigh*
Dinner took hours to prepare, but it was worth it, very yummy pork knuckles! First boiled nearly two hours in our new big pot and then in the oven for another hour and a bit - you could hear the crackling pop as they came out..!

Friday, 13 November 2020


Late last month there was a new store opening in Abu Dhabi, one that sparked some interest in the Scandinavian community - the Danish chain Jysk! Yesterday I brought Linda along and we went all the way to the city to the World Trade Center Mall to have a browse.

We started in the J Café, a really cosy space for being inside a mall. We actually came for the sole purpose of having one of their (10 AED!) Pumpkin Spice Lattes, as there has been quite a buzz about these, and Linda had never tried one. You see, Starbucks decided for some unknown reason not to bring their special autumn Pumpkin Lattes to the UAE this year, causing an upset among all the coffee-lovers of the country. This is a great substitute I must say, yum, yum!

I had a really good power-dress day yesterday. I felt so chic in this new set of mine that I bought on a whim the other day, because I loved the maroon colour. I've never worn a set before, the ones I've tried (because they looked cool on others) always made me feel like I had PJs on - but I actually really love this one! So much that you get a mirror selfie!

A really nice shop, with both bigger furniture and lots of little trinkets.

Although Jysk, we have to talk about this poster... "Danish" tea time? With Stig Lindberg and Berså? I don't think so, ha ha! Stig Lindberg is one of the more famous SWEDISH designers!

Art Space WTC Mall

Yesterday I found the other 'Art Space' here in Abu Dhabi a little bit by chance, at the WTC Mall. It's a smaller space here, so it's easier to miss - don't! Please do go have a look if you are nearby, it's a wonderful chance to get to know another local artist, Diaa Allam.

Diaa Allam describes himself as "an Egyptian artist with an Emirati spirit", born and based here in the UAE.  He is an urban planner and landscape architect by profession, and here he is showcasing his calligraphy art.

His art is a rather modern twist on calligraphy where he creates abstract art, sometimes 3D. This here below was my favourite, so vibrant in both colour and pattern.

Diaa Allam is a current Cultural Foundation resident. During this 'Art Space' project this specific location will be used for Cultural Foundation residents only, other artists will be announced in the future.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Happy Anniversary

It's been three years since the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened it's doors to the public, and I have no idea how many times I have been to the museum since; both as a guest, and as a guide. One thing is for sure, I have enjoyed every single visit - it truly is my happy place here in Abu Dhabi.

I am missing work so badly at the moment.
I am enjoying my studies, both the University course and all the reading I am doing by myself, to further my knowledge and understanding for my future tours. I just hope that tourists soon will be welcome back again, so that I will be able to share my stories with them. I really miss working.

But, in the meantime, to celebrate today's special occasion, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has released a short film which brings the story of humanity to life through the masterpieces of the collection. It had its world premiere tonight, and you can see it on the museum's YouTube channel.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Art Space Yas Mall

I took Linnea to Yas Mall this afternoon since she had a movie date with one of her friends. Before going back home again, I wanted to check out something I had seen reported about in social media, a new Art Space somewhere in the mall. I found it easily enough, just up the stairs from the grocery shop.

I must say, I was so impressed by this small exhibition - in the middle of the mall!
'Art Space' is a new initiative aimed at supporting the local art community. Currently across three different malls in Abu Dhabi, local artists are showcasing their work. This initiative will continue over eight months, and 12 different artists will come together and display their art.

Here at Yas Mall, the first artist to exhibit is emirati artist and jewelry designer Azza Al Qubaisi. You can enjoy some of her stunning metalwork sculptures and also a few pieces of jewelry.

This piece below is called 'Identities' and is an art installation by Al Qubaisi and 100 other artists. This following text is from the sign on the wall: "It embodies the spirit of inclusion, by showcasing artists of distinction alongside those of determination. Each artist expressed their identity and creativity on a palm frond, which when unified revealed the diversity of the local art community". Isn't it cool?

Some details from a few of the fronds:

You can't see here on these photos, but the picture to the left is of a large sculpture, probably about 1,5 m tall, in metalwork. The picture on the right, are bracelet sized copies of said sculpture, in different metals.

Having a small exhibition space like this, in a mall is a way to bring art TO the people, attract a wider audience and continue the cultural development of the UAE. It is also a way to tackle one of the challenges the artist community here in the UAE is facing, the lack of art spaces.
I found it really, really invigorating - and a welcome feast for the eyes and the soul to get to wander for a few minutes and take in these beautiful sculptures, in the middle of a busy, buzzing shopping mall.