Thursday, 30 April 2015

Grade 3 Art Week Assembly

Earlier this week we got a beautiful invitation from Linnea, to come see the Grade 3 Assembly this morning. The assemblies here are much longer than at JIS, since they do each whole year group at once. There are five classes in each year group that has to take turns showing off what they've learned and studied so far this year.
Here they all are, the Grade 3 kids:

Linnea came up on stage only once, when her class illustrated how you do non-verbal communication. They all showed different actions and Linnea demonstrated how you can say "Continue", without using words:

Her class also performed the last song of the Assembly, "Firework", together with two other classes:

After the Assembly (and after a quick visit to the Health Center after one of the benches fell on her foot while exiting the canteen...), we were invited up to the classrooms to admire the artwork our children have been working on. A lot of lovely creations, here are some:

2 x Aussie fun

Here's a photo of two Aussies who don't know each other. But they both know us!
Brett and Ben:

Nathan drove up to Dubai on Tuesday to meet up with these two friends who were there on stop overs. Brett operates out of Hong Kong and Ben had come from Brunei.
It's really nice to live somewhere now, where people actually pass through every now and then, so you get to catch up. Good to see you guys!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

I am unicorn

This photo was in a post from Lucas' lovely teacher on his class Instagram account before the holidays:
"Nothing brings the joy of spring break like a magic unicorn galloping into my classroom!! Be an individual and be courageous!!! I love my students!"

Lucas' choice of outfit for dress-down day. Love it!


12 years ago Nathan and I had bought tickets to what was going to be one of the most epic concerts of all time - Robbie Williams at Knebworth. We ended up selling those tickets on as Nathan's command training clashed with the concert; plus I got pregnant and didn't think a concert field was the best place to be with a big belly... (Reputedly, this was the biggest UK pop concert ever. Robbie Williams performed over a three-day period and drew crowds of over 375,000 people!)

We have the concert on DVD though, and it was always a staple piece of entertainment very late in the night, every time we had parties at ours in Brunei. We've enjoyed it and sung along to it, over and over many, many times!

Last night, we got to experience Robbie live as he took stage at Du Arena at Yas. It was an amazing concert, the man is a fantastic entertainer. The two hours flew by and the energy was absolutely pumping.

Martin and Pia came as well, and Hilary and Karl had driven up from Dubai. Excellent concert crew!

My favourite moments were when he invited his father up to sing with him, when he did a beautiful cover of the Lorde's song 'Royals' - and 'Let me entertain you', of course! It was a great, great concert all together! GREAT!


A piece of our history

I was looking through old photos the other day from the first home Nathan and I shared, the apartment in Copenhagen. It was odd seeing so many things in the photos, that we don't have anymore. Furniture, kitchen items, decorations etc, lots of things that has been phased out for different reasons, in any of our many moves.
I saw one thing though that I then remembered we actually did still have somewhere - our cool Rosendahl wine tube:

I had a perfect spot for it on the big empty dining room wall. The wine rack has now made that corner of the room a lot more interesting; and it reminds me of Denmark and our first home.


On Friday we had some bike room related jobs to do at the mall, and took the opportunity to sort out Linnea's new glasses.
Her teacher had told us she seemed to struggle while reading at school and after an eye test we did in NZ, we found out she is longsighted. Getting her these glasses will help her focus easier when she's reading. They are not like reading glasses though, she will be able to wear them all the time if she wants; if it turns out that's easier than keep putting them on and off all the time.

After an extensive trying session of all the frames in the shop we all agreed on these dark blue frames, with a bright yellow inside:

Oh my, looking like a big girl now!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Man Cave

We finally decided a while ago, not to get a maid, for many reasons. Mainly, we've been here now over a year, and for now, we're doing just fine without one. It's a different lifestyle here to what we were used to from Brunei.

All of a sudden we now had extra space being wasted as storage for a bunch of random things, so we decided to do something better with this room.
I present to you - The Man Cave: (or as it's officially known, The Bike Room...)

Nathan has now been able to permanently set up his trainer, instead of having to move it in and out of the guest room. (We have a lot more guests here, than in Brunei!) This is also where two of his bikes will live from now on.
One of them always on the rollers, with a little side table within reach to put the controllers and the phone etc on; and the protective mat and the fan set up for training. We went to trusty old IKEA and got some Ivar shelving, for him to store all the bike (and car!) gear, and - to keep the TV on. He has installed a Tacx System so that he can do virtual reality riding! A good thing in these hotter months coming up.

The girly touch came from me decorating it with his framed bike photos and posters, which made it cosy and nice! We're both very happy with the result. Me especially as our storage room became a lot less cluttered as a result of the shuffling things around. Win-win!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

On autopilot

I wish I could say I had missed the gym and looked forward to getting back into it when I got back, but to be honest it was more a question of switching on to autopilot these past mornings. Just putting on the exercise clothes, lacing up the shoes and getting out of the door without thinking to much; all of a sudden there I was and "bam!" - time for boot camp and too late to turn back!

Truth is, I didn't realize that I actually had missed my morning workouts, and all the other girls, until I made it there. It is really nice to be back, actually..!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Kiwi kids

Luckily the jet lag going west isn't as bad as when you travel the other way. We've hardly noticed it at all actually coming home, other than going to bed slightly earlier and being up slightly earlier in the mornings. Not a bad thing, when you have to get back into school rhythm.
This morning we were all packed and ready half an hour before we had to leave, which was really nice.

Here are my Kiwi kids, ready to get back to school. Bringing bags of Pineapple Lumps and Pixie Caramels for their teachers; kiwi earrings on one, kiwi necklaces on both, new Black Caps and Chiefs hats - and poppies, it's the 100th Anniversary for ANZAC Day this week.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Being back blues

I must admit, I had already spent many hours dreaming about that lovely get-out-of-the-airplane-clothes-shower you take first thing when you get back after a long trip (did I tell you - 28 hours!), so when we were on the approach to Abu Dhabi I couldn't think of anything else, even though I had a window seat.
Last time we flew back after holiday it was quite depressing that all I could see from the airplane window was sand, sand, beige, sand, construction sites, sand, cranes, sand, beige and sand... forever.

This time the "returning blues" didn't quite hit me until this morning when I opened the curtains:

Not quite the same view as from the house in Taupo... :(
Blergh. It's a good life here, but it sure is a shame to say it's beautiful here. Eleven weeks, eleven weeks until we get to see some green again. Eleven weeks.
We can do it.

(And oh my, those windows really need a good clean after all the sandstorms..!)

Watson Family in NZ

So, that was our NZ holiday for this time! It was so good to get back to this amazingly beautiful place, with the green bush-clad hills, the huge amounts of fluffy sheep, with the loud tuis and the quails, with the flax and pohutakawa, the flat whites and the tasty mussels; the smell of newly mowed lawns, cool clean breezes and friendly people.

We sure are all tanked up on all things kiwi for a while now AND have the fridge full of Pineapple Lumps, Pixie Caramels and Peanut Slabs!

Thank you Grandma and Granddad for looking after us!

You and me time in NZ

Having no maid anymore since we moved to Abu Dhabi, and with Nathan working a lot more than in Brunei, it's made it more tricky to get some one-on-one time with each of the kids. I took the opportunity now in NZ to get some time with each of the kids on their own.
Lucas wanted to go up to the "mosaic-café", L'Arte, which is one of our favourites. So we did one afternoon, just him and me; enjoyed some coffee and ginger beer and a lovely chat.

Linnea and I did what girls do best, we went shopping, just her and I.
Although for two reasons we didn't go as crazy as we have done previous times in NZ, ehm; firstly there is no need really to buy anything else than NZ-specific things, as we can find everything we could possibly need in Abu Dhabi. Secondly, I realized Abu Dhabi isn't that expensive after all (I have kept thinking it was since I've been comparing with Brunei, duh) - NZ ain't particularly cheap either! Actually, it seemed really expensive to me.

But, we did make a stop at Tank, a lovely juice and smoothie bar. It quickly became Linnea's new favourite and later in the holiday when given the choice, she rather had a smoothie than an ice cream, which says a lot. Mmm!

Brunei in NZ

When Nathan had arrived, we caught up with some friends from Brunei, the Mildenhalls. They left a few months before us to come back home and now live in Palmerston North, further south on the North Island. They came up for the weekend, and had a few dinners up at the house with us, and also came along on the fishing trip. It was really good to see them again!

Hanging out modern kids style - with TV and iPads...

On another night, actually the only night we actually went out for dinner, down at The Bay - we met some other Brunei people. Or at least Brunei-by-proxy! As we sat there waiting for our food, a couple walked in that I recognized but couldn't quite place. I thought it was some of Bruce and Yve's friends.

But no wonder I had trouble placing them - it was Will's dad Pete and his wife Cath! They don't live anywhere near Taupo, but were out with their caravan for a few days. They had parked up at the caravan park down the road and had decided to go back to The Bay where we had taken them when they came over 2 1/2 years ago, to cheer Will & Nathan on in the bike race! Imagine their reaction when they saw us sitting there!

Such a nice surprise, and what a nice evening we had!

Weather in NZ

Coming down to NZ at this time of the year is quite a gamble weather wise. They are coming into winter, and the weather could be almost anything.
I hadn't packed any shorts for either one of us, and we never needed any, although on the sunnier days I saw other people around town, both in shorts and barefoot (!). We did have mostly sunny days, so we were lucky.

I didn't mind the chillier weather either actually, made for a welcome change to our normal temperatures! But it all became a bit gloomy when the rain came...

Look! That view from the house again - but we couldn't even see the lake this day for the rain and the fog!

It was so cold some evenings, the underfloor heating had to be turned on and the fire had to be lit! Cosy though!

A hot spot in NZ

After Nathan had spent a few hours in the bike saddle, and in the horse saddle - and I had been doing squats and planks, we felt like a relaxing afternoon at the thermal hot pools would be a good thing. We decided to go to Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs & Pools, another place we hadn't visited before.

It was grey, cold and rainy, but it didn't matter much, as you can see, the pools were warm and nice:

Nathan and I mostly bobbed around in one of the two main healing mineral pools. A perfect way to relax tired and achy muscles!

It's not a huge resort, but it was so beautiful there. The pools are surrounded by tropical palms and native fauna, waterfalls; and bubbling hydrotherapy spots in the pools, where you could lie and enjoy - aaahhh...

The kids mostly played in the water play area, and on the slides! Of course, it wasn't Yas Waterwold standard, but the two curved racing slides, and the big Dragon Slide seemed to keep the kids entertained and happy.