Sunday, 29 January 2017

Ready to ride

There it is! All the parts have been assembled and Lucas has been to the bike shop to get it sized and fitted properly. His outfit is hanging ready on his wardrobe door and he is ready to ride!

HSBC Junior Tournament Dubai 2017

Yesterday we spent the whole day in Dubai for the yearly HSBC Rugby Festival, one of the biggest junior rugby tournaments there is, with over 4,000 players. It was our third HSBC tournament.
Last year we had to go up both Friday and Saturday as the kids were playing on different days. A long weekend of early starts and a lot of rugby, but at least we got to see them both play.

This year they were both scheduled for the same day, which meant less traveling to and from Dubai, but also that we couldn't watch them both. Nathan spend most of the day at Lucas' pitch, and I mostly watched Linnea.
Linnea played in the B-team this year, out of the two teams the U12 Girls put into the tournament. The A-team went undefeated and won the cup, Linnea's team didn't win a single match... The team play did improve throughout the day, but they seemed to be lacking in technique. As many of these girls are new from this season, they are still not quite there when it comes to speed and foreseeing the game play.

It wasn't as good a day as this usually is for Linnea all together. Not only because of the losses (last year her team was in the final!), but also her team didn't quite seem to gel as well as they've done previous years. Usually the girls have lots of fun on the sideline, while waiting for their turn to play, but she mostly stuck with me. No wonder she seems to have lost a bit of her interest for rugby lately, it seems like the comradery is not quite there anymore.

Lucas and the boys on his team on the other hand are thick as thieves. They did great in their year group and came away with the plate (2nd place). I managed to see only a few games, but I saw Lucas get a few good runs in. All in all, the team played really well, but above all, they seem to have so much fun together.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Birthday evening

In the evening it was my turn to celebrate our day. We decided to brave it and leave the boys home alone for the first time (...) so that we could go out for a fancy dinner.
In the three years we have been here, we have mostly just been out to eat in the evenings in more cheap and cheerful eateries, and usually with the kids... so it was certainly about time we tried some fine dining!

Our friends Bill and Cath joined us, and we started the evening at "The Hidden Bar" at the Rosewood. Turns out it wasn't that hidden at all, at least not now during the evening. Still it was nearly empty which proved to be a real shame, as the cocktails were absolutely sublime. The bartender mixed and served them with so much feeling, and they tasted really delicious.

After a few gin drinks in the bar, we went to the Chinese restaurant. Mmm, lovely dinner... dumplings, duck, pork belly, Chilean wine... mmm!

We decided to end the evening by trying out a place I had heard about, in the Etihad Towers, the Ray's Bar. Turned out it was pretty quiet there too, but at least the DJ was playing some "old farts music" that suited us really well, and the cocktails weren't too shabby there either!

And the views from the 62nd floor at night... Gotta love the night lights! Happy Birthday to me!

Birthday fun

This year Lucas opted out of having a traditional birthday party and instead he chose to go for a slightly more expensive activity, with just his two best friends Eddy and KJ.

We drove up to the Mirdif Center in Dubai to take them to the indoor skydiving there at the iFly. But first, some KFC for lunch.

First they had a short briefing in the Training Room about what flying technique to adopt, and then they had to come out to get ready for their flight.

The boys got to gear up into colourful suits and they had to wear both ear plugs, safety goggles and big helmets. Lucas got blue & red, KJ yellow and Eddy green & yellow.

Their instructor started out by giving a small demonstration on how not to fly, to avoid sinking down to the floor, rising up too high or smashing into the walls.

Then it was their turn to enter the vertical wind tunnel one by one, and try to find their balance. Apparently it wasn't as easy as the instructor made it look! Especially not when you are a lanky teenager with arms and legs everywhere just flapping around... ha ha!




For their second flight, the instructor took them up and down the tunnel a few times, and that looked like so much fun! Just like free falling! Here's a short clip of Lucas:

After the skydiving we went back home to Abu Dhabi. The boys were going to stay for a sleepover to test drive the new Xbox games. They had pizza and popcorn, and cake of course!

All in all a pretty good birthday for our teenager!

Birthday morning!

Our birthday started like all birthdays do in our house, with singing and presents in bed. I was actually so lucky as to be woken up first, for the first time!

I got some nice gifts (off my wish list, gotta make it easy for them!), a new strap for my Apple Watch, a backpack I eyed up traveling through Melbourne and regretted I didn't get and - binoculars! (Have always wanted some!)

Then it was Lucas turn to play possum before he got to open his presents.

He was also a lucky boy, he got a couple of Xbox games, some money, a Magnus Chase book and a new Chiefs jersey...

... a specific pair of Adidas shoes that he had eyed up...

... and the big gift - a road bike!

Although it came in pieces, ha ha!! Part of the gift is going to be to learn how to put it all together!

Pancake breakfast by the flags, oh yes, we are all for traditions!

So we now have a teenager in the house! Can you believe it?! How did that happen??

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Sunset in the park

After our Afternoon Tea we wanted to spend what was left of the afternoon outside and went to the Umm Al Emarat Park.
The weather is absolutely perfect at the moment, and it feels like such a treat to be able to be outside. We went for a stroll around the park in the sunset.

The park is very large and it consists of different parts. This is the Wisdom Garden, which was built in memory of the late Sheikh Zayed, and his efforts in environmental conservation. The wall panels all were inscribed with quotes by Sheikh Zayed, about the UAE and the country's heritage.

There was a small vegetable garden where they grow and cultivate herbs and vegetables for educational purposes.

They also have a small Zoo in the park and a couple of playgrounds, probably more suited for younger children, although I think our kids would probably enjoy coming here too. In the Animal Barn, there was a camel, some donkeys, lamas, sheep and a pony.

Also in the Childrens Garden part of the park, there was a large play area, with a small wadi.

The most unique structure in the park is the Shade House. Apparently you can climb it and overlook the park from the two upper level decks. There are tropical plants inside, where a special misting system allows them to thrive, thanks to the special design of the building.

The amphitheater. On the weekends this is used for outdoor concerts and other events. It features a canvas that is used for lighting displays and screening movies among other things. The lawn is also used for yoga classes now in the winter season.

This park is one of the oldest and largest in Abu Dhabi. It was built in 1982 and originally known as Mushrif Park. When it was extensively renovated in 2015 a new name was chosen, Umm Al Emarat means "Mother of the nation". The park has been awarded the Green Flag, an international benchmark for parks and green spaces.
A very nice green space in the middle of the city.