Sunday, 28 January 2018

HSCB Tournament 2018

We have a few recurrent happenings on our UAE calendar and this weekend it was time for one of them, the HSBC Youth Rugby Tournament. Linnea is not doing rugby this year, but Lucas and his now U14 team participated.

We were all up in Dubai, as Nathan and I had been out the night before with our ex-neighbours Chad & Kristen for Kristen's birthday; so we had stayed over at their place. Even though we didn't have to do the long Abu Dhabi-Dubai 7evens drive in the morning, we all still felt a bit tired going out to the grounds...
Linnea found a good spot to "support" from:

As per usual it was a rather long day, as there are long breaks in between games. Lucas and his mates played three games in the pool play, won 2 and lost 1. Then we had to wait a few hours for the semi-final, which they unfortunately lost, before we could go home.

Boys played well though, but above all they seemed to have fun. I do enjoy their banter in between games, they are a great bunch of kids.

Monday, 22 January 2018

14 & 44

Another year, another birthday - is it just me or are they coming around faster and faster..?!
Lucas and I were lucky to have our birthday on a Saturday this year which meant that we got a little bit of a sleep-in. Linnea came to wake Nathan and I up at 8 am, and then we went to sing and deliver birthday gifts to the birthday boy, as per tradition:

His laptop unfortunately packed up just as school started after the holidays, so since we had to immediately get him a new laptop (they have to have one for school); there wasn't many other gifts from us. Of course the grandparents, and the cousins had sent some, so he still got some to open.
He got books, a lens kit for his mobile phone, clothes and some money.

The birthday girl also got very lucky, turns out it pays off to write a wish list, although I had sorted 3/5 of the gifts from the family myself... I got some lovely Jo Malone and wine markers, some candle light holders I had wished for; margarita glasses, a mouse mat, a Tiffany necklace and a poetry book - also from the wish list - a glass box from Iittala and a new puzzle.

Pancake breakfast!

We then went to have lunch at the Yas Links Golf Club. This time of the year you really HAVE to sit outside to enjoy the lovely weather, even if the flies are a bit annoying.

In the afternoon we went to see a movie all together, 'Jumanji' in 3D. We are all fans of The Rock, Kevin Hart and Jack Black so it was a good choice.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Paintball Party

In one way it is a lot easier to organize birthday "parties" now than it was when the kids were younger, but in another way I kind of miss it... I must say that we have planned some pretty cool (and totally themed through and through) birthday parties in our time, for example the Lego Party, the Rainbow Party, the Under-the-Sea Party and not to forget - the Star Wars Party, probably my favourite.

This time, the invites - well PicCollages - were sent out, from Lucas' phone direct to his friends; just a couple of days beforehand. I've had no contact with none of the parents, they just dropped off and picked up on said times; all communication and organization goes through the kids. Ah well, I guess they are growing up - faster than we would like to admit!

So on Friday afternoon Lucas had his birthday celebration with his friends. He wanted to do some paintball, something that never gets old it seems, no matter how many times they've done it. They were eight boys that gathered at Zayed Sports City for some briefing:

All ready to go!

Even though the weather is mild these days, it was sweaty business running around shooting at each other with those suits on. They did a few rounds of elimination and another few of capture-the-flag. Their paint lasted a surprisingly long time!

Refueling after the game, with KFC. They were so hungry they wanted to eat there rather than bring it home as we had planned!

Then back to our place for some backyard cricket and football:

It doesn't matter how old you get though, cake, candles and Happy Birthday-singing is a must!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

A conversation with Aisha

Living in an expat community and thanks to modern technology, there are a lot of online groups to join, for exchanging ideas, getting answers to queries and some even meet around different interests. One group that I follow on Facebook is the Abu Dhabi Airlines Spouses. Sure thing, even though the only thing we do have in common really, is that we are all married to Etihad pilots - the group hosts quite interesting get-togethers around different subjects on a regular basis.

Last week I was lucky to have the day off when they had organized a morning coffee together with a Scottish lady who came to the UAE almost 20 years ago, decided to convert to Islam then met her husband here and ended up staying.

Not only was she a great story teller and I thoroughly enjoyed her many stories, especially the one of how she had ended up here; I also learned a lot from listening to her tell us about her currant life situation, which is very different to ours as expats, for many reasons - not just because of our different beliefs.

It was an inspiring and enriching morning, in many ways. It was lovely to meet Aisha, and all the other spouses of course, and exchange thoughts and ideas on our life here in the sandpit. It sure is a special place, and I'm glad to feel happy and content about where I am.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Home improvement

I have been wanting to replace our sofa table for quite a while already. It was a two-piece nesting table from IKEA and it never really worked, as we have far too many remotes and controls. It just didn't provide enough space for all those things, and coffee cups etc.
I saw this beautiful coffee table which I really liked in one of the fancy furniture shops in Yas Mall last year, but it was rather expensive so I got a bit put off. I ended up uhm-ing and ah-ing a lot about it, and when I finally decided that I did really want it, no matter the cost, of course it had gone out of production... Argh.

So, I got a bright idea and sent off a picture of it to my trusty furniture-makers in Sharjah. They said they could make it for me, at a fraction of the cost! I got so excited, and even more this week when it got delivered.

This is the sofa with the old table:

And this is how it looks now:

The table has a glass top, a shelf for all the remotes and gadgets AND two drawers where you can hide everything away when you want it to look extra tidy! I'm so pleased!

Monday, 15 January 2018

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

I just love having visitors because most of the time they are keen on exploring and happy to participate in any adventures I have planned. I don't really have many other friends here, so normally when I want to go check something out I have to bring (=bribe) the kids to come, and they usually are a lot less enthusiastic.

Another thing I've been eager to go visit for quite a while now, is the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. This reserve is located in an area which is known to become water logged during the winter months, and the presence of this water is attracting a large number of waterbirds.

The area was designated as a nature reserve back in 1998, and it is a known habitat and breeding area for above all the Greater flamingo, although more than 260 different species of birds have been recorded here. This place provides a perfect habitat for long-distance migratory birds.

The weather this time of the year is absolutely perfect so you really want to make the most of it. I often try to come up with fun outdoor activities to enjoy it to the fullest.
This time it was only Erika and I that went, as both kids were busy with sleepover friends though.

Although I think we might go back, as it was actually a really lovely walk we had out in the wetlands, and it wasn't as far away as I first thought. Only about a 30 minute drive from home, if that.

When you arrived at the reserve, there was a small Visitors Center where a local guide welcomed us and told us a bit about the reserve, and what we were going to see. There was two different trails we could follow, a shorter one about 1,5 km long, and the longer one at 3 km.

We opted for the longer one. Linda, Johan and their two sons were there too, and Samuel the 5-year old managed the walk with the promise of a "fika-break" halfway, and only a minimal amount of complaining. No problem!

Apart from the flamingos, we spotted a few stilts, lapwings and stints. I know this because we also were provided with a great guide book from the Visitors Center, with the different birds depicted and described.

This guide book also helped us identify the many plants, shrubs, flowers and bushes we saw along the way. This is a Desert Hyacinth for example! Isn't it pretty!

The promised coffee break halfway around. We had brought a small picnic from home.

More flamingos:

The Visitors Center by the parking lot: