Monday, 30 November 2020

Staycation - Exploring Hudayriyat

Nathan is on leave and the kids are off school for Commemoration Day and National Day, so we decided on another staycation, because - why not!
This time we decided on staying in the city, so we would be in a good spot for the fly-by for National Day, and for something different. The Intercontinental is an institution here in Abu Dhabi, one of the very first hotels, and we wanted somewhere with both a pool and access to a beach.

We arrived late in the afternoon, and after checking in we decided to get back in the car and drive across to Hudayriyat to go explore the new area there which only opened a few weeks ago. 

It is really nicely done, with for example an obstacle park and a splash park for the kids, and a big skate park: 

There is also a kind of boardwalk along the coast line, called the 'Heritage Trail', which takes you from the Masana, the restaurant area, over to the sports activities and camping area.

The sun was setting quickly as we walked. At this time of the year sun sets already about 17.30.


There was signposts along the way which educate the visitors on the history of pearl diving in the UAE and provide information about the animal life in the area:

At the other end of the trail, there is the 321 Sports Village. There is a huge indoor arena with multi-sports courts for badminton, basket, tennis or indoor football f.e. Here there is another padel court!

Basketball courts and outdoor gyms:

There is also a climbing wall, a high ropes course and a zip-line, a BMX track and cycling trails:

This is the Bab Al Nojoum area, a private camp site where you can go "glamping" in different set-ups of tents and cabanas:

I want to come back here in daylight next time, so many nice spots for cool photos!

Nice view of the skyline from this side of the city!

After our little excursion we went back to the hotel and had dinner at one of our all-time favourites, the Belgian Beer Café. Mussel pot, chunky fries and Raspberry Hoegaarden for me, pork in different shapes and forms for the others. Yum!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

For those who know me outside this blog, you know that I always put my Christmas decorations up early, at the very latest for 1st of Advent. Years back I used to be the about the only one who did this, but this year it seems like everyone needed some extra light and warmth. I have seen all over social media that trees are decorated and decorations are up in many homes.
Personally I want to enjoy my decorations in the build-up to Christmas, as soon as the Christmas days are over, I pack everything away again so that the next year can start clean and fresh!

Here are some small videos of some of the decorations this year:

When I travel to new places I always try to find as a souvenir, something to hang on our Christmas tree. It makes my heart warm every year to unpack all those decorations and reminisce about our travels and adventures. This year we only managed to squeeze in that one trip to Athens in February (luckily, so grateful for that), so there are not so many new decorations. I bought these two in Greece:

This is a homemade one that my Aunt Christina made me last year, of Chip n' Dale. I placed them inside the tree, just like they are in the clip from the 'Kalle Anka och hans vänner firar jul'!

And finally, this one is new too!

I normally don't get year-specific ones as such. But I couldn't resist this one when I saw it, I think this year deserves it's own decoration..! The kids got one each for their collections too.

Here's this years tree (well, same tree as always... this years' look):

And Linnea's (new bigger one):

And I even convinced Lucas to decorate his this year!

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!