Tuesday 31 December 2013

New things in 2014

It's the last day of 2014 and I've been inspired by dear, lovely friend Linda of Pink Patent Mary Janes to list 52 new things I want to do in 2014, rather than do new year resolutions.

I like the idea of a list of new things to do and try, it's so much more positive than a list resolutions of things not to do.


So let's take it away (and I apologise Linda if I unintentionally, or intentionally, steal some of your ideas).

  1. I've been thinking recently how it's time to take on some work or train myself for new work. Then today I was approached to do some work for a really good magazine. Surprising to be approached and not chase after it!
  2. Take Arabic classes.
  3. Be more adventurous and go exploring with Darbs when the girls are at school.
  4. Join a sporting or social club.
  5. Meet more friends (see point 4).
  6. Plan and execute at least 3 trips overseas this year. 
  7. Read more novels.
  8. Go on more dates with Skip.
  9. Try new restaurants (instead of old faithfuls).
  10. Spend more time one-on-one with each kid.
  11. Exercise at least three times a week.
  12. Learn to cook Arabic food.
  13. Listen to some new music each month.
  14. Visit a Filipino restaurant.
  15. Go to the hairdresser before the situation is completely dire. 
  16. Entertain more at home.
  17. Do something charitable each month.
  18. Visit the camel races.
  19. Buy a piece of art.
  20. Have more weekends away.
  21. Go camping.
  22. Walk more (instead of driving, no easy feat in Dubai)
  23. Do more fun stuff with Darbs when he's at home during the day.
  24. Bake bread/pizza bases/etc.
  25. Learn how to make Umm Ali (and Arabic dessert).
  26. Sit down and write more emails home.
  27. Call friends and family more.
  28. Find fun and healthy things that my kids will actually eat.
  29. Cook more with the kids.
  30. Find a new hobby that's just for me.
  31. Find a hobby for the whole family.
  32. Play tennis.
  33. Give out more compliments.
  34. Find ways to eat more vegetables.
  35. Eat good quality chocolate (instead of crap).
  36. Make something (art/craft, etc)
  37. Buy more plants.
  38. Grow something we can eat.
  39. Talk positively about myself.
  40. Take more photos with me in them.
  41. Throw a big party.
  42. Do something that scares me (I definitely stole this one from Linda and love it).
  43. Read more international current affairs.
  44. Blog more.
  45. Play music instead of watch TV
  46. Go to the movies at least 3 times (and not see a kids movie).
  47. Make Skip laugh every day.
  48. Have one completely lazy day and do absolutely nothing.
  49. Have a full day out in Dubai from sun up until sun down.
  50. Help a stranger.
  51. Put every effort in to make a dream realised.
  52. Do one fun thing as a family every week.

So that's it! Exciting! Bring on 2014….

Monday 30 December 2013

Another year bites the dust

As the year draws to a close it's impossible not to think about what the past 12 months have held and what the next will bring. I'm a fairly nostalgic person so I quite like pondering on what has been and how things have changed since December 31 last year.

As a family, we've become more settled into our lives in Dubai. We've had adventures in the desert, on the creek and on the beach. We've brunched, we've played, we've sweated (a lot). We had a visit home to see loved ones with a fun stopover in Singapore, but we were happy to return to our life in the Middle East ready for new adventures. We ended the year playing in the snow in Germany. What a life! How on earth can I be anything but pleased with myself?!

The kids have grown so, so much. Lil-lil is a little lady, Goosey is a bright spark reading and writing and Darbs is our little bruiser.

Skip and I have too. The pair of us were having lunch the other day at a lovely restaurant and were saying that we still pinch ourselves that we live here and this is our life. The experiences we've had, the people we've met and now call friends. We still can't believe that we ended up here - we really are very, very lucky.

What does the next 12 months have in store? Well, I hope it has just as many adventures as this year. I hope we're just as happy as we are now. I hope the kids remain as healthy as they are and continue to grow and learn as they have. I hope there are a few fun surprises as well, as what is life without surprises?

I want all of us to push ourselves just a little in 2014 too and I've been inspired by a lovely friend to write out new things I want to do and try in the coming year. I'll hopefully share that with you tomorrow.

Friday 27 December 2013

A Christmas wrap

And so that was Christmas? And what have you done?

We had a lovely quiet time - eating, drinking and eating some more.

The kids fell into bed on Christmas Eve and were (amazingly) asleep quickly. I heard some noise at about 2.30am and I got up to inspect when I found the girls up with their bedroom light on, waiting to open their pressies. After a quick talking to and quite a bit of settling they went back to sleep until 6am.

There was then a flurry of wrapping paper and "oohs" and "ahhs". Everyone was very spoilt, I received a gorgeous handbag that I first spotted and coveted more than a year ago in Austria, as well as a beauty voucher and a gorgeous Georg Jensen dish. What did you receive? 

The girls received iPod shuffles and have been pounding their eardrums with Katy Perry and Taylor Swift ever since. We've been subjected to off-key warblings of "we areeeeeee never getting back togetherrrrr" ever since. 

The boy got an array of vehicles - cars, trains, bikes - but it's a small Lightening McQueen that stole his heart and has not left his grasp since Christmas morning.

Our turkey lunch was delicious and (fairly) stress free. We've had quite a few round of the big bird and with a friend, who's good on the tooth, have ensured that we're done leftovers. The highlight of Chrissy lunch was looking over and seeing a gappy Lil who'd lost her front tooth in a turkey and gravy roll. Which meant Santa one night, the tooth fairy the next! 

There have also been Scrabble games, Ashes watched at 5am, car drives and walks, trips to the beach, reading books while kids play with new toys. All in all a pretty good few days. 

The festivities continue today and Skip and I are going to sneak out for a tasty
lunch of sushi and French bubbles. 

I hope you're having a top festive season too. Tell me what you've been up to?

Tuesday 24 December 2013

A very expat Christmas

Christmas is a funny time when you're an expat. It's same, same but different.

Dubai is super quiet at the moment, it feels like half of the city has returned to their home countries (or somewhere exotic) for Christmas. For us, we wouldn't think about returning home this time of year - the expense of travelling this time of year, the fact that we wait all year for some cool weather and we want to save leave time for the hottest months means Christmas in Dubai.

Before I'd had a Christmas in Dubai, I thought it would be something we celebrated behind closed doors, being an Islamic country and all. Nothing could be further from the truth. The malls are decorated with lavish Christmas trees and baubles, there a Christmas tunes piped throughout and the radio stations have endless festive carols playing. I saw of wonderful sight at the mall earlier this week, about 50 women in hijabs waiting to get their photos taken with the elaborate Christmas decorations. I wish I could bring a few of those Aussies over here who complain on Facebook and Twitter about Muslims wanting to abolish our "Christian way of life".

Christmas Day is not a public holiday here, it's just a normal day of the week. So the upside of celebrating Christmas here means no pre-Christmas shopping mayhem. The supermarkets are calm and if I forget anything I can just go to the shop on the day itself. Most hotels and restaurants here also make takeaway turkey dinners, which means you can get a huge, perfectly cooked turkey with all the trimmings for not much more than it would cost to make it ourselves (which is what we are doing).

Another upside for us is being able to stay at home and have a quiet lunch without having to travel all around the countryside, which can be extra stressful when you have young kids who are always exhausted from the excitement and usually just want to stay at home and play with their new toys. Although not seeing family and friends is a downside.

I do miss the laid-back feeling this time of year in Australia - a trip to the beach, the smell of gardenias, long lazy days.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a safe and magical day.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Regensburg - a medieval tale

The cobblestone streets of Regensburg.

We've now been home for almost a week and I  still haven't given you the last instalment of our German adventure.

We headed north from Munich on the train to the town of Regensburg – an important trading centre during the middle ages. The town is very special as it was the only major town that didn't suffer significant damage during World War II, so it was named a UNESCO Heritage site in 2006.

The gorgeous village with it's narrow lane ways and cobblestone streets enchanted me. The buildings were gorgeous and so old! We had a brilliant time wandering around the town, stumbling on small squares filled with a Christmas market. We ate more sausages on rolls and down more gluhwein. The kids munched on apple fritters and pastries too.

On our last day we lunched at a small restaurant on the banks of the Danube called Wurstkuchl. It's a sausage restaurant that has continually served up bratwurst, sauerkraut and rolls with sweet mustard for 900 years! It started serving food to the builders of the old stone bridge nearby. It was cozy, the food and beer was fantastic and we met some lovely German people who shared our table. The best end to our adventure. I totally understand why this place has been operating for so long.

Our last day arrived, we had a couple of kilometre walk to the train station that involved navigating some steep steps. We looked out and the sun was shining, it was difficult to catch a cab so we thought we'd chance the walk. We set off and after about 5 minutes it started to snow. It hadn't snowed the whole time we were in Regensburg. As I looked behind me on the Stone Bridge, I saw a flurry of snow coming our way and soon we could barely see. The girls ran around excitedly, Darbs in the stroller yelled at the snow blowing in his eyes and ears. We pushed on through the white and eventually reached the train station. As we stepped inside the station the clouds rolled away to reveal blue sky and the snow storm blew away. Typical!

We then wait for our train and waited. And waited. We waited 45 minutes before it pulled into the station. So much for the punctuality of German trains! I have to say we had more than a couple of late trains while we were there, so I'm starting to think it's a myth.

We started to get a little panicky about catching our flight, the snow had started to come down again and we still had a bus to catch to the airport after our train ride. We needn't have feared, we made the bus and got to the airport just in time. Just in time to be told our flight was delayed.

We boarded our flight an hour late and then sat on the plane for another 3 hours due to technical issues and de-icing. By the time the plane had taken off we should have been almost touching down in Dubai. After more technical issues once we arrived at Dubai airport we didn't arrived home until almost 4.30am. Kids hadn't slept and were pretty feral. I was pretty feral myself. It was good to be home, to sleep in my own bed, to be back in the warmth and the sunshine. Cold is fun for a week, but it's nice to get back to sunshine. Also, dressing the kids in all those layers was starting to do my head in! Give me sundresses and shorts any day.

We had such a brilliant adventure despite a few hiccups. It's so good to have these adventures as a family and although there are moments when you want to kill each other, the good memories always override the bad ones. While I was ready to swear off overseas travel this time last week, I'm already starting to wonder where we will head next.

Trudging to the train station.

The 900-year-old sausage restaurant.

Pretty Regensburg

Meeting old Saint Nick at the Christmas markets.

Thursday 5 December 2013


After a serene few days in Mittenwald, a picturesque town in the German Alps, it was quite a shock to arrive in the big city. 

There was hustle, there was bustle. I felt like our family of five was a bit of a circus sideshow. I don't think three kids is a common number for a family here. We seemed to get a number of "looks". I must admit it didn't set me up well for Munchen. Our accommodation was humble (so to speak) and not in a great part of town, I was starting to wonder what all my friends and family who raved about the place were thinking.

Starving, we were lucky to quickly find an authentic beer hall, filled with young local men in lederhosen having Sunday lunch. The food and beer was cheap, plentiful and very good. Things were starting to look up. 

We spent the next few days walking, walking and more walking. We saw all the sites of the old town -
Marienplatz, Karlsplatz, the Residenz, Hofgarten and the English
Gardens. We ate wurst mit semmel and more wurst mit semmel. We found gorgeous Christmas displays and Christmas markets. We walked until our legs ached and our ears were numb from  the icy winds. We got plenty more "looks" - I'm still not sure what faux pax we were committing. 

I must say the girls walked for miles and barely whinged for just how far they stumbled around town. 

As the train pulled our of Munchen central station, we were pretty damn exhausted, but ready for more German adventures.

I'm not sure Munich is my kind of town, but I'm glad I've been. It's also inspired me to write a series of posts on travelling overseas with children, which will be coming soon.

Have you been to Munich? Did you love it? 

Sunday 1 December 2013

Guten tag!

One of the best parts of living in Dubai is the opportunity to travel. This weekend is a long one in the UAE, including a surprise day off for winning Expo 2020 the girls had 5 days off.

So we decided it was time to go back to Europe for a week. We looked at flights, thought about what the kids would like, what Skip and I would like and settled on Germany. So right now, we're tucked up in the sweetest village in the German Alps - Mittenwald. 

Walking around Mittenwald is like being in a Grimms fairy tale. The gingerbread houses, the pine forests, the spectacular mountains. Plus everything is under a pure white blanket of snow. It's one of the prettiest places I've ever been. To top it off the people have been amazingly friendly. 

We've spent our time playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate and eating pork and cake. Heavenly.

I've spent every moment walking around amazed at the beauty around every corner. I feel like I'm living in a Christmas decoration.

Tomorrow we move on to continue our German adventure in Munich. Beer, gluhwein, Christmas markets and, of course, more pork and sauerkraut. 

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