New opening: Jubail Mangrove Park

Jubail Mangrove Park has opened! It’s a lovely place for a wander along the boardwalk through the mangroves and there are 1km, 1.6km and 2km routes to choose from. My son loved exploring the area and getting close to the water to see what creatures we could spot. If you want to find it, type Jubail Mangrove Park into google maps and you’ll find it there. I’ll be writing up a separate post with more detail about it and a lot more pictures soon!

Visiting: Al Hudayriat Cycle Track

I do love a good bike ride, so I’ve been making the most of the weather while it’s still cool enough and heading over to Al Hudayriat island to get my cycle on. It’s something we can all do together as a family on the weekends which has been great, but it’s also something I enjoy doing on my own after the school drop-off. There’s 5km and 10km tracks and bikes can be hired at Yas Cycles near the start of the track (they also have helmets which are mandatory on the track). I really enjoy the peace, the city views and just having the time to myself with my own thoughts, I find it quite therapeutic!

Reading: Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

This book caught my eye in Virgin Megastores one day but I ended up downloading it on my iBooks. The Japanese believe that everyone has an Ikigai – a reason for living. I found the study of the Okinawan’s (who are among the world’s longest living people) and the examination of their lifestyle, along with what it is that they have in common with people who live the longest in other parts of the world a very interesting and enlightening part of this book, but for me, it was the realisation that our own Ikigai or reason for living doesn’t have to be anything of any earth shattering importance that really resonated with me. I think there is a great tendency to drill people to ‘be something’, to ‘do something special’, to be remembered for something or to blaze some kind of a trail, but it’s actually really refreshing to read that what’s really important is to do what brings you genuine happiness, and that life doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Finding your own daily ‘flow’ where you are at your most creative and happy can be found anywhere, but in whatever it is that you might find it, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem (to anyone), if it is what drives you, it is important to continue to do it with purpose, to keep on practising those tasks, to remain engrossed in them, and from that, to find almost a meditative flow where even the most basic of routine can become enjoyable. This book was a quick, easy read that I really enjoyed – there certainly seems to be a lot we can learn from those wise Okinawans!

Using: Bubble Bro

We’re big fans of sparkling water in our house, so it’s been a while now since we bought our Bubble Bro Home Soda Maker, but I only recently tried their CO2 cylinder delivery service. I’d been exchanging the cyclinders down at the Organic Foods and Cafe previously, but as it’s a bit out of my way and I don’t go there that often, I felt it was becoming a bit of a pain so I decided to try out their exchange & delivery service. It’s so easy – you just book and pay for your exchange on the website and the bottles are delivered by Aramex and arrive within just a couple of days. I was a bit worried about the timing of it all and whether it would work out, whether I’d be out when they came etc but they called me first to arrange the exchange and it all worked perfectly! I’ll definitely be doing this from now on. If you’ve been thinking about getting a Bubble Bro I can’t recommend it enough, we’d be lost without ours now (and they help save tonnes of plastic waste too!). The product is great and the customer service from the company in my experience has been even better.

Shopping: Kibsons

I first tried Kibsons out a couple of years ago now and I actually don’t know how I managed without them before! I have all my fresh fruit and veg delivered from them every week without fail but also other products including British cheese, no added sugar yoghurts for my son’s lunchbox, pantry staples including nuts and seeds, coconut butter, cold pressed olive oil, and even lately I’ve tried their new eco washing up liquid! I also frequently order their grass fed and organic meats for convenience too. Honestly, this online shop just gets better and better but it still surprises me how many people I come across who haven’t tried it. They’re really a lifesaver and make shopping so easy. Delivery is free in Abu Dhabi and Dubai when you spend over Dhs50 and they also do same day delivery if you order early morning before around 11am!

If you haven’t tried Kibsons out yet you can click this link to register and receive a 20% referral discount.

Eating: Koala Picks

I was recently contacted by Koala Picks on instagram to tell me that they’d launched their healthy snack service for kids in Abu Dhabi, and could they send me a box to try. It’s only ever very rarely that I say yes to these things these days, and I only ever do agree if I really think it could be of value to my life – and well, let me tell you even I was surprised how well this one worked out! Basically, they are a healthy snack subscription box service, and they deliver one box per week every Sunday on a monthly basis, for as long as you like (and you’re able to stop or pause the service at any time). The snacks really are all healthy too – all completely free of refined sugars preservatives, and artificial colours and flavours (there’s even a nut free option for allergies or simple preference). I was a little dubious as to whether my son would like them or not as all too often the ‘healthy’ snacks you can buy = no taste, but I was delighted to find my son has absolutely loved them. In fact, the box has made packing his lunchbox for school so easy that I have gone ahead and taken out my own subscription to the service going forward. If you’re interested in healthier snacks for your kids (or yourself!) for lunchboxes or otherwise, definitely check them out. There is a small delivery charge to Abu Dhabi depending on the size of the box you buy, but it is nominal and I found it worked out only around Dhs10 a week which I thought was worth it – especially if it means one more place I don’t have to traipse round trying to find suitable healthy snacks.

Staycationing: Saadiyat Rotana

So, we had originally meant to be travelling to Tokyo for the mid-term break, but with the way things were with Coronavirus at the time, we decided that it probably wasn’t the best idea until more is known about the whole situation, particularly when travelling with young children.

So, instead, we opted to make use of my Rotana Rewards Exclusive card (discounts!) and went over to the Saadiyat Rotana for a few relaxing nights – it is hard to beat beautiful Saadiyat! The hotel is only two years old and while I’d say it’s definitely not in the same league as some of its neighbours, it is a stunning hotel, in a spectacular location and since the rewards card meant 20% off room rates, 50% off food and 20% off drinks it seemed like the obvious choice! I’ll be writing a separate post with more details on what we did and what we thought of it all, with lots of pics soon!

Excited for: my son’s 5th birthday!

My son is going to be turning five this month! We are not having a party this year but we are looking forward to a little family trip we’ve planned together with a lot of fun things in store for the boy over his birthday weekend!

And that’s all for now for February! I’ll be back next month with my March musings.