Hay Festival, Abu Dhabi 2020

Hay Festival, Abu Dhabi 2020

Today was one of those homeschooling dream days. The Hay Festival was making its first appearance in Abu Dhabi and Little T and I popped over to Manarat al Saadiyat to have a look. I often think it is a real perk of home educating that we can attend events like this. Today I thought this as well, but we arrived to bus loads of school children. I am also glad that school children have a chance to take part, but I do feel we still have a slight advantage, our freedom. Today I saw group after group of children walking in lines to and from specific activities, they also would be on a time schedule whilst we were free to stay in any area as long as we wanted. 

To be honest we didn’t take part in much of the actual festival but just spending time at Manarat was a treat and taking in the atmosphere was enough to make for a great day. 

The little man actually did not want to leave the house this morning, he was happily engaged with some games on his iPad, but I knew we would really enjoy ourselves if we could get out of the house. A play date with friends in the afternoon helped get him out the door, as well as continuing to listen to our latest audio book (The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times) in the car. Before he agreed, I even had the moaning teenager voice, “UGH, why do we have to go to this festival?!”

But as soon as we walked in he was as taken with the atmosphere as was I, and right in the middle of the atrium there began an interpretive dance featuring three men. I have to say Little T was mesmerized and as I often do in moments like these, I had a little tear thinking about how fortunate we are to have these experiences on our doorstep. I think how these moments are so different and varied from what I experienced as a child. In no way do I think a few visits to art galleries and festivals will make this child become an artist or a lover of fine things, but I do think it is exposure to new things and that is what I want to give him, opportunities to find something that really sparks joy in his own heart. 

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After the performance we checked out the book sale and then wandered around towards the back, and climbed some stairs to look over Larte restaurant. There was a sculpture of King Kong with spiked bracelets on that got some real interest from him, as well as some chairs hanging from the ceiling, “What if you sat on that chair????” followed by lots of laughter. 

We had a look in the art studio, firstly in the shop for him to choose some special items: purple glue (he is in a slime phase at the moment) and a colorful rubber band ball. We had a tour of the art space and found out there is a drop in area, 30 AED ($8.17/£6.34) for 2 hours of free reign in their art space which includes four separate art ideas as well as painting/drawing and a few different types of building materials. 

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Whilst having a look I had a lovely chat with the employee who showed us around, it was a perfect advert for unschooling. She inquired about what Little T was interested in and I said video games, she said, “Ahhh, that is how it all started for me. Now I want to draw the characters, I will soon go to school to be a graphic designer.” The hard part to hear was that she had already been to nursing school to fulfill the wishes of her parents, and now she is working at the Manarat with hopes of going on to fulfill her own dream. It made me feel so excited that this lifestyle we have chosen will allow Little T to explore and find his passions at a much younger age than most of us have, if you are lucky enough to have had the opportunity!

After the art studio we had a look outside. There was an interesting fixture to listen to podcasts which also turned out to be a perfect place to roll the rubber band ball. The skate ramp at the back was perfect for this as well. 

It really was such a positive and enlightening visit and I am so glad to know we have ‘another’ potential day out nearby.

-Mrs T

Expat Life

Expat Life

Sometimes we get quite caught up in our daily life and everything seems completely normal (it is) but then something reminds us that we are living in a place that is so different to where we grew up and that choosing this life has taken a lot of risk taking and bravery. 

Just this weekend we went out to explore the new mangroves walk and we stopped to acknowledge how amazing it is to have something like this on our doorstep. We have lived in the UAE for a short five months but we have done quite a lot. I’ll share some pictures here of our experiences so far. Scroll over any photo to read where we were. 

-Mrs T

Update

Update

A long overdue update! Looking back through the blog we haven’t posted regularly since 2017, when we first moved to Doha. We ended up completing the two year contract and moving on from Doha to Abu Dhabi. It surely wasn’t in our long term plan but Doha just wasn’t working out on enough levels. Mr T secured a job at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi and we began our transition to move. At just over 4, Little T was not keen on the idea, and spent many days telling us he hated “Abi Dhabi.” We kept things quiet in the summer with a few weeks in Doha, a lovely month in Phuket, a few more days in Doha before starting fresh in Abu Dhabi. 

The transition has been easier than expected and we absolutely love it here, even Little T. Upon arriving it just made us realise that Doha is a young city and actually much smaller than we originally thought. Abu Dhabi is big! We have found it very family friendly and are lucky to live in a beautiful community. We really do hope to stick here for awhile, we are definitely tired of packing up all our stuff.

We have also firmly rooted ourselves as an unschooling (home educating but without any formal curriculum) family, I will continue to stay at home with Little T and we will both be learning together as we live. Over the last few years I have been reading and listening to lots of podcasts and this lifestyle really feels the best for us. It allows us to slow down and really embrace and notice the learning that we experience everyday. I’m sure I will have much more to write about this as we go. 

For now we are just enjoying the beautiful winter weather here in the Middle East, spending long days at the park and chilly evenings cozied up together with a movie. 

-Mrs T