In which our social life splutters into first gear
In the few weeks since we moved across the Gulf, it’s amazing how seamlessly Mrs LC and I have swapped roles. I am now the paterfamilias and Mrs LC is, well, everything else.
For now – which she assures me means at least until the new year – her focus is on getting us all sorted into our new school, job and the small matter of a new home.
That also means she’s in charge our social life.
I’ve written before about my introversion and how leaving me in charge of our social life in Doha was like trying to outrun a dinosaur whilst wearing high heels; sure, you can do it, but it’s not going to be the best use of anyone’s skills.
(I have no idea what it says about Doha, or her ninja social skills, but the queue of people wanting to visit us now we’ve moved has gone through the roof. We have potentially seven sets of visitors lined up before Christmas.)
In our expat life Mk.II, Mrs LC is wasting no time, to the extent that we welcomed our first visitor last weekend whilst we’re all still living in our hotel apartment.
One of our best mates from our Doha days was back in the region from her native Australia, thanks to the metric ton of Qatar Airways QMiles she’d accumulated that were about to expire. (The fantastic travel opportunities that living in the region affords, means they tend to pile up like autumn leaves in a doorway.)
We used her visit as a great excuse to explore the city, starting with the Heritage Village.
The humidity had returned with a vengeance, and being outside in the heat of the day was proving hard work. But that wasn’t what was confusing me.
At first I couldn’t work out what was so unfamiliar about our visit – and then it hit me: there were actual tourists, buses full of them, all out sightseeing. They made quite the contrast from Doha’s Hop On Hop Off buses, which are still slowly taking off.
Mrs LC also used the opportunity to stop by Fanr on Saadiyat Island, which has emerged as an early favourite place to eat.
(For Doha readers it’s a relaxing half indoor / half outdoor cross between Jones the Grocer and the awesome café at the Museum of Islamic Art, with a lot of green thrown in.)
We also headed down to the Marina on Yas Island to hang out with the yachting set – correction, take a sunset pleasure ride around some of the many islands that make up the city.
We saw gazelle on Samaliyha Island, were buzzed by jet skiers and the Captain (who actually turned out to be named Harry) even let Amnesiac steer for a while, which was remarkably optimistic of him.
Our Australian friend was gone too soon, but we hope we’ve shown her enough of what we already like about the city for her to want to return.
Just Say Yes
But we can’t just rely on the loveliness of existing friends; so Mrs LC has set about the business of getting to know some new people here, too.
Via the Book of Faces, she met another recently-relocated mum (let’s call her X) who has moved here because of her husband’s new job with – yes – the same employer as me. And, naturally, they’ve come from a tiny pocket of London that we also used to call home back in the day.
(And after their initial getting-to-know-you coffee, who should we bump into on our first visit to giant theme park Yas Waterworld? Yes, X again, aka the only person we knew in Abu Dhabi. Truly a little city indeed.)
Mrs LC and X have since made a debut visit to the port, explored some amazing-sounding markets, and on X’s recommendation, Mrs LC has been cheerfully investigating curtain suppliers (because we’re about to move into a house with 11 crazy huge, differently-sized windows and if you put that job on my to do list, I’d just solve it by issuing sunnies to everyone).
In addition, Mrs LC has also already met a good handful of our soon-to-be-neighbours on our new compound, and she and the kids have gleefully got involved in youth groups, Brownies and Guides. The array of coffee morning options means that she could – were she so inclined – attend one every day of the week, and most days would have to pick between clashing appointments.
It’s a good start, and I’m not saying stuff like this wouldn’t have happened on my watch…ok, I am. Like I always say: if you want a job done right, call a professional.