January, I am thrilled to see the back of you.
You are the kind of month that gives with one hand and sticks two fingers up at you with the other.
The kind of month where you sit down to write something and just think ugh. A joyless fun-vacuum of a month.
The kind of month where you should be revelling in the fact that it’s perfect post-work weather for running outdoors…until you finally try running outdoors after a winter in the gym, only to wake up the following morning feeling like your hips need replacing.
Not so Fitbit
It’s the kind of month where you’re grateful for the nudge provided by your Fitbit’s heady blend of encouragement and gamification…only to inadvertently drop the bloody thing when you’re halfway into town collecting Kid A from one of her extra-curricular activities, only realise what’s happened when you get home, spend a large chunk of your evening retracing your steps, temporarily thinking the gods are smiling on you when you find it again, only to discover it’s been in a battle with a 4×4 and emerged a very distant second. Sorry, Santa.
It’s the kind of month when, like thousands of other people the world over, you book a holiday for later in the year to give you something to look for a to (in this case, a beach holiday, our first in about 15 years) only to discover you might be wearing a plaster cast on your wrist in the exact week you should be learning stand up paddleboarding instead.
(Ice skating injury from December; still sore, possibly fractured. Yay. More on this in due course.)
The kind of month where you double your pet count by taking on a second cat only for your daughter to lose it the second she got it home. Convinced it had escaped and was now, in fact, dead, she spent an entire evening wailing “I killed it!”, proving once and for all that rumours of her dramatic tendencies are groundless.
Hours of fruitless searching later – first in the house, then in the garden, then all over our compound – we finally discovered it. Luckily, it had fared better than my Fitbit in that it hadn’t been run over. In fact, it hadn’t left the house and all and had been nervously hiding behind the fridge. Because of course.
It’s the kind of month where you finally start making some progress on the social front, making friends with the neighbours, having them round for dinner, all that good stuff, only for them to announce they can’t take their landlord’s incessant rent rises any longer, and are relocating (at least, that’s their story; I may very well have said something inappropriate, it wouldn’t be the first time).
When you go through all the hoops to get a supplementary booze licence for Mrs LC only for her to sign up for Dry January – sorry, Smuguary – again.
So here’s to February. Your sole qualification is that you’re not January, and for that we are grateful (not to mention the new High Highs album you brought us). Here’s to the return of visitor season, of warmer days and longer nights.
Here’s to the Qasr Al Hosn festival of Emirati culture (til 13 Feb). Here’s to the Love Food Festival, with 30 food trucks shipped in especially from the UK Coming to Al Ain and, from 18-20 Feb, to Abu Dhabi.
And here’s to Live Science (you know, for kids!) which is on until March 3 in Mushrif Central Park. We took our science mad two at the weekend and it’s huge fun. It’ll make you forget January ever existed.
There’s a nominal entrance fee to the park, which is something I’ve never seen before (but not a patch on anything that Qatar’s notoriously visitor-unfriendly Aspire Park ever came up with). Quite what our five dirhams entrance fee would have bought us we’ll have to come back another time to find out, because the exhibition is right by the main entrance and we didn’t made it any further than that.
Live Science is all about the future of space travel and captures even the most jaded imagination. It’s a very hands-on exhibition full of games, displays, virtual reality, space elevators, rockets to fly, and space junk to recycle (not to mention two extra labs where you can play DJs and sound recorders or program your own robot while you wait to enter the main hall).
With British astronaut Tim Peake currently aboard the ISS, it was all too easy to connect whatever was being sparked in the kids’ imaginations with the realities of space travel, while all I could think was “When can we come back here again ?”
It’s hard not to look at the mysterious, infinite majesty of the cosmos and think “I bet they don’t have January in space”.