Abu Dhabi | Al Bandar COVER
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Abu Dhabi | Al Bandar

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Lately we have been thinking long and hard about moving out of our current place on Reem Island and finding a new home.  New year, new beginning, new home.  In particular, we’d love more space and access to the outdoors either through a balcony or a terrace – neither of which we currently have!

We spent most of the afternoon visiting new neighbourhoods in Abu Dhabi – and one place in particular, Al Bandar, really struck a cord with us.  It’s a beautiful neighbourhood set on the marina, with gorgeous glass-covered buildings that boast lovely terraces.  To get a better feel for the area, we had lunch at the newly opened Pacifico Tiki Lounge (formerly known as the Ornina) and watched the late afternoon sun light the surrounding waters.  My husband dreams of having our own boat here, and so we took a small walk on the piers and visited the sailing and water ski clubs afterwards.

I myself dream of being near the water, and believe that this would enable us to take advantage of all of the things that life in Abu Dhabi could offer that other places couldn’t.  I envision breakfasts on a sunny terrace, reading a book on the beach, taking the boat out to the nearby islands during the weekends, meeting up with friends in one of the outdoor lounges nearby…  Not sure yet if Al Bandar is where we will end up, but it definitely is a great option!

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Weekend Track | Falling Into Your Ocean Eyes

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Ocean Eyes by Billie Ellish (Astronomyy edit)

I only discovered this song edited by UK surf R&B singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist Astronomyy when landing in AD after a whirlwind 5 days spent on 4 different continents.  (Yes, “surf R&B” is a proper musical category.)  I love the dreaminess of Astronomyy’s sound; it’s the perfect music to listen to when you’re in the air, looking out the window at sunset-stained clouds.  Here’s to discovering more amazing under-the-radar music in 2016!

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Hello, 2016.

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It has been nearly one full year since I have written in this little corner of the world of mine, but I am slowly emerging out of my shell after what has been – simultaneously – an incredibly magical and incredibly difficult year.  2015 was the year I married the love of my life, welcomed family and friends from every corner of the world to the wonderful city of Vancouver, embarked on the voyage of my dreams to the mystical lands of Tanzania, and had the opportunity to travel to five continents and call it “work”.

However 2015 was also the year that my kind, loving and beautiful mother also succumbed to the internal monster that is cancer, and passed away on 13 November.  She left behind a grief-stricken father, son, and three daughters, who are still trying to piece together a world that now has a little less colour without her presence.  Although we know that she is in a better place now – dancing, light, free from the burden of her body – we miss her deeply.

And so that is where I find myself here at the beginning of 2016, which itself is, I hope, the beginning of many wondrous things.  The marker for more time with my husband, my family and dearest friends, for the things that I love in this world like reading, writing, music, painting, photography – and perhaps also for this little blog of mine.

I hope it can once again become a way for me to somehow spread little pieces of light through this world, from this fifth corner of mine.

So, hello, 2016. It’s nice to meet you.

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Chicago, USA | Fig & Olive

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The thing I often like to do when I travel on my own is… have a quiet lunch or dinner by myself!  I know it’s not for everyone: many people would feel awkward or lonely doing so.  But having moved between 14 countries, and having started numerous new lives on my own, I have become used to doing things on my own in a city in which I am first a stranger.  In any case, things are different now.  Nowadays, I am often surrounded by family and friends and work, and I rarely get a moment to myself.  So these moments when I get to sit alone at a table in a bustling restaurant full of other families and other groups of friends and other work colleagues chattering away amongst themselves – these moments are a luxury to me.  The one place in Chicago that I love to go to and be surrounded by crowds of people and yet completely be by myself is Fig & Olive on Oak Street.  Not only is the decor (and the indoor two-story olive tree!) stunning, but the food is incredibly delicious too.  You can’t go wrong with a glass of wine and a book to yourself over lunch here.

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Chicago, USA | Snowy Oak Street

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My plane landed in Chicago right at the beginning of the city’s biggest blizzard of the winter.  I wish I had taken the time to take photos of the snowstorm right as it was happening, but alas, I must admit that I wasn’t courageous enough to brave the cold weather.  (And was also worried about ruining my camera – though the Canon 5D Mark III does have a weatherproof shell!)  During my short trip, I had the chance to snap just these few photos during my last afternoon in Chicago, three days after the blizzard, strolling around Oak Street in Chicago’s Gold Coast.  It’s known to be Chicago’s most prestigious shopping street, but for me what was interesting was the mixture of old brownstone buildings and tree-lined streets set against the tall skyscrapers of Michigan Avenue.  It reminded me a bit of New York and when I lived there.  In any case, I hope to go back to Chicago sometime soon and take more photographs of the city.  It’s a fantastic urban space and I would love to see (and capture) more of it.

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Abu Dhabi, UAE | Master Plan for Saadiyat Island

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I recently visited the Manarat cultural centre on Saadiyat, where there is a pretty interesting exhibition on Abu Dhabi’s long-term master plans for the island.  The one thing that I’m absolutely looking forward to the most?  The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi (seen at the forefront of my photo here), which has been designed by the magnificent Jean Nouvel himself and which is scheduled to open its doors in 2016.  L-O-V-E.

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Dreaming of Travels for 2015

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Travels for 2015 and a Healthy Breakfast

As the first month of 2015 has come to an end, I find myself dreaming of the amazing travels that await me during the remaining 11 months of the year!  January was busy with travels back to Vancouver and Paris, New Year’s resolutions sleepily made, a fantastic weekend in the UK with fantastic friends, and preparing a new space in Abu Dhabi to welcome my ♥.  Now we are in February – destined to pass quickly in only 28 days! – and I am engulfed in my Lonely Planet guide to Tanzania over a healthy West Coast breakfast.  I did a quick tally of where we would be this year, and realised that I would be travelling to 5 continents in the next 6 months!  The travels that I’m most excited about are:

South America: Visiting the exquisite city of Cartagena in Colombia for the first time in May
North America: Welcoming some of our closest family and friends across the world to beautiful British Columbia in Canada in June
Africa: Enjoying the company of elephants and the majestic natural landscapes of Tanzania for most of July (including a week hiking up Kilimanjaro!)
Europe: Spending a long weekend in September in the summer landscape of the Alps in France
Asia: Exploring more of the nearby vicinities in the Middle East, including weekends in the Liwa Desert, Oman, Goa in India, and the Seychelles, all of which can be easily done throughout the year

Looking ahead, I believe that it’s going to be a transformative year, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to share these upcoming experiences with my partner, my parents and siblings, and some of my closest friends.  Travels, as well as the everyday moments of life, are much more meaningful when shared with the ones you love.

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Weekend Track | Weeks Went By and Felt Like Hours…

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Young by Vallis Alps

This song by Australian duo Vallis Alps that has been on repeat on my iPhone since the beginning of 2015, and one which I think will speak to the rest of the year for me.  And weeks went by but felt like hours / Spring would lie in summer showers / In my hair were winter flowers.”  I hope 2015 doesn’t pass by as quickly as January has, but I also know that with all the travelling / changes / big events / little events that this year has in store, it will take more effort from my side to make sure that I savour it minute by minute.

Bath, UK | The Pig Near Bath feature photo
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Bath, UK | The Pig Near Bath

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On Sunday, we ended our weekend getaway in Bath with lunch at The Pig Near Bath, a fantastic farm-to-table dining concept tucked away in the countryside a short drive outside of the city.  Headed by James Golding and Kamil Oseka, The Pig draws inspiration from what can be found in their own garden, and all ingredients are sourced locally within a 25-mile radius.  The meals are beautifully constructed, with a focus on bringing out the best of honest British cooking.  The house drinks are also impressive: the bar holds at least 50 different bottles of flavoured British gin, as well as an extensive collection of garden-sourced ingredients that bring that precisely measured tilt to the perfect cocktail.

Those who say English cuisine is boring clearly has never experienced true British farm-to-table dining.  The food served at The Pig is nothing less than gastronomic dining (of the subtle variety), and holds its own against the best of French and Italian cuisine.  For me, this is what British cooking truly is.