Saturday, 22 February 2014

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

Another first for us this week, was visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. We booked a late deal for one night in a hotel in Abu Dhabi, and jumped in the car for the 1 hr 20 min car ride. Thursday morning we drove straight to the Grand Mosque, and what a sight it was!

It truly was beautiful! The grander of it, the architecture, the design, the thought, care and skill that had gone into making this magnificent building is just breath taking. I always seem to find it hard to take everything in when visiting places like this. I think when you are there it is quite overwhelming and you almost don't know where to look first! 

The bright white building shines in the sun, almost like a mirage and its hard to believe how massive it is! It is somehow delicate yet solid and commanding at the same time. 

So for those who are interested, here are some facts about the Grand Mosque...

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was a dream in the heart of the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan
  • The mosque accommodates more than 40,000 worshippers; 10,000 in the internal areas and 30,000 in the external areas.
  • There were more than 38 contractors and thousands of workers involved with completing various elements of the structure and decoration. Materials were also sourced from many countries including Greece, Italy, Germany, China, Austria, India and New Zealand to name a few.
  • It features four minarets and eighty-two domes, representing different Islamic styles.
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque sits majestically at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City Island, distinctly visible from the three main bridges connecting the island to the main land, the Maqta, Mussafah and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge. The strategic geographical location of the Mosque is a symbolic expression of the emotional connection the Mosque has in the hearts of all UAE citizens particularly because the burial place of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, first President of the UAE, is located beside the mosque.  
  • The pure white colour of the Mosque has become one of its most distinguishing characteristics.  Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the Mosque was fond of the colour white, a symbol of purity and piety.  The SZGM is cladded with numerous quantity of white marble on the external surfaces.
  • The main prayer hall houses the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. The intricate Islamic medallion design was made by third generation carpet maker and artist, Dr. Ali Khaliqi.  The predominantly wool carpet was hand-crafted by approximately 1,200 artisans. 
  • Its creation was a two year project, the design took approximately 8 months, the knotting 12 months and the remaining time to transport, trim and weave the pieces together. The final single piece carpet is 5,700 square meters, about 70% being wool and the rest of 30% is cotton. 
  • There are seven crystal chandeliers made by Faustig (Munich, Germany) situated inside the halls and foyers. The largest (located in the main prayer hall and considered one of the world’s largest in a mosque and is weighing approximately 12 tons.
This information on the mosque was taken from their website.  so have a look there for more information and more pictures.

William enjoyed it too, although it was hard at times when he didn't seem to understand that you were meant to be quiet and not run around like a nutter! Places like this will probably just wash over him, but i'm sure we will visit it again when he is a bit older.

Women visiting the mosque need to be covered up; my mum and i borrowed an abaya (cloak with a hood), and you have to have your head covered. Men should wear trousers. It is free to go in, and you can probably do it all in about an hour or so.

A lovely experience and a wonderful treasure to visit while in Abu Dhabi.

Lost chambers aquarium, Atlantis, Dubai

Its been half term this week, yay! Which means time with my family! Having my parents here for the last few weeks means we have been doing the obvious tourist attractions, as well as seeing a few new places that hubby and I have not been to yet!

You may have seen in a previous post of mine in November, that we took the monorail down the Palm in Jumeriah to the Atlantis Hotel. It was great fun and William really enjoyed the monorail. We do not live in an area of Dubai where we catch the train or anything so it was a real treat and exciting experience for him! 

So we decided to do it again, with my parents this time. It was a lovely day, really warm and sunny and the trip on the monorail meant we could show them some amazing views of the Palm and Atlantis hotel. (I wont bore you with more photos of the Palm, check my previous post here for that). 

When we arrived at Atlantis we went to explore the Lost Chambers Aquarium. I thought it was a little pricey at first, 100 AED per adult (or 75 AED for a resident), thats about £18. But as soon as we walked inside, it was clear to see it was going to be worth it!

The colours were just amazing, and the variety of fish was astounding! The whole ambiance of the aquarium was brilliant, they had really thought about the styling of it and all the walkways made you feel like you were entering deeper into an abandoned lost city of Atlantis. 

William loved stopping to gaze into the massive tanks. They really were huge! It is hard to capture them in photos!

These Jelly fish were one of my favourite parts! They are obviously lit up with colour changing lights and the effect was awesome! I was taking photos with my Iphone so they are not particularly great quality, plus the lighting is very dull and dark in the Lost Chambers.

A great day out for families and just adults. It is very hard to not be impressed here. We also had a little walk around the Atlantis Hotel, well bits of it that us commoners are allowed to look at anyway! The stair cases leading up to the hotel rooms looked pretty cool, and i couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to be able to walk up them and actually stay the night overlooking the aquarium! I dread to think how much that would cost...

For now, i am content spending happy times with my little family and adding to Williams memory bank of Dubai!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Dubai miracle gardens

Happy Valentines day everyone! I hope you have all had a lovely day! 

We spent the morning at the Dubai Miracle Gardens today; the sun was blazing, bright blue skies and hearts everywhere!

The Miracle Gardens is an explosion of colour in the desert here in Dubai. It features millions of flowers and plants, extraordinary displays and collections. The ones that stand out the most to me are the heart tunnels, domes of flowers and the model of the Burj Kalifa. 

Obviously due to valentines day, hearts featured alot in the display this weekend! Pink and red hearts were hanging from the displays, mirrored hearts helped catch the light and sparkled in the sunshine.

William loved running through the tunnels of flowers and even posed for a photo!

They have recently opened Phase 2 of the Miracle gardens, a new section they have been working on for a while. You enter through another tunnel of mirrored flowers and it opens up to this...

This was one of three massive circular areas and you could take a path down into the middle of them. The colours are just amazing and its hard to capture the size and splendour of it in the photos! If you want to see more, try searching online for the Dubai Miracle gardens, as they have lots of amazing photos on their website. 

It costs just 20 AED each to enter the gardens, (thats about £3.60 ish). Children under 3 are free. We spent a few hours wondering around the gardens, i wouldn't say it was an all day thing but definately a good morning or afternoon well spent!

I couldn't help but think the people that designed these displays have a wonderful imagination. If you have a garden that needs jazzing up i am sure you could get some inspiration from here, but perhaps on a smaller scale! haha. I have also been thinking lately from a crafty point of view, that photos are a great way of getting colour inspiration. If you look at each one there are loads of colours mixing together to make the photos, different shades, and completely contrasting colours too. I think it would be interesting to base an afghan or something on the colours in the photos.

We had a great morning, and will definitely be visiting the gardens again with out next set of guests!

So to finish our day, we had steak and chips for dinner, and my dads homemade pancakes for desert! I have been busily crocheting away this evening to finish the ripple blanket as the baby is on its way!! I will have a ta-da to show you the blanket in the next couple of days!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Dubai Marina walk

We actually had a thunder storm here in Dubai last night! Obviously nothing compared to the storms happening in the uk at the moment! 

But this morning the sun was shining and it's a pleasant 22oc again so we went to Dubai marina. My parents are having their first visit to Dubai so I am trying to show them the main sights. 

Dubai marina is a lovely area down by the coast. The marina is flanked by clusters of high rise towers of varying shapes and sizes. It is a very popular area of Dubai and rent prices are fairly high. It's a very 'hip' area, with lots of cafés and restaurants all along the stretch of water. 

Under most of the bridges that cross the marina are little playgrounds huddled in the shade. William always makes the most of these when we pass each one... 

We took the RTA water bus from outside the marina mall which took us down to the other end of the marina for 2 AED each (about 30p). It's a bit of a rickety boat but it's a great way to take in the sights of both sides of the marina. The water bus goes to a few different locations along the marina. It's easy to take on a small push chair so great little trip for William. He thinks it's fantastic going on a boat! 

At marina walk is an area with dancing fountains. William absolutely loved it and as predicted, got completely soaked! Good job I carry another set of clothes with me! There are cafés all around here if you want to chill out and watch your kids play at the fountain. We grabbed a coffee and sat in the sun. (Bare in mind that kids aren't allowed to play in the actual middle of fountain). 

There are some amazing boats all along the  edge of the marina and in the docks so there is plenty to look at. We took a nice stroll back to marina mall, in and out of the sun, watching the boats go by. All in all, a really lovely morning for all ages. And fairly cheap too! You can go and spend nothing but have a nice walk taking in the sights or spend more to have drinks, snacks or lunch. 

Right... Better go put Williams clothes out to dry! 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Madinat jumeriah souk

We took a drive down to madinat jumeriah souk this week. One of the gorgeous places I knew my parents would love! 

Madinat jumeriah is a resort by the coast in Dubai and the souk is like a small mall really, modern shops mixed with shops selling traditional arabic goodies, cafés and restaurants and am amphitheatre for entertainment. I'm sure as usual, that there is probably more there I haven't discovered yet! 

When you walk out to the canals at the back, it is a beautiful sight! Overlooking the famous 7 star hotel, Burj Al Arab. 

The architecture and Arabic designs are gorgeous and I love all the old looking wooden beams and doors. 

Here are a few of the treasures you can find here. 

William enjoyed himself out in the sunshine and giving grandad the run around! 

Great few hours in a serene and lovely place. This is one of our regular spots I take visitors! 

Crochet mood blanket

Just a quick update... 

My parents have come for a 3 week visit here in Dubai so crafting will slow down a bit and I am swapping it for more exploring and enjoying the sun in Dubai! 

I hear the weather is awful in Britain at the moment, so I hope you can find something else to be cheerful about! 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Baby shower

As you have probably heard me mention before, a friend of mine here in Dubai is having a baby soon. So we decided to throw her a little baby shower, to be honest it was great to have an excuse to pack all the kids off with daddies and have a girly get together... eating yummy food and having a good chat!

We all clubbed together to get Francesca a few items for her new baby, and also a few bits for her too! 

This is the basket of baby goodies we gave her. It featured a load of essentials for the new arrival, wipes, nappy cream, talc, tooth brush and paste, small rattle, Johnsons baby bath, Factor 50 sun cream (very important out here!) and lots of nappies! 

I found some suggestions online of funny things to write on the nappies, so using a sharpie i got to work! There were loads in the end. E.g. "Daddies turn", "Does my bum look big in this?", "Party at my crib, 2am!". 

I also made Francesca a draw string bag (which i posted about yesterday). Hopefully that will come in handy.

One great idea i saw on pinterest (loving pinterest by the way, sooooo addicted!!), was to keep a journal for your child. The one i saw was by a mum and dad that wrote in the journal each year on their child's birthday and then gave the journal to their son on his 21st birthday. Now i am not expecting Francesca to keep that up, as that is a mammoth task! But i thought it was a nice idea, and even if they wrote down their feelings about becoming a parent, what their lives are like before baby arrives and how its going to change them, what it is like here in Dubai for baby, especially as they may not be living in Dubai when the baby is grown up and receiving the journal. I may give this a go for William too actually. I am collecting keepsakes of our time here, obviously photos, but tickets to things we go to etc incase he doesn't remember his time here. 

So there we have it... we had a great time and it has made us realise we should try to get together more anyway. Time just seems to be flying by over here, can you believe we are nearly half way through the school year already!

My ripple blanket for Francesca's little boy is well on its way now. I am basically carrying on until i run out of wool so i am not sure how big it will be. I am really enjoying making it though, as it is very repetitive it means i don't have to think much as i am doing it, and can pick it up whenever i feel like it. I also dont have to keep referring back to a computer or book for the pattern!

My parents are coming out to Dubai on friday for nearly 3 weeks, so i am preparing for that and trying to get a load of blog posts done before they get here.

Hope you are all well out there in blog land. I will be back again soon with more crafting.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Crochet mood blanket

It's Monday again! How quickly is time going! Scary really! I have had a pretty busy week, preparing for a baby shower (will post soon), continuing to desperately finish the baby ripple blanket in time, trying new play group with William, family weekend time and...

 I actually went for a run lastnight! If you know me at all you will know I do not normally do this! But one of my goals for the year was to get more active. So when I heard about some ladies in our complex who want to meet up for walks and jogs I thought it was too good to pass up. We had a laugh, got hot and tired and had an hour without kids, some mums will do anything for some 'me' time! Ha ha. 

Anyway, here are a few pics of my blanket to date. Still pleased with it. I found some stitches on Pinterest so am going to give them a go next. 

I like that this blanket is making me learn and try new stitches. It is giving me ideas of other blankets I could make too using just a few of the stitches. 

I have not been in Dubai long but now that we are settled I considering taking custom orders for blankets. The postal service is not great here so would have to just stick to orders within Dubai to start with. All food for thought though!