Catching Up With Myself | Expat Life

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Wow! I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to even write a blog post! Why, you may ask (well those that are vaguely interested anyway)? Well its been a whirlwind of mall openings, blog events, F1 weekends, the teenagers latest school drama production and a trip overseas.


Yas Marina full of super yachts and party boats for F1 weekend

So in this catch-up post in the ‘it was the week that was‘ style (well more like 10 days) I will fill you in on some of the details, read on if you are curious, if not this is a good place to bail. The manic rushing around started with the grand opening event of Yas Mall (read about that here) followed by the whole next day spent pretty much at said mall catching up with different friends for coffee, lunch and over the space of five days I actually went to the mall five times, that’s excessive even for me!


Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren was the first after race concert this year (

The weekend was consumed by enjoying the F1 circus and everything that it brings to town. Even if, like us you are not diehard Grand Prix fans, the F1 weekend is just a great spectacle with lots going on and the capital comes alive with all sorts of parties, celebrations and events as the hotels/bars/restaurants turn maximum profit in minimum time. This years concerts were a mixed bag of musical genres with Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren taking to the Du Arena’s main stage for a two-and-a-half-hour set on the Friday night. Thump, thump, thump is a good way to describe it and yes I know that makes me sound rather ancient.


Pharrell Williams underwhelmed in my opinion (

Saturday saw the Arena much busier and everyone was ‘Happy‘ as American music sensation Pharrell Williams took the reigns for the second after-race concert. Expectations were high and although Williams delivered a wide range of his collaborative hits, the somewhat short concert lacked something in my opinion and wasn’t helped by him having a sore throat and begging the crowd to sing most of the words, he definitely kept his showmanship skills under his iconic hat. Apparently Ginger Spice aka Geri Halliwell joined him on stage too but I completely missed that!


Rita Ora made a guest appearance at the new Adidas store in Yas Mall ahead of her beach concert ((

Williams didn’t come across as the accomplished music performer that I was expecting, so I guess producing music is his strength rather than actually performing it. Although I knew the songs and I enjoyed them, overall I came away underwhelmed by his lack of charisma and stage presence – I guess it’s the old high expectations thing again. He’s just be confirmed as the headline act at the New Years Eve event at Meydan in Dubai so let’s hope he pulls it all out from under his hat by then! Down on the Corniche beach Rita Ora entertained the crowds as part of the Yasalam free Beats on the Beach concerts. The teenager and some of her mates finished watching Williams and then hot footed it into the city to see Ora, oh to be young!


Ready, set, go……..IMG_7972

Amazing front row seats at this years F1

Sunday was a good day to be a Brit in the UAE. With front row seats in the grandstand, the teenager and I watched Lewis Hamilton not only win the race but also the 2014 drivers championship ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg in the best Grand Prix I’ve been to in the capital to date. The atmosphere was brilliant both with the tension on the track and in the stands as such high prizes were at stake, adding to the excitement culminating in a fantastic win for Hamilton. The National Anthem rang through the air, a huge colourful firework display lit up the track and the sight of the champion driving his lap of honour with a large union jack flag sent the crowd into a frenzy.


British driver Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the 2014 Drivers Championship (

With Prince Harry in the pits with Hamilton and Kim K (if anyone cares) on a boat in the marina and various other celebrities floating about, Abu Dhabi’s 6th Grand Prix was deemed a success. The British theme continued into the finale with legendary rockers The Who reuniting and playing the first leg of their 50th anniversary and farewell tour as the final after race concert.


They may be old boys but The Who rocked Du Arena 

Now the other half and I saw Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend and co at Wembley over twenty-five years ago ( I know right, we’re old!) and although their voices may not reach the top notes anymore they can still rock. Townsend was particularly noteworthy with his infamous and unique helicopter strumming. The inclusion of video clips of deceased members drummer Keith Moon and bass guitarist John Entwistle were a perfect and fitting tribute.


Throwback logo

A very sweaty Daltrey tried his old mic spinning tricks only to hit himself in the leg several times, then tripped over the stand knocking it over and even tried out smatterings of arabic later remembering he was in Abu Dhabi not Dubai, bless him he is 70, stick to the singing Roger!

IMG_8010Pinball Wizard‘ drew the most vocal reaction from the excited crowd as expected but the long set (complete contrast to Williams the night before) delivered hit after hit from the opening ‘I Can’t Explain‘, ‘Substitute‘, ‘The Kids are Alright‘ and ‘I Can See for Miles‘ to name a few, followed by snippets of their huge back catalogue including tracks from their ‘Tommy‘ and ‘Quadrophenia‘ albums as well as two encores. I was disappointed not to hear ‘My Generation‘ but I guess at their age the lyrics probably don’t stack up anymore but my disappointment was short-lived as a ginormous firework display lit up Du Arena marking the end of another successful F1 weekend. The eldest enjoyed his first Grand Prix experience even managing to blag a race ticket in hospitality seats, jammy bugger!


Fireworks finale signified the end of another Grand Prix weekend

The teenager and I also managed to fit in a visit to the new Ripe market at The Collection on Saadiyat Island during F1 weekend. The organic market has come to Abu Dhabi on a larger more permanent basis after its massive success in Dubai and the smaller outlet here in the capital at Jones The Grocer. A must have for those who like organic fruit and veggies as well as crafts, juices and other treats. More about this to follow soon.IMG_7897The Ripe Market at The Collection takes place every Saturday from 10am – 2pm at the St Regis resort on Saadiyat Island.

IMG_7939With the euphoria of another F1 behind us, I attended the launch of The Entertainer 2015, the fantastic voucher book (I love a voucher me) that is must for any expat and now comes in a fantastic app so you never forget a voucher again.


Fun and games at the Entertainer Abu Dhabi launch 2015

IMG_8030The event was held at the lovely Frankie’s restaurant in the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel (my favourite). Watch out for my Entertainer post, including all the info on this fantastic product coming soon.


Frantic dashing around included two more visits to Yas Mall (bloody good job it’s so near) as the teenager and I needed winter clothes, boots and posh dresses for an up-and-coming wedding in Finland. I managed to fit in viewing two performances of her latest school drama production, Grease (more about that to follow soon too) before I literally threw everything in my cases and jumped on a plane to the UK for the first leg of my three-part pre-Christmas winter break. Great to pop to my home town and see some friends and visit my hairdresser (it’s always a must) and it was even Black Friday weekend so some bargains were snapped up too!


Oh hello again London! 


The long and slow trip to the hometown via good old British public transport (only I could pick a weekend with a replacement bus service!)IMG_8071

Short but sweet visit to the ole home town to catch up with friends


The stunning baby shower cake (source:Facebook)


Rocky and Mac in full flow at Sutton Tennis Club (source:Facebook)

Next stop London for a baby shower at Hemingways Lounge Bar in Wimbledon Village (baby shower with cocktails, don’t mind if I do!) and I made it just in time for the cutting of the gorgeous cake before the mother-to-be was on her way. A great evening listening to a friend playing in his band, ‘Rocky and Mac’ in Sutton was followed by a Selfridges fix as I battled my way through the crazy amount of shoppers in the West End and with copious amounts of public transport.

IMG_8098Selfridges Christmas Windows and festive street lights.

IMG_8099A pub sunday roast washed down with a nice bottle of red finished off part one nicely before I ‘uber-ed’ my way to Heathrow (again) meeting up with second son for part two of my trip – Finland! So glad I packed my thermals as its freezing here!


Meanwhile back in the UAE it was the 43rd National Day celebrations

Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.

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