Yet another weekend almost at an end, and it has been another busy one. It was Flossie's Birthday Party yesterday, which turned out to be a Leaving Party as well, as we had the fantastic news in the week that she has got a place at Al Yasmina starting tomorrow. Needless to say Flossie is delighted about this. She has dealt with everything really well but has been getting a bit fed up of the long, hot journey to and from school every day. It's also a relief for Jo as it means she doesn't need to do a rally drive across town every afternoon to pick everyone up at the right time.
Back to the party. Unsurprisingly, whilst kids parties in the UAE have some similarities with the UK, in other ways they are different. For example no one responds to the invitation to say whether their child will be coming or not, so it is a surprise to see who will turn up on the day.
Another difference is that people don't think twice about bringing siblings to parties without asking if this is ok. It usually is ok, but it means you can end up with significantly more children than you were expecting. Even worse is that children that haven't been invited sometimes turn up, thankfully we only had one of those yesterday.
Turning to presents, Flossie was pleased to find that people are very generous here (and Archie is counting the days to his birthday already!). Most of the party locations are huge play parks in shopping malls (Flossie's was at Sparkey's at Mushrif Mall should you be interested), and there seem to be strategically placed toy shops next to them. The approach seems to be to pop into the toy shop on the way to the party, grab something expensive, and off you go.
To her credit, Jo is refusing to get drawn into this approach. Archie and Flossie have been to one party each so far, and our gifts have been book sets (Famous Five, and The Magic Faraway Tree) brought from home. Who knows how well these gifts went down, but I bet they couldn't get classic books like those anywhere in Abu Dhabi.
Next the cake. Big is better seems to be the motto here as well. The cake at the party we went to last weekend was a Skylanders one, and whilst the cake itself wasn't huge, the Skylander stood on top of it was enormous!
Having looked at the cakes on offer in the local shops, Jo again decided not to be drawn into the competition, and opted to make Flossie's cake herself. It was a bit of a saga finding the ingredients, especially the icing, but I'm sure you'll agree that she did a great job.
|The entertainers aren't quite as polished as we get in the UK. It seems to be a staff member plucked off the shop floor, given a clown costume and a microphone, and told to get on with it. "Getting on with it" involves shouting as loud as possible and lots of dancing. To be fair the kids absolutely love it, so I'm not complaining.|
|At the party last week, rather than dressing as a clown, the staff member turned his hand to magic instead. He didn't look comfortable about this, and wasn't helped by the cocky child at the front telling everyone how the tricks worked. I think he finally gave up when, as his finale, he produced a scruffy looking dove out of a hat, which immediately made a bid for freedom. It hid behind the huge pile of presents in the corner of the room, and there was absolute chaos, with presents and feathers flying everywhere, as various small children tried, and failed, to recapture it!|
|The play parks usually have rides and roller coasters, so the final part of the party is spent going on these. The approach to health and safety is a little more relaxed than the UK. The kids were allowed on rides that they were clearly too young or short for, which of course they loved, but Jo and I were a little nervous at times.|
|Anyway, despite all that, or maybe because of all that, Flossie had a great party yesterday, and both Archie and Flossie enjoyed another party at the same place this afternoon. In between the parties we had our first BBQ at home yesterday evening, inviting two families with children at Al Yasmina. We had a great time, and the kids especially enjoyed staying up until past midnight.|
|I've rambled on too long again, so I will leave you with a video with some of the highlights of Flossie's party, including some very entertaining dancing.|
As always, thanks for reading.