Well it is 18 months since the last update and there have been some fairly significant changes since I last put finger to keyboard not least that Tai Tam Tales has been re-christened Al Safa Stories for reasons that will become apparant below.
The most significant change is that we have vacated Tai Tam Towers and have moved from the Big Lychee to the Golden Date (or the Dusty Sandpit as some may prefer). Life in the Middle East began for me mid-way through last year and was originally intended to be for a period of 4 - 6 weeks. This extended (with the benefit of hindsight, rather inevitably) into a 4 month stay involving regular commutes between the Far and Middle East which proved to be very demanding both professionally and personally. Following a fairly lengthy charm offensive I bought the family out for a "look see" in late September, everyone liked what they saw and so we all moved out here to live full time at the end of the year. We have therefore swopped our 3 bed apartment overlooking Tai Tam Bay for a 4 bed villa with garden and a swimming pool shared wih 8 other families.
It is quite a contrast.
The lush vegetation, and spectacular sea and hill views of Stanley have been replaced by the sepia-tinted colouring and flatness of the desert (with the occasional iconic high-rise tower thrown in for variety). The kids and E. have settled in very quickly with the kids in particular enjoying their new school (V. starting off as one of the youngest in the School in FS1 and A is in Grade 2) just around the corner from my office and the huge number of children with which to play courtesy of our new neighbours.
I will at a later stage do a "compare and contrast" between our current and former locations (I know, you have heard that before what with promises to do posts regarding taxi journeys etc. but this time I mean it!). However, I thought that I better do a catch up on what has happened (other than moving from HK) over the last year or so:
1.The Kids have got older (obvs). A. is now doing well at school here having found his International School in HK challenging. CNDIS was a very academic school with very good facilties. However, the large class sizes and the focus on Mandarin and "learning by enquiry" (ie the IB curriculum) did not really suit him and whilst he assured us that he was having a great time at school, the difference between him then and now (having now spent 2 terms in a British Curriculaum School) could not be greater. He is happier than we have seen him for a long time. His teachers have been very positive and his reading and writing have improved no end.
It was around the begining of this year that he suddenly moved from wanting to be read to, to wanting to read on his own - devouring various books on pirates, science and spies (although he still likes to be read to). In addition to reading, A. is currently obseessed with Match Attax - a card collection game and he seems to know the names and teams (and countries played for) for all the current crop of premiership players. He is still into his science stuff and the various "Dangerous Book for Boys", "How to be a Spy" etc. books that I guess would appeal to all 6/7 year olds.
V.caries on being very much a force of nature. She is still very tall for her age. She was going to Sunshine House 5 days a week by the time of our departure from HK and now goes to her Primary School (in the equivalent of Infants) 5 days a week although slightly shorter days (7:30 -12:30) than A. It has however been a transformational experience for her. Although one of (if not the) youngest in the School - she turns 4 at the end of this month just at the end of the school year) she has really developed - having been very shy to start with she is now chatting away with her friends. She is not as outgoing a personality as A (and she obviously has to compete with his chatty personality) but she holds her own and is much more "user-friendly" these days.
More updates soon!