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Meet the neighbours: the Charltons

Victoria Charlton lives with her husband Lenny and daughters Ella, eight, and Alice, five, in The Meadows

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© ITP Images

How long have you lived in the area?
We’ve lived in the Meadows for three years – since we first arrived in Dubai back in May 2009. We have thought about moving since then but have never been able to find anything in Umm Suqiem or Jumeirah to match what we have here – without a hefty price tag attached!

What made you choose the neighbourhood?
Initially we spent our time looking round Jumeirah and Umm Suqiem, as my husband Lenny commutes to Deira and our daughters go to Kings Dubai, in Umm Suqiem. However, fresh from the UK, I couldn’t face having little or no garden or greenery and most of the villas we looked at within our budget, just had a concrete yard, maybe with a tiny plunge-pool in the corner. One day the estate agent introduced me to The Meadows and I felt it was as close to home as I was going to get while living in a desert, what with all the greenery and trees, and it also had the benefit of great communal facilities. I think this was the second house we looked round and it had a very inviting, shady and grassy garden with big mature trees and its own pool – eureka!

What’s so great about it?
Emaar really looks after all the communal areas, and we have a lake just at the end of our road which is not only great on the eyes but also for the thighs as we all tend to try and do a few laps round it (some more successfully than others!). The girls can also ride their bikes and scooters safely on the footpaths and we ride up to the playground and communal pool, or if we’re feeling adventurous (or hungry!) to the garage shop or Meadows Village for a coffee and an ice-cream. Lenny, who does triathlons, can also do his cycle training here as there are two lanes for cars, enabling people to overtake him safely. I also really like the fact that we are still part of the city – although we live in a two-story house surrounded by greenery, the view at night from our windows is the twinkling towers of JLT and the Marina – very Dubai!

Is there anything you’d change about where you live?
I’d like to pick the whole thing up and move it to Umm Suqiem, as on the days the kids have lots of after-school activities it can mean a lot of hanging around cafes near school as there’s not quite enough time to nip home. We have also just come through three years of major roadworks but they are thankfully now coming to an end. The only other thing I don’t like is the Lego/Stepford Wives nature of the streets and houses – all very similiar boxes in a row – but then you can’t have everything!

Has it been easy to meet other mums since you moved to the area?
Funnily enough, the relocation agent’s key selling point of the area was its ‘community’ feel and ability to meet people – I wouldn’t say this is the case or perhaps we just haven’t made enough of an effort! I had presumed that I would meet local mums out and about with pushchairs and in the playground, but have come face-to-face with one of Dubai’s downsides, the omnipresence of the maid. The only mums I know are ones I know through other activities and who just happen to live here too.

What do the girls like best about living there?
Ella: I like running or cycling around the lake or up to the playground and being able to swim in the big pools which are heated and chilled, not like our one. Also, I love dogs and a lot of people who live here walk their dogs around the lake and I can look at them and ask to stroke them. I want a dog of my own!
Alice: It all looks pretty, with flowers and grass to play on and we have a really nice shady garden with a tree swing and a pool. I like riding my bike and scooter up and down the road – we live on a dead-end (no-through) road so mummy stands on guard and then we can ride up and down the speed bumps really fast, it’s fun! I also like the ice-cream van – sometimes if we have been good, we are allowed to choose one – my favourite is chocolate!

How long is the journey time to school?
Well, if the Sheikh Zayed Road is flowing well, 10 to 15 minutes, but if there’s traffic or we decide to go along the Beach Road for some reason, more like 20. It takes Lenny about 30 minutes to get into Deira. The traffic is a lot better since the roadworks have been completed and when they are finally finished it should be better still. When we moved here we only wanted to live in Meadows 1 or 2 because of the quick exit and entry off the Sheikh Zayed Road – if you live further round into Emirates Living (Springs and Meadows) you can get caught up in the all the traffic trying to get out.

By Time Out Dubai Kids staff
Time Out Dubai,

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