The Tallest Tower in the Whole Wide World, and an apology

I am so sorry. A lesson has truly be learnt; if I have just a shortie to write then so be it, because if I leave it ’til I have more to say there soon becomes so much that it’s a ‘put off’ to sit and type when I am pooped at the end of the day. Take this pic for example, I took it to show what the last bit of my walk back from L’s nursery (aka THE MONTESSORI) looked like on a cloudy day, though most of it was along the beach to be honest…Image

I thought walking back would take me a good 2hrs which would equal a reasonable workout, so I was happy and also frustrated when it took just an hour.  That was the week before last (we are at the end of the week today, Saturday, the start on another is tomorrow, Sunday). I didn’t write about my lovely walks, and then we had a storm. The wind blew, there was a crack of  thunder and a good amount of rain, and M got called to collect L from nursery as it was closing down due to the weather. Roads flooded, airport closed, we cancelled our plans for a non hotel dinner for M’s birthday thinking it would not be sensible to drive. Thankfully the hotel knocked him up a yummy chocolate cake…Image

On Valentines day we flew to Dubai, hoping that on our return at least M would have the necessary stamp in his passport to start the next stage of LIVING here. It was a relief not to drive with the risk of puke hanging over us. We stayed at a hotel right next to Dubai Festival City Mall so we could get to Ikea easily for another attempt at buying guest beds. From the 19th floor we had a stunning view over the creek and out to the city skyline with the Burj Khalifa rising oh so high. L had us grinning from ear to ear every time she referred to it as ‘The Tallest Tower in the Whole Wide World’. I really wanted a proper camera rather than just the one on my phone…

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S had us up far to early for Dubai opening times, so we took ourselves of the ‘TTTITWWW’, though couldn’t get up to the top as several thousand people seemed to have booked beforehand.

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We explored probably only about a third of the massive Dubai Mall. It’s HUGE! The girls loved the fish, sharks, rays and penguins in the aquarium and ‘Underwater Zoo’  in the middle, it was impressive, though I did feel there were too many fish, sharks, rays and penguins to be honest.

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We hit Ikea the next day, and now have guest beds and some furniture for the roof terrace on their way to Muscat. Dubai Festival City Mall is much more modest in size 😉

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We have also been busy making some new friends, and having fun on the beach. This brilliant pic was taken by 7yr old D, the elder sister of K, and I love it..

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And I have also been busy with snot. S got poorly with high temps the day after the beach and although now the fevers have gone, her poor nose has bled it’s so raw from the gallons of snot coming from it. However, they have been loving hanging at the new house both today and yesterday, where it is now part painted (I’m going back tomorrow after the nursery drop off to ‘encourage’ some swifter work) and there is an assembled bunk bed and double bed and a partly assembled sofa. Well done M (minimal help from me due to needing to keep girls out of the way). We HOPE to move in on Tuesday and finish assembling furniture once in as, as lovely as this hotel is, we would really like to get stuck in to normality and home cooking now. So, unless something really juicy happens between now and us getting a couple of rooms fully ready, you will not get another post until then, when I have some ‘look at our new home’ pics to show off 😉

A Crown Prince, Camels, Puke and Shoptastic Dubai

Last week there was an impressive security effort at our hotel-home as the Crown Prince of Brunei was staying here with his family and quite a few others. The girls and I stepped out of our rooms to head to breakfast one day to find 3 purple-camo clad soldiers in our corridor (special police apparently!) Quite a jump from Reigate’s celeb-about-town Shane Ritchie.

HRH left on Thursday, and so did we. M got hotel-home early and we drove north along the coast for 3 hours, passing lots of banana plantations and just 2 camels, then turned left and over the border into the UAE. As we approached the border we watched the flat terrain change into rocky hills which I took photos of on the way back. Interestingly, there’s a section of road after you cross into UAE from Oman that runs back through Oman again, with a fence surrounding it. The trip went well until we got to Dubai, then we found ourselves in thick heavy traffic on an 8 lane road. It took us an hour to get through Dubai to the hotel, and 20 mins before we got to the hotel, thegirlwhocriedsick was sick… all over herself. For some odd reason the guy checking us in thought that what a tired looking family, with a 3yr old girl covered in sick really needed was a sales pitch to upgrade to a suite (something we are kindly getting for free here in Muscat). I felt myself getting quite cross.. Said guy was lucky it was M who went back down to ask where the extra bed was and not me.

Friday was a shopping mania. IKEA staff helped manage the logistics of 8 flatbed trolleys very well (this was after already loading the car with 2 IKEA regular trolleys, plus an M&S load) We should see the furniture again later this week. I should add here that The Company is paying for all this new house gear, thankfully, and I have also been looking for second hand gear which is what I like doing in the UK. Perhaps I should introduce Oman to freecycle.org? Still got 2 guest beds to sort and a few others bits, but great gains were made. We may have to leave Oman again this coming weekend but that will be by air (phew) and we hope to have the time to catch up with some friends then, plus celebrate M’s birthday and a ‘with-the-kids-nod’ to Valentines day.

Headed off in good time on Saturday morning and were out of Dubai in a sniff of the time it took us to drive through on Thursday. L was given an empty bag and strict interactions to only say she was sick if she really was. Camel spotting went much better on our return trip as can be seen by my  photos. I’m pleased I got one of the nursing camel, but sadly missed the token camel-on-a-truck. To give you all a good taste of Arabian roads I also took a pic of the Toyota trucks, and sand dunes and sand, and desert. We drove through Sharjah and we think Ajmaan too, so with Dubai that makes 3 of the 7 Emirates that make up UAE. Saudi Arabia is a country totally separate, as is Oman. I say this as a disturbing number of people think both are in Dubai.

Thankfully both girls slept for a couple of hours on our return drive, and there was no vomit. We arrived back just in time for the buffet lunch but that was interrupted many times by L and S wanting to run off and charge around the gardens and pools. We took them for a scoot which ended up on the beach in the afternoon. Loads of local families were out having BBQ’s and sharing bubbly pipes, all wrapped up warm against the 22 deg C weather. The girls enjoyed a very wet paddle, with S shouting ‘seaside’ repeatedly. If we can figure out how to, there may be an additional mini post with photos of them from M’s phone.

Finally, after that busy weekend, L started at the amazeballs nursery today. It was just a 2.5hrs session to settle her and S and I waited there, but she loved it. I am hoping tomorrow she will ask what the rabbits and chickens names are. I took them back to the beach after lunch and with luck, will be able to upload a video….

Anyone got any motion sickness prevention suggestions for 3 yr olds?

hmmmm… sorry but photos will have to come along later. The internet is painfully slow tonight (probably something to do with the RAIN we had earlier this eve) and I am pooped and ready for bed. Will try to load them up again tomorrow.

Mixing Cultures: Getting it right and getting it wrong

a bit of mid day shade after a pizza lunch. that blue gate in the background is the house compound side gate leading to coffee shops and restaurants

a bit of mid day shade after a pizza lunch. that blue gate in the background is the house compound side gate leading to coffee shops and restaurants

Lets start with the rant. What is it with people going on holiday, experiencing other cultures, but  said cultures while there? We are in the Middle East and around these parts, less is more! That is, less skin, not less clothes. Today we got off the hotel grounds and while both driving and walking we saw shoulders, knees, THIGHS, and one lady was even wearing a virtually translucent vest top with her very short shorts.  I cringe when I think back to what I wore when escaping Saudi in Dubai years back. But it was unlike me, I have travelled a lot and always used to bear local customs in mind, I think perhaps in Dubai while I was swinging too far from the compulsory abaya in Saudi I was a bit bonkers (was I rebelling in my sleeveless tops etc?)  I would feel naked in a swim suit on a public beach here (others today obviously didn’t!). I would feel naked in a vest top. Whats the big deal with covering up your shoulders and knees? Theres plenty of time for baring skin by the hotel pool. Maxi dresses, and tee shirts, tunic tops and cropped trousers, thats ‘where it’s at’.

We witnessed all the bare skin while driving to the National Montessori Nursery for a visit to see if we’d like L to go there. Crikey, it made her ‘Montessori’ nursery in Reigate look a bit, ummm. weak. I was a little alarmed at the size of it as we approached but we were nothing but impressed once in. ALL of the teachers are properly Montessori trained, ALL of the staff are trained in Paediatric First Aid (something following http://www.milliestrust.com has made me aware of checking), they have rabbits and chickens loose in the play area, a pool, they don’t separate kids by age and 50% of the kids are local Omani while the other 50% are from all over the world. I can’t help but think that mixing up the cultures at that age has to be a brilliant experience that will help make more globally aware kids later on. We just need to figure out some transport logistics while we wait for my new driving licence, then will be grabbing L a spot there.

Our other ‘job’ for the day was to have a look at our new house / villa again and take some measurements before we go furniture shopping in Dubai at the weekend. Importantly, we also checked the temperature of the water in the pool that is officially a communal compound pool, but unofficially will be ours. I have taken pics to try to show the jammy proximity of pool to house, just look for our back wall by the stoned wall bit to the left on the photo. Super lucky. L was keen to jump in right then. We will be keeping some of the furniture in there, but a lot needs replacing. I’m looking forward to my sewing machine arriving with the rest of our gear that was shipped, and then going on a fabric hunt to prevent it ending up like some Ikea show home.

Other news: The washing is still in the machine and I am in need of vegetarian low / no carb food ideas as am now getting a bit nuts about nuts. Is humous OK?

on 'our' beach

on ‘our’ beach

this shows the bit of back wall peeking in other pic, plus back gate to access pool…. that isn't used by anyone else by the looks of it!

this shows the bit of back wall peeking in other pic, plus back gate to access pool…. that isn’t used by anyone else by the looks of it!

'our' pool. look to the left and see the stone brick wall then above that you will see the top of our garden back wall!

‘our’ pool. look to the left and see the stone brick wall then above that you will see the top of our garden back wall!

Another ‘New Family’

It’s always nice to meet people in the same boat hey? I don’t know what her name is but she has a little boy the same age as S and only arrived on Tuesday, and they are in the suite opposite ours (all 5 of them!)
We got talking at the ‘hotel-home’ baby pool where L and S and I had been splashing about for a bit after breakfast.

splashing in the ‘hotel-home’ baby pool

While splashing, I had been thinking ‘phew’. It really is with a big sense of relief  that I find us all here. I’m not saying I will not miss some lovely friends in Reigate, but things had been tough there at times what with money being tight and me being a very ‘late learner’ on the car front and M being away from home so much leaving me solo parenting a lot. We will have so much more ‘family time’ compared to what we had in the UK with M not travelling away so much and me having help at home freeing up more time for ‘family fun’, and financially its going to be easier too.

S splashing in her new Frugi hat

Taking the working-overseas- leap is something I would personally encourage lots of people to do. It can provide such amazing opportunities for everyone involved as well as re-balance bank accounts. If I had not gotten on the plane to Riyadh back in 2005 I would be without M, possibly without kids, and certainly still in ‘that debt’. Yes, for some it can mean leaving family (grandparents etc) at home, but the increase in quality of life for immediate family can be fantastic. Lots of countries are in need of extra people from all sorts of backgrounds, not just nurses, medics, teachers and plane fanatics 😉 I know someone lovely who headed out of the UK as a Fitness Instructor; she’s certainly in a very different ‘place’ now.

Anyway, we decided to have lunch by the pool today, and then S wanted sleep so we headed back to our rooms and while S lay in a  ‘monkey’ slumber (for some reason ‘monkey’ is the new ‘milky’) L and I covered e, f and g in her activity book.

The afternoon came with a good breeze, so once sleeping beauty awoke we headed out for a scoot along the seafront. A chatty Omani guy stopped to ask if they were twins, and then if we were Russian?! I know my Mum and Step-dad will chuckle at that. We were just past the Russian embassy back door, but still!  We continued until we got to the side wall of the British Embassy, which I decided we could all get to in the case of a national emergency (my imagination is ludicrous) and then headed back to meet M ‘hotel-home’ from work.

dates, coffee and factor 50

‘monkey’ slumber

scooting along the seafront making the most of a breeze

scooting along the seafront making the most of a breeze

the scooting Frugi twins (apparently)

dead-heading the marigolds, though not their excuse

There’s washing in the machine still, but smiles on our faces

We purged, tidied and de-cluttered, then stripped the beds, washed the sheets and packed. I’ve written the start of this blog numerous times and was planning on linking to this and that, but I now just need to make the first post and get cracking.

We arrived late Friday and although there is just 4 hours difference between Omani and UK times, the girls are still off-kilter with sleep and napping. So, we missed a Montessori nursery visit this morning for L, but I really enjoyed spending un-pressured time with her after the pool this afternoon with an alphabet sticker activity book while S napped (again). No worrying about making dinner or housework. I felt very lucky.

The newly cut Yale keys we left with friends don’t work, so the washing I had to leave in the machine sowe could go to the airport hotel is still in there. 

A wonderful balmy 26 deg C today, which made a lovely temp for shell collecting on the beach after breakfast with S having her first nap of the day on my back.

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And M, well he got ‘hotel-home’ before the girls were changed for bed. Happy.

An onslaught of photos will follow soon enough. Bare with me please, am warming up.