Quickly, while the wifi works and S naps!

Yes, I know, the gaps between post are getting longer and longer. Would you believe I actually have bigger and better plans for this blog? Just got to figure out some techy stuff… so it will be a while I guess.

This will be a domestic babble. The temperature is rising, it got to 45deg C in Muscat yesterday apparently. From my pervious experience in Riyadh I’m thinking it will not feel too much worse than this from now on as ‘hot is hot’. Water has started dribbling down the outside of our windows at times. OK, so it will get worse, thanks to the humidity rising.

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Pretty tiles and fretwork catch my eye quite often. I have been meaning to take a walk with my camera (aka phone) but it’s too hot to take the girls out walking in the afternoon now, and mornings are full of other stuff. Nearby villas have some really detailed fretwork. We have recently had visitors, our first! Mum celebrated a ummm, ‘important’ birthday here with us, my step-dad, and my brother and SIL. While I drove about my brother commented on the lack of colour in Muscat, but I found myself quick to disagree as the pops of bright aqua, green, blue and gold on top of mosques, and the tile work scattered everywhere colour the place beautifully.

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We celebrated Mum’s birthday with a ‘bubbly brunch’ at The Grand Hyatt, our old home. The girls got to decorate eggs on the garden while we took it in turns watching them and drinking and eating. We walked home along the beachfront as the sun started to set and watched hundreds of families and friends enjoying the cooler hours with BBQs, games of football, walks, and chats while smoking sheesha pipes. No joke, I think the sight would have been called a ‘festival’ in the UK, but it was simply what happens here.

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The actual birthday was spent on a massive trip up into the mountains, which will be included in a blog post very soon. It was my biggest drive yet by HOURS!

The ship / cargo finally arrived, and brought both tears and joy.

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Boxes had got very wet somehow, and the contents grew gardens of stinky stuff in the heat of the trip over and wait at the docks. Not everything had to be chucked, but a lot.

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However, our cherished cloth nappies, which I had bagged up in one of those big laundry / storage bags prior to the packers coming, were all fine and were freshened up and back in use just in time for Real Nappy Week 2014.

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I will be taking some pics of them in use so I can post online to ‘flash the fluff’ and join in the RNW party 🙂

The girls are thriving. Both of them are becoming little dolphins in the pool, and we are getting pretty good at getting messy when inside escaping the heat. This week alone we have knocked up 2 batches of play dough, 1 batch of cloud dough, a victoria sponge and later today we will use up the remaining Easter chocolates in a batch of chocolate chip cookies… Must remember to make another batch ready for Sunday morning when I will host a weekly breastfeeding support group here at home for the first time.

The cloud dough had them busy for hours! When I learn how to tag / link other blogs I will share the creatively inspiring blogs here!

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No, I’ve not quit blogging already!

Yes, it has been far too long since my last post. I left you just before moving out of the hotel. Well, we have been in our new house for a few weeks now and although I have been busy assembling furniture, shopping for bed linens, towels, rugs and stair gates, this is not the reason behind me not blogging. Frustratingly our gorgeous house and new lifestyle does have a blip and that is that the internet provision is shocking, Without fail it goes from rubbish to nothing every evening and I am sure you can all understand that blogging in the day is a tad tricky. However, S is napping in the pushchair right by me,  our ‘house maid’ is sorting the washing (I saw that face!!) and If I am quick I could possibly publish a post.

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As you can see, its looking lovely and homely in the living room. The playroom has come on nicely too and even the guest room now has a bed and a lovely Indian handmade quilt over it.

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We have been eating outside in the back garden a lot, and have been enjoying tomatoes fresh from the same back garden. We have invested in a water table for the girls to play with out there and I have bought a baby bath for some more creative water play outside too. We have bought several stair gates and one is now at the door of the girls room leading onto balcony so they can sleep with that door open now with the breeze cooling them, and listen to the waves on the beach as they fall asleep. Only in my dreams did I ever think we would live so close to the sea. It’s wonderful.

A few weeks ago my new spangly UK driving licence arrived and although pretty terrifying at first, I am now thoroughly enjoying the freedom it provides me. The girls are enjoying it too as it means I have been able to take them to playdates and classes. Both now enjoy yoga classes once a week and S will start a music class tomorrow morning. Swimming lessons are in our pool behind our garden. I love my massive beast of a car- it was especially appreciated the other day when another storm came, the rain closed the school, roads started to flood and I had to drive in it to collect L. I was VERY brave.

We have been back to Dubai for a third and final time so the girls and I are no longer ‘tourists’. We all have the residency stamps in our passports… now just need to get my Omani driving licence.

The compound has a lovely little playground which we have been making use of while it’s not ridiculously hot and humid. It has several frangipani trees in it which I love. I can’t wait for them all to be in flower again. Just a couple of flowers are left…

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Well, S awakes so thats the end for now. Looking forward to our first visitors in 3 weeks… who else wants to come?

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