Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away….
As I started writing this post we were coming towards the end of July, and I feel like I’ve done an extraordinary amount this year already. Whether that’s because over the past two years with covid, life seemed to be on hold a little, but so far this year I’ve had a baby, adjusted to the rollercoaster of parenting two mini people, travelled on my own with said little people on an eight hour flight (more on that later), driven over 1000 miles in the UK to see so many gorgeous faces, flown back home and have somehow finally managed to settle Teddy into a routine (whoop whoop).
When I last left you, we were waiting for Teddy’s passport to arrive, and as soon as it did, we were booked to fly back to the UK the following week. I was heading to Heathrow with Emma and Teddy and Danny was going to join us 6 weeks later. As I don’t “work” (I added quotations, as being a stay-at-home parent feels like a full-time job), I am lucky enough to spend some extra time in the UK with friends and family.
I would be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t anxious about flying with the children by myself and it took everything in my power not to overthink it or catastrophise. For my own peace of mind, and also Danny’s, we booked the meet and assist service at Muscat and Heathrow Airport which at first, I thought was a bit extravagant but now I am so so happy that we did it.
As I was travelling on my own I felt like I needed to be super organised with Emma and make the journey as exciting as possible for her to keep her entertained, so we brought the following:
- A new backpack
- 2 x activity books
- 2 x colouring in books
- New pencil case with sharpener and colouring pencils
- Several snacks
- A mini passport for her bear (we used the passport that Danny got from the Dubai expo #IYKYK and got a photo of her bear and stuck it in)
Full disclaimer she did one activity book, ate all the snacks and then complained she was bored for most of the time however she did find her bear's passport the best thing EVER (in her words), so I will take the win.
When checking in at Muscat Airport they asked if I wanted my daughter to sit next to me on the flight, my response ‘well yes, because she’s four’ (duh?!?), they then went on to say I would need to pay 40 omr (£80) for Emma’s seat as I had requested the bassinette for Teddy!!
I was stuck between a rock and a hard place as I needed the bassinette for Teddy and I needed Emma to sit with us, so I had no choice but to pay the £80, begrudgingly. As we settled into the flight and we took off I knew we were in for long one, within the first 15 minutes, Emma asked if we were nearly there (cue head in hands). The flight itself was eight hours, but it felt like 16 hours. Teddy wouldn’t settle for most of it (think we managed about 2.5 hours sleep in total and Emma went through every emotion you can think of (the flight time probably felt like a lifetime to her too). It's here that I would like to say how disappointed I was with the customer service I received from OmanAir. Firstly, with the seat charge and then at no point did they ask if I needed anything as a mother travelling solo and after all the bother of having to pay for the additional seat so my daughter could sit next to me, when we had all boarded, they let another passenger move seats from behind me to the empty seat next to me without charging her!
When we arrived at Heathrow a golf cart picked us up from the gate and whizzed us to passport control which wasn’t horrifically busy but busy enough when you have two extremely tired little people. It was fairly plain sailing and within 15 minutes we were through to baggage collection…where we then had to wait over an hour due to the belt delivering the bags breaking (I swore a lot under my breath at this point). We finally made it to my mums at 10.15pm (but in mine and the kids heads it was 1.15am in the morning).
After everyone piled in the house, we had our hello cuddles, I put Teddy down and Emma sat with mum and I for five minutes as I had a brief cup of tea. We then went upstairs and I told Emma to get in to bed whilst I grabbed something from the other room and
just as I left I heard this strange retching noise, I ran back in the room and, what felt like slow motion, ran towards Emma, cupping my outstretched hands to catch the vomit coming out of her mouth
(why I thought this was a good idea I don’t know, call it sleep deprivation). I then noticed that the hand cupping had been fairly redundant as I looked down and saw sick on the floor, sick on the bed, sick on Emma’s pyjamas, who as this point was about to be sick again so I picked her up and in lightning speed put her in front of the toilet in the ensuite where she proceeded to be sick another five times, poor little sausage. My mum and I then proceeded to spend the next hour hosing Emma down and cleaning up sick, it is a day that I definitely will never forget and in that moment vowed never to travel solo with kids again, but we all know that is a big fat lie!
I tried to cram in as much as possible on our visit as it had been the first in two and a half years and also, for Emma, it was the first time she can remember the UK as she had just turned two when we were last there, so it was fairly magical to see everything through her eyes.
We travelled to London (twice), enjoyed the breath-taking rides at Peppa Pig World, celebrated my mum’s 70th birthday (although she doesn’t look a day over 50). Had a few sleepovers with some fabulous friends, drank many bottles of fantastic wine, ate a lot of pork, reintroduced Emma to angel delight (god I love that stuff!),
got caught short on a motorway and had to take both children into a very grim petrol station toilet, with Teddy strapped to me in the baby carrier (poor guy).
Went to lots of parks, ate ice cream by the River Dee, went to the Zoo and saw limited animals due to it being very cold (gotta love a UK summer), celebrated Daddy’s/Danny’s birthday, played crazy golf and hugged as many people as I possibly could.
As I mentioned above, I did a lot of driving around on the first half of our visit with the final journey being from Sussex to Chester. I hired a car twice from Enterprise Rent a car as we’ve always had a good experience from them in the past (although car hire, like everything else, seems to have doubled in cost). Whenever I do hire a car, I take a video of the whole car, just to ensure that if I return it and there is a mark I didn’t notice, I can’t be accused of doing it. Can you see where I’m going with this…
I collected my car on the Monday and as usual took a video. The customer rep didn’t highlight any damages and at the time I didn’t see any. It wasn’t until I arrived at Chester, my father-in-law asked if I had noticed the huge scratch that ran horizontally along the side of the car. I felt like I could have been sick and started to break out in a hot sweat. I was then trying to re trace my journey as to when it could have happened. It was at that point I remembered taking the video and as I watched it, there within a screenshot was part of the scratch, what sweet relief.
When I returned it to Enterprise though, they had no record of any damage and had I not taken the video they would have put me at fault for it, so always, always take a video if you hire a car…it could save you a lot of money!
As I finish writing this blog post it is now the beginning of October. How has it taken me two months to write it, well life (as it does) gets in the way sometimes, and funnily enough, I don’t seem to have as much free time as I used too. I will end this blog post though by saying we have now lived in Muscat for three full years, and I don’t think any of us could have anticipated what would happen during that time. Have there been some challenging times, absolutely, but we are loving living here still and look forward to exploring and doing more now that there are fewer restrictions and also, we can't wait to have more visits from family and friends in the coming year!
In my next blog I’ll report back on our first holiday as a family of four to Turkey, falling back in love with Muscat (especially with the cooler months approaching) and our never-ending search for a British school that has good communication for Emma to start grade one next year!