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  • Ellie Hamilton

Exploring, loving and living in the Middle East

I am going to make this blog entry of our Middle East adventure

a bit like me….short and sweet!

I never thought I would still be writing about the COVID situation getting progressively worse again, but here we are. It would seem that Oman is having a swap with the UK in terms of the situation. As the UK are coming out of the hole they have been in for a few months, Oman appears to be going into one.

To put it into context, there is currently a lot of pressure on the ICU’s over here and numbers wise this week we have been averaging 1100 cases a day (in January it had dropped to below 150 a day).

According to the Ministry there seems to be an increase mainly due to a complacency in the public not adhering to the rules. So, what is the Ministry doing to resolve the issue, well since 4 March a rule was put in that there would be no commercial activity between 8pm and 5am, apart from you could order food for delivery/takeaway. Sadly, that has had little to no effect. On Sunday, 29 March a no movement ban after 8pm until 5am was put in place, meaning you cannot leave your home between these hours (there are of course exemptions i.e. emergency or needing to go to the airport). As of Wednesday, 31 March they have also announced a ban on all private and public sporting activities as well as schools are now moving to distance learning again, apart from Nurseries which can thankfully remain open (for now). From today, Wednesday 14 April, which is the first day of Ramadan the no movement ban will change to 9pm – 4am. Hopefully these new rules will help to reduce the case numbers again, however I have a sinking feeling we will be heading into a full lockdown before Ramadan is over, time will tell, and I am ever hopeful that this is not the case.

As a result of Oman’s case numbers increasing, it has also meant that the UK have added Oman to the red list, and in return Oman have banned all direct flights going from/to the UK. This has sadly meant we are delaying are very long-awaited trip back to the UK. We were due to fly on 28 April with Danny staying for 3 weeks and then returning and Emma and I were going to stay on until the end of June. We are obviously 100% gutted that we won’t be seeing our family and friends anytime soon, but I keep saying to myself that everything happens for a reason.

We have tentatively penciled in our new flights for 8 September with a view that Emma and I will stay until the end of October so I am hoping with every fibre in my body that we get to come back as enough is enough and like many others, I am tired of this waiting game.

On a much more positive note, Oman has started its vaccination drive, at this time 150,000 have been vaccinated which is 3% of the population. The target group at the moment is 60+ and those with any underlying health issues, but I understand the hardest part for the country has been getting hold of the vaccinations. From a recent news report Oman are due to procure 3 million doses of the vaccine in between now and August, so with any luck we will get our vaccine before visiting the UK.

Moving away from the COVID chat, If you follow me on Instagram (@the_muscat_diaries) you will see that we have been living our lives to the fullest over the recent months, well as much as we can whilst keeping to the restrictions. I am so incredibly grateful that Danny has this opportunity, and we are experiencing a lifestyle I never dreamed of. At the end of January, Danny and I went for our first hike here. There are several treks that you can do that are all mapped out and as mere novices we decided to do an easy one.

Now I would like to think I was a fairly fit person, I work out 4 to 5 times a week with mainly HIIT training, however it is safe to say that the trek we did is definitely not for the faint hearted.

In saying that though it was extremely exhilarating and the views we captured were breath-taking. We did get slightly confused on what route to take on the trek and we ended up taking the wrong route where we ended up having to climb down a rock via a chain rope which I found hilarious…Danny, not so much. I would thoroughly recommend anyone to do it though if you visit, and you can find the route here.

At the start of the year Emma started at Nursery at Chapter One for two days a week and it has been an absolute game changer for her and for me.

The first few weeks were hard as the staff had to prize her off me as she was wrapped around me like a baby monkey in tears as she did not want to leave my side.

I didn’t expect anything else considering she was with me for every day, all day for so many months. However once she started to realise that she was enjoying herself when she went, she is now virtually skipping in when I drop her off without even a kiss or even a glance behind (thanks babe). For the first time in months she is socialising with other little people, her communication skills are brilliant and she is even learning some Arabic, which she can now successfully count 1-10 in and therefore has pushed me to learn it too. As for me, having two mornings off a week (the school day here is 7.30am – 1.30pm) has completely changed my mindset. It has been amazing to go to the gym, go for breakfast with friends or just potter about and get life admin at home done without being asked for a snack or to play tea parties. This also means though that I make even more of an effort to do fun stuff with Emma on the days she doesn’t go to nursery.

Just on an update with potty training if you’ve been following that journey, I think we have pretty much cracked it.

Emma’s still not 100% there yet, but she is now telling me when she wants a wee, rather than telling me whilst she’s started to go for one.

Anyone starting potty training soon, it just takes a bit of time and patience, but they get there in the end.

A couple of weeks ago I had the misfortune of experiencing what it’s like when you get a dead car battery. This was in no way an ideal situation but what made it so much worse was that I was parked on the top floor of Muscat City Centre Mall….in an unshaded spot…meaning that Emma and I were what you might call sweaty betty’s until Danny came to our rescue. I’m very grateful that emma and I had the comfort of sitting in an airconditioned café inside the mall whilst we were waiting,

but for the 15 minutes we had to sit in the car whilst waiting for Danny (and his team of merry men mechanics) to arrive and then fix the battery I have never experienced heat like that….ever.

I was so hot my top was damp, actually that’s a lie, it was wet....gross I know, but huge thanks goes out to Danny’s work colleague who knew where to get a car battery from and some guys who could fix it in such a short amount of time.

Last month Danny and I managed to do our first solo brunch at the W Hotel. We have a reliable babysitter, Irma, who Emma adores so we decided to book Irma in for the afternoon and did a hop, skip and a jump to the brunch.

We have probably been to the W a fair amount compared to other hotels within Muscat, but they have got it nailed with regards to customer service and providing the best experience compared to other hotels here.

The brunch is held at their Siddharta Lounge on the hotel rooftop and the views are brilliant. The innocent brunch (no alcohol) is 25 OMR and the not so innocent brunch (boozy) is 39 OMR (plus taxes), so you’re talking £85ish, however the atmosphere is one of best we have experienced of the brunches we’ve been too. The place has a chilled Ibiza vibe, thanks to an excellent live DJ and they have a superb selection of dishes available, especially if you are a seafood lover, as they have lobster, oysters, fresh sushi etc. However if fish doesn’t float your boat (like me), then they also have a variety of other delicious dishes. The cheese and dessert stations are also mouth watering and as it’s a buffet you can have as much as you like. If you opt for the boozy package, they have a variety of drinks within the package including sparkling rose, sparkling white, red/white/rose wine, beer, most spirits and mixers as well as a selection of cocktails so lots of variety and we’re already looking forward to going back again later in the year.

Today is officially the first day of Ramadan, so anyone celebrating who might read this I am wishing you a blessed Ramadan Kareem. It will be a fairly quiet few weeks for the Hamilton’s, but I will be back with another blog post in July and fingers crossed we will be gearing up for our UK visit (fingers, toes, legs and eyes crossed).

Sending love and hugs to everyone!

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