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  • Writer's pictureEllie Hamilton

Hello 2020.....

So, I have finally got my derriere into gear and got around to writing this month’s post. For some reason I haven’t had the motivation to write it up until now and I couldn’t tell you why, but I guess it’s because we’ve had a fair amount going on….

When we planned to travel back to the UK for two weeks over Christmas, we knew we would have to cram a lot in, but little did we realise how much. We had a fantastic time and it goes without saying how brilliant it was to catch up with so many friends and family, but apart from boxing day (where Emma and I resided in our pyjamas all day), we had something on every day, so by the time we came back home we were ready to do nothing for a week!

As well as celebrating Christmas and New Year we also celebrated Emma’s 2nd birthday, which as birthdays go was fairly quiet and involved soft play, McDonalds, Peppa Pig cake and presents but she absolutely loved it, as did we and I have a feeling that it will be a long time before we have a quiet birthday like that again.

Shortly after our return home, it was sadly announced that His Majesty (HM) Sultan Qaboos passed away on 10 January 2020. It was well known that he had been suffering from colon cancer and in December he was reported to be terminal with a short time to live after his stay for medical treatment in UZ Leuven in Belgium and returned home because he wanted to die in his own country. There was a three-day mourning period when the news was announced meaning businesses and shops closed apart from supermarkets and pharmacies.

One thing that was amazing to see was how quickly and efficiently the Omani people managed everything.

A few hours following the announcement of HM death, the new sultan had been announced, HM Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, and shortly after that the funeral took place. Following the death of HM Sultan Qaboos it was evident to see how loved he was, not just from the Omani people, but the expats who live here as well. Not only was there a three-day mourning period but for a period of 40 days there is also no celebratory events which includes music (all radio stations have gone offline as well) and expats were reminded to dress respectfully.

During the three day mourning period there was little to do apart from a lot of playdough, painting, teddy bears picnic and of course watch Frozen multiple times, so by the end of it I was desperate to get Emma to a soft play of some sort, however the rain had other ideas. Now I don’t like driving in Muscat when it rains at the best of times (mainly because of other drivers),

but on this occasion it was so bad even Danny had to come home from work as roads were flooding everywhere (the river road image below is from just one day of rain)

so another day of teddy bears picnic was on the horizon – hooray!

Following a week of doing stay at home play, we had our first pool day of the year at the Dolphin and it was brilliant to lay in the sunshine and play in the pool with Emma. However, towards the end of the day things took a slight downward turn when we had a pootastrophe. We took Emma out of the pool to dry her off and as I rolled her swimsuit down I noticed brown flecks on her body, after a closer look I then realised that Emma had done the biggest poo explosion in her nappy which had spread up into her swimsuit. I would just like to point out that thankfully it has been contained within her suit and there was no leakage (thank god!!). I called Danny to help me and as we lay her down on a towel to wipe her down,

Danny tried to rip the swim nappy sides, but in his haste and before I knew it, bits of poo had flown into my face and hair,

cue a lot of whispered blasphemy and evil stares in the direction of my husband, I scooped Emma up and took her to the showers to hose her (and me) down, suffice to say I felt pretty rancid and had another shower as soon as we got home.

Like many other people I decided to partake in dry January….sort of (I say sort of as it wasn’t for the full month, but from the 3 – 30 Jan, but I think that’s pretty bloody good going)! I’ve started to do it a few times in previous years but I think the most I’ve managed is 2.5 weeks, however this year, after consuming what felt like my body weight in red wine over Christmas I felt like a good detox was in order. So, when we arrived in Muscat on 3 January, I started my four weeks of no booze and I have to admit, compared to previous years it’s been relatively easy, and I feel very cleansed. There has been the odd testing moment i.e. being housebound for a few days, pootastrophe and watching Danny having a few drinks by the pool,

but I did it, and I thoroughly enjoyed a mini bottle of prosecco on Friday and felt giddy as hell afterwards!

We planned our first date night for the year and as I was doing dry Jan I wanted to do something which didn’t involve booze, so I managed to persuade Danny to go to the cinema to see the new Bad Boys film (it’s only taken me 6.5 years to get him to the cinema, as he’s a terrible fidget and struggles to sit still for longer than 20 minutes at a time). We went to the new Luxury Cinepolis in Avenues Mall and it was one of the best cinema experiences, ever. For 30 OMR (roughly £60), we got a lounger seat for two people (see below image), and a three-course meal, where you chose a starter to share, a main each, a dessert each and a soft drink. The food was incredibly good, and I can vouch that the wagyu burger was one of the best I’ve had…bold statement I know, but it really was!

To round the month off we took a visit to Al Mouj aka The Wave which is a built-up area in Muscat. It has houses/apartments, shops, restaurants, hotels, parks, a marina and access to the beach.

They have a great farmers market on a Saturday morning and a couple of the stalls do fresh fruit and vegetables which is incredibly good value for money,

so if you live in Muscat and haven’t been yet it is definitely worth a visit. One of the perks of living in The Wave is that you can walk out your front door and go for a walk to the shops/restaurants, or just have a general stroll. This is one thing I really miss out here as there is nowhere to walk to when you leave our front door, but it is a minor thing and come summertime you really won’t want to walk anywhere.

Now we’re in February, it suddenly feels like the year is going quickly, however what with the mourning period and the booze free element, January felt like a very loooonnnngggg month. We have lots of exciting things coming up i.e. the arrival of Hirrel/Donovan/Waite in March, Danny’s parents coming for their first visit (also in March) and I am already planning a two month trip to the UK over the Summer with Emma…2020 is set to be a busy year!

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