The days leading up to moving to Oman, were somewhat a bit of a whirlwind. We had been on holiday to Spain as our close friends were getting married there (Stef and Richard aka Rach, if you’re reading this, it truly was one of THE best). We came home on the 4th September giving us exactly 48 hours to unpack, repack and do any last-minute bits and bobs before leaving. If this move has taught me anything it’s that I am now quite the dab hand at fitting as much as I can in a suitcase!
When moving day finally arrived the final count of suitcases was seven plus a car seat and pushchair. Danny had also taken out 10 suitcases on his two previous trips which meant that we basically fit all our wholly possessions into 17 suitcases, which I think is fairly respectable (some may disagree). We said our emotional goodbyes to Jan and Phill (Danny’s parents) and left for Manchester airport where we arrived in a buzz of anticipation and excitement. Thankfully check in and security went as smooth as we could ask for and we settled into the business lounge.
Now anyone travelling on a long-haul overnight flight with a 20-month-old is going to, quite rightly, be anxious and those of you who have met Emma, will know that she is a pretty chilled character.
Does she have tantrums, of course, but 80% of the time she is chatty, smiley and has not grasped the concept of stranger danger yet i.e. she will go to anyone.
So what was she like on the flight…. exactly her normal, chatty, smiley self for the first hour, charming all the cabin crew (who were amazing by the way, bravo #OmanAir) and for the final six hours she slept - HOORAH! Someone upstairs was also looking down at us as we managed to get a spare seat on the flight between Danny and I meaning that I didn’t get a dead arm for several hours = RESULT! The only slight negative I could offer was that I only got 30 minutes sleep (I really struggle to sleep on planes), but this did give me the opportunity to catch up on a few movies’ whist having a couple of glasses of wine.
We touched down into Muscat at 7am and the mountain views coming into landing were spectacular and gave me a bit of a warm, fuzzy feeling. We glided through passport control and collected our mammoth luggage load and walked out the airport to get a cab.
On exiting the airport the heat hits you like you’ve just opened the oven door, but instead of just smacking you in the face it engulfs your whole body.
Emma and I quickly got in the air-conditioned cab (bliss) whilst Danny and the taxi driver loaded the luggage up (sorry Danny) and we set off on to our new house which is about a 15-minute drive from the airport. On entering the house, it was literally like walking into a sauna. We ran around putting on all the air con units to get the temperature down, whilst Emma wondered round repeatedly saying ‘hot’, ‘hot’…she wasn’t wrong.
The villa is bigger than it appeared on the videos Danny had sent me and it is at this point I want to publicly say thank you so much to Danny for doing a brilliant job with finding it and getting some of the essential furniture in, it really is better than I had imagined. As you find with any new property there were a couple of minor issues that we needed to highlight to the property manager, one of which was that the property had not been cleaned, as promised, meaning that I would have a fair job on my hands over the next few days.
On the day we arrived I had grand plans of doing a huge shop and getting some household bits. We ventured out to our local mall, however the sheer lack of sleep got the better of me and the intense feeling of nausea came over me like a wave so Danny had to sit me down and force me to drink full fat coke for the sugar hit, so my plans were kyboshed and we came home and I slept whilst Danny put away some of our stuff (he’s a good egg).
The following day, which was a Sunday, Danny had his first day back in the office (Friday and Saturdays are classed as the weekends over here which will take some getting used to), so Emma and I had our first day of riding solo together in Muscat.
I woke up with my positive pants on and I was determined as a bulldog that I was going to get out of the house and make some friends!
I was told about a toy/book library run by the Muscat Mums (MM) group, which was happening on the Sunday, so I got myself and Emma organised, and I ordered a taxi (they have OTaxi out here which is basically like Uber). I picked up some house keys which Danny had left and went outside into the oven (Google had told me that with the humidity it felt like 46 degrees today - oh joy). The keys wouldn’t work, I gave the universal sign of holding my finger up (no, not that finger) and mouthed ‘I’ll just be one minute’ to the taxi driver, unaware if he spoke English or not, whilst I ran inside with Emma to search frantically for some other keys. After three frantic phone calls to Danny I eventually found the right set of keys, rushed outside and jumped in the cab…the sweat was dripping off me whilst Emma was reciting her ‘hot’ mantra’ – this would make a great first impression to the MM group! I told the taxi driver where I needed to be…he gave me a blank gaze and then gave me his phone to put the destination in, which seemed to work, and we were off…success! We got to the outskirts of the destination, which was a 20-minute drive away and there was an unmanned barrier. I called the number I had from the Muscat Mums email, but the number wouldn’t work (I think this was to do with my UK phone more than anything else), I tried the number ten times in a panic. So here I was sitting in a taxi with Emma, unable to get through the barrier with a taxi driver who spoke zero English. This was not how I envisaged my first day going…..
Read part two next week where I will tell you how my day played into a comedy of errors and how the rest of our first week panned out.