Or Why Bribery Is A Legitimate Parenting Tool (and I don’t care who says otherwise)
Well it was another early wake up call. This blow was softened by the beautiful view of mountains and palm trees from our room and the delicious breakfast that followed. Thank you Hatta Fort Hotel!We got moving quickly, as it promised to be a scorcher of a day and sightseeing with toddlers is hard enough without them being hot and sweaty toddlers (truly terrifying). First stop was the Hatta Dam which was fairly plain, but the emerald lake hidden behind it, surrounded by mountains, was gorgeous. We were the only people around so the whole space was full of peace and beauty. Obviously this didn’t last long and the tranquillity was shattered by Arthur demanding songs about bears and then Tom singing a song about purple bears with yellow spots that eat children with names beginning with A (a Brit nomination due any day now).
Hatta Heritage Village was up next. The children liked this one, as the exhibits are all in little houses that they could run in and out of. The fort and village have been restored and maintained wonderfully and was all free to enter. The sun was really beginning to beat down on us all though, when two kind Emirati ladies in traditional gold burqa masks stopped their car to say hello to Arthur and Eirlys, welcome us to Hatta and hand us bottles of water. A lovely example of how hospitable and loving towards children people in the Middle East so often are.
We spent the rest of the day by pool where Arthur finally realised that putting his head under the water isn’t going to make it melt off. Arthur was in the water at six weeks old and could hold his breath under water at 4 months but then a few months out of the water over a winter and he point blank refused to get back in. We had eventually managed to get him swimming well using a noodle or arm bands (with thanks to an ace teacher friend) but he steadfastly refused to put his head under. Finally, we now managed to tempt him to get his head wet. One dunk = one Haribo coca cola bottle. Awesome strategy there. I should write a parenting manual. Arthur quickly figured out that he was still alive and that it was actually pretty fun and he was soon diving like a dolphin. He then turned to Eirlys and started lecturing her on how easy it was and that she should be brave like him! The cheek!
That night we put the children to bed early (the late nights don’t seem to be improving the early sodding wake-ups anyway) and enjoyed a delicious room service dinner on the balcony. With a cold beer – don’t forget that alcohol is forbidden in Saudi, so a proper pint is pure heaven!
The, now standard, early morning wake up out of the way, we headed off on the road again, this time to the UAE-Oman border. We drove down the coastal road to Muscat and again the drive was fascinating. A change in architecture was noticeable the instant we crossed the border. All the mosques in the parts of Oman we covered have beautiful blue and gold patterned domes and minarets, stunning. If anyone knows any more about why they are all blue and gold, let me know!
We stopped in Sohar (alleged birthplace of the semi-fictional Sinbad) and had a quick stretch of our legs along the corniche and saw the fort looking out over the sea. Then it was back in the car where, full disclosure, Peppa Pig was now playing on loop. Arthur and Eirlys had figured out what seemed like a million ways to annoy each other in the back. Even Peppa’s whining was preferable to listening Eirlys tell Arthur that he can’t go to sleep. Why not? Why does he care? Is he even tired? Why is he yelling back? Who fucking knows?!
So we arrived in Muscat, glad to get out of the car and ready for another beer.