Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

Everyday experiences with twins. The ups, downs and downright unexpected.

Finally… October 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 9:26 am
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It is official. We are no longer homeless.

Ok, so we were never actually homeless, but for the past few months, we have been in-between houses having sold our last home in the UK, but struggled to complete on the deal for the new place. For the first time in 13 years, we didn’t own our own home and it was a very unsettling feeling.

We’ve always maintained that wherever we are in the world, if we are all together, then that’s home. But the reality is, however much we enjoy our expat perks, we will forever be drawn back to the UK and when we talk about home, it’s not Dubai, but England that we refer to.

I don’t know how long we will stay here in the Middle East and when we will return to the UK, but there is a huge sense of relief that when we do decide to leave the sandpit, we know exactly where we are going back to. I know what our home looks like, where it is situated and which schools the children will attend.

If I’m honest, I’ve also mentally redesigned the kitchen and all the bathrooms, re-decorated every room and am now thinking of curtain options.

We’ve thoroughly tested our new ‘local’ in the village, I’ve checked that Waitrose do deliver to the new address (no, I won’t be shopping in Daylesford!) and we’ve decided where the cat flap needs installing so we can reclaim our lovely moggy Freddie, who has been fostered by my parents since the Arabian Adventure began.

If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it has been that I will NEVER again move house. The road to our dream Cotswold home has been long and painful. We have dealt with lies, greed, dishonesty and selfishness by the bucket load. We had a crooked estate agent and deceitful vendors. Throw into the mix that we’re about 3500 miles away, and you can appreciate that the entire experience was a little testing.

At one point last week, my other half was threatening to board a plane and insert large blunt objects into one chosen individual at our favourite estate agency, Knight Frank-ly Useless. He wasn’t especially complementary about the vendors either, but we were working on the basis that hospitalising them wouldn’t help us to secure the property. It was still incredibly tempting though.

When the call finally came through that legally there was no going back, I’m not sure that either of us fully grasped the situation. We had a bloody large drink each and sat with silly grins on our faces.

If the truth be told, I’m still grinning.

 

It didn’t start all that well… July 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 12:50 pm
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Well the day didn’t start  as well as I would have liked. We had an agreement with one of my husband’s colleagues that we would drive into the Departures Drop Off zone at the airport, he would meet us and whisk the car away. Thus saving us the torturous process of unloading in the car park and dragging 3 children, 3 suitcases and far too much hand luggage down into the terminal building.

It was a well thought out plan. It has worked well on past occasions. However, yesterday there was a flaw with our cunning plan. The colleague tasked with whisking the car away, was nowhere to be seen.

My husband rang his mobile. He rang it again. And again. It soon became clear that we were on our own.

I meanwhile had dashed into the terminal in the hope of procuring one of the Emirates loan buggies. It is a dedicated Emirates terminal and there are racks and racks of them when you don’t need one. But of course at 6am on Friday morning when we needed two of them… there were none.

I bounded up to the ‘Information’ desk and was greeted with a snarl by a large lady in traditional Arabic dress. I chirpily asked where I might find a loan buggy and was met with that most gracious of responses…

“What?”

And another snarl.

I explained the concept of the loan buggy. I pointed to one I could see in the distance.

Blank look. Another snarl. A shrug of the shoulders. I smiled and said, “Thank you so much”, though the sentiment I fear was lost on her.

I raced back out to the car where I learned that there were two options to our predicament. Either we abandoned our car in the drop off zone, never to be seen again. Or, I took the children and the luggage into the terminal whilst my husband disposed of the car in the car park.

The ‘abandoning the car route’ clearly seemed the most logical. I mean, it’s a company car after all. Would anyone even notice? And look on the bright side I said. It’s another registration when they have to give you a new car.

My husband didn’t really seem to be buying into my plan. “You’ll be fine”, he said. He loaded up the trolley with the luggage and handed me a twin. My son was just anxious to get onto the plane so was perfectly comfortable with the plan. I must have looked horrified. “I’ll take the brunette”, said the husband.

So, one trolley, 3 suitcases, 5 pieces of hand luggage, a 5-year-old, a 17 month old and 40 degrees. In case anyone is wondering, it’s not a great combination.

I had the twin that walks. Brilliant, thought I. She can walk alongside her brother, whilst I push the trolley. The trolley had a total weight close to that of the plane that would soon be carrying us. The twin doesn’t weigh an awful lot less. She’s ‘well-built’.

But did the blonde want to walk? Of course not.

I scooped her up and leant on the trolley in the hope that it would move. Nothing happened. It was one of those that have to have the handle pushed down in order for it to release the brakes. I came up with a strategy. My son leaned on the handle, I leaned on the trolley, the blonde leaned on me. It wasn’t elegant, but it did the job.

We shuffled into the Terminal to discover that the Bag Drop area was a further 2 kilometres from the entrance. We shuffled together. It was a true team effort.

By the time my husband and the brunette joined us, I must have looked like I’d run a marathon. I was drained, exhausted and frankly completely over the whole ‘travelling’ lark.

 It was 6.35am, and we hadn’t even checked the bags in. I got the distinct impression, it was going to be a long day.

 

Transience April 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 7:00 pm
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One thing that you quickly have to adapt to when living abroad is the transient life that touches every expat. When we first lived overseas we were oblivious to this until some good friends announced they were upping sticks to Geneva. Had we been in the UK this wouldn’t have been so much of an issue, but we were all living in Singapore so popping over for the weekend wasn’t really going to be an option.

The longer we stayed in Singapore, the more friends departed. I don’t think the two facts are related…

And the trouble is, when expats announce they’re moving on, it generally happens very quickly. Due to the restrictive conditions of employment visas in many countries; resignations, redundancies or promotions to other locations are normally dealt with in the time it takes a team of Indians to pack up a large family villa and load everything onto a shipping container.

In other words, about 4-6 hours.

We’ve been in Dubai for 18 months and the pattern has started again. We’ve made friends with other families who have children of the same age, attend the same school, or live in the same compound. We go out for regular child-free nights together and have learned enough about each other’s backgrounds, likes and dislikes to qualify as friends. We’ve shared ups and downs ranging from births and deaths to redundancies and promotions. And now they’re starting to leave.

In the space of just a few weeks, three families have quietly confided that they are moving on. Their children are being primed for an ‘exciting’ move involving new schools and friends. And once again, we get that slightly sinking feeling that however settled we feel, the constant comings and goings that are at the heart of an expat existence will continue to affect us.

So, you know who you are and we just want to say, we’ll miss you!

 

Hot Water April 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 8:41 pm
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Some of our friends in the UK seem to think that life in Dubai must mimic the blurb in the holiday brochures.

I’m sure most of them think we spend our life on Jumeirah beach sipping cocktails whilst watching the sunset over the Burj al Arab every evening. If we’re not on the beach we must be in the pool, shopping in Chanel, or passing camels as we head to the gold souk.

It’s a lovely thought, but no. My days consist of doing the school run and visiting the supermarket.  I also provide a daily taxi service to play dates, swimming lessons, football training and baby groups. For extra fun I also take trips to the doctor, dentist and optician.  In really exciting weeks, I may even go to Ikea.

Don’t get me wrong. Being an expat is great and I’m sure that if you live in Slough, Dubai probably sounds  a lot more glamorous. But just for the record, it’s not all mojitos and manicures.

There are plenty of things about living here that really wind me up and today I have been reminded of one of them.

Whilst there are no seasons, there is a fluctuation in temperature throughout the year. From November to March the weather is perfect with warm days and cool evenings. From April things start to warm up. By July it’s unbearable and we all escape to the UK for some guaranteed bad weather.

So now it’s beginning to heat up and as it does, a few little irritations have returned. There is no longer any cold water in the cold tap. The water tank for the house is situated on the roof and is basking in temperatures in the mid to high 30s every day.  To run a bath for the girls which needs to be ‘warm’, I now simply turn on the cold tap.

There is no point in using the electric water heaters. Why pay to heat up something that’s already hot?

Clearly we could be suffering far more serious problems but before you dismiss my little moan, just try brushing your teeth in warm water tomorrow morning.

Enough said.