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Family Life

Expat Life, Family Life

Jebel Sifah

April 20, 2016

We always say that we need a family weekend away but due to work and commitments we never seem to get round to actually doing it. When Jebel Sifah invited us for a weekend at their resort I jumped at the chance.

Bags packed and ready to rock we hopped onboard the water taxi at Marina Bandar Rowda – yes a shuttle taxi on the water, how cool! This was Spencer’s first time on a boat and he was so excited!!

Due to my need to over pack luggage every single time I had to tell Colin that he wasn’t invited to join us on the boat, he was instructed to drive with the bags and meet us there. Sorry! As soon as I was on the boat I started to regret that decision as I panicked about handling a hectic toddler on a boat on my own… Thankfully someone was watching out for me that day and the noise of the boat, and wearing a life jacket, terrified Spencer enough to snuggle into his Mama and sat perfectly for the whole 45 minute journey to reach Sifah.

001 Spencer on the boat

Approaching the resort from the water rather than road is a fun novelty and a beautiful way to enjoy the amazing scenery of the area. Oman really is the most beautiful place to explore!

We checked into our lovely 2 bedroom apartment overlooking the peaceful marina. Having grown up around boats I feel immediately calmed as soon as I’m by the water, it’s like my happy place.

001 Sifah marina

Other than the amazing location nestled between the mountains and the famous Sifah beach the charm of the resort is that they have created a little town with everything you would need to relax and spend time there including a coffee shop, convenience store, clothes shop and a dive centre.

001 Sifah beach

Most of the weekend was spent around the pool with our little water baby. Making friends, running around and splashing made him a very happy little guy.

001 Sifah family

Look at this sweet little nugget..

001 Spencer hiding

For adventure lovers like me there were plenty of water activities to partake in. Unfortunately for us Mother Nature didn’t want to cooperate with our thrill seeking plans on the water and the weather was too rough. We stuck to kayaking and jet skiis, with much hilarity it was still a great adventure.

IMG_2852

Thank you to Muriya and Jebel Sifah for a great weekend with family and friends!

Heather x

Family Life, Food & Entertainment

Al Bustan Brunch

March 1, 2016

Brunch is a big thing in this part of the world. Social occassions, family time, eating, drinking. Whatever your reason for brunch it’s sure to be a good time.

When the Al Bustan Palace invited my family and I to try their brunch at the Beach Pavillion who was I to refuse?!

Sitting down to lunch with sand between my toes and a gentle ocean breeze was a very welcome change from my usual Friday lunch times.

Thankfully we still have a few weeks of decent weather left to enjoy these outdoor treats until the summer is upon us again.

001 Beach view

The selection of starters are a dream come true for the sea food lovers. From prawns and oysters to crab legs and smoked salmon they had it all.

001 Prawns

001 Mussells

001 Prawn plates

And for those who like bubbles with their food there are options for that;

001 Veuve

The main courses came from the grilling stations outside on the lawns and offered a selection of great quality foods like steak, lobster tail, chicken tikka, biryani and lamb.

001 Outside Grill

001 Biryani

After a belly full of nuggets and pasta from the kids selection Spencer moved on to something more grown up, and his favourite for the day, chicken Biryani.

001 Biryani lover

My sweet tooth always gets the better of me and lures me towards the dessert selection. There were many delights to choose from and also ice cream much to the delight of my child who demanded a second helping.

001 Meringue

001 Strawberry dessert

1 Brownies

001 Cheese

001 Spencer tasting

001 Spencer messy face

After plenty of food it was Mummy & Spencer time as I took him for a walk along the beach and to stretch our legs.

001 Mummy and Spencer

With plenty of space to run and play whilst Mummy and Daddy are brunching there is also the option for the kids with a play area complete with bouncy castle, drawing station and balloon animals.

I watch on nervously as Spencer shrieks with delight as his Dad throws him on the bouncy castle.
He LOVED it!

001 Bouncy 1

001 Bouncy 2

As the sun begins to set it was time to pack up and head home with full stomachs and happy memories.

001 Boys walking

It was a beautiful setting and experience at the Al Bustan and definitely a place we will return to as a family. Visit their website for more details.

Have a great week.

Heather x

Family Life

Two Years Old

January 28, 2016

Today my baby boy turns two years old.

I type that nonchalantly but inside I am freaking out. How am I the mother to a two year old?! Where does the time go?! I’m still winging this parenting malarkey so I’m amazed that it is going so well.

001 Cupcake face

This is the face of a boy who isn’t usually allowed anything too sugary – not because I’m a micro managing health freak mother, but mostly because he doesn’t handle it well and gets hyper quickly. For some reason I thought now that he is 2 that it would be different…. Silly Mommy!

001 Cupcake face boy 2

001 Cupcake face boy

Spencer shares his cake with Sassy Cat.

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The terrible twos are in full swing (for anyone who doesn’t have kids – YES, this is a very real and scary stage) but for a child so young he is a comedy genius, always ready to entertain and make us laugh. This helps to distract from the fact he has just drawn on the wall again or is riding the dog like a horse. There is never a dull day with Spencer Duncan!

As he grows and develops he teaches me so much about patience, kindness and unconditional love that I would never have learnt without him in my life.

Please don’t grow up too fast baby boy.

Heather x

Adventure Time, Family Life

Al Ain Adventure

January 26, 2016

It’s been a while since I wrote a light hearted blog post. For this post I’m not a Mum, I’m not dashing about doing errands or trying to keep up appearances – I’m on a road trip with my buddy and having a blast! This doesn’t happen often enough so it’s worthy of a post on it’s own.

After months of training for the Wadi Adventure Race (W.A.R) it was time to hit the road and travel from Muscat to Al Ain, UAE, to get our race on.

My co-driver is my friend and partner in crime, Sarah. We have been training together for many weeks so we know each other pretty well… no subjects are off limits, she makes me cringe/laugh with her sense of humour and is happy to provide snacks – the perfect travel companion.

Two white females crossing the small border in a big ass truck attracts some hilarious attention. From smiles and waves to open mouth stares and charming police men – we had a great laugh.

001 Al Ain adventures 2

As we reached Al Ain itself the Sat Nav was directing us towards the mountain of Jebel Hafeet. I knew from the website that I had booked a hotel near the mountain but I didn’t know that it was actually on the bloody top of the mountain! Typical from me, the only mountain in the UAE and I book us a hotel right smack on the top!

The views as we drove up the mountain were quite spectacular.

001 Jebel View

001 Jebel monument

I was not aware that Al Ain is considerably colder than Muscat, that combined with the fact that our hotel was on top of a huge mountain made us a little cold. That is me putting it politely. I was fucking freezing!

The hotel itself wasn’t that exciting but one thing that REALLY excited us was the food…. Both of us have been on a low carb, high protein diet for months so when we get the green light to start “carb loading” before the race it was time to fill our hungry bellies. Rice, oats bread, pasta – you name it, we ate it.

As the sun sets for the evening, and bellies full of carbs, we discuss the tactics for tomorrows race – keep moving, try not to break anything and don’t fuck it up. A good nights sleep is definitely required – If only it wasn’t so bloody cold! Thank goodness for hotel dressing gowns to keep you warm whilst you sleep!

001 Jebel sunset

Good Morning from the Jebel! We are high up above the mountains and enjoying the view as we do our final race preparations (eat more food and dose up on energy supplements) before travelling back down the mountain to the race location.

001 Morning on Jebel Hafeet

001 Race Morning

Stay tuned for the next blog post coming soon from the Wadi Adventure Race.

Heather x

Expat Life, Family Life

Merry Christmas 2015

December 24, 2015

Snuggled under a blanket with the logs crackling on the fire, twinkling Christmas lights and the smell of a real pine tree and festive baking fills the air.

Just joking.

This is my reality- It’s Christmas Eve, 26 degrees and not a cloud in the sky so no chance of a white Christmas. I’m perched on the edge of a scratchy sofa as my horror child takes a five minute break from destroying everything in sight to watch Minions. Again. I’m taking the opportunity to sneak onto the laptop and get some stuff done and the only smell in the air is something unpleasant wafting from his diaper. I guess that is his Christmas gift to Mama.

By my own OCD Christmas standards I am so unprepared. There is not a single light, decoration or even a tree in the Duncan House. But this year, for us, I think that is ok. I’m a lot more relaxed about this than I ever thought I would be.

We weren’t sure if Colin would be here at all or if he would be called to work, that is still a possibility but for now he is here with us and we are thankful for that.
The reason for the lack of decorations – With two dogs, two cats and a whirlwind of a toddler a tree probably wouldn’t last long. Thankfully Spencer is still oblivious to the Christmas mania so we can get away with a quiet festive season for one last year and I promise I’ll do better next year when he is more aware of it.

I couldn’t let this lovely season pass without a couple of photos, decorating a palm tree and a sweet festive jumper.

001 Palm Christmas Tree

This Christmas Day we plan on a nice, low key day hopefully spent laughing and eating with friends enjoying their company rather than panicking about the ‘perfect’ day and everything that goes with it. The only thing I will insist on is a family photo, more for the sake of memories to look back on. I can hear Colin moaning already 🙂

001 Christmas Jumper 1

Being away from our loved ones and our own traditions is especially hard at this time of year. I wish we could snap our fingers and be with our families but sadly this year it just isn’t possible.

Wherever you are this festive season I wish you all the best,

Heather x

PS- Apologies for all the errors and rambling in this post, his attention span is wearing off and I have a toddler hanging over my shoulder.

Adventure Time, Expat Life, Family Life

Life Lately – Winter 2015

December 18, 2015

Life has been busy lately making me a very neglectful Blogger.

The past couple of months has brought cooler winter weather, visitors from afar and exhausting days of gym training. But we are all healthy and happy together and I’m back with the round up of Life Lately.

My lovely Poppa flew into Muscat to visit recently so we managed to spend some quality time together and enjoy all the nice vacation things that I often forget to do when day to day life takes over. We ate in some great new places, visited the beach for sunset, spent mornings at the pool and generally just relaxed which is a very rare thing for both of us.

001 Pop visits

001 Spencer Nov 2015

001 Collage with Dad

After a long slog of a summer the arrival of the winter weather is definitely something to celebrate. For me every day is busy as I attempt to cram in as many outdoor activities as possible to make the most of it.

001 Nov hikes

001 Bausher wadi

001 Rockclimbing

Myself and Spencer flew Abu Dhabi for a couple of days to watch Colin play in an ice hockey tournament for the Oman Timberwolves.

001 Fly to AD

Spencer really loves to hang out at the rink, heckle players and bang on the glass so this was a fun weekend for him with plenty of games to watch.

001 AD tournament

He even had a holiday romance with a Dutch girl and fell madly in love. Spencer of course, not Colin.

001 Spencer in love

Several times a week I’m still training at Elite Gym in preparation for an upcoming fitness challenge in January. With under a month to go we are pushing hard to be race ready in time.

001 Kicking

With the festive season right around the corner I have only just started the Christmas preparations. This year will be a small scale Christmas celebration spent at home in Muscat and with friends. But to all our friends and family back in Scotland reading this, we miss you and sorry we can’t be there!

Thanks for sticking with me through my Blogging lull! I aim to be back very soon with more exciting adventure posts.

Heather x

Family Life

Missy & Sassy – The new additions

November 8, 2015

There is always some kind of commotion in our house so when both of our cats passed away recently it left us all sad and the house feeling far too quiet.

I missed the cats. Spencer missed the cats. Even the dogs missed having the cats around!

I made an appointment to visit Muscat Vets and meet some of their sweet kittens up for adoption. The tiny kittens were adorable but none of them were the right fit for our family – you have to be a real character in our house. Then I went to the next room to meet the slightly older cats who are often overlooked for adoption because their kitten appeal has faded slightly.

Formerly known as Lucky & Coal, these two girls immediately caught my eye. They trotted over when I called on them and even fetched a ball when I threw it. At 6 months old their sweet personalities were already formed so I knew what to expect from them, quite important when I’m taking them home to a toddler and two large dogs.

Now renamed these pretty girls are called Missy & Sassy.

001 Missy

001 Sassy

‘Missy’ because she is a little Miss indeed, our little Diva! and ‘Sassy’ aptly named because she has plenty of sass to be the one bossing the dogs around!

It’s been a month since they moved into the Duncan house and they are loving life! We all love our little rescue cats. They are the perfect mix of playful, curious and snuggly.

001 Sassy Cat ball

001 Sassy and Luna

001 Missy Girl

If you are interested to adopt an animal please follow their Facebook page for details of the sweet animals currently looking for loving homes.

Heather x

Family Life

Little Dinosaur – Halloween 2015

October 29, 2015

One of the fun things about being a Mom is being able to dress my child up and embarrass him make some fun memories. What better occasion for a costume than Halloween?!

With his toddler Halloween party looming I wracked my brain trying to think of a costume to out-do last years Spartan costume. Click here to see last year. He hates anything on his head so it can be hard to think of ideas that don’t include hats, masks, hoods or face paint.

Whilst I’m not the best seamstress in the world I always have creative ideas that I want to try. Thanks to Pinterest I had plenty of inspiration to get me started.

At first he was NOT rating the dinosaur life…

001 Crying Dino

But once he got into it and a sloppy kiss from his bestie he got into the swing of things.

001 Luna Kisses

A super scary dinosaur but still keeping it trendy with the Nike Air Max.

001 Dino side profile

001 Dino Run

001 Dino Tail

From me and my little Dino, I hope that you all have a very happy Halloween 🙂

001 Little Dino Halloween

Heather x

Family Life, Other Stuff

Locked Inside The Car

October 23, 2015

This is the kind of story you read in the newspaper and think “How stupid, How could that happen?” but this really happened to me this week. My child was locked inside the car with the key and I was on the outside.

There’s nothing you can say that I haven’t already beat myself up about but by telling this story I want to warn parents so they can try to avoid making the same mistake.

I’ll start start from the start;

It was the usual wrestle and bribery with my toddler (almost 2 years old) to force him into his car seat. I sat in the drivers side and remembered that I didn’t pack the wet wipes – you don’t take a little boy anywhere without wet wipes!

I get back out of the car and by reflex closed the door behind me and take a step towards the house – CLICK – what was that? Did the doors just lock?! Yes. Oh f*ck.
Spencer is strapped into his car seat, the key is in the ignition with the engine running, my phone is in my handbag which is also inside the car and my husband is out of the country. This is a BIG problem.

I frantically try every single door handle again and again but the car is definitely locked. Again, Oh f*ck.

We only have one key for this car. I had always planned to order another one but every month it just seemed like there are other things to pay for. Major error!

For the first ten minutes locked inside Spencer is fine, The AC is running and he has water and raisins to keep him busy. But that doesn’t solve the problem – I have no phone to call anyone and no one around me to help. I dash into the house to Google ways to break into my own car but my iPad only works on WIFI inside the house and the signal won’t reach to the car outside. Every time I have to leave the car to go inside Spencer is getting more upset as he wants me to stay with him. There are plenty of videos and forums but I don’t have the time or rational thinking to trawl the internet.

As a mother it’s horribly painful to see your child sobbing and calling for you just centimetres away but there is nothing you can do to reach them. After 35 horrible minutes there was only one thing for it… Mummy Bear mode kicks in. I grab the biggest hammer I could find from the tool box. Believe me, This is not a decision I took lightly.

001 Glass on the ground

I have never deliberately smashed my own car window so I’m not familiar with the best techniques – I’m now told to use a hammer and a nail – His car seat was in the front passenger side so my only logic was to chose the rear opposite window side to where he was sitting, smash it an try not to send glass showering over him. It’s not easy to think clearly when he is sobbing his heart out.

I swung the hammer back and with all my might hit it into the glass, there was a massive THUD but not even a single crack on the window. Dammit. These windows are incredibly hard to break!! I had expected it just to shatter but the window film was holding it all together. 3 more big swings until it even cracked.

Luckily no glass had reached Spencer in his seat but the sharp shards came outwards on to me, I had to run back into the house to get a towel and oven mitt to wrap round my hand and arm to get my arm through the hole in the window and unlock the doors to reach him.

001 Window smash

Thankfully Spencer came out of the car completely unharmed from the experience which was around 45 minutes start to finish. There were plenty of tears and cuddles but not a scratch on him.

My poor car…. It turns out I chose to smash the worst window that no one stocks, typical, so I am waiting on a new pane of glass to be delivered. The car isn’t set to lock itself when the door closes so I did not expect that to happen but for some reason this day it did, later that day it did it again so there is a fault somewhere. Technology can be a blessing and a curse.

So the point of the story, sometimes these things happen that we don’t expect. Take precautions with a spare key and don’t close door with your kids/pets in the car. Try not to make the same error as me – It wasn’t ideal but in some ways I was lucky that we were still at home with the engine running so the AC was cooling the car and I had access to a hammer.

This was a lesson learnt – A spare key for the car is cheaper than a new window. Sigh.

Heather x

Expat Life, Family Life

A Day In Luxury – Al Bustan Palace

October 15, 2015

Exploring Wadi’s, picnics on deserted beaches, hiking cliff top trails – Every time my brother, Graham, comes to town I bombard him with crazy adventure plans. He’s seen some of the most amazing sights in Oman so for his fourth trip to the Sultanate I wanted to arrange something special, and a little different, for him.

With luxury in mind it really doesn’t get better than the Al Bustan Palace. They don’t call it a ‘Palace’ for nothing! From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave you are treated like royalty – This is exactly what I had in mind.

With little Spencer joining us too we booked the “Palatial Day Experience” which would be perfect for us as we can use the facilites for the whole day and also have a hotel room to nap, relax and freshen up.

The day rooms have a balcony that open directly onto the Lagoon pool, this was the view from our room. At this point Graham looks pretty delighted, I think I’m earning some awesome sister points right here!

001 Room with a view

My little water baby, Spencer, wastes no time in getting into his swimming gear and jumping into the pool.
This is such a convinent set up when you have the kids, you can relax on your balcony lounger whilst they swim and know that they are safe and happy. Well, that’s the general idea but Spencer has his own ideas which involved plastic boats, crocodiles, elephants, a football. Soon we had that swanky pool looking like his personal play area.

001 Poolside Room

We spent a wonderful morning playing in the lagoon pool and had no intentions of moving until our tummies told us that it was time for food.

For lunch we relaxed in the shade of the pool side restaurant, Blu. Spencer ordered from the kids menu and as you can see he very much enjoyed his Fish (Hammour) fingers.

001 Spencer Lunch

With a belly full of good food Graham retired to the room for an afternoon siesta – always the sign of a good day in my book – whilst me and Spencer headed off to explore the grounds.

I was wishing that Spencer might drift peacefully off to sleep in the stroller but he was too excited as he chatted away to every single bird we passed and pointed at boats on the beach.

001 Al Bustan grounds

001 Al Bustan beach

Not one wink of sleep for this cheeky boy so we head back to wake up Uncle Graham and show him the way to the infinity pool.

001 Spencer Hat

Standing next to the infinity pool it looks like a scene from a glossy holiday brochure. This is paradise!

001 Infinity pool

After a morning in the intense Oman sun we were very grateful for the shade of palm trees as we played in the pool for the final hours of day light.

001 Pool with Mum

The best Uncle!

001 Pool with Gee

001 Spencer pool day

Making memories together is so important, especially when we live so far apart. It was a fantastic and memorable day at the Al Bustan and a lovely way to treat my brother for coming so far to see us.

Now I have raised the bar, how can I out-do this for his next visit to Oman?!

Heather x