This year, it is once again time to spend Christmas in Dubai, with Solveig's family. Although very much a Muslim country, the proliferation of western ex-pats and massive shopping malls means that Christmas is a big deal over there. Despite my default setting at this time of year being a Level 37 Scrooge, I do rather enjoy the incongruousness of eating the traditional Christmas roast dinner* outside, near the desert, in 25 degree heat, under a portable gazebo :)
Anyway, the other factor is of course that Dubai is a long way away:
The long and short of this is that yesterday she loaded up the car with children, luggage, pushchair, travel sweets, magazines, Kendal Mint Cake and a navigator (her excellent sister Angharad, who Freyja adores) as well as printed maps, laptop-based routefinder, sat nav, A-to-Z and mobile phone with me on speed dial. After the first call ("How do I make the water squirt onto the windscreen?") they were off. BA flight 109 from Heathrow T5 to Dubai was waiting. After the traditional crawl round the M25, they arrived at BCP to be told that yes they could park there but the courtesy coach could only take them to Terminal 4, from where they would need to take a regular scheduled London bus to Terminal 5**. Not happy, but what can you do? Anyway, finally the call comes - they're there, checked in, had dinner, kids in pyjamas and waiting to be called for the flight. Phew. And sure enough, woke up this morning (after what can only be described as a three-hour lie-in) to a text message saying that the kids were brilliant on the flight and everyone is smiling and happy in the UAE sunshine.
So I can relax. With TMS commentary of the India test, Arsenal the lunchtime match on the box, a pork pie in the fridge as well as it absolutely chucking it down outside (so I couldn't rake the metric tonne of leaves off the garden, even if I wanted to, which I don't) it's pretty relaxed chez fourstar. I shall miss them all terribly for the next week, but it's good to be able to breathe out once in a while :)
As I said, it's very, very quiet here...
* Which I have just realised, with the arrival of Theo, will be for 11 people this year!
** Having been informed of this by a rather stressed wife I decided to look into it and as far as I can tell it turns out that yes, there is Long Stay parking at the shiny new T5 but it is exclusively run by BAA, is literally TWICE the price of the other operators and they won't let the independents (BCP, Purple, Flyaway, etc) run their courtesy coaches direct to T5. Insert insulting swear word of choice here.