Home Again.

We arrived home on Saturday in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Everyone tells me they have enjoyed a wonderfully warm and sunny Easter holiday so I’m pretty sure the sudden change in weather was my fault. I caved and bought the girls some flip flops ( jandals if you’re a Kiwi, thongs if you come from the ‘Other Place’)  on our last day in Dubai, and the UK weather reacted accordingly. Because, of course, British weather is predictably unpredictable.

Luckily the rain didn’t last, so I was able to spend the day yesterday doing laundry and hanging it outside. We don’t use a tumble drier, so it is nice to not have clothes horses all over the place inside.

I’m so pleased to be home; I love travelling, seeing new things, and experiencing new cultures with the kids and DH, but it was lovely to get home to my own bed ( and toilet). The nice weather is a bonus.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog while we’ve been away. Some of you have mentioned you’d like to see more pictures, so for you, here’s some of my favourite photos of the trip.

The villa we stayed at in Sri Lanka was called Malgedara. It is slightly south of Galle, and it was about a 4 hour drive from Columbo airport. It had 4 bedrooms and came with a cook, housekeeper and gardener, and also a pool.

Fruit bats at Malgedara. 100’s of them would fly over the villa at dusk. Here’s a video I made of them flying past the moon. You can tell they are bats, as they have no tails when viewed from below.

Palm trees in the villa garden.

DD3 holding a newly hatched turtle. She was a little unsure at first but had a hold in the end. Later, we got to release about 40 2 day old babies back into the sea. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and if we come back in 30 years time, we may see some of the females returning to that exact beach to lay their own eggs.

Mirissa beach. This was definitely the nicest beach we visited in Sri Lanka, with golden sand, but some quite big waves, so we had to keep an eye on ALL the kids when they were in the water.

An elephant and her baby at the side of the track in Yalla National Park.  Mum was having a lovely dust bath, you can see she’s got a trunkful of dirt ready.

A big Buddha in a temple on the way to Yalla National Park. It’s not considered polite to photograph people standing in front of a Buddha, so you can’t really get a idea of scale, but this one was 39ft high.

A reef as seen from the sea plane window. I think it looks like a jellyfish.

Keeping an eye on the kids on ‘our’ beach in the Maldives. It’s a hard life. The beaches on Noonu Atoll were absolutely gorgeous; photos don’t really do them justice.

DS splashing on the beach while walking back to the villa. He got a little overheated about 2 mins after this shot was taken and cried until we got back inside. Then he fell asleep in our bed, so I was stuck indoors until DH arrived and relieved me of childcare duties.

A golden sunset. Watching the sun actually set became something of an obsession of mine.

DD1 on The Royal Beach with Atlantis, The Palm in the background.

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s the tallest building in the world, at 2,717 ft tall. Photo from a car window, so not a great one, but it had to be done.

Dolphins on the travellator at Dubai Airport. These dolphins went everywhere!

 

 

Holiday Date Night.

Tonight DH and I had a date night while on holiday.

This was a special treat for us, as we don’t usually get to have a night together while away from home. Most hotel rooms only take 3, maybe 4, and you need to have one adult per room, so we have to have  2 rooms and one adult and 1-3 ( usually 2) children per room.

But for this holiday, we brought along a pair of grandparents as a couple of spare pairs of hands and eyes, and they kindly agreed to take the children to dinner tonight, and make sure that no one injured anyone seriously afterwards.

We thought about booking babysitters but they charged 10USD / per child / per hour which we thought was a bit steep, so we were very grateful when the grandparents offered their services.

Neither DH or I enjoy dressing up to eat a meal, so we went for the most casual option on the island: the Islander Grill. We stopped at a couple of bars as we walked up to the restaurant and had some cocktails and had a short sit by the adults only pool before heading off for our meal.

For obvious reasons, we’ve not been able to visit this facility during our stay at the Hilton Iru Fushi , but it looked very nice and peaceful in the evening.

The restaurant was lovely, and sat right on the beach. Our table was under cover, right next to one of the ponds that contained various potential meals of fish, crabs and lobsters. I’m not too keen on this kind of set up, although my attitude is pretty hypocritical considering we eventually ordered a sea food platter for 2.

It contained oysters, prawns, snapper, tuna, calamari, crab, lobster and baby octopus. Neither of us touched the baby octopus, but we tried most of the other creatures. I made a spectacular mess of the huge crab claw and it was confiscated by a waiter and brought back in an idiot friendly state 5 minutes later.

It was too much for us really and we couldn’t even look at the dessert menu, which is very unusual for us but we both enjoyed the time together immensely.

But now we’ve come back to 4 very awake children at almost 11pm, and a note informing us that we have to check out at 7.15am.

It’s our last day on the island.  Tomorrow we head to Dubai for one night, so this may be the last time you hear from me before we get back to the UK on Saturday evening.

I have 2 small children to get to sleep before I get my head down, and DH has to perform a similar action in a hut, 2 villas over. We also both need to pack.

By the time those of you in the UK wake up tomorrow, we’ll be halfway to Dubai, with 4  very tired children and a couple of well-developed hangovers.

By then we’ll be considering Date Night well and truly over rated.

 

The Unlucky Dolphin Cruise and Thunderstorms.

Last night we went on the ‘Lucky Dolphin Sunset Cruise’.

It wasn’t very lucky because we didn’t see as much as a dolphins fin. We saw some flying fish, which are actually pretty cool, and a few sea birds but no dolphins.

The girls all slept for at least an hour of the cruise but DS was very active, and I spent a lot of time trying to stop him from climbing over the edge. It was a purpose-built boat so luckily the edges were mostly quite high.

We got a few definite ‘why the hell would you bring kids to the Maldives’ vibes on boarding, but there was an upstairs deck, and we stayed downstairs so didn’t have to put  up with prolonged dirty looks.

This is supposedly one of the best resorts to bring kids to, so I am not in the least apologetic about it. There are plenty of other No Children resorts, so if a child-free holiday is that important, I figure people should book elsewhere.

One the way back on the Dolphin(less) Cruise we were offered sushi and champagne to soften the blow. The kids got orange juice but DDs1 and 2 tried, and liked the sushi.

On the way back I got chatting to the bloke running the cruise, his name was Sunday and he was from Kenya. He suggested we hire the boat and go out early as the dolphins were more active at this time, so we booked it for the next morning.

However, the weather had other ideas and at 3am there was a thunder-clap that seemed to be situated directly over our hut. DD1 erupted from the side bed she was sleeping in and dove under the covers beside me, and DS woke up and howled ‘Bang, bang’ each time it thundered. We had a rough couple of hours where no one got any sleep.

And even over the aircon, we could hear the rain coming down in buckets, so it was no surprise when we got the call at 7am, saying the cruise was off due to bad weather. Of course, as soon as this was confirmed, the skies cleared, the wind dropped and the sun came out. Pah!

So, it seems there will be no dolphins this trip, but on the upside, it gives us the perfect excuse to come back again.

 

 

Seaplanes, Sunburn And Sunsets.

Noonu Atoll is an extremely relaxing place.

I’m not sure what the secret is, but I’m pretty sure it involves water… and sand… and sun. Even with 4 kids hanging off us, we are still managing to feel quite mellow, most of the time.

Today we’ve spent quite a lot of time on, and in, the water.

We checked out the Kids’ Club on the way back from breakfast and everyone wanted to stay, so DH and I went down to the watersports centre and grabbed a couple of kayaks for the morning. They were the shallow, plastic, open typed kayaks and I made a dork of myself clambering into mine, but once I was in, it all came back to me. We paddled along the shore and under piers until we came to a patch of live coral, and just sat in our kayaks and watched all the different fish swim around. Then we paddled some more, and went past a couple of  villages of  ‘over water’  huts, and suddenly we realised we’d gone right around the island. In only 40 minutes. Neither DH or I are at all sporty types, but we felt quite pleased with ourselves that we didn’t tip out.

We didn’t get swept beyond the barrier either, or stray into the seaplane landing zone, which is obviously a big no-no!

The seaplanes come from Male, and land, and take off, 2-3 times a day. It’s a 45min flight and most guests arrive on the island in this way. We were placated with a swanky lounge at the departure terminal first, and then were packed into a very small ( 14 seater) , very hot plane, which bounced and rattled its way into the air. We got some fantastic aerial views of other islands in the turquoise ocean, and then it was time to land. I’ve never landed on water before but it was a much smoother landing than any I’ve had on tarmac.

Back on track:

After kayaking, we picked up the kids for lunch by the family pool, and they wanted to go back after lunch, except for DD1. The plan was to take her and DH snorkeling but I quickly realised that neither of them would be okay going off the stairs at the back of the Dive Centre, so sent them back  along the pier to the beach, while I took a short cut across the water.

I found a few patches of live coral but there has been widespread coral bleaching around these islands, due to human activity and global warming, and everywhere you look, there are piles of pale, broken dead coral. The bits of live coral are hot spots for fishlife, you can follow them from patch to patch. I wanted to show DH and DD1 this fragile magic but both were unsure about going out of their depth so I had to explore on my own. I found a lovely deep trench, with some big brain corals at the edge, about 10m from shore and splashed around happily watching fish for half an hour before going in.

So, lots of fun in the sun today but I was stupid and didn’t put enough sun cream on, so I’m paying for it tonight. Red legs and red face, ouch! I need to remember to apply, reapply and reapply again; and that my swim suit has a low-cut back and I need to put cream there especially.

As for sunsets, it was an orange one tonight as opposed to the red one last night. It was equally stunning though.

 

Iru Fushi: The Hilton In The Maldives.

That’s right, there is a Hilton ‘Hotel’  on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean. And that’s where we are staying, but it’s not really a hotel.

Because, instead of rooms, it has huts and they are amazing.

We are sleeping 1 adult and 2 kids in 2 huts, and the grandparents have a hut to themselves.

Let me give you a tour…

The bed is  actually big enough for four.

But the bathroom  is outside. The toilet is on the left, the shower is on the right.

The white thing in the middle is the spa bath. It’s big enough for 3.

There is a little path  from each hut, and this leads to the beach.

The beach is gorgeous, and it’s possible to spend the whole day on it until the sun sets, and only see a handful of people.

Yesterday was a very long day for everyone and tempers were lost and found, but today we all agree, it was worth it.