As always, the journey here from Dubai was nothing if not eventful, but I'm holding my tongue regarding the finer details in order to save Alpha from extreme public embarrassment. Let's just say that the poor lamb has been a bit busy at work recently and somewhat distracted, which may explain the mix-up...
Obviously I was the image of wifely patience - just call me 'Saint Kate' - and refused to give in to the all too easy temptation of thoroughly taking the p*iss. An exhibition of unwarranted kindness and understanding which was bloody tricky to pull off; I'm ashamed to admit that a few snorts of intense amusement sneaked out on our somewhat circuitous journey, which may explain the muttered curses and tight lipped demeanor of my dear husband as we followed the signs to our final destination.
Things improved upon arrival at the hotel. Greeted by the very charming and solicitous hotel manager, Mr Elie, we were whisked off to our adjoining rooms on the ground floor of the hotel, both with small terraces from which we could hear the crashing of the surf (one of my favorite sounds ever, almost on a par with children's laughter).
While Alpha was slightly mollified by being pointed in the direction of the hotel bar, the kids were somewhat harder to placate; it turns out that both were thoroughly outraged by the fact that the hotel is neither in the shape of a tulip or covered in gold, as it seems they'd fondly imagined (who'd guess what goes on in the minds of 9 and 7-year-olds?).
The Golden Tulip Dibba isn't what I'd call a luxury destination -it's most definitely cheap ' n' cheerful with more than a whiff of that great traditional British institution, Butlins - so don't bother to book if you're the sort of person who gets a bit wibbly if the room service menu doesn't feature caviar and Cristal. The hotel furnishings are a bit outdated, the pool is small and basic, and the food isn't much to write home about. But the hotel staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome, it's 5C cooler in Dibba than it is in Dubai, the setting is pleasant with a long sandy beach stretching out beyond the hotel grounds (although swimming in the sea can be a touch problematic - there was an oil spill off the coast the day before we arrived), the rooms are spacious and it is undeniably good value. Added to this, the place has a certain unquantifiable quirky charm.
All in all, it's pretty much perfect for families with unruly children (no need to worry about them trashing the place or lowering the tone) and provides a decent-enough bargain break if you're in the market for a quick and easy weekend escape from Dubai.
Or rather, this was my opinion until this afternoon when the Friday-night party crowd arrived en masse from Dubai, raring to go and not at all ashamed to show it. One moment the pool was like a slightly downmarket scene from a Club Med brochure, the next it took on the liberated atmosphere of an Ibizan foam party, complete with thumping 'choons' and some memorable gyrations from two rather vivacious Russian ladies.
The families promptly decamped en masse to the beach to frolic in the somewhat oily waves (top tip: baby wipes are excellent for removing oil slick spillage from the soles of the feet), leaving the Club 18-30s wannabes to get on down poolside. Almost all the families, that is, bar Baby Belly, Trini the Wonder-nanny and I - it was far too interesting a people-watching experience to miss out on.
All I can say is that Baby Belly is capable of throwing some marvelous shapes for a child not yet a year old... maximum respect BB! She's obviously got a bright future ahead of her.