I don’t think there is a more pleasant position than lying in grass in a mild tropical climate with a full belly and the sound of a warm breeze rustling through the palm leaves only just louder than the clinking of glasses in the near distance. I am trying to put myself back to that place, and I can see my smile twinkling in the reflection of the monitor just with the thought. I was there yesterday at about 3pm. Now it is 8:30am Saturday and I have a fuzzy head and a dodgy belly. I’m hungry, but downstairs is the domain of young children and overhung fathers and the noise and mess I imagine is making me squirm. Between me and the kitchen lies the commandeered zone – lego land-mines, an infantry of fork-weilding screaming Goldilockses, cavalry of Hambone-riding pingpong-ball gun-toting Lions and Scooby-doo at 500 decibels. Good way to start a diet.
Yesterday began in a similar way (but it was my turn to be hungover) and after the obligatory morning battle scene, we left the mess to Mother Mary (remember, not my mother, our incredibly overworked maid/nanny) and disappeared to a five-star hotel for lunch so we could piss in somebody else’s tent – so to speak.
Back to the One and Only, but no ‘Rooftop Bar’ with children. Instead we went to the Beach Bar and Grill. On the way we shattered the peace of oriental courtyards with trickling streams and bedouin tents, then the expansive velveteen lawns with smatterings of un-cellulited european goddesses in bikinis, and finally to the novelty giant chess set (shockingly not the biggest in the world), which we had to leave once Lion started to use the Bishop as a weapon.
The Beach Bar and Grill lies on the beach (derr…) at the “Palace” end of the resort. The interior is colonial-meets-bedouin, with leather armchairs, azure tiles, iranian carpets and lamps and indoor palms. The warm colours somehow balance the arctic airconditioning they seem to like in this part of the world. When you walk through the back doors, you are hit by the warm sea-air and blinding white of the sand, and so for the first half second you have to stop walking and adjust yourself. Then you notice the turquoise water, the lush greenery and the gently swaying arabian tents on the beachfront. And you’re in love.
I was the designated driver, so no wine reviews today, although I can tell you what I should have had – a loooooong gin and tonic (Bombay sapphire and lime wedge thanks), followed by a glass of Taittinger NV, and then 15 glasses of Tavel Rose. Hambone drank Heineken (men!). As I was ordering my mineral water, dutiful daddy took the leprichauns to the plaground which is perfectly positioned within screaming distance, but not within general child noise distance of the restaurant tables. All returned with the beverages, and I watched frothy banana milkshakes disappear as fast as the first frothy beer, and all were declared to be the best in the world.
Lunch was an entree crab-cake with harissa for me (easily big enough for a main course), and steak for Hambone (juicy, tender and cooked to perfection, and served with half a kilogram of mashed potato). Kids meals are good but pricey (50AED – about $15), and Lion devoured a steak just like daddy’s and Goldilocks ignored his lunch entirely, demanding ‘MORE banna moothy’. We followed with a superb self-saucing chocolate pud with coffee icecream, which was supposed to be ‘shared’, but got completely obliterated in two seconds flat. All in all, I found it to be more civilized and worthwhile experience than a Friday ‘Brunch’ deal, where you get charged 400AED to drink crappy wine and eat off a buffet (although in Dubai, a buffet is usually a pretty good spread – a far cry from the Smorgy’s tradition back home)
After lunch I left Hambone in the company of his Heineken and with a view of a bevvy of 30something english beauties having cocktails, and wandered off to do my duty in the playground. After a few minutes I realised that I would not really be required except to break up a fight or call the ambulance, so I retreated to a shady spot on some of that velveteen lawn, and assumed the starfish position…..