Following my 5 week stay back in the UK, I finally made it back to the land of sand late last Friday evening, complete with 4 children, 5 suitcases, hand luggage, a pushchair and a car seat in tow - not bad going even if I do say so myself! The fact that my husband was able to collect us and fit everyone and everything into just the one car to drive us home immediately served as a very quick reminder of just how much larger vehicles are over here, and of course the driving mentality in Doha also quickly came back to me as we drove home!

From the youngest person's perspective, a lot had changed during our time away - not only had his toothless smile been replaced with 4 teeth which had just grown through (not entirely painlessly!), but he was now 'on the move' - no longer staying put where he had been placed, but instead crawling around everywhere at a speed that was increasing daily. He was also pulling himself up to stand at anything and everything, where at some point he would no doubt wobble dangerously, before promptly falling back down again! 

This meant that a few drastic measures needed to be taken as everyone living here will know that Villas in the Middle East are not entirely without risks for babies and toddlers once they are mobile - floors are tiled throughout and there are extra long staircases (we have 24 steps to be exact) that would no doubt prove highly exciting, but exceedingly dangerous,  to an inquisitive 9 month old. It would also quite probably be possible for a baby to fall through the iron rails themselves, judging by the gaps between some of them in our Villa!

Luckily, Simon had been busy preparing for our return during the previous week. We had obtained pressure fit stair gates and extending bars from the UK already, so Si arranged for the fantastic Melvin on our Compound to come and fit them for us. Staircases are wider here than in the UK and due to the iron railings it is very difficult to fit them without having a wooden panel fitted to the top and bottom banister rails - Melvin was the man for the job!

With large open plan living, the hard tiled floors also gleamed dangerously, so Simon took it upon himself to take a trip to the newly opened IKEA and there he purchased an extra 7 rugs to dot around the large expanses of floor space we have - we are therefore now the proud owners of a grand total of 17 rugs throughout the Villa! 

In fact, when I was first given 'the guided tour', as we spoke on FaceTime one day, it felt like the floor was just one big jigsaw of rugs, but the reality is that it is a vast improvement and, if nothing else, stops Ethan's knees from becoming so cold and bruised. I think I will save worrying about him tripping over them once he takes his first proper steps until a later date....! 

After the initial shock of finding himself in strange surroundings again (5 weeks must have been a long time for a baby of his age to be away), Ethan has been gaining in confidence daily and I am starting to find that I keep 'losing' him around the Villa if my head is turned for more than a few seconds. 

Now where did I put that play pen.......?

Rugs, stair gates...and more rugs!