So I haven't posted for days. Sue me.
The Niece From Hell arrived with her parents in tow on the 18th and we've been sight-seeing and shopping and generally doing family-type stuff. My Web 2.0 life has suffered as a conseqence...
One of the neat things about TNFH is that you get a ten year-old's perspective on things and that's always welcome input. This year's big phrase is OhMiGod. It must be used in every other sentence. There! I feel hipper and more 'street' already! Club Penguin is evil and makes Second Life look like a Cub Scouts' outing. Massively Online Multi-Media Games filled with 10 year-olds are bloody dangerous places, I can tell you.
Everyone spent millions of dollars on her Christmas and the runaway hit present award belongs to me - an 'i-Dog'. Think about an iPod speaker in the shape of a cute uber-funky plastic doggie that taps its white plastic paws to the music and flashes happy lights when you play tunes through it. You also have to pet it, otherwise it whines and makes unhappy light patterns. It's the result of an illicit backstage liaison between a Marshall Stack and a Tamagochi. And it's now her constant companion. Human, shmuman...
Dad, TNFH and I went to Atlantis' Aqua-thingy, which was nice. It's incredibly expensive (Think Dhs 1,000 for a half day out for three - and at 10 years old (over 1.1 metres), TNFH is an Atlantis 'adult'. You wouldn't, of course, normally find me there dead. It made me giggle, which is a worry.
The signage at Atlantis is awful. The bus dumps you and you're supposed to know what to do and where to go by osmosis. The staff we met were worse than useless, leaving us feeling disorientated and pissed off. As two men accompanying a small girl, we couldn't be with her in the changing rooms and there were no female attendants on hand. For a family from the child-abuse rich UK, that was a really big deal. Thankfully a total stranger stepped in and took care of TNFH as she changed. An interesting cultural moment - I understand that children are cherished, venerated and generally safer than houses here, but people living in the UK are in constant fear for their kids' safety. And I do think that's sad.
Once you finally find an English speaking member of staff and get them to explain the procedure, you can get on with having fun - but I cannot understand for the life of me why there aren't leaflets, signs and other aids to explaining how you're supposed to get into it! The rides are, quite simply awesome. I don't normally 'do' aqua parks, you understand, but Atlantis was great - delighted hours of bobbing around on tidal waves while sitting on inner tubes.
I still think the hotel is decorated in the style of someone who has drunk bottles of primary school poster paint and gallons of rich bouillabaise then vomited it in a massive burst of uncontrollable projectile eructation but the water park is honestly good fun.