Mr & Mrs Hamilton Sr. arrived for a visit.
Then their son disappeared off to Lebanon on a work trip.
Then their daughter-in-law received a huge pile of work with a very short deadline.
Rachel began to panic. Not so much because of the work, more because Mark usually does all the cooking and she didn't want to look utterly useless in front of her parents-in-law by serving up pasta with chopped tomatoes and tuna for 3 nights in a row.
But with age comes wisdom, and the original and best Mr & Mrs Hamilton made the marvellous suggestion that we should order out for dinner each night.
Also, Rachel had underestimated her mother-in-law's amazing capacity for shopping! Entertaining Ian & Maureen during the day required little more than a lift to one of Dubai's many malls. And then in the afternoons they entertained the kids by taking them to the park.
Could anyone have better in-laws?
When Mark came home, he decided to take his mum and dad on a trip to make up for being away. All that was left to decide was where to take them? The beautiful Indian Ocean resort of Fujeirah? Oman's strikingly rugged Hajar mountain range?
But being Irish through and through, Mark decided on Barracuda - essentially, an enormous, rubbish-strewn, off licence where you can buy alcohol cheaply without a license.
The perfect end to a perfect holiday!
Still at least they got to play "Hello! Magazine, At Home with the Hamiltons" at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi...
Maureen and Ian relax in their charming living room
Maureen and Ian show us their beautiful fountain garden
We like to tell ourselves (and anyone else that will listen) that the Hamiltons enjoyed their stay. And we enjoyed having them.
Maureen and Ian preparing for a little jaunt in the Bentley