Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Camping in Oman

This month, before it got really really hot, we tried something new.  Something that I haven’t really wanted to try in the last 20-odd years.  We went camping!

Camping is HUGE over here – the desert near Dubai and in neighbouring Oman has some beautiful places to camp and in the spirit of new experiences, it was something that we just HAD to do.  Not only is it a good experience, it’s cheap and camping has moved on a lot since I last went.  In the “old” days, I remember a separate groundsheet and many many bugs coming to visit me in the night – to be met with the end of a mallet!  Not only that, in the UK always seemed to rain when I was under canvas, so everything got that wet, muddy smell!

So – our experience……  Tim and I went to Carrefour to buy all of our kit.  We bought an 8-man tent (no separate groundsheet here), thick blow up mattresses, a portable barbecue and some lanterns – all for less than 500Dhs (£100). 

We loaded up the car with all of our purchases, and a cool box stuffed full of goodies and off we went.  We went with another family who had been before, so they could show us the ropes.  We drove an hour towards Hatta and then turned off-road into Oman, where we drove for about another 45 minutes, eventually driving up a dried up Wadi (river bed) to our home for the night.  It was a bone-shaker of a ride along rocks and stone and I’m glad The Beast (aka my car) got there in one piece!DSC01775 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We made our campsite home, complete with chairs, tables, a camp fire, duvets, pillows and teddy bears for the children.  As you can see from the photographs below, we certainly made it feel like home!  We had pretty much everything we needed at our disposal!  Thank goodness for very large cars, in which to lug it all!

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The scenery was gorgeous and we all took off for a few hikes in the mountains including some quite steep climbs.  We all had such a great time – even me, and I’m not really a “hiking” person!  Here are a load of photographs – they speak for themselves:

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Night fell, and we lit the BBQ for our dinner and the camp fire.  The kids had a great time with their torches trying to find “things”.  I am not sure what they would have done had they found “things”, but they didn’t and they had fun, which is the main thing.  The adults settled down with some wine and watched the sky, which was full to the brim with bright stars without any light pollution at all. 

Quite simply – gorgeous.

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I was happy – we were safely zipped into our tent, which was clear of anything with more than two legs.  We pulled our duvets up around us – despite being about 35 degrees in the daytime, at night it was surprisingly cold.  I don’t know how cold it got, but we were fully dressed under duvets and we were just about ok!

We woke with the sun, and all thoughts of cold vanished.  The sun was fierce and it got hot again quickly.  Mugs of tea, croissants (but no jam – shame on you Charlotte!) and juice put us all in a good mood before we had to start packing up all of our stuff and try and get it back into the car.  It all fitted – just – including our bags of rubbish. 

We left only our footprints, ready for another time . . .

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

You be the judge

I rarely get involved in the politics of living here.  Ultimately, our family has decided to live here and it is our duty to respect the country and its laws.  I would expect nothing less from anyone moving to the UK.

There is a truly terrible story which is clearly in the British press right now and it relates to a British lady apparently having been adulterous . . . . she is now in prison and will be deported.

However, she has two children who will remain in Dubai with their Muslim father . . .  as she will be deported, it is unlikely that she will see them.  Unless of course, the father does the right thing for his children and encourages contact and visitation away from the UAE.  I doubt she will care that she is in jail, but will be always thinking of her children.

I have put a link into one of the newspaper articles – you can find it here.  Forget the words of The Sun, should you wish (it’s not my favourite paper either), but the photo will be etched in my mind for a very long time.  Personally, having children of the same age, it practically ripped my heart out just to see the picture. 

But you be the judge.

James Blunt at the Dubai Jazz Festival

We have just been to our second jazz festival.  Last year saw Courtney Pine and Robin Gibb perform (not together) and this year we went to see James Blunt.

The jazz festival is held in an amphitheatre in Dubai’s Media City, which is where Tim works.  The lovely thing about this place is that it is right between a load of skyscrapers, surrounded by palm trees, so at night, it’s beautifully lit and you can really appreciate where you are.  And, it’s a licensed event too – nothing like a glass or two of something whilst listening to the music on a balmy evening.

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I stress that I went under relative duress.  Tim is a fan, but I wasn’t that bothered.  The tickets were quite expensive, but Tim has suffered by me dragging him along to enough things, that I thought I should be the darling wife and go with him. 

I was wrong.  James Blunt was fantastic and I realised that I knew far more of his music than I initially thought I did.  It did get rather melancholy in the middle when he sang beautifully tracks like “Goodbye my Lover” and “Carry you home” – if you listen to the words, they are rather sombre, BUT it perked up afterwards and I didn’t feel quite so suicidal!!!  He was great with the audience and at one point, jumped off the stage and into the crowd.  I am sure that his management would have had a heart attack at that one, but Dubai audiences are rather gentle so he was safe!

For those fans out there, here is a link to some video that we found online of his Dubai performance. 

Enjoy.