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Updated: 2017-03-18T04:06:34.175+04:00

 



Unrest in Oman

2011-02-28T09:58:09.107+04:00

Ok, This is just a quick post for family and friends, to assure them that we are safe and well.Here is a status of the situation as provided by International SOS, who are tasked with keeping us safe in an emergency, (medical and security)Two killed, several injured as police break up pro-reform demonstration in Sohar (Revised 14.28 GMT)At least two people on 27 February were killed and at least ten others were injured after the police fired rubber bullets at protesters in the northern city of Sohar (Al Batinah region). The incident occurred after around 1,000 demonstrators, who had assembled for the second consecutive day at the city's main square to demand political reforms, became unruly and threw stones at security personnel, while some attacked a shopping complex and attempted to storm a police station. The security forces also used batons and tear gas to quell the unrest and troops have been deployed to secure the protest site. Reports also indicate that roadblocks have been set up on a main thoroughfare linking the city with the capital Muscat, though it is unclear whether these are being manned by demonstrators or the authorities. In addition, rallies have also taken place in the southern town of Salalah (Dhofar province), where pro-reform protesters have remained encamped near the office of the provincial governor since 25 February.Comment and AnalysisProtests are traditionally rare in Oman, where levels of discontent and anti-government sentiment have until recently been low. However, several hundred people recently rallied to demand higher wages in Muscat, and the latest developments in Sohar and Salalah underline how rising unemployment and inflation, coupled with the recent wave of protests and unrest across the region, have the potential to inspire further bouts of unrest in urban areas the coming days. While the numbers of demonstrators have so far been relatively small, recent events indicate that the security forces will not hestitate to employ tough measures to quell disturbances. In Muscat, protests are likely to occur at or in the vicinity of important government buildings in the district of ministries (Medinat Qaboos), or in the Ruwi business district.Such gatherings are likely to remain focused on demands for economic and political reforms rather than regime change; however, the killing and injuring of demonstrators could serve to harden attitudes among some protesters, especially if the authorities refuse to offer concessions. Nevertheless, most gatherings should remain relatively small and peaceful; any unrest is likely to be swiftly contained and widespread disturbances are not anticipated. Heightened security and associated traffic restrictions in the vicinities of such gatherings can cause localised traffic disruption, especially in the event that protesters or the authorities establish roadblocks on key thoroughfares.An estimated 300 protesters on 18 February rallied peacefully in Muscat in response to rising prices and to demand improved pay. The police did not intervene in the rally, which took place in Ruwi and lasted about an hour. Earlier, several people on 17 January gathered in Medinat Qaboos in connection with the same issues. Head of state Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Bu Saidi on 26 February reshuffled his cabinet and announced some limited reforms, including improved stipends for university students; the moves followed a salary increase for public sector workers earlier in the month. However, the demonstrators in Sohar have called for the sacking of corrupt ministers and for the 84-member Shura council, which provides only advice to the monarch, to be granted legislative powers.Travel Advice * Avoid all demonstrations as a routine security precaution. * Anticipate disruption to overland journeys in Sohar and between the city and Muscat, and allow extra time to complete journeys. * Monitor local media and our website for further updates on the situation.Just to let you know that we are all happy and well and there is no reason to worry.James[...]



On The Lam

2010-06-12T08:10:04.821+04:00

The Evil Dr Rabbito has gone AWOL.

He may be living it large in Dubai or made a break for freedom at the border, we don't know for sure.

(image)

Our scouts are out trying to track him down, but if you see this bunny do NOT attempt to approach him, just let us or the authorities know.

And whatever you do..........................don't call him cute!



Mind Your Language

2010-05-29T10:32:13.867+04:00

Sorry about the lack of posts recently, I have and continue to be stupidly busy. Once I gain a little breathing space I will knock out several posts bringing everyone up to date on the comings and goings of family life in Muscat.
In the mean time I would like to take this opportunity for a shameless plug for my Arabic Language Teacher, Said Al Busaidi, who persevered with my attempts at butchering his language and has given me a solid foundation in spoken Arabic for which I will be forever grateful.
Said is planning to run another course, details below, and I can heartily recommend it to anyone wishing to learn to talk to Omanis in their native tounge.


ARE YOU INTERESTED IN IMPROVING YOUR ARABIC LANGUAGE SKILLS?

There is an Arabic Basic (Spoken) Course run this summer for 2 hours a week. (Every Sunday)

The Course commences once the minimum number of students has been achieved.
(Each Group has 8 - 14 x students)

Date (TBC): (June – July 2010)

- Time: 1630 - 1830
- Fee: Only 100 OMR per student
- Duration: 12 WEEKS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Previous Students Quotes:
- "Plenty of practice and getting more confident in practicing Arabic outside … Lovely instructor, taught us in a friendly and fun way – kept it light hearted."

- "The course is pitched at the right level, we have a good workbook … and a great teacher. He makes the lessons enjoyable."

- "I came to the lessons knowing no Arabic whereas now I feel I have learnt the basics which would mean I could speak basic Arabic with some more practice."

- "There has been a complete change in my comprehension giving me the competence to continue with developing my language skills."

- "Basic skills for greetings etc. Now much better; some better understanding of the language as well. Good Start. Now need more practice."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FOR MORE DETAILS AND COURSE LOADING, PLEASE CONTACT:

- SULEIMAN:
Email: abu_rudayna@hotmail.com
Mobile: 00968 92170574
- Said:
Email: saidali29@hotmail.com
Mobile: 92370833



Fashion

2010-05-09T23:16:55.744+04:00

I have today stumbled across this blog. I absolutely adore it. It has crystalised for me some thoughts that I have been having for a while with regard to fashion.

I have for some time now been reading quite a few "fashion" blogs, the main one of which is The Women's Room. This regular activity has helped me come to the conclusion that I hate mainstream High Street fashion. I cannot abide looking the same as every other Tom, Dick and Harriet roaming the streets. If I do buy High Street fashion - as I must here in Oman - I try my very best to wear it in an unusual way, or with an interesting accessory that somehow gives it a lift and makes it different.

I love how the older ladies and gentleman on Advanced Style, are just that Advanced Stylists. I would love to have their unique abilities - to mix and match styles in such an eccelectic way. Most of all this blog makes me yearn to go to New York and meet all these fabulous people who have had amazing lives and through it all have remained stylish and most of all unique. I love that they are unafraid to be themselves, some of them at over 90 years old and still look wonderful.

I lament the fact that the height of style here is Marks and Spencers, or maybe even Zara. Don't get me wrong the High Street shops do some good stuff, but it's just all the same - it bores me stupid - I want unusual, unique, unrepeatable clothes that express who I am, not who the designer at Zara is. Sadly - Oman is not the place to yearn for such things, there are no second hand boutiques here, no independant sellers - apart from the lovely Totem, who do some great stuff if you are 20 years old.

Now shopping on line - mmmm good idea, apart from the fact that I need to feel the fabric, see the style on me and fall in love with a piece. I have recently been looking for a dress for a wedding that we are going to in the Summer. I thought I had found the ideal one, ordered it and well - lets gloss over that and just say that it wasn't the dress for me. So comes to an end my idea of buying something unusual online. So I trawl, Monsoon, Boden and Coast websites - some nice bits but nothing that says "I am the dress that is destined for you" I long for a Horrockes Dress in an outrageous print (I hear they used to do them in a lobster print, just fabulous), unfortunately they aren't exactly easy to get hold of and I am not sure that I could squeeze my ample waist into one even if I could get hold of one.

So my question is, what does one do, when one is stranded in a clothing wasteland with nothing to support you but Marks and Spencer ? Should I risk Etsy, or will it just be another disappointment when nothing fits and I can't send it back - should I try to learn to make clothes ? the thought makes me shudder - smocking at school has left me scarred for life !!!

Just some thoughts.

Becky x



Getting Down and Dirty in the Garden

2010-04-11T20:35:56.439+04:00

A couple of years back, whilst working for a different company in Muscat, Jacob spent a couple of hours with me in the office. It couldn’t have been that exciting for him and he amused himself hunting for errant paper clips and elastic bands, but he loved it none the less and has reminisced about it on numerous occasions since then.I’m not sure where the whole bringing your children to work tradition has come from, I think it is big in the States with formal days set aside, but I’m not so sure about the UK and Europe. My father was self employed and mainly worked from home, but occasionally he would have jobs to do at an old Victorian(?) factory in London and, occasionally I got to go with him (before the days of health and safety).I have vivid memories of the place throughout my childhood, all happy, although the last, after it had been shut down was tempered with sadness, the end of an era.Well Jacob had been asking to come with me to work for a while now, but being site based there were obvious safety restrictions. I broached the idea of a family day with the company, and we received the green light.So the much anticipated day arrived with our respective families turning up and being ushered into the visitors centre. A quick visit to daddy’s desk, just to check for itinerant paper clips and elastic bands before an introduction to the Oman Botanic Garden from Sarah, the head of education for the Garden.From there we had a walk around of the Nursery facilities, where the 1200 species of native plants of Oman are being cultivated for the Garden. Oscar, was of course into everything and frequently disappeared off into the undergrowth. Most of my time was therefore spent corralling him and making sure he didn’t kill any plants or hurt himself whilst swing off parts of the greenhouses.Due to a slight confusion over a loo break we discovered the site tour bus had left without us, so we jumped into our 4wd and headed into the garden for a private and exclusive tour with commentary supplied by little old me.Oscar was of course besotted with all the excavators, dump trucks and payloaders, whilst Jacob wanted to know what exactly was being built where and, what it would be used for.He certainly enjoyed himself and is in Sarah’s good books for wanting to bring his classmates for a visit.So a big thank you goes out to all involved for hopefully making it a day to remember, hopefully Jacob’s childhood memories will be just as good as mine.But what’s all this about a Botanic Garden??? I have no idea how many people know of its existence or the scale of the project. It is not as if it is a secret but when I first heard about it, I thought “a garden, big deal”, it wasn’t until I travelled around the project that I realized how big a deal it really is.The OBG is a project of his Majesty, Sultan Qaboos, as a showcase for the diverse Omani flora, of which there are one thousand two hundred species, and eighty of which are found no where else in the world!The site is four hundred and twenty hectares in size and we are busy recreating the different environments found in Oman, from the heights of Jebal Akdar to the deserts of the empty quarter and the lush greenery of Dhofar.Some of these environments such as the Dhofar region will be housed in Biomes, buildings that allow us to recreate seasons throughout the year that are ideal for the regional plants. Imagine being able to see the effects of the Kareef in Muscat!One snippet of useless information is that the site, near Al Khoud, was the first place in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula where dinosaur bones were discovered!Currently construction is underway on the visitors centre, research centre, educational facilities and heritage village. The heritage village will be a showcase for traditional Omani arts and crafts showing how plants have been an important part of Omani life and how they have influenced the world.We have a couple of years left before the [...]



Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

2010-04-11T14:42:36.465+04:00

Seem like we might be in for stormy weather!

(image)

Must mean there's an Irish woman arriving.
Looking forward to seeing you Jo!!



iPad Killer

2010-04-10T13:36:17.610+04:00

WARNING!!! THE FOLLOWING POST IS OF A TOTALLY GEEKISH NATURE AND SHOULD NOT BE READ BY PEOPLE OF A TECHNOPHOBIC DISPOSITION. Those of you that know me will have by now understood that I am a bit of a techie, quite happy to take things apart, understand how they work and fix them if they are broken.Well I have always had an interest in the replacement of paper printed media since I got the chance to play around with e-ink some eight or nine years ago. So I was happy to see that the inventors had been turning it into a commercial product, the latest offering being under the guise of the Que from Plastic Logic.Pretty darn good, sunlight readable, very low power consumption, ultra portable and capable of storing thousands of documents. My only criticism is that even after all this time, the promise of a colour version has still not materialized. IMHO a colour e-reader (preferably but not necessarily, capable of video support) could be the catalyst for society to move away from printed media in the same way (Dare I say it) that the printing press brought literature to the masses.A sad day in many ways, but an exciting one none the less.So when Apple announced that it was launching the iPad, I thought, “Could this be it????”Sadly the answer was a resounding “No!”For all it’s bells and whistle, the apps, the cool functions and the hype, it had a flaw, a fundamental one at that……,the power hungry, sunlight Unreadable and eye straining lcd screen.Thanks, but no thanks Apple, I’ll stick with the Macbook Air and printed books (Which I absolutely and always will Love).But all this flurry of activity with tablet computers and e-readers left me wondering, “Who would solve the big problem by finding a replacement for the LCD screen for mobile devices (The iPad isn’t alone, just try using Google Nexus One in the sunlight (Sorry for your loss Sythe) or any other smart phone for that matter).Well it might be here sooner rather than later, thanks to some Dutch guys and a company called Liquavista, who have taken a century old principle called electro wetting and reinvented it for the digital generation.Essentially, it involves coloured oils that react to a small electrical charge, set out in individual pixels very much like the existing lcd screen technology. More importantly though, (Drum roll please!) it harnesses rather than fights sunlight. External light passes through the oil and is then reflected back at the person reading the screen (in low light it utilizes a traditional backlight), the brighter the sunlight, the more vivid the screen becomes. Voila! And if that wasn’t enough, a key benefit over competing technologies such as mirasol, is that because it is so similar to lcd in manufacture, existing lcd factories would only need to be adapted (instead of being built from scratch) in order to start manufacturing the displays!Could this be the perfect sunlight readable display for our mobile gadgets? Liquavista hope to have them in devices and on sale by mid 2011, and are already working with Liquid Plastic to produce a colour e-reader.I just wonder how long it will take the likes of Apple (or one of their competitors) to finally dump the lcd screen and have an iPad worthy of the Apple name.For all of you nay sayers out there, just take a look at what Sports Illustrated dreamt up for the iPad and tell me, can your book or magazine do this????[...]



Learning to Fly

2010-04-05T13:08:09.423+04:00

Not a lot to report this week. Biscuit has a sore leg, Oscar’s swimming has come on leaps and bounds and Becky had the boys to herself for most of the weekend whilst I was off camping and driving through another part of the Wahiba Desert. Bit of a long trip this time as you can see from the map.

(image)

I thought I would share this little video I made of one member of our camping party, though I should point out that the flight wasn’t intentional. Enjoy :o)

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Leaving It All Behind

2010-03-31T10:13:11.409+04:00

Becky went for a girl’s trip to Dubai, shopping at the weekend. Twenty three Rials each way with Fly Dubai (But hey, Oman Air will be undercutting that to the staggeringly low price of RO 22!)I’ll leave Becky to tell you how well it went, but suffice to say that she won’t need any exercise classes for a week or two.I on the other hand had the boys to myself, and the weekend began with a trip to the ABA Food Fair. The Food Fair started back in 1995 as part of the UN Day Celebrations and it has been one of the highlights on the school’s calendar every year since. All the food, service and decorations are donated by volunteers, a great deal of the work is done by parents (I helped in my own little way by eating as much as I could), and many staff members get involved as well. It was great fun, very noisy and exceedingly busy. Food from forty nations was available to taste, covering pretty much all of the planet from as far afield as Fiji, New Zealand, a large proportion of South America, a fair few African nations, European and of course the good old Sultanate of Oman.I was impressed that Jacob willingly tried a real variety of food, starting with sushi and then some Venezuelan dishes of which I have no idea of their names. Everyone was doing their bit to fly the flag for their respective nations and it was a very colourful spectacle, a special mention goes out to the ladies of Nigeria who were without doubt the most colourful of the evening.I don’t know why I should be surprised, but I was astounded by the variety and diversity of the nationalities residing in Muscat. I guess we all live in our own little worlds to some extent.Well done to everyone for all the hard work and delicious food, I can’t wait for next year and in the mean time I will have to do some culinary research to track down the tastiest dishes out there.It was on Friday that we went up to the pool early for a swim. It started quietly, but after a while there were plenty of other children for Jacob to play with, allowing me to keep a beady eye on Oscar.Over the winter we rarely went swimming, but for the last month or so, as the temperatures have risen, we have been going more regularly. It was therefore with some surprise that Oscar announced he couldn’t swim. Given his exploits in Bali last summer I have struggled to understand why he hs lost confidence.Resigned to a morning in the shallow end, I joined Oscar in a game with his Power Ranger action figures. There is only so much Power Ranger role playing a grown man can take and I quickly struck on the idea of the figures doing dive bombs off the side. Would you believe it, that canny little Red Power Ranger got talking to Oscar, and soon enough he too was doing dive bombs off the side! It was a small step, but with a little more persuasion from Red, Oscar was swimming again!!!Three Cheers for Oscar and Three Cheers for the Power Rangers!!![...]



Something for the weekend, Sir?

2010-03-31T10:12:43.972+04:00

Now I'll appologise straight off for the poor photo quality, but but it was hastily taken with a camera phone.
Oman Oil seem to have a Ying and Yang thing going with men's aftershave at the moment......

(image)

I'd love to see the marketing for these products, it must be hilarious. I'm thinking maybe something with a 70's theme, big hair, big flares and bad taste!



Wahiba Challenged (or how to loose yourself in a great big sand box)

2010-04-05T14:26:45.293+04:00

This must be the year of living dangerously, what with a return to diving, dog ownership, learning Arabic and Becky’s knitting, I thought that the Wahiba challenge sounded like a good idea.Now I have done a fair few desert camps in my time with dune bashing thrown in as you know, but that’s hardly a challenge.So when a friend asked if I would like to join him and a few others on a trip through the Wahiba, I thought ‘Why Not??’. I then went and asked Becky for permission. (I should make it clear at this point, that this was not the Wahiba Challenge, merely a weekend away experiencing serious desert driving with seasoned desert drivers).So the day quickly arrived and I packed up my Jeep and set off to work, knowing that I had forgotten something (This time it was my Crocs). That afternoon I would jump ship early and meet up with my friend Simon before heading down to the Al Areesh desert camp for our first night.Arriving just after nightfall, we met up with two other members of our party before having some dinner, and a chat before crawling away to our beds for an early night.So the next morning the rest of the group arrived, a motley crew comprising seven Jeeps and nine people harking from Indonesia, the Netherland, Italy and England. We ‘aired down’ our tyres, put up our sand flags and discussed (with a little trepidation on my part) our journey.For those of you that don’t know, taking the air out of your tyres is crucial to driving on the sand and as little as 2psi can be the difference between moving or getting completely bogged down. On average we took the pressure down to 9psi and went through the process again once the tyres had warmed up, on the down side at low pressure you run the risk of having the tyre come off the rim.The other important bit of kit is the sand flag, in my case a red head scarf on the end of a long fishing rod. Before you start taking the mickey, the idea behind them is to see whether there is a car on the other side of the dune, before you come over the top and land on top of it.We quickly moved into the dunes playing follow the leader, cutting our teeth on the odd steep incline and slowly building up confidence. It was then our fearless leader decided that there had been enough pussy footing around and promptly launched himself up an impressively high dune, power sliding sideways to the top.I remember the words ‘No #$%#^*&* Way??’ left my mouth followed shortly afterwards with ‘He doesn’t expect us to follow, does he?’Sure enough one by one we followed, but try as I might I just couldn’t reach the top, despite helpful hints from my companions. It was then that one of our party took a more direct approach, simply blasting straight up at full throttle until he reached the top and following his lead I found myself, to my great relief, sitting on top of the dune, no longer playing tail end charlie.It was also with great relief that I was not the first or the second person to get stuck, being the new kid on the block I had no desire to upset the others, but sure enough my time came sooner rather that later, and again, and again and again……but hey, that’s all part of the fun. A small note of caution when placing your cool box in the car, DON’T position it with the lid facing forward. After going over the top of one dune, my cool box opened and proceeded to deposit melted ice water over me and the passenger seat, squelch!We stopped for lunch short of our intended site due to a squeaky drive shaft. No such thing as a service centre in the desert, it was a case of repairs on the hoof and in no time at all, a badly damaged U joint had been replaced with a new one, it’s amazing what you can find at the bottom of a handbag (or a glove box in this instance). Speak to a Jeep owner and you’ll hear of [...]



Dragon Blocked Again

2010-03-13T10:20:29.711+04:00

Ho Hum,
I suppose it is not so much what was said/shown, but who it is about this time

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Suffice to say that if you are in Oman and see the above message, go to google and search for the site of interest

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Now just after the description can you see the address? and after that the word "Cached"
Yep you got it, click on "Cached"

That is the end of this Public Service Announcement



In an aside to Surburban, shit happens. It is not pleasant or fair and you are going to have to deal with it for a long time to come through no fault of your own.

To everyone else:

Swimming pools are dangerous places and if you have children it is your responsibility to make sure your children are safe, every second of every minuet that they are in or around the water, no one elses.
That being said, maybe the Government would think about imposing professional lifeguards at public pools? At the very least there should be a designated First Aid person.
If you want to read more I suggest you check out the link to Other Oman on the right.

My heartfelt condolences to everyone directly or indirectly involved.



Rednecks in Muscat

2010-03-06T09:46:54.641+04:00

I drove to work this morning, much the same as any other working day.
Thirty minutes at mostly highway speeds.
Parked up, went inside, went out on site and then came back.
It was then I noticed my front bumper, well I noticed what was on my front bumper, you can see if you look carefully……..


(image)


Yes, Oscar had left his toy rifle on my bumper and it had made it all the way to work, I’m happy the ROP didn’t spot it, or I might have had some explaining to do ;o)

Speaking of Oscar and the Jeep, I know that it is just a big boy’s Tonka toy and Oscar treats it that way too. However, I was hunting for my keys the other day and Jacob mentioned that Oscar had been messing around with them. I looked under the sofa, lifted cushions, and all the other places I could think of without joy (Asking a two and a half year old doesn’t work).
Finally I gave up and went to the jeep and found then in the ignition………………………………That boy is going to be trouble, I just know it!!!!

Tomorrow I plan on strapping a dead Elk to my jeep’s bonnet to see if anyone notices.



Law samaHt

2010-03-06T08:31:05.443+04:00

I am ashamed to say that it has taken this long for me to seek professional help, but as they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery.

I have known for a long time that this is what I wanted, but trying to do it on my own has always ended in failure (and sometimes mild embarrassment).
Ok, maybe not complete failure, I have picked up the odd pointer on the way, but it is not what you’d call a resounding success.

I don’t want to blame others for my failings but, when ever I have tried to demonstrate my progress, people have looked at me as though I have a pair of antlers on my head (or something equally bizarre), or else given me a sympathetic, pitying smile. Hardly encouraging I think you’d agree.

So as a group we are spending two hours each week talking at or to each other and generally helping our fellow attendees when they slip, whilst doing our best not to laugh.

Last night was the sixth session in a twelve week programme and I think I’m making good progress, but only time will tell.

So I will be eternally grateful to Said, under whose patient guidance, I butcher his language and ear drums in the hope that someday soon I’ll be talking Arabic like a native (ok, maybe not like a native but maybe well enough not to cause offence).

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Maa assalaama



Oscar the Ant

2010-03-06T06:36:19.304+04:00

I came downstairs the other day and realised my son had been reading Kafka.

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In years to come he'll regret this I'm sure. ;o)



Service with a Smile

2010-03-02T13:03:01.879+04:00

Apologies for the interruption, normal services shall resume shortly.This post is one I have been meaning to write for some time, but had not got around to it for one reason (excuse) or another and, is dedicated to Suburban, because she asked so nicely.Has anyone been to Al Ain Airshow? I have,.................twice. Originally I thought it would be pretty cool to take the boys to the Dubai Air Show extravaganza, but then I found out it was trade only – How stupid is that???Well, last year without knowing anything about it, I took Jacob (Oscar was too small) and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t big or glitzy by any stretch of the imagination, there was precious little on the ground to keep you interested (kind of reminded me of the farmer’s market in my home town), but the pilots put on some wonderful displays and there was a decent play area available for when the children got bored or restless.Well, one year had past and Oscar, being a confirmed petrol head and wannabee fly boy, was in need of his first real fix, so I decided to take the boys up to Al Ain for the day. We were joined by one of Jacob’s friends (Will) and his father for a decidedly boy’s day out and by eight o’clock we were on our way.It takes about two and a half hours from Muscat to reach the border at Buraymi, nothing interesting to report with the boys plugged in to their respective gadgets and the normal antics of taxi drivers and driving instructors raising the occasional eyebrow, that is until we reached the border crossing.For the first time ever, we were directed to park up and go inside the building, I have been so used to breezing through without getting out of the car I was taken somewhat by surprise. The Royal Omani Police were as gracious, warm and friendly as ever, and other than pointing out that their computers said Jacob was Irish (I checked, he's not), there was nothing to report and we were soon on our way.We quickly crossed no-mans land and pulled up at the appropriate UAE border post window (Insert metaphorical screeching of brakes), when we were asked to park up and go into a second building. Here we had a retina scan and were then directed to go back to the first building to get our passports stamped with an entry visa. On arrival at the first building we were informed that he couldn’t stamp our passports (???) and we needed to proceed to a third building.On arrival at the third building the guard told us to go back to the first building.On arrival at the first building we waited for ten minutes until one of the guards decided that he would rather not have three bored boys anywhere near him and took me back to the third building. Here, he kicked the guy out from behind his computer and did the whole immigration thingameejigg himself.Having now got appropriately stamped passports, we bundled ourselves back into the car and headed off to the customs building…….but that’s another story.So FINALLY, we arrived at Al Ain airport just in time to see the first display of model aircraft. Now, before you ask I’m not talking about the little things that you get from LuLu’s or Toys’R’Us , but really BIG boys toys (The sort of thing that would ensure you had a really bad day if it hit you).I remember the previous year walking in from a distance and seeing these aircraft perform all manner of aerobatic tricks, knowing that something was not quite right, but not knowing quite what. It wasn’t until I saw concord fly past in a slow nose up maneuver that I relised I was watching models…………….Doh!So we had a walk around and the good new is that the air show is maturing. There is still the farmer’s market [...]



I'm Demotivated :o)

2010-02-10T13:37:20.048+04:00

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Today I have received a couple of those motivational posters via email that bring a smile to your face, must be in the same group as Muscat Mutterings!
But there are companies and people out there that do an important service and take the business of motivating the rest of us very seriously.
My personal favorite are these guys

Smile, it's almost the weekend................for some of us al least



Taking the Mickey?

2010-01-31T08:16:11.213+04:00

Given that Oman Air had a really calamatous training exercise last November(see Muscat Mutterings and Muscat Confidential), do you thihk that the person in charge of advertising at Muscat City Centre was having a laugh, or are they really that blind?

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The Evil Dr. Rabbito

2010-01-12T22:05:48.097+04:00

So in the last few weeks we have seen some pretty unusual rain. Not that it is blue or yellow with pink dots or anything, just that there has been so much of it.The first downpour was a couple of weeks before Christmas and lasted for four days. Fortunately we had prior warning, (I saw some clouds coming) and had time to put the roof up on the car. So I set off for work the next day expecting trouble on the roads but it seemed that a lot of people chose to stay home instead. It wasn’t until I turned off to Sultan Qaboos University that I saw a flowing wadi. As per usual, cars were backed up on either side with people assessing the conditions and watching carefully those who chose to drive through the flowing waters. I myself watched and waited for a good ten minutes before deciding it was safe enough to cross. I stuck the jeep into 4Low and with a little trepidation eased the jeep into the water.Everything was going swimmingly until I bumped into a couple of rock about half way across and the jeep came to a complete standstill. Arghhh!! Poo Pants etc. WHAT HAD HAPPENED???? Fortunately panic didn’t set in, I didn’t open the door and let the water in and I didn’t stall the engine. After the initial shock, I realized that I had somehow slipped out of 4Low and try as I might couldn’t get it back, switching to 4Hi I was able to carry on again, ffffeeeeeewwwweee! So I carried on with the journey through the water, heart pumping somewhat faster, face considerably redder but somewhat relieved none the less.Wadi watching appears to be a national pastime in Oman, so I hope that my performance was well received amongst the copious amounts of spectators that morning and that they weren’t too disappointed by my recovery???It may all seem amusing in hindsight, but driving through fast flowing water is not to be treated lightly; a friend of a friend lost his life trying to save an Omani family whose saloon car had got stuck in a fast flowing wadi on the very same day. It can be genuinely frightening to see the power of the water in motion, but underneath the surface, large rocks are on the move that will pummel anything in their path.The rain provided us with another opportunity in that we got to test out the ‘new’ old house. Previously in our ‘old’ new house the rain would allow us the opportunity to host the unexpected attraction of an indoor waterfall, all the way from the third to the ground floor (Everyone should experience this at least once in their life). Conversely, the ‘new’ old house was pretty much watertight, with only one minor leak at the door to the roof, thereby denying us the pleasure of an impromptu water feature, what bliss! Becky told me of a friend’s house on a newly completed section of the Wave, whose back wall was one complete water feature, not what you would expect from a brand new house built by the No.1 contractor in the country.Our ‘new’ old house may be a little tired around the edges but I bet it will age better than the new ones. Recently, someone at work tried the “But this is Oman, what do you expect??” excuse on me to try and excuse bad workmanship, I was not a very happy bunny prior to this, so after the steam had stopped coming out of my ears, I politely explained that they would have to re-do the work (and continue to re-do it) until such time as they did it properly. Early indications are promising!As the official holiday for his Majesty’s Birthday had been moved to coincide with the Islamic calendars’ New Year, I think the celebratory street lighting had stayed up a little lon[...]



Happy New Year!

2009-12-16T17:03:51.863+04:00

To all our readers on the occasion of the Holy Prophet's Hijra Anniversary and the new Hijri year 1431 A.H. we wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
For those of use in Oman and the middle east in general, make the most of the three day weekend and, for those of you back home I guess you'll have to wait a little longer for your holidays to arrive!
As it is Jacob's birthday on Saturday we will be celebrating the new year with a party, seven years old already, can you adam and eve it????



The Holiday's Are Coming

2009-12-04T18:31:23.117+04:00

Well actually - technically they have just finished - but what I mean is the Christmas holidays are coming !!!

We have just had the most wonderful week off. We have been cycling, swimming, playing football and generally being outside as much as we possibly can. The weather is just beautiful. A bit cloudy, a bit sunny, cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon and just lovely in the evening. The boys have had a fabulous time and frankly I'd be happy if we had another week off. Sadly it is back to school tomorrow and I know life is going to be mad between now and Christmas. We've got lots of Christmas stuff to do as well as Jacob's Birthday, so busy, busy, busy. We are planning on going camping for New Year so that will be a lovely break.

I have an early picture of the boys Christmas present - it is a surprise so shhhhhhh don't tell them.

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They are going to go mad when they find out what they are getting - Jacob has been nagging me for a dog for three years now ! We decided that the time had come to let him have one. So little Biscuit will be joining our family on Christmas morning. I can't wait to see their faces when they realise we are getting a puppy, it's going to be a kodak moment for sure !

So preparations for Christmas are afoot - we have spent the last couple of afternoons' decorating the house. We have put up two Christmas trees, lots of Christmassy ornaments and candles, baubles and parephanalia - but somehow it just doesn't seem Christmassy to me. I just think if you have grown up in the UK where Christmas is supposed to be on the chilly side - a warm Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas no matter how hard you try. Add to that the fact that there is virtually zero Christmas decoration here and well as you can imagine it's difficult to get in the Christmas spirit. Still every year we try and we do a pretty good job I think - it just means that you have to go to virtually every Christmas event going - tiring, but worth it !

So here is a piccie of the boys getting in the Christmas mood after we had decorated the tree yesterday afternoon.

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Well it's upstairs for the boys for a nice bath before bed and then school in the morning. Night night x



Busy Day

2009-11-25T16:19:07.132+04:00

So today was the last day of school before the lovely Eid holidays. I can tell you - we all need this holiday really badly - life has been so busy recently and it's going to get worse as we head into the run up to Christmas I know so a week to take some time to relax all together is going to be wonderful. We are planning to do very little, other than go to the beach, go cycling, play in our new and lovely garden and generally just have a bit of time for chilling - I can't wait. I told Jacob he looked knackered today and he said "I am so tired" now this is so unusual for him, usually he would say "no, I'm not tired at all, can I stay up late tonight ?" even if he had bags down to his knees so for him to admit defeat is serious ! Oscar - well he is a duracell bunny and will just keep going no matter what. James and I are certainly worn out James hasn't made it past 9 o'clock the last two nights before giving in and going to bed and I'm not much better.

Anyway, today being the last day before the holiday, school decided to make sure that it was action packed for us !! So this morning I went to the beach in the company of sixy odd six and seven year olds for plenty of sandcastle builing. I have to say they had a fabulous time, many many sandcastles were built and much fun was had - they really really enjoyed it and surprisingly, so did I !!! So here is Jacob on the beach building his sandcastles.

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After this it was a quick dash from Qurum beach back to Azaiba to collect Oscar from nursery, take him home have a quick lunch and then back to school for an exhibition that Grade 1 were putting on to show the houses that they had all built for their Dream House project. They were amazing. All of them, I can't believe that children of their age produced such fabulous stuff, the thought that had gone it to it all was awesome. Jacob had made a crab house with search light antenae - the idea being that you can search out intruders with your lights and then pick them up and throw them in the bin with you very long pincers !!! do you think he's a bit security concious ?!!! It was great fun anyway and they were all so proud of themselves. Here is Jacob with his finished creation !

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So happy holidays to those that have them and see you soon.



National Day, YAAAY!

2009-11-18T08:33:15.720+04:00

Congratulations to his Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said and the people of Oman on the occassion of the 39th National Day, and thank you for having us here another year!

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Teething Troubles

2009-11-09T22:08:09.284+04:00

Well what a busy time October has been, now I have a chance to say thank you to everyone that helped us out in the month!It all began with our friend Jo’s arrival in town in order to help us celebrate our 40ths.Jo is a regular reader of the blog (So she says), but is far too busy or important ;o) to comment. Shame on you Jo, go to the back of the class!Jo joined Becky and me on the hunt for a new house and was there when we finally found it. She was also present when I lost it with an agent due to that company’s complete incompetency and personal attitude, in Jo’s words ‘I have never seen James so angry’ I can’t say I have either!Putting that aside, I would like to say the first big ‘THANK YOU’ to Nicole at Cluttons for listening to us, understanding our requirements and most importantly, remembering us at the crucial moment, a job well done, brilliant.And with all of that my Parents arrived just in time for the ‘Partay’.We had arranged for Andy Pyzer of Hi FM repute to DJ for us and the guys at the Dolphin Village to provide the venue and the food. There were the usual moments beforehand, ‘If a tree falls down in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’, in our case it was, ‘If you hold a party and invite lots of people, will anyone come?’. Whilst I’m on a philosophical mind set, did anyone see that someone is actually planning on conducting the Schrödinger’s cat experiment?? COOL!! Fortunately for us a lot of people did turn up (Or I would have been eating left-overs for a month), and we spent the night talking, eating and dancing.Andy did a great job with the music considering the immense pressure he had been placed under, Becky had warned him of dire consequences if he were to play music of a certain era or anything else not of her liking. The guys in the kitchen served up some absoloutly delicious food, plenty of curry, so I was happy (Should have had a doggy bag at the end of it), and the guys in the club kept the drinks flowing. So a big ‘Thank You’ goes out to Andy and the guys of the Dolphin Village for making the party such a great success!Oh, and a last ‘thank you’ for the party has to go to the lovely lady who got up and danced with me at the end of the evening, I have no idea who you are, but I do hope you enjoyed yourself, photos anyone?The following week my parents took off down to Salalah for a couple of days. Reports came back that they had a lovely time with a couple of trips out to see the tail end of the Khareef and walks along deserted beaches. The Crown Plaza was completely deserted!For those of you that don’t know, the Khareef is the wet season in the South of Oman, when everything is lush and green. I must say that one of my favorite photos is on the header of Dhofari Gucci’s blog.I suppose most people think of the Middle East as one big sand box, but Oman is nothing like that, it is just so diverse and I really love that about it (More on this in another post me thinks). It is also very small in some ways, one of these experienced whilst out shopping on my parents return from their trip. We happened to be in a certain shop frequented solely by expats when we bumped into our friend Bernie, at which my mother instantly remembered having bumped into her on the deserted beach in Salalah. Small world, and even smaller when we pointed out that they had previously sat beside each other (and subsequently both forgotten[...]



Bearing it all

2009-10-27T11:09:07.950+04:00

This week I’ve gone topless.
It’s so liberating running around Muscat with no top on. The weather is beautiful, the temperature just right, the sun is shining and not a cloud is to be seen in the sky. Occasionally you get the odd look from people in the street, but it is worth it.
The only down side are the midges first thing in the morning.
Hopefully I won’t have to put my top back on until April next year (unless it rains of course)!









This is the perfect time for a soft top on your car……….Huh? what did you think I was talking about??????