Gladlee of Guernsey

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Oman 2011 - January to December

January 2011 - Oman

The beginning of the year/month continued very much with our normal routine, Ron working of course, and Julie playing bridge, hashing and tennis and organising a Birding Group through the Women's Guild. The first birding trip to Qurm Park had no takers but Julie went anyway and was very pleased to find a Long-Tailed Shrike - only the 8th ever recorded in Oman. Later in the month we went to Al Ansab wetlands and this was better attended with seven of us and we saw 27 different birds as well as a blue lizard (Hadramawt Agama).

We did one day trip out to Wadi Bani Auf on the 7th. Ron went off to Spain on business on the 15th for 10 days. Julie also went on a very interesting visit to the new Botanical Gardens though only part of it was completed and not due to open until 2014.

Long-tailed Shrike at Qurm Park Blue Lizard (Hadramawt Agama)

February

Very much of the same. We did manage two days diving though during the month. Julie took some of her birding group down to Quriyat, six attendees this time. There was a holiday mid-month so we did a couple of day trips, first to Wadi Mistral to see the blossoms and secondly to Quriyat and Wadi Dayqah.

Blossoms at Wukan, Wadi Mistall New dam at Wadi Dayqah

March

Ron went off to Germany for a few days on business while Julie continued bird-watching, bridge, tennis, hash etc. Our new house was finally ready on the 7th so we moved everything over and slept there for the first time on the 8th. There were a few teething problems like no hot water and some water leaks but we seemed to be quickly settled. The bar arrived, curtains and patio furniture were ordered and more bits and pieces came.

Our new house at Al Ansab  View from our patio

The Saturday Bridge was hosted by Ahmad on the 12th at his house and Ron joined for lunch (mainly liquid!)

Playing bridge at Ahmad's Our host

Yvonne, Lisa and Charlotte arrived on the 19th for a week and we were just about ready for them in the new house. They arrived late on the Saturday night and we all enjoyed a late drink on the roof patio before going to bed. Sunday, Julie took them to Oman Dive Centre for lunch and a swim. Charlotte tried out snorkeling for the first time in the sea and although a bit nervous at first rather enjoyed it. Monday, we all went down to Sifah beach. It was a bit too rough for swimming but we paddled, beach-combed made sand-castles and had a picnic lunch. On Tuesday Ron unfortunately had to work, but the rest went out on Ahmad's boat for the day to Banda Kayran. We anchored in a small secluded bay, drank champagne and swam. Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed it and (with Julie's help) drove the boat back to the marina. Wednesday was a bit of a lazy day and later on we went up to Seeb, did a bit of shopping and then drove back by the hot springs. Thursday, Yvonne felt a bit under the weather and stayed at home while the rest of us went off wadi-bashing to Wadi Bani Auf. We walked though the canyon then had a picnic lunch. Friday we all went down to the beach club at CAYC and had lunch and swam - Charlotte really managed to master the snorkeling there. Saturday Julie took Y, L and C to the Grand Mosque and then down to Mutrah Souq.

Lisa, Ron and Charlotte at Sifah Beach Yvonne and Ahmad on his boat

 April

The first Saturday, Glynis was leaving so after bridge the ladies went to O'Sole Mia for lunch. Julie did four Bird-watching trips to Al Ansab on the 5th, Qurm on the 14th, Al Ansab ponds on the 18th and Quriyat on the 24th.

Lunch at O'Sole Mia for Glynis Purple Heron at Qurm

On the 6th we held a house-warming party, not too many people but fun anyway and the last people to leave left at 11 o'clock the next morning! Evening of the 7th we went out to a function at the Dolphin Club with Ahmad and his 'Boot Camp' crowd and sat with a prince from the Royal Family who was extremely pleasant and chatty. On the Friday we went out for a walk locally and were very pleased to come across an Arabian Gazelle - a first for us, and later on looked up to see a couple of Lappet-faced vultures, an Egyptian vulture and a Bonelli's eagle all together.

Arabian Gazelle Bonelli's Eagle

The weekend of 21st/22nd we joined the Inter-Gulf Hash at Jebel Akhdar on the Saiq Plateau. Quite a crowd, about 90 people turned up and we did a 2 hour long hash on the Thursday afternoon and a shorter one on the Friday. Very enjoyable evening with the usual hash circle and then BBQ'd with Steve, Ivan and Beryl. The following weekend we went out with Ahmad on his boat and then set the weenies part of our hash. Ahmad and Julie did the keenies trail on the Friday and then the hash was at our place on the Saturday. Good hash and nice crowd of about 35 runners.

Inter-Gulf Hash  The campsite

Little Owl in the wadi near our house Little Grebe

May

The first weekend we did another Hash trip, this time to 'The View' at Jebel Shams with the Muscat Hash, an eco-tented camp. We arrived at lunch time on the Thursday and enjoyed a couple of hours on our patio enjoying the view looking down over Nizwa and surrounding countryside. At about 5 Julie went off on the hash while Ron stayed back. The evening started with the usual hash circle and then continued on to dinner and then chatting and playing charades by the camp fire until the early hours.

The Tents at The View Jane's Farewell tournament and lunch

On the Saturday, Julie had a bridge tournament followed by lunch at Kim's house for Jane's farewell. A lovely morning though sad to say goodbye to Jane.

We left for the UK late on Sunday 8th and spent a few days in Wellingborough before heading up to Wakefield on the Friday for a couple of nights. Mum (Molly) came up with us and we had a nice curry at Yvonne's in the evening. Saturday evening we went to the 'Red Kite' and was joined by Yvonne and Dermot, Lisa and Charlotte, Marie and Susie, Geoff, Jenn and Wesley, Robin and Alison so had a really nice night catching up with everyone. We visited Betty (Ron's Mum) a couple of times in the home and she seemed to be OK.

We got a flight to Washington on Tuesday 17th and stayed in our usual motel 8 in Manassas for the first night. We then drove down to Deltaville, checked in at the Dockside Motel and then went to check on Gladlee. She looked in pretty good shape but a bit dirty and neglected. It was late by this time so we sat in the cockpit and enjoyed a rum and coke in the pouring rain rather than start work. We had dinner at Cocomo's. Next day though Ron polished the hull while Julie cleaned up the deck. In the evening we caught up with friends Chris and Liz and had a sundowner on the dock and then dinner on their boat, still out of the water but coming along nicely. A tornado had ripped through Deltaville a few weeks previous and we saw all the damage.

The church after the tornado Northern Cardinal on top of the mast

Having nothing else to do on the boat, the next day we locked her up and headed off to meet Linda and Seamus on Harvey in North Carolina. Having looked up where they were on the internet we had no problems finding them near Wake Forest in a State Park called Fall's Lake. It was great to see them so happy on the RV and really enjoying the life. We had a beer with them while catching up and then stayed on for a BBQ dinner of our favourite - pork kebabs. The next day we picked L & S up and went off to find the AAA office for some information and then headed up to John H. Kerr Lake to see if it would be suitable for them to camp there. We had a nice picnic courtesy of Linda and a walk around. In the evening we found a local restaurant and sat outside and had supper with a couple of beers before dropping them back to the RV.

Young Carolina Wren straight from the nest

Linda, Julie, Seamus and Ron having dinner

On Sunday 22nd we headed up towards the Blue Ridge Mountains and stayed at a Day's Inn near the Peaks of Otter. We went up to the visitor centre and did a short hike on a trail through the trees, it was a bit hot and humid but pleasant anyway. The next day we continued up the Parkway and on to Skyline Drive and stayed at another Day's Inn at Luray. In the evening we went into town and found a restaurant that served ribs - one of Julie's favourites. The following day we did more of Skyline and then headed towards Washington and the airport for our flight back to the UK that evening, stopping on the way for a MacDonald's lunch.

An uneventful flight, one night back in Wellingborough before heading back to Heathrow for our flight back to Oman. After checking into Jury's Hotel we drove down to Paddock Wood to see Iris, Pippa and Benjamin as we hadn't seen them for a few years. Had a nice evening catching up. When we got back to Muscat the summer heat had really set in with temperatures reaching almost 50 degrees C.

June

Generally an uneventful month. On the 2nd we went round to Ahmad's for a party and didn't get home until after 05.00 so a good evening had by all. Julie continued with her bridge, having taken over running the Saturday Bridge and the bridge clinic on a Tuesday, and playing on a Wednesday, tennis until mid-month when it stopped until mid-August because of the heat, doing the Muscat Hash (Ron now also doing the hash and taken on the job of 'hair-raiser') and a couple of bird-watching trips down to Quriyat. Ron went to Spain on business on the 6th to 17th. Julie managed one dive during that period, more problems with the dive boat as there was almost a fire due to faulty wiring. Julie also played a couple of games of squash - the first in 10 years!

Cream-coloured Courser at Quriyat Lunar Fusiliers off Jissah Point

The 29th was a holiday and then on the 30th we met up with Liz and Ian, Rix and John and Ahmad for a camping trip to Jebel Akhdar. We drove through Nizwa to Tanuf and then headed straight up a dirt track into the mountains. A very rough road but the 4X4's did well apart from Ahmad's new Toyota which seemed to be leaking petrol. We found some flat ground and made camp and then everyone except Ron took a walk up to 'Black Head'. Lovely views. We enjoyed an evening around the campfire. The next day we all (except Ron who gallantly stayed behind to guard the cars) did a 4 hour walk in the wilderness to the 'steps' built by the SAS back in the 70's.

Ahmad, John and Ian on Black Head Our Campsite

Mountain view The Walkers

July

Generally another quiet month with the heat of the summer. We entertained HMS St Alban's on the hash on the 2nd, went diving on the 7th, had a few dinners out and went to a cocktail party on the 13th for France National Day. On the 20th we went to Trader Vics for a meal for Julie's birthday and then drove up to the Saiq Plateau camping for the weekend. The weather was much cooler and we had did a couple of walks and a lovely BBQ dinner.

Scrub Warbler Wild donkeys on the plateau

The rest of the month we had another couple of meals out and did some more diving.

August

This is traditionally a very hot month too so we didn't go too far afield. Ramadan started at the beginning of the month for 28 days so everywhere was very quiet and all the bars closed for the month. Julie did lots of diving, 9 dives total but Ron only managed a couple for various reasons. We continued with the hash every Saturday though it was very hot but nice to get out. We also did the Full Moon Hash on the 22nd at the Jebel Park Golf Club at Al Ansab and thoroughly enjoyed that, so much so that Ron volunteered to set the next one in September. Julie's bridge continued on Saturdays and Wednesdays but was played in people's houses as the normal venues were closed. Julie went off with Pam, Leane and Chris for a day trip down to Wadi Shab and that was lovely.

Leane, Julie and Pam in the Wadi (Chris took the photos) Lunch break

The Eid holiday started on the 30th and we drove down to Barr al Hikmen via Sur and Ras al Hadd on Wednesday 31st for a couple of days. It took us about 5 hours. After checking into the Jazeerah Guest House we drove down to Filim and found our usual spot on the rocks and got the chairs and BBQ out and settled in for a few hours. Quite a few birds about though the flamingos were scattered quite a way away in the distance. Late on a Crab Plover did show it's face so that was great. Nice views of some camels.

Camels on the mudflats Crab Plover

September

The weather started improving a bit and the diving got nicer now the cold current had passed and the water temperatures were back up to the high 20's. The tennis started again and the bridge got back to the normal venues. We set the Full Moon Hash on the 12th (with Rodger, Sharifa and Ahmad) which went really well, especially Ron's chilie. We had a few parties and functions this month including Liz's (from the hash) birthday, Yoshiko's leaving do and Posh Nosh on the 29th.

Yoshiko's leaving reception Julie at Posh Nosh

The Cake at Posh Nosh Ron and Ineka after the party

October

The usual Hash, Full Moon Hash, tennis, diving and bridge. Ron went to India for a couple of days mid-month. Also Angela's leaving party, The Oktoberfest at the Radisson and the end of Boot Camp party at the Dolphin. Julie also did a couple of bird-watching trips, one to Qurm Park and one to Quriyat. A few new birds including the Spotted Crake, Pectoral Sandpiper and the Collared Pratincole.

Pectoral Sandpiper Spotted Crake

We went back to the UK on the 24th for a couple of weeks to celebrate Julie's Mum's 80th birthday. On the Saturday (29th) evening we went out to an Indian restaurant called the 'Pooja', with Yvonne (who was down for the weekend), Phil and Alison, Phil and Pam, Julie and Chris, Pat, Martin and Kathy. It was an interesting place, developed from a takeaway into a small vegetarian restaurant with very good ethnic food.

The 30th was Mum's big party at the Riverside restaurant in Billing. Lots of people gathered at Queensway for a drink first and then we headed off to Billing. There were 50 people altogether including lots of Mum's friends, most of the cousins and sister Kath. The restaurant did us proud with a very nice carvery lunch which suited all tastes and lovely desserts. Going by the noise level everyone enjoyed themselves. A few hardy souls came back to Wellingborough just to finish off the day.

Mum at her 80th Birthday Party Bill and Judy, Phil, Mick, Alison and Helen

Yvonne, Ron and friends Nigel, Bobby, Kath, Kerry and Clare (Tye)

November

Mum's actual birthday was November 2nd so she invited everyone to pop round during the day so there was a constant stream of people coming and going. Various friends came over in the morning and Mum cut her cake then and later Bill and Dorothy, Richard and Margaret arrived and stayed until late.

On the Thursday we drove up to Wakefield for a short visit to see Yvonne, Dermot and family and Ron's Mum. We stayed at an hotel at New Miller Dam and had a really nice walk around the lake. We had one meal at the Bull's Head and one at Yvonne's (Indian Takeaway). On the Saturday morning we drove down to Kessingland to Helen and Chris's. We stayed at the Victoria Hotel on the outskirts of Lowestoft for a change. In the evening we went out to 'Sergeant Pepper's' with all the family, Helen, Chris, Lissy (and friend), Jack, Carmen and Simon Hayton and had a very nice evening. Next day, we, with Simon and Carmen went to Beccles and had a walk along the waterfront area before returning to Helen's for a traditional Sunday lunch.

Simon, Helen and Chris Ron, Lissy and Carmen

On Wednesday the 9th we drove down to London with Mum (Molly), who was returning with us for a couple of weeks, and then got our flight back to Oman on the 10th. We got back into our usual routine quite quickly and Mum came and joined in. She came to her first Hash and thoroughly enjoyed it, and also came to the Full Moon Hash. We had dinner out at the Crowne Plaza with Ahmad, we visited Qurm Park and went to a party at Ahmad's. On Friday 18th we drove out to Nakhal and had a look around the fort and then went into Wadi Mistal and found a nice spot to have a picnic lunch. On the Sunday we drove down to Quriyat and did a bit of bird-watching and sat on the beach for a bit. Monday we went out on Ahmad's boat, Tuesday dinner at Trader Vic's, Julie took a friend to Qurm Park on Wednesday morning then we went to Fauziah's for lunch. On Thursday we drove down to Ras al Hadd and stayed overnight at the Turtle Beach Resort which was nice but basic. We had a sundowner sitting by the rocks near the resort and were inundated with flies, obviously hatched out after the recent rains. Mum went home on the evening of the 26th and as Ron was on holiday, we went diving on the Sunday. Julie played in a tennis tournament on the Tuesday and we went to the Dolphin for dinner with Ahmad on the Wednesday - 'the completing the boot camp party' - so far we have been to lots of the parties but never done the boot camp!

Brown Booby at Ras Al Khabbah Mum paddling at Quriyat

December

This month continued in the same vein as normal. Julie mainly playing tennis, bird-watching and playing bridge. We went to a wine tasting evening at the American Club and enjoyed some really nice wines. We sat at a table for six and there were 7 bottles to try so we were not very sober when we left. Nice company as we sat with some hashing friends. Next day we were due to go diving but only Julie made it. We had an evening of bridge and dinner at Fauziah and Brody's house and a pre-Christmas drinks party with Phil and Paula at their house in the Royal Flight complex. We went to the Christmas carol concert at the British Embassy as usual and another drinks party at Pam and Paul's. They organised a few games involving groups named after Father Christmas's reindeer which got everyone mingling nicely. We had the Muscat Divers Club Christmas Party on the 22nd at Neil and Irene's house. There were about 20 of us and it was a  really good evening and we got home about 04.30!

Mandy, Adam and Ron Nabs and Fiona

Mark and Nabs Simon and Barnaby

On Friday the 23rd we had the Christmas Hash party which was a Hash run followed by a catered dinner. We all took tables and decorated them and it was very festive, we left quite early being a bit hung-over from the previous night. There was a recovery hash on the Saturday, then on Christmas Day we drove down to Sifah Beach and had a swim, BBQ'd lunch which included turkey, brussel sprouts, baked potato etc. and a bottle of Champagne, and had a thoroughly enjoyable relaxing day.

The Christmas Hash Party

Christmas Day at Sifah Beach

The next few days were spent cleaning up the house and preparing the spare rooms for the Uttons - (Helen, Chris, Lissy, Jack and Carmen) arrival on the 28th.

They arrived no problem and settled in quickly to our large house. After a fairly leisurely morning on the Thursday we drove down to Sifah Beach in two 4x4's, Ron's Tahoe and Julie drove his old Toyota Fortuner from work. The weather was not very good so only Carmen went in the water, it was quite cloudy and windy. We sheltered behind the cars for lunch and had a nice long walk on the beach. In the evening we went out to the Turkish House restaurant. On Friday we took the two cars into Wadi Bani Auf and all walked Little Snake Gorge. Jack and Carmen had a paddle in the pools and we found our way right through to the end. In the evening we went to Trader Vics. On Saturday we took them down to Mutrah Souq and had a look at the fish market. We shopped on the way home and then spent the afternoon preparing for the New Years Eve hash and party in the evening.

Chris and Julie New Year's Eve Picnicking at Sifah

People started arriving at about 16.15 for the hash and we started the run at 16.45 with just over 40 runners. Ivan and Beryl had set the hash and took us down to the dam and then through the beautiful grassy wadi area before returning up the second dam and home. The Utton's really enjoyed it as they hadn't done anything like this before. We did the usual circle, Jack was presented with a kite from Abdullah, it was a potluck so all the food came out at about 19.30 and the party continued on afterwards. Various people dropped in throughout the evening, the last lot arriving just before midnight. Most left or went to bed about 02.00, except Julie, Chris and Jack who stayed up dancing and playing drinking games. Julie then cleared up and got to bed about 04.30.

 

 

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