Sunday, 27 December 2009

Another year draws to a close.

I last wrote here on the 5th December my farewell to Oman, so here's a quick catch up...

From Oman I went to Italy for a lightning visit to the flat, and then an overnight stop in Pompeii. On my other blog I wrote that it was too cold to sketch, if I'd only known what would greet me in England a week later - I guess the pic above is a very big clue. Anyway, I was a bit disappointed in the site as it's been "restored" in so many parts it had lost a lot of what made it special (there are whole new complexes built Pompeii viva, roofs added, etc). I wandered around for an hour & half then had to retreat to a cafe for a warming cup of hot chocolate. The modern town is nice, and had an impressive array of Christmas lights (see below). From Italy I then fly into UK.

Five days later, it started to snow, & snow, & snow... The next day I had to get to London for an interview, so after waiting for a bus that didn't come, then borrowing dad's car, I finally got to the train station where I was surprised to find the trains running late, but all right. I made my interview on time and waited 30 minutes for the interviewer to arrive, as he'd got stuck with the snow. Due to my intrepid journey in the snow (or madness) I was accepted to work for the chain of language schools. I was interviewed and accepted to work at their Turin school on Monday - an early Christmas present. Consequently, in the new year I will be blogging from Italy.

On the 22nd, mum & I braved the snow & icy conditions to go to London. Our first stop was the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square; one of my favourite London galleries. We viewed the exhibits from The Victorians up to date, which included a fabulous collection of the Bloomsbury set's paintings & drawings. Then we travelled up to North London to catch the matinee of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake - the contemporary version with the all male corps de ballet. It was fabulous!!! If you haven't seen it yet, GO!

Finally, although this year started full of hope with a wonderful man on holiday in South Africa, it turned into a very difficult year with that relationship ending, my dad's illness, the death of my uncle, and the difficult decision to leave my home, job & friends in Oman. However, I am finishing this year hopeful again, with my dad back to his normal cantankerous self, a new job and country a few weeks away, old friends keeping in touch and new friends to meet. Whatever 2009 brought you, I wish you health and happiness for the forthcoming year.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Masalama Oman

I was watching a silly movie the other week; having only free-to-view channels in the Middle East limits what you watch. The main character said this "Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's what happens in the middle that's important." This seemed appropriate to me now as I leave Oman and say goodbye to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and for that it is a sad time. However, with over four years in Oman I have many good memories. Here is a small selection of my friends and family highlights, in the order I thought of them...

Thank you all for making my time here in Oman fantastic, it is with some sadness that I leave, but you have all filled it with great memories.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Gratitude Friday - what a view.

After comments from friends on Wednesday, I realised not only did I have to draw my view before I leave this apartment in a week's time, but also how blessed I've been to be able to look out at this daily. The finished drawing is here.

I am also thankful to all the friends, both old & new, who came round on Wednesday evening to make my leaving Muscat a bit easier. Thankfully, they were able to share this awesome view at night.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Gratitude Friday: philanthropists

A friend of mine set up a charity, Xmas Torch, a few years ago with this objective
"Christmas is one of the best holidays for many. It is that time of the year that we all try to get time off work and spend it with our families. However there are those that have no idea what is Christmas because for them it is life as usual with nothing different but the same hard life they are used to. All I want to do for these children is give them an unforgettable [time] where they will think of nothing else but let them be children ... It is important for them to know that there is more to life than the problems they face daily."

She is an ordinary woman, like you and I, trying to achieve the extraordinary. She aims to give as many Kenyan kids, living in orphanages, a trip away from the homes with the surprise of a Christmas present for each of them.
Xmas Torch is targeting to gift each child, from ages 2 to 23, a backpack filled with a doll/football; math set; crayons/color pencils; coloring books; pencils; pens; under garments; books; and personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc).
Recognising the corruption that unfortunately exists in some countries, the charity Xmas Torch buys the gifts and gives them to the kids themselves, and arranges the outings. This makes sure the donations reach those who need them and doesn't go into someone's pocket.

I think it is important to be grateful to all the philanthropists in the world, who do what they can to help others. Also, with the onset of the Christmas we need to reflect that we may not be able to buy that extra box of chocolates or whatever it is we want, but compared to many in the world we have so much, from choices, to homes, to food we can afford to throw away. Today, I think we should all be thankful for all we have and that when we loose sight of that there are people like my friend who do what they can to make other's lives better. I know I am.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Gratitude Friday 11

Today I am grateful for a lovely day. The weather here in Muscat now is perfect. I started the day having a cuppa with the lounge door wide open as it is finally cool enough to turn off the ac.
After breakfast I went to see the ongoing competition to paint His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. A friend, the artist Jenni Eden, (check out her site here) is competing and her unfinished work is already outstanding - it caught my eye before I even knew it was hers. 

From there I went to the marina, and the kind security guards let me onto the pontoons when I asked to draw there. It was very warm in the sheltered spot I was sat in! I loved the detail on the stern of this dhow so much that I had to draw it. Most of the wobbly lines were caused by the pontoon I was sitting on moving as boats went by, causing my hand to jump. Then it was time for lunch, and I had a lovely chatty lunch with my friend Mark as we planned our SketchCrawl for next Friday. All to soon it was over and time to head home. Such a lovely day, I am so grateful for days like this.

btw I notice my art is now creeping over onto this blog. If you interested in seeing where it should be and more of my art please check out my art blog at artofanomad

Friday, 6 November 2009

Gratitude Friday - hearing

Young boys, originally uploaded by travelingsuep.
What a different world I would live in if I couldn't hear. Yesterday, I went to the camel races in Saham and without the sense of hearing it would have been a very different experience. Carrying a DSLR, I think some people thought I was press and consequently, people, such as these 3 boys, asked to have their photo taken. My pleasure! I'm so pleased I could hear their request.

In the course of a couple of hours, several of the lovely friendly people of Saham came up to say hi and just to chat, or have their picture taken. I had a very interesting chat with the vet who was conducting blood tests on the winning camels - who'd have thought it? I guess if they dope racehorses, why not camels?

As well as hearing giving me the ability to talk to people, I could hear the commentary of the races and the hypnotic Omani chanting in between them. It was a fabulous morning, but so easy to forget our experiences are not just visual.

I am so thankful I can hear and must remember that when I am home. How awful it must be when that ability starts to fail or get distorted.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Gratitude Friday (on Saturday)

My life, during these last few months in this country, is a little crazy; consequently, it is getting more difficult to do this weekly (at least on the blog). This idea of Diana's has shown me just how much I have so much to be grateful for each week.

This week I would like to say thanks to Aleta, who has been a friend here in Oman now for several years, and who is sadly leaving this week. Aleta has been a good friend to me and I will miss her a lot, as I have many fond memories from us getting in the paper (which turned into several times) the camel races, and numerous events. Thank you Aleta. I hope you stay in touch.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Gratitude Friday: 8

This Friday, I am thankful for many things, but specifically I am thankful for having such great parents. They are always supportive of whatever I want to do, and wherever I want to go, even when they do not really agree with that decision. I am lucky that they have provided a home to always return to; an anchor for my wandering. Even when I feel lost, I really have their stability grounding me.

I cannot wait to get home and see them in December.

Thanks again to Diana of Creative Structures for thinking up the idea of Gratitude Friday. Also, for giving me the opportunity to tell my parents how I feel.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Think Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I was reading Laura's blog, Ciao Amalfi, earlier as she has picked up on this great idea to promote breast cancer awareness through pink pics on our blogs. The original idea came from Scintilla over at Bell’Avventura. Check out both their blogs for great pink photos and also the site of The Pink Ribbon Foundation for further information.

This is what The Pink Ribbon Foundation site says:
"-Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the UK.  Especially in highly developed countries like our own.
-This week in the UK approximately 750 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  It will be the same next week and the next and the next, totalling over 41,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
-For women, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed is about 1 in 9.
- It is believed that Britain now has the highest breast cancer mortality rate in the world.
-This week 250 over women in the UK will die of Breast Cancer.

This month let's think PINK.
Nottinghill Carnival, UK '08, Cat '08, Muscat Festival, Oman '08, South Africa '09

Friday, 9 October 2009

Gratitude Friday: 7

Something which is good for the soul and for chasing away sadness is laughter, so that is what I am thankful for today. On Wednesday, I went to Muscat Comedy Club's Craic Attack, where 2 Irish comedians performed. First up was Colm McDonnell who had us giggling especially with the descriptions of Bumper cars, which took many of us back to our youth. Then, after the interval, Joe Rooney came on and he was very good. My friend was crying with laughter as he recognised himself in many of the comic situations Rooney described. By the end of the evening my face ached from having laughed so much and I left with a big smile on my face.

Thanks Diana at Creative Structures for the idea of Gratitude Friday.

Please pop over and see Lisa's blog, Travel Dreams & Moonbeams, today, it's always a good read, but this week's article on souvenir bling is excellent. Thanks Lisa for asking me to contribute.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Gratitude Friday: 6

This is easy this week. Thanks for the ability and opportunity to paddle in the warm Arabian sea, along an almost deserted beach, with cooling breeze in the this quiet capital city, which I did on Wednesday. Another good memory stored for when I leave Oman.

I'm also grateful for the drop in temperature, which enabled me to do a sketch of this idyllic scene from beneath the palm trees. The results are here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Countdown, Salsa, & passion.

I came home from my salsa class on Sunday and for the first time on facebook put my status as the time until I leave Oman. I wrote "9 more salsa classes 'til I leave :((", which shows how much I am enjoying my lessons, but it's mainly due to the people I am dancing with. Then last night I went to one of the salsa groups social nights, and telling a new salsera friend I will miss all this, and she asked can I stay. Well, apart from being homeless at the end of the year (I've given notice on the flat), I have sold some of my furniture, and I've resigned, I could stay, But... I do need to go back to Europe, at least for a while, and if I end up missing Muscat, well I can always come back in a year or so. It's funny about the salsa though, I have known the basic steps for years, but the more classes I go to, the worse my dancing is getting. I think it is because I now know what I should be doing, and rather than just dancing I'm thinking. Even G&T didn't help last night, as I couldn't even do a basic mambo in time. But hey, my Bachata, which I love, and Merengue were good. The week before, at the group's Eid party, which is where the pic is from, I danced better, so maybe I can blame the G&T for not working as well as red wine?

As my countdown was tied to the salsa, is that the passion in my life? NO. It's my rediscovery of art, specifically drawing. Whilst out last night, watching the others dance, I kept thinking about how to capture the movement of the dance, the lines the women were making were tantalising. Maybe next week I will hide in a corner and try to capture it? When I was in Istanbul last year, I did several sketches of the Whirling Dervish (left), but took far more photos. Keep an eye on my art blog for dancing pics in the coming weeks.

Finally, I will finish today on a sad note, my uncle, Jack Farthing, died last week. Although I haven't seen him often in the last few years, I will really miss him. His Sunday lunch arguments with dad, or as they said debates, will always bring fond memories, along with many other memories of him I have. May he rest in peace.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Gratitude Friday: 5

Today I am grateful for all the choices I can make. They may be good or bad choices, but I have the freedom to make them. I have almost infinite possibilities and each choice I make can take me in a new direction or continue along the same path. It's up to me. There are too many people in this world, through poverty, political corruption &/or sanctions, war, or other reasons, who do not have any choice in their lives. I wrote a few days ago that I am having doubts about the choice I have made to leave Oman, but I should be thankful that I am in a position to have such choice.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


The decision has been made, so why am I suddenly doubting myself? I've missed Europe for a long time now, the chance to walk, the cultural opportunities etc. I hate working here, the work ethics in the colleges both of management and students is appalling, and it takes up a large part of my life.

Earlier this evening I was reading  Miss Expatria 's latest post Get ready, get inspired, and go!  all about just going for your dreams, I wrote a comment to her:
I have doubts about the next step. I’ve been an expat for almost 9 years. ... the next country is undecided. The next country is not the scary part, that I am leaving is. I thought it was the right time, but I’ve realised how much I have here and how many friends- BIG positives, but hate the work situation here. I work to live, so just because I don’t like the work is it reason to give up so much?… First steps for the next stage of my life, should they be leaving?
This was the first time I really expressed these doubts, maybe it's partly because Ramadan has been sociable and I have seen how many friends I have here. Also, I joined Oman Salsa Group before I went to Lebanon, and they are a great bunch of people. The dance classes are fun, everyone talks to each other, everyone is invited to everything, and everyone is welcome. Is the need to fit in so great that it's the reason I now have these doubts? I am not a beach/camping on the weekend person, which sometimes has made weekends long, but the dancing group- I can't wait for the next class or event. On top of that I have rediscovered art, and found that with the miracle of internet (see my last post) I don't need to be in Europe to get inspiration and share my work.

I still can't walk about (Muscat is NOT pedestrian friendly, even when it's cooler), pop in an art gallery, go to the theatre, my parents are still a day's travel away, and the other things I miss in Europe. Back there I have not yet secured a job, but there are always teaching vacancies in January. Plus two recruiters want to see me when I am next in UK, so working really is not a problem. I have narrowed down my choices of country so that is also not a problem... eeney, meeney, mineey, Go! Or should I stay?

Friday, 18 September 2009

Gratitude Friday: 4

I was struggling this morning to choose what to be thankful for. I had a look at Diana's post over at Creative Structures and realised that life is getting better for me at the moment, so instead of struggling to see the good things in life, I have the enviable problem of which good thing to choose.

Four weeks ago, my first gratitude Friday was about art, since then I have rediscovered my love of art and my neglected talent. So my first thanks, is for Diiana for making me think about what I was grateful for. From that first post I have started a second blog Art of a Nomad, which is purely for art.

My second thanks today is for the internet, which may seem strange, so let me explain. With my art, because I draw what I see I have always had a problem with inspiration. Now, thanks to the internet enabling people to set up sites, I have ideas bursting out of my head. I have joined several art sites that give weekly themes to illustrate (incl. Monday ArtDay and Illustration Friday) and the fabulous Urban Sketchers, who encourage artists to go out and draw the cities/towns around them. Yesterday, as I was driving around Muscat, I was mentally thinking "I could draw that"... "Oh that would be interesting to sketch", and on it went all day. Actually, the thanks is for the wonderful people who set up these sites.

My final thanks is to the wonderful cyberpeps and friends who have taken the time to look at my work this month and leave comments, both complimentary and constructive. Above all else, this has been the biggest encouragement to continue drawing and to them I am very, very grateful.

Why the photo of goats? I was determined to post a sketch to Urban Sketchers, so went out drawing yesterday. The goats were so amusing that I drew them rather than the beautiful fishing village they inhabit. The results are here.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Ramadan Ramblings

Ramadan is drawing to a close, people are discussing how much time off we will get for the Eid break, and we are all looking forward to the bars & coffee shops reopening.

As with other years, I have found Ramadan to be a very sociable period, although it has been difficult not to pop to Darcy's or Costas for a quick cuppa and catch up during the day. I have been to at least one party each weekend, and this forthcoming one is no exception as I'm off to help Eternally Distracted celebrate her birthday. I had a house party last weekend, unfortunately, due to the high humidity we've been having, it had to be moved from my rooftop to the lounge, but I certainly enjoyed it. During the same weekend I went to two barbies, so it was back to work on Saturday for a rest. A big positive of Ramadan parties is that you catch up with people you haven't seen in ages as there are limited places for people to go - a friend's house or a friend's house. Of course, most of us go to at least one Iftar meal at a local restaurant, these are the meals which Muslims traditionally break their fast with, after the dates & yoghurt. I went to one the first week at a new Lebanese restaurant and my friends & I ate so much we rolled out afterwards.

Apart from eating and drinking, I have been dancing, as the Oman Salsa Group has continued to meet for its Sunday classes, although the weekly social evening has been cancelled due to the bar being shut. I have done classes randomly before, Peru, Spain, even Italy this summer, but never in a regular weekly class. The instructors are all very helpful and nice, as are everyone who goes. It is a nice mix of Omanis, Indians, & Europeans. I am looking forward to the Eid party next week as it will be an opportunity to just dance salsa without the concentration of getting everything right - last Sunday I just could not get my turns right. Maybe next class?

Finally, over the last few weeks I have made the decision to leave Oman, and will be permanently back in Europe by Christmas. It is the right thing for me now, afterall I've been here four years, and I miss European culture and I want to be able to walk - at the moment I use the car to go to the shop across the road, as Muscat is not pedestrian friendly, nor is the weather. Oman IS a lovely country, and I will leave with only good memeories of my time here, just don't ask me about teaching in the colleges.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Gratitude Friday: 3

Today it is easy to know what to be grateful for... all the lovely people who are in my life. Whether they are transitory friends (those whom when we move on we will not keep in touch with). new friends, cyberbuddies, or old friends. Everyone is important in their own right and for what they bring to my life.

It is amazing the diversity of people and how we can interact. Last night, I was with friends whose occupations ranged from harp-player, through to people in the oil industry. There was a lawyer, a dive instructor, teachers, and a friend who is something in civil aviation. Despite all this disparity of vocation, it was a lovely evening, full of interesting conversation and debate, and I am so thankful that these people are part of my life. Moreover, I am also thankful for my friends at home, or in other parts of the world who I see/contact all-to-rarely, but who are also an important to me.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Photohunt: Orange

Here is my first contribution to Photohunt hosted by tn chick. This week's theme is Orange and I took this picture of a stall awning in Dubai earlier this year.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Gratitude Friday 2

After a lot of thinking and realising how much there is to be thankful for, today I am grateful for the beauty and wonder of nature. Last November, I was fortunate to witness this turtle lay her eggs on the beach and then return to the sea as the sun rose. Magical!

Again, I must say thanks to Diana of Creative Structures for the great idea of the Gratitude Friday Club.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Gratitude Friday 1

I'm grateful to Diana over at Creative Structures for coming up with this idea. I came across it last Saturday, when I was having a personal day because life feels so difficult at the moment. Diana's post gave me some much needed perspective and I decided to join in on this great idea. I tried to be grateful earlier this year, but I think this weekly idea is a lot better than a one off thing.

So, this Friday I am grateful for several things and it is difficult to know which to start with, but maybe one of my first loves, which I have just been reminded of by the current exhibition of Rembrandt here in Muscat, art.

Since I was young I have had the ability to draw and I am very grateful for the talent I have been given. However, more than my talent I am thankful for the great art that is in the world, and that my mum and dad helped me appreciate it. They frequently took the time to take me to galleries and exhibitions in order to view great and sometimes not so great art. They took the time to really show me the art, and tell me what they knew about the artists, but left me to decide what I like. Finally, they supported my wish to go to art college - at the other end of the country - and all the anguish which ensued. I don't think I ever really thanked them, so here is a very big thank you mum & dad.

Art, in all its forms from a drawing to a piece of ceramic, is a wonderful thing in our lives. It can add beauty, provide inspiration, make us think, provide peace, and give a sense of wonder, so I think it is a great thing to remember, to be grateful for, and a perfect start for my gratitude Friday posts.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Weekend wanderlust in Beirut.

Too funny... my new cyberbuddy Lisa of Travel Dreams & Moonbeams interviewed me about my recent trip to Beirut. I was very flattered to be asked about my latest little trip and you can read the resulting article here with the the fabulous title of Adventure and intrigue await wanderlust women in Beirut. The title is so good it's taken me ages to think of a title for this small blog today.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Good, bad, and slightly dangerous?

I have just spent a long weekend in Lebanon, and it was not long enough. It is an intriguing country full of contradictions. Beirut is an amazing, vibrant city. There are masses of construction going on, but around the corner you will find a building covered in bullet holes or shell marks. The beautiful Al-Amin Mosque (right, from St Georges Orthodox Cathedral) commissioned by former PM Hariri stands only a few kilometres from the former Holiday Inn still baring its ugly war damage from 2006. Furthermore, it stands next to the Cathedral of St Georges Beyruth, Christian & Muslim together. All the Lebanese I met from taxi-drivers to Hezbollah followers seemed genuinely nice people. I know some of you query the latter group. I do not agree with their politics, but I had the opportunity to go to an Hezbollah exhibition in Baalbek. There, the men were friendly, wanted to inform about their perspective, but did not try to force anything on me - oh apart from a nasty tourist hat and flag as gifts. People apart, the contradictions continued with the beautiful countryside ruined by the litter along the sides of the roads. I felt safe whilst there, but was nervous by the checkpoints along the roads manned by soldiers with guns, and some tanks in places. Although, no-one was stopped it was a little worrying. Furthermore, you can see vast wealth and great poverty as you drive around pass summer resorts for the rich Beirutis or pass the Syrian Bedu tents of the migrant workers.

I had a very full weekend, which started off with a walk around Hamra district full of shops and bars, pretty much like any other city of the world. That evening a Lebanese friend C took me to an exclusive rooftop club, where there are tables which cost 3000US$ a night, needless to say we sat at the bar. It was my first time on a guest-list to get in anywhere. As the club has been booked up for the summer we were the guests of the youngest female judge in Beirut who used her influence to get us on the list. The next morning I went to the centre of town, Solidere, for a wander around and was amazed at the number of mosques and churches side-by-side. I tried some of the famous Lebanese food, in the form of a huge slice of cheesecake. YUMM. In the afternoon, I joined C & her friends as we went south of Beirut to a beach resort, Bamboo Bay. All very decadent as we had our own hut, complete with jacuzzi, near the pool and overlooking the sea. The birthday cake, which was topped with fresh Lebanese fruit, was to die for.

The next day I joined a tour to the Bekaa Valley. The first stop was Chateau Ksara for a tour of their caves and then a wine tasting - at 10am!!! Now I like a glass of wine but it was a bit early and so had to pass up the red as being too heavy. I did try the chardonnay & rose first. From there we drove through the valley to Baalbek. WOW!!!! I have seen a lot of ruins over the years but these are impressive! (Left, the entrance) There are not enough superlatives to describe it - you'll just have to go. I am a bit concerned about my mum who was in Lebanon in the early 60s and wrote this in an email last week "I went but don't really remember it apart from a couple of pillars". Oh dear, maybe I should take her back.

From Baalbek it was off to Zahle, for a riverside lunch. Riverside was not the term I would have used as it was more like a very narrow canal/concrete chanel a metre wide with fast flowing water. The sound of the water was nice though. Now, Lebanese food is famous, but I thought being on a tour it would be a mediocre affair. How wrong I was! The mezze to start had the usual hummus, mixed salads, bread, etc., but the quality and freshness was outstanding and I could barely eat another mouthful. Being an almost veggie, I passed on the barbecued meat, but was told it was delicious. Desert was Lebanese fruit and was so nice I forced myself to eat a great quantity of watermelon & melon. Rolling back on the bus it was off to the last stop and Aanjar, an ancient Umayyad site. It was also impressive, but it would have been more so if I'd seen it before Baalbek. It was a bit like going to Brussels after visiting Paris.

Sunday morning, I woke very sad to be leaving, and wished I had more time to explore both Beirut and Lebanon more. I have put them on my To-go-back-to list, very near the top, after all there is so much more to see and do. Hugs & thanks to C for inviting to her country.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Adding airmiles.

Where does the time go? it's nearing 2 months since my last post. In my defence, I have been away for 3 weeks without my computer. Plus, to steal an idea from another blogger, I blame facebook as with regular status updates it's hard to remember what I've blogged and what I haven't.

Anyway what have I been up to???? Way back in June I had to do a visa run as my wonderful new college still hadn't organised my visa, so I day tripped to Dubai. As I was hoping to get a job back in Europe (I haven't yet), I thought I'd do some tourist things and take some photos. I went to Bur Dubai area and wandered around the old streets, nice car-free alleyways with old style buildings either side, visiting art galleries, the Dubai museum & the souq area. After several hours in the heat, I headed to the Dubai Mall to see the ski-slope in the desert, and to buy a suit. After the usual hassle with Barclaycard blocking my card for use in Dubai, despite them being told every time it's me using the card, I then caught a flight back to Muscat. My pics can viewed on flickr here.

A week later it was off on my holidays. I'd got a cheap flight to Italy via Amsterdam. I arrived there at 5am and headed off by train into Amsterdam for my first visit. With only a morning I aimed to wander around and take pics of the canals and bikes. On flickr Amsterdam's bikes and boats. I found it an interesting place, but apart from wishing to visit the galleries I will not hurry back. I took more photos on the return leg during an evening in Rome of L'arte romana. Not having a map or guidebook, and with the direct trains to Termini cancelled I hopped on a train, and got off where a fellow passenger said there was a tram stop. I was guided by this woman to purchase a tram ticket, and to get on the tram. She said the end was in the centre, and to get off with her, however... As I idly gazed out of the tram window watching the suburbs pass by I saw an interesting church, piazza, and old buildings and jumped off. I wonder if the woman noticed me missing from the tram? I later found out I was in an area called Trastevere, which is south of the river from the centre and unlike Amsterdam I certainly intend to return to. Unfortunately after a lovely evening meandering around, due to my cheap ticket I then joined the masses camped out at Rome airport waiting for a 4am checkin.

In the middle of the traveling, I drove to my flat in Calabria. It is really a pretty area of Italy, as my parents found out when they joined me a few days later. Together we did some tourist stuff, a few beach days, got caught out by a strike by petrol attendants (I was running the hire car on fumes so had a stop in a nice B&B Cirelli in Scalea), but mainly we ate HUGE Italian meals. A highlight for me was

which is down the valley from my flat. We went there via a waterfall in the park with 2 friends who live in the area year-round and we all had a great day & meal. Unfortunately during the whole holiday, being the only driver I didn't get to drink to much Prosecco, but have brought a bottle back with me to be opened soon. In fact the time has come to sign off and maybe visit the fridge :D Sx

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Charity, diplomats & feathers

I frequently think that my life is boring, very mundane, but recently it's been crazy. The pic to the right was taken at the Italian National Day celebrations held in the ambassador's residence, here in Muscat. In the pic is the ambassador himself, Cesare Capitani, my Italian friends and I. It was a formal affair from the welcoming line up to the singing of both the Omani and Italian national anthems, but executed in true Italian style. Hence the photo with the ambassador.

The evening before I went to a charity catwalk event, in aid of children with cancer. For me a non-shopper and a very casual dresser it was actually fun, AND I bought two new tops (with part of the price also going to the charity).

The night after the abassador's reception I went to Muscat Comedy Club's show 1001 laughs - a comedy show featuring 3 Arab-American comedians. My favorite was Dean Obeidallah, who participates in the "Axis of Evil" show on tv.

To finish off the week, on Thursday a group of us went to the restaurant at the Marina for the first of Maura's leaving meals. We took lots of silly pics, had a lovely meal, lots of wine and laughs. All before heading onto Left Bank for more drinks. We shared a table with a group of Omani male lawyers who were sitting there in their dishdashas and with pints of beer in front of them. Phew what a week!

Oh the feathers, how do they fit in??? Well, the other week I went to the Australia New Zealand Organisation's charity ball, which had the theme of Priscilla Queen of the desert, and saw the majority of people in fancy dress. My friend & I wore glitzy dresses - mine in leopard skin and hers of gold - feather boas and hiking boots. Very glam!!!! Actually it was a relief not to have to totter around in heals all night, especially when dancing.

A boring life??? Maybe I need to have a rethink?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Summer arrives in Oman

I took this pic last Thursday morning at 9.30 as I drove past Mutrah souk. 50c in the sun!!!! I think this will be my last summer here in the middle east as I'm finding it toooooo hot this year. I know last May was the same, but with all that has happened this year I think it's time to head back to Europe.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Beauty of Beduin by Ahmed al-Shukaili

Beauty of Beduin , originally uploaded by digitalazia.

Currently being exhibited as part of I:Woman 2 at Bait Baranda, Muscat.