Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Service Interupted

Just a really quick note to let you all know that our computer is kaput and so we are unable to post to the blog. I am currently using the services of an internet cafe - but it is a bit slow. So we shall resume normal service once we get the computer back from the hospital. Until then - keep thinking of us, we are still here !

Monday, December 12, 2005

Odds and Sods and Monster Madness


Well, it's been a few days since our last post and the weekend has been and gone, it's still odd to think as Thursday and Friday as the weekend and the first day of the working week as Saturday, but one adapts (Slowly). Not a lot happened, we took it easy, saw a few persian carpets and found out what to look for(both good and bad) We had lunch by the beach and went for a stroll along the sands afterwards. Dinner was at Kargeens, relaxed in the open air with delicious arabian foods and the most wonderful iced fresh juices. My particular favorite is lemon with mint which makes your mouth tingle, the best non alcholic fun you can have.

Now that the house sales is immenent, I have been able to think about my car. Becky has the monster Dodge Durango but I need something that will go off road for both work and pleasure. So being a typical man I have been pondering what to have, but nothing seemed to fit the bill. The 4wd's were either too big or too small. I finally found a 2004 Grand Jeep Cherokee with 20,000 on the clock which I thought fitted the bill. However, an advert in the paper caught my imagination when I thought everything was done and dusted!

HumVee Mmmmmmmmmmm !

It's the H3 and a Hummer in all but size (same size as the Jeep Cherokee) and loads of fun. So last night Becky, Jacob and I trundled down to the Hummer/Cadillac showroom to take a look at this beast. I'm in love, and so is half the office and Jacob ! It's his HumVee Tank. So today I took it out on a test drive and the salesman, Mohammed, demanded that I took it seriously off road. Down precipitous rocky slopes that scared the bejesus out of me. I was petrified by the thought of putting a rock through the pristine bodywork, but Mohammed wasn't satisfied and kept pushing me to go further. Still I made it back from the most extreme test drive of my life (sweaty palms, racing heart, Tony Blair stutter), although I think Mohammed was disappointed that we didn't go further, without damaging the car. So next step is to place an order, can't wait ! It's the perfect size to throw some air cylinders in the boot (diving) and camping gear (we'll have to get some, but it's the done thing - although Becky is demanding that we take Tempur matresses and down duvets with us !) before making our way down rocky graded roads to camp at our Wadi by the sea - it's going to be grrrrrreat !

Today Becky took some time out to go and visit the British School in Muscat. Actually it is just round the corner from where we are living at the moment so very convenient now, but less convenient when we move to our permanent residence although nothing is more than 10 minutes away from anything else here, so not exactly inconvenient. It may not be as well appointed at the ABA, but it is still very good and the children are well behaved and seem to enjoy their time there - Jacob will soon change that !!!! So we are going to register him there next week, but unfortunately he won't be able to start until next September - he's going to love it.

Becky went to the American Women's Group Christmas Brunch on Sunday morning and had a very nice time indeed - only problem being that she was sitting right next to the brass band and sleigh bells playing Christmas carols - not the best for conversation with people that you have never met before - but fun all the same.

So that's us, we'll do more photos next time, but we thought it better to try to update more regularly otherwise it takes hours at the weekend. Ta ta all

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Totally Tasteless Trainers and Other Important Things

So where do I begin - it's been a busy week and there has been a severe lack of posting - sorry about that. The exciting news is that we have sold our house - contracts exchanged yesterday and completion is on 16 December. So it's full steam ahead on that one - which is very exciting and very fast too. A lot of time has been taken up with dealing with that side of things. In between all that, we have found time to do a few other things as well.

This morning - it being Thursday and the weekend - Jacob and I went to LuLu Hypermarket to do some shopping. LuLu's is a very big store that sells everything from pushchairs and clothes, to cereal and dragon fruit. After last weekend's jaunt to the Wadi, we decided that a pair of trainers were necessary for Jacob as open sandals were just not doing the job, he kept getting dirt in them an insisting on stopping to get them cleaned out - bad idea. So I told him we were going to get a pair of trainers and he decided immediately that he NEEDED a pair of Spiderman trainers - well who am I to argue - trainers are so ugly anyway, who cares if they are Spiderman or Nike - not me. So we managed to find a very tasteful pair (not) that are covered in multicoloured LED lights - I have a photo for your perusal, but obviously it doesn't show them to their full effect as they are not flashing - but you get the idea !!

I also bought a couple of other things at LuLu that I thought were interesting, firstly a bottle of milk - I don't know why I like this - I just do, I think it's the shape of the bottle, it's so un-milk like. What do you think ?

Finally the cheapest toilet cleaner that I could find - go figure hey !

Yesterday I had to go and get my resident's card. A very nice man called Mohammed from James' office came and picked me from home after I had taken Jacob to nursery. We went to the police office to have my fingerprints taken, I felt like a right criminal - oh yes now I remember I am !!! After that there was a little waiting while Mohammed sorted some paperwork - then it was in the car and clear over to the other side of town to actually get the card. The drive was - interesting - my foot nearly went through the floor a couple of time - but Mohammed seemed remarkably unphased ! We went to room the first where Mohammed queued up at one desk to get a number, and then on to another desk, for what I don't know - anyway, then it was on to the second building, where I was taken to a very large room, given the number 809 and told to wait until my number came up on the screen - it was at 510. It stayed at 510 for about half an hour and then I began to panic, I had to pick Jacob up from nursery - all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity and numbers 750 to 800 were called and before I knew it it was my turn and I was through and done - or so I thought - oh no, it was onto another room, where a bun fight was taking place ! There was a large desk with a couple of men behind it and a mass of people stading in front of the desk waiting for the men to call their name, so they could get their cards - anyway I got it and now I'm offcial.

While I'm doing this blog thing I thought you might like to visualise where I am, so here is a photo of me talking to Helen on the phone this afternoon - Helen, it was lovely to chat to you, lets do it more often ! Please notice the massive pile of ironing behind me - where does it all come from ? I spent a whole afternoon this week ironing and it's worse than it was to start with - I need a maid !

I also have for your consideration a picture of the courtyard at our gaff, where Jacob spends most of his time these days. I don't seem to see much of him at the moment - he's always off playing with his new friends as they scoot around the courtyard or play in the little playhouse. Last night I had to go and fetch him from the house of a lady that works at his nursery that also happens to live in our little block - spooky hey ! Still, he's really enjoying himself and that is the most important thing, although how he's going to manage when we move to a flat I'm not sure.

Earlier this week, I went to vist the American British Academy (ABA) as a possible school for Jacob, it was absolutely lovely. They have fantastic facilities, a massive indoor play area for when it's really hot, a seperate library for the primary school, a swimming pool, a theatre and all manner of things that you could ever want. Only problem is it is an International school, which means that it follows an international curriculum and not a British one. I have heard from one source that when children return to the UK after having been at the ABA they are ahead of the rest of the class, and another source has told me the exact opposite, that they are a year behind, so who do I believe ? I think I'll go and see the British School of Muscat (BSM) next week and see what that is like. They follow a British curriculum and I know that if we return to the UK Jacob would be exactly where he should be in his education - oh decisions decisions - I know he won't be starting until the end of next summer, but the ABA only has a few places left at the moment, so if want him to go there, we need to get his name down pronto. I'll let you know how it all goes of course.

Last evening I was invited out to a dinner with a group of ladies that play badminton together. We went to the Hyatt hotel and we had a really lovely evening eating dinner at a restaurant on the roof of the building, it felt very tropical. The ladies were all really friendly and were more than happy for a beginner badminton player to join their ranks - so it's off to the sports shop to buy new trainers for me ! I'm looking forward to it actually, doing something like that is a great way to meet new people and have a lot of fun too - should be good.

Finally - it would seem that it's that mosquito time of year, both Jacob and I have been attacked. Luckily Jacob seems to have James' reaction to them - ie no reaction at all - I on the other hand am itching like a mad thing - so once Jacob wakes up from his nap I think a mercy dash to the pharmacy to get insect repellant is required - especially since we are going back to Kargeens tonight and that means eating al fresco again. Oh we are off to an international fair tomorrow - it a big event with lots of stalls of international food, dancing and I have heard rumour that a certain Santa Claus is going to be attending - I hope the air conditioning is turned up for him - I hope he turns up because I would love for Jacob to see him - should be fun.

Right photo of Jacob's mossie bites - not a very good photo I'm afraid, but the best I could do.

And to show that he isn't the slightest bit bothered - a photo of his smiling face !

His spots are really clearing up don't you think ?

I have one final photo to share with you - it's of our Christmas tree - let me just say, tasteful white lights are simply not available here and since this is going to be Jacob's tree next year - well lets just say, it's not up to my usual standards, which are very high I think you'll agree ! Still here it is.

Well I think that is it from me. We are settling in well I think - Jacob is making lots of friends and so am I. James is working really hard and enjoying his job and we are doing well. We are looking forward to moving into our new apartment and furnishing it how we want it - we've already started the wrangling over what style of sofa will be acceptable - but we have a way to go until any decisions are made. We will of course, keep you all up to date on what is going on as and when it happens.

Ta ta - Muscat over and out !

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Well Wadi Y'Know

This weekend has been a national holiday, which has meant that we have had three and a half whole days together, which has been lovely.

Thursday afternoon and Friday were quite quiet, we just took it easy and chilled a bit, apart from a rather amusing trip to Carrefour, where there was much queue barging to be seen, we managed to perform adquate blocking manouveres to prevent any taking place in front of us, but the whole experience smacked of desperation shopping on Christmas eve - take no prisoners ! Oh and we managed to get our little emergency Christmas tree, so we were happy.

Then on Friday afternoon, James' boss called to invite us out to dinner. The local Mexican restaurant hosted 6 adults and 4 children for a very enjoyable evening. Jacob got to dance and play to the dulcet tones of a Phillipino cover band and I managed to meet a couple of other lovely ladies to talk to and get the skinny on Muscat - which all in all seems to be a good place to be. From there we were invited to join in an expedition taking place the next day.

The next morning was a mad dash to find a cool box and some food and drink to go in it, before piling into our monstermobile and hairing it over to the rendevous at a previously undisclosed location. All in all we ended up with a convoy of four 4x4's driving two and a half hours into the interior. When we left the tarmac the fun really began. At times it was quite nerve wracking looking over the edge and seeing the sheer drop down, but we managed to stay on the road even whilst driving down what sometimes felt like vertical slopes. Still we made it and had a good explore of the Wadi, which was quite lush, but the river quite dry.

On the way back we stopped to see some rock art dating back 1,500 years and then on to the pic-nic. This was not as easy as it might sound as finding a suitable spot was tricky. The first choice had to be abandoned due to the overwhelming stench of a dead goat that no-one noticed while we were setting up. We hastily beat a retreat and found a less smelly second site, where we had a very nice and relaxing pic-nic, we were all so dirty and dusty by that stage, it really didn't matter that Jacob got covered in chocolate !

We took a detour on the way back to town to Al Sawadi beach, where we parked up and all played football on the sand, with the help of car headlights to light our game as the sun had already set. We then headed off to a local hotel to try to have a beer, but they were hosting a dinner and dance and we felt rather out of place as everyone arrived in their Sunday best and we were still in our dusty exploring gear. We abandoned that idea and decided to head back to Martin's house for a beer and a Pizza. A good time was had by all and Jacob didn't get to bed until 10.30pm, those nights just keep on getting later and later !

Today we slept in until 9.00am and then decided to head off to the Oman Dive Centre, which is a small, but perfectly formed beach, with clear blue sea and lovely sand. James and Jacob went off for a little canoe trip, whilst I had a swim and a relax on a sun lounger, soaking up the rays. We had a spot of lunch, which was nice, apart from the flies, and then we played a little in the sand and went out in the water.

Jacob was a bit tired, so we decided to come home and have a bit of a relax. He's watching Robots as we speak - or rather type and lounging on the sofa cushions that he has layed out on the floor.

Tomorrow it's back to normal, Jacob's off to nursery and James is off to work and I've got a moutain of ironing to do - so nothing changes.