Monday, May 4, 2015

Best in Show

Last weekend, the Canadian Jebel K9 Boarding Kennels together with Canines for a Cause held a dog festival at the Al Bustan hotel for charity.  There aren't many dog friendly activities in Muscat,  so we just had to take Ralph.

There was a variety of competitions and entertainment on throughout the day, including obedience challenges, agility demonstrations and even a game of musical hoops.

It was over 40C when we arrived in the morning but fortunately most of the activities were held in an air conditioned tent. It's been a long time since Ralph has done any obedience work, but we thought we'd enter him into a couple of competitions anyway.

Everywhere Ralph goes, he seems to attract a lot of attention and today was no different. The first event was called "Leave it" and quite simply involved sitting at one end of a short piece of red carpet with lots of distractions on and running when called to Jenny at the other side, without touching any of the items on the carpet. He was the first up and although a bit jittery at the start aced the test. After about another 30 dogs had their turn, Ralph was awarded first place and took his first rosette and prize of the day.

The second event for Ralph was the obedience challenge, which involved a series of 10 short exercises, including heel work, sits and downs. All the competitors went at the same time and after completion of the round, Ralph was tied for first place. This meant a "dog-off". The two dogs were asked to repeat some of the previous exercises, but it soon became clear that this was no real challenge so the final exercise was a long recall with a "down" halfway through. He may be out of practice, but after Jenny barked the command, he went straight down into position to the roars of the crowd.

His final competition was to bark on command. No sweat to Ralph.

Having swept up three first prizes, Ralph was then awarded the Judges Best in Show and won a brand new Samsung smart phone.

The event was well covered in the press and Ralph made it into the Times of Oman and the Y Magazine.

Y Oman Article

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ed Sheeran

It's fair to say that Muscat is not known as the entertainment capital, so this concert has been the biggest event in Muscat's diary for the past 5-6 months.

We were expecting this to be a good concert, however, one thing that we were not expecting was for  a city which only experiences about 3 days of rain a year, for the heavens to open and us to get absolutely soaked as we were waiting to get into the venue.

However, even this couldn't dampen our spirits and in a way it made the evening.

Sandstock 2015

Whilst enduring another busy week at work, I received an email from a friend inviting us to "Sandstock 2015" - a weekend of camping and live bands playing in the middle of the desert.

We drove down to Wahiba Sands and after letting the air out of the tyres, we followed the trail of 4x4s out to a GPS coordinate included in the email. We arrived late afternoon and were surprised to find a few hundred cars already there. Despite how busy it was and with no telephone reception, our friends Gil and Amy somehow managed to find us later that evening. They had much better luck finding us, then we did finding our way back to the car after the concert. I say the car, as shortly after putting the tent up, the poles snapped and we were left to sleep in the back of the pickup.

Al Hamra

A few years ago when we came to Oman to visit Jenny's Uncle, we were taken on a day trip into the mountains on one of the most exhilarating drives. Since then, we've been trying to work out where the drive was so we can attempt it again. After trying to describe the step drops and tight corners, we were able to determine that we'd driven the back road from Al Hamra to Wadi Bani Awf.

The road starts out well, with a brand new tarmac road up to the view point at around 3,000m above sea level. We stopped briefly at the viewpoint to take in the scenery and convince Mum that there was nothing to worry about. About 300m after setting off again, the road disappeared completely and turns into a dirt track.

Whilst I had every confidence in the Raptor's capability, the wagon is a beast and some of the turns were pretty tight for such a large vehicle. Whilst it's a bit shaky, the video below gives some idea. All the hairy bits had to be edited out due to Mum's swearing!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The View

After all of the excitement of Nizwa, it was time to head up into the mountains for a bit of relaxation. Our PR & Media company, m media, had recently completed some work for a newly refurbished hotel nestled in the mountains of Jebel Shams.

After a 45 minute drive from Nizwa, we went off road on an 8km winding track from Al Hamra to Hail Al Shas. At 1400m above sea level sits The View Oman, which describes itself as Oman's first of its kind "eco-luxe" retreat with 30 pod style accommodation.

Whilst we were enjoying breakfast, we were treated to a different kind of view. One lady in one of the rooms above the restaurant seemed to be so taken by the beautiful vistas that she forgot to close the curtains as she was getting dressed. Either that or she was re-enacting the scene from the Life of Brian.

The views from the hotel's infinity pool was stunning, but the manager's claim that the pool was heated was debatable. Getting in, gave a whole new meaning to "breathtaking". 

The village of Al Hamra by night

Beautiful sunrise

Return of the parents: Nizwa

Another weekend with the parents and another opportunity to get out and explore. This time we ventured to Nizwa, the former capital of Oman. 

You can't say that you've seen Nizwa unless you've been on a Friday morning and seen the goat market. We left Muscat at the crack of dawn, to drive the 2 hours to Nizwa to make sure that we were there in time to get the full experience.

Just inside the walled area of the souq, was a large ring where local Omanis dressed in their dishdashas, paraded their goats in front of prospective buyers.

In my opinion the biggest winner of the day was the guy selling the rope to take your purchase home. 

After a wander around all the various other parts of the souq, we headed into another fort. Much more popular than the previous week's, but not quite as impressive.