Friday, 28 September 2012

The stately pleasure domes....

In Shangri La!  That's the name of the resort we spent this last weekend at, well the Thursday afternoon til Friday lunchtime!  It was the birthday of British Rob the band instructor so a bunch of us expats headed off to Shangri La.
Ahhh Shangri La, you've done it again!

A great time was had by all, swanning around the sundeck, taking the lazy river ride from one lagoon (and pool) to another and its adjoining bar area.  Sigh the hardship, but someone had to do it!
David does the lazy river

But really I am getting ahead of myself. Since returning from Europe three weeks ago life has been busy. I had to prepare for and go through vendor negotiations. Such fun! and next week I get to front the powers that be and dicsuss the findings of the evaluation team, me and our contracted service provider.  All in all that means there will be more work in the offing.

So the long and the short of it is that the last few weeks have been a little more than busy. And Katrina has been given a 2 January submission date for the BIG T (Phd thesis). So no rest for her til January!

But in between work I bought a car! Somehow along the way I managed to discount a number of Jeeps, Citroens, Volkswagons and other cars from consideration. Settling in the end for the cheapest car I considered, a 2001 Chevrolet Blazer 4wd SUV.  It has the zr2 designation so sporty suspension, to go with the 2 doors.  It wasn't until a few days after buying it that I realised that as well as being a two door it is a four seater. That's right no middle seat in the back! And then today I discovered the cruise control, so swings and roundabouts.

But for its age it is remarkably clean and quiet with (for this region) a very good service record. But then being a Chevrolet and thus an American car, the fuel economy sucks and it doesn't handle. But with petrol 28c a litre..... On the other hand it is rather comfortable and a pukka 4wd.  Wadi bashing here we come - well after Katrina hands her thesis up!
The Chevvy
The weather here is finally starting to turn for the better. Some nights the temperature even drops below 30! and 40 during the day is becoming rarer.  Outdoor activity will become more and more possible in the coming weeks. People tell me the next five months will be fabulous with days in the mid twenties and nights around twenty with low humidity.  I could get used to that. Apparently it's called winter!

We are slowly building a social life here and the last few weekends have all included nights out involving a few different social circles.  Funnily enough the only Aussies we deal with on a regular basis are Dan and Nooshin (and now their baby Anoosha). Dan is a freelance Aussie, working on business development in the region, primarily with Australian companies.  For all of the first baby three months ago Dan is not hugely younger than us, although young enough to not remember/know Aunty Jack and the Naked Vicar Show! He does however have a complete DVD set of Kingswood Country.

Apart from our two rescued Omani cats  - Button and Bluey - mum cat out the back has gone and sprogged again. Four kittens this time two white with grey tabby patches and two white with ginger splotches, a bit like their big brother Bluey.  Thankfully a second vet has opened in Muscat (a good 20+ kilometers closer to home) and as soon as we can catch mum it's off to the vet for some tube tying.  The kittens will follow shortly after and hopefully they will stay and chase the rest of the local cats off, meaning no more breeding in our backyard!  Kittens tug Katrina's soft side - Yeah I know who'd a thunk a Ranga had a soft side!
Mine, all mine!

And then all of a sudden we are almost up to date.  Wednesday night was spent at the Police club, at one of their candlelight evenings.  I thought it was just going to be a special spread in the club restaurant, but no it was a buffet dinner in the sports field. As I'd booked a table for four we took Dan and Nooshin with us and were the only non Omani's there - well apart from some of the wait staff.  The stadium lights were set to "romance level" and tables were spread across the in-field, with 4 or 5 buffets around the perimeter.

When they called "grubs up" we all rushed and queued for the food - only to have the Maitre'D' come and tell Katrina and Nooshin that actually ladies should be queuing on the other side of the field!  So off they went. Field sides seemed to stop mattering after a little while as we all bogged in and people went searching for that dish they missed.

They also laid on live music, rather pleasant Arabic (but slightly Westernised) music and bouncy castles for the kids - of which there seemed to be a never ending supply! One of the bouncy castles was the aft end of a ship set at about 30 degrees to the ground - so everytime I looked downfield I kept imagining Leonardo Di-Caprio heading for a deserved ending! (and when did I not have my camera?)

Which now brings us to Shangri La!  A rather pleasant resort with three hotels, the Omani Heritage centre, numerous restuarants and late night Belly dancing in an area adjoining one of the many bars. Following on from pool lounging, floating around the lazy river and our first ever camel rides, a rather nice way to spend the balance of the weekend - the pictures can talk for themselves.
Camel riders extra-ordinaire
And then all too soon checkout and back to reality. The next little while will be rather busy for us both, but will hopefully have settled a bit before we welcome our first two sets of Australian visitors on the 3rd of November and then my parents for the second half of November.

Let's see what Hunts tours Oman can conjure up...............

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