Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Rock eyes and rifles

It's December now, which means winter in Oman. The shops are full of furry coats, mufflers and even ear muffs! Why they have any of them is totally beyond me as the day time top is yet to drop below 25 (even on rainy days) and the overnight low is still above 15. I could get used to this.
The Guns at Barka Fort, under observation of the guard. Interestingly some of the Guns bore a crest of Tudor Rose and ER - "wonder what that meant??"
After our little rush of guests  - Ollerenshaw, Hazell, Hunt and Hodgkin we have now settled back into the quiet of sharing our house with the cats.  Mind you they do manage to make an extra-ordinary amount of noise when the mood takes them.

One of the good things about having guests has meant seeing more of this amazing country. I think my mum summed it up best - "when you go around a corner a whole new vista opens up and you could just as well be on the moon!" Even after the better part of a year that still holds true. The mountains here are "rugged" and as you travel you quite quickly pass from one type of geological formation to another. Red and caramel coloured rocks replaced by gray and black, which in their turn are replaced by,,,,,,, Vertical strata replaced by horizontal and then something like this!  If you look closely you can see an eye shape in there.

The rock that watches you
The following series of pictures were all taken within a 20km stretch,  just to give you an idea of the extraordinary variety of geology. Don't ask me what they all mean, Kiriel was the one that took pictures of the explanatory signs!

Look at the wavy line - almost creek like!

Kiriel inspecting a Geological oddity

And with all the tourists we have been to Mattrah Souk quite a lot recently. So much so that I found an antique shop and we were back so soon after, that I found it again. I feel wallet pain coming on!  Katrina beat me to the punch and bought some silver couched fabric, which she is planning to have mounted in a display frame.  I was keenly eyeing off the things that went Bang or Slash! Hanging on the wall was the most amazing array of antique swords and firearms I have ever seen - matchlocks (yes you read that right - plural), flint locks, single shot martini henry rifles - but unfortunately the shop keeper knows his business and his pricing.  

I will come home with some things such as a silver powder horn, traditional leather buckler and sword at the least.  While a matchlock would be interesting at 1800 Rial (that's $4500) to you I'm not quite that keen for an interesting wall hanging. Not so worried about the sword but getting one of the shields could be interesting, as they were traditionally made from heavy leather, and of course the heaviest leather they had access to was Rhinoceros. So I will only be getting one of those if I can get the papers to apply for a pre-CITES certificate. Real ones start at about 150 rial.

Katrina has also managed to start her traditional Omani jewellery collection. Traditional jewellery is typically silver and much of it, from the 18c on was made from the Maria Theresa Thaler. A rather substantial silver coin.  They sell Maria Theresa "dollars" in the Souk, but precious few of them are real, mostly aluminium dumps with a thin silver coating.

And being winter it's cruise ship season.  Seems every time we go to old Muscat there's another one or two cruise ships in and hordes of tourists everywhere soaking up the atmosphere. Sigh. Although I guess the locals probably think that when I turn up in the middle of nowhere to interrupt their peaceful solitude.  Darn Tourists!

I guess that's bye for now.
Things you see on the beach.

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