An expat for 10 years – part 2

In 2007, I had summer at home, attending to family priorities, which involved a lot of hospital visits and dealing with home care professionals. Amidst all of this, I was “found” by a head-hunter who asked if I was interested in assignment in Abu Dhabi. A telephone interview followed and in early September, I packed three bags and my dive kit and left for the UAE. This post covers five and a half years, so it is another lengthy one…


A close up external short of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. A stunning mosque, and amazingly, built from marble imported from Macedonia!

A close up external short of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. A stunning mosque, and amazingly, built from marble imported from Macedonia!

Due to more pressing matters at home, I didn’t conduct the normal levels of research I usually do prior to arriving in a new country. Despite the searing temperatures, it took me a while to warm to Abu Dhabi, its idiosyncrasies and its hidden charms. The following selection of images and narrative best sum up my four years of memories living in Abu Dhabi. Continue reading

A tribute to Clare Francis

I thought long and hard about writing this post as I try not to make my blog too personal.  No one likes to hear bad news. No one likes to hear sad news.  No one likes to be shocked by both, but sometimes it happens and your immediate reaction is disbelief closely followed by “What?” or “Why?”. Bad and sad news is also invariably a taboo subject and people don’t generally know what to say or do. I had a big “What?” moment last week.  My dear friend Clare Francis took her own life on May 25th and I’m shocked and devastated with this dreadful news. Those that have read my blog for a while will remember Clare from my Zanzibar and Tanzania entries as we enjoyed an amazing “holiday of a lifetime” together. Here she is at a viewpoint above Lake Manyara in August 2012 … Continue reading

Magnificent Mosques of Muscat

My top five favourite Muscat Mosques

When living in an Islamic country you can truly appreciate Mosques, their abundance and accessibility to worshippers.  Even when you can’t see them, you can hear them as the call to prayer is made five time a day.  The first is the Fajar, which is called between dawn and sunrise, so alarm clocks are generally not needed in the Middle East!

The  proximity of Mosques is also noticeable. I remember in Abu Dhabi a Mosque was found every kilometre, so no one would have more than a 500m walk to pray.  It appears to be similar in Muscat, as Mosques are very much part of the landscape.  What makes them even more noticeable is the diversity of style and age, reflecting a city that is both steeped in a diverse cultural heritage, yet is expanding fast thanks to the oil fuelled developing economy. Continue reading

Desert border crossings – passports optional

For once, a real desert ditty…. and epic adventure! Marina Bruce, my old school friend sent me a message a couple of weeks ago. Those that read my first ever blog post will remember that Marina introduced me to blogging.  She blogs mostly about off-roading and her life in Al Ain. Her husband Neil and fellow off-roader Vince were going on a rather ambitious overnight off-road trip to the UAE, Oman and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confluence point.  Was I interested in going as a passenger?  To earn my passage, I was to be the expedition “winch wench”, trip snapper and camp bar tender.  It took me about a nano second to say “yes”. Continue reading