Thursday, March 31, 2011

White Queen

White Queen, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Here is a lovely version of the very beautiful White Queen, by Queen:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A big day for Syria - the President addresses the country

Here is hoping that Bashar al-Assad has the courage to make real changes in his wonderful country and that he can retain the trust of his people when he makes his speech later today.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The future is theirs

The future is theirs, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Elián (18 hours ago | reply | delete)
I believe I have cited before the great Cuban poet José Martí, who said "Los niños son la esperanza del mundo." And they are.

CharlesFred (15 hours ago)
Thanks, Elian, I used to think such statements were bland, but they are so right.
It is comforting to see how the youth of Middle East and North Africa are rising against the dark forces created by the likes of our generation. I really hope they have the courage and conviction to succeed.

CharlesFred (15 hours ago)
In the context of Syria, where this picture was taken, I understand that The President has done many good things in keeping the country stable, despite the mix of races, religions and social classes within the country and I know that he is loved by many.
But this all comes at a cost, in terms of people who have been silenced and imprisoned for expressing their views and that is just not right.
I am really hoping there can be a peaceful transition to an open society where the rights of all its people are properly respected. I fear that the transition, when it comes, will not be so peaceful and I am also afraid that the country will be opened up to the world's multinationals who will rape the country economically.

Spring just arrived in Frankendael

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yay! It's Springtime!

Yay! It's Springtime!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

A leap over the rocks of Tihama in celebration of Spring.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The opening of the balcony season!

Still officially not spring, so therefore still winter, the sun has climbed high enough in the sky to shine on our back balcony and with no leaves on the trees the garden is having its brightest time of the year (at least when the sun shines like it has non-stop the past couple of days). So, it was a real treat to spend the late afternoon snacking and sipping (prosecco) until the sun went down. Hopefully, we can keep this up until some time in October, albeit off-and-on. Fred was, as usual, responsible for the catering.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bedouin truck artwork

Bedouin truck artwork, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

One of the joys about going into the country areas of arabic countries is seeing the trucks and vans painted in bright colours such as these. The rose and the eagle are common themes, as is that pastoral scene by the lake in the mountains, so unlike the desert surroundings. Never seen a fighter plane before though.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The museum in Khamis Mushayt

Three windows, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

The museum in Khamis Mushayt, just east of Abha. Not such a pretty city as the multicoloured Abha, apart then from this traditional house which has been turned into a museum and tea room. Very hard to find, you have basically to take the Riyadh road out of the city to the east and it is on the right hand side.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aspects of Rijal Alma'a in Asir

Rijal Alma'a is one of the best preserved villages in Asir Province and is just down from the highest mountain in Saudi Arabia - which is 10,000 feet high. Being close to the big city of Abha (which is the other side of the mountain and which can be reached by cable car, appparently, it tends to receive quite a lot of visitors and there is a fascinating mueum many many local artefacts - see the next two pics). The buildings resemble very much those one can see across the border in the mountians of Yemen, whilst retaining their own style and character - note the decoration above the windows (alternating white and black stone).

Having been on a conference call in the hotel in Abha and having taken the long route here (the road down to Jazan and then up to Rija Alma'a), we got there a bit late in the day, but not too late for the sun to still be shining n these beautiful facades. I had another two more work related calls to make during our stay here, whilst receiving the unwanted attention from some local chap who kept following us/me around. Still, enough time to take in the wonder of this place and take a few photos.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Najran greeting

A Najran greeting, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

After stopping off the main road to see some attractive looking houses and fields on the right hand side, we started wandering around with our cameras until we were stopped dead in our tracks by this man weilding a knife. Fortunately this was just his idea of a joke.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mesfin and friend

Mesfin and friend, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

The road from Najran to Abha and back follows the border with Yemen about 20 to 30 kilometers to the north. Information about the area is difficult to come by, as it has been an area of raids from Yemen and where people are not encouraged to go.We were looking for the area of Tihama, closer to the Yemeni border and made a few turns off to the right following the roads along the wadis to picturesque villages with the beautiful traditional houses but we could just not find Tihama. In one place, whioch seemd quite empty, we were hailed by Mesfin who asked us to stop and have a look around a take photos of him and his friends and his sheep. He finally gave us the info we needed about how to find Tihama. It was late ion the day and as it happened, we could not get all the way there but have a good idea how to gte there for the next time. It would have been useful to have found a local guide and we had tried, but that is easier said than done. There is a chance that we will be back next month and also that chance that we can find a local guide to intermediate with the local people of Tihama.

I spoke to my Dad this evening and he had never been in this exact area, having spent more time in Yemen itself or along the coastal region of Saudi Arabia, so was interested in my stories. Nice to continue the family tradition in the area,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mud tower in Najran Province

Mud tower, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

With water briought up from the wells, not all of Saudi Arabia is a parched desert. Here are some irrigated fileds and a mud tower in the beautiful countryside of the province of Najran in Saudi Arabia, not far from teh border with Yemen.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ahmed and Mohammed in front of a being-restored 500 year old mud house in Najran

So here are the full eight storeys of the 500 year old mudhouse in Najran, which Mr Mohammed is having restored. The work is almost finished and it looks spectacular. We were treated to tremendous hospitality by Mohammed as he showed us around his farm and introduced us to his farm hands and builder. The rope seen dangling is to support the wooden platform which is raised to allow work to be done on the upper floors, although right now, only the entrance needs to be completed.

Here is the video of the mud being applied to entrance to the house.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Jeddah Old Town

Jeddah Old Town, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

There were two big floods in Jeddah this winter following on from the big ones of last winter. To be honest, the old quarter of Jeddah looked a lot worse for wear than when I was last there in November. A number of houses appeared to have collapsed, with furnitures and fittings spilling out over the ruins. This building still looks delightfully intact.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ahmed and his Somali brothers in Old Jeddah

Ahmed and his Somali brothers, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

I am back in Saudi Arabia for a few days work and I have the good fortune to be the guest of my friend Ahmed, with whom I go on photographic expeditions into the old quarters of Jeddah whenever time allows. Here he is with some more of the Somali kids who live there.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Charles taking pictures in Buadapest

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Provinciale Staten verkiezingen

Tradition dictates that I upload one of these photos every time we have an election. Today we have the elections for the Provinces and the representatives get to choose the Senators in the First Chamber. This Chamber can block legislation passed by the Second Chamber. In this respect, they have the chance to stop a lot of the nonsense being proposed by the right-wing VVD abd CDA coalition which (like in Denmark) is being supported by a fascistic rtacist and predominantly anti-Muslim party, the PVV. It is important that the opposition retain a majority in the First Chamber. The polls close at 9pm and although we will have a good idea how the votes were cast this evening, the election to the First Chamber does not take place until 23rd May (no idea why it takes so long), so the eventual make up of the First Chamber may not be known for over 3 months. We just hope that the mathematicla result this evening is at least a loss for the hateful coalition of the small-minded.

As a Brit, I am not allowed to vote this time, but I would have voted D66 (as above) with Groen Links as a second choice - despite this latter party coming out top on Stemwijzer and KiesKompas. Good to see that all the coalition parties came right at the bottom of my lists.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

St David's Day

St David's Day - yesterday, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

A photo from two weeks ago - yes the daffodils came out early and they are still flowering... anyway, it was St David's Day - the Patron Saint of Wales, and the symbol is the daffodil.

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