Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here is my first concert video: Marc Almomd sing Child Star at Sinner's Day in Hasselt in Belgium.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Football at the end of a hot day in Oman

Saturday afternoons are the traditional time for professional football matches in the UK. In Oman, in almost every city, town and village, there are dusty flat square patches of ground, which come alive at about 4.30 pm, when the local lads come done and make the most of the cooler hour or two before sunset at the end of the day to play some football.

This pitch here in Al Hamra.

My team, Southampton, won 1-3 today to take them to 9th place, just two points behind the second team in their league.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I love old wooden doors!

I love old wooden doors!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This one is from Birkat al-Mouz. Thank you to Diyab for giving us the tip for visiting your town.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

At the poultry market in Nizwa

A nice selection here of Omani Caps (kumma) which are worn by men and boys of all ages. Most are handmade by a member of the family but they are also commercialy made, both in Oman as well as China (minimum order 2,000 pieces!). The locally handmade ones cost about 80 euros, whilst the imported ones can be had for about 20 euros.

They look wonderful on the dark skinned Omanis, less good on a pink European such as myself!

These chaps were selling show pigeons!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Omani Bedu woman

Omani Bedu woman, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

As seen in Nizwa - one of my favourite shots from Oman, she was at the livestock market, trading goats.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Desert children of Bidiyyah

Desert children of Bidiyyah, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Taking photos of children in Oman was not as easy as some places. The children are often shy and run away from a camera and if you ask if they want to have their picture taken, they will often say no. Not all the time, though, and here we had some fun with some children around a shop in Badiyah on the outskirts of Wahiba Sand (al Sharkiya). The shop was run by two sisters from Kerala in India and teh children were Indianand Omani and they all loved the camera. The sisters invited us in for coffee and dates (what else?), so it was good that we found a photo shop at the other end of town and were able to make some prints to bring back to these children.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oman - two Bedouin women

Oman - two Bedouin women, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Here are a couple of bedouin women with their beakish-like head coverings. We saw these women at the market in Sinaw, which is widely famed for the fact that the bedouin come in once a week from the nearby areas to meet, trade, stock up on food, buy, sell and gossip. It was a wonderful experience to be there and see all the goats and sheep being pulled around the 'auction' ring, not to mention seeing an angry camel being loaded onto teh back of a pick-up truck.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oman - in al-Hamra

Oman - in al-Hamra, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Here is Fred on the top of the Beit al-Safa museum in al-Hamra, one of the most beautiful towns in Oman, where a large number of old houses have been preserved, one of them being turned into a living museum, which was most beautifully presented and where we were given the chance to gring flour, beat coffee beans and make music, try on local clothes and even do some weaving. all in a very nice way. Here is Fred on the roof with our host who calls himself Shere Khan.

Al-Hamra - highly recommended destination -set in a beautiful wadi, surrounded by attractive mountains, the waters giving life to extensive date plantations and other crops such as bananas. The people are very friendly and it was really a perfect place, and not too far from the famous Nizwa.

Oman - On top of the world

Oman - On top of the world, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Well, not quite on top of the world, but pretty high up on the Hajjar mountains as we took the mountain rod from al-Hamra to al-Rustaq. It was very easy getting up there on a tarmac road and we had btime to pose for some pics and look out acorss the mountain scenery we had left behind, the northwards to where we were headed. Little did we know that the tarmac would finiosh about a kilometre further on and that we woyuld need all my driving skills, patience and the 4wd drive capability of our Toyota Land Cruiser Prado to get down the very steep and dusty descent into the sheer valley below. Well supported by Fred, I must say. We left it late so we had moonlight to help us on the last stretch.

Driving in Oman has been great fun, especially as we were upgraded to a 4WD. The roads are mostly empty and the landscapes ever changing witgh plenty of opportunities for off-road driving. The irony is that the fact that we do not have a car at home helps us pay for all our frequesnt trips abroad and when we do go abroad and hire a car, driving is such a better experience than it would be at home where there are constant traffic jams.

Fred had to go home today, catching his planned flight back. I was to leave for Saudi Arabia at the same time, but I did not manage to get a visa, so I am flying back in two nights time, using some of my KLM Flying Dutchman miles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fred in the clear blue waters of Wadi Shab

Had just SUCH an AMAZING time at Wadi Shab, took some lovely photos with the Lumix DMC-TZ10.

Met another Pakistani lad, name sounded like Serr Gut Ali (Can you please help me with this).

Clear blue water, bright grren date trees, yeallow wagtails and kingfishers, swimming, jumping and diving into natural pools, all surrounded by almost sheer cliffs. Best day of holiday by far!

Hopefully a chance to put some pics on later. After a visit to "our" bar!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The ups and downs of travelling

Charles said

In a very bad mood here. Camera broke down (the mecahnism connecting the lens), so can onlt take totally manual photos at a fixed aperture and with manual focus. Also wasted three hours getting the rented car but at least we have a super Toyota Land Cruiser. Made it down to Sur, Fred off to investigate the Beach Hotel, while it gets dark. Gave a 70 km lift to a nice guy called Hamid, so that felt good.

Afraz said

uh oh :(

This A550 is giving you quite a lot of trouble. I was waiting for you to come back to mention something but now that this has happened I'll mention it anyway. I have been noticing some dust spots on your photos C, its either your lens or the sensor (most probably the sensor), you might want to get it checked too when you take your cam in for repair.
The upshot is the landcruiser, the best thing one can (or one of the best) have in a desert I think. Is it really quiet out there? I mean when you are passing through the desert and are away from the city.

Nice, warm evening here.

CharlesFred said:

Yes, dust spots too! Not to mention the large scratch on the lens, which is now up for potential repair.

Found a back-up camera here in Sur but Oman not proving to be necessarily the most photogenic of places - a lot of the better pics you see from here would have been taken at the right time (sun) and right place. Oh well. Not too bad. Had great fun being entertained last night and now about to set off for two amazing wadis!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guy from the elctricity company

We were doing the rounds with the Pakistani guys in town today, taking their pics and bringing them back an hour or so later. They are very approachable and friendly, not to mention handsome.

Took a taxi to a hotel, which had a swimming pool and private beach, they wanted as much as we are paying for our ,lovely hotel room, including breakfast, just to use the pool for the afternoon. Not mentioning which hotel this was, we did a deal with the guy and were allowed to 'use' the beach for a fraction of the official price, cash-in-hand, despite the securioty cameras in his office. Opps, hope he doesn't lose his job!

The beach chairs were a great place for a snooze and to get me started on Sebastian Faulks' A Week in December, while Fred is struggling bwith his Wolf Hall. Odd to be reading about England, when on a beach facing teh Guld of Oman.

We have rented a car for the next few days so should be picking that up tomorrow and we'll be taking ourselves east, towards Sur, later Sinaw and then Nizwa, not exactly very prepared and no hotels booked but we should be OK!

Here is the beach we spent our afternoon.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Arrived in Muscat

Latticed, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We arrived in Muscat in Oman last night, landing at 1.45, checked into teh hotel by 2.45, how pleasant, everything perfectly well arranged and two perfect flights with Turkish Airlines.

Seems like Muscat is still in the grip of the south-west monsoon, which is keeping the air humid (as well as hot), so it is a little difficult to acclimatise.

We are staying in the old port and commercial area of Matrah, just round from Old Muscat, where Sultan Qaboos has his palace. Spent the day wandering around the souks and the fish marjet, having a haircut, shave and (inevitable) beauty treatment (which does make a difference!). Took a taxi round to Old Muscat (which all looks incredibly new) and walked back of the hills to Matrah as the sun was setting behond us.

Many Omani people around, but also plenty of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people around. Lots of delicious and cheap(-ish) Indian food. Unfortunately, because it is so hot most people go onto teh streets later in the afternoon, when it is too dark to take photos. Never mind, still managed to get some good shots. Most of the women cover themselves, but not their faces, which is nice. Also, unlike Saudi., music is played, women can drive cars and beer is served in hotels like ours (recommendation: Mutrah Hotel - quite cheap and very good)!

Omani gold

Friday, October 15, 2010

Holiday time again!

Holiday time again!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

It doesn't seem like any time since we were last on holiday - Bulgaria back in July and August - but it is half term already and we are off to sunny Oman for a week!

We are now at Istanbul Airport, Fred having a ten euro large Efes, me catching up with a bit of work on my laptop. We were a bit late in arriving and ut is raining and there was a long queue for visas, so I could not convince Fred to go into the city for a haircut (ha ha!), so we are staying ehre waiting for our connecting flight to Muscat. Great to be in Istanbul though, first time this year.

Fred bought a LOnely Planet guide to Arabia, including Oman, and flickr gives us many clues about where to go. Looks beautiful. Just hoping we are in a north-east monsoon (dry and clear) rather than the humid south-western monsoon.

Had a look at the map in the Turkish Airlines magazine and saw just how close we will be to Pakistan!, sticking all the way out into the Indian Ocean like that!

Hopefully, we will be uploading some piocs as we go along. Cheers for now!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scenes from Arc Day at Longchamp

Some grey horses pulling the carriage for the owner of Workforce who won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe recently in Paris.

Fred has just finished reading a book by his favourite author, Frank Westerman, about the Lipizzaner horses of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.It is called Dier, Boven Dier.Amnimal above Animal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another sunny October day!

Frankendael in the Fall, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Another lovely sunny day here, although getting a bit cooler now.

I woke up In Antwerp, having gone over there yesterday afternoon to meet up with some colleagues for a nice dinner at a restaurant along the Schelde. I took the Thalys, which takes 70 minutes to get there instead of the normal 130 minutes and was lucky to find my friend Perry being manager for that train, him putting me inot first class, giving me the opportunity to have a free glass of wine and also free internet for the short journey.

Had meetings in our Antwerp office, before catching a lift with colleagues back to the office near Rotterdam and taking my nomral train home.

Fred has a parents' evening this evening so I am home alone, time to make some phone calls and catch up on a few things - like finding out that next year's Eurovision will be in the very convenient city of Dusseldorf - just a pity that the final is on Fred's birthday!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Frankendael in the Fall

Frankendael in the Fall, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

A lovely comment on flickr:

Mooie serie Charles, scherp, mooi uitgelicht enz.......
Moeder Mar is trots op je!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This year's harvest

This year's harvest, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

The grapes have been very disappointing this year, due to mildew but these ones were washed prior to this photo shoot. The pigoens left them alone and now, this weekend, they are been scoffed by the startlings, should be all gone within a few days.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Welcome Filippe

Welcome Filippe, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Born in the morning of 5th October.

Pronounced as if he was a French 'Philippe' not an English 'Philip' or a Spanisch 'Felipe'.

Well done Eric and Loes!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Autumn selection

Autumn selection, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Some Like It Hot

Some like it hot, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Sorry to read about the actor Tony Curtis dying recently. This woman curiously reminded us of him in his part in Some Like It Hot.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Matching umbrellas

Matching umbrellas, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

It was raining in London today and, as in a film set, there were thousands of people scurrying around the streets of the City under their umbrellas. It felt good to be part of such a communal act of avoiding a few drops of water on our heads and clothes, as even I had a mini umbrella stashed away in my rucksack.
Here we are back to last weekend in Paris, where we had a few showers on Saturday morning at the time we were around The Louvre. Quite by chance, Fred had managed to colour combine his umbrella with his jumper!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Lovely shapes

Lovely shapes, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Lovely to be back in Paris and go to the Arc and see all the 'beautiful' people, such a contrast to my recent trips to Epsom Downs on Derby Day.

The early October was back to its very best today, with bright warm sunshine, bringing out some very glamourous we see here!

Have we got time for a last bet?

Youmzain's run his last race today and he didn't come second either

Youmzain came second in the last three Arc's and today's was going to be his last one. Somewhat inevitably, he did not run up to his bast and came home a disappointing tenth. I wish his an illustrious career at stud making little Youmzains!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Morning jog

Morning jog, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This morning, on the way to the office in Clichy. The grey clouds have already come over and are crossing the sky above Montmartre as I look out of the window. Expecting rain tonight, but bright and warm sunshine on Sunday for the races.

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