Monday, November 29, 2010

This year's meeting is in southern Spain!

Here we were a week ago, in the still warm sunshine of southern Spain, with my new friend, the hotel kitten.

A week later and we are below freezing and snow is on its way, heading for very cold in the week ahead!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter crashes into autumn - part VI

We have an early blast of winter blowing over Europe, which has frozen the ponds here in Amsterdam. The leaves haven't had the time to fall off the trees so we are left with the uncommon but very beautiful occurence of having leaves falling onto ice. I took a few photos in our local park, Frankendael, this afternoon and this was my favourite.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The living room in an early afternoon light

By early afternoon, the low sun has moved across to the sky, throwing its light diagonally through the front windows.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The white streets of Nerja

The white streets of Nerja, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

What a beautiful sight for late November, thnaks to a managers' meeting in southern Spain, whereas the equivalent meeting last year was in London town. It was a good week, lots of meetings, lots of socialising, too much food, unofficial work meetiungs and moving a few projects further.

I was hoping I might have a December mainly based at home but it seems that I am wanted in Madrid, Warsaw and Milan in the coming few weeks... oh well...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This year's meeting is in southern Spain!

The second animal friend in Spain, here with my colleague Vanesa, from or Madrid office.

I had my big day today, having to lead a meeting of over 20 people for the whole day. It mostly went well with one or two scarey bits but most of the participants seemed to be quite happy.

Eating far too much!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Five in town

Five in town, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Fred with two of his brothers, a sister-in-law and me, after we had all been celebrating (late!) Fred;s 50th and Harm's 60th birthdays with a big dinner at home. End of November and we were treated to two lovely sunny days, although Sunday was a quite bit cooler than Saturday.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Out with the a55

Out with the a55, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This is our local park, Frankendael in some late November colour. We had Fred's family around for the weekend, for a very nice dinner last night (thanks, Fred) and then a walk around Amsterdam today. The sun was out yesterday and I managed to sneak out to the Park to grab some shots, glad I did.

The a55, is my new Sony SLT A55, bought to replace the ill-fated A550. Smaller, lighter, faster than the 550, the a55 is the first camera to feature the translucent mirror technology which has been developed by Sony. I look forward to using it in the the coming months, hopefully years and will try to look after it better than I did my 550!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And, finally, something for the vegetarians: The wholesale fruit and vegetable market of Seeb, Muscat

And, finally, something for the vegetarians: The wholesale fruit and vegetable market of Seeb, Muscat.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sheep station out in the desert out Mecca way

My father was last out this way in 1968 when he also went to al-Taif, even then the road was excellent!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eid mubarak

Eid mubarak, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This is a 'greetings card' I had made up to give to my Yemeni friends Musher and Basem, after they had taken me out for a fish dinner one evening in al-Balad area of Riyadh. I had invited them over to my hotel the following evening, to hang around and go out for dinner, but they did not turn up. This was disappointing but also understandable given the many cultural uncertainties involved, it being easier for me to meet them on their streets than for them to come over and participate in a lifestyle quite strange to their common experience.

I had met Musher when I was in Riyadh in February. He was selling rings on the street and had caughht my eye. We started 'chatting' and he gave me one of his rings.
I had hoped to see him again this time but noticed he was not in his same position as back in February and I had given up looking for him, when sure enough I saw his joyful beady eyes in the crowd. I tapped him on his shoulder and he turned round and recognised me immediately and he also asked after our joint Italian friend, Iskender who had been with me back in February. And, sure enough, before long he had given me yet another of his rings, which can maybe be seen in some of the subsequent pics I have from Saudi.

Anyway, we arranged to meet up for dinner that night and I was gald when he turned up with his friend Basem (the chap in the middle on the bottom photo) as he spoke some English. He said he would like an English or a Dutch girla dn could I please find him one. I told him that she would probably like to drink alcohol and that this might be a problem. He just said that he would have to tell them about the bad effects alcohol has on one's body and that she would stop and I said that things are not that easy, as we Europeans are quite aware of the dangers of alcohol to our health and it still does not stop (most of) us.

We finished the evening with the massive fruit cocktail on the left.

Tuesday evening: just received an sms from Basem. It reads "Eid mubarak This sentence we talking in this holiday muslim which we are in. Mean, I request the happiness and successful to you from Allah. I am sorry for that day when we do not come to you. But of Allah wants, we will meet you in the future."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Al-Taif, land of (sheep's) milk and honey

As Stewart (a friend on flickr) points out it is the Slaughter Feast (Eid al-Adha) tomorrow, so a timely upload of some beautiful white Saudi sheep, as seen in Al-Taif on Saturday.

We follow this with a pic of some very expensive local honey, also from al-Taif.

Al-Taif, land of (sheep's) milk and honey

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sudanese camel herder out in the desert, Mecca way

Out in the desert, Mecca way, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Ahmed managed to arrange a car with a driver to take us up to the city of Taif, 6,000 feet up an escarpment a hundred miles or so east of Jeddah. THis was the plan back in February but we never quite pulled it off. The road to Taif follows first the road to Makkah/Mecca, where of course, no non-Muslims are allowed to enter. This had us forking right to take the road along thedesert up to the escarpment, where one has to climb about 5,000 feet on a road with ninety bends over a distance of over 15 miles, quite an experience.

As I find whne travelling with Fred, it is impossible to travel from A to B without stopping along the way to take photos. All opf a sudden on a hill to our left was a heard of camels scattered around, which had me asking the driver urgently to stop and stop he did. It was a real treat to see that the herd was being looked after and driven along by this camel herder from the Sudan. Hre he is taking a pause fo a cigarette before coming over to ask us if we would like soem camel juice. Despite saying 'yes' and 'good' in my best Arabic he then just walked on and carried on with his own business. Oh well...

As is so often the case, the journey was more fun than the eventual destination. I think Taif has a lot to offer the visitor (especially if one like aqua parks) but with a driver who had never been there and two passengers who had not done their homework, we were dependent on asking random people if they could show us the way to any places of interest. Without too much success, I'm afraid. Better luck next time, I hope.

Out in the desert, Mecca way

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back in Jeddah with Ahmed

Once again, Ahmed has been a wonderful host to me during my stay in Jeddah. Thank you so much, Ahmed!

I met Ahmed last time when I was in Jeddah, he having contacted me through flickr and we had a great time wandering the streets of Old Jeddah together (he had never been there before despite living in the city for three years already).

As chance would have it, work took me back to Saudi Arabia for another visit in November, where I had to spend a week in Riyadh helping the accountant there with a few important. Time then, for a couple of days down in Jeddah, to make a nice change from Riyadh.

Sure enough, we found ourselves wandering the same streets in Old Jeddah as before coming across some familiar faces along the way, as well as many new ones. Didn't have so much luck with the Somali children as they mostly sem to be with their mothers who discourage themn from having contact with strangers, even beating them if they come close!

A trip down to the Corniche was disappointing in that the hprses were no longer there and that gave the place the most of its fun, life and colour and I was hoping to see Ahmed on top of a horse. For a holiday season (Eid starts next week) it was all a bit empty and dead, typical for a city beach in Arabia, it seems. Women in black playing with their children on the swings or sitting around on beach carpets eating way at their picnices. Oh, and a few mne fishing. Hmmm....

Going back to Old Jeddah with photos which had been printed from earlier caused another near riot and I was glad to find everyone back who I had photographed earlier, including a Somali boy who had featured in some photos back in February. One begins to feel almost at home here. This Yemeni chap, who was actually seeling colourful blankets, not potato crisps, was one of the chaps we managed to find back.

A walk around Old Jeddah

Friday, November 12, 2010

A walk around Old Jeddah

A walk around Old Jeddah, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Those Somali women again! This time there were scores of them and their kids sat around a small square chatting away to each other. I tried to take some videos to capture the scene but they did not turn out too well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mubarak with his photos

Mubarak with his photos, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Back at Itaiygah market with the photos I had taken two days before. Here is my friend Mubarak again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pretty maids all in a row

Pretty maids all in a row, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

All ready to start the camel can-can!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The cool barrow boys of Itaiygah market in Riyadh

Thanks, everyone. It was great fun going back to the market, dealing out the photos I had taken in February and letting the guys take my camera and take their own pics. We were shooed along once or twice by some old geezers who didn't like the fact that these guys were having fun, supposedly abd for business, although, I must admit it did get a bit noisy at times. Of course, I had someone come up to me telling me I have to be careful, one of the lads might steal my camera and so on. Well, if I really wanted to be careful, I could have sat in my hotel room doing whatever most people do in their hotel rooms...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Camels mating

I am back in Saudi Arabia for my work, having finally received my visa on Friday afternoon. I am in Riyadh for the working week (Saturday to Wednesday) then go down to Jeddah for teh last couple of days. Finishing my first day early, I could not wait to go out with a taxi driver and return to the camel market north of the city. It is not so much a market as a place where camels are reared and trained, as well as bought and sold, together with grass and grain and camel paraphernalia. It is spread out over a massive area of desert, for the want of a better word.

I managed to bring some photos back from my last trip and also to find a few of the guys I had taken photos of, so they were very happy to se me back after what has been nine months.

I hung around an area a bit futrher on where some young lads were training a camel, using what seemed to be slightly violent techniques and I also had teh chance to see some camel riders pass by on finely dressed camels, leading their herds backwarsd and forwards, for viewing by potential buyers who followed by car. Some nice pics and vids of this. Later on, as we were about to move on, they told us to wait as they were about to arrange a camel mating session. as can be seen in the video above. This was itself preceded by a colourful and lively short courtship, some of which I have captured in the video on the link here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The old houses of Birkat al-Mouz

We met a chap called Diyab ion Nizwa and he suggested that we go to visit his town of Birkat al-Mouz, which was supposedly close by. We did not find the town but ended up in the very beautiful Al Hamra instead. This was on Fred's last day but on my last day, I took the car back down to Nizwa and made a point of stopping at Birkat al-Mouz on the way. I was thrilled to find a collection of old houses up on the hill to the right of the road. The houses are more abandoned than the ones in Al Hamra but still show the beauty of these older Omani houses. These are the impressions I came back with.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Shining white at Nizwa livestock market

I am off in a few minutes, back to Arabia, this time for work, with a couple of days vacation attached. Thought I would leave you with what sftajan below calls a handsome Omani, and handsome he certainly is!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Some young Omanis

Some young Omanis, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Sometimes photos just 'work out' and, for me, this is one of them. The boy on the bike is watching a football match being played to the left of where we were standing. The dirt pitch is near the sea in Qurayat where a strong wind was blowing the sand around, giving us the misty look in the background.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Green doors and stuff in Nizwa

Taking a peak inside a half-open door (below) revealed this scene.

Green doors and stuff in Nizwa

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ladies' Day in Sinaw, Oman

Ladies' Day in Sinaw, Oman, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

These pictures are as they were taken, with the Lumix TZ10 P+S camera. I think they look better in a larger format on a black background. Anyway, we got up early in our hotel in Ibra to get down to Sinaw for teh weekly market. Of course, it was a sit down breakfast in the hotel, instead of the normal buffet adn it took ages!!! Still, the road down to Sinaw was good and we arrived in plenty of tiem to catch the very busy women's market and then the livestock market, including camels just a bit further on.
As you can see, the women's market was full of beautiful textiles and materials and well as beauty products and was a total riot of colour, which I hope these photos show.

Ladies' Day in Sinaw, Oman
Ladies' Day in Sinaw, Oman

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Goat time at the Nizwa livestock market

A friend asked me for a photo of a boy with a goat and here is a young man with a goat, I hope this does the trick!

Goat time at the Nizwa livestock market
Getting down to goat level, more difficult with a P&S camera without the flip-up screen, but a good lesson learned from my Sony days.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sinner's Day in Hasselt

Sinner's Day in Hasselt, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Looking scruffy enough here, dear Elian? Sinner's Day is the name for a pop concert festival in Hasselt in Belgium. It seems to be mainly for British pop groups from the 1980's, although there were Belgians, Swiss and Americans too. I was invited to join Gien who is a major Marc Almond fan, like myself.

We have been to three Marc concerts in Belgium together now, one in Lokeren back in about 2001, the in Blankenberge in 2007, both free concerts given outside, and now this one in Hasselt (which was anything but free and was very much inside!).

And, funnily enough, back in 2001 in Lokeren, it turned out that Pauline Black, formally of The Selecter, would also appear, coming on just after Marc. The nine years later, she is back with her old group The Selecter and also appears just after Marc!

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