Sunday, March 29, 2009

Four noises I can't stand

  1. Crying babies.
  2. Someone reading a magazine or newspaper and rubbing the pages together with their fingers to separate them. Just lick your damn fingers!
  3. Rustling sounds made by people, e.g. rummaging in a carrier bag. Rustling sounds made by trees or animals are fine.
  4. Eaty sounds made by people. Lip-licking, chewing, swallowing. This is why I have to have the TV or some other sound going on whilst eating. Again, animal eaty sounds are fine.

The instant I hear any of these sounds I can feel the stress hormones flooding my body. I wonder why?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Desert camping FTW!

The weekend just gone we went camping at Brouq. It's off-roady to get there but not as off-roady as the weekend before. This time there were 4 cars, 8 people and 5 tents. Nothing at all went wrong, which was quite surprising considering it was our turn to be tour leader. We managed to get everyone there safely, though not without having to do a couple of u-turns when we followed the wrong set of tyre marks. On the way we saw wild camels, ostriches and flamingoes.

Our favoured camping spot is on a beach in a little cove, backed with a small cliff. Here's our camping spot and the view from our tent:

That's our tentA room with a view
We swam, ate lunch. and relaxed in the sun. Then when the sun started to go down we fired up the barbie and the camp fire. Later we toasted mashmallows over the fire.

Round the fire
Toilet facilities are non-existant. A large spider was spotted in the rocks by the toilet spot. Here's Rob going round the headland with a shovel. It was not for protection from spiders.

I might be some timeWe stayed up til the firewood ran out around midnight. As we were getting ready for bed, one of the party heard something moving behind her tent. I assumed it was a fennec fox as you can see their little foxy footprints everywhere, but when we shone the torch it turned out to be a cat. It looked like a domestic cat, not a sand cat, though how it got to be so far from human habitation I dread to think. So I left a piece of meat out for it. The meat was gone by the morning.

The next day we were awake bright and early for a swim. The sea was flat calm and perfect for swimming. We saw what we thought might be an osprey sitting on the next headland. They should be migrating this time of the year so she might've been on her way to Scotland. Turned out to be quite a good weekend for wildlife.

On the way back we stopped for a look at the weird rock formations and the film set. The rock formation is real; the little stone hut on top is part of the film set.

Hut on a rock

Then we safely got everyone out again with no mishaps. I drove, and of course did a superb job.

It's easy to forget when we're slaving away at work all week that this is what living here is all about.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday 13th Expedition

Ready to hit the sand

Yesterday we went in a six-car convoy to the Inland Sea. You can’t get there without four-wheel drive. We hadn’t been there before in our own car and we were a little bit worried about how the LR3 would perform in proper, deep sand.

Letting out air

I was determined to get over my nervousness about driving off-road so I forced myself to drive. We stopped at Sealine to let air out of the tyres for driving on sand, then off we went. The road to Inland sea is mostly hard-packed salt, but in many places the dunes have drifted across the track. Also, if you choose, you can take a route through the dunes themselves. Our tour leader took us by a route that was mainly on the track but detoured in a few places through some ‘gentle’ dunes.

I did great. I put the transmission into sand mode and let the car do the work. I followed Rob’s instructions. And I repeat – I did great. It was brilliant fun.

Then we realised that the last in our convoy, driving a Ford Explorer, was missing. Tour Leader had a phone call. They were stuck in deep sand a couple of kilometres behind. Three of our party went back to pull them out. Me and Rob, sans tow-rope, waited behind with the other group.

I had a certain amount of schadenfreude. The stuck car was the only other car driven by a woman. I was glad it wasn’t me.

Time passed. Another phone call informed us that all three were now stuck. More time passed. We contemplated setting up the BBQ right where we were. Another phone call: two cars were now free but the original stick-ee might have a mechanical problem. More time passed. Another phone call: they were all out, and on their way. They’d got free with the help of some young Qatari men in Land Cruisers. Phew. We regrouped and off we went again.

I handed the driving over to Rob for the next section. It was hard, fast packed salt. The iPod shuffled to Charlie Says by the Prodigy. I turned it up LOUD. We drove along laughing our stupid heads off. We decided that ‘Charlie says always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere’ was good advice for desert driving.

Another few Ks and we realised another car was missing. We stopped again. This time, it really was a mechanical problem. One of the cars had developed a radiator leak and had ground to a halt, overheated. This time, me and Rob went back with Tour Leader, because Rob is a mechanic. When we got there, the car was fucked. Not going anywhere. Water poured in to the radiator pissed straight out the bottom. Luckily, I had the number for the Raha recovery service in my phone. The driver of the broken-down car called them and arranged a recovery. Then we piled all the beach stuff and people (5!) from his car to ours and off we went again.

That's Saudi Arabia over there

Eventually we reached the beach. It was worth it. The water was gorgeous – just cold enough to make it difficult to get in, but perfect for swimming once in. We swam, ate BBQ and chilled out. I knit some of my Pomatomus sock.

Knitting on the beach

Meanwhile, back at the broken-down car, things weren’t going so well. The driver and Tour Leader both went to go meet the recovery vehicle at Sealine. As they drove back to the car, the recovery vehicle got stuck. So help had to be summoned from Sealine. Cash changed hands. Tour Leader didn’t get back to the beach til it was nearly time to leave. The broken car’s driver accompanied his vehicle back to Doha.

We really thought nothing else could go wrong. On the way back we had to stop again at Sealine to re-inflate the tyres. We joined the orderly queue at the little garage. Only the queue was not orderly. People kept crossing the sandy area in front of the garage to push in. Tempers began to get heated. It all came to a head when half of our group were actually at the air stations, and half were not. A woman in a black Pajero tried to push in. Events got a bit confused. A French woman stood in front of the Pajero to stop it pushing in. The driver kept going. The French woman called the police. We heard her saying ‘A woman is trying to kill me with her car. The number is...’ A large crowd gathered. There was shouting. I was kind of glad to get out of there.

So that was it. The rest of the journey back was uneventful. I was left with a good impression of the day, overall, because it was laugh. But I won’t do it on Friday 13th again.

Rob's Commentary –
Kirsty was really nervous and sweating heavily, she screamed every time we went over a bump and she nearly got the car stuck so many times I lost count! I’m not letting her drive in sand again!!!!

The above is not true. I did great.