Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I travel on business a lot and I tend to use planes and rental cars almost exclusively. In the 18 years I was out of the UK as an expat, I hardly ever used the train. Now, I find I favour them when travel is not compulsory. I'm lucky enough to be able to afford an advanced 1st class most trips, which allows me the luxury of a relaxed journey, with a guaranteed reserved seat and great views of the countryside passing by.

Compare that with air travel, which is full of checks and security, rude airline staff, delays and cancellations at the drop of a hat and cramped seats on short haul flights. Sure, long haul trips are the strict preserve of the airliner, but give me the train any day when it comes to travelling in style!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Family Christmas

Nothing beats a family Christmas. No amount of socialising with friends beats having a quiet evening in with loved ones, reminiscing, laughing, catching up on news etc. No amount of partying beats seeing an aged relative and seeing the smile on their face as you turn up unexpectedly and wish them a Merry Christmas. No warm climate, sandy beach or two-for-one special at the Al-Ghazal bar can come close to home cooking, mince pies and that little tipple before hitting the road on your way home.

I've tried the social Christmas and God alone knows how many I have spent away from home. I now understand that the spirit of Christmas is truly alive in the eyes of your loved ones.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Winter's Tale

So looking forward to the Christmas and New Year festivities? Perhaps it's a day at the beach at A'Sifah? Or further afield stargazing in Wahiba Sands? Whatever you're doing out there in Oman-land, spare a thought for all of us poorer cousins back here where the snow falls, the temperatures dip and the cost of heating goes up!

It's bloody cold here, and snowy. Part of me loves it (I'd much prefer this sort of winter to the damp, mild rubbish Britain normally gets) but it is perishingly cold and I am getting older....and I don't like it for the most part.

When I lived in Oman, although not an official holiday at work, my boss would let me go for the afternoon on Christmas Day, so off I'd pop to the beach for a bit of festive sunbathing. How long ago those days seem to be now (they stopped only 5 years ago).

Next winter, I'm back in Muscat for a holiday - so I can relive the good times again.

Mind you, I can also pick my way through the trash left by locals who think the world turns only on the cheap labour of TCNs and that they can cause mayhem and destruction safe in the knowledge that someone will be along in the dead of night to make everything better.

One day...soon...that life will come to a shuddering halt. Reality will hit. Guest workers will disappear. Oman will fall of a cliff, the likes of which it has not done since the 19th century. Life will become hard; harder than anyone there has experienced in living memory.

One day soon, locals will have to clean up their own mess. No-one will be there to do it for them.

A winter's tale?