Skip to main content
At the Palace

I keep getting lost and I’m not alone. I’m here in Oman at the Al Bustan Palace hotel in an area of outstanding natural beauty between the mountains and the sea. The hotel is so large and so fabulously opulent, a palace in fact, that it took me ten minutes to find my way through the marble corridors to breakfast this morning and another ten minutes to find the conference centre, one of the largest auditoriums, I have spoken in. Since then, I’ve lost the former two more times, bumping into other speakers, equally baffled by the maze that is our temporary home until Monday. Posted by Hello

Final tweaks to my presentation

Today started with the familiar and traditional handshaking and official welcome This involves being led into a room with large armchairs arranged along three walls. Dignitaries, speakers, royalty and the British Ambassador, are led in and settled into their chairs, drinking juice and then rising to their feet as another person joins for a series of official handshakes.

First out to bat this morning was Sir Brian Pitman, followed by police officer and computer crime expert from the UK National Hi-tech Crime Unit, Tony Neate. I’m third in the batting order with a presentation entitled “The Shoes of the Phisherman”, with apologies to the Vatican and author Morris West.

Other speakers have come from as far afield as Chile and the United States, all experts in banking and telecommunications and we received a warm welcome at the airport last night, whisked through passport control and then into limousines to the hotel, where we spent a few minutes gawping at the size of its domed roof. It’s a stark contrast with my small town on the Kent coast twenty-four hours ago. We don’t have domes and fountains but we do have a beach and a boating pool rapidly disappearing under the sand.

Just as I arrived in my room, we suffered a power cut and were plunged into pitch darkness for several minutes. I was still unpacking my bag and had to feel my way out of the room into the hotel corridor before finally finding some emergency stairs down to reception. The lifts, of course, had stopped as well. In a maze such as this, escaping a fire might prove interesting.

Oman has leaped forward in telecoms since my last visit three years ago but for some unknown reason my mobile phone and those of others in the group of speakers, doesn’t work. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing but I had no problems on my last visit, so something must have changed. There’s a rapid broadband connection from my hotel room but sadly, no wireless yet, except in schools, otherwise I would be writing and publishing this entry in real time. Posted by Hello

Hotel Reception at the Al Bustan Palace

At Heathrow I bought myself to a new digital camera to replace my three year old digital Pentax. I settled on a Nikon 8800 with eight million pixels and with luck, I’ll manage to post some of the photos up on the Web as Windows XP has spotted the camera connection quite seamlessly. The quality is noticeably sharper than the older camera, although the Pentax has the advantage of being pocket-sized and the Nikon is more likely to find it’s way into a rucksack.


Popular posts from this blog

A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.

I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

Merlins over Thanet

Marooned, temporarily at Manston this afternoon are the Merlins over Malta team on the way to the Mediterranean for a display to mark the historic Second World War defence of the island.

Charlie Brown

Unfortunately, the weather over Thanet is appalling this afternoon and the Spitfire and Hurricane can’t get airborne again until it clears, so the celebrity Battle of Britain aircraft pilots, Charlie Brown, Clive Denny and their team-mates are contemplating an evening among the fleshpots of Margate.

Clive Denny (Hurricane) & Charlie Brown (Spitfire) Pilots

I’m rather hoping the weather it will clear through though as they have to get to Jersey before dusk if possible and I have to take some photos of the Spitfire and Hurricane for Pilot Magazine and I’ve always wanted a chance to get in either aircraft!

An Interview with Charlie Brown

They just got off, squadron scramble or what? They were ready and gone in ten minutes towards the nearest patch of blue sky!

An interview with the legendary S…
Median Saleh

I mentioned in the last post, the 1981 expedition that took in Median Saleh, the ruined Nabatean city in Saudi Arabia

A temple carved from the rock from Petra's sister city.

By coincidence, one of the most important train stations on the Hejaz railway sat next to the ruins and when Lawrence of Arabia blew the line in 1917, the trains were trapped there and are still there today, gathering dust and with "Krupp" on the engine casings.

One of the trains, sitting where T.E. Lawrence left themwith Dr Paul Garnett as the passenger

Below, you can see one of the fortified train stations that Lawrence attacked along the Hejaz railway between Damascus and Medina.

More photos Medain Saleh can be found on THIS Site - Apparently you can catch a tourist bus these days, rather different from risking life and limb to cross an unfriendly Saudi Arabia twenty years ago!