Category Archives: 2014 Dec-Jan – Trip to Oman

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 27 – Jan 11 Last Day

Today was our last day with Joseph and Carrie. We have had a great visit, seen many sights in Oman, played a lot of games, had great chitchats and enjoyed our time here immensely.

Today we: packed our bags

IMG_4408 IMG_4409

read our books                              IMG_4411

prepared our dinner                  IMG_4413

ate our last meal together    IMG_4420

put away our computers      IMG_4416

and played two games of ‘Oh Crap’ to finish off our last evening.

IMG_4425It is now 9:30 and everyone is going to bed.  We need to get up at 2am to have a quick shower, load the car and get to the airport in time to go through check-in and security for our 5 am flight to Dubai.

We have a short layover of about 3 1/2 hours and then, Lord willing, our 15 hour flight to Seattle begins.  Thankfully Trish has found the car under all the snow we have had at home and plans to pick us up at Kelowna airport when we, hopefully, arrive at 2:40 tomorrow afternoon BC time.

It’s been a slice and now, unfortunately we have to go home.  Thank you Joseph and Carrie for a great Christmas. Thank you Trish for being with us the first two weeks.  Maybe we’ll do it again sometime…

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 26 – Jan 10 Last Walk

Today is our last full day with Joseph since tomorrow, Sunday, is a work day for him.   Last night we left the car at the Crowne Plaza and took a cab home so we all went to the Promenade this morning and went for a final walk along the beachfront before driving up to the hotel to get the car.  Joseph and Carrie did their usual circuit of two lengths of the Promenade while John and I meandered. The tide was in this morning so there wasn’t a lot of beach to walk on compared to the other times we have come.  I am always amazed at the quantity of small shells that are washed up on the beach with the tide.  Thousands and thousands of them.  No wonder the crafters have no trouble finding enough shells for the necklaces and boxes and trinkets they make.

At the hotel John and Joseph got in the Honda and Carrie and I took the BMW and we went to the Qurum City Center Mall to get butter and cheese, some small paint rollers that Carrie wants for an art project, and a ladder.

IMG_4337 We need the ladder to change the burned out light bulbs in one of the fixtures in the upstairs living room.  The villa has 10 foot ceilings on each floor (and 22 steps from the ground to the second story) so even though Joseph is 6’3″ he can’t reach the fixtures even standing on a chair.

It was a bit of a disaster at the ladder display.  Someone had stacked the ladders so they leaned on each other and when John and Joseph removed one to check it out a bunch of others fell over – thankfully only to the floor, not on to any merchandise.  They started to pick up the three or four fallen ladders and all the rest fell down the other way.  Seconds after the second loud crash a voice on the intercom called for staff to attend our aisle.  Carrie and I found it quite startling – also slightly humourous if the truth be told.  Unfortunately the store only had smaller step ladders that were quite expensive so the light will have to stay out awhile longer.

Then it was back to the villa for one of Joseph’s hearty egg scramble breakfasts, two games of Oh Crap, both of which Carrie won by a huge margin, and a relaxing afternoon.

Also, for those of you who know how much I generally dislike gardening, I want you to know that all the plants survived the intensive pruning I administered and a couple have started to bloom.  Several of the cuttings we stuck in the ground look like they are dying, but a few others are still looking okay.  They may lose all their leaves and take root later.  I’ll have to get Carrie or Joseph to keep us informed as to their progress over the next few months. So…nothing too exciting today, but since our intention on this visit was to spend time with our son and daughter-in-law, and John and I both do nothing well, we are not bothered by quiet days at the villa. I suspect tomorrow, our final full day will be similar.


2014 Trip to Oman – Day 25 – Jan 9 Dinner at the Crowne Plaza

We had a normal day of eating, computers, and playing board games.  Carrie had made reservations for a table on the terrace at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for this evening.  The Crowne Plaza can be seen perched atop the cliff at the end of the beach at the promenade where we go for walks (which we will be doing tomorrow morning).  When Bryan took Trish on a tour around Muscat to see the city lights they made a stop at the Crowne Plaza to watch the sunset.  She told us to go there if we got the chance because it was a lovely view.

The tide was out along the Promenade beach and since it was Friday, the first day of the weekend, there were many people walking on the beach, Sea-dos roaring all over in the water, and kites flying.  There were also many couples sitting on chairs at small tables they had brought with them, eating a snack or dinner along the promenade sidewalk and traffic was bumper to bumper moving at a crawl. To get to the the restaurant you walk through the pub which could have been any local pub in Britain.  The dinner menu also reflected the U.K. with Bangers and Mash, Guiness and Steak Pie, and Fish and Chips on offer.  It was a bit strange to see Omani men in traditional dress enjoying a drink at the bar.

We were seated at a nice table overlooking the hotel pool with the setting sun strategically positioned between two palm trees.  In typical Gulf fashion dinner was a leisurely affair and we arrived home a bit before 9 pm.

In the lobby there was a list of Top 10 things to do in Muscat.  We have done quite well, having done all but three of them, one of those being have a tennis lesson at the hotel courts, which I wouldn’t have done even if I had been staying there.

Underneath the easel that held the poster of the Top 10 list was this Ferrari child car seat.  It is the law in Oman to wear your seat belt and have your children properly restrained in your vehicle, but just as people constantly drive while on their phones and texting they also drive at 140 kph with babes and young children leaning over the back seat, climbing around inside the car and even sitting on the lap of the driver.  I found it a bit humourous that the hotel has car seats to loan you during your visit.  The littel card on the seat says, “Safety for our little guests.”  Certainly more people should borrow the car seat – or better yet buy their own – and use it!

IMG_4332It was indeed a lovely setting in which to have a good dinner.  We have two more days to enjoy Joseph and Carrie’s company and hospitality and the warmth of an Oman winter.  I am not looking forward to the snow and cold at home.  Poor me.  (And yes, I am aware that no one reading this sympathizes one little bit.)


2014 Trip to Oman – Days 23 & 24 – Jan 7 & 8 Doing Nothing

I didn’t write a blog yesterday.  We did not leave the villa. Carrie and Joseph both worked all day (well, Carrie did take a mid-afternoon break to play a couple of games of Cozumel).  I did some laundry and watered the palm tree that is outside the wall and often gets forgotten.  John cleaned the dirt from the track the car gate slides on and used some of Carrie’s olive oil on it so it wouldn’t make so much noise everytime it opened and closed.We played cards in the evening (Joseph finally won a game of “Oh Crap.”).  We all, except Joseph, went to bed about 10.  He was working on a report and stayed up until after 11.

Today is basically a repeat of yesterday’s doing nothing.  Carrie had yoga class this morning then she met up with Joseph near his office and they had lunch together.  On her way home she picked up what I am sure she hopes will be the last groceries needed before we leave. She arrived home just as I was just about to lose a game of Empire Builders to John.  I almost had him to.  One more move.  Oh well.  Next time.  Maybe.  My ratio of wins on the various railway building games we play is 7 loses per one win.  Abyssmal!

We have three more days in Oman before the long, long, long flight home.  Just as Trish was supposed to do if her flight hadn’t been delayed, we leave Muscat for Dubai at 5 am, have about a three and a half hour layover then fly 15 hours direct to Seattle.  I really, really hope we don’t run into the troubles Trish had.  The good thing in our case is we don’t HAVE to be home for anything specific so if we get delayed or re-routed it will just be annoying and won’t be interfering with work or other important appointments.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Joseph’s weekend and we do have some plans to do something.  Perhaps there will be a more interesting blog tomorrow….

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 22 – Jan 6 Amouage

And now for something a little bit different.If you look carefully at the center bluff in this photo you can see the terraced cuts that were made to create the highway through the mountains that Bryan drove when we stopped at the spot overlooking the city of Muscat.  That was a LOT of rock to blast and move!  And that cut goes right through the mountain range to the second half of Muscat on the other side.This afternoon Carrie, John and I took an excursion to Amouage, located about half a kilometre further up the expressway past the Sahwa Park we all visited on Sunday.  I managed to get a few shots of the lovely Sahwa Clock Tower as we went through the roundabout. Amouage is home to “the world’s most valuable perfume”.  The distillation of the various essences used in their perfumes is done in France (the process uses alcohol which is forbidden in Oman) under the guidance and direction of the master perfumer and the essence is then shipped to Muscat where the blending for the fragrances is done and the perfumes bottled, labeled and shipped.  They manufacture 5000 bottles of perfume per day and during the Eid and Christmas seasons they double production.  It is sold at high-end stores and boutiques around the world and they have 15 stand alone shops with two more opening soon.

The building and grounds were lovely.  Gorgeous gold tiled water feature at the entrance and a mirrored ceiling to the walkway.  Pretty impressive! The company began in 1983 when the Sultan of the day (His Highness Sayyad Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said) desired to bring back the Arabian art of perfumery to Oman.  The factory was built the same year and the first fragrance “Gold” was created by master perfumer Guy Roberts. Amouage is one of the only perfumeries to use only the petals of the flowers selected for their scents.  Most modern perfumeries distill essence from other parts of the plants as well.  As well as flowers they use many different herbs, roots, spices, and resins to create the unique fragrances for which they are world renown.

The Amouage brand is currently comprised of 82 fragrances which are available as perfume (a male and female version of each), scented candles, and bath products.  A bottle of “Gold” costs just over $300. They also have a line of fine-crafted leather bags, purses and wallets. Carrie saw a faux tiger skin wallet she liked that cost 225 Omani Rial – that works out to $687 Canadian.  For some reason she didn’t buy it???

A lovely Asian woman took us on the short tour of the factory – well the parts that were open to the public anyway.  There was a lot of building at the back we didn’t see.

After the tour we were taken to the show room to select our purchases – a temptation to which none of us succumbed.  Although I did like the scent of “Gold.”  It is not overly flowery as most perfumes are that trigger my asthma.  All of the fragrances she sprayed on test strips for us to smell were very subtle with citrus, or woodsy or ‘old books’ type scents rather than sweet and strong.  Note of trivia: to cleanse your ‘scent palette’ between fragrances smell coffee beans. The knarly tree on the right is a francinscence tree.  The resin is highly sought after to make luxury perfumes and scents.

We had to turn right onto the expressway when leaving the factory and drove quite a few kilometers looking for a roundabout to get us going back toward Muscat.  We finally came to the exit for Mutrah which took us back to Muscat on the same road Ahmed used on our way back from our dune bashing expedition.  Again, the mountain rock is just carved away to make the highway.We arrived home in time for Carrie to bake a tray of chocolate chip cookies, (she is a cookie-a-holic so only allows herself to make cookies one tray-full at a time – the dough is kept in the fridge and meted out over several days), play a card game and for each of us to settle in with our computers to do work, write blogs and check the weather back home.  Oh….and John went for his daily run in the mid-afternoon sun.

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 21 – Jan 5 Yard Work

Carrie is busily preparing for the launch of her Art Detox online course and has muttered a few times as we enter or exit the car that she has to get out and weed the garden one day.This is Joseph’s BMW that has become Carrie’s car to use because he did not want to put the company monitoring system in it. Instead the system was installed in Carrie’s Honda so that is what Joseph drives to work leaving the Beamer for Carrie.  She doesn’t complain about it either.

The garden is comprised of a row of trees down the side of the house and a big dirt patch at the back door where Joseph keeps the BBQ.  Why the landlord didn’t cover the whole area with paving stones none of us can figure out.  (The door and window behind the BBQ in the first photo belong to “the maid’s quarters.”  Many locals and expats have a live-in maid and lots of the houses are built with a room for a maid.

Several of the trees along the wall have died since the landlord planted them.  Carrie took a cutting of one and stuck it into a pot in the livingroom in the hopes it will root and can be transplanted outside.  It is actually doing quite well.  In another month or so once it has grown a new leaf or two she will move it outside.The other day John went out and used a shoe lace and two picture hangers to tie back one of the trees that was leaning way over the walkway and then pulled most of the weeds (there were not that many really, certainly nothing like the amount of weeds our garden at home cultivates).

We decided that today we would do some extensive trimming on the trees to remove some of the lower growth and therefore encourage them to go up and not out.  We took clippings from some of our cuttings and dipped them into a liquid fertilizer Carrie had in the maid’s room that is used as a storage room and stuck them into the ground.  A drink of water was given to each as well.  Maybe one or two of them will root and survive and fill in some of the blank spots.  If not, oh well; we tried.

One of the plants was very unruly and bushy. It had numerous stalks coming up from the base and many sprouting every which way.  We got brutal with it and trimmed most of them off, then we braided the three ‘main’ stalks we left intact and John used the other shoelace fastened to the wall to keep it upright.  He also took one of the cuttings and stuck it into the back corner of the dirt patch.  If this plant is supposed to be all low and bushy it can go to town over there.

John picked up an armload of the larger clippings and deposited them into the dumpster across the road then he went into the house to put a new appliance plug in the laundry room so the washing machine will quit shorting out and stopping.  When Carrie made a quick trip to the grocery store this morning John went along to see if he could find a replacement outlet.  He had to get the entire unit but now the washer should work properly.

 While John was doing his electrician thing I cleaned up all the leaves and dirt and swept all the pavers.  Carrie is pleased as punch that we did it for them and very happy with how tidy the area now looks. She laughingly said she was going to show the photos to her parents so they can see what will be expected of them if they come over to visit some day.

It wasn’t a very big job, didn’t take us very long either, but I agree with Carrie the ‘garden’ looks much neater now.

BEFORE                                                                          AFTER

And, just in case all of the cuttings we stuck in the ground die, we put one of each kind of tree into the livingroom pot where it may survive and thrive.  

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 20 – Jan 4 Sahwa Park

Today is Sunday, normally the first work day of the week for Joseph, but today was declared a holiday last week to celebrate the prophet Mohammed’s birthday.  We took a short drive up past the Muscat International Airport to Sahwa Park.

The park is 300,000 square meters in size, has a running track, a large playground for the kiddies, gazebos, six sunken Islamic Gardens, and hundreds of large palms you can spread a blanket under for a shady picnic.  It is a very popular place with the locals and expats on a day off. There were familiy groups all over the place playing games with their kids, having lunch and just strolling the pathways. The whole place is beautifully manicured and all the hedgerows and trees are clipped and shaped.  There are lovely geometric patterns and shapes all over the place. From the parking lot you can see the Sahwa Clocktower.  It is in the middle of a round-about so it is hard to get a nice photos but it is very large and there are really nice mosaic scenes around the four sides of the base.

I liked the sign at the entrance.  Take note of item number 9.  Strange that they feel the need to spell that one out I think, but hey, who knows what some people may think is appropriate for their children to play with.

We meandered along the paths and John, Carrie and I had a great time taking photographs.  Joseph, who is a non-photographer, suffered our stops and starts with relatively good humor. He did take a break and sat in the shade on one of these benches for awhile though.

This young dad hung his dishdasha on a palm tree while he played  soccer with his sons.

Joseph is like me in that he does not like to have his photo taken. This is something Carrie likes to tease him about and will stick the camera right into his face just to annoy him. In the center of the garden is a  beautiful small mosque in the middle of a large pond.  You can see the heads of fountains in the pool but they were not working today. The paving stones all the way around the mosque are grey, red and yellow in a symmetrical sunburst-type pattern.  I loved the lines and uniformity; my OCD side appreciates it (or as we say in my house, “My CDO,” because the letters are in alphabetical order like they should be).

We stopped in the shade beside the mosque for awhile to enjoy the scene and the breeze before we wandered back to the car and the villa.

A nap for Carrie, some work for Joseph, my blog for me, puzzles for John and a game were our plans after lunch.  Carrie had purchased a slow-cooker the other day and had put all the ingredients for a beef stew into it before we left; yea for dinner.  And Joseph made us all ham and cheese omelets for breakfast too!  We are doing well at this ‘hotel.’


2014 Trip to Oman – Day 19 – Jan 3 There is an artist in the house

Our daughter-in-law Carrie is an artist and was a teacher of senior high school level art and head of the fine arts department at the Dubai American Academy. The year before the move to Oman Carrie was the Assistant Principal of the school.  She is a talented and very eclectic artist and has had her work shown at The Smithsonian and The Kennedy Hall of States in Washington DC, at galleries and cafes in Dubai and here in Oman; galleries or museums in Tennesse, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Ohio and New York. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Sheikha Manal’s Young Artist Award via Dubai Ladies Club and had to get all spiffied up to attend the presentation ceremony.  Joseph even wore a suit! Carrie would tour construction sites in Dubai and take photos of the interesting items and shapes and from her photographs she did these two colored pencil pieces.

She holds a BA in arts and art history from Colgate Univeristy (a top Liberal Arts University in New York State) and a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.  Since her and Joseph’s move from Dubai to Oman a year ago she has been ‘a kept woman.’  The year as Assistant Principal took its toll on her health and she chose to take a year off and work on her art and her blog: Artist  As I mentioned in a previous post Carrie has been working very hard on a new project and is about to launch a five-week online course on Creative Play (The Art Detox).  She is brimming with ideas for her business and her blog and makes copious notes in her many journals to keep track of all the things she would like to do.  On Artist Think Carrie posts interviews with other artists and does personal commentary that is aimed at encouraging others to actively pursue and make time for whatever creative outlet they enjoy.This is a photo Carrie took when visiting us in BC and she had it mounted onto canvas.

Carrie loves to take classes. She would sign up for dozens if she had the time.  Because of her interest in all things creative she experiments with her own creativity.  She works in many different mediums from oil to acrylic to colored pencil to pen and ink or charcoal and mixed mediums.  In the five years since she met our son she has worked art in yarn, taken courses in jewelry making (she designed and made Joseph’s wedding ring), pottery and photography.

 Carrie says she does a lot of self-portraits because she doesn’t like asking other people to sit for as long and as often as it takes to do a painting, or in the case of these pieces, work the yarn.

Many rooms in their villa have samples of her art hanging on the walls.  Since today was an ‘at home, do nothing day’ after I got royally beaten – again – at Agricola I went around and took photos of her work.

I love this one.  If I had a place to hang it in my house it would be going home in my luggage. Unfortunately, our son also likes it so I suspect it’s absence would be noted.

Here are some closer details of the mixed medium painting (upper left photo) that hangs in our bedroom here at the villa. Another favourite of mine is this painting of “Heather,” Carrie’s childhood rabbit.

Carrie changed into her co-ordinating running pants and running shoes and went for a run before she goes out to visit with some friends this evening.


John and Joseph were busy trying to figure out why the TV in the downstairs living room shorts out whenever the air conditioning comes on so it was a perfect time for me to write my blog.  (The washing machine shorts out regularly as well and has to be reset a time or two during each load.  Again….they live in a brand new duplex villa.  Obviously there are some competency issues among the electricians in Muscat.)


2014 Trip to Oman – Day 18 – Jan 2 Our Christmas Present

In Dubai and Muscat there are brunches.  Brunches are held at nice hotels and start about 1 pm on weekends.  Most brunches are all you can eat, all you can drink and last all afternoon.  Our Christmas gift from Joseph and Carrie was a brunch with them at Chedi, a very upscale hotel and spa about 20 minutes drive from their house. Joseph had made a reservation for a terrace table and we were seated under a patio roof looking toward the ocean.  Joseph and Carrie had been to a brunch at Chedi before and suggested that John and I go and scope out the various buffet offerings before making any selections because there were three kitchens creating food for four or five buffet lines.  There was a Thai row, which was Carrie’s favourite, a traditional Baron of Beef and mini-roasted potatoes section that was Joseph’s, and everything from soup to salad to seafood. The idea is to try small amounts of different things and pace yourself to relax and enjoy the afternoon.  The setting was beautiful, the temperature was pleasant and there was just enough of a breeze to keep us all comfortable. I took a stroll around the grounds between courses two and three. The hotel complex is very large and very beautiful.  It fronts on a lovely stretch of sandy beach, has a large pool surrounded by outdoor beds for relaxing and reading, several private villa buildings and lots and lots of very attentive staff.

We left Joseph’s car at the hotel and took a cab home.  We arrived at 6 pm, finished our game of Empire Builder and watched a movie before bed.  It was a lovely Christmas gift and we had a wonderful day.  Thank you Joseph and Carrie.



2014 Trip to Oman – Day 17 – Jan 1, 2015 Happy New Year

We brought in 2015 following Trish’s ongoing travel mess.  She did fly out of Dubai on time at 10 am Dec 31 Muscat time on her flight to San Fransisco and arrived on time but didn’t get as much sleep as she would have liked because there were at least six infants in the seats surrounding hers.

She went to the San Fran ticket counter to get her boarding passes for her flights to Seattle and Kelowna, only to be told she was booked on a flight leaving at 4 pm THE NEXT AFTERNOON!  By this time she had had about 4 hours sleep in the past 49 hours so, understandably, she cried.  And I don’t blame her!  A supervisor at the flight counter managed to get her a seat on the flight she was told she would be on in the first place.  When she boarded she discovered she was in Business Class – one small favour amidst all the frustration.

All flights from there took off and landed on time and she arrived in Kelowna at 12:14 am on Jan 1 Pacific Time which is 12 hours behind us here in Oman. Just to add another element to this horror story, when she went to use the washroom during her layover in Seattle, her kneecap dislocated and she had to push it back into place.  So, she was not only massively frustrated, very, very tired but in pain the rest of the way home.

My brother-in-law had kindly offered to drive us all to the airport when we left and to pick Trish up when she returned.  He was waiting when she got through customs and drove her to our home in Salmon Arm where she picked up her car and drove herself to her house in Sicamous.  By the time she arrived at her door she had been travelling for 61 hours!!!  She should have been home in 25 hours counting the early arrival time to get through security and the time between flights – of which she should have had two, not four.  Needless to say she is ecstatic to be home!  Two friends of hers were staying in her house while she was away and Sean had a nice meal waiting to welcome her home.  She does have a lot of good friends.


If she wasn’t so tired she would be cheering like she did our first day when we went to the beach.


Since I had not slept well the night before and we had stayed up so late to see Trish off I went to bed at 10:30.  I woke up at 1 and came out and checked my computer to see if Trish had arrived in San Fransisco yet.  We chatted on line for a few minutes and I went back to bed.  Happy New Year to one and all.

Jan 1 is not a holiday here so Joseph went to work this morning after having two unexpected days off to use up his holidays.  Carrie had to go shopping for some new runners as the heel base on one of her shoes came off at the promenade yesterday.  She had a couple of other specific things she was looking for so John and I stayed home and let her do her searching  without distractions.

She returned about an hour later after successfully finding all three things she was looking for, including these awesome runners!  I am getting myself a pair of these before I go home.  For sure.For the last two weeks Trish has been sleeping on the day bed in the third bedroom of the villa. This room is normally Carrie’s studio/office.  While it was occupied by Trish Carrie would do a lot of her work sitting on the bed in her and Joseph’s bedroom.  Now that Trish is successfully home the day bed has been converted to it’s normal size and Carrie is back in her studio.  She has an artist’s blog on creativity (check out with articles and interviews and has been working for some months on launching an on-line course.  She calls it The Art Detox and it is due to launch on Jan 15.  It is a five-week course that encourages creative play and she has been working long hours to get it ready and get all the aspects of her new business venture set up.  She really enjoyed having Trish come to visit and was sad to see her go but she is also happy to have her space back.

The villa has three bedrooms on the second floor (all with full ensuite bathrooms) and a second living room/family room area as well. This is where we hang out most of the time. Joseph has his desk in the corner where he does work for a while most evenings.  There is a 52″ flat screen and lots of movies but John and I generally sit on the couch with our computers and check out stuff, read Facebook, play online games and I write my blog.

IMG_3943 IMG_3947 As I have mentioned several times in my blog, we play games when we get together with Joseph and Carrie.  I have always loved to play games and we played many different board games and card games when the kids were growing up.  Both of them still enjoy games.

Joseph and Carrie have a long dining table and currently we have two different games set up on it and we alternate between one and the other for an hour or so in the evening.

IMG_3939We maintain a hectic pace around here! I love it.