A riproaring rollercoaster of a journey through time, space and that side road just over there...

Time We Left This World Today

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 24th, 2009 @ 23:47:00 , using 1 words,
Posted in Photography

Down Time

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 24th, 2009 @ 23:27:00 , using 364 words,
Posted in General, Travel

Well the week for me is over. It seems early I know but I've taken tomorrow off so AM and I can get over to Bahrain early and not get quite so caught up in the queues on the Causeway. As vital to the sanity of the average expat as Bahrain is, getting over the Causeway and off 'dry' land is a profound PITA. For most of the year they seem to have been rebuilding and remodelling the island in the middle where all the immigration and customs points are. To be fair it desperately needs the work, but it isn't half getting in the way of the free flow of passage between the two countries. Catching the Causeway at the wrong time (any time after 15:30 on a Wednesday) means you are going to be stuck there for a long time. It's been known to take 4 or more hours to get across, which in the height of summer is no fun at all. The trick is to keep pushing towards the right, where the road widens out and hopefully you get just a small jump on those to the left. There are no rules here, every man for themselves and fortune favours the brave, more so the stupid.

Given that most of our indigenous colleagues are now on their Hadj/Eid break, the office has gone into something of a funk. Dealing with local vendors is almost impossible and now the BST has ended, our first 4 hours of the day are unsullied by anything as remotely taxing as dealing with the UK. Our working week with the UK is now down to a 15 hour window - something of a limit in trying to move matters forward that end. The whole effort of going into the office to do anything seems slightly pointless, we get done what we need to though. Is it any wonder I'm looking forward to tomorrows' road trip and some time away. Maybe I'll even get the camera out and get me away from pillaging the archives so heavily.

Till next time then, when I'll be coming at you from the wrong side a a few glasses of vino rosso... Cheers!

Alongside

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 23rd, 2009 @ 23:33:00 , using 0 words,
Posted in Photography, Travel

Alongside

The Desert Chill

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 23rd, 2009 @ 23:12:16 , using 774 words,
Posted in General

Given that I spent most of the evening pre-occupied with fixing up the CSS code for the site, time has become somewhat limited for content creation round here. I thought therefore, to tell you a little about that peculiarly British concern, the weather. Not though the British weather, no none of that. Instead to give you a feel of what it's like out here at this time of the year.

For most people, there is perhaps the belief that the Middle East is always sunshine, with never a cloud in the sky. Hopefully by now, I should have disabused most of you of the 'clear blue sky' thing, it's just not happening for the most part. Aside from a period of time around March/April and some time around November, rain is pretty much absent - the lack of which is what's used to define a desert, something I can see all around me, or at least outside our compound cocoon. Rains generally coincide with the change of seasons; winter/spring into summer, summer/autumn into winter. This then is pretty much where we come in now.

Everyone knows that Saudi Arabia is hot - exceedingly so at times; ever seen 55C on your garden thermometer? Mmmm... not so many hands up for that question. What is perhaps less well known is how cold it can be during the winters. OK, so it's not Arctic winter Canada cold, but it still comes as a bit of a shock to the system when it arrives. After a period living out in this region, the blood tends to thin out a fair bit, meaning you feel it that much more keenly. There also the more or less total absence of humidity, it's often below 10% and can drop to 1-2%, certainly in the central region where Riyadh is, away from any body of water - the Gulf is some 300 miles distant from here. Humidity has the effect of holding the heat in against the skin. So thin blood, no humidity and a whopping 40C drop on the summer peaks, and you can see why it feels rather more chilly than of late.

I can understand why the very occasional visitor is more than a tad baffled at what we might be complaining about, but it's all relative against what you're used to. Already, many have ditched the a/c for the winter (or at least the chiller part), woolly jumpers are now the norm in the evening, talk around the office is of putting the BIG quilt on the bed. The temperature isn't such that the heating has gone on yet, but give it another month perhaps, not that this really does much to be fair. Come January or February, we can expect it to drop below 0C overnight on a regular basis. Three years back we had a sustained period where the overnight temperature dropped to -8C; most people living here just aren't geared up for that, with the plant life around the compound even less so, as it killed off literally hundreds of the newly planted flame trees around the compound. That was apparently the coldest Riyadh winter for over 20 years though and it was the first time I'd ever seen frozen puddles on the ground in 10 years - I'd seen a frost on the grass a few times, but ice was a new one.

So where are we at the moment then? Well todays' maximum was forecast for 23C, though it never made it above 20C. It's now around 17C, with the expectations that the overnight low will be in the region of 15C. Most of the day has been cloudy and we are expecting rain on Friday, though I shouldn't think it would be too heavy - the spring rain is generally much heavier and prolonged. It's a little unfortunate that I'll be on my way back from Bahrain on Friday, where it's also forecast for inclement weather. The prospect of a trip back along a rain soaked road that hasn't seen a drop in over 6 months, is not overly enticing, as the aggregation of rubber and diesel will likely turn the surface into a greasy slick reminiscent of a well lubricated eel. No fun at all and the RTA rate goes through the roof - a good time to park up and stay the hell out of it.

Still, we'll get ourselves (AM & I) over there and see what's what. At least Bahrain will have a sensible level of humidity in the atmosphere, so it should feel warmer even if technically it's little different from here. I'll let you know...

And Above Us, Only Sky...

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 22nd, 2009 @ 23:49:00 , using 0 words,
Posted in Photography

And Above Us, Only Sky...

Move Along, Nothing to See Here

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 22nd, 2009 @ 23:19:48 , using 107 words,

I started something of a fashion, but wasn't quite panning out right - blogger's block perhaps. Maybe another shot at it with a clearer head on a different day. Till then it's is consigned to the pile that never quite made it out of the closet.

There's very little to report to you today. Stoke won, though they barely deserved a point the way they played. The sharper eyed amongst you may notice something a little different about the blog this evening, see if you can spot it if you are of a mind. I got another day older, but then again, so did you.

Night all...

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