Monday 23 April 2007

Oman: Jabal Shams

Mrs M's itinerary for the day centred on the Nizwa and Jabal Shams region. After a brief stop at Nizwa Fort (oh no, not again) we took lunch at Falaj Daris, sitting in smoke-scented camping chairs in the lush green gardens. The Britishness of this arrangement has caused me enough embarrassment – we shall use the mat in future.

En route to Jabal Shams we drove past the impressive Bahla Fort, still wrapped in scaffolding from a major renovation, towards to Jabrin Fort. This fort has almost completed restoration with just a few teams of workers building falajes by hand in the roasting heat. Escher must have been a sub-contractor on the original construction judging by the confusing network of stairs, corridors, balconies and rooms. Most of the walls have been re-plastered, but the walls in the date room had been untouched showing the damage caused by the sticky fruit over hundreds of years. Jabrin goes to the top of our fort list, just above Nakhal.

On the way up to Jabal Shams, we noticed a new camp under construction with the snappy name of 'Jabal Shams Heights Rest House'. We soon arrived at the Jabal Shams Travel & Camping Centre and sat on our balcony taking tea and nibbles. At 8pm we dined in the main tent with several French tourists who took great pleasure in our host's 'Allo,'Allo! pronunciation of 'sheeps' for the word 'chips'. The joke did not seem to wear off. While reclining on cushions, Kay and Mike described a person they had met on a chalet holiday in France who turned out to be Mrs M's best friend when she was 10 years old. Fancy that.

Back at our hut my heart sank as 'Cranium' was produced. Typically Mrs M and I were stuck on green while Kay and Mike whizzed round thanks to some suspiciously swift answers (e.g. how do you get 'computer programme' simply by gesturing a typing action?). We let them win.

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