Riding around in summer

8 11 2008

Just back from cleaning stables. Tarq is só cuuute! (if you give him food) He was covered in sand and mud, so I also had to do a vigorous brushing session as well!
I thought I’d share some photo’s from this summer with you.

My riding buddies: M. and Billy, J. and Dior and me & Tarq


This road leads to the dike from the canal, a bit further from the spot where me and the Tarq nearly drowned last year! Its called after a burgomaster, but I’ve forgotten his name. He can’t have been very important, because it’s such a dismal unimportant bit of sand-track. You can just see Billy’s head.
Tarq thinks he’s much better than Billy, but Billy is mega-cool! Tarq always wants to walk up front. Except when something ”suspicious” is coming up: in that case he quickly hides behind Billy and leaves it to him to face the dangers ahead!


This bit of water is called ”Het Bolhuisgat” It’s forbidden for horses. Actually most of the Netherlands is forbidden for horses and riders. Especially in the nice wooded area’s: it’s like every nice interesting looking path has a sign: Forbidden to horse and riders!
Even on bridle paths you can get a dirty look from mountain bikers or hikers. One of the reasons I like riding around Tarq’s lodgings is the fact that we have a few sand roads, and wide grassy edges to tarmac roads, and it’s all public roads! Meaning: nobody can tell you off or chase you away. And you can bring your dog too!
But here we are definitely illegal!!! :mrgreen:


From this sand road most of our adventures start. It’s on the map as a partially hardened bycicle route, but you wouldn’t want to try it! Very occasionally we meet a masochistic cyclist who likes a challenge here.


Sunsets in the north of Holland are the most beautiful in their subtile colourplay of pale blues, soft pinks and Naples yellow!


Tarq is not so fascinated by sunsets…



Riding with Tarq

7 11 2008


I had a great ride with the Tarq today. While we are not exactely in the forests, or nature reserves, the small scale old agricultural area gives us quite a few interesting opportunities for outdoor riding! Tarq was all for a bit of action today, and although it can never go far enough, fast enough, or tough enough for the Tarq (you’d think lugging my very cuddly person around would be enough of a challenge) he was having a good time too.

One of the small lakes, look at Tarq’s cute ears: he’s getting well into his winterfur! Arabs get winterfur too!


It’s getting quite cold. Especially as the sun goes down. Which is around five by now…


There is a fairly new crop growing here, strange so late in the year, sort of herby with white flowers, we have no idea what it is!!!


Only a few birch-leaves left on the birch-trees now. It went fast this year!


Tarq is attacking his food, after the enormous efforts he made today…


Iron Maiden in Assen

19 08 2008

The concert was at the TT-circuit in Assen. This is the first time ever a big concert has been held there, and the organisation was great! It’s also a good place to hold a concert; it’s paved, very comfortable, and all 25.000 tickets were sold out, but it didn’t seem like we were in such a huge crowd! Another very good thing about the concert being in Assen is that it is only 20 minutes drive! What luxury! A great concert in our backyard!
Iron Maiden had a great stage, Eddie in different guises, and a good light-show, and lots of pyrotechnics.
the special guests each had their own backdrops.

We were a bit late (my fault entirely) but as it turned out that got us a great parkingspace, and the first band was already playing as we arrived at the actual concert area. The whole thing started at 16.30,there were three guest-bands, more like a miniature festival!

About the photos: As the tickets said, camera’s strictly forbidden. Ridiculous of course, given that you can’t even buy a mobile phone nowadays without a camera. Anyway, I was paranoia enough to be scared of having my trusty digital camera impounded, so I brought some discardable camera’s. Hence the sixties look of the photo’s. And guess what? Of course everybody else was carrying their digital camera’s !

Big ones too.

.And not just the camera’s, I mean, look at this guy, two metres if he is an inch! (and the one in front, and the one behind!!!)

Now I am a close on six foot (1 meter 78), and you people from the rest of the world might think that’s enough height to get a fairly reasonably good view of the stage? Well, duuhhh, forget it! Éverybody in the Netherlands is six foot or taller! Bugger!!!
This is my view without standing on my toes!


I liked Kamelot better as Within Temptation, I had never heard them before, a pleasant surprise.

After listening to Kamelot, we went to have some dinner at one of the many foodstalls, in the end we opted for a simple bag of french fries and a drink. We then tried to get a nice place for Within Temptation.

We had to wait for nearly an hour until Maiden came on, but decided to stick at our spot because it was getting really crowded. At ten to nine they started! 😀

As it happened we were quite in front, but right next to a mosh-pit, luckily with one row of people in front of us as a buffer. Now I noticed in the last daylight how it may look quite violent, but I could see all the guys smiling and looking happy. And you can forgive them. But why did this dude have to drop his leg on my head????

I have been screaming singing along most of the songs, but my vocal-cords didn’t suffer the next day 🙂 Oh, and yes, I do wear earplugs at concerts.
Eh, to the hardrock concerts, not to the opera.

It is a great relief to get these great quality screens, you go for the music, but it is always good to be seeing a bit of the performance as well 😀

The backdrops changed to the different albums they played. The title of the tour is ”Somewhere back in time”, this tour they only played old songs from their first albums, next year they will tour with their new album. Hopefully at Assen too! Everybody was very pleased with the venue and the organisation!

Eddie himself showed up!

The weather, só reliable to be unreliable in the Netherlands, was perfect! Not too cold, clear skies, and most important: not raining!!! To top a perfect concert off, during the last songs a partial eclipse of the moon took place!
It was behind us, and the singer, Bruce Dickinson, had a good look at the eclipse in progress he was impressed by it, commented on it a few times, and assured us they hadn’t planned it!
At a quarter to eleven the concert was over and we walked back to our parking spot, with a near total eclipse in front of us, and we were so lucky to be parked at a spot from which we were able to get off the grounds very quickly! I heard today that some acquaintance of my friend had been stuck for over two hours! Everybody was mega polite giving each other space, and although we had been prepared spending a long time waiting in line to leave, we were off in under fifteen minutes! I dropped off my friend, and was at home myself at twelve o’clock!

A couple of clips from youtube, really bad quality of course, only for the die-hards!
Mostly for myself really…

”Aces high”: The very beginning of the concert, gives a nice feeling how it was to be part of it! We were standing to the front and left of the person who recorded this

”Powerslave”, reasonable sound, one of my favorite maiden-songs. It still sounds very different from the real thing though, or was that because of the earplugs? 🙂

”Fear of the Dark”: the whole audience sings the chorus of this one! Bruce Dickinson points at the eclipse!

”We must love all things that God made”
A bit from ”the Ancient Mariner”

”Hallowed be thy name” the very last song!

Trekking with Tarq, last day

24 07 2008

Well, after a fairly disturbed sleep, waking up every now and then to blow my sleeping mat up again, I woke up quite early. I popped over to my neighbours, and made tea. (my own tent is too small to do anything like that)

A couple of folks then walked to the village to buy some food for breakfast.
As the canteen was opened but nobody was about, we had our breakfast in the canteen. This day it was cold and raining. We then got our horses and left this inhospitable place.
On the way we saw this Lakenvelder cow. A very rare ancient dutch breed.

Lots of heather, and pine trees again…

Which way will the Tarq choose…

A heartshaped tree.
Love is everywhere 🙂

Me and the Tarq on a ”Tourist-scenic-viewpoint”

Tarq is só not interested

Knowie wants to avoid the stony path, never mind S. being dragged through the branches, here she has just managed to get him back on the path.

It rained quite heavily a couple of times.
Here can you see S. dressed up as an alien in the hopes of staying dry.

We passed very close to where my parents lived. That was a very emotional moment for me. This is the waterlily-lake. I came here almost every day with the dogs, when staying with my parents.

We again got a bit lost, and met these über-cute ponies,

We again were the last group to arrive, being cold, tired and wet, we came in loudly and  singing falsely. Looking at the faces of our friends, they were either not happy to see us, or not happy to hear us. 😀
We had a nice big bar-b-que, and all went home. Tarq was being a real b*#^rd, didn’t want to enter the trailer, and scored big time over me. 😦
we got home safely.

Trekking with Tarq 3

18 07 2008

On the third day, due to the pain in my ankle, I travelled with the wagon. My dear friend J’s lippizaner mare was crippled, and so she travelled on the wagon, and helped out opening gates, and helping with the young Gypsy vanner for whom this was the first big trip. I had offered her to ride the Tarq for a while.

Tarq was still scared of the wagon. The wagon ready for departure!
J. holding the gypsy vanner: she actually had a tougher workout every day than anybody else on this trip!

Weird fungus growing on a tree

Lunchtime; with the wagon we had to take slightly less picturesque roads every now and then.

After lunch we rode through a couple of villages. A lot of people looked very disparaging at us. We were in the dutch ”Bible-belt”! All in black, women with a small white collar: It was sunday, The Day of the Lord, and we were riding!
Having fun!
Shame on us!!!!!
One man looked at us with a twinkle when his wife turned away. I’m never quite sure what you are supposed to do, besides going to church twice. It looked as if some people were taking a walk, perhaps that is allowed.

After crossing the Royal Forest, by a very boring road (that’s why it didn’t occur to me photographing it) we arrived at this night’s night quarters. A quite posh ”Equestrian Centre”.
Shall I tell you my new theory? The grottier the riding school, the nicer, more warmhearted, more friendly the people”
So we arrived, we were the first strangely enough, the owner showed us the meadow for the horses, and the small field where we were to put our tents and left!
Now this ”Equestrian Centre” had, of course, a very nice canteen, with good loos and showers, but it was Sunday and it was closed. What do they expect? We are a group of 16 people: We booked accommodations!!! We pay good money for accommodation!!!!!! And that’s it? a field, no showers? no loos? and no cover? (it was starting to rain)
Incredible! We complained, and they opened the canteen for us, but only until seven o’clock!
Just pathetic!
Not that I mind squatting behind a tree very much, but I think it’s rather rich accepting a booking of sixteen people and just leave them with nothing but a field. Needless to say we’re never going to stay there again!

The tents. The very small light-green one on the right is mine. A member of our association lived nearby and had made an enormous quantity of pasta, the parents of another traveler came to bring us drinks, chips and cookies, and we had a window of about two hours to sit on the terrace and eat before it started raining again.

In the evening we sat chatting on some bales of straw drinking soft drinks and nibbling cookies and chips, and we had a very good time.
At night a real storm blew over! My tent kept being shaken from left to right! But I was so tired I fell asleep anyway.
Until I woke up on the hard ground because my sleeping mat had sprung a leak!

Trekking with Tarq 2

14 07 2008

The second day. 🙂

Or let’s begin with the night. And the packing mistake I made. I found out right after I went to sleep in my super hammock. While it was like 30” Celcius in the day-time, at night the temperature dropped to something close to zero, and I (and many of my friends) had packed our summer-sleepingbags, because it had been so hot during the week, even at night.
Big mistake.
we all had a shivering cold night, I only slept a few hours, even with all my clothes on, and an extra fleece-blanket, I was very cold! I woke up before sunrise, the hammock was very comfortable. It’s just the noise! All those noisy birds tweeting and squeeking about! And then you look down and there are rabbits all hopping around the tents… Pfff, no rest!

Sun coming up: view from inside the hammock.

I got out at 06.00 went for a quick shower, and started making tea for those getting out of their equally cold sleepingbags. It was so cold our breath came out in clouds! I have a nifty little Esbit burner and an aluminium pan. just right for tea. An Esbit burner is a very old German military design using solid fuel tablets. Ideal for trekking on horseback. You can keep one packet of fuel blocks inside the burner when closed. You can boil one pint of water in 8 minutes. I brought mine at the Army-surplus store for €2,50

Breakfast in front of the stables, we went early to the camping store and brought the food.
Tarq is leaning over to eat my cheese sandwich.

Again S. led us over the most beautiful paths, this is S. from the back 🙂
It was allready very hot!

Tarq and Knowie having another go at the forest-lemonade supplies.

Me and Tarq.
Or Tarq and me…

Sanddunes in Holland!

Look at the roots! This tree can walk off any minute!

I galloped up this slope four times! And still they didn’t manage one reasonable photo!
Ah, well, here’s my friends S. And R. with their horses.

Soon after the heavy sands we decided to have a lunchbreak.
Tarq having a nice long piss and really enjoying it!!!
And yes: This area felt sort of closed, with shrubs at the back, and logs in front, but basically the horses are walking free.


S. trying to explain the map to the Tarq who couldn’t be less interested.

The horses had another drink here, except Tarq who didn’t trust the scary moving water.

At last we arrived at our second night-quarters. We were the last ones, we got lost a bit at the end. My ankle hurt so much i wasn’t enjoying myself anymore: I felt sick. It was starting to rain.

………….Triple……………………….The Tarq ……………..Knowie…………………

Accommodations were basic. There was a veranda, with two rooms with each three beds. Which they had not aired before we arrived.
I burned a tealight with a few drops of teatree oil to freshen the atmosphere. This was a large riding school, we were at the back of the complex. The people were a bit uninterested when the first group arrived, but had become much more friendly when we arrived. To the left and right of the veranda there were one loo and a primitive shower.
Which turned out to be the most super excellent shower we had during the trip! After showering I felt much better, my ankle hurt less, and we had pizza’s for dinner on another veranda in front of the closed bar. It was raining and I slept in one of the rooms. They were so much like the ponycamps we remembered from our childhood, we felt very nostalgic and totally back to early childhood!
We agreed we’d brought the wrong sleepingbags; many of us had the same ones, as we were so cold the night before.
At 03.30 I woke up because I was só hot, sweat was pouring down my spine. I wispered: ”Are you awake?” Six of the nine were, and we decided to open the door to the fresh cold night-air!

Trekking with Tarq

13 07 2008

Ok, getting there was fraught with difficulties I´m not going to bother ya´all with, let it suffice that I got to the departure point just in time. Just in time to say hello, saddle The Tarq, and attach our luggage, and off we were! Hurray! let the adventure begin!

We were a very large group for a trek, 16 people! we split up into four groups during the day, meeting at our night quarters. A small wagon carried our tents. Tarq did not like the wagon; He considered it very suspicious!

Tarq and Knowie getting to know each other. Tarq wasn’t too fond of Knowie in the beginning, but later on he came to the conclusion that Knowie is a very nice and dependable horse to have around!
Knowie’s personal assistent is S, who did a great job reading the map and led us over the most beautiful bridle paths to our first sleeping accommodation.

The weather was warm and sunny, but because we rode through woods all day I didn’t get burned. Trough the four days of the trek we were treated on the full possibilities of the Dutch weather. Which is a bit of a bugger, as it means that, although you’re travelling for only four days, you still have be prepared for anything and pack your stuff accordingly.
I had missed out on one thing as I found our at night…

Tarq after getting a nice long drink from a puddle in the woods. Tarq loves the water from puddles.

We were the one but last group to arrive at the campingsite.
Tarq in full marching-kit!

Relaxing in the paddock.
Tarq btw is not tired. Tarq is never tired.
There was no meadow, the horses spend the night in the paddock. Quite something, as most had not ever met each other before. Luckely almost all of our horses are used to this kind of thing and manage very well on these occasions

Next to the ridingschool was a little dell where we could put up our tents. I thought it wa great: there were two picknick tables, and even a tap! Nice for making tea in the morning and the brushing of teeth! 🙂
We could use the excellent lavatory and shower blocks of the campingsite which was very large, but from our spot next to the ridingschool you would never notice.
If you look closely you can see my hammock hanging above the slope in the trees.

Close-up of my hammock. It’s a Hennesy-Hammock, it’s great, you sleep but your back is not bend as in a normal hammock, it is like a coccoon, with an extra roof, the top of the coccoon is made of mesh.

Tarq having a little snack late at dusk.

A day of sun and water

11 06 2008

And another post about what I’ve been doing. I’m sorry but it seems I’m getting more and more a boring diary-blogger.
here goes:

We have been having most unusual sunny weather here, and last Sunday, most unusually, Groningen was the hottest place to be in the Netherlands, so when a friend called me to spend the day by the lake I was all for it!
We went early in the morning, but were very lucky to find the last spot I considered reasonable next to the water. Thinking it over I have come to the conclusion it is the best spot to be found. It was secluded, with sun for M. and shade for me. There was a tiny opening down to the water, and we were at a little inlet from which we swam out into the lake.

A look towards the lake,

I had provided the picknick: Bread, lemonade and water, humus, pesto, feta, grapes, and more!

While lounging about by the lake-side it is very important to have a bodyguard with you. I mean Zora of course 🙂 Zora was very upset when we swam out into the lake, after many anxious attempts, she jumped in and swam towards us, looking very unhappy and trying to herd us back to the side.
She was very happy when we decided to get back onto dry land. So much for our possessions being protected by my killer-attack-dog!

No, Zora, you are not allowed to share my blanket!

No, really, NO!

Zora doesn’t really get wet; only the outside of her fur-coat gets wet, but a serious grooming is necessary after a bath.

Zora utterly exhausted!

But when she hears somebody coming she’s immediately ready for attack!!!
No sneaking up on us!

Notice how she has managed to partially get onto the blanket!
Zora always gets what she wants.

It was a very lovely day, and I can’t believe I have been so stupid not to have done this for years!!!

Tarq’s heavenly birthday party!

21 05 2008

Yes, one more post on our holiday. As the perceptive readers will know, Tarq turned 8 years old; he is now officially grown up! And to my great astonishment he proved that by behaving as the perfect gentleman, all the time!
Right, Tarq is an Arab, so an Arabian inspired party seemed the right thing to do.
D. had helped me prepare for Arabic food (or rather, I helped D.!), and S. brought lots of dressing up clothes, and A. gave Egyptian belly-dance lessons.

Preparing food

When dinner was ready I got the Tarq and everybody sung for him. He behaved as if that happens every day. Of course, being the Tarq he is probably only surprised that this doesn’t happen every day!

Tarq has been given buckets of horse-candy. Enough for the rest of the year, and a beautiful zebra saddle-pad. Tarq accepted the presents with great affability.

It looks great on him

Group-portrait of the dance class

After singing, presents, Photo-opportunities with the Tarq, and dancing it was time for dinner!!!!

The food


This was my illustration for the info-booklet. I always make a drawing but this time I decided to put in some extra effort! It is in the style of Bilibin, a Russian illustrator I have always been very fond of.

Rabhar, History and Arabian adventures 4

3 04 2008

A pilgrimage to Nejd 2



Rabhar, portrait in oilpaints

January 1879 finds the Blunts traveling on towards Jof and Haïl. They spend several days there. They made the mistake of severely underestimating the horses they saw there, they were still very much thinking about ”racing-stock” and the horses were looking their worst: in winter condition, with scruffy coats, tethered to the ground. And fairly small. Ponies, as the Blunts thought them.

We see how hospitable people were, and Mohammed finds a bride.

January 5th 1879

We pushed on to Jof and got to a spot where on the left a cleft in the hills showed a charming view of palm gardens and what seemed to be separate country houses, each standing in a walled garden on bare desert ground. At quarter to two we rode down the short steep hill past the foot of the castle with Mohammed and Awad, leaving the rest to follow, asking the way to the house of Husseyn, Mohammed’s relative. We had to go through a great part of the town of Jof and it’s gardens, full of palm-trees and of barley just coming up on wich I saw kids grazing, out of the town to our great satisfaction, towards one of those very detached houses we had been admiring from above.

Here we alighted (the camels arrived soon) and Husseyn the master of the house received us, kissed Mohammed, took us into the reception room and began the process of making coffee. Presently the other relative (there are two) turned up. His name is Muhammed and he complained that we had all gone to Husseyn instead of to him. Mohammed of course has to make all the excuses he can and promises to spend a day or eat a dinner there and somehow pacify the injured relative _ I should like to know who in England, if a party of people headed by a distant relation from the end of Scotland or Ireland, would be ready to quarrel for the possession and entertainment of the guests and their servants, horses, etc. Here people delight in relatives dropping, as it were from the clouds.

We had a very long sitting _ a little talking, a large bowl of the finest dates, two go’s of coffee, one with and one without cloves, then Mohammed had to go and pay a visit to the Sheyk (2nd Governor) of the town of Jof _ Dowass. he and Awad both went, and meanwhile Wilfrid and I arranged our things in the tent which had been pitched in Husseyn’s palm garden in a very nice place. We got out washing apparatus and are clean for the first time since three weeks or more. Mohammed came back saying that now the Sheyk is vexed at not having us and he has promised we will call on him in the morning.

January 6th

We left pretty early. At the kasr we entered by what I think is the only door. It is always kept shut and whenever anyone goes in or out must be specially opened by a black slave whose sole business is that of porter. It seems that there is always a fear lest some insurrection should take place and at this moment Ibn Rashid has got the son of one of the Ibn Dirra, the best and nobelest family of Jof, at Haïl as a hostage.

While coffee was preparing a discussion took place about our coming to stay here. Of course it was necessary for Wilfrid to demur very much, it would be an aib for him to leave Hussayn etc. However, in the end, the Sheyk or 2nd governour insisted that Hussayn could not complain. I returned with Abdallah, Awad, Husseyn el Kelb and one of Ibn Rashid’s zellamys or soldiers to Husseyn’s house to get our things packed. The khayal was my companion on the way back, and amused me much by his conversation. He admired my mare much to my astonishment. He and others have all expressed unbounded admiration for Wilfred’s shagra besides a great deal of approval of mine ( the bay so called Abeyeh Sherrak from the Khryssa) and they say moreover that Ibn Rashid has not a single mare comparable to the shagra. This is puzzling, for I have always heard Ibn Rashid buys the best of the Sebaa and other tribes.

We went to the kasr in the evening and looked on and listened to a curious exhibition, an kind of sword dance with singing or chanting. One or two of the performers only held drums made of palmwood and camel, or horseskin, in their hands and drummed while they sang and danced, the dancing being a sollemn treading up and down, and to and fro. The others, who held their swords sometimes over their shoulders, sometimes in a perpendicular position in front of them, danced in the same solemn measure and every now and then introduced a scream into their chanting. The khayal, the Sheyk Dowass, two of the black slaves, the khawaji and others all took part.

January 10th

There was talk of a bride, or possible bride for Mohammed and he could not tear himself away to go to the Jasi until after I had seen and reported on the young lady’s looks. I first paid a visit to Shemma the wife of Nassr (the only one I believe) whose sons Turki and Areybi we like. I then went on with Abdallah to Jasi’s house. The little girl’s face pleased me much. She is really pretty, with great large dark eyes taht look straight at one and with a fresh white complexion and pleasant voice. To see more of her I talked with the mother and bystanders all I could think of and I went with them round the gardens. I left them with a pleasant impression of the girl and i found that both Ibrahim al Quisa and Abdallah who managed to get a sight of her afterwards, admired her looks as much as I did and their opinion was much more to the purpose as far as Mohammed was concerned.

There was afterwarts endless talking and a solemn meeting was held on our carpet in front of our tent between Mohammed, backed up by Nassr (who is jasi’s first cousin), and the young lady’s father. Wilfrid being present to add to the dignity of the proceedings, and Abdallah and Ibrahim al Quisia both joining in teh conversation. When it was all over Mohammed said ”It’s all right”, ”khallas shoghl”

January 11th

The marriage negotiations occupied the whole day but this evening all is arranged, the writing written, everybody pleased and we are to be off, inshallah, tomorrow.

January 18th

A seven o’clock start. One of the camels, the ugly one which has not been well for some time, was so tired and thin and wretched that it’s load was put about among the others and it only carried Mohammed’s tent. Hanna’s delul was also tired, and the tall camel brought at mezarib. Our mares were all right _ they had each had three leggin or lekins (copper dish) full to drink last night. My mare showed symptoms of fatigue yesterday but only I think from thirst.

January 21st

At eleven o’clock we passed close under one of the tells where several rainwaterpools were found near it’s top. We and the mares scrambled up and these drank up two of the pols. Wilfrid sat on the evry top and called out ( he says) to me to come up and look at some inscriptions with pictures of people fighting with spears and camels and horses but I did not hear _ and he had no book and made no drawings. However on proceeding at half past eleven we soon passed near another tell and saw on an upright flat face of rock some more inscriptions and pictures. i tried to make a hasty drawing of the writing but had no time to do the figures, except one or two, for we must not be seen drawing or writing or staring much at anything.

January 24th

There was no great hurry about starting, we went a few minutes before 8. In less than an hour we saw, to our left through a gap between tells, a village, small with much fine ithel with the palms, well kept walls as far as one could see, about a mile off _ name El Akayt.

In the plain we found Radi waiting for us and it was with some anxiety that we watched his countenance and listened to his words. we had become rather uneasy as to the reception Ibn Rashid would give us. All was well however. The Emir had ordered a house prepared for us and for Mohammed and we should be welcome.


Haïl is like other oases only the buildings on a larger scale with some attempt at architecture and extremely well kept. Where we entered, we came directly into the princely residence, a palace fortress and next to housesof dependants, the streets level and clean. We rode along a winding street between high walls, in at a great doorway _ people with swords, red kefiyehs, white aghals and red jubbehs standing about and saluting us. At a doorway at the foot of a round tower is an immense long courtyard where we were met by a dignified official dressed in scarlet and with a handsome grey beard. He is the person who looks after visitors, recieving them and preparing houses or rooms for them. He led the way into the Khawah, a large apartment with five columns supporting the roof, about sixty or seventy feet long by thirty broad and twenty-three or twenty-four high.

We had not been there more than half an hour when there was a stir and the word was passed round ”yeji el Emir”. In a few moments he appeared at the door surrounded and followed by a dense crowd of armed retainers, his soldiers in fact. Everybody stood up as Mohammed ibn Rashid walked forward _ we advanced to meet him _ he held out his hand, Wilfrid doing the same, and after saying the ususal salutations we all sat down. The greetings then had to be repeated.

Mohammed ibn Rashid has a thin sallow and careworn face and well he may if he has on his hands the blood of his relations, his nephew Bender (Tellal’s son) and Bender’s 5 children and three children of his own brother Mtaab’s. He has the regulary barbaric love of finery for he was dressed in silk and gold and with an aghal half gold and he wears a gold and jewelled sword. We sat a short time and after drinking coffee the Emir retired. We were invited soon afterwards by the steward or servant,to follow him upstairs into a gallery which goes around a square court somewhere within the palace. Here carpets were spread all along the walls and we sat down and breakfast was served. It consisted of a tray of bread with a dish piled with dates on the top and a cup of melted butter again on the top of the dates. The bread was extremely well made and like crisp paper _ quite excellent and the flour must be of the very best.

From a garden we went into a yard full of mares, there may have been 16 or 18, each tethered by the feet to the ground by a square manger of sundried brick. In an adjoining yard were as many more mares.


To be continued! (it’s getting a bit too long)