Look what they’ve done…
What we did do was head off to the beach, thereby avoiding all the festive madness and obscene commercialism. Bah Humbug indeed!
Not too far away from home is a secluded beach, just past the village of As Sifah on the east coast Sea of Oman. Arriving on the eve of Christmas we set up camp and did little more than play in the surf, walk along the beach, collect sea-shells, watch the wildlife, marvel at the starlit night sky and sit around a roaring camp fire drinking tea and gazing upon the watery horizon.
The crashing waves ensured we had a restless night and the breaking dawn woke us nice and early with bright sunlight. It was the big day and presents awaited those who had been good all year with bugger all for those who had not. Two of us belonged to the latter as one eager goody-two-shoes attacked some presents at the end of her sleeping-bag. We emerged from our tent to pose for the traditional, Christmas morning family photo.
More idleness, exploring the coastline, bird-watching, gathering driftwood for another evening blaze and some preparations for our sumptuous, festive lunch. When it comes to traditional fare, you can’t beat a roasted big bird or a slab of red meat so, we took out from our cold-box my famous Mackerel pasties accompanied by a limp salad with a splosh of horseradish on the side. It was darn good and there’s no denying it! Foolishly, I had hoped against all hope that Santa would find me and I would be rewarded for my year’s goodness with a bottle of something alcoholic – a can of beer at the very least. So it was, we enjoyed our lunch with nothing more than some iced tea and fizzy pop. Who needs alcohol to enjoy themselves? Well, I do for one! Misery set in and the flies became intolerable, hornets flew in and out constantly, black beetle things buzzed our faces and red ants danced at our feet looking for scraps. To top it all, the mosquitoes had been taking their fill from our tender flesh throughout the night and the itching became our preoccupation as the day wore on. Of course, all of this would have gone unnoticed had we been anaesthetised by some Christmassy alcohol but none of that was forthcoming.
Determined to strip the entire beach of all its shells, we set off once again to expand our collection and further marvel at the flotsam and jetsam that the new tide had brought in. We left our tent and headed south.
The sun was strong and we underestimated its harmful rays. A little sunburn to add to our woes but we would not be downhearted for it was time to sit down for our Christmas supper of cheese, biscuits and…
More iced tea!
The sun began to go down and we relaxed to the sound of the tide coming in.
A raging bonfire warmed our disheartened souls and the mosquitoes flew in for a quick drink as we contemplated the Christmas of others; those with nothing to eat or drink, those with nowhere to live and those queueing at the pub waiting for the doors to open.
The sun finally set.
And as the embers of our camp fire glowed in the dark we retired to our tent, exhausted but thoroughly at peace with our lot.
Boxing Day – so called because we traditionally tip tradesmen on the first week after Christmas (one’s Christmas box from employers) – was set off at a leisurely pace for we had nowhere to be and no deadlines to meet. As if we didn’t have enough shells, we took a final stroll along the beach to scavenge for treasure – some sea-shells then – before packing up and setting off for home. Our journey back took us past an interesting Dhow were we stopped to investigate and stretch our legs.
All in all, this was, without doubt, one of the most perfect Christmases that we have had, both jointly and separately, we decided. It was truly enjoyable and the only downside being not those petty things that were sent to try us but the absence of loved ones. We thoroughly enjoy the festivities of our own making but sadly, we so missed the beautiful daughters we left behind (very first blog refers) and we resolved to make it different next year – insha’Allah.