Where did 2013 go?

I can’t believe that 2013 is over – where did it go?  Never before have I had such a choice of highlights – it has been an action packed year for me and my family!

January

Woke up on 1st January in a tent in Liwa – this set the tone for my year of wanderlust.  I spend 127 nights away from home – maybe I’m turning into a Bedouin!

No sooner had I returned home it was time to load the car up and head once more to the “Wild West” of the UAE – the Magrib Desert.  My first outing deep into this area and I was amazed by the beauty and remoteness – the Liwa Crescent seems like a motorway compared to here!

A visit to the "Wild West" of the UAE

February

My friend Sheena kindly let me stay in her flat in Muscat for a few days and from here I explored some of the surrounding area.  I visited the Muttrah Souq, Wadi Dayqah Dam, Wadi Maya and Sur and had a great time exploring then writing about my adventures.

Wonderful Wadi Shab (and other interesting places)

March

Another busy month and my highlight was leading the support team for the first Fat Bike crossing of the Liwa Crescent.  I’ve done lots of driving in Liwa but this was so special because the cyclists were dependent on us for their water and supplies, and just being there in case something went wrong.  It took them 1.5 days to make the crossing, and later this month Ian and his team will run a “Trans Liwa Dash” covering a distance of over 100kms in just one day!

A trip with a difference: Fat Bike support in the Empty Quarter

April

Another busy month, with a stint as driver for a Eurosport Cameraman on the AD Desert Challenge 2013.  Highlight of the month for me was another motorsport event  – this time in Scotland with a lovely day in the forest of Dunnotar with my boys.  The Granite City Rally has been a part of the Aberdeen Motorsport scene for years, yet I never found the time to go when I lived there!

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I had been wearing this ADDC t-shirt just the week before – albeit without a long sleeved shirt and a thermal vest underneath. Didn’t need wellies in the desert either!

May

It tends to get a bit warm in the desert in the summer but in May we ran a great trip to Liwa – where we toured to look at interesting sites, dug up some desert roses and did some offroad driving of course!

Marina & Neil 2

June

This month I need to put in two highlights – one was a pretty bleak moment involving an over-friendly camel and this incident affected my wellbeing for the rest of the year.  Keep away from camels folks!

I was still able to drive, albeit Neil’s automatic patrol instead of my own manual shorty, and we had a very special evening watching the supermoon from Dibba beach on June 25th.

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July

Since our arrival in 2009, we have traveled extensively throughout the UAE and Oman, but never taken the chance to hop on a relatively short flight to the east – this year we put that right by having a great 16 day holiday to Sri Lanka.

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August

The hottest month of the year saw us celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary, then Neil went back to work and I headed to Scotland.  It was my Nairn Academy class reunion which was a most enjoyable evening spent reminiscing with old friends.

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August was also the month my writing was published  – in OutdoorUAE magazine.

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September

We’d been driving in Liwa right through the year (even with a camel inflicted injury) and as the temperatures cooled slightly I organised some scouting trips to establish some routes for the book I am supposed to be writing!

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October

This was one of the best months – ever!  We had bought a Nissan Patrol LWB away back at the end of April with a view to driving to Salalah with two cars, offroading wherever possible.  And we did – 8 days offroading and camping with our friends led by Mike Nott saw us arrive just north of Oman’s southernmost city, followed by 7 days’ rest there, then another 5 to return home.

The return journey was a real adventure with just our two cars and 1000kms of Empty Quarter, and the feeling of achievement on arriving back to civilisation at Ibri will never be forgotten.

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November

My Mum revisited us in Al Ain, this time with her partner Fred, and after showing them the local sights we trundled off to Oman.  It was wonderful to share with her the place that has captured my heart and we had the most enjoyable five days exploring.

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December

This was the month of my BIG birthday and we had a most enjoyable BBQ out in the desert with friends.  Cam and Neil painted my car (with wash-off paint) in a zebra print as per my request and when I came back the finished effect took my breath away!  My Patrol Safari was a “Sooper Dooper Safari”, if only for a day!

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Wishing all my readers and their families health and happiness throughout 2014!

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