Wales’ ancient Yew trees

I bored my 6yo nephew senseless the other night when I had my family around to watch four hours of travel photos in a good, old-fashioned ‘slide night’. Many of my images were ancient wells and yew trees and I feel fairly certain I was the only interested one in the room after the first […]

Arabian Oryx: numinous, luminous & ruminous

The Arabian Oryx was previously listed by the IUCN as extinct in the wild but was the first animal to have its status lifted to vulnerable thanks to conservation efforts, some of which I wrote of yesterday. (source: Wikipedia)  Today they’re listed as endangered courtesy of setbacks in the wild release programs in neighbouring Oman. […]

Desert conservation

As I was driving in to Al Maha, my driver laughed when he heard that my interest in heading out into the desert was the wildlife. “There’s nothing out there,” he said, shaking his head. How wrong he was. Al Maha is situated inside the 225km2 Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) and operates in tandem […]

Falconry at Al Maha

Al Maha’s falcons are rock-stars and live in flash, air-conditioned facilities away from the main resort. I met two of them the day I watched the falconry display. The information that follows is from the handlers/trainers there. Hoods, jesses & trackers: The hoods are a calming device (dulling the falcon’s senses by 80%) and the […]

Birds of Prey

Over the next two days I’ll be posting about birds of prey which is an important part of Emirati culture and history and still big business. At Al Maha resort, attending a falconry display is one of the (included) activities to help guests engage with the desert and its wildlife. In the past, the Bedouin people […]

Of vipers, chandeliers and unicorns…

Something you should know about deserts. There’s sand everywhere. Everywhere! Three kinds, in fact, in the deserts of Dubai. And one of those sands is this fine, almost talcum-powdery type sand that gets into everything. No matter how hard you work to keep it out. I liked this sand because its advanced state of erosion […]

Of camels and honeymoon-bombing

Important things to know about camels in case you ever find yourself fleeing across the Arabian desert in an emergency. 1. They stand up back legs first – this means that if you’re not leaning back you’ll go pitching forward and off into the sand. Ask me how I know…go on…   No, I didn’t actually […]

The Desert Requires a Sacrifice

Where were we from yesterday?  Oh, that’s right… Oh my freaking non-specific Ramadan-respecting deity! The suites..! The regular suites at Al Maha are identical (though the colour scheme changes) and equally stunning. Furnished only with traditional furniture and with all the mod-cons discretely incorporated there was nothing that the suite hadn’t thought of before I […]

Desert…beautiful desert…

Thanks to a series of technology failures, I wasn’t able to blog as I had hoped on my recent trip to Dubai and Wales. So I’m going to blog retrospectively in day-sized bites for those who were looking forward to following my trip. Just imagine I’m still there. In spirit, I kind of am. DUBAI/UAE […]

Old cats, old tricks

So my older cat is positively ancient, deeply wracked with dementia and her day revolves around eating, sleeping, pooing, nagging for a cuddle and tottering around on fragile legs between all of the above. Just now she caught a mouse. Somehow those arthritic, unstable legs and those old, cloudy eyes managed to coordinate long enough […]