The Huqf – Oman.

Here in UK over the last couple of days it has been quite warm. It is probably what was called summer when I last lived here, but you wouldn’t think so listening to the dire prognostications coming from the various news outlets.

This is what hot looks like:

The Huqf – Oman. from my files.

See this link from the Geological Society of Oman:  The Huqf.

The Huqf Uplift

Contribution by Alan Heward for the Geological Society of Oman: 

The Huqf area is a special one for geologists because there are rocks to look at from almost all of Oman’s geological history. This is possible because of the Huqf’s location near the eastern edge of the Arabian Plate which has kept it up-lifted through long periods of geological time.
 
The oldest rocks in the area are dated using mineral isotopes at about 730 million years. These are basement rocks, a type of granite, which formed deep within the earth’s crust from molten rock. Granite is a type of igneous rock. As the years went by, the basement rocks became covered in layers and layers of rocks, each layer being younger than the one before. These rocks that are made up of lots of fragments of weathered rock or shell fragments, are sedimentary rocks. Often they have fossils or features which give clues about how they formed.
 
The Huqf area has not always been a desert. At one time, about 300 million years ago, the rocks show evidence that ice sheets covered the area. At other times, it was under a shallow tropical sea. The layers left behind by these seas often contain fossils, but the fossils vary a great deal over time. The oldest fossils are mound structures made by mats of algae, which are called stromatolites. Younger fossils include wonderful tropical shells, such as the rudists bivalve. At yet another time, the area was fairly arid, but with big rivers flowing through. Fossil soils and trees occur in these layers. Each type of climate left behind its own particular pattern of layers of rocks which geologists interpret by looking at what goes on today in places with a similar environment.
 
In the 1950s, geologists began to study and map the region. They used their understanding of the fossils and rock layers present in the Huqf to help them drill for oil at Fahud, Ghaba and Haima. They found that the rock layers which produce oil from deep below the ground, are the same as those that can be seen at the surface in the Huqf area. So when oil company geologists want to understand the characteristics of the layers of rocks that make up an oil or gas reservoir, they often visit the rocks in the Huqf. Other geologists and students from Sultan Qaboos University and other universities around the world also visit this area with its fascinating geology.

Jousting – Castle Howard.

An enjoyable afternoon watching jousting.

Jousting is a martial game between two horsemen wielding lances with blunted tips. Each participant trying hard to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed. The objective being to break the lance on the opponent’s shield or unhorse him.

We were very luck because although the weather was somewhat overcast, there was no rain, even though the going was rather soft from the previous days rain, it did not seem to upset the horses or riders.

 

Castle Howard – Nth Yorkshire.

Castle Howard between rain showers, its been a very wet May.

From that well-known encyclopædia:-

Building of Castle Howard began in 1699 and took over 100 years to complete to a design by Sir John Vanbrugh for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle. The site was that of the ruined Henderskelfe Castle, which had come into the Howard family in 1566 through the marriage of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk to Elizabeth Leyburne, widow of Thomas, 4th Baron Dacre. For the Duke of Norfolk’s son Lord William Howard had married his step-sister Elizabeth Dacre, the daughter of the 4th Baron Dacre who brought with her the sizeable estates of Henderskelfe and Naworth Castle as well.
The house is surrounded by a large estate which, at the time of the 7th Earl of Carlisle, covered over 13,000 acres and included the villages of Welburn, Bulmer, Slingsby, Terrington and Coneysthorpe.The estate was served by its own railway station, Castle Howard, from 1845 to the 1950s.

Omani Dates.

Dates.From my Oman files.

Fossil records show the date palm has existed for at least 50 million years.
Dates have been found on a number of neolithic sites, which would suggest that they were being eaten as much as 7,000 to 8,000 years ago.
They provide a range of essential nutrients, and are a good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the rest consists of protein, fibre, and trace elements that include boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Oman has more than 250 varieties of dates, and each region of the country will tell you theirs are the best. But I think of all, it has to be the ‘Khalas’, found in the Sharqiya and Dhahirah region, also Al Rostaq. The fruit is bright yellow, oval-shaped, and usually eaten fresh or half-dry.
Dates and qahwah arabiyya (coffee) is a fundamental part of Omani hospitality; even the poorest family will offer coffee & dates when one visits.

Stanton Drew – Stone circles Somerset No2.

Before sunrise & in the opposite direction from the earlier post I made.

This from wikipedia & English Heritage.
Geophysical work by English Heritage in 1997 revealed a surrounding ditch and nine concentric rings of postholes within the stone circle. More than four hundred pits, 1 metre (3ft 3in) across and at 2.5 metres (8ft 2in) intervals, stood in rings at the site. The ditch is 135 metres (443ft) in diameter and about 7 metres (23ft) wide. A 40 metres (130ft) wide entrance was visible on the north-east side. No surrounding bank has been identified although the site awaits excavation.

The geophysical work transformed the traditional view of Stanton Drew as being a surface monument and the Great Circle is now seen as being one of the largest and most impressive Neolithic monuments to have been built. Analogous with the circles of postholes at sites at Woodhenge, Durrington Walls and The Sanctuary, it is thought that the pits would have held posts which would have either been freestanding or lintelled as they could not have supported a roof at that size. The postholes in nine concentric rings held posts up to 1 metre (3.3ft) in diameter indicating the use of ancient trees which were sacred to the druids.

Nearby and to the north-east is a smaller ring of eight stones in the centre of which the geophysical work identified four further pits. A third ring of twelve stones, measuring 43 metres (141 t) wide, stands to the south-west.

The Cove.
A fluxgate gradiometer survey in July 2009 investigated standing stones in the garden of the Druids Arms public house known as The Cove, which showed that the stones date from nearly a thousand years before the stone circles. The conclusion from the study was that these upright stones are likely to have been the portals or façade of a chambered tomb.
https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/siteassets/home/visit/places-to-visit/stanton-drew-circles-and-cove/stanton_drew_circles_and_cove_research_2.jpg?maxwidth=1080&mode=none&scale=downscale&quality=60&anchor=&WebsiteVersion=20190116

 

A cold but bright morning.

Nikon Df with Nikkor 35-70 f3.5 Ai zoom lens.

Another short walk while the sun was out and before the last of the
snow turned into sludge.
This is about 5 minutes walk from our house and my aim is at least one image a month, that way I should capture all the seasons of the year. So far I’ve managed Fog, rain, snow and even some sun, although that can be a rare commodity at this time of year.

Tree Stump & moss No2.

Tree Stump & moss.

Nikon Df with Nikkor 35-70 Ai f3.5 zoom lens. This lens dates from the early 1970’s and takes 72mm filters – changed to 62mm when the Ais version was released and continued in production until 1987. My lens has ones of those nice metal screw in lens caps, much nicer that the now ubiquitous plastic things.

Old Tree.

Nikon Df with Ai Zoom Nikkor 25-50mm f/4 lens.

I love these old Nikkor Non-Ai & Ai lenses: unfortunately since the advent of mirrorless cameras, the price has gone up a lot. There are some bargains, but careful consideration of the condition & most importantly! lack of lens fungus needs to be taken into account. Even a small amount untreated, will migrate to any other lenses/camera you have in your bag. If your storage conditions are not good, high humidity & darkness will promote growth.

 

Old Door – Wakan.

Wakan village is a very popular tourist attraction and this door must have been photographed hundreds of times: so thought I should add my two penneth.
I remember visiting this village long before it came onto the tourist route, probably 1987 if my memory serves me well. It sits about 2,000 meters above sea level in Wadi Mistal, tucked away in the Hajar Mountains. Famous for its apricot flowers which  are in full bloom between the middle of May & the end of August. It was and in some respects still is a drive that requires a 4×4 and some experience with off-road driving on tracks that can deter even the most determined tourist. A little like Jebel Shams / Jebel Akhdar; when visitors see the hotels marked on the map, they set off in the newly hired car and find the track is not what they expected. Many times I have seen people either lost, stuck in wadi streams or so frightened because the edge has a drop off on one side of 200 or 300 hundred meters. Resulting in me not being able to pass them when coming from the opposite direction and needing to guided them passed my vehicle. Unfortunately it is the lack of knowledge and information given by the hire companies and hotels.
One example was when camping high in the mountains and late one evening a  4×4 stops and my daughter and I get asked “how far is Muscat?” we both looked a little shocked because it was getting dark and the road that these people were about to travel was very dangerous even in daylight. We suggested that the map they had been given was not very good and Muscat was at least 3 hours away, the road needed great care in daylight and driving at night was not to be recommended. They had some discussions with each other and took our recommendation of turning back rather than going on and missing the edge of the road which would have been either a very long drop or crash into a rock face.
Despite the many tourist intrusions in recent years, the locals remain very welcoming, as happens in a lot of these traditional villages that have been added to the tourist map. Although I did despair sometimes, when I saw a total lack of awareness by some visitors of the cultural sensitivities of the occupants. It probably means that in a few years, the open & hospitable welcome that tradition dictates for visitors will be lost.

Looking at the above image – Wakan is the village left of centre and the track can just be seen snaking down the mountain on the right of the village.