Elizabeth Weir

Weir travels

Elizabeth Weir

I decided in early 2006 that I'd had enough of the London rat-race and the career thing - at least, for the time being - and that I'd like to take some time out: "me time", as it were; time to do at least some of the things that I'd been thinking about doing over the last few years but hadn't been able to fit in around work and client demands.

So here I am: backpack to the ready (to be honest, it had never really been put away after my '93-'94 round-the-world trip), and a gazillion ideas about how to fill the next xx months..... (And, no, I've no idea when I'll go back to the "real" world, nor what I'd do if/when I get back there. Time enough to figure that one out, I reckon.)

Being an about-to-be-former technology lawyer, I thought I'd better join the 21st century and save you all the trouble of deciphering my handwriting (not to mention saving myself the hassle of writing postcards and negotiating the purchase of stamps). So, if you're interested in what I get up to (edited highlights only, you'll be relieved to hear), do read on....

And I'm still going strong a dozen or so years' later.  Although my peregrinations are now occasionally interrupted by travel-fund-generating activities back at short-lived coalfaces in the UK, travel remains "my thing". Those itchy feet just refuse to be cured.

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Broken Hill February 5th 2020

I’ve been coming to this particular remote corner of New South Wales for over ten years, and I don’t think I’ve ever really given it the blog-space it deserves. And so, please meet Fowler’s Gap, the Arid Zone Research Station run by Sydney’s University of New South Wales. 100,000 acres of not very much at all, and I love it. To someone living most of the year on a cosy overcrowded little island, the prospect of flying for almost three hours and still not leaving the state in which you started is a little mind-blowing. Such is the flight from Sydney to Broken Hill, the self-proclaimed gateway to the Australian Outback. From there, the station is another 110 km up the road. I joke back home that running out of milk here necessitates a three-hour round ... read more
even the drought has a rugged beauty
a dry creek bed becomes a torrent
galahs enjoying the 'roo food

Middle East » Oman » Dhofar December 6th 2019

“I was exhilarated by the sense of space, the silence, and the crisp cleanness of the sand.” Thesiger put it in a nutshell. Sometimes, I find, the places that have the deepest impact are the hardest to describe. The next morning, I stood at the top of the smallish (75m/250ft) dune behind our first night’s camp in Rub’ Al Khali and tried to grasp the fact that this stunning, terrifying, hypnotising, incredible landscape continued in front of me for another 500km (310 miles), and stretched the same distance to either side of me. Even today, all of the Empty Quarter crossings made by non-resident explorers can be summarised in little more than a single screen of a Wikipedia entry, and, even now, all the technology in the world cannot insulate the visitor from its dangers. We ... read more
sunset through the frankinsense trees, Salalah
patterns made by the different colours of sand
view from my tent, first Empty Quarter campsite

Middle East » Oman December 5th 2019

We had stopped in Sinaw earlier in the day, primarily so Nawaf, Ahmed and Idris could shop for the next few days’ provisions. Sinaw has the raw-ness of a border town, which in a sense it is. It is here that the Bedouin come to trade their camels, stock up on modern amenities, and sell their crafts to the few tourists who make it this far. Sadly, it wasn’t camel-market day when we were there, though there was a solitary animal “parked” by the near-empty arena, cheek-by-jowl with somewhat less photogenic 4WDs. Wandering around the main souq, we encountered Bedouin women wearing a variety of burqas – not here the mesh-faced, body-covering sky-blue garment of Afghanistan, but a form of face mask, originally designed in pre-Islamic times for sun and sand protection. I’d first seen them ... read more
viewpoint just before Ras Madrakah
catching up with my diary
information about burqas, Nizwa Castle

Middle East » Oman December 4th 2019

The Economist’s front cover this week shows the Earth with a shop sign hanging over it: “CLOSED”. In this bizarre new world of daily, or more-than-daily, new restrictions on our movements, wherever we live, it seems odd that, a month ago, we could travel with near-abandon. And so I’m trying to go back to those days, to recreate that sense of freedom, even if the mind-leap from today’s discombobulation and shrunken horizons seems huge. When I booked to go to Mongolia in 2007, my mother was incredulous. What was the appeal of a country that gives its name to remoteness? “Because it’s full of emptiness.” “Why don’t you go to Canada?” she countered. Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to go to Canada; it’s very much “on the list”, but that’s not the point. Deserts ... read more
boys will be boys!
who needs glass?
shadows and flags, Nizwa Fort

Middle East » Oman » Musandam Peninsula November 13th 2019

Squint hard at a map of the Arabian Peninsula and you’ll see, towards its eastern end, a triangular spike of land that appears to be trying to prod Iran. A good political map of the area will show that the very tip of this spike, guarding the Straits of Hormuz, is a different colour from the rest. This is the Omani exclave of the Musandam Peninsula, entirely surrounded on the land side by the United Arab Emirates. Here the Hajar Mountains, the spectacular backdrop to Muscat and the cities of the Batinah plain along Oman’s northeastern coast, finally win the day, crashing dramatically into the ocean, allowing man only the occasional narrow valley for his habitation. Flying over the Peninsula, I was staggered that anyone has even bothered trying to fashion a living here in these ... read more
a raggedy coastline
reflections - Khasab Fort
the township of Seebi, Khor Ash Sham

Middle East » Oman November 7th 2019

I wasn’t supposed to get ill on day 1. (It’s now day 12 so you can rest assured I made a speedy recovery.) Thursday’s bus/ferry combo to Khasab on the Musandam Peninsula wasn’t supposed to be full. Plan B, Thursday’s flight to Khasab wasn’t supposed to be full (and the next day’s flight, come to that). I could see the men standing around the travel agent’s desk scratching their heads – what on earth was going on in that distant part of the Sultanate this weekend? And knights in shining armour aren’t supposed to appear in white dishdasha and embroidered kuma in a Mutrah travel agency and wave their magic wands while driving to pick up their kids from school. But that was Muneer. It wasn’t exactly clear why he was in the travel agency that ... read more
room with two views
yours truly with Muneer's kids
the National Museum, Old Muscat

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia April 20th 2019

So I was going to drive the Nullarbor (see https://www.travelblog.org/Oceania/Australia/Western-Australia/Nullarbor-Plain/blog-1033220.html?fbclid=IwAR3BaUebANjJSC7SQIwGLv88xhkBpdttSZbyQ4nrqYDJcyVlOVb_TUKLHNU)... But, if I were starting from Perth, it would have been positively rude to drive straight across to Norseman, the western end of the Nullarbor, and ignore the much-vaunted picturesqueness of southwestern Western Australia. After all, it’d only add another thousand kilometres or so. From the manmade – lighthouses, jetties and treetop walkways – to the natural – cliffs and caves, beaches and hills, soaring trees and colourful coastal vegetation, malleefowl and cockatoos, and, of course, just a few kangaroos – southwestern Western Australia has it all. And that’s not even taking into account one of its biggest attractions, the Margaret River wineries, which I had alre... read more
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Margaret River forest
fragile stalactites

Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Nullarbor Plain April 19th 2019

“We’ve done it twenty-six times,” the grey-haired retiree next door told me matter-of-factly. “Kids and grandkids in WA,” he added by way of explanation. “People ask us, ‘What do you see out there?’ ‘Australia,’ I tell ’em, ‘we see Australia.’” I’d encountered a similar reaction when I first started talking of driving the Nullarbor, that 1,200 km (745 miles) expanse of barely inhabited country in the middle of the 3,940 km (2,450 miles) between Perth and Sydney. “But why would you wanna do that? There’s nothing there.” “Jeez, have you got enough music?” “Well, I guess, if it’s a ‘bucket list’ kind of a thing…” Yet, since joining some friends in a couple of self-drive trips out of Johannesburg and into Botswana and Zambia in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I’ve had a yen for crossing countries ... read more
view from a Bunda Cliffs viewpoint
late afternoon, day one: close to Caiguna
full population count, Cocklebiddy

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Christchurch March 25th 2019

The women painting the hoarding were wearing headscarves. Practical, maybe, keeping off the sun. But so too were the volunteers working in the Transitional “cardboard” Cathedral. And women in business suits out for their morning coffee. And women pushing prams and out with their friends. Scarves that would usually simply ‘accessorise’ an outfit were now draped over heads, regardless of the wearers’ ethnicity. One week on from a mass shooting that horrified the world, Christchurch was coming together again, as it had done in the aftermath of the seemingly never-ending spate of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the prime minister’s words, “We are one. They are us,” very much alive. This wasn’t some kind of ghoulish rubber-necking on my part, though I was painfully conscious of the potential accusation. Since planning my visa-driven long weekend away ... read more
Friday prayers one week on
icons of Christchurch past and present

Africa » Ghana November 28th 2018

This trip was jinxed, or so I thought, still recovering from a duo of lurgies as I lay in an MRI on a Saturday evening five days before my flight. Not to mention the saga of getting a Ghanaian visa, the moral of which is – to save you the gory details, not least of which was the size of my ’phone bill to the High Commission – if in doubt, pay more to get it done fast. You can’t lose, and it beats having the travel agent on standby and almost missing a friend’s Kenyan wedding. This is not a time to be Scottish. So it was with a major degree of self-pinching that I found myself boarding the right flight on the right day, and then, still glowing from the buzz of a spectacular ... read more
scenic football practice area
James Town lighthouse
fishing village

Tot: 0.435s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 16; qc: 65; dbt: 0.0511s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.6mb