27 August 2012
Another Tuesday when I could have gone to the golf club but unfortunately Smiler was on his way home from Wale, so was not available to take me. The good Dr Michael will be with us this time next week, so, depending upon the weather, I might get there then.
When we changed over hoists, some weeks ago, and morning routine was also changed. We found that we had 10 to 15 min to spare, after we had done our bits and pieces, before the Ross nursing team came in to shower and dress me. ‘My lovely’ decided to put this time to good use and to read to me from such things as the parish magazine, the local paper etc.
This week we decided to be more adventurous and try to work our way through a book written by her cousin Bruce Kirkby, entitled Sand Dance. The book described the journey taken by Bruce and three of his friends across the Empty Quarter, in Arabia, following the route taken by the world famous explorer, Wilfred Thesiger
Both Alice and I were lovers of the desert, having lived on the edge of the Empty Quarter, in Aden, Southern Arabia. Thesiger journeyed across the is Empty Quarter which is described by Bruce as follows: the Empty Quarter is the world’s largest sand desert, a forbidding and foreboding territory. Surrounded by the parched wastelands of southern Arabia, It is a desert within a desert. Covering nearly 1,000,000 km² (386, 270 sq. miles), it occupies an area larger than France. Within its borders lie 20,000 km³ (4800 mi.³) of sand, more sand than in any other place on the planet – more than even the Sahara, which although six times the size has large tracts of rock and gravel. Ancient winds blowing for millennia have sculpted the Empty Quarter’s sand into mountainous dunes, many more than 300 metres (985 ft) in height. These dunes lie in chains that extend from the horizon to horizon, unbroken obstacles spanning hundreds of kilometres. Woven between the colossal sand peaks are vast sabkha (salt) covering the valley floors. The sabkha, a mixture of salt and sand baked to concrete by the desert’s heat, they mercilessly reflect the sun’s glare during the hot season, which runs from May to October, Temperatures in the Empty Quarter regularly saw past 50°C. The blazing sand services can reach 80 (175°F), searing anything that moves. Few living creatures can survive the summer months. No men live there year-around. It is a dead and empty land.
The only excitement today was the recently widowed, Alison Lambi, wife of Ian, my squash partner from those Aden days when we lived on the edge of this Empty Quarter, dropped in for coffee and a chat.