Jordan blog (updated 13 Dec 08)
Most of the pages on the site are arranged into places we’ve been in Jordan. This one is different in that it will be based on stuff that happens in and around the house, or things which would be better off here than in their own page. I'm using Wordpress, a popular blogging platform for the design so most of the early 'blogs' will be out of date but it should mean that I can get more photos out on the site each month. You also may notice that I've taken out some of the 'homey' pages off the main site and bunged them in here. Anyway, see what you think.
Ajloun (updated 7 Dec 08)
We went to Ajloun in November 2008, when we thought it would still be warm and sunny. We were mistaken. The weekend we went was unseasonably cold but fortunately the cabin where we stayed had a great little parafin stove which kept the place lovely and worm throughout the night. Ajloun reserve is a very small reserve - just a few square kilometres it seemed but was an important remnant eco system of what formerly covered a lot of northern Jordan. It was famous for the pygmy oak and pistaccio trees. It was also run by the RSCN and so had very comfortable (if expensive!) facilities. Anyway, it was a nice break from Amman and of course we took some photos.
Aqaba/Wadi Rum (updated 30 Sep 08)
August in Amman is damned hot, so where do we go on holiday? To Aqaba where it's even hotter! Aqaba has one big advantage though. It's by the sea - the Red Sea which is fantastic for diving and that's why we went. We stayed three nights in Aqaba followed by a trip a few miles north and a night camping in the amazingly beautiful Wadi Rum, one of the most beautiful places in Jordan.
Dana but not Dana (updated 20 Aug 08)
We had friends visiting us in August 2008 so we took the opportunity of visiting one of the top natural attractions of Jordan, Dana Nature Reserve. Basically, millions of years ago the surface of the Earth ruptured round these parts creating a huge rift valley. The land on the west went down and the land on the east went up. On the west you’ve got the Dead Sea valley and the lowest place on Earth. On the East you’ve got the desert plateau stretching to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Over millions of years, water flowed from the high plateau to the Dead Sea forming some huge gorges – or wadis. Wadi Mujib is one which is covered on other pages. Near Dana there a quite a few smaller ones. And where these Wadis are, there is an amazing diversity of life and beautiful landscapes and so in its wisdom, the Jordanian Government made the area around Dana a nature reserve.
Except we didn’t go there. Just south of Dana the landscape is just as breathtaking and unspoiled but we were told that there was a little privately run campsite which had much more character than the official Dana one and so that is where we headed…
Home a year on (updated 13 Aug 08)
As of August '08 we've been living in and loving Amman. Here are a few photos of the expanding garden and cat family.
Wadi Mujib (updated 26 July 08)
Wadi Mujib is one of the undiscovered gems of Jordan. If you are travelling along the King's Highway you will need to cross this huge canyon. There are some pictures on the king's highway page, but for this trip we went to where the wadi reaches the Dead Sea. Here the canyon is sheer and narrow and there are some convenient cabins nearby, right on the Dead Sea, in which to spend the night. These photos are from a trip we took in June 2008.
The King's Highway (updated 5 May 08)
The King's Highway is the name given to the modern incarnation of the ancient route which travels almost the entire length of Jordan from Amman in the north to Petra in the south. Giants throughout history have trodden its path from Moses through the great Roman Emperors to Richard the Lionheart. Not surprisingly it is therefore the site of many historical monuments and also not just a few natural ones including Jordan's 'Grand Canyon'.
Petra (updated 1 May 08)
I first visited Petra when I was living in Cairo in 2000 and so some of the photos on this page are from that trip. Pre-digital camera days for me meant that the scanned photos lack the sharpness of the other photos taken on a more recent trip in April 2008.
Petra. But what an amazing place. Emerging from the canyon almost too narrow for a horse and cart and then to be confronted by the ancient treasury chiselled out of the sandstone cliff has got to be one of the most amazing sights in the world.
Oases and Desert Castles (updated 29 Mar 08)
Jordan's deserts comprise 80% of the land area but only 5% of the population. the biggest desert starts as the suburbs of Amman peter out and continue East to the Iraqi, Syrian and Saudi borders. The area is mainly desolate as you'd expect but there are a few highlights, both natural and man-made. One of these is Azraq oasis which used to provide water for roaming herds of animals. Unfortunately since the 1960's it has had to supply water to Jordan's burgening population and has therefore become an environmental disaster to such an extent that the the wetlands dried up completely. Since 1994 water has been pumped back into the wetlands but into a tiny area compared to previous years. However, it is still an important stopover point for migrating birds which can still be seen, mainly in spring. And that is why we chose this time of year to visit.
In addition to the Oasis we also wanted to see the nearby Shaumari reserve. Established in 1975 it was set up to reintroduce wildlife that had disappeared from the region most notably the Arabian Oryx.
The man-made highlights of the region are the so-called 'desert castles', only one of which being a castle - Azraq - famous for sheltering Lawrence of Arabia during the arab revolt in 1917. Other so-called castles include Qasayr Amra, a former bath house complex built around 700AD and Qasr Kharana a building standing alone in the deep desert, its function and history almost completely unknown.
Snow! (updated 6 Feb 08)
Think of Jordan and you generally think of desert. And you'd be right 90% of the time. However, in January 2008 we had a couple of days of quite heavy snow. Locals said they hadn't seen it like this for over 20 years and everything came to a complete standstill. If you are from colder climes you may think the following pictures are nothing special, except perhaps for photos of palm trees covered in snow, but for Jordanians it was a very strange sight. All the more strange for me was the fact that the streets were absolutely deserted. The government had told everyone to stay indoors because it was dangerous. This was a few inches of snow we were talking about.
northern ruins (updated 2 Nov 07)
Once settled in, it was time to explore the countryside. Here are photos from two trips we did in October. For the first, we headed off past Madaba to Herod's temple overlooking the Dead Sea and site of John the Baptist's beheading, for the second we explored the Roman ruins of Jerash and Umm Qais. Both trips were actually more memorable for the stupendous views rather than the sites themselves.
Home sweet home (updated 16 Oct 07)
Six weeks in Jordan and still not totally settled into our new home. The phone is now connected but we are still waiting on our internet connection. 'It's Ramadan' being the ready made explantation for things not being done on time. Still, the house is taking shape and this page features a few pics from the day we moved in and a month later. It also features the newest resident (pictured left), Gerrard, who was rescued off the street and has quickly made the place his home as well.
First impressions (updated 16 Sep 07)
Welcome to Jordan! We arrived in this land of contrasts at the end of August 2007. Some people told us it was boring and quiet, yet others told us it was dangerous – how could it not be nestled between Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Despite these contradictory warnings, in our first week we only find positives - the people are friendly and welcoming, the weather is great, the food is delicious, apparently crime is almost non existent and despite Amman not being one of the prettiest capitals in the world it is a fine place to live. This page has a few opening photos from our first couple of weeks.
Petra (updated Apr 00)
I first visited Petra when I was living in Cairo in 2000 and that is when these pictures were taken. As of September 2007, I am now living in Jordan, in Amman, so I hope to update these pictures soon. Watch this space. Petra. But what an amazing place. Emerging from the canyon almost too narrow for a horse and cart and then to be confronted by the ancient treasury chiselled out of the sandstone cliff has got to be one of the most amazing sights in the world.