Well, hasn’t it been a jolly old long time since I last visited the blog to update it! That gives you some idea as to how hectic the past couple of months have been for me. After the Muscat Marathon at the end of January, I took a couple of weeks off from serious training to give myself a bit of a rest. Aside from a few light days of training after the Desert Marathon in November, and a few days off sick over Christmas, I hadn’t really had a break from training since I arrived back in Muscat in August last year. Happily this break in running (and therefore free weekends!) coincided with a few fun things, the first of which was the Sandstock music festival.
Due to certain laws and rules in Oman, it’s now illegal for a group of more than three (I think) people to play in public – i.e. you can’t have bands playing unless it’s at one of the big hotel concert venues….. so no live music at the hotel bars anymore etc. There have been a few house parties where the various Muscat bands have played, but I’ve managed to miss all of them. So, once a year, the bands all join together to host an informal music festival in Oman for an afternoon and evening of live music. There have been previous incarnations of Sandstock, most recently being Jebelstock (jebel is Arabic for mountain) up Jebel Akhdar a few years ago. This year Sandstock was to be in the Wahiba Sands, very, very close to where I’d been running in November for the Desert Marathon. I went with my housemate as Niall was away, and met up with a group of her friends to set up camp and enjoy the music. We made ourselves salad, nibbles and dips* for a snacky dinner, packed our coolboxes full of ice and drinks, donned our best festival attire then met up with various other cars that were also making the trip down to the desert.
(*note to self. Do not cut faces on aubergines before cooking them and peeling off their faces. It makes you feel indescribably evil, even if they were crying out for having a face drawn on them in the first place!)
We drove in as far as the Arabian Oryx camp (where we finished the desert run), then headed up into and over one of the neighbouring dunes. Getting into the site itself was quite difficult, and we amused ourselves greatly watching other cars get stuck. When we did finally get there, I was amazed at how many people there were there! According to the folks that went last year too, it was a lot larger this year, leading to some people voicing concerns that it would be shut down by the police. Fortunately this wasn’t the case, and once we’d set up camp in the early afternoon, the bands started setting up and playing in the afternoon. We climbed up the steep sand dune on the other side of the stage to watch the sunset and have a look over the site. The hardest thing was trying not to spill our gin and tonics as we climbed up the dune!
There were eight or nine bands playing in total, over the course of the afternoon and evening; we were camped up on one of the dunes surrounding the stage, so it was quite nice to be able to escape the noise for the bands you weren’t so interested in hearing, and slinking away back to the camp to have some more nibbles or to refill your drink! All in all it was a great evening; awesome desert sunset, some fab live music, I bumped into a whole bunch of other people that I knew and got to meet a whole bunch of new people too. I’m still finding orange desert sand in my camping chair and bags though!