Dead Sea 25 th & 26 th May

It seemed strange not to have a timetable after weeks of being on the go. We didn’t even have to sit together to eat which left us feeling a little forlorn. We had become a family of sorts and it was a strange feeling to be loose!

Anne and I had made appointments for massages and were then at a loose end. I was trying to finish the blog after several days of bad internet. Time went quickly and we were back at the Beach for a swim or more accurately, a float. This day the water was mill pond calm which really added to the dreamy feeling. We were on our way back to the room when Julie called us. She and Jan and the other Kathy were at the poolside bar so we joined them. Our skin was smooth from the salt but our pockets were skinned by the prices at the poolside bar! Still it was delightful to sit around in the water talking.

Dinner was a varied and delicious buffet. We had got a bit sick of the buffet meals but here there were more choices. I was amused to see beef bacon at breakfast! Alcohol has been expensive ( though beer was not) and hard to get because it was Ramadan. Here we were not restricted to after 8.00 pm. And they had a great deal of $24 a glass of wine but refilled as much as you like! Mind you we hadn’t been drinking much so we didn’t want to over do it.

In such a large hotel we barely bumped in to each other so there was a sense of the group dismantling with everyone going their own ways. Some of the group are continuing on to Egypt and Sth. Africa, while the rest will split up in Dubai when Mary and Bill take their plane to Perth and the remaining group go on to Melbourne. We have been a very cohesive group so we are hoping to keep in touch.

Several of the group wanted Father Dean to bless their presents, something Anya did quite frequently whenever there was a priest and we were visiting a church! We had our last mass and he blessed all the gifts.

Everyone is glad of the rest after our constant early starts and packed days. Just mooching around had been reviving. People look so strange when covered in mud. There were all ethnicities on the beach when the mud was washed off and I had to laugh at a young guy who was covered in mud all over, except for his pink ears! I covered my ears and it took two days to get the mud out!

Our minds had turned for home and we were packing and printing tickets for the plane. I get a bit like the riding school horse ho when turned for home just wants to get there.

On our last morning our bags had to be out by 12 and we were on the bus by 2.30 heading for Amman airport. It was a fairly quick trip and uneventful through check in, and immigration. The men in immigration seemed bored witless and were not going to smile.

Our flight to Dubai was pleasant and then we had nearly 4 hours to kill. A group of us women were duty free shopping and all got our eyebrows done and a trial of a primer. We all looked pretty glamorous and of course we bought the deal and divided it!

When we boarded our flight Julie and Anne were keen to sit where there were more spaces, so they grabbed some unoccupied seats hoping to bag the four across. Unfortunately neither succeeded but did get extra spaces on one side. It was an easy, long flight back.

We arrived on time and were met with very cold temperatures. BRR. We were home!

We said our final farewells and disappeared into the night.

22nd June Shap to Kirby Stephen 31.5 kms

Today was an extraordinary day of blue skies, warm sunshine, light breeze and fast walking across the ‘flatlands’. Most of the country was rolling hills, stone fences (too high for me to see over!) and lots of sheep.

It amused me to think that the overall view was a beautiful pastoral scene yet we were walking through a lot of sheep and cow dung!

Kingsley is our bird expert. He is a real gentleman and sometimes sounds just like Rick Stines!

We walked fast but as we made good time we were able to ease up towards the end. A few people found the warmth a bit much and the distance a challenge. We were able to spread out and we changed walking partners often. It is a great group. Everyone is interesting and good humoured. Alan didn’t walk but spent time at a physio hoping to speed recovery of his torn muscle. Moyra took another days rest because she is still congested in her lungs.

When we walked into Kirby Stephen half the group went to Fletcher house and our group went to Croft House. We were greeted with, bags in room (👍), afternoon tea and cake, and a delightful environment , dog and hosts. We have even ordered a roll for lunch!

We all met for dinner at the Mango Tree Indian Restaurant. Sarah abstained. She finds groups a bit much sometimes and eats sparingly most of the time. She has trekked regularly and across many places. Her sure footedness is quite inspiring. She is like a gazelle, light and quick on her feet.

It was a merry meal with lots of banter. Deborah and I opted for a tandoori shaslick but it was so generous we had to pass half of it down the table. After dinner Lyn and Bruce , Deborah, Dennis and I went to a pub for a quiet drink. That was a lot of fun too and Dennis was proved correct on a few points we had doubted. He is an endearing character. Quick witted and intelligent he is a successful property developer but is always joking around so we aren’t sure what is true or not.

Deborah has a page in Facebook where she is raising money for a hospice where she works. She is getting lots of donations and it is very impressive that she is dedicating this challenging walk to raising money. She is a great room mate.

I have been surprised to see cattle and sheep so often in the same field. Bruce collected some stray wool to pad his shoe in an attempt to ease a blister. There is a lot of wool lying around as it drops off . The sheep are quite straggly looking and messy with black faces and legs.

Tomorrow is a shorter day with tea and scones towards the end.

I wanted to make some corrections to yesterday’s post but some how I deleted it! It was 39000 steps and 31 kilometres. Sometimes the blog is frustrating!