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Tour Diary
Land Rover factory tour a real joy
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Friday, 11 July 2008 13:12

'Mr Land Rover' Roger Crathorne presents Ali with a copy of his book 

It's been a few days since the tour has officially been complete, but I have still been touring, visiting friends both in Scotland and back here in England. 

I have even been enjoying the rain... back in Bahrain, we get very little of it.

Yesterday, I made a planned visit to the Land Rover factory in Solihull. The Land Rover LR3 has, of course, been a very reliable vehicle for me, one I have been happy to trust on a gruelling tour such as this one. It didn't once let me down right through the drive from Bahrain to England.

At the factory, I was welcomed by Roger Crathorne, manager, technical communications and public affairs, who was very enthusiastic about the Friendship Tour and arranged an interview with the Land Rover magazine to feature our expedition. 

Great way to end the tour
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Saturday, 05 July 2008 15:56

With Yusuf Jameel and members of the Bahrain Embassy in London 

This morning after a good night's sleep, I contacted the Bahrain Embassy to confirm the time I was expected there. I got to the Embassy well before the scheduled time, and was welcomed first by Yusuf Jameel, deputy head of the Bahrain mission, and then by the rest of the staff.

Rebecca interviewed Mr Jameel, who spoke about the importance of the tour in promoting Bahrain and friendship between the many nations we visited. He also spoke about the special relationship that Bahrain has with Britain, which goes back a long time.

Then the guests started to arrive, among them high ranking diplomats from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Final stop a ferry ride away
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Friday, 04 July 2008 14:45

The Land Rover outside the Premier Inn in Holingbourne, which is 40 miles from London. 

After leaving France in the late afternoon, I drove to Calais, the French port from where the ferry leaves for Dover, England. 

The ferry left at 11pm and took about an hour and a half before docking in Dover.

I drove for a few miles, then stopped at a Bed & Breakfast for the night for a rest before the drive to London.

England is officially the final stop on the Friendship Arabia Tour, though I will also be taking in Scotland and Ireland before heading back to Bahrain.

An interesting last-day encounter
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Saturday, 26 July 2008 23:10

Neil Cowan, who worked in Bahrain from 1959 to 1965, was waiting for us near our vehicle when we left the restaurant. 

After a delicious breakfast, we left Beinn Bhracaigh Guesthouse and drove west in the direction of Kinloch Rannoch. 

Our first stop was the famous Queens View. From here you get a beautiful view over Loch Tummel. The place was named after Queen Victoria who visited in 1866; however it is also possible that the place was named after Queen Isabella, the wife of Robert the Bruce.

We stopped at a camping site to get closer to the shores of Loch Tummel and made the acquaintance of four Scotsmen camping there with family and friends. We started talking and took some photographs. 

Blair Castle well worth visiting
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Friday, 25 July 2008 23:24

Blair Castle 

Scotland is truly a great place for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation. There are just so many places that you can visit here with the people you love the most. Here, you and your loved ones can enjoy a getaway that can relieve you of the stress brought by the daily grind. This is also a great place to look for Edinburgh or Glasgow jobs if you want to have a boost in your career.

This morning we left Edinburgh early to ensure we would be on time for an 11am appointment at Blair Castle in Perthshire. 

On arrival, we were met by Sandy Reid, who only recently retired from his long term position as game-keeper of the Atholl Estates. We started out from the castle with both his and the Friendship Tour Land Rovers. 

The tour was through the privately owned estate, up onto the hills overlooking the castle and beautiful valleys. Unfortunately, we are here a week or two too early which means not all of the heather is in full blossom, but we could still picture how colourful the hills will soon become. 

Enjoying the beauty of Scotland
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 24 July 2008 23:33

The team with Sheikh Hamad Al Khalifa who we met by chance during a visit to Stirling Castle. 

We started our day driving to Stirling, a beautiful Scottish town with a famous castle.

The drive was fast and smooth and it only took us one hour to get there from Edinburgh. The tour around the castle was really good since it was sunny, and we took a lot of pictures.

As we started to walk to the car park, we bumped into Sheikh Hamad Al Khalifa, formerly of the Bahrain International Circuit (Formula 1), who happened to be visiting Scotland too. We spoke about Bahrain and the Friendship Arabia tour.
Scotland's simply picture perfect
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 23 July 2008 23:50

Shafiq Khalaf and Ammar Hammad near Edinburgh Castle on their first day in Scotland 

Ammar Hammad, whose photographs and Quicktime panoramas have received rave reviews from readers, rejoined the tour today, accompanied by another top photographer Shafiq Khalaf.

They were looked after by Visit Scotland and will spend four days exploring and taking pictures for a special book to be published after the trip.

Exploring Scotland's attractions
Written by Petra Beuchert   
Sunday, 13 July 2008 09:11

The Falkirk Wheel, which has become a popular tourist attraction 

Today we left Edinburgh and drove to Loch Lomond via Glasgow. 

Our first stop was Balloch Castle Park, a wonderful old estate overlooking the shore of Loch Lomond. The walk to the castle is mainly through woodland. The castle was built in 1808 for John Ardoch of Buchanan. The estate with its walled garden, woodland, shore walks and picnic areas is now a national park and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Historic Carton House enchants
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 21:44

Ali presents Aine with a copy of the Visitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain 

Today, we had a four-hour drive from Cork to Maynooth, to visit Carton House - a five-star hotel and golf club resort. There, we were welcomed by Aine Mangan, who a few years back used to work for the Riffa Golf Club in Bahrain.

Aine gave us a tour of this beautifully restored mansion, which was once the country residence of the FitzGerald family - Earls of Kildare and later Dukes of Leinster. 

Carton House is steeped in history, but with all the comforts of a luxury hotel. Just half an hour from Dublin, the elegant Palladian house is set in over a thousand acres of stunning parkland, and has attracted a long list of glamorous guests from Queen Victoria to Grace Kelly.

Water wonderful spectacle
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Sunday, 20 July 2008 21:58

Dancers inside giant bubbles on the water enthrall spectators 

It was an event-packed weekend in Ireland, and helped to underscore how much  there is to see and do in this wonderful and welcoming country.

After breakfast yesterday, we visited the Galley Head lighthouse, which in times past helped ships to navigate the waters. We met Gerald Butler, who works for the lighthouse and proceeded to give us a very informative tour during which he not only explained how the lighthouse worked, but also provided us a history lesson about the area.

Later, we went to Red Strand beach for a swim and a picnic, before taking a walk around Clonakilty where we visited an art gallery.

After dinner at home, we made our plans for the next day, which kicked off with a visit to Charles Fort in Kinsale. After the tour, we went to witness  the various activities being held during Art Week in Kinsale which is famous for its music and exhibitions.

Then we went to the harbour and enjoyed a great show with dancers inside giant  balloons on the water providing a fine spectacle.

If you are planning a visit to Ireland, be sure to visit this beautiful town for at least a couple of days.

For more information about Ireland and its many attractions, take a look at www.discoverireland.com.
Come to Ireland and find a friend
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Friday, 18 July 2008 22:14

A replica of the 19th century ship that brought many Irish families to America during the Great Famine of the 1800s 

On Wednesday, we drove to the Scottish coast and took the ferry to Belfast, Northern Ireland, en route to Ireland.

While in Belfast, we visited Giant's Causeway, a world heritage site. The skies were pouring rain right through from the time we got off the ferry, but the deluge ended almost on cue as we arrived at our destination.

It was still cloudy, but our tour guide kept the mood light with one funny story after another.


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