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The place for information on Ross-on-Wye and the Wye Valley

Wyenot News - The Weekly News Magazine for Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
Issue No. 152 - Wednesday, 20th June 2007
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Page 1 ['Twas a little damp in Brookend Street - Outward Bound from Bridstow - Lions' Successes - White Lion Festival]
Page 2 [Open Day at the Castle - Hazy Ray at the Prince - Stars and Cars at Llangarron Fete]
Page 3 [The Sky at Night and a couple of birds - Bands in the Park]

Page 4

[Art, Design and Technology evening - Helping the Fishermen's Families - The Killing of Sister George]
Page 5 [Going French at St. Weonard's - Keeping you up-to-date - Bespoke Ladies Tailor]
Page 6 [Art Exhibition - Kate donates quilt - What's happening in Ross this week?]
Page 7 [Dick Brice and Michael Kirby - Practise makes perfect - Hay and Ross make the news in Germany]
Page 8 [A personal experience in Saudi - Letters - More exhibition photos - Weather Station]
A personal experience: Ten years ago in Saudi Arabia

Ten years ago this month, I went to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia to visit my brother, John. He and his wife, Christine lived there and their eldest son, James and his younger brother, Josh were born there.

Saudi Arabia is a country that one cannot just visit - even to see family. My visit was a 'business trip'. I had to prove that I was going there on business to get the visa. Other than the corruption, a Saudi official trying to obtain payment for my visa from both myself and from the Saudi company, a huge cosmetics company in Dhahran, this was not too difficult as John was the General Manager. I went as a 'prospective client'. (The Saudi Embassy phoned me the day before I left, insisting that I had to pay £50 for my visa - I telephoned my brother to find out what was going on and he had just had the same man phone him at work asking for the same amount and that he had paid the fee - they were just trying to get double payment.)

A week before I left for Dhahran, I injured my back and needed help just to stand up. Dr. Downey in Ross said there was no way I would recover in time and that I had no choice but to cancel the trip. The air ticket had cost over £1,000 though and was non refundable, so I spent the week forcing myself to get around with walking sticks and I wore a special heat belt thingy during the flight. Once there, the heat of the sun cured the problem pretty quickly.

Dhahran is definitely NOT a place I would like to live. I would sooner stick a needle in my own eye. It is like living on the moon but with a blue sky above - and it is as hot as Hell.

When the plane touched down after its ten hour flight and the door was opened, I could almost see the oppressive heat rush through the cabin. It literally took my breath away after the air conditioned journey. Of course, being June, it was the hottest time of year and the temperature reached 47 degrees centigrade (120f) on one occasion, which is at the very top of the scale of my home thermometer. The mornings, at a mere 100 to 110 Fahrenheit, were uncomfortable but just tolerable. Even during the early hours of the morning - 3 am, walking out of the air conditioned house into the garden was like walking into an fan assisted oven. The hot wind is almost unimaginable.

I made my first mistake with the Arabs in Dhahran airport, handing my passport to the gun carrying official with my left hand. Although I was aware that this was 'not done', I was just tired after the journey and did not do it intentionally. From the reaction it caused, I thought I was going to be arrested, get the full body search and everything but I acted the dumb Englishman and the situation eventually resolved itself. John met me after 'immigration' and drove me to his home. It was 2:00 am in Dhahran and moths the size of robins were hitting the windscreen.

While I was there, I helped John and Chris move house and baby sat while John worked and Chris went bowling. We ate camel meat and had fun with other Brits abroad, as well as the Arabs between the moving house bit. I swam in the Persian Gulf, which was hot, extremely salt and full of nasty jelly fish. I fed Sweet Baby James with a bottle - my first experience of bottle feeding since my little sister was a baby. (My own children were all breast fed.) We also got drunk - several times!

Yes - I was expecting Saudi to be alcohol free but I drank the strongest beer I have ever experienced in Dhahran. Alcohol is illegal in Saudi but the Brits and Americans buy alcohol free beer and then re-ferment it, using a 'Durex' as a fermentation lock. Vodka and Whiskey were also obtainable at some establishments, at £50.00 per bottle, 'under the counter'.

I caught what is known by the regulars as 'The Graveyard Flight' back to London after the visit. It is so named due to the darkness most of the way home - dawn appearing just a couple of hours before landing. John, Chris and James were on the same plane as they were coming home for a holiday but they sat miles from me as our tickets were purchased at different times. Tina and a friend, Tony met me at Heathrow in my car at around 7 o'clock in the morning and I slept the journey back to Ross. This was at the time Tina and I had only been seeing one another for a short time - we were not living together then.

I am happy to say that after five years, John, Christine and family eventually left Saudi safely. They left during the second Gulf War, after a car bomb exploded outside their 'Zamil' home, (the new house in the film below) killing their best friend, whom I met whilst there. The family now live in Preston, while John works in Modena, Italy - commuting home at weekends.

Part One - Moving House

These clips were mainly filmed by John and show:

Yours truly, swimming in the private swimming pool, which was 'like swimming in a lukewarm warm bath with your head in a furnace'.

Chopping up camel meat to make a curry. The 'boneless camel' was bought from the Dhahran branch of 'Safeway'.

'One house in a mess' whilst moving in and feeding baby James with a bottle.


Part Two - Touring the Gulf road, the back streets of Dhahran and the desert

I filmed this one whilst John showed me around Dhahran in his extremely fast car. I have forgotten the make of car but it had a 5.7 litre engine and did about 10 miles to the gallon. Petrol was cheap though - about £0.25 per gallon at the time I was there.

The film is edited down a lot as I had to keep hiding the camera, especially towards the end.

Filming is not allowed in public places and we did not want to end up in gaol, or worse.

The first part shows the Gulf Coast, an apartment block, which was victim to a bomb attack and the back streets of Dhahran. The the end part shows some of the real desert landscape which, as mentioned above, is like the Moon with a blue sky.

Letters: Two requests for help

Looking for Ada

Hi Alan,
I read with interest your Wyenot News and wondered if you have a space for a lost ancestors request. I am looking for family of John Samson James, Ada Maria Cooper, John James Snr married an Ellen Shoesmith in 1851. He was a gardener Edwin Cooper married Mary Morgan. Edwin was a Shoemaker. I am wondering if any of the families still live in Ross or Weston Under Penyard as I would like to make contact.

Thank you,
Joan James

Looking for the Trafford family

The Editor,
We are looking for relatives or friends who may remember the Trafford family who lived in Hill Court Manor near Ross-on-Wye and the Moffatt family of Goodrich Court, which was also near Ross-on-Wye.

My husband is a distant cousin of Dorothy Moffatt who married Guy Trafford of Hill Court Manor. We have a copy of a painting of an ancestor, Alice Moffatt, which we would like to find out more about. The last we heard of the original it was in the possession of John Trafford, son of Dorothy and Guy, who I think died about 1978. It may have passed to his two sisters, Cicely and Anne Trafford, both of whom have now died.

We are also looking for information on the Moffatt family who were tea dealers and brokers in London in the 19th Century. George Moffatt MP, grandfather of Dorothy Trafford, who lived at Goodrich Court in Herefordshire was a branch of this family.

We would be very grateful for any information anybody can give us.

Sandra and Peter Moffatt.
72 Bisley Ave, Nelson, New Zealand

More JKHS Design and Technology Exhibits

In this final set of photographs you will see a whole host of extremely well made and presented exhibits which include: lamps of all shapes and sizes, book cases, tables and chairs, vanity units, bicycles, scooters, trailers and even a conveyer. Well done to all of the students and teachers concerned. We are proud to be able to publish these photographs for everybody to share.

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Ross-on-Wye Weather Station Readings

Ross-on-Wye Weather Station is located by the tennis courts and bowling green at 'Crossfields' and is one of the important stations around the country which regularly sends data to the Meteorological Office. This is why Ross-on-Wye is sometimes mentioned on the BBC weather reports. It is currently still a manually monitored station and readings are taken twice per day by husband and wife team, June and Rex Swallow.

Figures for week commencing Monday, 11th June 2007
n Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat. Sun.
Sunshine (hours) 2.0 6.4 1.9 1.3 4.5 5.0 2.7
Rainfall (mm) 0 0 3.6 1.8 7.3 4.5 7.1
Rainfall (inches) 0 0 .14 .07 .29 .18 .28
Maximum Temperature (C) 23 22 21 21 20 20 19
Maximum Temperature (F) 73 72 70 70 68 68 66
Minimum Temperature (C) 13 15 12 14 13 12 10
Minimum Temperature (F) 55 59 54 57 55 54 50
Soil Temperature at 10cm Depth (F) 67 68 66 65 64 63 62


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or call Alan or Tina on 01989 763217

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