Photographer

Al Khobar to Hafr al Batin

It was 12:30 when I eventually pulled away from the BMW garage. I didn’t get far though; a yellow warning triangle appeared on the dashboard. I did a U-turn, only to find the salesman holding my key up in the air. That’s the only drawback of keyless rides; forget the key and you don’t get far.

Once on the road I found it rather cool around the nether regions. I’d made use of the bathroom in the showroom and had picked up the hose pipe somewhat carelessly, pressing the button at just the wrong time and drenching my chest, stomach and, tragically my trousers. Fortunately, the gortex suit hid the evidence so I didn’t look like I had had the wrong sort of accident.

It would be fair to say that I encountered more policemen than bends on the road to Hafr al Batin. In 316 miles I was stopped four times by police, once to examine my documents, three times to get a better look the bike. The road surface was remarkably good, but oh so straight and through the flattest of landscapes. After a few hours I found myself appreciating the occasional change in wind direction, an occasional camel or a rare sand dune. There is vegetation and water about though; there are Bedouin camps dotted about. Their lifestyle must have got easier with the presence of this highway, but the environment seems harsh.

I stopped for tea at a great little Indian cafe at a filling station. The owner, Dr Ahmad Bin Abdullah El-Hamamy, in the photo below, studied at Salford University forty years ago. Small world. The policeman in one of the other photos spent ages inspecting my bike. I thought he was trying to find something wrong with it, but eventually realised that he was just interested.

It was surprisingly cold this afternoon. Eventually I gave up and dug out my heated jacket and then spent the next fifteen minutes making sounds of contentment as I started to thaw out. Only a month ago, staying cool was the challenge.

Sent from my iPad

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