Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Slight Diversion

I mentioned in a previous post that my wife is Lebanese, and had lived in Beirut throughout the Civil War. On the morning of Friday 12th August we got a call to say that her father had died of a heart attack - he was 89 and it wasn't unexpected but even at 53 she was a daddy's girl and was obviously upset. In the Middle East all religions bury their dead very quickly and the local cousins had a real struggle to persuade the hospital to keep the body for 48 hours until the children could get home. So Saturday morning we left the dog in the care of my neighbour and set off to Heathrow. It was a flying visit (arrive Saturday at 17.15 local, burial 17.00 Sunday, leave 18.20 local on Monday) so not much opportunity to do anything but meet the Cousins (there were lots). But a few pictures:

In the distance is "East" Beirut (the Southern and Eastern districts of the city where Hezbollah are strong) - if you click on the image to enlarge it you may be able to see a white area on the coastline at the left (Southern) portion of the photo. This is the Airport (just one runway at the time of the Civil War).

This photo is taken from the same spot (a nursing home not far from the prison) - in the distance is East Beirut proper, the city centre and port. Closer to the camera is West Beirut (the Christian area - although like most things in Lebanon it's more complicated than that). At this point we're probably 650m (2,100 feet) above sea level - my wife used to talk about going "up to the mountains" to live during the Summer and it wasn't until I actually visited the city for the first time that I realised that her "20-25 minute drive" was actually straight up the side of the mountain rather than ten or fifteen miles back in the hills.

And this photo shows the Northern (Christian) suburbs of the city. While there is peace (of a sort - two days before our arrival there was a car bomb in Antelias but "it was nothing - only two people dead - just Hezbollah showing they can make things worse if they want to") everyone I spoke to was highly aware of religion. The main road from the airport to the city centre passes through Hezbollah controlled neighbourhoods - you definately didn't want to make a wrong turn.

We wandered the new city centre Monday afternoon - despite the money obviously lavished (and still slopping around) Hariri's construction companies have done much worse damage to the fabric of the city than the militias ever did. The old Souk has been bulldozed and replaced by something that is akin to Fashion Island in Newport Beach - a few Lebanese businesses but it is mostly Western designer labels - I think this why we didn't bother taking pictures, it was simply unmemorable.

This is the Holiday Inn, (now surrounded by building sites) untouched since the war. This building used to dominate the area but these days it is hard to see from a distance because of all the new construction. There are one or two old buildings still left ...but Solidiere looks like they will bulldoze them anyway in pursuit of a quick buck.

We ate out a couple of times - at Fahkreddine in Broumana we had a beautiful Lebanese meal (tabbouleh to die for) but they had a terrible wine list (Musar, Kefraya and Ksara). And after the funeral we ate at DT in Martyr's Square (which used to be a cross between Trafalgar and Leicester Squares before it got blown to hell during the war). Here the food was distinctly average but they had a good selection of wines (I'm more and more taken with Domaine Wardy every time I try their stuff and I tried Chateau Marsyas for the first time - and it was a good - but lacked grip).

I really want to go back - they drive like they are auditioning for the sequel to the film Bullitt (imagine no roadsigns, no road markings and a generation of drivers that have never had proper training or testing), the electricity fails five times a day, the political situation is volatile and the economy is likely to go into a tailspin if Syria doesn't calm down. But it was an exciting place to go.    

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Something Completely Different

So, here are some comparison shots of a Revell Maquis Fighter with 15mm and 28mm figures:

This is the two halves of the hull dry fitted to one another. As you can see the engines at the rear mean that landing gear of some sort needs to be fitted.

And from the front. I think it would fit with 15mm as a courier ship or somesuch - in 28mm I think you could call it a fighter / bomber.

And from above.