More than 40 years have passed since Britain fought a secret war in Oman. Former Major Nicholas Ofield has returned for the first time since the conflict to retread his battlegrounds with his son, filmmaker Tristan Ofield. This blog contains excerpts from the production diary Tristan kept during filming.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Day 04

Hit gold! We pulled up outside the first house where we saw a person. He knew everybody we had talked to during the past few days and in what order. Small village. Amazing coincidence - Musalim Masud's (the lad I went to drink Camel milk with yesterday turns our to be the son of the  Firqa Captain we are looking for... These villages in the middle of nowhere have roads and good roads at that. Its odd looking at things thinking the Sultan paid for that. Not a government but an individual.
Drove down onto the Salalah plain to find the Wadi Darbat. Stopped in an old camel shed to camp. Convinced the old man to see if we could find a better place. Now camped out on a beautiful secluded spot overlooking the Darbat. Brought some white Stilton with cranberry cheese. Forgot about it for a few days. It's gone very soft in the heat and it gave me an idea... Now sitting eating Stilton smeared over ready salted Pringels. Bliss. 

Personal note: Slightly worried that I can smell my feet, through my socks, in my sleeping bag, surrounded by camel s***... I probably should have a wash.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Day 03

Traveled to Jib Jat in search of a few blankets. Last night was f***ing freezing. Jib Jat is like a town in a spaghetti western. Actually saw a tumble weed fly across the road. Stood in a store plagued with flies and was lucky enough to hit the jack pot. A  synthetic sleeping bag. No more itchy eyes! Wasn’t looking for one because I wouldn’t have dreamed in a million years I’d find one. Paid through the nose for it - It obviously made up his sales for the last few weeks. Left the town lost in time on the arse end of nowhere.
Randomly went to a camel farm because a passer by insisted. Got some great pics. Just drank fresh camel milk. It was warm, fresh from the nipple...Don’t know why I didn’t see that coming. Of course its warm - its body temperature. Thought I was going to gag when it touched my lips. Obviously didn’t want to be rude so shot for the other side but politely refused a refill. Nothing against camel milk - just not a milk fan. 

No need for a torch tonight. Moon is so bright it's like day. So much for timelapses of the stars - can't see them.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Day 02

The first part of filming has been a f***ing disaster. My fault - should have laid down the ground rules. Not having a 4x4 is beginning to cause problems. Tight conditions are making it difficult to get to kit and off roading is near impossible. Wouldn't be such a problem if we didn't have so much kit and everywhere we need to get to is off road. 

Worries about Dad talking to camera have totally gone. Shame it's so bloody windy - recording sound is difficult. We had a brief walk to find Dad’s old bunker. Will go to it again when I have found a way to combat the wind. Bizarre feeling of being cold from the wind but knowing that the sun is cooking you.
A man called Yassa came to sit with us. Offered us everything from a warm bed to baby tomatoes. Talked about the war when he was 8... Wasn't recording! Missed some great stuff about the old Sultan who wouldn’t even let the people wear shoes. Apparently there is an old Firqa Captain (the locals who fought with the British during the war)living somewhere near. Would be amazing if its somebody Dad knows. 

Yassa had never seen sugar cubes before. He can’t believe (and neither can anybody else for that matter) that we have driven all the way from Salalah to sleep at the base of a water tank. Very windy and cold night. P.S. Donkeys sound like Tusken Raiders. 

                                        1972                                  2011

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Day 01

Straight out of the airport and drove across the empty quarter towards Salalah (870 km). Pulled over half way to sleep in a deserted hanger in the middle of nowhere. Felt like Area 51. Kept expecting to wake up and see bright lights hovering in the sky. 

Woke up before sunrise. Freezing. Waiting for that odd moment in the desert morning where you suddenly change from being too cold to being too hot. It always catches you off guard.

Need to reorganise my gear and get my game face on. Haven’t managed to get a 4x4. This may cause problems. Not worried about Dad’s driving but the low chassis is going to cause a problem at some point. The car also makes an annoying warning beep when travelling over 100kph. That rules out in car interviews. Recording audio while driving will have to be limited to note taking.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Post 01

That's me standing on the wing of our ride home from an African game reserve. Now when I say "home" I don't mean to England. At this point in my life Africa is home. 
We, that's my father and I, have chosen to walk to our plane, rather than drive. We left the reserve with an armed escort charged with getting us safely to the plane. About a mile into the walk our guide decided it was too dangerous, and taking his elephant gun with him, headed back leaving us to continue unarmed and alone. Now I say unarmed. Note I'm carrying a 6" blade strapped to the right side of my camouflaged belt. My father is carrying a .22 pistol with a busted firing pin. Between the two of us we have enough weapons to piss off a lion but not enough to make it think twice!
Safely at the plane we now wait a further two hours for the pilot to show up; he is not only drunk, but also proceeds to mix up the key for the luggage compartment with the key for the ignition. With one twist it snaps in half, leaving him to have to hot-wire the plane. "Don't worry," he winks reassuringly at me, "I've done this before." 
I'd say situations like this weren't typical of Africa but it would be a lie. I'm eight years old and for me this sort of thing is normal.
21 years later...
For those of you as bad at maths as me - I'm 29. This weekend I'll be prepping my gear for one last adventure. The count down begins.