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.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Day 13

Got stuck. Proper stuck. Wheels sunk so low the car engine was being supported by the sand. 

I've learned not to panic from an early age with Dad. An infinitely resourceful man with little limit to his practical imagination. After digging for half an hour to free the engine. We opened up the camp beds and dug them under the wheels in the hope the friction would give us just enough grip to get out. Down side was it would certainly f*** the camp beds for the rest of the trip. Considered using the deck chairs instead as they we're stronger but the canvas on the camp beds was longer. 6 and 2 3s
Sarcastically I was wondering where's all the locals now (just when we could actually use help. I looked up and there was a pickup truck coming towards us... 

I walked over and in my best Arabic told the driver we had a problem. He smiled and started letting down his tyres and attaching a rope to the car. Dad was still instistant on trying the camp bed technique first. I told him it was guareteed to work but why mangle the camp beds unnecessarily? 

Explored an old house. It was like being in Prince of Persia! Shame it's been used as a dumping ground. Beautiful rotten doors. A painted ceiling, palm tree roof and cool. Remember being told that the old Arab building designs are far more efficient than now with regard to keeping cool. Thick walls, high ceilings, narrow shaded streets. Here was a society evolved to live in the blazing heat now neutered by air con. 

Found the pages of an old book I've picked up for Jem. Very frail I hope they survive the journey.

Driving to Nizwa the mountain range on the left is shrouded in heat haze. It looks like the colour has been bleached. Stunning. Wish I could recreate it in Photoshop! 

Got a free walk round the Fort at Nizwa. Old man started jabbering with the attendant. As he was previously a soldier the guy let us in for free. The old man's approach to Arabic has changed from reluctance to free flowing enthusiasm.  This is the dialect he's most familiar with. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy watching him speak it. It's such a mystical sounding language. He's not bilingual he's translating in his head as he goes along. I remember asking a bilingual friend what language she thought in. She replied it depends what I'm thinking.

The Nizwa fort (even though restored) was like walking into a dream. Imagining ancient merchants gathers to trade dates, materials and chatties. Narrow streets lit by lamps, people pushing past each other some covering their faces for god others to hide. Funny last time he was here this was a working Fort. Now its a tourist attraction.

Explored an old Sooq in Birkat Al Mawz (Pool of Bananas). That was fun! Got some great pictures and a short Glidetrack video for Youtube.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Days 09 - 12

Trying to find our way out of Salalah... Proving very difficult. Got a series of great interviews with Dad by the side of the hotel room.  Shot using my old 85m. Love it. It meant I could get the  camera a little further away but still keep the picture very shallow. Certainly going to have to get the 35 and 28 off the chap in Ashbourne.

On the final interview it was getting a little dark. Had to push the iso to 2000 and open to 1.8 cut short because it was getting too dark. Later found I had my ND filter set to full. Stupid mistake! Dad remarked that I need to get some laminated procedure cards made ... I think he's right I've been putting it off to long.

Day 12
Sleeping off the road somewhere near Ibri. Had terrible s***s from an ice cream I had on the way. We got up at 7am and drove 1000km.

Finished watching the Lovely Bones not as good as the book but not as bad as everybody said. Had some great moments. Amazing sound track. Thought Wahlberg would have me clawing at the screen but was ok. Now laying out under the Milky Way. Haven't seen it for ages. The locals call it. Terik La Gabriel. "Gabriel's Road" left behind when Allah sent the Arc Angel Gabriel to stop Aberham sacrificing Ishmael. He didn't have time to go round the stars so he smashed through them leaving a trail behind him.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Day 08

Spent an exhausting and somber afternoon in Sherishitty searching for the spot where Officer Paul Wright fell. This was a large enemy stores area which SAF had come to take after they received intelligence that the area would be very poorly guarded for 48 hours. 

After walking 10km over night to get into position overlooking the caves; at first light the attacking section found themselves in the wrong location. A platoon was sent forward to clear the ridge in front so the section could advance. On moving forward a member of the platoon triggered an anti personnel mine. As it transpires the enemy were at full strength - The firefight and eventual extraction lasted until dark. Both sides took heavy casualties.

There are a mixture of Sangers scattered here which means that the position may have been used since. Dad doesn't remember having the time to build them. Some of the shrapnel and cases we have found point to Iranians. We don't know if we're in the right place.