Heroes of Luxor!

It's not every day that one comes across a real hero. But it's not every situation which requires one, either.

Nevertheless, on occasion one does need help, and in many circumstances the helper does, indeed, become our hero of the moment!

I've been on with the modifications to the main staircase here for quite some time now, it may even get finished this year!!!! But I've been held up of late, what with sitting on the landing just looking at it and wondering how best to overcome the problems created by nothing being straight, level or plumb, and then wondering what I'm able to accomplish myself, with the limited selection of tools (and even more limited skills) at my disposal, not to mention who I'm going to persuade to do the bits of machining etc.

The last time I bought a piece of wood at Naseem Salama (Luxor's B&Q, also known as the "underground" shop) next to the Horus Hotel on Sharia Karnak, I thought that it was hugely expensive! I'd been used to paying 32le-ish for three metre pieces of 3 x 2, and the last piece was about 90le or something. Mind you, it wasn't 3 x 2, and I think it might have been some sort of hardwood (which I didn't need, but the dimensions were right). Anyway, I snaffled 100le from the Dear Leader's purse, just in case, and off I trotted! I also needed another 2.4 metre piece of architrave.

Found the architrave straight away, in the stack just inside the rear entrance, from the tourist suq. I had to get the gaffer to give one of his slaves the key to their storeyard where they keep the bigger pieces of wood, and off we went to see what could be found. It's chock-a-block with bits of undressed and warped timber which look as if they've been lying there since Noah built his Ark. They're also all filthy! After sawing a piece off (1.7m from a 3m plank) I took it back into the store, expecting the worst. I know that the architrave is 15le per piece, and I held my breath as the slave told the master the sizes of the timber which I had.

"Twenty six pounds." came the mumbled demand through 70 odd years of untrimmed moustaches.  I could hardly believe my ears! It was only 11le

But now I had to get it dressed, Dear Reader. The last time I went to our nearest carpenter's shop, it was to learn that they couldn't make a simple table from a drawing, but the alternative was to pay 20le for the caleche to trail me all the way to Karnak to Abdu's workshop, and then, would he be there?

Actually, the carpenter man was only too pleased to see me, and he understood my hand-waving gibberish immediately. Here he is, adjusting his planing machine. Hero number one!!!

OK, OK, I know it's smudged; he moved! But it doesn't matter if you don't recognise him; he's the only carpenter on Youseff Hassan Street, and his workshop is directly opposite the El Zaeem restaurant and take-away.

Samir (or Samra, as he's sometimes known) is the softer-spoken elder brother of the famous Mr Ahmed Badawy; they're caleche-men extraordinaire! I can nominate him as yesterday's Hero. I've told you before about their often distressing state, lack of cash engendering all sorts of problems. Thankfully, a regular reader, and sometime Luxor visitor, often sends us sums of money specifically to help the two branches of this family, else I really don't know what might have become of them! Obviously, we use their caleches as often as we can, although they'll never get rich from our three or four times a week hires. He landed at our door last night with this:

Yes, children, it's a whole chicken on a bed of potatoes, tomatoes and onion, and it came with about ten pieces of beef kofta, a bowl of home-made tahina, and a bagful of aish fino (white bread rolls). We had it for supper last night, Freda made soup with the bones for a starter at lunch today, with more of the kofta etc for the main course, and we finished off the chicken and the last of the potato etc tonight: DELISH! Hero designation well deserved.

Finally, I'd like to tell you a little of our trip out to the Nile Palace this afternoon. When we got there, we were nonplussed to find that our usual table, on the terrace, was already taken. Never mind though, the usurpers were English tourists, so we had a chat with them, and let them off! Usual tea, de-caff and English cake were ordered and duly served, spot-on as expected.

It was nice, just sitting there and watching the Nile traffic as it made its leisurely way up or down the lazy river.

A sudden mushroom of smoke caught my eye as it billowed around a distant matching pair of West Bank palms:

I love to see the palms like that, I think they're incredibly beautiful! To top the experience off, there was the slightest of movement in the air; just enough to feel its coolness on one's face, "Perfick" as Pa Larkin would have said. (Explanation needed:- Pa Larkin is a fictional character from the pen of H E Bates, and "Perfick" was his trademark mispronunciation.) We stayed there, on the terrace until the sun retired:

The only problem with staying so long at the NP, was making my tea last. And this brings me to my final hero for today, here it is:

I can read your mind, Dear Reader, and NO it isn't the cup and saucer which is the final hero for today, nor the tea in the cup; it's the humble tea bag!!!! Five cups of tea were painfully squeezed out of it for my delectation, only the very last one was a little under par, but still eminently drinkable. So, I salute you Mr Dilmah and your flavoursome and health promoting "Hero" of a drink.

Please, don't imagine that I'm denigrating the real heroes of this world. I have the greatest of respect for and gratitude towards those whose magnificent efforts have kept our shores safe these past hundreds of years, and those too who, even today, are working tirelessly to prevent harm coming to us. God bless them all!



Panic Today in Luxor!

Professor Gumby and his wife were enjoying the cool of the evening on their Luxor roof terrace, after a sumptuous supper consisting of a beautiful home-made smoked ham and cheese quiche, accompanied by some home-made black pudding and HP Fruity sauce. The following is a stock picture of our good friend, the eminent professor R F Gumby:

Our heroes were minding their own business, and whilst watching episode 1 of series 2 of Call the Midwife on their lap-top, the Prof noticed it in the middle of the tiled terrace! What sort of creature could it possibly be?? Perhaps it was a distant relation of the last beast to invade their private space:

But no, it was too thin and menacing looking, so much so that the celebrated Mrs Gumby leapt from her place and into the hoped for safety of our living room, almost knocking over the table in her panic!

Here it is, terrifying eh, Dear reader?

I'm sorry for the picture quality; I just wanted to snap it quickly (in case it managed to devour us or something) so that there would be some evidence of the culprit for those who would eventually come to discover whatever was left!

It didn't seem to move at all, and after quite a while, I plucked up the courage to gingerly approach the beast, and prod it with something. I soon realised that it was dead, and had fallen from our shady roof. In fact, I immediately discovered exactly where it had fallen from and exactly what it was!

Yes, Dear Reader, it was actually one of the raffia Nubian ladies, which had blown off our hanging ornament which we had bought from the suq in Aswan! Panic over.

It only goes to prove that people (even eminent professors and their wives) can be panicked by non-events, until the truth is actually known. Perhaps this might be something to ponder whilst reading the various news reports about bombs or "sound bombs" "exploding" in Luxor? (In England, I think we knew them better as "bangers" on the 5th of November) Mind you, from local reports it's still unclear what actually did occur, but (as usual) our beloved media are making hay whilst the sun shines!!!  

What? No nite-life in Luxor????

You could have knocked me down with a feather!

Those of you who have become "Dear Readers" might just recall that I've had more than a few peculiar dreams, which I have tried to recount on here. Well, I was having one during the night; or was I?

I'm sure that you've all either seen or heard about tunnel boring machines? Didn't Dick Dastardly have one at one point? Or perhaps you saw one of the huge things that was used to dig out the Channel Tunnel, on the news? I've also seen them in various forms on sci-fi movies and in international news reports. Terrifying things with huge cogs and cutters whirring around at the front.

Well, there was one bearing down on me in my dream! It would run for a few minutes, then stop, then it seemed to run quietly for a minute or two before roaring away in earnest again. By the increase in noise, it was getting closer and closer!!! Quite nerve-wracking, I can tell you!

Eventually, I was sure that I could also "feel" it as well as hear it. That's when I awoke! And, horror of horrors, it was still there!!!!!!! I went out onto the roof terrace (after getting hurriedly dressed) and, sure enough, it was actually happening. Imagining new scenes for the modern horror film, "The Mummy", I grabbed the keys and camera, and made my way downstairs.

As I stepped out into the alley, I could hear muffled voices coming from the main street, although the "machine" had temporarily quietened. I'm not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed to discover exactly what was "The Destroyer Of Sleep" in old Luxor Town:

Yes Dear Reader, it was the gulley emptier/drain cleaner or whatever you want to call it!

AT 03:30!!!!! IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, they had moved on to the next man-hole by the time I got there, but they hadn't yet put the lid back on ours, so here it is; nicely cleaned out.

At about 03:50 or so, when I arrived back in our livingroom, I was pleased to see that Freda was up and had the kettle on, also the lap-top. So it was a lovely cuppa with a handful of Tesco's best "Economy Range" ginger biscuits and a quick look around my favourite forums etc, before climbing back into bed. But it seemed like no time at all before my ears were assaulted by the local faithful's call to prayer! What was left of the night was taken up by fitful sleep, so I'm not in the best of fettles this morning. (That means "Keep out of my way!!") 

And don't you dare, whatever you do, complain about a lack of "nite-life" in Luxor!

Tim Wannacott, where are you?

How about this for a stunning antique?

Obviously, it looks different depending on how it is lit, but I'm trying my best to show you the relief colours in the carving. (It's a particularly difficult task as I'm unable to see them properly myself, being colour blind!!!!)

It's brass, quite weighty, and three feet tall! What's most surprising is that we bought it (via ebay) from a lady less than five minutes drive from where we live in Windy Nook. Small world, eh?

Now all we need to do is decide where best to display it. Life's never easy, is it?

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

Or is it some sort of furry creature, a bear, perhaps?

You'll not guess in a million years, Dear Reader, so I might as well tell/show you now.

Yes folks, it's the inside of a reusable vacuum cleaner bag! I'm a lover of the Kirby brand of vacuum cleaners, as you may have gathered from earlier posts on here. This is the bag from my Kirby "Vacuette", which has been on loan to a household which includes two daft boxer dogs. Here it is in use on our stairs at Windy Nook:

Cleaning stair carpets is the main function of our Vacuette, and that's also what it was used for (for a few weeks) by the lady who borrowed it. She said that she'd emptied the bag, but that wasn't all that was required, as we now all know! I had to engage the "Heavy Squad" in my efforts to remove the hair from my little gem! The Vacuette's "Big Brother", in the form of our Diamond Edition Ultimate Kirby upright, was well powerful enough to suck all those hairs away into its disposable bag, I'm very pleased to say.

When I saw the amount of hair which the little Vacuette had picked up, I was very impressed, and wondered why some people paid significant sums of money for vacuums which supposedly specialise in keeping dog owners' homes hair-free?

I also found a special kit to fit our older Kirby "Legend 2" (it's here in Luxor) on eBay! It's called a Handi Butler, it drills holes and has polishing and sanding heads. It'll be very useful, once I get around to having a try, I'm sure.

When we're home at Windy Nook, I always seem to get lumbered with the job of taking the oversize rubbish to the Council dump! This time was no different, and I made a couple of trips there. There's invariably a queue of cars waiting to dump all sorts of treasure! Honestly, you wouldn't believe some of the stuff that seemingly sane people throw away!!! But never mind that; what caught my eye was the following draught excluder on the gate to the Waste Disposal Depot:

Is it just me, or is that the daftest thing you've ever seen; a draught excluder on a wire-mesh gate in a wire-mesh fence, and outside? The mind boggles!!!!

Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange.

That's the title of a book which Number One Son got me for my Christmas box, I'm busy reading it now. It's a recent translation of old Arabic stories, similar to the One Thousand Nights and One, but I think slightly older (?). It's very interesting, and gives further insights into the modern-day Arab psyche.

Anyway, to get back to that "modern-day"; I've been snapping away on our rounds of Luxors shopping and dining opportunities. As usual, boring bits about buses, mildly interesting snippets which might amuse a few mad Luxor lovers and other general nonsense.

We'll get the buses bit out of the way for a starter, eh?
This piece could possibly interest people within the bus and coach industry back home, or even those hardy characters; the British Bus Spotters! It might even come into the above category of "News of the Strange", what do you think? It's certainly not one of the "Tales of the Marvellous" that's for sure! I expect that several Luxor bus drivers must think that this little fat kawadga (foreigner) must be a loony, but I was just taken by the multiple repairs to this bus door the other day, and therefore had to record it for you, Dear Reader:

On closer inspection, it would seem that the mechanics have used first grade pigeon droppings in their repair regimen. Here, have a look at these:

Also some nice sharp edges there, where the door's broken, see? I'm sure that Her Majesty's Traffic Commissioners would just love to get their hands on some of the vehicles which ply for hire here in Luxor, their vehicle examiners would have a field day!
Then there's the matter of "Destination Blinds". I well remember my mate (Fat Les) having to get these made, and them costing an arm and a leg.(Colloquialism: an arm and a leg = a lot of money!!!) Not so here in Luxor. Most of the local mini-buses have gone without destination displays for quite some time now. That's not much of a problem, really, as many bus users here are unable to read anyway, and content themselves (like we also do) with shouting out their preferred destination at the driver and making various coded hand signals to get the appropriate response. It's a system which works fairly adequately.
However! What did we come across yesterday, on our way to the Nile Palace?

Yes, that's the motor bike of the "Man from the Ministry", laden with....... windscreen destination stickers! And here is one to prove it:

You would, no doubt, have noticed that the varying stickers on the bike are of different colours? I imagine that is so that we illiterates can still see where the bus is going to, not much use to Yours Truly, though. (What with my colour-blindness, lol!) So now, that bus will be forever wending it's way back and forwards through Awamaya and wherever, unless someone hails the driver to do a "Private" for a tenner or whatever. Still, I'd bet that Fatty would have preferred that to messing around finding and paying for destination roller blinds, or now, I suppose they're all digital thingies; pre-programmed to go wrong just at the most inopportune time.

Talking about inopportune timing: how about finding this ugly b****r when all you want to do is clean some wrought-iron work on the outside of a bedroom window?

It goes without saying that the cleaning had to be postponed until the following day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Was he a scout for a huge swarm, I wonder? I really don't care, unlike John the Baptist, I just don't like 'em! (Freda's senior school used to breed locusts for the Biology Departments of other Gateshead schools, and sometimes, they'd escape!) I don't remember doing anything with locusts, perhaps it was because I was pre-occupied with our lovely biol teacher, whose name momentarily escapes me. (Miss Toyne, perhaps?)

You must all know, by now, that Freda and I enjoy our tea and cakes (or whatever) at the Steigenberger Nile Palace. Well, how about their new chandelier? Did you see it in the last Blog? A touch of class, I'd venture.

The weather being as it is; we're able to enjoy our afternoon outings on their terrace, overlooking the swimming pool and the river. Along came quite a surprise:

I expect that they were from the famous (but Marie Celeste-ish) Luxor Rowing Club. What I was even more surprised to see, however, was the miniature submarine which was obviously spying on them, it wasn't even submerged! Just gliding along on the surface, a few metres astern of the rowers, and in full view of anyone who cared to look. There it is in the last few frames of the video.

Ooooops! I nearly forgot. How about yet another private hospital in Luxor? I'd noticed a new building going up quite nearby, a large and expensive looking building, at that! It first came to my attention when I saw a six-wheeled concrete mixer in Cleopatra Street (or Kelopatra St, suit yourself!) disgorging liquid concrete into a concrete pump, which was pumping it up about six stories. A very strange sight to see in backward old Cleopatra St. Anyway, that must have been a couple of years ago, and I was amazed to come across this gleaming spectacle the other day:

As I said, it's six stories high, and it seems to be "L" shaped, here's a shot of the "back" door around the corner:

According to a bystander, it's hoped to open in about a month. But that's probably Egyptian Time. I wonder if one of their specialities might be rolling the patient up in a carpet and sending them to Rome, "for the waters" or something? It lies about 100 metres or so beyond the Tourist Market, on Cleopatra St. The only problem might be vehicular access, as all vehicles will have to approach it from the Rameses St end, which could prove to be a bit awkward at times.
Onward and upward, eh? At least it has been purpose-built, and it's not a converted tour company office or hotel!

Hesitation Blues.

As I'm sure you're aware by now, I'm a music lover. English folk music, certain poets which have been set to music (specifically Laughing Len and Bob Dylan) Christian hymns and choral pieces, rhythm and blues (not what they now refer to as R&B though), real blues; and even a smattering of pop and classical music!

A track which has remained a firm favourite for a good number of years is Hesitation Blues by the Reverend "Blind" Gary Davis. You can listen to it here but it's over 11 minutes long, so be warned!!!

Anyway, that's not what brought me to the keyboard tonight. I've come "hesitatingly", because I'm embarrassed to have been away for so long. Even now, I've not got all that much to share. We're back in chilly Luxor, after a fairly uneventful Christmas holiday. Well, not really uneventful, but not many events which you, Dear Reader, might find interesting enough to want to read about, and some which I'm not actually allowed to tell you.

I've taken one or two pictures of things which took my fancy at the time, but when I came to put them onto the computer; they didn't strike me as being likely to be of much interest to sane people. However, put altogether, they just might pass muster, let's hope so, 'cause you're being lumbered with some of them anyway!

I'll start by mentioning my younger brother, who's a music nut. He's an accomplished pianist and organist, he runs several choirs and writes and arranges music as well. Well; several months ago, he happened to mentioned that he quite fancied a go at a zither (?). Strangely enough, and not too long afterwards, Freda and I happened to be in a junk shop in Blyth (Northumberland) where we came across the most beautiful zither I've ever seen! (Some of you might remember a TV advert which went, "I saw this and thought of you." well that's exactly what happened here.) We bought it there and then, even though it had no strings! Here it is:

The inlay work is quite exquisite, and there is more, very intricate and uniform, right around the outer edge:

Although it has the name "John Werro" on the label and stamped on the fretboard, I'm reliably informed that he was not the maker, only the importer and retailer. His shop in London closed in 1914, and it has been suggested that was because he went off to war.

After corresponding with people in the USA and Germany (I couldn't find any help at all in England!) I eventually tracked down a German string manufacturer who had been making zither strings since the beginning of the 20th century, and he provided me with a set of new strings in time for Christmas.  Sadly, I wasn't there when Dear Brother opened his present, but I'm told he was over-the-moon!

Freda dragged me to the beach at South Shields one day, but it wasn't very hospitable! I took a short video of the cold rough sea, and caught a glimpse of Admiral Lord Collingwood's monument at Tynemouth at 38 seconds. Sorry about the wind noise:

Sister Susan bought us our usual Christmas presents of tickets to see her mate Maddy Prior singing with the Carnival Band at the Sage music venue at Gateshead. It's an ugly modern building near to our iconic Tyne Bridge, which spans the river from Gateshead to Newcastle:

Thankfully, neither Maddy nor her fellow performers decided to sing that disgusting dirge "Fog on the Tyne", but it would have been quite apt, as we discovered when we left the building, after the performance:

That's right! That's the Tyne Bridge again, but taken from the rail that's in the foreground of other picture.

On Christmas Eve, as you'll surely remember, we go Carol Singing on behalf of "Action for Children", which was formerly known as "The National Children's Home". Although we were of reduced numbers this year (about 6 or 7 for most of the evening) we still managed to break our previous records by collecting about £460 on the bitterly cold and windy night. I can tell you that Windy Nook Chapel and the hot tea, hot mince pies with hot pease pudding, was a very welcome sight when we were finished at just after midnight. A great time was had by all, as usual. Altogether, we sent off something like £640, which we were well pleased with. Sister Susan was telling us that she had come across an entry in one of the old Chapel Minute Books which recorded a decision by the Chapel Leaders Meeting to "Allow the young people of the Chapel to accompany the Carol Singers on Christmas Eve 1917" so we know for sure that we've been singing for at least 100 years, and likely a lot longer! Perhaps they allowed the young people to go because of many of the young men being away at the war, who knows? Our Chapel was known as "The Quarrymen's Chapel", whereas the other main Chapel at Windy Nook served the pitmen of Heworth Colliery, I believe that coal mining was a reserved occupation, but quarrying stone might not have been. Again, who knows?

Christmas morning finds most of our family squeezed into my Mother's parlour, where we open many of our presents, as Mam passes around a box of chocolates.

My artistic brother had made us all a two layer box of 30 assorted chocolates each, very scrumptious!

As always, Freda and I had our progeny come along for Christmas dinner, all 10 of them! (Including spouses, that is.) Maybe I should explain, for those who have their dinner in the evening? In Windy Nook, and places like it, we have our dinner at dinner time, and that's about the middle of the day, usually between 12 and 2 o'clock. "Lunch" is really a foreign concept, other than when it's "packed" and even then we'd be more likely to refer to it as our "bait"; a reference to the mid-shift meal (invariably bread and jam) taken into the bowels of the earth at Heworth Colliery (and others) by the pitmen of yore. And so it was that we dined in shifts, as we don't have seating or cutlery enough for 12 at a time! But it was delicious, as we always knew it was going to be.

After the festivities and resting of Christmas, I had a call (completely out of the blue!) from an old school friend and former business partner. After our grammar school education, he had gone into apprenticeship at a BMC Main Agent in Newcastle to train as a motor mechanic, while I was doing (more or less) the same in my father's business. After dad died, and my mate finished his apprenticeship, we became partners in the family HGV and car repair business. Eventually, he got sick of the small income we had for working stupidly long (and hard) hours and went off to look for oil in the scorching deserts of Sudan and Libya, and to make his fortune, of course! The last we saw of each other was 25 years ago, so you can imagine that, when he finally came to visit last week, we had a lot of catching up to do. We had a great time remembering friends old and new, and others who were no longer with us. I really hope we get to meet again when we return to Windy Nook in February.

Since we returned here to Luxor, we've been cleaning (how novel?) and have only been out for tea etc twice so far. Of course, first stop was the Steigenberger Nile Palace, where I was allowed one of the small cigars which Number-One-Son bought for me for Christmas. What joy! And, what a lovely new chandelier in the hotel foyer:

Last night we had the unadulterated pleasure of participating in an Egyptian wedding. It wasn't planned, and we certainly weren't invited; we were just trying to get to sleep until 2.45 this morning!!!!! Here's the wedding tent taking up the whole of the street on the other side of the school opposite us. What a racket!

The problem we have is that there is nothing around us to soak up the noise, I suppose that that's part of the price we have to pay for living on the roof? Downstairs, and in our street, the noise is hardly noticeable, it just floats over the other rooftops and straight into our bedroom. We might move downstairs for a night or two, what do you think?

We met with a dear friend this afternoon at the Winter Palace, isn't it lovely to see people whom you've missed for a while? On the way there, we collected a new friend. He's from England and has come to live in Luxor where he plans to organise holidays with a Yoga and spiritual theme. More competition for Witch Hazel and Mad Mara (and all the others) methinks! Good luck to him though, he seems to be a nice sort of chap.

I always had a feeling that there was "something", but could never put my finger on it!

I think that I once mentioned that I've often (well a few times, anyway) been mistaken for an Arab or a Turk. The first time was in 1976, during our initial foray into foreign parts, in Paris to be precise. It fell to me to ask this old beret wearing French geezer (Colloquialism: geezer = bloke/man.) for directions to St Denis. After a bit of mumbling and grunting out came, "Vous et Arab?" (You are Arab?) I was, of course, indignant!

Nevertheless, since moving to Luxor I'm often mistaken for a Turk, or belonging to some other Middle Eastern country. There's one trader near the tourist souk who always shouts out after me, "Hello Hariri!" Hariri being the murdered Lebanese ex Prime Minister; Rafic Baha El Deen Hariri:

Obviously, the poor beggar isn't as good looking as I am, but there are certain "similarities", I'll admit. But his seemingly elevated position as a mere Prime Minister certainly wouldn't suit me. Oh no!

Did I also tell you that Dear Brother had discovered that on my Dad's side of the family, we were descended from Gypsies? Irish, at that, "so we were"! (So we were, being a typically Irish expression.) Well he's now come up with that which we've been waiting for, although we've known it in our bones for many a long year!!!

My 72nd Great Grandfather was King Lnor Frey of Mesopotamia, now known as Turkey! According to Brother's research, our august forefather was King of Mesopotamia at the time when Pontius Pilate was busy crucifying Jesus of Nazareth. He died in 80AD.

So, if you ever decide to visit us, or even come to stay, you'll need to watch your "P's and Q's". Be warned, we Middle Eastern Royals won't be messed with!

"King Edward", has a certain ring to it, don't you think?

If you brought me one of my cigars, as an act of homage, I might be a little more kindly towards you.

You may go! Actually, no you can't. I forgot something.

While the Queen and I were shopping at Tesco in Gateshead, this afternoon, I noticed that the fabulous old Canadian poet/singer Leonard Cohen had nipped in for a few bits and bobs! I knew that he wasn't there for his weekly shop, as he only had a basket. As usual, he looked immaculate with his silvering hair and wearing a nice black overcoat with his well pressed black trousers sticking out of the bottom. He also had his spectacles on; in order to check the prices, I should think.

Of course, I whipped my camera out, and was about to snap him (as proof, you know?) when the Queen stopped me. Having experience of working in retail, she informed me that it was heavily frowned upon to take photographs in shops, even for a King.


The tale of our Alice the Camel.

Hello everyone, I'm heartbroken today! I was saving some news about a new addition to the Our Luxor Holiday Apartment until we got back to Luxor next month, but circumstances have conspired to force me to, reluctantly, reveal all just now.

On 24th November we won an ebay auction for a beautiful green camel, called Alice. Alice lived with her then owners in Somerset, at an old mill house, I expect it was idyllic. But she was destined for Luxor! You know, of course, that Egypt doesn't have its own camels? They're brought in from the Sudan, formerly walking over the "40 Day Road",

but now I believe that they tend to be brought most of the way in trucks:

Well, poor Alice was subjected to the indignity of travelling in a truck, too. But not in Egypt! She was put in the care of the transport firm "City Link", with strict instructions for her welfare. The beasts at City Link didn't look out for her, though, and although she left the lovely old mill house in Somerset in fine fettle, she was a sorry state on her arrival in Windy Nook.

Here she is in her prime:

And here she is; lying on the sofa in Windy Nook, a shadow of her former 44 centimetres height, after the savages at City Link had finished with her:  

My anger at such cavalier treatment is indescribable! 

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance..............or maybe not!

Do you remember that picture? It had three of my favourite film actors: James Stewart, John Wayne and the villain of the piece; Lee Marvin. It was great! Well, what we've got here for you today is actually "The Man Who Inked Our Luxor's Mister Edward"!!!! Here he is:

And, here's his shop:

I know that many of you will be astounded that I would allow such mutilation of my fine body and perfect skin, but it just, quite suddenly, took my fancy! Mind you, it's not one of these intricate designs which cover half of my body, nor yet a "sleeve", which is what they call those which the footballers have from shoulder to elbow. I'll let you have a shuftee before I sign off tonight. 

In the meantime, I've been to see and hear some famous folk singing types of late. The other Wednesday Auntie Susan had bought us tickets (for Christmas) to once again see her mate Maddy Prior singing with the Carnival Band in their regular Christmas concert at the Sage Gateshead. It was as enjoyable as ever, with Maddy still having a tremendous range to her voice. 

Next was the turn of the Wilsons, a harmony singing group of brothers from Tees side, they're marvellous, if like me you appreciate that sort of music. They've recently been singing with that other well known North Easterner, Gordon Sumner (otherwise known as "Sting") in his show in New York. (Do you remember that we had another of Sting's mates stay with us a few years ago, the fabulous Darbukka player, Souhail Kaspar?)

Number-One-Son has also been attending concerts. The daft happ'orth (Colloquialism: happ'orth, pronounced hay-porth, = half penny worth = half-wit of very little value.) forgot about going to the Sage with us, and managed to get tickets for him and his friend to see Seasick Steve in London on the same evening! He did enjoy it though. And then; Number-One-Grand-Daughter and her friend from Harrogate went with him (N-O-S, not Seasick Steve) to some young girls' pop concert sort of thing in Newcastle on Sunday, too. Busy Bees, eh?

The Folk Club we go to after Chapel on a Sunday was too cold last night! The guest singer was OK, but not good enough for us to suffer the cold for another 90 minutes, I'm afraid, and we left at the break. A bit shamefacedly, I've got to admit!

That's probably enough boredom for you for one night, so I'll sign off with a glimpse of the Tat:

They wrap them in clingfilm, apparently, to keep any muck out. That came off after a day or two, and I'm getting quite used to it now. It's a Coptic Christian cross, so that if I snuff it in Egypt, then I won't get dumped in a Muslim cemetery. When it eventually gets a scab, and then heals properly, I might show you a pic of the finished article. We'll see.