R - E - S - P - E - C - T

Some, unwanted, sad news today. One of our friends here in Luxor died yesterday. We only got to know the other day that she had cancer (it's not that long ago that we saw her, and then she looked and seemed as good as ever, no inkling that she was ill at all!) and then the dreaded email came this evening that she had died. She'd been back in England for only a short while. Ayisha; we'll miss her.
She was a woman for whom I had a great respect. She and I had some real ding-dongs about our differing theological stances (in writing, that is) as she was a staunch Muslima. She would have her say on the old "Egypt Search" forums, and oft times would cause quite a ruckus, as she wouldn't follow the normal Muslim way of believing that the stories of Muhammad's life should be taken as literal instructions for modern-day Muslim living. I often felt heart-sorry for her as other Muslim contributors would metaphorically rip her to shreds! Nevertheless, she was a woman who commanded respect, whilst being very normal and friendly in her personal circumstances, and Luxor life will be the worse for her passing.

R - E - S - P - E - C - T. That reminds me!

At the Nile Palace, the other night, a group passed us as we sat in our usual place I was sure that I recognised the face of one of them, and after a moment or two, I realised just who it was............Muddy Waters! Yes, that fabulous American Blues singer was here in Luxor. I felt like Victor Meldrew, in that I "couldn't believe it!" Here he is, singing one of his unforgettable numbers, with a little help from some of his friends:

On second thoughts, I realised that Muddy was wearing high heels and a dress! He'd either turned or it wasn't him. It was then that I realised that I'd been mistaken all along and it wasn't Muddy Waters at all, it was Aretha Franklin!!!! You remember her? She was out of this world! And now here she was, visiting Luxor at last. If Luxor's good enough for Aretha Franklin, then it's good enough for you, Dear Reader!!! Get onto EgyptAir today.

You can see the facial likeness, can't you? An easy mistake to  make, I'm sure you'll agree.

Goodnight.  

Back in Luxor nearly two weeks , now.

And not much to show for it either!

You know, of course Dear Reader, that I'm regularly driven to distraction by the vicissitudes apparent in our daily lives here in lovely Luxor? Well.........the other day, I just took a minute to get a snap of one of God's little creatures, who seemed perfectly happy to just sit there, on our washing line, not having a care in the world. It made me think!

That dragonfly (is that what it is?) will never know the rage which certain Egyptian "workmen" (and I use the word VERY loosely) can engender in a simple, peace loving Englishman!

You'll remember the "tilers"? I came across a couple of pictures which I had taken of them before I realised just how utterly useless they really were. Here they are; exposing them to the small world of my Dear Readers may be cathartic for me!

They aren't very far from my mind at present, as I've spent time every day since our return in the guest bathroom busying myself in re-grouting the tiles. "Straightforward", I can hear you saying, "what's the old curmudgeon complaining about now?" Ahhh, but you don't know what I know, Mr Clever Dick!

Ever heard of tile spacers?

That's them, little plastic jobbies which fit in between the tiles, so that they're evenly spaced and nice to look at, not to mention that they make grouting easier too. Well......(again, I'm beginning to sound like an old gossip!) Egyptian tilers don't use spacers of any description, they just bang them up against each other and then rub cement into the joints (which are sometimes almost non-existent!

Our cement grouting has turned a very dark shade of grey, which looks just awful! So, I've brought some white grout from Englandland to try to improve the look of it. What a job, I'm sick of it! All the joints are covered over with the new stuff, but it's very thin, seeing as the old stuff is as hard as bell-metal and won't rake out, and I've yet to clean it all up so that it looks tidy, I hope I don't rub through the thin layer, or I'll go crackers!!! Then there's the broken tiles to try and sort out one way or another, and to re-grout the floor with some black grout which I've also brought from our other home.

Other than my trials, there's not much to report on in Luxor at the moment. We've still been having power cuts, usually twice a day for about an hour to an hour and a a half. We try to arrange it so that we can either go to bed or go out when it goes off. Thankfully the temperature is coming down from what it was, so it's not really as bad as it was.

On our little trips out, I noticed the framework which is in place for the next set of solar panels to grace our public buildings:

This set can be seen from Ibn Khaled El Walid Street, just past the Iberotel travelling towards Awameya, and on the left. Let's hope that these ones will be fitted and commissioned by professionals, and that the wiring will be properly insulated from the extreme heat of the Egyptian sun.

I noticed, and snapped, a sad sight in the tourist bazaar as I strolled through there the other day on my way to the baker's:

This was once the Oum Kolthoum Coffeeshop, right in the middle of the souk, a favourite place for guides to bring their groups for a shisha and a coke (and a large lump of commission). We used to like to watch it and the busy market from the terrace of the Jamboree Restaurant, which is just above here. A great many of the shops and stalls in the bazaar are now closed altogether, it's depressing walking through there!

But.......I heard, from my tame travel agent, that there were 32 cruise boats working on the Nile the other week! And...... they were all at at least 60% of capacity! Now that has to be better news, eh?

We'll see what the winter season brings, and keep our fingers crossed!

All right then, but just a few.

Actually, along with the days out in Number One Son's car, we also had a couple of journeys out using our old peoples' bus passes! One was to Tynemouth and the other was to South Shields, Tynemouth took and hour and fifty minutes and South Shields only about 55 minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed both trips, but Freda wasn't too struck on the rattly buses. It was interesting seeing housing estates and their residents, which we would normally by-pass, and also seeing just how many public houses had been closed due (mainly) to the smoking ban! I was astonished to notice so many new housing developments, some of the styles were lovely. The journeys were fascinating if, like me, you fancy yourself as an amateur anthropologist.

Enough of this tittle-tattle, what about meeting famous people? (You don't ask.) That's what happened to us on another of our little outings. We had a lovely ride up the coast, nosing around here and there, not doing anything in particular. We ended up in Alnwick, where there's the famed "Alnwick Garden" with the worlds biggest tree-house restaurant (or so I'm led to believe) and it's very own "Poison Garden"! (Maybe a bit worrying, that?) The "County Market Town" of Alnwick also has a few interesting shops, not least one or two charity shops with decent stuff for sale. I think it was the "British Heart Foundation" one where we spied a pretty frying pan, but at just about the same time as a rather pretty young thing who was awaiting her purchase of one of those awful green (with a gold edge) coffee sets from the 70's. "Yes, it is rather pretty, isn't it?" she uttered as I quickly laid my hand upon it! "That's that Michelle Dockery woman, off the telly." I said in a hushed voice to Freda. "I'm sure."

 Of course Freda wasn't convinced, I think she's been reading too many of my "Famous People" Blogs of past times! (Mick McManus, him out of "Friends" etc. remember Dear Reader?)  Never mind, we exchanged a few more words with "Michelle" as we, too, waited for her coffee set to be individually wrapped, before paying for the pan and departing. I did wonder why a high-flying television and film star would be shopping for 70's crockery in a charity shop in Alnwick, but????

Lo and behold! We were there on one of the days during the famous Alnwick International Music Festival. There were folky type performers from all over! We happened to catch some American dancers known as "The Cripple Creek Cloggers", mind you, they weren't clog dancing as we would recognise it. Then we noticed some very colourful outfits gathering in the crowd. I want to say "obviously Polish" but really, I think it was just that they looked like I "imagined" Polish dancers to look like. In the event; they actually were Polish, and very good to watch too! Here's a snippet:

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I couldn't help but think that Christopher Lee (in his Count Dracula role) would have loved to be among those jolly maidens on a dark and misty night!!!!

We also had a run up to the seaside town of Seahouses and further again to Bamburgh, where they have a beautiful medieval castle:

To the right of the castle, in this first picture, is the sea. The second one is taken from the landward side, where the sea lies behind the castle. It's very big!

You'll remember how I'm always on about the annual Stick Dancing (or Fighting?) Festival which is held in our main street here in Luxor? Well, I'd love to see these chaps joining in one year, eh?

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We caught them one Sunday at a little village called Winchcombe, when we were visiting some dear old friends in Cheltenham. The song I know to this tune is called "Donkey Riding". I could have watched them all day long!

While we were down that way, I took a fair few pictures (as you can imagine!). Let's have a look, firstly at one or two of the vehicles which took my fancy. (I know, I know; this is getting to be a habit. But I just can't help it! RIGHT?)

How about this barmy V8 tricycle? (The driver was a little old lady, honestly!!!)

Any of the next three would be more to my liking, though:

This Neoplan coach would have kept me driving them, instead of retiring I think. It's what the Chinese ones on Egypt are copied from. I snapped it in Stow-On-Wold. It must be the best part of half a million quid's worth!

This next one would suit me the next time I meet Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary in Downton Abbey).


The next one looks as if it's ready for the desert around Luxor, but actually it was standing in a car park on the banks of the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon, You know? Where the real Shakespeare came from. (As opposed to our dear Luxor friend Mr Jadallah, more generally known as Shakespeare the felucca captain.)

You'll be pleased to know that the next one is the last vehicle for today!
We captured this one on the beach car park at Alnmouth, on the Northumberland coast. It really has seen some desert action; it had stickers on from Zimbabwe and all sorts of other African places, as well as some in South America. What a mobile home!

Mind you; I'd hate to have to man-handle either of those spare wheels down, or more especially, back up!


Back to our trip to Cheltenham, Freda got so tired of me looking at and taking pictures of different Land Rovers and the like that she had me locked up for a while, just so that she could have a rest from them and use the camera herself. What a cruel wife I have!!!!

Anyway, now we're back here in sunny old Luxor. We've been back now for four days and we've already had two meals from Mr Adam's wife! On Wednesday she did us chicken with the usual batatas, onion and tomatoes etc, preceded by her lovely larks tongue soup, and tonight she did beef kofta with sort of chipped potatoes (but nicer) and spaghetti (which I wouldn't normally touch with a barge-pole). The final verdict was that I think it might have been the best meal she's ever cooked for us! (We've managed to save some for tomorrow, as well!)

Oooh, nearly forgot! After watching the Polish dancers at Alnwick, we headed towards Bamburgh on what used to be The Great North Road (or the old A1, now I think the A167?) To get out of the town we had to pass the entrance to Alnwick castle, home of the fabled Percy family. As we approached, I noticed the building opposite was covered in snow! And there were people about wearing top coats and mufflers (scarves) and gloves. Queer, or what? When we also noticed three vintage cars parked outside of the castle entrance, it suddenly clicked that a film of some sort was being made. This was confirmed later, when we read that scenes for Downton Abbey were being filmed in Alnwick over a few days. So, it really was Michelle Dockery after all. Poor girl looked so thin, they mustn't have a catering van on the set.

Well, other than telling you that the K'Archer vacuum repair went swimmingly, and that we've been busying away like beavers cleaning here there and everywhere, I've not much else to report, as yet.

But watch this space. 

Please Sir, can I have some more?

I'm going to post some more pictures with explanations in the near future, maybe a day or two. But, in the meantime, you could do worse than check out our new website for the "Our Luxor" Guest Apartment.

Here it is http://ourluxor.weebly.com/

If you like, you could let me know what you think of it by using the 'Contact' form on the site. (Any constructive criticism is always welcome.)

Bye for just now.

Do you remember Barrie Bucknell, or Picture Book?

If you do, you must be British and of my generation!

Anyway, I've just got some of the pictures back which I had to take off the laptop to allow Number One Son to load the original 'Windows' back onto it. I seem to have lost the 'Microsoft Word' programme, however, which I actually paid real money for, but no matter for the minute.

I've decided (well almost) to try a different sort of Blog post on you today, where I'll post a few pictures alongside a short explanation. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. (That's a quote from a wireless programme which was a 'must listen to' for my generation when we were little'uns. I'm sure that many of you will recall 'Listen with Mother', at least all of those who used to watch 'Picture Book' which was part of 'Watch with Mother'. Good old Daphne Oxenford, eh?)

Well, here we go, in no particular order!

This is a memorial plaque to John Browne-King, which is displayed in our local Church of England, Saint Alban's, Windy Nook.
I ventured in there a while ago, and was soon 'outed' as a Methodist to the lady vicar (by some of the Anglicans enjoying their regular coffee morning, whom I had foolishly mixed with in my youth).
The purpose of my visit, in addition to that of having some tea and homemade cake, was to actually look for this plaque, which I'd learned about at a display of items commemorating the Great War which had been  put on at the Methodist Chapel at The Felling. (Officially, the town is called just 'Felling', but is widely referred to as 'The Felling' because it originally was the place where they chopped down trees, so people would "Go to the felling" so to speak.)
Anyway, at the event at The Felling, I had come across an old newspaper which reported that Mr Browne-King had fired the first British shot of the Great War! What a surprise, but another feather in the cap of our little village of Windy Nook, where the biggest grindstone in the world had been quarried. And where (General) William Booth (perhaps) decided to start the Salvation Army, simply because the New Connexion Methodists of the Ebenezer Chapel, of which he was the minister, wouldn't let him impose his will upon the Society there. Mmmmmm!

And now for something completely different!

We've been having a few days out while Number One Son is at work and we're able to use his car. Saltwell Park is Gateshead's biggest and best park and we like to stroll around it and stop for the inevitable cuppa.
We came upon this illegal immigrant from North America, and a couple of his mates, in the 'Rose Garden'. He was certainly not afraid of humans, and seemed to have seen off the indigenous red squirrels. We had to travel to the Marine Park at South Shields to see some of them.
Sadly, they weren't real ones though, they're cast in iron on the park benches!

This plaque was affixed to one of the benches in the park. The Minchella family are a famous Italian Ice Cream family in South Shields, but on the day we visited I couldn't help but think that Toney would have had to wait a loooong time to get much sun there, poor beggar!


When I heard a train whistle sounding, I imagined one of those disgusting Disney type things trailing children around the other part of the park, but NO! I'd forgotten all about this beauty!


I cannot imagine the hours of work which must have gone into building such a marvellous model, but it's been there for a very long time, and I've no doubt given much pleasure to generations of small children.

For years and years, Dear Sister, Brother-in-Law and I have sung a traditional song about Admiral Lord Collingwood, who (as I'm sure you know, Dear Reader) was Nelson's right-hand-man. Well, on another trip out, we came upon his magnificent monument at North Shields (or maybe it's classed as Tynemouth?)

The plaque affixed to the monument explains it all.

Clicking on the picture should make it easier to read.

To get to Tynemouth, we drove through North Shields, where we noticed this, and felt homesick!


On the day that we visited Tynemouth (purely by coincidence) it was the annual Tynemouth Festival. There was a myriad of things going on. We had a little break from the festivities in the tearoom attached to No. 61 guest house. It's lovely!!!

I didn't quite fathom the significance of the Box Hedge Headed wedding party, I'd love to be enlightened!

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There were many stages erected along the middle of the market place for the various performers, where there's usually car-parking. This strange band were between stages, on the road, but they were very entertaining.

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There were mime artists, people performing short comic plays, and on a covered stage near the Priory there was a Dixieland Jazz Band playing too!

As you can imagine, it was a very busy and crowded Tynemouth on that day! On the way back we passed an undertaker's in Wallsend (where the Emperor Hadrian's Roman Wall finishes, keep up!) I was quite taken by the widow display in his shop:
Ho'way the Lads! Black and White even in death. Sad, or what?

I think we'll leave Barrie Bucknell for another day, and some more of our local summer travels. 

See Ya!

What do YOU think?

As this Blog is supposed to be about the everyday life of simple folk, in Luxor; I'm a bit reluctant to write about what's happening, and what those self-same simple folk are doing, here in good old Windy Nook!

As we've been wandering around, here and there, I've carried my trusty camera and taken a goodly number of pictures. But is it really right that these pics of lush green foliage, old buildings and classic English vehicles should appear on a Blog with the heading "Our Luxor B&B" Luxor life, slice by slice!? And yet; I feel as though I'm somehow letting the side down by ignoring the lovely people who've looked at 96,861 pages of my ramblings!!!! (And that's only since I put the counter on the Blog!)

We're starting to really miss being at our home in Luxor. Unless you know about the mysterious hold that that filthy little town manages to have over so many otherwise sane people, you might find it hard to understand, but it's real, right enough!

How about the following? Last weekend (Number-one-son being at work) we took his car (with a full tank of fuel, thank you son) for a ride to Raby Castle, where there was a classic vehicle show. It was very enjoyable, and we took a picnic which was augmented with some lovely pork pies from a stand at the show. There were also some stalls selling odd tools, scale models, manuals and various bits and bobs. But I managed to not spend anything there. (Actually, Freda wouldn't give me any money lol!!!) Anyway, here are a few pics of some of the cars etc.






OK, so I'm a bit of an old Land Rover freak!!!! Please don't hold it against me. There were also a good many other marques represented, including a rather nice Series 11 Morris Oxford, just like the one we ran for 12 years or so, and a couple of old MG saloon cars with "suicide" doors, just like the one which we had many many years ago. (Colloquialism: suicide doors = doors which open from the front, which are much easier to alight from) The show included some lovely Rolls Royce cars, and many others, and we could have stayed a lot longer, but for the intermittent rain and the patches of roe deer poo all over the grass! I was rather surprised to find that the only non-Land Rover picture I took was the following one, which is of the engine in a super-charged mini. In all my years of fixing motors, big and small; I'd never even heard of a super-charged mini! I snapped it because I thought that Number-one-son wouldn't believe me without proof! What an anorak, eh?

(Colloquialism: anorak = a person with an unutterably boring outdoor hobby, such as train or 'bus spotting which usually necessitates the wearing of an anorak to keep them dry in England's wet weather.)

On the way home (well, entailing only a short detour) we called at "Locomotion", the railway museum at Shildon in County Durham. I was astonished at the size of the place! And the number of trains on display!


There were some real beauties! We peered into the carriages of one of the old Royal Trains, wondering at the sheer opulence, but for some unknown reason, didn't take any more photo's!

Well, that was one excursion, I'll sort out the pictures from another in a few days.

For now: TTFN.

Brown Bread? (2)

Short answer: "No!"

Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I just haven't been inspired to post anything for a while, but now; I'm back!

While we're on the subject, it seems (hopefully) that the prognosis given by the Egyptian electrical gadjies (Colloquialism; gadjies = men) regarding my faithful old K'Archer friend was wrong! Although K'Archer weren't much help (they quoted me about £60 for a new motor when a new vacuum was about £58) I did decide to bother an old mate of mine, one "George the Racer". George is so called because of his mis-spent youth racing motorcycles. He raced in the Isle-of-Man TT Races at some time in the dim and distant past, and has maintained an interest in those machines throughout his life. His son, Steven, was a contemporary and friend of Number One Son and now competes in trials and stuff with his father's assistance. George's working life was mainly spent as a maintenance electrician in one of the very large engineering factories which used to abound here in the industrial North East of England. (All gone now, sadly.)

Anyway, I called to see him with the vacuum motor in my hand, me looking as forlorn as the motor! George is s bit of a softie when it comes to seeing people in distress, and when I asked if I might use his facilities to further my repair efforts, he immediately put aside the job he was doing and got stuck into mine. God bless him.

The motor was in bits in no time at all, and I was despatched to find a new ball-bearing. £4 secured a new one (according to the man in the bearing shop, it's a roller skate bearing!) and I soon was back at George's house. He made me leave it with him, and subsequently 'phoned me to collect it when he'd finished. (I just hope that I can remember how to put it back together again and haven't lost any of the other bits!) Here he is, in his lair:

I'm blessed with some really great friends!

(Edit: After looking at the post on the actual Blog, it struck me that George looked uncannily like the actor William Hartnell, in his most famous roll as the first incarnation of Dr Who, frock coat and all!!! Click on the pictures to get a better look.)


I think that that will do for the minute, I need to ease myself back into this gradually. TTFN.   

Brown Bread?

Years ago, I used to be an avid listener of the radio,  BBC Radio Two being my favourite station. On Saturday nights, I'd be driving around in my mini-bus delivering revellers here and there and tuned into the Martin Kelner late night radio show. On this show he had a feature called "Brown Bread", being a rhyming slang for "Dead"!

It worked with Martin giving a name, like Jack DeManio, or Englebert Humperdink, and contestants would phone in and tell him whether they thought that the named person was either dead or still alive. I cannot now remember whether any prizes were given, or the contestant just had the pleasure of knowing that they were right. Number One Son and I still might telephone one another occasionally and say "Jimmy Young (or whosoever); Brown Bread?"

Well, this is all working up to the fact that news reports of the demise of people "in the public eye" are not always true. For instance: In Cairo airport, on Tuesday as we were travelling home to Windy Nook, we came across the famous English All-in-Wrestler Mick McManus! There he was, as large as life, yelling instructions to other staff members (yes he's learnt Arabic) and directing passport wielding travellers on their way, you could have knocked me down with a feather!

No sooner had we left that part of the airport than we came across another 'mis-reported as dead' film star; one Boris Karloff, I was just about to type "as large as life" till I remembered that he was more likely to be as "large as the undead" when I remembered the type of role which made him a world-wide star.

The flight was relatively uneventful, I listened to my music whilst watching the two films in silent  mode; they're more fun that way, although it can be a bit difficult to catch the different nuances here and there. When the meals came around there was the usual choice of meat or chicken; we get one of each in the hope that one of them will have potatoes (for me) instead of rice. I opened the chicken one to find rice, and Freda opened the beef one to find what looked like a preformed slab of mashed potato. "Oh goody!" I exclaimed, and whipped it away from her.

The chunks of beef were a delight, no fat or gristle and in a small amount of tasty gravy, the veg were sliced carrots (very good) and pieces of something else which I couldn't actually identify (but which was OK). Then I cut into the potato and popped a forkful (metal cutlery as well!) into the expectant mouth, only to find that it wasn't potato after all, but homogenised rubber! What a surprise. (Freda said it must have been pasta; that foreign muck which the poor foreigners have to put up with because they don't have potatoes!) I did persevere with it, and actually forced down at least a quarter of it, but that was quite sufficient; I'm not  glutton for punishment.

Anyway, to get back to the theme of this posting; when we returned to Manchester International Airport, whom do you think we almost fell over? Davy Jones of the Monkees! Yes that's right, him that we've been told was actually Brown Bread. But he's not. He looks older mind you, with his hair, which he still wears long, going grey. And he's still wearing denim jeans as well; always a mistake on older gentlemen in my humble opinion.

But there you are, don't trust all that you read in the newspapers or see on the telly! Which reminds me of the kerfuffle regarding the imprisonment of the "Al Jazeera Three" in Egypt. Judging by much of the over-sensationalised and untrue reporting of Egypt's ongoing problems which I've actually seen for myself, along with the above posting, it just goes to show how dodgy it might be to call into question the Egyptian Court's opinion!

TTFN.

   

An extra night of luxury!

It never rains, but it pours! I'm sure that you're all familiar with that saying, it's often used allegorically as well, as in; you never get only one problem, they always come in multiples. Or in our case today; we didn't just have a good day at the Winter Palace, they fed and entertained us during the evening too! AND, they then changed our room for an even better one!

One of the managerial types engaged me in conversation this afternoon, and I said that we were happy with the room we had, even though it was a bit on the small side. Immediately, he offered to fix us up with a superior one.  Well, what could I say? Really?

So, here we are ensconced in our new room at the Winter Palace, for another two nights. Freda just doesn't want to leave! (Actually, this experience reminds me of once when we stayed at the Emilio Hotel, quite a few years back, with my brother Richard and Number One Son. The manager, Mr Shoucat, had us in 4 different rooms in the one week, and we'd spent two nights aboard a Nile cruiser! We had quite a turn with one of the rooms that he tried to get us into; there were already people in there, and asleep!) This room is a little better than any of the rooms we've had at the Emilio over the years, as you would expect.


Although this room must measure about the same as the last one; it certainly seems to have more usable space, plus, it has two bathrooms and a balcony! The view from the balcony over the Winter Palace gardens is magnificent.


And, over to the left, we can see into Abu El Haggag Square.


It's just lovely! We sat on the balcony for a while earlier; it was a real "balmy" evening, perfect for lovers. (Pity that it's us that are here, I can hear you say!)

Anyway, I'm getting in front of myself. After having a little siesta, we decided to have a slope around downstairs, among the common folk. Again, I got into conversation  with another of the 'management' types. (They just seem to home in on me, somehow.) Could I explain this certain English phrase in an invitation which they were handing out to the guests, as he hadn't come across it before and did't want the guests to think that the management were daft. I acquiesced and it was OK. He went on to personally invite us to this "do" which was a Music Festival, to be held tonight! Is the Pope Catholic? Especially when he mentioned that there was to be free food and drink provided as well!

The Music Festival (not a label I would have given) consisted of a horse dancing to the strains of a rabbaba band, followed by a very good (boy) Whirling Dervish. He, in turn, was followed by two enthusiastic young stick dancers, and then a four- man singing troupe with their own two drum accompanists, who were joined by three stilt-walkers, who were amazing! Although I took many pictures and a good few short videos of the various performers, I think that this short clip of the "Grand Finale" will suffice to give you a taste of the thing:

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The choice of drinks included everything except spirits, I think, and the food was laid out buffet style on the Nile Terrace, where we were entertained by a very pleasant violin player. I tried, from the small heated tureens, kofta, fish and chicken, along with a goodly selection of small open sandwiches, including; cream cheese, turkey and cheese, pate, tuna.......I can't remember the rest, there were so many!


I remember when the Winter Palace Butler (that's him on the left) young Mr Ahmed, first started at the New Winter Palace as a trainee waiter, he learned a lot of his good attitude from Mr Bassem, who was a real Hercule Poirot type of character; waxed moustache and everything, and he was fitted with wheels, I'm sure! Anyway, it meant that we didn't need to buy any dinner, as we'd been well fed.

The evening was rounded off by the appearance of this man in a replica of a 500 year old uniform:


He was something to do with the ceremonial lighting of the foyer candles, I think:

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One of the best things about this little holiday is the fact that we aren't having to suffer the consequences of having no electricity during this oppressive heatwave, role on Autumn, when the electricity usage will come down with the temperature and we'll all be happy again. 

Not my words!!!

One of our neighbours, Mr. Mohamed the ancient English speaking guide, has a saying for when the inevitable happens, i.e. the expected workmen, delivery or whatever don't or doesn't arrive…. "Bloody W**s!" he'll shout out. As you know, Dear Reader, I wouldn't dream of using such a derogatory expression, but lately 
I've been sorely tempted. 

I've been told by my editor that I cannot print THAT word in its full form as someone with a chip on their shoulder could take offence and report me to the thought police and I might get locked up

I've been working away quite well, making the frame for the stair window, re-designing the guest bathroom and trying to make good the shoddy workmanship of the Egyptian tilers and plumber. "Now just hang on there for one cotton-picking minute!" I know exactly what you're thinking, because I've been there before you, and asked the same obvious question. "Why didn't I just bite the bullet and pay the first (recommended) tilers and plumber their ridiculous prices?" I've thought long and hard on this, and to be perfectly honest I don't think it would have made a blind bit of difference, except that I would have paid out several times more money for work which I still wouldn't have been happy with! (The situation reminds me of the old undertaker adage, "What's the difference between a three hundred pound coffin and a seven hundred pound coffin?" Answer: "Four hundred pounds!") Never fear though, even though I definitely don't want to add these trades to my ever lengthening CV, I will make their sow's ears into silk purses, mark my words! (What a lot of exclamation marks.)

Here's a shot of a little of the damage that the tilers did whilst removing the old bottom row of tiles, in all they damaged 9 of the tiles which were to remain in 
place.


(The tiles are really white, but my dodgy camera skills are self evident, as usual.) 

I've been using some architectural uPVC (plastic window stuff!) at home in England, and brought a few small pieces with us to Luxor, as I thought that I might find a use for it here to make a small cupboard type of thing to cover the pipework in the shower. Of course, after making some lovely 45 degree cuts for the outside framework, I found that the flat pieces I had just weren't big enough, job stopped   


I had a Paul of Tharsus moment, when I suddenly realised that some could come to my rescue and be used to re-style the lower part of the shower, and without looking at all out of place either. Of course, it isn't available in Luxor, or anywhere in Egypt as far as I can ascertain, so it will have to be brought here via  
our 17 stone luggage allowance on EgyptAir when we return after the summer. Job stopped 

 The other project, making the stairs a bit more sound and cigarette smoke proof,  is also on hold, again! I got friend Abdu, the Karnak joiner, to cut and machine the first and most important pieces of timber and picked them up in the caleche of Mr Ahmed. All well and good! By the time I got around to pretending to be a joiner, and putting into practice some of the skills which Piggy-Man Jenkins had instilled within me at Jarrow Grammar School, some of the timber had twisted. Just a fraction, mind you, but when I had cut my intricate joints squarely, they didn't fit too well. They'll be alright though, don't worry



I have to admit that I was quite proud of the finished result, a bit of Dave King syndrome again, I fear. Eventually, I managed to get Abdu to come to see what I needed him to do next, as there's still quite a few pieces of queer-shaped timber needed to fit in here and there between our well misaligned flights of stairs. (The Egyptian Way, you know!)

Being a self-confessed THICKO, I'd forgotten that, since Ramadan is almost upon us, Abdu the joiner would be stowed-off with work, it's coming out of his ears!!! The Egyptians have to have everything sparkling and new (if the cash is available, that is) for the Holy Month of Ramadan. It's like our Christmas and New Year rolled into one, as far as showing off is concerned. So, that job is also at a standstill!

"Never mind," says I, "I've got plenty of cleaning and the like to get on with in the meantime. It's less than a week till we go home, anyway." Horror of horrors! My faithful old friend; the K'Archer 2101 vacuum cleaner, which I bought second-hand from "Ken the Builder" at Pelaw in 2007, started making an awful noise. Being of an engineering bent, I recognised the sound as that of a bearing having gone West. (Colloquialism: Gone West = broken, worn out.)I stripped out the motor and took it (confidently) to the Christian electrical repair men behind the suq, the one's who re-wind the big electric motors (do keep up!). I was dreadfully disappointed when two of them told me that it was beyond repair, and needed replacing. On returning home, I decided to have a go myself! I got so far, I can see the collapsed bearing, but it just doesn't want to break-down any further! There's a rubbery plastic part, which seems to have fastenings embedded into it, and they are completely inaccessible. Another job abandoned for the duration! I've emailed K'Archer in England regarding the availability and cost of a new motor, but as yet they haven't bothered to reply.  (What I cannot say about them is "Bloody W**s!")





Even with all this frustration and upset, we still had our little holiday travelling around England to see a few of our sadly missed friends, to look forward to. WRONG! As we've had to spend so much recently; we can no longer afford to stay at the pleasant guest houses which we had booked. We might yet still get away, but only if Freda can be persuaded to rough it in the odd Travelodge, and if they can be booked cheaply!

Instead though, Dear Reader, we're having a short break , here in Egypt! At the Winter Palace, no less. (No, not the New Winter Palace, which was demolished six years ago, or even the Pavilion Wing, but the real thing!)

Once upon a time, EBookers were advertising the Winter Pavilon (it's French, dontchaknow) for 71 GBP per room B&B for two nights, including taxes etc. On top of that, booking through "Quidco" Freda could get a 10% cash-back deal, which would bring the price down to 63 quid. Not at all bad for the two of us to escape the twice daily power cuts (the temperatures are crippling at the moment, running in the high 40's) and to pig out on a good breakfast with no washing up or bedmaking to contend with. Then, we realised that the Pavilion Wing was actually closed, and that we would be upgraded to the actual "Winter Palace". Well!!!!! What would you do?

So, here I am, mid-afternoon (when we'd normally be experiencing our first power cut of the day) luxuriating in our beautifully cool (NILE VIEW) room at the Old Winter Palace, while Freda gently snores away taking her afternoon nap. It's like a foretaste of Heaven!

Being the second cheapest room type, the regular cost per night is only 600 Euros, with breakfast adding on only another 180 EGP each. (See the picture below of the rate table on the back of the door, and that's for last year!) Although we don't have a balcony, we do have a nice view of the Nile Terrace and the West Bank. The room is four and a quarter metres high a has about 20 square metres of floor space plus the bathroom. Not huge, but perfectly adequate, and very comfortable. The 180EGP breakfast went down very well, I can tell you! (In fact, it may have even surpassed the famous "Our Luxor" breakfast, but at six times the price, it should have done, don't you think?)



All-in-all, we've ended up having a 530 pound holiday for 63 pounds! Can't be bad, by anyone's calculation! I know that it's bucked me up, no end!!!! Here's a few pics, just to prove to you that we're here:



Our corridor Northwards


Our corridor Southwards


Nile View


Breakfast room


Flower Arranger in Foyer

Chandelier


Our room 


Our room

After all that, it's actually good to be alive, eh?