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.

What have you been up to?

Or, as the "Wenches" from Wolverhampton might say (or even sing!) "What's the story in Balamory?" (The Wenches being any number of four sisters from that area, who were regular visitors to Luxor, before the revolution and great friends of ours. One in particular would sing along with our youngest while parading along the Corniche. Much to the amusement of passers by.) Balamory was a children's TV programme set in the fictional utopian Scottish seaside village of the same name, populated by children who were seemingly of every colour and race under the sun, and likewise the adults; of every colour, sexual orientation and level of physical ability. So, much like every other utopian village in Scotland, eh?

I'm not naive enough to believe that you're all going to write in and tell us all about your day-to-day goings on, I'm just trying to flannel you into thinking that, like Balamory, I'm also being a bit "inclusive" while I bore you to death with what we've been doing!

Well now that I've got that admission of guilt off my chest, let me tell you about our visit to the "Christmas Markets" in Edinburgh. If you just look on it as a review, then it mightn't seem to self-important or boring, eh?

The trip was all arranged online whilst we were still in Luxor; clever things computers! It all started when Freda decided that she wanted to make more use of our "Old People's Rail Cards", before they ran out on 15th of December. York, maybe? No, Edinburgh, where she'd seen this European Christmas Market advertised somewhere. We invited sister Sister Susan and Uncle Roy to join us, as we usually have a good time when the four of us are together. Freda arranged it (including high tea at a particularly nice looking hotel) before you could say "Jack Robinson". (Although I've no idea why most people would want to say "Jack Robinson", it's a rather silly saying, isn't it?)

I'm getting to really enjoy train journeys, and this one wasn't an exception. Starting with a short car journey to the Metro Station at the Felling and on to a crowded Metro train right into Newcastle Central Station. I was rather apprehensive, as one of our four return tickets had mistakenly not been sent out in advance, and the ticket which we got from the machine was for "Off-Peak" travel only, and 08:45 certainly isn't "Off-Peak"! But after the ticket inspector gave our tickets just a cursory glance before stamping them, I breathed a sigh of relief, and got down to enjoying the day properly!

That's Uncle Roy's nut in the foreground, with the seat reservation ticket stuck in the top of his seatback.

On exiting Edinburgh Waverly Station, we were met by a rather frightening sight!

Can you see those flying around things? They've got people in them Aaaarrrggh!

After such a long journey, some of us needed refreshment. Jenner's (the big, world famous, department store on Princes Street) did me an acceptable breakfast of bacon, haggis and egg on a hugely thick piece of toast. (I don't usually have two breakfasts, but hey, I was on holiday!) The other wimps only had a drink and cake, which was rather a waste when you're in such a nice place:

This is the real Christmas tree stretching over the whole three floors of Jenner's store. (How did they get it in?????)

Then we ventured the short distance across the road to view the first of the Christmas Markets. Here was the "European" Market. Actually, it was a collection of stalls, most of which were repeated over and again about five or six times! Although they were interesting and relatively "foreign" the repeats did get to be a bit boring after a while. (I mean; just how many "Hot Apple/Drambuie Toddys" can one man take?)

There were one or two distinctly individual stalls, like the one selling wooden ties! I thought that they were quite novel, but at £20 a go, they were a bit rich for yours truly!

Another was selling decorative thingies made of very thin metal and cut in concentric circles and hanging so that they could spin. But they were bent in to such shapes as to create different patterns whilst they span! Actually amazing, but watching them for even a minute or so made me feel quite queezy! No thanks.

High tea was booked for 3 o'clock, but by 2 we were getting chilly. It wasn't really raining, but it was cold and dismal and various feet and backs and legs were starting to play-up. We made our way, via Penhaligon's (where they had some lovely men's fragrance called Levantine (or something like that) which I tried and coveted, but which was £120 a shot!!!!!!!) and several other smellies selling boutiques, whilst admiring some of Edinburgh's beautiful architecture (Edinburgh has a boatload of lovely buildings), to the Howard Hotel: http://www.thehoward.com/   Freda wanted me to slip one of their chandeliers into the poacher's pocket of my Barbour coat, but I didn't want to hump it around for the rest of the day:

We arrived about a half hour early, but it wasn't a problem. The tea was very nice, and filling too. (We'd eaten most of the sandwiches by the time I remembered to take the picture, lol!)

We were thoroughly warmed through by the time we left some two hours later. The Howard was only a ten  minute walk from Princes Street, in an area dominated by arty establishments, more galleries than you could shake a stick at! And unexpected places too:

Who would ever have thought that there was such an organisation as "The Trout Anglers Club", never mind that they would have expensive premises in Edinburgh?

This is the "Royal College of Physicians", stunning, eh? 

We made our way back towards Princes Street via the so-called "Scottish Christmas Market". What a disappointment, there wasn't even a piper!!!! But at least the stalls weren't repeated every few yards! There were a few stalls which were genuinely innovative in my opinion. I bought an apposite Christmas present for Number One Son (which I obviously cannot tell you about, in case he looks on here) and Sister Sue bought some dear fudge for our dear mother. There was a helter-skelter in the middle of the gathering, and plenty of opportunities to get drunk.

I thought that I was drunk when I noticed this:

El Dorado brought to Scotland, perhaps? They must have got special permission from the Queen to do that, surely?

By the time we got back to the main event, the crowds had truly arrived, There was a good atmosphere as the people roamed around or queued in the dark for the fearsome rides:



There was also another ride specifically for softies like me, but I didn't fancy it either:

The Scotchies had some pretty impressive Christmas lights too:


And some of their lovely buildings were draped like Christmas trees:

Whilst others relied on their usual lighting to emphasize their grandeur:

By the time we had meandered back to Waverly Station, I was ready for a sit down, as were the others I believe. The waiting train was a sight for sore eyes!


The Journey!

Well, what can I say?

The trip started off well enough, with Mr Ayman, our regular taxi man, arriving on time with a clean car with room in the boot (trunk, for our American friends) for the baggage and enough "benzine".

As usual, I had my trusty shifter (Colloquialism: shifter = adjustable or adjustable wrench.) from Mr "Snap-On Tools" with me as I took the luggage downstairs.

This is to remove the handles from the mains water taps (faucets) so that no-one can mess with them whilst we're away. I put the handles, fixing nuts and shifter in the little pocket in the top of my "TripAdvisor" haversack, where they stay until we return to Luxor, so that getting the water on is one of the first things I can do when entering the building. (Mind you, this time I forgot to turn the electricity off at the main switch, which is in a pad-locked wooden box, and had to get our friend "Slack Alis" to go and dismantle said box and switch the leccy off for us.) Never  mind!

Service at the airport was fine, although our second case (which was completely empty) did cause a raised eyebrow or two. After getting rid of the large cases, we sat on the sofas opposite the international departures check-in for quite a while filling in the emigration forms, and without having to buy anything to eat or drink, as the snack-bar wasn't yet open. I do like this part of our journey, as it's a great tourist-watching opportunity!

Upstairs at the airport, in the duty-free, we managed to find some menthol fags (Colloquialism: fags = cigarettes, not people of a certain sexual orientation!) for Number-One-Son and Number-One-Son-In-Law, and then joined the shortish queue for the actual departure lounge.

This is when the wheel fell off! (Another colloquialism: "wheel fell off" = a catastrophe occurred.)

Security at Luxor International has been strengthened dramatically! At every transfer from one section of the airport to the next, our paperwork wasn't just checked (as usual) it was "inspected"...........twice! With the current perceived threats (even if they aren't actually real) I wouldn't really complain about additional security measures; like everyone having to remove their shoes before going through the magnetic thingy at the departure lounge entrance. Like a good lad, I'd removed my watch, switched off my 'phone and also placed my keys in Freda's handbag. I was therefore rather surprised when I was asked to open my little haversack!

"You have a 'key' or something in there?" said the officer. Of course, me knowing Arabic English, I realised immediately that he was referring to my shifter. As I retrieved it from the small pocket, I explained to him that I had used it to dismantled the taps at my home, and needed it with me to reassemble them when I returned, quite simple, really. He took it from me and laid it on the desk, while saying that I also had something with a battery in it. Laptop, tablet, phone? No, it was my nose and ear hair trimmer! I remonstrated with him that I wouldn't be able to trim my nose hairs while flying, but he was having none of it; he wanted the battery taken out! I subsequently picked up the shifter as he inspected the Energiser AA battery.

"No, no, that stays here!" "No, no it blooming doesn't!!!! That's a lot of English pounds there Matey." He realised that I meant business, and called for a supervisor. I made it quite plain to him, too, that I was not willing to just lose the tool, and that if it could not accompany me into the cabin of the plane, then it would have to go into my checked baggage. I was duly packed off back to the check-in, where my cases were sent for and eventually arrived. After that, and queuing again for the departure lounge for about 15 minutes, everything else went reasonably smoothly. Of course, they were wary of me being able to dismantle the plane with my shifter. It certainly couldn't have been that they suspected that I might use the tool as a weapon, as they freely passed weapons around to everyone on the plane when the meal was served; proper metal cutlery!!!!!

You see this bloke?............

Yes, that's him; Stratford Johns, aka Chief Inspector Charlie Barlow of "Z Cars" fame. ("Z Cars" was a long-running British TV series about fictional policemen and their trials and tribulations in a Liverpool suburb in the 60's.) You thought that he'd been dead since 2002, didn't you, Dear Reader? Well, you'd just be wrong, again!

He must have been drinking from the fountain of eternal youth, as we came across him stewarding on our EgyptAir flight to London Heathrow! Honestly, it was him, just looking younger and speaking Arabic instead of Scouse! Strange, eh? (It's all the fault of with that modern commercial television channel; "ITV" is it?)

It's bedtime here in WN, so goodnight and God bless.

Another year of life at "Our Luxor" hurtles towards a close!

Yes friends, our last guests of 2014 have now left us and are wending their weary way to Aswan, via the temples at Edfu and Kom Ombo, and then on to the magnificent Rameses Temples at Abu Simbel.

Although they were only with us for a day and a half, I think they managed to get a good taste of what Luxor is about. And they were nice people, which makes all of our recent work (in order to accommodate them) all the more worthwhile. Y'all come back now!

So now we've got to pack up the two apartments before we head off back to Windy Nook for our Christmas holidays. But we've still got a little hob-nobbing to do before we go. This afternoon, for instance, we're meeting a regular visitor, and a good friend, at the Winter Palace for tea. We'll have a great time just rabbiting on about Luxor and our different experiences and preferences regarding the place and its people. We're actually meeting Margaret, our friend with the ornithologist husband who keeps us right with our bird sightings, she's great fun to be with. We've also one or two other people to see before we head off, and we're certain to fit them in between stripping beds and taking down curtains etc and continually feeding the washing machine (again!).

We bumped into Margaret at the Winter Palace the other day, just by chance. We'd called in for a cuppa, and there she was, with a pot of (I think) hot chocolate, well it is winter coming on, you know! Before we left, I had occasion to visit the gents, where I had a totally unexpected "assignation"?

There I was, completely minding my own business, when a chap positioned himself at the next urinal and said "Afternoon," "Good afternoon", I replied as politely as usual. "You live here, don't you?" "For my sins", came the involuntary reply. It turned out that he'd actually recognised me as the writer of this Blog! So then, "Hello there, Bob from Derbyshire, I hope you had a safe and pleasant journey home and that you are, even now, planning your next visit to our second home; Luxor. Maybe we will meet again, but hopefully in a slightly more congenial setting, next time?"

I've been putting a few new pictures on our new website. (You can view it and them by clicking HERE ) It's a bit queer that I can get more in to the pictures with this camera than with the last one. I don't pretend to understand it at all, but I hope that you'll enjoy them anyway. I'll be changing some of the pictures on "Welcome to Our Luxor" (top right-hand side of this page) on the Blog as well, soon. So keep an eye out for them, too.

Unless something earth-shattering occurs before Monday; the next entry on here will be from good old Windy Nook. I look forward to you joining me there.

Bye for now.

p.s. How many of you remember old Mr Mohamed, from next door?

Well, he was 85 last week (still is, actually!) and he's now, sadly, suffering from Parkinson's disease. He fell down the other day, but happily without physically damaging himself, so I presented him with a stout walking stick, just to steady himself. He seems to be using it, and I hope that it'll save him  going down again. Keep him in mind now and then, won't you? I hope he's still here when we return after Christmas. 

FIRE!!!! And other interesting pictures. (?)

Who amongst you can now remember "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown"' 50 or so years farther on? I can. He was a bit of a one-hit-wonder with his record of the same title as this post, well the first word, anyway.  I drew back our livingroom curtains, the other night, to be panicked by the following sight:

You can see why, can't you, Dear Reader? I really thought that the whole of the rooftop flat opposite was going up in flames! The roof is just made of plywood sheets with a thin layer of sand and cement over the top, you can see the light shining through the gap between the boards and the mudbrick wall at about two o'clock in the picture. 
However, after coming into my senses once again, I did notice the man of the house, with a feather fan in his right hand. He was fanning the flames whilst also fanning away the smoke. Have you sussed it yet? That's right, he was doing the manly thing which men do all over the world; being in charge of the barbecue!!! (Which was out of my line of sight, below the wall of the tiny balcony outside of their front door.) His little wife kept appearing at the door, wafting her hand in front of her face, as if to say "Get back in the house you, and let me do it for heaven's sake!!" Panic over.

(Now then, how's this for a link?) 

Arthur Brown's FIRE!! was rubbish, as is this following picture;

I was on my way to the bakery, when I heard a wagon coming up behind me very slowly. As he passed me by, I did notice that the driver had a couple of bags (goodies saved from the bins, no doubt) on the passenger seat next to him. I don't know what sort of goodies he had saved, but they involved having the driver's cab literally swarming with flies! I couldn't have stood it, I readily admit. 

When he had passed by, I realised why he was driving so gingerly (Colloquialism: gingerly = with extreme care) the wagon had no tailboard, and bouncing about the uneven back streets of Luxor would have had a significant portion of his load back on the ground!

I don't actually know what happens to the rubbish which the Amoun men collect. I have seen some rubbish on boats crossing the river to the West Bank, with young boys having a final sort through it before it gets there, where there are smallish trucks waiting to load it up once it arrives. I'd hate to think that it just gets dumped out in the desert somewhere; I have seen rubbish dumped out there, but it's always been specialist rubbish, like pieces of shoes or old bones from a butcher, but not household waste and the like.

Then, whilst "teaing" at the Nile Palace, we noticed this:
It's a relatively large rubbish boat! But this one isn't crossing over, it's travelling North, down the river, To who knows where?

Here's another good link:

Whilst mentioning the Nile Palace and rubbish, what's the problem in this picture?

Now then, you all know how we love the Nile Palace (as well as the Winter Palace, which we'll come to on another day.) But everywhere has its problems. The biggest problem is the "Egyptian"! The Steigenberger Nile Palace is not a new hotel any more, but although it is still very well-kept, it has had to have quite a lot of refurbishment done over the years. Not least having the outside wrought-ironwork painted. Have you seen the problem yet?

Counting from the left, look carefully at the iron uprights numbers 2 and 3, especially at the collars near the bottom, which are supposed to represent mounting plinths. All they need is to be tapped down into place with a hammer to look right, but they've been left like that since the hotel was built (along with a great many more!). That's what I mean by the "Egyptian"; they honestly don't notice such things. Anything so out of place would normally drive us crazy (well, it would, and does, me) but they just pass them by! I cannot figure it out. 

Another bit of rubbish is our Internet connection, look at this:

The graph shows the upload and download speeds attained by our Etisalat mobile internet connection. As you can plainly see, it's normally working at about zero kilobites per second (actually point something or other) and then suddenly leaps up to thousands of kbps, but just for a second or so. I'm getting really sick of waiting and waiting for pages to load.

Egypt? Huh!!!!!

Then, today, whilst I was getting the bread and Freda was waiting outside the bakery, she was almost knocked over by an idiot with a baby camel! It seemed like he was showing it off to the locals and putting his hand out for money. (Rather like some of the tomb and temple Guardians who point to an obelisk, say "obelisk" and then put their hands out fpr a tip!) It wasn't until I'd re-emerged from the bakery that I realised what the  camel man was actually about. Have a look at the picture below, and see if you can guess.

The clue is in the contraption on the camel's back, which resembles an open book. That's right, Dear Reader; it contains an open Koran! I've got to say that it rather took me by surprise that a demonstrably devout Muslim would allow a Koran to be in such close proximity to such a filthy beast, as Muslims are usually so protective of their "Book", but, you live and learn, eh? Money talks!