Some Mothers do 'ave 'em!

I often wonder just what my poor old Mother did to deserve three children like us! For instance, here I am, messing about, 3000 miles (or so) away from her in "The Land That time Forgot", while my sister and brother (and I mustn't forget my wonderful B-I-Law) have taken on my share of seeing to the things which she just cannot quite manage herself.

But we're a queer crowd! I know that my siblings won't be upset at me saying this, as we published a proper hard-back book a couple of years ago entitled "Far from Normal", and written by the three of us. Not as you might imagine, in collaboration, but in spite of each other. It was a book recalling our personal memories from childhood, and some of the same incidents came out of our memories very differently! I was truly amazed that the other two recollected certain things entirely differently to me, how could that be?

Tonight I was brought up very sharply, when I looked at my feet! It was the beginning of my realising just how these things can come about.

Now then, I don't know whether I've told you about my bunions, Dear Reader, but suffice it to say that they aren't very nice. Neither to look at or to have! When they were first forming, they were very painful, I didn't want my footwear to touch them at all, if possible. After my doctor advised me to see a podiatrist (which I had to pay for) who would offer help and advice and possibly some special shoes (which I would also have to shell out for!) the solution I eventually conjured up was some cheap and nasty, pretend, Crocs! You've seen them, lots of tourists wear them, in particular Japanese tourists here in Luxor. But these are the real cheap and nasty version! The first pair I ever had were put out on the rood terrace to dry (after being in the washing machine) and they shrank about three sizes!!!!

Anyway, I now buy them in a size 10, even though I'm really an 8 and 1/2. They're so much wider, you see, and don't rub against the protruding bone. They're also nice and soft under foot, even though they're a good inch or so too long. I look rather like an Egyptian. (Now don't tell me that you haven't noticed that many Egyptians look as if they've put on someone else's ship-ships [sandals] by mistake, either because their heels are hanging over the back edge or they're slopping about in them like model boats in the bath!)

Well, I've paid as little a £4.99 at Aldi for them, and the last pair were (I think) £9.99 at Tesco. They're all pretty much of a muchness (Colloquialism: much of a muchness = very similar, nothing to choose between them.) but come in a variety of colours. I've currently got two black pairs and a darkish blue pair here with me in Luxor. I've left two pairs at home in Windy Nook as well. They just throw in the washing machine, the shoe-shine boys don't bother me as I roam around the streets here, and I just sling them in the rubbish when I start to feel the gravel through the sole. Great!

Except today, Dear Friend!

After spending a long long time getting to sleep last night, I had a lie-in this morning, but I was determined to get out and about today.
Never mind, we were snoozing on the bed, this afternoon, when a loud bang brought us to our senses! It was an electrical loud bang, I'm sure you know what I mean by that, like the main cables in the nearby electrical junction box had been flashed together......BANG! The power went off.

Now then, it was showing 44,6 degrees of that Centigrade heat, out on the terrace, and we knew that inside would soon be up to that temperature as well! It was obviously time to de-camp to somewhere with good air-conditioning. The Nile Palace beckoned.

I had a quick shave, with minimal water (no electric water pump) and poor lighting (obvious!) while Freda got dressed, and off we toddled.

The Nile Palace was heaving! There was yet another conference sort of thing on, it's maybe just as well that tourist numbers are down!!!!! There were also some very obvious "security" men wandering about; eyes everywhere, looking furtive and, if I'm entirely honest, a bit sinister. As we approached the seating area where we usually plant ourselves, we came across the security men's charges. It was Luxors young Governor and his family, here to dine at the Thai restaurant. We only mix with the best, you know, no hoy-poloy when we're about. Lots of the staff made a point of stopping to speak to us, managers, the head chef, head waiter, as we haven't been frequenting there as much as usual. I don't care what anyone thinks, it's nice to feel that you're important to someone and that you really are welcome!

We had a lovely time there, and then went shopping via our caleche mate and then home. It wasn't till much later that I noticed this:

Yes Dear Reader, I'd been swanning about like Lord Muck, all afternoon, with two odd plastic shoes on!!!!! And there's my Mother sometimes wondering if she's losing her mind when she cannot finish the Daily Mail crossword?

I ask again, what did she do to deserve children like this?

Ships that pass in the night?

I find that I'm more easily brought to tears as I get older! What a wuss, eh, Dear Reader? It happens while I watch "pretend" things on the telly, or when I remember particular (mainly family) things. I know that it's stupid, it's just that I cannot control my emotions as well as I used to be able to.

Friends in trouble, of whatever sort, can bring this flood of emotions to the surface too. And then; who do we count as a "friend"? I've always been a bit of a sucker, as far as making friends goes. A few have turned out to never have been any such thing, and cost me cash as well as heartache. But mainly, I manage to rub along with most of the people whom I would refer to as "friends".

This subject has come to light, and to the forefront of my thoughts, just today, after meeting with a friend for a cup of tea at the Winter Palace. This particular friend, we've known for a few years. She's a regular visitor here, we've had no commercial dealings with her, but we have a common love of "Things Egyptian", I don't know how else to put it. We aren't actually bosom buddies, more like the "Ships that pass in the night" of the title, but our relationship is important to me, and I/we do care about her and her situation.

As you can imagine, we've made many such friends through being here in Luxor, and even one or two by them reading the rubbish which I occasionally write on here! So different too. Each and every one seems to have made a little home in my heart, don't ask me why; that would be something else to add to the ever growing list of things which I just don't know!

Two ladies whom we've met here, and grown very attached to, will not be back as they are both desperately ill, in fact, I don't even know if we'll ever see them or hear from them again. That makes me so sad, that if I allowed myself to dwell on it, I would soon find tears trickling down my cheeks again! Another (a real Egypt lover, and I'm not talking Egyptian man there!) is not able to return because she just isn't fit enough to cope with it all. She'd be here tomorrow, I'm sure, if she was able. Her sadness at not being able to travel also makes me so sad. Will we see her again? I very much doubt it. Although we do still email I imagine that she finds even that a bit upsetting.

Other, regular, travelling friends who seemed to belong here (as visitors, I mean) no longer come, and I've no idea why, I'm saddened that they don't reply to my emails and text messages. Ships that pass in the night, again. I know that some have moved on to pastures new, as I see them posting here and there on the Internet, but I'm sad that their ship won't come back this way, and that they seem to be able to easily forget about those whose lives they've touched along the way. I cannot do that!

Twice in the last two days we've supped tea or coffee at the Winter Palace, both times with English friends which we have made here in Egypt. Here's a little video of someone else having "Tea at the Winter Palace", but they didn't have to pay!

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Cheeky little Blighter!

Yes, Dear Reader, we've made a lot of these friends in Luxor, many different nationalities, single, married, living in sin even!!!! But they've all made their mark on this overly emotional old man who sometimes records his experiences or feelings here.

We walked back from the WP, out of the back door and along Manchiya, past the station and down our street. On the way, I couldn't help but notice the following anomaly. Only in Egypt, once again, I fear:

Now, I don't find that sad! But I'm not sure of exactly why you would want to build your house around a lamp post/telegraph pole.

I'm off now Dear Reader, as it's turned 1 o'clock. But don't you be content to just pass in the night, like ships on a dark sea, cherish your friends for as long as you have them. They won't always be there!

Why do today, what you can put off 'til tomorrow?

Or perhaps; Procrastination is the thief of time, or yet; The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!

Grovel, grovel, grovel! I truly believe, Dear Reader (if you're still there, that is!) that I have become infected with the seeming Egyptian ailment of having no "get-up-and-go". You wouldn't believe the number of times that I've remonstrated with myself over not keeping you up-to-date with life "on the edge" here in Luxor.

But; enough of this navel gazing and general despondency. I've reached the grand old age of 65 today, and I'm pleased to be here, and as pleased as Punch to be able to write these thoughts and reports for you, oh long-suffering subscriber to this Blog!

If you're in the habit of looking at the various forums (fora? I don't know) about Luxor, you'll be aware that there have been problems for those of us who are here for the longer term, regarding visas. Well, I'm delighted to tell you that we got ours yesterday. So we're reasonably confident that we'll be able to report to you for yet another twelve-month (Insh'Allah!).

I've just been reading Mara Vaughan's Blog (http://marahouseluxor.com/egypt-2011-2016-is-it-safe/)
and realise that we two aren't all that far apart with our view of safety here in the Land of the Pharaohs. However, it seems that the rest of creation isn't on the same wavelength, as tourists are very thin on the ground here. So few and far between are they, that life is becoming boring for the likes of us, that's what I blame my lack of enthusiasm on......no excitement or entertainment!!!!!

Never mind, that's got my rant for today out of the way. Now let's see if I cannot find some pictures or prose to grab your interest?

Ah, yes! We travelled to Hurghada to fly home for Easter! It's all coming back to me, as if from a half-forgotten dream.

I don't like the road to Hurghada, and I'd rather just not bother going there at all, but when the flight price is half of what you'd usually pay, and the destination airport is more than a hundred miles nearer your home and accessible by your son's car; the figures just take over!

But the journey, in itself, was quite uneventful, and boring! Except when going through Qina, when we came across lots of old Eltramco mini-buses!

Now then, I hadn't seen one of these for many a long year, they were manufactured in Cairo by the Egyptian Light TRAnsport Manufacturing COmpany, and used (nationwide, I should imagine) as local public service vehicles. We had them in Luxor when we first came here; always with the bonnets (hoods, to our American friends) open to try to cool the engines. I cannot find out very much about the company, but it seems they stopped trading in 1972, so these mini-buses are likely to be almost 45 years old! Mind you, I take my hat off to the Egyptian coachbuilders and repairers, some of these old things looked brand spanking new, alloy wheels and everything!


One or two, I noticed, had Isuzu badges stuck on, they probably had Isuzu engines, one would think.

In Luxor, they've been replaced by (almost exclusively) Toyota Hi-Ace micro-buses. They're more practical, with their sliding entrance doors; especially when there's a need to carry standing passengers!

I really don't think that Her Majesty's Traffic Commissioners would take kindly to carrying passengers on the step of an outward opening door!

The next point of interest (for me, anyway) was two dead buses at the half-way rest point.


A queer little pair, I'm sure you'll agree.

It seemed as if it took an age to get to Hurghada, in fact it was only about 4 hours, but too long! The airport is pleasant enough, but with a lot more alcohol swilling going on than we're used to, or care to see! On the plane (Monarch) quite a number of passengers only stopped slurping to either yell at their friends or go to sleep. All very well if that's your "bag", but we won't be doing it again in a hurry.

The holiday at home in Windy Nook was great. Great to see all our family, great to see friends, and for me; great to be able to join the Chapel choir to sing The Crucifixion on Good Friday! We had help from a couple of other local chapels, and new soloists. (The tenor was fabulous!) If you're interested, here is a recording of the whole thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_9ieLBJPH4 It's a very emotional piece!

I was also delighted to be able to join with many of the same folk when we went to the fantastic Beamish Museum, to sing old hymns in the reconstructed Methodist Chapel there one Saturday, The many people who wandered in to hear (and some also joined in) these great hymns seemed to enjoy themselves, so it was well worthwhile.

Of course, I haven't mentioned (yet!) my new melodeons!!! One is still in bits, that's the one I published the pictures of. It has a major problem which I haven't been able to do anything about, as yet, but time will tell. 

Another one also had some major problems, but I was able to fix them with some advice, ingenuity and homemade tools. Here's a few pics of some of the repair work and one of the melodeon itself. It's roughly the same age as my first one, I think, about 100 years old. 



The other (latest) melodeon is a more modern (and higher quality) Hohner 1-row. Number-One-Son bought it for me as an early birthday present, it's so loud that I'm afeared to play it sometimes! But I love it. It even came in its own box!

I've brought that one with me, to play here in Egypt in order to stop me going mad with boredom. It's kept in the bathroom, so the bits of leather won't dry out and start to leak air, it's a terrible thing to have leaky bellows, you know.

I'd better get some shut-eye, I think, as we're off to the Nile Palace at about 4 o'clock, to meet with some long-time tourists whom we haven't been able to meet with for a few years.

I'll be back!



Didn't we have a loverly time, the day we went to.............

Yes, Dear Reader, that's part of the first line of a song by 1980's one-hit-wonders; Fiddler's Dram. They went to Bangor, in North Wales, but we were priviledged to go to Aswan! And we went in some style, on the Royal Viking Nile Cruiser, again!

So, why did we choose to sail on the RV (Royal Viking) for the third time in less than a year? Of course, the special rate that we are able to negotiate with our good friends at Viking is a great help, but the fact that it's a really nice boat/ship (or whatever) with comfortabely sized, clean cabins and perfectly nice food also goes a long way to my being more than comfortable with recommending it as well as sailing as often as we can afford to. It's a joy to sit on the sun-deck as you leisurely make your way between the glorious banks of the world's longest and most famous river.

We mustn't forget the pleasurable visits which the tourists undertake on their journey; the magnificent temples at both Edfu and Kom Ombo, as well as the various visits arranged for them in and around Aswan itself. But, for us, it's all about the actual cruising, and meeting fellow Brits who are (in the main) visiting the wonders of Egypt for the first time. We can re-live the thrill of our first encounters with Egypt's treasures as we converse with them, it's fab!

Mind you, they can include some queer folk, as you well know, Dear Reader!!!!

We were amazed to meet the husband and second daughter of a lady whom we met when we sailed in October! The husband was fascinating, with lots of special interests. It seems that his working life is spent making metal rust! Now, if that's not strange, I don't know what is!!!!! Never mind, a thoroughly nice chap, anyway. He was also "game for a laugh", and a bit anti-authority! Here he is, with the rest of the Ingleezy gang, displaying his anti-authoritarian streak by not wearing his life-jacket whilst on the felucca:

That's him, at the back, the fashion-conscious one with straw hat and daughter.
(Click on any picture to get them all up together, and bigger.)

As they made their way across the river, the local boys arrived, I'd almost forgotten all about them over the years, but they then had very small, and ramshackle, home-made boats, in which they paddled up to any unsuspecting tourist-laden felucca and sang "Row, row, row your boat" or "Freres Jacques", depending on what nationality they imagined the tourists to be. Of course, they had to be rewarded with cash before they would go away; a canny little earner on a good day! (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = good.)

I decided to catch a little video of the boys and their vessels as they approached their quarry:
video


They don't seem to have boats any more, they look more like surfboards!
Freda and I got to chat with several other people, too. One couple (retired, I presume) have a "project" on the go in Tanzania, where they work with children. They're a registered charity where 97% of the money goes directly to where it does good. (That's an impressive figure compared to most others!) Their website is: www.farajasupport.org.uk 

The husband of the pair is in cahoots with another passenger with their (combined, I believe) idea of building houses to cover the northern Sahara, with solar panels on the roofs, which (in theory) could supply all the energy needs for Europe and more, housing for countless displaced populations and some way of reclaiming the desert for agriculture! Very grandiose, but perfectly plausible when explained properly, it sounded really innovative. This second bloke has a head full of ideas, I'm surprised that he manages to turn off and sleep at nights. Utterly fascinating conversations with them both.

Another retired couple were equally fascinating; they spend six months at sea each year! Not on cruiseboats, as you might imagine, but on their own yacht. Apparently, they set off in April and sail away and around, all over, for the whole of the summer, and have done for years! Again, this was a couple whom we could have spent days in conversation with, more insights into completely different lifestyles. Simply wonderful! 

Those two travelled to Egypt with the widowed brother of the wife, who had yet another story of his own. Ex Royal Greenjackets, and ex international wine and spirit dealer, and also an old motorcycle afficionado. I tell you, we get all sorts here in Egypt!

Added to this mix were the Chief of the Luxor Traffic police and his family, and a particularly self-assured young lady travelling solo, whom I was informed was very close to President El Sisi as a member of his equivalant to the American CIA and the Russian KGB!!!!!! Of course, it still being relatively close to the annual Egyptian holiday period, there were a good number of Egyptian families aboard, too.


The Journey South

We left on Tuesday, at about 2pm, and came across over a dozen cruiseboats which had also left at lunchtime-ish. Here are a few of them as we prepared to overtake them all, the RV is one of the fastest boats on the Nile.

Of course, the usual stops were made, so that the tourists could make their visits at Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples. We saw the Tuk-tuks and emaciated carriage horses at Edfu:

(And I still covet a Tuk-tuk!!!!) We also saw the rubbish collecting boat alongside while we were tied up, with one of the rubbish men carefully going through each bag before it was slung with the others:

Just like last time we cruised, we came across fishermen getting a tow home:

Quite unlike the last few times we've been on the Nile, we noticed that the stallholders at Kom Ombo were mostly open, and (Hallelujah!) were quite busy!

I feel sure that you will agree that Kom Ombo Temple looks gorgeous from the river at night, when it's illuminated:

Another glorious sight which many miss as they slink about in the bar, or where ever, is the equally impressive Aswan Bridge, which is just so photogenic!



In Aswan

We docked at Aswan on Wednesday evening, mooring directly opposite the "Tombs of the Nobles". You'll remember the view from an earlier post, I'm sure, Dear Reader:

Gaudy, but quite impressive, nevertheless.

The mountain lights in Luxor don't compare at all! But they're very different places, after all. We like Aswan a lot, and especially the Old Cataract Hotel, where we stayed on our very first trip there in 1997. It has real character!

After lazing round the boat all day on Thursday, we decided to stretch our legs with a stroll along there on Friday. It's only about 25 minutes or so, and we don't walk too fast, being ancient, you know? On the way, I always keep a lookout for things of interest, as you're aware, I'm sure.

I don't know whether you remember me mentioning the cruiseboat on wheels, with the accompanying picture? I brought it to your attention as the rumour was that Ethiopia was going to take more water from the Nile, and that the cruiseboat operators were considering stealing a march on the situation by sending the cruiseboats and passengers, via a magnificent new road (yet to be constructed) across the desert. Here's the proof which I provided at the time:

Well, on our little hike along the Corniche in Aswan, I couldn't help but notice that someone there has seemingly cornered the market for when the oil runs out and we all have to revert to horsedrawn transport, thus:

The owners might think that these were well hidden from prying eyes, but they didn't reckon on old "Eagle-eyed Mr Edward" did they?

We made it to the Old Cataract, where we found comfortable seats in an advantageous position for watching other visitors as they came and went (as usual!). I took the obligatory pictures of the beautiful Moorish arches etc as we waited:



The whole place never ceases to amaze me!

All of a sudden, a familiar face presented itself in front of us! "What are you doing here?" it demanded. It was an old acquaintence from the Winter Palace in Luxor. What a lovely surprise! After we had exchanged the usual pleasantries, and told him about our cruise etc, he ushered us outside and onto the terrace, taking our order for tea and decaf coffee, with some cake, as we went. The waiter took a while to arrive with the goodies, and we just luxuriated in the warm sun as it drifted towards the Western horizon, it's final resting place beyond the Aga Khan's Mausoleum and St Simeon's Fortress Monastery. Pictures and a small video begged to be taken.



video
(The Aga Khan's Mausoleum is the building which I first zoom onto, and St Simeon's is the large low building in the distance at (and after) 20 seconds. This monastery is a great place to visit. It necessitates a short camel ride, but it's well worth the discomfort!)

When we finally asked for the bill, we were astonished to find that our refreshments were "Complimentary, Mr Edward". How nice, it made the walk back to the boat all the sweeter!

Our journey back to Luxor

Was quite uneventful. A slight headwind was magnified by the motion of the boat as it cut along at a fair old speed, but it wasn't enough to deter many of the passengers from catching the sun on the open top deck. Everyone wanted to make the most of their time here.

We stopped off at Kom Ombo and Edfu to facilitate the new arrivals' visits to the two temples.

I noticed a concrete barrier, of sorts, across a part of the river which ran behind an island.

I was looking at it with my small binoculars when the Egyptian man standing nearby piped up " I built that!" He went on to explain that it had been intended to stop the incursion into the main flow of the river of "hashish", meaning general vegetation, which causes problems at Esna, in particular, but that it had not been maintained properly. (Strange, for Egypt?)

Freda's mosquito bite on her calf flared up during the return journey too, here it is, in all it's glory:

Very painful, and still being treated with an anti-biotic ointment and tablets.

Approaching the bridge and lock at Esna each cruiseboat is regaled by the local galabiya/table cloth/bath towel salesmen. Shouts of "Excuse me" "Hey Ingleezy" or (of course) "Hey beautiful" "My queen" "My sweetheart", usually get some response, and then the goods come flying through the air, being stuffed into a plastic bag for fear of falling into the water and being ruined. The idea being that the prospective purchaser can inspect the item before agreeing a price and throwing the cash (in the bag) back down to the seller. More often than not, though, it's the item which gets thrown back down in the bag, and often landing in the river! Here's some ideas of their tactics:

video



I don't know how they are managing to make a living by doing this in the current tourist situation.

Whilst waiting for the lock to empty into the downstream section of the river, I couldn't help but notice this particularly fine looking hydraulic press:

Boy oh boy! Could I have made good use of that 30 or 40 years ago? The 100 ton press, which I had access to at the time, often used to make horrendous (and frightening) groaning and creaking sounds as it progressed towards it's maximum pressure whilst pressing out seized king pins! The one in the above picture would have made short work of them, I'm sure.

I think that that's about it for this journey, I do hope you've enjoyed coming along with us, even just as spectators. See you all again soon, I'm sure. TTFN.

(p.s. I hope these videos play properly for you, as I'm still not getting them on my machine. Grrrrrrrr!)

Roll up! Roll up!

Yes, Playmates, the Circus is in town!

We (at least, those of us who are creeping ever nearer to our dotage) know full well how joints and muscles complain when we make them do things they don't like, like walking or doing press-ups (some chance!). Well, Freda has taken on the role of trainer, and is determined to have me fit enough to do walking tours when we go on our TWO holidays in the summer. So far, this entails me walking for a good half hour or so before being allowed to jump on a 'bus. It's not too bad, to be honest, but after a few days my feet ache, and she lets me have a few days respite. She's canny, you know. (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = caring, nice.)

So, we're walking there (well, almost, dependng on where "where" actually happens to be) and then either getting the 'bus or caleche back again. Today, it was the Nile Palace, down on Ibn Khaled al Walid Street (or whatever) at Awamaya. We strolled as far as the back gate of the Winter Palace at Saladin Square, where we arrived just at the same time as a 'bus, how fortunate!

Did I already tell you that the Nile Palace have increased the price of their English cake from 13le to 35!!!!! It's shocking! Never mind, I just happened to have a sweet pastry about my person which went very well with a few cups of their delicious tea.

Friend Badawy came to take us from there to do our shopping and drop us back home. (He still hasn't got his caleche back from the police, even though they've reduced the "fine" to 200le.) We came across a travelling circus, on the way! Here's the entrance:

Poor Edward the horse took fright at the pictures alongside the roadway, I think it may have been the one of the lion which did it!

And here it is; the Big Top:

Freda doesn't fancy it, so we won't be going. It would be too cold and smelly, anyway. But I hope that plenty of locals get to take their kids, I'm sure they'd love it, and it would be a huge adventure for them. 

See ya!

Look up!

That's what we're told to do if we feel a sneeze coming on, yes? Once over,  I was told to stamp my foot as hard as I could to relive a cramp in the leg.That was just outside our local Mosque here in Luxor, and it worked!

Well, I posted some little while ago about looking up whilst wandering around Luxor, it's fascinating to see what there is to be seen. How about these:

This gryphon chap looks pretty scary, don't you think?  

And I don't know whether these four chaps started out as angels and lost all of their wings, or what? 

Anyway, we clocked them (Colloquialism; clocked = observed, saw, noticed.) on our daily (who am I kidding, more like twice weekly!) walk, which today took us along Manchiya Street and up Medina Street to the Forty Market to get some supplies in. It's turned cold again, so we weren't out any longer than necessary.

Then, after we arrived home, I decided that I fancied some falafel for supper, and, as Forty hadn't had any "Mandolins" (a Cadbury chocolate bar which is the same as a Twix, but longer and a less than a third the price) I went down to the government shop and bought a boxful while I was out. Also, as I was passing the egg man, I took my egg-carrying machine and got 15 large (kebeer) eggs on my way to Osman the Falafel Man.

On the way back, I couldn't have missed the racket from a caleche-man's wedding approaching from the Railway Station area. I thought I'd just get a clip of it, to give you a taste of what we have to put up with on a regular basis. (Mind you, seeing as no-one has answered my question about whether anyone can see the videos I'm posting, I don't know whether anyone will see this!!!!)

video
Apart from the noise, they don't care about the poor service bus drivers trying to get on with their work, or the passengers trying to get home or to the shops or whatever. There doesn't seem to be very much consideration for anyone else, as long as you're enjoying the moment! It's not a very good attitude, is it?

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the falafel and deep-fried auberguine, along with some nice fresh bread and Heinz tomato ketchup.

I'll finish with a little melodeon update. One of the most recent acquisitions has arrived at Dear Daughter's shop. It's a queer looking thing, looks like it's from the time when they were starting to try to modernise the look of them. It's the old-fashioned type of build, but with the "pearloid" finish of later years and jazzy bellows covering. I think it looks a bit ostentatious, But what do I know?



It's a poor show, I know!

I'm becoming more and more conscious that I'm failing you, Dear Reader! Fewer and fewer posts, which increasingly contain less and less which appertains to matters of much interest concerning Luxor or the special circumstances which make living here so out of the ordinary.

There's not a great deal that I can do to change the circumstances which are causing this lack of inspiration, or whatever you'd like to call it. We don't have the tourists which were formerly the main source of our entertainment and which led to much inspiration, and we aren't getting out as much as we did, due to it being so cold lately, and where would we go? Even our favourite tea stop, the Nile Palace, is less inviting since they increased the price of their English cake from 13le to 35le!!!!! The Etap (now officially the "Eatabe", as many of you will know) has become a no-go area due to the number of Egyptian families staying there. Not that I've anything against Egyptian families, mind you; but their close proximity isn't conducive to having interesting conversation whilst sipping tea. I'm sure many of you who have been here will have sympathy with this comment, as many Egyptian children tend not to be disciplined at all, and run riot, making nearly as much noise as do their parents talking loudly into their mobile phones, while coming and staring at you as well!

So, our trips out are mainly confined to shopping at the Forty Market, or at KZ on TV Street, or just going for a walk to stop us from seizing up altogether, and grabbing some bread from one of the local bakeries as we go.

Although we still come across the odd interesting sight here and there, how about these things:

Freda thought that they might be cucumbers, but as neither of us eat them (Yuk, horrid things!) we couldn't actually tell. Do cucumbers grow on trailing plants on house walls? Here's the full picture, which gives you a better idea of where they are:

Most of them are a canny size; up to a couple of feet long with diameters reaching to 4 or 5 inches, I'd say. (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = fair or good.)

Anyway, it's warming up a bit. It was forecast for 29 degrees today and I snapped the thermometer on the terrace:

 We've not had the fan heater on today, either, which must be a good sign, eh?

I'm getting on practising playing the dreaded melodeon, which has mysteriously come back into tune since the weather warmed up a tad.  I mentioned the melodeon disease to you, didn't I; Melodeon Acquisiton Disorder? Well, here's a picture of the longsuffering wife of a victim, when she realises he's "fallen off the wagon" yet again:

But I'm sure she enjoyed the roses after she calmed down!

TTFN

Almost forgot! I cannot see the videos on here any more. Is it just me, here in Egypt, or are some (or all) of you lot sitting there trying to imagine what they're supposed to be? Please let me know, as I don't really want you all to have to play guessing games.

Stupid stupid stupid!

did forget what prompted me to put pen to paper (well, you know what I mean!) today. It was an awful taste that my memory brought back into my mouth, after an interval of about 15 years!

We were sitting here, admiring our view of Luxor's interesting rooftops and the West Bank mountains, and wondering just which delicacy to try for our luncheon, when I remembered that we'd asked Adam to persuade his wife to cook for us again tonight . "It's chicken tonight, isn't it?" I blurted out. 

Instantly, I was transported back to our old family home in Pelaw, and I could taste it on my tongue; that foul concoction, "Chicken Tonight"! 

Who amongst you remembers that awful ready-made-sauce-stuff with the catchy advert on the telly? It was very tempting, so tempting, in fact that we actually bought some. One taste was anough, though. As I said it out loud, Freda's nose filled with the unpleasant stench of it. But now we just can hardly wait for Mrs Adam's lovely offering. Yes, we are lucky, I know!

A few more odds and ends.

Yes, Luxor is relatively FULL of tourists! But the traders are complaining that they aren't the spending type, they're Egyptian! Never mind, they must be spending, or they wouldn't be running around in coaches and mini-buses, and reading menues in Little Britain St, I've seen them doing all of this over the past few days. Even the Queens Valley Hotel seems to be teeming with guests! And the Emilio is all lit up at night too, indicating that they too are busy:

I think that's mighty impressive, for an hotel whch used to look like a pretty awful 3 star dump. Whilst I was down there, I took another snap of the Temple pylon along the Sphinx Avenue, I think it warrants another look, don't you, Dear Reader?

I never cease to be awed by the various monuments here on our doorstep; we're so lucky to spend so much time here.

Another sign that the Egyptian tourists are spending oney was the number of Balloons up the other morning. Mind you, I was still knocking out the Zzzz's when Freda got this early morning snap!

We're also very fortunate to be able to give one or two people here a helping hand! (That's with your help, thanks again!) Many of you, I know, will be delighted to hear that our little mate Ahmed seems to be on the mend. He's been taking his medicines religiously, and one seems to be bringing his appetite back, a bit anyway. He's up and about, and although his caleche has been impounded for some reason to do with young Sayed (Grrrrrr!), he is in a better frame of mind. We got Samir to collect us to go shopping and to get some hawawshi from Karnak, but he took us to see Ahmed at the caleche stand near the Winter Palace, first. When I asked if he would like some hawawshi brought back, he turfed poor Samir out of his caleche and drove us himself! I know that he does like the hawawshi from the man at Karnak, and at least I knew that he had a good hot feed tonight, eh? He's as cheerful as ever, God bless him.

Luxor always amazes me too. For all the poverty and the constant cries of being hard-up, there is always plenty of spending going on. Look at this wedding tent, on the dual carriageway at Karnak:

video
The incongruous thing is, that it has been erected right outside the "Karnak Charity Centre", you couldn't make it up!

Did I mention that the Hawawshi Man has moved? Well he has, he's gone to the other side of the dual carriageway just a few yards (metres?) farther up. As Ahmed left us parked next to the central reservation, I noticed something I thought rather queer:

video
Yes, I know it's a bit dark; it was taken at night-time! Nevertheless, I'm sure that you can make out the butane gas bottles stored in the niddle of the road. Don't you find that slightly unusual too?

By the way; Raymand and Kristin, I passed your best wishes onto Ahmed tonight and he was delighted to know that you'd been in touch, and was very grateful for your message of goodwill. Of course, he wanted to know when you are returning, lol.

One more thing, just before I go. I might need to see the doctor when I return to the Nook. It seems that I've got a touch of M.A.D. I bought yet another melodeon tonight, through eBay, it's being sent to our daughter's beauty salon (along with another from last week) for me to collect when I get back there. (Colloquialism: M.A.D. = Melodeon Acquisition Disorder, it's treatable, but I don't think there's any real cure!!!!!) You can help by sending me as many old melodeons as you can manage, thank you, and bless you.

Goodnight.

Wot's new? Nothing under the sun!

Yes Playmates, it's another post full of the same old same old, I'm afraid. But not necessarily for everyone, eh?

We aren't spending all that much time roaming the streets, as is our usual wont, because it's too bleedin' cold!!!! This morning, around 10ish, it was 5 degrees C, which was 5 degrees colder than Windy Nook, you couldn't make it up, honestly. Who, in their right mind, would travel to red hot Egypt to suffer temperatures like this?

I had to go and visit our good friend Ahmed Badawy (of caleche fame) today, as he is really quite ill. Those of you who know him will remember how thin he's been getting these past few years since the Revolution, well, I was shocked to see him today (for the first time since we returned). He was wrapped up in bed with several layers of galabiyas on and a couple of those furry blankets, but still felt chilly when I embraced him. His cheeks are now sunken in, and his mother was almost in tears with worry about him when I saw her last night. Brother Samir had him to the hospital three times yesterday, and he now has a selection of medicines which he seems to be taking, let's all hope they do the trick. I was able to drop off a significant sum of cash to help the family along, which had been sent by a very kind lady in England. (Thanks again to her and the others who send us money to distribute in these terribly hard times.)

Getting back to El Sisi's visit, I've still one or two pictures which may be of interest:



The first one is of the lazer light show taken from Sharia Karnak and then from our terrace. The next is a sneaked shot of the orchestra playing in the Temple:


Remember, Dear Reader, that all these pics can be viewed separately, and bigger, by clicking on any one of them.

The following day, security was still very tight, and El Sisi had a helicopter roaming around all day, almost skimming rooftops at times:

Strange Beggars!

You've seen me mention our local scrapman, Mohamed Sabbah, haven't you? He has the tiny shop just in our main road, next to the nearest of the 4 local barber shops. Here he is chatting with said barber, outside their respective shops:

Mohamed is the one who's all wrapped up. He took over the shop from his father, and quite possibly his father before him. He buys scrap (ferrous about 2le per kilo, last time I asked) and sells old newspaper, shisha pipes and accessories and rudimentary wooden household items along with oven trays which he makes from old butter tins, brushes and mops, the odd  china set and pans etc. He squeezes a lot into that tiny space, let me assure you. 

But, have I ever mentioned the Fat Brothers? (They're not really fat, just not as thin as the rest of our neighbours.) Two of these organise the annual stick fighting to celebrate Abu Haggag in our little square,. Remember, when they close the road? Well, they have the large building right next door to Mohamed. It was once a real restaurant (before my time) and they wanted me to rent it as such when we first came here. Since then it has mainly lain unused except for when the stick fighting and the Moulid come around each year. In between times it has been a coffeshop in various styles, but lately it's been boarded up. 

Until...........last week, when it seemed to be all go! Here's the finished article, sadly a much bigger replica of poor Mohamed's little store, and right nexr door!

What a trick to play on your neighbour, eh? And it's over two floors as well! That's the baldy one of the Fat Bro's standing there.

This sort of thing isn't new, mind you. Identical shops are often to be found next door to each other, no-one here seems to have any original thought for business ideas. Until one of them died, we had 5 barbers in spitting distance of each other right nearby, telephone shops and shoe shops abound. But....there's not enough business for more than one of any trade to make a half decent living. Daft!!!!!!!

People in the tourism sector are still crying their eyes out, as they close their shops, hoping to re-open when the tourists come back, or see their horses slowly dwindling away to death for want of proper feeding. Mr Jadhallah, the Shakespeare quoting boatman, has almost disappeared, he's that thin! 

I know that Westerners, in general, are afraid to venture into Muslim countries just now, and rightly so in many cases, but my experience of Luxor is one of relative safety when compared to many western countries. We certainly haven't had 3000 unfortunate workers killed in one blow, like the USA, or had people killed by the dozen in bus and tube train incidents like the London carry on, nor yet loads of innocent music lovers massacred in a night club like in Paris, nor even the mass sexual assaults which have been seen in Germany!  Yet the people here, whose lives are intermingled between Christianity and Islam, are paying with their livelihoods.  

Next time you're here, take a look above street level, and see the indications of unity and cooperation between the two religions; like this, for instance:

Maybe it's not all that clear, but I can assure you that it is a representation of the Christian cross and the crescent moon of Islam intermingled, just like the Luxor population. A number of these signs are visible throughout Luxor, if you look carefully.

Another rooftop gem is situated on the main tourist coach route into town:

One of the poor little angels has lost his wings, or is he like Clarence in the fabulous old film "It's a Wonderful Life", and hasn't yet received them?

Finally, something to warm your heart as you travel around here on the local service buses:

2 out of 5? And the hub bearing open to the sand and dust? Safety first, eh?

Bye for now, my beloved requires tea!