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!!!!)

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!


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:

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:

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.


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!

The Egyptian and the Chinaman.............

Or, as our old mate Max Bygraves would have said, "I wanna tell you a story!". 
Only this isn't a joke or even a funny story, it's very serious for the Egyptians.

Apparently, the Chinese are giving Egypt a helping hand of $1.6 billion. That's a lot of noughts after the 1.6, Dear Reader! So, after having the Pope in Luxor last week, we've got the Chinese President and Prime Minister here this week, being joined by El Supremo himself tomorrow. I've a feeling that President El Sisi hasn't actually been to Luxor since he was put in charge. The "powers-that-be" of Luxor are certainly going all-out to impress. Speed humps have been done away with (apparently, John F Kennedy's murder by shooting was only popssible because his vehicle had to slow down!) and roads are being re-surfaced as I write. 

Roadside plots are being planted and generally tidied up, and Luxor Temple is being screened from public gaze by tent poles and tent fabric. It's all going on 
down there.

On the left of the above shot is the back corner of house which used to belong to the two elderly ladies, the shot was taken from the Corniche. The next one was taken from farther along the Corniche, towards the south end of the Temple.

And this next one is from the south end of the Temple, looking over the storage area towards the Abu Haggag Square.

Here we are, opposite the old Luxor Wena Hotel site (Sindbad's), shooting the picture across the top of the Roman remains, which are the latest of the excavations on the Temple site.

Of course, I took a few more which may be of some interest:

On the Corniche side of the Temple, the benign smile of President El Sisi is displayed looking down from several lamp posts. (Actually, there are also pictures of a Chinaman, but I wasn't sure if it was their President or their Prime Minister, fool that I am!) 

They're erecting a nice little tent, right in front of the pylon, collossi and obelisk.

Maybe it's not very evident from this pic, but they're also erecting loads of lighting gantries. They're to adequately illuminate the Temple for the fesivities tomorrow night, when the "Honoured Guests" will be treated to a night of wonderous entertainment, including even exerpts from the opera "Aida".

More lighting towers shots, plus a glimpse of he Chinese lanterns, strategically placed around the Temple. They must be a couple of spares lying in the foreground. But what's that guard up to?

I hope El Sisi doesn't catch him texting if he's on duty tomorrow!!!!

As well as the lighting towers, they have plenty of lights on the ground, too:

Do you see them in the foreground? I suppose that they'll need them all to produce the following fabulous result, eh?

Let's all hope that the Chinese delegation are suitably impressed, and, even though they're going through rough times themselves, they can find the aid which they've promised.

Good on ya, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi! 

Ooops! Nearly forgot.

It wasn't until I was sorting some photographs on the laptop that I was reminded about an uncharacteristic stroke of good luck, which occurred on new year's eve.

I'll get to that in a minute or so. Meanwhile, you must, by now, be aware that my latest interest, or hobby, or whatever you'd like to call it, is my melodeon. It has taken over all my leisure time, either thinking about it, playing it, making running repairs to it, or initial planning of starting to make playable another one which I also have. While not being actually encouraging about this new obsession, Freda hasn't been all that negative about it, either. Sounds encouraging in itself, don't you think?

I am aware that I might be neglecting the things which would normally occupy my imagination like figuring out a way to paint the stairs at "Our Luxor" without making a huge mess and falling off the steps/ladders every day! No matter, this is currently more pressing.

When I bought the first melodeon, I joined an online forum thingy dedicated to the instrument. It was very daunting, at first, but I quickly realised that I was completely and utterly out of my depth with many of the discussiins going on. I therefore don't read the threads about music (the "dots" or "ABC notation") and concentrate more on the instrument-based topices, like buying and selling, or makes and models, even design and construction. Whilst most of it is still "above my pay grade" most of the time, I am able to contribute occasionally and I do learn a lot from the other members.

There are many really patient and helpful people on there, some who are obviously hugely respected in the various paths they have chosen. Some write instruction books, many play for Morris dance teams (known as "sides" for some reason) and others are famous for their contributions to the world of folk music etc. One such is a youngish bloke called John Spiers, who is a mainstay of an outlandish folk music group called Bellowhead. They're fabulous, even if they aren't really your cup of tea, Eleven of them, all highy skilled and VERY loud.

Now then, back to the forgotten bit; Number Two daughter has taken a job in a specialist sort of shop, in Gateshead, which she just loves! It came about, on new year's eve, that she got into conversation with a customer while serving him, and he happened to mention that he was performing with his band at the "Sage, Gateshead" that evening. One thing led to another, and before you could say "Jack Robinson" he'd been outside conferring with someone else and returned with the offer of 3 complimentary tickets for the show! This was the show that I'd fancied going to, but at £45 a ticket, had just forgotten about! "Who was the band?" I hear you ask. Why, bless my soul if it wasn't Bellowhead!

Here's my ticket:

As Darling Daughter didn't fancy it, I was accompanied by Sister Sue and her husband. Next to us, there was a youngish lady with a little girl, who hardly sat during the whole performance; they were dancing (along with a good number of others) in the space in front of our seats. It wasn't until later that I learned that this lady was the wife of the drummer, who'd got us the free tickets. Small world?

Waiting for the performance to begin, I was astonished to see an old friend, whom I hadn't seen for about 15 years, making his way to the row behind us, with a much younger female(!). We chatted during the interval, which was when I realised that the young female had a striking resemblance to the chap's (long dead) mother. You've guessed, of course Dear Reader; it was his daughter. This gentleman is about 70, and although I knew that he had been very musical in his youth, I couldn't imagine him being a fan of Bellowhead; where melodeons take up my spare brain capacity, his is still full of Aston Martin super cars, he's owned stacks of them over the years. 

Anyway, after the performace, everyone made there way to the ground floor, where a new year ceilidh was to be held after counting down to the change of date. Now then, I'm not one to seek out famous folk, nor am I a name-dropper, but when I saw Friend Spiers standing there, I had to introduce myself!

Yes, I know! He's almost as good looking as I am! The mortifying part came when the squiffy daughter of my friend asked him if he was wearing a wig!!! I could have died with shame!

Never mind, he took it all in good heart. 

So there you are Dear Reader, at least I finished off 2015 with a nice surprise, makes a change, eh? TTFN.

Back again!

Yes Dear Reader, we're back! Back once again to the dirty little town which we've grown to love..........Luxor, in the Luxor Governorate, in Upper Egypt.

Our journey was as we expected, except for the meal on the LHR/CAI leg; it was absolutely scrumptuous! (I even ate most of the salad!!!!!!) We'd had a nice time in the Air Canada lounge at Heathrow, which came as part of the "looking after" of EgyptAir Gold Card holders, along with the "Fast Track" checking in and boarding, extra baggage allowance and priority baggage handling! I've just got to recommend it.

When we arrived at Cairo International, I tried to ring our regular taxi man, Ayman, to collect us from Luxor Airport, but couldn't raise him so we contacted our mate Mr Bahaa, who arranged a mini-bus to be waiting when we got there. It all worked out fine, and Adam and some of his boys were on hand to help us get our luggage up the stairs to our humble little abode.

The next few days were spent mostly in cleaning, I'm sick to death of removing and refitting curtain hooks! Of course, I had the new roller to fit to our Kirby vacuum, and a new filter for the K'Archer, which has also had a good clean, inside and out, with Jif cream cleaner (it's great stuff!) till it looks like a new one.

Today was the first opportunity we had to relax a little, as we called to see Mr Bahaa at his Sunrise Tours office on the Corniche, in order to pay for the van (Colloquialism: "van" actually refers to a mini-bus here.). Outside his office, I spied (and photographed) a nice old Land Rover Long Wheelbase Safari. It brought back many happy memories.

Mind you, it wasn't a patch (Colloquialism "wasn't a patch" = nowhere near as good as.) on the same model which we toured France in, in 1976! But it was nice to see, anyway.

I was most surprised, and very pleased, to see some progress at the new hotel on the corner of El Corniche el Nil and Salahadeen St (diagonally opposite the Iberotel) belonging to the St Joseph Hotel people. It appears that part of the ground floor (at least) has been taken by the Abu Dhabi International Bank! It looks very flash.

You'll all be thrilled (I know!) to be told that I brought with me my little melodeon, in the case which I so lovingly constructed for it. But now that it is here things are starting to go wrong!!!!

Here's a shot showing where a bit has fallen off:

Do you see the light coloured bit in the centre of the pic? A piece of the bellows tape has come adrift! It's there to protect the bellows from damage, as they are only made of a heavyish cardboard, and easily wear away against clothing etc during playing. I don't know whether it's come off of it's own accord (maybe the raised temperature and low humidity has effected the 100 year old glue) or it could be that I've been playing it too violently when resting it on my leg, and thereby riven it off; who knows? Anyway, I'd better find some way of repairing it, pronto!

Perhaps I'll be able to get to it after I've sorted our water heater, which is still acting itself!

Ho-hum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another day; another dollar (spent!).

Happy Christmas to you all.

Rising late after another wonderful, but exhausting, Christmas Eve of carol singing on behalf of "Action for Children", I didn't forget all of my online friends who bother themselves to read my ramblings and rantings. So, here are my heartfelt wishes for you, Dear Reader, that you come to know the truth of the Christmas message; that the best Christmas gift of all time was given to us as freely as you give presents to your own children. Here's a carol just for you, not sung, but written out in order that in reading the words we might all realise what Christmas is really about.

Cradled in a manger, meanly,
Laid the Son of Man His head;
Sleeping His first earthly slumber
Where the oxen had been fed.
Happy were those shepherds listening
To the holy angels word;
Happy those within that stable
Worshipping their infant Lord.

Happy all who hear the message
Of His coming from above;
Happier still who hail His coming,
And with praises greet His love.
Blessed Saviour, Christ most holy,
In a manger Thou didst rest; 
Canst Thou stoop again, yet lower,
And abide within my breast?

Evil things are there before Thee; 
In the heart, where they have fed,
Wilt Thou pitifully enter, 
Son of Man, and lay Thy head?
Enter, then, O Christ most holy;
Make a Christmas in my heart;
Make a heaven of my manger;
It is heaven where Thou art. 

And to those who never listened
To the message of Thy birth,
Who have winter, but no Christmas
Bringing them Thy peace on earth,
Send to these the joyful tidings; 
By all people, in each home, 
Be there heard the Christmas anthem;
Praise to God, the Christ has come!

God bless you all, especially in these troubled times.

The Saga of the Errant Water Heater. By Edouardo Renaldo Jennings.

Yes, here's another "Saga" for you, I hope you're not sick of my moaning yet, but the water problems just get bigger and better!

A few days ago, I captured Hani the plumber, when he was completely unawares, poor beggar. Before I'd even properly explained about the problems I'd been having (at that point, I'd just discovered that the water heater seemed to have sprung an ever so slight leak, to add to my other woes!) he spouted out, "It's the thing inside the tank."

As he seemed to be very confident in his assessment of the situation, I immediately asked him if he could come and fix it. Get in quickly, was my reasoning, before he manages to think up an excuse. He waffled on for a bit, and eventually he promised to ring me, and that he might find someone else to actually do it, as he didn't consider himself to be expert enough. That must have been Friday.

Today, well since it's past midnight; Yesterday, I gave up waiting and decided to do it myself. In for a penny, and all that! After all, how hard can it be? (Plus, it's buggered anyway.)

Actually, apart from making a right mess when draining the 50 litre tank, the job ended up being relatively straightforward. Inlet pipe off, 4 vacuum cleaner rigid pipes shoved over the resulting open connection to take the water away to the drain, disconnect the electrics (noting that the dark coloured wire was the live one) and then undo the nuts holding the heating element etc in the bottom of the tank. Hey Presto, out it comes:

Yes, that was my reaction  too; YUK! You know what it is, don't you? Sand!!! Egyptian sand, it gets everywhere. When I put my fingers into the aperture where the element fixes into the tank, I found a layer of the stuff, an inch thick, lying in the bottom. I scraped out what I could with my fingers, as I was apprehensive about forcing my hand through the hole in case I couldn't get it out again without skinning all of my old knuckles. (I know, I'm a coward!) Here it is:

I then clicked on the idea of fixing the water pipe back on and flushing it out:

What a mess, and to think that this was actually the result of only using the tank/heater for a twelve month before fitting my filter system!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we were meeting another friend who winters here at 10.30, in the Nile Palace for tea and chatter, Sandra (but not the Sandra of Sandra and Mick fame). She's another lovely lady, and a real pleasure to spend time with. As we made our way out, we called to see Mr Hani so that I could show off with my heating element, and find out where to get a new one. He was relieved, I think, that he hadn't had to accomplish this task himself, and pointed us to the electrical repair shop near to Chez Omar's open-air restaurant. I know it well because I buy vacuum cleaner bits and pieces from there, on occasion. "One o'clock" the man barked as he took it from me. Of course, tea and chatter taking almost three hours, and the journey back from the NP,meant that we were about an hour or so late, and with no idea if he would be open of what to find if he was; a new part, or the new part fixed onto our old mounting boss? Who knows?

Here it is, just as the shopkeeper gave it to me:

"Made in Italy" no Egyptian or Chinese rubbish, either!

I have to say that I was delighted to be supplied with the new element and having it and the old housing fitted together for 40LE (about £3.50 at the current exchange rate!).

As I was tightening the five fixing nuts on the bottom of the element, I was pushing upwards. I'd momentarily forgotten that the hot water tanks are only mounted on big nasty hooks in the wall. Disaster struck as I suddenly felt the tank move away from my exertions.

"On me 'ead, mate!" I was like a Premier Division footballer, as the blasted thing bounced off my head, smashed the towel rail off the wall and finally came to rest in my arms after I'd juggled it from one hand to the other on the way down. Sir Brian Rix would have been proud to have played the part in one of his excellent 1960's farces!

Seeing that it was now off the wall, Freda suggested swilling it out in the shower; clever girl that, when she has a mind to be! I'm pleased I did, as a lot of black flaky stuff washed out. I'd be pleased to tell you that all went smoothly after that, but I cannot lie to you, Dear Reader. It didn't!

The element went in OK, and the whole thing went back onto it's hooks again, without further ado. But when I came to reaffix the pipes, one of them leaked!!! The rubber washer had perished and wouldn't seal, so it was off again to Mr Shokri for yet another 8LE stainless steel reinforced pipe. I sometimes think that I keep that whole blinkin' family in employment!

Anyway, it's working again. Please keep your fingers crossed that it continues to do so? If I don't get some respite from these ongoing problems soon, I think I'll burst!