What was that? Pardon me?

Hi, I just thought that I'd update you on the ear trumpet vs hearing aid thing. Dr Groom got me that referral to the Ear, Nose and Throat dept. I attended on June 29th, and had a very thorough hearing test. It was very interesting, and I would recommend it to anyone who's having the slightest problem with their hearing.

The graph which the tests produced showed that my low frequency hearing was normal, but the higher frequencies were half way between normal and profoundly deaf. Quiet a surprise, I can tell you!

Anyway, the next available appointment to have the hearing aids fitted was 10th August, but by being extremely pleasent to one and all, they found me one for three days hence!!!! What could have been a problem, but thankfully wasn't for me, was that the appointment wasn't at our local hospital (the Queen Elizabeth; 7 minutes walk from our house) but at one which was a mile and a half away, centred around an old workhouse!

Freda came with me, and we had a few problems with a broken parking meter in the hospital grounds, and a nonsensical set of notices for Audiology Patients to adhere to. But we eventually overcame these obstacles and I was called into my appointment 15 minutes late. I didn't have the courage to remonstrate with the lady who was assigned to do the business with my aids, as I didn't want to start the session with being antagonistic. I just "zipped it"!

The lady seemed very profficient as she did the various tests and adjustments, in between sipping at her mug of tea. Again, the various procedures were really interesting to watch and partake of. The actual aids were described as the "Rolls-Royce" of hearing aids, and I was told that they cost over £800 each! I was taken aback, to say the least.

On first putting them in, they seemed extremely uncomfortable, but after a bit of fiddling they were much better. By the end of the day, I hardly realised that I had them in! I took them out before I went to choir practice, as I feared that they might interfere with or distort the voices. I did wear them on Sunday, though, for both chapel and for the folk club; the improvement in the sound was incredible! Fabulous!

If you have any qualms about getting your dodgey hearing seen to, forget them and go as soon as you can. You'll be amazed at the difference that modern, discrete, hearing aids might be able to make. Mine are "Phonak", and I even got a little zippy bag to keep them in, along with a lifetime supply of batteries and a couple of cleaning rods. What more could a man ask for?

Hurrah for the British National Health Service!

Here we go Looby Loo!

The title of this Blog will only mean anything to English people who remember "Watch with Mother", on the telly during their childhood; Looby Loo was the female friend of Andy Pandy, a marionette who wore striped, onesie, pyjamas and a matching night cap. There was the song, too; "Here we go Looby Loo, here we go Looby Light, here we go Looby Loo, all on a Saturday night!"

I'm certain that many of you will know, immediately, what I'm on about here today: The suicide bomber at Karnak! Yet another opportunity for the world's press to hammer Luxor as far as tourism goes.

We've been replying to emails from friends and former guests who've been asking if we are OK. Well, to answer any more well-wishers; yes, we are fine, and thanks for caring. We're actually on our holidays here in Windy Nook, where we have a much greater chance of being murdered, if the local newspapers and TV news is anything to go by!!! Only last month a poor Egyptian man was found in the street (about a half mile away) with "catastrophic head injuries". He was dead, of course, and I haven't heard or seen anything to suggest that the culprits have been caught.

We aren't troubled too much about this one-off occurrence in Luxor. After all; it could happen to anyone at anytime and anywhere! If we cower in the corner in the face of these atrocities, then the terrorists have won; we'll all end up not being able to cross our own threshhold!

Instead, let's ignore the spoilers? We've just taken delivery of a plaque to go on the stair wall between the Our Luxor guest apartment and our own roof-top hovel. It just about sums up our feelings, I think:

So there it is, our invitation to you. "Come and have some tea in the Land of the Pharaohs."

See you soon, Insh'Allah.

What was that? Say again?

I'm going ever so slightly deaf! It's been coming on for a long time, but it is becoming quite a problem. So I determined (long before we came home for the summer) to ask the doctor to refer me to the ENT Department of our local NHS hospital.

To digress, just for a minute; you know, don't you Dear Reader, that I've always had a fancy for old things. (Even my wife is coming into her own, now that she's a pensioner!) Old cars, old songs, old houses, old fashioned clothes, in fact; old ......whatever! Well, it struck me some time ago that an old fashioned ear trumpet might suit me down to the ground. After all, my hearing isn't really that bad, it's more that I have problems distinguishing speech amongst other (background) noise, mainly. And a directional trumpet might actually be as much use as one of these modern electronic mini-gadgets, which just seem to amplify ALL the noise.

Anyway, both of us had appointments with our GP (General Practitioner/family doctor; for the foreigners among you) this morning, and I had a shipping order (Colloquialism; shipping order = a long list) for Dr Groom to deal with, and my appointment was for 08:20, with Freda following directly on at 08:40. So, it was early to bed so as to allow plenty of time for showering, breakfasting and walking to the surgery (clinic).

For some unknown and ridiculous reason, I was awake at 02:30!!!! Tossing and turning, but not getting back to sleep, I finally got up at 04:00, just as one of our neighbours was starting his car as he rushed off to work. What to do at 4 o'clock in the morning? Ahhh! I could look for an ear trumpet on eBay, or anywhere, come to that. After all, I fully expect that when the good doctor does refer me to the hearing clinic, it will entail a wait of months on end; and a trumpet could be a good stop-gap until I was sorted out.

And so I did. eBay brought up several examples, most of which were modern, jokey type of things; with one or two being real antiques, and priced accordingly. Another one looked absolutely ideal! Here it is:

Is that a beauty, or what????

The auction isn't finished for a day or two yet, and the price has started to rise already, so I don't expect to get it. Never mind, it's probably a passing phase, anyway. However..................

After more or less dismissing this particularly enchanting hearing device as unobtainable, I clicked onto the next result on the Google list, and it was the MailOnline! (Before you ask; yes, I am a right-wing reactionary Daily Mail reader!) and all of a sudden, the following headline leapt off the page and smacked me right in the eye!

"Never mind surround sound - get an ear trumpet:"

How is that possible? And..... it was written by my favourite columnist, good old Richard Littlejohn. (Again, for the foreigners among you; he is a man who is almost universally hated for his perceived right-wing, flog-'em and hang-'em, views and style of writing.)

In the words of dear Mr Littlejohn....."You couldn't make it up!"


Waking up in Aswan.

On the next morning, we awoke to have a daylight look at the Tombs of the Nobles, nice enough, I suppose, but a bit of a come-down from last night's impression!

We returned to the cabin after breakfast to an unexpected visitor!!! These towel sculptures are really very good, and as I said earlier, they're all (so far) new to me.

Up on the sundeck I had a bit of a wave about with the camera, it's strange what you can find:

Here's a shot of a new hotel which is taking shape right next to where the Royal Viking was moored. And here, below, is one of the shuttering joiners about 8 floors up. I was frightened just watching him!

A little further South, I noticed someone working on another tall building:

I nearly died when I saw a man jump from the right-hand corner of the building!! I stood, in both horror and disbelief, for a few moments, but then he appeared at the base of the wall from which he'd jumped. Phew! What a relief.

We took a stroll along to the Ferial Gardens, a lovely spot near to the famous Old Cataract Hotel. We've sat on the seats there on several occasions before, just gazing over the choppy First Cataract of the Nile, and Kitceher's Island, to the Aga Khan's Mausoleum and towards the Western desert where lies the fascinating Monastery of St Simeon. Not today, though! They've put on an entrance fee, and the robbing beggar wanted 10le, each! While we were down there, I took this rather uninspiring shot of the river, That's the "conning tower", on the left, which used to be the Aswan Oberoi Hotel, I'm not sure which name it goes by, now. 


We walked slowly back through the souks; a very different experience from those in our Luxor.

By the time we got back to the boat, I was worn out. Lunch and sleep took up the afternoon. We didn't re-appear till dinner!

After yet another lovely meal, there was the "Egyptian Show", in the lounge/bar, which entailed the usual whirling dervish and a (single) stick-dancing man, who encouraged one or two of the audience to join in. The boat manager had remembered (two days late) that it was Freda's birthday, and a very acceptable cake was produced. By the time we cut it and shared it around, we only got one piece each, but I think our sharing was appreciated.

On our return to the cabin, we were really surprised to see yet more, equally novel, towel sculptures! They included a nice birthday cake with a great big candle, and toilet-roll streamers spread about the place.

Further cups of tea in our cabin, and a turn around the dack before turning in. The moon just appeared inbetween the wings of the new hotel, as if to wish us, "Goodnight!"

More observations on our Royal Viking Cruise.

After overnighting just on the South side of Esna Lock, we weighed anchor in the early morn. I don't often get to see the sunrise but it's worth getting out of bed for when you're on the Nile!

We're loving our cruise, so far. I hope that nothing will happen to spoil it for us.

Today, we're due to cruise to Edfu and Kom Ombo, where the tourists will disembark for their excursions. We'll see what we come across on the way, shall we?

5:05am and there goes the early train, thundering along the Nile's bank. You can just get a glimpse of it through the palms on the right of the picture. (Click on any of the pictures to get a better look.) It just shows how near the river Egypt lives; the main road is just out there as well.

A little further on, and we come across something which I've never noticed before, although it looks like it's been there for quite some time:

Sadly, the lackadaisical attitude which Egypt seems to have regarding maintenance invariably gives tourists the wrong impression. "HAPPY TRA". Indeed!

As always, the working man has to make his living. Fishermen are ubiquitous on the Nile. "Early to bed and early to rise", and all that:

Not very much further on, we were suddenly faced with (what looked like) a North Sea "haar", as the river ahead and in the distance were enshrouded in mist. It was really rather atmospheric:

I almost sensed the Marie Celeste looming out of the mist!

Back to the daily reality of work, and here are the reed gatherers, filling a Nile barge with their harvest.

Above are the reed beds which they work. It seems a strange occupation to a land-lubber like me.

Heading back to our cabin, for a snooze before breakfast, I took a few snaps around the reception area. (I hope you'll forgive the UFO's, which are actually bits of muck which have managed to worm their way into the lens. The camera is, at this very moment, in the camera shop getting sorted.)

The table really is as stunning as it looks, pity about the jar of sweets amidships.
And how about these for a surprise on a Nile cruise boat?

They have to belong to the boat, as there were no passengers travelling at the same time as us who might have needed them. A good idea, and a sign of the company's commitment to the needs of their clients.

Like just about all Nile cruise boats, the central staircase is an impressive feature:

Although we have no industry near Luxor (for fear of the resulting pollution damaging the antiquities) there are several factories elsewhere along the Nile. We came upon a steelworks and a sugar factory. Fool that I am, I cannot remember which one these the following pictures are of!

Judging from the number of what look like grain elevators, I would think that this is the sugar factory, but I've been wrong plenty of times before!

These are obviously conveyors for loading river barges. 

See the artic's in the foreground? And this also shows some of the pollution which the government is trying to save Luxor from!

There are some pretty remote hamlets along the Nile; like this one:

The road has swept away, behind the mountains, leaving this well-worn footpath below as seemingly the only access to the dwellings.

After a "turn around the deck" to settle our ample breakfasts, we returned to our cabin to find our first towel sculpture of the trip:

The cleaners must have waked in on some unsuspecting white man like me, to find the ideal model for this one! It's actually the first time I'd seen this particular one, quite impressed.

First stop for the eager tourists was Edfu, where caleches ferry them to the temple. It can be a terrifying trip, as the drivers here don't seem to have much sympathy for their animals, and sometimes gallop them through the streets much to the tourist's chagrin.

I was much more interested in the town's other main form of transport:

Yes, shipmates, it's the humble Tuk-tuk! And I want one! Want one!

I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but I'm in 7th Heaven here! A lovely cruiseboat, beautifully warm weather, a happy spouse, Tuk-tuks galore and scenery like this below. What more could any man ask?

Some things are barely worth commenting on, like the huge size of the electricity pylons supporting the cables where they cross the Nile:

But then........such structures become rather sinister when you realise that in this quiet, hidden, backwater they are actually breeding! I almost missed this "child" pylon, soaking up its much needed nourishment from the world's longest river!!!

Image result for free images of electricity windmills

I'm convinced that there's some sort of correlation here to the aliens which are spreading over England and just biding their time until they make their move and take control of our once proud country!!!!

Perhaps the following couple of pictures might convince you too, Dear Reader, that there is definitely something "going on" here in this cradle of civilisation?

Just some small distance away from the pylon nursery, even your colour blind reporter couldn't have failed to notice these highly coloured patterns on the Nile bank.

It's obvious that they're some sort of signalling thingy! They're multi-coloured plastic parcels!!!!!

See how they are arranged in meaningful sequences? Sinister, I say!

It would seem, from the following picture, that these peculiar goings-on have effected the minds of the local population, wouldn't you agree?

We were about an hour or so North of our next stopping point of Kom Ombo, when we approached the row of piers of a new Nile Bridge:

There's certainly a great deal of concrete reinforcing going into those pillars!

Who needs a floating crane when you have a  barge and a truck mounted one?

Such concerns were pushed to the far reaches of my mind as I contemplated the simple (and primitive) pastoral scene which next glided into view:

My fevered brain was further quieted as we approached the beautiful temple to two gods; Kom Ombo!

Perhaps I had let my imagination run wild, after all?

By the time the tourists had marvelled at the carvings of familiar surgical instruments and seen the mummified crocodiles; and run the gauntlet of the avaricious traders at Kom Ombo, the light was failing. We set sail once again just as the temple lights were switched on.

If only we could have delayed our departure for 15 minutes or so, I could have got you a much more impressive photo'. (That's the same Sonesta cruiseboat in the foreground.)

We sailed away as the Nile was slowly engulfed in the deep black which is the Egyptian night. We knew when we were approaching Aswan, as the contrasting, modern, beauty of the illuminated Aswan Bridge hove into view:

As we docked, right in the middle of Aswan's river frontage, we were presented with this fabulous view of the Nobles Tombs on the West Bank. 

OK, it's brash and gaudy, but it makes the lighting of the King's Valley Mountains at Luxor look decidedly amateurish. Perhaps the moon rising over the opposite Nile Bank was meant to show us a more natural type of beauty?

As we entered our cabin, after a sumptuous dinner and more than ready for sleep, we were confronted by a towelling elephant:

Another first, as far as I was concerned, but maybe a reminder that we were now as far South as the Royal Viking would be taking us, and we wouldn't be seeing the real thing on this trip?

What about tomorrow, I wonder?

Cruising on the Nile aboard the Royal Viking.

Well, Playmates! It had really  been  my intention to blog our lovely Nile cruise holiday at one sitting, so that it might be referred to like a review; but that hasn't been possible. After looking through the first day's pictures, I realised that even this first day could warrant more than one posting, however, I'll spare you that and condense it into a "picture blog". This will be a series of photographs with only small explanations to accompany them, you can fill in any gaps with your imaginations!

Firstly, we'll have a little tour of the boat, here's our cabin:

I took lots of pictures in here, but due to a faulty camera (and a photographer who really doesn't understand it anyway!) only this one appeared on the memory card! Anyway, it was relatively spacious, comfortable and "usable", if you know what I mean. There was a locked door to facilitate the adjoining cabin requirements of a family, and whilst it wasn't "perfectly" clean, it couldn't have been described as dirty. There was only one chair at the small table, but another was produced immediately upon request. The service from staff was prompt and efficient. (There may be some bathroom pictures farther on in the picture library. If I come across any, I'll be sure to let you see them.)

This is the central corridor outside of our cabin, remember that all the cabins on Nile cruisers are "outside" cabins. We were on the highest deck, but all the corridors are alike. (Note the sprinklers in the ceiling, they are also in the cabins etc.)

The public areas are all pretty well as you would expect; the lounge/bar has a small dance floor with tables and chairs around it, then more comfortable sofa type, seating with lower tables, around the outer edge. All very pleasant and practical.

The top deck has a fairly sized pool, with surrounding sunbeds, and a large shaded area with a goodly assortment of seating around matching tables, most acceptable!

It's here that guests enjoy their afternoon tea (and English cake) whilst sailing. When we were on the boat (early May) the temperature was perfect for lounging in the shade whilst gliding along through a blissful breeze and taking in the fabulous scenery. Mind you, several of our companions (although, to be fair, they had come from the damp, cold drizzle of England!) spent most of their free time either baking in the sun or cooling of in the pool.

(There are a couple of "exercise" machines at the rear of the open top deck, but I didn't imagine that you, Dear Reader, would be remotely interested in them!)

On the deck below us was the "commercial district" of the boat, a shop selling costumes for the inevitable "Galabaya Party", jewellery and various souvenirs.

There's also a massage room, I had a quick nosey in there; the massage table is just visible in the inner sanctum.

And here's the massage lady drumming up business on the sundeck. She didn't hassle, and took "No" as our answer straight away, thankfully!

Her prospective client was the only non-English speaker on the boat.

In the reception area, the various excursions and visits are displayed each day on the notice boards, along with meal times, optional excursions and evening entertainments, sailing times etc. Invaluable information!

The restaurant (complete with hand sanitiser available at the entrance) is on the lower deck, where the river flies past just below the large windows. (Perhaps I'll even come across some pictures later?)

At the stern, there are several life-rafts stacked:

Hanging from chain blocks, down the back of the boat are the small rowing boats which the crew use for servicing the needs of the boat and crew. You'll notice the oars, which are much more streamlined than usual Egyptian oars, although still not ideal for their purpose!

We passed by the (Un)Egyptian Experience holiday village as we set sail from our boat's berth just to the South of the Nile bridge, which lies about seven kilometres from town.

I've included this picture just to show you that I'm not entirely prejudiced against such developments. We have a few friends who actually own apartments here, and are very happy with them. Mind you, they are rather on the expensive side for such a poor country.

The Nile has remained, largely, unchanged for many centuries. Fishermen can still be seen casting their nets as they would have done in Biblical times:

Working in the fields, which often reach right down to the river, hasn't changed much either, although they now tend to use motorised transport along with the poor little donkeys. Here's a shot of the "threshing floor" of one farmer:

And here's another showing some fields which have been inundated by the rising Nile:
With the advent of motor transport for both goods and people, there are ferryboats working on sections of the Nile, although the government seem to be intent on building more bridges here and there. (More on this in another "Cruise Blog".)

I believe that ferries of this type are common all over Africa, this one operates to the North of Esna.

The banks of the Nile are constantly fascinating, I took innumerable pictures of just the palms and various trees as we slid by them, gently waving to us as we passed. At one point, I noticed an idyllic scene comprising a small family group strolling along the bankside among some lush grass and beautiful trees. I took up the camera, switched it on, and then set the controls for a "scenic" "daytime" shot
and turned back to find that Dad had moved away from the group to to busy himself with a "bodily function"!

Well........Egyptian culture and practice is very different from the English! And if we visit here; then we must accept their habits, and not complain or be upset by them.

We also came upon a boatyard, and it contained the very  vessel that would suit us down to the ground, if my Mother won the National Lottery and gave us a share, that is. What do you think, would our guests pay a few bob extra to sail up the Nile on her?

Naturally, I'd have to hone and practice my carpentry skills somewhat,  but I'm sure that "with a little help from my friends" this lovely little thing could be made into a real beauty!

Then you can spy something like the following, in the distance, which grows in it's mystery as it becomes more plainly into view:

I believe it's a Sheiks Tomb, not unlike the one which is in the street, just behind our house.

Or, like me, you can gaze in awe at the different colours (caused by the light and shade?) displayed in the rocks and mountains along the river banks, sometimes they appear as mountains of purest gold!!! Honestly!

We reached the lock at Esna, just as it was getting dark, and moored up against the West Bank to await our turn to pass through. It was interesting watching the other cruisers arriving and tying up.

We were next to one of the Sonesta boats:

Eventually, it was our time to move, and we edged slowly towards the lock gates. But what was that small object, in the gloom, in front of us?

You can see the concrete sides of the entrance to the lock, but there's definitely an obstacle in our way! Here it is, on zoom!

Obviously the local lunatic, and even though he's rowing frantically, I think he must have a death-wish!

Here we are, actually in the lock, with a crewman shouting instructions to the pilot, hoping that we don't scrape the boat along the concrete side of the lock.

And here's the man who rowed his boat into the lock in front of us. Cheeky beggar's getting a tow home! This is evidently a common practice.
I'm sorry about the reflection of the interior of the boat, but the doors were locked shut, and it's the only way I could get the picture.

I think that's probably enough for one day, don't you? It's all I'm doing anyway, so you can like it or lump it! I need TEA!