Where am I? What's this page I've landed on?

Hi-de-hi, campers!

Yes, I feel a little lost too. It seems ('cos it is, stupid) an age since I last confided in you, Dear Reader. We've been in Eng-er-land, you know, escaping from the heat of the summer. Which reminds me to tell you that one of the films on our outbound EgyptAir flight was "In the Heat of the Night". That very tense and atmospheric picture starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier. I was really enjoying it, when I, quite suddenly, fell asleep, missing about three quarters of it!

But never mind. We're back, back to the heat, back to the muezzin's wailing and the constant buzz of people-noise that encapsulates what Luxor is now all about since world tourism abandoned us. No more the frightened look on the newbies faces as they scurry through the tourist souk, no more queues of coaches lining up for the Temple coach park, or multi-vehicle convoys dashing to and from the airport. What are the carriage drivers busying themselves with since the demise of the Pasha Run, where maybe 30 of them would trail around the back streets, tourists peering into open doors or being horrified at the condition of both the people and the properties?

But that's enough of me moaning, at least we're glad to be here, even if it does mean that I'm back to my natural calling, cleaning! Here's one of me just today,

I'm busy blowing the dust off the stair walls with my trusty blower (pronounced as in flower) which, as you can see, is a re-purposed leaf blower and garden vacuum which came from FreeCycle. It's a marvellous creation even though I did end up being Hacky-Mucky, as we sometimes say in Geordieland. And yes, those are sweat marks on my shirt, and me at 65!!!! I should have followed my beloved mother's example and ticked the "NO CLEANING" box when I retired.

During one of the brief spells where I was able to go out and about, I noticed a dead cruiseboat lying in the river. It's the MS. EMELY, even though it has been moored up here since the revolution, I was seeing it still advertised on different websites as sailing and taking bookings. But surely, it's not anymore?

As you can see, it has developed a slight list to the starboard and there are several doors left open. Unless all the soft furnishings have been removed to some safe storage facility (hehehe) I fear that the local "wildlife"(?) will have chewed at everything, and not one piece will ever be usable again. Such a pity, as it looks as if it was quite nice in its day, with its full length balcony doors. Isn't it sad, Dear Reader?

But, onward and upwards, and I'm very very pleased to report that our old neighbour Mr Mohamed is still with us, even though he's just about bed-fast now. They've procured a wheelchair from somewhere, in which I fully intend to take him out for a little jaunt, maybe just up or down the street a way, maybe to see one of his old pals. Who knows?

Anyway, you now know that we're back, so perhaps you can drop in here from time to time, you never know what you're going to find. Oh, by the way, it seems that we're off to the Old Cataract in Aswan again, next week. I'm bound to find something to regale you with from there?

TTFN

Wot?

Wot? Or even, "What?", either would be the right exclamation, believe me! We went to Krakow, primarily in order to view the terrible place of unimaginable horrors which is the former Auschwitz concentration camp.

But we didn't get there! 


Honestly, Freda had researched the whole programme for the week, down to the last detail (well, perhaps not quite!) and we had planned to use the public transport system to get to the camp. In the event, it turned out that the twenty minute 'bus service changed to an hourly one at lunchtime. But we didn't find this out until twenty minutes before the last ten minute service left from behind the railway station, which we couldn't possibly get to in time!!!! A bit of a blow, was that. I priced a taxi, but that was prohibitive. There was nothing for it but to admit that we just wouldn't get, on this visit anyway. So, we determined to enjoy something else whilst we had the opportunity.

When we did the golf cart tour we went around the old Jewish Quarter. (Some streets were inaccessible due to a festival.) Before the Nazis turned up there were something like 80,000 Jewish people in Krakow, when they left, only about 1000 were still there. The ghetto pictures were heartbreaking, where 3000 people had lived, the Nazis crammed in 17,000 Jews; they had two square metres each, and 250 calories a day to survive on!

Obviously, these poor unfortunates are well represented in among the various types of souvenirs. There were genuine Star of David patches from the ghetto, and ornate Hebrew prayer wheels. Then there were modern representations of ghetto Jews:

These two little groups are typical, there were a great many similar.

I couldn't help but notice that the accordion players invariably had what is currently known as a "Melodeon face", Being a player, and interested, I see the same expression on YouTube over and over again! Here's a closer shot:

Please don't complain (or even think) that I'm making light of the suffering of these musicians, I'm certainly not! This is just an illustration of a phenomenon which is recognised in the weird world of melodeons.

Back to the present day in Krakow; We did a lot of walking (ooooh, the knees!) and the "Planty" was lovely. The Planty being the area which was originally the walls of the old city, now long gone and replaced with a green belt right around the inner city (2 and a half miles) of trees and bushes of many varieties, lots of grass with well kept tarmac footpaths and lots of seating. On one venture through the Planty, I caught a glimpse of what I took to be a legless bloke, until I got around the corner and past the people in front:

It really was a lovely place to wander, very few dogs, thankfully, and no mess or litter. In fact, when we went to the Wawel Castle, I was so shocked to see an empty beer bottle that I felt compelled to pick it up and find a bin! ("A bit different to Luxor, then." I can hear you saying, Dear Reader! And it certainly was.)

Mentioning the Castle, we had a nice wander around there too. It's only about 10 to 15 minutes from the Square, through the Planty. Not to waste time or megabites, here's a couple of pictures which give a good idea of the layout:


There's no fooling you is there, yes it's a model! It's made of metal, so it's a bit hot to touch, which is a slight problem as all the information which is on the model, in Polish and English, is also in Braille!

I could go on all day about Krakow and its characters, but I've got to stop somewhere, obviously. How about this bloke?

He's real, honestly!

Or this one?

video
I think that's enough of Krakow now, unless, Dear Reader, you really want some more pictures?

We've been home a while now, with not very much to report. But I caught this man the other morning at 06.45 training for the "Great North Run". Is he crackers, or "wot"?

video
Yes, that's a real fridge!

Tarra!

Busy, busy, busy!

Hello Playmates, I apologise for keeping you waiting to see the rest of the pics from Krakow. I have been busy though, honestly!

Our back yard door has needed replacing for the past two or three years, and Freda found one on Freecycle, last time we were home. Obviously, she was sick of seeing it propping up the wall, its time had come! Of course, it ended up needing the whole frame replacing, as well, and me not being a joiner managed to make mistakes when sizing it all up etc etc etc etc! It's done now though, thankfully. Actually, I'm rather pleased with the way it turned out.

Then; there was my favourite melodeon to see to. Being like me, but probably about 40 years older, it is failing in body! Well, bellows actually. They're only made of cardboard, you know, covered with a bit of cloth and bits of very thin metal here and there, but not everywhere. A nasty split appeared in the bellows fold next to where one end attaches to the wooden frame. I've glued it up, and I've prepared some strong-ish linen to cover and strengthen the joint. We'll see how it goes shortly, as I miss playing it.

Talking of melodeons; I "accidentally" bought another one a few weeks ago, via German eBay! I won't bore you with the story, but it's a lovely thing! A Hohner Club Model 11, here's a quick pic, just to get it off my chest!

Isn't it a beauty? It's quite different to play properly, and at the moment I'm only playing on the outside row of buttons, which is the same as playing a 1-row, it'll take time for me to get anywhere near the hang of the new (to me) system.

Now then, where were we? Ah, Krakow!

Perhaps we should start with a look at our next hotel, The Wentzl?

It's situated on the main square, and doesn't really look all that impressive on the outside. What do you think, Dear Reader?

This was taken at the night-time, and the main entrance isn't, as you would imagine, behind the third parasol from the right. No, it's directly behind the first parasol. The fancy stonework is around the entrance to the restaurant. Our room (better than the standard room, of course!) is the unlit one above the hotel entrance, it's a treat! Let's have a look at that, eh?

A view from inside the doorway.

Just look at those fabulous beams!

The room had everything you could want: a lovely bed, a comfortable sitting area with a coffee table, a desk and chairs with free WiFi (and wired Internet access) a coffee machine, kettle, free mineral water, a packed mini-bar plus re-stocked consumables (including hot chocolate!) The view was always fascinating; the ever-changing Square!

The bathroom was very flash, but awkward to get a decent picture of, sorry. I wish the water-flow of the shower at either of our homes was anywhere near as good as it was here!  

Enough of indoors, 

Krakow is a beautiful place, and I want you to see just how much there was to be enjoyed.

We took a city tour on a golf cart! It was really good, quiet, smooth and the driver was a very pleasant young chap, with reasonable English. The guide commentary wasn't via earphones but speakers strategically placed around the vehicle, and they were always audible without being too loud. The vehicles were just waiting around all over the place, some had 4 passenger seats and others 6. We also saw a fancy tuc-tuc:

The tuc-tuc didn't seem to move, it was advertising a restaurant which it stood outside of. We noticed at least one golf cart with P45 mirrors on it, that was a surprise, I can tell you! (Colloquialism: P45 mirrors = rear view mirrors, the type of which began to appear on expensive coaches in the UK in the late 1980's, and were so expensive to replace that drivers were afraid of being sacked if they broke one, hence the P45 reference, a P45 being an income tax form which an employer would give to an employee when his employment was terminated.)

Poland, in general being a big Catholic country, has a church on every corner, rather like mosques in Luxor, but they certainly differ in the style and quality of the architecture! The one's we dipped into were fabulous. Here's a few shots:





Whilst I can appreciate the beauty of these buildings, and the lifetime commitment of the builders and craftsmen; being a Protestant non-conformist I cannot reconcile the opulence with the relative poverty of the congregation which would have gathered there when they were newly constructed, or, indeed, the example which our Saviour set! Never mind, I'm not going to have my prejudices spoil the moment. 

The city is buzzing with both tourists and locals. One very popular form of tourist transport is the "Segways", I'd have loved to have a go, but Freda wouldn't hear of it. They were everywhere!

                     video
For the more timid, there were these three-wheeled things as well:

For the even-more-timid, there were these beautiful carriages:

That's the Cloth Hall in the background, it's full of small tourist-style shops, and has an excellent and well worthwhile museum underneath it! (There's one part of the Museum where a fountain in the Square above constitutes the ceiling, and you can see people dabbling their feet in the water, or even paddling. Very strange!) The horses hooves are shod with high healed shoes! If you don't believe me, then take a look at this:

And, no they weren't orthopaedic shoes especially for this horse, they ALL wore them. I've never seen the like! Whilst the carriages are standing, they're all "manned" by trendy looking young(ish) ladies, with top hats and all the gear. But when they are ready to go, up pops some rough and ready bloke to do the actual driving, well, in the main, anyway. They go on till very late in the evening, and I never sawany of them being driven at more than a snail's pace. Also, I didn't yet see any horse muck......anywhere. (Or smell horse pee, as we do in Luxor! What a clean place this is.) 
That's enough for just now, I'll get around to doing some more on another day; promise!

Not exactly Luxor!

I'm not sure whether I told you about Freda spending my pension money, did I?  You know how much of a "forward planner" she can be (had to have been, really!) Well, not wanting us to just fade away in our armchairs, she decided that we should travel in Europe, only from Newcastle Airport, while we are still relatively mobile and she has my pension to play with!

The first destination was to be Krakow, to facilitate a visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Museum, which lies not far from that city. The flights were booked on the strength of me not snuffing it before my 65th birthday in April. Luckily enough, I did last out and off we went last Monday, Jet2 kindly laying on a flight from Newcastle for our convenience. I couldn't believe my ears when the pilot announced that we'd be landing in 10 minutes, it was impossibly quick! For a budget airline, I must commend them, the flight was quite comfortable, with plenty of legroom (actually bellyroom, for little fatties like me when the tray-table is down!). And the staff on the plane, and in the airports, were plentiful and helpful. 10 out of 10, I'd say.

Our first hotel, The Maltinski, sent a taxi to collect us from the airport. The driver was a big strapping lad, who looked to me as if he'd been in the Russian Army! (A perfect gentleman, though.) He told us that the hotel was very good. I thought that he was bound to say that, when they were giving him work, I mean, it's only a 3*!!! We'd only booked it so that we cold afford to spend two of our four nights at the beautiful Wentzl Hotel, right on the main town square.

In actual fact, the Maltinski was, indeed, a lovely hotel. Five minutes (literally) walk to the Square, and only 16 rooms which were (judging by ours) much more than adequate, with an enclosed outside sitting area. Seemingly no pool or bar, or restaurant (apart from the breakfast room) which would surely limit their star-rating, even though people like us would value the lack of those facilities quite highly, lol!

I'm hoping to do a couple of shortish (well, I'll try to keep them short!) blogs over the next few days, to tell you all about this lovely city. But for now, here are some pictures from the Maltinski Hotel, as a taster. Hope you like them.

Maltinski Hotel entrance, from road.

 The room.

 The room again.

 Bathroom.

 Bathroom other side.

Last view. 

The Parquet flooring, throughout, was beautiful!

Secluded outside seating and table.

Buffet Breakfast.

Musicians abound in the Square, "What country?" asked the old accordion player, in his National Dress. The reply was, of course, "England."


                       video

That's enough for just now, look in in a couple of days, and I'll try to post some more interesting stuff.

Some of us are born to it!

Hello again. As you know, we're back in Blighty just now, escaping from the 50 degrees (and +) which those poor beggars in Luxor are currently experiencing.

That fact means that I'm being, once again, employed as my wife's Handy Man. What she doesn't realise is that the title really refers to the fact that I'm here and available, and not that I am multi-skilled! Although she should be well aware of this, after all these years of botched repairs and sheer foolishness.

Not many men would admit to such failings where their very masculinity might be brought into question, but, I cannot tell a lie!

Yes, Dear Reader, it's our washing machine! I noticed, whilst washing the dishes in the sink next to it, that when it was emptying (into the same waste pipe below the sink) a rather unpleasant smell emitted from the sink overflow.

After putting my mind to it, I deduced that the smell must be coming from a build-up of something in the drain tube which comes from the washer, as if it was actually coming from inside the machine, then the clean clothes would also have some sort of odour, which they haven't. I'm no fool, you know! All I needed to do was to take the pipe off and give it a good cleaning out! "Voila!" said Zebedee, in French. (That's a bit of a colloquialism, in that it's occasionally repeated in such circumstances, and is taken from a children's TV programme of years ago called "The Magic Roundabout")

Now, I know that as I get older, I'm losing my strength. It's a natural phenomenon.......to be expected........it happens to us all. But, I would have expected to be able to drag the washing machine out from under the bench, surely? The beggar wouldn't budge!!! It was as if it had been screwed to the floor; solid!

Time went on, and the smell got worse, to the point where Freda said that I should get Number-One-Son to give me a hand to shift it. Eventually, we were both in the house together, and he seemed to be in a good mood, so I asked him to help. No problem, great!

Now then, my son and heir isn't built like Arnie, or Tarzan, but I was confident that we'd master this lump of tinplate between us. I was wrong! It still wouldn't come. But it had budged, it was as if the front left-hand foot was fixed to the floor, and it turned a little from side to side, very strange.

Last year, I extended the bench next to the sink and washing machine to facilitate moving the microwave from where Freda wanted more working surface, nearer the cooker. Apart from not being able to get the right edging trim for the semi-circular cut of the new piece of bench, it worked out quite well, I was pleased.

I realise that it's not all that pretty, but the bin, a bag for recyclable stuff and a hook for the brush and pan fit in there quite nicely, thank you.

Number-One-Son cheekily suggested that I might have screwed the brass hook through the bench end panel and into the side of the washer. "Don't be ridiculous! The wood screws wouldn't have gone through the metal side of the machine. Anyway, they're not long enough." Hmph, that boy!!!!!!!

He took out the two screws anyway, in defiance of his elders and betters (me) only to see that they were too short after all, and that they didn't even protrude through the MDF end panel! (The cheek of it!) Not being satisfied, he went on to unscrew the bigger screw on which the dust-pan hung. After one and a half turns, the washer moved! I couldn't believe it; the screw had gone through the MDF and into the soft plastic washing machine top cover. I didn't know whether to punch him or kiss him!

You'll be pleased to know that, although we got quite a bit of muck out of the pipe, it wasn't that which was causing the whiff! We went on to strip and clean the whole of the kitchen waste pipe system, some nasty stuff in there, believe me!
So there you are, some of us are, indeed, born to it! Born to incompetence, that is!
TTFN. 

More Camels?





I've always (well, for as long as I can remember) had a fascination for all things "desert", camels especially! You'll recall, Dear Reader, the saga of poor Alice the Camel? Just in case your memory is going like mine, here she is (OK, was)

She was just lovely! And I was ever so upset and annoyed when she arrived in pieces:

                
We looked high and low on ebay for weeks afterwards, but to no avail, we even checked garden centres etc, but without success. 

Nevertheless, Freda (of the Eagle Eyes) came across a pair of camel twins (in Barnsley) on ebay last week. Of course she won the auction, as normal, and Number-One-Son and I trundled down to Barnsley last night to safely collect the new additions to our family.
I was a bit sad when looking at the advert pictures, the poor darlings were obviously kept outside, in the cold and wet:

Never mind, their carer had been kind enough to wrap them in bubble-wrap for protection, and we put their seatbelts on in the back of the car for the journey to God's own country, The North East, and good old Windy Nook!

On arrival, we removed their protective coats only to find that they both needed a good bath! One in particular, had a good bit of soil in his/her lower orifices and was also infested with small ants! (Shudder!!!) Here they are luxuriating in the warm soapy water:

Although they're definitely twins, they aren't identical, and seem to be opposite sexes, too. I haven't actually measured them exactly, as yet, but I hope that they don't exceed British Airway's maximum hand luggage sizes, or we'll be well snookered! Only one can come to Egypt with us on our next journey. I know it's sad to split them up, but I can only imagine a place for one of them as yet, and I couldn't manage to take two at once anyway. (It's like children; one's enough to cope with at our time of life!)

They're having a trial separation at the moment, with one on the landing, and the other in our bedroom. We'll see how they get on, and I'll keep you informed, OK?


They're going to have to have names, any ideas, Dear Reader?



A Second bite at the Moulid.

Well, as I told you, I missed the most important "official" part of the Moulid parade. But, as I promised here are some views of the noisiest and most prolific members of the largest grouping to be represented among the chaos of the "cara-nav-Al" (does that ease the actual pronunciation), they are the unemployed and football-crazy young men of Luxor!

I really wouldn't have believed that you could have so many "armed" youths in one place without experiencing at least some serious trouble. Have a look, and see what you think:

video
There were several groups like this, certainly hundreds in each?

video
I didn't film them all, mainly because one bunch looked much the same as the next, apart from the different flags.

video
Of course, even in these straitened times, festivals demand new clothes, aren't these twins just adorable?

video
And, attending without being scared out of your wits would be no fun at all! This little lad had second thoughts, methinks, mind you, those beasts are very high!

video

There's always someone dressed up as a gorilla, but I cannot fathom what this animal has to do with either Luxor or the sainted Abu El Haggag!

video
No doubt, Dear Reader, you noticed the carnival hats on may heads, well. here's one of the many wheeled stalls from where they could be purchased:

video
I think that's probably enough of the Moulid for this year, but definitely not enough of camels!

As a bit of a "spoiler" regarding my next posting; bearing in mind the previous paragraph, who might you find wandering in Wonderland, and from another source, which girl had "Smokie" lived next door to for 24 years?

Come on now, get your thinking caps on!

P.S. I cannot get the 3rd last video to play properly! The sound is OK but the picture is static, is anyone else having his problem?


The Camels.

Well; the Moulid has been and gone , and Yours Truly managed to miss the first and most traditional part!

I knew that the anticipation and excitement were growing, you could almost sense it, even from our flat up on the 4th floor. I took the camera down to the street, well before the procession was due to leave the old Mosque of Luxors patron saint, Abu El Haggag. You'll remember the story about how he became such an important figure for Luxor, and worthy of this Moulid in his honour don't you, Dear Reader? Just in case your memory is getting like mine, here it is again:

"When Shaikh Abu El Haggag came to Luxor, Islam at the time was not the major religion in Egypt; Coptic Christianity was the leading religion at the time. The city was a colony owned by a religious Coptic lady. She used to be called The Princess. Her soldiers saw Sheikh Abu El Haggag there and was immediately recognized as a foreigner, therefore he was taken to the Princess for questioning as they feared that he is a spy from a different tribe/region. He complained to her about the treatment he received and expressed that he wishes to become a local citizen. The lady was generous and offered him to stay as long as he wishes. He asked her to give him a land as big as a camel’s skin to sleep on it, she thought that would be maximum of 2 square meters, so she agreed as she was a generous Lady, he asked her to sign a contract confirming the deal which she agreed to.
At night, he took a camel’s skin and he cut it into a very thin line at the front of some local witnesses, something similar to a very thin washing line, he used it to border a big part of Luxor Temple. In the morning, soldiers saw this line and reported it to the Princess, and then she realised that he owns this bordered part of the temple as per their written agreement. As much as she was feeling deceived by his plan, they met few times afterwards, she was impressed by his knowledge and then she converted to Islam."
This thread of camel skin ran up Mustafa Kamel Street (Gold Street) and passed the end of our little alley, so we really are within the old boundaries of the town. The rest of what has become known as Luxor, isn't, really, they are just a conglomeration of villages which have been caught-up in the "urban spread"! 
Anyway, back to before the "ca-ran-aval". The direction of traffic-flow is reversed on Youseff Hassan Street and our section of Mustafa Kamel Street, due to half the town being inaccessible to motors, it seems very strange to see the "arabayas" coming up the street instead of down, and coming out of really bumpy side-streets as well!

video
Of course, not all the traffic has cottoned-on yet, It's Egypt, you know!

The main street was beginning to prepare for the grand parade, it's Luxors most exciting day, and almost everyone turns out to join in in some way. The lady and child on the left have come early to get a good viewing place. The gaily apparelled camels and horses were being shown off, up and down the street, like young girls being promenaded for slavering old slave traders!

video
Some of them are very big, even intimidating I would suggest. (Especially after reading in the MailOnline about the camel driver having his head bitten off by one of his annoyed beasts!!!) I also noticed that one or two if these had muzzles fitted; scary, or what?

I retired to the relative sanity of out flat for lunch, assured that there was plenty of time before I needed to attend with my camera. (Why oh why do I continue to trust the timings given by Egyptians? You'd think I'd never experienced "Egyptian Time" wouldn't you?)

Never mind, even though I missed the beginning of it, I was there for some of the more modern parts. (More of this in another posting!) And I did catch some camels in the actual parade:

video

video
What I didn't film was some (quite unnecessary, in my opinion) savage beating of the poor creatures. I suppose that when the riders have hired the animal, they feel entitled to treat it however their fancy takes them? I was astonished to find out that the cost of the day hire was 700le, with the biggest of the beasts costing 950le!!!

The owner hires a place just off Gold Street to stable the camels before they're needed, but straightaway after they're finished, they're taken back to their proper occupation in the sugar-cane fields, with the owner's pockets bulging with cash! Here they go:

video
I'll get around to posting some more in a while, insh'Allah! 

  

Extremes in Egypt?

Well, we awoke to terrible and tragic news this morning; another aeroplane falling out of the sky! EgyptAir's flight MS804 just disappeared from the radar, or so it seems. No doubt it will be decided that it was yet another terrorist atrocity, and another million or so prospective visitors to Egypt will change their plans. It's just awful!

Freda told me of the news as soon as I was awake, and when I went down to take a glass of tea to our elderly neighbour, Mr Mohamed (You remember? the English speaking guide, whose licence was number 9 in all of Egypt?) at 8 o'clock, he already knew about it and was calling the terrorists upside down! Everyone here is appalled at this latest attack (if, indeed, it proves to be the work of terrorists) and have been following the regular TV news reports about it.

In case you're wondering why I was taking tea to Mr Mohamed, it's because he is old and infirm and his family are struggling to take proper care of him. I don't do a great lot, only take him some tea and get a little falafel for him. Other than that Freda is doing some washing and I go and sit with him for a bit, he just needs a bit of company and a little kindness. Dr Jacoub's assistant, Girges, is also doing his best to help. Here's a snap I took of them both later on this morning, when Girges had helped him to sit outside where he could see the normal life of the street going on, instead of the four walls of his room.

The one on the left is Mr Edward, the assistant of Dr Abd El Mallach, the surgeon from our 1st floor. I've called these two all the names under the sun, at times (mostly Igor, as in Dr Frankenstein's assistant) but they're OK really, Girges has been a great help to Mr Mohamed.

Mohamed is hoping to feel well enough to get out into the main street tomorrow evening. It's the time of year for the Moulid, and the stick-dancing started tonight! Mohamed is keen to watch the proceedings, as I'm sure he thinks it will be his last opportunity, maybe he's right as he is 86, and well past the life expectancy of Egyptian males in general!

Obviously, I had to have a gander (Colloquialism; gander = look.) at the dancing before I toddled off to bed. (More properly, before I did this Blog, before toddling off to bed!)

Here are a couple of short videos to whet your appetite, the first is to give you an idea of the havoc caused by re-routing the traffic around the Mosque:

video
And the second is a very short introduction to Upper Egyptian stick-dancing/fighting for the uninitiated amongst you. We have it every year here in our little community, it has been organised by the forebears of one of our neighbours since time immemorial, and they are extremely proud to uphold the tradition. Enjoy:

video
I couldn't help but notice all the smiling faces. For the short few days which the Moulid lasts, the local people forget their collective worries as they fall back on the certainties of their religious and cultural heritage, even the horrific news of the fate of Flight MS804 couldn't impinge on their momentary joy.

Opposite extremes of emotion on the same day! God bless them all.

Pictures from our trip to Aswan.

Yes, I had taken more pictures than I showed you in the last Blog.
Here are a few more of the hotel itself, one or two views from the hotel and also a few short videos taken through the train windows on our return journey.
Here goes!

That's the "Nile Wing", the picture was taken from the pool. Those balconies are marvellous, very spacious and with astounding views. I just caught the corner of the Nile Wing in this first video, it's a panoramic view from our balcony, enjoy!

video
Although the hotel has been almost wholly re-designed, the designers wouldn't have dared to make much alteration to the fabulous Moorish flavour of the public interior areas:





Here's a view across the Nile to Elephantine Island and St Simeon's Monastery, away in the desert. It's a fascinating trip out there, we took camels across the scorching sand (it was a good few years ago) but you can walk, it's not all that far. Whichever way you choose, this place is well worth a visit, very interesting!

However, if you're more like we are now, the following picture shows us the Cataract library, where very few people seem to go. They have some lovely coffee-table type books, but also some interesting and amusing old books on the shelves. We could have spent many a comfortable hour in here.


The train journey home was as frustrating as it was interesting! Being daytime, there are so many fascinating sights to see from the train. The biggest problem is, though, that no matter how vigilant you are, for every point of interest you see on one side, you miss two on the other!!! The scenery is constantly changing; from village to mountains, from disjointed towns to ancient granite quarry or from a busy main road passing a large steelworks, to biblical farming vistas. I took a few videos, but they hardly give you a taste of what there is to tickle your fancy on such a journey.

video


video


video


video

video
Since we got back home, we haven't really accomplished much at all! Apart from cleaning, of course, and the odd bit of cooking and dish-washing, we've mainly lain around complaining about the heat! Now, I know (from a phone conversation with a friend in Derbyshire today) that it's really quite cold at our other home, but how could you manage with this temperature (taken in the shade, of course!) and it's still only May!

It's right what the Egyptians are fond of telling tourists, "It's a hard life here in Egypt!" But someone has to do it! Please take pity on us, and think kindly of us as we soldier on bringing little snippets of our Egyptian life for your delectation.

It's now time for bed, at 01.48, and it's still over 28C outside.