On arriving home in Luxor.

Well, yes we got back home to Luxor without too much trouble, Hamdulillah! But many places are hardly recognisable. The front of the friendly old Etap (El Luxor Hotel) is covered in snow…………

The old premises of the Oasis Café which, you’ll remember, moved up to St Joseph Street next to Tuttie Frutti, has been turned into a new restaurant cunningly called the “Oasis Palace” which I think is a bit of a cheek!

Mind you, they have certainly spent some cash on the place, it's just a pity that they are trying to cash-in on someone else's good reputation!

We also called at the NP (Steigenberger Nile Palace, do keep up!) where they had a wonderful poinsettia Christmas tree. It was made up of individual plants in pots, most ingenious, and very effective. The funniest thing about their Christmas decorations, is that their Santa Clauses always have saxophones!!!!!!!!! What's all that about, then? Even some of the Egyptian Christmas cards have him with a sax!

We arrived back at the apartment to find a generous covering of dust, well, it was better than finding a generous covering of snow, wasn't it?

The good old Karcher vacuum made sharp work of that!

Who knows Ruby Tuesday?

No, not the one of Rolling Stones fame! Ruby Tuesday from Luxor, whose blog is
http://orangesbythenile.blogspot.com/ . The blog posts seem to have disappeared, and I'm unable to email her.
Anyone have an email address, or; are you reading this Ruby Tuesday? If anyone can answer yes, then please let me know.
Happy new year everyone.

Busy Bees.

Here we are again, still in Windy Nook!
A couple of weeks ago, I had an unexpected email from a lady whom I hadn't seen for a very long time, in fact she was just a daft girl when we last met! Diane was the daughter of one of my customers, and lived just a hundred yards or so from the garage where I had my business repairing (mainly) heavy goods vehicles. After exchanging a few emails between us and another long-time pal (Eric) we arranged a get-together of some of the old gang from all those years ago.

The business had been my father's and I was taken into partnership at the tender age of 18, sadly, he died when I was 19 but I was able to carry the business on. We worked from 08.30 till 10 or 11 in the evening. I took a partner who had been a school friend, and we had several helpers, one of whom came to us as a boy Scout looking for a Bob-a-Job task! We never let him go, and inculcated into him our love of repairing trucks and things, which he has put to good use, and 40 years later has a really good business still doing what he loves best.

Here he is, sitting behind Diane. He is "Little" Eddie, a name which will be explained in a minute or two. The next picture (l to r) is of Dennis the welder (who, in his younger days, was a dead
ringer for the famous Roy Wood of "The Move"), Potter, Ian Miller (affectionately known as "Mudguard") and, of course (being the "Belle of the Ball") Diane. Ian was always
a regular visitor, sometime helper (and sometime hinderer!). He is now is a very successful car dealer, he very kindly lent us a car to get around during our present holiday.
Potter is, in fact, Edd Potter who was a friend who became a business partner in our haulage business a couple of years later. Seeing as I was Edward, Potter was Edd and Little Eddie was another Edward: those two adopted the names which just evolved, so that we weren't spending all day getting mixed up! Mind you, I think Little Eddie is a bit sick of his after 40 years!
Dennis was a factory welder, with Potter (and several other assorted lunatics which were to impact on our lives in different ways during this and the slightly later period), who was a visitor and sometime helper.
Other notable worthies turned up, but (as usual) yours truly hadn't checked the camera, and the batteries ran out after half a dozen pictures!!!!!!!
It was a very good night, spoilt only by the loud music in the pub which I struggled to contend with, with my partial deafness. We have promised to arrange another meet-up in the summer, but at a quieter venue!


Our youngest granddaughter started school in September, even though she is still only a baby! Fortunately, the school she attends hasn't wholly sucumbed to the political correctness which was instrumental in us deciding to escape to Luxor, and they still have a nativity play! Isabella is too young to have a major part, but she made a beautiful angel. (Yes, I know I'm biased!)There she is, right in the middle of the first picture, and posing nicely in the second.


I also went to the brilliant "Sage" at Gateshead to see Maddy Prior (of Steeleye Span fame) and the Carnival Band perform their annual concert of Christmas songs. The tickets are our usual Christmas gifts from my lovely sister, she gets one for me, one for son Benjamin and another for Alice, our youngest daughter. It was a super concert, but photography isn't allowed, sorry!


On Sunday 19th December (last night) Benjamin and I accompanied sister Susan and her husband Roy to their folk music club at South Shields, that's where Christine (the owner of the Tuttie Fruttie Cafe in Luxor) comes from. We used to sing together regularly in our younger years, but now rarely have the opportunity. However, last night we did! We first gave them three verses of "While Sheperds Watched" to the tune "Up and Doon", which we sing every year while out Carol Singing. Our Benjamin got up and helped us out, even though he sang with his eyes closed, so that he could pretend that he wasn't in front of a crowd of people.

A few of the Windy Nook Girls Brigade Band were there, and gave the gathered folkies a medley of Christmas Carol tunes, they were pretty good and went down well!

After the first half, we were presented with a goodly spread of food consisting of pies, sausage rolls, roast potatoes, mince (spoilt by the addition of chillies), cheeses and pickled onions, crisps, cheese flans and Cadburys Chocolate Fingers!!!! It was just as well, as we hadn't had time for any tea.

The band started the second half off with some more carols, and we sang "Bright Morning Star Arising" with Christmas words written by our Susan's friend Maddy Prior. It felt good while singing it and it seemed to go down very well. We had a great night, it's just a pity that Freda doesn't enjoy that sort of thing.

Well, that's all the news for now, but I'll be back!!!!

Merry Christmas!

Yes, the time is again drawing nigh! Too much to buy, with not enough time or money to get what we would really like to. It's always the same for most of us.
Our son, eldest granddaughter and youngest grandson put up and decorated the tree for our house. I think it looks ok.

For us, it would be unthinkable to be away from our family at this special time of year when we remember the birth of Jesus, and all that it means for mankind in general and for us as individuals. It saddens me immensely when I think of all the folks I know who don't have a share in that tremendous sense of love and security which, particularly around this time, abounds in Christian circles.
Anyway, I hope all of our readers have a lovely time celebrating this mid-wintertime, and I'll leave you with the words of one of my favourite (but not too well known) Christmas Carols.

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 angel's 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!

Again Merry Christmas, and God bless.

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

That's right, we don't have a garden, but we seem to be able to grow icicles ok!
I took this pic of our bathroom window on the day we arrived back here in Windy Nook.

Six days later and see how they've grown, it must be that they are trying to thaw for a little while and then re-freezing. It is VERY cold!

I just thought that all you lucky people still in Egypt would like to gloat over what we are suffering here in good old Blighty.

Holiday time.

Hello from a very cold Windy Nook, where we're on our Christmas holiday from 3rd December until the 27th.
Actually, we really started on the 2nd when Freda had a fancy for a McDonald's. This is a bit of a queer occurrence, as she isn't a burger fan in general. But, you know me, anything to please the Boss. (I've always been a crawler!)
As we left McD's, I jokingly suggested that she might enjoy a chocolate brownie and ice cream at the Roof, by way of a dessert. To my great surprise she agreed, so we nipped into Snacktime before the "Little Shop Little Prices" man (Mamdou) latched onto us. Amazingly, the front table overlooking the temple etc. was vacant, so there we sat. The waiter was there in a trice and took our order "TWO chocolate brownies, please?" He was rather taken aback, as we normally only order one of anything, to share. "No shisha sir?" he thoughtfully enquired. But, unbeknown to him, I had already suggested that we retire from there to the Etap for tea and a shisha from Mr Bedawy before heading homewards. We enjoyed the brownies as much as we had enjoyed the cheeseburgers and made our way outside, crossing the road quickly before Mamdou got his beady eyes on us. Too late, he hurried through the traffic and caught us just as we were mounting the kerb on the other side. However, I managed to turn and speak to him before he had started his "Little Shop" spiel (once he starts he just HAS to finish) and when he recognised me he just said hello, and how are you and that sort of stuff and the a cheery "Goodbye".
The tea and shisha went down very well, as did the little "tourist watching".

We had arranged to be collected from the apartment at midnight to get to the airport in plenty of time for our flight to Cairo. All went smoothly, and we were soon ensconced in the grubby little cafeteria in domestic departures. Now then, this is a good place to people watch! Lots of Egyptian men (mainly) with an amazing array of different sizes of cardboard box. The clingfilm wrapping machine was going twenty to the dozen, the man operating it must have had quite a sweat on! And, of course Egyptian queueing! Need I say more? One chap had my attention for longer than any of the others. He looked like a typical West Bank farming type (I'm in no way denigrating the "type", by the way) with galabeya sleeves into which you could have flown Concorde, and a couple of winter scarves wrapped around his head which made him look like a pot of tea with a tea cosy on. His galabeya looked anything but clean, and he was small and stick thin. He wandered back and forth, haranguing people as he came across them, eventually sticking with an official looking bloke in a suit. His finger was wagging in the poor man's face, and his voice was raised. The poor official eventually made a call on his mobile and let the little fellah speak to whoever it was on the other end. The "whoever" also got quite an ear bashing before the customer was finished! He eventually made away towards the departure gates with his trolley full of his clingfilm wrapped boxes.
Anyway, we got to Cairo airport without mishap and managed to change terminals (only getting on the wrong bus once, which Saddam Hussein was driving) in our allotted time of 5 hours! Wondering where to go (Freda always looks around for signs etc. whereas I would rather just ask someone) I made my way towards the "Information" desk. Here it is below, but you'll have to click twice on the picture to see why I took it!

The BA flight from Cairo to Heathrow wasn't as nice as Egypt Air, but it did have a great selection of CD's to listen to, I had fun making my own playlist from CD's by the marvellous Leonard Cohen, the Rolling Stones, Etta James and Bo Diddley. Quite a change!

We arrived at Heatrow early, and left late, due to our last flight being postponed for two hours, in increments of a half hour at a time, very annoying! Nevertheless, we managed to get to Newcastle, where we found out that our son-in-law had just pranged our son's lovely (recently purchased) car, actually, another car ploughed into him in after losing grip on a bend, and there was no-one to pick us up from the airport. As we made our way down the covered walkway to the Metro station I was surprised to see the following icicles.

Our son-in-law managed to borrow a Nissan Micra to collect us from our local Metro station and took us home where the gang were awaiting our arrival. And more icicles hanging around our house as well.

According to the weather forecasters, we'll be carol singing in these conditions on Christmas Eve! So spare us a thought (along with some money!) when it comes around.
I'll be back in touch if anything crops up, in the meantime; enjoy the warmth if you're still in Egypt, and happy sledging if you're in England.

Happy Christmas to evryone.

Famous visitors?

No pictures today, sorry. But you cannot just go and snap at private people and then make fun of them, can you?
We've been to the Steigenberger Nile Palace tonight. I always enjoy it there, they have a slightly more interesting clientele than they get at the Etap. Also, we've got to know the chairman of the Steigenberger Hotel Group, Mr. Gamal, whom we often have a natter with on his frequent visits from Cairo. He's there at the moment, but tonight he was sitting in the atrium of the hotel watching the dancers, along with one of the hotel managers, so we didn't interrupt their conversation.
We sat in our usual seats (we've moved from the long sofa at the back, to the first table as you approach the bar) and began watching in earnest! First we noticed a woman who just has to be Sandie Toksvig's mother, she was an older version of the hilarious writer. What was doubly peculiar, was that she was accompanied by non other than the mother of Worsel Gummidge!!!!! I was quite gobsmacked!
But that wasn't all. Mr. Ayman, the soft handed and well turned out young waiter, had brought our tea and Nescafe, and we were just tucking into out petit-fours; when I was astonished to see two visitors who were obviously from good old Royston Vasey! The gentleman may well have been the brother of Edward (the "Local" shopkeeper) or failing that he certainly modelled himself on that denizen of Local society. His wife (or possibly his "partner") also seemed to model herself on Tubbs, but without the headscarf. She did, though, have a nice dress made of sacking material, in sacking colour as well.
As I'm sure you all remember, the Nile Palace is the best hotel for watching the tourists. They pass in one direction, and then (without coming back) pass again in the same direction! They go up the stairs and then come down in the elevator, and next appear coming up the stairs from the basement restaurant. It can get very confusing, as if the hotel was a warren of secret passageways and hidden doors.
From our new seats, we can also see into the atrium (no, not the dancers thank you, but some of the audience). Tonight we could see several young men wearing vests and shorts and standing on the edge of the fountain (blocking other peoples view) to get photographs of the dancing troupe. My immediate thought was one of utter embarrassment, as I was sure that they would be British. They were still there when we had to pass them to leave and go shopping. You can imagine my delight when I realised that they were foreigners, and not British at all! They were actually Colombian, I knew this because they were there in the company of another friend of ours; Paola the Colombian, who is married to one of the Egyptian family who own and run the Venus Hotel, not far from us. We didn't stop to speak to her, as she was trying to calm them, there were actually about a dozen of them.
It's a bit of a coincidence that another of the Venus brothers is also married to a Paola, but they live in Portugal with their four year old son. They are holidaying in Luxor at the moment, for a month. They stayed with us two years ago, but since then we've been booked when they have wanted to return, so they are currently at the Etap.
Well, that's a bit of "Local" gossip for you. We might find something more interesting before we leave for Windy Nook next week, we'll see!


When I was a boy, I had a wicked elder sister who made me play silly games! Games no-one else had ever heard of, like "Lettles", we also had enemies which were unheard of by those in the "sane" world: the "Caucasses Harrasses"! (That spelling probably isn't right, and even now I can sense her impending wrath from over 2000 miles away!)It was she who introduced me to Sardines, although I cannot actually remember the initiation.
In my relative innocence, I had always imagined that "Squash" would be a variation of our old childhood game. But it isn't! It's a serious game, played by super fit individuals who seem to be trying to give themselves, or each other, (I'm not quite sure which) heart attacks.
It's even reached our little Ancient Egyptian backwater.

For several days we weren't quite sure what was going on behind the Temple. A structure went up which was obviously going to be tiered seating when it was finished, but we couldn't even hazard a guess at what was being erected in front of them. All scaffolding and bits of glass, it seemed to have a screen at the far end!

I keep telling the Moudira that no-one likes a "Clever Dick", but she continues in her Clever Dick fashion to spot the obvious signs that elude us mere mortals. Like "RED BULL INTERNATIONAL SQUASH TOURNAMENT" plastered where ordinary folk wouldn't think to look!
Anyway, here's a view of the old and the new, just to prove that it's nothing like Sardines. I mean, you could get a stack of people in there, couldn't you?

Impressing the Boss?

Is it just me, or are the lights more prolific and brighter on one picture than they are on the other?

Or could it be that because Zahi Hawass is here, they are putting on the best show possible?

It wasn't Terry Thomas after all !

Well, Tuttie Fruttie Christine went to the Nile Palace last night (dressed in her finest) to catch a glimpse of her long-time screen idol, Omar Sharif. But she didn't see him!
We did, haha. We wanted to have a squint at him too, after all, he is VERY famous, and also to see Zahi Hawass in the flesh.
I didn't take the camera 'cause I thought it would be bad manners to intrude if we did come across him. Silly me! Other folk didn't have any qualms, and he didn't seem to mind at all.
We were sitting in our usual place when the two of them came past on their way to the lift, Zahi introduced the doorkeeper to Mr Omar, who is surprisingly tall, and then gave us a nod as they went on their way.
We like the Nile Palace as we see all sorts traipsing about there. There was the Chinese man with the two ancient geishas, then Joanna Lumley looking just as lovely in real life, and now Zahi Hawass and his good pal, the even more famous, Omar Sharif. It's a coincidence that Mr Omar was staying at the Winter Palace while we were there on our first visit to Luxor in 1997. All the ladies were in a constant state of swoon, "He smiled at me in the garden" or "He held my hand as I stepped down there". He is very big with all the ladies.
If we get back up there tomorrow, I'll take the camera, who knows?
Watch this space!!!!

Carter's House welcomes the Winter Palace!

Good evening, and welcome. (David Frost used to be good, didn't he?) Here's a strange title for a blog post. As I've said before, and will probably say again, "It's not what you know; it's who you know that really counts!"
Well, we had another invitation from the Winter Palace, this time to the party to celebrate and introduce their new catering venture at the brand new venue of Carter's House on the West Bank!

We gathered with the other VIP's in the Victoria Lounge at the Old Winter Palace for six o'clock, Sofitel were laying on transport for us. Actually, it was a rubbishy motor boat and a few mini-buses once we were on the West Bank. Never mind, we got there safe and sound to be met by a band, of course!

There were a few faces there which I recognised, but they weren't all that photogenic, and anyway the pics I took of them came out all "wobbly" so I deleted them, Haha!
We had an endless supply of drinks and the waiters kept coming around with all sorts of little tasters. Kofta, chicken, veal, giant shrimp things, something Chinese (urgh), battered fish and lovely platters of delightful canapes, eventually two for each table! My favourites were the smoked salmon with caviar.

The band played constantly, but they weren't obtrusive at all, after a while we got the obligatory "Whirling Dervish". He seemed very proficient and made his way around the tables as a photo opportunity for everyone, as well as the "official" cameraman!

Of course, each table had a visit from the different members of the management team, asking our opinions etc. and generally being nice. I was particularly pleased to re-connect with one of the management from the old New Winter Palace, whom we hadn't seen in years.
Anyway, after a while of talking and drinking and eating, we were beckoned to the buffet table. (At this point, I was rather disappointed that I'd had so much of the tasters and canapes!) However, it was only to see a display of the types of snacks etc. which the resident chef would prepare for the visitors on a daily basis, so I was then glad that I'd stuffed myself after all! I've got to say though, it looked absolutely lovely! Here's a few pics:-

All in all, I'd say it was a bold venture, but certainly it will be an exciting dining opportunity for tourists while visiting the Antiquities on the "Side of the Dead"! They open tomorrow, and their normal hours will be 9 till 5, although they will provide a special service for early breakfasts (for hot air ballooners etc.) and for evening meals where the client is prepared to pay for a celebration meal or whatever. I'm sure there will always be some tourists who want to enjoy something a bit special when out and about. This venture deserves to succeed, in my humble opinion!
We joined the Thomson Holidays crew on our journey back across the river, and Freda commented that Carol looked very elegant. Now there's an unexpected compliment!

Just a snippet. (Loose lips sink ships!)

Nothing's been happening around here for a bit, and that's why I've been silent! Life goes on, of course: the "Aluminium People" had a conference at the Sonesta St George last week, I heard it was rivetting, haha. This week it is the turn of the "Cast Iron People", who are having their Symposium at the Nile Palace.(In one of the elevators, if you follow the signs??????????)
Metal Workers of the world: Unite!
During the lull in excitement, I've been carrying on as normal. You know: annoying Freda, cleaning and drinking tea for England. I've also been reading, my most recent one is "A Woman of Cairo" by Noel Barber. Apart from some really quite rude bits, it's a great story and at the moment the narrator is working for British intelligence in Cairo. A bit of a spy, I suppose. It's very exciting!
Talking of spies: I'll bet you didn't know that I had a select team working for me here in Luxor! The latest word, from one of my most trusted sources, is that the Nile Palace is to have two "special" guests this week, Thursday I believe.
So, if you're arriving there on Wednesday, keep a lookout for anyone looking like these two. Keep your distance as one of them has a dangerous gap in his teeth (he may be Terry Thomas in disguise) and the other thinks he is a gun-toting death-defying archeologist!

Terry Thomas.

And Indiana Jones.

Graham Wardrobe.

Hi, not much happening around here this week! Our dead carpenter's brother got our bits of furniture finished, though. You remember Taha the carpenter, nice lad who made our meshrabeya for the guest apartment. Sadly he died later on that year: drowned in the Red Sea, along with his fiance. Here he is, supposedly fitting the arabesque, but had to stop for a half a jar of Nescafe in each cup of coffee! He's the one tasting it.

And I'm sure you remember our old wardrobe which I dismantled the other week and made into two wall cupboards and other assorted rubbish.

Well, we now have the new wardrobe, just delivered and filled with all the stuff which had been stuffed into suitcases or strewn around the other furniture. It's probably not the best wardrobe in the world, nor the prettiest, but it is functional. I took a picture with all the doors open, but the boss wouldn't let me post "private" things! So I'll describe it briefly for you (aren't you grateful, Dear Reader): it's 2 metres wide and 2.1 metres tall, the right hand door contains 6 shelves, the centre two doors have a deep top shelf with long hanging below, whilst the left hand section is for me, with a top shelf, short hanging space and a lower shelf. All very practical. Our old mate (another one sadly deceased) Jim Crow (famous coach builder and general woodworking perfectionist) would have blown his top at the quality of this piece, but then he wasn't working with tools which were hand-me-downs from the pyramid builders!

We are quite taken with it, actually, so much so that we've given it a name! At the grand "Wardrobe Opening Ceremony" it was Christened "Graham", after a good 'bus driver (and rat catcher) friend with similar reliable qualities.

Now that the washing machine is in its new home, Abdu (Taha's brother) made us a new cabinet for the bathroom, it looks quite nice and is also functional. No we haven't given it a name, what nonsense! Whoever heard of a bathroom cabinet having a name? Are you crackers, or what?

Fancy Dress in "Africa" and the "Egyptian Way"

Hi, as you all know I've been abandoned to my own fate here in Luxor! Left to the whims of multifarious darkhearted foreigners. (This is to all to emphasise my calamitous situation to my Mother: who'll then remonstrate with Freda for leaving me by myself!)
Well, actually I'm not, not really! I was rescued by some fellow Trip Advisor Destination Experts, Suziesoose and that thug KV Explorer to be precise. They took me under their collective wing yesterday, we went quad-biking in the afternoon and then they had arranged for dinner at the Africa restaurant on the Side of the Dead. KV even went without his trademark hat and shorts, but don't be too alarmed, he wore long pants instead and in place of his hat he wore an Arabian thingy, like the villain Yasser Arafat. Although I took my Box Brownie on the quads, I forgot to get any pics, duhhhh! However I did remember it whilst at the meal, but then I forgot to wipe the lens so the pics are of my usual quality, sorry. (What do you really expect for free?)

Sorry, but after a complaint that the pics of KV Explorer had frightened some children, I've had to take them down!

Needless to say, we had a marvellous time, the quad-biking was great fun, and no-one fell off, which is always a bonus. Suzie had a bit of a problem, as her quad kept trying to crash into the desert wall, and at one point suddenly veered across the track and nearly ran into a bunch of date palms. The guide rescued her and looked after her after that. KV's trip wasn't without incident either. I was following him, and he seemed to be leaning right over to the right (as if he'd ricked his back), I wondered if there was something wrong with his quad as well. We stopped and swapped machines, as he said that his was pulling to the right all the time. (I have to say, though, that it was fine for me. I eventually deduced, dear Watson, that he has one arm about a foot longer than the other, and that's why his picture on the TA Luxor Forum is only a head and shoulder shot!)
The meal at Africa was good and wholesome, as you'd expect, and afterwards KV and I both had shishas. That man's just a rotten egg! He forced Suzie (a non-smoker) to have a puff of his apple shisha, the beast. Actually she was quite taken by it and spent the rest of the time texting friends and family to tell them all. KV is obviously quite a "lady killer" as well, and confided in me that Suzie's Mam has been after him the whole holiday. But when he tried to get her to smoke the shisha also, she shied off, maybe suspecting some cunning plan to seduce her. I don't know what his lovely little wife would have thought of that, though.
When we eventually got back to the civilisation of the East Bank, we sat out front at the Etap, far away from the wonderful singer, and had drinks and convivial conversation till we made our separate ways to bed.
All in all, it was a great time and I want to express my thanks publicly! So thank you Mr. Three Compressors and wife, and thank you Suzie and Mam.

Today, I made another teapot for Tutti Frutti Cafe (no pictures, as yet) and took it across there to be painted etc. Christine wasn't there, so her understudy, (Irish Lorraine) took pity on me and gave me a lunch consisting of a piece of very nice chicken and vegetable pie with mashed spuds, mushrooms and a white sauce, followed by some apple and cinnamon pie with fresh cream. As you would expect of this establishment: it went down a treat! Of course it also came with a pot of tea.
By the time I got back home, I thought that I'd try a glass of chai at Adam's coffee shop across the street.

While I sat there, generally enjoying watching the people passing to and fro and taking in the pleasant ambiance of our little alley, Adam was brushing the street (it's less than 6ft wide, by the way). I was a bit surprised when he stopped when he got to the road and just left the detritus there, in a pile. But then I came to my senses, that's the "Egyptian Way" i.e. leave it for someone else!

Two men were fastening up a sign for Mr. Gamal's Wedding Shop, just next to where I was positioned, obviously "Egyptian Way" professionals. What better fixing than bent nails and a length of twisted wire?

Just next to the sign, I noticed someones fuse box, what can I say?

And these are the people who conceived and built the fabulous and huge Pyramids at Giza, and the breathtakingly beautiful Funerary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut here on the West Bank and also the awesome and intimidating Temples of Abu Simbel on Egypt's Southern border.
The "Egyptian Way"! What do you think of it?

"Yes, God is good!"

Hi, I’m sorry to have been silent for so long, but I’ve been busy. (busy busy bee, in fact!) And now, I’m all alone as Freda has run off to Windy Nook to tend to our distressed children, or was it to tend to cause distress to our children? I’m never quite sure, but as you all know I’m good at keeping schtum!

The title of the post is taken from an old favourite hymn of mine, probably no longer sung in Methodism as I don’t think it’s in the “new” hymnbook. Grrrrrrrrr! You’ll see the relevance later on.

We’ve been spending money that we haven’t got, “Is that new?” I hear you ask. Well not really, we’ve become experts at it over the years. But we did need to have our own little kitchen, I’m sure none of you would begrudge us that? We started off with a wardrobe in our bedroom which was “built in” to a substantial alcove.

Our washing machine was in the bathroom,
like many Egyptian households, and our
cooking apparatus; on the sideboard, next
to the fridge, in the living room.

The idea has been fermenting for quite some time to “do something” about it. Well we’ve done it now! Out came the wardrobe,

I’ve never seen so many panel pins in my life, or so many masonry nails, each one either snapping and leaving a half inch sticking out, or coming out with a big chunk of cement still fastened to it! Absolutely crackers! I’ll kill that Hamada the carpenter if I get my hands on him. Never mind, it’s all lying around on the roof terrace at the moment, along with various tools and bits of old pipework it’s a good job we haven’t got any guests just now.

The new plumber (another Girges, who is also known to Igor, Girges the doctor’s assistant) was brought to me by our old friend Al Fatah, from Qus. (Isn’t this nice and confusing, Dear Reader?) Al Fatah, more commonly known as Abdul, oversaw the original work to make our building habitable, and he had been a good friend for many years before. Mr Girges the plumber would price the job of making a new drainage system for the air-conditioners, changing the pipework to accommodate the new kitchen sink and the new position of the washing machine, etc. It’s taken him since last Thursday till today to finish it, mind you, he had three days off during that time! Of course, you cannot leave a workman in the house alone with the woman of the house, so I had to be there all the time he was, which made things a bit awkward for me going to the West Bank each day.

Anyway it’s about finished now, well, usable at least. I’ll get around to making a bench type thingy to go under the sink in the near future. I’ve reused the top cupboard doors to make two shallower cupboards above the sink, with a concealed light below so that I can see the dishes when I’m washing them. While I was on making Mr Ramadan redundant, I also put two separate sockets in! I wouldn’t dare try that at home, as I’m badly colour blind, but here it doesn’t matter ‘cause there are only two wires, so you really cannot go wrong.

Freda kindly gave me instructions on how to use the washing machine before she abandoned me; they are Sellotaped onto the wall above the sink!

I’ve spent a good few hours taking nails of one sort or another out of all the plywood and spars which combined to make the wardrobe. I don’t want to waste all the lovely timber, but I’m not sure where I can keep it all. I think the roof might collapse if I put any more up there!

I’m not good at being by myself! In fact, this is the first time in my entire 59 years that I’ve actually been by myself. I’m constantly checking things when I go out, keys (I have a deadly fear of losing keys), wallet, phone, stair lights on, two hankies. It’s like being an obsessive compulsive (is that the right term?). I HATE it!!!!!!
Yesterday, I went to visit the boys at the Sunrise Tours office. Got the ‘bus at the bottom of the street on Sharia Karnak. After being there for an hour or so, I decided to ring our lawyer to try (again) to get some sense out of him. When I went for my phone: it wasn’t there. Horror of horrors! I was certain I’d picked it up! Got Mohamed (don’t even go there, as the Americans say) to dial my number, and it was switched off. This confirmed to me that someone else had it, I never switch it off. Anyway, I dejectedly trudged home, in the vain hope that I had left it there, switched off. No! It was nowhere to be seen.
Spent the next hour or so emailing away, as I knew Freda would be worried that she was getting no reply on the phone, and eventually went to my lonely bed!
The doorbell rang at shortly after 9 o’clock this morning, I thought it was rather early for Rashad the cleaner, who usually calls at around lunchtime. When I peered over the railing there was Adam (coffee shop) looking back at me, holding something black in his hand. “That’s my phone!” I shouted down. And sure enough, it was. His second son, (Yousef, about 12) had found it on Sharia Karnak. When he brought it home, Adam had looked in the contacts list, and seen his own name there along with that of Al Fatah and one or two others we both knew, and eventually deduced that it must be mine. I was flabbergasted! It must have been a million to one chance of my neighbour finding it so far from home. I gave Adam 10le for the boy. (I hope he got it.)

The (un) Usual Suspects!

Hello again. I've just got back from Sofra (the restaurant in Luxor which does all Egyptian food and is tastefully furnished with Egytpian antiques) where I had been invited to share a meal with Mr eLaReF and his wife. They were celebrating Mrs eLaReF's birthday and also their wedding anniversary. It was also..........a Trip Advisor Destination Experts for Luxor get together!
The eLaReF's were already there when I arrived, he's a big fellah, and was instantly recognisable as the bloke I was looking for. We chatted for a few minutes before the others arrived. Suziesooze brought her travelling companion (really her mam), and KV Explorer brought his charming wife. We made for an odd gathering, I can tell you. KV's trademark hat was worn (as ever), but he'd managed to steal or borrow a pair of long pants from somewhere. eLaRef even had a tie on!
KV and his wife had kindly brought some ginger snaps and jelly babaies for Freda and I (along with several bars of Wright's Coal tar soap, which had stunk their suitcase out!). And Susie had a bagful of TA goodies, caps, tee shirts, key rings etc. along with some magazines for Freda, I struggled to carry the bags home!!!!
We started off with a selection of hot mezzes and drinks and after a good while, ordered our respective main courses. We ate at a leisurely pace, and the conversation was not really interupted by the eating. I think everyone enjoyed the food, which was steaming hot and properly cooked. The others had several fruit juices, and I had water. KV and I had apple shishas while the desserts were served. All in all, it was a very pleasant evening. While the others went on to the Winter Palace to be with the posh folks, I returned home to do a bit of cleaning (for a change, I'll tell you about that later) and to write it up for you lot!

So here they are, from left to right:
Mrs eLaReF, eLaReF, KV Explorer, Mrs KV, Suzies Mam, and Suziesooze.

Don't try to stick pins in them, it'll damage your screen.

Inter-connected tales from a "Saga" writer who is losing his mind.

When Mrs Akshar wrote “We think it’s all over” on Trip Advisor in reference to the water problem here in Luxor, I was sorely tempted to add the famous “It is now!” But I managed to refrain as it was a bit obvious and old hat, to boot. Also, of course, it would have been a mis-quote anyway. Never mind, good old Matt (m151cat) didn’t miss the opportunity to make the point not long afterwards.

I’ve now emptied all of our containers of water and started on the job of washing everything. I’ve stopped just now, because my back is aching. We had the water pump switched off too, ‘cause if the water had been turned off when we were asleep, or out, the motor would have burnt itself out trying to pump what wasn’t there!

Sorry, just stopping for a moment to get a yogurt from the fridge for Freda, as she would have to get off the bed to get it herself. Poor lamb, it’s a heavy book she is reading!

Anyway………the water emergency does seem to be past, I’m pleased to report. My worst fears were, as usual, a bit over the top. I find it difficult to imagine anything being done efficiently in this country, not because I’m naturally cynical (it’s taken 40 years of training to get me like this!) but because I have been trying for three years to find anyone here who can REALLY do anything properly.

While we’re on about cleaning (well, washing pots and pans), I’m reminded why I sat and started this tonight! After years of trying different men and women to clean our stairs reasonably well, I gave up and decided to just bite the bullet, and do them myself. It’s a job I don’t like, but it has to be done. Apart from getting covered (like everything else) with the dust and sand from the Sahara, we also have the visitors to the doctors surgery on the first floor making their usual Egyptian mess.

A few months ago, one of the men who work in the “Government” shop was complaining about his measly wages of 10 le per day. I regularly see him passing the end of our street on his bike, and supposed (correctly) that he passes within 20 feet of our stairs four times each day. A light came on in my head! Good old Girges, I wonder if he can be persuaded to spend ten minutes a day, while passing, to sweep the lower stairs for 40% of his normal wages for working all day? Sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask me! Not to cause unnecessary embarrassment to either of us, I wrote a note asking him if he knew anyone who might undertake this little task, and had one of my friends translate it before giving it to him. I was dumbfounded on the following day when he said that he was sorry, that he would have helped me out himself, but he didn’t have the time with working in the shop.

Never mind! Eventually, I managed to get hold of someone I’d tried before, but the last time I had wanted him to sweep and wash the stairs from top to bottom, which proved to be too much for him to cope with. Nevertheless, just sweeping the two flights of stairs and the entrance surely wouldn’t tax his brain or body beyond their normal limits? We are talking here about Mr Rashad, ex-Amoun man (street sweeper) and general dogsbody of other people around here. Using various people to interpret, he and I eventually agreed that he would come every day and sweep the lower stairs, entrance and pick up the rubbish in the alley for 5 le (cash) per day. Lo and behold! He comes every day, except when he doesn’t, that is. He’s not thoroughly reliable, but he’s the best we have, and I mean to keep him!!!!

The rather shy, Mr Rashad.

Well: yesterday, I got a telephone call from Dr Yacoub’s assistant (another) Girges. We’ll call him Igor, so as not to confuse you further, dear reader. Igor took a full two minutes to tell me that Mr Rashad was waiting downstairs for my instructions! Being still in the land of Nod, I leapt up and slipped into my fashionable galabeya and leaned over the roof terrace to tell him to “Get on with it!” It wasn’t until I went down to pay Mr Rashad that I wondered why he hadn’t rung the doorbell? But he had, it wasn’t working!

Today, I thought I’d better get Mr Ramadan out, of course you all remember the famous “Spitting Electrician”, Mr Ramadan from a former post. After getting Adam (coffee shop) to interpret over the phone, I asked Adam to get Ramadan to give me a “missed call” when he arrived. The next thing was another call from Igor!!!!! “Ah, Meester Adward, Ramadan is here”. As I trotted back down the stairs, I met Mr Ramadan on the way up, with the bell-push in his grubby hand. “Ahhhhh, Meester Adward, electric finish! Finish, Meester Adward!” As I new perfectly well that the electric wasn’t “finish” I dragged him back downstairs to converse through Adam (coffee shop) to find out what the old fool was on about. Of course, I have every confidence in Mr Ramadan’s professionalism, but it was tested beyond its limit when Adam translated that he wanted to put in new wiring from top to bottom, and that the wire alone would cost 175 le! I nearly hit the roof!

Adam in his small coffee shop.

On dragging Mr Ramadan back into the building, all the while repeating “Mish faloose, mish faloose!” (No money, no money!) he started to pull wires out from here and there, tapping the side of his head, and smiling inanely at me, and saying “Ahhhh, Mr Ramadan, hahaha!” Honestly, with Igor downstairs and Mr Ramadan manically laughing and spitting: it’s like being in a madhouse at times! When we got up the stairs he took down the bell and tested it in a socket, it was ok.

Eventually, he climbed onto the top of the stair wall (purposely refusing the steps so that he could leave dirty marks on the painted plaster!) and, hanging onto the iron railings, pulled a bundle of wires out from behind the wall. He snipped away at these, and taped the ends up, and then dragged some of them along the wall towards the water pump switch, in its lovingly constructed meshrabeya box.

It was just at this point that I thought “I’ll switch the pump back on, while I’m here.” So I did, and the doorbell began to ring! I switched it off, and the doorbell ceased! I did this quite a number of times before it sank in that the doorbell was actually fed from the business side of the water pump switch and hadn’t worked because it was SWITCHED OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr Ramadan gleefully joined all the wires back up and replaced the bell-push outside the front door, and then looked to me for payment, whilst all the while making it seem like HE had solved the problem with his razor-sharp brain. I could have killed him, but paid up instead, because the poor man has to travel up to Assuit at midnight to see his wife who is there in hospital. Their problem made my embarrassment seem wholly insignificant.
God bless you both, Mr and Mrs Ramadan!