Winners again.

Hi, it's now turned 11.30pm and they're still driving around in circles, drums banging and horns blasting. Who??? Just about all of the male inhabitants of Luxor (in fact Egypt), because their National Football Team have won the African Cup of Nations for the third time in a row!
From 6 o'clock till 9 this evening tourists in Luxor could have had a welcome break from the usual unrelenting hassle for which we are famous, as all the men were too busy watching the game of the year on televisions all over the town. The coffee shops were full to bursting, any offices which couldn't close had a telly brought in, other TV's were in the street with crowds around them. The whole place was a quiet as the grave.
Towards the end of normal time, the town suddenly erupted! Egypt had scored, it was enough to wake the mummies in their tombs.
We had been looking after a friend's office while his staff went to watch the game. On our way home, everyone was turning out of all the coffee shops etc. and going crazy in the streets. A big difference from England, as no-one had been on the booze, everyone was happy, and determined to let everyone else know they were and why they were! Those that weren't lining the streets were in the back, or on top of, or hanging onto the side of, every possible form of road transport. I took loads of photo's as we walked home, but they were nearly all blurred because of the traffic moving. (Could possibly be because I'm a hopeless photographer as well.)



Click on the picture to make the it bigger.

I was glad to get in the house, as I was sure someone was going to be seriously hurt, is this just an old age thing do you think? Some of the young men were holding spray cans which were actually lighted, spewing flames all over the place, while waving cheap flags around as well! I don't suppose for a minute that the flags were made of any sort of flame retardent fabric? (Is that the old age thing again?) Even with my dodgey 'old man's' hearing, I can still hear them in another part of town, I expect they'll be back down our street soon enough. I do hope that this isn't disturbing our American guest downstairs, I know that he retires quite early.
As it is now turned midnight, I think I'll give that a try just now. I doubt that even the noise of Luxor celebrating will stop me from sleeping!
Goodnight all.

Do they know??????

Here's a funny kettle of fish to be found in Luxor, Egypt.



Click on the picture to make it bigger.

I've been meaning to take a picture of this sign for simply ages. In fact, I wanted to take the picture before the sign was here! Notting Hill College (Luxor Branch) used to be in a smaller place in a street nearby, where my lawyer's office also happens to be. I first saw the sign (smaller than this one) quite a while ago, and thought that it was a bit strange to have a branch of an English college in Luxor. Presumably the college is funded by tax/ratepayers, so what do they think of their money being spent over two thousand miles away? It's all very well being charitable, but I don't think that this sort of venture is necessarily why we pay our taxes etc. If I want to give to good causes; I'll decide which good causes, I don't need my (local) elected representatives doing it for me, thank you very much!!!!
Does Boris know about this?

WRONG AGAIN EDWARD

Had an email from Private Eye on this one, I'm sure that they're a reliable source!

Dear Edward,
Thanks for getting in touch. Despite the grand sounding name, Notting Hill College isn’t actually a taxpayer funded college (nor are its UK offices even in Notting Hill). It’s a business offering correspondence courses.
Best regards,
Jane Mackenzie
Reporter
Private Eye

Let's hope then that the Notting Hill College thrives here in Luxor, and helps many Egyptians to get out of the poverty trap! More power to their elbow, as the saying goes.

S.S. Sudan comes to Our Luxor!

Yes folks, we've "acquired" an item of furniture from the ultra famous Nile Steamer the S.S. Sudan. It will take a bit of work from a kindly carpenter in order to bring it back to its former glory, but we've got it, and we're keeping it. So there!
Friends here in Luxor are insanely jealous, what do you think?



Click on the picture to make it bigger.

It's quite a while since I was on the Sudan, but I'm certain that these seats were in either the "Telephone Room" or the "Reading Room". We are so excited!
For those of you who haven't seen, or don't know anything about the Sudan one version of the boat's history can be found on the following link:-

http://www.steam-ship-sudan.com/en/welcome-aboard.asp

I purposely said "one version", as I have also seen written (somewhere) that the boat was built on the Clyde in the 1920's!!!

Here's another link to a picture of our seat whilst it was still in situ in the bar of the Sudan (so much for my memory):-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/goldtoblue/416752996/

When I have found a carpenter who has the slightest intention of doing what I actually want, I'll post another picture or two of the fininshed article.

Fossil

I've been wondering about this thing for a while!




Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

It looks like some sort of fossilised thing, but I readily admit to being a complete dummy where stuff like this is concerned. Is it some fossilised animal, or part of? Or is it just some long forgotten pattern of ripples left on some ancient sand? You can see the size relative to an ordinary everyday cell phone. Come on, who knows?

Didn't it rain!!!!

Hi, no pictures for this little tale, I'm afraid.
The other night, I just happened to be looking over our terrace towards the Corniche and the Nile when I saw what I thought were flashes going off. "Must be some sort of professional do, with a flash that size" was my first thought. Haha, it wasn't until later that I realised it was lightning!
A bit earlier in the day, we'd had a bit of rain, you know; typical Luxor rain, just about as soon as you realise it's raining, then it has stopped. The last time we had real rain was also in January, but two years ago. It bucketed down for twelve hours! Many of our Egyptian friends commented that they had never seen rain like it, one 17 year old girl was so frightened because she thought that the world was coming to an end! The result for us was that we had to redecorate the whole of our upstirs apartment as the water came through our wooden roof, and then through our wooden ceiling, and brought with it two years of collected dust, turning our walls and floors (and just about everything else) black.
The atmosphere was quite oppressive, and a lot hotter than it has been of late. Then the rain started. We could hear the pitter patter on the roof, which got louder and ominously louder. The last time, we carried all the soft furnishings to safety in the downstairs apartment. But as we have an American guest staying there; that was not really an option this time around.
The lightning was now visible as lightning, and quite spectacular as well. I tried to get some photos, but my gas powered digital camera wasn't quite fast enough, all I got was pictures with an orange night sky! Never mind, I stood under our shaded bit of the roof terrace and enjoyed the free show, all the time dreading the consequences if the rain didn't stop soon.
Eventually, we toddled off to bed, after listening to and watching the rain, lightning and the rolls of thunder which seemed to be almost everlasting. I awoke suddenly, during the night, disturbed by hearing a DRIP! Then it sounded as if it was really pouring down. But, as I blinked into a state of wakefulness, I realised that the sound wasn't the rain, but the fan of the air conditioner which Freda has blowing all night to try and drown out my snoring, and the drip had just been a drip inside the roof space and not one on the floor. If I was Irish, I would have shouted "The saints be praised", but I'm not, so I didn't!
Later, when I read about the poor tourist who got drowned when a fellucca capsized and the Egyptians who were killed when their mudbrick house collapsed; I felt rather stupid.
As I had stood there, watching the lightning, my mind kept going back to that line from the Bible (I don't know where it is, mind) "As the lightning flashes from the East to the West; so shall the coming of the Son Of Man be". That'll be quite some appearance!!!!!

Hi, it's warm here tonight, Just turned 11pm and the
(Click on the picture to make it bigger) temperature on the terrace is a nice 21.3c which is over 70 in real money. Rough work, but someone has to do it!
As some of you know, Freda and I like to roam around the hotels watching the tourists. The Etap is one of our favourites! We can sit outside drinking tea or coffee, with possibly an apple shsisha. Of course this hotel has actually been the Mercure all the time we've been coming to Luxor, but it is still known by its former name "Etap". I suppose that it is the same as the Nile Palace still being referred to as the Meridien and the Maritim Jolie Ville still being called the Movenpick! Well, as we see yet another name change, along with some alterations, I wonder how long it will be before the Etap/Mercure is known locally as the "El-Luxor", which, as you can see, is now the official name of this very nice hotel?

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Winter Omens and Portents.

We had Christmas back in good old Windy Nook. Plenty of cold and snow, with a bit of cold and wind and hailstone mixed in for good measure! If we believed in “portents” and things like that, we would have returned to Luxor after only a few days in England. Certainly, many of our Egyptian friends would have “headed for the hills”!

We don’t have a car in England, because it would be a waste of money to maintain and insure a car for the sake of six or eight weeks a year. My lovely sister has me named on her insurance, and lends me her car more or less any time I need it. Well, that’s how families should work, isn’t it? We’d only been home for a couple of days when I borrowed her car to visit my son at his place of work and on arriving there slid it into a skip standing on the roadside. Not only did it just catch the corner of the skip with the front of the N/S/F wing, it also bounced off about six or eight inches and spun the car slightly so that the N/S/R corner also hit the skip as it stopped, damaging the rear quarter panel and bumper!!!!!
And, as if that wasn’t bad enough……….. When I returned it to her home and came to put it to bed, I had to drive it up a short (about two feet) ramp into the garage. The ramp lifts to about 4 inches from the level of her farmyard. As I started up the ramp, the car slid off to the right, and the right hand front wheel fell off the edge. Luckily, it stopped with the front bumper about a half inch from the garage wall, “Phew” thought I, but too soon! At the side of the garage my sister and her husband are having some building work done, and there is a partly built wall standing next to the ramp, which is about two inches taller than the height of the VW Golf’s wheel arch. Yes, you guessed it: the space between the ramp and the wall was just enough to accommodate the front wheel, leaving the weight of the front of the car suspended on top of an insulation block right at the top of the O/S/F wheel arch! I couldn’t have purposely done it in a thousand tries!!!!! After much heaving and lifting, we managed to get it off the wall and into the garage, to wait for the repair shop coming to collect it. Probably the worst aspect of the whole sorry episode is the fact that this is the first car (among a good many over the years) which my sister has really thought something of and taken pleasure in driving. It’s a black diesel Golf which was new last year, and is (was) quite quick! Thankfully, she seemed to forgive me and the incident didn’t spoil the season of “goodwill towards men”.
Here’s a picture of the lane opposite our house, which leads to sister’s farm. The roadway is called Thoma Owen’s Opening, we only found this out recently and have no idea (currently) who Thoma Owen was.
Click on the picture to make it bigger.

As some of you already know, I’ve been associated with the Methodist Chapel at Windy Nook since about 1967, and every year since have taken great pleasure in Carol Singing with members and friends of the Chapel each Christmas Eve. The singers collect money for “Action For Children”, which used to be The National Children’s Homes, I don’t know for how long this has been the case but certainly for the forty odd years that I’ve been involved. The chapel has had Carol Singers going out for as long as anyone can remember. When I first became involved with the chapel one of the old members was one John Patterson (son of the victim of the famous “Windy Nook Murder” of 1907. http://www.real-crime.co.uk/Murder1/DOCN.HTML#Noble, Joseph ) John was a real character. Another of the old men once told us of their trip to Blackpool in John Patterson’s Morris Cowley, taking several days of sleeping in barns on the way, they ended up filling the punctured (and too far gone to repair) tyres with straw to keep going.
The only year that we know of when the Windy Nook folk didn’t get their carols was 1947, when the snow was just too bad to turn out. In the old days, they would start at midnight and finish around 5 o’clock on Christmas Day morning. On arriving back at the Chapel some of the womenfolk would have a monster breakfast prepared for them. When I started to go out, the breakfast comprised minced beef pies and a cup of tea, but it was still very welcome. One or two of the singers leave the group about an hour before we finish singing, in order to get back to the chapel and put the pies in the oven. One year, in the seventies, the appointed person forgot to light the gas oven, and consequently “gassed” all the pies! He became an MP and a famous member of the British Government in later years, so it would be just too embarrassing to mention his name on here. (But I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten!)

video

In these more enlightened times; we don’t expect people to lie awake all night waiting for us to sing for them. We now start at around 6 o’clock on Christmas Eve and get finished between midnight and 1 o’clock. It is, without doubt, a long hard slog and we start off with our pockets bulging with bottles of Covonia or ginger wine and the like, but it's well worth it. Neither do we walk now; as we sing far and wide, our good friend Mr Annis, owner of Aline Coaches of Gateshead, kindly lends us a bus to ease our travels. Among others, we usually sing for our Member of Parliament and also our Member of the European Parliament. Our longest distance carol, this year, was listened to (via Skype) in Hong Kong, where one of our Ex Carollers is now living.
This year our takings were down by almost £100, to £411. We put this down to the very cold weather and that because of it, we didn’t get so many of the neighbours of our regulars coming out and asking us to sing for them. Nevertheless, when we add the collection from our “Community Carol Service” which is held at the Chapel on the last Monday before Christmas, it is a worthwhile sum, and I’m sure it will be put to very good use by those at “Action for Children”. There were only a few of us this year, but I hope that you enjoy the carol in the little video.

Our home celebration of the birth of Jesus went off really well. I feel dreadfully sorry for those who cannot be with their loved ones at this very special time. Even if you are a non-believer, as many of my dearest friends are, Christmas is something special for most people with a western sort of upbringing. Several of my friends are a long way from home and loved ones, and my thoughts were with them as I thoroughly enjoyed the blessings of my growing family tucking into our splendid meal on Christmas day.
All good things must come to an end, and we prepared to leave all the family behind as we returned to Luxor. My mother was the last to see before we retired for the night on Tuesday 5th January. We had a relatively early start on Wednesday, airport taxi booked for 07.15. The snow had been falling off and on for a day or two, but wasn’t all that bad. At 07.30 the taxi still hadn’t arrived, so I rang the taxi company, “Oh I’m so sorry, but your driver has been held up in the snow on his last job, I’ll send ‘John’ to you straight away.” It turned out that poor ‘John’ must be the last ditch, stand-by man! By the time we got to the airport, I was beside myself with his inane bantering. Never mind, we got there in one piece and in plenty of time to check in. We took off about an hour and a half late, due to the snow, and when we got down to Thiefrow, we had to sit (no, not literally) on the tarmac for two hours while we awaited a stand for the plane. By this time, we knew that we would not make the 14.00 Egypt Air flight to Cairo. While we were waiting for the baggage to come around on the belt, I asked the man at the nearby “customer service” desk what we should do, seeing as we had certainly missed our connecting flight. He couldn’t help at all, as Bloody Awful (British Airways) had “fulfilled their obligations”! We went to the “Information” desk when we got into the departures bit of the airport as couldn’t find any Egypt Air staff. The bloke there was quite sympathetic, he suggested having a word with the American Airline people, who handled things for Egypt Air. We did, they couldn’t really help other than to send us to the B.A. “Customer Service Desk” in Departures. After standing in the queue for 90 minutes, the girl there said that seeing as we hadn’t booked the entire journey through an agent, there was nothing she could do for us. So take note all ye that do your bookings on-line, when it goes wrong: you’re on your own, mate!!!!! We went back to the Information man who had seemed so sympathetic. He had already tried to telephone Egypt Air’s London office for us, as the two numbers we took from their website “did not accept incoming calls”. After a bit of consoling he gave us a leaflet for an hotel and suggested that we might try the “Hotels Desk” in Arrivals. Freda asked the young man there for one night’s accommodation, I walked away when I heard him mention 350, poor Freda got flummoxed and thought (just for a minute) that he might be talking in Egyptian pounds, but I knew he wasn’t! We eventually rang the number on the brochure; “Yes, I have one twin room left for £65” said the Indian accented voice. After a bit of haggling (the Egyptian influence no doubt) the price came down to £50. He would send a car for us in 45 minutes, at the “Valet Parking” stand outside. This gave Freda enough time to nip into Marksies for something to sustain us through the night! We ventured out into the freezing cold at 7 o’clock. I rang the man at 10 minutes past, “He’s there now!” came the reply, giving me the registration number of the silver mini-bus “RY 07”. Freda stood guard over the trolley full of exciting baggage bound for Luxor, as I traipsed back and forth, trying to see numbers on plates covered with dirty British snow. Of course we were dressed for arriving in Cairo after spending 5 hours on a nice warm aeroplane, and not for standing outside in a temperature of 10 degrees below, with a biting wind tearing at us! The mini-bus eventually arrived (RK 07) at around a quarter to eight, just before we froze to the spot. A nice little driver, who went to another couple of terminals before making away to the hotel (The Heathrow Lodge, if you’re interested). Being an eight seater, it was a bit of a squeeze to get an extra passenger into the back row of seats, but they managed. I was too cold and tired to point out that his insurance would be invalidated if he had an accident with us all packed in, not to mention that he could lose his taxi licence if he was caught! We arrived at the hotel after not many minutes, it didn’t look too bad.
After waiting in the queue to register and pay, the man at the desk waived a boy over to help us with the baggage. I was slightly disconcerted when he led us out and onto the road, trudging through the snow and ice and dragging our (fabric) suitcases behind him. We followed him along the road for about two hundred yards (that’s a few less metres, for those of you who are converted to metric) to a house! He unlocked the door and showed us upstairs to our room, the bathroom being at the head of the stairs. Sure enough, twin beds, a wash basin, wardrobe and small TV. But the best thing was the KETTLE with four tea bags, sugar and milk, although we’d bought real milk at M&S. We got sorted out with my night-time tablets (ugly tablets at night and stupid tablets in the morning) and ate our M&S sandwiches and pork pies with two cups of nice hot tea. Watched some of the news on the little telly before deciding to get into the little beds (this is starting to sound like the story of Snow White!!!!). It was COLD. I checked the radiator valves in the room before I rang reception. They sent the same boy, who was carrying a shifting spanner, screwdriver and a pair of pliers. I’ve no idea what he thought I might believe him to be doing with those as he tinkered with the radiator valves, finally apologising and offering two extra duvets to compensate for the lack of heating. The hand basin drain was also blocked. Freda and I went to bed fully clothed, but still didn’t sleep well.
The following morning we all (9, that is) piled back into the eight seat mini-bus and were dropped at our respective terminals. The sympathetic information man had told us to go back to the Egypt Air desks at 11 o’clock. We did. I put on my most pleading face and told the lady of our trials. To my utter joy and amazement, she just started issuing boarding passes for the next Cairo flight!!!! We checked our baggage and went away to spend the £10 in food vouchers, that the kind lady also gave us as the flight would be late in leaving. The only problem remaining was how we would manage to get from Cairo to home in Luxor! We knew that the flight would be too late to catch the last service of the evening to Luxor, and also too late to catch an overnight train. The man on the Egypt Air desk in Cairo airport was very nice and listened intently as we reiterated our tale of woe! He would have no trouble in booking us onto the next available flight (05.00 next day) but what would we do in the meantime. “You could put us in a hotel” I helpfully suggested. No answer! We would have to collect our baggage, as it had not been “booked through” being on the wrong day and all. “If you take a seat over here, I’ll call for you in a few minutes.” The oriental looking bloke who was shouting the odds wasn’t getting anything but more frustrated! At the desk, our man was dealing with another three Europeans (turned out they were English as well) and led them over to us after about twenty minutes or so. “This gentleman has the HOTEL VOUCHER for all five of you, so stay with him.” I was flabbergasted!!!! After being treat so shabbily by B.A.: Egypt Air had really come up trumps. We were taken to the Iberotel Cairo, which was really good. We both had a good hot soak in the bath before ordering from the room service menu and finally going to bed at 02.05, we were being picked up at 03.30 lol.
“Today is our 38th wedding anniversary” I told the stewardess as we boarded the plane, hoping that she would offer to upgrade us to first class. She didn’t, but she did congratulate us. We got settled in and the plane moved off the stand. Then it stopped and the Captain announced that we couldn’t take off for a while because of bad weather, it was foggy! After a good while, I drifted off to sleep, leaving poor Freda as lookout! We were there from 05.00 till 08.30. Many of the passengers were getting quite fractious; I wouldn’t have been the young stewardess for all the tea in China.
We eventually arrived home at “Our Luxor” at 11.30, 52 hours after setting off from Windy Nook.