Egypt Moving Forward:- Little Taster Videos

Apart from some Rap "musicians", the first entertainment was the Whirling of the Dervishes. Not that these are necessarily actual Dervishes, you understand! Nevertheless, there were five of them all performing at the same time. Three on the stage and the other two on the floor, in front of the stage. They were pretty impressive, but the best part was a minute or two farther on. Sadly, that video was one of those which was badly out of focus. (I've no idea why this should be!)

The Saidi dancers were great! First they started with only men, the dance being reminiscent of the stick and sword dances which can be seen all over England at certain seasons of the year, then came the ladies to join them, and that's what I managed to get on camera.

In he mid 1800's, Mohamed Ali (the ruling Turkish Pasha) banished a certain type of dancing girl from Cairo, as being too licentious. These girls moved to Upper Egypt, mainly to the Luxor area. Perhaps the girls in the clip are descendants of these "ghawazees"? If not physically then maybe artistically, only that their dress would have been worn without much fabric down the front, exposing much bare flesh around the bosom! I don't think that our beloved Governor would have approved of that. (Although the men in the audience might have thought it even more watchable!)

The Pharaonic Dance troupe were also excellent. They arrived on stage to the same music which is used for the dancers at the Nile Palace, but I don't know if they were the same dancers.

Then there were the Nubian Dancers. Also, beginning with the men with the women joining them, but that video didn't come out right either, sorry.

Then after quite a long wait while there were a few more short speeches and a man (a poet, I think) came and did their bits, (the poet type got a very loud reception, from the Egyptians especially) we got a bunch of Old Geezers. Apparently, they have a good time playing their music at JJ's at Karnak twice a week. They were surprisingly good, but I think the keyboard player fancied himself as being a second John Mayall! I wonder if they have a place for a concertina in their group? Well, maybe not, eh?

I was also surprised to see so many small children there. It rally was quite chilly by the time we left, and that was before the end. Never mind, this little girl was enjoying herself............

She's dancing to the "international" group from Hurghada "13 Daze". Their video didn't come out well either, so if you'd like to see them; you'll have to make the trek to that Red Sea resort!!! They are composed of English and Swedish musicians, and were really quite enjoyable, even for an oldie like me.

All in all, it was a good "do". I do hope that it will get a decent showing around the world. One particularly effective part was the showing of a short film with Luxorians, of different nationalities and races and ages, all vocalising the same thoughts; Egypt Moving Forward, and looking to a new and better future.

I certainly hope so!

The Other Luxor Party!

Yes, here we are at the "Egypt Moving Forward" party, held behind the Temple amid much fanfare and hoohaa. We arrived at 2.45 to meet some friends (Mara and Bodyguard Amr and Beverley with husband Ahmed) so we would have plenty of time to get seated before the proposed 3pm kick-off. Lots of banners and trade stands with men in tee shirts advertising the event as well as their respective companies. Two of my neighbours were there, on the Viking stand, of course, as was the rather large Mr Ramadan (not the spitting electrician), whom I thought had a certain familiarity about him, he would being the brother of Mr Hamada whom I have met on numerous occasions. They are the controlling brothers of Viking. Anyway, the Event actually got underway not long after the supposed start time. The trouble was, that it did and it didn't! This charming little girl took some of the edge off our impatience, though. After her came a series of speakers of one sort or another, some famous in their own fields, and made relatively short speeches in several languages. (I suppose we have to cater for the foreigners as well.) This was the boring bit for many of the gathering, I would imagine, but it really needed to be a part of the proceedings. The "entertainment" eventually got underway, and it was an eclectic mix, to say the least. An Egyptian band started the ball rolling, they were very good. Next we had the famous (among jazz aficionados, apparently) Michelle Rounds. She was singing to a taped accompaniment and didn't go down as well as I had anticipated, but OK.
All sorts of folk were there, some in their Sunday (probably Friday actually) best, like this little boy.
I took small video's of everything, but some were so out of focus they hurt my eyes, so I had to delete them, sorry. (You know I need a professional cameraman don't you?) I've been trying to load the first one for over 30 minutes now, but the speed has dropped and it's just taken 8 minutes to load .02Mb of a 26Mb video. I think I'll let you see the pictures in the meantime, eh? I'll get the video's loaded during the day, if the speed holds up tomorrow. Here's the exit, which was very picturesque. The final picture of this lot is of a friends son, he's just 13 months old. His Mam is Irish and his Dad Egyptian, and as his tee shirt states "I AM THE FUTURE" . Let's all hope and pray that his growing up will be so much better than that of his father.

A Party in Luxor!

We have been out gallivanting tonight! I know it's not usually our type of thing to go to a pub, either here or even back in England.

However, it was a special occasion, our good friend Marianne's birthday celebration. We were invited, and told there would be food, so it would have been churlish to refuse. The King's Head is in the southern end of town, near the big hotels, and is done out a bit like a British pub (of sorts), although the "Head" is that of Akhenaten (the heretic king of ancient Egypt).

We went with another of our favourite friends, Beverley. Of course most of our ex-pat friends were there as well. I won't bore you with a list of names, but if I don't mention lovely Christine from Tutti Fruitti, I'll get it "in the neck" next time we're there! Here she is in this group, second from the right, holding up her left hand.

I took another photo from the the other side as well, showing a few more of the revellers.

There was a good number turned out to help Marianne celebrate, maybe around 40 or 50. I think everyone will have enjoyed it. The music was a tad too loud for my liking, starting with some 70's stuff (yuck) and graduating to 60's (what a laugh). A few of the braver oldies got up and had a dance, much to the amusement of many of us others!

The food was most acceptable, with plenty to go around, and finished off with a delightful birthday cake, of which everyone had a piece. We, of course, finished off with tea!

Here's a not very good shot of the birthday girl, with escort Denis. She's actually a few weeks older than me, but in a much better state of preservation, I'm pleased to say!

We didn't get home until after midnight, I hope the bairns don't find out, or we'll never hear the last of it!

p.s. There were four young men who seemed to be gatecrashers, but they turned out to be the rock group (13 Days), who were booked to play at Luxor's BIG party tomorrow night, who were just looking for some diversion to fill in their evening. One of them (Luca, from Essex) tried to hit on our mate Beverly, as she was the best looking bird there, and was visibly deflated when he learnt that she was married. She said that he thought Freda and I were her Mam and Dad, what a cheek!

No, not Room 101 silly! Post No. 101

No folks, it's not 1984 with Winston Smith retrospectively changing all the news. No, we now have all the flash news agencies and the big boys like the BBC et al, changing it as it happens! But that's old news, let's see what's going on just now, in Luxor of course.

Mmm? Not much apparently! The crack was that Thomson Holidays and Thomas Cook were coming back to Luxor today. We were quite excited (always been easy to please!) and planned to have a stroll down to the Etap to view the new batch of arrivals. Then the Boss decided to have a nap! I was playing on the laptop, complaining to Etisalat (our new Internet provider) about the poor service I am receiving etc. and had a look on the Luxor airport arrivals. As far as I could see, only three of a planned six flights were on their way from good old Blighty. I eventually plucked up the courage to awaken her, and we got sorted out and down to the hotel by about 5.30pm.

Things being tight all round, we took a small (50 piastres) packet of biscuits with us. They've stopped serving the free cake as they are also feeling the pinch. I was pleased to see Aly the Guest Relations guy in the foyer, as a friend wanted his email address. (Actually, as people are often asking for it on TA, I'll post it here. Then all my readers will never have to ask again! It's............

There you are, painless!

We ordered our tea and Nescafe, with cold milk for the tea and hot milk for the coffee, from a new waiter-in-training, Ahmed Mohamed. He did very well. Bedawy wasn't their to try and tempt me to a shisha. A taxi pulled up on the road, one girl with one suitcase, huh! She wasn't even a newbie, I recognised her face straight away. Waiting and waiting, then around the corner came a Travco coach (Thomson's handling agent in Egypt) goody! It was almost full, but, sadly, sailed on past to some other (possibly more salubrious) destination another three passed by as we sat there, all looking about full, but the only other arrival at the Etap were two foreign looking gents who were part of a midi-bus full, the rest of whom were also going on to somewhere else.

Not much entertainment there then! But we did have quite a discussion about insulation and air-conditioning, so the time wasn't altogether wasted.

Talking about "wasted", our friend Ahmed the caleche man took us shopping up the other end of town the other night. As we came down Medina Street (it's one-way, the opposite to that which we were travelling) we came across the Bonduk take away place. "You want I should get for you some hawawshy?" "Yes please," says I. Now then, hawawshy is something like a thin haggis sandwich, but it's not, if you know what I mean! Ahmed introduced me to it just a few days ago, on a gentle ride around the Karnak area, well not as far as Karnak actually, but not far from it. It's absolutely lovely! And, it's only 3le! My tongue was hanging out by the time we got home and made some tea. But, the hawawshy wasn't the same as the one from near Karnak. Bitterly disappointed, I manfully struggled on, hoping to get a taste for this stuff. But it was no use, over a half of it got pelted into the bin! Mind you, I've since had Ahmed take us back to the original place, and it was just as nice as the first time, pity it's such a long way.

We're hoping for more of you lot to come next week, so don't disappoint us, you're our primary source of entertainment! See you soon, Insh'Allah.

Just a quickie!

I've had some more contact with Hazel of the new "Egypt Moving Forward" movement here in Luxor. Their web address is:-

Have a gander, it's quite a thing that they are putting together, and I think it deserves as much support as we can give it. (No, I don't have 20,000le either, but it would be a nice gesture if I had!)

Helping the Luxor you love!

There's not a lot happening here at the mo', very few tourists as yet, although we do have a fair few Egyptian tourists around.
We are getting stuck into all those "little jobs" around the house which don't entail spending cash! (Main reason being that we haven't got any, lol.)
In the meantime, we've been informed of a new venture to try and put Luxor's plight and potential on the front page! Our mate Hazel has sent me this copy/paste jobby from their "facebook" thingy. I'm not a member of that site, so I couldn't access it myself. Here it is:-

Egypt Moving Forward invites you to join us for an exciting celebration of Egyptian life and culture as we welcome the world to the New Egypt.

Beginning at 3:00 PM on February 26th, Luxor Temple Park will come alive with the voices of Luxorians and authentic folkloric entertainment:

Event Itinerary:

Introduction and Welcome from the organizers
Sufi Dancing Performance
Mission Message
Stick Dancing with Mezmar Musical Performance
Rababa Musical Performance and Folkloric Dance
Nubian Music and Dance Performance
British Rock Band
...And More!

Egypt Moving Forward is celebrating culture and unity: coming together, embracing change, and welcoming the world.

Today, Egypt is making new history: a free future for the people. Today, the streets of Egypt are full of newfound liberty, happiness, and the warmth and hospitality the people are famous for. Freedom has brought new life to Egypt

By all accounts it should be a good do, with a wide range of attractions throughout the afternoon. If you're in Luxor why don't you join us, let's show the world a little solidarity and help us put your favourite holiday destination back on the map?
See you there then.

Shock Horror! In Luxor today!


Not only has the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office relaxed its "essential travel only" warning for Luxor (at about 16.30 apparently) but we were able to celebrate the news with tea and fresh Ginster's PORK PIES with HP Fruity sauce followed by more tea and "Grandma Wild's" Ginger Biscuits. These little luxuries came from Hornsea (UK) with our current guest, Melanie.

Poor soul, she left home at 04.00 on Monday, and didn't get here until 13.15 today! We were so pleased to see her, and not just because of the most welcome gifts! We are continuing the celebrations with a slap-up meal prepared by our neighbour's wife, in about an hour or so.

What a good day, indeed!

Just to make your mouth water, here's the meal.

There was enough fish to feed the soldiers on the Corniche! The potato dish was just like my Mother's panackalty from 50 years ago, lovely.

The Moulid el-Nabi.

This is the Arabic term for the celebration for the Prophet's Birthday. As trying to sleep was a waste of time, I thought I may as well go out and find the source, you never know, there may be a picture waiting to be taken!!!!!

Lo and behold, when I turned onto the main street, I could see the lights at the place where, surely, the music was emanating from. I was right, of course. As far as I could see it was over the railway crossing, still on our street, near Mr. Gomar's house. For those of you who are not aware of Mr. Gomar, I'd better tell you a little bit about him..........

Mr. Gomar, one time tailor, son of a revered local philanthropist, also a renowned tailor. Somehow, Mr. Gomar turned from being the son of a relatively wealthy artisan into a destitute galabaya maker! When we met him (about 12 years ago) he was living in his "factory", a small apartment of three rooms. One room was packed with the family belongings, one was the living/sleeping room and the other was a scullery of sorts. There was also a toilet. (about which you DO NOT want to know, trust me!) He lived there with his lovely wife and three sons. We used to visit him there, and have wonderful meals cooked by his wife, as we sat on a pile of egg boxes fastened together with string, and have long talks about everything, but always about "the God". He knows that we are Christian, but even though there is a huge gap between us, there is also some "connection" which I am unable to explain away.

Anyway, we eventually learned that this was not really his house! His house (or more correctly what had been his house) was about a three minute walk away, across the railway line, it had fallen down during a rainstorm. I was devastated to hear this, and resolved there and then to do whatever I could to help him rebuild it. In the "factory", he and his family all slept together on a tiled floor with only a few old blankets to cover them. His boys were steadily growing and it wasn't good for them all to be sharing the same small sleeping space. It took a while to scrounge cash from friends and business colleagues, but eventually I gathered enough for him to rebuild. There wasn't enough to plaster the walls, or do a proper job of the wiring, but it was habitable and it meant that they could again have beds to sleep on etc. He's a very emotional man, and I have seen him shed many tears.

He's also a bit of a sheik, I think. He administered healing to Freda's finger once. To cut a long story short, she had damaged her ring finger and the joint had swollen badly and it was mishapen and pained constantly. Gomar took her hand, asked her mother's name and chanted some gibberish (to our ears) which must have been from the Quran, and within a second or two the swelling had gone, as had the mishapenness and the pain! He also got her some potion, from a hermit in the desert, which fixed her knees after years of pain. He's what might be termed "a bit of a dark horse".

He now spends his days sitting in the tourist souk, smoking , drinking tea, and assisting the odd tourist to spend their money a bit more wisely than they might otherwise, while also getting a small commission. My Mother has a pastel drawing of him on her livingroom wall, and it's like he was there!

That's Gomar for you, but back to tonight's tale. As I walked up the street, I came upon Gomar's middle son Mahmoud. He's turned into a fine young man, about 17 I would say. I asked him if his father was there and he answered that he was. I was quite pleased, as I really didn't fancy "intruding" on whatever I found when I got there. The gathering was right outside of Gomar's door! He wasn't actually in sight so I sat on the steps to his door and watched, despite being beckoned to sit on the dikkehs arranged for the spectators. After a while Gomar appeared, and went into the house to get us some tea. I haven't yet told you what was going on, have I?

It was a Zikr! This is what the real "Whirling Dervishes" do. It's not a show, but a religious ceremony of sorts. Here in Luxor they don't "whirl"; instead they stand and throw their heads, turning from side to side in time with the deafening music, and eventually arrive at the same place as the Dervishes, which is a trancelike state in which they believe that they are in direct communion with Allah, a sort of "nirvana" I suppose. Anyway, after a while, a small boy was filming it with his telephone, so I thought "Why not?" Here is the result, only they went on for several hours. Our next guest, Melanie, arrives in time to see the last night of this, I'm sure she's going to love it.

Let Joy be Unconfined!!!!!

Yes indeed playmates, let joy be unconfined, for 'tis the Prophet's Birthday!

Prophet Muhammad (after whom the Muhammadans took their title) was given the words of Allah, as I'm sure you'll remember, and someone wrote it all down as the Quran. These words are the direct words of Allah, and as such cannot be questioned or interpreted. We've all seen the Sindbad the Sailor movies, where the baddies acolytes always say "To hear is to obey, oh Master!" well, this is where the concept comes from, the Quran, Allah's incontestable demands!

I've read quite a bit of it, and I do remember one part where it says "There should be no compulsion in religion" (or words to that effect). So why is it that we (the population of Luxor) being Muslim, Christian, Atheist or whatever, are subject to three nights of incredibly loud music and singing till the early hours, in order to celebrate the Prophet's birthday? And was he born on three consecutive days?

Why don't Muslims take heed of this command in the Quran "NO COMPULSION"? Can anyone tell me?

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, look at this.

Well here we are again. According to Ruby Tuesday, the FCO were waiting until after Friday prayers when they would seriously review their stance on travelling to Luxor. Why after Friday prayers? Because this (they decided) was when there would be a flare-up of trouble, if there was any at all.

With this in mind, and being fairly sure that there would be no trouble here in Luxor, the Boss and I ventured forth, camera in hand. At first, I couldn't believe how quiet it actually was. We wondered if all the potential protesters hadn't just gone to bed after praying. As we walked down Yousef Hassan Street and turned left onto Karnak Street, it was as quiet as the grave!

As we ambled along towards the plaza behind the Temple, I was surprised to see several vehicles driving towards us, "What's this?" I thought, "Is the Corniche closed, or Rameses Street?" When I noticed that some of them were the local buses, I realised that it must be Rameses Street, because it is one way and these buses would normally be travelling along that way. Being as thick as two proverbial short ones, it was a few moments before it clicked that there might be a gang of protesters blocking the road somewhere. Sure enough, as we got as far as the Abu Haggag Mosque, we could hear the commotion of a parade coming down Station Street (Sharia Mahatta). We hurried on to get a decent view of the protesters as they came down towards the Temple, and got a space near the Post office. The marchers (what; Egyptians have learned how to march?) were about half way down the street, giving me enough time to sort out the camera (what; me sort out the camera?) Anyway, I got some video of the parade, which I think just about shows the mood of the participants.

What do you think, do they look menacing and dangerous?

That's correct, the answer is NO. Luxor people aren't like that. That is what I've been trying to tell you all along! No-one gave us a second look, never mind a second thought.

As we made our way along to the corner of Mohammed Farid Street, to catch a bus up to Tutti Fruitti for our now regular "English Afternoon Club", we saw four tourists. I snapped them, just in case you didn't believe me. Actually there were two in Aboudi's Bookshop as well, and we saw another one (male) coming around the corner of Mohammed Farid Street. Now tourists nod at you, a bit like Reliant Robin owners, who used to flash their lights at each other on the road!!!!! We do feel a bit "exclusive" dontcha know?

Actually, we saw a few more tourists as well! Four strolled past Tutti Fruitti while we were in there. Then, later on when we went out looking for any celebrations to mark President Mubarak's resignation, we saw several more.

We had aborted the search for celebrations, after only coming across a couple of wedding parties, and retired to the Etap, to see if they were still open. They were, and a gentleman was sitting having a shisha and a drink, so we planted ourselves at a table and ordered tea, Nescafe and an apple shisha for me. While we were there we saw another two ladies return to the hotel and, as we were leaving, we saw another lady with a baby in a pram! Mr Gaber told us they had four guests, so we had seen them all.

Come on Foreign Office, get your finger out!

Whose plan was it, and did it fail or not?

Well, I was happily working away, checking the emails etc, when we got a telephone call from England. He’s resigning tonight! Came the news from the BBC. We get CNN on our telly in the guest apartment, so we switched it on to see and hear reports that “a senior government official” was being reported as saying that the President would stand down in a speech tonight. The report seemed to emanate from the Director of the CIA, no less!

Postings began to appear on the different forums on the laptop, some saying that the Supreme Army Council had met without either the president or the Vice President in attendance, and that they would take over the government of the country after the President had stood down this evening. Within a few minutes of hearing this news, we heard a commotion coming down the main road. Horns blaring and people cheering, it must be right! It was all just a matter of when he would jump! One source said that he had recorded a speech which would be broadcast tonight, after he had left the country. Another said that no, he was still here and would make the speech live. We would have to wait and see.

I’m quite sceptical when it comes to politics, and was wondering just who started these rumours? Is it to try and force President Mubarak’s hand, by pre-empting anything that he might be planning himself? Then Freda came up with the (most likely IMHO) answer. The whole rumour was started because it was obvious that President Mubarak was not going to budge until the elections in September, and when the protestors were disappointed to not get what they had been led to believe they were going to they would re-double their efforts, and probably turn violent. It’s really like a CIA “Black Ops.” Movie, and the only informant who has been identified on the news (which I have seen, anyway) was the Director of the CIA.

No matter who it was, I don't suppose it will be of any benefit to Luxor, eh?

Latest from Luxor.

Well, as many of you will know, I'm certainly no Muslim, neither am I particularly interested in keeping up with their holy days and holidays. But I do know that the birthday of their prophet Muhammad is almost upon us! In fact it's hard to not notice, as at almost every bit of spare space in almost any street the stalls are going up which sell the fairy type dolls and the disgusting looking E number concoctions of luminous pink sugar statues.

The first picture below was taken by the railway crossing at Abu Jude and the other is one of about a dozen or so along the length of Manshiya Street. Of course I'd taken quite a few others as well, but my dodgey camera work put paid to those. (Why don't they make a fool-proof camera?)

Civil Unrest..Luxor Style

Here we are again folks! We had an interesting trip out this afternoon, with our good friend Ahmed the caleche man. We were strolling down to the Etap, to sample their tea and free cake, when we came across Ahmed (he’s been our caleche man for about 10 or 11 years) and changed our plan. When Ahmed asked us “Where to?” the Boss said that it would be up to him. (As you know, I just “fit in”, it’s best that way!)
Anyway, off we went along Karnak Street, travelling north, towards the airport. Ahmed drives very slowly when we are with him, so the car and ‘bus drivers just love us to bits, and show their appreciation by honking their horns at every opportunity, we wave back at them to be sociable. Within a minute, I was feeling for the camera, as Ahmed explained why there were tents all over the new grassed area just past the two big Churches on the right. It appears that some of the locals are under the impression that their beloved leader, Samir Farag Governor of the Luxor Governorate, has gone, and with him “his” plans for the development of Luxor. So, they are reclaiming the land which the authorities took from them, and “squatting” on it in makeshift tents and shelters. I’m not sure with what purpose in mind, perhaps they are intent on getting a better pay-out than they have already had. I’m sure they aren’t daft enough to really believe that they can actually reclaim the land legally, even though rumour has it that much of the Land Registry paperwork was destroyed by vandals when they attacked the Council Offices at Awamaya! There are quite a number of them along the route of the Kabesh Road, one actually on the road where it crosses the sphinxes! I think that they are probably spending money for nothing and are in for a big disappointment, and quite possibly some harsh treatment from the police, eventually, when they come to evict them, again.
Here are a few of them, either on either side of the Avenue, or by the side of the airport road. As usual, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them, or click again to make them very big.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the ride was the renewed friendliness of the passers-by. They kept on asking Ahmed where he found his tourists and of course he just laughed before admitting that we were “Egyptians”. Along Karnak way somewhere he pulled over (we were in the outside lane, going the wrong way along a stretch of dual carriageway) against the central reservation. I asked him why he had stopped and he told me that there was a good place there to buy “macarona”, and he wanted to get some for us. I don’t like pasta (foreign muck!), so off he went, promising to stop next at a good falafel man. When he returned, a few minutes later, he brought some food for himself as well. (I was very pleased to see this, as his brother, Samir, tells me that he hardly eats anything at home, and he’s getting far too skinny!) Being a Nosey Parker, I asked what he had. Of course, I had to then try it! It happened to be delicious, and was called “hawassy”. I remembered the name by thinking of Zahi and his big hat. The nearest I can think of, which might relay to you the taste and texture of this delight, would be haggis, thinly spread between two thin layers of filo-like pastry, and too hot to touch! I shared his, and then sent him back for another, I was also brave enough to try a bit of pickled something or other, which smelled like coconut, but obviously wasn’t.

The Current Situation at "Our Luxor"

I would hate you to think that I'm spending my time slacking! Just because we've had two cancellations due to there being no aeroplanes for our guests, surely you couldn't believe that the Boss would see me vegetate????
Talking about vegetation; we got a couple of plants from a small garden centre up on the Susanna Mubarak Touristic Road. That's a bit of a mouthful for what used to be Movenpick Road, isn't it? One is a Frangipani, for our terrace, the aroma is intoxicating when we open our apartment door in the evening! The other is a boring old Coleus for the pot outside of the guest apartment, it doesn't need any sun, apparently.

I decided to make the most of our little "holiday" by getting on with the kitchen in our bedroom, as it shouldn't entail spending cash that we don't have. We brought some tile thingies from England to act as a "splashback", behind the sink. The biggest problem that I could envisage was that we would have to wait until the surgeon on the first floor, Doctor Al Malach, was closed altogether, as the water would have to be turned off downstairs before tha meter. (You see, of course, that this wasn't going to be the biggest problem at all, don't you? You've "slidden down this bannister before" haven't you? So have I, and I'm getting MIGHTY SICK OF IT!!!)

Just in case you'd forgotten how I was doing with our kitchen, here's a reminder....

Since then I've been doing bits and pieces, like making some shelves under the sink for storage and stuff like that. Anyway, back to the present "saga"; To facilitate sticking the tiles on the wall, the new tap has to be removed and the tiles cut around the tap fittings embedded in the wall. All very straightforward? Not b****y likely!

Our wonderful (latest) plumber Mr Girges fitted the tap, as you may recall. When I came to undo the nuts which hold the tap to the pipe fittings, one of the fittings was coming away as well! Don't panic (Mr Mainwaring), I can fix it when it's all to bits. (In fact, "Can we fix it? Yes, we can!") So here I am, with a pair of Peterson's Vice Grips and an Egyptian spanner on which I'd had to file the jaws parallel, trying to unsrew the fitting from the tap. Now then, I know I'm getting older and I'm not as strong as I once was, but I was REALLY trying with this, and getting nowhere fast. The fitting is made of brass, which the jaws of the Vice Grips kept chewing up, I couldn't believe that it was so tight. Then I twigged what friend Girges had done, he'd cross threaded it, hadn't he, and being Egyptian wouldn't dream of owning up to it, so carried on in "the Egyptian way" stuggling on till it stopped leaking. Never mind the poor schmuck who would eventually have to take it to bits again!!! If he'd been there, I think I would have killed him.

Of course, to top it all off, it now was Sunday evening, and I needed another mixer tap. The shop I usually use for plumbing stuff is run by Christians, so no good going there! Another shop, just down on Gold Street, was open however. I stepped in to find that no-one was there, after a minute or so a boy appeared from up the street wanting to know what I wanted, no English, so I pointed at a mixer tap on a shelf asking in my best Arabic "Becam di?" He didn't know. He then disappeared down the street, returning with a little plump gentleman who I'd seen there before. "Becam di?" After looking on all sides of the box, and finding no price, he had a long discussion with the boy before getting out his mobile phone and dialling. In just a few minutes, another boy (maybe around 20) arrived, and between them , they came up with a price of 85le! I'm sure that you would have thought the same as I did, "The shop owner doesn't know the prices of his stock? Then he has to confer with two boys about how much to charge the "Kawaga" (foreigner) for this tap? I don't think so!!" Goodbye little fat shopkeeper. I went back home to have a cup of tea and a think. My brain was just about steaming by now!

If I recount the trials and tribulations of my journey to see Ahmed Hashem at his lovely bathroom shop in Madina Street, we'll be here all night. So, suffice it to say that his "Ideal Standard" mixer was 365le, but he had Chinese ones at his other shop for only about 90 or 100le! I went home defeated, execpt for the four lovely soft breadbuns from the Madina Street baker. I also had to find a way of closing off the pipes, in order to get water for washing etc, before bed. The tap isn't normally going to be in that position.

I was reinvigorated the following morning (today, that is) when I attended my first choice of shop (the Christian one) and came home with a nice mixer tap complete with fittings and everything, a large roll of PTFE tape and 4 spare rubber washers for 50le. My frame of mind was much improved!

I don't know if you've ever tried fitting a mixer tap before? It's not as easy as one might imagine, or so I've learned today. The two fittings which come with the tap are both "offset" to allow for imperfect pipe positioning in the wall. Good, one may imagine, but awkward, nevertheless. In trying to get the two ends in the right position to fit the tap, and level at the same time, I managed to snap one of them in the pipe fitting buried in the wall behind the tiles. This was (not just me being heavy handed) because the fittings are of an inferior quality, being cheap and nasty Chinese RUBBISH! Again, not panicking, I soldiered on and managed to get the pipe end fitting out of the wall without too much damage to the tiling. Back to the friendly Christian plumbers merchant, where a long while was spent with him impressing on me that I should be more careful, and me trying to explain to him that I would like some sort of jointing compound for the connection in the wall which I couldn't access with the PTFE tape (or the hemp he was trying to force onto me). Why oh why did I thow away that tin of "Stag Jointing Compound" 30 years ago which had always been among my Dad's stuff? A brainwave came to me on the way back to the house, " I could use some paint, or varnish!" And so I did, stuffing some strands of hemp into the fitting and then soaking it with Sipes "Varno" before scewing it onto the pipe end, perfect!

Eventually, I managed to get it all back together. Now, all I need is a "Farouk" (angle grinder) to trim the floor tiles which I intend to use to make the small benches at either side of the sink. So here's another picture to finish off with.

Well, not quite finish off with. Feeling quite proud of my efforts and their results, I had a nice long shower, followed by watching a film on the telly downstairs and some lovely chicken and honey mustard sandwiches in those soft buns with a fresh strawberry trifle to top it all off. The end of the day would be taken up with typing up this rather long and boring saga. But as I was doing it, just now..........water started to leak out of the hot tap fitting, running down the wall and puddling on the tiled floor!

I've turned off the hot water and I'm going to bed.

A note for the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, about the situation in Luxor

Well !!!! I've finally managed to source some of the right Anthracite (pretty hard to come by in Upper Egypt, I can tell you!) to run the boiler on my steam powered laptop. I don't know how long it will last, so I'm having to use it sparingly, and I haven't yet tried to upload pictures; so wish me luck?

The past days have been rather strange, to say the least. The guests we had until last week didn't have any problems as they trailed around the town and the sights/sites. We have actually been out looking for spots of bother, but found them very elusive. We did manage to catch some rowdy youths attacking the Susanna Mubarak Heritage Centre, breaking some of the windows and letting off fire extinguishers. They soon scarpered when they heard the trucks coming and the tear gas was let off after they'd gone, typical! We were travelling in Ahmed's caleche, to get a good view of whatever we came across.

It seemed as though the vandals were attacking Government buildings, actually the "attacks" were breaking windows as far as we could judge. These broken glass shots were taken along Karnak St, the first one being the telephone building near the savoy Bazaar.

You all know what Luxor is like for being a rumour mill, don't you? Even I ended up adding to that reputation last week! I had heard, from a trusted friend, that the Kier Zaman supermarket on TV St. had been ransacked and looted. I had passed this snippet of info on to one or two others before I passed the very same shop on the 'bus, only to see it as busy as ever and without the slightest sign of anything amiss. I felt such a fool!

The "powers that be" have certainly been taking this spot of trouble seriously. Shortly after it first kicked off in Cairo, I saw two old Magirus Deutz army wagons trundling along the Corniche, "Aye,aye", I thought to myself, "they're expecting trouble in Luxor are they?" It still came as quite a shock when I saw the tank opposite the Iberotel!

The tank transporter was a nice thing, a three axled six wheel drive Faun, (with two lovely big winches on the back) pulling a substantial drop-well trailer. The soldiers weren't too happy at me taking pictures of their tank! The only other unusual vehicles I saw were the armoured up mini-buses, the same as we've been seeing on the telly in Cairo, and the 4x4 army trucks outside the Supreme Council building, next to the Etap.

I've got to say, however, that while all of this might seem rather troublesome; our usual outings to watch the tourists and shop etc. haven't been curtailed at all. We know that the anger which has resulted in these bouts of vandalism is not aimed at tourists or foreigners in general, but at people in government and in positions of power, who the general populace are very unhappy about.

I'm sure that most people in Luxor know where their bread and butter (or perhaps their fuul and falafel) come from, and don't really have any animosity towards us. I have certainly not experienced anything out of the ordinary as far as our dealings with Egyptians are concerned. The few demonstrations which we have seen have been good humoured affairs (as you would expect in Luxor) with more of a carnival atmosphere, a bit like the Moulid parade.

It's getting sad now though, very few tourists left to gawk at while we have our cups of tea, two lots of guests cancelled through lack of flights, and a general sense of gloom descending on everyone we talk to! How long will it last, I wonder? Perhaps everyone could write to William Hague and ask him to take Luxor off his hit list? He seems to be a straightforward sort of bloke, you never know, he may just see sense!

Trouble in Luxor?

Here I am, sitting in Tuttie Fruittie, where I'm using the owners laptop 'cause mine is not working properly.
Trouble in Luxor? Not really, I'm pleased to say. Curfew in Luxor? Against everything I've seen on the telly and read on t'internet, no there isn't! I keep asking my neighbours, and they keep saying "No". The buses are still running (all evening, at least) as usual and people are still wandering about till all hours! A few tourists to whom I have spoken tell me that their hotels have told them to stay indoors after dark, but I think that there may be a slight "profit" motive there, eh?
Although I have spoken to BBC Online several times, they continue to misrepresent the situation here in Luxor, as do all the other TV channels. When I see and hear TV reporters talking about the different levels of unrest occurring in Cairo, Alex "and other cities", it makes my blood boil! Don't they care at all about the livelihood of the poverty stricken Egyptians? Is the rush to have a sensational report to file more important than the truth?
I must be stupid to think that the truth could matter, where reporters and TV executives are concerned!

Back online

Good day everyone.
Although we are back online we now have a problem with our laptop but hope to bring you all up to date after the weekend.
Watch this space !