Lucky Bags?

Who remembers these? In hindsight, they were (of course) just another way of boosting profits, as the contents might have retailed at 2d, but shoved into a labelled bag; they sold for 3d. Happy days, when the mention of a profit made us think only of Moses or some other character from Sunday School!

Anyway, seeing as there isn't a huge lot of news or scandal lurking about, I've only got the meagre contents of my "Lucky Bag" to share with you.

The other night, we went up to the Nile Palace to meet a couple of new friends whom I mentioned the other day. Well, on the way we both noticed a newly illuminated building down an unmade side road, on the Winter Palace side of Salah el Din Street, as we flew past on the 'bus. Here it is:

Of course, we only had a glimpse, in the dark. I saw the words "Black Horse" and the prancing horse logo, and thought "Ah, Lloyds Bank getting into Luxor as well now, and with their estate agency business?" But the following day we also saw this, so stopped and took the two pics.

I've got to say that it seems to be a very queer place for a supermarket? I cannot believe that the proprietor has done much in the way of market research. I mean, apart from the school which is farther along, I cannot imagine that there is much trade locally, and virtually no passing trade at all! Never mind, we do, of course, wish them well.

A bit of "Frustration.

Have you ever noticed that Egyptians don't seem to see you when you are walking in the street? (Unless they are the people whom you wished couldn't see you at all, lol.) How they walk right in front of you, and then seem genuinely surprised when you actually bump into them or (what I do purposely, on occasion) stand on their toes.
Well, we were idling down Madina Street intent on getting some decent bread rolls from the baker just down from Ahmed Hashem's big bathroom shop, when I saw this lovely old wagon lumbering towards us. It's a 6D Ford Thames Trader, from about 1962 or thereabouts. I remember them well, as I used to maintain and repair a small fleet of them for an explosives transporting company. I loved them at the time, with being forward control (i.e. the cab being on top of the engine and the steering wheel being in front [forward] of the axle) the seat was on the floor, with the pedals directly in front of you, like in a little sports car. The major difference (apart from the speed and size, of course) was that the steering wheel was very large and almost horizontal. Anyway, out came the camera, positioning myself as still as I could manage I clicked. Just then, these two young women hove into the viewfinder, as if on cue! It was too late to click again as the wagon had gone. The picture is, otherwise, of my usual quality (lens not wiped!).

I can hardly believe that they didn't notice this old, fat, white tourist positioning himself to take a picture.

Further Political Activity.

That same night, we noticed what looked like a small concert going on on the stage behind Luxor Temple, I could see an electric keyboard, and several white shirted men on the stage, in a line. A bit like the Four Tops of yesteryear!
Then yesterday, we were asked by a friend, who lives out of town a little way, what was going on behind the Temple, so we went to have a look after dining at the Jamboree, in the souk, with our two new friends from Tunbridge Wells. Couldn't get much info from the people hanging about, although we did get a few "Welcome to Egypt/Luxor" comments, proving that they weren't locals. I don't think it was the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood though, as there were a good number of women in evidence, both on and off the stage. I would guesstimate the gathering at around 250 altogether. But no sign of any animosity towards anyone or anything, the specially arranged seating, looked about half occupied, while a good few families were seated on the grass playing with their children while cocking half an ear towards the speakers. If anyone can read Arabic, and can make out the banner in the distinctly wobbly picture, then maybe you could enlighten the rest of us? Click on the picture to enlarge it, or click twice, to go to the full size.

That's me worn out now! I think I'd better have a little lie down.

C'est la vie!

Well, that's the last of our guests away this morning. 07.15 flight from Luxor to Cairo, and then onto their home in Holland. They were a mother, father and daughter and very pleasant, no trouble at all. They seemed to enjoy their stay, and Luxor in general, it was the father's 7th visit.

Our next booked guest isn't until September some time, it's Derrick the plumber, from London. He's currently on another adventure in some wilder parts of Africa and is writing a blog about his travels. It's here:

But you'll probably have to copy and paste it into your browser. I expect that he'll find poor old Luxor a bit tame after those exploits!

So, now all we have to do is fill in our time for the next five weeks or so until we go home to Windy Nook to see our family. (Unless one of you lot fancy a visit in the meantime?) It seems an age since we were last with them in December last year.

Little Izzy won't be quite so little any more, and so much will have happened which they will all want to tell us about, but couldn't bring to mind while they were emailing, we can't wait! When you're kept busy, it's not so difficult, but it's very easy to become quite emotional when you haven't got enough to keep your mind occupied!

Our favourite son is off to Glastonbury, and he's taking his nine year old daughter AND his nine year old nephew! Now that's courage of the first order, in my book! He's got a new job to start at the end of the month, so I hope he really enjoys his adventure with the children before he has to get stuck in again, I'm sure he will.

Meanwhile, we have some new friends to meet on Thursday. They somehow found this blog and say that they enjoy my ramblings. (As we say in our family, "There's nowt so queer as folk!") They are obviously a kindly couple, as they emailed us asking if they could bring anything over for us, out of the blue! Isn't that nice? Especially as I'm beginning to tire of the poor quality ginger snaps which we can get here, I'd even thought of getting some McVitie's from Arkwright's, but when I saw the price, I had second thoughts! It amazes me why certain manufacturers have to fiddle about with recipes etc. when they are generally accepted as having the best product available? I believe that this was the case as far as McVitie's gingers went, I used to love them, but now find that many of the cheaper brands knock spots off them for taste and "afterburn".

Isn't this fascinating, Dear Reader? The stuff of which history is made? Here's some more slop just to keep you interested.

Every night, I like to go to bed with a smile on my face! So; I changed the background picture on the laptop (is it the "Wallpaper"?) to this picture of my collected girls, which I look at as I close the laptop down as my last action before I jump into bed. I can't help but smile when I see them all altogether.

Left to right, they are Kezia (who's going to Glastonbury), little Izzy (who's five)and Charlotte and Alice, my beautiful daughters.

Who's a lucky Edward?

Safety in Luxor?

Hello again, do any of you keep up-to-date with the lives of the 'celebrities'? I'm asking because I obviously don't, when I see the news headlines on the laptop screen; I haven't a clue who most of the people are. During the American elections, I kept seeing "Palin this, and Palin that" and was dumbfounded to think that my hero was getting involved with American politics, but it actually wasn't Eric Oldfield (with or without a 'lovely shovel') after all, it was some woman!

"Why should he want to know about the inconsequentialness (like that one?) which is the celebrity world?" I can hear you ask. I don't! But I do want to know if there have been reports of David Schwimmer dropping out of the limelight.

You see, he's actually here in Luxor at the moment, it seems that he has taken a position as a Tourist Policeman, and is doing the evening shift at the front entrance to the Etap!!!!!!

But that's not really what I'm writing about here and now. I'm sure he'll make an excellent Tourist Policeman, but he wouldn't help to make me feel or be safe in Luxor.

"What does then?" again, I hear you ask! Well, the fact that I've never felt anything other than safe during all the times I visited and also during the four years that we have now been living here, without once coming across any situation which I found to be at all 'threatening', for a start. Another reason is that, although the locals will bleed you dry while selling you some 'genuine' artifact or providing a 'special' service; they tend to be less likely to actually steel from us or each other than people in most of our home countries (the crime rate being exceedingly low here). As alcohol consumption is reported to be a factor in 75% of criminal activity in Great Britain, and very few Egyptians (in my experience) drink alcohol at all, never mind get anywhere near 'fighting' drunk; that's something else which is not in the equation here. No marauding gangs of hooligans as high as kites on 'Snakebite' or 'Jorney inta Spayce' (Newcastle Brown Ale).

(As you might imagine, I keep up with several forums which centre on Egypt and Luxor in particular. The question of safety has been done to death on these forums over and over again during the past few months, with one or two ex-pats coming up with a similar cry of it actually NOT being safe at all! [I've been struggling with editing the rest of this portion of the post for the past three days. I don't want to upset anyone unnecessarily, but I really believe that the point has to be made!] Of the problems they have reported, I believe that many of them can be attributed to the fact that their lifestyle [in particular, 'overt' displays of sexuality, alcohol consumption and a liberal use of foul language] is grossly offensive to many of the locals, and therefore they are being increasingly treated as undesirables, and with the scorn which many locals believe they amply deserve. I have to stress though, that while their behaviour scandalises the 'ordinary' Egyptians, it is not they who are actually doing the abusing. It's the uneducated [uneducated, that is, except for the rabid indoctrination which they seem to receive in one or two of the Mosques and on the street] youth who have never been disciplined, and with their new found 'FREEDOM' want to rid their country of [what they see as] 'these rubbish people'! I'm not saying that it's right, or fair, but as an objective observer and listener to the opinions of 'typical' Egyptians from different backgrounds, I believe this to be true. Married ex-pats who are more inclined to live a quieter life, and keep themselves to themselves, are judged to be more 'respectable' and therefore do not seem to come across this level of unpleasantness. At least that is how it seems to me, but I'd hate to have to actually define their idea of 'respectable' lol.)

So, now we get to the crux of the matter. The 'burning question of the day'! Is it safe for 'tourists' to come to Egypt or (more importantly as far as I am concerned) to Luxor, that bright star in the Egyptian firmament! The answer is the same as it has always been, YES, YES, YES. As from the other night, the military government have even lifted the curfew! We haven't experienced any animosity towards tourists or tourism here in Luxor, throughout the whole of the revolution! I have heard reports of an increase in criminality in general, but this needs to be looked at comparatively, in my opinion. And it's nothing like that which is apparent in my home town or country.

Our current guests are a family consisting of parents and their grown-up daughter. As usual we took them out for a familiarisation stroll, but were shocked at the reaction of some of the carriage drivers whom we have known (not well, but who know my name and with whom we have a 'nodding' acquaintance) for a long time. "Ah, Mister Edward, you must ask your guests to use my carriage, I have no money, I cannot feed my horse. Please, Mr Edward?" It's very sad to have people pleading with you, and very embarrassing when you cannot do anything to alleviate their distress.

From what I can see, it's all very well for the 'revolutionaries' up in Cairo, with their government or multi-national company jobs in offices and factories etc., but they seem to have forgotten about their lowly Sayidi cousins, 500 miles away here in Luxor, where industry is not allowed and there are few jobs which are not wholly reliant on the tourist dollar in one way or another! Where the children are increasingly going to bed hungry, and where people who are normally like you and me are becoming desperate just for the means to survive!

Everyone can, quite innocently, turn the other way and say that it isn't their problem, and they would be right, of course! It's a problem for the Egyptian people. But for many many people, Luxor has a place in their heart and I would appeal to that love for the place and it's people.
Come back to Luxor, the local people will welcome you with open arms. You know that they don't forget a face, and they will be overjoyed to be able to say "Welcome back!"

Yes, Mother!

I'm sure that there must be other men out there who occasionally have the same trouble. Although I love my wife of nearly 40 years dearly, there are times when I feel as though I have two Mothers!

Tonight, we decided to have a slope down to the Etap for tea and Nescafe, it was rather early for us, but we thought that we might see something a bit different. You never know, do you? It being still rather hot, we jumped on an Arabiya outside the door and got off just before the Savoy Bazaar, where we walked through onto the Corniche. As we passed the complaining shopkeepers, ("Where are the tourists Mr Adward?") I noticed a couple ahead of us who were walking quite quickly. Then I noticed a small boy (Egyptian) keeping pace with them, and it became obvious that they were trying to get rid of their shadow! I'm quite adept at noticing things, so I then also noticed that the lady was wearing rather elaborate headgear. It looked like a bee-keepers hat!

At this point, it occurred to me that the couple must be Japanese (or from some other Oriental country) as the Oriental females often wear the most outrageous things on their heads. (I suppose that they don't see them as being outrageous, or they wouldn't wear them?) The fact that the bloke was wearing shorts and was not too tall, also strengthened this opinion. Nevertheless, when we got to the Corniche end of the Bazaar, there they were, actually talking to the little boy who seemingly wanted them to adopt him. They weren't Oriental at all, so much for me trying to stereotype people, I should know better.

Anyway, being this close up, I could see that the bee-keeper's hat was just about a spot-on description! It was wide brimmed with the ladies face shrouded in a fine gauze netting, which swirled all around her hat and her head altogether, and finished up wrapped around her neck. Quiet strange, I thought. Strange enough to warrant a photograph!

As I took out the camera and raised it to get a good look at the picture on the screen, the lady bent down, from the waist, as if she were giving the little lad a kiss. She was also wearing a mini-skirt, and when she bent forward; she exposed nearly all of her knickers, much to the amusement of the soldiers outside of the Council Offices.

This was when my second Mother piped up, "Put that away, you can't put the ladies knickers on the Blog!" Spoil sport!

So, we ambled along to the Etap and had a rather uneventful pot of tea and Nescafe. We actually sat there for an unusually long time, as there was a lovely breeze coming off the river which had a gentle cooling effect. Long enough to have an apple shisha, while Freda had some 'extra lemon, extra sparkle' Sprite. They often have this on the can or bottle, and I sometimes wonder how much lemon and how much sparkle they can actually squeeze into the drink before it becomes just fizzy lemons?

Count Your Blessings!


We've just had our supper while watching an episode of 'Jeeves and Wooster', starring Fry and Laurie. It's getting quite hot hereabouts, the weather people reckon that it would be 41c today. But, as you know,we have our own thermometer which is usually kept in the shaded area of our roof terrace, and here it is, pictured when we got back this afternoon.

As you can see, it reads 46.3c!

No prob. one would imagine, just get in among the A/C, why don't you? We don't actually have A/C in our living room, so we tend to use the bedroom for more than just sleeping! In fact, we only really use our little living room when we have visitors. It gets quite warm in there as well.

We have a rather nice cabinet where we store our guest breakfast requisites (crockery, cereal and the like) and it has a good solid granite top. Freda likes it for when she is rolling out pastry for her fabulous mince pies, stone tending towards being cool, and therefore good for rolling pastry upon.
Well, this cabinet stands off the wall a little and is at the back of the room where the sun never shines. This evening, I happened to lean on it to reach down to the floor (to pick up something I'd dropped) and was surprised to feel that it was actually hot to the touch! So hot, that I decided to 'take it's temperature'. Here is the result:

Yes, that's right 40 degrees Centigrade! And, that was at about 8.30pm. As I said, it doesn't touch anything around it; so the heat can only have been transmitted from the air, now that's HOT!

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed Wooster and chums whilst slurping our supper:

You should have guessed, it's Swiss Roll with lashings of steaming Birds Custard. Lovely and just the ticket (as Bertie Wooster might say)!

New Egypt.

Yes folks, New Egypt is into recycling!

When you're putting your little ones to bed, after they've had their bath, and probably a hot drink and a bedtime story: give a thought to this little lad as he drives his cart around Luxor recycling cardboard to save the world. Heartwarming, isn't it?

Who remembers Dave "Big Head" King?

There's a queer'un for you! Does ANYONE remember Dave King? When I was just a little boy, and we got our first telly (about 1955, I would guess) I was transfixed by a serial called "Precious Bane" The titles ran over a film clip of coins being poured out of a purse, as I recall. I loved to take the coins out of my little purse and count them, everyone said that I would grow up to be a miser. Little did they realise that I would grow up to confound them all; by being skint!!!!!

Just a minute, this is getting off the plot! I remember Dave King as an hilarious comedian on the telly, probably during the late fifties/early sixties, when I was easy to please!

I suppose if I "Googled" him I could tell you exactly, but it isn't all that important, his Big Head attribute is what is important to tonight's tale. It's certainly one of the "Tales of the Unexpected"! (Haha!)

After a tea trip to the Nile Palace (not many tourists, so not a great deal of entertainment) we got home to find a new referring URL on the blog. It was the VERY famous! Freda clicked on it, and there we were, among all the well known important people, like Mrs Akshar on the West Bank, and Indiana Hawass up there in Cairo, along with the British Embassy and the Supreme Council of Antiquities. I don't mind a bit of "virtually hobnobbing" with all these posh folk.

Well, as you can imagine, my neck is now aching with carrying around this Big Head, which our newfound importance has bestowed upon me. After all these years, I now know what Dave King must have felt like.

I just know that some of you will doubt my word, so here's a link to the very page.....

You'll probably have to copy and paste it.
We're at the bottom of the page, below the link to the Islamic calendar.

Are you happy for me? All we need now is for the site owner to mention that we also offer an exclusive accommodation for the discerning tourist, and we'll be "made up".

Anchors Aweigh!

When I came across the above scene, I thought it was very spectacular and it reminded me of something I'd seen once before!

This is the new building next to the Emilio Hotel, where the Rameses Restaurant used to be. Rumour (well, this is Luxor!) has it that it's going to be either a Metro store, or a warehouse for the Kheir Zaman store on TV Street. Time alone will tell.

As I took this next pic (the building looks like it's straining at the anchor chain, doesn't it?) I suddenly was yet another Monty Python sketch! I'm 99% positive. Can anyone put me right here?

You see? This is what living in Luxor does to you, beware!!!!


Being the cheapskates that we undoubtedly are, we don't buy many books. Although I have bought several over the years that we have been in Luxor, they are mainly tales of olden day Egyptophiles like Edward Lane and Amelia Edwards, and have been bought in order to find out more about the very strange and very different lives of the people and the place!

Nevertheless, since we have moved to Luxor, I have become a "reader", maybe even an "avid reader". We use the hotels as our libraries, mainly the Etap where the stock of books are to be found outside at the corner of the main building, on the way to the pool.

Also, some of our guests leave their "holiday books" behind when they leave, as they wouldn't fash to take them back home. (fash: to "be bothered", as in "'e wadn't fash te carry it 'yem; so 'e hoyed it doon the well". From the NE song "The Lambton Worm".) These also usually end up at the Etap. Tutti Frutti also usually have a selection of reading material, what magazines Freda gets either go there or to our friend Alison at the Nile Palace. Very little is wasted here, it all gets used again and again!

I've no idea why, but I've had three books off the trot about things Shakespearean. The first was called "The Revenger" (cannot remember the author) about court killings and stuff in Shakespeare's time, I found it enthralling and couldn't put it down, really great stuff! The next one was entitled "The Shakespeare Secret" written by J.L. Carrell.(Lauded as an "International phenomenon"!) This was a good story, basically about a modern-day quest for this "secret" by very learned and famous Shakespeare academics, jumping at times between the two time zones. (The story, that is. Not the academics.) Quite thrilling at times, and rather gory, but spoilt by having a Shakespeare brainbox quoting "All that glitters is not gold", which as all my readers will immediately recognise (as did I) is a misquotation of Mr Shakespeare's "All that 'glisters' is not gold". Another unforgivable faux pas was the bit where she likened a certain situation to when Pharaoh's daughter 'hid' Moses in the bulrushes!

Never mind, the story was OK!

The one which I am busy with at the moment, is another by J.L. Carrell, "The Shakespeare Curse" much of the same, with one or two characters revived from the "Secrets", but this time set mainly in Great Britain (mostly Scotland, actually). Still quite gory and fast paced, but it puts in a few minutes here and there in between cleaning and shopping. (And blogging, haha)

Don't worry, I've no ambition to become a literary critic! I know that I make loads of factual errors here in my own little world, but the difference is that nobody is paying me to write this stuff, as well as the fact that very few actually read it!!!

Where are the "Ab Fab" or "Python" fans?

Never mind that, for the minute!

It's funny how your tastes change as you meander through life? Have you ever thought about it? For instance: Freda had me drooling over pictures of a "20 Compartment Twinings Tea Chest", with drawers, this afternoon. I never thought that I'd come to that! As you know; we don't have a TV, so we make our own entertainment. More often than not, it takes the shape of tourist viewing at one of our "chosen" hotels. Tonight was the turn of the Steigenburger Nile Palace (or Meridien, as many locals still call it).

After much consideration, I think that this hotel must be the ultimate venue for tourist watching in Luxor. Yes, it's certainly five star!

As I've told you before, Dear Reader, we've seen real Geishas, Mr Dick (from the pen of Charles Dickens), Buzz Lightyear, Omar Sharif and Indiana Hawass, plus a host of other quite notable visitors. The other week, we saw a real "skinhead" he was about 50, but with the turned up jeans (complete with clip-on braces (suspenders for you Yanks) over steel toed Doc Martens, white T shirt, almost shaved head, about six feet tall and as skinny as a rake! He was striding across the floor as if he were wearing "7 League Boots". He could have been a walking cartoon figure, really!

Tonight, we saw a charming couple made up of Charlie Chaplin and Joanna Lumley (when she was made up as an ancient "Patsy" once on Ab Fab) While the lady's face wasn't Patsy (actually she looked very sweet), the rest of her could have been the body double used in the show especially with her shuffling walk! Her "Beau" (cannot say husband, as I know so many wrinklies who live "in sin" nowadays) had all the mannerisms that I would have expected Charlie Chaplin to have in real life as opposed to on film.
As we sat, waiting for our next victims, while drinking our tea and Nescafe, I took a few snaps so that if you ever stay there you will know where I can see you. we always sit in the same seats, unless some interloper gets there before us, that is. From my seat I can see all the way through to the main entrance, it's a great position. Then turning my head I can see right out to the rear terrace, overlooking the pool and the Nile. See..........

This is a lovely hotel, with some lovely staff. Here is a pic of one of the very best waiters in Luxor, Mr Ayman. I just love to have him serve us. (I don't really know, he might hate us. But he is a perfect gentleman, who serves without being servile or over friendly or pushy. I love him.)

The problem with all the hotels at the moment is that there aren't enough tourists in them to watch! You could fix that, if you really cared about us! Get yourselves over to Luxor, before it gets too hot.

As you also know; I love drinking tea! Dilmah, it's heavenly. That's another reason why the Nile Palace gets top marks from us; they also use Dilmah tea, and their pot of water is always VERY hot. Tonight, I have over indulged with it and am fit to burst. I feel like Mr Creosote, and I'm just looking for a cleaning lady with her bucket!
You can see him (and the cleaning lady) on this link. (But not while you are eating, please.)