I must be rather wicked!!!

That's right folks, 'Wicked Uncle Edward' here! Remember, in 'Death on the Nile', when SamWannamaker says to George Kennedy's character, "Wicked Uncle Andrew", well that's just like me; it has to be, why else wouldn't I get any rest?

Whilst I should have been enjoying the lovely weather and my semi-retirement, I've had to be working ...again!

Firstly, "Those bamboo chairs and that handrail on the terrace are a disgrace! We'll have to re-varnish them." That's a laugh, eh? Never mind, I'd seen an old codger in the souk scraping varnish off an old chair with pieces of broken glass. Mmmmm, here's one I made earlier! I'd just accidentally knocked a picture off the wall and broken the glass in the frame, it's just as well that I hadn't actually discarded the bits yet. It felt surprisingly therapeutic, scraping the cracked and burnt varnish off the top surface of the handrail. As I wasn't wearing a shirt (or even a vest) I managed to burn my shoulders in the process, though! I declined to do the same with the bamboo chairs, as I would have been on till 'Kingdom come'! They got a good wash and a bit of a rub down with sandpaper instead.

Off I merrily trotted to the Sipes paint shop, I'd remembered that the 'Varno' was 15le per kilo, so had the right money in my sweaty little palm. Lo and behold! He's stopped stocking Sipes's Varno! I would surely get some at the hardware shop in the next street. I did, but at 20le per kilo, and 7.50le for a Chinese 'Real Bristle' 2 inch brush.

Here's the result, what do you think? Before and after:

No doubt you will remember the clart-on I had making the covers for the small A/C units upstairs? (Colloquialism: 'clart' = 'mess'.) Well, now we need to have the large one, above the stairs, covered as well! Since that I've already done two, another should be easy-peasy.

Firstly I needed some self-tapping screws, to fasten onto the metal frame of the A/C mounting bracket, I ended up in the underground shop behind the temple to get them. Of course I had quite a few useful bits of old wood in my flash new stair cupboard, didn't I? They were just the job, after I had the carpenter down the street run them through his band saw. Here's the bottom panel in place, with a shot of the mounting timbers below:

The rest of it just had to be fastened together and lain on top! 

More old bits of wood later, along with the fancy meshrabiya sheet stuff, and we were getting somewhere:

After another trip to the underground shop for some architrave to go around the edge, it was finally done. I'm quite pleased with the result:

I'm hoping to get some time off now, for good behaviour. What do you reckon, am I in with a chance?

The Cheaters.

Medinet Habu

This is one temple which we've never been to before. Everyone who's been there tells us how fabulous the colours are inside, and that it really is one of Luxor's 'must sees'!

While we were there, I took the opportunity to get a few snaps of the temple.'The Cheaters' reference in the title is because we didn't pay to get in, or to get there, or for anything else!

I'll tell you more about that aspect of our week as we go on.


There you are then, how's that for paint that's a few thousand years old? I wonder if Dulux can match that quality. 

While we were there, we bumped into my old mate Saad; who used to run the Sunrise Quad-Bike Safari, he's now a conservator at the temple!!!! It's just a pity that he couldn't 'conserve' the quad-bikes;  perhaps they might have had a good business by now instead of having piles of scrap running around the desert!  

We had a good look around Habu, before getting back onto our tour bus 

and heading off to:

The Funerary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

The 'Splendour of Splendours' as it was known in the days of yore; I think it still ranks as one of the most beautiful of Egypt's antiquities.

Our itinerary on that first day also included a stop off to view the new 'Corniche El Nil', which is north of the El Luxor Hotel. Very swish and impressive it was too, with its 'Planet of the Apes' landscaping and waterfalls. The biggest drawback is that there is nothing else there, no shops or hotels or restaurants, nothing, in fact, to encourage tourists to go there! Never mind, I suppose it's another expression of' 'the Egyptian Way'! What do you think of the bird I got to pose for me? 

Yes, I thought so too, she looks like she lost a shilling and found a tanner!!!! (Colloquialism: a 'shilling' was one twentieth of a pre-decimal British pound, or 12 pence, whereas a 'tanner' was a coin called a 'sixpence'.Both coins were silver.) Mind you, it was veeeery hot that day. Our itinerary continued, and finished off our third day, with a visit to the disco at the Sheraton Hotel, which was as awful as you might expect, and therefore doesn't warrant any further mention!

The next day we toddled off to:
Karnak Temple.

Big problem at Karnak! I noticed it the last few times I've been to the fabulous 'Sound and Light Show' there.

Yes, that's them; scruffy mangie stray dogs roaming all over the place! Luckily, these two nursing mothers were finding the heat too much to cope with, otherwise who knows what disease they'd have been passing on to the paying visitors (and us). You know, of course that we still have rabies here in Egypt? Least said: soonest mended, I should think  (Colloquialism: 'Least said: soonest mended' means 'the least said about that; the better' or maybe even 'perhaps we shouldn't have mentioned that'.) I've never liked dogs since I was bitten by one as a child, you just cannot trust them!

But never mind, Karnak Temple is astounding, as I'm sure you are all aware. I just love the Hypostyle Hall, with all those lovely pillars:

Something else I love about the ancient temples etc. are obelisks! I took this shot of the Thutmosis (the 2nd?) obelisk at Karnak, as I was hiding from the sun. It's a single piece of granite, for heaven's sake!

The next stop was our own little 'Temple of Luxor', where I got this 'artistic' picture of its remaining obelisk, between two palms, I think it's quite good.

Another intriguing aspect of Luxor Temple is the Mosque of Abu El Haggag, which was built on the top of the unexcavated temple, as were several houses, including the residence of the British Consul! Here's a shot of the original Mosque entrance, which is now some 15 feet or so from the ground.

This was to be our last day, finishing off at Habiba, the restaurant and party venue out next to Luxor Bridge. We were to attend a  party  with genuine Nubian entertainment. The stars were two Luxor lads made good, I cannot remember their names but I've seen them on the Egyptian telly before, and they come from Zenier, which is three villages on the northern extremity of Luxor. They are both in this next photo, dancing with the 'Nubian' dance troupe, to one of their own records. 

Now then, I suppose that you are wondering just how on earth two upstanding and law-abiding folk managed to wangle four free days of being tourists and visiting tourist places? Want a clue?

That's right, I cannot tell a lie; we were film extras! 

What do you think of our director?

A fine figure of a man!

The stars of the programme are famous Egyptian actors, the leading lady being 'Rogena' and the 'hunk', one Tarek Lotfy, here they are:

This next one is of the cameraman, the director and Tarek, taken in the Sheraton, the cameraman and director obviously had a special working relationship, I think they were both a bit 'touched'. (Colloquialism 'touched' = slightly insane!) The two of them were very entertaining to watch, and the cameraman wore 'Dolce and Gabanna' shoes! They certainly seemed to enjoy their working together

This contraption took the (rather large) cameraman swooping around the different sets, and he wasn't even strapped in! 

Here's Rogena having her make-up touched up at the Sheraton, I was amazed to see that a young man was employed just to carry the make-up bag. He didn't apply the stuff or anything, just carried the small bag; on and off the 'bus, in and out of the temples. I could have done his job with ease! 

And another one, where she's having a sly smoke:

We had an enjoyable four days, but really needed a rest afterwards. I'd forgotten how exhausting sightseeing can be, especially when you're waiting around in the heat.I was certainly glad of our umbrellas!

The programme / s are going out on Egyptian TV during their fasting month of Ramadan, so we'll not get to see it / them, as we will be in England for the birth of our fourth grandson, Coconut!



Hello again, not very much to report but Freda is managing to find things for me to do, which will keep me out of mischief for the next millennium or so!

I'd finally had it with the Karcher vacuum! The pipes and tools are all 'bitsa's' (bits a this and bits a that), and all second hand as well, but they have really been driving me to distraction! The flexible tube has a piece with a tapered end which fits snugly into the female taper of the rigid tube, only it wasn't. Consequently, I've now cut the end off the rigid tube twice, making the joint a tighter fit in order to stop the flexy bit falling off as I was vacuuming.

But that wasn't the worst thing, oh no! The worst thing was the end piece, don't know what it's actually called, but I've called it some bonny names over the past few months, I can tell you! Here it is here, broken down at the two places where it keeps falling apart, the main tool was falling off the right hand piece every few strokes, just worn away I'm afraid

As I'm sure you're aware, Luxor isn't the easiest place to find the things you really want. But, God being always good, I've been led to a Christian 'Electrical Repair Man' who's not very far away! His shop is where I  bought the offending item above, about two years ago, it was second hand then, of course, and I think I paid 20le for it. So not too bad, I suppose. Time for another rummage around, in among his junk!

Disappointment! Apart from these few assorted vacuum hoses, all he had in the 'pre-owned' section was two or three large cardboard boxes full of battered stainless steel electric kettles. His English is almost non-existent, and while my Arabic is improving very slowly, it doesn't yet run to "Why the devil don't you have any second hand vacuum cleaner ends, you old fool?"

Eventually, he dug around behind the counter and produced a brand new one, which he handed to me after cleaning what looked like the dust of a few hundred years from it. Now then, once when we were at home in Windy Nook, I'd been scouting around on the 'net' looking for this self same tool, before I bought the second hand one in Luxor that was, and they were about 18 to 22 quid, plus delivery! There had been cheaper ones, but not with retractable brushes.

I was a bit flummoxed, as I hadn't been given very much money to come out with, and certainly not the equivalent of 20 English! But to my huge surprise and delight, the price was just 40le! (That's right, a little over £4!) So now, I'm a happy vacuumer again! (Rip-off Britain?)

More Generalities.
As I roam around, I sometimes snap at things which tickle my fancy, and recently has been no exception. This was the entrance to the 'government' supermarket the other day!

Of course, the shop was still open, I just managed to squeeze my svelte figure through the gap, clicking my shirt in the process. I'm thinking of putting in a claim!

This next shot was taken in the next street, on the other side of the building opposite us. Mr Fahwi must have too much money at the moment, as it appears that he is having all new cotton  mattresses and cushions made, and by a visiting mattress maker, posh, or what? That's one of his many sons emerging from their little alley.

You'll remember that I told you about the carry-on with the gas bottles? Well, the man in this next picture had paid 30le for his, plus he'd had to travel half way across the town to get it!

It's not very often that you see PSV passengers carrying 'Calor Gas' bottles on the 'bus in England, is it? Oh, and guess what he was doing with his left hand, being Egyptian? That's right; he's smoking! 

The Gasman Cometh!

It's Freda's birthday today, but we've spent this morning (it's now twenty to one) waiting for an Egyptian workman to come and do a little job! He said that he'd be here at 8 o'clock, much to my dismay, but we were up and ready in time, and we're still waiting! I'm just wondering which implement I'm going to use to kill him with when he does, finally, arrive.

Anyway, he's not the gasman!

It appears that our neighbours (Adam the coffeeeshop man and his nearest relations) have become the suppliers for our area. Our attention was drawn by an unusual noise, mid-morning. It sounded like the Amoun men emptying the rubbish skip (dumpster) on the main road. They tip it over onto its side, and then sometimes bang it up and down a bit to loosen the stuff which has become stuck to the inside, then drag everything out onto a large tarpaulin before sorting through it and hauling the tarpaulin (rubbish and all) up the side of the truck and tipping it into the steel body. If they have trouble emptying it, the noise can go on for three or four minutes. This time it had gone on for about a half hour!!!

I climbed up the roof terrace wall, and craned my neck trying to see what the cause might be, but to no avail. However, when I went downstairs to go shopping, it was immediately apparent:

A truckload of full butane bottles was in the process of being delivered!

I had been told that the bottled gas (which everyone else uses to cook with) was in short supply and as it got more difficult to source, was getting much more expensive. (Adam was complaining to me a few weeks ago that he was having to pay 35le for a bottle which was usually 5le!) It seems that the Ababda (*) tribe of Luxor have taken the initiative by ordering a truckload from the main suppliers. They are paying 8le per bottle and selling it on for only 10le.So that's not a case of profiteering, in particular, is it? I don't think that a mark-up of 25% is extortionate for a commodity which has been in short supply for months.

Anyway, it had all been sold or taken into the homes of the immediate family (for their own use) within a few hours. Just as a matter of interest, does anyone know how much a bottle of Butane is in the UK nowadays? 

(*) The Ababda are an Arab tribe, originally from Saudi Arabia (and known as the 'Fuzzy Wuzzies') who are in great abundance in Egypt (approximately 34,000,000 of them I'm told) who were greatly preferred as fighters by the British occupiers of Egypt in years gone by! They include the Haggagis (Viking), and Aboudis (of bookshop fame) of Luxor.

More of the 'Egyptian Way', I'm afraid!

It seems that I may be turning Egyptian, in mind if not in body, anyway!

I bought these keys a while ago, to you and I (and anyone else who thinks that patents are a worthwhile invention) these are actually 'Torx' security keys.Very useful, as nothing else will undo the Torx fastenings which they slot into.

They cost me the princely sum of 25 Egyptian pounds, and have been worth every last piastre! The shrink-wrap bag in which they came announced that they were 'Star Shape Allen Keys'! Each to his own, I suppose.

Anyway, the Karcher vacuum is held together with these 'Torx Star Shape Allen Screws', so I made use of the new gear in taking the vacuum to bits. (I just wonder if there's a penalty for using snide tools which are patented?) As usual, I found that the 'Spitting Electrician', our friend Mr Ramadan, had been cutting corners again! Instead of stripping out the old wire right to the end, he'd just cut it where it was easy, and joined it back up with a twist or two and some electricians tape. He hadn't even bothered to nip up the screws in the cable clamp! (And you wonder why I try and do so much myself?)

To my eternal shame; I've done the same! Except, of course, that I have tightened the screws in the cable clamp. As I said above, I must be turning! (I hope this doesn't mean that I've got to take an Egyptian wife to go along with my English one! I don't think Freda would be too chuffed about that, eh, Playmates?)

Labour in vain..

No, I'm not writing about that comic duo Bliar and Brown, who used to specialise in their own particular brand of 'black' humour, nor even their worthless protege, Mr Millipede. I'm on about MY labour, which is much nearer to my heart!

You saw the state of the place yesterday, didn't you? Plus, you know that I couldn't leave it overnight, so that was twice that the whole of the outside areas (including the stairs) were vacuumed. The sandstorm seemed to have abated, so I was quite pleased with myself; all done and dusted, so to speak.

Then, when I got out of bed this morning,  I came to this:

Yes, yes, it's worse than ever!

Also, the flex on the Karcher has broken. It started to go off and on yesterday, and when I wobbled the flex where in entered the machine, that was what happened. So, that's my next job this morning,  being a colour-blind electrician! 

Wish me luck, please?????