Grumpy, me?

Hi there, just a little rant, if you don't mind?

As many of you know, I'm an avid tea drinker, Freda, on the other hand also enjoys the odd cup of coffee. Obviously, as a devoted husband, I do try my best to accommodate her in this rather perverse pleasure, even to the point of accompanying her to one of these vile 'Starbucks' places.

Today was no exception; when she realised that I was flagging somewhat, while on an extended shopping marathon, my charming wife suggested a cup of tea to revive my spirits. Of course, I couldn't possibly refuse such an offer!

Funnily enough, we were next to a 'Starbucks', so in we trotted. The place looked quite inviting, I admit. There were hard wooden seats either side of a longish table, there were small tables with dining type chairs either side, and there was soft seating along one wall, with small tables in front with another dining type chair as well. 

But I wish I'd had my trusty new camera with me!!!

The cafe / coffeehouse / tearoom was actually inside a larger store, and was separated from part of it by a glass partition. Freda sent me to find a table with soft seating while she went to the counter to order the drinks. The glass screen was behind the soft seats, and this is where I first noticed the streaks, made by a dirty cleaning cloth! There was only one table free in that area, but it was stacked with dirty dishes, so I shifted them to a table nearby, mafeesh mushkelar (no problem). The table itself, however, was rather a problem, it was covered with sticky rings where cups had been. The next table was even worse, with smear marks right from one side to the other, and still with bits of what looked like jam smeared here and there!

Freda eventually landed with a tray, her mug containing coffee, a paper cup containing cream, and three sachets of brown sugar, a two-cup tea pot, an empty mug, another paper cup containing a tea bag (which Freda had made the cashier whip out of the pot, just before he poured in the hot water) and a shaker 'thing' full of white sugar, no milk or spoons. There was also a plate with a lovely piece of lemon drizzle cake sitting on it.

I went to ask the cashier for some milk, and was directed to the 'condiments counter', where I replaced the ridiculous sugar dispensing 'thing', and where I noticed a stained stainless steel Thermos flask, with splashes of  milk around the spout. "Ah, the milk!" it dawned! I collected my mug, itself a thick and unpleasant object, (no wisecracks thank you!) and poured in a little milk. As I turned away, I noticed a lady just next to me, also pouring milk, but from another, identical, flask. As she replaced her flask on the 'condiments counter', I noticed that it had the words 'Skim Milk' on a sticky label. (No, this wasn't an instruction, but it was symptomatic of the lackadaisical and devil-may-care attitude evident in the whole sorry establishment!) When I looked on the flask I had used, I found a similar label, on the other side though, which read 'Full Cream Milk'. Not good enough, not good enough by half!!!!! I would have much rather had the 'Skim Milk', if I had known that it existed! I would also much rather have had sugar where I could have some confidence in the amount which was going into my tea! And, I would much rather have had a spoon with which to stir my tea, instead of an anorexic lolly-pop stick!!!!!

Add to this disgraceful excuse for satisfying customers, that the general cleanliness left a great deal to be desired, and you can imagine that I was not a 'happy bunny'.

Fortunately, Freda hasn't confided in me regarding the amount of the bill for this lot. I just hope that she enjoyed her coffee as much as she said she did. I certainly won't be unhappy if I never have to experience such a place again!

We'll get back to that other place, Marrakech, in a day or two.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, Marrakech (2)

Maybe this one should be entitled "The Sequel!"

We've been having a funny time since the revolution, what with a distinct lack of tourists and therefore also a distinct lack of income. The financial crisis in Britain and Europe has been rather cruel to us as well, resulting in our family not being able to visit us in Luxor for two years now!

One thing in our favour has been that we have been able to book our easyJet flights to go back home very early, and very cheaply! Or so we thought! We booked to travel to England in June, for about 50 quid each, and intended to book return journeys in July to come back to Luxor. easyJet, though, had different ideas! They stopped flying to Luxor for July and August, and the beginning of September, what were we to do?

Freda, being as resourceful as ever, trawled through all the Internet flight sites and found that the cheapest direct (or even via Cairo) flights would run us around the £300 mark, with the others being considerably more! What she did find, though, was that by taking the train to Manchester Airport and flying to Marrakech, catching another train to Casablanca and then another plane to Cairo and onto Luxor, we could do it for £316. Why couldn't we find the extra few bob to stay in Marrakech for a couple of nights? If for no other reason but to break an otherwise tiring journey?

Obviously, this plan would need some more attention! So it was that Freda looked into the hundreds of riads available to tourists in Marrakech. Then the memory of our first attempt to get to Morocco reared its ugly head, and we wondered if Susan and Roy would care to complete their aborted journey too. Of course they would came the answer, if Freda could manage the arrangements.

You know how visitors to Egypt can become 'templed out'? Well, believe me, Freda had me 'riaded out' in no time at all! Mind you, there are sooooo many of them, and soooo many of them are stunningly beautiful, it was certainly a daunting task to pick just one. I remember that one looked ideal in every respect, but the people had dogs, or possibly A dog. That put the kibosh on it, and I was quite disappointed! Never mind, Freda kept at it by a process of elimination. Each time she found one that fit the bill, she checked it against those already in the running and eliminated one or the other. Eventually, she plumped for the Riad Les Trois Mages. (The Three Kings.) Just off the centre of the Medina,. but nearby to everything that would be of interest to us. Riads are built around a central courtyard, with the rooms emanating off it. No outside interference at all.

It would all work out spiffingly, after our little sojourn in Marrakech, we would catch the train across to Casablanca, and Susan and Roy would jump back on the plane to Manchester. Easy Peasey!

But...........our name is Jennings. That means that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, ever goes according to plan! What would it be this time? A counter revolution? Could the newly elected Egyptian President decide to expel all the foreigners? Perhaps Barak Obama might decide to invade the whole of North Africa to save the people from themselves, who knows?

In the event, our youngest daughter telephoned to tell us that she was expecting her second child, in early August! Of course, Freda needed to be there (no, not at the actual birth, ugh!) and we couldn't afford to stay in England for all that length of time. So, the £50 flights were changed to Christmas, and Egypt Air flights were booked for the same week that we would fly to Marrakech, and the Marrakech flights were all booked as returns, back to Manchester. Pheeeew! Could it all possibly work out the second time?

easyJet kept us standing on the tarmac at Manchester for about two hours, because one of the engines wouldn't start! Bad omen? When we trundled into Marrakech Manara Airport two hours late, the taxi that the riad had arranged was still waiting for us. Al hamdulillah!

I was actually startled by the grandeur of Marrakech, the wide, and well kept  roads, and the imposing buildings The apparent cleanliness everywhere was really quite a shock after being used to Luxor and the filth! Of course Marrakech is a huge city by comparison, and the French have been there for a long time, stamping so much of their own culture on the civic side of things. Plus, the indigenous population seem to be mainly Berber rather than Arab, so their culture would be different anyway.

The taxi stopped about a hundred yards from the riad, the road just wasn't wide enough for a car to get there! By the time we got to the riad door, the space between the buildings was no more than five feet.

The door is just past the moped.

As we stepped though that door, it soon became apparent that the place was just as nice as the pictures on their adverts and web-site. We'd be OK here! Our room was 'Melchior', on the ground floor, what a treat! Here are a couple of pics:

A touch of romance, don't you think?

Now tell the truth, who wouldn't be happy with that? We certainly were, a bit quaint and traditional, but perfectly functional and very easy on the eye! With lovely staff and beautiful food; it was almost as welcoming as 'Our Luxor'!!!

Time and tide wait for no man, as King Cnut proved! I'm off to bed now, but I haven't finished with this theme yet! Goodnight.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah; Marrakech!

"Don't you know we're riding on the Marrakech Express?" There cannot be many among you who are unable to sing that line, surely? 

We began our adventure to Morocco in August 1975, before we were encumbered with children, or other serious responsibilities, although Freda was expecting our Benjamin in the following February. We had decided to drive there, along with my sister Susan and her husband Roy. Roy was the proud owner of a SWB Series 1 Land Rover, so was I at the time, but mine was all painted and signed up for the garage business. We had a trial run in Roy's 'rag top' and decided against it for the real journey.

I eventually found a LWB (long wheelbase) rolling chassis at Hodgson's of Wearhead, a Land Rover main agent in the North East. It was just lying in their yard, apparently dead, to be used for spares or whatever. It was a 1964 Series 2a, with only a truck cab and open back-end. No engine or gearbox, of course! It cost me the princely sum of £60, I don't think I'd ever paid that much for a car before!

It took a few months to sort it out, but the LWB ended up with a two and a quarter litre petrol engine, which I completely reconditioned, and a brand new carburettor.  We were very keen for the Land Rover to be as fuel efficient as possible, after all petrol was in the region of 75 pence per gallon (that's 4.54 litres to you young'uns) and we had a lot of miles to cover, and even more kilometres! With this goal in mind, I changed the differentials for those out of Rover "90" cars, being a different ratio it took fewer revolutions of the engine to turn the actual road wheels, hence less petrol. To eliminate the drag of the front differential while driving in two wheel drive, I also fitted "Fairy" free-wheeling front hubs. We'd be "cooking on gas", as the popular saying of the time went! (In actual fact, we averaged only 12 mpg over the whole holiday, what a bitter disappointment!)

Other modifications included finding and fitting a genuine LR hard top, putting in side windows, so that the girls could have a better view as they luxuriated in their Austin Westminster seats, which I fitted behind the not so luxurious standard LR front seats. A 'dished' bonnet, complete with spare wheel carrier finished off the necessities, oh, and an "illegal" Michelin map of Morocco! 

As we were bound for Africa, I had my old signwriter paint "African Queen" on both front wings. This vehicle was "the business"! Here it is during a few minutes rest crossing the Pyrenees:

The African Queen

Some sections of the road over the mountains were quite treacherous, with one or two of the tighter bends requiring us to take two 'cuts' to get around them! There were small plaques here and there, marking where other travellers had gone over the edge; quite unnerving, I can tell you!

A short while after getting off the main pass, and onto the more civilised roads of the lower slopes, and while Roy was driving; he calmly informed me that he'd just lost the brakes! We eventually got it stopped in a small village called "La Garriga", right in front of a little metal fabricating shop. On inspection, it transpired that the O/S/F wheelrim had been damaged and the damaged section was consequently catching the flexy rubber brake pipe, with each revolution of the wheel. It had rubbed through, and lost all the fluid.

Being a bit wary of these "Continentals" anyway, I'd brought a few Imperial thread brake pipe nuts, just in case! So, it was quite straightforward; get the blokes in the metalworks to weld up one of the new nuts; replace the flexy pipe with the blanked off nut and bleed the brakes, and 'hey presto' three brakes working to get us on our way! Not quite straightforward though, I hadn't reckoned on the language barrier, or the fact that they didn't think it was a good idea to drive on only three brakes. After about three hours, though, we were on our way again.

Here we all are, me on the left (fag in hand), the Spaniards, and Roy, showing off his muscles!

A right motley crew!
We hadn't travelled more than about a half a mile (you won't believe this, I didn't, at first) when we came across a sign which read "Land Rover Main Agent"! We bought a new flexy and put it on that night, lying on a carpet of sheep droppings at the campsite.

On the sixth day of travelling, we came upon a campsite with "English seatless" toilets, I was so relieved (literally) I couldn't have waited much longer! It must have been about then that we decided that we just weren't going to reach Morocco. We only had two weeks, you see? Valencia was as far as we got, and it was far enough, if the truth be told. We got the last pitch on the campsite, on the beach.

There was a cloudburst, with a fantastic electric storm, and we then found out why the last pitch hadn't been taken before; it was in a hollow!!!!! What a sad time we had of it. (Apart from singing along at the top of our voices to a tape of "Rule Brittania" from the "Last Night of the Proms"!) On venturing into Valencia, I ran slap-bang into the side of a French car, in an underground car park. The car park attendant was insistent that I just drive away, as no-one had seen the deed, but I stopped and left my insurance details stuffed in the side of the car's window. 

On the return journey, we stopped in St Tropez, but the wind was so strong that we couldn't get the tent up, even tying it to the Land Rover was no use, the wind bent most of the poles! We ended up staying in an hotel, with only enough money for two breakfasts. We had a tin of peaches or something between us for our supper, because the hotel restaurant would not entertain English money. At that time, you could only take £25 out of the country in cash, but I'd concealed £50 about my person, just in case, but they weren't interested at all! 

Here are Roy and I, complete with pith helmets. Well, you can't be too careful in these overly hot foreign parts, can you?

We would have liked to have relieved General "Chinese" Gordon in Khartoum!
I should imagine that you are now scratching your head, Dear Reader, and wondering what, if anything, this nonsensical reminiscing has to do with modern-day blogging about our life in Luxor. Well, you'll just have to wait and see, won't you? It might even be nothing at all!!!!!

Till another day, tarra.

Bad news/Good news!

You all know the woeful tale of the broken camera, so I won't embarrass my beautiful wife any further by repeating it. You also know that our steam-driven laptop has seen better days, don't you? (My Egyptian computer man says it should be thrown in the Nile!!!)

Well, "Good News" awaited us when we got home! Our son Benjamin gave us his laptop, it's only a couple of years old and has millions of Gigabytes instead of one and a half, or whatever derisory figure our old one had.

Bad news, is that it doesn't put photo's right like our old one, and it won't take the program that does it for us. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

I found another camera which seems to be relatively simple to use, with an 18x zoom! Pretty useful, I would have thought, but I had to sell my youngest granddaughter to be able to afford it!

But what use is all this fancy technology if I cannot compress pictures to put on the Blog.

Lo and behold; the other day I found out that the camera actually compresses pictures itself! What was that about every cloud? Or all things working together for good? So now, I'm as happy as a proverbial sandboy, and I expect to be blogging merrily away before too long.

See ya!

Search Keywords during June.

They're the usual queer bunch, one or two which I cannot fathom at all, and one,  presumably from an American lady, whom I hope never ever wants to come and stay at 'Our' Luxor!!!! Is she really planning what it looks as if she is? 

People's spelling doesn't get any better either!
Here they are:

tubing james river trip advisor 29/06/201

how much money should u get if ur raped at the luxor by a security guard 25/06/2012

just like me weekend wicked shop 23/06/2012
difference between earthed and unearthed cable 21/06/2012
Find me Mustafa in Luxor 19/06/2012 
cheating in Luxor 19/06/2012
Panackalty 19/06/2012
etyop gabendrm part to 19/06/2012
the birthday boy has awoken 13/06/2012
what are key words when searching for an apartment 13/06/2012
How to solve water problem in apartment 11/06/2012
handrail w flat top 11/06/2012

Vacuum bondage body suit 09/06/2012

Poker room wall 06/06/2012

swim Burundi 06/06/2012

The two ronnies aladdin sketch 05/06/2012

way the anchor monty python 05/06/2012

Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee, dear camera !

Yes, the sad truth will out!

Michael the watch man brought back the sad old camera with the news that it cannot be repaired in Luxor, maybe they could do it in Cairo, but at a cost of 150 le. (And you all know how much Freda HATES Cairo)

Gone are the happy carefree days of snapping here and snapping there, willy-nilly. As a memoriam, I thought that I might browse through a few of the pictures I've taken with it. You don't have to come along with me as I roam down Memory Lane, but you may, if you wish.

This first one is of Freda with two dear friends, David and Rosemary, in their beautiful back garden in Derbyshire. We met them at the Winter Palace, years ago, a lovely couple who would dress for dinner (the works, I mean!) and then dance around the foyer of the New Winter Palace to the music provided by Los Amigos, the Russian/Egyptian combo. They used to come every December and stay over the Christmas holiday. (But they were 'living in sin'!!! Shhhhh.) 

I'm sure that some of you also know how much Freda hates to have her picture taken, but she's here in this next one as well! This time with another good friend, only one we met through this Blog! I've cannily caught him with the sun just in the right place to somewhat disguise him. I cannot remember who the boy was.

Our friend was showing us around his latest hotel acquisition in Luxor:

We've met some really kind people here in Luxor over the years, several have become friends whom we really miss when we don't see them for a while. We met two sisters at the old Novotel one year, and we've been fortunate enough to see them every year since, except that we'll miss them this year, as they are coming later than usual, and we will be in England at the time. They comprise half of a family of four sisters, from the 'Black Country', and are known collectively as 'The Wenches'. Here are the original two, on the left; Glen and Mar, two ladies whose company we enjoy enormously! The other two were friends of theirs from the Etap, Freda and I joined them at '7 Days & 7 Ways' a few years ago, where I took this very poor picture. We really hope to see them again next year.

I don't usually take pictures of visitors to 'Our Luxor', but this following little monkey (well!) seemed to be soooooo brazen! Just look at the eyes.

After several squirtings with water, from a 'Baraka' bottle with a hole in the top, the beast finally left us alone. It must have warned its mates, as we haven't had any cat trouble since!

Unlike India, where the cows roam freely everywhere and anywhere, they don't roam around here very much! Here's one which I came across a couple of years ago, two streets away, during the 'Eid el Adha'.

Although I'm not personally convinced, the people who practice this sort of slaughter reckon it's much more humane than the way it's normally done in the West. In this instance, there wasn't enough room for cars to pass the carcase in the street! It gave me quite a turn to come across it, I can tell you.

Talking about celebrations and the like; don't forget that the Moulid is coming up! I'm reliably informed that the stick fighting/dancing will commence in our street tomorrow night, after they've closed the road. Probably around 9 or 10, and the same on Tuesday. For those of you who don't know what on earth I'm on about: It's the Moulid of Abu El Haggag, a famous Sheikh from years gone by, whose Mosque is the one built on top of the Temple. People come from all over Egypt to join the Luxorians in their annual celebrations. The town will be packed with Egyptian tourists; many of whom won't mind sleeping outside, and with some who have very little contact, if any in their normal lives, with foreigners. So you can expect some rather inquisitive looks, they mean no harm though, so don't worry.

When I find out, for sure, on which day the parade ('carnaval', as it's known) is, I'll post it on here. No new pictures though, so I'll have to dig some old ones out.

Have a gander at these, for a taster! 

Yes, that is a fire breather in the second picture. Actually, it's not quite, he's squirting a spray can across a lighter flame, which is probably more dangerous!

I cannot find any stick fighting pictures, they must all be hidden away on a disc somewhere, sorry. You'll just have to toddle on down here and see it for yourself!