The HHS (Haret Health Service)

Yes, things tend to be more 'local' here than in our home country!  (Haret being Egyptian for "Alley", remember?)

With this arthritis carry-on, I'm not the usual happy-chappie which all our neighbours have come to know and love. (Well!) But I have to admit that I've been quite surprised by the number of concerned reactions I've noticed to my hobbling around, it's nice to think that they care!

I've no idea why my knees should have started to hurt so much, so suddenly, but the right one in particular is really bad. It's that bad that I decided I would have to make use of the HHS. Dr Yacoub Geris has the ground floor of our building, and he's a gentleman! Although his consultancy fee is 44le, he refunds 40le of it when he is treating neighbours. His assistant, Girges, I've mentioned him to you previously Dear Reader, gets the other 4le. (Poor beggar, I call him all the names under the sun at times.)

Anyway, after a thorough examination, Dr Yacoub prescribed some effervescent granules to destroy the crystals which he was sure were the immediate cause of my pains, and some anti-inflammatory capsules to ease the pain and reduce the inflammation. I did notice that the capsules were, in fact, Diclofenac by another name! Never mind, I thought, they're only for a short term, and should therefore be OK. (I had been taking Ibuprofen for my back, as well, but stopped these.)

By the time of my follow-up visit, I had noticed some pain on the inside corner of my calf, just below the knee. It was familiar, but I couldn't say how? Dr Yacoub explained it away as probably a bit of muscle pain due to not walking properly because of the arthritis. However, as I was struggling to get to sleep with the arthritis pain that night, I remembered where the other pain was from; "Thrombophlebitis of the superficial leg veins", which I had suffered with some ten or so years ago. I did feel better, now that I knew what I was dealing with!

When I told the doctor about this, he insisted that I should have a sonography test, at a local radiological clinic, just to be sure. Of course Freda was ahead of everyone, and had me unable to fly home at Easter because of having DVT! We eventually found the Teba 2000 clinic on Mustafa Street, where the bloke agreed to charge me "Egyptian Price" (100le) on production of my passport. Another journey!!! Mind you, later that day, the ultra-sound was done very professionally, and I was presented with the pictures and a full report within about 5 minutes of the examination being completed. After explaining all the ins and outs of my leg veins, the report corroborated my initial diagnosis, and also stated that there was no DVT! It's funny how several Egyptians will say "Hello Doctor" when they see me in the street; they must realise that I was (in my youth) going to be a doctor, only I never had the patience..........boom boom! (Sorry about that, I just couldn't resist it!)

I took this pic of the computer screen, just so that you would know that I wasn't making all this up!!!

After another bad night with the arthritis pain, I presented myself at Dr Yacoub's surgery again, complete with pictures and report. A prescription was written, and he told me that it was for a course of INJECTIONS!!!!! "Mr Edward will administer them for you" said he. Mr Edward is also know as "Igor", I've told you about him before as well. He's assistant to Dr Al Malach, the surgeon on the first floor of our building. He's also the person whom I've threatened to beat senseless on many occasions, when I've caught him depositing rubbish on the landing on the stairs!  

What a to-do!

Here are the dreaded ampoules and syringes:

He's already given me one injection in the stomach, and I've to go back to him at seven o'clock this evening. I'd better try to be nice to him, I suppose?

If I'm still here at the weekend, I'll try to bring you up to date! Wish me luck?

You'd better get your skates on!

That's taken me back a few years! Do you remember your skates? I certainly remember mine, they were like these:

Very noisy, as they had steel bearings for wheels, and dangerous as they had no brakes (which were known as 'Stoppers' when they did finally arrive, along with the rubber wheels), we must have been mad. I wonder what the elf and safety police would have thought of them. No doubt our parents would be arrested for child abuse, or neglect at least, in this day and age!

Remember this, as well?

Never mind, that's not the point of this Blog, it was just that the Blog title disturbed my memory banks!

To the matter in hand, then. 'You'd better get your skates on'; if you want to join in Luxor's latest "Healing and Relaxation Program" (sadly being conducted by people who cannot spell!) which is being held at the Steigenberger Nile Palace Hotel on February 22nd and March 1st. The first session was on the 15th, but it wasn't all that well attended:

Mind you, as we were coming away I did notice our friend Mr Gamal, the Steigenberger Chairman, arriving on scene in his very fetching dark blue patterned track suit!!!!! (I didn't take a snap of him, as I don't want to be banned from his hotel forever!)

Here's the advertising sign in the lobby:

Isn't it funny; Thai Chi. Mispronounce it and it turns into Chai Thi, I think I'd better have a cup just now.

Who remembers Dave Berry, from the 60's?

"Little things, that you do, make me glad I'm in love with you." Yes, that was him, I thought he always came across as rather creepy, with a face which looked, even way back then then, as if a cosmetic surgeon had been serving his apprenticeship on him, poor beggar! Here he is on YouTube.

Well, I love some of the 'Little Things' which our Dell laptop does in conjunction with its Etislat USB modem. But I also hate it with a vengeance!!!!!!

I decided, the other day, to try to get our Lexmark printer to load onto the laptop. I'd tried before, but was left with a message saying that although it was loaded it might not work as it had troubleshooting issues, or something to that effect, and it wouldn't actually work at all. But you know when you just know that today is the day?

It turned out that today (well, the 'other' day!) it really was. I must admit that it was a bit more of a clart (Colloquialsm: "clart" (or clart-on) in this case the word "trial" could be the more commonly used) than I had expected. It kept me occupied for quite a while, but I eventually managed, so we can now scan things into the laptop again, although we cannot yet print, as we've no (Number 17!) black ink cartridge for some unknown reason, so I couldn't even try to get it re-filled!

Even the new 'spare' one has disappeared! 
Mind you, I dare say that if I took it down to the souk, I'd find someone who would knock me up a cartridge out of an old Coke can and squeeze a couple of Biros into it, just to get me going!!!! (I well remember, when we first came to Luxor, seeing a one and a half metre satellite dish made of soldered together Pepsi cans! Yes, really!)

Anyway, today's moan is really about Internet speeds!

As you all know, I'm just an HGV mechanic and Class One HGV and PSV Operator and driver (as well as latterly becoming a plumber, tiler, carpenter, A/C engineer, decorator, personal shopper, interior designer and part time guide and hotelier) so I've yet to even begin to understand the intricacies of computing and the Internet. But I'm sure that among you highly valued readers, there will be at least one of you who is technically clued up!

Here's the situation: All the laptops I've had here in Luxor have been connected to the 'net' via a 'dongle' of one sort or another. Being a straightforward sort of bloke, I began by believing whatever the techies at Vodafone told me, "it was the old- fashioned laptop slowing down the speed" or the blame lay with "the steel reinforcing in the concrete of the building". To cut a very long story short, and after going through three laptops in six years, I've now realised that the staff at Vodafone in Luxor all seem to be unrepentant and compulsive liars, and those at Etisalat (whose USB modem I'm now using) aren't all that much better!

Often, to pass the time as I'm waiting for a particular page to load, I'll watch the Etisalat dongle's statistics page. It's very interesting to see the trace line bumping along the bottom of the page, on or about the 5 kbps mark! (Did you know that human blood boils at less than 5 kbps? Well, you do now! I'll educate you yet.)

During loading the printer onto the laptop, I had to actually download (see, I'm getting the hang of the terminology, aren't I) a driver (?) from the Lexmark web-site. I was absolutely astonished at the speed it was downloading at. Here, have a butchers at this: (Sorry, that's another colloquialism, "Butchers" = "Butcher's Hook" = a look, or at least a cursory glance.)

Yes, it's running at over 1000 kbps! So, can there be a problem with my laptop? When it finished downloading from that particular site, it went back to normal, see:

And then, back to taking up to a full minute to load a TripAdvisor, or whatever, page! It's also slower at certain times of the day. In all fairness, though, I have to report that my 7.2 mbps Etisalat dongle usually (maybe 70% of the time) delivers between 30 and 60 kbps, which I can live with, but when it's slow I feel like chucking it over the roof terrace parapet!

So! Is there an 'Oracle' out there, someone who can confidently pronounce upon my problematic situation? Are the Egyptian mobile companies just conning us dimwitted customers, or could it be an intermittent problem with the laptop, or could it be that there just aren't enough CO2 atoms in the unpopulated Egyptian desert atmosphere to carry the signal from here to there?

As if I didn't have enough to currently cope with, it now seems that Freda is trying to vegetarianise me! Just because I'm colour-blind, she thinks she can get away with slipping tomatoes into my mushroom and onion quiche! (Alfred had no smoked ham!)

Next thing you know, she'll have me walking out with a pastel coloured sweater draped fashionably over my shoulders and drinking Camomile tea, well she's got another think coming!!!!!!!

Then press the 'hash' key??????????

I suppose that it's to do with me being an 'Oldie', but I thought that 'hash' was something to eat which was made of corned-beef, onion and potatoes! HASH? Lo and behold, they mean 'the key with the cross-hatching symbol', you know, criss-cross lines; the method beloved of artists, whose medium is the pen and ink, to create areas of shade or darker colour. The picture below (found via 'Wikipedia') shows hatching and cross-hatching. 

Not that it's of any real consequence, mind you, but I don't agree with all this messing about with English. If you want to describe something which is new, or at least innovative, then make up your own words rather than try to change the meaning of words already in use, and understood to mean something entirely different to that to which you're referring!!!! There's enough of THAT sort of thing around already, thank you.

Sorry about that, it has nothing whatsoever to do with tonight's Blog other than I was thinking of it as a bit of a hash, in that it's a mix-up of several different things, like a corned-beef hash, in fact! RANT OVER.

Now then, "Hello, my name's Edward and I'm a smoker!" That's how the alcoholics do it at 'Alcoholics Anonymous', isn't it? As many of you know, I promised Freda that I'd chuck smoking when we moved to Luxor and I have, to all intents and purposes. It's just that people keep offering me a cigarette, and seeing as I still enjoy the odd one or two, I usually take them! So, I also accepted a real Cuban cigar when it was offered.

Yes, that's right 'ROMEO Y JULIETA' and underneath it says Habana Cuba.
According to our friends at Wiki, they're made by the state owned company, and are hand-rolled. (Although I shouldn't think that they're still rolled on the thighs of dusky maidens!) It seems that they cost over $6 each, rather more pricey than the Castellas which I used to smoke when I was a youth. It'll do for the Winter Palace one evening. (As the saying in Geordieland goes: "It's nee gud bein poor and luckin poor!")

Poor people often have to 'make do and mend', and we've been practising it for years! I love to root around in second-hand shops and jumble sales and the like, other people's rubbish fascinates me. So, we are frequent visitors to the Second-Hand-Man up off New TV Street, as I'm sure I've told you before, Dear Reader. (Do keep up!)

This week, he had a selection of newly acquired goodies for us to peruse. Of course Madame Farida is the haggler, not me. When she got about 25 or 30 feet away from the shop entrance, the man was calling her back with the promise that he'd take her offer after all! Actually, he squeezed another 20le out of her for the delivery, but that was OK. Here are our two latest bargains:

The table is destined for the Guest Apartment, after being rubbed down and re-varnished, while the mirror has gone up in our bedroom, replacing a smaller one. We really like them both!

Something we DON'T like, is being over-run with dickie birds! While we were sitting on the small terrace at the Nile Palace, we couldn't escape them:

Neither could we cannot escape them at home! They won't leave Freda's Hibiscus alone.

The last one, with the yellow breast, is really beautiful; and I'm not a Twitcher by any standards. Just across the way a little, one of our neighbours has recently started to keep pigeons:

It mystifies me, just how he keeps them safe from the local cats. But they mustn't like the way he looks after them! (More of which in a minute!)

We have an 'up-lighter' on the roof terrace with a 500 Watt bulb, it's quite bright! The halogen bulbs are Chinese, of course, and don't last all that long, but they're cheap, so we cannot really complain. It went off the other day, after Freda had complained about having to shoo away two of our neighbour's pigeons, who were perched on the lamp. They also perch on top of the A/C unit, and drop their droppings there! (But I have a cunning plan for that.)

I went to change the bulb, and look at what I found............

That's right, the cheeky little feathered beggars were building a nest in our lamp as they were obviously wanting to run away from our cruel neighbour!  I was astonished at their choice of nest-building material, it was nearly all bits of binding wire, with a safety pin thrown in for good measure!

Anyway, I've evicted them!

This next picture might appeal to the small number of folk who are familiar with the names 'Eric Olthwaite' and 'Howard Moleson' (him of 'a new Spear and Jackson' fame). It's of a 'Lovely Shovel' which we just happened to find in the middle of the road on Sharia Karnak, near to the 'Egyptian Exchange'.

Finally, we (Luxor, that is) have been inundated with tourists this past couple of weeks, the only drawback being that they have been nearly all Egyptian tourists, who won't spend a penny where a halfpenny will do! I took the following snap at the Nile Palace, just to prove to you that some Muslim women can and do go into the swimming pool fully clothed.

Mind you, they were certainly enjoying their swimming. It just goes to show, doesn't it? 

"Rufus Roo Beats The Baggage Charge"

That's the slogan of the Rufus Roo competition, where some lucky Blighter is going to win FOUR of these very handy waistcoats! (And, like the National Lottery; "You've got to be in it to win it!")

Of course you, Dear Reader, will have already read the recent Our Luxor blog about our own airport adventure where such an accessory would have been a huge boon, but where, in the event, my old Barbour jacket had to suffice. Well, there's a bit of a story to my actual finding out just how versatile this 'Big Pocket' thing really is. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin!

After the rain last week, we were pretty well stressed out. With all the cleaning etc and the inescapable fact that I was going to have to paint the roof terrace walls, I wasn't the happiest of Bunnies, I can tell you! Then, to top it off, right in the middle of all this trauma, we received a panicked telephone call from a lady with a Geordie accent! It was the famous (or should that read 'infamous'?) lady from the Trip Advisor Luxor forum: newcastlemiss003. This was Tuesday, and about 5:30pm; she only wanted to come and stay with us the following day!

What could we do, when a fellow mangler of the 'Queen's English' was found to be in need? In for a penny; in for a pound, "Of course you can, and welcome!" Mind you, just then, we had no idea of what we were letting ourselves in for!!!!

Freda and I set to, and whizzed through the guest apartment like a proverbial 'dose of salts'. (That's a bit of a colloquialism, meaning very quickly, and originating from the expected speed of the consequences of taking a 'dose' of Epsom Salts, an erstwhile popular remedy for the constipation!) The apartment was soon habitable.

newcastlemiss003 is a regular visitor to our strange adopted hometown, she's obviously as daft as we are! Being of a generous nature, and as soft as claggy toffee, she brings oodles of gifts for the Sunshine Children's Home in Luxor, as well as stuff for some of her Egyptian friends. This largesse comes with its own setbacks, however; she either doesn't bring all the stuff she needs for herself, or she'd have to pay the dreaded 'excess baggage' charges! Not anymore, Matey!

The addition to her wardrobe of the (admittedly not very stylish) Rufus Roo BIG POCKET Travel Jacket, has solved that particular problem. Here's a shot of the children's clothes she managed to fit into the pockets of her Rufus Roo:

Rather impressive, I'm sure you'll agree. As for me, I'll have to make do with my trusty Barbour, although I'm not sure that I could really wear it to come here during the summer months, lol.

Here's another picture, this time showing the actual jacket being modelled by newcastlemiss003 herself:

It's amazing just how small it rolls up to, it would easily fit into a trouser pocket. Although I'd hate to be without my excellent Barbour in the depths of the Windy Nook winters, I've got to admit that for summer jaunts to warmer climes, the Rufus Roo (at 30 odd quid) beats the £200 Barbour as a wearable suitcase!!!!

Little newcastlemiss003 has certainly opened my eyes to its possibilities, as it really did live up to the slogan of "Rufus Roo Beats The Baggage Charge" for her.