The following day.

After seeing Ruth's wedding off to a good start, we had a run up to Hexham. (As you all know by now, Hexham is one of our favourite little jaunts.) It's just as well that our Benjamin is at Glastonbury, as we can use his car as we wish, (Talking about Glastonbury, who among you watched the Stones there on the telly last night? Weren't they fab, for a bunch of old geezers?)

Never mind, back to Hexham, or the journey there to be more precise. What do you think of this wedding party?

Judging by how stiff the people looked, I would imagine that they were Church of England, but the nearest church is the Methodist at Riding Mill! How about the audience, looking on from the other side of the road:

Is it the mother-in-law?

Of course, I'm only pulling your leg, but you knew that straight away, didn't you? (Colloquialism: 'pulling your leg' = having a joke with you.)

Actually, the first dressed-up mannequins that we saw were outside the Jiggery Pokery shop and tearoom. They had a lady dressed in Victorian gear, and just a few yards further on there was a seated couple across the road dressed for about the same period, but less formerly. Obviously I didn't get pictures of them, as they just flashed past without really making an impact. But, we did see a few more farther on.

Here's a building/gardening type, or a handy-man, at least:

He was actually adjacent to the main road as we travelled through Stocksfield, just up the road to the left we also saw this chap. (He looked a bit like I did in my distant youth, but my belly was perfectly flat then!)  

We saw several more as we went, but they were in positions where we couldn't stop because of the road layout and the surrounding traffic. The best one, by far in my opinion, was of a police constable. He was positioned near to a pedestrian crossing, and holding a speed camera (actually a hair dryer!). We didn't notice until on the way back that he was wearing a Jeremy Clarkson face mask!!!!

I eventually realised that I had seen this display before, couldn't tell you how long ago, but it definitely rang a bell (Colloquialism: 'rang a bell' = prompted my memory.) They were scarecrows, to be entered into a Scarecrow Show, which along with a 'Garden Walk' were free to visitors today, Sunday, or so a road sign somewhere said.

Apart from just enjoying Hexham in general, there was supposed to be a Buskers Festival on there yesterday. We've often come across buskers in Hexham, and some have been really good, like Robin the melodeon player whom I mentioned a while ago. We managed to get parked near to the Abbey again, this is my favourite place to park as it's near to most of the things we like to visit. As Freda went to find the parking ticket machine, I was serenaded by two old birds singing and playing "Big Yellow Taxi". One of them played a banjolele, while the other strummed away on a washboard, they weren't half bad for a couple of old bags! (Strangely enough, Freda found "Sounds of the Sixties" on one of the TV channels while she was channel-hopping later on last night, and who cmae on there? That's right; Joni Mitchell, and yes she was singing her hit song from 1970, "Big Yellow Taxi". Strange but true!!!!

Sadly, we didn't come across any more buskers performing, although we did see a few here and there with instrument cases, and one woman with a very large gong in a large frame. She struck it shortly after we had passed the alley where she was, with another lady unpacking a double bass, and it was VERY loud!

I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that the only money we spent was in "Poundland"! But you've always known that we're cheapskates, haven't you?

I'd better sign off now, as we're expecting the tribe for a late lunch. Byeeee.

What a difference a couple of thousand miles make.

We've been reading all the Egypt forums and all the Government's F.C.O. advice, along with the missives from John the Ambassador in Egypt. It doesn't make for a good impression of the other town and country which we love, that's for sure!!!!

Nevertheless, it's no good in trying to foresee the future for the poor inhabitants of the benighted town of Luxor. Things just get worse and worse for them. No matter how real the 'dangers' actually are or are only perceived to be, the tourists have abandoned them to their own devices! From my own conversations, it's obvious that most of the people to whom I've spoken are hoping that Shafiq (formerly of Mr Mubarak's government) will come back and get everything sorted out.

I honestly don't know what to think; I'm still not convinced that President Mohamed is necessarily a bad man, perhaps inexperienced and needing sound advice, yes. But he is the man elected by the people!

Can we really contemplate one of Mr Mubarak's cronies coming back into power? While I don't have any influence in any outcomes, I do have an opinion. For one thing, I certainly believe that any of the former repressive regime who were to stand for election would be savvy enough to realise that things could NEVER EVER go back to the same old ways; no more fortunes filched and stashed away in foreign accounts, no more 'disappearings' or routine torturing, and no more talk of forming new dynasties! But it cannot be denied that these men have a much better idea of how to run a country, and make it's people feel secure, or even of how to feed them!

My Muslim neighbours were asking Freda and I to pray for Egypt as we were coming away for our summer holidays. We do, and I would ask any and all of my readers who pray, to do so on Egypt's behalf.

Well, that's enough of that doom and gloom for the moment. What do you think of this from last night:

It's a picture of my eldest grandson, Mark, and his beloved, Megan. They're sitting in a 1973 VW  Microbus, which had been hired to take them and four of their friends to their school 'prom'. (This is some American moneymaking idea which some greedy fool has introduced into England, and which almost all parents are having to struggle with!) Most of their contemporaries were travelling in stretched limousines (another horrible American import) but this gang wanted something a bit different!

Never mind, they were enjoying themselves, and joining in with their pleasure was certainly better than moping about the situation in Luxor!

Here's a shot which gives you an idea of how Megan's frock surpassed everything else on display.

It was entirely her own design, and the oblong sequins took the dressmaker hours and hours to sew on. (It cost her poor mother a small fortune, but the end result was astonishing, she looked absolutely gorgeous!) Even her six foot two inch beau wore a suit and took great care in his appearance, his tie matched Megan's underskirt. (I was told that she was wearing 'painted' leather Doc Martens underneath!!!)

Then, today, there was even more cheering news. How about this:

That's a 1937 Rolls Royce. Beautiful, eh? It's parked outside our Chapel at Windy Nook, where it was delivering the daughter of a couple of our good friends for her wedding. Both of their children, Andrew and Ruth, were born very close to the time of our two eldest, Benjamin and Charlotte.

Here's Ruth with her proud Dad, he's even relinquished his pipe for the moment!

I do like a bit of good news on occasion, especially when it involves people who are close to me!!!

That's all for now, I think I'll watch a bit of tennis from Wimbledon. Tarra!

Men with Beards!!!!!

Howdy, I'm speaking like someone from the 'Wild West' because that's what it seems like here in Luxor at the moment, well it does to some casual observers anyway.

I'm certain that any of you lot (who care about Luxor) will have heard the latest news regarding our new Governor. Yes, that's right; he's a founder member of the (former) terrorist group which committed the Hatshepsut tourist massacre in 1997, and which was also supposedly responsible for the assassination of Egypt's former president, Anwar Sadat! Not an obvious choice, one would think. But then, who would have expected Mr McGuiness to now wield so much political power in Northern Ireland, after his shenanigans in his previous role as a high ranking IRA man? Or, come to that, many of the Israeli politicians of recent years, after their former terrorist allegiances.

Well, the politically aware of Luxor could only manage a 26% turnout in the Presidential election, or so I believe. (Similar to the turnout in my English hometown for Mr T Bliar's last government!) And this is what non-engagement gets you; government edicts (and appointments) which you really don't want!

We noticed a serious column of black smoke rising from the Corniche area, near the Luxor Supreme Council building, from our rooftop eerie. Of course we'd heard that the tourism folk were protesting against the Governor's appointment, and we actually feared that someone had set fire to the Council building! Obviously, being intrepid as we are, we just had to investigate on your behalf, Dear Reader.

Our equally brave transport provider was telephoned, and duly turned up with Edward the horse in the shafts, and little Bedawy (nicknamed 'Mido' after the footballer) perched on top next to himself. Away we went!

This is the scene which greeted us as we approached the Savoy Bazaar on the Corniche, burning tyres at both ends of the demomnstration. Not very inviting, I must admit!

Nevertheless, we reporters have to suffer for our 'art'! I dismounted, crossed the road onto the river side pavement, and got in among the business. I met a couple of tourists who were actually coming out of the melee, who seemed quite un-fazed, which surprised me somewhat after reading all the scaremongering tripe on TripAdvisor recently. Never mind, I plodded on, into the crush!

Here's a little, poor quality as usual, movie, so you can use your imagination to get an idea of what it was actually like.

Several strangers spoke to me, to reassure me that tourists were safe in this crowd. I was rather taken aback to see at least three men whom I knew to be senior managers in top tourist hotels among those gathered! I actually spoke to two of them, separately. They were both there to register their utter disappointment that such a man (with beard, although I don't think he actually has one!) with such a background, should be placed in this crucially imortant position.

It was explained to me that the purpose of the gathering was to actually stop the new man from entering his office and taking up his position. So far, they seem to have succeeded, but heaven knows what's to come. I mean, would any other elected government stand for such blatently illegal activity?

Well, I'd better be off to bed now, 'cause we're up again in less than four hours to catch our EgyptAir flight to Cairo, where we connect (Insh'Allah) with their onward flight to Manchester International!

See you soon, in Windy Nook.

Ringing the Changes?

Well, there's not much to report as far as I can see. Some people are up in arms about a supposed lack of police on the streets; but it seems to me that there are actually more than ever! It doesn't matter where we go, we come across groups of them. (They're like the Geordies in that old song, "Wherever ye gan you're sure to find a Geordie!") Every tourist hotel has at least one plain clothes officer and one uniformed one, there are pick-up trucks full of them at many of the major road junctions, all the Christian Churches have at least one outside in uniform (and sometimes several) Gold Street (the continuation of Mustapha Kamel Street where all the gold shops are situated) has a pick-up truck full at the top end and a plain clothes officer and his uniformed mate at the other end. Then we have all the new 'Wendy Houses' scattered around, these seem to be manned a lot of the time, and all this is without mentioning the motor-bike snatching gangs which suddenly appear anywhere and stop all the youths on motor cycles; confiscating them for the slightest infringement. (Not before time!!!)

Never mind, there are changes afoot in Luxor; here's one that you'll not see again:

That's correct; it's your's truly, putting some kofta on the grill! It's really the job of this next bloke, Hassan at Chez Omar's restaurant down the street.

It's quite possible that you might think that you know this man, but by another name; Hussein? That's OK, Hussein is his identical twin! We have several of them in our small community, the other nearest ones who are two huge lads, I'd hate to have to keep the two of them going with food! We had kofta and chips for our lunch today, that's another change, as we usually have kofta in the evening.

We're busy cleaning, and making changes to try to reduce the temperature in the guest apartment. We don't usually rent it during the summer, but summer came early this year, and we've been experiencing temperatures up towards the 50 degree mark during the past six weeks or so, already! We have a lady coming tomorrow, and with the addition of sun-block curtains on the balcony; we've managed to knock about 5 degrees off the livingroom temperature during the hot  afternoons. I'm so pleased! (It's now really quite comfortable, at around the 27/28 mark.)

I've also made a significant change to our livingroom upstairs. I've clagged (Colloquialism: clagged = stuck on) some 40mm thick expanded polystyrene sheets to the inside of the wall which gets the sun nearly all day. They've reduced the inner surface temperature considerably, which means that the A/C doesn't have to work quite so hard! Depending on whether I can get a good decorative finish on the polystyrene, I might even have a go at doing the same in the guest apartment. Changes, changes, changes!

As I was hanging the newly cleaned curtains in the guest livingroom, I was aware of a lot of hammering outside. Looking over the balcony, I saw what looked like a bomb-site!

It wasn't till I actually went out, that I saw just how bad the situation was!

The two dikkehs (bench-like seats) lying on their ends against the walls at either side, have just been repaired with about a stone of three inch nails and bits of scrap timber, by a 'carpenter'. They've been (along with some other scrap furniture also belonging to Coffeeshop Adam) cluttering up the street for some time now, and he's promised time and again that 'some man' will be taking it all away 'bukra' (tomorrow). But we know he's a fibber, don't we, Dear Reader?

Anyway, more changes here, as he's re-shaped the coffeeshop yet again, and it's being decorated by a professional painter. Here he is with a very proud Mr Adam Osman:

Insh'Allah, they'll have it all finished, and the street cleared, by the time our new guest arrives tomorrow night. (Who am I kidding?)

Moving on: You remember how the old Mercure Hotel (the Etap to many of you) was taken over by Misr Travel and suddenly renamed the El Luxor Hotel? Well, what do you think of this?

There you are; Egyptian spelling aside, it's now back to being the Etap!!!!

So, there you have it Dear Reader, 'Change Is'. (That was the name of a Newcastle night-club, many moons ago, owned, if I'm not mistaken, by the famous comedian Bob Monkhouse!)