How is Luxor now?

Luxor now? Well, there’s nothing much actually happening here, as I’m sure you’re aware. But, I’ve been pondering life etc. all the more! As your 'Starter for 10' here are a few official figures for you. (From Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics.)

Last October CAPMAS revealed the poverty figures for 2010/11 and they weren’t uplifting reading! Urban poverty (less than a dollar a day) in Upper Egypt rose from 21.7% in 2008/9 to 29.5% in 2010/11. In the same time period, the proportion of rural dwellers in Upper Egypt who were also living on less than a dollar a day rose from 43.7% to 51.4%. Of course these figures were calculated before the effects of the 25th January revolution had properly taken effect. And then circumstances since the purge of the Brother Muslims have become much much worse!

That’s a lot of people struggling to keep their heads above water! To me, these frightening figures just confirm what I’ve thought all along, which is: That the (would-be) ruling intellectuals with their power-bases in Cairo and the other Northern cities don’t consider the people of Upper Egypt as being worthy of anything other than disdain, or perhaps more likely; they just don’t consider them at all!  
Please, let me tell you about a long-standing friend here in Luxor. His earlier life is shrouded in mystery, to some extent, and I know that he’s a waste of space economically speaking, or as far as displaying any sort of personal responsibility goes! But I love him, nevertheless. (I’ll change his name, to save any possible embarrassment.)

We first met Tareq in the no-mans-land (as far as tourists were then concerned) that lies along the railway track up and past the local Egyptian market. I was trying to find out what sort of food a man was selling (like hot cakes!), and if I might try some. Tareq appeared from around the corner, asking if we needed any help. Well, with a little of his help, we managed to get some of this ‘stuff’ for a couple of Egyptian pounds, and thoroughly enjoyed our first taste of Egyptian street food…wonderful falafel!

This was only our third time in Egypt (if I remember correctly) but we were becoming aware of the scams and various tricks which it seemed every Egyptian was a master at! Never mind, we accepted Tareq’s invitation to have tea at his home, where we were introduced to his shy wife and three young sons.

Over subsequent visits, we came to rely somewhat on Tareq’s help when purchasing bits and bobs. We had realised by then of course, that this wasn’t a free service, and that he collected small commissions for his trouble. We didn’t mind this, as he took away a lot of the stress and timewasting from our short holidays, leaving more time for us to enjoy and learn more about this strange land and its even stranger people!

Eventually, he told us the story of why he and his family lived in what was clearly supposed to be a small tailoring workshop; his mud-brick house had just fallen down with age, a year or two previously! In the winter, it was dreadful to see them living in the little sewing room, five of them huddled together on the tiled floor with only a couple of rubbishy old blankets to keep out the winters chill.

We learned that his father had been a wealthy manufacturing tailor and merchant, giving alms generously to all and sundry, and well known for his many and myriad acts of kindness. In fact, Tareq was still a much revered man on account of his own kindness, even though he had next-to-nothing to give! When we once took a taxi from the far end of town, and wanted to go directly to where Tareq was living, I gave the driver directions as we went. When we landed at the door, the driver was absolutely amazed that a foreigner should actually know this man. “But this is the house of Mr Tareq, do you know this good man?” If I remember correctly, I think I had to struggle to get him to take the fare, he was that impressed!

As well as him making his small commissions from us, Freda always made sure that we left him a wad of cash when it was time for us to go home again. It was OK, and many regular visitors have Egyptian families which they treat the same, it’s not an uncommon feature of repeat tourism here in Luxor. 

Anyway, us still working in England, and having several comfortably off friends who were of a charitable nature; we managed to raise enough cash to rebuild Tareq’s family home for him. Not to any luxurious standard, mind you, but enough to keep his little family from the worst of the winters privations.

Another taxi driver confided in us that Mr Tareq had, in fact, drank away his family fortune! I found this very difficult to believe, until one day Tareq gave me a very serious lecture on the terrible consequences of drinking alcohol. It would certainly explain away his ‘fall from grace’ as it were. (Or his decline into abject poverty, anyway!)

We don’t see him all that often, now. We no longer really need his help, and he knows that we no longer have the cash to splash around that we did when we were working. So when we do meet, it’s as genuine friends and a great delight with much hugging and kissing.

He’s been missing from his usual place for quite some time now; I thought that it might be because of the lack of tourists for him to ‘help’, but when we came across him elsewhere we found a very different Tareq! When his youngest son needed medical treatment, his only way forward (or so he tells me) was to borrow the money from two gangsters in the tourist market. He’d since sold all of his possessions to make re-payments to these two, and was now hiding from them because he couldn’t find a way to pay the rest of the money back.

Tareq’s story might hit you as just another sob-story from a wiley Egyptian scam-merchant, or it might touch your heart, who knows? The point of me telling it to you, after my ponderings that is, is not to pull at your heartstrings, but to try to relay the fact that there are probably hundreds of Luxor families in similar positions to this, simply because there are no tourists from which to gain those little snippets of commission any more.

I believe that there's a catastrophe of Biblical proportions just waiting here in the wings, and I don’t think that I’m strong enough to wait here and watch it happen!!!!!!!!!!  

All together now.......Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Yes, "Aaaah" indeed. What a load of softies so many of you turn out to be when you're shown a young animal.

She's a lovely colour, and that's from someone who's colour-blind, remember? At about a twelve-month old, this is her first trip out alongside a big caleshe horse. We were surprised at just how docile she seemed; young'uns new to the caleche and the traffic can sometimes be a bit overwhelmed, and consequently rather skittery, but this one handled herself admirably!

Sadly, like in all the horses in Luxor at the moment (that's those that haven't actually starved to death yet!) you could count her ribs if you wanted to. Nevertheless, she's OK and belongs to a loving family. Perhaps Ahmed is being extra careful with her feeding so that she'll match her namesake in the skinny-jumper stakes when they meet in December? But, for the moment, "Annabelle" seems to be quite happy with her lot.

I don't know whether I'm at all happy with my (our) lot, though? I'm on the mend, tummy-wise, thank heaven, but becoming increasingly bored!

The plan was that we'd get a good bit of walking in, to strengthen the veins in my stupid legs, and to try and alleviate some of the arthritic problems from which we are both suffering. But.....the temperatures have still been around the stupid degree mark, even today! And, when we do venture out, we're stopped by every Tom Dick and Hamed wanting to know (from the white "Oracle" of course) when are the tourists coming back?

I told one flabbergasted bloke today in the Savoy Bazaar, "Five years! Why would anyone want to come here, the crazy Muslims are killing people everywhere you look, burning churches and rioting at the drop of a hat!" He was quite astonished at my tirade, I can tell you! "But, Mr Edward, you haven't seen this in Luxor?", he looked bereft and pleading. I put my arms around him, "I know that's not Luxor, you know it's not Luxor, but the rest of the world see the murdering crazys in Nairobi and imagine it to be in Luxor if they came here for a holiday, nobody wants to come here any more!" "But the regulars will be back?" "Yes, but they cannot spend enough to save everyone, can they?"

The more I think about the intractableness of the desperate situation here in Luxor, the more that I too think "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" 

Oh Dear.............

You know, of course Dear Reader, that the 'Devil makes work for idle hands' But have you realised that he also makes up lies for idle minds?

I've noticed this phenomenon in a good number of people who don't have enough to occupy them, either physically or mentally. Take my Mam, (not really, as we all still need her!). Whilst waiting for someone to call, she's not really very idle. She's addicted to several soaps on the telly (which she also hates) and she also likes several of the various format quiz shows, where she invariably gets the answers before the contestants, and, funnily enough, she also really likes some of the American detective stories in the afternoon and late at night!  Then there's her newspapers, which are read religiously at set times and with pre-determined set snacks or whatever. So she doesn't necessarily have loads of spare time on her hands. Nevertheless, she makes good use of these times of enforced loneliness. So much so, that  not long before we left Windy Nook to return here to Luxor, she suddenly decided that Freda and I were going to be burnt to death in our apartment, as there was no fire escape! I still don't know whether I managed to allay her fears or if she was just humouring me, but we've been OK so far. 

To get onto the meat of this post, we'll just get back to the present and our life here in Luxor, eh? On Wednesday, after an afternoon of wallpapering, we decided on a pizza from El Zaeem for the supper. One half would be chicken, for me, and the other half for Freda was plain. It all went down very well, delicious in fact! I didn't go to bed until something like 3 o'clock, and put the fact that my ribs were aching, down to working on the laptop for too long. By 4 o'clock, I couldn't lie still, as I was in so much pain! Up I got, and vomited into the bathroom handbasin several times, but only small amounts of mainly liquid and a few pieces of olive, it did hurt, though! Of course Freda was also awake by now, fussing about like a mother hen, but to no real avail. This scenario lasted until I made and drank some ginger tea at 07:30, when it stopped abruptly, thank heaven!

I found that I could nap while sitting in an upright position, on and off throughout the day, but the pain was still quite bad. I still wasn't able to go to the loo, either, even though I felt that I might burst at any moment! We didn’t go out at all because I was still manfully suffering the  pains, which started just above my belly-button and finished at my collar bones, it travelled all around and faded quite a lot when it got around and onto the back of my ribs.

On Friday, although I was rather weak from the lack of food, we needed to go out for shopping. I did feel a lot better, but I was still frightened to eat in case I did actually burst, stranger things have happened! We stayed in during the day, grabbing a snooze here and there. rang Ahmed later on to take us shopping in the caleche as I couldn’t have managed the local ‘bus. When we got back I decided to start myself off with a couple of fried eggs on toast, you know, something light and easily digestible. Everything seemed OK and I thought that I was cured and just waiting for the strains due to vomiting to dissipate, although I still hadn't been to the loo, and was becoming increasingly concerned about that. Was it a bowel cancer, blocking the way like our lady-friend who visited Luxor often? Then, I wondered about the aching chest as well, even though it wasn't quite so bad. My very good friend Jim Crow (the magnificent coachbuilder) had a cancer in the lining around his lungs (something to do with asbestosis, I believe) which was inoperable, and which saw him off in a very short time! Could that be what I've got?

That night, though, it all started again! I wanted to cough, but it was too painful, like trying to go to the toilet too. All the muscles were shouting at me to let them just rest. I spent most of the night in the living room, snoozing fitfully in my chair and trying to find my exact symptoms on the World Wide Web. I did!!! It was double pneumonia!

Reading these different pages from the USA and our own NHS was really quite frightening. Honestly, you wouldn't believe the number of 62 year old men who had let their symptoms go too long, to the point where nothing could be done for them and they just died! There were heart rending letters from sons and daughters whose beloved fathers had not taken heed early enough, and were now the 'dearly departed'!

The only symptom which was not apparent was a cough, but I did want to! I told Freda, in the middle of the night, and she said that it was nothing like our two grandsons, who both had pneumonia at the same time, when they were little. It made no difference, I knew what I had!  

I started to telephone Dr Yacoub's house on Saturday at 07:02, I knew he wouldn't mind, as it was a life-threatening situation, but could not raise him. At 07:25, I got dressed and went downstairs, to see if Dr Yacoub's 'Igor' (Girges, really) might be there washing the floor, which I know he sometimes is, but no. Then I tried the Pharmacy, where Dr Yacoub's sister-in-law works, but when they opened at 08:00, it wasn't her, but the other lady. She said that she didn't have a number for him, but he would open the clinic at 10 o'clock, or perhaps slightly earlier. I really felt, by this time, that I was dying, I've never felt so bad in my life. Nasty thing this 'double pneumonia', I certainly wouldn't recommend it!

I, very slowly due to my weakness, made my way back up our 83 stairs. Stopping several times to try and catch my rapidly failing breath. It was just terrible. I persuaded Freda to come back down with me, even though she doesn't like 'the doctor's' at all. By the time it was our turn, I was starting to get very irritable due to feeling like death warmed up, and then Igor let a Coptic priest in, in place of us! It really grieves me the way that the priests are a law unto themselves with people almost fighting in the streets to be able to kiss their ring, or whatever. But I managed to keep my trap shut, as I was in no condition to have a stand-up row!!!

I told Dr Yacoub the sad news that I had double pneumonia, and he got me on his examination couch, took my blood pressure, looked at my eyes, poked and prodded here and there, before explaining his diagnosis. My painful chest, was due to my bloated stomach trying to shove my lungs further up into my chest cavity. This also explained the shortness and shallowness of my breathing. In fact, I didn't have pneumonia at all, never mind double pneumonia! I was rather disappointed, to tell the truth. I don't think I've ever had anything life-threatening before. 

What I had/have is "The dyspeptic symptom complex that is often associated with delayed gastric emptying, gastro-oesophageal reflux and oesophagitis." After only two of the tablets he prescribed, I was able to go to the toilet, which made a huge difference. I'm sure that I'm now on the mend. 

So there you are then, the moral of the story being; don't let the Devil make work for your idle hands, or make up lies for your idle minds! (And never diagnose your own ailments through the Internet or medical books!)

Haymaking in Luxor.

Well, not really! What I'm actually getting at is that there's more than me 'making hay whilst the sun shines'!

We went to the Nile Palace the other day, no English cake, I'm afraid to say, but they did have some absolutely lovely chocolate swiss roll. It was very dense, and came in three pieces; one sprinkled with coconut, one with finely chopped almonds and the other with some different chopped nuts. Oh, I almost forgot, and a small glass full of very thick and delicious raspberry flavoured 'monkey's blood'. We were so surprised that I forgot to take a picture, typical, eh?

As far as making hay went:

It looks like Mr Gamal is using this rather slack period to make alterations to his hotel. These balconies overlook the central atrium, where the nightly shows take place. To use a phrase that was very popular years ago, "They're knocking doors our of windows", only the phrase then meant that whoever it was applied to had been working extremely well, but in this case it's literal. Or so it seems!

We haven't been altogether idle, either. Do you remember that I'd lined the livingroom wall with expanded polystyrene sheets, to keep out the heat? Well, I did, at the start of the summer, and it's quite effective. I'm really rather chuffed about it, and was contemplating doing the same with the guest apartment. (Colloquialism; chuffed = pleased with oneself.) However, seeing as we don't intend renting during the summer months any more, we're now really wondering if it would be worth the expense and trouble that it would involve? Nevertheless, we had to finish off that which we'd started in our little hovel on the roof.

We got some sculpted wallpaper from Wilkinson's (a chain of cheap shops in England) and brought it over especially for the job. Today was the day! As you might remember, Freda no longer likes to go up ladders and I cannot hang wallpaper to save my life; so we've made a straightforward job seem very difficult this afternoon. It took us the whole of the afternoon to stick 6 lengths of wallpaper on the wall, and even then, it's not all that good. Never mind, we're also making that hay while the sun shines! Tomorrow, we'll be looking for paint (Uuuurrrgh!) so that I can try to mask the poor paperhanging. Here is is, in the process:

It will look better by the time it's painted, don't worry!

After working hard all afternoon, we decided that we couldn't face going out to shop or eat; so I got dressed and went out shopping for some fresh bread, and a pizza. (That's right, yours truly eating pizza. What's the world coming to?) Of course there are still neighbours to whom we haven't had the chance to speak to yet, since we returned. So it transpired that I met Mohamed Gaber (pronounced Jabber, the nephew of old Mr Mohamed, from in the corner) as soon as I stepped out of the building. As he resembled the Wild Man of Borneo, with his unkempt hair and longish beard, I enquired if he had gone over, and become a 'Man with Beard' (M.B. / Muslim Brother). It was nothing of the sort, which I knew anyway, but I hadn't thought (as usual) and of course he was in mourning for his father in Aswan, who had died while we were away in Windy Nook. I could have bitten my tongue off!

I knew his father, as he often visited old Mr Mohamed, along with another of the four brothers, one who lived mostly in Alexandria, Uncle Shekel. The other brother (whose name escapes me for the moment) was the 'responsible' one, who presided over the Viking Holiday, Cruiseboat and Hot Air Balloon empire. Only Mr Mohamed remains, and he really doesn't look too good!!!! Bless him.

When you're haymaking, it's 'up in the morning' isn't it? Well, it's the same with Balloon flying here in Luxor. With tourism running at something like 5% of normal, there aren't a lot of balloons flying at the moment. But Freda was up with the larks the other morning (OK, my fault; snoring again!) and was lucky enough to see a balloon, not one of our Viking friends, but a Sindbad one.

A bit of a lonely, pitiful sight I'm sure you'll agree, Dear Reader. Especially when you think that only a few short years ago, there would have been 20 odd up there, full of happy and excited tourists!

Anyway, to get back to shopping for bread and the pizza; after I finally got away from Mohamed Gaber, I bumped into another neighbour, Abdullah, from  out the back, half brother of Radwan the tour guide. We only chatted for a few minutes, struggling to be heard above the noise emitting from several giant speakers just a few yards away. I thought it must be a wedding celebration beginning, but it was actually a new shop opening; and a baker's at that! How handy is that, a brand new bakery only a few doors away, they'd certainly been making hay whilst the sun shone, as there was no sign of it two days ago!

So, it's not all 'Doom and Gloom' in Luxor at the moment. Even though there are next to no tourists, and the hotels are operating with one or two rooms taken, some of us are taking the opportunity to make improvements and carry out maintenance on our buildings etc. or even setting away brand new businesses altogether!

I've spied such a new venture on the 'Side of the Dead', how about this:

At last, a novel idea in Luxor, even if it is on the West Bank. A fruit juice and cocktail restaurant! We'll be going over with a couple of friends to really give it the once over, reasonably soon. Watch this space!

Before I sign off, I want to share a bit of (possible) good news with you.......
Apparently, the Jarmins (that's how we tend to pronounce 'Germans' in Windy Nook) are relaxing their warnings (or whatever) about travelling to Luxor come the end of the month! Wouldn't that be a good start to the tourist season?


Seek and ye shall find!

Yes folks, they were in the Recycle Bin, along with 82 items which I'd deleted the other day. Pheeeew! Mind you, after I'd restored everything, then I had to delete the 82 items again, I was starting to get cramp in my arm.

Never mind, it'll teach me to be more careful which keys my fingers touch. (I've still no idea what I did wrong to delete everything in the first place!)

So, do you want to know what happened in Cairo Airport or should I continue with a few more unattached pictures?

Here are a few historically interesting shots:

This one was taken from the Riverside Park in the post industrial town of Hebburn. The giant hammerhead crane, which lies in what was formerly Walker Naval Yard (the shipyard where the huge battleships used to be built) can lift 320 tons! The next one is more close up, so that you can see the workmen on the dock and thereby get some idea of just how big the crane is!

Then this final picture of it, which was taken from the small village of Bill Quay, also shows the curve of the river Tyne where the whole of the far shore used to have similar cranes all the way along! It's not that long ago, either. I can certainly remember them, but this is the only remnant, and it's used regularly to lift those giant spools for GE Oil and Gas, whom our Number-One-Son now works for. 

And here's the interior of the Methodist Church at Bill Quay:

I took this shot just before the closing service there on the 25th of August. However, although it was a sad time for the members there, the chapel has been taken over by a thriving and evangelical independent  church, so perhaps God hasn't finished His work in Bill Quay yet, maybe He just wants a new approach?

The Muslims of Luxor seem to be getting along OK though, in spite of the efforts of the Brother Muslims to dominate them all. I see the Minaret is finally finished on the new Mosque in Medina Street, it's absolutely breathtaking!

OK, that's enough of the pictures for the time being. I think that the best way to tell you about our mis-adventures in Cairo International Airport,  is to show you the letter of complaint which I've sent off to them. So here it is:

Dear Sir/Madam,
It is now almost 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Friday 30th August 2013, and I have only now recovered from spending 12 and one half night-time hours in Cairo Airport on Tuesday/Wednesday!

The first notice we had of our Tuesday evening flight from Cairo to Luxor being cancelled, was when we received our boarding cards at Manchester
International Airport.  Having experienced EGYPTAIR’s excellent service when we were delayed a few years ago, we had no worries as to how we would manage on arrival at Cairo.  

What a difference on this occasion! After landing at 20.10, we made our way through the airport to an EGYPTAIR information desk, where we were met by a man (who came from behind the EGYPTAIR counter) who cheerily asked what he could do to help. Fully expecting the same excellent treatment we had
previously received from EGYPTAIR, we were delighted that this gentleman was taking the matter in hand. He took our passports (there were four of us) and applied the Visa stickers, and asked for £12 (English) each. My wife pointed out that the price of the Visa was $15, but he insisted that it now equated to £12. (Obviously, EGYPTAIR and its employees would be better informed regarding exchange rates etc. than we were at that moment, so she relented, and paid up.)

He then presented us with a single voucher for a meal and a drink for all four of us, to be used anywhere in the ‘Food Village’, upstairs. He also told us that we could collect our passports from the Information Desk
afterwards and then we would be able to find somewhere comfortable to spend the night within the airport. (In actual fact, it transpired that only a pizza joint would accept the voucher, and they closed at midnight, meaning that we would be left without sustenance at least until we were given something on the plane after 08.30 on the following day! How would the Food Village staff get home after midnight during the curfew?)

After spending a couple of very uncomfortable hours in the Food Village, and spending our voucher on some barely edible pizza and bottled water, we arrived back at the Information Desk. I remonstrated with an EGYPTAIR employee about the fact that we (my wife and I being over 60 years of age, and having been travelling, so far, for about 15 hours) were now expected to sleep either on the floor or in an upright position on hard seats! And, that I could not
believe that this was the standard practice of such a prestigious company as EGYPTAIR. He then dropped the bombshell that he was unable to offer us any alternative, as a curfew was in force and we were not allowed to leave the Airport!

My wife also challenged him about the cost of the visas, as she had by then acquainted herself with the actual exchange rate, and he told us that the visa cost was a matter which we should take up with our ‘agent’ who had supplied them! It was only then that we realised that the man who had emerged from behind the EGYPTAIR Information Desk, purporting to be an EGYPTAIR representative, was nothing of the sort. He was no more than a common thief who had actually been aided in his criminal activity by your staff allowing him to hang around (behind) your Information Desk while waiting to fleece any unsuspecting EGYPTAIR customers!!!! This is a most unsatisfactory situation,
which should be attended to immediately!   

Obviously, your staff knew that the curfew was in place well before we arrived (50 minutes before the curfew) and could easily have arranged to have someone meet us (only 4 passengers were travelling onwards to Luxor) with visas in hand, and whisked us away to some reasonably comfortable accommodation before the 21.00 deadline. As well as saving us from an extremely uncomfortable night in the Airport (and losing the next two days through being sleep deprived) we would also have been saved from the silver-tongued thief at your Information Desk!

None of us managed to snatch more than a few minutes sleep during the night, as along with being very uncomfortable and having a nearby television blaring away, there was an almost constant stream of passengers to and fro.
What interested me particularly was that many of these groups of passengers were dragging their baggage along with them, with the annoying buzz of plastic wheels on the tiled floor! This made me wonder where they were coming from and where they were going to? It seemed quite obvious that they were either newly arrived at the Airport, or were just leaving! That being the case, there must have been some special relaxation of the curfew to accommodate the transfer of these passengers?

It occurred to me that EGYPTAIR (being the ‘National’ Airline and during this time of almost zero tourism and consequent financial difficulty) should have been able to strike some sort of agreement with the Security Forces whereby incoming tourists would be able to be looked after properly while they were forced to wait overnight for re-arranged flights.

However, seeing as there were only 4 of us travelling from Manchester to Luxor (or so it seemed) and that we were travelling independently (i.e. without the assistance [or the all important influence] of a major Tour Operator or Travel Company); then we were not viewed as being important enough for anyone within
your organisation to bother themselves about, and we were consequently left to our own devices and in a completely unnecessary degree of distress.

Can you categorically state that no-one left, or arrived at the Airport during the hours of the curfew?

I am shocked and saddened by our careless treatment at Cairo International Airport; the actual flight cancellation and subsequent 12 hour ‘imprisonment’
were bad enough, without the further indignity of being robbed by someone who is obviously well-known to your staff (otherwise why would he have been allowed behind the Information Desk?) and then having the Voucher for food refused at two of the outlets in the Food Village, which made us feel like common beggars!!!! 

I'm sorry about the dodgy spacing here and there, it must be to do with copying and pasting it from Word! But, do you think that should elicit some response from them? I'll let you know how we get on. But for now, I'm going to sign off. (Partly because the Internet connection is playing up, and I'm sick and tired of doing everything three and four times before it actually happens!) Grrrrrr!

Unconnected pictures?

For those of you who don't actually know me, perhaps it would be useful for you to know that I carry my trusty (well, sometimes!) camera around in my shirt breast pocket, with the string handle thingy around a button on my shirt, just in case it falls out of the pocket when I bend over or suchlike. This means that I should always be ready to catch that elusive picture which everyone will be thrilled to see (in theory, anyway).

The reality is that I've a lot of photo's which don't really 'fit in' with anything else, but which I cannot delete because I find them fascinating or whatever.

How about this one, which I took as the aircraft was coining over Cairo as it approached Cairo International for one of the worst travelling experiences of my life, so far! (Colloquialism: coining = turning, possibly from the rolling/turning action of a dropped coin? Haven't heard this use of the word outside of Gateshead.)  

I was rather taken by the swirling effect created by the street lights as the plane banked to the left.

I'm getting in front of myself, as usual! Here area a few which I took in England:

What about that for lady's boudoir chair? I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it; I want one for the bedroom in the guest apartment, but just somehow, I imagine that I'll be over-ruled!

Or how about this strange pair?

That's my lovely sister Susan, with her friend the 'Spookmeister' Stephen Taberner. Stephen is the leader of the fabulous Australian singing group/choir known as the Spookymen's Chorale. I've mentioned them on here before, and we always try to get to their concerts whenever they perform in the North East. During this summer's holiday, we managed to catch them at Hexham, they're well worth going to see, trust me! (For one of their songs at Hexham, they wore Sufi type hats, and two of them [out of the 16 singers] even 'whirled' slowly at the front of the stage.

The song was in praise of some fictional Sufi prophets, one known as Bahari Ghibb, but I cannot remember the spelling of the names of the other two, work that one out if you can!!!!)

Whilst we're still in Hexham, but on an different day, what about this glaring mistake in the window of the Curiously Wicked chocolatier's shop?

Spot it? The chocolate funeral mask of King Tut is pretty impressive, I'm sure you'll agree. However, see the sign on the right? "Summer Travels 1912"? Now then, Dear Reader, we all know that King Tut's "wonderful things" weren't discovered until 1922, don't we? Aha!

I don't know what I've done, but I've just managed to delete ALL of my pictures!!!! I think I'd better leave this here, and hopefully find them again and then get back to you later. OK?

Someone who ploughs?

In the olden days, he would have been called by the name which everyone knows; you know, the bloke whose lunch is taken by all the Townies who visit country pubs and tea-shops around lunch-time? That's right, Dear Reader, the 'Ploughman', he must be awfully hungry by now!

In these more enlightened days, of course, he (or possibly she) would have to be referred to as a 'plougher'. Which brings me to the nub of this posting; Freda wouldn't let me buy one in Egypt, as they were about 150le and she could never imagine getting 150le's worth of use out of it! However, I saw something on 'Freecycle' which I thought that I could modify and convert to make into my very own, ultra-powerful, BLOWER! (Pronounced as in 'Plougher' and not as in 'slower'.) The bloke I got it off, funnily enough, was the Superintendent Minister of the North Tyne Methodist Church Circuit! Small world, eh?

Do you know of Freecycle? It's a website where people give things away when they no longer have a use for them. I suppose that it's popularity increased in direct proportion to the local Councils charging more and more (on top of the normal rates/council tax or whatever that we all have to pay, regardless) for taking unwanted stuff away and disposing of it. They've got some cheek, those Blighters! I still cannot understand why I used to pay business rates for my rented (from the Council) yard and garage yet they also expected me to pay their Legal Department's exorbitant charges every time the tenancy was renewed over the last 40 odd years. After all; I was already paying their blinking overly generous wages!!!!! I suppose that's typical of Mr Bliar's pseudo-socialism for you, the constant re-distribution of wealth from those who work to those who prefer to shirk!

Never mind that now, I've got my blood pressure to think of, thank you very much. Anyway, now that I have this blower, I can blow (remember the pronunciation now, as in plough) to my heart's content. With a saw, a bit of ingenuity and with very little pecuniary outlay, I managed to convert something like this:

Into this:

It's a Beast! Of course, as you might expect, it wasn't all that straightforward, as I wanted to tame it and make it 'user-friendly'. i.e. It needed to have a flexible pipe to direct the 'blow' where I wanted it to go without humping the actual blower into awkward positions; like blowing the dust out of the outside A/C units.

I had to reduce the outlet size and shape from an oblong(ish) 3 inch circumference to a round vacuum cleaner flexy-pipe size. This entailed begging the red concertina hose from a coach operator friend (I think it's an old turbo-charger hose from a 300hp Cummins engine) and marrying that up to half an 'Oasis' drinks bottle, which nicely brought the size down to fit the second-hand vacuum cleaner hose (which I managed to find in the electrical repair shop just down the street here in Luxor, for the princely sum of 25le).

It's great! Now I can blast dust (or indeed, anything I fancy!) everywhere I go. I'm seriously wondering about getting a generator; so that I can hire out the whole kit and caboodle to one of the felucca men on the Nile, for use when the wind drops. He wouldn't have to hire a tugboat to tow him along. Imagine; he could just point the blower into the sail and Hey Presto, away he goes!!!!

What do you think, Dear Reader?