From the sublime to the ridiculous!!!!

Here we are, back at Windy Nook! As we drove from Manchester Airport, the weather got worse and worse. We knew, for sure, that we were definitely back in the good old UK! In fact, even though we were travelling in the morning, it seemed as though dusk was coming upon us, it just got darker and darker; and more depressing with each succeeding mile.

Did you solve the little riddle which I left with you, Dear Reader? Did you recall the "Road" films of Bing Crosby and his chum Bob Hope? That's where the quote came from; the film "We're off on the Road to Morocco", and the line goes; "Like Webster's Dictionary, we're Morocco bound." Yes, we've been back to Marrakech!

Is that exquisite, or what? It's our dining area in the riad we chose to stay at; the Riad Dar Zahia, ( right in the centre of the Medina. We had about a five minute's walk into the main square (Djemma El Fna) where everything happened both day and night.

When we first landed, the taxi dropped us off at a road junction where we were met by a man with a bogey, for the luggage, who led us through the tangle of narrow alleys and busy souks to the actual riad which would be our home for the next five nights. Here are a few pics of the last couple of hundred yards, we thought that we'd have to stay in the riad for the duration, as we couldn't imagine finding our way back again, ever!

That's our suite; Saida. (Maybe it should have been Sayidi, which means Upper Egyptian! lol.)

The architecture and interior design are spectacular, to say the least, here are a few general views:

Of course, this was all originally created in the 18th Century, so it's at least 214 years old, and possibly 313! I suppose that labour was very cheap then; it's relatively cheap today, but this calibre of work would still now only be affordable to a tiny minority of folk. We can only dream!  

Our suite, the Saida, was equally impressive, if not quite so elaborate:

I'm sure you'll agree that these three pictures show a very nice room, but the clincher, the 'piece de resistance', is this:

Have you ever been in a bathroom with this sort of facility? It's fabulous!

I think that's enough for tonight, but I'll be back with more when I get around to it. In the meantime, keep well and keep loving!

Like Webster's Dictionary, we're........................

Hello there Dear Reader, I've got a load of interesting pictures ready to go on here, but I just haven't had time to do the Blog that will go with them. So, I'm afraid that you will have to wait until after next week to see them, sorry.

Mind you, I'll have another set of pictures (or two) for you by then, insh'Allah.

As you're probably aware, we're currently in Windy Nook; back for Easter when I'll be able to join with our Chapel choir in singing "The Crucifixion" on Good Friday. I haven't sung it for a good number of years through being away in Luxor, so I'm really looking forward to that. Before we came away, I did notice something which might be new to you, what about this:

This picture was taken on Sharia Karnak, and shows the strange phenomenon of the palms wearing 'overcoats' made of straw! It shows you just how cold it really is.  

Something else that caught my eye was this poster:

As you can see, it's for the African Film Festival, which runs in Luxor from the 16th till the 24th of March. Let's all hope that it attracts more and more new visitors to spend their money in good old Luxor! It started the day we came home.

In the meantime, you can see if you're able to solve the riddle of the title, then you'll know where we are! (It's a line from a song and the missing next two words give the answer.)

Keep well, then.

Ongoing major work in Luxor.

It's a good few years ago now, that I came across a map of the proposed new Nile crossing bridge which had its East Bank origin near the recently completed inner ring road fly-over (over the railway) just north of the town centre. At first, it seemed that the bridge approach was going to actually be at the end of our little alley!!!, But, thankfully, it transpired that it was going to be the next major road to the North. Phew! 

It took a few years for them to finish the flyover. But I've no idea whether spanning the railway, and thus obviating the need to queue at the (un)level crossing at Abu Jude, has taken much traffic out of the town centre and onto the ring road. Nevertheless, there are roadworks there at the moment. As well as bridging the ancient Kebash Road (Avenue of Sphinx) they are also completely re-designing the junction with Sharia Karnak. In order to commemorate the recent support against terrorism by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, 

(His "Custodian" title refers to the Mosques at Mecca and Medina and has been used since his half-brother, King Fahd who died in 2005, claimed it in 1986), the resulting square is to be named after him.

It was formerly a humble and un-noteworthy, mini-roundabout, but, judging by the extent of the digging and concreting, it is going to be a fairly obvious accolade to the King! Here are a few pics:

Travelling a little farther on, along Sharia Karnak (actually to the junction with the Airport Road) we found this:

I took this picture from the "Kabesh Road Viewing Platform" between what was formerly the Airport Road and the Heritage Centre (formerly the Suzanne Mubarak Library). I took another couple of shots from various angles around the diggings:

   Along the 'Avenue', looking back towards Luxor centre, with the viewing platform on the right.

Towards the new park where the Christian Cemetery used to be.

 From the opposite angle, the viewing platform (brickwork) is again visible on the right.

 Straight up the Airport Road.

The last two photo's show the ramps where the tracked excavators have been gaining access to the great big holes where the foundations for the two main towers of the suspension bridge (over the Avenue of Sphinx's) are going to be. Apparently, there are to be three of these suspension bridges; one here, one at the new "King Abdullah Square" and the final one at the big junction near the Emilio Hotel at the bottom of Youseff Hassan Street. Should be fun, eh?

(Sorry about the white background to the text, I've no idea where it came from!!!!!)

Thick and Fast they come!

Blog Posts, that is. Not postal orders from great aunts, nor the hailstones of the past few days or enquiries from potential guests, nor yet some brilliant prose to amuse and entertain you, Dear Reader.

It's unusual for me to post so frequently, and I'm doing so simply because we are in unusual times here in Luxor. On top of the revolutionary political crisis and the crisis of the dearth of tourists, from which the locals would normally make their living; we now have a crisis of (what many Egyptians view as) Biblical proportions as far as the weather is concerned!

And, what a week for it to happen; the very week that Thomson Holidays return to Luxor. I truly feel for those poor saps who've saved up all year for their 'Holiday of a Lifetime' here in Egypt; where "the sun always shines" or so the flash telly adverts tell us! One of my neighbours told me tonight that he's sure that Allah is angry with Egypt, and that is the root cause of the awful weather. (?) 

Anyway, this afternoon we went out for the first time since the rains came. We decided to splash out (pun not intended) and have our Sunday dinner with the lovely Christine at Tutti Fruitti. I was somewhat taken aback at the amount of water lying on the road at the entrance to our little alley. It was that bad that Freda wouldn't walk down to Sharia Karnak to get the 'bus. No, she would have me lash out yet another pound on 'bus fares to get us down there!

Here we go, with the driver gingerly making his way along Sharia Karnak. No drains, you see; why would you want drains in Egypt?

The next few pics were taken on the way to Madina Street. The first one being at the top of Station Street (Al Ma-HAtta). Then Manchia and International Hospital Street (Sharia Mostashfa Dowly literally; Street Hospital International).

What's the driver doing there, apart from driving, that is? It looks as if he's either texting on a mobile phone, or possibly digging some tobacco out of his baccy tin to make a roll-up! (What? Me envious?)

All in all, I'd venture to suggest that Luxor has never seen so much surface water since the Nile stopped flooding! We were turfed off the 'bus at the end of Sharia Mostashfa Dowly as it terminated there, and we had somehow to manage to avoid the worst of the puddles while making our way along to Tutti Fruitti. (It's just struck me that it's a shame that the Puddleduck restaurant hadn't still been on the corner there, as I'm sure that they could have done something newsworthy; with that name and circumstances being as they were!)  

It was lovely to see Christine, and our friend Val was there as well. Of course the dinner was beautiful, as usual. In fact, the creamed potatoes were soooo good, that I had to admit that they were even better than mine! The rain had started again while we were eating, so we took the opportunity of catching up with the gossip (sorry; news) about the English people living here. It was very sad to hear of an acquaintance from the West Bank who had died this week, and also that the son of a lady we know (also from the West Bank) had died in England. It was, no doubt, a little comfort to her that she managed to get back to England to see him before he went. But still heartbraking to have to bury one of your children, God bless her!

The time passed very quickly, as it always does when you're engrossed, and suddenly it was almost 6 o'clock! We had promised to visit someone else up that way, and have the 'Grand Tour' of the establishment where she works, which would also include a cup of tea! Alas and alack! By the time we 'phoned her to confirm that we were outside the door; she'd finished early and gone home.

No tea? A bit of a blow, as you can imagine! Never mind, as we were almost there, we thought that the Nile Palace might be a useful stop-off, as we know that the tea there is always good, and that they have 'De-Caff' coffee for the Madame. What I hadn't bargained on (especially seeing as she couldn't manage to actually finish her dinner) was that Freda had a sneaky fancy for some of their delicious cheesecake!

Yet another work of art, even if the strawberry has fallen off the dollop of cream! Along with the lovely Christine's equally lovely dinner, sharing this pudding made for an altogether exquisite meal, even if it was split between two different establishments!

We would normally get one of the Badawy brothers to come and take us shopping in the caleche before dropping us at home with our bags, but we weren't too happy about the poor horse having to tread through puddles hiding unknown surfaces and not knowing how they might react to passing vehicles soaking them etc., so we rang Ayman the taxi-man. We just got home before the next downpour, I do hope that it's finished now! I know that the local children have enjoyed the novelty of having puddles to jump in and of seeing and feeling the large hailstones, but I'm certain that there are many households where this inclement weather has been an absolute nightmare.

The least we see of weather like this; the better it will be!

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?

Well, we do get plenty of those, but how about hail on a wriggly tin roof? Would that do you?
This was recorded at about 11.30 this morning. Although it's rather loud, and even the rain pattering on the tin wakens me during the night, it's a sound that I just love to hear, as it means that we DON'T have water pouring through the roof any more!

It's strange how the things that matter here in Luxor are different to those at home in Windy Nook. And it just goes to show how much we take things, like A SOUND ROOF, for granted in England and other Western countries!

I might venture out (into the mud which the streets will surely be) in a minute or two, as we've no bread, and we would like to have sandwiches for lunch. I'll let you know how I get on.

Now that's what I call LIGHTNING!

How about this:

Yes, I stood in the torrential rain for quite a while to get you that. I hope you appreciate it! The roll of thunder which is accompanying these bolts is banging around for a good half minute afterwards. It's great fun, but not for those whose houses aren't watertight, and I know what that entails, trust me!


Nearly forgot!

I was at a bit of a loose end, for a while, this afternoon, so decided to tidy up my pictures folders on the jolly old lap-top. In doing so, I came across these few pics which I took the other night at the Nile palace.

Now then; you'll surely remember that our famous royal guest is safely on his way to the Travel Trade Fair in Berlin? Well, we'll be there also. (If not in body, then certainly via video!)

As we sat there with our usual tea, coffee and, I think it was, English cake; Mr Mohamed Ragab (in charge of all the waiting-on staff) approached us with two gentlemen armed with a movie camera on a tripod! They were hoping to find tourists (or at least foreigners) who would 'stand up and be counted' on behalf of Luxor. They asked if we thought that Luxor was safe, and if we had had any untoward experiences which might deter us from remaining in or returning to Luxor. All we had to do was speak to the camera and relate our experience.

I'm aware of the fact that many Egyptians are all 'doom and gloom' at the moment, and that some of the 'business wives' are being warned by their 'husbands' to stay away because of a perceived 'imminent danger'. Nevertheless, we carefully weigh-up the atmosphere here on the streets as we go about our daily business, and to be perfectly honest, we don't see any reason at all to be any more vigilant or fearful than we would be at home in Gateshead or Newcastle! So that is roughly what we said to the camera. (I'm not inviting an argument here, and neither will I publish any comments which I deem to be inflammatory, as the perception of safety or otherwise isn't the point of the post!)

We were the only people who were readily available, but by the time they had recorded us there were a few more people coming and going. Cheeky Charlie Mr Mohamed just asked people willy-nilly, and it seemed that no-one refused his pleas! Here is a selection of the other interviewees:

The two above sounded American, but they might have been Canadian, I couldn't tell. But I do apologise if they are actually Canadian, as I know how much most of them just hate to be confusedly taken for Americans.  The next two were definitely English, I suspect that they had been passengers on Thomson's first Luxor flight of 2014, from London Gatwick.

The two ladies in this shot (one is mostly obscured by the chair on the left) were speaking English, but with an unrecognisable foreign accent!

Whatever nationality we were; we're ready now for the German travel agents to hear our opinions, in the hope that they'll send us more tourists to have a thoroughly wonderful holiday, and, in so doing, help the plight of the poor Egyptians who are waiting and waiting for their coming!

That's enough for just now, I'd better get back to work with the pictures.


So glad to be of service, your Royal Highness!

According to Dear Brother Richard's research, our family used to own the King's Meadows Island in the River Tyne. (Here he is, just so that you can judge who is the most handsome!)

The island lay about the Dunston area, but in the river of course, and is commemorated with the name of the secondary school (Kingsmeadow School) which has been built adjacent to where it used to lie. (The island being dredged away years ago.) Apparently, it was thus named because the King would pasture his horses there overnight whenever he travelled North, and up into Scotland. We Jennings's are obviously no strangers to accommodating royalty!

And so it proved when our illustrious King Tut came a'visiting at "Our Luxor"! He was on his way to Berlin (that place in Germany) to attend the travel trade fair there next week. Of course, he needed a suitable conveyance, and that's where your's truly came into the equation. Not that I'm particularly skilled in any way, I think that it was just one responsibility that his escort-cum-bodyguard wanted to shunt off onto someone else!
Ingenuity led me to start with a 2 square metre sheet of 40mm 'foam' (actually expanded polystyrene) from the 'downstairs' shop, which I now know is really called "Naseem Salama", and a tube of silicone to stick it together with. It cuts easily with any sort of saw, I used my tenon saw for the straight bits and a hacksaw blade for the curves. It is VERY messy though. Here we are:

Not only was he in the box, I also shaped the inside of the box walls so that he couldn't rattle about. (I think that I treated him with greater care and respect than Howard Carter showed to his actual mortal remains!!!) Here he is ready for the final panel to go on, after sandwiching the bottom panel between two pieces of plywood, for strength, and affixing some feet to assist in initial lifting:

If you're wondering what is missing from his forehead (next to the Uraeus) it had nothing to do with me! His minder has it in his pocket, and will Super-glue it on before he meets his German public!

This was all completed on Tuesday, before I was due to have my pancakes (Implied colloquialism: Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday is traditionally a day for eating these tasty treats (or another meal which would also be classed as an indulgence) as the following day marks the beginning of a time of fasting for many Christian communities). The only problem was that the packet of batter mix (of which pancakes are made) ran out of date last March, I did try to eat one, but it really wasn't very good! Al Hamdulillah! Anyway, I've had a text message from his principal minder to tell me that he reached Cairo unscathed! So I'm relatively pleased with that. Roll on Berlin!

It's perhaps as well that he's no longer with us; you might have noticed from the pictures of the King in this Blog, and the last, that he was outside of the 'shady roof' area of our roof terrace, and tonight it bucketed down with rain, and then with very large hailstones!!!! Yes, you read that correctly Dear Reader; very large hailstones! The thunder and lightning were quite dramatic too. What do you think of these:

After years of trying, I've finally figured out how to capture lightning bolts! These weren't the most impressive of them tonight, but they're certainly the best shots that I managed. How about these hailstones, too, when the temperature today was 38 degrees on our roof terrace?

And they are only the ones which have bounced underneath the shady roof, I wasn't going to venture out into the storm (in just my boxers!) even for you, Dear Reader! Actually, the first few drops made a sound like someone had thrown a couple of house bricks onto our wriggly tin roof, but then came the sound of the teeming rain. When the hailstones started in earnest, it was deafening! I've been hoping for rain for a week or two, just so that I could hear it bouncing off the sheets, but I hadn't envisaged this lot, I can tell you!

Ah well, it's all calm now and we've had the A/C on for the first time this year, so it must be getting hot, eh? Time for some tea, as my hot chocolate maker has gone to sleep! Goodnight all.

Picture Book.

Heheee! Who remembers that, eh? Along with The Woodentops, Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben, and of course Rag, Tag and Bobtail! Aaaah, the innocent pleasures of childhood, would that we could be so easily pleased nowadays, especially the young ones of the present generation.

But, it's back to reality for you, Dear Reader; we've got pictures taken randomly in and around "Our Luxor", including this first one, the subject of which is (ahem) 'on loan' from the Egyptian Museum. (They don't know yet, but I suppose that they'll soon find out and we'll have Egyptian 'Plod'  knocking on the door!)

The most famous visitor we've ever had at "Our Luxor":

I expect that the (supposed) competition will be grinding their teeth when they see that photo. Who'd have thought it; Tutankhamen, eh? I wonder what we'll give him for breakfast?

I've been snapping away hither and thither (that sounded like Frankie Howard, for a minute there) and at anything which took my fancy, so you'll have to bear with me. Let's have a look:

The first one of the Temple was taken from the Winter Palace end, the second one was taken from the bridge over the Kebash Road, at the bottom of Yousef Hassan Street. On the extreme left of the picture, is our street sign, here, I'll blow that bit up so you can see it:

It's not very good, is it? Nevertheless, that's the bottom of our street, five minutes from "Our Luxor".

This next one is of an overloaded motorboat on the Nile. Of course the occupants are Egyptians and it would seem that their safety isn't important to the authorities. This size of boat is only allowed to carry 15 paying foreigners, you can count the number of Egyptians yourselves; and, foreigners aren't allowed on the roof, either. One bloke there is holding a toddler! Just imagine what would happen if the boat hit a large tree branch or something in the water, it doesn't bear thinking about!

What's your 'cap-size', sir?

I love to see palms in silhouette, especially against a nice warm sunset: 

For the past two weeks we've been experiencing power cuts most evenings (although we've been OK the last two nights, shhhhh!). The town shuts off, section by section, for about an hour; it's quite eerie!

The building opposite us is illuminated by the generator operated shop lights on our side of the street. See the long wall in front of the building?

Not any more, you don't! Apparently, it was unsafe, so they're demolishing it in order to build a new one, it's the back wall of the school yard. 

A scene which always lifts my heart is to see the ducks flying in their strange, ribbon-like, formations. I caught these flying downriver outside the Etap, just the other day, aren't they wonderful?

This next one is of Annabell. She's the latest foal to be born to one of our mates horses. She's named after a very kind English lady whom we both know.

She's more often to be found tied to the horse which is pulling his caleche, that's the foal and NOT the lady!