FIRE!!!! And other interesting pictures. (?)

Who amongst you can now remember "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown"' 50 or so years farther on? I can. He was a bit of a one-hit-wonder with his record of the same title as this post, well the first word, anyway.  I drew back our livingroom curtains, the other night, to be panicked by the following sight:

You can see why, can't you, Dear Reader? I really thought that the whole of the rooftop flat opposite was going up in flames! The roof is just made of plywood sheets with a thin layer of sand and cement over the top, you can see the light shining through the gap between the boards and the mudbrick wall at about two o'clock in the picture. 
However, after coming into my senses once again, I did notice the man of the house, with a feather fan in his right hand. He was fanning the flames whilst also fanning away the smoke. Have you sussed it yet? That's right, he was doing the manly thing which men do all over the world; being in charge of the barbecue!!! (Which was out of my line of sight, below the wall of the tiny balcony outside of their front door.) His little wife kept appearing at the door, wafting her hand in front of her face, as if to say "Get back in the house you, and let me do it for heaven's sake!!" Panic over.

(Now then, how's this for a link?) 

Arthur Brown's FIRE!! was rubbish, as is this following picture;

I was on my way to the bakery, when I heard a wagon coming up behind me very slowly. As he passed me by, I did notice that the driver had a couple of bags (goodies saved from the bins, no doubt) on the passenger seat next to him. I don't know what sort of goodies he had saved, but they involved having the driver's cab literally swarming with flies! I couldn't have stood it, I readily admit. 

When he had passed by, I realised why he was driving so gingerly (Colloquialism: gingerly = with extreme care) the wagon had no tailboard, and bouncing about the uneven back streets of Luxor would have had a significant portion of his load back on the ground!

I don't actually know what happens to the rubbish which the Amoun men collect. I have seen some rubbish on boats crossing the river to the West Bank, with young boys having a final sort through it before it gets there, where there are smallish trucks waiting to load it up once it arrives. I'd hate to think that it just gets dumped out in the desert somewhere; I have seen rubbish dumped out there, but it's always been specialist rubbish, like pieces of shoes or old bones from a butcher, but not household waste and the like.

Then, whilst "teaing" at the Nile Palace, we noticed this:
It's a relatively large rubbish boat! But this one isn't crossing over, it's travelling North, down the river, To who knows where?

Here's another good link:

Whilst mentioning the Nile Palace and rubbish, what's the problem in this picture?

Now then, you all know how we love the Nile Palace (as well as the Winter Palace, which we'll come to on another day.) But everywhere has its problems. The biggest problem is the "Egyptian"! The Steigenberger Nile Palace is not a new hotel any more, but although it is still very well-kept, it has had to have quite a lot of refurbishment done over the years. Not least having the outside wrought-ironwork painted. Have you seen the problem yet?

Counting from the left, look carefully at the iron uprights numbers 2 and 3, especially at the collars near the bottom, which are supposed to represent mounting plinths. All they need is to be tapped down into place with a hammer to look right, but they've been left like that since the hotel was built (along with a great many more!). That's what I mean by the "Egyptian"; they honestly don't notice such things. Anything so out of place would normally drive us crazy (well, it would, and does, me) but they just pass them by! I cannot figure it out. 

Another bit of rubbish is our Internet connection, look at this:

The graph shows the upload and download speeds attained by our Etisalat mobile internet connection. As you can plainly see, it's normally working at about zero kilobites per second (actually point something or other) and then suddenly leaps up to thousands of kbps, but just for a second or so. I'm getting really sick of waiting and waiting for pages to load.

Egypt? Huh!!!!!

Then, today, whilst I was getting the bread and Freda was waiting outside the bakery, she was almost knocked over by an idiot with a baby camel! It seemed like he was showing it off to the locals and putting his hand out for money. (Rather like some of the tomb and temple Guardians who point to an obelisk, say "obelisk" and then put their hands out fpr a tip!) It wasn't until I'd re-emerged from the bakery that I realised what the  camel man was actually about. Have a look at the picture below, and see if you can guess.

The clue is in the contraption on the camel's back, which resembles an open book. That's right, Dear Reader; it contains an open Koran! I've got to say that it rather took me by surprise that a demonstrably devout Muslim would allow a Koran to be in such close proximity to such a filthy beast, as Muslims are usually so protective of their "Book", but, you live and learn, eh? Money talks! 

"Don't mention the war!"

Now now! Before anyone takes offence on behalf of our German friends; this is a direct quote from an episode of Fawlty Towers, which was extremely funny and which need not cause offence to anyone. The butt of the joke was Mr Fawlty himself, not the Germans or their part in the war, OK?

Nevertheless, Luxor is full of them, 1200 actually! They're here at the invitation of someone (the President? Luxor's Governor? the Chamber of Commerce? who knows?) in the hope that they will go back to Germany and aggressively sell holidays to our benighted region. Sorry, I didn't mention that they were from the German travel trade, did I.

They're certainly being royally looked after; distributed around the best hotels, treated to very special events and everywhere they go there have been council workers there before them. New extravagant lighting along the Corniche and Ibn Khaled El Walid Street, kerbstones newly painted, too many soldiers and policemen to shake a stick at and several roads closed to all traffic except their's!

Tonight, after a stroll along the Kebash Road  (the Avenue of the Sphinxes) illuminated by ancient Egyptians holding live burning torches, they enjoyed dinner in the actual Temple of Luxor, something we've never even heard of before, whilst being accompanied by a live orchestra! Even the Temple is lit differently, with different colours, most impressive!

I wasn't allowed any nearer, and me a tourist! Pity help anyone arriving on a day-trip from the Red Sea today, they had no chance!

Anyway, here are a few good and shaky small video clips, just to give you a taste, I hope.

There they are disgorging from the fleet of coaches, and promenading along the Avenue towards the Temple Pylon. I haven't seen so many coaches in the Temple coach-park for yonks!

Feeding 1200 people a slap-up dinner outdoors and away from any proper cooking facilities must have been a nightmare to organise! Here are some of the catering workers:

It was Freda who noticed the orchestra's mini-bus parked on the Corniche, I'd walked straight past it.

I couldn't get much of a shot at them (Maybe "shot" isn't quite the right word to use, seeing as security was so tight down there today.) But I did my best, as always, Dear Reader.

I know that the lighting isn't perfect, but you can see the fiddlers bows; and some of the table settings for the 1200 guests.

A few yards farther on, and we came upon the hot food buffet, from whence the waiters were obviously collecting the hot food.

Well, after all that effort (you guessed it!) a drop of tea was in order. The Winter Palace being the nearest, they got the business. No surprise there tonight, but a lovely display of flowers for the German guests:

Being sated with tea and Winter Palace cookies, I decided that I wasn't capable of much more walking, so we rang friend Badawi and took a caleche to get the little bit of shopping we needed. On the way back, we came to realise that it wasn't only the Germans who were getting the bright light treatment. How about these wedding cars?

And lastly, here's what the new illuminations on the Corniche etc look like. They're much the same as before, only more prolific. That's the Iberotel (the old Novotel) coming up on the left. That's wind noise you can hear towards the end, I had to cut quite a bit off that clip, as it became deafening!

That's all folks!

Aren't people funny?

Over several weeks, a family a couple of streets away have been decorating their balcony. We've been watching the progress. Just a week or so ago, I came into our flat from being on the roof terrace and noticing their painter standing on his stepladder and reaching a little too far towards the edge of the balcony ceiling for my liking, I didn't want to watch him plummet to the street four storeys below!

Anyhow, after the first coat of paint (white if I remember correctly) comes the first coat of ma'ajoon (filler) which is slapped over the whole surface with a couple of six inch wide filling knives. Then, it's sanded flat and repainted in a different colour, and then sanded flat again. This process is carried out again and again, until the painter is satisfied that the job is right. (Or, until he gets sick of it, or decides that he cannot go on charging the customer for ma'ajooning indefinitely!) Then the final coats of colour go on.

The wall of this house ended up going through several attractive shades of pink, before the finished plain result below. It was perfectly acceptable, although it would never have been our choice.

But then.........they mist have let one of their children loose with a couple of stencils and a paintbrush! Here are the resulting beautifications in close-up:

I mean! Would you really want scary creatures and flowers splattered haphazardly all over your walls?

I'll see you later, bye-eee.

Prepare to be astonished!!!!!!!!

Whilst I've been rooting around the different bathroom shops looking for the elusive plug assembly (by the way, the lovely £2.17 one was too small!) I've been  astonished at some of the designs in sanitary ware which I've come across. I mean, would you have these in your bathroom, Dear Reader?

Otherwise, I'm ever so slowly losing the will to live.........again! Having been let down by the plumber whom I thought I could trust, and that after giving up trying to get different things to stop leaking, I find myself becoming apoplectic as I cast around for yet another idea to seal everything up!

In the meantime, whilst various bits of silicone cure before I tempt them with water, I've turned to the "spare" guest W.C. I had remembered that it wasn't working properly the last time I had looked at it, but for the life of me, I couldn't think what the problem had been.

Ha! I did remember that it wasn't filling properly, but seeing as I had a new "Torbeck" filling valve (left by my English plumber friend, a former guest) I replaced the old one. Then, when I turned on the tap to fill the cistern, lo and behold; the tap had a leak on it! But that's not all folks; the stupid European siphon mechanism which flushes the toilet was allowing the water to run straight through and down the pan. What joy!  

Never mind, as Freda and I always say, "Worse things happen at sea!" These inconsequential set-backs are more annoying than astonishing. But here's something that IS astonishing:

Yes Playmates, it's a motorised mechanical street sweeper and it's here in Luxor.
Don't forget now, you saw it here first!!!!

MY LEFT FOOT by Christy Brown?

La la la la la! That's a series of la's not "lar's" as in Lala land, more "la" as in lavatory. It's what a good friend of ours often repeats during conversations where she's telling us about her encounters with different Egyptians. e.g. "So he said, 'Will you marry me and give me all of your money?' To which I replied 'La la la la la!' " (Which means, if you haven't guessed; No no no no no! Although in her case it might well have been Yes yes yes yes yes!!!!)

So, La la la la la, means no it's not about Christy Brown's left foot; that's just a ruse to get new readers to my Blog on the pretence of them finding something of interest about Mr Brown's fascinating life story! It's about MY right foot, actually. You'll remember, of course Dear Reader, about my bunion causing my toes to go misaligned, and then about the broken piece of tile slicing through the blood vessel on my right ankle? I'll show you the pictures, just to refresh your dim memory, eh?
Misaligned toes

Slashed bool vessel
Last night, we asked Adam's wife to cook kofta for us, with potatoes which were like big fat chips but roasted, and a mountain of spaghetti. We've had this a few times now, and were really looking forward to it.

Seeing as she always cooks enough for a battalion, we invited one of our good friends to dine with us. The food was like the scintillating conversation, hot and tasty! We all thoroughly enjoyed both.

When it was time for her to leave, I thought that it would be a good time for me to go and do some shopping, as I wanted a new pop-up plug assembly for the guest bathroom. (I'd had to cut the other one out as it refused to loosen or tighten when I found that it was leaking!) So, off we popped, down the stairs, one flight of which is currently unlit! As I missed the bottom step of this flight, I managed somehow to stub my big toe really hard. OOOOOhhh, it did not half hurt!!!!

I'd already phoned Samir the caleche man to come and pick me up, so I thought that I'd carry on and the pain would soon subside. By the time we arrived at the front entrance it seemed to be getting worse, and when I looked at it in the light, there was a thin red line (I imagined it was red, as I'm colour-blind!) running away from my nail end across the end of my toe. My first thought was that I had actually burst the end of the toe, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be only a trickle of blood. Thank Heaven! I rang and cancelled the caleche.

Freda had heard the commotion, from the top of the stairs and soon had my foot soaking in a dish of warm water with added TCP. (She HATES the smell of TCP, so she must have really been feeling sorry for me.)

The pain had eased quite a bit by this morning, and it now only hurts when I walk on it. Sore or not, I haven't time to let the grass grow under either of my feet, and we decided that we'd go and get the new plug assembly this morning. I hobbled! Here it is now, quite juicy, eh?

As I always say, "There's nothing like a bit of colour, is there?"

Anyway, the morning went quite well! Firstly we tried Ahmed Hashim's shop on Medina Street, but he said that we'd have to go to his other shop on New TV Street, which is a long walk!!! So I suggested that we first try the bathroom shop which lies farther up Medina Street, beyond the Police Station and the government shop.

On the way, I noticed this:

"So," I hear you ask, "what are we looking at?" It's a spark plug, in the road! I couldn't help but think of a line from an old song; "Where the pavement never grows......." but my old brain won't go any further than that, funny, isn't it? 

What do you know? That shop had just the thing, and at less than half the price that I was expecting too. What do you think of this for the equivalent of £2.17:

I'll bet B&Q pay even less than that!

Obviously, now that we'd managed to save some money, and some walking, I was cock-a-hoop! That pleased with myself, in fact, that we proceeded directly to the Nile Palace for tea and coconut macaroons!

To top off the morning, we sat in the lovely shade on their terrace and watched the boats drifting along the Nile as we sipped. I couldn't help but notice one felucca, as he had a new sail in the colours of the Egyptian flag. 

What a lovely day it's turned out to be!

Howay the lads!

Yes Dear Reader, that's what Freda and I would have been shouting forty odd years ago, on every Saturday afternoon. "Why?" I hear you ask; because we would have been at St James's Park, the Holy Ground of Newcastle United Football Club, and that was the chant. That's why!

Avid supporters would have been a good description, I think. The first team played one week, and whilst they then played away on the following Saturday the reserves played at home. Of course old people like us view those halcyon days through rose-tinted specs; the footballers were all more skilful than the fashion-conscious poseurs of today, and they certainly didn't cry like the nancy-boys which we currently have, when they got a kick or whatever. ( I still remember Albert ("Arkle") Bennett getting sent off for head-butting and punching someone in response to a particularly dirty foul on Frank Clark!)

Ahhhhhh, "Peanuts; a tanner a bag." That was the call of the peanut seller, oddly enough. (I won't repeat the usual response of the crowd!) Funnily enough; about twenty, or more, years later we were living at Pelaw and had to call out a drain un-blocking company to deal with a blockage which was flooding our back yard. When the man appeared, with his rods and things, I immediately called to him "Peanuts, a tanner a bag", for it was he himself! Strange but true.

Never mind all this pointless reminiscing! It's only relevant because I went to a football match here in Luxor the other night. Being Luxor, the match started at about 11.30pm. when most of the day's heat had dissipated. As you know, I'm not usually out that late, so it was quite a treat, as well as including something which I had promised to do.

You know from past postings on here that we bring some of our grandchildren's outgrown clothes over to help our neighbours out a little. Well, football being the definite "opium of the masses" in Egypt, all the youngsters (and many of the grown-ups too) wear football shirts in their favourite team's colours, just like at home, I suppose.

A very kind lady, who is something to do with the "Felling Magpies" youth football team, near to us in Windy Nook, offered our daughter some of their old strips to bring out here. Our nearest neighbour (Adam, of coffeeshop fame) has four sons, all of whom are football crazy. Although the two youngest aren't old enough to play seriously, the two older boys do so regularly. Their five-a-side team were playing at "The Club" the other night, and as I'd promised to get a picture or video of the team in their new shirts, I went along.

I was to meet them in Adam's coffeeshop at 10.30, before proceeding to the football ground. We waited around for a while, but only the minimum five players had turned up before we decided that we should get a move-on and jump on the 'bus. "Zawagy?" Adam was shouting at the drivers as they slowed for our speed-hump. Eventually one stopped and we piled on, well, most of us. As Adam's two littler ones had to come along, we had to leave three of the team behind to get the next Zawagy 'bus.

Zawagy lies further away, to the East, from the Nile and we took about ten minutes to get to the terminus, where the 'bus does a "u-turn" across the dual carriageway and heads back in the opposite direction. We then had a ten minute walk, past a very loud wedding venue, to get to the floodlit "Club". Actually, the Club five-a-side pitch is directly behind the specialist wedding venue, so we had rather loud music to accompany the game!

The Club is surrounded by a wall, and inside are several small buildings (didn't risk venturing in any in case they were the usual type of Egyptian toilet blocks, uuuurrrggghhh!) a few plastic tables and chairs and a five-a-side pitch of Astro-turf with very high netting around it and pretty effective floodlighting. I was pleasantly surprised! Mind you, I was also quite taken aback to find that in a town where a shop-worker is paid 10le for a day's work entailing a split shift of about 9 hours, the cost of using the pitch for one hour was 80le!!!!

Anyway, here is one of the video clips which I took. As you know, I'm not quite up to professional standards.............yet.

You might notice that one of the boys is playing with nothing on his feet, yet he still had to stump-up 8le for his share of the cost of hiring the pitch! That's dedication, eh?

At one point, one of our team got a good hard kick in the ankle, and was laid out on the sidelines for a bit. As we had no substitute, the fool Adam went on! What a hoot!!! Adam's about 46 or something, and was rather out-run by the youngsters. The injured player soon recovered after seeing him making such a fool of himself, and limped back into the game to save the day. After either a 4 all draw, a 5-4 win for the opposition, or a 6-4 win for the Magpies, (who knows?) we walked back home to save the 75 piastres each 'bus fare.

I was startled to feel little Mustafa's hand slip into mine as we walked, and even more surprised and privileged to find that it stayed there for the whole journey. Time for tea, I think, Tata. 

Here today, gone tomorrow.............

And back again the next day. Well, certainly in Luxor!!!

Just last week, we noticed that the council men had the digger out shifting some illegal traders off the streets, again. I wrote about it somewhere, but cannot now remember where. Ah, that's right, it was on TripAdvisor, in a private message to one of the contributors who was commenting on the "Riot Police" behind the Temple, never mind.

It was the self-same scenario as it had been in our main road, Yousef Hassan Street, a year or two ago. I blogged it at the time, along with a few pictures of the digger. (Did I possibly mention at the time that it was a "Lovely shovel"? That being a reference to Michael Palin's character Eric Olthwaite in his Ripping Yarn, "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite".) They had riot police with them that time too. Poor looking skinny kids with big nasty truncheons, most of them. That was to negate any temptation for the local banditry to stop the council workmen doing their duty.

The illegal traders which had sprouted up in the Abu El Haggag Square over the past few years were getting beyond a joke. As well as stealing the electricity from the nearby lamps to run their fridges and lights, they were actually almost blocking the way, here and there. Then there was the man (sorry, several men and boys) with their ever growing numbers of electric quad-bikes and scooters, which were also having their batteries charged at public expense from the street lights. They had recently been branching out into petrol driven motor-bikes and petrol driven quad-bikes, initiating a particularly dangerous situation, as far as I could see.

Anyway, they were all cleared away last week! But then, along comes the Eid! The Eid brings with it all sorts of travelling funfair types of things, the shuggy-boats and swings, the hand-cranked roundabouts, the nut and candy-floss men! And, of course, an ideal opportunity to reinstate the illegal stalls!

Here are a few shots of how it looked this morning:

You can see in the foreground that the quad-bikes etc. are back, as well as the wooden tent-frame of one of the illegal drinks sellers. But the following is the "piece-de-resistance", I've never seen anything so frightening in Upper Egypt:

You can see how fast it's going; the screams from the riders were deafening. They were really enjoying the thrill of the speed!

But for pessimistic old me; I couldn't help but thinking about Egyptian "Health and Safety"! (Or the complete lack of it, more like!) I had to walk away quite briskly after taking the photo', as I was having visions of one of those little kids flying off into thin air!!!!

Bye for now.

Happy Feast!

That's right Dear Reader, it's the Eid El Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which commemorates the time when Abraham was required to sacrifice his son. Jews and Christians record that the son was Isaac. However, our Muslim friends reckon that it was Ishmael, the son of Abraham's Egyptian concubine Hagar.

So, as usual, everything stops for the feast! Thankfully, the underground hardware store of Naseem Salama was open today, as they are Christians, and I was able to replace my broken silicone gun. I need it to complete the siliconing of the uPVC in the Guest Apartment bathroom. Naseem Salama's shop is just behind Luxor Temple, and next door to the Horus Hotel. I've written about it before, including a picture of their wonderful stock.

Across the road lies the large Mosque with the square minaret, and on the ground right next to it I found these:

Have you twigged yet? (Colloquialism; twigged = realised.) Yes it's a pile of sheepskins! All bloody and stinking! Every year we see these small groups of sheep here and there, nibbling away at whatever they're next to. But they all end up losing their skins and their lives, and ending up in someone's pot!

As I lay in bed, early this morning, hovering between dreams and reality, I was aware of this repeated "thudding". It was a good while before it dawned upon me exactly what it was, it the butcher's cleaver hacking away at a sheep carcase on the roof next door. Not long after it stopped, it started again, but a bit farther away, he must have moved on to the next roof. A busy man today that butcher, I reckon!

We walked (don't look at me like that! I'm perfectly capable of walking if I want to!) down to the Winter Palace for tea today, and everywhere we could smell the blood. John the butcher could have had a field day making black puddings, I can tell you! There had been attempts to wash it away, but we know that Egyptians aren't the best when it comes to cleaning, so there were red puddles all over the place, and Freda wearing her flip-flops, lol.

Never mind, we got safely home to enjoy some of Mr Alfred's smoked ham stuffed into some fresh rolls, with mango chutney and mayonnaise. Delicious, as we watched the film "Unstoppable", which was surprisingly good.

See you soon!

Milestones or Millstones?

There's only one letter difference!

We've very recently passed the milestone of 100,000 views on this Blog. But I have to admit that once or twice, during the five years or so that I've been keeping it; it has seemed rather like the proverbial millstone.

I'm very pleased to say that that hasn't been my feelings for quite a long time, though. In fact, I don't feel any pressure to "create" now. If there's nothing happening which I feel like writing about, then I won't bother (unless I've got some interesting pictures to show you anyway).

With the distinct lack of tourists here in Luxor, there's most of my inspiration gone at a stroke! Never mind though, what do you think of this:

I noticed it just the other day, it's fastened to the wall near the bottom end of Gold Street. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought bit was a live owl, but when I looked properly, it wasn't (an owl or alive). But it is a fair sized bird of prey. Perhaps our friend Margaret Quinn can ask her husband, "the twitcher" to identify it for us?

Did I mention, a while ago, that the police seemed to be getting back into the swing of things? Well, as we were returning from shopping on TV Street a few nights ago, we came upon stationary traffic at the junction with Salahadeen Square. The 'bus was about full, but we couldn't move for about ten or maybe fifteen minutes.

Then a policeman came to the driver's door, accompanied by what looked like one of the young gigolos, with a bandanna tied around his head. (Must have been "plain clothes" police, I suppose.) They took the driver away, and he left the engine running. We sat for a while longer, until the driver returned; but he proceeded to turn off the engine and evict us all from the 'bus! I did notice that everyone else was offered their fares back; white faces strike again!!!!!

Never mind! We walked along Salahadeen Square and onto Mancheya Street, and hailed another 'bus, it's not as if there's a shortage of them, now is it? Well, beggar me if this 'bus wasn't stopped as well, on Salah Selim Street beside the railway crossing at the top of our street! "One minute", he said as he leapt out the door, another one leaving the engine running. I was actually readying myself to get out and walk the rest of the way, when I noticed him hurrying back to take his place.

Although they're all over the place making a big show of stopping vehicles of all shapes and sizes to check licences etc, one of our friends had his motor bike stolen today, in broad daylight on the Corniche, outside of the office where he works, and where there are usually about 6 or 7 policemen within sight and all within about 30 yards! He's devastated, obviously!

After bumping into a friend who works at the Winter Palace, and asking him if we might be able to get away without paying the 50le each to get in for a cup of tea, we went, and we did! We arrived via the back tradesmen's entrance, but found that we couldn't get through the gardens to the back of the OWP because of this:

We had to walk past the pool and the Pavilon Winter hoping that it would disperse by the time we got around to the back steps, but then came across this:

It was still choking; no wonder the mozzies don't like it! We ended up having to go around past Gaddis, and use the grand front entrance. Thankfully, this time, the security man didn't man-handle Freda out of the door and we managed to have a very pleasant hour or so in the foyer sipping at our respective drinks.

I've seen the man in the following picture a few times recently. He's a stranger to me, but he has a lovely face and a "man's" beard! It cost me 3le backsheesh to get the picture, I hope you think it was money well spent?

I'll have one like that, some day. Bet you didn't know that I too used to be a "Man With Beard", eh? I'll show you on one of these Sundays during the week!!!