Happy Christmas to you all.

Rising late after another wonderful, but exhausting, Christmas Eve of carol singing on behalf of "Action for Children", I didn't forget all of my online friends who bother themselves to read my ramblings and rantings. So, here are my heartfelt wishes for you, Dear Reader, that you come to know the truth of the Christmas message; that the best Christmas gift of all time was given to us as freely as you give presents to your own children. Here's a carol just for you, not sung, but written out in order that in reading the words we might all realise what Christmas is really about.

Cradled in a manger, meanly,
Laid the Son of Man His head;
Sleeping His first earthly slumber
Where the oxen had been fed.
Happy were those shepherds listening
To the holy angels word;
Happy those within that stable
Worshipping their infant Lord.

Happy all who hear the message
Of His coming from above;
Happier still who hail His coming,
And with praises greet His love.
Blessed Saviour, Christ most holy,
In a manger Thou didst rest; 
Canst Thou stoop again, yet lower,
And abide within my breast?

Evil things are there before Thee; 
In the heart, where they have fed,
Wilt Thou pitifully enter, 
Son of Man, and lay Thy head?
Enter, then, O Christ most holy;
Make a Christmas in my heart;
Make a heaven of my manger;
It is heaven where Thou art. 

And to those who never listened
To the message of Thy birth,
Who have winter, but no Christmas
Bringing them Thy peace on earth,
Send to these the joyful tidings; 
By all people, in each home, 
Be there heard the Christmas anthem;
Praise to God, the Christ has come!

God bless you all, especially in these troubled times.

The Saga of the Errant Water Heater. By Edouardo Renaldo Jennings.

Yes, here's another "Saga" for you, I hope you're not sick of my moaning yet, but the water problems just get bigger and better!

A few days ago, I captured Hani the plumber, when he was completely unawares, poor beggar. Before I'd even properly explained about the problems I'd been having (at that point, I'd just discovered that the water heater seemed to have sprung an ever so slight leak, to add to my other woes!) he spouted out, "It's the thing inside the tank."

As he seemed to be very confident in his assessment of the situation, I immediately asked him if he could come and fix it. Get in quickly, was my reasoning, before he manages to think up an excuse. He waffled on for a bit, and eventually he promised to ring me, and that he might find someone else to actually do it, as he didn't consider himself to be expert enough. That must have been Friday.

Today, well since it's past midnight; Yesterday, I gave up waiting and decided to do it myself. In for a penny, and all that! After all, how hard can it be? (Plus, it's buggered anyway.)

Actually, apart from making a right mess when draining the 50 litre tank, the job ended up being relatively straightforward. Inlet pipe off, 4 vacuum cleaner rigid pipes shoved over the resulting open connection to take the water away to the drain, disconnect the electrics (noting that the dark coloured wire was the live one) and then undo the nuts holding the heating element etc in the bottom of the tank. Hey Presto, out it comes:

Yes, that was my reaction  too; YUK! You know what it is, don't you? Sand!!! Egyptian sand, it gets everywhere. When I put my fingers into the aperture where the element fixes into the tank, I found a layer of the stuff, an inch thick, lying in the bottom. I scraped out what I could with my fingers, as I was apprehensive about forcing my hand through the hole in case I couldn't get it out again without skinning all of my old knuckles. (I know, I'm a coward!) Here it is:

I then clicked on the idea of fixing the water pipe back on and flushing it out:

What a mess, and to think that this was actually the result of only using the tank/heater for a twelve month before fitting my filter system!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we were meeting another friend who winters here at 10.30, in the Nile Palace for tea and chatter, Sandra (but not the Sandra of Sandra and Mick fame). She's another lovely lady, and a real pleasure to spend time with. As we made our way out, we called to see Mr Hani so that I could show off with my heating element, and find out where to get a new one. He was relieved, I think, that he hadn't had to accomplish this task himself, and pointed us to the electrical repair shop near to Chez Omar's open-air restaurant. I know it well because I buy vacuum cleaner bits and pieces from there, on occasion. "One o'clock" the man barked as he took it from me. Of course, tea and chatter taking almost three hours, and the journey back from the NP,meant that we were about an hour or so late, and with no idea if he would be open of what to find if he was; a new part, or the new part fixed onto our old mounting boss? Who knows?

Here it is, just as the shopkeeper gave it to me:

"Made in Italy" no Egyptian or Chinese rubbish, either!

I have to say that I was delighted to be supplied with the new element and having it and the old housing fitted together for 40LE (about £3.50 at the current exchange rate!).

As I was tightening the five fixing nuts on the bottom of the element, I was pushing upwards. I'd momentarily forgotten that the hot water tanks are only mounted on big nasty hooks in the wall. Disaster struck as I suddenly felt the tank move away from my exertions.

"On me 'ead, mate!" I was like a Premier Division footballer, as the blasted thing bounced off my head, smashed the towel rail off the wall and finally came to rest in my arms after I'd juggled it from one hand to the other on the way down. Sir Brian Rix would have been proud to have played the part in one of his excellent 1960's farces!

Seeing that it was now off the wall, Freda suggested swilling it out in the shower; clever girl that, when she has a mind to be! I'm pleased I did, as a lot of black flaky stuff washed out. I'd be pleased to tell you that all went smoothly after that, but I cannot lie to you, Dear Reader. It didn't!

The element went in OK, and the whole thing went back onto it's hooks again, without further ado. But when I came to reaffix the pipes, one of them leaked!!! The rubber washer had perished and wouldn't seal, so it was off again to Mr Shokri for yet another 8LE stainless steel reinforced pipe. I sometimes think that I keep that whole blinkin' family in employment!

Anyway, it's working again. Please keep your fingers crossed that it continues to do so? If I don't get some respite from these ongoing problems soon, I think I'll burst!

I'm a rambler, I'm a gambler, I'm a long way from home, and if you don't like me then leave me alone!

Now then, who remembers the Clancy Brothers, with their Arran jumpers and diddley-do-da songs along with the banjo fiend Tommy Makem? I'll eat when I'm hungry and I'll drink when I'm dry!" and on it goes.

Well, as most of you know, or perhaps have realised by now, I'm certainly not a gambler! But I am a long way from home, and (as this Blog amply proves) I could ramble for England, eh?

Do you remember this picture, and the corresponding Blog post from February 2014? You could look it up in the Blog Archive at the bottom of the bits and pieces on the right of this page, if you wanted to refresh your memory. Or, I could just give you the gist of the story, anyway.

It's a picture of the 3 inch water main as it comes out of the ground just outside our building. It had burst, flooding the street, and the Luxor Water and Wastewater Holding Company men had come out and repaired it by wrapping a bicycle inner-tube around the hole and taping it up with electrician's tape. I was very unhappy about it, and sure that it wouldn't last for more than five minutes.

The day before yesterday, our neighbour, Mr Gamal, stopped me in the street and said that if we didn't get the pipe fixed, he would turn off our water altogether as it was seeping, and he was afraid that it would wash away the foundations of his building, which is next door. I commiserated with him, and explained that I had asked the other neighbours and the two Doctors in our building to arrange to have it repaired and I would willingly stump up my share of the cost. (Many times.) It would obviously be easier and cheaper for them to get it fixed than me, me being unable to converse with the Water Company people sufficiently well, and being a Kawadger into the bargain. (Colloquialism: Kawadger = [I think] a white skinned, or possibly Christian, foreigner.) All to no avail, I'm afraid to say, for the past 20 months! After making my apologies etc, I asked Mr Gamal to speak to the two Doctors, Abd El Malach and Ashraf, and see if he couldn't galvanise them into some sort of action.

Coffeeshop Adam spoke up and said that he would force Mr Edward (remember, Dr Abd El Malach's assistant) to accompany him to the right place, on his motor bike, the next day! (FYI, Adam promised to have it repaired while we were in England, a year gone March!!!! I even left him 100LE as my share. So I wasn't going to hold my breath this time!) Never mind.

Yesterday, we went out in the morning to have tea with a couple of friends who have just returned to Luxor for the winter; Ann and Robert, a lovely couple. We met in the Cafe Latte at 10.30, and had a good old chin-wag, in between the noise of the Mosque and the motor bikes and other traffic rushing past! (It's not a place for me, I'm afraid; tea was awful and even with my new hearing aids I was struggling to make much sense of the conversation.)

Afterwards, we had some real tea in the Winter Palace and did a little shopping before returning home at a little after one o'clock. Imagine my surprise to come around the corner to this sight:

Yes Dear Reader, a brand new plastic pipe in less than three hours, all done and dusted! It's amazing what can be accomplished by threats. And my share of the cost was 115LE, not bad, I thought.

As I made my way to the offices of the Luxor Water and Wastewater Company in order to attempt to pay for my water, I came across yet another ingenious temporary repair which would probably outlast the original article:

I know it's difficult to see when you've no idea of what you're looking for. Look at the plastic bags adhering to the wheel. They're meant to be there, look again:

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that they're sealing leaky wheelrims, where the tyre should seal onto the wheel. Never seen it before, but Egypt is a place where the strangest of things crop up.

I'm sure that you'll agree that that's enough rambling for one night. Tarra!

You load sixteen tons and what do you get?

I believe that you've heard (well; read) me say about labour being in vain here in Luxor. Well, it's not! Whatever I do leads inexorably to even more work needing to be done, like today, for instance:

For a week or so, we've had a slight water leak in the bathroom, around the hand basin somewhere. It hasn't been very much, but nevertheless needed to be cured. I decided, yesterday, to have a proper look and determine exactly where the moisture was coming from. I had thought that it might have been one of the flexible pipes leading to the mixer tap (faucet, for our American friends) but on a closer inspection found that was not the case. It seemed to be seeping from the bottom of the actual tap, strange?

I had begged some blue cleaning paper, from a car repair friend in England, especially for this scenario. It clearly turns from light to dark blue at the slightest touch of moisture, all I needed to do was to remember where I'd put it!!!! Of course, it eventually turned up in one of my myriad tool boxes. I do have some helpful ideas at times, no matter what anyone else might suggest!!

Anyway, it transpired that the leak wasn't from there at all, it was from where the on/off/mixer lever fastened onto the main body of the tap, and was trickling, almost imperceptibly, down and through where the tap fastened into the basin, past the seals and on towards the floor from there. I'd have preferred to strip the tap down and repair whatever needed repairing, but...........

When I was cleaning out the whole system, after the last debacle with the filters the other week, I crushed the screw-in filter/aerator thing in the end of the spout while getting it out with my trusty "Peterson's Vice Grips", and couldn't get a replacement for love nor money. So I imagined that getting anything else for a cheap and nasty Chinese tap would be like searching for hen's teeth. I determined to get a new tap.

Good old Mr Shawky, although, after dealing with him all these years, I found out today that he is really called Mr Shokri! I blamed the fact that I hadn't had hearing aids before, and that is why I must have misheard. (That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!) After a good deal of discussion and bargaining, I came away with a new tap which was much the same as the old one, for 125LE, and a free roll of PTFE tape into the bargain. (Only for this one, ALL the parts were available! Hallelujah! "Even the aerator?" I piped up. "No, not that, but everything else!" [It's Egypt!!!!!]) All I needed to do now was to turn off the cold water supply and the supply to the hot water tank and change the tap over, easy-peasy, eh?

Well, it didn't prove to be too difficult, and here is the proof:

Just to digress for a little Egyptian minute: You've seen "Who wants to be a Millionaire", haven't you? You know the bit where Chris Tarrant says "Here's your cheque for £125,000, but I don't want to give you that!" and he then goes on to encourage the contestant to try the next question? Well I feel a bit like that, when I say that it "wasn't too difficult". Indeed, I don't want you to go away with that impression! Because it actually wasn't too difficult, but it led onto something else, just like Chris's next question!

When I turned on the feed to the hot water tank, and then tried the new tap, "Hey Presto!" it worked fine, but the tap below the basin, which fed the hot water from the tank to the tap was now weeping!!! (A bit like me! GGRRRRR!)

Time for a cuppa, obviously!

On returning to the bathroom, I noticed that the floor was wet below the hot tank? On closer inspection another leak had appeared! I could hardly believe my eyes! There it was, just the odd drip from the joint where the tank flexy pipe screwed into the angle coupling where the pipe then disappeared into the wall, thus:

I was nearing the point of despair by now. But after a nip with my medium shifter, it seemed to stop. A new small tap was sourced at Mr Shokri's shop and, after a straightforward fitting job, now all was well with the world. Or so I thought!

The bathroom light went out! It's an old-fashioned bulb, not one of these new-fangled curled-up strip lights. No problem, I'll just nip up the ladder, whip off the cover, and replace the bulb. Not on your blinking Nellie, mate!!!! As soon as I started to try to unscrew the bulb (yes, I hate those screwy-in ones too) it came on, and it wasn't unscrewing either, just turning and turning, and getting hot! I put the cover back on, and left it. It went off again just a few minutes ago, but I'd had enough, and just left it.

Now I realise that you, Dear Reader, will be thinking that this sort of conglomeration of problems and set-backs wouldn't usually "phase" me, but these are not the only problems with which I've had to contend today, this is Egypt, after all!

We got up this morning to.........no Internet! After clarting about (Colloquialism: clarting = messing. Clarts being mud, or dirt in general) for a while and getting nowhere, Freda opted to plug in our old Etisalat "dongle", which isn't all that good, but it's better than nothing, eh? On ringing Telecom Egypt I was informed that, due to a technical problem, our line had been suspended, but would be re-connected as soon as possible, and that the lady was VERY sorry.

As tea-time approached, for a spell (Another colloquialism: spell = rest, in this context) from contorting myself under the handbasin in the bathroom and traipsing backwards and forwards to Mr Shokri's plumbing wares shop, I decided to ring TE Data again, about the lack of Internet. (TE Data is the Internet arm of Telecom Egypt). It's one of those "Press two for English" Press 3 to lose the will to live!" jobs, you know the type! Eventually, after pressing 2 for English, a woman spoke to me in Arabic for a full five minutes, while all along I kept interjecting with "I  c a n n o t  u n d e r s t a n d  y o u,  I  n e e d  s o m e o n e  w h o  c a n  s p e a k  E n g l i s h ! Until I decided to hang up before I ran up the National Debt on the telephone bill. I know it's more my fault, for living here and not being able to speak Arabic, but when you've "Pressed 2 for English"; English is what you expect!

After utilising my blood-pressure machine, just to make sure that I wan't going to have a heart attack after all,  I dialled 19777 again, and pressed the right buttons until I was speaking to someone who's English didn't seem to be really very much better than my Arabic. It took about an hour for him to guide me through the process of changing my user names and passwords; to no effect whatsoever, and then, when I plugged in the cable from the router to the laptop I got the old password and stuff up and managed to get online that way, but still no WiFi.

Now that I could at least connect through TE, I got their site up on screen. From there I downloaded their "Super Support" tool, which does everything for you. It even puts things right before they go wrong! Lo and behold, I then found the WiFi to be working, although through the new user name and password, what a carry-on!  I now have four user names and passwords for different sections of my account with TE Data, I think that's ridiculous, don't you, Dear Reader?

After all that, I'm completely exhausted. Welcome to Egypt!


Just a Quickie.

Well, as far as I was aware, the elections were over last night. Nevertheless, it seems that one would-be representative didn't want to stop electioneering! Apparently, one of the Idris/Edris* family is standing for office, and he is a sponsor of some football association or other in Luxor, hence this travelling showpiece which I caught on TV street last night. The two little boys perched up a-height on the last truck looked terrified, and rightly so! I'd hate to imagine what would happen to them if the truck had to stop short. (The video's loud, mind!)

(*The Edris/Idris family are famous in Luxor as owners of the Tut Hotel and various restaurants, transport and sporting facilities.)

As we made our way back home, along Khaled Ibn Al AWalid street, towards the Iberotel roundabout, we were suddenly caught in a severe gust of sand-laden wind. It was quite stifling! I eventually managed to get the camera out and going, but I only caught the tail-end of the short sand-storm as we trotted along the Corniche:

You can see the sand as it creates a strange glow around any light source. I certainly saw it this morning, when I came to vacuum the roof terrace!!!

Can you see the stripe made with the first run of my trusty K'Archer vacuum? Labour in vain, that's what cleaning amounts to here, labour in vain!

A bit of what you fancy?

Yes, Playmates, a bit of what you fancy does you good! Or so says the old adage. Freda is always trying to get me to eat healthily, you know, fruit and rabbit food and the like. To be perfectly honest, I don't mind the odd bit of fruit. a banana here and apple there, even things like nectarines go down well, but I forget to eat them when they're sitting there in the fruit bowl, getting gradually softer. Like everything, I need my beloved to remind me. Poor state of affairs, I know, but there you have it, that's just how it goes!

Never mind, though. I was delighted to see a headline in the MailOnline today which was quoting some "expert" or other (I didn't bother reading the article, as all these daft things are just another example of people misusing statistics) as saying that to keep fit and healthy, we didn't need to exercise, we could eat bacon to our hearts content, and we should NEVER eat fruit! What do you make of that?

Well, what I have been fancying a bit of lately is some smoked ham from Alfred the Christian shopkeeper in the souk, along with a fried egg or two and all squeezed into a nice soft round buttered breadbun with a splash of HP Fruity sauce. "Not much to ask," I can hear some of you mutter, well that's what I thought also!

On Friday or Saturday, as I made my way to the bakery behind the Temple, I called in to see Alfred, just to see if he had any ham in his ancient fridge. "Yes, and it's very good" came his usual friendly reply. Unusually though, we had our meals planned for the weekend, so I sought his reassurance that he would still have some left by Monday.This assurance was forthcoming, I'm pleased to report.

Here's Alfred's little grocery store, where he has to jump over the counter to get in or out. That's his dad sitting outside, that's what the old men seem to do here, sit outside and watch their sons carry on the family business. Selling ham marks them out as Christians, and I've never seen either of them wearing the galabeya which is commonly an inter-faith, male garment, they both speak good English too, which is a great help to the likes of me. (The woman in front of me, also pictured, bought 40le's worth of sweeties!)

Anyway, to get back to the matter in hand; last night I developed a real craving for a fried smoked ham and egg sandwich (or two), but, of course it being Sunday............!!!!!!!

After a night of sleeping very intermittently, due to my excitement over the latest melodeon acquisition, I forced myself to get up and ready, in order to get down to Alfred's shop and claim my smoked ham. We'd got some round breadbuns in especially to accommodate eggs which had been fried in the round egg-frying-thingies along with the round pieces of smoked ham. My mouth was watering as I made my through the souk towards my mate's little shop, I could taste it, I could even smell the delicacy frying!!!!!

"Sorry, sold out. I should have some more in five days." You know the saying about being hanged for a sheep as a lamb? It's similar to the Christian stance whereby the "sin" is in the thought leading to the action, well I would have been strung up if anyone could have read my mind at that moment.

Ho-hum, it's Egypt!

Here we go again!

Well, voting time has come around again, here in Luxor. We've known about it coming up for weeks now. There are posters everywhere with pictures of smiling candidates, along with pictures of cars or joints of meat etc. which I suppose are advertisements for their sponsors.

These following ones have been up for ages:

If you've been to Luxor during the past few years, you might just recognise the building in the picture. It's the new St Joseph hotel, on the Iberotel roundabout, the building of which has been ongoing for too long! As well as the candidates' pictures including messages from their sponsors, they also have their number on them. The highest of which I've seen so far is 22! I wonder if they have an Egyptian equivalent of our own Monster Raving Looney Party? (I'm pretty sure that someone told me that this was the new name of the former Labour Party, since their new leader took over?)

Anyway, the polls opened today. If we hadn't known about this previously, we couldn't have been mistaken when we noticed the security services flying up and down all the main streets of Luxor in their helicopter.

Then, when we ventured out this afternoon, we found that a few of the main roads were actually closed to motor traffic! The arabeya (mini-bus) was re-routed here and there, and along the Corniche, where they're usually banned from. This didn't affect us, but several people were complaining that they'd have to walk quite a distance.

Let's hope and pray that the Egyptians get a proper government this time, one which will get the country moving again, and keep all of its disparate citizens safe. Of course, we who are used to democracy know only too well that any elected government can only ever be the best of a bad lot. They cannot please all of the people all of the time, no matter who or what they are!

God bless them, anyway.


p.s. Number-One-Son collected another melodeon for me tonight, It needs a bit of work, but here's a sneak preview, just for you, Dear Reader:

            I can't tell you how excited I am!

Protestant Guilt!

It's no use, I've got to admit my guilty secret!

The truth is that we sneaked in another 4 night Nile cruise on the lovely Royal Viking cruiseboat, the other week. It's ridiculous that I should feel anything other than joy at having a great time, at my time of life, with the woman I love, in the land where we've chosen to spend our time together. But, there you are; there is a pang of "should we really be doing this?" I can conjure up a good many reasons as to why we shouldn't be here at all, never mind cruising up and down the Nile like Lord and Lady Bountiful!

Well, now that I've got that off my chest, I can tell you a little about it, just to whet your appetite, you know?

It wasn't like our last cruise, in that we actually planned to stay for 4 nights this time, whereas the last time we originally planned to do only 2 nights, and then decided to extend our stay. We also spent a great deal more of our time on this trip with the other guests who were lucky enough to also be on such a splendid cruise.

It was quite a surprise to find that the owner was sailing with us. Mr Ramadan Haggagi is related to all the people who live immediately next to us here in our little alley in the back streets of Luxor. Of course, he had been made aware that we would be on the trip, and he graced us with his company on several occasions, eager to regale us with the tales of his many business triumphs. He's certainly a "lager-than-life" character!

On this adventure, we were on the third deck (fourth last time) and the cabin was of the same design and with the same levels of comfort. We asked for a second chair again, and again it was provided immediately.

What we did notice straight away, was that the cabins had been given a fresh coat of paint during the summer, everything looked brighter and more welcoming. Also, the sun-deck had new astro-turf stuff from front to back, and all the furniture had been re-uphoulstered, including the sun-beds. In fact, when we got to nose about, it became apparent that all the furniture on the boat had been overhauled! Mr Ramadan had obviously been spending as if money was going out of fashion! The result was that a cruiseboat which had been quite adequate in May (or whenever it was) was now just lovely, well done Viking Nile Cruises.

Our fellow guests (26 of them) were mainly British with a handful of Spaniards, quite a mix, with several young people. A couple of hipsters (I think that's the right term for trendy young British men with full beards) with their wives (?), one or two other couples, some single people, and a charming lady with her daughter who was studying archaeology at Durham University, not far from us at home. There was also a Kiwi bloke who was blowing his redundancy money by travelling around the world, good on him, and a retired Scotch lady who was travelling with one of her computer-wizard sons!

All in all, we had some good company, so much so that we missed our planned outing on the first day in Aswan, through being engrossed in different conversations almost all day! But we made up for it on our second day there.

The tours from the boat include an optional felucca (sail boat) ride to enjoy a "sunset tea" on the lower terrace of the Old Cataract Hotel. Since the hotel was closed for about three years for refurbishment, it is now even more fabulous than it was before! We had intended to take tea at the Old Cataract while we were in Aswan, but didn't feel inclined to go with the party. (Only because we couldn't afford it, mind, not because of the company!) We left before them, and sauntered along the Corniche, it took us 35 minutes at our usual easy pace.

On the way, we passed the Aswan Coptic Christian Cathedral, it's a pretty impressive building, don't you think?

The Old Cataract Hotel is the stuff which dreams are made of! Agatha Christie wrote her famous Hercule Poirot mystery, "Death on the Nile" while ensconced there, there's a suite named after another illustrious guest too; Britain's greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill!

We sat for some time, just soaking it all in, then we ordered tea and Freda's usual decaf. They didn't have any decaffeinated coffee, but the ever resourceful "Madame" always carries a sachet with her, just in case. We were delighted, when we got the bill, to find that they had only charged for my tea, providing Freda's hot water etc etc free of charge. Now that's class! We were even serenaded by a Nubian musician, to whom I dropped a couple of quid for taking his picture.

It's a beautiful hotel, but I couldn't help but notice that they've still insisted on copying the Our Luxor hallway's moorish arch; all over the place! I do wish people would think up their own design features, honestly!!!!

After the group had enjoyed their tea and cakes, they were able to have the (unofficial) guided tour of the hotel, of course, we tagged along! The corridors are subtly illuminated, nothing too garish, and they have some exquisite pieces of furniture, which I tried to photograph, Dear Reader, but the light just wasn't right, sorry!

The Winston Churchill Suite was delightful! (He wasn't at home, so we snapped a few pics in there.)

At something like £8000 per night, it wants to be! There were at least two bathrooms, possibly three. My memory isn't what it once was!

It was around dusk when we got back to the Royal Viking, and I was able to get a nice picture of the Tombs of the Nobles, in a different light to the last time, what do you think?

Oh, how I wish that they'd get some dramatic lighting like that at Luxor!!!!!!!!

After having a lovely four and a half days holiday, I think I'll have to stop buying melodeons and save some more cash to go again next year. 

In the meantime, "Goodbye Royal Viking, see you again, inshAllah!"

6th October Celebrations in Luxor.

I wrote the following on October 6th, but haven't had time to edit the video until just now, sorry!

Hello there, Strangers!

Yes, today is the 6th of October, when all of Egypt celebrates their army reclaiming the Sinai from Israel by crossing over the Suez Canal. Here in Luxor, the "Powers-that-Be" decided that a good way to show the town's support for all things official would be to have a parade, with everything from bands to boy Scouts taking part. I read about it coming up on Luxor4U:


We decided to have a look, and the plan involved having a cup of tea at the Winter Palace, quelle surprise! Lo and behold, arriving at the same time was His Excellency, the Governor of Luxor. I don't know his name offhand, but it was obviously him by his entourage.

That's the man, facing the camera, with spectacles. I knew one of the women with him, and had a chat with her as she took herself outside for a sly smoke. The Governor was there to greet the assembled hoards as they made their way along the Corniche El Nil. It was supposed to start at 16.30 hours, and not the 16.00 as stated in the Facebook info, but she told me that at about 16.35!

Eventually, the Governor's party rose to go outside, and I dutifully followed on. Whilst they went down the stairs and onto the pavement of the Corniche, I stayed on the stairs, to get a better view and hopefully a better video! I was actually quite looking forward to it, as I recalled the Police Band playing on the Corniche many years ago.

What ensued was not what I had expected. In fact, I found it rather embarrassing!
Here's a little video, without any explanation from me, so you can judge it for yourself:

Without doubt, the best part of the parade was the group from the Rowing Club, here they are, actually organised:

Of course there was the obligatory van with loudspeakers, blaring out discordant music to drown everything else which was going on. (I didn't record that, as it was simply awful!)

I wonder what the next excuse for a party will be?

Bye for now.


"Wonderful things, gold, everywhere the glint of gold!"

That's what Friend Carter was supposed to have answered when he was asked what he could see on first peering into the undisturbed tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun, in 1922. A far cry from Albert Steptoe's exclamations on seeing what his poor son, 'Arold, brought home on the back of his ragman's cart, after a weary day tramping the streets of old London town! (Young people and the non-English can check out the Steptoe family here.)

The point being, that people have wildly different reactions when confronted with old stuff, or other folk's cast-offs. I'm, almost always, intrigued! I thoroughly enjoy sifting through the things which someone, in days gone by, cherished. Some of the detritus of other generation's lives can be truly fascinating, or so I find. Rooting around scrapyards, or re-cycling depots, or junk shops and auction houses, could easily be my full-time occupation, I just love it!

So, here we are in Luxor, where anything old (and I do mean ANYTHING) is immediately deemed to have high monetary value. e.g. A neighbour (and friend) approached me one day, to tell me that he had a "very old" English one pound note, and that he was sure that I could sell it for him. There'd be enough to give us both a tidy sum, or so he thought. It turned out to be about 20 years old, no longer legal tender, and torn into the bargain! This sort of "opportunity" often comes my way, via some acquaintance or other, and turns out to be a complete waste of time. Freda says that I should just say "No" in the first instance, but I find it very difficult to disappoint people without letting them properly present their latest fortune-making plan first.

But never mind all that, which is only leading up to my own Luxor "Howard Carter" moment. I've found a real junk shop here in Luxor, Dear Reader, and it's wonderful! I cannot claim to have seen gold everywhere, but I certainly did see "wonderful things"! Other than lunatic utterances of; one thousand pounds; three thousand pounds, and the like, the shop man had very little English. So, I asked my caleche driving friend to ask him if I could take some pictures of his stock. You can imagine my surprise when he answered in the affirmative, with no baksheesh asked for.

Here is what I class as "Wonderful things":

OK, I'll admit that it's mainly a load of old junk, I mean, what do you expect to find in a junk shop?! But look more closely, if you will............

I see a Bakelite telephone, and a more ancient looking telephone, there are quite a number of potentially very interesting vintage radios, and a nice set of old shop scales sitting on top of a modern oil-filled radiator. I can also see a brass Egret (or is it an Ibis) and an end fitting for a fire-hose, not to mention electric toasters, table lamps and a computer monitor, an electric fan and a butane gas cylinder!!!! And so far, I'm only two paces into the shop.

Turning around to venture farther in, my way is almost blocked by stock! Boxes galore, stacked on top of a display case. What's in them, if anything? I immediately recognise some as mother-of-pearl games boxes; fancy chequer boards on the outside and plush backgammon boards on the inside, lovely workmanship. Others are more intriguing, but I don't feel able to ask the man for a look, as we both know that I'm not going to actually buy anything! How about a grey wall safe or two, any takers, anyone....? Perhaps a walking stick, or a flashy walking cane; to impress the ladies? A kemenger (a stringed instrument, which imitates the death-throes of a strangled cat) or an attache case, ideal for the discerning business man?

One or two very interesting chests here (no, not that sort, you stupid boy!) and a miniature pool table without its slate bed; very useful! Or perhaps you'd rather buy some genuine old camel saddles?

This is what I like about junk shops, you never know what you're going to find! See the remains of a model ship, near the bottom, and the ancient electric fire, next to it?

I'm no expert, Dear Reader, as you well know. But after having a look at the sword on the right, out of the soft scabbard, I wouldn't take any convincing that it had been wielded in battle on several occasions!

As for the sabre on the left, I didn't ask the man to take it down, but what's left of its scabbard is only the lower metal part, which is quite intricately figured. I've no reason to suppose that it is a reproduction, either.

I'll post a few more pictures, without explanation, which you can look at till your heart's content.

They contain such disparate items as (I think) a key-cutting machine, a very collectible table-fan, rubbishy old luggage, and dated hi-fi equipment.

If anything really takes your fancy, let me know, and I'll check the price for you, or, better still; you could come to Luxor, stay with us, and I'll introduce you to the man himself!

Don't forget, you can click any picture in order to have a better look at them all.


Rain stopped play!

Well, "heat stopped play", actually. It's been a bit on the warm side for the past couple of days, Dear Reader. Here's a few shots of our outside thermometer, just to show you what we're suffering/enjoying at present:

It's not too clear, is it? But I can assure you that the thermometer is reading 48.3C. However, although it is in the shade, it's also in an enclosed position. So, I moved it into a more exposed place, but still in the shade. Here we are:

As you can see, it's dropped by more than one and a half degrees, but it's still rather hot, as can be judged by the next pic which shows the temperature in "real money" (Colloquialism: real money = what we used to be familiar with, in the olden days. i.e. before decimalisation and European interference!)

                 That reads 116.1F, for those of you who cannot make it out.

To save us having to go tramping around the shops in this sort of heat, we're making do with what's in the cupboards, or can be sourced very locally. Sardine and tomato spread (from Tesco), for example and/or meals prepared by our favourite Egyptian cook; Mrs Adam. Here's her latest offering, Kofta, spaghetti and potatoes, with the obligatory tomatoes, of course. It lasted three meals and was, as usual, scrumptious!

We've also got crumble mix and Bird's Custard Powder in the cupboard, so fruit crumble drowned in steaming custard is also the order of the day. Just what we need to keep our body temps up to match the weather.

Living in the centre of town, as we do, we're very fortunate to have so many suppliers of many of the different types of foodstuffs which we need, almost on our doorsteps. Just up the street, we have our favourite egg man. Although we only buy half a tray at a time (15 eggs) he's quite happy to fill our home converted egg carrier for us:

13.5LE there! (£1.125) And they're big ones. And, they are more flavoursome that the free range ones we pay a fortune for in England!

We're also fortunate enough to have air-conditioning! Poor Uncle Mohamed, next door, doesn't, and he's really quite ill, even without the extreme heat that we're experiencing at the moment. I don't know how he's managing, and it's flummoxing as to why he doesn't spend a little of his vast wealth to be more comfortable. But that's Egyptians for you, I suppose!

I think it's probably time for a cuppa now, so I'll say "tarra", and settle down to watch something from YouTube, as we enjoy it.

What's that place called? Dignitas, is it?

No, friends, it's really not quite that bad!

The water seems to be fine now, except that I'm going to have to re-adjust the pressure regulating valve at least one more time before our next guests arrive. The pressure of our shower is starting to be rather uncomfortable in our roof-top eyrie, so I expect that it's enough to take a layer of skin off down in the guest apartment! But that's for another day.

Today, my work plan was to give our doormat a good vacuum, then fix a Moroccan plate to the stair wall and then to have a go at getting all the functions of our web-site to work properly. (With optimism like that, I should be on the telly!) Of course, these trifles must be accomplished in between washing dishes and napping etc. As you know, Dear Reader, I'm also known as "Edward Two Vacuums", as I'm in the very fortunate position of having a choice between my Kirby Legend 2 and my K'Archer, which had a new main bearing fitted in the motor last year. The K'Archer is the ideal tool for vacuuming our tiled floors and mosaico (Colloquialism: Mosaico [mo-zyco] = a common type of inexpensive, hard wearing and decorative finish for floors, consisting of a plaster (?) base with small decorative stones mixed in.) stairs, as it's light and has a good suction. Whereas I wouldn't be without my Kirby when it comes to carpets and mattresses! So, out it came to vacuum the doormat.

"Ah", I thought, "best put a new bag in first". With the dust being so fine here, I find that the Kirby loses some of its suction before the bag is full. (This may just be a case of my imagination, but it is very heavy even at about one third full.) No problem, I went straight to where the spare bags are kept, first time! My heart sank as I became aware of dust and fluff coming out of the outer bag as I unzipped it! Had the paper bag burst, or was it more sinister than that? Yes, you guessed rightly, Dear Reader, it was something more sinister!

I cannot imagine how that came about, but it did! Never mind, you know that I won't be beaten, and I had it fixed in a few minutes. Hurrah!

The doormats catch a LOT of dust. So I vacuum them on both sides, over and over and over again, until there's hardly anything comes out when I drop them, up-side-down onto the clean tiles. It takes a long time, believe me!

After a while, I was surprised to hear a funny, high-pitched squeal coming from the vacuum cleaner. Obviously, I switched it straight off, and carried it to a table, where I could inspect it. After burning my finger end on the brush roller, I realised that the bearing had failed. This called for drastic measures.........a cup of tea!

On returning to the job in hand, it transpired that it wasn't a bearing as I expected, but a funny sort of thing altogether. It had a brass bush in the middle of a thin metal sleeve housed in a plastic "space-frame" type of thingy, which had melted with the heat! I destroyed it as I managed to get it to bits.

Here's the brass bush back in place. 

 And here's the two-part epoxy mix which I used to take up the gap.

The epoxy stuff has been in the toolbox for about four years, so I hope it's still OK.

After the epoxy resin stuff hardened, I gingerly tried the Kirby out, and much to my satisfaction, it seemed to be Ok again, enough to get today's job done, anyway.

So now, it's time to reward myself with a slap-up meal, courtesy of Mrs Adam, across the street:

Mind you, we won't manage to get through all that in one go, even with the best will in the world! Yes, Labour brings it's own rewards, especially if you vote for Jeremy Corbyn, lol!