Heroes of Luxor!

It's not every day that one comes across a real hero. But it's not every situation which requires one, either.

Nevertheless, on occasion one does need help, and in many circumstances the helper does, indeed, become our hero of the moment!

I've been on with the modifications to the main staircase here for quite some time now, it may even get finished this year!!!! But I've been held up of late, what with sitting on the landing just looking at it and wondering how best to overcome the problems created by nothing being straight, level or plumb, and then wondering what I'm able to accomplish myself, with the limited selection of tools (and even more limited skills) at my disposal, not to mention who I'm going to persuade to do the bits of machining etc.

The last time I bought a piece of wood at Naseem Salama (Luxor's B&Q, also known as the "underground" shop) next to the Horus Hotel on Sharia Karnak, I thought that it was hugely expensive! I'd been used to paying 32le-ish for three metre pieces of 3 x 2, and the last piece was about 90le or something. Mind you, it wasn't 3 x 2, and I think it might have been some sort of hardwood (which I didn't need, but the dimensions were right). Anyway, I snaffled 100le from the Dear Leader's purse, just in case, and off I trotted! I also needed another 2.4 metre piece of architrave.

Found the architrave straight away, in the stack just inside the rear entrance, from the tourist suq. I had to get the gaffer to give one of his slaves the key to their storeyard where they keep the bigger pieces of wood, and off we went to see what could be found. It's chock-a-block with bits of undressed and warped timber which look as if they've been lying there since Noah built his Ark. They're also all filthy! After sawing a piece off (1.7m from a 3m plank) I took it back into the store, expecting the worst. I know that the architrave is 15le per piece, and I held my breath as the slave told the master the sizes of the timber which I had.

"Twenty six pounds." came the mumbled demand through 70 odd years of untrimmed moustaches.  I could hardly believe my ears! It was only 11le

But now I had to get it dressed, Dear Reader. The last time I went to our nearest carpenter's shop, it was to learn that they couldn't make a simple table from a drawing, but the alternative was to pay 20le for the caleche to trail me all the way to Karnak to Abdu's workshop, and then, would he be there?

Actually, the carpenter man was only too pleased to see me, and he understood my hand-waving gibberish immediately. Here he is, adjusting his planing machine. Hero number one!!!

OK, OK, I know it's smudged; he moved! But it doesn't matter if you don't recognise him; he's the only carpenter on Youseff Hassan Street, and his workshop is directly opposite the El Zaeem restaurant and take-away.

Samir (or Samra, as he's sometimes known) is the softer-spoken elder brother of the famous Mr Ahmed Badawy; they're caleche-men extraordinaire! I can nominate him as yesterday's Hero. I've told you before about their often distressing state, lack of cash engendering all sorts of problems. Thankfully, a regular reader, and sometime Luxor visitor, often sends us sums of money specifically to help the two branches of this family, else I really don't know what might have become of them! Obviously, we use their caleches as often as we can, although they'll never get rich from our three or four times a week hires. He landed at our door last night with this:

Yes, children, it's a whole chicken on a bed of potatoes, tomatoes and onion, and it came with about ten pieces of beef kofta, a bowl of home-made tahina, and a bagful of aish fino (white bread rolls). We had it for supper last night, Freda made soup with the bones for a starter at lunch today, with more of the kofta etc for the main course, and we finished off the chicken and the last of the potato etc tonight: DELISH! Hero designation well deserved.

Finally, I'd like to tell you a little of our trip out to the Nile Palace this afternoon. When we got there, we were nonplussed to find that our usual table, on the terrace, was already taken. Never mind though, the usurpers were English tourists, so we had a chat with them, and let them off! Usual tea, de-caff and English cake were ordered and duly served, spot-on as expected.

It was nice, just sitting there and watching the Nile traffic as it made its leisurely way up or down the lazy river.

A sudden mushroom of smoke caught my eye as it billowed around a distant matching pair of West Bank palms:

I love to see the palms like that, I think they're incredibly beautiful! To top the experience off, there was the slightest of movement in the air; just enough to feel its coolness on one's face, "Perfick" as Pa Larkin would have said. (Explanation needed:- Pa Larkin is a fictional character from the pen of H E Bates, and "Perfick" was his trademark mispronunciation.) We stayed there, on the terrace until the sun retired:

The only problem with staying so long at the NP, was making my tea last. And this brings me to my final hero for today, here it is:

I can read your mind, Dear Reader, and NO it isn't the cup and saucer which is the final hero for today, nor the tea in the cup; it's the humble tea bag!!!! Five cups of tea were painfully squeezed out of it for my delectation, only the very last one was a little under par, but still eminently drinkable. So, I salute you Mr Dilmah and your flavoursome and health promoting "Hero" of a drink.

P.S. Please, don't imagine that I'm denigrating the real heroes of this world. I have the greatest of respect for and gratitude towards those whose magnificent efforts have kept our shores safe these past hundreds of years, and those too who, even today, are working tirelessly to prevent harm coming to us. God bless them all!


Panic Today in Luxor!

Professor Gumby and his wife were enjoying the cool of the evening on their Luxor roof terrace, after a sumptuous supper consisting of a beautiful home-made smoked ham and cheese quiche, accompanied by some home-made black pudding and HP Fruity sauce. The following is a stock picture of our good friend, the eminent professor R F Gumby:

Our heroes were minding their own business, and whilst watching episode 1 of series 2 of Call the Midwife on their lap-top, the Prof noticed it in the middle of the tiled terrace! What sort of creature could it possibly be?? Perhaps it was a distant relation of the last beast to invade their private space:

But no, it was too thin and menacing looking, so much so that the celebrated Mrs Gumby leapt from her place and into the hoped for safety of our living room, almost knocking over the table in her panic!

Here it is, terrifying eh, Dear reader?

I'm sorry for the picture quality; I just wanted to snap it quickly (in case it managed to devour us or something) so that there would be some evidence of the culprit for those who would eventually come to discover whatever was left!

It didn't seem to move at all, and after quite a while, I plucked up the courage to gingerly approach the beast, and prod it with something. I soon realised that it was dead, and had fallen from our shady roof. In fact, I immediately discovered exactly where it had fallen from and exactly what it was!

Yes, Dear Reader, it was actually one of the raffia Nubian ladies, which had blown off our hanging ornament which we had bought from the suq in Aswan! Panic over.

It only goes to prove that people (even eminent professors and their wives) can be panicked by non-events, until the truth is actually known. Perhaps this might be something to ponder whilst reading the various news reports about bombs or "sound bombs" "exploding" in Luxor? (In England, I think we knew them better as "bangers" on the 5th of November) Mind you, from local reports it's still unclear what actually did occur, but (as usual) our beloved media are making hay whilst the sun shines!!!  

What? No nite-life in Luxor????

You could have knocked me down with a feather!

Those of you who have become "Dear Readers" might just recall that I've had more than a few peculiar dreams, which I have tried to recount on here. Well, I was having one during the night; or was I?

I'm sure that you've all either seen or heard about tunnel boring machines? Didn't Dick Dastardly have one at one point? Or perhaps you saw one of the huge things that was used to dig out the Channel Tunnel, on the news? I've also seen them in various forms on sci-fi movies and in international news reports. Terrifying things with huge cogs and cutters whirring around at the front.

Well, there was one bearing down on me in my dream! It would run for a few minutes, then stop, then it seemed to run quietly for a minute or two before roaring away in earnest again. By the increase in noise, it was getting closer and closer!!! Quite nerve-wracking, I can tell you!

Eventually, I was sure that I could also "feel" it as well as hear it. That's when I awoke! And, horror of horrors, it was still there!!!!!!! I went out onto the roof terrace (after getting hurriedly dressed) and, sure enough, it was actually happening. Imagining new scenes for the modern horror film, "The Mummy", I grabbed the keys and camera, and made my way downstairs.

As I stepped out into the alley, I could hear muffled voices coming from the main street, although the "machine" had temporarily quietened. I'm not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed to discover exactly what was "The Destroyer Of Sleep" in old Luxor Town:

Yes Dear Reader, it was the gulley emptier/drain cleaner or whatever you want to call it!

AT 03:30!!!!! IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, they had moved on to the next man-hole by the time I got there, but they hadn't yet put the lid back on ours, so here it is; nicely cleaned out.

At about 03:50 or so, when I arrived back in our livingroom, I was pleased to see that Freda was up and had the kettle on, also the lap-top. So it was a lovely cuppa with a handful of Tesco's best "Economy Range" ginger biscuits and a quick look around my favourite forums etc, before climbing back into bed. But it seemed like no time at all before my ears were assaulted by the local faithful's call to prayer! What was left of the night was taken up by fitful sleep, so I'm not in the best of fettles this morning. (That means "Keep out of my way!!") 

And don't you dare, whatever you do, complain about a lack of "nite-life" in Luxor!

Tim Wannacott, where are you?

How about this for a stunning antique?

Obviously, it looks different depending on how it is lit, but I'm trying my best to show you the relief colours in the carving. (It's a particularly difficult task as I'm unable to see them properly myself, being colour blind!!!!)

It's brass, quite weighty, and three feet tall! What's most surprising is that we bought it (via ebay) from a lady less than five minutes drive from where we live in Windy Nook. Small world, eh?

Now all we need to do is decide where best to display it. Life's never easy, is it?

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

Or is it some sort of furry creature, a bear, perhaps?

You'll not guess in a million years, Dear Reader, so I might as well tell/show you now.

Yes folks, it's the inside of a reusable vacuum cleaner bag! I'm a lover of the Kirby brand of vacuum cleaners, as you may have gathered from earlier posts on here. This is the bag from my Kirby "Vacuette", which has been on loan to a household which includes two daft boxer dogs. Here it is in use on our stairs at Windy Nook:

Cleaning stair carpets is the main function of our Vacuette, and that's also what it was used for (for a few weeks) by the lady who borrowed it. She said that she'd emptied the bag, but that wasn't all that was required, as we now all know! I had to engage the "Heavy Squad" in my efforts to remove the hair from my little gem! The Vacuette's "Big Brother", in the form of our Diamond Edition Ultimate Kirby upright, was well powerful enough to suck all those hairs away into its disposable bag, I'm very pleased to say.

When I saw the amount of hair which the little Vacuette had picked up, I was very impressed, and wondered why some people paid significant sums of money for vacuums which supposedly specialise in keeping dog owners' homes hair-free?

I also found a special kit to fit our older Kirby "Legend 2" (it's here in Luxor) on eBay! It's called a Handi Butler, it drills holes and has polishing and sanding heads. It'll be very useful, once I get around to having a try, I'm sure.

When we're home at Windy Nook, I always seem to get lumbered with the job of taking the oversize rubbish to the Council dump! This time was no different, and I made a couple of trips there. There's invariably a queue of cars waiting to dump all sorts of treasure! Honestly, you wouldn't believe some of the stuff that seemingly sane people throw away!!! But never mind that; what caught my eye was the following draught excluder on the gate to the Waste Disposal Depot:

Is it just me, or is that the daftest thing you've ever seen; a draught excluder on a wire-mesh gate in a wire-mesh fence, and outside? The mind boggles!!!!