Easily pleased?

I am easily pleased, most of the time. I love food, and while, again, I'm easily pleased, I can also be quite picky! Like this dish below, on the face of it; it's just scrambled egg and mushrooms on toast, with a dash of sauce on top. But you'd be wrong to think that! The toast needs to be just the right colour, the scrambled eggs need to be not quite dry and the mushrooms just barely fried (with black and red pepper). The sauce has to be HP Fruity, and everything has to be hot! It's then a feast which nothing else could match (at that precise moment, anyway!). 

Architecture fascinates me! Not in cerebral way, like I know anything about it, but in that, certain styles appeal to me in a way that's more than "normal", if you know what I mean. This old mud-brick building on Manchiya Street, not far from the station, is such a building. There are fewer and fewer of these about, as successive Governors seem to want to do away with them altogether. They'll be missed by many who are easily pleased, including me.

Another phenomenon which pleases me relatively easily, is coming across unexpected sights, like this western style sailing boat on the Nile. It has a small cabin and it also, obviously, has an engine, as can be deduced by the way it's cutting through the water with its stern low and its bows raised. Incongruous? 

Sunsets please me enormously! There are some scenes of which I never tire, this

sunset represents one of them, and the next view, of the West Bank Mountain lights, is another. I must have more pictures of this from our terrace than anything else!

Something else, which I found to be quite strange and intriguing, is this below. Whatever can it be? There are a fair number of them situated around the precincts of Luxor Temple and the Kebash Road; they must have something to do with security, one would imagine. Clues, anyone?

Mentioning the West Bank Mountain lights; they've been shining away all night now for many weeks, sometimes while we've been suffering power cuts here among the living, too. Here they are still shining in the early morning, whilst the balloons are soaring skyward.

I've just put some black pudding in the fridge to set before cooking it tomorrow. The last batch was easily the best yet! I'm sure that John the (retired) Butcher will be pleased to know that little snippet!

Being "easily pleased" is (or so I believe) one of the finest qualities anyone can have, to enjoy a contented life.

New Value at the Steigenberger Nile Palace in Luxor!

Well, well, you could have knocked me down with a feather"

As I'm sure you all know, Dear Reader, we love to have our tea and (de-caff) Nescafe at the Nile Palace. Today, the surprise was that we were given two delicious Dilmah tea bags and two sachets of Nescafe de-caff coffee, and for the usual price. Now, if that isn't a good deal, I'll eat my tarbouche!

I even asked Mr Mohamed Ragab (The F & B Manager) if it was all in order and not just a special deal of some sort, to which he replied that this was the new standard deal. Very good!

During these balmy days, we like to sit on the NP terrace, overlooking the pool and the Nile and West Bank, it's lovely. Mind you, I cannot but feel unease at the Muslim girls using the pool when they seem to be fully clothed, if that's the case, it cannot be very hygienic, can it? But perhaps they aren't outdoor clothes after all, and are specifically for swimming (or just playing) in the pool, who knows?

When we are here, it's the only time that we really get to just sit and watch the river gliding past. It's very high at the moment, could it be the start of the inundation? You can see (in the picture) that some of the normally dry land has been covered:

It's funny, my eyes must have beheld this vista hundreds of times, but I'd never noticed these parasols before today:

Four of them are surely too many for a private garden, so what commercial premises are they?

Just a smidgeon farther upstream, I noticed, what looks like, a Sheiks Tomb, again, for the first time.

It being a good day for walking, and me being an old man who is deemed to need to walk to stay alive, we walked along Little Britain Street as we made our way to the bakery on Medina Street and on to Kheir Zaman on TV Street.

We came across some roadworks near the Police Hotel (The Elamir). I didn't take much notice of them at first, just wanted to get away from the noise of the windy-picks (or pneumatic drills, if you're posh!) which, in themselves, are quite unusual in Luxor. As I passed, I noticed that the two blokes using the windy picks were wearing protective flip-flops, along with their other safety equipment, and thought that you'd also like to see them.

There seems to have been a national shortage of "Mandolin" chocolate biscuits, of late. They're made by Cadbury, and are actually single fingers of Twix bars. However, single Twixes cost 2le for the small one, and Mandolins are 1le for a large one! No contest!!!! When we finally got to the KZ supermarket, and trailed around picking up the groceries, we eventually came to the chocolate and biscuit gondola and found unopened boxes of mandolins! New stock, apparently. We got two boxes; His and Hers:

Just something which might appeal to one or two of you:

That's right, it's an old Mercedes Benz. I'm not "up" on Mercs, so I can only guess at the year; late 40's or early 50's, I would imagine. I believe that the owner bought it with the intention of putting it right and back on the road, but it looks as if it's slowly dieing, to me! The same fellah has an early 50's Rover parked around the corner, which I seem to remember posting a picture of some time ago, it too is bound for a similar fate, I fear.

Unlike this old, and well-loved, beauty:

Another Merc, mid to late 50's, or possibly early 60's? I don't know, but I like it.
This one obviously has door-lock problems, but Egyptians don't like to be beaten, do they? Ingenuity is priceless, eh?

I'm just a bit peeved, don't worry!

When we had our last guests, I noticed that our water pump was turning itself on and off all the time, which means that there is a water leak somewhere! If you want, you can listen to this excellent video whilst you're reading, as the first line or two describe just about how I felt while I was trying it sort it out!!!!

After checking everything in the guest apartment, and finding nothing untoward, I found that the WC upstairs in our hovel was "running through". In laymen's terms, when the cistern had emptied and refilled, a small amount of water was by-passing the flush system and ending up trickling down the pan! Of course, the fancy pump switching device thought that a tap had been turned on and started to furiously pump water! However, as soon as it started, it also realised that the water it was pumping was too much for the demand, and so it switched the pump off, only to get the signal that water was again needed, and switching the pump back on.......ad infinitum!
The inlet valve in the cistern wasn't working properly, so I sprayed the adjusting screw with my trusted WD40 and adjusted it, without breaking anything! "That'll do the trick". What an optimistic fool!!!!! The valve just would not fully close.
I had to go and get a little shopping, so I called in at Mt Shawkey's plumbing supply shop and bought a new one. Problem number 132, the float fouled on the back of the cistern. Back to the shop, where Mrs Shawkey was now sitting with her husband and shop assisting (he's a trained lawyer) son. Introductions complete, she told the son that she loved my hair!!! Mind you, I think it was a stab at her husband whose hair is turning silvery grey, but he likes to dye it!!! Never mind that, though. Sorting through their selection of differing valves I found the ideal one, which was another tenner (what a surprise there, then).
Here's the box; "Gold" flash, eh?

And here it is in situ:

Slight problem was that the pipe fitting was a different size and needed an adaptor. "Why would that be a problem?" I hear you ask. Simply because the joint would need to be sealed with PTFE tape and it's in a very awkward position on the bottom of the cistern, that's why!

I hate this, it's always the same, a straightforward job is NEVER straightforward in Luxor. I don't want to be a plumber, I don't want to be a carpenter, or an electrician, or yet an air conditioning engineer. I just want to be a semi-retired geezer spending some quality time with his wife in a strange and warm country, can't they realise that?

Just a little quickie.

I'm 64 today!

Freda reckons that she does "still need me" and she will "still feed me" even though "I'm 64". It's just as well, really, as I'm not prepared to try to break a new wife in at my time of life. Got lovely cards from Mother and Sister and B-I-L, plus emails from and sms's from other family members, all well received. It won't be long now before I can thank them all in person.

I thought that you might like to see the cake which our current (newly wed) guests kindly got for me:

Underneath all that fancywork, there's a chocolate cake. We had some with a cuppa this afternoon, and it tastes as good as it looks! The guests are busy having a meal cooked by Mrs Adam, fish for the groom and kofta for the bride, I've told them that if they finish all their food, then I might let them experience a small piece of birthday cake each for their pudding, we've got a little cream to go with it, yummy!!!!

Here's the tray with their evening meal on it, as delivered:

What do you think, could you manage some cake after getting that lot down? It's a tall order, methinks.

Bye for now.

The Answer.

If you ask my darling wife any awkward questions about the trials and tribulations our life here in Egypt, she'll reply that the answer is always "It's Egypt!"

Like our neighbour Mr Gamal, the other day; when the water people had left some water bills, for me, with another neighbour, Mr Abdu. There were two bills, one for November and December 2014, and another for March and April 2015, but added onto each bill was another amount(?). Of course the bills are written in Arabic, as you would expect, and dummy Edward cannot make head nor tail of the "squiggles"! On further investigation, i.e. getting Mr Gamal to translate, it transpires that the secondary amounts are for April 2012 and October 2012. When I quizzed Mr Gamal why these should be included, his reply was "Egypt!"

So there you have it, Dear Reader, Freda (as ever) is right again! The answer to every question does seem to be "It's Egypt!" But not quite, eh?

A few days ago, I posted the following picture, as a bit of a teaser. Then, our special friends Sandra and Mick suggested that it might signify I might be contemplating painting the stairs, even though I hadn't actually asked the question of what the picture was about.

Nevertheless, the implied question was surely "What will this future blog concern?" (And Sandra and Mick's answer wasn't all that far away.)

I'm sure that you're all (well, the English speakers, anyway) familiar with the old saying "Slowly slowly, catchy monkey." Well; we are believers, especially since we  moved here to Luxor! The above photo' was taken in October 2013, when my "cunning plan" was first forming in my nut (or, if I was pretentious, I'd say in my "design engineering brain").

When we first had the conversion work done on our Egyptian property, way back in the mists of time, I wasn't "into" taking pictures. If I had been, I would certainly have taken one of what our Egyptian project manager had judged to be an acceptable partition on the stairs. It consisted of the wrought-iron gate in the above picture, but with the section where the triangular ironwork is in the picture being two odd shaped bits of raggy-edged thin steel plate welded together with what resembled pigeon droppings. (They also had an uneven, thin and thick, coating of rust.) I wasn't best pleased, I can tell you!

He was most apologetic, and had two (supposed) welders there the following morning to create the triangular wrought iron panel which is in the picture, and which has sufficed until very recently. I've never been particularly fond of it, but it did the job of closing off the gap in the mis-aligned flights of stairs.

I know it's quite difficult to see, but in this picture taken from the top flight of stairs, it is discernible that the handrails just aren't parallel; they actually form a "V" shape, and there is about a 10 inch (25cm) lateral difference between one floor and the next. Consequently, the wrought-iron wallahs produced this rather unkempt design to compensate for the discrepancy:

Can you see the queer, wedge-shaped panel between the door and the triangle?

No, I've never liked it, nor imagined it to be worthy of what I had envisioned for our Egyptian home!!!!

My hand was eventually "forced" by circumstance. Not wanting to spend our meagre reserves of cash unnecessarily, we had become used to the poor quality of our boundary marking partition, putting any annoyance at it to the back of our consciousness. However, the inadequacy of the situation again reared its ugly head when we started to get regular power cuts between Revolutions 1 and 2! Our dentist, on the floor below, got himself a generator! And what do petrol generators produce, apart from electricity? That's correct, Dear Reader, noise and smoke!!!!!! Noise and smoke which took the natural way out of the confined space in which the generator was placed; straight up to the stair landing of our Guest Apartment, and then farther on up, to our bedroom window. Luckily, we didn't actually have guests and power cuts and generator operation all at the same time, but it was always an unacceptable possibility.

I determined to seal off this small part of the outside world from out future guests!

After a good deal of thought and consultation with carpenters and bricklayers, who both wanted more than I was willing to pay for work which I wasn't really sure that I'd be happy with; I decided to undertake the work myself. (Fool that I am!)

I remembered the problems I had had when making the cupboard on the stairs, the fact that nothing was straight, level or plumb created problems at every stage. Here we were again, with the self-same problems but with variations. It meant that for all I had designed what I wanted, it had to be actually made "on-the-job". (Difficult when you're by yourself trying to hold quite heavy wooden structures whilst measuring gaps etc which were required to be properly vertical.)

Never mind! For a start, I knocked off part of the protruding wall, and plastered it up (after a fashion):

I had the triangular wrought-iron in and out whilst fashioning the wooden framework which would replace it:
Of course, this wasn't the finish! Although the frame was made out of door frame sized timber, it still wasn't wide enough to stretch from the downstairs handrail to the bottom of the upstairs handrail wall when in the vertical position. (If this is getting too technical you have my full permission to just look at the nice pictures instead of carrying on reading.)  More wood and more on-the-job design modifications and I was finally getting somewhere.

I fixed the triangle of wrought-iron onto the inside of the new timber frame, just for a semblance of security, whilst I ordered the Georgian wired glass for the windows. 

I had imagined (foolishly, as it turned out) that the iron door frame, being made of angle-iron and fastened into the wall, would have remained straight and perpendicular. (There's no fool like an old fool, is there?) It had to be chiselled out of the wall, before I could get it straight enough to work with. And getting it reasonably straight was a job and a half, I can tell you!

When it was finally straight enough, I realised that I really wanted to have a wooden door on the inside of the iron one, so a frame for that was duly ordered from Mr Abdu the carpenter from Karnak.

It's all coming together now, and apart from the actual wooden front door (about which Mr Abdu and I cannot seem to agree a price!!!) it's almost finished. I had to spend quite a bit of time sorting out and shaping beading to go around the edges, but I think it has been a worthwhile project. All I need now, apart from the wooden door, is some water based white gloss paint, which doesn't seem to be available here in Egypt. (Sipes Paints do one, but our local Sipes shop says that he just cannot get hold of any, at all! I also emailed their help desk but got no reply: EGYPT!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Sorry about the black spots in the corners of the pictures, it's something got into the inside of the lens, and I'll have to get a professional to take the camera to bits to get it out, but NOT here in Egypt, thank you!

Off now to jump in the shower before shopping. 

Congratulations and celebrations!

Now then, who among you can "Name that tune"? Well, the name's in the title, obviously!  "Congratulations" by the ever youthful Cliff Richards. Was it his Eurovision winner? I believe so.

Never mind. I'm offering my congratulations to Kheir Zaman, the very useful supermarket on TV Street. Apparently it was the birthday of their Luxor store the other day.

Outside the store they had someone painting faces for the children of shoppers, but we didn't have any of ours with us. (I can just imagine our Alice and Charlotte reliving their childhood with tiger faces running around Luxor, lol.) Also they had people dressed-up in animal costumes, with some for little kids as well:

No freebies for us old tourists, though!

Last week, a new shop opened just about opposite KZ; they had the usual deafening music, but accompanied by stilt-walkers weaving in and out of the busy TV Street traffic! Congratulations to them, as well.

There's only one stilt-walker in the picture (centre) I'm not sure what happened to the other one!

Of course, the main celebration today is Shams el Nessim, or Sniffing the Breeze, in English. It's Easter Monday here, a bank holiday for both Christians and Muslims, but the actual celebration is for the coming of spring and hails from the times of the Pharaohs.

I was up early, this morning. The alarm was set for 05:40, in order to be up to
see our guests away to the airport, but I was awoken by various strange noises from out in the street. At first I thought it might be that someone had died and the noise was the beginning of the wailing, which would go on for most of the day. I didn't want to think about it too much, as it would have woken me properly; you know what I mean, don't you? Anyway, after a while, it became obvious that it wasn't wailing women at all, there were too many children's voices, and they were laughing and carrying on. I had to get up, and it was still quite dark, about 04:45, I think, to see what was what.

Kettle on and cuppa made, I went onto the terrace to see what I could see! There is only a view of a small section of the main street from our terrace, as the next building sticks out past the front of ours, but I was able to see and realise what and where the noises were. They were coming from families as they made their way down to the Corniche and the riverside to stake their places for a day of picnicking and frolicking fun! I could see young girls skipping and dancing their way down Mustafa Kamel Street clapping and singing as they went. (And this was still very early, not yet properly light and with the temperature still below 14 degrees; freezing, in fact!!!)

It was just about then, that I noticed that there was a balloon up! I also noticed that the Pharaohs of old still had something on us newbies; Christians and Muslims alike. The West Bank Lights, which illuminate their places of burial, were still shining. They had been on all night! So the old religion was still having the last laugh, as its relics are fully illuminated whilst we Johnny-cum-lately Christians and Muslims are being subjected to willy-nilly power cuts at any time of the night or day!

Only in Egypt, eh?

Only in Egypt? Nah!

I've been reading the dreaded (or so some would say) Daily Mail, online. Yesterday and today it was warning people who live in England that the "Blood Rain" of the Saharan dust cloud is headed their way. What they're saying is that the prevailing wind is picking up fine sand in the North African desert, and depositing it in various areas of the British Isles. (By the way, and not many people know this, but; "sahara" is just the Arabic pronunciation of their word for "desert"! Only it's not pronounced sa-har-ah, but sah-ha-rah. So when you say "The Sahara desert", you're really saying "The Desert desert" which is rather silly, I'm sure you'll agree.)
But never mind! Before you get it in sunny old England, it's dumping some here in Luxor, on our roof-terrace!!! Of course it probably isn't exactly the same wind, as ours is the "Khamseen", traditionally the fifty day wind, which comes off the desert in a (generally) Northern direction and dumps it's load of fine sand over all the Egyptian towns as it makes its way up to al Quahira...Cairo. So, the Khamseen's sand isn't only in Egypt!

I'd bet (if I were a betting man, that is, which I'm not) that the following is "Only in Egypt" though. If you've been persevering with my scribblings for a long time, you might remember this picture from  years ago:

Yes, that's right; Facebook Shoes!

Well, here's a new one for you, and in the very next street:

I wonder what Uncle Walt, and the Mouse, would have thought of that? Maybe they'd just shrug it off, like the owners of all the other registered trade marks which are being mis-used and mis-represented here in Luxor. I think I've probably pointed them all out at one time or another, but just for a laugh.......
PC World, Windows (crisps), facebook shoes, Disney shoes, B&M Stores, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, and they're the ones that I can bring to mind!

 In the last Blog, I advised you to "Watch this space". Well, I haven't collated all the pictures yet, as they're spread over a couple of years, but here's a taster for you:

On this Coptic Good Friday, and especially for all you unbelievers reading this, I've entitled this picture "In the beginning". (But it wasn't quite, actually!)
Again, watch this space!!!!

Nice to see you; to see you, nice!

To any foreigners reading, you won't recognise the words of today's title as being a catchphrase of the ancient English entertainer Bruce Forsyth. So it's entirely wasted on you, sorry!

But never mind, the words are directed at our old friend Ruby Tuesday (although she still won't sat where she's from!) on the occasion of her re-entering the world of Blogging, in short; she's back!

I noticed her latest offering (after an absence of tooooo long) the other day. You can find it here:- Ruby Tuesday! Her blog is very different to mine, in that she is what we oldies refer to as "young" (blast her) and she has a young family too. Mind you, I don't envy her that responsibility in this day and age. I'm glad we had ours when we did, and that they are now (supposedly) independent.

It's funny, but I also took a picture of the sunset for this blog, and I think it must have been on the same evening as the one she took for hers.

Is that beautiful, or is that beautiful? I don't know whether it's an actual weather phenomenon or what, but it certainly seems to me that we are seeing more clouds in the sky over Luxor than we used to, anyone have an opinion on this?

I've been incredibly busy of late. That's why I haven't been writing (it's not because I've gone off you, Dear Reader, honest!), but I will get around to showing you the fruits of my labours before too long.

Watch this space!!!!!