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. 


  1. We admire you we really do, a great job done! Without being ripped out, so no agravation from that.

    Just goes to show what we can achieve when we put our mind to it! Really lovely seeing you two, the position you have in Luxor and your flat is delightful.
    Keep up the blogs, and what the new Govenor of Luxor is doing for the city. He seems to be a clean broom from what I hear. Keep us updated.

  2. Hard work done it look nice u deserve a cupa we will look when we come again. Sandra mick x