Back to normal!!!!!!!!

Normality has returned to "Our Luxor"!

Here's a variation of a picture of our recurring waterworks problems, for you. Isn't it just divine, Dear Reader?

That's our plumber friend, young Mr Hany (except when he doesn't turn up, then he's our plumber enemy!) Hany's a rather nice chap, in actual fact, especially as he seems to know what he's about. He's one of the plumbing tribe which owns the buildings between the Egyptian suq and the Sphinx Hotel on Youseff Hassan Street. As he was a tourist bazaar owner before the "troubles" (it's getting like Northern Ireland, isn't it?) of 2011, he speaks very good English. This is a great help to me, obviously, as I can actually explain things to him instead of using sign language of a sort interspersed with speaking loudly, and then shouting!

We've been away for quite a while, and I didn't think that the water filters would take any hurt, as the water was turned off anyway. WRONG! AGAIN! The "activated carbon" filter went wrong, all by itself. For some strange reason, the carbon beeds burst through their containment within the filter bowl and merrily made their way into our water system, blocking up here and there as they went! It seems to be sorted out now, please keep your fingers crossed for us?

We sometimes get to the point where we think, "What can possibly go wrong next?"

As you're aware,  Dear Reader,we do like to share out whatever work we can to the local tradesmen. And so it came to pass that I had two shirts which needed the collars turned, and my last pair of "Blue Harbour" moleskin jeans needed a new pocket, where my English change had worn through during our sojourn in Windy Nook. "Ageeb" the tailor is just up the street. He has a tiny shop with enough room for his sewing machine and a small cutting table, and we've had him do several jobs for us before. He's repaired the trouser pocket with a new piece of nylon to re-make the whole of the bottom of the pocket, a good job! How about the collar turning? See if you can spot the deliberate mistake:

Well, did you spot it? The same mistake on both shirts? Fran Cotton and Ben Sherman won't be too pleased, I can tell you! He's only gone and turned the collars from the wrong seam, so that the buttons and button holes are now in the wrong places!!!!! No matter how he twists, I'm going to have to take them back, even though I am dreading it.


We ventured out to the Nile Palace, for tea, coffee and English cake. You can tell how pleased they were to see us back, by the thickness of the slices of cake:

Doorsteps? We struggled to get them down!  (Well; to be ruthlessly honest, I could probably have managed by myself, if I hadn't had Freda with me.) But enough of that gluttony, it's a sin, you know?

See you soon, Insh'Allah.

Would you Adam and Eve it?

Same old, same old!

We were glad to get away from Windy Nook because of the wind and the rain. Here, it's been sunny and hot, as you would expect in Egypt, I suppose.

Obviously, we've been mainly occupied with cleaning, or being in Egypt, should I call it "The white man's burden", as that is what it seems to be. Whilst the Egyptians flood everything with water, we English put in endless hours with a vacuum cleaner and mop, it's our way to try to preserve our hard-won furniture etc by not having the bone dry wood soaking up water and rotting it all away.

As part of of my initial cleaning routine, I put all of our camel wool rugs and clippy mats out to air, thus:

When I beheld the scene, I thought it looked like a carpet bazaar! In fact, I commented to myself, "It's the Our Luxor open-air carpet showroom!"

We'll be on for a few days yet, before everywhere is really fit for our own occupation, never mind receiving visitors, but it's all part and parcel of living here and keeping up normal standards!

Something that becomes normal here is not being disturbed by the early morning call to prayer, which is amplified from every Mosque. As yet, I haven't become properly re-acclimatised (or even re-acclimated, as our American friends would have it!) to this invasion of my nocturnal privacy!

So, there I was, quietly bobbing between consciousness and oblivion, after being vaguely aware of the mullah's dulcet tones, when, all of a sudden, I could hear heavy rain stotting off our steel-sheeted roof! In no time at all, Freda was shouting, "The carpets, the carpets!" I suddenly found myself running, naked, about the roof terrace, like the proverbial "Wild Man of Borneo", grabbing up rugs and carpets to get them out of the downpour. Not a pretty sight, I can assure you!

As we were properly awake by now, we decided to have some of God's favourite drink, and we sat with our cups of tea watching an episode of the classic 70's British comedy "Going Straight" starring the incomparable Ronnie Barker. Then the power went off!!!!!!!!! IT'S EGYPT! Remember? Of course, us now having a new (to us, anyway) laptop, one where the battery doesn't give up after ten seconds, we were able to keep watching in the dark.

Happily, the power cut only lasted ten minutes and it didn't rain for long, either, and the thunder and lightning soon abated as well. Before we knew it, there was a balloon in the sky over the "Side of the Dead", and all was right with the world once more!

So there you have it, Dear Reader, our first missive since returning to the land of the Pharaohs, and now I'm going to be tired and grumpy all day!

Insh'Allah !

Yes, Playmates, God willing, we'll be setting off for Luxor on Monday morning. And about time too; I'm becoming disillusioned with our "summer" here in Windy Nook!

Freda and I have packed and re-packed cases until we were blue in the face! It's very difficult trying to balance weight against volume across 4 pieces of luggage. Some articles need to be well padded with soft bulky items for protection, whilst some others need the same sort of packing to protect the hard sides of the cases from being damaged by them! It's all a bit complicated.

Never mind. I've been doing some more repair and modification work on "that stupid thing"! (Freda's latest name for my lovely little melodeon.)

You'll remember (of course?) my "adjustable" thumb strap? Well, even though it was adjustable, I found that the instrument weighed too heavy on my right thumb, and therefore decided to utilise a single strap, like Steve Harrison and Anahata and the like. But where can I find something suitable without spending money? Well, where there's a will, there's a way (as you well know) Dear Reader! I eventually plumped for the shoulder strap from an old computer carrying bag. (One which I acquired, years ago, when I was a rail replacement coach operator, with the name of the main contractor plastered on the covering flap: "Fraser Eagle Management Services".)

Of course, there's no bracket on the instrument on which to fasten such a strap, and it's not of a very robust construction, either. But never fear, Jenninsy is here! (I really should re-style myself as the latest Superhero..........Modification Man!)

A simple angle-bracket (which I'd shoved down the corner of the back stairs carpet, imagining that it would definitely come in for something eventually) strengthened the corner where I decided to fix some sort of attachment for the strap:

I then located an eyebolt amongst the bits and pieces in my "rubbish" tin, which screwed into the drilled hole which I'd just made, thus:

Champion, eh? By the time I'd hunted out the strap and put it on, I was relatively pleased with the job.

The thumb strap was no longer required, so it was next to go the journey. (Colloquialism: Go the journey = disappear, get rid of.)
However, I found that using only one strap (even though the melodeon itself is very light) was too awkward, as it didn't keep the melodeon exactly where I wanted it to be! I further modified my modification by adding a heavy keyring for space to allow the use of a second strap, so that I could adjust them to keep the instrument's row of treble buttons in the centre of my chest.

That's probably enough of the melodeon story for just now, I think.

Last Sunday, we celebrated (early) the birthday of my favourite brother-in-law, folk-singing partner and fellow choir member; Uncle Roy, by taking Afternoon Tea on the historic Tanfield railway. (According to several sources the oldest railway in the world!) Here comes the toot-too:

It wasn't exactly what you would term as "palatial" inside:

Wooden benches for seating, and wide enough for me to get only one cheek of my bottom on, whilst still cramping Freda's eating arrangements next to the window! Never mind though, the food was lovely, even though we had to make do with lots of half cups of tea and coffee in order not to have it spilt in our laps as the ancient carriage jumped and jolted along the equally ancient rails; it was also very noisy!

I know that the pictures of me are VERY unflattering, but that's probably what I really look like, uuugh! Sorry.

We've been keeping in touch with our Luxor friend, Slack Alis, over the past few weeks, and she has assured us that the power cuts haven't been too bad this year. So we're hoping that that will continue till the weather breaks. (Well, till the temperature falls below 40 degrees, anyway!) Good old President El Sisi!

On Monday (us being exclusive "Gold Card" holders) we'll be luxuriating in some executive lounge at Heathrow, while we wait for our connection to Egypt, away from the hoi-poloi. Sorry, but we don't expect to find you in there, Dear Reader!!!! You'll have to wait until we land in Luxor. Then we hope to see all our Internet Friends once again. TTFN.

A new toy!

Dear Reader, you might remember that I sold my concertinas a few years ago. I cannot recall exactly when, but ever since, I've been regretting it!

I bought my 48 key Lachenal English Concertina in my late teens (if I remember correctly) from an old bloke with a baby grand piano at Ponteland in Northumberland, for £18. He'd wanted £20, but I'm almost sure that I knocked him down to £18.

This was about the time that I used to attend Stefan Sobell's weekly folk club at The Barley Mow in Newcastle, where I met the famous concertina man, Neil Wayne. (His address, then, was Neil Wayne, Duffield, Derbyshire, as if he was the only person to live there!) Neil inspired me to start the hunt for a concertina of my own.

Later on, I bought another couple; one was a Wheatstone, another 48 key job, but it was a "Tutor" model, with the notes stamped on the end of the buttons, and in very poor condition, the other was an "Anglo", labelled as if it had been built in Newcastle, but I was assured later that it was, in fact, another Lachenal which was produced to be labelled by retailers.

My 48 key English model gave me untold hours of amusement over the years, but, being naturally lazy, my lack of serious practice never got me to be confident enough to play it in public, even after 40 years or so! This resulted in me selling them all, in order to finance some project or other, in Egypt probably.

As I said, I've regretted it ever since. I don't like not; just having it! Yes, I know, it's not logical but I still feel a sense of loss, I can't help it! Anyway, that mini history lesson has laid the ground, so to speak, for this blog about my newest of toys; a Melodeon!

Although I cannot recall exactly when I first imagined that owning a melodeon might be a good idea, I suppose that I was hugely influenced in my subconscious decision by the superb melodeon playing which I had been exposed to at South Shields Folk Club. The playing of experts like Anahata, Steve Harrison or Vic Gammon cannot fail to enthuse anyone with the slightest interest.

Of course, my main interest in the melodeon is as an instrument to accompany singing voices, which is the main occupation of the playing of the above mentioned people, also.

So; here it is:

A bit of a rough looking little devil, I know. But considering that I won the eBay auction for it at £7.01, I wasn't expecting an instrument of real quality or beauty! Never mind, I love it, especially as it was within my notoriously limited price range!!!!!

As far as I can ascertain, it's in the region of 100 years old, but in better fettle than many of that age, I should think. I've done a good deal of amateur restoration on it so far, mostly using bits and bobs which have been floating around the house. (Cost saving, you know?)

Some spare uphoulstery material, from one of our old sofas, went to make new straps. (Including an adjustable thumb strap!)

A nice soft cleaning cloth, from an old spectacles case, was cut up to re-line the pads which control the airflow, using one piece on top of the other.

Self-adhesive sealer (for windows) substituted for bellows gaskets.

Splits in the bellows were repaired with silver duct tape.

And the stuck-fast stop slide was freed off using a hammer and chisel!

Several of the levers which operate the pads were straightened using ordinary pliers and a small screwdriver in conjunction.

The long ago snapped and disappeared metal clips which hold the bellows closed, were replaced by home-made straps fashioned from some scraps of leather, donated by my crafts-person sister.

So far; so good! I'm having quite an adventure, "Going where no man has gone before" (well, maybe not quite, but certainly no Jennings to my knowledge).

There's still a lot to do to get it into the condition I'll be happy with, but I'll just plod on, as usual.

Here's the work space (little front bedroom) and a selection of the tools used to date.

It's only three weeks, or so, till we're back in Luxor. Hope to see you there. TTFN.