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 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.