Go on, then. But just a quickie!

Yes, just a quickie today, I'm afraid.

You know how Clarkson and his chums were fired from the BBC, and started work on a rival show for another channel? Well......... the bloke whom the BBC decided to replace him with has now also been given his "marching orders". That's right, Chris Evans has now been dumped as well! But not to worry, he's gained employment elsewhere; in fact, it would seem that he's been inflicted on Luxor:

I'm confident that if this is, indeed, the great man's new enterprise, his "shouty" presence will go down very well with the other road users in Luxor. Don't you agree, Dear Reader?

The shops are struggling to fill their shelves here in Luxor. I'm sick to death of trailing the streets looking for odds and ends which we normally use, and which used to be readily available. Whether it's water filters or skimmed milk, new suppliers are having to be found. Only this morning, I had to fight my way into the "Government" shop on Youseff Hassan Street, in my daily search for that self-same skimmed milk.

On interrogating my "in-shop spy" I found that all the folk blocking the footway, and half of the road, were waiting for a promised delivery of sugar. I found it very strange that there should be a sugar shortage, as it always looks as if more than half of Egypt's agricultural land is given over to sugar cane production!

But, what do I know, Dear Reader, I'm just a long-staying khawadga tourist!

See Ya!

A Quickie add-on?

Did I tell you about Luxor being piped for natural gas? Well, they've left really badly filled-in trenches all over the place. So much so that the caleches are breaking their springs, more expense with even less income!

Well, good news today. Here are the road men, re-surfacing Sharia Karnak behind the Temple. They're also creating havoc and much excitement among the diverted 'bus drivers and the disoriented general public.

We don't need another hero?

Tina Turner wasn't really thinking when she sang those words;

We'll get to the relevance of this song shortly, don't worry. I never leave you in the lurch, do I Dear Reader?

I was nosing around the different selling sites on the laptop last night until quite late on. I rather like to keep abreast of which melodeons and concertinas are for sale and for how much. (But I think you are already aware of that, aren't you?) By the time I went to bed, there was an awful noise coming from somewhere outside, a large machine of some sorts. Being tired, I didn't go to investigate, it wasn't that intrusive. 

However, as the clock ticked away and I didn't go over to sleep, I found that the noise was becoming rather annoying by 03.30!!! It was actually interfering with the grandiose plans which were forming in my mind, and I couldn't have that, could I? I rose, and made myself decent, and went out onto the terrace to see if I could determine just whereabouts the noise was coming from. On listening to it properly, it was obviously a mechanical shovel loading a steel-bodied tipper, and down on Youseff Hassan Street. It would wait till morning for further investigation. Breaking the pattern of thought for my future plans seemed to do the trick as far as sleep went. Even with the ongoing noise outside, I soon slipped away to dreamland.

This morning, the slave-driver (who is more often known as Madame Farida) chased me out to get some aish fino (white bread) to make our luncheon sandwiches, and while I was out I thought that I'd check to see if my earlier suspicions about last nights noise were correct. Sadly, they were!

I say "Sadly", because this used to be the building of the most local carpenter. The father (who used to spend his days sitting outsode the door, drinking tea and chatting to all and sundry) died earlier this year, and I don't think the son had very much "go" in him, at least I hadn't seen much work going on there since the old man "got away".  

Nevertheless, I was sad to see it go. The son had turned out to be a hero of sorts, to me anyway , as can be seen in the following picture and Blog post: 


That's all folks!

In for a penny; in for a pound!

Intrepid? That's us!

Yes Dear Reader, as you know, we recently visited Aswan, staying at the Old Cataract Hotel, and it was wonderful! Nevertheless, we aren't made of money, and couldn't possibly afford such an expense again, so soon. So we had to trim our sails and cut our suit according to our cloth, to mix our metaphors.
Freda booked us into the "Nile Wing", formerly the New Cataract, that awful concrete monstrosity which stood next the glorious Old Cataract. We don't mind slumming it to bring you the low-down!

Actually, it's not three bad! (Colloquialism; not three bad = better than not too bad!) here are some pics of our room, a "Luxury room" of course!

            What do you think so far? Wait till you see the view!

Here's a shot of the actual balcony, taken from the doorway. Isn't it a treat? The sun never gets to shine on it, and there seems to be an almost constant "movement" of the air, not enough to call it a breeze, just enough to keep the heat at bay! And what about these views?

No panoramic shot, just overlapping pictures:

Now you can tell me where a lover of the Nile could find better views? It's just fabulous! Like the hotel.

A few more views in the room?...........

Sorry about the bathroom looking as if it's different colours; it's not in reality! The bath is very deep and wide, ideal for plump blokes like me.

There was the fridge and mini-bar, complete with a mini-kitchen too. Tea (and coffee) on tap, almost. Who could ask for more?

We've been looking at hotels in Europe, to replace the holiday to Andalusia which we missed this year, and the prices are higher, with views of the street!!!! Honestly (and I'm not getting paid for this) you couldn't better this hotel for value anywhere else in the world, and if you want to spend more than we could, there's always the likes of the Winston Churchill Suite at something like £10,000 per night.

We can hardly wait to go back! (But we'll have to save very hard.)

Don't forget, click on any picture to see them all, but bigger and better.

Another day, and yet anther dollar.......spent!

OK then, I've been having a sort through some of the photo's I took whilst we were away on our intrepid jaunt. These first few relate to visiting a dear friend who is our sometime neighbour when he is in Luxor. We went to visit him at his mother's house, which lies behind the railway station, very nearby an impressive Fatimid cemetery which I didn't even know existed!

They live on the first floor of a two storey dwelling. His next-door-neighbour is Muslim, but both downstairs neighbours are Christian. Although a devout Muslim, he did make the comment that if he'd been born downstairs, he'd have been a Christian.

Anyway, the Muslim neighbour soon arrived with a queer looking pot:

I cannot deny that I thought it looked rather dubious! "We have this before drinking tea." piped up our host. He went on to explain that, in the olden days, on seeing someone receive guests, it was customary for a neighbour to quickly kill and roast a lamb for them, but that custom had slid by the board. (These are Ababda people, originally from Arabia and reputedly numbering something like 34,000,000 in Egypt.)

So now, we had to suffice with a welcoming, neighbourly, drink of jababnah (pronounced jAbanA). It's made with hand-ground coffee and rather more hand-ground ginger, amongst other bits and bobs. It's heated on charcoal, hence the rag around the red-hot handle, and some wire wool is stuffed into the spout to act as a filter. Speaking as someone who only likes Irish coffee, and that because I cannot taste the coffee for the Irish whisky, I could have sat and drunk this concoction all night. I'm surprised that they get away with serving it in these tiny cups? (Unless it was/is relatively expensive to make?) In short; it was utterly delicious!

After a good old chin-wag covering the various differences in politics, religion, economics and social problems in Egypt and England, we had a stroll past the fascinating Fatimid cemetery, and ended up at a house/factory belonging to an old man who was his life-long friend. The old man, who was asleep while we were there, makes decorative man-hole covers. Like these:


We sat by the roadside for ages, just watching the back-street life of Aswan going about its routine, it was lovely, and peaceful too. 

Our Aswan friend maintains that the British introduced the segregation of rich and poor in Egypt, when they built the railways. He pointed out that the rich live between the railway and the Nile, and the poor are confined to the East of the railway. This had never occurred to me before, but on reflection, and in the main, he's right! But was it a deliberate policy decision? Who knows?

It's about bedtime now, but my mouth is watering thinking about that jabanah! See you later, alligator! 

Intrepid travellers!

Yes, that's us folks. You all know how Freda likes her luxury, don't you Dear Reader? Well, we've just returned from a little jaunt to Aswan, where we had 3 nights of roughing it! You couldn't make it up!

But never mind that for the moment, it's Sunday; supposedly a day of rest, so I'll go through the millions of pictures maybe tomorrow and get back to you. Our hardships might bring you to tears, so you'd better have a box of tissues at the ready.

Today........we woke to the sound of a windy pick (jack hammer to our friends over the water) in our little *local* street below. It's been on-the-cards for a while (Colloquialism; on-the-cards = an inevitability, something being due to occur.) but which we'd put it to the back of our minds, as you do with things which you would rather just go away.

It meant, "The Gas Man Cometh!!! And there he was, drilling away for all he's worth! There was another poor beggar with him, shovelling out the muck into piles on either side of the trench, completely blocking the street to anyone other than experienced mountaineers!

If you don't believe me, just look:

That's Coffeeshop Adam having a look as well. Not too happy!

Never mind, it would appear that President El Sisi wants everyone to have the opportunity to get piped up, and reduce the dangers inherent in bottled gas. 

When I went down to go to the government shop, I became aware of the full effect of their mornings work;

I thought that it was just as well that Dr Al Mallach didn't have any patients booked in for major surgery today, they'd have had a bonny job on, getting them over that lot! 

On my return from the shop (10/15 minutes? At most.) I found the lad back-filling his trenches. "That was quick work", thought I. I couldn't see any pipework in what remained of the trench, and sought out the man with the clip-board, and neighbour (and translator) Mr Radwan, who were over-seeing the work. Apparently, the gas trench had to be 20 cms wide and 20 cms from any other services, e.g. water or electricity. Well, Dear Reader, you've seen how narrow our street is, oh, haven't you?

There it is, it has a water main running the length of it and also two or three waste water pipes too! No gas pipes for you today, Mr Edward! I actually felt heart-sorry for the labourer, it's still quite hot here, certainly too hot for labour-in-vain!

(*local* is an inference which might well be too obscure for even some of our UK friends! You see; our's is a "local street", meant for "local people", as in the strange cultish TV series "The League of Gentlemen".)

Have a look here and you might come to terms with the concept:

For the moment, I'll leave you with the lovely people of Royston Vasey, but "I'll be back!"

Where am I? What's this page I've landed on?

Hi-de-hi, campers!

Yes, I feel a little lost too. It seems ('cos it is, stupid) an age since I last confided in you, Dear Reader. We've been in Eng-er-land, you know, escaping from the heat of the summer. Which reminds me to tell you that one of the films on our outbound EgyptAir flight was "In the Heat of the Night". That very tense and atmospheric picture starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier. I was really enjoying it, when I, quite suddenly, fell asleep, missing about three quarters of it!

But never mind. We're back, back to the heat, back to the muezzin's wailing and the constant buzz of people-noise that encapsulates what Luxor is now all about since world tourism abandoned us. No more the frightened look on the newbies faces as they scurry through the tourist souk, no more queues of coaches lining up for the Temple coach park, or multi-vehicle convoys dashing to and from the airport. What are the carriage drivers busying themselves with since the demise of the Pasha Run, where maybe 30 of them would trail around the back streets, tourists peering into open doors or being horrified at the condition of both the people and the properties?

But that's enough of me moaning, at least we're glad to be here, even if it does mean that I'm back to my natural calling, cleaning! Here's one of me just today,

I'm busy blowing the dust off the stair walls with my trusty blower (pronounced as in flower) which, as you can see, is a re-purposed leaf blower and garden vacuum which came from FreeCycle. It's a marvellous creation even though I did end up being Hacky-Mucky, as we sometimes say in Geordieland. And yes, those are sweat marks on my shirt, and me at 65!!!! I should have followed my beloved mother's example and ticked the "NO CLEANING" box when I retired.

During one of the brief spells where I was able to go out and about, I noticed a dead cruiseboat lying in the river. It's the MS. EMELY, even though it has been moored up here since the revolution, I was seeing it still advertised on different websites as sailing and taking bookings. But surely, it's not anymore?

As you can see, it has developed a slight list to the starboard and there are several doors left open. Unless all the soft furnishings have been removed to some safe storage facility (hehehe) I fear that the local "wildlife"(?) will have chewed at everything, and not one piece will ever be usable again. Such a pity, as it looks as if it was quite nice in its day, with its full length balcony doors. Isn't it sad, Dear Reader?

But, onward and upwards, and I'm very very pleased to report that our old neighbour Mr Mohamed is still with us, even though he's just about bed-fast now. They've procured a wheelchair from somewhere, in which I fully intend to take him out for a little jaunt, maybe just up or down the street a way, maybe to see one of his old pals. Who knows?

Anyway, you now know that we're back, so perhaps you can drop in here from time to time, you never know what you're going to find. Oh, by the way, it seems that we're off to the Old Cataract in Aswan again, next week. I'm bound to find something to regale you with from there?



Wot? Or even, "What?", either would be the right exclamation, believe me! We went to Krakow, primarily in order to view the terrible place of unimaginable horrors which is the former Auschwitz concentration camp.

But we didn't get there! 

Honestly, Freda had researched the whole programme for the week, down to the last detail (well, perhaps not quite!) and we had planned to use the public transport system to get to the camp. In the event, it turned out that the twenty minute 'bus service changed to an hourly one at lunchtime. But we didn't find this out until twenty minutes before the last ten minute service left from behind the railway station, which we couldn't possibly get to in time!!!! A bit of a blow, was that. I priced a taxi, but that was prohibitive. There was nothing for it but to admit that we just wouldn't get, on this visit anyway. So, we determined to enjoy something else whilst we had the opportunity.

When we did the golf cart tour we went around the old Jewish Quarter. (Some streets were inaccessible due to a festival.) Before the Nazis turned up there were something like 80,000 Jewish people in Krakow, when they left, only about 1000 were still there. The ghetto pictures were heartbreaking, where 3000 people had lived, the Nazis crammed in 17,000 Jews; they had two square metres each, and 250 calories a day to survive on!

Obviously, these poor unfortunates are well represented in among the various types of souvenirs. There were genuine Star of David patches from the ghetto, and ornate Hebrew prayer wheels. Then there were modern representations of ghetto Jews:

These two little groups are typical, there were a great many similar.

I couldn't help but notice that the accordion players invariably had what is currently known as a "Melodeon face", Being a player, and interested, I see the same expression on YouTube over and over again! Here's a closer shot:

Please don't complain (or even think) that I'm making light of the suffering of these musicians, I'm certainly not! This is just an illustration of a phenomenon which is recognised in the weird world of melodeons.

Back to the present day in Krakow; We did a lot of walking (ooooh, the knees!) and the "Planty" was lovely. The Planty being the area which was originally the walls of the old city, now long gone and replaced with a green belt right around the inner city (2 and a half miles) of trees and bushes of many varieties, lots of grass with well kept tarmac footpaths and lots of seating. On one venture through the Planty, I caught a glimpse of what I took to be a legless bloke, until I got around the corner and past the people in front:

It really was a lovely place to wander, very few dogs, thankfully, and no mess or litter. In fact, when we went to the Wawel Castle, I was so shocked to see an empty beer bottle that I felt compelled to pick it up and find a bin! ("A bit different to Luxor, then." I can hear you saying, Dear Reader! And it certainly was.)

Mentioning the Castle, we had a nice wander around there too. It's only about 10 to 15 minutes from the Square, through the Planty. Not to waste time or megabites, here's a couple of pictures which give a good idea of the layout:

There's no fooling you is there, yes it's a model! It's made of metal, so it's a bit hot to touch, which is a slight problem as all the information which is on the model, in Polish and English, is also in Braille!

I could go on all day about Krakow and its characters, but I've got to stop somewhere, obviously. How about this bloke?

He's real, honestly!

Or this one?

I think that's enough of Krakow now, unless, Dear Reader, you really want some more pictures?

We've been home a while now, with not very much to report. But I caught this man the other morning at 06.45 training for the "Great North Run". Is he crackers, or "wot"?

Yes, that's a real fridge!


Busy, busy, busy!

Hello Playmates, I apologise for keeping you waiting to see the rest of the pics from Krakow. I have been busy though, honestly!

Our back yard door has needed replacing for the past two or three years, and Freda found one on Freecycle, last time we were home. Obviously, she was sick of seeing it propping up the wall, its time had come! Of course, it ended up needing the whole frame replacing, as well, and me not being a joiner managed to make mistakes when sizing it all up etc etc etc etc! It's done now though, thankfully. Actually, I'm rather pleased with the way it turned out.

Then; there was my favourite melodeon to see to. Being like me, but probably about 40 years older, it is failing in body! Well, bellows actually. They're only made of cardboard, you know, covered with a bit of cloth and bits of very thin metal here and there, but not everywhere. A nasty split appeared in the bellows fold next to where one end attaches to the wooden frame. I've glued it up, and I've prepared some strong-ish linen to cover and strengthen the joint. We'll see how it goes shortly, as I miss playing it.

Talking of melodeons; I "accidentally" bought another one a few weeks ago, via German eBay! I won't bore you with the story, but it's a lovely thing! A Hohner Club Model 11, here's a quick pic, just to get it off my chest!

Isn't it a beauty? It's quite different to play properly, and at the moment I'm only playing on the outside row of buttons, which is the same as playing a 1-row, it'll take time for me to get anywhere near the hang of the new (to me) system.

Now then, where were we? Ah, Krakow!

Perhaps we should start with a look at our next hotel, The Wentzl?

It's situated on the main square, and doesn't really look all that impressive on the outside. What do you think, Dear Reader?

This was taken at the night-time, and the main entrance isn't, as you would imagine, behind the third parasol from the right. No, it's directly behind the first parasol. The fancy stonework is around the entrance to the restaurant. Our room (better than the standard room, of course!) is the unlit one above the hotel entrance, it's a treat! Let's have a look at that, eh?

A view from inside the doorway.

Just look at those fabulous beams!

The room had everything you could want: a lovely bed, a comfortable sitting area with a coffee table, a desk and chairs with free WiFi (and wired Internet access) a coffee machine, kettle, free mineral water, a packed mini-bar plus re-stocked consumables (including hot chocolate!) The view was always fascinating; the ever-changing Square!

The bathroom was very flash, but awkward to get a decent picture of, sorry. I wish the water-flow of the shower at either of our homes was anywhere near as good as it was here!  

Enough of indoors, 

Krakow is a beautiful place, and I want you to see just how much there was to be enjoyed.

We took a city tour on a golf cart! It was really good, quiet, smooth and the driver was a very pleasant young chap, with reasonable English. The guide commentary wasn't via earphones but speakers strategically placed around the vehicle, and they were always audible without being too loud. The vehicles were just waiting around all over the place, some had 4 passenger seats and others 6. We also saw a fancy tuc-tuc:

The tuc-tuc didn't seem to move, it was advertising a restaurant which it stood outside of. We noticed at least one golf cart with P45 mirrors on it, that was a surprise, I can tell you! (Colloquialism: P45 mirrors = rear view mirrors, the type of which began to appear on expensive coaches in the UK in the late 1980's, and were so expensive to replace that drivers were afraid of being sacked if they broke one, hence the P45 reference, a P45 being an income tax form which an employer would give to an employee when his employment was terminated.)

Poland, in general being a big Catholic country, has a church on every corner, rather like mosques in Luxor, but they certainly differ in the style and quality of the architecture! The one's we dipped into were fabulous. Here's a few shots:

Whilst I can appreciate the beauty of these buildings, and the lifetime commitment of the builders and craftsmen; being a Protestant non-conformist I cannot reconcile the opulence with the relative poverty of the congregation which would have gathered there when they were newly constructed, or, indeed, the example which our Saviour set! Never mind, I'm not going to have my prejudices spoil the moment. 

The city is buzzing with both tourists and locals. One very popular form of tourist transport is the "Segways", I'd have loved to have a go, but Freda wouldn't hear of it. They were everywhere!

For the more timid, there were these three-wheeled things as well:

For the even-more-timid, there were these beautiful carriages:

That's the Cloth Hall in the background, it's full of small tourist-style shops, and has an excellent and well worthwhile museum underneath it! (There's one part of the Museum where a fountain in the Square above constitutes the ceiling, and you can see people dabbling their feet in the water, or even paddling. Very strange!) The horses hooves are shod with high healed shoes! If you don't believe me, then take a look at this:

And, no they weren't orthopaedic shoes especially for this horse, they ALL wore them. I've never seen the like! Whilst the carriages are standing, they're all "manned" by trendy looking young(ish) ladies, with top hats and all the gear. But when they are ready to go, up pops some rough and ready bloke to do the actual driving, well, in the main, anyway. They go on till very late in the evening, and I never sawany of them being driven at more than a snail's pace. Also, I didn't yet see any horse muck......anywhere. (Or smell horse pee, as we do in Luxor! What a clean place this is.) 
That's enough for just now, I'll get around to doing some more on another day; promise!