Wot's new? Nothing under the sun!

Yes Playmates, it's another post full of the same old same old, I'm afraid. But not necessarily for everyone, eh?

We aren't spending all that much time roaming the streets, as is our usual wont, because it's too bleedin' cold!!!! This morning, around 10ish, it was 5 degrees C, which was 5 degrees colder than Windy Nook, you couldn't make it up, honestly. Who, in their right mind, would travel to red hot Egypt to suffer temperatures like this?

I had to go and visit our good friend Ahmed Badawy (of caleche fame) today, as he is really quite ill. Those of you who know him will remember how thin he's been getting these past few years since the Revolution, well, I was shocked to see him today (for the first time since we returned). He was wrapped up in bed with several layers of galabiyas on and a couple of those furry blankets, but still felt chilly when I embraced him. His cheeks are now sunken in, and his mother was almost in tears with worry about him when I saw her last night. Brother Samir had him to the hospital three times yesterday, and he now has a selection of medicines which he seems to be taking, let's all hope they do the trick. I was able to drop off a significant sum of cash to help the family along, which had been sent by a very kind lady in England. (Thanks again to her and the others who send us money to distribute in these terribly hard times.)

Getting back to El Sisi's visit, I've still one or two pictures which may be of interest:

The first one is of the lazer light show taken from Sharia Karnak and then from our terrace. The next is a sneaked shot of the orchestra playing in the Temple:

Remember, Dear Reader, that all these pics can be viewed separately, and bigger, by clicking on any one of them.

The following day, security was still very tight, and El Sisi had a helicopter roaming around all day, almost skimming rooftops at times:

Strange Beggars!

You've seen me mention our local scrapman, Mohamed Sabbah, haven't you? He has the tiny shop just in our main road, next to the nearest of the 4 local barber shops. Here he is chatting with said barber, outside their respective shops:

Mohamed is the one who's all wrapped up. He took over the shop from his father, and quite possibly his father before him. He buys scrap (ferrous about 2le per kilo, last time I asked) and sells old newspaper, shisha pipes and accessories and rudimentary wooden household items along with oven trays which he makes from old butter tins, brushes and mops, the odd  china set and pans etc. He squeezes a lot into that tiny space, let me assure you. 

But, have I ever mentioned the Fat Brothers? (They're not really fat, just not as thin as the rest of our neighbours.) Two of these organise the annual stick fighting to celebrate Abu Haggag in our little square,. Remember, when they close the road? Well, they have the large building right next door to Mohamed. It was once a real restaurant (before my time) and they wanted me to rent it as such when we first came here. Since then it has mainly lain unused except for when the stick fighting and the Moulid come around each year. In between times it has been a coffeshop in various styles, but lately it's been boarded up. 

Until...........last week, when it seemed to be all go! Here's the finished article, sadly a much bigger replica of poor Mohamed's little store, and right nexr door!

What a trick to play on your neighbour, eh? And it's over two floors as well! That's the baldy one of the Fat Bro's standing there.

This sort of thing isn't new, mind you. Identical shops are often to be found next door to each other, no-one here seems to have any original thought for business ideas. Until one of them died, we had 5 barbers in spitting distance of each other right nearby, telephone shops and shoe shops abound. But....there's not enough business for more than one of any trade to make a half decent living. Daft!!!!!!!

People in the tourism sector are still crying their eyes out, as they close their shops, hoping to re-open when the tourists come back, or see their horses slowly dwindling away to death for want of proper feeding. Mr Jadhallah, the Shakespeare quoting boatman, has almost disappeared, he's that thin! 

I know that Westerners, in general, are afraid to venture into Muslim countries just now, and rightly so in many cases, but my experience of Luxor is one of relative safety when compared to many western countries. We certainly haven't had 3000 unfortunate workers killed in one blow, like the USA, or had people killed by the dozen in bus and tube train incidents like the London carry on, nor yet loads of innocent music lovers massacred in a night club like in Paris, nor even the mass sexual assaults which have been seen in Germany!  Yet the people here, whose lives are intermingled between Christianity and Islam, are paying with their livelihoods.  

Next time you're here, take a look above street level, and see the indications of unity and cooperation between the two religions; like this, for instance:

Maybe it's not all that clear, but I can assure you that it is a representation of the Christian cross and the crescent moon of Islam intermingled, just like the Luxor population. A number of these signs are visible throughout Luxor, if you look carefully.

Another rooftop gem is situated on the main tourist coach route into town:

One of the poor little angels has lost his wings, or is he like Clarence in the fabulous old film "It's a Wonderful Life", and hasn't yet received them?

Finally, something to warm your heart as you travel around here on the local service buses:

2 out of 5? And the hub bearing open to the sand and dust? Safety first, eh?

Bye for now, my beloved requires tea!

The Egyptian and the Chinaman.............

Or, as our old mate Max Bygraves would have said, "I wanna tell you a story!". 
Only this isn't a joke or even a funny story, it's very serious for the Egyptians.

Apparently, the Chinese are giving Egypt a helping hand of $1.6 billion. That's a lot of noughts after the 1.6, Dear Reader! So, after having the Pope in Luxor last week, we've got the Chinese President and Prime Minister here this week, being joined by El Supremo himself tomorrow. I've a feeling that President El Sisi hasn't actually been to Luxor since he was put in charge. The "powers-that-be" of Luxor are certainly going all-out to impress. Speed humps have been done away with (apparently, John F Kennedy's murder by shooting was only popssible because his vehicle had to slow down!) and roads are being re-surfaced as I write. 

Roadside plots are being planted and generally tidied up, and Luxor Temple is being screened from public gaze by tent poles and tent fabric. It's all going on 
down there.

On the left of the above shot is the back corner of house which used to belong to the two elderly ladies, the shot was taken from the Corniche. The next one was taken from farther along the Corniche, towards the south end of the Temple.

And this next one is from the south end of the Temple, looking over the storage area towards the Abu Haggag Square.

Here we are, opposite the old Luxor Wena Hotel site (Sindbad's), shooting the picture across the top of the Roman remains, which are the latest of the excavations on the Temple site.

Of course, I took a few more which may be of some interest:

On the Corniche side of the Temple, the benign smile of President El Sisi is displayed looking down from several lamp posts. (Actually, there are also pictures of a Chinaman, but I wasn't sure if it was their President or their Prime Minister, fool that I am!) 

They're erecting a nice little tent, right in front of the pylon, collossi and obelisk.

Maybe it's not very evident from this pic, but they're also erecting loads of lighting gantries. They're to adequately illuminate the Temple for the fesivities tomorrow night, when the "Honoured Guests" will be treated to a night of wonderous entertainment, including even exerpts from the opera "Aida".

More lighting towers shots, plus a glimpse of he Chinese lanterns, strategically placed around the Temple. They must be a couple of spares lying in the foreground. But what's that guard up to?

I hope El Sisi doesn't catch him texting if he's on duty tomorrow!!!!

As well as the lighting towers, they have plenty of lights on the ground, too:

Do you see them in the foreground? I suppose that they'll need them all to produce the following fabulous result, eh?

Let's all hope that the Chinese delegation are suitably impressed, and, even though they're going through rough times themselves, they can find the aid which they've promised.

Good on ya, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi! 

Ooops! Nearly forgot.

It wasn't until I was sorting some photographs on the laptop that I was reminded about an uncharacteristic stroke of good luck, which occurred on new year's eve.

I'll get to that in a minute or so. Meanwhile, you must, by now, be aware that my latest interest, or hobby, or whatever you'd like to call it, is my melodeon. It has taken over all my leisure time, either thinking about it, playing it, making running repairs to it, or initial planning of starting to make playable another one which I also have. While not being actually encouraging about this new obsession, Freda hasn't been all that negative about it, either. Sounds encouraging in itself, don't you think?

I am aware that I might be neglecting the things which would normally occupy my imagination like figuring out a way to paint the stairs at "Our Luxor" without making a huge mess and falling off the steps/ladders every day! No matter, this is currently more pressing.

When I bought the first melodeon, I joined an online forum thingy dedicated to the instrument. It was very daunting, at first, but I quickly realised that I was completely and utterly out of my depth with many of the discussiins going on. I therefore don't read the threads about music (the "dots" or "ABC notation") and concentrate more on the instrument-based topices, like buying and selling, or makes and models, even design and construction. Whilst most of it is still "above my pay grade" most of the time, I am able to contribute occasionally and I do learn a lot from the other members.

There are many really patient and helpful people on there, some who are obviously hugely respected in the various paths they have chosen. Some write instruction books, many play for Morris dance teams (known as "sides" for some reason) and others are famous for their contributions to the world of folk music etc. One such is a youngish bloke called John Spiers, who is a mainstay of an outlandish folk music group called Bellowhead. They're fabulous, even if they aren't really your cup of tea, Eleven of them, all highy skilled and VERY loud.

Now then, back to the forgotten bit; Number Two daughter has taken a job in a specialist sort of shop, in Gateshead, which she just loves! It came about, on new year's eve, that she got into conversation with a customer while serving him, and he happened to mention that he was performing with his band at the "Sage, Gateshead" that evening. One thing led to another, and before you could say "Jack Robinson" he'd been outside conferring with someone else and returned with the offer of 3 complimentary tickets for the show! This was the show that I'd fancied going to, but at £45 a ticket, had just forgotten about! "Who was the band?" I hear you ask. Why, bless my soul if it wasn't Bellowhead!

Here's my ticket:

As Darling Daughter didn't fancy it, I was accompanied by Sister Sue and her husband. Next to us, there was a youngish lady with a little girl, who hardly sat during the whole performance; they were dancing (along with a good number of others) in the space in front of our seats. It wasn't until later that I learned that this lady was the wife of the drummer, who'd got us the free tickets. Small world?

Waiting for the performance to begin, I was astonished to see an old friend, whom I hadn't seen for about 15 years, making his way to the row behind us, with a much younger female(!). We chatted during the interval, which was when I realised that the young female had a striking resemblance to the chap's (long dead) mother. You've guessed, of course Dear Reader; it was his daughter. This gentleman is about 70, and although I knew that he had been very musical in his youth, I couldn't imagine him being a fan of Bellowhead; where melodeons take up my spare brain capacity, his is still full of Aston Martin super cars, he's owned stacks of them over the years. 

Anyway, after the performace, everyone made there way to the ground floor, where a new year ceilidh was to be held after counting down to the change of date. Now then, I'm not one to seek out famous folk, nor am I a name-dropper, but when I saw Friend Spiers standing there, I had to introduce myself!

Yes, I know! He's almost as good looking as I am! The mortifying part came when the squiffy daughter of my friend asked him if he was wearing a wig!!! I could have died with shame!

Never mind, he took it all in good heart. 

So there you are Dear Reader, at least I finished off 2015 with a nice surprise, makes a change, eh? TTFN.

Back again!

Yes Dear Reader, we're back! Back once again to the dirty little town which we've grown to love..........Luxor, in the Luxor Governorate, in Upper Egypt.

Our journey was as we expected, except for the meal on the LHR/CAI leg; it was absolutely scrumptuous! (I even ate most of the salad!!!!!!) We'd had a nice time in the Air Canada lounge at Heathrow, which came as part of the "looking after" of EgyptAir Gold Card holders, along with the "Fast Track" checking in and boarding, extra baggage allowance and priority baggage handling! I've just got to recommend it.

When we arrived at Cairo International, I tried to ring our regular taxi man, Ayman, to collect us from Luxor Airport, but couldn't raise him so we contacted our mate Mr Bahaa, who arranged a mini-bus to be waiting when we got there. It all worked out fine, and Adam and some of his boys were on hand to help us get our luggage up the stairs to our humble little abode.

The next few days were spent mostly in cleaning, I'm sick to death of removing and refitting curtain hooks! Of course, I had the new roller to fit to our Kirby vacuum, and a new filter for the K'Archer, which has also had a good clean, inside and out, with Jif cream cleaner (it's great stuff!) till it looks like a new one.

Today was the first opportunity we had to relax a little, as we called to see Mr Bahaa at his Sunrise Tours office on the Corniche, in order to pay for the van (Colloquialism: "van" actually refers to a mini-bus here.). Outside his office, I spied (and photographed) a nice old Land Rover Long Wheelbase Safari. It brought back many happy memories.

Mind you, it wasn't a patch (Colloquialism "wasn't a patch" = nowhere near as good as.) on the same model which we toured France in, in 1976! But it was nice to see, anyway.

I was most surprised, and very pleased, to see some progress at the new hotel on the corner of El Corniche el Nil and Salahadeen St (diagonally opposite the Iberotel) belonging to the St Joseph Hotel people. It appears that part of the ground floor (at least) has been taken by the Abu Dhabi International Bank! It looks very flash.

You'll all be thrilled (I know!) to be told that I brought with me my little melodeon, in the case which I so lovingly constructed for it. But now that it is here things are starting to go wrong!!!!

Here's a shot showing where a bit has fallen off:

Do you see the light coloured bit in the centre of the pic? A piece of the bellows tape has come adrift! It's there to protect the bellows from damage, as they are only made of a heavyish cardboard, and easily wear away against clothing etc during playing. I don't know whether it's come off of it's own accord (maybe the raised temperature and low humidity has effected the 100 year old glue) or it could be that I've been playing it too violently when resting it on my leg, and thereby riven it off; who knows? Anyway, I'd better find some way of repairing it, pronto!

Perhaps I'll be able to get to it after I've sorted our water heater, which is still acting itself!

Ho-hum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another day; another dollar (spent!).