Didn't we have a loverly time, the day we went to.............

Yes, Dear Reader, that's part of the first line of a song by 1980's one-hit-wonders; Fiddler's Dram. They went to Bangor, in North Wales, but we were priviledged to go to Aswan! And we went in some style, on the Royal Viking Nile Cruiser, again!

So, why did we choose to sail on the RV (Royal Viking) for the third time in less than a year? Of course, the special rate that we are able to negotiate with our good friends at Viking is a great help, but the fact that it's a really nice boat/ship (or whatever) with comfortabely sized, clean cabins and perfectly nice food also goes a long way to my being more than comfortable with recommending it as well as sailing as often as we can afford to. It's a joy to sit on the sun-deck as you leisurely make your way between the glorious banks of the world's longest and most famous river.

We mustn't forget the pleasurable visits which the tourists undertake on their journey; the magnificent temples at both Edfu and Kom Ombo, as well as the various visits arranged for them in and around Aswan itself. But, for us, it's all about the actual cruising, and meeting fellow Brits who are (in the main) visiting the wonders of Egypt for the first time. We can re-live the thrill of our first encounters with Egypt's treasures as we converse with them, it's fab!

Mind you, they can include some queer folk, as you well know, Dear Reader!!!!

We were amazed to meet the husband and second daughter of a lady whom we met when we sailed in October! The husband was fascinating, with lots of special interests. It seems that his working life is spent making metal rust! Now, if that's not strange, I don't know what is!!!!! Never mind, a thoroughly nice chap, anyway. He was also "game for a laugh", and a bit anti-authority! Here he is, with the rest of the Ingleezy gang, displaying his anti-authoritarian streak by not wearing his life-jacket whilst on the felucca:

That's him, at the back, the fashion-conscious one with straw hat and daughter.
(Click on any picture to get them all up together, and bigger.)

As they made their way across the river, the local boys arrived, I'd almost forgotten all about them over the years, but they then had very small, and ramshackle, home-made boats, in which they paddled up to any unsuspecting tourist-laden felucca and sang "Row, row, row your boat" or "Freres Jacques", depending on what nationality they imagined the tourists to be. Of course, they had to be rewarded with cash before they would go away; a canny little earner on a good day! (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = good.)

I decided to catch a little video of the boys and their vessels as they approached their quarry:

They don't seem to have boats any more, they look more like surfboards!
Freda and I got to chat with several other people, too. One couple (retired, I presume) have a "project" on the go in Tanzania, where they work with children. They're a registered charity where 97% of the money goes directly to where it does good. (That's an impressive figure compared to most others!) Their website is: www.farajasupport.org.uk 

The husband of the pair is in cahoots with another passenger with their (combined, I believe) idea of building houses to cover the northern Sahara, with solar panels on the roofs, which (in theory) could supply all the energy needs for Europe and more, housing for countless displaced populations and some way of reclaiming the desert for agriculture! Very grandiose, but perfectly plausible when explained properly, it sounded really innovative. This second bloke has a head full of ideas, I'm surprised that he manages to turn off and sleep at nights. Utterly fascinating conversations with them both.

Another retired couple were equally fascinating; they spend six months at sea each year! Not on cruiseboats, as you might imagine, but on their own yacht. Apparently, they set off in April and sail away and around, all over, for the whole of the summer, and have done for years! Again, this was a couple whom we could have spent days in conversation with, more insights into completely different lifestyles. Simply wonderful! 

Those two travelled to Egypt with the widowed brother of the wife, who had yet another story of his own. Ex Royal Greenjackets, and ex international wine and spirit dealer, and also an old motorcycle afficionado. I tell you, we get all sorts here in Egypt!

Added to this mix were the Chief of the Luxor Traffic police and his family, and a particularly self-assured young lady travelling solo, whom I was informed was very close to President El Sisi as a member of his equivalant to the American CIA and the Russian KGB!!!!!! Of course, it still being relatively close to the annual Egyptian holiday period, there were a good number of Egyptian families aboard, too.

The Journey South

We left on Tuesday, at about 2pm, and came across over a dozen cruiseboats which had also left at lunchtime-ish. Here are a few of them as we prepared to overtake them all, the RV is one of the fastest boats on the Nile.

Of course, the usual stops were made, so that the tourists could make their visits at Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples. We saw the Tuk-tuks and emaciated carriage horses at Edfu:

(And I still covet a Tuk-tuk!!!!) We also saw the rubbish collecting boat alongside while we were tied up, with one of the rubbish men carefully going through each bag before it was slung with the others:

Just like last time we cruised, we came across fishermen getting a tow home:

Quite unlike the last few times we've been on the Nile, we noticed that the stallholders at Kom Ombo were mostly open, and (Hallelujah!) were quite busy!

I feel sure that you will agree that Kom Ombo Temple looks gorgeous from the river at night, when it's illuminated:

Another glorious sight which many miss as they slink about in the bar, or where ever, is the equally impressive Aswan Bridge, which is just so photogenic!

In Aswan

We docked at Aswan on Wednesday evening, mooring directly opposite the "Tombs of the Nobles". You'll remember the view from an earlier post, I'm sure, Dear Reader:

Gaudy, but quite impressive, nevertheless.

The mountain lights in Luxor don't compare at all! But they're very different places, after all. We like Aswan a lot, and especially the Old Cataract Hotel, where we stayed on our very first trip there in 1997. It has real character!

After lazing round the boat all day on Thursday, we decided to stretch our legs with a stroll along there on Friday. It's only about 25 minutes or so, and we don't walk too fast, being ancient, you know? On the way, I always keep a lookout for things of interest, as you're aware, I'm sure.

I don't know whether you remember me mentioning the cruiseboat on wheels, with the accompanying picture? I brought it to your attention as the rumour was that Ethiopia was going to take more water from the Nile, and that the cruiseboat operators were considering stealing a march on the situation by sending the cruiseboats and passengers, via a magnificent new road (yet to be constructed) across the desert. Here's the proof which I provided at the time:

Well, on our little hike along the Corniche in Aswan, I couldn't help but notice that someone there has seemingly cornered the market for when the oil runs out and we all have to revert to horsedrawn transport, thus:

The owners might think that these were well hidden from prying eyes, but they didn't reckon on old "Eagle-eyed Mr Edward" did they?

We made it to the Old Cataract, where we found comfortable seats in an advantageous position for watching other visitors as they came and went (as usual!). I took the obligatory pictures of the beautiful Moorish arches etc as we waited:

The whole place never ceases to amaze me!

All of a sudden, a familiar face presented itself in front of us! "What are you doing here?" it demanded. It was an old acquaintence from the Winter Palace in Luxor. What a lovely surprise! After we had exchanged the usual pleasantries, and told him about our cruise etc, he ushered us outside and onto the terrace, taking our order for tea and decaf coffee, with some cake, as we went. The waiter took a while to arrive with the goodies, and we just luxuriated in the warm sun as it drifted towards the Western horizon, it's final resting place beyond the Aga Khan's Mausoleum and St Simeon's Fortress Monastery. Pictures and a small video begged to be taken.

(The Aga Khan's Mausoleum is the building which I first zoom onto, and St Simeon's is the large low building in the distance at (and after) 20 seconds. This monastery is a great place to visit. It necessitates a short camel ride, but it's well worth the discomfort!)

When we finally asked for the bill, we were astonished to find that our refreshments were "Complimentary, Mr Edward". How nice, it made the walk back to the boat all the sweeter!

Our journey back to Luxor

Was quite uneventful. A slight headwind was magnified by the motion of the boat as it cut along at a fair old speed, but it wasn't enough to deter many of the passengers from catching the sun on the open top deck. Everyone wanted to make the most of their time here.

We stopped off at Kom Ombo and Edfu to facilitate the new arrivals' visits to the two temples.

I noticed a concrete barrier, of sorts, across a part of the river which ran behind an island.

I was looking at it with my small binoculars when the Egyptian man standing nearby piped up " I built that!" He went on to explain that it had been intended to stop the incursion into the main flow of the river of "hashish", meaning general vegetation, which causes problems at Esna, in particular, but that it had not been maintained properly. (Strange, for Egypt?)

Freda's mosquito bite on her calf flared up during the return journey too, here it is, in all it's glory:

Very painful, and still being treated with an anti-biotic ointment and tablets.

Approaching the bridge and lock at Esna each cruiseboat is regaled by the local galabiya/table cloth/bath towel salesmen. Shouts of "Excuse me" "Hey Ingleezy" or (of course) "Hey beautiful" "My queen" "My sweetheart", usually get some response, and then the goods come flying through the air, being stuffed into a plastic bag for fear of falling into the water and being ruined. The idea being that the prospective purchaser can inspect the item before agreeing a price and throwing the cash (in the bag) back down to the seller. More often than not, though, it's the item which gets thrown back down in the bag, and often landing in the river! Here's some ideas of their tactics:

I don't know how they are managing to make a living by doing this in the current tourist situation.

Whilst waiting for the lock to empty into the downstream section of the river, I couldn't help but notice this particularly fine looking hydraulic press:

Boy oh boy! Could I have made good use of that 30 or 40 years ago? The 100 ton press, which I had access to at the time, often used to make horrendous (and frightening) groaning and creaking sounds as it progressed towards it's maximum pressure whilst pressing out seized king pins! The one in the above picture would have made short work of them, I'm sure.

I think that that's about it for this journey, I do hope you've enjoyed coming along with us, even just as spectators. See you all again soon, I'm sure. TTFN.

(p.s. I hope these videos play properly for you, as I'm still not getting them on my machine. Grrrrrrrr!)

Roll up! Roll up!

Yes, Playmates, the Circus is in town!

We (at least, those of us who are creeping ever nearer to our dotage) know full well how joints and muscles complain when we make them do things they don't like, like walking or doing press-ups (some chance!). Well, Freda has taken on the role of trainer, and is determined to have me fit enough to do walking tours when we go on our TWO holidays in the summer. So far, this entails me walking for a good half hour or so before being allowed to jump on a 'bus. It's not too bad, to be honest, but after a few days my feet ache, and she lets me have a few days respite. She's canny, you know. (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = caring, nice.)

So, we're walking there (well, almost, dependng on where "where" actually happens to be) and then either getting the 'bus or caleche back again. Today, it was the Nile Palace, down on Ibn Khaled al Walid Street (or whatever) at Awamaya. We strolled as far as the back gate of the Winter Palace at Saladin Square, where we arrived just at the same time as a 'bus, how fortunate!

Did I already tell you that the Nile Palace have increased the price of their English cake from 13le to 35!!!!! It's shocking! Never mind, I just happened to have a sweet pastry about my person which went very well with a few cups of their delicious tea.

Friend Badawy came to take us from there to do our shopping and drop us back home. (He still hasn't got his caleche back from the police, even though they've reduced the "fine" to 200le.) We came across a travelling circus, on the way! Here's the entrance:

Poor Edward the horse took fright at the pictures alongside the roadway, I think it may have been the one of the lion which did it!

And here it is; the Big Top:

Freda doesn't fancy it, so we won't be going. It would be too cold and smelly, anyway. But I hope that plenty of locals get to take their kids, I'm sure they'd love it, and it would be a huge adventure for them. 

See ya!

Look up!

That's what we're told to do if we feel a sneeze coming on, yes? Once over,  I was told to stamp my foot as hard as I could to relive a cramp in the leg.That was just outside our local Mosque here in Luxor, and it worked!

Well, I posted some little while ago about looking up whilst wandering around Luxor, it's fascinating to see what there is to be seen. How about these:

This gryphon chap looks pretty scary, don't you think?  

And I don't know whether these four chaps started out as angels and lost all of their wings, or what? 

Anyway, we clocked them (Colloquialism; clocked = observed, saw, noticed.) on our daily (who am I kidding, more like twice weekly!) walk, which today took us along Manchiya Street and up Medina Street to the Forty Market to get some supplies in. It's turned cold again, so we weren't out any longer than necessary.

Then, after we arrived home, I decided that I fancied some falafel for supper, and, as Forty hadn't had any "Mandolins" (a Cadbury chocolate bar which is the same as a Twix, but longer and a less than a third the price) I went down to the government shop and bought a boxful while I was out. Also, as I was passing the egg man, I took my egg-carrying machine and got 15 large (kebeer) eggs on my way to Osman the Falafel Man.

On the way back, I couldn't have missed the racket from a caleche-man's wedding approaching from the Railway Station area. I thought I'd just get a clip of it, to give you a taste of what we have to put up with on a regular basis. (Mind you, seeing as no-one has answered my question about whether anyone can see the videos I'm posting, I don't know whether anyone will see this!!!!)

Apart from the noise, they don't care about the poor service bus drivers trying to get on with their work, or the passengers trying to get home or to the shops or whatever. There doesn't seem to be very much consideration for anyone else, as long as you're enjoying the moment! It's not a very good attitude, is it?

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the falafel and deep-fried auberguine, along with some nice fresh bread and Heinz tomato ketchup.

I'll finish with a little melodeon update. One of the most recent acquisitions has arrived at Dear Daughter's shop. It's a queer looking thing, looks like it's from the time when they were starting to try to modernise the look of them. It's the old-fashioned type of build, but with the "pearloid" finish of later years and jazzy bellows covering. I think it looks a bit ostentatious, But what do I know?

It's a poor show, I know!

I'm becoming more and more conscious that I'm failing you, Dear Reader! Fewer and fewer posts, which increasingly contain less and less which appertains to matters of much interest concerning Luxor or the special circumstances which make living here so out of the ordinary.

There's not a great deal that I can do to change the circumstances which are causing this lack of inspiration, or whatever you'd like to call it. We don't have the tourists which were formerly the main source of our entertainment and which led to much inspiration, and we aren't getting out as much as we did, due to it being so cold lately, and where would we go? Even our favourite tea stop, the Nile Palace, is less inviting since they increased the price of their English cake from 13le to 35le!!!!! The Etap (now officially the "Eatabe", as many of you will know) has become a no-go area due to the number of Egyptian families staying there. Not that I've anything against Egyptian families, mind you; but their close proximity isn't conducive to having interesting conversation whilst sipping tea. I'm sure many of you who have been here will have sympathy with this comment, as many Egyptian children tend not to be disciplined at all, and run riot, making nearly as much noise as do their parents talking loudly into their mobile phones, while coming and staring at you as well!

So, our trips out are mainly confined to shopping at the Forty Market, or at KZ on TV Street, or just going for a walk to stop us from seizing up altogether, and grabbing some bread from one of the local bakeries as we go.

Although we still come across the odd interesting sight here and there, how about these things:

Freda thought that they might be cucumbers, but as neither of us eat them (Yuk, horrid things!) we couldn't actually tell. Do cucumbers grow on trailing plants on house walls? Here's the full picture, which gives you a better idea of where they are:

Most of them are a canny size; up to a couple of feet long with diameters reaching to 4 or 5 inches, I'd say. (Colloquialism: canny, in this context, = fair or good.)

Anyway, it's warming up a bit. It was forecast for 29 degrees today and I snapped the thermometer on the terrace:

 We've not had the fan heater on today, either, which must be a good sign, eh?

I'm getting on practising playing the dreaded melodeon, which has mysteriously come back into tune since the weather warmed up a tad.  I mentioned the melodeon disease to you, didn't I; Melodeon Acquisiton Disorder? Well, here's a picture of the longsuffering wife of a victim, when she realises he's "fallen off the wagon" yet again:

But I'm sure she enjoyed the roses after she calmed down!


Almost forgot! I cannot see the videos on here any more. Is it just me, here in Egypt, or are some (or all) of you lot sitting there trying to imagine what they're supposed to be? Please let me know, as I don't really want you all to have to play guessing games.

Stupid stupid stupid!

did forget what prompted me to put pen to paper (well, you know what I mean!) today. It was an awful taste that my memory brought back into my mouth, after an interval of about 15 years!

We were sitting here, admiring our view of Luxor's interesting rooftops and the West Bank mountains, and wondering just which delicacy to try for our luncheon, when I remembered that we'd asked Adam to persuade his wife to cook for us again tonight . "It's chicken tonight, isn't it?" I blurted out. 

Instantly, I was transported back to our old family home in Pelaw, and I could taste it on my tongue; that foul concoction, "Chicken Tonight"! 

Who amongst you remembers that awful ready-made-sauce-stuff with the catchy advert on the telly? It was very tempting, so tempting, in fact that we actually bought some. One taste was anough, though. As I said it out loud, Freda's nose filled with the unpleasant stench of it. But now we just can hardly wait for Mrs Adam's lovely offering. Yes, we are lucky, I know!

A few more odds and ends.

Yes, Luxor is relatively FULL of tourists! But the traders are complaining that they aren't the spending type, they're Egyptian! Never mind, they must be spending, or they wouldn't be running around in coaches and mini-buses, and reading menues in Little Britain St, I've seen them doing all of this over the past few days. Even the Queens Valley Hotel seems to be teeming with guests! And the Emilio is all lit up at night too, indicating that they too are busy:

I think that's mighty impressive, for an hotel whch used to look like a pretty awful 3 star dump. Whilst I was down there, I took another snap of the Temple pylon along the Sphinx Avenue, I think it warrants another look, don't you, Dear Reader?

I never cease to be awed by the various monuments here on our doorstep; we're so lucky to spend so much time here.

Another sign that the Egyptian tourists are spending oney was the number of Balloons up the other morning. Mind you, I was still knocking out the Zzzz's when Freda got this early morning snap!

We're also very fortunate to be able to give one or two people here a helping hand! (That's with your help, thanks again!) Many of you, I know, will be delighted to hear that our little mate Ahmed seems to be on the mend. He's been taking his medicines religiously, and one seems to be bringing his appetite back, a bit anyway. He's up and about, and although his caleche has been impounded for some reason to do with young Sayed (Grrrrrr!), he is in a better frame of mind. We got Samir to collect us to go shopping and to get some hawawshi from Karnak, but he took us to see Ahmed at the caleche stand near the Winter Palace, first. When I asked if he would like some hawawshi brought back, he turfed poor Samir out of his caleche and drove us himself! I know that he does like the hawawshi from the man at Karnak, and at least I knew that he had a good hot feed tonight, eh? He's as cheerful as ever, God bless him.

Luxor always amazes me too. For all the poverty and the constant cries of being hard-up, there is always plenty of spending going on. Look at this wedding tent, on the dual carriageway at Karnak:

The incongruous thing is, that it has been erected right outside the "Karnak Charity Centre", you couldn't make it up!

Did I mention that the Hawawshi Man has moved? Well he has, he's gone to the other side of the dual carriageway just a few yards (metres?) farther up. As Ahmed left us parked next to the central reservation, I noticed something I thought rather queer:

Yes, I know it's a bit dark; it was taken at night-time! Nevertheless, I'm sure that you can make out the butane gas bottles stored in the niddle of the road. Don't you find that slightly unusual too?

By the way; Raymand and Kristin, I passed your best wishes onto Ahmed tonight and he was delighted to know that you'd been in touch, and was very grateful for your message of goodwill. Of course, he wanted to know when you are returning, lol.

One more thing, just before I go. I might need to see the doctor when I return to the Nook. It seems that I've got a touch of M.A.D. I bought yet another melodeon tonight, through eBay, it's being sent to our daughter's beauty salon (along with another from last week) for me to collect when I get back there. (Colloquialism: M.A.D. = Melodeon Acquisition Disorder, it's treatable, but I don't think there's any real cure!!!!!) You can help by sending me as many old melodeons as you can manage, thank you, and bless you.