Lest we forget?

Here's a timely little reminder to all you budding "oldies", like me.

Can you distinguish the bruising on that finger? I've put shakily drawn lines around them with the help of one of my lap-top gizmos. Well, they're a sign that things are not what they used to be, believe me!

Let me tell you a little story...........

A wee while ago, our local Aldi store was selling pliers similar to these:
for a very reasonable price. So reasonable, that I was almost tempted to buy a pair. However, as I didn't envisage clarting (Colloquialism: clarting = messing) about with any ceramic tiles (for that is what they are for) in the foreseeable future, and any surplus money would have been better used by going into my melodeon fund, I resisted and left them on the shelf.

Woe is me, Dear Reader! Here we are back in Luxor, and I have now embarked on the latest project which is something that I foolishly agreed to do for my beloved as a Christmas gift; it involves cutting tiles, as you may have already guessed. So I should have bought the d****d pliers after all! Never mind, as I always have done, I'll get by with what I have; simple!

What I do have is a pair of cobblers pincers, which (I think) were bought here in Luxor, so will be of the usual quality of tools available here.

As can be plainly seen, they're not of quite the same build; shorter handles, less advantageous handle to jaw ratio, less ergonomic handle grips. The list goes on!

The upshot of all this is that when I came to nip off yet another piece of ceramic tile, and again gripped the handles of the pliers with much more force than would have been required with the right tool; I felt a searing pain in my finger, like something bursting or snapping, and it immediately swelled up and could no longer be bent. The job was stopped!

Lest we forget? Yes Dear Reader, lest we forget that we are getting older, and more frail, and that bits of our bodies are less able to cope with the pressures and stresses which would have been as nothing to them in former years. Let my lightly bruised but nevertheless painful finger be a warning to all you who would hope to delight your wives with a gift of your handiwork. BE B****Y CAREFUL!!!!!

Yet another foolhardy, and possibly life-threatening, pass-time of many of us older chaps is to try to relive our youth by riding about on giant-sized motorbikes. Like these, possibly?.........

They belong to the members of some Egyptian motorbike club, and apparently, they do a tour of Egypt every year or two, being welcomed with open arms, it seems. It's not everyone who gets a police escort and can then use the front of the Winter Palace as a car park! The hotel even put on their stock VIP outside show of the dancing horses and whirling Dervish etc. Not even Yours Truly gets that sort of welcome,......huh!

Mind you, the bikes were lovely, and I can see why many a man might be tempted! Suzuki Boulevardes evidently, with rear tyres which were over a foot wide! One of the riders was a childhood friend of Ahmed the caleche man, he told me that they had engines of 1800cc capacity, and were very quick! I declined his offer of a "backer"; I couldn't really see myself as a modern-day Peter Fonda, could you? (Colloquialism: backer = a ride on the pillion.)

That's all for now, as it seems that we have to go out and get the curtains back from the dry-cleaner. Bye for now.

Christmas 2016?

I thought that a few of you could be mildly interested in what we (as a small English Methodist Chapel) managed to do this year. As I've mentioned before, all of our Christmastime fundraising is for the charity "Action For Children", which, in the olden days, was called "The National Children's Homes".
Traditionally (well, for at least 100 years) we've gone out at Christmas (until just 20 years or so ago, we started at midnight on Christmas Eve) to sing Christmas Carols around the locality, at either houses or groups of houses where we had been especially invited. Mostly by members or associates of the Chapel. We now start and finish earlier, this year we met at 18.15hrs and sang till about 01.00, if I remember correctly.
Being one who just loves to sing, and especially Christian hymns and songs, I haven't missed a year since I was converted in 1967. Nowadays, we have expanded the boundaries of our "catchment" area and have resorted to using transport in the form of a mini-bus (kindly donated by Kingsley's Coaches of Washington) to whisk us around an area which we could never have achieved on foot, (while carrying the small pedal organ which used to be carried about the village).
This year, on the night, we collected £660 which included some pre-payments from people who would be in bed before we got to them. The dreaded "social media" of facebook has been beneficial, in that some of our listeners have passed on their delight to others whom we didn't previously know, and to whom we now sing! We also sing, by telephone, to a number of friends who have emigrated to foreign parts, including (I believe) Australia and America!
In addition to the Carol Singing, we also hold a "Community Carol Service" with sweet mince pies and hot and cold beverages, on the last Monday before Christmas (it also includes an hilarious 3 minute pantomime) the collection from which is added to the Carol Singing money.
This year, I plucked up the courage to try to do a bit of busking outside of our local Tesco supermarket. After enquiring with the manager and him making all the arrangements with his area superiors, it only depended on me not losing heart! After failing to step up to the mark for two days, I eventually went along (it only being 200 yards from our house) and made a terrifying start. Happily, within minutes, people were readily dropping pound coins or bits of change into my box, whilst wishing me a "Merry Christmas", and I found that I was really enjoying myself! I did 5 spells of about 30 minutes each over the next couple of days, and, to my astonishment, raised £107.58p, which was also added to the Action For Children mix. We sent them a total of over £1000, which we (and they) were delighted with.
There are some "you tubes" of the various events on You Tube, which I'm sure can be found by searching on there for the channel of my infamous brother Richard Jennings. Have fun!

Not Only, But Also!

So here we are, yet another New Year, and what have we got? Peace in our time? An end to starvation? No! There have been fairly recent explosions in Cairo again and more one-off terrorist incidents all over the place! But in Cairo, was it general Middle-Eastern terrorism, or just a violent protest by some disenchanted pressure group against El Sisi's government. Whichever; it only means that more people will jump on the bandwagon of boycotting Egypt!

It sickens me, that so many stupid people rush to condemn a whole country because of a tiny minority! I'm sick of reading folk's comments like "I can't believe that anyone is still going to such a dangerous and backward place?" without them having the slightest knowledge of Egypt's kindly, protective people, or its world-beating antiquities or the searing heat of an Egyptian summer, or the cooling, refreshing breezes of their short Autumn and Spring. (And that's before we even look at their own country's dismal efforts at keeping their population safe!)

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to face Egyptian friends (many being highly educated people with university degrees) who are trying to secure, even dish-washing, jobs in foreign countries, by paying bribes! It's heartbreaking.

But enough of that sort of thing, you don't come here to listen to me harping-on about the hardships of my friends, do you, Dear Reader? Let's get back to something a bit more cheery, eh? How about our trip to Andalusia? (Spain, you know?)

What a queer place! Streets not wide enough to drive a car along, some so steep that they become steps.

No doubt, you'll notice that these pictures show streets which are cobbled, but with pebbles instead of stone "sets". I can assure you that they are very uncomfortable to walk on for any length of time!

We found little Arab/Muslim shops in a miniature souq area right
behind a HUGE Roman Catholic Cathedral.

All very incongruous, I can tell you! I didn't know whether I was coming or going. These shops were typical of other Arab type souqs we've discovered elsewhere; lots of smallish shops selling the same sort of stock at similar prices, with just a little variation here and there.

It was also here that we came across this "Bull in a China Shop"!

I was taken aback to realise, after a second glance, that the fancy stonework around these windows was only painted on! (Don't forget that by clicking in any picture you can see them altogether and bigger!)

We were only there for a few days, so had to get acquainted with our surroundings pretty quickly, hence Freda had booked a sightseeing 'bus/train tour. As we waited where it was supposed to stop, I kept thinking "An articulated 'bus cannot possibly negotiate that "U" bend!" But, it did, Dear Reader.

And it also managed to navigate the streets which were only wide enough for a single car to squeeze down. They are obviously specially built for the purpose, and not too bad either. Each row of three seater, padded, benches has its own entrance and exit door (At this point I should point out that they would never, in a million years, pass the British "Certificate of Fitness for Public Service Vehicles" test.) and are relatively comfortable, especially as the whole journey only takes 50 minutes or so, and you can jump off (literally, as they are quite high) and back on another throughout the whole route, all day. Vision is good, especially with having a glass ceiling/roof, to view the fabulous carvings and figures set along the rooflines of various buildings.

The windows stretch all the way around the little vehicles, with only very narrow pillars for doors and window glass. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, and it did familiarise us with the main areas of interest. Recommended!

I was interested in the everyday shops, easily recognised for what they sell by the names, thus:

                  Or so I thought, until I came across this one:

                              No, I don't believe it either!

And, it wasn't just the shops which were if interest! When did you last see a British bank with an entrance like this:

But, of course, any British bank worth its salt would have ripped out such beauty and sold it to add to their disgusting profits!!!

Of course, the actual point of the visit was to see the famous AlHambra, the fortified palace where the invading Muslim kings lived, and it's certainly worth the trip! I've never seen plasterwork or joinery so exquisitely fashioned. Some of the intricacy was staggering!

Mind you, the hotel we stayed at was also astonishingly beautiful too. Being ten minutes walk to the ticket office at the AlHambra and two minutes from where the local mini-buses and the City Tour Artic stops, it's also very handy!  

Here's the front of the hotel;

And one from the dining terrace which runs all along the outside of bar and restaurant.

That's Granada, many feet (sorry, metres!) below, I'm sure I took some more interesting pics of this fabulous view, but I cannot find them at the mo.

The interior of the hotel also had loads of very intricate platerwork, but when I inspected it closely, it became apparent that the beautiful finish on the walls was actually a large number of pre-formed panels!!! We have shops here in Luxor which make and sell pre-formed plaster decoration; corbels, ceiling roses, cornice etc. but nothing like these, I'm sorry to say.

Here are a few shots taken inside the hotel;

Sorry, but I've no idea what happened to the colour on that first pic! Suffice it to say that the hotel was beautiful, and matched all of our expectations!

Back to the Alhambra itself, some of it is in ruins, but a good deal of the place is intact. It's a big site, with walkways and narrow roads criss-crossing here and there. I was very surprised to came across a "Dempster Dinosaur" (probably not an actual Dempster, but a later copy). For those of you who have now lost their way here; the Dempster Dinosaur was an innovation in commercial vehicle bodywork! Interesting? Read on......
As far as I'm aware, this style of body was the first to be able to be hydraulically removed and replaced along with its load. This picture comes courtesy of "Classic Refuse Trucks.com"

When first introduced they were quite a sight to see! But I never imagined that I'd come across one quite like this:

Tiny, or what????

Well, Dear Reader, perhaps that's enough about Spains Andalusia in a blog about Egypt? You know me, I could go on all day, and I'm sorry that I've abandoned you and your Egyptian appetite for so long. We'll have to wait and see what Luxor can turn up in the next few days or weeks to tickle my fancy.