Who's a clever boy then?

Yes, I have to admit, it's ME! I've figured out how to get videos from my new (to me!) phone. It used to belong to my No. 1 Son and it's a very fancy Google Pixel 4. I've only had it for about 3 months or something, and am ever so slowly getting the hang of it.  

I've started to use it instead of my camera; 'cause it takes better quality pictures, is quicker and it's also more convenient, in that I only have one piece of electronic wizardry to carry around. What's not to like?

I'm sure that there's some way of converting the videos it takes to the correct 'format' (see, I'm even picking up the jargon!) for the Blog to accept, like Wav files or mp4's or whatever. Our Richard (my recently deceased brother) knew all about that sort of thing, and would often show off and embarrass me with more jargon that you could throw a stick at! But I wish he was still here.

Never mind, I've just found out that I can load videos straight to YouTube, and then use the Blog to pick them out of there! So here are a few recent ones for your delectation...........

We'll start off with the two which I posted links to in the last post on here. It turned out to be a right mess, don't know how; couldn't have been anything I did, surely!!!

This is a taste of the 'Stick Fighting for Abu Haggag' which has been a tradition here at Al Hod (just outside of our building) since heaven knows when. It's a recognised part of the Moulid of the said Sheikh, which ends 15 days before Ramadan. I took this from the first floor of the 'Fat Brother's' building next door.

This next one is also a regular feature of the Moulid, but happens at ad hoc times and places with different people and styles, too. It's the same sort of thing as the Whirling Dervishes. who are properly a sect which is banned in some Muslim places. (And not just an entertainment of sorts on the Nile Cruisers.) The rhythmic movement (or so I'm told|) tends to alter the normal pattern of blood-flow through the brain, creating a trance-like effect where the participant feels in closer communion with Allah. It's obviously a very personal, if public, experience, and being so I asked if  was OK to film it before commencing. 

I'm absolutely fascinated by this sort of thing! This seems to me to be the same as what is described as a Zikr, in some of my elderly (19th Century) books about Egypt. But my neighbour called it something entirely different, which I couldn't get the gist of!

As you will remember, Dear Reader, I spent a lot of my life repairing road going vehicles, cars, wagons and buses, so the following vid is a bit of an indulgence. It's what we in England would call a "Back Street Garage" except that it's on a main road here.

Just one more, as it's time for my beauty sleep. This is a 'pop up shop' which is selling  Fawannies! Fawannies being the plural of Fanous, and the Fanous being the representation of the lights which were traditionally displayed to light the way home for the pilgrims returning from the Hajj at Mecca. In recent years, most of those I've seen for sale have been disgusting plastic things from China, but I'm delighted to see that these are proper, very thin and lightweight, tin plate examples, and probably made here in Egypt. Most homes which can afford one will have at least one hanging somewhere prominent for everyone to see. Rather like Christmas decorations in Christian countries. Anyway, enough rabbiting........

That's all folks!

See you all again soon, Insh'Allah.

Did I say, "The work is actually going along at quite a pace"?

 Actually, yes I did, I've just checked back!

Well, I went past the building site again on the local (1.75LE) 'bus, and was so surprised that I asked the driver to stop and got off, in order to have a better look. That shows real commitment in a "journalist" doesn't it? (You can reimburse me the fare when we next meet, Dear Reader.)

Here is another shot of the works:

I think that they've poured a lot of concrete in the past couple of days, and there are quite a few individual bases there now. Mind, I'm surprised that those rocks in the foreground haven't been dug out yet. It could be a serious task, though.

Anyway, from there, I walked up Ibn Khalid Walid Street a bit and then turned off to pass the, dead before it was finished, Morris Hotel (which is up for sale, if you have any spare sponduliks) and call to see our long-time friend and travel agent, Mr Bahaa, in his new office nearby. On the side road I couldn't help but notice the following:

I may have shown you these before (my memory, you know?) but that isn't just a roof, it's (I believe) Luxor's first attempt at harnessing the sun's power to create electricity. I seem to recall that the wiring wasn't up to the job, and burnt out with the intense heat. I cannot imagine that much electricity would be produced with that much sand on the receptors, what do you think, Dear Reader?

Another complaint I have is regarding what was formerly a lovely park area behind the Temple, opposite McDonald's. Years ago, it was a pleasant oasis in the heart of town, with trees and grass and lots of local families. Some just stopped to rest in the shade of the many trees, some had picnics others came with their children to just spend time with their neighbours or whatever. It was lovely!

Then, the powers-that-be decided to excavate what turned out to be some Roman remains, and the trees all went the distance! Now, the whole area has been fenced in, and it's become a haven for the flying rats (otherwise known as pigeons!) whilst local people now have nowhere to just chill. It's very sad!

Here are the pigeons, in their element it would seem:

You have to look through the fence to see them, as they all gather at this end, where people feed them!

I almost forgot! Some whizzkids were on with the fancy laser lights again last night, in the Temple, I presume. We were watching Netflix on our laptop on the roof terrace at the time, so I only got a couple of minutes of video for you. 

Ha! They're on my Google Pixel phone, and I cannot find a way to get them off and onto the Blog, sorry. Here's a taste, by way of a still picture: 

Sorry about that, it was a good little video as well. By the time I get up-to-date with technology, I'll be in my box.

See you later, alligator!

A posting of little observations and snippets from our favourite place; Luxor!

This visit, we went back to using EgyptAir for our travel. Although we found the TUI flight from Newcastle to Hurghada and coach across the desert very easy last time, EgyptAir's direct service was more cost effective for this journey, and it was a breeze! Even the BA flight from Newcastle and the treck between Heathrow's Terminals was hassle free. Of course, there was nothing to report regarding the actual flight, except that I managed a night time pic of somewhere in Egypt from the air:

I've noticed that whatever time of year it is, the farmers on the West Bank are forever burning stubble. Is this because they have several growing seasons each year? I hate it, as their fires always deposit large bits of burnt straw (or whatever it is!) on our nicely cleaned roof terrace and stairs, the beasts! Almost on the first day I noticed this as I made my way, by caleche, along the Corniche:

Mind you, and this is only really of interest to regular visitors, I was both surprised and pleased to see the following:

If I remember correctly, I snapped this on our first day back. It is, of course, the site next door to the Iberotel (Novotel) on Ibn Khalid Walid Street. The story goes that the Four Seasons group have had an option to build a super-duper hotel here for years, and it now, at last, seems to be coming to fruition! If nothing else, it goes to show that such a big concern believes that Luxor tourism is expected to pick up considerably, and that has to be good news for all. The work is actually going along at quite a pace, and much more groundwork has been accomplished in the last two weeks. It's really quite exciting to see!

Being Egypt, catastrophes (or catsaftermes, as friend Stan Laurel would have it) still occur regularly. And so I found myself, once again at the Awad's (the collection of plumbers shops just down our street) looking for bits and pieces! Whilst in the queue, I couldn't help but notice the following, just lying there:

If only I'd known about this in the '60's, when I was running those old rust buckets, it might have saved me a small fortune! Who else knew that Jaguar had produced their own anti-rust stuff for use on their cars?

This picture below is of something I was very surprised to see!

Yes, that's right; it's a rather portly Egyptian out jogging, complete with sweat gear and headphones, but with a rather large and hairy dog running alongside. Dogs here are usually only kept as watchdogs, because of them being ritually unclean they're not supposed to be kept as "pets". Perhaps the bloke's a Christian, as they may not have the same aversion, who knows?

When we were here in November last year, and the Kebash Road was officially opened, the floodlights on the West Bank mountains were either cleaned or replaced; it made a huge difference to the view from our terrace. Well, I'm pleased to report that they re still lovely and bright, what a difference to before the CoronaVirus pandemic:

We've had one guest while we've been here; a lady who was previously staying at the Winter Palace. Somehow, she hadn't originally booked the full length of her sojourn in Luxor, and the hotel was fully booked when she came to extend her stay there. Unusual, I think you'll agree, but never mind. Where else could she possibly upgrade to for the few days left to her in the "Largest Open Air Museum in the World", other than the splendid "Our Luxor"? Sadly, she could only enjoy the delights of our guest apartment for three nights, but she definitely appreciated our unmatched hospitality.

We also have another guest, but of the non-paying sort! (And, with a burgeoning family!!!)

Yes, there she is, ensconced on top of our bedroom air-con unit, as large as life! I spent ages screwing the non-aggressive anti-bird stuff all over the place to stop these little devils pooping everywhere, and still one of them finds a little chink in the armour where she can build her nest. What a liberty! Still, though, I can hardly turf out an expectant mother, can I Dear Reader?

Freda bought us a new tube of toothpaste;

The paste, more like a gel, is the same colour as the tube would you believe? Probably so that you don't notice the blood leaking from your gums, which, according to the scary ads on the telly, means that you're going to die of mouth cancer almost immediately! And I don't know why that couple are smiling so, could it be that they enjoy brushing their teeth with stuff that's obviously made from old Elastoplasts? That's exactly what it tastes like!

But maybe the tourists don't know about that yet, as they certainly seem to be here in increasing numbers. 18 balloons up for the first trip this morning, I know this 'cause we were up at the unGodly hour of 5.30, and watched them; rising like spectres from the gloom of the early morning mist and smoke on the Side of the Dead. I got a picture of a goodly number of them for you:

In the meantime, even here in Luxor, the acquisition of melodeons must carry on! I've bought two of them via eBay since we arrived. One is this old old Hohner:

It's obviously scrap. But at 99p I can find some useful parts from it, I'm sure. The other one was considerably more expensive, but I'll make something of it when I get back to good old Windy Nook. It's another Hohner, but an "Erica" this time, I quite like it.

I expect I'll find them both at Number 1 Daughter's shop when we return.

I think that's all for just now, but I will be back!

Keep well, everyone.

As I've said many a time, "It's no good being poor and looking poor!

We were moved to our proper room when our original booking date (Saturday) arrived. They knew exactly which suite to give us, as there is a set of shelving in the small office which was obviously designed to accommodate a serious collection of melodeons. If only I'd realised, I could have brought the lot, instead of a solitary1 Row!

I have to say that the suite is palatial. It's bigger than our flat in Luxor, and also bigger than our home in Windy Nook! Would you like a look around, Dear Reader? I'm sure that my beloved took a video. (Actually, she now tells me that she took 4, so that they might load more quickly.) What do you think, Dear Reader, have we fallen on our feet yet again, or what?

I wondered about these new lights in the floor towards the bar, as they seemed to be running off-centre! 

But then realised that they were reflections from these beautiful chandeliers:

It's always worth staying in the best quality places that your finances can stretch to, Dear Reader. At the Cataract, they even had something which we at "Our Luxor" hadn't even envisaged:

No, Dear Reader, not the trousers, but the double electrical socket which they've craftily concealed in the wardrobe, just in case you're passing by and feel the sudden need for some instant electricity! I was also rather taken aback when spying this in the room:

For a moment, I thought we'd travelled back in time to the sixties, and Rediffusion TV! (For those who aren't English; Rediffusion was a company providing TV signals, via a hard-wired cable network; every customer had one of these [or something VERY like it] on their window sill, for changing TV channels.) But his turned out to be a volume switch in the bathroom, for the TV or Bose radio and music system, which I didn't have a clue how to work, so left well alone!

We're struggling on here, making do with room service meals, as we cannot be bothered to go to the fabulous and famous '1902 Restaurant' in the old building. (We found it more conducive to slouch, in our oversized bathrobes, in front of one of the giant sized TV sets, watching junk movies from the USA.)

We've got some food on its way just now, so I'll say "Au revoir." until next time. Mind you, it's so nice here, that when our Premium Bonds come up, I think we should start to winter at the Old Cataract in Aswan!

"It's nice here, isn't it?" exclaimed Abdou the West Bank Donkey Man, for the umpteenth time!

Yes, he was a lovely fellah as he took Number 2 Daughter and I on our donkey tour of the West Bank farming lands and villages, then stumbling over the mountains from the King's Valley to Hatshepsut's Funery Temple. Great fun was had by all, including him as he had to keep stopping my donkey from wandering into the path of the fully laden six-wheeled tipping wagons coming pelting down the road from the Valley area.

Of course, that was many a long year ago, when she was a little girl, instead of the fully grown beauty queen and devoted mother which she now, who (just about!) singlehandedly runs the pharmacy at our local hospital! But we still have a laugh when any of us comes out with Abdou's catchphrase.

And so it was, as we gracefully made our way up the Nile on Mr Ramadan's Nile Cruiser, the Royal Viking. "It's nice here, isn't it?" I must have said that to Freda at least a half dozen times, and each one raised a smile for both of us. It IS nice, and genuinely so! I'm ever grateful to our good friend Mr Ramadan Hagaggi for helping us to travel on her, as we do really feel like part of his extended family. (He's a nephew of our dear departed neighbour [the English speaking Egyptian Guide, Licence No. 9 in all Egypt!] Uncle Mohamed, whom we had the privilege to help and care for during the slow decline towards his death, and whom we still miss greatly!)

We've been fortunate enough to cruise the Nile on this vessel about 5 or possibly 6 times, now, and I love it. I cannot honestly put my hand on my heart and tell you that it's the most luxurious Nile cruiser on which we've sailed, but the very fact that we keep on returning to it must tell you something? It's comfortable, certainly clean enough; and with every usual Nile cruiser facility available onboard, the crew/staff are attentive and kindly as ever, and the food is very good, even improved upon previous visits! Roll-on next time, we can hardly wait!

(If you type 'Royal Viking', into the little search box at the top of this page, you'll find lots of posts about her and also the Cataract, as the two have often gone hand in hand.)

The main purpose of the cruise was to get us to Aswan, and our pre-booked stay at the glorious "Old Cataract Hotel". I've probably told you all this before, Dear Reader, but the Cataract is my No. 1 favourite hotel, ever. There is the old building, known as the Palace, and also the concrete monolith which was formerly the "New Cataract", which was in the same style as the equally awful (but both adequate and cheaper) "New Winter Palace" in Luxor. Now, it has been almost re-built (a few years ago, I blogged about it at the time!) as "The Nile Wing" and is the very apogee of luxury and modern style! I'm writing this very Blog in the office part of our suite in that building, who's a lucky boy then?  

Here's the view from the balcony, of the room which we were allocated on arrival, I think it's outstanding!

Mind you, this room on the 6th floor wasn't what we were really expecting, but we were glad of it, nonetheless. Our original booking was for Saturday, but the cruiseboat leaves Aswan in the very early hours on Saturday, so we had to leave her on Friday. Frantic phone calls and emails etc to the Cataract manager had him struggling to find room for us in an hotel which was already bursting at the seams. But, star that he is, he did it, good old Mr Osama Saied! Thank you.

The room was very nice and well appointed, but........twin beds? Really, for old folk who've been married for a month short of 50 years?

Thankfully, by the next night, our proper room was available and made ready for us. But that's for another story!

The Egyptian Orphans!

Orphan pictures, that is. I hadn't forgotten about these, but they somehow just didn't make it into any of the Blogs I've done so far on this visit. I hope that at least some of you find them of a little interest.

And here we go! 

Firstly, one or two shots taken at the Marriott Hotel, where we spent our first Egyptian night in almost two years. It was a bit pricey for just an overnight stop, but it came recommended and we didn't want to end up in some flea pit!

Those two were taken from the hotel's private jetty, the little beach is really quite nice! The next pic, however, shows that even expensive, modern 5* hotels in Egypt, just cannot get it quite right:

Mind, I suppose that ladies, who are often the most critical, might not even have noticed those missing!

We travelled across the desert to Luxor in a GoBus coach, and I would recommend this mode of transport to anyone! I found it much better than the private transfers which we've taken before. Better ride quality, more room to move, and better views. And that's without the certain knowledge that, in the event of a collision, you're always safer in a larger vehicle. I was rather taken by the other traffic on the road, especially the heavy goods vehicles. What was that about having only red lights showing to the rear?

So, that more or less brings us the the place we love, that's right, Dear Reader; Luxor, and in particular; Our Luxor, where we'll really feel that we have arrived and can settle in comfort once again! Of course, Luxor was in the throws of preparing for the Grand Opening! (Of the Sphinkes Road.)

"Surely, that's not it?" I can hear you exclaim. No, that's a shot of them re-surfacing the Corniche in preparation for the world's dignitaries. Except that it's not! It's some sort of viscous black paint, to make the road look fresh, I did notice that the zebra crossings had been masked off beforehand. By the time that they'd renewed the white and yellow lines, you couldn't tell, honestly!

Of course, we had been warned that we'd find everything in Luxor in a state of flux! We knew that the Winter Palace, along with everything else which was facing a main road, was being given a fresh coat of paint, and the surrounding pavements were renewed and planted with lovely flower arrangements and the like.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were surprised to see a gang of men heaving on a rope, leading skywards! 

                              A similar scene was spied at the St Joseph Hotel in "Little Britain":

Back at the OWP, I was dismayed to see that they've been installing heavy iron gates at both sides of the entrance. Not quite the welcome which holidaymakers would be expecting, methinks?


Of course, there were the ongoing and seemingly never ending rehearsals every night, with the lasers beaming through till dawn and also the singing practises going on till all hours.

Being the nosiest couple in Luxor that I know about, meant that we had to venture out to the Old Winter Palace on the day of the festivities, just to see who was who and what was where, you know? 
On the way, we stopped to peer over the low wall, near the Emilio Hotel at the bottom of our street, which encloses the Avenue. I got this little video, which includes the three Solar Barques to be used in the procession. They look as if they're mounted on tea trolleys! What do you think, Dear Reader?

In the foyer of the OWP (where anybody who's anybody can be seen) we came across a lady who was alone, she was Macedonian! I've never met anyone from there before! 
After spending far too much time over tea, coffee and conversation, we were eventually asked (most apologetically, I must add) to move into the bar. Obviously they were expecting someone even more important than Mr and Mrs Edward! In conversation with Mr Ahmed (the hotel VIP butler) he told us that he wasn't yet sure whether President El Sisi was staying with them or not, as the decision is always taken at the very last minute, for security purposes.
When we left the hotel, we crossed over the deserted Corniche El Nil to view the Nile. I've never ever seen it so.... empty!

 Later on, we ventured out yet again, ever hopeful of seeing some of the festivities from the low wall of the Avenue of Sphinkes at the bottom of our street. There were policemen of one sort or another very few yards (or maybe even metres, them being Egyptian!) but no-one seemed too interested in two old kawadgers (a term often applied to tourists, but which really refers to invaders, or conquerors, or so I'm told) nor the old Egyptian man and his wife who were also tourists, but from Cairo. 
However! After a short while, we were asked to move away from the wall. The Egyptian tourist's protests didn't cut any ice, I fear, and we had to make do with standing on the pavement at the end of the Emilio building. Mind you, a kindly youth, from a shop around the corner, insisted that he would bring us two chairs, as he recognised me from when we bought the beautiful Guest Apartment livingroom carpet from his father Mr Magdi, 16 or so years ago. Good memories these blokes!
But, after another short while, the forces of Law and Order decided that we old codgers were still a real and present threat to the combined security apparatus of The People's Republic of Egypt. And we were moved on again, this time as far back as Chez Omar's Garden Restaurant. We were unceremoniously dragged in there by one of the identical twin owners, and had cool fresh lemon drinks forced upon us! (Isn't life hard?) The café has been revamped for the umpteenth time and looks lovely! 

They seem to have taken in some sort of partner/chef (that's him, standing next to the grill) and are now doing take-aways as well as the sitting down trade. I hope it all goes well for them, they're a canny bunch whom we've known for 20 odd years.
The other couple eventually came and joined us and we talked, drank hot chocolate, and watched the live TV of the Grand Opening until we were bored to tears with all the pre-amble and the dancing and singing. Then we went home to watch the real stuff on the laptop. It was great! At the end was the firework display, which we actually watched and heard from our roof terrace. We managed to catch most of it on camera, just for you, Dear Reader. 

I think that's all for just now, I'm worn out, but I'll see you soon, insh'Allah!

We have a new little "Our Luxor" video!

You know how we like to keep freshening the look of the "Our Luxor Guest Apartment"? Both Freda and I are always on the lookout for anything which would enhance the physical fulfilment of our dreams of classic Egyptian/Arab/Turkish/Moroccan style and décor which we endeavour to bring to life for the delectation of our guests. (And, of course, YOU Dear Reader!)

The latest additions are a couple more wall hangings, one of camels, and the best one of a silken camel! How ingenious? Camels in Egypt? And how original? OK, see for yourself:

You may also notice the new curtains at the windows and for across the room. I'm particularly pleased with those, as the two pairs at the windows were actually bought NEW from M&S. I'll leave it to you to imagine the cost of those!!! (I had to lie down for a week, when the beloved told me.)

Anyway, please tell me if you think we're going in the right direction?

Luxor tightens security in readiness for the "Grand Opening of the Kebash Road"

I had my first expedition to the wilds of Awameya today, Dear Reader. Intrepid as ever, I donned my mask and boarded a crowded arabeya (local 'bus) bound for the said nether regions. Sitting in the suicide seat next to the open door, I had to keep leaning right forward to allow female passengers to board and alight without brushing their upper torsos (!) against my shoulder.

No worries, I gave my hand to one older lady, to help pull her up the 'high step'. (High step, is in inverted commas to bring it to the notice of some of my old coach driving mates who will immediately recall many old dears moaning, "That's a high step, driver!"

Never mind, as the 'bus neared the roundabout at the bottom of TV Street, he was very obviously in the wrong lane for turning right onto Salah El Din Street towards Awameya. When he did actually turn left, there was uproar from the back end. "Awameya, Awameya!" they were shouting. Of course they didn't realise that the Police had closed both the Corniche and Ibn Khaled Whalid Street (running from the Iberotel up past the Sonesta and Nile Palace etc) to traffic; the driver had no choice!

The Awameya bound passengers had to alight at the junction of Medina Street and New Hospital Street, amid many protests. I was bound for the Aboudi Bookshop on Passport Street to visit the widow of old Mr Aboudi (of Bookshop and photographs fame) whose picture has previously graced my blog pages along with his cousin, Uncle Mohamed, also his minder. It was he who sold us our two apartments here in Luxor. 

After leaving Passport Street, I decided to cross over the road and pop my head into the Nile Palace, seeing as we haven't yet been there for our usual tea and English cake. I was delighted to come across Mr Hashem, a manager whom we've known since the hotel opened. He also seemed pleased to see me returning, and we chatted and 'caught up' a bit before I let him rejoin his party, and I made my way outside again.

Turning left, where (the much reviled by his former English wives) Mr Ala Anwar (*) used to have his shop in front of the Lotus Hotel, I was surprised to see that all those shops had gone! In their place were two new, drive-in, entrances to the hotel. 

As you can see, there are two very impressive gates and it looks very secure. Of course, I'm sure that I've been told that the Lotus belongs to the Police, and that could explain why many single foreign women stay there?

*Although a man with a poor reputation amongst single foreign females, Ala was a good friend to us for many years, and always the perfect gentleman as far as Freda was concerned. We'll miss his smiles and jokes over the coming years, I'm sure.)

My next port of call was the new office of Mr Bahaa's Sunrise Tours. He is now situated on a street which runs between the afore-mentioned Ibn Khaled Whalid Street and Medina Street, it's behind and to the left of the still unfinished Morris Hotel. Here's a look:

Although he's now in a place with little passing trade, he is expanding his Internet presence, and continues to do good business with flight tickets. You can see the airlines for whom he acts as agent, on the right of the shopfront. If you come across it, he has a clean toilet and small kitchen where his staff can make tea even!

Anyway, on the way there, I passed the St Joseph Hotel (amongst others) which is getting its fresh coat of paint for the coming extravaganza! 

It seems as if the whole world is beating a path to Luxor for this grand opening of the Kebash Way. It's supposed to be a sort of re-enactment of the "Beautiful Festival of Opet". (This is also what the annual Moulid of Abu Haggag is meant to represent, remember, Dear Reader? Only the Moulid is financed by locals and doesn't involve closing half the town for day after day!)

I also stumbled across a cache of caleches! (Now there's a phrase that you'll not come upon every day!) I was told that there were 45 of them stored here.

You'll notice that they're all rigged with either lights or reflective bits and bobs. They must be going to be used in the official parade which is going on along with the other celebrations. I wonder if they've been commandeered from the owners, or hired for the duration?

It's a pity that we won't be able to see the ceremonies in real life, but if that were the case, then I suspect that every Tom, Dick and Harry would be there with their cameras and the (probably State) TV crews wouldn't be able to cash in on it in order to partially refill El Sisi's national coffers. I do hope it's the roaring success that everyone expects, and has a massive impact on tourism. They really need it!

On the way home, I got off the 'bus at the Station (Mahata) and walked down to the baker on Station Street for some of his lovely aish fino (white bread rolls) and some chocolate croissants. Meandering through the back streets towards Our Luxor, I had to pass the Saint's Tomb (which I've mentioned a few times before, if you remember) and noticed that it has had another new covering. It just had to be photographed again, especially as there were no fierce looking ladies on guard this time!

After getting back home and relaxing for a while, my beloved alerted me to the fact that there was a strange man on the roof of the building over the road! On jumping up and having a look, sure enough, there he was as large as life! 

In all the years that we've been here, we have never seen anyone on that roof before. It was Freda who twigged that he was probably some sort of security bloke! From that particular roof, a sniper would have a clear view all the way down Youseff Hassan Street and with a high powered rifle could easily pick someone off on the Avenue. He was there for a while, and seemed to be speaking into a phone or something. I just hope that they don't make the poor b****r stay up there till it's all over!

Oh, got to go. Freda is almost finished preparing the chicken, spaghetti and potato wedges for our evening meal. It's truly scrumptious!

See ya!

Up on the Roof!

 Well well well!

Young Mr Abdou turned up early! That's a new one in Egypt, Dear Reader, as I'm sure you're aware. He was armed with an electric drill and a black plastic bag full of nice wide headed screws with which to tightly clamp the roofing sheets to their timber frame.

When he got up there, it didn't take him long to shout down to tell me that we'd actually lost two sheets! Obviously, they would have to be replaced before the winter really takes hold, before any (granted unusual) heavy rain came along and ruined our inside decoration again.

Now then, it's over eight years since the roof was modified to its current configuration, and the roofing sheets of wriggly tin were 72EGP each, this figure was confirmed by Mr Abdou. Now, they are a staggering 250EGP each!!!! Yes, Playmates 250EGP!!!!! That's quite an increase, and I was doubley pleased that we hadn't lost any more than just the two.

Of course, in my state of panic at having to spend so much from our dwindling budget, I completely forgot about taking any pictures or videos of the job in hand, or the expedition in Sayed Hair's caleche to collect the 2.5 metre long sheets. Suffice to say that we got them, and dear young Mr Abdou managed to get them securely fastened to the roof timbers. We're now safe from the unusual Egyptian weather patterns which are possibly caused by me riding around England in an old 3.2 litre diesel powered Mercedes Benz car. (Certainly not by China increasing their production of coal, to produce electricity, by 1000,000 tons per day!)

Meanwhile (back at the ranch) due possibly to my colour blindness, Freda invented a new culinary delight!

You already know, of course, that Freda is turning Egyptian, evidenced by her reluctance to leave the house. So, Mr Muggins has to do all the shopping, like many a doting Egyptian husband. All well and good, I hear you say, Dear Reader. Except that my disability (completely unrecognised as such and ignored in England) can cause the odd problem. I've previously brought home green potatoes, but this time I brought home lentils (said so on the packet!) which were yellow insted of the customary orange; all I knew was that they weren't brown.

Freda recognised my mistake straightaway, needless to say! "Never mind", says she, "it does say 'lentils' on the packet, but they look more like split peas to me!" She duly mixed them with the remainder of the real lentils and away she went making the soup.

Deep in the recesses of what passes for my brain, I had a dim recollection of something occurring once before regarding lentil soup????? Now what was it?

Found it: https://ourluxorflat.blogspot.com/search?q=Lentil+spread ......and that was just over 10 years ago!

Maybe it was the addition of Freda's Egyptian bits and pieces (herbs, spices or somethng?) but it didn't actually taste like pease pudding at all! Here it is:

Whilst it was obviously NOT ordinary lentil soup, it wasn't quite a pea soup either. I found it relatvely palatable but Freda wasn't struck, so I ate most of it myself.

So here I am; special soup and pudding all consumed, and now I'd better get back to work. 

So; what is it that you miss?

We all miss something, surely? My list is too long to write in one day, I think. But I'm currently missing something that I never imagined in a million years that I ever would. Here's a clue, Dear Reader:

No, surprisingly enough it's not a bench full of dirty dishes, it's my little slimline dish washer at home in Windy Nook! My mam will be turning in her grave (well maybe if we'd had her buried, that is!) to think that any son of hers would resort to such a bourgeois device. This is the lady who always made her squeezy (Primula) cheese sandwiches by squeezing a thick layer on one piece of bread and then folding it over. Then there was no need for a knife to spread it or cut it, and then have to be washed. She didn't even use her cooker top for the last 10 years or so of life 'cause it would need cleaning if she did! Housework and her just didn't get on, even though she did manage to keep it clean in spite of herself. That's another thing I miss, having my mother just downstairs.

But here in Egypt, some things that would be readily available at our other home are just not. 

Edward of the 3 vacuums had a bit of a catsafterme again today. My trusty Kirby (now about 30 years old) gave up the ghost. But thankfully, not altogether as I was able to raise it from the dead with the help of little Mr Hany the plumber. I haven't used it yet since returning here, but today was the laying of the large carpet in the guest apartment livingroom. We love this carpet; 4 x 3 mtrs and over a year's worth of handknotted artwork! It gets rolled up with plastic bags over each end when we leave Luxor, till we come back again. This (hopefully) prevents any mice or moths getting inside the roll and ruining it, it's worked so far I'm pleased to report. So, I unrolled the first yard or so, with the back uppermost, and vacuumed off the accumulated dust with my lovely yellow K'Archer.Then it was unrolled (with bated breath, I might add, just in case the bags hadn't done their job) laid flat and in position and then out came the newly cleaned Kirby Legend. Switched it on to find dust blowing through the zip on the outer bag, horror of horrors! I opened it up, struggling with the zip as it was clogged with dust too. As I thought, the bag was new (from 2020) and hadn't burst at all. What could it be? On closer inspection, the corrugated flexible link pipe between the machine and the bag had snapped! Then I remembered, this happened before, and I had shortened the pipe in order to re-attach it with the broken end cut cleanly off. But, of course, there wasn't enough pipe left to do that again.

I knew that I'd seen piping of this type down the street at the Awad family's group of plumbing and allied businesses shops, but would theyhave the right size? Think positively, Mr Edward! Americans use inches and Egyptians use metric, but refer to bits of wood as 2 x 3 etc, which is, course 2 x 3 inches. It's all very confusing to simple pensioners like myself. Nevertheless, Mr Hany found a length of pipe with a 'similar' inside diameter. We made it fit with the addition of some Sellotape and a couple of big jubilee clips. There was a, deliberately manufactured-in, problem though. See if you can find it in the picture:

Obviousy, the blue is the new pipe and the black the old. Notice the difference? The wire reinforcing is 'threaded' in the opposite direction. Deliberately so, so that a proper permanent repair can only be made by purchasing a new pipe from Kirby, no doubt at an extortionate price, insted of the, less than, £2 which the blue stuff cost me today! The original threads onto the machine like a large, left hand thread, nut, but not any more, the blue stuff is just clamped onto the spigot end with the clips, fingers crossed, eh?

I'm also missing easy access to a range of recognisable breakfast cereals which I prefer. You can get many western 'style' cereals, like Temmy's corn flakes (also expensive Kelloggs!) and usually porrige oats (mainly hailing from Germany) and the usual overly sweet kids things in varions guises. But no Shreddies or Shredded Wheat, which is what I really like.

I miss watching the world go by from our livingroom window in Windy Nook. What most folk in Tyneside flats have as their main bedroom, we chose to have as our livingroom, specifically because we're avid people watchers, as I'm sure you're aware. Here, we only have this to look out on in the evening:

The laser lights are being shone all over the place in practice for the official openng of the 'Kebash Road' (The ancient ceremonial way of the gods.) between the two temples. The West Bank illumination is much brighter and clearer than it has been for years. I'm sure its just because they've bothered their bums to give them a good clean! I suppose that I shouldn't complain though, as many folk would love to have such a view, and I do find it thrilling at times.

I also miss (but not too much) pork products, particularly sausages! I'm sure that one day, I'll persuade Mr Hany (he's Christian) to take me to a butcher who sells pork, and I'll find some bacon!!!

What I don't miss (and this is for sure!) is the RAIN. I know some people, who live here permanently, yearn for rain, but I think they must have a touch of the old sunstroke, I can well do without it, thank you very much.

I'm sorry to be so negative tonight, perhaps I'm just getting tired of cleaning, and it's bringing on a certain semse of melancholy? Who knows? But one thing I do know; it's getting near to bedtime!

Goodnight and God bless, Dear Reader.

Amongst the trials and tribulations of trying to live normally in Luxor.

After the sandstorm, even though there's still a touch of morning mist partially obscuring the mountains over on the Side of the Dead, the air seems to be fresher somehow. I'm sitting here in the livingroom of our hovel at 11 o'clock in the morning, with the double doors wide open, and looking over at the King's Valley mountains, and it's just sheer heaven!  For all the wonderful and numerous delights of our home in Windy Nook, this is what it never has; a temperature of 25 degrees centigrade (feeling just comfortable in my boxers) with clean air and the slightest of breezes and (of course) SUNSHINE!

During the sandstorm, our wriggly-tin-sheet roof was making some frightening noises! I decided to get in touch with carpenter Abdou, who did the roof for us in the first place, to see if he could get up there and check that the sheets weren't in danger of blowing off altogether. Perhaps fixing screws rather then just nails could be added? But then, I couldn't find his phone number. New phone, new number, somewhere along the way his number had disappeared!

Needing shopping, I deided to use the former troublesome Badawy brother Syed and his caleche, as I knew that he would be just down our street. He's actually quite a reformed character, no more drinking alcohol or smoking happy baccy, apparently! On telling him I wanted to go to the 40 Market, he swung the caleche around and headed the wrong way up our one-way street, gesticulating wildly and shouting  at those fools of drivers who were in his way! Caleche drivers seem to have a tendency to do this, as they believe themselves to be the natural 'Kings of the Road', and thus allowed to do anything they please! 

Shopping accomplished and safely back home in one piece, I asked him to take me to see the carpenter after I'd eaten. "No problem!" I knew that it would be useless trying to get to see Mr Abdou before 7 o'clock anyway.

We eventually trundled off to Naga T'weel (Long Village) it's at Karnak (pronounced Karranak). I knew, of course, that he wouldn't be there but that someone who was there (at the workshop, that is) would 'phone him for me. It was dark when we got there, and found two unkown blokes sitting with a shisha pipe, and the outside workshop space greatly reduced from what it used to be, as it had been mostly covered with block paving. No lights on either, which filled me with trepidation that the place had changed hands or something. These two fellahs had a small fire going, with an equally small black kettle in the middle of it. "Chai?" I was offered. Not for me, thank you. But Syed accepted the invitation. He complained that it was a bit strong, so I had a sip. AAAAAARGH! It was also sweeter than you can possibly imaginge, Dear Reader! When I asked how many sugars had been shovelled in to the small tea glass, the reply came with a hand gesture, "katierr" (many) with the gesture being a literal handful! It was digusting!  

After a relatively short time (remember, this is Egypt, Dear Reader!) an elder brother turned up, and after much huggiing and kissing and other friendly greetings and rememberances, he rang the elusive Abdou, and I spoke to him to arrange a meeting at our home to assess the situation and see what he proposed. He's due here around the 3 o'clock mark, so I'd better get dressed before he comes, as he might be scandalised by the sight of my pristine white boxers!

The current exchange rate here is about 21 EGP to 1 Pound Sterling. Shopping is really quite ineresting.

I'm a fairly recent convert to paper tissues for nose blowing, so needed to have a good supply in the house. We get boxes of Kleenex from Tesco or Asda at home, but I haven't seen them here. What I have been getting (second packet in use now) are these:

Obviously, they won't be the same quality as Kleenex, but they're only to give your nose a blast, after all! And, they're 4.75 EGP wihich equates to about 22.5p for this packet. Likewise, we needed some AA batteries:

I got these from the little shop on the corner (no, not the one which was the subject of the ancient, but great, Jimmy Stewart film set in Poland) for 5 EGP, which works out at under 25p for the 4! OK, OK, I know they aren't advertised by the lovely little sporty Duracel bunny, but they'll do for me, Kiddo!

Then, what about petrol? At this price, I could afford to go back to my old Morris Oxford at 26 mpg!

Yes, that's 7 EGP per litre, or just over 33p per litre. (Actually 33.333333333333333333p recurring in the stupid decimal currency with which we're now stuck!) In the olden days it would have been a simple 6/8! Just to remind you Dear Reader, before the state sponsored robbery and con trick of UK currency decimalisation, 6/8 would have bought more than a GALLON of petrol. (OK, I'll stop reminiscing; for now!)

Just to mention,; there's a Police Point at this petrol station, and of course, you're not allowed to photograph any Police or Armed Forces personel or property. So, when one of the coppers saw me jump down from the caleche and point my (fancy, new) camera phone in their general direction, he was straight over. (That's the backend of one of the police pick-ups in the picture.) He and Syed had a few words, something along the lines of "He's just a daft tourist, don't worry", sort of thing I expect. I showed the policeman the resulting picture and he smiled, shook my hand and trotted off quite happily.

Time's getting on, and if I want a doze before Mr Abdou arrives, I'd better make it now.

That's a big 10-4 good buddy!

Two weeks!

Yes, it's two weeks since we arrived in Egypt and two weeks tomorrow since we finally arrived in Luxor. Though to be quite honest, it feels like we've never been away! How strange life is, eh?

We've spent nearly all of our waking hours cleaning, and we've just finished our upstairs hovel, and are now embarking on the guest apartment. 

It seems as though I'm going to have to give Joseph the Amoun man (Remember Dear Reader, the street cleaners used to be Amoun men and the name has stuck, even though the company didn't!) some extra training in cleaning the stairs etc. He landed last Sunday and I asked him to just brush down all the stair walls and then the stairs themselves, no washing that day. When he appeared back at the top of our stairs, I had the kettle on for his glass of chai. Now then, was it 2 or 3 sugars, I couldn't recall. "Arrbah, Mr Adwar!" (That's 4 to you and me!)

Here it is, before adding the boiling water:

Yes, 4 teaspoons of sugar in that small glass, but only half a teaspoon of black dust tea, as he prefers it khafeef (weakish). Mind, he also gets a biscuit or three, as well as his wages. He also scores for lots of stuff that we don't need or use any more, like (this time) a pair of Egyptian pretend Crocs (which were too hard for my dainty old feet) an Iranian tablecloth which we have duplicated and some other (women's) stuff for his wife.

It wasn't till we went down the stairs on our way out, that I realised that he'd only done about half of what I asked. He excused himself by saying that the bottom half was Dr Al Malak's responsibility. Mind you, that was through our resident interpreter Mr (Coffeeshop)Adam. I laughed, of course.

As well as cleaning, I've been sent out every day on a shopping expedition. You remember, of course that we use the local service buses (Arabeya), but now with our added masks. The supermarkets (using that word relatively loosely) which we usually frequent are all still there, with mostly the same or similar sorts of stock. But I tramped around them all, plus a brand new one, to no avail in my search for Temmy's porridge oats. The lovely Freda had to make do with Temmy's Corn Flakes instead. Luckily, I had brought the remains of a box of Tesco's pretend Shreddies and also the remains of my box of Lidl's pretend Shredded Wheat bite things, so I was ok for a while. (I slid the packets (stapled closed) into the case at the last minute, in case I was caught.) On the way back from New Hospital Street (the 40 Market) the bus driver decided to terminate at the railway station. Trying to remonstrate with him was pointless, and it's only a 5 minute walk from there anyway. The GoBus (whom we travelled with from Hurghada) office is just past the station on the way home. Outside was parked this magnificent coach. I had to stop to have a good look at it. No driver around, so I couldn't have a proper shufti inside though.


Looking at it again, it must be the 18 metre variety, a Mercedes engined MCV 800, Egyptian built. and very nice! Of course, Mercedes Benz is a German company, and their products are renowned for style and reliability. At home, our 19 year old Merc estate car has everything still working! It's astonishing, what can be achieved on the back of a bit of forced labour just a few generations ago! 

I have another German success story to relate, as well. Since I packed in working properly in 2007, most of the tools which I've bought have been from either Aldi or Lidl. Obviously not automotive stuff, which I still have plenty of from yesteryear, but DIY stuff. I've had two battery drills from Aldi, for about £14.99 if I remember correctly. One stayed at home and the other resided in Luxor. The one at home eventually gave up the ghost a year or so ago, after much use, but it had been pretty good value, I think. The Egyptian one needed a new battery after only about 20 hours of use, but they replaced it without any fuss. 

Well; when I came to put back up the roof terrace chandelier after washing it under the shower, I needed to screw something into the wood to hold the weight of the lamp whilst I reaffixed the wiring. I reached for the battery drill to put it on charge while I did something else in the meantime, and blow me if it didn't still have charge in it after at least 20 months of lying dormant! 

I could hardly believe it! After driving a large screw into the undrilled wood, I put the battery on charge, but I was astonished, to say the least.

I was also astonished not to see my mate Ahmed the Caleche Man knocking about the town during the week we had been here. I eventually came across his wayward brother Syed, who told me that as there was no tourist work, Ahmed was staying at home until someone rang him for the caleche! Obviously, I rang him as soon as I got my new phone number. What a sorry tale he has to tell! 

Elder brother Samir, whom we would normally ride with, was unavailable as he was now in Cairo!!! "In Cairo?" Yes, as there were too few tourists in Luxor to be able to make a living with the caleche, Samir had decamped to Cairo, where (apparently) the streets are paved with gold! All I can say is that I sincerely hope that he finds some worthwhile employment and gets himself straight with his debts etc. Poor b****r!

Anyway, Ahmed is the same as ever, skinny and underfed but full of love for his horses and fellow men. He seems to have been obliged to temporarily adopt a little boy! The kid was on the caleche when he came for me the other night. About 2 or maybe 3, he's a canny little thing, and not a pick of trouble. I never quite got to the bottom of just who he belongs to, but his mother telephoned to speak to him and make sure he was OK while we were trotting along the Corniche. He eventually dozed off to asleep on top of the driver's seat, with his head on Ahmed's lap, after polishing off a Mandolin chocolate biscuit.

He's called Rye-ann (that's just phonetical, obviously!) and I think I've quite taken to him. 

I'm off now, as the kettle is calling. TaTa!