Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Balkan Whitney Houston

Thanks to JumpinJack, my Flickr friend, for pointing me in the direction of this cover version of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" by a nice girl called Nevena Coneva. Apparently, she is quite a good singer. She was maybe just having an "off" day.

This performance is so awful that it's brilliant!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
One of the less attractive features of Egypt is the tendency for people to come up to you in public places trying to sell you things. At practically all the ancient sites that we visited there seemed to be a collection of tiny shops between the place where you bought your entry tickets and the bus parking area. This would have been OK if you were simply left with the option of going into the shop. Instead, the shopkeeper would assail you on the way back to the bus and try to sell you a shirt, a guide book, etc. After our visit to the Valley of the Queens one guy seemed to lock onto me like a tourist-seeking missile. Despite my persistent attempts to shoo him away, he was determined to sell me a shirt and the price he was asking dropped precipitously. By the time I got to the bus he was almost offering to pay me to take the item!

The most extreme example we saw (see picture) happened when the cruise boat stopped waiting to get through the lock at Esna on the way to Aswan. Several little boats swarmed around our boat and the people on board repeatedly threw goods (mainly galabeyas) up onto the cruise boat in the hope that someone would throw money, rather than the unwanted galabeya, back.

I suspect many of these folk are pretty poor, and I'm obviously sympathetic, but I really can't imagine they make much money by using these tactics.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Apology

Sorry I haven't blogged much since returning from holiday. Holidays are wonderful things, but they have two problems associated with them. The first of these is the fact that you have to go back to work after them. The second problem is the fact that the poor buggers that have been snowed under while you have been away often have the audacity to go on holiday themselves when you go back. This unpleasant behaviour often increases the stress levels of vulnerable individuals suffering from post-holiday depression. It's fair to say that I have been pretty busy with "real life" since returning from Egypt.

Another particular problem was the sudden death of my elderly desktop computer shortly after I came home. Although I also have a laptop, all my photoediting software was on the old machine, somewhat interfering with the post-processing of my 400 images from the holiday! Fortunately, after a period in intensive care at the computer hospital, the old boy is back on his feet---in fact I'm typing on him now.

Hopefully, next week will be better!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
On our first day in Luxor we also visited the Luxor Temple. We had already seen evidence of the ego of Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great) at Karnak where the picture attached to the last post shows his inscriptions carved deep into the columns to avoid any chance of obliteration by future rulers.

In front of the Great Pylon of Luxor Temple (shown here) there is a single obelisk that used to be one of a pair. Visitors to Paris may have seen the second obelisk from Luxor in the Place de la Concorde.

Three lines of vertical inscription on every face of the remaining obelisk repeat the names and titles of Ramesses II: Mighty Bull; Exalter of Thebes; Favourite of the Two Goddesses, establishing monuments in Luxor for his father Amun, who placed him upon the throne; Golden Horus, seeking excellent things for him who fashioned him; King of Upper and Lower Egypt. Amazingly, but typical of Ramesses, when the second obelisk was lowered in order to be transported to France, the Pharaoh's name was also found inscribed on the bottom!

This guy had an ego that would make Donald Trump look like a shrinking violet.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Ramesses Makes His Mark
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
I'm not going to bore you all/ both with every detail of our holiday in Egypt, but there were certain highlights that I thought I should record. The first ancient site that we visited while the boat was still moored in Luxor was the Temple Complex at Karnak. Karnak consists of many temples built over 1,300 years and the site occupies 200 acres! Needless to say, we didn't manage to see everything, but highlights included the huge statue of Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great), and the Great Hypostyle Hall that was built by his father, Seti I and was completed by Ramesses (shown here).

Other things at Karnak included the tallest obelisk in Egypt erected by the only female Egyptian Pharaoh, Hatshepsut, whose mummy was only very recently identified.

We were fortunate to have a fantastic guide for the trip called Amro Mounir, who also lectured at the Cairo Museum. The visit to Karnak was a superb introduction to Egypt and egyptology.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back in Blighty

Just got home today after a fabulous holiday in Egypt. Still recovering from the shock of going from the 5 star Sheraton Hotel in Soma Bay to the Travelodge at Gatwick Airport. We were so knackered from the journey that the most uncomfortable bed in the known universe didn't seem so bad.

Highlight of our Travelodge visit was the shower that gave you a choice of cold or perishing temperature then refused to shut off afterwards! Wosog thought I was just being useless as usual, but she had no more success with the bloody thing than I did. The maintenance man assured us that replacement of the showers was part of a forthcoming refurbishment program. Call me sceptical if you like...

I still think Travelodges are reasonable value for money and often conveniently located.

I suppose you get (or in this case don't get) what you pay for!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ricky Gervais' Simpsons Episode

Heading off today for London. Flying to Egypt tomorrow. Can't think what to write about, so here's a clip from the episode of The Simpsons written by Ricky Gervais featuring a song that is truly awful---but in a good way.

Back (all too) soon!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Oh The Irony!

I recently mentioned that Wosog and I were going to Egypt, but I was slightly concerned about the risk of a terrorist attack there. We are due to fly to London tomorrow from Glasgow Airport so we can catch a flight to Luxor from Gatwick the next day. Many of you will already know that on Saturday there was a terrorist attack on the very terminal that we were due to check in at tomorrow. Subsequently, a bomb was found, and destroyed in a controlled explosion, in the car park of the hospital to which a severely burned terrorist from the airport attack had been taken. It seems that Egypt may be a safer place to be than Scotland at present!

I used to work at the hospital mentioned and I can imagine the damage that a bomb exploded by terrorists in the car park might do. Fortunately there were no innocent victims of the outrage at the airport. Personally, I would have great difficulty bringing myself to treat someone who had carried out one of these attacks.

There is no "cause", no grievance so great, that it justifies detonating a bomb next to innocent men, women and children.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

If a thing ain't broke...

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the last few days, mainly because British Telecom has been doing its best to screw up my internet connection. I have been quite happy with the service that they have provided up till now, but for months they have been badgering me to get something called a BT Home Hub. This is a trendy white box that doesn't just act as a router-modem, it also has an internet phone attached and gives you access to lots of other wonderful "services" (or so they say). I had resisted their approaches because I thought there was a potential for creating problems where none currently existed. Last week I finally gave in and agreed to "upgrade" my system.

The trendy white box with its dinky white internet phone arrived on Thursday. The documentation was comprehensive, but I phoned up to check that I didn't need to uninstall my existing hardware before connecting up my wonderful new hub. I was told by a nice lady that this was not necessary. I unplugged a perfectly functioning old system and plugged in the new system to find that it detected no broadband service at all. Despite, literally, hours on the phone to the helpline, and numerous bizarre manoeuvres the f---ing device is still not working. We even had it sitting between 6 pm last night and 6 am today supposedly updating itself. This involved all of the lights on the front of the thing flashing in an extremely irritating way. At 6.05 am I finally pulled the plug on the annoying little piece of junk, reconnected my low tech old broadband router modem and, fortunately, resumed flawless surfing.

The extremely polite, pathologically cheerful BT technician is due to phone me (from India, I suspect) at 4.30 pm today to see how things have gone.

In my extremely impolite, pathologically morose way, I'll be telling him, in fairly detailed anatomical terms, where he can stuff his BT Home Hub.