Posted by: glenswatman | July 8, 2008

200806-2-England Egypt

MONDAY 16 JUNE – Make a quick visit to see Netty at her new home.  She still lives in Market Drayton but now has a 3-storey 4 bedrooms 3 bathroom home with her partner Ian.  Bobby has finished university for the summer hols and Nick has finished school and intends going to college to do a “uniformed services” course to become a fireman.  In Dawley we sort out a new contract for our house in Newport.  The company have being renting it for almost 12 years and want us to sign for a further 5-years and this suits us fine.  Final stop of the day is at Steve’s sister Netty’s and her partner Marks in Madeley.  Netty is at work but Mark makes us most welcome and we really enjoy the sandwich he makes for us as it is thick cut ham in a proper unsweetened cheese topped bread roll.  Since we visited last year they have done a major make over on the house and it looks very clean and modern.  Their leather sofa with electronic reclining seats is extremely comfortable.  Shortly after Netty returns from work we are joined by Lauren with 2-year old Aidan and then Kevin & Sandra with their new baby – a dog called Skye.  Once everyone leaves we have a cooked dinner and then settle down to play on the “Wii”.  We do a sports test to assess your age and Steve comes out pretty well at 42 but I am not happy with my 74 years!



TUESDAY 17 JUNE – Mark works 4 days on and 4 off so just Netty goes out to work.  Mark helps me with some computer problems then I join him for a ride to the shopping centre.  Return to find that Netty has just packed in her job.  She was really unhappy with it and things have come to a head but by the end of the afternoon she has another one lined up to start a week on Monday. 



WEDNESDAY 18 JUNE – It’s a very dull and rainy day so we are not tempted to rush off but spend time chatting before returning to Market Drayton.  We’ve not been at Mum’s long when Netty and family call round and I knock up a bit of lunch or us all.  Mum is keen to go on a coach holiday with Auntie Pamela and I help them to book one with Robinson’s.  They pick up in the Midlands and Yorkshire and their tour prices include day trips.  Early afternoon Steve & I walk to the market but many stalls have already packed up and gone home.  Hard to believe that it is now summer time.  In the evening we visit Netty & Ian’s in their new house.  They now live in a 3 storey, 2-½-bathroom town house giving them much more space for all the children.  We take Netty & Ian out for a belated engagement dinner at The Gingerbread and linger over drinks and news.  Tomorrow they are off to Cyprus for a week along with Bobby and his new girlfriend Cat. We are going to house sit for them in their new home and also keep Nick company. 



THURSDAY 19 JUNE – Although Mum is doing really well after her hip replacement operation she still struggles to get in and out of the bath so Nurse Glen lends a hand.  She’s struggling more than normal so I follow it up with a light back massage.  Drive Mum up to town for a quick walk around then take her home in time to go out for lunch with neighbour Pauline.  Nick joins us for our evening meal after which we drop Nick at his Dad’s then return to Netty’s.  It’s rather like being in a holiday apartment with the place to ourselves and all the nice new decoration and fittings.  She has a new king sized bed so it’s lovely to snuggle up together again.



FRIDAY 20 JUNE – Return to Mum’s to leave Steve the task of removing more of our old photos from albums to be stored in envelopes.  The plastic in the old albums is affecting the colour of the pictures and also the revised storage takes up much less room.  I drive Mum to Little Wenlock to visit her friend Diane.  It’s quite a long journey as all the new roads confuse the navigation process!  (That’s technical jargon for getting lost).  Once again we return to Netty’s and have an even better nights sleep after a long soak in the bath.



SATURDAY 21 JUNE – Mum has a Saturday morning hairdressing appointment that Steve drives her to.  It’s another cold and miserable morning and the Nile Cruise that I have had my eye on beckons even more.

It hasn’t been reduced as much as in previous weeks but at £329 for flight from Gatwick, 7 nights cruising on a 4 * ship, full board + 10 excursions it still represents excellent value.  I make the necessary phone calls to get it booked and using freedom direct manage to get the credit card fee and tickets on departure charges waived.  I then phone our friends in Sheffield as they are considering joining us.  Steve picks Mum up and brings in fish & chips for lunch.  The afternoon is spent using the Internet at Netty’s in order to arrange travel insurance, coach to Gatwick, a host to stay for a couple of nights before we leave and so on.  Arthur & Jean have booked the same trip so by late afternoon the job is pretty much sewn up.  Back to Mums to give her a lift to a party in the Parish rooms.  We wait for her to call to be picked up but just before 11pm she gets dropped off and we can go back to Netty’s.



SUNDAY 22 JUNE – Once again the Internet comes in handy for us to book a side trip from Aswan to visit Abu Simbel.  The tour company charge £60 each but through we get it for $76 (39) each.  It seems to be a long standing American based firm that offer tours to link up with cruises and from holiday resorts and all the testimonials speak well of it.  Cook lunch at Mum’s then take her up to Morrisons to

do some shopping.  Late afternoon we drive to Preston to visit Richard (formally known as Dickie), Steve’s best man.  He lives in a beautiful renovated old hospital building in the country.  It has been turned into flats surrounding a courtyard and its nice and peaceful.  His wife Julie and daughter Chloe make us welcome and we chat over a curry and catch up on all their news.  Driving back to Drayton we can tell just how windy it has been today as many tree branches have come down.  Definitely not our idea of summer weather.



MONDAY 23 JUNE – We seem to be staying up quite late watching TV so I leave Steve in bed whilst I walk into town to pick up a few things for our trip.  After lunch at Mum’s I drive her up to Telford for a shopping spree.  We split up and I head off to get the things I couldn’t find this morning and have a very successful shop.  It’s hard to believe just how much stuff  I find in “Poundland” including a new bikini, holiday wrap, luggage padlocks and ear plus.  Just manage to get Mum back in time for her 5pm pupil.  Nicks at home in the evening so we chat to him and this time stay up late watching “Bone Collector” based on the Jeffrey Deaver novel.



TUESDAY 24 JUNE – We seem to be doing a lot of chasing around at the moment but at Netty’s we have free wi-fi and at Mums she has free phone calls at the weekend and each evening.  This time we return to await the arrival of Paul & Elaine, our friends from Newport.  They are amazed at how well Mum is doing with her hip replacement as Elaine’s Mum had the same surgeon but he botched her operation.  We try the new Weatherspoons “Hippodrome” for lunch and it’s good value with a burger meal and drink for £4.65.  Decide to return to Netty’s for coffee and dessert but make a mistake in picking up a frozen dessert that we have to microwave and spoil in order to avoid the defrosting time!  Nick has a new job washing up at “The Four Alls” so Steve takes him there for 6.30pm and picks him up around 10.30pm.  He says it is a really easy job and he knows the other lad who works there so he’s very happy about it.



WEDNESDAY 25 JUNE – Mum has asked us to give her and her neighbour Pauline a lift up to town for a coffee morning and it’s probably a good job she did as it is a rainy morning.  Staying down at Mums gives us chance to go through our things and sort out what we need for Egypt and what we shall want for our return to Yorkshire and to take back to America.  I can also defrost and sort out Mum’s freezer with no fear of the food defrosting as it is such a chilly day!  Steve finally finishes the photo job.  Many years ago we spent time taking digital photos of each one so we are unlikely to want to look at the originals again but don’t want to throw them out.



THURSDAY 26 JUNE – Netty is due back in the early hours of tomorrow morning so I set about cleaning up her house.  Unfortunately it is raining again so no chance of getting the washing dried.  Relocate to Mums and help her with some paperwork in the afternoon.



FRIDAY 27 JUNE – Nurse Glen is virtually redundant as Mum does a great job of bathing herself.  We just need to find her something to clean between her toes as her new hip joint prevents her from bending forwards.  After cleaning and tidying up the house we set off up town for a bit of shopping and lunch at the Gingerbread Man.  In the afternoon I begin the complicated job of packing.  Not only do we need things for Egypt but also for our 10 days in Yorkshire when we get back and the things that we are taking back to America.   Netty, Ian & Nick call round in the afternoon and we have a laugh looking at some old photos that I have put onto DVD for Mum.  Early evening we get a phone call from Auntie Joan’s husband John in Canada.  He’s calling with the shocking news that cousin Chris’s partner John has died aged 59.  Apparently she had been away for 4 days with work and returned to find him dead in bed.  We stayed with Chris and John last September when we were in Vancouver so we are most upset. 



SATURDAY 28 JUNE – I head up town early to get a card for Chris.  Steves drives Mum up to the hairdressers whilst I finish packing and tidying up.  With heavier luggage than normal Steve drives me to the bus stop, drops me off then returns to park the car.  Mum joins us at the bus stop for a final farewell.  We catch the 12.11pm local bus to Hanley, £2.50 each.  After a short wait we are on to the National Express bus to London Victoria.  Managed to get fun fares, £8 for me and £10 for Steve.  It’s not their newest design bus, the toilet has no water and the seats are a little uncomfortable but value for money is excellent.  Arrive in Victoria coach station with 20 minutes to make our Gatwick connection, £6.60 each.  The final leg takes us across the Thames with views of the London eye and then through seemingly never ending suburbs with traffic jams everywhere.  At one halt we see 3 policemen frisking a man and they are armed with large guns.  Arrive at the South airport terminal around 7.30pm.  We’ve lined up at Couchsurfing host for the next couple of nights and after a quick phone call David is on his way to pick us up.  He lives 10 minutes away so soon has us in the car and on the way to Smallfield.  Stop at an Indian to pick up a take away en route.  Settle in his lounge eating the food and sipping wine whilst listening to his potted history.  He’s actually quite famous as he was the original Hovis boy on the posters prior to TV commercials and also features in the Clydella pyjamas advert.  His home is only 3 miles from Gatwick as the crow flies and every few minutes a jet flies past.  Certainly not the quietest place we have stayed but the friendly welcome more than compensates for it.



SUNDAY 29 JUNE – David offers to take us for a drive around the area and he knows a lot about the history.  Begin at the Outwood windmill, 1666, the oldest one in England.  Dame Judy Dench lives nearby and is often seen in the village shop.  Bletchingley church was used by the Knights Templar and has an interesting feature of a hole in the outer wall which lepers could put their hand through to receive communion without entering the building.  The town itself has many attractive old buildings and is all beautifully kept.  Henry V111’s wife Anne of Cleeves had a palace nearby.  David took place in an archaeological dig to map out the foundations but all that is left is the original gatehouse.  Return late afternoon and I sit in the garden chatting to David whilst Steve has a siesta.  Early evening David sets about helping with some of my laptop problems.  Steve is watching football on TV and the time passes quickly.  David is making some progress on my computer but everything seems to take ages so around midnight I suggest we accept the stage we have reached and call it a day.



MONDAY 30 JUNE – I’m awake by 4am and creep downstairs to find David fast asleep on the sofa – a bit of an about turn considering we are supposed to be the “Couchsurfers”.  He got up to do some more work on my computer and is fast asleep with my laptop running a system check.  He looks really cosy so I leave him and return to our bedroom.  I can’t settle so get up and dressed and sit on the bed reading waiting for “the phone call”.  Jean rings around 6.30am to tell us they are getting close.  I wake up the lads, make coffee and finish packing.  We’ve not met Arthur or Jean so it’s rather funny to suddenly see the front door open, David introducing himself to them and then introducing them to us!  We do a quick transfer of baggage and all pile into David’s tiny car for the journey to the airport.  Once again we have had a brilliant time with a host and new found friend.   Jean & Arthur pick up their tickets from the desk and we are soon checked in.  With our luggage piled with things for the Egypt trip, stuff to wear in England afterwards and what we want to take back to America it still only totals just over 20kg.  We’re flying with Monarch and pleasantly surprised by how much legroom we have.  It’s a 5-hour flight to Luxor and we are served a free meal en route.  Land in EGYPT Luxor airport around 5pm local time (2-hours ahead of BST).  The minute we step out of the plane the welcome heat hits us.  In the terminal we queue up for the visa stamp (but must pay the £10 each on the coach), passport control.  Currency is the Egyptian Pound at roughly E£10 to £1 so we get some cash the ATM before meeting up with the African Safari rep.  The cruise ships used to dock right in the city but it has now been decided that with almost 300 ships lined up no one in the city could actually see the Nile.  They are now starting to be anchored out of town about a 20-minute bus ride away.  We’re booked on the 4* M.S. Fleurette and it’s the middle one of 3 anchored side by side.  After a welcome drink in the bar we are cabins on the lowest deck of all, not much view sandwiched between the other ships shown our but it’s the same whatever deck you are on.  Our twin cabin is reasonably spacious but looks a little tired.  After a quick un pack we make our way up to the sun deck to take a cooling dip in the pool.  It’s also a great place to watch the sunset.  Drinks on the ship are very expensive so Steve takes a walk up the street and gets 1½-litre bottles of water for E£5 (50p) each versus E£13.50 (£1.35) on the ship.  8.00pm is dinner and we sit with Jean & Arthur, Terry & Bob and singles Charles and Angela.  The meal is a very basic thin noodle soup, chicken and vegetables followed by banana dessert.  We’re not surprised as the web reviews commented that this is one of the many reasons that this is such a cheap trip.  Finish off the day with the welcome meeting at which we are enticed to do the add on trip to Cairo to see the pyramids.  It’s pretty pricey at £160 but includes return flights, The Pyramids, the Sphinx, lunch, the Egyptian Museum plus Khan-Khalili Bazaar. 



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