Posted by: glenswatman | July 17, 2008

200807-1-England Egypt



TUESDAY 1 JULY 2008 – We all get a 7am wakeup call to enable us to enjoy a buffet breakfast before our first trip scheduled to leave at 8am.  Our African Safari Club package includes 10 trips including admission fees but I will quote them for reference.  We’re split into two smaller groups, ours is Ramses XXII with Egyptologist Sherif.  En route to the temples he tells us that the east bank of the river Nile, the sunrise side, is where temples are dedicated to life whilst the west bank, the sunset side, is for death as people used to believe a new sun was born and died each day.  He also briefs us on the basic components off all the temples.  Karnak is the biggest one in Egypt, admission price E£50 (£5). Dated 3200BC it is impressive from the start but it gets better as we venture further in.  The Great Hypostyle Hall still has over 100 supporting columns with interesting hieroglyphics.  Sherif is incredibly knowledgeable but for me he stays in one place too long whereas Lena’s group seem to be moving around more and having brief talks.  Jean & Arthur feel the same so we begin slipping off to explore alone with the aid of the Rough Guide.  Every turn there is something else to see, obelisks, pylons (entrance gates), statues, different types of columns, rooms with faded pictures and thousands of hieroglyphics.  We keep returning to the group but our attention span is short and we slip away again.  Steve remains to sit in the shade and take in what he can.  Once Sherif finishes he gives us just 30 minutes to explore alone.  Even though we have been skipping around this is still nowhere near enough time for us to see everything so we have to content ourselves by walking to the far end, where there is more paint on the columns, roofs and walls and back.  Next tour stop is at the air-conditioned papyrus shop.  We are shown how true papyrus is made and how to tell the fake stuff that is really things like banana leaves.  Of course you then have the option of buying pictures.  The smaller Luxor temple is in the centre of the city on the banks of the river, E£40 (£4).  Sherif still has lots to tell us and I do manage to hang in there longer.  I learn that the red splashes on the walls are from the bats menstruating and that one of the areas was converted to a Christian church and had frescoes on the wall but only a small section remains.  I think we are all happy to get out of the heat and return to the boat for a buffet lunch.  Head up to the sun deck but only manage about 5 minutes on the loungers before seeking shade.  At this time of year afternoon temperatures are in the 40’s C.  The only time we venture back out into the heat is to walk to the pool for a cooling dip.  Evening meal is buffet style with salad, soup, main courses and desserts.  We have to be up at 5.30am so after a brief spell on deck we head off for an early night.  Not much sleep to be had though.  The waves lap against the side of the ship and as the bulk of our cabin is below sea level it sounds like you are sloshing around in a big cast iron bath.  Steve gets up for a drink and the door falls off the fridge – Faulty Towers eat your heart out.  I go to reception to ask for extra pillows to put over our heads to muffle the noise and also report the fridge door.  The fridge will keep until tomorrow but the pillows arrive soon after – stinking of smoke! 



WEDNESDAY 2 JULY – The 5.30am wake up call does not go down well as the water calmed down in the early hours and we finally got to sleep.  From our cabin window we can see lots of balloons taking off over the dessert.  We’re on the coach at 6.30am heading over the bridge to the west bank of the Nile.  The early start aimed at beating the heat and the crowds.  It’s still hot when we arrive at the Valley of the Kings at 7.30 but we are ahead of the crowds.  In the visitor centre there is a fantastic scale model of the valley, crafted from glass to show each tombs depth and alignment in relation to the others.  We are led towards a “Noddy” train but immediately assaulted by vendors.  They are extremely persistent to the extent that one of them hangs on to the back of the train to complete a late transaction!  The track snakes through the valley to the main entrance.  The E£70 (£7) admission price allows you into any 3 of the open tombs and our guide has selected the best 3 of these.  Tutankhamen is an optional extra at E£80 (£8) but Sherif doesn’t make it sound worth it.  We walk to the tomb of Ramesis 1V and after the obligatory long talk we are free to enter.  It’s not what we expected at all as we are surprised by the height and width of the tunnel and the high standard of the paintings and hieroglyphics on the walls plus the fact that they are uncovered and people are touching them.  A long wide corridor leads downwards to the main burial chamber complete with painted ceiling and a sarcophagus.  You are not supposed to take photos but it sure is tempting and we see a number of people taking shots with their telephones.  The next one is Ramses III, said to be the grandest of the Ramesis tombs.  When it was being built they accidentally broke through into an adjoining tomb so had to put a kink in the corridor to continue.  This one has chambers at the sides of the corridor as well.  Ramses III’s mummy was the model for Boris Karloff’s figure in the 1930’s film “The Mummy”.  Again it is so impressive that I give in to the urge to surreptitiously take a photo.  Obviously not carefully enough as someone comes over to me and takes my camera away.  However he then proceeds to walk beside me and for a small baksheesh (£1) will overlook my mistake!  The final one chosen for us is Ramses I.  He did not have royal blood so the tunnel to the burial chamber is much shorter but it is finely painted and the colours are still bright.  We’re given some free time so head up the side of the valley to take photos.  We are pounced on by unofficial guides and having trouble fending them off when suddenly they hoist up their gowns and hot foot it away – reckon they must have been spotted by the official guides or tourist Police.  Steve notices that our entrance ticket was not punched at the last tomb so we head to the nearby Tomb of Tuthmosis IV to try our luck.  Entry is down a very steep passageway, into a bare room then left over a bridge and onwards to another bend leading to a small room housing a magnificent sarcophagus.  This one is still painted and covered in hieroglyphics and I manage a sneaky photo before the guide comes to join us.  Had we been visiting alone I reckon we would have bought 2 admission tickets to enable us to visit 6 tombs including the one with an extremely long downward tunnel into the mountain.  Returning to the bus you exit through an area full of stalls and vendors who hassle you all the way.  It’s a short drive to The Valley of the Queens, E£25 (£2.50).   The vendors are waving things at us before we have even got off the bus.  Arf and I have worked out that if you say “No Thank You” you have to say it at least 3 times before they go away whereas the Arabic version of “La Shokran” works first time.  The short walk through the valley to the tombs is very tiring in the intense heat.  I’ve taking to draping a sarong over my hat and pulling it around my shoulders and a few others have taken my lead.  This time Sheriff’s talk seems more interesting as he uses people from our group as models to explain the ancestry system.  We are then left to explore the 3 open tombs beginning that of Prince Khaemweset.  We have a rough guide with further information and can fan ourselves with our hats but the guides at the doors still keep trying to rent us pieces of cardboard to use as fans.  Even though we have all the information we need and a torch to light up the dark areas they keep trying to nuzzle in with a tip expected.  This tomb is quite colourful and has interesting murals in the burial chamber.  The tomb of Queen Titi is similar but with a few side rooms.  Best of all is the Tomb of Amunhirkhepshef where our torch enables us to see inside a glass case.  It holds a mummified foetus.  9-year old Amunhirkhepshef died in battle and his mother aborted the baby in grief so had it entombed with her son.  It’s an interesting area but nowhere near as impressive as the Valley of the Kings.  Last stop of the trip is to photograph the two massive Colossi of Memnon.  18 metres high they loom up from the fields and front a derelict temple that may have been even bigger than Karnak.  Before boarding our ship Steve and Alf walk down to the nearby café where the owner has agreed to bring in some beer to sell them.  He keeps them waiting saying any minute now but in the end they return for lunch with just water.  After our buffet meal the lads go back and are rewarded with cans of beer for E£20 (£2) each plus E£10 (£1) for the guys taxi fare!  Expensive beer but still half the price of on the ship.  The river is calm so we manage an afternoon nap before heading to the sun deck.  Check with reception whether they have organised us a move to the opposite side of the ship before the new passengers arrive.  The Manager is off until 9pm but we know the passengers arrive at 6pm.  The receptionist says to return in half an hour so we are very surprised when a few minutes later we get a message.  We are being moved to a cabin on the next deck up but it’s after 5.30pm so we have to be quick.  The new cabin is still on the same side but now well above the water level.  Luckily we travel light so don’t take long packing.  Set sail around 6.30pm and it’s a fantastic trip up the Nile.  We are near to the banks and can see observe life in the small farms and villages at close quarters.  After the evening buffet there is a presentation in the bar.  It almost seems that this is the official start of the cruise as the managers of each department are introduced, we get a welcome non-alcoholic cocktail and then have a chance to dance in the disco.  We are due to pass through the famous Esna lock just after midnight so retire to bed having asked for a wake up call.  It comes sooner than expected at 11.30pm and we make our way up to the sun deck to be impressed by the spectacle of the Nile barrage, the old and the new lock.  The pilot takes his time navigating us into the channel of the old one with inches to spare in height as we sail under the road bridge.  With 2 locks now available they will no longer have to close the lock system twice a year for cleaning.  The step up takes about 30 minutes after which we head back to bed



THURSDAY 3 JULY – Even with the engines running we get a much better sleep in our new cabin.  Wake up in the city of Edfu.  The morning trip is to the nearby temple; the second largest in Egypt and the worlds best preserved one as it was buried under sand until discovery in the late 1800’s.  Almost all the walls are intact and have inscriptions and some of the old paint still visible, even a number of ceilings are still in place.  Again I only manage part of Sherif’s talk before exploring alone.  This is great fun as there are numerous staircases and narrow passageways.  The Nilometer is an underground narrow corridor that ends at the water level of the Nile enabling people to monitor the level without going there.  A room that was used as a pharmacy has hieroglyphics with the recipes and pictures of the plants used for medicinal purposes.  Running the gauntlet to the coach we opt to buy ourselves a couple of sarongs to wear to tonight’s Egyptian themed dinner.  Haggle a couple of beautiful Egyptian style ones down to E£2 (£2 each) and also buy big bottles of water 2 for E£5 (50p), a marked improvement on the E£13.20, £1.32 each that they chance on board. The boat sets sails as soon as we board and we get superb views of both banks of the Nile whilst eating lunch.  Interestingly there is usually one side that has lush green farmland whilst the opposite is rocky or desert but it keeps changing sides.  Back in our cabin the bedspread art is a crocodile eating the telephone!  Today there is afternoon tea at 4.30pm but Steve feels unwell and opts to remain in bed and also miss the next temple.  By 6pm we have docked in Kom Ombo for the short walk to the riverside temple.  The temple of Haroeris and Sobek is unusual in its bisymmetry.  The left side is dedicated to Haroeris, the good doctor and the right to Sobek, the crocodile god.  There are less remains as the river often flooded this area but the light at this time of day is fantastic for photos.  A side chapel house the mummified remains of 3 crocodiles but little else grabs me.  The evening meal is delicious Egyptian food served at the buffet.  Predominantly vegetarian main courses and dessert pastries that are heavy on the honey and sugary.  Steve misses the meal but attempts the Egyptian evening entertainment although he skips the sarong in favour of warm clothes to counteract his chill.  Many men are wearing the long gowns and fezzes and women mainly have glittery scarves so my improvised outfit fits in well.  They organise a number of fun party games and it’s a great laugh.  Men have to play Egyptian golf where a potato hangs on a string down their back and they have to swing it to hit another potato on the floor.  Sadly it has to wind up around 11am because of tomorrows early start.



FRIDAY 4 JULY – A 6am wake up call then 7am we disembark in Aswan.  Journey across the original dam with picturesque scenery over the cataract.  The high dam took 4 years to build in the 1970’s and created the 500 km long Lake Nasser stretching into Sudan.  Numerous temples had to be relocated and many Nubian villages were lost.  However Egypt now has a hydroelectric power source, the Nile under control from flooding and plenty of water available.  Between the high and low dam we take a boat across to Aglika Island to visit the Temple of Isis, E£40, (£4).  Between 1972 and 1980 this temple was relocated from Philae Island, as it would have flooded once the high dam was built.  This time it is the setting that impresses us most although carvings left by Napoleon and his troops are also interesting.  Final stop of the tour is the perfume factory where they demonstrate how the beautiful bottles are made before giving you a chance to buy the essence.  Following our afternoon snooze we head up to use the swimming pool only to find it has been drained for cleaning.  The evening show is belly dancing and a whirling dervish.  The belly dancer doesn’t even have the proper costume and looks like she would rather not be there but the whirling dervish more than makes up for her.  He begins spinning rapidly on the spot then proceeds to fan out his skirt but this is one of many that balloon out and eventually enfold him.  It’s a most amazing presentation and something we have never seen the likes of.  I notice that one of his heels remains static and he constantly brings his head back to one stop to avoid getting dizzy but this doesn’t stop us feeling dizzy watching him!



SATURDAY 5 JULY – Wake up call at 3am ready for our venture into the desert.  Using the Internet I have booked a private tour to Abu Simbel for Steve, myself, Arf and Jean.  The African Safari price is £60 each but through we’ve paid $76 (£39) per person.  The local “South Sinai Travel” representative meets us in reception and introduces us to our driver and guide, Michael and Mohammed.  In the mini bus we have a row of seats each.  At the edge of Aswan all the tour vehicles line up ready for the 4.30am convoy.  Our vehicle is given an inspection including mirrors underneath. The wacky races begin their 280km journey south to the town of Abu Simbel, just 40km north of Sudan.  There’s a new highway where speed limits are ignored and even coaches travel at up to 140 kph.  We make a brief stop to photo sunrise over the desert but basically it is just natural desert scenery.  The last 10km of the trip is really scary.  Our driver seems to decide he wants to be at the front of the convoy but every driver has the same objective.  Overtaking on hills with a blind bend, driving 2 ½ abreast and generally trying to nudge your way between vehicles is not for the faint hearted!  On arrival I have a quiet word with our guide explaining that we understand the Egyptian way of driving but it’s unnerving for us and the driver will get a better tip if he drives back a little more sedately!  We’ve come here to see the famous temples; our tour includes the admission fee of E£70 (£7).  The two temples became even more famous when they were moved to higher ground stone by stone to avoid disappearing under Lake Nasser was.  Ramses II (1304-1237BC) had four gigantic, 20m high, seated statues of himself carved into a mountainside directed towards Africa to confront and intimidate approaching travellers.  Between them stand figures of the royal family, dwarfed by Ramses’ knees.  We are guided up and around the man made hill to suddenly be confronted by the familiar sight of the Sun Temple, very impressive by the sheer size and location.  After a brief talk we are free to roam and take external photos before entering the temple.  The Sun Temple of Ramses II has amazing coloured carvings and huge statues inside plus side rooms with pictures stories along all the walls.  Just around the corner The Hathor Temple of Queen Nefertari also has wonderful façade of 6 colossal statues of Ramses and Nefertari, over 9m tall, but is plainer inside.  It’s taken us over 2 ½ hours to get here but totally worthwhile in my opinion.  The visitor centre completes the tale with full info as to how it was all transported up hill to be sited within domes before being covered by soil to create the effect of the original mountainside.  We all catch a few zz’s on the way back arriving in time for lunch.  With little time to catch our breath we are out for the last of the 10 included trips, a sail on the Nile on a felucca (local wooden sailing boat).  It’s really pleasant to be tacking downstream whilst hearing about the riverside buildings including an old hotel that was the basis for Agatha Christie’s novel “Death on the Nile”. Some small simple boats make their way over to us rowed by children using cardboard squares for paddles.  They hang on to the side of the felucca and begin singing songs such as “row row row the boat”!  Very enterprising and certainly deserving of a small tip.  Tonight is “Candlelight dinner” on board so we dress up in our best clothes and enjoy waiter service in the restaurant but after our early morning and another tomorrow we are early to bed.   



SUNDAY 6 JULY – Our optional £160 excursion to Cairo begins with a 3am wake up call.  We are taken by bus to Luxor airport for the PSA “Petroleum air services” 6am flight to Cairo.  It’s a small Dax 7 aircraft that flies low enough not to need pressurising but the 1 ¼ hour flight sure makes your ears pop a lot and your ankles swell.  An African Safari Club guide greets us and shuttles us on to a coach.  We have our own security guard complete with automatic gun.  Today the president is visiting the city so the normal roads are either closed or congested.  Luckily our guide lives in the city and directs the driver along a back route.  This means we get to see the horrendous Cairo traffic at it’s worst with at least 5 vehicles abreast on the 3 lane roads and people taking life in their own hands to cross.  Pass an area that originally was the cemetery but the City of the Dead has now become the city of the living.  Poor people were forced to live in the family tombs but this has now evolved into people building simple houses above the tombs.  Now when you die you just move down into the basement!  Although its fairly common knowledge that the Giza pyramids are right on the edge of the city it is still quite bizarre to see them popping up behind high rise buildings.  The area is now all fenced in so once you have paid the admission, normally £E50 (£5), there is less hassle than in the past.  After a bit of background we are let off the coach to explore alone.  One of the seven wonders of the world they more than exceed our expectations and have to be seen to appreciate the size and engineering feat of 4500 years ago.  We’ve parked in front of the Pyramid of Chephren and this one still has some of the smooth area at the top.  It’s between the smaller Pyramid of Mycerinus and the Great Pyramid of Cheops and each has smaller ones on its eastern side.  We head towards Cheops.  For some reason the tourist police guard latches on to our small group but as people begin to separate we find that he seems to have become a personal bodyguard to Steve and I.  This feels somewhat uncomfortable, as we don’t want other people thinking we are worth attacking!  We need to shake him off but to enter the pyramids you need to buy a special ticket and we don’t have one.  Steve finds out we can go into one of the smaller Queens tombs by crossing the guard’s hand with silver.  You climb backwards down a steep ramp with foot bars to stop you slipping.  Two levels in there is a ladder straight down to the funeral chamber where ledges have been carved.  It’s incredibly hot and quite claustrophobic but quite an experience.  No sooner have we emerged to walk around the Great Pyramid than our guard appears, must get some tips from Prince Harry as to how to shake them off!  The rest of the time we spend wandering around taking far too many photos, marvelling at the sight and pinching ourselves to believe we are really here.  The bus takes us up to a viewing area from which we can see all 3 pyramids backed by the city of Cairo then off to our right the desert with tourists being dragged along on camels.  Below is the Sphinx with a path running past it up to the pyramids. You can walk up the side of it for great views and photo opportunities and although it is very impressive the pyramids are the highlight for us.  Lunch is at a delightful local restaurant where we get tasters of many Egyptian delights.  At this point we suddenly realise just how tired we all are and how much the heat is getting to us.  Each day reaches over 40C and getting warmer until it peaks in August with many 50C days.  The Egyptian Museum is included in our tour (normally E£50, £5).  Founded in 1858 it holds thousands of pharaonic effects.  We soon find the guides information too deep for us to take in.  With my trusty rough guide we set out to find the highlights as everyone says it would take months to look at everything.  The Tutankhamun Galleries are brilliant with his jewellery, funerary mask and coffins.  The mummified animals interest us but generally speaking there are far too many human mummies, coffins and statues to take on board.  Last stop of the day is the bazaar but as full time travellers like us Jean & Arf also have no interest so we stay on the bus to snooze.  We all reckon it has been a fantastic day out and the best way to tackle the highlights of Cairo.  Back in Luxor the boat is now docked 5 astride.  We have customer survey forms to complete and all agree that the last minute discount price has been terrific value for money but at full price it may be a different story.  The staff has been extremely friendly with a good sense of humour and the trips were great.  On the slight negative side the ship seems more like a 3*, the food could have been more varied and the buffet better designed.  The drinks were definitely over priced, as the £3.90 cans of beer are 10p at the local supermarket.  We were also surprised that smoking was allowed in so many areas of the ship especially the reception where we all had to meet for trips.  It has certainly had a different feel to other cruises we have done, more variety of passengers who generally seemed friendlier.  After a pick at the evening buffet we return to sleep. 



MONDAY 7 JULY – It’s sheer bliss to have a lie in, even if I did wake up at 3am.  There’s a free trip to the bazaar for last minute shopping but not for us.  After lunch we are informed that our 5.35pm flight has been delayed so instead of leaving at 2.30pm we will be taken to a hotel at 6pm for a meal with no mention of a new departure time.  We have booked a room at a Travel Lodge just north of London but the latest check in is 4am and there is no refund if you cancel.  I join Lyn and Diane on the front deck for a chat until they leave at 4pm and then go up to the sun deck.  Fortunately a couple of rooms are at our disposal for a last minute shower.  We are taken to the Mercure Hotel on the promenade in Luxor.  The buffet meal is very nice but the 5-hours hanging around after is not so great.  There are not enough comfy seats for everyone as all the passengers for our flight are now congregated here. We end up on the sun loungers by the pool but it is still very hot out.  Arrive at the airport around 11.30pm and just as we are checking in our flight is changed from 01.05am to 01.50am – or did someone put the numbers up the wrong way round! Oh well it could be worse they could have changed it to 1500.



TUESDAY 8 JULY – Away at 2am.   We try to sleep but lots of announcements disturb us including once asking if there is a Doctor, Nurse or Paramedic on board.  One of the other passengers on our ship is a paramedic who goes to the assistance of a man who is in difficulty.  We are seated right next to a flight attendant who tells us Monarch is one of the few airlines whose staff have high level first aid training and have aircraft that carry a defibrillator.  Once we land in Gatwick ENGLAND at 6am we cannot disembark until the casualty has been taken off into an ambulance.  David drives over to pick us all up.  It’s his birthday today so we feel doubly bad about waking him early but he is really cheerful and as helpful as ever.  Arthur & Jean are giving us a lift up to Lincolnshire and Arthur opts to have a hot drink then chance the rush hour traffic around the M25.  Make really good time and stop on the A1M at a “greasy spoon” café for a bacon butty.  Arrive at Steve’s junior school friend Dave Boxx’s around 2pm.  His wife Mo is home for lunch so we all sit chatting until its time for Mo to head back to work and Arf & Jean to drive to their sons in Sheffield.  We have had a great time together, are amazed at their youth and vitality and certainly hope our paths cross again in the future.  Spend the afternoon caching up on Dave’s news as since we saw him about 6 years ago he has spent 5 years working out in Bahrain.  He has not begun a job in England yet but they have bought a motorhome to travel so we’ve lots in common.  Their 17-year old daughter Sarah returns from a new job that she is really enjoying. My stomach is beginning to feel a bit delicate so unfortunately I can’t each much of the evening meal they cook us and after a visit to the bathroom I feel quite sickly and cold so retire for an early night.  This is really embarrassing as the first time we visited them their dog Sam had gone missing so we spent the evening out looking for him.  On our second visit Steve was ill and had to miss a meal and an evening of cards.  Mo lingers but eventually leaves Steve & Dave reminiscing whilst hitting the scotch.



WEDNESDAY 9 JULY – I’m up early and feel much better.  My laptop is still not right so Dave sets about investigating it.  As usual this becomes in depth session.  After Mo has been back for lunch we drop her at work, she rides the buses that take special needs children to and from school, then go to look at Dave & Mo’s new motorhome.  It’s the same design as my cousins but a little older and they seem to have got a bargain on E-bay as it is in great condition.  Call in to Dave’s Mum Millie.  She just about recognises Steve and this is amazing as he was about 9 years old when he and Dave were boyhood friends.  She knows Mom & Dad so there are plenty of gaps to fill in.  In the evening I am reluctant to miss out on the spicy chicken curry but still end up racing to the loo.  An E-mail tells me that Jean and Arthur are also suffering from the Nile runs but I reckon it is preferable to have them now than like Steve did during the trip.  My computer problem draws Sarah in with new angle then also her boyfriend Matt.  It looks lie a virus is in play but it is preventing the uploading of the antidote and won’t even allow me to connect to the Internet.  What a nightmare, talk about the combination being locked in the safe. Dave & I linger until 1am then call it a day.



THURSDAY 10 JULY – After another session I have to accept that my laptop is probably F.U.B.A.R.  Spend the rest of the time chatting with Dave & Mo.   Claire is going to meet us halfway at Ferrybridge Service Station and arrives just before us.  After a speedy transfer we head off to Keighley catching up on her news en route.  Back at their house Claire shows me Daniel & Natasha’s school reports and they are both excellent.  Daniels head teacher wonders how the school will cope without him as he does so many extra jobs for them including running the tuck shop.  Natasha arrives home first and dives into our arms for a cuddle.  Today she was chosen by the school to present the Duke of Kent with a bouquet and make a small speech.  He was visiting Haworth and Natasha met him at Bronte Parsonage.  Claire drops Steve at bowling and we carry on to pick Daniel up from scouts.   He has news that he has just graduated from the Childrens University and has photos of himself in his graduation gown and mortarboard.  They drop me at Mom & Dad’s and we stop up chatting until Steve returns around 11pm.



FRIDAY 11 JULY – It’s a cold and rainy morning and I am awake early.  Mom has asked if I will clean the tiles in the kitchen so I figure I might as well get on with it whilst no one is around.  Amazingly soon after Dad wakes up and then Mom wakes up and finds him missing so gets up to check he is OK.  I continue in the kitchen and go on to cupboards, the floor and defrosting the freezer – in for a penny in for a pound.  It wasn’t really dirty but is the kind of kitchen that has odd places that are difficult to get to.  Steve gets up thinking it is much later than it is with us all being awake but before he can sneak back to bed I have the sofa bed folded away.  Just after 9am Mom drives us down town and we drop Steve at the Doctors for some routine blood tests.  After picking up a few things we head back and call in at Broomhill Post Office.  Inside it still looks pretty good after the refit but outside is sadly neglected so I am very surprised when Steve tells me it is on the market and has been for 15 months.  I cook us all a prawn in black bean sauce stir-fry for lunch.  Claire picks us up late afternoon having been in Halifax buying Daniels new school uniform.  In September he is going to North Halifax Grammar School and its already turning into an expensive business with the official school blazer costing £75.  Steve joins Claire to watch Natasha swimming and I stay home with Daniel.  Back to Mom & Dads for the night.



SATURDAY 12 JULY – Mom takes us round to Claire’s so that I can stay with the kids whilst she goes to pick up David with Steve riding shotgun.  For the first time since we got back it is a nice day so I peg her washing out.  Once they arrive back we leave Steve at home and head into town.  Daniel & Natasha need carry on luggage and end up with trolley bags, Natasha is delighted as hers is bright pink.  In the afternoon Steve & David go off to play snooker.  Evening is a mixture of Chinese take-away and Chinese ready meals from Morrisons.  Whilst we are stood at the Chinese I ask the kids how many sleeps until we go to Florida, 6.  I then say yes but only 5 more tomorrow.  This evolves into a full blown song (to the tune of One man went to mow) “6 more sleeps to go, 5 more sleeps tomorrow, 4 more, 3 more, 2 more, 1 more sleep, then we are in Orlando.  Of course I have well and truly set myself up now!  Steve & David head back to Mom & Dads to sleep whilst Natty gives me her cabin bed and sleeps below me on a chair bed.



SUNDAY 13 JULY – Wake up to Natty singing 5 more sleeps to go…. 

Claire drops me back at Mom & Dads and I cook up roast pork for dinner.  David’s wife Donna is going in to hospital today so early afternoon Claire drives him home with Steve again riding shotgun.  My stomach is still a bit delicate and I don’t want to be too far from a loo!  Back at Mom & Dad’s I take Dad for a short stroll in the afternoon, as it is such a nice day – well for England anyway!



MONDAY 14 JUY – I join Mom for the bus ride in to town.  I put my £1 in the payment tray and get a shock when the driver asks for another 80p.  In the end I find out a K card at £3 for the day is a better deal and in fact great value if you want to travel far or do lots of journeys.  I drop off my laptop at the Computer Doctors; it has been playing up for ages and seems to have a virus that is now multiplying fast.  Have had great help from many friends but it now seems to be a Harley Street job.  Late afternoon Claire picks us up then drops us in Sutton so we can visit friends Vaughan & Sue.  They are fellow property developers and bought our Keighley house from us last year.  Having recently visited Florida twice they now have itchy feet and lots of questions for us.  Sue has cooked a light pasta dinner for us all after which we sit chatting until well after 11pm.



TUESDAY 15 JULY – Steve gets the results of his wellness blood test and they are all good so he instantly perks up!  Join Mom & Dad for a ride to Shipley to shop at Asda, they won’t have to do this for much longer as a branch is due to open in Keighley.  The afternoon walk with Dad is not quite so good as it is cold and breezy and he finds it hard to breathe.  Claire takes us to her place in the evening so I can use the Internet. Being without my laptop now makes me realise how much I have come to rely on it.  It’s almost the end of the school year so Claire has to shuttle Daniel and Natasha to and from the school disco.  Of course this gives us all an opportunity to sing, “3 more sleeps to go”. 




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