Thursday, September 30, 2010


The pavements in Cairo are amazing. These are some of the ones on the way to Maadi Community Church when we picked up Maddy from the 'Fall Retreat'.
Many are in a state of disrepair but reflect the splendour of a bygone age.

Then there's the mathematical aspect of the tessellations . . .

So we have finished our second week of school and the second part of the timetable. The school is running a two week timetable and we have made it to the end. I have taken Maddison out of Christian Studies as it is based on Coptic beliefs and taught in Arabic. She is taking extra Arabic lessons instead.
The school bus is now picking us up from outside the house. We get picked up first at 6:45 am and seem to arrive about 7:45am. On the trip back we are dropped off first so we're getting back about 4 pm. There is one small problem in that the air conditioning on the bus isn't working so with it being 35-38 outside it tends to get a bit warm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First week

Ebony outside the Maadi community Church
What to do with your old organ pipes

This is where I go to church! On a Friday the chairs are out and we sit under the fans in the tent.

Maddy and her friends ready for a wild weekend of fun (and sand )

We have reached the end of our first week at school, because the students had a staggered start Maddy started on the Monday while I started on the Sunday. Lots of firsts this week, meeting the students was interesting, they are very good natured and polite, but just as lively (and noisy) as kids everywhere.

Our day this week started with leaving for the bus at 6:45 am, when we would walk to the roundabout (20 mins slow walking, don't walk fast you get very sweaty) and get on the school bus. The buses hold about 40 people but not that many travel on them, maybe 15 ish on our morning bus. So the bus leaves 7:15 am and takes 20 - 30 mins to reach the school depending on the traffic. School starts at 8 am so students wait in the playground for the assembly when the Egyptian national anthem is played and the flag is saluted by 4 of the year 12.

There are 6 lessons in the day in 2 blocks of 3 with a 55 min break in the middle, thankfully the school is reviewing this.

My teaching load is 4 classes plus meetings, Maddy has much more interesting days. She studies French and Arabic (both of which are new to her) as well as classic lessons such as art, drama and PE. There are no music lessons as the Egyptian Government do not recognise it as a qualification.

The day ends at 3:15 when we get on another bus for home. With this being the first week we have travelled on a number of buses to get home and have finally been sorted out with bus 63. Starting Sunday this bus will now pick us up from our door at 6:45 am and drop us back between 4 and 4:30pm.

Today when we got home we had to go straight back out again to take Maddy to the church for the 'Fall Retreat' at Beit el Wadi Sports camp in Wadi El-Natroon. We were the only parents waving the kids off! Maddy gets back Saturday 3:30pm when we will collect her from the church. Her friends were all there and it looks like their going to have a good time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Maddy went to lunch!

Mc Delivery
Outside Pizza Hut

Pink Fluffy Flower

After going to the church youth group last Wednesday Maddy was invited to lunch by Amy Widner, Director of Family Ministries, with 2 other girls in an effort to help her find new friends. They went to Pizza Hut on Road 9, so Geoff and I wandered further down and went to McDonalds. Parked outside were the delivery bikes! You can get anything delivered here, from the pharmacy to the shops. Just phone what you want and they bring it to your door. Pizza hut deliver too! We wandered the shops while we waited, it seemed a sucessful event and Maddy committed to going again next Wednesday for the ice cream eating. They are going away for a weekend 24th September to somewhere near Alexandria and she seems keen to go, so we will sort that out on Wednesday.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The diary starts here!

Street at the back of the house
Ice cream in the Carrefour freezer

taxi (aka flying coffin)

Traffic policeman

satellite dishes

So I finally got round to taking out my camera and discovered, to my horror, it's too sunny and I will need another polarising lens cover. As we haven't seen any camera shops with these sorts of products yet that could be interesting. Anyway if I stand in the shade and take pictures on the sunny setting some of the pictures are ok.

We went up the street and over the road to the Maadi Grand Mall to get money from the HSBC and took a few pictures on the way. Then the next day we went left to look at the street behind us. The man at the veg stall didn't want me to take his picture (he was quite adamant about it) so I settled for a couple of general street scenes. The donkey and cart is quite a common sight, they stop and sell dates, water melons and other stuff by the roadside as well as carrying loads from place to place.

Ramadan has finished now so the clocks have gone forward another hour for daylight saving putting us ahead of GMT by 3 hours. There is a feast at the end of Ramadan where it it is traditional to eat kahe. These are like shortbread biscuits and can be plain or stuffed with dates, mincemeat and other things and then drenched in icing sugar, very nice if a little sweet!

We are going to the Maadi Comunity Church again tonight. We went last Friday and Geoff came with us but waited outside. Well he tried to wait but the police moved him on, so he sat under the streetlight round the corner while the service was on, I don't think he's coming tonight! The music was good but nobody preaches quite like Nick - maybe we'll get there one day :).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We get to Egypt

McDonalds in Zamalek
Coptic church in Zamalek

The month flew by and August 18th was on us very quickly. We had shopped til we dropped and then air freighted out our 90kgs. The HMS Victory came with us, maybe Geoff will get time as a house husband to make it this time. He also shipped out the new mosquito to make, I brought out another plane to cross stitch and my bass guitar, the rest of our stuff was clothes, toiletries and nick-nacks. It was all thoroughly checked by customs and reached the school for delivery August 31st.

The flight out was uneventful, Maddison enjoyed the touch screen on the back of each chair, so we could all watch our own films. When we arrived it was warm! We bought visa's at the bank and caught the school bus to the hotel in Zamalek. We stayed there for 6 nights while we had school induction and flat hunted. Just round the corner from the hotel was Pizza Hut and next to that was McDonalds, so we ate there a couple of times. By Monday we had found a flat in a district of Cairo called Maadi and by Wednesday we had moved in. The flat has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and lounge and 1 and a half bathrooms, with air conditioning of course! Shops are small unless you go to the hypermarket Carrefour (a taxi ride away) but we do have a mall 5 minutes walk away. To get to the school I have to catch the school bus, which picks up at 7:15 am during term time and 7:45 am during holidays. The journey takes about 25 minutes and on a clear day you see the pyramids! Dust in the air can make it hazey.

We haven't done any sightseeing yet, getting the house routines settled have been quite important, Geoff walks me to the bus every morning at the moment. The drivers here are crazy. Three lanes for traffic can hold 5 lanes of vehicles and you toot your horn or flash your lights to get ahead. Taxi drivers will toot as they drive past you to get your attention incase you need a ride.

The Minister for Education has decided that schools will not return until 19th September so we have an extra week off, during which I am taking the camera out to get started on my photo diary.

A Month in the Uk


Church at the Welsh Heritage Village

Rooftops of York

Joyce and Neil

Ivy, Tina and kids

Flower at Audley Edge

Duxford Air Museum

Me and Maddy at Duxford

Clifford's Tower York

Caerphilly Castle

BBQ at Joyce and Neils

Audley Edge

We finally left St. Helena on July 17th saying goodbye to all our friends and family there, and travelled to the UK. Due to circumstances beyond our control tha flight from Ascension was 12 hours late which meant we arrived in the UK at 10:30 pm, this was when we hit a small problem. To get the keys for our car we needed to call Avis and get the code for the key box, unfortunately Avis assume everybody has a mobile phone! Fortunately the lady working for Brize Norton Car hire let us borrow hers, so without too much more ado (3 door car instead of the 5 I had asked for) we were on our way.

Geoff navigated and the M25 had roadworks so we arrived at Ivy's 1:30 am after visiting a number of places not quite on the direct route. In the end I pulled into a garage and we bought an AA map. Ivy and Bob were waiting up for us and quite relieved to see us.

We spent the next month visiting family and playing at tourists, up and down the A1 and in and out of hotels. The Travel Lodge at South Cave is not on our list of favourite places, however, theHoliday Inn in Hull city centre, the Four Poster Lodge in york and the Travel Lodge at Colton rated from acceptable to good.

We joined English Heritage as part of our tourist kick and visited as many of their properties we could as we travelled. I took hundreds of pictures (as usual) but tried to pick just one of each place. I also took pictures of Hull, Leeds, Hatfield and York so we can look at the different cities we have visited and lived in.

Just before we flew out we travelled across to stay with Joyce and Neil, Geoff's aunt, in Cardiff. The AA instructions from the internet took us through Cardiff City centre, which made the trip all the more exciting. In the end I navigated! It was a good weekend, looking at Dr. Who and Torchwood locations as well as visiting the Dr Who exhibition. The Torchwood waterfall was dissappointing as there were giant strawberries on it and the water wasn't flowing very fast.