11/06/2006

We left England in that American camper van on August 1st 2004…around 680 days ago. We explored our heads off for the first five months and planned to chill for the next 19.
As you know the Tsunami changed all that and it never happened.
The plan was always to come home to England this August and slip back into ‘normalness’, but we always had a little clause in the deal… if EVERY one wanted to stay and not go home… well.
On the day that is the equivalent of the American Thanks Giving here in Egypt a few weeks ago we were invited to join Fathi’s family for the ‘big feast’ in the garden. We sat on the edge of the Siwa lake swimming and larking around after having the mother of all biology lessons preparing the goats that arrived on hoof and left in our stomachs.
We had a great time… just chilling and having fun in the water with Fathi’s family, though the women folk who were still covered up were a bit perplexed with my bombing.
Penny and I had to come back to our house in the evening to lock up after the builders had finished and we had a shot or two of the hard stuff. We stood on the roof buzzing, looking out over our wonderful little oasis watching the sunset at the end of a perfect day…and we realised…’ we ain’t ready’!.
We’re not ready for 20 letters of crap to sort through every day and parking tickets, the constant need to earn cash and well… yes… the bloody weather. We promised ourselves a year of chilling on this trip and it hasn’t happened…yet. We had a vote a few days ago, and we’re all coming back to Siwa for one more year.
Penny and I have built our selves a little business here and we want to see it through.

Only 130 sqm’s to go!

Penny often gets very dirty…

The final touches are going into the ‘Shali House’ now.

The house is ready to be covered in a few tonnes of kerchief (mud) tomorrow, to give it that thermal factor and to blend in with the neighbours. And yes… that is the Sahara desert in the background.

The old town of Siwa, west of the Shali. Our house is the one on left.

The view east from the Shali … the famous ‘Oracle’ were Alexandra the Great came to visit to see if he was a God and more recently Prince Charles to see if he would be a king!;)

‘Ah…’ the Ridgley family, I presume?’ Penny, Sasha, Claudia and Angus meeting Charles and Camilla

One of the entrances to the old walled city
Penny is talking of a sand school that leads out into the desert and an Arab… horse.
I’m in the process of getting permission from the General for the ‘Siwa Off Road Club’.

Off roading in Siwa…is the best
Claudia wants to be a model and go to the Cairo modelling agencies.

Claudia and the local lads over coming their camera shyness.

Claudia on the desert road to Matrouh. The camels sit on the road at night to keep warm.
Sasha wants to be a tour guide and set up a back packer camp here in Siwa (Sasha is a teenager now and is never around for any pictures)
and Angus, Angus just wants to ride his donkey… Jack.
I know, he picked the name all on his own.

‘I’m the king of the castle!’

Angus and Claudia on water duty. They say once you have collected your own water for months you never forget… and always appreciate water on tap. It’s bollocks… the kids left the taps running a few days after being on the mains;)
As we are coming back to Siwa for at least another year, the kids want to spend as much time as they can in England this summer with family and friends… so the road trip to Romania has been postponed. Penny, Sasha, Claudia and Angus will fly into the UK in July and will be around until the end of August.

The sunset from the area in Siwa where we will live next year.

The exact location of which… is still being finalised. ‘Verdy sheep…no problem’.
Me… I will stay in Siwa spending the summer building a home for everyone ready for their return in September as the house we have just completed here is now for rent. I will have time to write my book ‘Living Somewhere Different’ and hopefully… finally… pick up where I left off on that beach in Sri Lanka… and start to really chill;)
Cheers
Bill