Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Jewel on the Nile

By Hannah, age 10 from Wiltshire - the daughter of some friends of ours, and in my opinion a very talented poet, as I am sure you will agree.

Egypt is a land of ancient and new
To be here right now, is a dream come true
The Crown Jewel cruise took us down the Nile
Where we relived history, mile by mile.

Luxor is the place we arrived after our flight
A mention of a balloon trip and we booked it that night
That magical experience is one I’d never had
High above the Nile land marks were pointed out by dad.

Next to the Valley of the Kings we did go
Our tour guide told us every thing we should know
The remains of many pharaohs were in this famous burial ground
Gold and precious jewels were with them when they were found.

Queen Hatshepsut’s temple was so very cool
I couldn’t wait to tell all my friends at school
Poor Egyptian children were always waiting for treats
And everyone obliged by giving them pens and sweets.

Karnak Temple took 2000 years to build
Every day with tourists, it’s completely filled
Edfu Temple taught us about the God Horus
And our guide Hisham laid all the information before us.

Kom Ombo Temple, Sobek the God of the crocodile
So much detail to take in, in such a short while
Philae Temple situated on an island, oh so hot I needed my fan
Then on to Lake Nasser, to see the Aswan High Dam.
Aswan is as hot as a furnace, but must be seen
The Old Cataract Hotel…..Have you been?
We saw where Agatha Christie wrote ‘Death on the Nile’
And the delightful staff there suggested we stay a little while.

Mark and Hisham that lead us down the Nile
Greeted us each morning with a wonderful smile
Hisham called us his sweethearts meaning ’Ya Habibi’
And when he was finished he always said, Yallabina…..Mashee!

So after starting on the Nile with my story
We went on to El-Gouna to witness its glory
The resort is situated on the Red Sea
The most beautiful and wonderful place to be

Sameh Saweras, the billionaire who owns all this land
Each year full of tourists, it’s in such great demand
Our hotel was called the Mövenpick with grounds so very large
And when we all got lost, Dad had to take charge.

There was plenty to do from morning to night
Camel riding on Dodo and Didi, what a delight
Mounting on their humps was hilarious and funny
A stroll down the beach, were it was lovely and sunny.

Nightly entertainment was so fantastically great
Going down town and staying out until late
Visiting all the shops, restaurants and bars
All beneath the moonlight and a multitude of stars.

On one special evening Rebekah and I sang a song
One from the Titanic, and everyone sang along
We really enjoyed singing, it made mum and dad so proud
All the staff and tourists clapped and cheered us very loud.

The Staff at our hotel are so friendly and good
Always smiling politely as they served us our food
Dad who remembered his Arabic from Oman
Taught us a few words, especially “Shukran.”

The Animation team who organised our day
Cosmin, Alice and Nicole were fun in every way
Mum and Dad relaxed under skies so blue
Children well looked after was inclusive too.

Mum and Dad bought us gorgeous Egyptian dresses
So at home in England we can wear them to special places
Cartouches with Hieroglyphs in our own given name
I bet none of our school friends will have one the same.

One Saturday to Mahmeya on a boat further out to sea
A magical beach if you have the time to go and see
The natural beauty of the underwater fish
Multi coloured sea life, every snorkelers wish.

This holiday was Rebekah’s and my choice of destination
Because Egypt always held us as a place of fascination
We can dream about this holiday like ones we’ve had before
And all our precious memories in our hearts we will store.

So if you’re ever thinking of going somewhere nice
Just talk to me and I will give you lots of advice
Egypt is a place I visited at the age of ten
And when I marry a rich man I will come here again.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

A lonely dissenting voice

This is the text of Daniel Hannan’s speech in the European Parliament today. MEPs voted by a large majority to push ahead with the implementation of the constitution by 2009.

‘Mr President,

Listening to this debate, I am reminded of Bertold Brecht’s lines:

“Wäre es da
Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
Löste das Volk auf und
Wählte ein anderes? ”

[Would it not be simpler to dismiss the people and elect another in their place?]

The peoples of two core, founding states have thrown your project out, my friends. I know it’s hard to accept rejection, but look at the figures. Fifty-five per cent French voters. Sixty two per cent of Dutch voters.
Now you might try to argue that the voters have got it wrong; that they are suffering from what Marxists call false consciousness; that they need better propaganda, and that it is up to us, the Euro-elite, to take a lead. To which I say: do your damnedest.
Current polls in the Netherlands show that 82 per cent of Dutch voters would now vote “No”: a tribute to the level-headedness of that brave people. But if you think you can turn them around, dear colleagues, be my guests. Doing so would at least prove your commitment to the democratic ideals you so frequently invoke.
Far more outrageous would to push ahead with the implementation of the contents of the constitution without popular consent.
Yet this is precisely what you are doing. Look at the number of policies and institutions envisaged by the constitution that have been, or are being, enacted regardless: the European External Action Service, the European Human Rights Agency, the European Defence Agency, the European Space Programme, the European External Borders Agency, a justicable Charter of Fundamental Rights.
None of these has a proper legal basis outside the constitution. By adopting them anyway, you demonstrate that you will allow no force, internal or external—neither your own rule book nor the expressed opposition of your peoples—to arrest the rush to political assimilation. You vindicate the severest of your opponents’ criticisms.
In the words of my countryman Oliver Cromwell, “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken”.’

Friday, 6 January 2006

Pictures from Egypt

Now this is what I call public art.

... and this a water feature.

..but who gave this planning permission. Not the ancient arches in the forground..

..the "I'm lovin' it" arches behind!

..I was "hatin it"

Arches aside, Egypt is a fantastic place to visit. Wonderful weather, friendly people and the worlds biggest outdoor museum. Words cannot do the place justice, in fact, nor do my pictures. But they give a small indication of the wonder that is Egypt. So here are a few of my favorite memories of the Land of the Pharaoes.

Luxor temple by night

Sunset on the Nile aboard a Fallucca.

Paying homage to the sacred Scarab of Karnak Temple. Seven circuits and you will be blessed with good health and good luck. I ran out of breath and finished only five!! I wonder if it will help my turbulant political career?

A hyrogliphic on an Obelisk in the Karnak Temple showing what I found to be a frequent and public display of affection between the Pharaohs and their Queens. Very different from the public image of our own Royal family.

The Hot Air Balloon gives a unique and breath taking perspective of the landscape.
One can see the irony of history. Villages inhabited by poor subsistance farmers nesting between the Temples and Tombs of ancient Royalty and nobility.