Scotsabroad's Weblog

February 27, 2009

Pyramidenlauf 2009

Filed under: Running — scotsabroad @ 5:37 pm


Cairo and Lucas did their first 8k this morning at Giza. The Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule in Cairo organise the run every year at the pyramids. This year the weather was quite bizarre. We drove to the pyramids early this morning with a clear sky and incredible visibility. Being a Friday morning the roads were quiet and Cairo felt very chilled. Temperature wise it was very cold and we all huddled in the car before the race started at 8:30 am. I got to run while Shona supported the boys around the loop. We are very proud of our two boys for getting around the circuit and finishing. Good coaching and encouragement from Mum – and a bar of Green and Blacks in the rucksack. At times the wind on the plateau was very strong and sand blasted our skin. Check out the boy’s blase attitude to one of the seven wonders of the world!eight-kseen-it-all-before


February 15, 2009

A Run Round the West Bank

Filed under: Running — scotsabroad @ 6:41 pm


Flew down to Upper Egypt at the weekend to do the Luxor Run (22.289km). Was a bit concerned about completing the run as I’d aggravated my dodgy ankle playing football a few weeks ago. What a setting. Run started at 7am so traveled to the start at Hatschepsut  Temple across the river on the National Ferry in the dark. Had to be early to pick up my number. Very cold. Caught a pick-up to the temple and watched the sky fill with the first light of day and hot air balloons. Run consists of two circuits on the West Bank starting and finishing at Hatschepsut, passing the temples of Amenophis and Habu, on past the Kolosses of Memnon and a wee bit up the Valley of the Kings road before looping back. Practically all the roads we had cycled on last December. Not my finest half marathon time (just around 2 hours, but this was longer than the standard half marathon) and I did finish hot, snotty and sore but still thrilled to have run it and maybe thinking I’ve been too harsh describing most of  the new Springsteen album as rubbish. Great experience riding in the local pick-ups, squashed in the back and helping to move children and baggage from the front to the back, watching anxiously as youngsters hung off the back of the truck as it laboured down the road to the ferry dock. Smiles all round. Returned to Cairo on Friday night missing out on the Gala dinner – so didn’t get my medal. Would do this run again. Hope to be injury free for the Sharm  El Sheikh half marathon on Friday 13th March. Thanks Hisham, from Event Sports , for sending the photographs.


February 8, 2009

Terminal Delight

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 7:10 pm

pasha-cab3museum-messagestephensons train

All the boys headed downtown on Saturday and ended up visiting the Railway Museum. Although housed in Cairo Railway Station at Midan Ramses, one of the most congested, noisy and  chaotic parts of the city, where roads descend from above to join several more heading in or out of the centre, once through the museum’s doors it felt like we had been transported back  in time. Outside the station there is extensive building,  renovations or demolition going on. Walking to the entrance we didn’t expect to find it open to the public. However, as the only visitors so far that day, we were welcomed in to this delightful place. The noise from the outside world faded away and it was 1933. There are bakelite phones reluctantly connecting to the outside world in the museum office – honestly.


My boys were enthralled with the exhibits and being allowed to clamber over old steam engines (authentically getting their hands and clothes filthy in the driver’s cabs) and operating many of the interactive exhibits. I have never seen Lucas so animated in a museum calling me over to a display cabinet here or to pull a lever there. As you enter the museum and get up close to the royal engine of Said Pasha (who reigned from 1854 to 1866) you suddenly realise you are allowed to climb aboard, explore and touch this gift, presented to him by the French Queen Eugenie in 1862. It is said he used the engine to inspect his estate. Cairo and Lucas then proceeded to turn, push, pull and move as many of the exhibits as possible. Lesley Lababidi, who I keep on thanking for making our expeditions so enjoyable, writes that children will come away with the understanding of the work done by humans and machines rather than by computers. There includes a printing press for tickets and  train schedules  although I never found out why there was a large baptismal font on the top floor!


At one end of the ground floor there is an enormous model layout that was once owned by a rich cotton merchant, Farghali Pasha, and confiscated after the 1952 revolution. It was not working, the train lay on its side below the Muqattam Hills, but was still impressive.  While we prepared ourselves to leave a guide came over and offered to show us a locomotive housed in a shed outside the museum. The engine was designed by Stephenson and was one of the first to run in Egypt between Cairo to Alexandria. Climbing over this engine capped a fine visit. Glasgow Transport Museum has nothing on this place. This is how it should be.


February 2, 2009

Giza Zoo, You Can’t!

Filed under: Cairo,School trips — scotsabroad @ 4:13 pm


I took year 1 and year 2 to the zoo on Thursday. Built in 1831 it is one of the oldest in the world. Spread out over a large area, visiting the enclosures proved exhausting for some of our students.  When this trip was proposed parents seemed to be more apprehensive about their child’s safety, and the cleanliness of the site, rather than the welfare of the animals. Some of our parents think (perhaps correctly)  their child is a potential ‘kidnapping’ target and visiting places like Giza zoo increases this risk. Personally, I have found Cairo to be a very safe city when out and about with my boys and Egyptians  display nothing but respect, kindness, affection and concern for them.  I am not paranoid about my boys being abducted by weirdoes. However, while having responsibility for other people’s children I had to consider their concerns. I arranged for the children to be split into eight groups, with a maximum of ten children in each , escorted by two adults. Going around in small groups reduced the anxiety and would hopefully reduce our novelty value. We had not realised that Thursday was an official holiday and the zoo got very busy by midday. Some of our groups were pestered by youths, generally just curious and friendly, some wanting to use their limited english vocabulary. Telling them to leave us in peace worked well in most cases and the threat of calling the police chased the stubborn ones away. Anywhere in Cairo on a public holiday is not for the shy newcomer, says the Practical Guide to Cairo. A lot of our foreign and exotic markings, calls and plumage (and what we were being fed for lunch)  often attracted more attention than those of the animals. One of those places where if you are expecting a negative experience you will not be disappointed. The visit was arranged to enhance our unit of inquiry, Sharing The Planet!

However, the main purpose of the visit was to give the children an opportunity to see many of the animals that they have been learning to classify and research their habitat. The zoo visit was also arranged to provide a stimulus for the children’s future persuasive writing lessons. More on that later!


 I remember writing about Cairo Zoo in April last year. While the care of the animals does not perhaps reach the standard of world-class zoos, and there is a tendency for the local population to tease the animals, I think it must be one of the few zoos where you can actually enjoy feeding the animals. This could go as far as placing live baby mice into a snake’s cage. Political correctness aside, my children loved the visit and it was a worthwhile fieldtrip.  I would recommend the experience to anyone, just don’t go with eighty children on a public holiday. Was glad to get them all back to school. Shared with my class the Shel Silverstein poem, It’s Dark in Here. He writes;

I am writing these poems

From inside a lion           

And it’s rather dark in here.

So please excuse the handwriting

Which may not be too clear.        

But this afternoon by the lion’s cage

I’m afraid I got too near.   

And I’m writing these lines

From inside a lion                   

And it’s rather dark in here.


I asked my headteacher to send my year 1 class a message pretending to have reservations about our trip to the zoo. This was to provide a context for my children to respond to his email and write persuasively. I include the Head of Primary’s email, and as a measure of my children’s reaction to his message, a reply from one irate young girl in my class. Political correctness aside, it had me in tears. Young children tend to press the spacebar too many times.


From:l []
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7:27 AM
To: Andy Davidson
Subject: Letter for Year 1


Dear Year 1 D

 I understand that you are planning to go to the zoo tomorrow. Had I known about this trip earlier I would have tried to stop Mr. Davidson arranging it.  I still hope I can persuade you all not to go. I have not been to Giza Zoo but I have heard it is dirty and cruel.  You will, no doubt, pick up some horrible disease and this will cause an enormous queue of angry parents outside my door demanding an explanation. I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would enjoy seeing animals being treated so cruelly?

 Therefore I urge you all to think again or tell me your thoughts before I make a decision.

 Yours sincerely


Dear Mr.

Thank you for your email    today. We  are going to the zoo tomorroww. You have not been to the zoo. We will go to the zoo. You cunt    stop us. and it is not dirty and crul. you can not stop us from goig.

yours sincerl

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