Scotsabroad's Weblog

November 24, 2009

How lucky am I?

Filed under: School trips — scotsabroad @ 7:31 pm

Last weekend I spent four days and three nights accompanying 11 pupils on their expedition for the International Award. One of my colleagues was leading the trip so that meant I had very little responsibility and lots of time to enjoy the scenery. What gorgeous scenery it is too. The photo above shows the view from Egypt’s highest mountain, Gebel Katherina, and the other photo shows me at 2642 metres above sea level on the TOP of Egypt’s highest mountain. Lucky me! I think I may be the only Fraser or Davidson in our family who has been so high up a mountain. However feel free to disabuse me of this notion. I can cope with the disappointment.

I had such a great time on this school trip. We stayed in a campsite with beds and showers on the first night ( and then slept in two ‘gardens’ for the following nights.  The gardens are walled enclosures with rudimentary facilities such as stone built rooms and bamboo walled toilets. Needless to say I struggled a bit with these washing arrangements but I did just get on with it and got used to the idea that I was never going to be completely clean until I got back to Cairo.

The first night I slept outside under the stars: I saw five shooting stars but  I shivered my way through a very broken nights sleep. Even though I was wearing four top layers, socks, trousers, a hat and my sleeping bag was pinned to the ground by a camel hair blanket , I was very, very cold. I cursed myself for not buying a four season sleeping bag as the three season bag just didn’t keep me warm enough. When I did finally get up the next morning my colleague declared that he had been so warm that he had had to kick off his blanket. He has a goosedown four season bag!

The silence in the Sinai is incredible. In fact there is an article here about a woman who runs holidays featuring silence and she bases the holiday in the Sinai ( As I lay trying to get to sleep I couldn’t hear anything much but I did hear donkeys braying and some blood curdling screams which I presume came from foxes or animals being killed by birds of prey. I didn’t see any birds of prey during the four days but I did see a spiny mouse at one of the stops and quite a few butterflies.

The best part of the trip was the sense of achievement I felt when I got to the tops of the mountains. I also walked up Gebel Abbas Pasha at 2304 metres to see an Ottoman castle abandoned by Mohammed Ali’s grandson.  Oh yes – the pupils were fantastic walkers too.

November 14, 2009

Pharaonic Woman

Filed under: Running — scotsabroad @ 7:29 pm


Well done to Shona for taking part in her first Pharaonic Race yesterday. The distance between the two photographs above is 100 kilometres, with a time difference of about ten hours.  Shona ran 10K +  (+ as many sections of the route are stretched beyond any official metric measurements) on the eighth leg up to Dashur Pyramid and back. Tough on the legs.

A long day but very satisfying. Shona ran with the Dutch ladies team, many of them parents of children at NCBIS. The school managed to field three teams this year, including many parents, as well as hardened and novice staff runners. First team in at 8hrs 13 minutes compared to last years’ time of 8 hrs 40 minutes. Next year…

The idea for the race, which has been running for 9 years, came from a fragment of rock discovered by the Egyptologist Ahmed Moussa in 1977.  The rock revealed a story about pharaonic soldiers running a race of 100 kilometers. This was during the reign of King Taharka (690-665 BC). He initiated the race after visiting an army camp and found the soldiers to be in exceptional physical fitness. The race was held in the area between Sakkara and Faiyum Oasis running past Memphis, the  Dashur, Elleshet and Kefren Pyramids, and ending at Hawara Pyramid at Faiyum. We ran it in reverse but  following almost the same route. Seems the King himself ran part of the race. The soldiers must have been awesome as the winner completed the whole run in eight hours. Last years medal was in the shape of the stone displaying the hieroglyphics.

And he was running too!

November 2, 2009


Filed under: Weather — scotsabroad @ 4:28 pm

Raining and dark by 5 o’clock. Sound familiar Glasgow?

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