Monday, 27 February 2012

Hello Egypt, Goodbye Dear Friend

تحيات القراء 

or as they say in English, Greetings Readers!

A couple of months ago we decided that the British weather just wasn't up to scratch and we decided that we needed a holiday, some sun, some relaxation. So, off we went on a week's holiday to Sharm El Sheikh. A week on a sun bed, with an iPod, a book and a cocktail or three was what we both felt we needed......and so we did it!

Flying over The Alps

We umm'd and arr'd about where to go and ended up choosing Sharm El Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt (for those of you who are geographically challenged). I'm not particularly interested in Egypt at all, it doesn't necessarily rock my boat, what I need to see I can view via the British Museum quite frankly. But, it seemed a little more exotic than the Canaries and we assumed we would have guaranteed hot weather, so S-E-S it was.

Our first view of the Red Sea

We stayed at a hotel in Shark's Bay (no sharks were seen!) called the Grand Rotana Resort & Spa which was literally 20 minutes from the airport, not that you would notice. The place is rather large, sprawling over a good few acres with more than 2000 palm trees. What you don't really know until you get there is that the hotel is in between the Red Sea and the desert/mountains, there's not much else!

The entrance to our hotel

There's nothing outside the hotel apart from other hotels, a road and desert. We did do some research on Trip Advisor however they were either liars or on another planet because it wasn't how it was supposed to be. Hey-ho, as they say you live and learn. Plus, a week on a sun bed is a week on a sun bed, non?

Believe it or not but it's a Kestrel!

For those of you that know us well, you'll know that we are both keen birders. Birds are our thing and when in a foreign country we like to go and find the local feathered inhabitants. In Sharm El Sheikh there are hardly any birds, literally a handful. In a week I think we must have seen a couple of dozen, the sky was empty of both birds and bird song (although we did see a couple of Osprey which was lovely. 

OMG, birds!

However, what we didn't see in the way of bird life was MORE than compensated for by the sheer overflowing wealth of fish!!!! O....M....G.....there were fish of all shapes, sizes and colours, they were amazing, gob-smacking, beauties of the sea and we saw A LOT!

A Picasso Triggerfish (I called him Pablo!)

The coral reef literally starts where the land stops. Our hotel had built a pier of sorts that you could walk along over the coral reef. You looked down and the sea was stocked to overflowing with fish of many sizes and colours. At the end of the pier was a set off 'swimming pool steps'. 

The Deep....

You walked down them, into the sea, and right there in front of you was the drop off. Very, very cool......and mind numbingly scary! Alas, I have a fear of deep, open water and it took me 3 days to even dip my toes in the Red Sea, never mind put my whole body in there!!!!!

The Pier to the drop off...... *eek*

Once I was actually IN the water it was a whole different ball game. Everywhere you looked you saw fish. Big ones, small ones, long ones, short ones, colours of the rainbow darting here, there and everywhere. It was truly incredible! However, what with the irrational fear, etc I didn't stay in long and left it to my Hubby, Mr John "Cousteau" McEllis to continue snorkelling and exploring the treasures of the deep.

Hubby, about to plunge in!

I really cannot stress how marvellous the sea life was. During the day the coral reef was literally teaming with life, there were colourful fish, loads and loads of jellyfish and corals and clams everywhere. At night the hotel lit up the reef right below one of their restaurants and this encouraged the local fish predators which you could watch stalking their prey - this included Lionfish which are STUNNING!

A Lionfish....honestly!

All in all, we had a lovely week away in the sunshine (although the week started off very cool and windy). We had the chance to recharge our batteries, think of nothing and no one and just relax. I've done Egypt now, I've been there, done that and have no desire to return. As this is the 'dog blog' I s'pose I should also mention that the dogs are fine. They were ably looked after (spoilt rotten) by Grandma and had a thoroughly good week without us - methinks they're missing Grandma!!!

Egypt, thank you and goodbye

While we were away we received some very sad news. Our dear friend Raymond Sawyer had passed away. Not only was Raymond our friend but he was also President of the Avicultural Society - he was the last survivor of the Golden Age of Avilculture. He was a man, who for me, made dreams come true. He was amazing.

Raymond and one of his pampered pooches

I grew up coveting his and his wife Ruth's stunning bird collection via a birding magazine called Cage & Aviary Birds. I met him through my Husband and he made the ultimate dream come true when he allowed us to hold our Civil Ceremony in the grounds of his home - he was of course and quite rightly the Guest of Honour. I am incredibly lucky to be able to call him a friend. Not only us, but the Avicultural Society and the bird world has lost a dear friend and a truly great and inspirational man - he will be sadly missed.

On our wedding day with the fantastic Raymond

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