El Gouna EN BREF  #2
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the El Gouna International Squash Open



We have been so busy for the past days, I had no chance, and I mean no chance to put these en brefs up. And no, no wild party at night, no sunbathing in the sun next to the swimming pools… none of that.

Actually, I realise that we haven’t really had a chance to explain to you what a typical day is.

Alarm clock rings at 7.30, at the Steigenberger Golf Resort. Catching up with emails, sorting out French site, reading the news about the French Presidential Elections. 9.00, Breakfast with the Guv, Greg and other bad boys. Back to the room for 10.30.

Shower, war paint, fancy dress, and off to take the 11.30 shuttle bus that takes us to another stunning Hotel, the Movenpick, equiped with a perfect squash court, in per
fect condition, and excellent air con.

Four matches there. Normally we finish around 4.45, 5.00. Take the 5pm shuttle to get to the Marina, where the Glass court is set. Off the bus, walk for about 10mn, and you are at the end of the Marina, the lovely Moods (more about it in our next edition). It’s now 5.30. Thirty minutes to eat. Walking back to Glass Court. Setting up. Matches start.

Excellent seat, perfect positioning, sitting next to the Matthew clan who are guarding my seat with their lives. Back and forth between that seat, our corner at the right back of the court and the players. Only tricky bit, trying and get to the toilets. Nothing is planed, so, you just go and ask restaurants around. Oh well, they don’t seem to mind bless them.

End of session, way past 11, with the hotel holding some food for us (the past midnight of the 2nd round was a bit trickier). Midnight, back in the room, sorting out photos, finishing quotes/reports if necessary. Trying to write a little en bref or two. Falling asleep on computer. Closing computer.

Setting Alarm Clock for 7.30…





You know, when you are stating something as simple as “I would never do something like x”, and life just bites you where it hurts, and make you do it? Well, as ever, I proved that I can reach the utmost of ridicule and get away with it.

During lunch at the Alexandria Sporting Club on the qualifiers finals day, that Omar El Sherbini – who is the one that runs around about as much as Mansi our promoter – was kind to share and arrange for me, I was explaining that, because of the specificity of my “real” work, I do not arrive late.

And I explained with great length my technique, and how I always arrive at least 30m before my work as an actress is bound to start, and that I leave about 30m for the London transport, etc, etc, etc. “I just do not arrive late I say”.

Departure for Alexandria's new Airport was set for 6am the next morning. Having packed my luggage at 1.30am, I put my alarm clock at 5.30. Plenty of time. Only trouble is. I have two mobile phones. One set on French/Egypt time. One, for my work in London, set an hour earlier. And on which do you think I set up my alarm on? OF COURSE I DID!!!!!!

So, I hear my mobile phone ringing in the morning, wakes me up. Start to prepare. Only to realise it was not my normal alarm clock ring. Look at the phone. It’s the English one, with a missed call from Cubs. And on the phone, it’s 05.07. Which means that in Egypt, it’s actually 6.07. With the bus due to leave at 6.00.

Nice one Fram.

Of course I made it. Of course I forgot most of my toiletries, my French Mobile phone that was charging in the bathroom (never got it back), etc. Of course Omar laughed his head off when he saw me rushing like a lunatic, pointing at his watch. And to add insult to injury, as I got on the bus, for some strange reason, my English mobile (the only I have left now) asked me very kindly if I wanted to update time and date…

Now it tells me.


First day in El Gouna was a bit hectic – finding your marks in a new tournament is never easy, but when in Egypt, it can be a bit challenging sometimes.

Still, for the exact same reason, because it’s Egypt, everything miraculously seems to get sorted….

For example, in the Movenpick Hotel traditional court where we play the afternoon game , we couldn’t put tables and chairs like you would normally do to work.

And it was an awful long day sitting on the floor....

But a little adjustment, and zoom, a nice cushion for my delicate butt, a gallon of tea and a diet coke, and the day went like a dream.

And if there was no facilities for us ready yesterday next to the glass court – what was planned was a bit too far away for the way we work - within minutes, we were given sofas on the side of the court, tables, and power cables!

You see, that’s Egypt. Don’t forget that they were able to build Pyramids out of sand…

Steinberger Hotel Entrance


by Cubs

I’d only driven short distances in Egypt before this, and scary as it was I didn’t really have time to examine what was happening.

But this time around we had a three-plus hour drive from Cairo to Alexandria to understand what’s going on. So here it is, SquashSite’s handy “Driving in Egypt for Dummies” ...

If you think you should be braking, don’t ... ACCELERATE

If you think you should be veering left, don’t ... veer RIGHT

If you think a GAP is too small, go for it, it will magically become just large enough. Avoid obvious large gaps, they’re booby traps.

If it’s getting dark, turn your lights OFF, you’ll need them as weapons later.

If you’re heading for pedestrians, KEEP GOING, they know what to do and any avoiding action by you will just confuse them.

LANES are there to be changed, if you stay in one for more than 50 metres you’ll turn to stone. And those LINES you see on the road are just put there to confuse you, ignore them.

Never pay attention to other cars’ INDICATORS, especially hazard warnings, they’re just trying to fool you into making a gap they can exploit.

Use your own indicators in emergencies only, but don’t expect anyone to notice.

If you see cars coming STRAIGHT AT YOU, well done, you’re obviously learning. Let them do the avoiding though, as any deviation could be interpreted as weakness.

And finally, you should MAINTAIN your vehicle regularly - check the tyres and oil before you sell it, and test the HORN at least every hundred metres.

One beep = “I’m here”,
two beeps = “get out of my way”
three beeps = “NOW”
And if you hear any more than that you’re in heaven already.
by Fram

It’s not the case everywhere in El Gouna, but we are a few to be in rooms that look onto the lake that seem to be the kingdom of mouquitoes. Hisham counted 23 bodies after fighting racquet in hands, and Granty has himself used his racquet as a mass destruction weapon (courtesy of Nick Matthew).

On the French camp, Mathieu and Little Greg are in a room that doesn’t have any, while Greg and Thierry were infested after apparently, Thierry forgot to close the door. Poor Greg couldn’t sleep one bit because of the bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz all night, but apparently, neither could his opponent Marwan! One all, ball in the centre….

As for me, as soon as I realised I had mosquitoes, and as I live in the South of France where we’ve been under attack every summer for a few years, I know the drill.

Went to reception, asked if they had a pharmacy. Not on the premises, but there is one Downtown, and they have a delivery service! Excellent I said. And ordered Vitamins B1 B6 – changes your skin PH which makes the mosquitoes spit out when they try and bite you – plus some nice spray skin/clothes.

It was 7.30 pm, by 8pm, I had my stuff, and for only 5 Egyptian pounds delivery charge (around what, 50p, $1!!!). Only in Egypt. And since, not a mosquito bite on my lovely body.


Issue ONE
Issue TWO