El Gouna EN BREF
Everything you never knew you needed to
know about the El Gouna International Squash Open
FROM HERE… TO HERE!
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 perfect
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.
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”.
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
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
You see, that’s Egypt. Don’t forget that they were
able to build Pyramids out of sand…
DRIVE IN EGYPT
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
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
If it’s getting dark, turn your lights OFF, you’ll need them as
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
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”
beeps = “NOW”
And if you hear any more than that you’re in
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.