Hurghada International Squash  

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EXTRAS #2                                            2008 En Bref
All the stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else ... Steve Cubbins in Egypt

Down Under in Hurghada

No, nothing Antipodean here, but the Red Sea is famous for its clear waters and teeming sealife, so what better way to have a close look than from the Sindbad Submarine ...

With giant portholes (that have to be replaced every few months for safety) it's pretty light even 35 metres under the surface, and although the biggest thing we saw was the diver accompanying the sub, it's definitely something not to be missed.

The fish you might see are listed on info sheets inside the sub for identification, with many marked with a * for "do not touch or molest" - as if!

A quick trip to the cockpit revealed dozens of controls, including one big on/off switch marked "control systems" that would be so easy to catch on your way in or out .... mmmm ...

As ever, we'll let the pictures do the talking ...

Up a Height ...

At the other extreme, to get the shots of the court on the promenade requires a clamber up the five stories of the TV tower that's been erected to get spectacular images from the tournament.

Now, I'm not that keen on heights generally, and I suspect the structure would not do well if inspected by UK health and safety officers, so given that it was quite windy when I went up there I made sure I was always holding on to something, trust me ...

Who'd be a Coach ...

It's a hard life, taking your players all over the world, making sure they're looked after and well prepared for their matches ... but hey,  someone's got to do it ...
EXTRAS #1                                             2008 En Bref
All the stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else ... Steve Cubbins in Egypt
Welcome to Hurghada ...

Squash doesn't always get the profile we think it deserves, but you have to admire the effort they're making here in Hurghada. How many times have you landed in an airport to be confronted with posters advertising a sporting event?

Well, at Hurghada airport we had posters - and a miniature squash court - in the baggage collection area, and  posters adorning the lamposts on the road out of the airport.  Yes, squash posters .... welcome to Hurghada!

At the Stadium

When you hear the words "Cairo Stadium" and see the "Squash Stadium" photos, you're likely to assume that that's all there is to it. Well, no, the Stadium Complex is a huge site, containing the squash facility and, among other things, a 100,000 seater football stadium.

It was full to capacity last night as Egypt took on Zambia in a World Cup qualifier (result: 1-1). The good thing from our point of view was that the normally traffic-snarled roads on the way back to the hotel were deserted as everyone was at the stadium or at home watching the match on TV ...

On the Phone

Nothing unusual, you might think, in catching someone with a mobile to their ear ... except when that someone happens to be Mr WISPA, Andrew Shelley himself.

One of the last people on the planet to hold out against the ubiquitous cellphone, Andrew occasionally relents when on a tournament, when organisers give him a local phone. He's still steadfastly against having one of his own though - "no-one can complain that I'm hard to get in touch with, and that I don't get back to them," he says, "I just feel that if I'm permanently contactable by mobile I'll never get any work done."

All very admirable, let's see how long he holds out for ...

Blasts from the Past

I was warned about the Cairo traffic - "one beep means get out of the way, two beeps means you're about to die," Fram told me as I set off - and I sort of expected to see most of the cars with bumps and scrapes on them.

What came as a bit of a surprise though was the sheer age of many of the vehicles, with many models - particularly Fiats and Seats - that have long passed into folklore in Europe. Fiat 124, 128, 127s abound, some interesting old Peugeots, and many other makes and models I'd forgotten existed.

I'm watching out for my first ever car, a Simca 1100, there must be some of them about, surely  ...

Me Myself I

Another warning was that in Cairo things happen "on Egyptian time". So, waiting in the hotel lobby for the 10am bus to the venue [the qualifying draw was at 11], I was pleasantly surprised when it appeared spot on time.

I was a little perturbed, though, when it set off with just me on it ... surely there should be more people than this?

Turns out that as long as you're brave enough to cross the dual carriageway (there's a zebra crossing that goes half way across, but it might as well not be there at all for all the notice the traffic takes of it), it's actually quicker to walk to the venue ...

Photogenic family
The El Torky sisters, Nouran and Heba, are always up for a photo, and they always come out very well, they're a really photogenic couple - even when you catch them off guard!



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