For me, Monday was a red letter day on this trip. In the afternoon we moored up right next to this temple at Kom Ombo, so for once I was able to sketch some of the architecture we had come to see. It is quite a late temple by Egyptian standards being started in the 2nd century BC. A giveaway is the ornate column tops which indicates Greek or Roman influence. In fact it had a whole range of column decoration. It is also unusual in that it is dedicated to two deities, the falcon headed Horus and Sobek, the local crocodile headed god. There were a lot of crocodile mummies on display in the museum – though, disappointingly, none in the river ( crocs not mummies).
I returned to the boat after the visit to the temple and museum and had about an hour to get this down. The warm evening light mellowed the stonework and I got a fair bit done before we set sail again, though I had to do the sketch in a rush.
On that same Monday, we woke up to find we had moored right on the waterfront of the town of Edfu. Normally we moored in walled areas or in out of the way and uninteresting places. On this morning we were right in the thick of it with touristy horse drawn carriages transporting people to the local temple of Horus. ( though being in the thick of it meant we were also close to the mosque, and got called to prayer at 5am – on this occasion I declined the invite) I had breakfast and hurried up on deck to get a flavour of the place before we set off. Again, another hurried sketch, which I finished as we headed to Kom Ombo.
We are rapidly heading towards the end of the holiday and the dreaded day of reckoning when we have to settle the bar bill. As regards painting, I am getting a bit repetitious in my sketches, as there isnt any time to do anything on our visits to the temples and monuments, so all of my sketches are from the boat and there are a limited number of subjects that we pass on our voyage. I have taken to pencil sketching in a small sketchbook when I see anything interesting. I race to get the details down before we pass the scene. Then I copy the sketch onto my watercolour pad before starting the painting.
So, above is a sketch done in this fashion. It is a very basic Nile scene where the wind had whipped up the desert dust to give a slightly different colour palette. With the sun shining through the dust and reflecting off the water it gave some good contrasts as well.
At Luxor we had a sunset and I moved the hills which house the Valley of the Kings into the frame, and added a felucca which had earlier passed us, as a couple of guys paddled around the river, casting a fishing net in the warm evening breeze.
Oh, it’s a dirty business, but someone has to do it.
As we progress down the Nile, the valley widens and closes revealing miles of lush agricultural lands on occasions, and then the desert makes an appearance with high limestone cliffs butting up against the river, marking the edge of the desert.
At other times the cities and towns come into view. The high-rise buildings seem very similar to the high cliffs of the desert edge.
As the boats slips by, children an adults rush to the shore and wave. I thought that this was because we are some of the first tourists for a couple of years, but I’m told that this has always happened.
In some places with lush water meadows and net fishing it feels like the place has never changed.