Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Cairo! Part 2: Our Adventures On the Nile

Text by Rhissanna
Ephemera by Plush Possum Studio

Antique Egyptian Postcard

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The bank note with the Arabic writing provoked a good deal of discussion on the hotel veranda that evening. Lavinia smoked her favourite cheroots, which kept away the mosquitoes, and the ladies clustered around Dr Crupper as he  translated the text.

"Well,"  he said,  "The message seems to be asking someone to 'Sail at once to the Colonnades and be ready, because the door for Isis has been found.'  It comes with a warning. 'Tell no one.' How odd. Well, I'm sure this message wasn't meant for Hortensia.  I wonder who it was intended for?"

The Hangar Club spread out their maps and guide books on the table and decided, though a process of elimination, that the most likely set of colonnades were the ones on Philae, where there was a temple to Isis. There was urgent discussion about how to travel. Dr Crupper thumbed through his notes and pointed out that Philae was pretty much submerged and the Club's submarine boat was at dry dock in Mysore. 

However, the  Hangar Club's Nile Houseboat was moored in Cairo, just waiting for the ladies should they decide on a pleasure cruise upstream. A pleasure cruise was all very well, but the Hangar Club were much delighted by the prospect of an adventure. They unpacked their pith helmets, stout walking boots and other paraphernalia of sub-tropical expeditions and took up residence on the Amelia B. (They had christened their craft  thus after Amelia B. Edwards, the famed Victorian Egyptologist)

Setting Sail Aboard the Amelia B.

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 The houseboat was a darling thing, the ladies declared, with all modern conveniences. There was, of course, a Chef and a minimal crew and there was just enough room for them all. They sailed along the Nile, refreshed by a delightful breeze somewhat augmented by Lavinia's smoke. The ladies sketched the scene and Dr Crupper took photographs of the feluccas bobbing on the river's pale green waters.

They disembarked at some minor ruins beside a village, where the children pointed at them and laughed and a goat tried to eat Dr Crupper's hat. They were met by a very personable young American gentleman whom Dr Crupper introduced as his assistant, Will Johnson. Will, he told them, would be accompanying the ladies to Philae. He'd sailed upstream in the Hangar Club's skiff to met up with them all.

Our Houseboat On the Nile

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Will Johnson was tall, a little lean and with a slow drawl that made all the ladies take out fans and begin fluttering them.  He handed  Dr Crupper a sheaf of paper, with sketches of the local ruins. In his other hand he held a brace of ducks.

The new assistant delighted all the ladies, shaking their hands and making the most fascinating small talk. He gave poor Hortensia the vapours by insisting he'd seen her the evening before looking at the village's ruins. Then he made a presentation of his day's hunting; he'd shot quite a quantity of plump little ducks. They were all piled up on the deck of the Club's sleek, fast skiff.

The prospect of roasted duck  galvanised the ladies into action and they rather crowded the poor Chef in the houseboat's tiny galley. After much discussion and an investigation of the stores, they decided on Duck à l'Orange, with the oranges they'd bought in Lisbon and a convenient jar of  Keiller's Dundee Marmalade. And, of course, Master Will must be invited to dinner, as he had provided it. 

The Hangar Club's Houseboat Menu

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Bouillabaisse avec des poissons du Nil 
Salade Almondine
Canard à l'Orange
Crêpes Suzette 
Fruits du Saison
Pinot Gris
Tokay d'Alsace
Café àla Turque

Crêpes Suzette Tutorial 
(Recipe Accessible Via Web)

It was very pleasant and the ladies forgot this was supposed to be an adventure, and became rather caught up in the delights of a houseboat on the Nile. They stopped at the villages and bought trinkets and fresh dates and happily submitted themselves to the gaze of curious children. Dr Crupper had more free time for his photography and note-taking as the new assistant was never left unaccompanied for one minute. In fact, you could hardly see Will for the cluster of ladies around him, hanging on his every word. The only woman who did not seem entranced by the new arrival was Lavinia.

Our Adventures Continue

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On such a stop, Dr Crupper was hunched under the cloth of his camera. Suddenly he stood up, a questioning frown on his face. He looked again through the lens and yes, pulling the image into focus, there was Hortensia, no mistake, dressed in a brown skirt and spats and wearing goggles on her head. 

Dr Crupper beckoned Lavina over and she peered through the camera.

"Well, Crupper, that is most definitely Horty. I'd know the old girl anywhere. But I happen to know Hortensia is wearing a rather flimsy muslin gown, not spats and a waistcoat. This is a rum show and no mistake. We'd best be on our guard."

The houseboat reached the sunken ruins of  Philae in the late evening, as the sun sank and the reeds were full of noisy frogs. A crocodile slipped through the water in a sinister fashion,  reminding the ladies that this could be a dangerous enterprise.  Will had his Winchester and Dr Crupper his steam pistol. Lavina carried a stout stick, as always. She declared, to anyone who asked, that she was prepared for any kind of emergency.

What they were not prepared for was the spectacle of Dr Crupper, tearing off his boots and hat and diving into the opaque waters of the Nile. He swam with surprising grace towards a neat rectangle of paper  which floated through some papyrus reeds. Catching it up, he held it aloft and made his way back to the boat where Lavinia heaved him in with one arm. 

"I saw my name," he gasped, to everyone standing around him, as one of the ladies covered his shoulders with a dry towel, "See? My name and...what the dickens? A date. 1767? 10:00 am March 13th 1767. It seems someone has an appointment with me and I'm rather late for it. Ladies, Master Johnson, I need your help to calibrate the Time Machine! At once!" 

To be continued......

Sunday, May 6, 2012

To Cairo! Part One

Text by Rhissanna of Gaslight & Gilt
Ephemera Sets & Singles 
by Plush Possum Studio

Antique May Century 
Magazine Cover

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        The ladies of the Hangar Club all clustered at the port bow as the steamer set out on her voyage to Cairo. Behind them, New York with its brave, tall buildings, faded over the horizon. They had already outfitted themselves for the journey, and time travel steps had been taken by their traveling companion and scientific advisor, Dr. Algernon Crupper, to ensure they would arrive in Egypt during the coolest season there.

Outfitted for Cairo + Shipboard Life

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        "What are we to do, to pass the time?" one of them muttered.
        "Do?" she was answered."Why EAT, of course. Captain's table, eight o'clock, sharp. And someone needs to make sure Dr Crupper is properly dressed. Best bib and tucker."

        Dr Crupper did indeed appear at the Captain's table, scrubbed and clean, if somewhat green about the gills. He seemed a little better after the Captain, with a knowing wink, pressed upon him to take a snifter of brandy. It did seem to bring a little colour to his cheeks.

To Cairo by Steamship

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The Doctor addressed one of the many ladies clustered around the table."I say, Hortensia? Could have sworn I  just saw you below decks. All dressed up in goggles and spats. Must be this awful mal de mere."

        The crossing of the Atlantic was a long period of misery for Dr Crupper. Most of it he spent in his cabin, where one or another of the ladies would attend him, reading aloud from his notes on Egyptology; his own personal monograph on the 19th Dynasty and some rather dry papers on  recent archaeological digs. Between times, he lay on his bunk and groaned and wished the club had taken an airship.

      The steamer stopped at Liverpool, where it was grey and raining despite the season, and filthy coal dust deterred the Hangar Club from more than a cursory glance. The vessel headed south, towards Lisbon and the Bay of Cadiz, where the Hangar Club took the sun on the sandy beaches and Dr Crupper looked surprisingly dashing in his white suit. In the evening, the ship's steam engines were fired up and they sailed towards the Straits of Gibraltar.

     "I say!" Dr Crupper offered the ladies a look down his splendidly calibrated spyglass. "You can see the Rock of Gibraltar. Are we stopping?"

    There was no answer. He turned around to find he was alone. The Hangar Club had rushed to their cabins to dress up for an afternoon's sight seeing; parasols and reticules at the ready.

    They disembarked at Gibraltar as the ship took on passengers bound for India and Ceylon and other far distant places.

      Then the ship turned south, for Cairo. The ladies were all anxious to see the sites of Ancient Egypt and the new and bustling city.

     Dr Crupper  had reserved an entire floor of the Shepeard's Hotel for the Hangar Club.  They dined well, although one or two of the more adventurous ladies complained there didn't seem to be anything very Egyptian on the menu.

Shepheard's Menu

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(Dessert Tutorial below)

Gateau Saint-Honore Recipe Video

         "Algy!" They cried as Dr Crupper made his way to their table. "Where have you been?"

        "I've been hoping to see if there is a communication from my new assistant, and while I was out, I thought I saw Hortensia getting into a cab. But you're here! Most confusing. Must be the heat..."

   His comments were lost in the outcry from the ladies that they didn't know anything about an assistant! And then there was lot of sighing and face-pulling as Dr Crupper handed out malaria pills. "Come along, ladies. I insist you carry these about your person and take one a day,'"  The ladies eyed the bottles of quinine pills with sour expressions but Dr Crupper would not allow any protest. "I can't have you having an attack of the vapours, like a  gaggle of parlour maids! You are the Hangar Club! You have a reputation to keep. And after all, nobody enjoys having their travel time spoiled by a bout with malaria."  Lavinia muttered that she'd rather take her quinine as tonic water, in a nice glass of gin.

    After lunch, the ladies braved the heat, heading for the Souk. Dr Crupper accompanied them, although he did insist on bringing his new camera, which required so much equipment that he was obliged to employ two porters to help him carry it. Every now and then, he would unload the tripod and camera and take another photo. One of the ladies commented it would have been quicker to sketch the scene, than use the cumbersome contraption.

Shepheard's Hotel, the Souk and Beyond...

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      Cairo was all so different and interesting and the ladies stopped frequently as some new and exciting feature was discovered. And then realized they were completely lost. Dr Crupper kept consulting the map he had bought and checking the co-ordinates against his portable binnacle, but confessed he wasn't able to get a reading.

       They encountered some Egyptian ladies, travelling through the narrow, shady alleyways. The Egyptian women were shy, but with smiles and gestures, the ladies managed to make themselves understood and were pointed toward the Souk.

        "'Lovely ladies. I couldn't quite resolve who was more covered up, them or us."

        "Well," exclaimed Hortensia, "She's barely covered at all!"

       They had encountered a girl dancing for an audience of rather bored-looking men. Dr Crupper, ever ready to set up his camera, didn't look at all abashed.

     "'Fascinating culture," he murmured, adjusting the lens."Must be recorded."

      They found the Souk, where an array of wonderful things was for sale. Spices and perfumes. Silks and rugs. Coffee and halva and peppermint tea. The Hangar Club were no strangers to haggling and enjoyed buying strange and exotic items to take home. Hortensia was vigorously bargaining with a lady who was selling hookahs. Suddenly, she grabbed Hortensia's arm, and shoved the hookah into her hands.

        "For you. For you! You take. No pay. Take, please."

        Hortensia was startled, but not a lady to turn down a bargain. She hurried back to the hotel, where she began to examine her treasure. Inside the bowl of the hookah was an Egyptian one pound note. And written on the back of the note was a message, in Arabic....

Images (prior to much fiddling by PPS)
courtesy the New York Public Library at
and Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Announcing Our Next Journey!

Fasten on your goggles, and strap on your pith helmets, because we are headed for Cairo, Egypt in the year 1900!
We intend to have our Link Party up and rolling for you by noon MST (USA) on Sunday, May 6th--that's  this weekend!
So get those theme-related links ready. We'll be there the entire month of May, with 4 new chapters for you to read, including lots of fun ephemera and links for you.
There's to be music and dancing and good food as well.
So, when you're asking yourself what to include  here in that Link Party, you may want to shift gears a little bit and think recipes and craft projects, costume tips, and cultural studies. Think old time travel, and camels, pyramids, ruined temples, a trip up the Nile, teatime (always teatime here at STT!) and so on.
We can hardly wait to see what our guests here will add to the mix this trip!
See you starting this Sunday with your--
Happy Travel Creativity!
Rose & Rhissanna