• Amy

A Day in the Life (Northern Africa), Egypt

We thought that the committed followers amongst you might quite like to know what a typical day is like for us. This was written a while ago when we were in Egypt.

Nick and Amy by the fire

The sun starts to brighten the sky at about 5.30am which wakes us enough to watch the sun rise through the door of the roof tent with our heads still on our pillows. We have quite a comfy set up with a 2 inch sponge mattress, sheets, duvet and pillows.

Nick lighting the Kelly kettle

By about 6am, Nick will clamber down the ladder and get out the Kelly kettle. This is a small metal fire dish with a kettle which sits on top with a hole through the middle which the heat of the fire rises through. Nick has got the lighting routine down to a fine art after much trial and error using just a few carefully trimmed twigs. None the less he still needs to spend a fair amount of time in the muslim prayer position blowing into a hole at ground level often burning the tip of his nose and sending up ash which rains down over his hair and clothes.

Amy drags herself out of bed about 10 minutes later just in time to get the cups ready as the kettle comes to the boil. Breakfast is normally flat bread with a banana and honey. This is probably our favourite part of the day as it's generally cool and free from mozzies and flies but with lovely warming golden sun-light. We take our time over a couple of cups of coffee with Nick stoking the kettle with twigs throughout.


Before setting off for the day, Nick packs away the roof tent, packs up the boot and completes some maintenance checks on Brenda i.e. checking fluid levels under the bonnet and tyre pressure etc. If it sounds like poor Nick is doing all the work, don't worry, Amy is making highly valuable verbal contributions whilst she watches.

putting the roof tent away

Checking the oil

Some days we don't drive at all, but on an average driving day we cover about 150 miles, or up to 300 miles on a long day. The main roads in the middle east are all tarred and in reasonable condition so we can usually manage 50-70 mph. Nick does most of the driving and Amy does the map-reading. This is partly because we both prefer these roles and partly because Nick doesn't trust Amy's driving! Nick takes great pleasure in driving like a local and expects praise every time he over-takes with 3 cars abreast, uses his horn as a greeting or reverses the wrong way down a road. Navigating can be quite challenging as we don't have detailed maps, signs are generally in Arabic, and locals would rather invent directions than say they don't know the way. But we normally get there without too many wrong turns using a compass to check which direction to head.

Lunch on the road will be flat bread with cheese and tomatoes, or if we're lucky we may find a falafel stall. They deep fry the falafel balls in front of you, stick them in a flat bread, then add some tahinna sauce, chilli sauce and a handful of salad. So delicious and all for the princely sum of 10 pence.

Falafel seller

Amy is responsible for food shopping. We stock up on dried stuff and tins about once a fortnight when we pass through a large town, and then buy fresh veg each day from road-side markets. Arabs normally have huge families and buy veg in bulk so Amy often gets laughed out of the market when she tries to buy 4 tomatoes and an onion! There's quite a good choice of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs readily available, so we are actually eating more healthily than we would at home.

Toilet break

Throughout the day Amy keeps a tally of what we have spent and then notes this in our log book along with the day's mileage and location. We have set ourselves a daily budget which varies by country. In Egypt, we have allowed ourselves EP280 (£30) per day including diesel. Any variance on this adds or takes away from our kitty for treats - if we can save up enough by living cheaply we'll be able to afford a trip to see gorillas in Rwanda.

Most nights we find a camp ground, or a hotel car park where we can camp and use their facilities, but ideally we like to wild camp wherever we can. This isn't always easy as we have to find a spot well away from habitation (which might generate visitors) and out of sight of any road. Once we've found a spot, the Kelly kettle comes out for a cup of tea and then Amy gets to work on dinner whilst Nick puts up the tent.

Amy cooking dinner

It's much easier to cook in day-light so I normally start cooking at about 5pm. Dinner rotates between variations of pasta, curry or stir fry using whatever looked good in the markets that day. We have a gas can and two hobs which fit onto a little shelf inside the boot door which becomes my kitchen. After dinner Nick washes up and Amy dries and everything is put away as we watch the sun set.

Camp fire before bed

Some nights we stay up to do some star-gazing and drink a little whisky but most nights we are tucked up in the tent by 7 to read for a while before going to sleep about 8pm. So we are getting plenty of sleep despite waking up at 5.30!

So that was a typical day. A lot of the time, there will be some kind of tourist attraction to visit which the day is focussed around, but I think we take at least as much pleasure just from following this daily routine. It is a simple but very satisfying way to spend the day.

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