The Sudan Bookshop is closing

Called in today at the Sudan Bookshop in the hope of finding another outlet for my Arabic workbook. Although it was only just midday, I found that the shutters were already being pulled down and interior gloomy. The manager informed me that the shop will soon be permanently closed.  Continue reading

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Kitchener’s last gunboat – Al Melik

Kitchener’s last gunboat lies half hidden under some trees on the banks of the Blue Nile in Khartoum. Silent and slowly decaying.

The Melik has served as the headquarters of the Blue Nile Sailing Club since its retirement from military service in the 1920s. It was moored in the river until an unusually heavy flood in the late 1980s left it high and dry. Ironically, the flood may have saved it from slowly rusting away. Continue reading

The camel postman

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The original design of a camel postman was by a Captain E.A Stanton of the Royal Engineers in 1896. Years later he recounted the circumstances that led to creation of the stamp in an article republished in Sudan Notes and Records from which the following is a summary: apparently Stanton had added sketches to the maps used during the conquest of the Dongola area and these had come to the attention of the Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, Sir Herbert Kitchener or K as he was known by his men. In a typically curt manner he gave Stanton a mere five days to come up with a good design. Three days passed with Stanton becoming increasingly worried until the post arrived on a camel instead of a steamer. Continue reading

Queen Vic and the Grand Holiday Villa

The Grand Holiday Villa is a lovely hotel built on the banks of the Nile. It has plenty of old world charm and has been sympathetically restored and extended. I stayed there once with my husband and found the service and food all 5 stars+.

But…

The hotel for some reason makes a couple of fantastic historical claims that are well surely just fantasy. Continue reading

Streets of Khartoum

Taking a stroll around central Khartoum is best done early on Friday mornings when the streets are largely deserted of traffic. This is the best time to appreciate a city that is beautiful despite some awful architecture.

Khartoum was the creation of the Anglo-Egyptian Administration who found it in ruins when they arrived with their conquering army in 1898. It has been said by some that Kitchener chose the original road layout so that it resembled the Union Jack of the British flag. Another possible reason is that the design allowed maxim guns to be placed at junctions that covered several streets simultaneously. This would suggest that new rulers didn’t feel entirely at ease, but it seems doubtful that Kitchener had such concerns following the final routing of Mahdist forces in Kordofan in 1899. It is more likely that the pattern simply aided quick movement around the new city, and its effectiveness is one reason why this gridiron pattern has partly survived until now.   Continue reading