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The wheel thing

I would love to tell you that I have worked really hard this week, made major impressions on the world of financial services and written important stories that changed the face of the industry. But that would be a downright lie.

What I have made impressions on this week is a bottle of lemonade and Garden&#39s gin (not Gordon&#39s, Garden&#39s, an Egyptian take-off, along the same lines as Johnny Wacker) and significant progress on my tan. I am, after all, floating along the Nile on a felucca named the John Cairo.

I have made friends with the cook and first mate, a wee Egyptian man called Adel – well, that is what it sounds like. He informs me that his job working on the felucca is the envy of all his friends and I am starting to wonder if it is not the envy of me as well.

Well, it would be except the only tape we have on board for our two-day journey is Eminem, which is only great the first 50 times.

At night, after our Egyptian friends have cooked us an authentic local dinner, we settle round the campfire, our guides pick up drums and guitars and beat out a tune. We dance round the camp fire in conga chains, chanting the Arabic and Nubian lyrics as best we can. I think the Nile would make a great theme for a PR firm&#39s Christmas party. Put the commission cheque in the post, folks.

It would be a perfect life if it wasn&#39t for the runs. Egyptian food is renowned for upsetting delicate Western tummies and many of us have to make frequent trips to the patches of bush that serve as our ablution blocks along the way. Some mornings after breakfast, it is almost impossible to find a bush that isn&#39t engaged. Privacy went out the window a long time ago, since we began this voyage from Istanbul to Cairo, and we all carry lighters to burn our toilet paper and small trowels to bury the debris.

It is halfway through the week and today we set sail while everyone is still fast asleep in their sleeping bags on the deck of the boat, as we glide towards our final felucca destination of Edfu.

After a breakfast of boiled eggs, bread, fig jam and cheese, we head off for a spot of hieroglyphic sightseeing at the Temple of Horus at Edfu, described by the Lonely Planet guide as the biggest and most completely preserved Pharaonic temple in Egypt.

Then it is on to Luxor and the luxury of a hotel with a pool, a virtually unheard of treat in our budget travels to date. With the mercury rising and after sitting in the back of our overland truck for several hours to get here, it comes none too soon.

But that is only the start. A heatwave is on its way and the next day, dedicated to exploring the Valleys of the Kings, Queens and Workers, is an absolute scorcher.

We are up bright and early for it, though, each collecting a donkey, our means of transport to the Valley of Kings. Mine is a good-looking ass, so everyone tells me, named Anton. It takes me a couple of inelegant tries to get on the beast but, once on, he takes no notice of my yells in Arabic to go faster. However, he seems to have an innate fear of buses, the only thing that will get him moving at any speed faster than a three-toed sloth.

A bus roars past, cheerful tourist faces pressed to the windows, and Anton starts tearing down the road, ears pinned back, my hands hanging on to Anton&#39s reins and saddle for dear life. At the end of our journey, Anton deposits me in a pile, leaving me to walk off bow-legged.

After our adventure, we eat lunch quickly before the 45-degree heat causes our plates to cook our food a second time and collapse round the pool back at the hotel.

The rest of the week is spent in Cairo, looking at giant triangles and enjoying frequent use of the flush toilets.

Sunday marks the end of our six-week journey and sees me setting foot once again in Blighty, ready to plan our next adventure, a camper van trip around Eastern Europe. It is time to think about insurance again – van insurance.

Sonia Speedy is a former life offices&#39 reporter at Money Marketing •”Did you bring the woman covered in fur and gold paint down from Leek with you?” – Platform Home Loans&#39 Guy Batchelor to a colleague from Britannia Building Society.

A seven-strong team of Schroders chief executives have just completed a bike ride from Land&#39s End to John O&#39Groats, raising more than £40,000 for Macmillan Cancer Relief.

It formed part of a pledge to raise £500,000 for the charity as part of Schroders&#39 200th anniversary celebrations. It has so far raised around £150,000.

Congratulations go to Jonathan Asquith, Lester Gray, James Stewart, Nigel Pedroz, Nigel Langridge, Eddie Spriggs and Stephen Mills, who undertook the eight-day ride, covering 900 miles in total.

Any tips on relieving buttock pain would be much appreciated by all the team members.

•For IFAs seeking cinematic romance, the Diary suggests French film Confidences Trop Intimes as a Gallic escape into secret confidences and sexual intrigue.

The film stars Sandrine Bonnaire as a lonely woman who mistakenly walks into a financial adviser&#39s office and reveals all her relationship problems to the eager IFA.

Rather than confess to her that he is not a marriage counsellor, the adviser continues the charade.

The moral of the story? If you are an IFA, always have some breath mints handy. You never know who may be popping in.


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