A FAMILY from St Albans who set up a travel company in Egypt have been cut off from the rest of the country amid the riots which have gripped the capital city.

The Ridgleys, who set up home and their own company Somewhere Different in the quiet tribal oasis of Siwa, are now stranded and under the control of local sheikhs.

With the roads to the nearest town closed, no petrol and dwindling food supplies, Penny Ridgley who is with two of her children, Angus and Claudia, is feeling the strain of the mass protests which hit Cairo seven days ago.

Penny's husband Duncan is currently in Romania, at another of their company's locations and their oldest child Sasha is in the UK.

The family of five moved away from St Albans in 2004 to Sri Lanka - however, their break of a lifetime lasted only 24 hours before they were caught up in the tsunami.

After returning to England they decided to set up their company in Egypt and Romania – countries they had visited and bought land in, on a tour before they arrived in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to the Review from Siwa, Penny told the Review how the police have fled the area and local sheikhs met yesterday with locals to announce they will take control of Siwa.

Some might say that bad luck follows the Ridgleys - however, the family of five are “on another adventure” and are determined to ride out the storm.

Penny said: “We are completely shut off because our nearest town is 300 kilometres away and there isn't any petrol there.

“But it's really strange because yesterday we had a meeting with the sheikhs who have decided they will take control of Siwa.

“They said they will look after local Siwans and we are a part of their community they will also look after.

“There was a lot of looting in a nearby town which was torched just three days ago so the sheikhs aren't letting anybody in or out.”

She added: “At the moment we are okay but who knows what can happen. We have food but we know the fruit and veg will be the first to run out.”

She added: “We live with the awareness that it is the Middle East - you know at the back of your mind there could always be a situation.

“There has been unrest here before, people upset by the government. So it's not a complete surprise.

“I think our children have taken a lot of reassurance from their parents, because we have been through the tsunami as well. I guess it's another adventure for us.

“My children are safe and they feel safe, my 13-year-old son has been concern about the looting but the sheikhs are watching smugglers routes.”

Do you know anyone in Cairo or the areas affected by the riots? Have you just returned or been forced to flee your holiday? Contact the newsdesk by emailing mmistry@london.newsquest.co.uk