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Friday, 30 March 2012

132:Glimpses from a train window

19 degrees here in the South of England. The record-breaking heat of the last few days is slowly leaving us but at least I felt it yesterday and today. Nice.
Here are four pictures taken on/from various trains yesterday.

Don't know what this is going to be but it looks impressive!
Our commuter trains (электрички). More comfortable but much more expensive
The famous London Eye
Look - green grass!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

131:On the way home (по пути домой)

Domodedovo airport. 0440! All checked-in and waiting for the big silver bird to take me back to UK for a long weekend. I'll try my hardest to cope with a G&T with breakfast once we are in the air. Never could say no to a free drink.
Took this picture yesterday. The flamboyance of the pattern/colours on the Hummer says more than I ever could about the characteristics of some "moneyed" Russians. I think if he (?) is trying to make a statement then he is doing it very well. Draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

130:The Charge of the Light Brigade!

On this day, in 1854, Britain and France join the Ottoman empire in the Crimean war against Russia in a bid to halt Russian expansion. A peace treaty was signed in Paris in 1856. 
In 1954, that nice Mr Kruschev

gave Crimea away to the Ukraine. How could he, in his wildest dreams, ever have imagined the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He is seen here banging his shoe on the podium at the United Nations to demonstrate his ire.
There are many things noteworthy about the Crimean war but three things in particular spring to mind.
1.   Florence Nightingale. Considered to be the mother of modern British nursing she became famous for her work with wounded soldiers in the Crimea.

Here is a link to a BBC Quiz for schools about Florence Nightingale
2.  The balaclava. An item of headgear that covers most of the head. During the Crimean war knitted balaclavas war sent over to protect our soldiers from the bitter cold weather.

3.   The Charge of the Light Brigade. A supreme tactical blunder by Lord Raglan which resulted in many British deaths. Their bravery has been immortalised in a famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

129:5 stars

I'm between lessons and it's not worth going home and then coming all the way back so I'm in the cinema waiting to go in to watch The Lion King in 3D to kill some time. 
I've shown some pictures of this cinema (5 звёзд) before. It really is an amazing place. Apparently it used to be a children's theatre before it was converted into a cinema.
Sorry about the poor quality of the photos but I always try to snap quickly inside buildings in case somebody comes to arrest me for breaking some obscure law or other! It is certainly not the fault of the beer - I am drinking alcohol-free beer because I have another lesson at 6.p.m.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

128:A Radisson boat trip down the Moscow river

Not just any  old boat trip down the Moscow river - this was a Radisson state-of-the-art ice-breaking boat that sails up and down the Moscow river 365 days a year. It's ice-breaking abilities weren't needed yesterday as there was not much ice left on the river, just some very thin sheets here and there.
The literature refers to the boats as yachts, which I think is perhaps a bit OTT (over-the-top). 
Here are some photos of the boat and some views of the world outside as we sedately sailed by. All in all an enjoyable 2 1/2 hours. Dinner was nice too. It was obvious the waiting staff had been trained to a high standard. 

St Basils cathedral
Kremlin cathedrals
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Tsereteli's controversial statue 
of Peter the Great
The parliament of the Russian Federation (the White House)
Nearly time to go home

The old British embassy 
how grand and elegant
The new British embassy 
- how "modern" (and ugly)
How would you like to live here?
The ancient mariner?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

127:Winter - please go away!

All of Moscow will be pleased when Winter finally leaves us and is replaced by Spring. We keep getting glimpses of what Spring is going to be like and then Winter returns. I took these three photos today to show my UK readers how lucky they are. The first shows Russians playing volleyball with their Winter coats on, the second the ice on the puddles, and the third the snow on the trees as seen from the window of my flat.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

126:A blog in 15 minutes or less?

Can I write a blog in 15 minutes or less? Probably, provided I use lots of links to other peoples work!
1.  I thought this morning I would draw your attention to the work of the Russian  photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii who did much of his work at the beginning of the last century. Here is a link to a BBC collage of 12 of his photographs showing Russia at that time (pre-revolution). 
Russian Empire in colour photos
2.  Can you believe that learning a foreign language is not compulsory in English and Welsh secondary schools beyond the age of 14. How short-sighted is that? I think many British people still think that if you go abroad and talk loudly and slowly then people will understand you! Sadly (?) the days of glorious (?) Empire are long gone. But, there is hope for the future. "All children should learn a foreign language at primary and secondary school, a House of Lords committee has said." Of course, the House of Lords is not the House of Commons but at least people are talking about it. 
All children should learn a foreign language
3.  In England we drink too much. A new report shows that deaths from liver disease have risen by 25% in less than 10 years. And yet "binge" drinking* is not a new concept, I remember being very good at it myself in my younger days. Perhaps they just do more of it these days.
The demon drink
My 15 minutes are up. Have a nice day.

binge drinking

Pronunciation:/bɪn(d)ʒ ˈdrɪnkɪŋ/


[mass noun]
  • the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time:teenagers as young as 16 admit to binge drinking




binge drinker


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

125:Spring Equinox

Yesterday was the vernal, or Spring, equinox. The day halfway between the shortest day and the longest day. Often, Druids go to Stonehenge on this day to celebrate whatever it is they celebrate with their pagan rituals.

The equinox is often taken to be the first day of Spring but looking out of my window today that is definitely not the case. Snow must have been falling all night - can there be any left in the heavens?

Also yesterday my Queen made a speech in the Palace of Westminster to rededicate herself to the service of her people. This year is her Diamond jubilee. The Queen

Monday, 19 March 2012

124:The Falklands War

On this day, 19th March, in 1982, Argentinian scrap metal merchants landed on the island of South Georgia in the Falkland Islands and raised the Argentine flag.  From a UK perspective they had no business doing that as the Falkland Islands were a British self-governing British Overseas Territory. The islands are populated by people who are British and want to remain British.

To counter this "invasion" Margaret Thatcher, our Iron Lady, raised a military task force and sent it all the way to the Falkland Islands. After a short, but bloody, campaign the islands were retaken by the British. According to Wikipedia, 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen died. 
To this day there is significant tension between Britain and Argentine over sovereignty. Britain now maintains a large military force on the island to protect its claim. 
If you really want "chapter and verse" you can find it here
There is a recent film about our железная леди starring Meryl Streep. It has just been released in Moscow and is showing in many cinemas around the capital. I think it is being shown in English with Russian subtitles. Might well be a useful language learning experience.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

123:Buckley the Beefeater

My one Sunday external student is on holiday in Portugal so I have had the rare luxury of not having to cross the threshold. As a consequence your "roving reporter" has not done any roving today. 
I have been searching my archives for a suitable picture, and came up with this one instead. It was taken in St. Petersburg in July of last year when I went to visit my friend Chris, who was doing his Iron Curtain bike ride
The frame was standing in front of the Tower pub, just off Nevskiy Prospekt. There were two frames and you pick whichever one you want to stick your head through and make a fool of yourself. I chose the Beefeater rather than the Queen!! 
These gentlemen, and now there is a lady as well, have been guarding the Tower of London and the Crown jewels since 1485. Nowadays they are a major tourist attraction and have the ability to amuse and entertain the public.

I myself was eligible to apply to be a Beefeater or, to give them their correct title, a Yeoman Warder of the Tower of London. To apply you need to have served for 22 years in the Armed Forces, and to be at least a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) or a Warrant Officer (WO), and to hold a Long Service and Good Conduct medal. I can tick all those boxes. But my career developed in a different direction and now here I am teaching, and blogging.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

122:St Patrick's Day in Moscow

Each of the four countries in the British Isles has a patron saint (покровитель). In England we have St. George, in Wales St. David, in Scotland St. Andrew and in Ireland St. Patrick. Each of these saints is commemorated on a dedicated day of the year. St. Patrick's day, 17th March, seems to attract the most merry-makers, from all over the world. The day is well known for good-natured partying, lots of Guinness, and lots of craic ([mass noun] chiefly Irish - enjoyable social activity; a good time). 
I've spent the last few hours on old Arbat soaking up the atmosphere. It seemed as though all of Moscow was there having fun. Here are some of the photos I took. Not sure why the cyclists were there? Perhaps they were at the wrong rally?