link to

My company teaches English face-to-face or over Skype. See my website:

Thursday, 27 September 2012

192:What a nightmare, to find your car gone!

I wrote recently (11th September) about the lack of infrastructure at Moscow city and about how drivers had to park some way from the building and walk the rest of the way. Now, I fear, many of them will have to walk even further as a convoy of tow trucks (the Russians call them 'evacuators'!) arrived on the embankment and began lifting vehicles off the road and taking them away to the pound. 
Amusingly, when I went back after my lesson, all the empty spaces had been filled by a fresh influx of cars. Let's hope their owners don't suffer the same fate as the previous occupants of those spaces.

 Perhaps the owners, on returning to find their cars had gone, might want to read some advice on reducing stress:

This is what it says in English. "Advice from a psychologist for relieving pressure, stress and aggression:

1. Imagine you are beside a river. 

2. Here there is cool fres
h mountain air and you can hear the birds singing. 

3. Nobody, apart from you, knows about this secret place. 

4. The water is as transparent as tears. ............................. 

5. You can clearly see the face of the person you are holding under the water"!!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

191:On your bike*

I flew back to Moscow overnight on Friday. The flight was pleasant enough. It started out 1½ hours late but they made up a lot of the time with a strong tail wind. We landed just after 5 a.m. and I went home to bed. It's difficult to sleep on the plane - there's always the fear of missing out on any food or alcohol that is being given away!
On the way to the airport I stopped off at Baker Street to visit a shop. I didn't visit the Sherlock Holmes' museum but as I know that he is familiar to every Russian I took a photo of the building. Looks a popular place.

Also on Baker Street I saw a line of bikes waiting to be hired. These are known colloquially as Boris's Bikes after Boris Johnson who was mayor of London when the scheme began (and still is).

On the subject of transport, I went for a run in Park Dubki yesterday afternoon and came across a marquee, sponsored by Skoda, where they were promoting Road Safety to young children. Moscow's roads can be quite dangerous at times (as, of course, can the roads in any big city) so any initiative to make youngsters more aware of the dangers is to be warmly welcomed.

*On your bike = go away (often used as an expression of annoyance)
= Катись от сюда! ; прочь!, проваливай!, вали отсюда!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

190:St Ives

The letters "St" before a word are an abbreviation of Saint, and after a word  represent street. 
Here in England there are (at least) two towns called St. Ives - one a market town in Cambridgeshire and one a seaside town in Cornwall. In my view both are equally beautiful.
I was in the Cambridgeshire St. Ives yesterday to give a pint of blood and snapped a few pictures while I was there.  

There's an old, nonsensical, nursery rhyme about the Cambridgeshire St. Ives that goes like this:

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives.
How many were going to St Ives?
The Wikipedia entry suggests the riddle is ambiguous and that there are several possible answers

There is also a pub in St. Ives called the Seven Wives:
The frontage of the Seven Wives Public House in Ramsey Road, StIves, Huntingdonshire.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

189:Aren't your policemen wonderful

"Aren't our policemen wonderful" is a very hackneyed cliché*. Sometimes I don't fully realize what a good job Russian policemen do. I can only speculate what is happening here but moments before the photo was taken the policeman in the photo went up to the first babushka in the line and tried to wrestle from her the small bag of potatoes, or whatever it was she was trying to sell. She was a very determined babushka and held onto the bag with great energy. He kicked away the box and crate she had been using as a table, you can see them in the foreground, and she slunk away. The rest of the babushkas were allowed to stay. Perhaps the one he chased away was in the wrong trades union? There is much in Russia that is a mystery to me.
*A hackneyed cliché is a hackneyed cliché! A nice example of tautology!
Definition of hackneyed


  • (of a phrase or idea) having been overused; unoriginal and trite:hackneyed old sayings

Definition of cliché
  • 1a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought:that old cliché ‘a woman’s place is in the home’the usual worn-out clichés about the English
  • Definition of tautology

    noun (plural tautologies)

    [mass noun]
    • the saying of the same thing twice over in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g. they arrived one after the other in succession).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

188:Not for all the tea in China*

I had a lesson in Moscow city earlier today. I haven't been to that part of town for years and it was interesting to see that development continues apace. There is still no infrastructure to speak of. The area is linked by metro by a spur from Kiyevskaya station but the metro trains are infrequent. As far as I can see there is no bus route. When I last ventured there it was possible to take a marshrutka to Krasnopresnaya metro but I think that link has now been severed. Many of those who drive there have to park a long way back along the embankment and walk the rest of the way. 
I saw three guys cleaning windows. You might be able to make them out in the picture. Not if you paid me a million roubles would I do that job. 

 This delightful little "postcard" reads: If all States were governed by women there would be no wars in the world. There would simply be many countries that didn't speak to each other!

not for all the tea in China

informal there is nothing at all that could induce one to do something:I wouldn’t do that window cleaner's job—not for all the tea in China

Sunday, 9 September 2012

187:Miscalling the Russians

It seems I have been miscalling my Russian hosts and I hereby apologize.
Way back in June I published a picture of a playground where a palette was serving as a piece of playground equipment. 
I walked past the playground again yesterday (Don't worry - I don't make a habit of it!) and found a transformation.
On the BBC History on this day site yesterday I read that 8th September 1855 "British and French troops capture Sevastopol from the Russians, effectively ending the Crimean War." I don't know what surprised me more: the British siding with the French or us defeating the Russians. We haven't defeated the Russians for simply ages - well not since the Olympics anyway when Russia came 4th to Great Britain's 3rd. Looking at the medal table for the Paralympics this morning it appears that Russia now has 2nd place with Great Britain in 3rd. Congratulations.
This is only a tongue-in-cheek paragraph of course. Britain and France have been the best of pals since the signing of L'entente cordiale in 1904 and Russia joining as part of the triple entente in 1907. 
The shifting sands of history!

Friday, 7 September 2012

186:A kick in the gulags - serves him right!

Here, for no reason at all, other than I wanted this picture to show up in Facebook when I share my blog there, is a picture of a (military) band getting ready to play in front of the Bolshoi theatre.

And now for today's educational "nuggets":

Imagine humiliating pupils in this way. Very much old style teaching. But I bet he doesn't pick on this particular pupil again! Stay with it to the end and see the big bully crumple up in pain!

Here is an aide-memoire for some adjective and verb synonyms. But there are a few mistakes. somber should be sombre and treaded should be trod.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

185:Old Arbat

I guess the old Arbat can be compared with La Rambla in Barcelona in terms of somewhere to promenade* when you have nothing better to do. It is popular with both tourists and locals.
I found myself with some free time yesterday afternoon and, having heard that Wendy's (the famous American burger chain) had arrived in town and set up shop on old Arbat, decided it was time for a stroll and to sample the burgers on offer in Wendy's. Here are some of the things I saw as I wandered aimlessly along the street:

A street concert, one of many throughout Moscow laid on by the City authorities. I found the sight of the bride and groom a little sad as they didn't seem to have any friends with them. (Billy and Betty no-mates?)
Here it is - the first Wendy's to open in Moscow. Prepare for an invasion. In terms of market placement I would suggest it is a little up-market from McDonalds but not as much as TGI Fridays.

This charabanc offers free transport to the Museum of Erotica on new Arbat. There was also a Museum of Torture on old Arbat. Whatever floats your boat. Needless to say, I didn't visit either of these salubrious (?) venues.
Bring on the dancing girls!
Well well, Moscow is becoming a tourist attraction. This city sightseeing bus has been a well-known sight around town in quite a few cities in Europe. It has finally arrived in Moscow. A few teething problems which I'm sure will be ironed out in very short order. For example yesterday there were quite a few roads closed off for the city's birthday so the bus had a different route from normal. After it had been going a few minutes they came around with headphones. The commentary was in English or Russian but didn't always match up with where we were and often had us looking on the wrong side of the road. Still, as the bus was half price yesterday (Rs 300 instead of 600), one can't really complain.
*to promenade: to take a leisurely public walk, ride, or drive so as to meet or be seen by others:they promenaded along the waterfront

Saturday, 1 September 2012

184:Gorky Park

Today is Moscow's 865th birthday and the city is buzzing. There are events, large and small, taking place all over the city and this evening, at 10 p.m., the sky will be lit up by fireworks to celebrate the occasion.
I went to Gorky Park earlier today to soak up the atmosphere, and then had a walk along old Arbat and a short tour around town on one of the new excursion buses.
For today I will content myself with showing you some pictures of Gorky Park.  
This is the same Gorky Park that was mentioned the Scorpions' song Wind of Change

and the same Gorky Park that was the title of the excellent book by Martin Cruz Smith that was later made into a film starring Lee Marvin and William Hurt.

But here are my pictures from earlier today: