link to

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

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

226:Be nice to me - I gave blood!

This afternoon I finally managed to donate another pint of blood (my 49th). The last attempt was thwarted because I had been to the dentist in the morning and had had some plaque removed from my teeth. The National Health Service (NHS) suggested that if I had accidentally swallowed some of the plaque it may have got into my bloodstream. The NHS are ultra cautious when it comes to taking blood from potential donors.
It is a fairly painless experience and afterwards they give you a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit. I can go again in 12 weeks time.
In the meantime I have an empty arm and this evening, over dinner, I will try and fill the space with some white wine.

Here is a prime example of British humour from the 60's when Tony Hancock went to donate a pint of blood.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

225:Pancake week

Pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated in UK on one day of the year as a prelude to Lent (Великий Пост). It is often on a different day, depending on when Easter is. 
In Russia the celebrations last a whole week and the festival is known as Maslenitsa. Again, historically, it is for people to eat pancakes (блины) and be merry before the long Fast leading up to Holy Week. 
The word Shrove comes from the old verb to shrive which means to forgive. Interestingly, today in Russia is День Прощания - forgiveness day. People ask forgiveness of each other.
The week-long festival culminates today and yesterday there were 'events' held throughout the city. The big park at Kholomenskoye is usually a good place to go but the weather is so horrible at the moment that I decided to go only as far as Gorkiy Park and to combine the event with the St Patrick's Day celebrations. It was interesting hearing Whiskey in a Jar being sung in Russian. By the time I got the video on my phone working they had finished  singing it live and I caught a recording in English. Here is a glimpse of the audience. Not very large but I suspect people came and went throughout the afternoon and evening. Note the slushy conditions underfoot.
N.B. Irish Whiskey is spelt with an 'e' whereas Scottish Whisky isn't.
There were some stalls and marquees set up elsewhere in the park, selling pancakes, hot medovukha and hot glintwein (called glühwein in German or mulled wine in English).

On the way home, in order to get to the bus stop, there is a pedestrian underpass which serves two purposes. Firstly you can get safely from one side of the road to the other and, secondly, you can browse, and buy if you want to, a rich collection of art. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

224:The first day of Spring - Ha ha!

According to the calendar, 1st March is the first day of Spring. And it was beginning to look that way on the streets - armies of migrant workers have been hard at it clearing away, or at least piling up for later removal, the snow.
Experience has taught me that there was more to come. Now look at this morning's "picture through the window". Welcome back Winter. 

1st March is also St David's day. He is the patron Saint of Wales. I have a lot of time for Welsh people and love the lilt of their accent. Here is a short clip from a Welsh comedian and singer/songwriter called Max Boyce. He rose to fame in the mid-70s. 

I was in Istanbul last weekend and seem to have bought something unintended back with me. I don't know whether it was a Russian virus I took with me or a Turkish virus I picked up there. I'm calling it Eurasian 'flu and I will be glad when I have shaken it off and can get on with my life.
I also bought some Turkish Delight (рахат-лухум), which will be going with me to UK tomorrow.