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Thursday, 25 July 2013


I've had a young Russian staying as an Inter-Bridge student for the last three weeks. I designed a personalised package for him and he has been able to see quite a bit of UK. For the first week he stayed with my daughter and her family in Faringdon and attended school there. For the second week he stayed with the family of another Inter-Bridge teacher and for the third week he has been under my wing.
We have spent the last couple of days in the Highlands of Scotland and right now we are on the train on the way back to Cambridgeshire. He has enjoyed his stay and his immersion in the language but is now looking forward to returning to Moscow to his family.
Here are a few photos of his time with us:
Ralia - an ice-cream stop on the way North

The gardens at Dunrobin castle, Golspie

One of these is a scarecrow

Loch Ness: now, where's the monster?

N.B. I'm at home now as East Coast WiFi didn't have enough bandwidth to allow me to upload these pictures to my blog. However they more than came up trumps when they agreed to pay for a taxi to Ramsey because the train was 10 minutes late and we had just missed the last bus out to the sticks. Ten points, and my gratitude, to East Coast train company.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

253:St Swithin's Day

1.   We have a legend in UK that if it rains on St. Swithun's day (July 15th) then it will rain for the next 40 days. Yesterday most of UK was basking in a heatwave so I hope this bodes well for my forthcoming visits. 

2.   There was a local market, here in Timiryazevskiy district. It nestled between the road and the railway line and you could buy almost anything there.

No longer. Over the course of the last few days it has been razed to the ground and all that is left is the cleaning up operation.

3.   On this day in 1918 Tsar Nicholas II and his family were shot by a Bolshevik firing squad in Ekaterinburg. Look at the resemblance between the Tsar and his distant relative Prince Michael of Kent. I once attended a Russian refresher course alongside Prince Michael. Strangely he got the lion's share of the IOPs (Individual Oral Practice). I contented myself by thinking that perhaps he needed more practice than I did. 

For today's video clip I have chosen Seal - a kiss from a rose. Apropos of nothing, simply that I like it.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

252:It's a mystery!

252, the number of today's blog, is not a mystery at all to any British soldiers reading this. It is the number of the charge report form that is completed whenever you are marched in front of the OC or CO for any misdemeanours. Takes me back a few years. A few of those forms have had my name on - especially in my wilder days!

I got home from work yesterday evening to find my hot water supply had been restored, as promised. What indescribable joy to have a hot shower. 

Today's story though is about a local mystery that has me intrigued. Every week or so, there is a procession of young men, mostly black, carrying boxes from a collection point somewhere down a long track that appears to lead nowhere and taking them to the metro station at Kantimirovskaya and on from there I know not where. 

Sometimes they abandon the boxes and just take the contents so I've had the opportunity to look at the labels on the boxes. They appear to contain a magazine called Flirt. Occasionally, as you pass a line of parked cars, it is possible to see that a copy of this magazine has been placed behind every car's windscreen wiper. I took one once just to see what it was like. I must confess I had no great yearning to become a subscriber.

I wonder why these young men have to make such a long journey to collect these magazines and take them for onward distribution. I took a couple of hurried photos of them yesterday - which didn't please them at all. 

Today's video clip is, appropriately, Toyah (Willcox) singing "It's a mystery" on Top of the Pops.

Monday, 8 July 2013

251:I am a mole and I live in a hole!

Moscow subway gets new circle line

An interesting article today from Russia Behind the Headlines concerning the expansion of the Moscow metro. It seems it is currently the third largest in the world - behind Tokyo and Seoul.
It currently serves an average of 7 million passengers a day. The article goes on to say that this equates to a density of 8 people per square metre during rush hour. Take it from me - that is sardine-like density.
It is very lucky that I have enough Russian to say "I'm terribly sorry madam, that's my mobile phone you can feel".

The authorities are planning to build another circle line, 32 miles long. Personally I'm not sure how that is going to help. It's OK having extra passengers going around this new circle line but the time will come when they want to stop going round and round and go into the centre to work, or shop.

I can spend hours each day on the metro and sometimes feel as if I spend more time underground than a mole.
Please allow me to stress that I have in mind the first meaning of the word in the linked dictionary and disassociate myself from the second meaning.

The young student I wrote about in my last blog has successfully arrived in UK and met up with my daughter and her family. I think he will have an interesting, and hopefully enjoyable, 3 weeks ahead of him in a variety of different environments and locations.

Today's song is a fun song for even younger students.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


Following my son's recent visit to Machu Picchu I thought I would just make the point that itinerant "Peruvian" musicians now seem to have conquered the world. Here they are in Moscow, being closely watched by security!

I've spent most of the last week planning and organising a trip to UK for one of my young students. Fingers crossed that all the separate parts of the visit come together seamlessly and that he has a good time. I look forward to an improvement in International Relations when he reaches adulthood.

My video clip today is the 1977 hit from Brotherhood of Man - Angelo. And yes, before I'm inundated with trolls, I know it is about a mountain in Mexico and not Peru.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

249:No hot water

Actually they didn't have to tell me, I already knew. Unfortunately when I land back in Moscow tomorrow morning there will be no hot water in my apartment block until 12th July. At least not through the taps - the kettle will be earning its keep! Not too bad though - it used to be two whole weeks. 

Monday, 1 July 2013

248:Ramsey 10K - 30 Jun 2013

Yesterday I ran in a 10km race - the first for years and years. Since I started running again I have been plodding along: jogging for 2 minutes and walking for 1 minute. I was keen to see how, or if, such a regime would/could fit into a proper race. 
When I heard that the Ramsey 10 race would be held on a weekend that I was in the country it seemed to me that fate had decided to intervene. What could I do but sign up to take part. I finished 272nd out of 276 runners.
I was pleased and disappointed at the same time. Pleased because I actually finished the race (and not quite last) and disappointed because it took so long. If I am to get back into "serious" running there is a lot of work ahead of me. 
Here are edits from the video of the race showing the start and runner number 302 coming in 1 hour and 14 minutes later.

Everybody that finishes gets a "medal" and this is what it looks like: