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Thursday, 25 December 2014

320:And it's goodbye from him...

Perhaps it's time to leave Russia, with all around me disintegrating: (I don't mean this seriously, but "tongue in cheek")

My worldly goods and chattels have already left:

or been sold:

or given away:

I shall be leaving on Sunday, for pastures new. I plan to start work in Warsaw in January. New challenges to overcome.
To all my Russian friends and students, past and present, I wish you a bright and prosperous 2015. Hope the rouble bounces back for you soon!
С наступающим Новым Годом! Всего Вам наилучшего! Спасибо большое за тёплое Русское гостеприимство!
And to my friends and family who are celebrating Christmas today: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

319: A sight (site) for sore (saw) (Warsaw) eyes.

Homophones - words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spelling.
This is part II of my Warsaw related blog. I left there last Tuesday and only now have found five minutes to post the pictures.
It's true folks, I have decided to leave Moscow, after 6 'interesting' years, and set up shop in Warsaw. I will be sad to leave Moscow, I have some great friends and students, but it is time to move on to pastures new.
Here are some more pictures from my few days in Warsaw last week.
Dumplings she called them. Don't look anything like our dumplings.
Warsaw too has lots of green spaces.

Memorials everywhere. Understandably.
Tenement buildings. Could be anywhere.

The company I plan to work for/with

A beam-me-up-Scotty kind of lift!

Bring on the dancing girls!

The train to the airport. Long platform, short train. I was standing at the wrong end of the platform and had to sprint to catch the train!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

317: Warsaw - Poles apart from Moscow

I'm in Warsaw for a few days trying to decide if I would like to work here when I've had enough of Moscow, or perhaps when Moscow has had enough of me.
Had a run this morning - best way to see a new town for the first time. I bought a one-day travel card this afternoon so that I could jump on and off buses, tubes, and trams on a whim - another good way of exploring a city.
Yesterday was a public holiday here and last night and this  morning the place was almost deserted. This evening there are more people wandering about. I'm curious too see how busy it is tomorrow, on a workday. Here are most of the pictures I took today.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

316: England, my England

The title of my blog today is from a poem by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). It is also a collection of short stories by D H Lawrence (the man who wrote Lady Chatterley's lover!)
I borrowed the title to highlight my theme for the day. I was in UK last week and took a few photos of what I consider to be quintessential England.
Here they are:

Monday, 13 October 2014

315: Castles in the air

The last days of a very welcome Indian Summer (бабье лето). The temperature is due to drop to a more seasonal norm over the course of the next few days and some heavy rain is expected.
Here are a couple of pictures I snapped on my recent peregrinations around Moscow.
This is hotel Molodyozhnaya, built for the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and here undergoing a face-lift

Taken from outside Slavyanskiy Bulvar' metro. A castle or a cleverly disguised ICBM?

Autumnal views from my window, taken on separate days. The same blue van is parked in the same place on both days. I'm reading far too many spy books because I immediately thought it might be an FSB listening post.:)
For a video clip I've chosen Memory, from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical 'Cats', sung here by Barbra Streisand. Why? Because I like it!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

314: Miss Emergency Situations Ministry 2014

This picture speaks for itself. It needs no further comment from me. If you do want to read about the competition then here is the link to the article in the Moscow Times. A paragraph from it is reproduced below: To earn the title … the girls had to have a high level of professionalism, good athletic training, individuality, creativity and good looks," the ministry said in an online statement, adding "the main purpose of the beauty contest was to reveal and develop talent among the women," at the ministry.

To turn now to the more mundane, together with one of my friends I was a hare at Sunday's running of the Moscow Hash House Harriers. There are Hash House Harrier running clubs at many locations worldwide. The Moscow 'branch' has been in existence for 30 years. Many of these clubs bill themselves as "a running club with a drinking problem." I seem to fit in quite well. Every week one or more people take it in turns to lay a trail for the other runners to follow. These people are known as hares. By an astonishing coincidence right next to where we were starting the hash somebody had sketched two hares on the pavement.

Autumn has arrived, with a vengeance. Beautiful colours of the leaves, especially when the sun shines on them but today was much colder (+4 at 10.00 this morning) with a strong Northerly wind.
At 7.00 a.m. tomorrow morning, which is when I am next due to leave my flat, the temperature is forecast to be +2. Hey ho.
This is the view from my kitchen window.

To finish, a video clip from Eva Cassidy called Autumn leaves.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

313: When I'm cleaning windows...

Sorry it's been two and a half weeks since the last blog. Deadlines keep appearing with a higher  priority than the blog. Apart from that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep coming up with fresh ideas and new pictures that you haven't seen before. Perhaps I need to move to another city/country?
Anyway, here goes with blog number 313.
I wouldn't do the job that these guys are doing for all the tea in china! 

Here are two more pictures of Moscow's monorail system. Pleasant to travel on but yet another reference to China is apposite here. We talk about "a slow boat to China" to describe something that is very slow and takes a long time. The monorail goes from West to East (and back again of course) in the North of Moscow and saves going South then East then North on the metro to get from Timiryazevskiy to VDNKh. It runs fairly frequently during the day but during the evening the trains are few and far between.

Today's video clip has to be George Formby singing "when I'm cleaning windows" and playing his ukulele.I have included two versions, with and without lyrics. It dates from 1936 and was initially banned by the BBC.

Friday, 5 September 2014

312: Prima Donnas

I'm just back from a run - the first one for ages. I'm struck by how very very quickly fitness levels plummet. At the beginning of the year I was running for 2 minutes and walking for 1. I slowly slowly built on that to be able to run (almost) non-stop for over an hour. And now, having not run for a couple of weeks, I'm back to the 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking regime. the "use it or lose it" maxim is just as true in sport as it is in language learning and vocabulary retention.

Why Prima Donna as the title of the blog? It has two meanings: one as the chief female singer in an opera or opera company and two as a temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance.
I was trying to arrange a lesson for tomorrow with one of my students. He suggested a meeting place  some distance from where I live and I baulked at the travelling involved to get there. (I do enough metro travelling during the week). He has a car and I felt it would be easier for him to drive. For his part he is probably thinking that if he's paying I should dance to his tune. So, a stalemate with no winner. He doesn't get the lesson and I don't get the money.

At Kiev station this morning I saw, and photographed, a collection point for people wanting to donate for "humanitarian aid for Donbass". Whichever "side" you're on in the Ukrainian "Civil War" the real losers, as always, are the local civilian population.

Finally for today, here is a photo of a syringe on the ground beneath a seat at a bus stop I was at yesterday. The first one I've seen in 6 years of travelling around Moscow. I know all big cities in the world have problems with drug addicts but so far, touch wood, it hasn't impacted on me here.

Perhaps then, to finish on a cynical note, a video clip "Lucy in the Sky with diamonds". Lots of people were "high" in the 60s but I wasn't one of them. Interesting to read the comments about whether the song is, or isn't, LSD related. Not much on the internet these days with only one side to a story - people are always prepared to add their own three pennyworth.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

311: Iceland, land of ice and fire

I'm back in Cambridgeshire after having spent 3 days in Iceland. Impressions? Beautiful country, prices as expensive as Moscow or perhaps even more so, and (mostly) friendly and generous people, with an unusual sense of humour. Would I go back? Yes, but I'd need to save up again first! The dream ticket, after I win the lottery, would include a flight around the island in a helicopter,  whale and puffin watching and sea fishing, and horse riding across the lava fields.

fish and chips in a bucket. KFC eat your heart out.

Free wrapping paper in the shopping centre

How about this for a comfortable relax in the mall

Look how open the banks are

Just some old geyser

365 days a year for millenia!

The view at 03.45, taking whilst waiting for the marshrutka!