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Friday, 31 January 2014

285: 50 not out

Just returned home having donated my 50th pint of blood (51st actually but the Scottish one isn't counted - you'd think they had their independence already).
I was surprised to be presented with a badge and a pen. When I say presented with I mean the nurse who takes your details and checks the form just hands you the box and says thank you. And a very elegant box it is too!
Checkout also the cleverly designed tablecloth that is covering the table when you sit down for your coffee and biscuits at the end.

Tucked away in the BBC News site today was the result of a study suggesting that 25% of Russian men die before they are 55 - and most of the deaths are due to alcohol. The comparable UK figure is 7%.
Here are two video clips about binge drinking - the first one is funny but the second one definitely isn't. I include it to show that it is not only Russia that has a problem with binge drinking. We in the UK do too.

I heard that a lot of people gave up drinking for January. A noble effort and one I didn't find myself able to emulate. Maybe one day...

Sunday, 19 January 2014

284: Immersion in icy water!

Today is Sacred Epiphany here in Russia. The religious festival that commemorates the baptism of Christ. Many thousands of Russians undertake to immerse themselves completely into a hole cut through the ice. You have to see it to believe it. Respect! Here are more details about ice-swimming in various European countries - in case you would like to go for a dip!

Went for a walk in Sokolniki Park yesterday. Although it was -14 or so the sun was shining and it was a beautiful crispy day. The park was crowded with people walking, dancing, skating, sliding down snow chutes and generally enjoying themselves.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

283: dog-tired

The temperature has been gradually dropping over the last few days. My thermometer shows -14 at the moment and the forecast suggests -23 by this time tomorrow. A bit parky!
Two photos from journeys on the metro yesterday.
The first shows that I am not the only one who is sometimes dog-tired at the end of a hard days travelling around Moscow.
The second shows a metro train "dolled-up" for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. Sorry about the very poor quality of the hastily snatched photo but I think the utter garishness of it comes through. Brash is another word that springs to mind.
The Sochi Olympics will be a flagship event for Mr Putin and Russia. I hope the games pass off well for them.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

282: It's a big box.....

I have fond memories of the auction house that used to be in Ramsey. Two memories in particular: the first one was when I was inside the auction room watching was going on when suddenly my Dad appeared at the door, saw me and waved. Unfortunately he waved just at the moment they were auctioning an old television and his "bid" was accepted! It took all my powers of persuasion before they agreed that he didn't have to pay for it and it was auctioned again. The second memory is when they used to sell second-hand computers, some in boxes with other 'bits and pieces'. I remember the auctioneer used to say "it must be good, it's in a big box"!
My treadmill arrived this afternoon. It must be good, it was in a big box! Wish I had decided to pay the extra to have it put together. I managed, of course, but that's the afternoon gone. I had to test it out as well and can report that everything is functioning as it should - apart from me, I need to get my breath back. Let's hope this is the beginning of a long and healthy relationship between me and the treadmill.
Quite a coincidence that it arrived today - so did the Russian winter. -8 outside and the temperature is falling all the time. Whereas on the treadmill my temperature, and pulse rate, was rising. No selfies!

The video clip has to be the inspirational Vangelis "Chariots of Fire".

Sunday, 12 January 2014

281: Still Christmas!

One more party to come and that is old New Year, on 13th January. Until then Christmas trees and all the other associated paraphernalia are still to be seen. This photo was taken in Metropolis shopping centre yesterday. Note the angel hanging off to the side of the tree.
I've just come back from a short run. Sitting in the dentist's waiting room last week I came across a copy of Runners' World. I used to subscribe in my younger days but hadn't read the magazine for years. Anyway, there was a chart showing how to go from zero to being a runner. I took a photo of it and have decided to use it to get back into running. How long will the motivation last? Only time will tell. I have ordered a treadmill, which is due to be delivered on Tuesday. Spending that much money will surely motivate me to keep going and strive (stride) for fitness again.
There has been a light fall of snow and it was interesting to see the footprints in the snow as I was running in the park: bird footprints and dog footprints, but NO BEAR.
Saw this "I love Moscow" painted on a wall recently. Can't say I feel the same way about the city but, on the other hand, I don't hate it either. Well, not often anyway. Note the wind turbines - modern art!

For my video clip I have chosen Jona Lewie singing Stop the Cavalry. A family favourite that we treat as a harbinger of Christmas. When we hear it we know that Christmas is just around the corner (на носу?)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

280: Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Just arrived back in Moscow this morning after a pleasant overnight flight with British Airways. Snatched a few hours sleep and now I'm ready to face what's left of the day.
The temperature in Moscow is unseasonably warm. Whereas we might usually expect about -10 to -20 at this time of year it is only hovering around zero. I think the guy fishing on the lake in such warm temperatures is chancing his arm. Surely as thoughtless as those daft people in UK who went right to the water's edge during our recent violent storms that were lashing our coastline. At least one person has been swept out to sea.

Nonetheless there was snow on the ground to remind me that it is winter. Here is a picture from my window at 8 a.m. this morning.

Russia is on holiday at the moment. From New Year's Eve right through to 9th January is a time for relaxing, or revelling, whichever takes your fancy.

Moscow's roads and pavements are almost deserted and it was very pleasant to get a seat on the metro. Usually the metro is packed, even at 7 a.m. on a Sunday.
Let's finish with Abba singing "Happy New Year". Spot the missing apostrophes.