Sunday, 20 January 2013

Priviet!  Happy New Year 2013

So I am now back in Moscow after a blooming lovely ( yet extremely tiring) Christmas and New Year in the Motherland.  It was a countryside based christmas surrounded by family and furbies, the former which was lovely the latter not so much!  Furbies are dangerous things and I fear one day they will take over the planet, all should be exterminated on sight! Then onto a week in London and some nice catching up with friends and a groovy bit of 80's based Guilty Pleasures and power ballads in Kentish Town for New Year's Eve. There was no shame!

So we have started a new term... the Christmas Concert is being edited and photoshoped by the Russians and will soon be at number 1 at the box office.  Actually it went amazingly and we were all very proud of the little sproglets and ourselves!

The snow is falling everyday and we do laugh at the inability of the UK to cope right now but at the same time am just a little bit envious that our school will never have a 'snow day' however much falls!   Have been cross country skiing again and also our building built us our very own little ice rink. So we all purchased some rather fetching white ice skates today in the' Emily' and' Carmen' models and tried it out.  It was all going well until some naughty little Russian boys threw a CD over the gate at us!  I skated over to pick it up and it was entitled 'Skate or Die!'  Rosy thinks they are just boys having innocent fun... I however will be keeping one eye open at all times!

So i am now 32!!! eek!..thanks for all the presents and wishes and drinks!  Went out on Friday to celebrate in Solyanka club/restaurant.  Great night, vaugely remember vodka shots, dancing, laughing and squeezing 5 people into a taxi, lots of falling over in the snow ( Sophie!) and fishfinger and chip butties before bed... so that was nice!:)

This will be us!!
So now it's 6 weeks until the next holiday and in about 3 weeks Rosy and I will be jumping into an ice hole in the Moscow River in our bikinis!  This will be lots of fun i am sure, what i am really enjoying is turning the shower to ice cold for one minute each morning ( ok most mornings) to prepare for it, that's a really enjoyable feeling!   But no seriously it's a yearly event to raise money for homeless people in Moscow and help them through the bloody freezing winter!  We will set up details on facebook soon so please donate if you can kind people!

Russian lessons continue slowly but surely although when i tried to order cheesy bread at the cheesy bread lady's stall the other day she looked at me like she might have just wiped me off her shoe.. so progessing well i feel!  You don't get marks for trying in Russia you get marks for complete accuracy and no mistakes!!

Ok time to go.... Desvedanya xxx
P.S Easy Jet are doing flights to Moscow soon!!!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock!

So yes i have been a bit slack at my blog but going back to work after the summer was a shock to the system!
It's now 1 month until christmas and yesterday the first snow fell.( 1 month earlier than last year!) which I'm sad to say had not much effect on me!  Yes, 1 Russian winter has hardened my soul against the childlike wonder of snowfall you get when it snows in the UK!  Luckily i had a nice new pair of snow trousers i purchased on sunday and I now have a very sexy waddle when i walk to school!

I've never been much of a fan of ice-skating in the UK...doing mindless laps of an oval skate rink is not my idea of that much fun.  Ice skating in Gorky park however is a different story.  The whole centre of the park is turned into connecting ice lanes and you can skate all through the park, stopping in all the cafes if you want..and you can really get your speed up.  Even more exciting was that my ice skates had diamonds in and said princess!!  You don't get that in Plymouth Pavilions!!

My new flat is still lovely and underfloor heating is keeping us all cosy!  I met up with a friend who was out on her architecture trip, who just as Giles did got very excited about the big radio tower next to our flat ( turned out she was doing her project on it very randomly).  Apparently Shukov's tower is very famous in the architecture world....had no idea thought  they just forgot to take it down!
Russian lessons have resumed and although I will never be fluent I like having to challenge my brain after spending all day with 5 year olds! I think we sound like Russian 5 year olds the way we have to sound all the letters out mind you!

So now it's just the Christmas concert to get done and dusted which is proving quite hard his week as only 9 - 11 children have been coming to school ( out of 24).  Apparently they are all ill but i have my suspicions they are keeping some off so that they don't get ill for the concert.  Which will be futile as then they won't know what to do... just don;t get me started!  One mother came to speak to me today with a mouth mask on!!  

So yes that is that...all good and looking forward to coming home for an Oxfordshire based Christmas for a change!

Ooh and I went to the brand new Bolshoi theatre which has been being renovated for 5 years.  We saw Ivan the Terrible ballet which was possibly one of the most wonderful things I've ever seen.. they will def be more ballet trips! 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Summer in the sun ? ( debatable!)

The rest of the world may think it's hugely immoral that teachers get such amazing holidays ( i have picked  this up from various conversations!There is some anger out there!) but you know what I think it's bloody wonderful!!
So in my 7 weeks off this is what has been happening.  We all celebrated the end of term by going to a Russian Banya.  You pay by the hour to hire this little apartment complete with sauna, mini freezing pool, pool table, bar, karaoke, and er pole!!  Oh and bedrooms with really tasteful red velvet covers.  I'm thinking a group of school teachers was not the usual clientele to this particular banya!  Still lots of fun was had and much wodka consumed to celebrate 1 year in Russia.  This year in Russia I plan to go to the big public  famous Sandunovski Banya in  Moscow and partake in 'veniki'.  Being beaten with birch twigs sounds ...hmmm well interesting!!
Oh and a boxing thingy was provided! I totally took his head off!
It was due to the  hangover after this fun night that i felt i could not cope with questions from the hairdresser who came to my house the next day to do my roots.  I therefore said yes ( i actually said 'Da' but i know your Russian is not as advanced as mine readers of England!! ;)) to anything she said...which is why you may have mistaken me for a lighthouse for most of the summer!  Just about fixed now and well, being back in Russia,  i kind of blend in!!
So i had a wonderful and action packed summer starting with a lovely loaf on the canal courtesy of lovely Ma and Pa Lovegrove!  Nothing like feeding swans from the window, admiring the beautiful English countryside, sunbathing on the deck (yes we had 1 day of sun!!) and listening to your parents debate the personal preferences of the dog's food brand at 7.30 in the morning!  Thanks geffie Pa and Gilly Ma! :)

Then after catching up with some of you lovely people in London it was off to Guatemala to visit Trish and Karl who have  managed to live the dream and retire pre 40 to San Pedro, Lake Atitlan..a gorgeous, volcanic, lakeside Mayan village about 4 hours from Guatemala City!  Actually they are working very hard running their little bar El Barrio. Needless to say much fun was had, I met some wonderful people, saw some breathtaking scenery, rode a scooter with 3 people on every day ( really hurts!) and even did my first bar shift ever!  I make a mean mojito now!  i even managed to spend some time in the local school which was wonderful. Although i fear that the Mayan custom of school children kissing every adult they pass, which resulted in me being kissed by about 70 small children may be responsible for the weird chest cough thing i have had all summer!     If you do ever get the chance to go to Lake Atilan i would highly reccomend it and Guatemala is really not as scary as the British Travel Advice website would have you believe!! Thanks 'Patricia and Karlos' xx
Every class I went into the children sang me a little song!
 Trish, Karl and I over Lake Atitlan
Then it was home to 'sunny' England where Olympic fever had taken hold. Never managed to get any actual tickets but saw the ladies cycling event go past on the Fulham Road. Anyway it was all very exciting and such a lovely atmosphere in London.    Tash and I went on the London Rib experience and jetted about the River Thames at high speeds to James Bond Music... very cheesy and very scary/fun...highly reccomend!
Next was a trip to a gorgeous Oxfordshire farm house for The Ditzy Daisy's hen do! all that happened there is top secret of course.
Then it was a sleazy jet flight to Nice to catch up with me birds where we sunbathed, read ( 3 copies of 50 Shades of Grey between 6 girls and I still have not read it!  Ok well maybe some bits :)!!) Ate amazing food, swam in the pool, drank vino and debated many a thing from the FTSE 100 to waxing techniques! 
So one week left at home and another stop to the parentals to say adios.  This time they were moored in Kidderminster....just never go's not nice!!!  
I spent a week with my gorgeous little nieces and nephews in sole charge along with the Gilly Ma ( technically Giles was there but well!!!!) while Susannah went to do her illustration course in Cambridge ( which produced some amazing work... coming to a Waterstones near you soon I have no doubt!).  AMAZING!
It was very hard work ( not sure how i have the energy to be a mother!) but lovely to spend time with them.  Being sat on the naughty step makes Finlay collapse into giggles. Never saw that happen to Supernanny!
 The Finster!

 Ella Bella

  Oscar the Great!
Anway after such a lovely summer I was questioning going back to Russia and saying goodbye again but i have arrived back to Moscow. I have a lovely new flat with Collette and Rosy and we had our housewarming last night which was always going to be good considering the girls bought cheetos and pombear crisps as snacks!  Nothing but the best here!   Has been great to see everyone in Russia again and met lots of the new staff too so I am excited to be back!  Spent the last few days getting the classroom ready so all we need now is the children on Monday...eeek!
If you have got to the end of this epic blog you get a gold star!  You also get a gold star if you were one of the very generous and lovely people who put me up over the summer either on sofas, French villas, Guatemalan lake houses, beds or narrow boats!! you know who you are and i love you all !!! 
Blimey sounds like an oscar acceptance speech !!
Bye bye x
P.S come to Russia.....  i have a hugeeeeeeeeeeeee bed now!



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The countdown begins......

Due to intense pressure from my number 1 blogger fan ( my mum) and due to being housebound as a result of a small hangover after the England match last night I'll update you on what's been happening in Moscow recently!

Lets see, well after a month of intense practising we finally did our Summer concert and the kids were amazing and sang their little hearts and did a fantastic job and well thank god it's all over!!!  :)
We also celebrated the Jubilee and made scones and cucumber sandwiches and had a tea party.  In order to make it more exciting and inspire some writing  we told the children the Queen would be attending our party.  So the kids came up with questions to ask her and we gave Collette one of the queen face masks and a crown and a silly accent! Anyway Miss Hannah (who speaks Russian) told us that when she came in some of the kids were saying in Russian the equivalent of  calling us 'deceivers'! And one girl branded me a 'big liar' !  I think British children are a bit more gullible than ours.  In England they believed I was the real Big Bad Wolf for goodness sake and my only disguise was some ears and a tail! Well I'm sure they will get over it so i told them that if they go to London they might meet the Queen!  hmmm I feel that one coming back to haunt me one day!
Giant stamps
her Majesty in Mosaic!

Last weekend we went out to visit a Dacha (Dacha (Russianда́чаIPA: [ˈdatɕə] ( listen)) is a Russian word for seasonal or year-round second homes often located in the exurbs of Soviet and post-Soviet cities.Dachas are very common in Russia, and are also widespread in most parts of theformer Soviet Union. It is estimated that about 50% of Russian families living in large cities have dachas.[1])
It belongs to the parents of a friend of ours so we all went out fr his birthday.  Despite the terrible weather it was great fun and lots of shashlik (russian kebab) and vodka was consumed and it was so nice to get out of the city and see plants growing!  

Today is Russia day (Russia Day (День России Den Rossii) is a holiday, somewhat similar to independence day, celebrated on June 12. On this day, in 1990, Russian parliament formally declared Russian sovereignty from the USSR).  so we have had 3 days off although had to work on Sat to make up for this.  There are anti-Putin protests going on right now in various places around the city.
 not my photo!

Yesterday we went to visit Moose Park a huge and seemingly very unknown national park just on the edge of Moscow.  Well you can imagine my excitement on thinking I might see a Moose!   So myself, Collette and Darren packed a picnic and some ice cold beers with visions of grassy knolls and grazing Moose!  Alas it was not quite to be such an experience.   We did find it and it was beautiful,  big silver birches and endless forest.  However due to the rain the day before it was also a breeding ground for a ridiculous amount of mosquitos.  Not liking to be defeated we ventured in anyway for a very long walk.  We tried to stop twice to eat but got attacked by the biggest mosquitos ever so had to eat on the run.  By the time we emerged two hours later I was covered in giant welts and everyone was a bit 'on edge!' I also had the unfortunate experience of needing the loo so had to venture off the path into the forest where the really mean mosquitos lived and have a wee.  I nearly cried and had to try and wee whilst swatting mossies away which is not good for balance!  Anyway might go back when the snow comes, I am determined to see a Moose!  In the morning before this i went for my first run in three months!!  Today my legs have seized up and it hurts!!!:(

Giant mosquito bite on face!

And that is that for now...  we have 2 and a half weeks left then I will be coming home!!  wow...this year has gone so ridiculously  fast!!

See you soon xx

oh and my plants grew!!!  

Monday, 14 May 2012

From Moscow to Morocco

So another term has flown by.  Absolutely no memory of what happened in long term memory appears to be diminishing at an alarming rate!  Both my TA's have caught be talking to myself at work quite animatedly and I can only assume that this along with memory loss means I am slowly turning into my mum...oh dear!! (Love you mum!)
But it ended with my brother and two of his mates coming out to Moscow for a long weekend...a worrying amount of vodka was consumed unsuprisingly and I have hideous memories of being dragged around the cosmonaught museum with a nasty hangover on a very hot day.  I do think space is amazing but after the 50th model of a satellite with a hangover you just want to end it all.  Luckily they had these lovely big red armchairs through the museum so all i had to do was walk extra fast until the next one then have a wee sit until Giles was ready.
So yes the sun has finally come to Moscow and it is amazing amazing. I really love this city in the sun.  I love it in the snow too, it's just the grey bits in between that are not so nice!   i have even planted my own window box although the soil in it has been there with no plants growing in it for at least 3 years so i'm not 100% sure anything will grow..not sure if soil has a sell by date!!  There is a gnome too though so if notihng grows I will just buy some more gnomes! 

Anyhoo holidays finally came and Hannah my TA and I jetted off ( well as much as you can jet when you are on BMI..( pizza wraps for a meal.. the cheek of it!) to Morocco to visit my friend Sophia who is working at a guesthouse right on the beach down from Agadir.  (With a quick nights stopover in The London to say hello to the little Lovegroves and the ancient Matriarch Lovegrove ( love you mum! ))

We were met at the airport by our pre arranged 'grand taxi' as they call them in Morocco. Obviously grand in morocco has a total different meaning as half the bumper was falling off, Hannah's side of the seat was full of mud and when we got in the driver handed us our window handles to attach!  Anyway  2 and a half hours later after some scary scary overtaking on dogdy 1 track road type scenarios (plus forced listening to the driver's chris de burg CD)  we arrived at lovely Mirleft a tiny seaside town.  

4 nights spent on the Beach at the wonderful Aftas Beach house with a gorgeous sandy beach right on our doorstep was just what i needed and we passed the time sunbathing, swimming, reading, sightseeing and eating lobster, lattes and tagines!   Oh and we also went to the local hamman ( only tourists there) and got scrubbed to within an inch of our lives and then covered in mud in a giant steam room whilst only wearing our pants by an equally naked little moroccan woman.   It was alarming but very nice and I think the local women had a right old laugh watching us! 
 We then got same grand taxi ( as he was a scary but safe driver for morocco apparently) 4 hours to Marrakech.   He was kind enough to play the same CD mix for us  although to my delight it also had cat Stevens on (I'm not being sarcastic now) who to my horror Hannah had never heard of  and alarmingly on listening to did not like.  Poor girl... i think the driver appreciated my rendition of 'Ooh baby it's a wild world!'  although by the 4th time the CD played even I had felt perhaps it was not such a wild world!

We then spent two nights in a bit of a luxury Riyad type resort  with not just a pool but a 'slate'pool.... ooh it was so fancy.  Due to it being change over week or something we were virtually the only guests there and had the sole attention of one crazy waiter who kept smuggling us extra chocolate croissants and fresh orange juice at brekkie whilst the slightly power hungry French manager was around the corner.   We spent an afternoon in Marrakech in the medina..did a nice bit of batering and made it out with only one slightly alarming incident when a shop keeper under the pretence of tying some blue scarf around my head in a long winded and lengthy fashion used this as an opportunity to rub himself up against my back with his little friend!!  It took a little while for me to realise exactly what was happening , as well you really don't expect that in a shop do you!  Anyway you can be sure I did not buy his scarf and promptly ran away, whilst he grinned away! Honestly!!

So back in Russia now ...7 more weeks then 1 year In Moscow will be done!  I am coming back next year for 1 more...eeek!  Hopefully see you all in the summer as I will be home at start of July and then in August!
 (Tash i know you are probably hyperventilating about the typos and lack of commas but i have been at school for 11 hours and just cannot do it!!!  feel free to fix it i know it makes you happy! :)  

Monday, 2 April 2012

Let it thaw, let i thaw, let it thaw!

Wow so time has been flying by and my blog has been on my to do list for ooh 3 months... procrastination was always one of my best skills! 

St Patricks day, Moscow

So as you can see i survived the Russian winter even though it's still snowing! The Russians celebrated the arrival of spring about a month and a half ago with Maslenitza ( Pancake week...a whole week of eating pancakes.. great idea) which was a Pagan Sun festival initially to celebrate the imminent end of winter!  Considering during the week of Maslenitza it was about -15 and was snowing and it still is now I wonder if the word imminet means something else in Russia!!  I think the coldest we got was down to -30 but i don't know it did not seem all that bad. But then my house is right next to my school as is my gym and the supermarket so my outside footfall was kind of pathetic compared to that of the hundreds of snow sweeper men and women who spend all day outside shovelling pathways through the city.  They are hardcore people and have my full respect especially the ones i saw without gloves!! I would be a terrible snow sweeper!  Even more worrying is the 100,00 homeless people who live in Moscow and how on earth they deal with such temperatures. I went with a friend who works for a charity to help out with a sandwich van last week that feeds the homeless and it made you realise how incredibly lucky you are to even have some gloves yet alone a warm house and food.

I've also been to visit an orphanage where another friend works.  A group of expats went out there to meet the children with the plan to go on regualr basis and play games and teach a little bit of English.  The children were all so polite and smiley and compared to what I was imagining it was a fairly nice building although i think this was a privatley run orphanage and many of the state run ones are perhaps not so nice.  It was a lovely day and we think the children really enjoyed it although it was sobering to know that i think the statistic I was told was something like 70 % of orphans in Russia will grow up to be alcoholics and drug addicts, criminals, prostitutes or commit suicide. Many of them are also social orphans which means that 1 or both of their parents may be alive but unable to care for them. 

School is going well and I have an amazing new shiny interactive smartboard which has cut my resource making time in half.... ohhhhh I love it!

I have also very recently made the  decision to stay another year ahhhh!!   I did ALOT of thinking and went slighty barmy deciding to stay or go.  I never thought I would stay even a year but as it turns out Russia is not all that bad.  I did think of going somewhere a bait balmier with natural vitamin D and more opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex ...but i thought no I'd prefer another cold dark winter being a spinster!! Wonderful!! :) But my job is good and I am saving enough so hopefully I can have a nice 6 months off and write that book I'm always banging on about somewhere tropical with a studmuffin bringing me cocktails and fanning me with palm leaves!
Actually am looking forward to summer in Mosscow lots as when the sun does come out its so wonderful and the city despite it's smog towers and hideous dirt is kind of charming!

Pouteen N ight
What else..oooh i went skiing in France in the last holiday which was so wonderful and it was sunny everyday and I ate copious ( perhaps even life threatning amounts) of cheese in many different forms...raclette, a spoon, off a fork, off a knife.. with my finger... ohhh it was fromage heaven! And my flatmates brother runs a bar there so there were copious amounts of free drinks..!

Miss Natahsa Newman came out for a visit too which was loverly and my brother and his mates are coming out in 4 weeks for my next holiday ....could be dangerous... 3 married men let loose from their families for the weekend ... I'm not responsible for any wodka induced antics Susannah!!!  Just buy him some insurance!

Ok it's been at least 40 mins since I last watched an episode of the Big Bang Theory so i better go before the shakes start!

mwa mwas miss you all !! xxx

Monday, 16 January 2012

Back to it!

So after a gorgeous Cornish Christmas ( with lots of loafing, cheese eating and port drinking) and a New Year in London it was back to Russia.  It was so lovely seeing everyone.  It was also a novelty to chat to people at tills, be able to catch a bus and know where the hell i was going and not get chased by packs of wild dogs!  (ok that has not actually happened yet but according to my perhaps slightly ominous guidebook it's only a matter of time and coming back from the cinemas the other day i swear these two stray dogs were eyeing me up with intention to chase. Obviously i used my degree in Animal Behaviour to communicate with them through mere eye movements that this would be a mistake on their part!)
Anyway so after such a lovely time it was actually quite hard coming back to reality and I was a little bit sad to leave dear old Blighty!  One good thing is that is has properly snowed now and Moscow does look a lot more beautiful under a blanket of white.  It's still only -2 which really does not feel all that cold, however, i see it's going to be -8 on Thurs so perhaps the real winter is on it's way as it's supposed to be much, much colder than this right now according to the Russians.
I am religiously taking my vitamin D tablets as due to the fact it does not get light till about 9.50am and is dark early we only see the sun for 45 mins a day when we take the kids out ( that's if the sun is even out).
On Saturday i woke up at 10.20 and was so excited as the sun was streaming in the window so i rushed to open my balcony door and stood there in my rather little  dressing gown trying to soak up as many rays as possible despite the fact it was -2!  It's very icy and have seen a number of hilarious and some not so hilarious falls.  One poor lady had fallen and her ankle was at a very scary 45 degree angle.  I have had a few near slips ( apparently skechers' tone your butt as you walk' snow boots have no grip!) but not fallen yet fingers crossed!

Saturday was also my Birthday celebrations.  6 years ago someone leant me a book to take travelling in Sri Lanka called The Master and The Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.  I remember it being one of those books that I was addicted to and could not put down until it was finished.  It starts with someone falling under a tram at a place in Moscow called Patriarch's Pond and being decapitated.. ( nice!).  I can honestly say i never imagined then I would ever be celebrating my 31st birthday in a tiny little restaurant next to Patriarch's Pond called cafe Margarita!  It was such a lovely night with the restaurant being the size of someone's living room and a piano player and 2 violinists playing through the meal. And my present from everyone at school was my favourite.... yes a massage!!:)   And then it was onto a club where things got a bit less sophisticated and er well can't remember much apart from dancing lots and perhaps some vodka!Oh and perhaps trying to leave without paying our bar tab because we could not see the waitress and figured they  might just have forgotton about a large table of people! We all made it downstairs apart from Darren who got stopped by the bouncers so we had to go back and rescue him and pay our dues! ooops   I tried really hard to go ice skating the next day as planned and even paid for my ticket but my body at the last minute decided it might be a wee bit dangerous to attempt this.

Hmm ooh and in another attempt to fight the darkness I joined a gym!! Yes me!!  I know i have joined gyms before but i only ever used the pool or sauna and never ventured into the alarming terrain of the actual machine room.  And there was that one step aerobic lesson with Tash which ended with me leaving early with an old woman due to lack of coordination!  But Collette my flat mate ( and a proficient gym user!) is showing me the ropes and tonight i went on a  cross trainer and a running machine!  Now i thought i was quite fit and due to the fact i generally only ever feel about 20  i was quite alarmed when Colette ( who is 23) seemed to have a bit more stamina!  That will change out! :(  31 i tell you it's depressing!  Our gym is brand new and really nice but it is also a fight club and the main clientel appear to be male gym bunnies. You would think this sounds good but they are like extreme body builders ( body builders TV is the only thing on in there.. so gross!  I think the men might think perhaps these two English girls are in there admiring them but actually our conversations go a little along the lines of ' Ew look at him... that is totally gross why would you want muscles that big.. imagine when he's old and stops working out!' Hoping none of them speak English.  Anyway soon we will have an induction with Alex who is one of said gym bunnies and despite his scarily disgusting huge muscles is a very nice man!

Anyway time for bed i think school again tomorrow... 7 weeks and counting!!  Oh and if anyone is on skype call me anytime I love to see your gorgeous faces!  boediddley is my user name!

From Russia with love Boe Boe x