Russia part 4: Moscow: Power, Politics and Patriots

“You must remember that there was virtually no air travel in the early 1930s. Africa was two weeks away from England by boat and it took you about five weeks to get to China. These were distant and magic lands and nobody went to them just for a holiday. You went there to work. Nowadays you can go anywhere in the world in a few hours and nothing is fabulous anymore.”

Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl

The Russian Federation
Seems I’ve not covered much ground in the Russian Federation.
Midnight. Every now and then a sharp whistle and a flash or two of light illuminated the cabin from the crack in the window blind. I lay on my narrow top bunk in a state of semi-sleep. The train rolled south, the clank and blatter of machinery somehow peaceful. I slept. Smoked fish, pine forests and icons visited me in my dreams all the way to the capital.

Moscow. A city of squeaky-clean-newness, works-like-clockwork-efficiency, labels and bling.

Why? Like every proper W.A.G., Moscow has found a perfectly good reason for a make-over –  FIFA World Cup Football 2018. Continue reading Russia part 4: Moscow: Power, Politics and Patriots

Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam

Petrozavodsk
Onego Lake Embankment, Petrozavodsk

“For this I weep all my days
and throughout my lifetime grieve
that I swam from my own lands
and came from familiar lands
towards these strange doors
to these foreign gates.”

The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot

The train stopped. The announcer spoke first in Russian then in English. Five minutes, she said. 10:37. I looked out the window. Travellers poured out onto the platform and lit up. Venders met them with trays of smoked fish and wild berries. I watched smokers cough into their berry breakfasts and then rush back onto the train. It jerked back into action, leaving the sleepy hollow of Svir. 10:42. Five minutes exactly. Continue reading Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam

Russia part 2: Saint Petersburg

“Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something.

From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming

Our first view of Saint Petersburg (pronounced Sankt Pyterborrg or just Pyterborrg by Russians) was from the window of the Meteor (hydrofoil vessel) from Peterhof. A cheerful, high pitched woman’s voice shrieked and crackled over the loudspeaker in Russian – no doubt telling us the mysteries and wonders of Saint Petersburg. However, the Meteor was packed full of Chinese tourists and we three auspicious caucasians squished like sardines in among them.

Nobody had any idea what she was saying. Continue reading Russia part 2: Saint Petersburg

Russia Part 1: Pavlovsk, Pushkin and Peterhof

“If so, better let him be named after his father. His father was Akaky, so let the son also be Akaky. Thus it was that Akaky Akakievich cam about. As the child was being baptised, he cried and made such a face as if he anticipated that he would be a titular councillor.”

The Overcoat by Nicholai Gogol

A South African in RussiaIt seems that Putin and Zuma have formed an unholy alliance. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I hear your groans. I see your rolled eyes.

But there is a silver lining.

As of 31st March 2017, South Africans have visa-free travel to Russia and Belorussia.  If you itch to travel the world and experience different cultures, now is your chance. Go! Go to Mother Russia! Continue reading Russia Part 1: Pavlovsk, Pushkin and Peterhof

Lacking the creative juices

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The great artist in the sky is poised, pencil in hand, en train de dessiner.

He is drawing me.

Imagine the cartoon me. I’m sketchy and one-dimensional at present. I sit on a park bench along the Thames in the shade of a great plane tree. Millions of bottoms before me have sat on this very bench. Seagulls fly and cry high above me. Ducks drift past on the tide. I sit. I stare. Continue reading Lacking the creative juices

A schvitzing summer

“As I sat in the bath tub, soaping a meditative foot and singing, if I remember correctly, ‘Pale Hands I Loved Beside the Shalimar,’ it would be deceiving my public to say that I was feeling boomps-a-daisy.”

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P.G. Wodehouse

#Allotmentlife

I love a good transferred epithet. I spent a restless night. I hauled my embarrassed bikini out of the cupboard. It’s happy hour.

They say a lot about my life.

Today this schvitzing summer was broken a little by a cool breeze and some welcome rain (did you see what I did there?). Many South Africans dub England ‘Mud Island’ and complain constantly about cold wet weather …

But Hubby will tell you that’s all lies and propaganda. Continue reading A schvitzing summer

Of birthdays, bouquets, blue skies and overtime

“And thus ever by day and night, under the sun and under the stars, climbing the dusty hills and toiling along the weary plains, journeying by land and journeying by sea, coming and going so strangely, to meet and to act and react on one another, move all we restless travellers through the pilgrimage of life.”

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

This is a story of blue nail polish. Not blue meaning sad. Not blue to keep with my blog title. Blue nail polish.

It was a sunny day in Pennington on the Natal South Coast. I was visiting my grandparents who live there. Later in the day we were planning to meet my aunt for a coffee and a slice of cheesecake. My aunt has appointed herself National Cheesecake Taster. Continue reading Of birthdays, bouquets, blue skies and overtime