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BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home

jayohjo 29 Dec 00 - 07:15 PM
Margaret V 30 Dec 00 - 09:33 AM
Terry K 30 Dec 00 - 01:29 PM
jayohjo 30 Dec 00 - 06:15 PM
roopoo 31 Dec 00 - 03:21 AM
zander (inactive) 31 Dec 00 - 04:36 AM
roopoo 01 Jan 01 - 03:58 AM
sophocleese 01 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM
Sorcha 01 Jan 01 - 07:30 PM
jayohjo 02 Jan 01 - 06:08 PM
roopoo 03 Jan 01 - 02:44 AM
Terry K 03 Jan 01 - 03:21 AM
sledge 03 Jan 01 - 04:26 AM
jayohjo 07 Jan 01 - 07:13 PM
roopoo 08 Jan 01 - 01:57 AM
Hollowfox 10 Jan 01 - 02:23 PM
sophocleese 10 Jan 01 - 02:59 PM
MMario 10 Jan 01 - 05:06 PM
jayohjo 18 Jan 01 - 07:51 PM
Sorcha 18 Jan 01 - 07:55 PM
jayohjo 18 Jan 01 - 08:00 PM
Margaret V 18 Jan 01 - 10:34 PM
sophocleese 18 Jan 01 - 10:40 PM
roopoo 19 Jan 01 - 02:22 AM
jayohjo 19 Jan 01 - 11:34 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jan 01 - 02:24 PM
Dave the Gnome 19 Jan 01 - 02:27 PM

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Subject: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 29 Dec 00 - 07:15 PM

Well, I heven't posted for a very long time, cos I've been down in London on people's floors for a while, but I'm home in Yorkshire for Christmas and it's beeyootiful.

However, the point of the thread is that on the 20th January I'm off again to the north of Russia, living with a Russian family and teaching English in a school there, for five months - I'm soooo excited, but also kinda nervy - anyone out there been to Russia, or has any useful words on travel and general uprooting of self?

jay


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Margaret V
Date: 30 Dec 00 - 09:33 AM

jayohjo, I wish I could say I've been to Russia and fill the page with good advice... but, since I haven't, I'll just say I hope you have a grand and adventurous sojourn there. All I know is that uprooting oneself is a good way to find out exactly how much of oneself is portable and how much is inextricably tied to the trappings of our normal surroundings -- things, places, routines, other people. "Trappings" sounds judgmental and I don't really mean it that way. But that hollow feeling you can get when alone in a hotel room really highlights the extent to which we tend to derive our feeling of self from our stuff and our environs (for me it's usually my guitar I'm missing...). But of course, you won't be alone in a hotel room, you'll be surrounded by a whole new set of people and things and ideas, some of which will no doubt add shape to your current sense of self. Have a ball! Margaret


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Terry K
Date: 30 Dec 00 - 01:29 PM

Caviar, blinis, smetana ahhhhhhh yes, I used to go to Russia. But I'm blessed with selective memory so won't presume to advise!

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 30 Dec 00 - 06:15 PM

Hurrah! I'm getting more excited by the day - and of course will be taking my brand new toy out there, so can come back with minidiscs full of Russian music!


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: roopoo
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 03:21 AM

My husband's back off to Russia on 3rd January. He's been working out there for about 5 years between Kyrghyzstan (ex-USSR), Rostov-on-Don and Kemerovo (Siberia). He has also had his own accommodation by renting apartments. The Russians are very welcoming, but go easy on the vodka if you can: they make lots of toasts at gatherings, and drink it straight. You will need to be fit for work! There are however some good beers if you look out for them, and Irish bars are popping up all over the place. If you are in a fairly large centre, you may find one. St Petersburg has a couple of good breweries. One makes a "porter" which he says is a dead ringer for Old Peculier! Bacon is virtually all fat 'cos that's how they like it. Skiing is cheap and available if you are in the hills - maybe cross-country if you aren't. Most cities have ice parks in the winter: they carve a recreation area in the ice and snow with slides and sculptures. The one they made in Kemerovo last year had coloured lights inside ice blocks. Most effective.

Be prepared for extreme cold. Get some silk thermals: he swears by them. He got his from a company called Patra, which does mail order, but Lands End do them too, and their delivery is fast. He wears a polartec(best quality fleece to get) 200 jacket zipped into a gore-tex coat. (He says polartec 300 would be too warm, but I wear a coat lined with that here! Depends how much you feel the cold). With layers underneath, this has done him very well. Make sure it covers your bum, tho'. He layers up with thermal vest, T-shirt or shirt, jersey then coat/s. You'll need warm footwear, thermals, warm hats, warm gloves and - vip - a scarf. If you are in an area with very dry cold, you must keep it over your nose and mouth to stop your breath freezing. It will also make it easier on breathing in. You didn't say where exactly you were going, and climate can vary somewhat, but at this time of year it will be cold by any standard compared with the UK. You will probably be able to buy some good fur-lined boots out there at a reasonable price if you have no objection to wearing it. Otherwise, get some thermal lined footwear. He manages quite well with ankle boots.

Of course, I've never been myself, and all this is gleaned from traveller's tales and shopping trips I've made with him.

Andrea

Most large places in Russia (or anywhere else, really) have ex-pats, and the Irish bars are a good place to try and find the community in your area. You will soon find them, and you can always ask around. Summer will eventually come, and depending where you are, can be quite hot too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 31 Dec 00 - 04:36 AM

I went to Russia once, it was shut. Best of luck, Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: roopoo
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 03:58 AM

It will be shut on 6th January for a day again - it's Christmas there. I daresay they may make a weekend of it! I think that is when my other half is intending to take himself off from Siberia to Kyrghyzstan for a bit of skiing in the Tienshen mountains and to check on the car he left in Bishkek. He is looking into the possibility of driving it across the Gobi desert into China in March when he transfers full-time to there. He says there is a good rail link and if the car (an old VW Golf) packs up, he'll carry on by public transport. He has already driven it across the steppes and back from Kyrghyzstan to Siberia and ran it around Kemerovo all last winter. He says its a reliable and economical car. Trouble was, he only had it on a temporary import licence, so he had to take it back to Bishkek before a year was up.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: sophocleese
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM

My mom went to Moscow University for four months a few years ago. She loved it and made some good friends. Take all the advice about dressing up for a colder climate than the UK gives you. Avoid pretty boots with no insulation. Bringing small gifts of very English, non-Russian, things is always a nice thing to do. Also pictures of your home and family to help them see the differences between where you are and where you've come from.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Sorcha
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 07:30 PM

Well, there should at least be snow there! My cousin hosted a Tour Group several years ago, she said they were all WONDERFUL people.......I think, that where ever you go, you will find what you are loooking for.......so be sure you know what you are looking for.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 06:08 PM

Wow, thanks so much - loads of useful info and general supportiveness (as always on the 'Cat!)

For those to whom it means anything, I'm going to Novgorod (about 100 miles south of St Petersburg I think) from January until who-knows-when - some time in the summer once the school term has finished and I've done a bit of travelling around!

Preparations are underway.....

JayXX


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: roopoo
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 02:44 AM

One of our local secondary schools has an exchange with Novgorod every year. The term starts next week, Tuesday I think, you could try phoning them for information. It's Brayton High School, Selby, N.Yorks. My next door neighbour's kid went one February and survived. It could be quite possibly a matter of learning to walk on hard-packed snow. If you are a native of the Pennines you should cope! I believe Novgorod means "Newtown" in case you are interested (new something or other, anyway).

Michael Palin called in at Novgorod on his Pole-to-Pole trip too. Day 31 of the trip. It is during his visit he says he experiences the "Night of a Thousand Toasts" at the Correspondents Club. "After each toast the glass must be drained". I did warn you! It will happen to you to some extent at some point. Will you be celebrating a birthday or anything? Dare you admit it? Reading down the chapter it seems that Novgorod has history, handsome buildings and around 200 small churches. It is twinned with Watford! There appears also to be a traditional "kissing dance" in the area. Have fun!

One thing you could do is to go to Waterstones or some other big book store (Borders too, if you can get to Leeds or York) and have a look at the travellers' guides. They are bound to have some info on climate etc. The only one I have here is on Central Asia, so it won't be any good.

I have not 45 minutes ago waved my other half off to Russia. He says he's definitely off skiing this weekend. I will be seeing him again in mid-March when the Russia job ends.

Andrea


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Terry K
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 03:21 AM

I definitely remember the toasts. I recall you would have three glasses at the dinner table, for vodka, white wine and water in increasing size. The toasts were all in vodka, which you were expected to "down in one".

Main trouble was that I could never resist sipping the vodka (probably more like gulping, truth to tell) between toasts and the waiter would immediately refill your glass so it was always full for the next toast. Recipe for disaster and the talking of bollocks.

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: sledge
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 04:26 AM

I worked for four winters in northern Russia and found that warmth and comfort are very important so get the best you can afford. The wind can be a killer so keep covered up when out and about, cheeks, ears and nose are especially vunerable to frost nip.

Depending on how far north you are, in the summer the rural areas can be mosquito hell, literaly clouds of them each time you put your foot down.

Don't flash money around the level of crime is high in the bigger cities. Try not to use unkown routes and you may have to be wary of invites from strangers you have just met in bars.

Your style of dress will mark you as a foreigner so expect to be started especialy in the more rural areas.

I found the people to be great, once you get to know each other expect lots of invites for vodka, meals and possibly more vodka. Generaly I found Russian food in our more out of the way areas to be prety bland so pack a good few bottles of something like Tobasco. The best brand of domestic beer is called Baltica, the differant strngths and styles are just given numbers so you ask for Baltica 9 etc. I found that they are alln very good. Vodka, the place seemed to be swamped with the stuff imported and domestic stuff usually all good. Try to steer clear of a brand called Russkaya though. This brand is an old communist effort to increase a cheap nsupply at the expense of quality by mixing grain and potato mash, yuck!

Music in general I found to be dissapointing, popular music seemed to mirror the worst of western synth pop.

Many Russians are heavy smokers. at least where I worked they were, so be prepared to be enveloped in a blue fug when at parties etc.

If I have painted a somewhat negative picture I'm sorry, I enjoyed my time over there and would go back again and again especially in the winter, (cheap cross country skis).

NOVOM GODOM

Sledge


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 07 Jan 01 - 07:13 PM

I don't think that's a negative picture to be honest, a very honest one though! It's great to hear so much enthusiasm from everyone though, even if sometimes it's 'honest' enthusiasm - I need to hear it all! Cheers very much, and na zdarovye too!

Jayohjo XX


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: roopoo
Date: 08 Jan 01 - 01:57 AM

Well put it this way - my old man didn't want to go to China, and actually started job-hunting for something that would keep him in Russia! Mind you, now he's had a couple of visits to China and got to know a lot of the other Europeans that he is working with, (his second in command is a Spaniard), he's happier. He is just moaning on about the £4 he's having to pay for what they call "draught Guinness" and which is the draughtflow canned stuff. He says some of the best Guinness he's had is in Russia and he says there are a lot of good small breweries springing up. I think he may try to make some homebrew while he's in China!

Andrea


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Hollowfox
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:23 PM

My father-in-law took a couple of boxes of ordinary, unsharpened pencils as gifts for children (one pencil per kid). They were a great success, and probably would be a good gift for some adults as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: sophocleese
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 02:59 PM

Well I'll be having dinner this weekend with a family that just came over from Siberia, I'll ask what they think would be good gift.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: MMario
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 05:06 PM

My niece just got back from a semester in Moscow. Her only complaints were - it was cold; and bland food. She also found that she was expected to bargain over price in many of the shops.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 07:51 PM

EEk! I'm all packed, and leaving the day after tomorrow...

SOOO many probs with the visa though, the Consulate *forgot* to post it to me, so someone in Edinburgh went and got it for me and it Arrived today - very scary!

Hugely excited though, and can't believe I've managed to get everything for 6 months (including melodeon) into hand luggage and big rucksack; it's all go now....

jayohjo XX


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Sorcha
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 07:55 PM

Forgot, my ass! LOL! Have a good time and CYA! (cover your ass) Be Careful, and report for de briefing when you can. All our love goes with you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 08:00 PM

Much love and thanks!


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Margaret V
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 10:34 PM

All the best, jayohjo (you really fit the melodeon?!). Send us a mudcat postcard if you get the chance. Margaret


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: sophocleese
Date: 18 Jan 01 - 10:40 PM

Bon voyage! Have fun! Come back safe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: roopoo
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 02:22 AM

Hope you get this in time!

Enjoy yourself and keep us posted with all you find out there. "His lordship" has only made it into Siberia 2 days ago, after being in Moscow and then Kyrghyzstan, and has missed the worst of the cold although he was expecting -30 and said he could cope with that. He did say it might cause a problem for skiing at the weekend (-30 + windchill = aargh!) Anyway he's back to Moscow and Rostov on Monday and out to China at the end of next week.

Good luck!

Andrea


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: jayohjo
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 11:34 AM

Wahey! Will definitely keep y'all posted, I leave tomorrow morning (it's only half past four pm yet here) and then fly the morning after that - and Margaret V, I can't believe I managed the melodeon either! Am a little worried as to whether I'll be able to carry it all tho....

jayohjo XX


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 02:24 PM

Good luck - dunno the spelling but I think the phonetics are dos vidanya

DtG (Who believe it or not could speak fluent Russian until he was 5!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Farewell my snowy Pennine home
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jan 01 - 02:27 PM

I shold have said <>and dos vidanya - goodbye, see ya, tarrah, whatever. (Unless of course that is Polish - which I spoke as well - ah well, so many years ago.)


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