Saturday, 13 May 2017

Passports sorted, what next?

We decided to go away for the weekend to see how we got on with important things like snoring!! In lots of ways the weekend was a disaster, but we got on well with each other and the snoring from both of us was moderate.  We spent Saturday afternoon in Bath at the Christmas Fair.  It was crowded and rainy.  I bought a wooden puzzle of Britain for my grandson and my friend bought a jar of pickle.  The rain got worse and we decided to go into the Abbey.  It seemed that everyone had the same idea.  We filled the Abbey where a carol service was just beginning. We made our soggy way back to the bus stop but had to wait for our coach to come.  We drove for an hour to an hotel.  This was fine for the night but breakfast was a shambles and we missed out on toast.  Next we journeyed to the Cotswolds which was fine.  When we arrived at our home bus stop we thought our problems were over but the taxi took us several miles out of our way before we were able to put him right.  We were meant to go to Heathfield, Honiton and he was taking us to Newton Abbot. It was a problemtical weekend but it proved we could stay friends in those conditions.

I hadn't travelled by train for several years so this was an adventure in itself.

First I had to cope with the ticket machine.I made a mess of putting in my password. I was either pressing the letters and numbers too hard or too soft.  Eventually I mastered it and walked away with my tickets, only to find a young lady chasing after me because I had left some tickets behind. Having survived this I crossed over the bridge and waited for my train.  I am always excessively early for things like this.  I boarded the train and had an uneventful ride to Plymouth.  I soon found my way by foot to the place I knew I would find the Mayflower building. I had looked it up on the internet.  The building I had thought was the right one was clad in scaffolding and there seemed no way in.  Next door was The Salvation Army building so I decided to ask them for directions.  The building I wanted was on the other side of the S.A. building. I went in and asked the security man where I would find the passport office.  He directed me upstairs.  I took a look at the right door and then came away again as I was far too early to go in. After eating a pasty out of doors I returned to the passport office. I had imagined being questioned by two burly and aggressive men, but instead, happily I was spoken too by a pleasant woman of forty or fifty. We chatted about me.  She asked about my family, my children and my brother and sister.  After a while when she asked a question I was thinking, "Ah, so you know that information about me?" Soon the interview was over and she said I would get my  passport in 5 working days.  I went on a Wednesday and received my passport that Friday, two days later. It was all worthwhile the effort.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Getting a Passport

It took me three times to get my passport application filled out correctly.  The first time I presented it at the Post Office I realized my counter-signatory had allowed his signature to go outside of the box provided, so that was no good.  I returned to him a few days later with instructions to get it right!  I presented the new form to the Post Office only to find I had used the old date we had previously signed but a newer date elsewhere. Also I had not given my previous names in the right section.  You might think that I would give up, after all I had survived 69 years without foreign travel!  But no, I was determined.  A third attempt was successful.  But now there was another hurdle to be jumped.  After a few days I received a letter stating that as  this was my first ever application for a passport I would have to have an interview.  This was to take place in Plymouth.  I arranged a date and then set about getting a train ticket for Plymouth.  I did this on the internet.  I will tell you more of my intrepid travelling soon.

Finding a travelling Companion

About two years previously to me deciding I wanted to go to Russia, a friend had asked me if I would go to Canada with her.  It was a lovely idea but far too expensive so we had shelved the idea unless I came in for a windfall, an unexpected amount of cash coming my way.  The cost of going to Russia was much more achievable.  I asked my friend to accompany me not really expecting her to want to come.  At first she was taken aback but soon became very interested and we began looking at brochures together.  Eventually be decided on a company called Titan who were doing a boat trip from St Petersburg to Moscow down the rivers and canals.  It was an 11 day trip and although it was dearer than some 7 or 8 day holidays it took you through more scenery and interesting places and provided breakfast, lunch and dinner, whereas the other apparently cheaper holidays were hotel, bed and breakfast, so one had to find other meals. Having decided what we wanted to do we had to get passports.  I had never had one and my friend had not had one since about the seventies. I will tell you about this next time.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Taking a look in a holiday brochure

I was becoming more and more interested in taking a holiday in Russia.  I was sure I couldn't afford it but I thought I would just send off for a brochure.  Just to see what there was available.  Nothing serious. So I took a look and then my brain started to work on what savings I could make in my usual expenditure.  I had an abundance of clothes so I didn't need to buy more in the next year.  I was also sure I could save on my heating in the winter.  I looked up on the internet what a healthy O.A.P should have for room temperature and it was a lot lower than I had had it in the previous winter. So there were two good savings I could make.  It's amazing what you can do when you really want something. I have never been out of the British Isles so now I needed a travelling companion.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A fascinating Russian

To improve my pronunciation and vocabulary I decided to watch Russian T.V. online. While doing this I came across a wonderful Russian.  He is a fifteen year-old boy(then 14) who was taking part in Russian T.V.'s version of The Voice. His name is Danil Pluzhnikov.  He is an amazing singer who sings with passion and emotion unusual in one so young.  He is someone who has suffered himself and knows how to express great emotion and empathy because of this. Danil suffers from a form of dwarfism.  He is 98cms tall that is 3foot2ins. He has problems walking. But Danil does not sit down and let life beat him, instead he sings to comfort and help.  Recently after the St. Petersburg terror attack Danil sang to a huge crowd in Moscow who had come together to show support for their sister city.  I attach a link to this below.  Danil is an important part of my gradual determination to go to his country. In this link Danil sings about rising above problems. " People may beat us down but still we fly." This could be the song of all Russians.  through adversity they still continue to flourish.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

All because of Kindle

Beware when you look at Kindle for a free book to download, you never know where it will lead.  About eighteen months ago  I decided to look for a free read on Kindle.  Browsing through the titles I came across a book on Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. This is someone I had often thought of reading about and so I downloaded the e-book.  I enjoyed the book and went on to another free read about Peter the Great of Russia.  I found him a fascinating character.  By now I was interested in the common people of Russia as they were the ones who built St Petersburg and the boats for the country's navy, although it seems that Peter was also hands on when it came to making a navy. Russia was beginning to get into my blood.  At the time I was wasting a lot of time playing Spider Solataire on my PC.  I decided to look for something more beneficial to do with my time.  That is when I decided to learn Russian!!  Surely this was a good way to understand the people of Russia better.  I turned to the internet and looked for free courses and found Byki4 also known as Transparent language.  This uses flash cards and audio. Soon I knew a lot of vocabulary but not much grammar.  tomorrow I will continue the story.