Friday, 10 May 2013

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Dear Readers,

I fear this blog is drawing to its natural conclusion! I am safely back in Blighty, surrounded by my lovely family in my cosy house in the peaceful North London suburb that is my neck of the woods.

My last full day in Russia went pretty well: my final day in class was spent watching an old Soviet comedy film called "Kidnapping Caucassian Style or Shurik's New Adventures", writing in the guestbook and saying goodbye to teachers and admin assistants. They wrote out a nice certificate saying my Russian is B1+/B2 level (which I have lost in the chaos that is my room at the moment), and have sent me a nice reference about the internship which I surely don't deserve.

After school, by my request, some friends and I went for lunch at a Georgian restaurant called Cat which is just round the corner from the school, and I got a last bite of my favourite cheesy bread and chicken stew. Afterwards we strolled round Dom Knigi and I picked up a copy of Master & Margarita (in English - cheat!), a Georgian cookbook (for cheesy bread re-creation at home), and some Serbian-Russian parallel text phrasebooks just for giggles. A friend showed me the way to the game shop where I bought 2 versions of Dixit - a super-cool card game that revolves around your own creativity, storytelling ability and some very beautiful picture cards.

That evening I had a few guests over for drinks but most went home early; most of the students were off on a trip to Peterhof the next day as the weather had cheered up significantly. I went out with 2 others to the party district Dumskaya, where we went to a bar that I frankly found awful (DJ played the same set twice I think, only good points were Marilyn Manson's cover of Tainted Love and some Muse song). I spent about an hour sleeping with my head on the bar or on a table in the corner and dragged my sorry self home once I woke up at about 4am. I'm so glad most of my friends in the UK enjoy the same Rock/Alternative club nights I do! Don't have to pretend to dance awkwardly to dreadful pop-music in a club full of creepy Russian men :D At least not if I can help it...

On Saturday another guy from my class shared a taxi with me to the airport: after security I didn't see him still the luggage carousel at the other end as he swanned off to business class. Pardon me for sounding bitter, once I'd had a taste of the luxuries of queue-jump, leg-room and better food I find it hard to go back to the harsh realities of hour-long waits to check-in etc. The flight went uneventfully aside from helping a few Russians fill out their landing cards. D + A met me at the airport, and whisked me home for a treat dinner of Chinese takeaway (oh crispy duck, how I've missed you!).

I almost can't believe I've only been home a week, it feels like much longer probably because I've been out a lot and got a lot done:

- Sunday: met my friend in London in the afternoon, went to Paul's bakery for hot chocolate, walked along the Southbank and around Westminister, and ended up in Picadilly at Ed's Diner talking about punk over bottomless glasses of fizzy drinks.
- Monday: tutored a girl in Russian, saw Nina Conti the ventriloquist comedienne (click for YouTube) with A in the evening, got covered in dead puppet
- Tuesday: saw my counsellor, wandered around Enfield town phone-shopping and came back instead with a large chunk of ham from Lidl and some brown pitta bread (mmm proper brown bread, how I've missed you!), went to a Russian evening courtesy of A's Russian classmate - we drank wine, talked almost exclusively in Russian and sang Russian songs. More Russian than Russia I reckon!
- Wednesday: got my hair cut, bopped about Camden and got a wicked Katsu curry at Tanakatsu in the Stables Market (just behind the guy with a hammer and anvil), and some tasty-good ice-cream at Chin Chin Laboratorists (Europe's first liquid Nitrogen ice-cream parlour, stick that in your pipe and lick it)
- Thursday: after much deliberation decided on and bought a phone online. Wished it would hurry up and arrive, I'm so excited to meet my HTC Desire X! It even has an X in the name and that's how I know it's going to be cool :P Found the most gorgeous suitcases. In the evening I went belly dancing. I'm so out of practice and ungraceful, I kicked a girl in the shin twice while attempting the Arabesques! My shimmy needs much work.
- Today: bought a case and a memory card for aforementioned new ruler of my life, plus some headphones to replace my free-on-a-bus-tour "What do you mean treble?" current pair. Booked massage appointment to sort out angry shoulder, which is angry. Went to the Nightingale Cancer Support Centre shop to ask for my old position back, was immediately given 2 shifts and asked if I could help out right that very moment. I stayed all afternoon, then came home to discover The Great British Bake Off - mmm hot guy and cake-baking, two of my favourite things.
- Tomorrow: I am going to volunteer in the morning and dance the night away to the tune of Jaya the Cat.

I'm completely destroying my to-do list like a killer whale destroys seals. So as you can see, my life has taken a turn for the better since I came back to the UK; I'm feeling healthier in mind and body, and if I had a soul I'm sure it'd feel spiffing too.

I hope wherever you are that life is good, and that if it isn't good that it's going to get better soon :)

Best wishes, many thanks to all of you who read this blog if it was just one post or if you consumed the lot. You made me feel less alone in the wilderness of my year abroad, just seeing some numbers on my blog stats (over 5600 pageviews since I started) that said some people knew and cared. Before I start to get all emotional on you I'll bid you goodbye and good luck!

So long, and thanks for all the fish,
Lois x

Thursday, 2 May 2013

An Approximation of Happiness

I am feeling almost happy now, because I know I'm going home on Saturday (in a few minutes time it'll be tomorrow). That knowledge, plus the encouragement of friends, has helped me seize the day more while I'm here and motivated me to do some fun stuff that I'd kept putting off because I'd 'do it next week'.

Fun things included:

  • Staying in a nightclub till it closed at 6am (in Russia they close so late because the bridges go up around 1am and don't go down until about 5am)
  • Skanking along Nevsky Prospekt after said occurence
  • Going to Tkachi (the cool shopping centre) to buy the awesome button-down-shirt-rucksack and a few souvenirs
  • A picnic on the beach on Krestovsky Island with my friends
  • Fondue (well, it was raclette in the end) evening, and also a taco evening on a different night, at Lisa's
  • Tried bubble tea - delicious!
  • Lovely veggie dinner at the Botanki vegetarian restaurant
  • Homemade Mojitos, Margharitas and karaoke at another mate's house
So I've been busy drinking and eating and shopping and singing and dancing it would seem!

Future intentions include:
  • Farewell party tomorrow night of some variety
  • Booking appointments to improve all aspects of wellbeing: haircut, massage, counsellor, dentist etc.
  • Making arrangements to see my friends and family back in the UK
  • Planning my trip to visit my brother in Stockholm in July
  • Picking new suitcases for doing said travelling with - birthday present from D & A
  • Buying a new tent for the summer's festivals (my old one is falling apart and covered in vegetarian chili that I haven't cleaned off since Boomtown, ain't nobody got time for that)
  • Hitting the gym and the cycling hard, and eating healthier - gonna show my now-diabetic D some solidarity and join him and A in qutting eating puddings at home
  • Picking some new curtains to finish off the pimping of my bedroom
That's all I've thought of so far, but look at all that awesome stuff that's gonna get done: heck yeah.

Also I am so excited to open all the packages that should be waiting for me when I get home!

Night night, probably see you on the other side of Europe!