Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

Archive for friendship

Russia 2019, part 1

So, all overseas trips start with the flight; we flew Alitalia, which was ok, but they screwed up our seat bookings, so we were not able to sit together, Charles got a seat across the aisle from me, and I sat next to Thandi, which would have been fine, except there was one of those inconsiderates in front of me, who pushed her seat all the way back as soon as she could and I was completely squished for the entire flight. I think I maybe caught about half an hour of sleep… We landed in Rome, which is a pleasant airport, while we waited for our next flight to Moscow, this one was to be on Aeroflot. Can I just say that I think this was the best flight I’ve ever been on, for one, they made a huge fuss of Thandi, and she got an activity bag, and secondly we were served our meal with real metal cutlery! Wow! Our friend, MB fetched us from the airport once we landed and before we knew it we were safely at our friends’ home in Rosinka, an international compound. TJ had prepped supper and had wine open and waiting for us! After a delicious dinner, we collapsed into bed, ready for our holiday to start!

THURSDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER

Our friends have been living in Moscow for over a year now, and TJ has embraced ex pat living, and as a family they have explored the city and surrounds extensively, so we were blessed to have our own tour guide. I think this entire experience would have been overwhelming without someone who knew how the metro worked and spoke a little of the language to show us around. TJ also had some good insider tips and tricks, really helpful!

Our first excursion took us into the city, where we started our tour at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This church was destroyed in the revolution, and the plan was for a skyscraper to be built on its site, however, the failed to materialise, so a public pool was constructed. After the fall of the USSR, this church was reconstructed. It is beautiful, with a high colonnade from which you can view the city. We were blown away that it was completed in 1997, yet looks like it could have stood there for centuries.

views from the upper walkway around the cathedral towers.

From here, we walked along the Moscva river towards the Kremlin, and we then meandered through the Alexander gardens, running alongside it. And then we turned a corner, headed up a little cobbled street and all of a sudden, we were there, Red Square! With its iconic views of the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, the GUM, and the historic museum, I had to pinch myself a few times.

St Basil’s remains arguably the most recognisable building of Moscow, with its colourful, onion domed towers. It actually represents the amalgamation of 9 small chapels, each with its own tower. I had always wondered about the shape of the domes on Russian Orthodox churches, assuming some Islamic influence, but learnt that they were shaped to look like a flame on a candle. The colours on St Basil’s domes were only added in the 1800’s.

As we started shivering, we decided to head towards the GUM, an enormous shopping mall, filled with all the fanciest and grandest of stores. I mean, how many malls these days have historic toilets, where its costs  200 rubles to spend a penny? An indulgent expense, but we did feel super fancy having a wee! The mall is also known for their ice cream (I know, go figure, its winter for 8 months of the year there, but the Russians love their ice cream!) and we treated Thandi to one – blueberry, delicious!

Lunch was in a traditional Russian restaurant, Varenichnaya, it is staged to recall all the Soviet quirks – the fabric on the chairs was the fabric used to cover couches in soviet homes, all sorts of old propaganda posters and newspaper clippings, we had a good giggle! We also had our first traditional meal of pelmeni – Russian dumplings, served with smetana (sour cream, but nothing like you’ve ever seen in South Africa) – totally delicious! A very pleasant surprise, I really did not realise I would be embarking on a foodie journey!

We meandered home, and then made our way to an Ice Hockey game – Moscow’s top team Dynamo was playing St Petersburg. Wow, that was fun, despite not understanding a word of the commentary, the game was fast paced and very exciting! Unfortunately Dynamo lost, much to the home crowds disappointment. (And the stadium was freezing! I guess being ice hockey, it had to be, but flip, we were glad to have beanies and gloves!)

A busy day 1!

FRIDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER

We took this day a little easier, just a little. A slightly later start as we headed off to Crocus Mall for the marathon registration – a simple, straight forward exercise, I handed in my medical certificate which said I was just mad enough to run a marathon, and then I collected my number and my T shirt. The expo was pretty cool, lots of cool stuff, but I was interested to see how pricey running kit is there. Apparently this is because of the high taxes on imports from the States, my sauconys were priced on a sale at about 30% more than what I get them for here at home…

Anyway, I bought a few goodies, and moved along to a neighbouring centre where Thandi could go ice skating. For her, I suspect this is the highlight of the holiday! Since she has inline roller-skates, she was able to get going on the ice quite easily, it was awesome to watch her! (I also envisage many trips to our neighbouring city, so she can have a go there, no rink in our city!)

After that we headed home, so that Thandi could spend some time with Charlotte’s (Charlotte is TJ and MB’s daughter, she’s 2 years older than Thandi and is just like a big sister to her) class – they have something called Golden hour on a Friday afternoon, and get to do some non academic activities, which on this day involved outside play. She LOVED that! Meeting some of Charlotte’s friends and getting to see how her school works.

Dinner that night saw us go to a Georgian restaurant, Vysota 5642, it was super! Georgian food, to quote a fellow blogger, Nyamazela, is the BEST food. From katchapuri to shashlik to Khinkali, yum! This spot authenticity rating went up dramatically when some fairly obvious body guards walked in, (dark suits, heavy set with ear pieces), checked out the surrounds, and the escorted their charges in – older grumpy, very wealthy looking men, who were spirited away to a private dining room to conduct their ‘business’. We left at the same time as them, and when a body guard beckoned me over I couldn’t decide whether I should hit the ground or put my hands up- turns out, he only wanted to return Thandi’s dropped glove to us, phew! Crisis averted! Anyway, the meal was delicious and we wondered the city, enjoying the festival of lights, where a lighting and effects show was projected onto the exterior of the Bolshoi building – impressive! As we got too cold to enjoy things, we headed into the metro to head home, bed was calling!

 

Khinkali – yummy dumplings

The light show projected into the Bolshoi – impressive!

Bookclubbing

…so last night went off well!

Starters was a garlic, ginger noodle soup with bok choi. This was so easy and so tasty! Loved it! And I will definitely have a crack at it again. Mains was Hainanese Chicken rice, which is just sooooo delicious and simple, I could eat it weekly! First you poach a chicken in stock which is flavoured with ginger and spring onions, You then plunge your chicken into ice water, and then massage some sesame oil lovingly into the chicken skin. Then you prepare some  jasmine rice, using that same stock; and then you make sauces – a soya sauce based one, one with spring onions and ginger and a fiery chilli sauce. All so yum. And for dessert I made a matcha chiffon cake with a pomegranate icing, which I really enjoyed. So light and delicate in flavour.

 

Really?

…can this treadmill please slow down! I am exhausted, and I can feel a cold brewing! Grrr!

The weekend was intense. Ballet shows went well, and we are all glad that it is now over. My patience wore very thin over the weekend, so by the time Saturday night came and we locked the dressing room for the final time, I was extremely grateful. The girls did dance beautifully, and really had a lovely time. I will always encourage my daughter to take part. It’s a worthwhile experience.

Running wise I have been hitting my mileage targets, and am impressed with my improving fitness. I had to get my long run in on Saturday, which was a challenge, I did it though, but I made an almost rookie error. I did not cover my hydration needs adequately. Running 24km, and only having about 200ml of water after about 15km was inadequate, and I was quite shaky afterwards, as I tried to recover. But, by the afternoon I was much better. Yesterday there was a marathon in our city, so I offered to second friends of mine. I enjoyed the task and had absolutely zero FOMO. In fact, watching them made me wonder why we do it to ourselves? Anyway. They all had awesome runs – 1 friend won after a long time off with illness and injury; 2 of the others ran their first marathon in 7 years, both recording good results, but it was a long cold morning…

Lunch with friends followed, and then I needed to get my run in. Suffice to say, after 2 or maybe 3 glasses of wine, I ran myself straight into a headache. Ugh. I felt awful. But, I did it. Day 62 was done.

And this week looms with all its busyness too… Time for my family is desperately required!

 

Weather psychopathy

…jingoes! We go from one extreme to the other. This weekend we froze, and as you saw, my family went snow hunting, followed by 2 days of extreme heat – on Monday the temperature fluctuated from 3 degrees to 30! It was insane. Of course, what that meant is that a cold front blew in on Tuesday night again, and we are shivering again! Oh well!

So tonight is the 25th of July, and a friend is hosting a Christmas in July dinner tonight. It promises to be a heap of fun, with a roast dinner, some good wine and delicious sweet treats, and a Dirty Santa game! (we’re each putting in a gift, and then we get the chance to steal other peoples, if we fancy theirs more than ours!) I’m looking forward to some fun after a hectic little time at work. I have been incredibly busy, things have just kept going and going, and going!

On that note, I must be off, work waits for no-one!

I owe

…you all an explanation for my absence, but I don’t really have one… The break was divine; the time was refreshing, I have enjoyed my break from reality; but reality never really leaves you alone, does it? So, lots has happened, and at the same time, everything is the same.

The Wild Women experience was so different for me. I went from being an active participant to a logistics manager. I have realised that as an athlete, despite being the physically active role, its actually quite a passive position – you get up and run every day, and your only worry is, really, to get to the end of the day in one piece. As the logistics person I had to be sure that we had packed everyone’s things, get them, via the safest possible route, to the next destination, and then get them safely into their rooms; and do it all again the next day. I also was their team doctor – this year, the girls were quite fit and healthy, and I wasn’t needed quite as much; and I have come back with most of my drugs! My back is a bit broken after carting all those bags and boxes around though. And it was weird, I was with the girls, but I wasn’t part of the group. I wasn’t included in all the fun and games, but I had a memory of those days; and an expectation of it all, which wasn’t met. Nevertheless, I love the Transkei, I love a road trip… (and I love our Land Rover)

I returned from Wild Women to the news that our neighbour’s daughter had passed away overnight. She was 11 years old, and had a lisencephaly ( a brain condition, where the brain does not develop after birth – she was developmentally stunted at a neonatal level – couldn’t talk, walk, sit, interact, communicate, interact with family), and quietly, in the darkness of the night, she flew heavenward. I’m heartbroken for my friends – they were the most amazing parents to her, but at the same time, it feels like I have exhaled, after holding my breath for years. it’s a strange feeling – deep sadness, deep loss, but a freedom too – they can go on a holiday again, they can fly on a plane again, they can travel lightly, they can get a smaller car, they can bid wheelchairs and assistance devices farewell…. Sweet Sarah – fly high with the angels, and I know my Dawny will keep an eye on you – she’s an awesome granny!

 

3 sunrises to share my beautiful Transkei with you. More pictures to follow…

The Chaos

…before you go on leave is astounding; and yes, that is why it gets a capital letter. I am almost through a jam-packed morning, and I actually have backache from all the scans I have done already! This afternoon things calm down, as I prepare for our departure to the Mother City tomorrow morning. I have packing to do, and then we are off!

I am going to line up on Saturday and I believe I can do this ultra marathon. My training has been solid, except for the last month subsequent to the marathon I ran; so I am hoping that everything I have done is going to carry me through. My injuries seem better, I am due for a last tweak with the chiropractor this afternoon, hopefully I will be pain free! I am quite excited to see the Cape again through my runner’s eyes. The 2 Oceans is a gorgeous marathon. Wish me luck!

I am really looking forward to seeing my family and friends again. It will be, albeit too short a time, a great chance to catch up, and hopefully make some plans for the coming year. I really want to try to incorporate some travel with friends this year. I am also looking forward to a bloggy meet up with RM and Deblet! Yay for internet buddies!

I wish you all a great weekend! I will share my experiences here, with you all! Oh, and Happy Easter!

Fun Times

…the weekend was quite a full one, well, except for yesterday, when I had a bout if gastro, but the less said about that the better.

Friday night saw friends of ours bring us supper – what a treat, to be able to kick back, make sure wine glasses were filled and eat a delicious curry prepared for us. I think this may become my go to gift for friends in the future. A treat of note. I was tired, so I was really appreciative of the spoil. Shortly after they left I had to shoot back to work to do a delivery. Yes, I wasn’t on call, but this patient was labouring before the end of the day, so I had to head back in and see her labor through… A sweet little girl was born around 10pm!

Saturday was one of those chokka block days – but it was all so good! It started with me doing my regular run, with Thandi on her bike with me – she is really starting to enjoy this cycling thing with me while I run, and I am loving it too. We didn’t this week, but we finish our run/ride, dabble our toes in the sea, and then get a cappuccino/milkshake at the local beach cafe. So nice to spend some good time with my girl. This week we didn’t stick around, because we were heading off to a friend’s farm – we arrived around 9, indulged in coffee and rusks, then headed out to the lands to feed their prize bulls, and admire them – they are really gorgeous, although grumpy, Brahmans. Thandi had so much fun with her buddies – after a cool down swim, it was off for a quick lunchtime picnic, before we headed back into town for Thandi to attend a birthday party. (I did say it was busy!) As that ended, the wether started to turn, and we headed home and all collapsed in a heap!  All our energy all used up! A great day

My trouble started here with a dodgy tummy – ugh, it did put paid to my planned long run on Sunday, and left me rather grumpy and miserable. By last night, my body was super sore, which made me think this was a little tummy virus. I’m feeling better this morning, long may it last!

The week ahead is also going to be busy – school starts again tomorrow, and I am now 3 short weeks away from 2 Oceans – eek! (I am seriously tempted to find someone to run the relay they’re launching this year with me, but as a friend mentioned, we’d kick ourselves for not trying anyway!)