The Bumper Harvest Honey Bear is Coming!!!

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February 13th 2012
Published: February 14th 2012
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It is almost Valentine’s day. I’ve been single over 6 months and I am currently sharing a miniscule flat with a 50 something year old Russian lady, a dog/mop, a cat and a hamster. Tatiana’s 11 year old grandson is also often wandering about this 3 room apartment. The breakdancing little scallywag.

Tatiana herself wears long fur coats, has bright red frizzy hair and often coasts around the house in only some hideous green leggings. And a bra obviously. The cat is quite possibly deranged – she keeps telling me it has something – an illness I believe – the word she says sounds a lot like catarrh but that could mean anything in Russian really. Eve has suggested it may suffer from Tourettes which generated much laughter from Jay and I, a cat’s lack of speech obviously making a predilection for swearing impossible. She meant Parkinsons... which may seem like a strange diagnosis but to be honest we can’t think of a better one. I will try and describe Mujka’s actions (the cat) accurately and we will see if you can do any better. Mujka enjoys making continuous strange moaning noises, hunching on all fours very close to the ground and then sticking her bum in the air and lashing her tail around like a scorpion about to strike.

I felt quite bad laughing at the feline who may just mistakenly identify itself as a lethal desert predator... until it flew through the air earlier today squealing and executing some dizzying mid-air spins. This surprise performance caused me to start/trip over in shock and throw a pot of Smetana (basically sour cream) over not only the floor but also Tatiana as she was getting ready to go out and visit a friend. Having to wipe sour cream off of your hostess’s freshly made up face is a fantastically embarrassing moment. The retarded cat is now fair game.

(Just had to take a brief break here to stop the FEMALE dog from humping the aforementioned psychologically unsound feline. Seems like the entire place is undergoing an identity crisis.)

Jay and Eve are the best travelling partners anyone could wish for and we just about manage to balance each other out. Jay’s incredible ability to be laidback about all aspects of life counters Eve’s tendency to overthink things and worry too much. They are both on hand to catch me when I fall/ slide around gracelessly like Bambi on ice. And as long as I have to organise both of them I can’t forget anything important in my own life either. I’m apparently an alien mix of mother and incapable infant. Dream team or what?

I hope that gave you all a feel for my first few days in Siberia (only -24 degrees – how lucky are we?) I feel I should now apologise for my prolonged absence from this blog. It is incredibly strange, I have absolutely no desire to update anyone on the mundane goings on of my normal English life and yet the minute I am travelling again the urge to write returns in full force. I get the feeling I am not going to be a lifelong blogger so enjoy these while you can.

That said I have actually written two separate entries in my trusty little notepad which i just haven’t got around to putting up. I might add these retrospective entries at a later date but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Let’s bring you up to speed with my last few months; all the things I should have told
Siwa OasisSiwa OasisSiwa Oasis

One of the hundreds of photos we took there!

1) The End of Egypt – Snorkelling and relaxing by the Red Sea, cruising down the Nile to take in the ancient sites, watching helplessly as parts of Cairo burnt down in front of me and sandboarding, some revolting alcohol and sexy time in the hot springs of a desert oasis. (Doubt that is something many people can claim to have done.) I also had a “date” with Coptic George – one of the strangest human beings I have ever met – I got a ride on his motorbike aka death trap and then 3 drinks whilst he tried to convince me into looking at his sex vein – Do I really look that stupid??!

2) Then came Pre-Xmas in Egypt, Christmas dinner for 26, hash brownies and goodbyes. Hilarious and heart-wrenching by turns. I finally got home on Christmas eve thanks to a nameless angel on the London Underground, a poor guy sprinted the length of Kings Cross with both my heavy suitcases after severe delays left me with practically no hope of catching my train. Whoever you are, my mother loves you.

3) Then Real Xmas at home – the booziest yet, jagerbombs and wine galore as we celebrated Mama and Rob getting engaged. I fear that all these Russian carbs are going to detrimentally affect the measurements recently taken for my bridesmaids dress though! Poor Jay may yet have a fat date to this wedding!!!

4) I wrote the next entry feeling very bohemian. I was sitting in a little cafe in Paris wearing an oversized jumper with messily tied up hair, scribbling away surrounded by jazz music and cigarette smoke whilst it rained outside. An old French woman in rags sat next to me, muttering under her breath as she downed some suspicious looking brown liquer and by turns swearing at me or smiling toothily. This was the start of my 9 day sejour in France when I took advantage of the free accommodation my year abroad compatriots were offering out. I wandered Paris, listened to a gorgeous choral performance in the oldest church there; I ski-ed in Annecy, obviously making a fool of myself in overly large borrowed skis a million times over. And I caught up with everyone I need to in France, including Marco and Charlotte from my summer adventures.

5) My last stop really before preparing for the Siberian wilderness was Durham. 10 days of drink, dancing, friends and emotional exhaustion. It was always going to be hard spending so much time in a place I so closely associated with my ex and our relationship; seeing him with the new girlfriend was utterly awful and something that I am incredibly grateful I don’t have to deal with again for quite some time. More importantly I had many a sleepover with my wonderful women up there – you know who you are and I love you. Even that was bittersweet though, I had just got used to being back, finding my niche again within the year’s new dynamics when once again I had to say Goodbye. Wrenching myself out of that familiar, happy life for extreme packing and the absolute unknown was the hardest thing I’ve done in ages.

6) One last anecdote to make you all smile - This a story of my packing skills/ ability to procrastinate instead of pack. Anyone who knows me well can envisage this phase with ease. 5 days ago my room genuinely looked like Armageddon, there were clothes literally everywhere and strange happenings and disasters seemed to follow in my wake. For example I heavily bruised my lower back when i slipped over whilst trying out my new thermal socks. (These socks incidentally have a tog rating which i thought only existed for duvets - if you haven't seen the Rhod Gilbert duvet sketch please watch it.) Anyway I decided instead of placing more items in the suitcases, I should test out the durability of my purchase. This sock trial was eventually extensive enough to include ‘how far can you skid in them on a slippy surface.’ The upshot is during this last assessment, I launched myself over enthusiastically into the kitchen, lost my balance and instead of gliding gracefully I went flying across the room, broke a plate and kneed myself in the head - i tried some crazy mid air acrobatics to regain my footing, but alas thudded to the floor anyway. Thus the bruises. My socks are however EXTREMELY warm. Win?

Just before I finish. Because I find it strange. Between the three of us we brought so many good quality English products out here as presents for our Babyshka’s– cheese, chocolate, tea and teapot, biscuits and jam, the list continues... And what goes down best? A small Union Jack pen – they are raving about it. Tatty’s grandson even took it into school for show and tell! Absolutely ridiculous. Who knew the Russians loved souvenirs this much?

Signing out now as I have an early rise tomorrow for first proper day at uni and all which that entails. Hope this has brought you all up to date without boring you to tears - I’ve tried and failed miserably at making this more concise. Stand by for the next solely Siberian related instalment and remember I am 7 hours ahead of you all with no internet at home – hopefully this will mostly excuse my complete absence of individual updates.

Big, big love and kisses. From Masha (my name here!)


p.s the title of this blog was a slogan on a t-shirt i read in Cairo - i have no idea what it was supposed to mean but i found it amusing hence it's inclusion.


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