Jul 06 2013

Weather forecasters forgot to factor in cloud seed…

Category: Pictures,Tweets,WeatherChrisM @ 9:46 am

Weather forecasters forgot to factor in cloud seeding. #ClearSkies #AstanaDay #UncleBday twitpic.com/d11xy8

Clear Skies Astana Day

Jul 03 2013

Possibly (?) the last Wednesday Club for a while….

Category: Friends,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 10:53 pm

Possibly (?) the last Wednesday Club for a while. Good to say hi and bye. instagram.com/p/bT6oCJHJQH/

Chokoladnitza Wednesday Club

Jun 29 2013

Straining To Get There!

Category: Personal,Tim's PhotosChrisM @ 9:13 pm

With almost half of 2013 now passed, my mind is already on our trip to Britain. Although we will need to save up the money for the plane tickets, and hope Irina is allowed to take her holiday at the right time, after six months in Astana, it definitely helps to have a target in mind.
So, what am I (and in some cases, we) looking forward to in the UK? First and foremost, seeing family, especially Nick’s new son! Although it is great to see some of them on Skype sometimes, it isn’t the same as sitting down and just catching up on everyone’s lives in a non-rushed way. Next up, I’m hoping to see a few friends (those that haven’t emigrated to Australia at least). Last year I managed to get down to London and Cardiff, and saw people I’d not seen in years (after the Sydney and Brisbane trip in October, I wanted to make the effort and not just take the path of least resistance and see the same friends as normal), but that obviously meant I missed out on seeing a large group of friends we’d normally meet.
Thirdly, events… quite a broad label, I realize, but ever since we moved to Astana, I’ve been hoping to get to some English or Welsh events, be they sporting, comedy or music-based. Each visit home has seen this plan fall to the wayside, with either no time, money or a combination of both meaning I’ve missed out on some cracking stand up, sometimes just the next town across, in Pontardawe. It would be great if I manage to get tickets to Wimbledon this time and go again.

Shatush, Astana, Kazakhstan

Tim IS Actually Smiling Here 🙂

Why the apparently random photo of Tim (taken today)? Tim has decided he wants to try wearing big boy pants, instead of nappies, again. This is really encouraging, especially as he is also practicing and experimenting a lot with different basic sounds. So, where is the random connection between Tim and wanting to go to more British events? Well, as you may guess, we’ve had an accident with Tim not making it to the potty or toilet in time (though to be fair, he went to the balcony beforehand, so tidying up didn’t involve scrubbing the carpet. Still none the wiser? Well, some seventeen years ago, a friend had got some tickets to Wimbledon, and we went down to London, leaving just after dawn from Cheltenham. We had planned ahead and bought some food, and a lot of drink, as it was forecast to be a hot day. We found somewhere to park, joined the queue, and began munching and slurping our way through the supplies. At some point, the queue had a concrete barrier either side of it, presumably to try and cut down on queue jumpers, which made leaving the queue for comfort breaks a bit of an issue. After drinking two large bottles of Coke, eventually nature was starting to call really loudly. The line of people waiting to see Henman win, or try and get a centre court seat was ever so slowly shuffling forward, and the closest toilet was quite a walk away. As the minutes dragged past, I eventually realized I was not going to be able to “hold it in” until we got through the entrance to Wimbledon. I was left with the prospect of possibly losing my friend, my place in the queue and having therefore wasted a lot of time, or finding some method of relieving the pressure with dozens of people around me in the queue, and hundreds of people walking about inside Wimbledon’s grounds, who I could see through the metal fencing. Asking a few new-found friends to form a human (visual) shield around me, I gave in to the inevitable, and after what felt like an eternity, I was able to wait a little longer to finally see the players grunting around the courts! Whilst not entertaining as some reports from tennis games in London, the fact that no one else seemed to notice, and that I still got to finally see a few games, I was really happy.
Anyway, returning to things I’ll be looking forward to in Britain, should we make it across this Christmas, technology and food are probably the last ones. Obviously it is possible to get a lot of things over here in Astana (both food and IT supplies have improved in the last seven years), sometimes food just doesn’t seem to be considered worth testing in this market, and the technology available is either over-priced, under-specced or listed as in stock, but not actually in the shop’s storeroom. I try to keep a limit (because of both luggage weight and our budget restrictions) on the purchases in Wales, but a Bacon Double Cheeseburger or latest generation peripheral for our PC is sometimes hard to avoid!

May 18 2013

Scotch eggs for lunch. Ira’s first attempt at maki…

Category: Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 2:46 pm

Scotch eggs for lunch. Ira’s first attempt at making them! Salivating already 🙂 twitpic.com/crdpy6

Home Made Scotch Eggs

Apr 24 2013

Tim and Anna check out the new setup (a mostly new…

Category: Anna's Photos,Tim's Photos,TweetsChrisM @ 6:16 pm

Tim and Anna check out the new setup (a mostly new PC for my birthday). TV in use as 4th monitor for films etc. twitpic.com/clkugs

Tim And Anna At The New PC

Mar 07 2013


Category: Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 9:05 pm

Wow, the gap between spending in time in Australia and writing about it is starting to show. I’ll have to try and get myself in the same frame of mind to recall what happened.
First evening and next morning spent recovering from the long and mildly stressful journey. Got down to looking into a few IT based problems, and then meeting a couple of Alex and Mat’s friends.
More lovely cooking from Mat on the balcony, kangaroo steaks, and ameal or two out.
With Mat’s work schedule, I wasn’t going to have a lot of time in Brisbane (we had originally planned a chilled out road trip to get up to Brisbane, where the majority of our friends live), so I booked a flight for the Friday of next week, and then wandered around Alex’s local area, meeting more friends and popping down to a beach and a couple of beauty spots.

Sydney (Somewhere) Rocks

Sydney (Somewhere) Rocks

We also decided I should try and fit in the stereotypical tourist sights in Sydney, so caught a ferry from Manly to Sydney proper. Along the way, we saw Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Being so close, and not wanting to miss out on the iconic building, we walked on over and took a few photos, before moving on into the city. After grabbing a few souvenirs for people in Astana, we grabbed a drink and headed home.

Someone Else's (Much Better) Photo Of Sydney Harbour Bridge - WikiMedia

Someone Else’s (Much Better) Photo Of Sydney Harbour Bridge – WikiMedia

Alex Comes Out Of Her Shell

Alex Comes Out Of Her Shell

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Self Administered Vulcan Mind Meld Fails To Engage

Self Administered Vulcan Mind Meld Fails To Engage

It didn’t take long for me to see why Alex was happy staying in Australia, but Irina had already warned me that any attempts to see Australia as a “compromise” between staying in Astana and moving back to Britain would fall on deaf ears. Whilst enjoying my time in Sydney, I was also looking forward to Brisbane, where the rest of the British friends lived. To be continued…

Mar 03 2013

Anna enjoying an ice cream, after choosing a toy f…

Category: Anna's Photos,TweetsChrisM @ 2:58 pm

Anna enjoying an ice cream, after choosing a toy from Nana&John + Baba Klava’s birthday money. Thank you from her. twitpic.com/c89ync

Anna With An Ice Cream Post-Present Shopping

Feb 18 2013

Abu Dhabi – Almost Australia!

Category: Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 8:55 pm

So, where was I? Arriving in Abu Dhabi, having left Astana on Monday 22nd of October, early morning, to Almaty. See the last post for details on why the flight to China that night, didn’t have me on board. Anyway, the next day I was on an Etihad plane, very happy to finally be getting closer to Australia. Except Abu Dhabi is actually a bit East of Almaty, so I was going in the wrong direction, and the ticket price bought a tear to my eye. I just have to hope my earnings are enough this year to pay off Irina’s credit card quickly. I think I had about 10 hours to kill in Abu Dhabi airport, which wasn’t as boring or sleep inducing as I’d feared it would be. I had not been to the airport since 2005, when it was a just a few duty free shops and nothing to occupy your mind. After a McDonalds on arrival (it had been a long time since I had been in one 🙂 ), walking around the different terminals and eventually a Burger King (no bacon available, strangely enough), I found a bar next to a smoking room, so spent the rest of my time having some chips with a few Long Island Iced Teas, whilst reading another book. On to the next flight with no problems, barring some mid-air engine problems, I was now a mere 14 or so hours from meeting up with Alex and Mat!

Shot The Next Week, But Too Funky To Not Post Now!

Shot The Next Week, But Too Funky To Not Post Now!

Once the plane landed in Sydney, it was somehow the 25th of October, and once I convinced the Customs official that I wasn’t bringing in any food, drink or plant matter (they had my mini-suitcase on a table, I was sure they would open it up and I would have to explain I thought the limit was still 200 cigarettes (the limit is 50!), but I must have looked like I wasn’t the sort of person to bring in alien plants, so I walked out into the public area of the airport. Knowing that I would be getting twitchy from the lack of internet soon, I headed over to Vodafone’s counter and purchased an Australian Pay As You Go SIM card, re-jiggled the placement of SIMs in three different phones and grabbed a quick drink. In no time at all, Mat and Alex arrived, and after squealing and hugs (we’ll just pretend that was only Alex and not me as well 😉 ) we jumped in their Ute (an Australian term (meaning a utility vehicle with a flat tray at the back) I quickly grew to love) and even managed to get out of the airport grounds before the slightly obscene parking charges kicked in.

Not from my trip!

After so many months in Central Asia, it was great to be in a more friendly environment, where the driving wasn’t manic, people smiled at complete strangers, and I was going to finally get to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in years. We got back to Mat and Alex’s flat, and after a Kangaroo burger cooked on the barbecue sitting on the balcony, I finally started to unwind after four days of travelling and not much sleep. I’ll leave the details of Sydney, and Brisbane (I arrived there November 2nd I think?) for another post.

Feb 01 2013

Typical example of “parking”. There is room for it…

Category: Kazakh Driving,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 5:03 pm

Typical example of “parking”. There is room for it park normally, he just rammed it up the pavement and got out! twitpic.com/bzzdkm

Kazakh Parking

Just realized that it wasn’t even a legal parking space! Everyone blocks them, but you’re supposed to leave the entrance to the walkway in the middle accessible!

Feb 01 2013

Sorry for blurred image, but if you’re driving tow…

Category: Kazakh Driving,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 12:16 pm

Sorry for blurred image, but if you’re driving towards Left Bank down Sary Arka, two buses clipped, heavy traffic. twitpic.com/bzxme9

Buses Collide

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