Aug 11 2010

Käwap Restaurant For Another Birthday Celebration

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,Friends,PicturesChrisM @ 7:00 pm

Another post where I’ve taken a few individual tweets and tidied them into one entry. 11th August was my mother-in-law’s birthday, the day after Ira and my wedding anniversary. We headed on downstairs to the new Azerbaijani restaurant located on the ground floor of our building. We hadn’t tried it before, and there was no one else there during our meal, so we were assured of their undivided attention 🙂 Losha’s parents (Igor and Natalya) joined us, and over all Anna was pretty well behaved.

First up we have a quick picture of a salad that was ordered. It doesn’t come out so well with a wobbly camera phone shot, but in the middle of the plate is a radish carved into a rose shape. Very pretty. Personally I have no idea how it tasted, as I’m not a huge fan of rabbit food (meat, potatoes and pasta are my favourite core ingredients), but no one seemed to complain.

Radish Rose - Really!

Radish Rose - Really!

They didn’t have any highchairs, and after trying to get Anna to repeat her previous good behaviour in such situations, we gave up and grabbed the one from our kitchen.

There was in fact no turkey sashliq despite it being on menu. This has happened in a few places in Astana. If you have your hopes set on a certain dish before you arrive, best to phone ahead and speak to someone first. Otherwise a good selection of various sashliqs (kebabs). We asked for something without any bone or lots of gristle (I love the taste of meat, but hate thinking about the fact that it used to be an animal. If steak wasn’t so tasty, I might have been converted into a vegetarian in another life. That would mean eating vegetables though. Anyway, I digress…). When the kebab arrived, it was on the bone still. The waitress didn’t seem to understand why we were surprised to see bone in a dish she recommended for having no bone.

Considering that the décor and ambience of the place was reasonably up market, the vodka & beer was reasonably priced. The baursaki were tasty, but most definitely reheated to make them seem over fresh. Better than stone cold and greasy to be honest 🙂 The chicken lyalya (spelling ?) shashliq was tasty. Basically minced chicken shaped into a sort of sausage shape.

Chicken Kebab - No Bones

Chicken Kebab - No Bones

At one point Anna seemed to get a bit bored, and decided to get the camera out. I’ve not yet checked the memory card to see the sort of shots achieved.

Anna In Her Highchair

Anna In Her Highchair

Finally, during a cigarette break outside, I took a quick picture of the restaurant name. I couldn’t step any further back, so had to take a diagonal shot. Luckily our WiFi signal just reaches downstairs to this point, so I was able to upload some pics without using up my KCell credit 🙂

I'll Rewrite This Caption When I Know How To Spell The Name

I'll Rewrite This Caption When I Know How To Spell The Name

oh, I’m hoping someone can correct me on the correct spelling in latin characters for the restaurant?

Thanks to Oleg and Walton for their help with the spelling, I’ve updated the post to reflect this.

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Aug 10 2010

At Assorti with for a meal wit…

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,TweetsChrisM @ 7:36 pm

At Assorti with for a meal with Anna and Irina. Our anniversary today. Nine years! Ira’s Mum’s birthday tomorrow.

Irina And Anna At Assorti - Anniversary Meal

The pizza was lovely, the portion size of the fluorescent green garlic bread was very generous, however it could have done with a bit more actual garlic flavour to it. They have a high chair there, and the service is very good. Here ends the compressed review of the Assorti restaurant in the top floor of Mega, Astana 🙂

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Aug 07 2010

AFK – Petropavlovsk Trip

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:17 am

AFK being away from keyboard, but as Petropavlovsk is quite a long word, I thought I’d abbreviate. Aunty Sveta has her 60th birthday this weekend, so we are heading over there to celebrate it with her. I’ve not published any photos or videos from that city (just over an hour away via plane, Anna would not be likely to be in a party mood after a long drive there) before, so I’m hoping to Tweet/Qik some sort of media whilst there. Meticulous planning by Irina has ensured we’re travelling as light as possible, with all likely problems sorted in advance. Anyway, if posts appear on the blog suddenly, without much warning, of a city that doesn’t look much like Astana, you’ll know why. The city is about as far North as you can go in Kazakhstan before you hit the Russian border, and we haven’t been there since Anna was born, so it will be great to see people and hopefully have a good time celebrating Aunty Sveta’s birthday.

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Aug 03 2010

Good Evening And Dan’s Birthday Meal At Tiflis

Category: Eating Out,Friends,PersonalChrisM @ 11:24 pm

OK, I’ve removed the six posts that were submitted by my phone on Saturday night and amalgamated them into this one post, with the videos embedded.
It was DanD’s birthday the next day, and so we headed to one of his favourite restaurant’s – Tiflis. I forgot to check in on foursquare or Google Latitude, so don’t have the exact co-ordinates, but I’ve searched on Google Map with Irina, and put where we think it is. The road is called Imanova St, but Google has a different label for some reason. However it is nearly opposite Cinema City, so that is the right street.
The old outdoor (well it had a roof but cut down walls to allow fresh air through) section had just finished being renovated, and we were all very pleasantly surprised by the new look. There are two floors, with an open central courtyard. Downstairs there was a normal seating area with lots of tables, and upstairs had some one table rooms. This worked out well, as they had a Georgian band playing for a lot of the night (see the videos below). The band were great, but when we wanted to talk, it was good to be able to shut the double doors, stick on the air conditioning, and not have to shout.
The food itself was great, with some sort of cheesy bread as a starter for me (salads still haven’t snuck onto my menu!), and a lamb sashliq (with chips obviously) for main. We were there for around three or four hours, and had a chance to congratulate Dan on his upcoming birthday (25th if you believe the normally otherwise honest Dan), and talk about life over here. The service was good, especially by local standards, and I’d happily recommend the place for eating out if you want to try something a bit different. You may find you need to reserve the rooms in advance, and I’m hoping Dan will read this post at some point and leave their telephone number here.

A couple of clips of the room, the company and the main course…

Everyone was still very sober by then, not many beers drunk or shots of Cha Cha served. The restaurant has definitely switched suppliers when it comes to the Georgian spirit of Cha Cha. It didn’t feel like paint stripper going down your throat, if anything it was a little closer to brandy, but not overly so.

OK, onto the entertainment…

View Larger Map

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Aug 03 2010

Serenaded For His Birthday

Category: Friends,PersonalChrisM @ 7:32 pm

OK, I’ll be tidying up the front page later by compressing all the individual Qik based tweets into one post, with some information on DanD’s birthday celebrations at Tiflis on Saturday night. The short version is that the renovations have much improved the experience there (nothing wrong with it in the first place TBH). Anyway, the live music made a refreshing change, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and I’ll stop now as we are taking Anna for a walk to a local mini-park that I’ve not been to before. Will try and remember to take some pictures…

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Jul 27 2010

Opening Presents With Nick

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 2:22 am

Still in Evehsam at Dad’s place (the same evening (12th March 2010) as the duck feeding video), Nick came over to say hello. He had a job interview in Cheltenham, so we decided to all converge at Dad’s at the same time. Roz couldn’t make it as she was very close to giving birth to Anna’s cousin at the time. Nick bought up all the Christmas and Birthday presents that we hadn’t been able to receive whilst in Kazakhstan, and Anna seemed to enjoy another paper ripping ceremony :). I look forward to using mine in earnest when Winter once more hits Astana, and Anna still plays with hers regularly. The Big Hungry Caterpillar is also a big hit with Anna, and I’m very glad Nick and Roz got it, as it seems to be a “proper” childrens’ book to me 🙂 The hand puppets and toys also get played with often, and Anna seemed to lose interest in the wrapping paper and sellotape very quickly…
Obviously since the clip was taken, we now know that the baby was a beautiful boy (Jack), but Nick and Roz didn’t know that at the time. PS Nick, it has been a good 15 years or so since I studied French, but I’m pretty sure they have male and female endings to words, and it is German that has neutral as well? ;-P The last of the three clips shows me trying on all my Christmas presents at the same time. It wasn’t cold in the house 🙂

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Jul 08 2010

Astana Park Being Disassembled

Category: Anna's Videos,Personal,VideosChrisM @ 10:30 pm

These two videos were actually recorded yesterday, but rather than stream them live, I recorded them without using Qik at all. (This way I can double the resolution used). However I forgot to then upload them, hence the 24 hour delay in getting them on the blog.

Irina, Anna and I went for a walk through Astana park, to take a look at all the equipment before it was disassembled. The castle walls, yurts, stone carvings (painted expanded polystyrene) and Kazakh warrior statues were put up for Astana Day/the President’s birthday, and are being removed. There were quite a few workmen wandering around without shirts – sorry for the women (and few men) reading this post, but I don’t think we actually see any/many of these workers on video.

I hadn’t realised how windy it would sound through the phone’s microphone at the entrance to the park, sorry.

Small break in recording as I needed to use the phone for other things…

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Jul 06 2010

Happy Day Of Astana

Category: In The Media,Kazakhstan,PicturesChrisM @ 1:48 pm

I have previously been calling it Astana Day, but local official online sources seem to refer to it as the Day of Astana. Anyway, it is also our beloved President’s birthday today. He is seventy, which is still very young, and in his honour the Khan Shatyr was officially opened today apparently. Nursultan Nazarbayev (who is legally not insultable by anyone living in this glorious nation) was rumoured to have been pondering resigning today, but I have yet to hear about any speech confirming this. Since the Leader of the Nation law was passed, some people thought he would take this momentous occasion to pass on the baton to another great, perfect and non-corrupt leader.
Anyway, check out the BBC article here for some more details on Khan Shatyr, though I have a few queries regarding the “facts” in that story…
Astana celebrates 13 years of being capital perhaps, but the city was around, in different (smaller) forms for a little bit longer than that 🙂 The phrasing just makes it sound as though nothing existed here for decades, and suddenly over night it came into existence.
Khan Shatyr is the city’s tallest structure? Could be right, but 150 metres doesn’t seem all that tall compared to some structures here. This could just be my mistake though.
“from 30C in the summer to -30C in the winter.” – An argument I’ve had over at Wikipedia before. Summer is regularly above 30C, occasionally hitting 40. Winter definitely sees an occasional dip below -30.

Here is an earlier photo of the Khan Shatyr tent like structure, whilst it was still being slowly constructed, to ensure it was ready for the birthday of this nation’s wonderful leader.

Khan Shatyr

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Jun 15 2010

Legless Walking Home

Category: Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 12:33 am

Last week, on the way home from the Queen’s Birthday Party at the Radisson, I managed to totally avoid the manholes that had no cover on them. There aren’t that many deep holes in the pavement, so the walk home didn’t seem too dangerous.
However, my brain didn’t tell me to avoid those with covers. Walking over one, the entire cover spun 90 degrees forward, meaning my right leg disappeared down the hole to just above my knee. It scraped off some hair and a few layers of skin, and inflicted a few small cuts. Add in a few nasty bruises and a funked up knee and ankle to complete the list.
I am glad Anna wasn’t around (Irina’s Mum was baby sitting her back at our flat), as quite a lot of very crude English words were uttered whilst I clambered out of the hole. Some how my suit trousers survived, with only some dirt on them, rather than the expected tears.
It is possible that if I’d been anything like approaching sober, I’d have avoided the stupid manhole altogether, however I didn’t think that a proper cover would just flip over like that. Lesson learnt, no permanent damage, and something to write about on my blog 🙂

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Jun 14 2010

Backpacker Anna Eating

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 10:24 pm

Although Anna could already feed herself by the 24th of February, back then she was still a little bit more messy by the end of the meal. We also don’t tend to need to worry about using bibs with arms any more 🙂
Anyway, still working her way through all her lovely Christmas and Birthday presents, Anna, Gwen and I went for a little walk around the garden, and Anna had her backpack on. The dolly that came with it stayed indoors, perhaps she didn’t think it was warm enough?
Gwen performed her Anna guarding duties well, making sure that no harm came to her. Not quite sure what could go wrong in the back garden, but it was really nice to see Gwen acting protective over Anna.

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