Jun 21 2010

Irina’s First Time Posting

Category: PersonalIrinaM @ 8:49 pm

My name is Irina. For those who do not know me yet, I am Chris’ wife. Chris has been asking me to write a post for his blog for many, many months. All this time I was either not ready, too busy, worried about my writing skills or simply too lazy. Last week, after we bought and tested the new deep fat fryer, Chris asked me AGAIN if I would like to write a post, and maybe review it on his blog. FINALLY, I decide to give it a go, so please try to contain your excitement, dear readers!!!

Let me start by explaining that both of us are not particularly healthy eaters. Being aware of potential health risks we still allow ourselves to enjoy some naughty food, like chips (or “kartoffel free”, as they are known in this part of the world). Our old deep fat fryer has already had it’s fair share of use and we decided to send it into retirement (as it happens, my Mum decided that it can retire at their house with an occasional use), and buy a new one.

When we finally managed to get to the shop (“Sulpack” in Kenesary St.), despite the hit and miss poor customer service, we were faced, to my surprise, with quite a wide selection of deep fat fryers. As usual, Chris and I had completely different selection criteria in mind and again, as usual, we did not agree on them before we were presented with a choice. I was interested in a compact, easy to clean, good-make fryer. As far as I could tell, Chris was purely interested in the capacity – the bigger, the better! After some typical arguments (I guess all couples go though that, when buying household appliances) about which one to choose, Chris spotted a Tefal Family Oleoclean 1.3Kg fryer. So, we decided to investigate exactly what that model had to offer.

Tefal Family Oleoclean Deep Fat Fryer

It turned out that this particular deep fat fryer comes in two separate major parts: the base (which includes all the electric parts) and a “saucepan” part for the oil and chips. The principle is very close to a cordless kettle. The beauty of this configuration, as we already discovered, is that the “saucepan” part can be thoroughly cleaned without the worry that the electric elements will get wet. It can even be cleaned in a dishwasher if you are lucky enough to have one (we do not have enough space in our kitchen for it 🙁 ). This deep fat fryer also comes with a separate lidded bowl for storing the oil in between uses. I know that many fryers come with some sort of container, but this particular one, although quite big and bulky, has the advantage that the “saucepan” part of the fryer is placed directly on top of it (without the need to turn the fryer upside down, to pour the oil out and subsequently make lots of mess on the kitchen surfaces). The filtered oil slowly drains though a cleverly designed valve, leaving all the impurities in the pan, so they can be easily removed later and the pan can be cleaned thoroughly and frequently without the fear that it will take half of your life to scrub off (especially without the ability to use a metal scrubber or any chemicals) all the dried up oil inside and out. That made me very HAPPY! Now I do not have to be embarrassed and annoyed by the oily and smelly monster that used to sit in the corner of our kitchen. I have to say that, apart from being very easy to clean and operate, the deep fat fryer that we purchased does actually make nice and tasty chips (especially when Chris cooks them!)

So, if you were planning to buy a deep fat fryer and indulge yourself in unhealthy, but tasty food with out the hassle of having to intensively look after your fryer, I can highly recommend the Tefal Family Oleoclean deep fat fryer. Here is a short summery of its pros and cons:

Pros: EASY to clean , easy to operate, filters and drains the oil without creating a mess, hopefully not very smelly (though this one still needs to be confirmed), good capacity.
Cons: a little bit bulky, looks a bit cheap and plastic.

I hope you (the reader) will find this post a little bit useful, if not out right interesting and you (Chris) will be a bit happier that I have written something on your blog 🙂

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Jun 28 2009

Anna Beneath Hands

Category: Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 6:58 am

Decided this post didn’t quite belong in the Anna’s Photos category – although she is sort of included in the shot 🙂
There are a couple of other pictures I want to post before returning to ‘proper’ Anna photos, which should be catching up to real time over the next fortnight or so. The Amsterdam 2007 series of posts should also be completed soon.
This particular shot was taken by John in his studio, but I don’t think he is using this one in his book, so I’ve uploaded it here.

Ira Chris Hands Anna Below

Ira Chris Hands Anna Below

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Jun 23 2009

Relaxing Out Front

Category: Anna's Photos,PersonalChrisM @ 2:44 am
Anna On Chris' Shoulder

Anna On Chris' Shoulder

Just a very quick post here; Anna is on my shoulder, in the front garden of Irina’s parent’s house. Hmmm, I need to double check my apostrophe use there, I’m never sure if that is the correct way to indicate ‘possession’ twice in a row. Anyway, this picture was taken on the 23rd June. You can’t see her teeth yet, but today she munched on her first bits of food! I may break with previous predictions, and try to post that photo soon 🙂

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Jun 20 2009

Amsterdam 2007 Photos – Finally

Category: Amsterdam,Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 12:58 am

OK, the 2008 Amsterdam picture series was started back on 10th February this year, just 11 days before Anna was born. Here, finally are the 2007 photos, from my previous trip to Amsterdam. This time Irina did not come, but AlexC and ChrisD met up with me there, and we shared an apartment for four days (21/9/2007 – 24/9/2007).

I’ve checked Lemming was fine with his mug up in public in the 2008 series of pictures, and I’ve blurred anyone else who looked like they might want it. Though in these 2007 pictures, I’m only aware of one person from the forums being involved.

21st April

Stix near our apartment. 1st visit I think of the trip. We have our friend Chris on the left, AlexC on the right, me hiding behind, and a random local behind:) I’ve checked, and any photos presented on the front page, as opposed to behind a ‘click here to read more’ type link, will not be displaying any Dutch herbs, as I don’t want to put off advertisers.

Amsterdam Chris Merriman AlexC ChrisD 2007

The two below are the scene outside the entrance to our apartment. It belonged to Hotel Amstelzicht, just down the road. Yes, I got a bit distracted in Photoshop when I returned, and had a go at making these two shots a little different to the normal point’n’click affairs presented on this blog.
Amsterdam Chris Merriman AlexC ChrisD 2007
Amsterdam Chris Merriman AlexC ChrisD 2007

Right, thats your lot for now, I’ve no idea whether these posts will total a series of 13 again, I need to try and keep load times down on the front page for this blog, as Bluehost seem to be having another go-slow on my server 🙁

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Feb 10 2009

Amsterdam 2008 Photos – Finally

Category: Amsterdam,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 9:23 pm

Before my life is taken over my nappies, changing mats & cute shoes, I wanted to try and catch up with tasks in real life, and bits I’d never quite got to finishing on the blog. So, here are the first of some Amsterdam April 2008 shots.
As you may remember from my ramblings at the time, a problem with flights had meant we missed the last connection from Frankfurt to Amsterdam on the 19th by mere minutes.
Anyway, we grabbed a couple of hours of sleep in a nearby hotel, got up for my Birthday and decided we would try and make today run a little better. A beautiful sight of some bunnies frolicking on the lawn below our window. Glad of the few hours rest we’d had, we got ready and headed to the airport for the first flight out Amsterdam. We were NOT going to be missing the 4.20pm meet on 4/20 at the coffeeshop 420 🙂
Anyway, more of that later, have these as a taster of the posts to come. I’ll try and put up the ones from 2007 later, with Chris and Alex…
Continue reading “Amsterdam 2008 Photos – Finally”

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Dec 19 2007

Irina Is Home Again :) :) :)

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:15 am

OK, she actually got back on Monday, but we have been busy today sorting a new PC for her mum. Anyway, her trip to London seemed to go well, and in just 3.5 days, we will all be heading back to Heathrow again. Whilst she was away, I met up with David, his wife, and another Chris. David and Chris work for a western company here in Astana, and should be here for a while. Anyway, more on that later on. It is really good to have Ira back in my arms again 🙂

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Oct 26 2007

Lovely Screen, Shame About The Contents

Category: Amsterdam,PersonalChrisM @ 3:49 am

This is the second and last post regarding my journey through Kaliningrad ‘International’ Airport. I made notes up until this point during the holiday, for some reason things get a little hazy during my time in Amsterdam….

The big screen I mentioned in a previous post was now visible to us. Wow, it was high quality, had flight numbers, destinations, and even the weather at each destination! Unfortunately it lacked any sort of column for flight times or estimates of delays involved. (Can you tell where this story is heading yet, dear reader?). I was not too worried, as there were only six or seven departure exits from the area, and you could even find a seat in the smoking section that gave a view of all but one of these 🙂 When it got to 10 minutes past the approximate boarding time for my next flight, I was a little concerned, but had seen no one leave for any flights at all. There were a few announcements, in Russian, but these seemed to be more procedural statements (don’t leave luggage unattended etc.) than flight info, so I asked the Germans if they had flown through here before (only to discover two spoke English), and if so did they know what happened when flights were delayed? A friendly shrug informed me they were currently as clueless as me.
I then decided to tour the perimeter of the area, determined to find someone who spoke English, or at least would be prepared to listen to my attempts at enquiries in Russian. (Don’t laugh too hard, several times officials (not just in Kaliningrad) who realised my Russian skills were not sufficient to conclude any conversation quickly had walked off, with no clue as to my next suitable avenue of enquiry.) I quickly found a friendly lady who pointed me in the direction of a young girl who worked there and spoke better English than my Russian. I was informed that there was nothing to worry about, that a flight from Moscow had been delayed by two hours, and that three passengers hoping to get to Amsterdam were on that same flight. And no, neither announcements nor TV screens had yet revealed this info. (Again, I mainly wanted to know so that my next time in the airport would not involve so much mystery). There were a couple of things I had not fully understood, and when Ira called me up, to check I was about to get on the plane, and hadn’t fallen asleep somewhere silly, I was about to ask her to double check them with someone at the airport, if I handed my mobile over. However, Irina had been told by the airport a few moments earlier that my flight to Amsterdam WAS on time, and that all passengers were boarding this very second. Obviously this left Irina concerned that I had mightily goofed, and was about to miss a flight involving the Netherlands once again. Eventually the lady who I had previously spoken to proved to be correct, and the person who had spoken to Ira was full of crap. I had already called Alex and Chris, to confirm that they had left Cheltenham and were on their way to Birmingham airport (more on that later). Unfortunately I found I was not able to make calls to Kazakhstan at all, though calls to Britain had obviously worked. Two hours after our planned departure, our plane left Kaliningrad, and I was most glad of the 1.5 hours of sleep I grabbed on the flight.
Schiphol, Amsterdam itself and UK trip info to follow in other posts soon.

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Jul 17 2007

Chris’s First Blog Post

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 12:11 am

What on earth am I supposed to say in my very first blog post?

uh, Hello?

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Aug 18 2006

A Little Later Than Intended

Category: Kazakh Driving,Kazakhstan,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 3:12 am

OK, as promised, here is some more info, from Mum & John’s perspective.

This is basically a cut’n’paste job from an e-mail they sent to family and friends (with permission I hasten to add ;>)

“”For those of you ancient enough to Radio 4 be familiar with Alistair Cooke’s “Letter from America” this is likely to seem a pale comparison. Certainly less erudite and not as well crafted – but hopefully it will inform and maybe even amuse, though the political comment will be markedly absent!

This is Carol’s second visit to this amazing country and my first. As we flew in at night the lack of any settlements for hundreds of miles prior to landing in Astana was perplexing. It was hard to comprehend such vast tracts of land without population. Then Astana appears on the Kazakh Steppes resembling a modern Emirate city. Disney could not have bettered it! When Carol was here last she arrived through the back door, via the old capital of Almaty, then a twenty three hour train journey across a hot and dusty terrain. She made the trip for her son (Chris) & daughter in law’s (Irina) marriage. Jokingly she had said as she left to Irina’s father that he was to have a new airport built on her return. He did – and a pretty impressive airport to boot! It is so refreshing to see architecture which is not afraid to be adventurous, particularly in the teeth of such extreme weather conditions. Thankfully on this trip it has been kind to Carol & me, between 21°C & 30°C. The temperature can famously vary between -30°C in the winter to +40°C during the short summer months.
Continue reading “A Little Later Than Intended”

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Aug 17 2006

Mum And John Westward Bound

Category: Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 2:36 pm

Mum & John left early this morning, heading to Heathrow, via Istanbul.

It was brilliant to see them again, and a little sad when they left, but Ira & me hope to visit the UK around Christmas time.

I’ll post more on their visit in a while, but just wanted to take this opportunity to thank them for coming, and our Kazakh friends & family for making them feel so welcome.

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