Oct 10 2011

Anna’s Progress

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 9:33 pm

Just a quick post to keep people updated with how things are going here for Anna. Since we moved over from Astana, we have been trying to make sure that Anna was slowly getting used to behaving like a little girl, rather than a large baby!
The first thing we did was to stop using her special high chair at meal times. Now obviously we were not looking for an armchair or lounge chairs to place at the dining table, but given that she isn’t quite tall enough to comfortably sit on a dining room chair and reach her food easily, we originally put a few folded up blankets under her. This was OK for a couple of weeks, but then she decided that sitting like Mummy, Daddy, Nana and John would be her preferred position.
I’m writing this post having just returned from taking Anna swimming again. Although we took her to lessons in Astana almost two years ago, that was in a huge paddling pool, and was really just to get her used to being in the water. Over here we are taking her to a lesson each week (when possible) and/or just some free time in the pool.
Although she has had her own “proper” bed to sleep on (rather than a cot/crib) in Astana for a while now, this visit was the first time she used a big girl’s bed here in Clydach. Other than moving the bed-side table further away from the bed (in case she falls out, having a wooden corner to break her fall didn’t seem to clever) we haven’t had to make any other furniture based changes.

Relaxing In A Chair

Yes, OK, I admit that I chose that picture because I think it will cause a few of this site’s male readers to actually read the post! Anyway, why are we trying to ensure that a lot of Anna’s behaviour and accessories from her baby years are altered or removed? Because when her little brother is born (he was due a couple of days ago!), and eventually starts using them himself, we didn’t want Anna to see this as her brother stealing “her” things, but rather him going through the same processes as she already has. “I’m a big girl who doesn’t need these things” rather than “My little brother arrived and now I can’t do lots of things I used to be allowed to!”. If I’ve not spoken with you recently, and we’re not connected on facebook, this post may be the first time you have heard Irina is pregnant; everything is going fine, no problems so far, and although her due date was a few days ago, that is using the UK ETA – Kazakh doctors reckoned she wouldn’t give birth until a week later.
Finally, we have potty training (round 2)! Although Anna had used a potty first thing in the morning since she was able to sit up unassisted, when we took her back to Kazakhstan, she straight out refused to sit on one! Rather than forcing the issue, we had originally hoped she would warm to the idea on her own. We now have a combined step/potty/toilet seat adapter, and during the daytime she now wears big girl’s knickers (with only a couple of accidents so far), though night time or long car journeys would probably be asking a bit too much too soon of her, so nappy supplies are still on hand. The step is used to reach sinks (so she can wash her own hands) and kitchen surfaces when she cooks etc.
Anyway, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Anna will continue to (overall) happily shed her baby habits and furniture, so when the newest Merriman addition arrives, no ill will will surface towards him from Anna.

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Sep 24 2011

Laying the table… http://t.c…

Category: Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 2:28 am

Laying the table… http://t.co/oXcuw6iv .
Serving the food… http://t.co/9BfPjHmW .

Proper Burgers!

To Each Their Own (Drink)

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Nov 05 2010

Easter Bread For Anna

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 10:50 pm

I don’t normally post such short videos, but I just love the look of joy in Anna’s eyes as she realises no one is going to stop her from grabbing the Easter bread (I think the hand swooping in at the end is just to stop the food from going on the floor). Not much else to add – the video was shot on the 4th of April 2010, the same day as the photos of the Easter bread that were posted earlier. I’m hoping to post up a few more pictures and
videos of Anna, if not tonight then tomorrow.

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Oct 28 2010

Friends, Guns, Roses And Burgers

Category: Eating Out,Friends,PicturesChrisM @ 2:35 am

These are the pictures I previously mentioned. DanD, Walton and I all met up with DanC (who was back in Astana for the weekend) for a meal and a few drinks. Although DanD and I had already been to this bar since the Guns n’ Roses chain had taken it over from Northwind’s management, we weren’t sure if the prices, ambience, layout and staff attentiveness were all just boosted for their opening week, or whether we could consider adding it to our list of regular haunts.
As it turned out, the G n’ R management seem to have noticed all the little issues that prevented North Wind from ever really filling up with customers, and addressed them from the very start. The layout of the bar and surrounding tables has been changed, the prices, whilst not cheap, are certainly a lot more reasonable than previously, and the menu (in both English and Russian) has enough variety (from traditional Western bar food to steaks and garlic bread) to meet most people’s needs. Both times we have been there, there was live music and the normal tables were full up with people enjoying themselves. Finally, the dance floor was occupied most of the evening.

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Oct 06 2010

Anna sat like the big girls do…

Category: Anna's Photos,TweetsChrisM @ 6:57 pm

Anna sat like the big girls do. El Taco next to the Kino Park in Mega http://twitpic.com/2v49xc

Anna Waiting For Her Food

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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 09 2010

Last tweet was a shot entering…

Category: Anna's Photos,TweetsChrisM @ 1:36 am

Continuing with tidying up the multiple tweets into a few posts, this is the last of the phone camera shots from our weekend in Petropavlovsk. Anna is trying to get a peek at something on the table, whilst we were waiting for everyone to arrive.
The food was mostly OK, and one waiter was most definitely Kazakh in his approach to customer service. Friends and family of Aunty Sveta seemed to enjoy themselves, and everyone had nice words for her during the toasts.

Anna At The Restaurant In Petropavlvosk

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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…

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Jul 27 2010

Breakfast in Evesham

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 2:05 am

The next day from the previous post was the 12th of March, and we took a few shots of Anna at my Dad’s house during breakfast time. The highchair with no legs reference is to the portable seat you secure to a normal seat, and actually worked really well! Not much else to say for these photos, other than it they include a rare shot of Anna with a bib on without food being splattered everywhere. She is, of course, a lot less messy now. Usually 🙂

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Jul 06 2010

Better Than Expected

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Personal,VideosChrisM @ 1:58 am

OK, so to clarify the tweets, twitpics and Qik videos from Sunday night, here is what happened… Irina’s friend from work had recommended a summer “café” in Astana park, near the river. (See below for the approximate location thanks to Google Maps.) Originally I had intended to check it out whilst watching a World Cup match or two, but friends and friends of friends already had their heart set on a different venue. So when it came to Independence Day (4th of July), we asked Walton and Assel if they would like to try out La Rivière. We arrived to find that it was less a café (which some would assume meant it was not as expensive as some restaurants), but decided to try it out anyway.
We knew there was the possibility of some live musical entertainment from Irina’s friend’s description, and we weren’t disappointed. When I saw the female singer (see previous posts for the male), my first impression was that she looked very good, and I therefore assumed that her vocal talents might not be as impressive. Although a few songs seemed to be outside of her comfort zone, the recordings below don’t really do her justice for the most part…

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The lady singer preparing for her show at Rivière.

Here we have her version of You’ll See by Madonna, as well as a quick glimpse of a hookah/hubbly bubbly/water pipe that we had (water melon and grape was the flavour tobacco we chose I think.)

This time she is singing “Sweet About Me”, and another quick shot of the hookah

This was a cover of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Penultimately we have Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music”

And finally, she sang “Its A Wonderful Life” (Black I think? A group that has a colour as their name at least.)

The food was quite expensive, and there was apparently only a choice of two beers. However the cheeseburger (I know, I’m a classy guy 😉 ) was tasty, and the local Line Brew was relatively cheap and appeared to have alcohol in it 🙂 The samsas that were supposed to be a starter didn’t arrive until after the main course, but were OK. The service was great (especially by local standards), though if your company has given you a discount card for La Rivière, be aware that there has apparently been a management change, so these cards are no longer accepted. The water pipe was nice (we didn’t splash out on the extra money required to have a pineapple used as the charcoal bowl), and when the charcoals had died out, they didn’t try and charge us for more, so we were able to finish off the tobacco. The big screen (well projector and screen) looks like it could be good for the next World Cup match we go out to watch, though we may need to reserve a table in advance. Overall, I’d recommend this place if your budget isn’t tight, or if you only plan to have a couple of drinks and want to chill out outdoors, with the possibility of live entertainment.

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