Jan 15 2012

Amsterdam – 5th January

Category: Amsterdam,Friends,PersonalChrisM @ 4:42 am

I’m going to write a few posts and include a few of the photos from last week’s Amsterdam trip. As this post is focused on the 1st day of the trip, it should have details of getting into the Netherlands at just past midday, a smooth journey into Central station, meeting ChrisB and checking into our houseboat, and meeting online friends in real life.

Unfortunately, the first flight was cancelled. This meant potentially hanging around Cardiff International Airport for six hours or so. Luckily, John came back to take me out for a pub lunch. Upon my return, I was once more ready to go with my hand luggage packed tight, tickets to hand etc. etc. Once again, it was not to be, as Schipol airport was still having weather problems, and not accepting any flights from Cardiff that day. This left me a little peeved off, and KLM put me into a taxi to get to Heathrow for their last flight to Amsterdam. Even with clear roads it would have been pushing it, but I was a little late arriving to Heathrow. However, as there were a lot of delayed flights, I didn’t end up missing it.

Finally I got into Amsterdam with most of Thursday gone, but at least I was there! Skipping the planned tram card and local SIM card sourcing, I dumped my bags at a locker in Central Station, and used TomTom to ensure I was wandering in the right direction for Nes – where I had arranged to meet ChrisB (and in fact where I had arranged to meet some friends from the Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory a lot earlier in the day). Although Nes allows smoking in their bar, they don’t sell anything to smoke, just alcohol. ChrisB had been talking to a few people though, and one of them had gifted us a little something to tide us over until the morning. After a few beers and vodkas to sooth my frayed nerves, ChrisB pointed out the way to our houseboat, and a few hours later, we were both sleeping on a gently bobbing boat.

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Nov 12 2010

Long Hair And T-Shirts

Category: Anna's Photos,FriendsChrisM @ 9:46 pm

Back on the 16th of April (a few days before my birthday) we all popped over to the Agnew’s residence, as we don’t get a lot of opportunities to catch up with each others’ news. I forgot to ask if it was OK to publish photos of our friends, so you will have to make do with just a photo of Anna and me. She is proudly wearing her “I love Wales” t-shirt, and by the looks of it, about to make a grab for something she isn’t supposed to. You may remember that last Christmas we spent Christmas Day at the Agnews, and had a great time; this year however, we will be spending Christmas and New Year back in Britain, and giving our friends a bit of piece and quiet 🙂 Looking back at these pictures, I’m still surprised at just how much Anna’s hair has grown in such a short amount of time!

Chris And Anna Merriman At The Agnews

Chris And Anna Merriman At The Agnews

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Sep 07 2010

Plane Tickets

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 10:41 pm

I am pretty sure that this post will end up working my anti-spam plugins overtime, but I was wondering if anybody knew of where to get good Astana <> Britain tickets – price wise? Back in 2006 ChrisD managed to find a return flight that was ridiculously cheap, something silly like two to three hundred pounds. Whenever we go back to the UK for Christmas/have family or friends over, we try to find the cheapest deals going, but never really get very far. We obviously try Travelocity, Expedia and LastMinute , and then once we’ve found the cheapest flights, check the airline’s own website, in case there are special offers on. For a short while, Air Astana had a great deal on return flights (but only from Kazakhstan and back again, not vice versa) but that offer expired. Anyway, does anyone have a tip of where to look, or alternative approaches to consider? Mum will be here in Astana in a little over two weeks, so it would be too late to save her money, but we are hoping to go back to Wales around Christmas/New Year time, so if we need to book well in advance for savings, now would probably be a good time to check, I’m assuming.

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Jul 08 2010

Celt Caption Competition – Chocolate Chance!

Category: Anna's Photos,PersonalChrisM @ 6:14 pm

I just wanted to write something quickly letting people know about a post over at Celt Photographic (JohnK’s site). It has the picture below this text, and a request to provide a good caption for it. See here.

Chris And Anna Relaxing At Home

So far we have

“…and the world’s a better place when you’re upside down…sweet about me” ,

“Australian Baby rearing therapy is questioned” ,

and the current favourite, “Despite vigorous shaking the jelly bean dispenser appeared to be empty”!

I’ve added “Father very carefully & securely holds his daughter upside down, as she really enjoys seeing the world from that perspective, and at no point was any shaking involved whatsoever” more as an explanation for concerned readers (one hand holding Anna by the shoulders), rather than a specific entry to the competition.

The bar of chocolate needs to be picked up in Wales by the winner.
The judge’s decision is final.
If I get around to upgrading CeltPhotographic to WordPress 3.0 and the site goes down, you may need to resubmit your caption.
No idea when the closing date is 🙂

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Jun 21 2010

Dinosaurs, Anna And Irina

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 8:53 pm

Carrying on from the last Anna’s Videos post, we have some shots of Anna and Irina. Anna has on a Welsh outfit that apparently used to be worn on days other than St David’s Day 🙂

One day I will figure out how to prevent duplicate posts from appearing in Anna’s blog when I put both photos and videos in the same post, and tick the appropriate categories. Until then, you’ll just have to put up with a little scrolling inconvenience 🙂

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Jun 21 2010

Welsh Outfit

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 8:09 pm

The 2nd Of March, one day after Saint David’s Day (Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant in Welsh) was when this video clip was taken. Anna is dressed in traditional Welsh costume. Mum is dressed in a traditional dressing gown 🙂 Hmm, listening to the video again, Irina says it was actually St David’s day when the video was shot, so maybe it was just the camera being set to Astana time (+6 GMT) that has thrown me off?

Yep, confirmed looking at the dates and times embedded in the pictures from two different cameras, and the date and time from the original videos (MPGs), these were shot on the 1st of March.

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Jun 21 2010

Wales And Sheep

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 5:42 pm

This time (1st March 2010) we have another Wales top, this time no sports involved, just a simple message… I Love Wales. Also in the shot was another of Anna’s favourite reasons to dive onto the ground and giggle, a big (somewhat flat) sheep. I wonder if vegetarians and/or vegans wear wool? Totally unrelated to the picture really, I realise. Not wearing leather I could understand (obviously the cow has to be dead before you can wear the skin), not drinking milk or eating eggs I can see what objections could be raised (possible poor conditions and taking away hen’s creation chances), but does shaving wool off of a wandering sheep count as cruelty? Any veggie readers, please do let me know. Feel free to stay anonymous if you want to avoid finger pointing/laughs from Kazakh meat lovers.

Anna Loves Wales

Anna Loves Wales

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Jun 14 2010

Rugby Shirts

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 11:37 pm

Taken on the 26th of February, here we have a couple of shots featuring Anna in a Wales rugby shirt, kindly being put into place by John, before we settled down to watch the match. Also another shot of Anna with her little backpack on, because (we think) she looks just so cute 🙂

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May 28 2010

List Too Long For A Tweet

Category: BooksChrisM @ 7:58 pm

Unless you are @janeslee, or have a particular interest in which books I’ve read in the last three or so weeks, you can probably safely ignore this post. If you are janeslee, do I know you in real life?
I just noticed that you were in Wales, and despite my current location being Astana, Kazakhstan, we are based in Swansea when we are back in Britain.
Anyway, as you may guessed, my answer to your query of “what you reading that’s keeping you intrigued?” wouldn’t fit within 140 characters, so I’m writing this here and will reply to your tweet with a bit.ly link to this post.

John Birmingham – Final Impact
Jasper Fforde – Something Rotten
David Gerrold – The Man Who Folded Himself
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Destination: Amaltheia
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – The Final Circle of Paradise
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Prisoners of Power
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Roadside Picnic
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – The Time Wanderers
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Poor Cruel Folk
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Monday Begins On Saturday
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – The Gigantic Fluctuation
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Spontaneous Reflex
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Probationers
Harry Turtledove – The Man With The Iron Heart

I haven’t found a very well stocked English book shop here in Kazakhstan suddenly, these were all read on my MP4 player than can read plain TXT files. (Obviously I own all these books in paper form back in the UK, and wouldn’t dream of downloading e-books otherwise… /end-arse-covering)

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Apr 06 2010


Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 1:25 am

These were shot on the 15th of February, and show a cuddly donkey that Anna spotted, and John bought, on the way back from Heathrow airport to Clydach.

ROTFTD? A bastardization of ROTFL – (Rolling On The Floor Laughing becomes Rolling On The Floor Tackling Donkeys). Anna took a couple of days to become comfortable walking around Mum’s house in Wales (as she had only just started walking unaided back in the more familiar landscape of our flat in Astana). When she had had enough of walking around, she would sometimes totter up to the poor donkey and literally dive onto it…

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