“when did I get left behind ?”

I was trying to wash some stuff the other day and the washing machine got the better of me. It looks like the options I chose came out to 478 minutes of cycle time and 10 hours of drying. Now forgive me but that does not sound right. I doubt it takes that long to weave or knit the things I am trying to wash. I could plead ignorance and say the instructions are not in English but I have actually downloaded them (the net is wonderful for this sort of thing). 57 pages,,,, yes 57 pages of instructions for the washer dryer and it only takes 5gk max load. Now using the instructions I can get the time down to a respectable 80 minutes washing but the drying is still a mystery so using the rack provided on the small terrace.

This got me thinking, there is an Einstein quote “Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler” thing I should recommend it to whoever wrote these instructions.

I am not sure exactly when technology overtook me but it has and it seems also to have raced off into the distance somehow.

What happened to washing machines with hot / cold, delicate / cotton, full / half. That’s all I need. The machine we have seems to also transport you into the future and predict the weather. I am not a Luddite by any meansIi have been unsuccessfully trying to convince Judi to buy to a High definition TV for a year or two. (we now have two which come with the flat ha!). I have an iPod and an iPhone and even a set or wireless speakers. So no entirely Neanderthal.  

Apart from the washing machine we have an electric hob which has 10 different combinations of rings each with 9 heat settings. Lucky for me the oven has only 3 dials so i am a little more confident about that. I have yet to download the instructions so sticking to one ring of the hob. This equipment of course also warns me that the ring is still hot even when it is turned off. I am slightly surprised it does not talk to me a bit like HAL in 2001 “Steve I don’t think you should put your hand there the temperature will sear the first four Epithelium layers of your left hand” in a nice quiet soothing voice. I was happy with 4 gas rings and thought automatic ignition was a huge leap forward. Not sure I needed more than that.

We purchased an iron last weekend which has (and I kid you not) 26 translations of the instructions although none in English.
It was made in France so maybe they still bear a grudge anyway given its only an iron how difficult can it be.
The clock radio was fine even without English I could work it out. The two air conditioning units slightly more complex as the units are identical but the controllers are different but I do have plenty of time and I can be very persistent.

There is a water purification unit under the sink which takes up about half of the cabinet which I am not even going close to and the video controlled building entrance has yet to be decoded. It has a record, view and away buttons and can probably be updated via the web somehow.

There is another Einstein quote “it’s not that I am smarter just that i stay with problems longer” so I will eventually catch up with the 21st century. I mean I managed to set up a blog right,, not sure anyone is reading it but it is keeping me amused.

Have to go there was a noise on the landing and when I opened the door there are 8 chairs there, no people just chairs so something is happening.

I think there is a party going on down at the Metro

Well it seems to be a party?.
The Moscow Metro has over 150 stations, 10 lines carries up to 9 million people each day (more than London and New York combined). Tickets cost 22 rubles per trip (around 31 to the $). Trains run every minute during rush hour which stops people pushing too much. All of the signs are in Cyrillic which is a pain given I cannot understand it and being colour blind slows me down when looking for the blue line alongside the purple one but not the end of the world. The actual platforms are almost works of art whilst the entrances can be somewhat “used” looking.


The reason I am commenting is due to the large volumes of people coming and going at the Metro stations most have small villages of wooden cabins to service these people. These small enterprises sell most things, Cigarettes, Phones and phone cards, pastries, groceries, concert tickets, ice cream, CD’s, DVD,s fruit and veg, flowers (we have a 24*7 flower shop) beer and one I saw which was selling plumbing supplies.
So where is the party? well I have mentioned lots of people drinking beer on the street. Don’t get me wrong it is not everyone and there are few drunks but around the Metro it seems to be prevalent. Drinking is not allowed on the Metro so people on their way home buy a couple of bottles (more bottles than cans) and hang around the entrances drinking before going home. There is no social distinction everyone from the sharp suited business people through to the women in high fashion (Girls dress up a lot here, very high heels) and everyone in between.

No kids drinking only adults. Now of course this is somewhat of a captive audience so there are street singers and small bands happy to entertain these groups. So it seems most evenings are a bit of a party. There is usually a couple of policemen around but I have not seen any trouble at all and everyone seems to understand the protocol which is just hang around and take it easy and chat with your friends.

As well as the cabins there are normally a few people who are selling their wares. Strawberries or flowers from the garden. homemade cakes or just odds and ends. I managed to negotiate the purchase of some flowers from some old dear the other day. You need to remember to buy an odd number of flowers for some reason even numbers are only for funerals. 

This all makes for an entertaining view and something of a party atmosphere.
Anyway off to get a new Sim card for my iPhone which I got unlocked so should be good to go soon.
I was waiting to get my passport back as for some reason I need it for this. It had gone for its 4th visa but came back without it so need to try again for that towards the end of the week.


“leaving on a jet plane, don’t know ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,”

So here I am in the smoking lounge in Atlanta airport again, this should be the last time for a while as we are finally on our way. It is Sunday and we completed the walk through of our huge home in here and we need to get used to the fact that we will be living in a 139 sq meter apartment for the next couple of years. I want to say the new place is 1/10th of the US one but not sure.

The day is going ok. Stayed at the DoubleTree last night a mile from where we live and left Eric at home thinking it would less stress for her to be in a place she knows. At $110 for one night I thought was excellent value and the rooms are well laid out. Only slightly soured by being charged $27 for breakfast (should have gone to the Waffle House). An hour or so doing the house check out. No real problems as it actually in better shape now than when we moved in.

Arrived at the airport at noon for a 4:45 flight (got to love that girl) dropped Judi and Eric outside the check in and took the car back to the rental. Momenterarly forgetting I then have to drag the cases back. Into the ticket queue no minders this time bit of a shame I was planning to tell them we were sending the cat as an unaccompanied minor. Little did I know Delta would get their own back. $150 to carry the cat on the plane and sit under our feet. Still no turning back so smile as we hand over the credit card. Next the scanners I hold back the crowd by acting dumb (no comments on that please) whilst Judi gets Eric out of her bag to be carried through. Trying to get her back in the carrier proves difficult as the staff are busy collecting the bins so the carrier keeps moving along the conveyor. Amusing for everyone watching but not for those involved. Done so I scoot through.

I have a plan to strap the carrier to my walk on thinking it would be easier than being jogged up and down on my shoulder. A good plan however every time she moved she upsets the delicate balancing act and the carrier falls to the floor. Judi decides after three drops that she will carry Eric as it will be safer. We head for one of the Delta lounges only to find it does not open until 2pm. Now am I picky or should I expect that the largest Airport in the world and the home of my carrier of convenience would have their lounges open 24*7 especially given you have to pay for the privilage of getting in (or not as the case may be). So we find another lounge which is of course packed and settle down. The only point to note is 3 guys regaliing each other about the different types of aircraft and the plusses and minuses for each. Now it has never interested me as to what type of aircraft I am on. my only thoughs are around takeing off and landing on time. I notice aircraft by how clean they are and the level of service I get not by the mechanics. The only way I can tell what aircraft i am on is to look at the emergency card in the seat pocket as it allways tells you there.

I get bored and wander off to go and check the gate which is not open. Wander around then go and relieve Judi. She finds the gate open when she goes past and hands over her US I-94 and gets her Russian visa validated. Next my turn to go again, the queue is about 15 people and after 15 minutes it is 10. The two staff behind the counter seem to be preoccupied one with the flight crew and the other on the phone. By now I am bored so decide I will do when board given I have checked luggage they won’t take off without me. So head for the smoking lounge.

  This is when I spot this guy with a tattoo of who else “Elvis”. I take a few looks and try and get a shot on my iPhone but it is too far away so i decide to go and ask if I can get a close up. He is Dutch and more than happy to oblige even showing me the one on his other arm which I had not noticed. I casually mention I was in Graceland a few weeks back and would you believe it so was he. So we have a great chat about all the things we saw the rooms and general Elvis related stuff. Sun Records, Beal street and all of the other things we got up to. 

 He and his wife even went to Tupelo. So there we are having a great time smoking and chatting when my phone goes off and I know what’s next. it’s Judi asking if I am lost, it’s time to board so off we go.

I queue jump to get my visa checked then cut across the lines to catch up with Judi. Dump Eric on the floor in front of us and settle in with my iPod and bag of peanuts. Eric is slightly dozy given the amount of drugs I have given her. Not asleep just dozy and she is find when not on the move just a little skittish when the bag is moving what you hear is this low yawl. This is what everyone hears as we take off. The plane has 3 cats on board which the girl on the phone informed me is the maximum allowance. Not exactly how they came to this valuation but at $150 each I think they should let more on. Eric is of course the only one making a racket.

I decide probably best not to drink given Judi has had a couple of glasses of champagne before we take off. She has travelled with the cat before on her own and I think she should have got a medal. It is difficult enough with two of us trying to manage it so you have to admire her fortitude in doing all on her own when we moved to the States. Ok so what is the entertainment “Hotel for dog’s and Race to Witch Mountain”. Not a surprise given these seem to be the only ones they have. Not bothered at all as this is our official move and the flight is over 10 hours we got business seats and can choose our films. Well we would have had it not been for the fact that a couple of hours into the flight just after dinner the power to the interior of the plane went off. No Tv, No moving the seats, no hot water for coffee no reading lights and od course critically important no inflight quiz for Judi to play. After another hour the pilot tells us he has decided to continue as turning back to JFK would be disruptive to us. Well it would be disruptive to and also very expensive for Delta as well, having both plane and crew on the wrong continent so we all decide to go with the flow. One notable incident when I got up to see why a couple of people were talking so loud only to find both had earphones on. I as tactfully as I could suggested they may find it easier to communicate if they took them off for a moment which seemed to surprise them ome what. 

Landing slightly early I fully expect to be checked for swine flu again however there has been another change in the process and all we have to do is fill out a form saying where we have been recently which gets up off the plane and we quickly get in the queue at customs. Get through and wait for the cases. As a final parting shot our “Priority” luggage makes it onto the carousel as part of the last bunch of bags so if you ever get one of those yellow tags attached to you baggage don’t get too excited as the it makes not a jot of difference.

If I did not know better I would think Delta had been getting their own back for all my bad behavior over the last couple of years.
They cannot possible run a profitable airline like this can they ??.

So settling in to the new apartment and having lots of fun with more visa forms and other “official processes” weather has been good which helps. Eric settled in fine although maybe the drugs are still working. Need to make a list of the things we need which never made it into the airfreight then go and buy them.
 Busy, busy, busy

“Thoughts from abroad”

First apologies for the delay not had access for a few days.

Even though we were paying for the apartment from the 15th June and arrived on the 20th the internet only got turned on 23rd.
(Judi says the Russians are not good at planning but excellent at catching up) The phone took another day and the furniture which the place is supposed to have is arriving in dribs and drabs. There is a great 10 seater dining table however no chairs but we are getting there.

One of the highlights was the airfreight arriving on time and in good order. A slight hitch when the security guard would not let the van in even though we had given them the company, vehicle type, license plate, arrival time and drivers name. (that is standard practice)
A couple of loud words in his direction helped although I also opened the barrier with my dibber so he had no option in the end as one they started to drive in I just kept waving them forward. I think playing the authority card may be something usefull. Ignore the process and just pretend you are in charge. The carrier had an interesting dress code, shorts sandles and socks. Not quite stylish but quite practical.

Now whilst everything arrived I of course am the one unpacking it and everything is triple wrapped so the place is swimming with paper and cardboard. One thing about removal people in general is they never question they just pack. In my time I have had the cardboard center from a kitchen roll, half a bottle of bleach and the cats bowl (half full of dried food) arrive at our new location so it was no real surprise to see a mostly used roll of tape and a carrier bag wrapped up in our belongings. They were probably just close to the rest of the stuff. I had to very specifically tell them “No Electrical, No Food, No cleaning materials” several times.


Anyway I decide to set to and unpack which is of course harder then packing it in the first place.
Half way through our agent(s) turn up as does the landlady’s agent and the landlady and her husband. Five of them sending Eric the cat scurrying for her new hiding place which is wedged behind a couple of suit cases in the walk in closet. This does give me the opportunity to mention the Internet, Wifi, Phone, Missing keys, Cable channels, dining room chairs and all the other odd items which still have to materialize. We do a quick inventory quick because we can stand in the same spot and see it all or the lack of it. I get the extra Tv channels and the Wifi logged. They try and explain that as we are so close to the Kremlin it gets blocked. Not falling for that one given I sat in Starbucks opposite the place with no problem. In the end I get a password but it does not work so it stays in the list.
The rest of the stuff is promised for the proverbial “tomorrow” but right now it is not the end of the world. I am given lots of manuals for cooker, washer/dryer, dishwasher, etc none of which is in English so plan to download them from the web sometime.
international calls and electricity need to be paid by us, in cash. The Landlady says she will drop the bills in the post box. I said fine given this is one of the missing keys there is now some incentive for her to find it. So after around 45 minutes they are gone but not befoer all of them want to see the cat which is a big topic of conversation. I manage to get her to poke her head out but seeing 6 of us in the closet was a little too much and it took her a couple of hours after they had left befoer she forgave me and wandered out.

I will catch up so expect a few reports this week.
There are some great items from the actual flight out of Atlanta on Saturday which I need to comment on especially the tattoos 

“its fun Jim but not as we know it”

So what’s all this International moves are fun?.


True it is an adventure but not sure the dictionary definition would include the word fun in it. Typing this sat on the floor as all the chairs have been packed there seems no stopping them this time. They have attacked the house from different directions so difficult to tell them “no not that” as I can’t be in every room at the same time. I have managed to isolate some items in a “Do not touch” area just to stop the team boxing them up and shipping them to some unknown storage point in the US. I managed to buy a new can opener yesterday for the 2 tin’s of beans I still have only to get back and find they had already packed all the plates and cutlery and pans so missed that opportunity to empty the store cupboard. I should know better by now 5th time but somehow this one seems more difficult.

Still crossing stuff off the list and that part looks fine. Judi took Eric to the vets this morning yowling as she went (Eric that is) came back with a clean bill of health and 5 syringes to give to her to “calm” her for the forthcoming voyage. Calm “her” what about me I though a nice little tablet would have done just fine mix it into her wet food which I have been training her to take. I say training its more if I don’t give it to her by 3 pm she is liable to bite me. 5 though seems a little excessive maybe some are for Judi. I can just imagine homeland security stopping me at the scanners and asking why I am trying to board a plane with syringes and what they are for. “Tranquilizers” will not be a great answer and I can envision a lengthy time in the interrogation room. Need a plan for those maybe I can say the cat is a diabetic and see if that works.

Hired the car booked the hotel for Friday night. What was a small pile of electrical stuff is slowly turning into a mountain all of which has to be left behind. US 110v the rest of the world 220v. I might just sneak the wireless router in a case if I can find space. A slight underestimation of the requirements for the last trip seems to have left us with cases on the wrong continent and Judi is trying to minimize these as Eric is the priority this time. We did a practice pack and I think everything will be fine but it will be touch and go.

Back to the packing 2 big burly men came and built a wooden frame on the drive for the piano and my prize possession a rug I bought here. It is a hanging rug not a walk on one and the pattern is of a mosque ceiling and is simply stunning. It took me 3 days to work out I could not live without it. (I love going out of business sales) I should point out it is my prized possession after Judi and Eric just in case either of them ever read this. (Judi says she is too busy and Eric says predictably “Me-ow”)

All that is left upstairs to pack is the bed. I hid some towels in the dryer so we could shower. The weather is touching 90 degrees and with the doors being open to shuttle thing back and forth it is impossible to keep the house cool. Maybe a storm this evening will cool things down, here’s hoping.

Cleared out the food cupboards so now even the beans are gone, not sure why or how we managed to end up with 3 types of dried chili’s or 2 jars of capers but no matter now they are gone. Judi of course wanted to clean all the cupboards (she is so like her mum sometimes) but I decline. I still remember having to de-grease them when we arrived. The house was not what you would have descibed as pristine when we got here and it took us about a month to fix. Anyway we have 1 emergency pizza in the freezer and a couple of bottles of wine so a picnic on the carpet is in order.  

Planned to watch the US Open but it got rained off so had to watch Egypt beat Italy at football (soccer)

“How could I be so wrong”

Well trying to get through the list of things to do before we leave the US and one of them is to post some Elvis memorabilia to a friend in London. Some cool stuff actually, who would not be glad of a nail file with a picture of Elvis in the gold lame suit or for that matter a white teddy bear with a fake pink leather jacket and many items of a similar style and exquisite taste. (Sorry Bev if you read this before they arrive but prepare to be thrilled). 

You know the drill off to the post office. Regular readers will know this is not my first time so I am prepared. I have already picked up the standard box and packed it and got the customs declaration form filled out. In fact the same process I used the other week to send something to Canada.

In the queue 4 in front 2 counter clerks not a problem. My turn comes I confidently stride to the counter. Wrong customs form I am told, Mmmmm it is the same one I used last time maybe Canada is a different sort of “International” destination. Ok don’t argue just take the form offered (which is not available in front of the counter) and off to fill it in. “Don’t wait in queue come straight back” is the instruction which gets me some interesting looks from the now 10 deep line behind me.

Fill out the form noting exactly the same information as on the first one To and From, value of goods, type of goods, no toxic or dangerous items. (Elvis’s hips had been declared dangerous to morals at some point but let’s leave that one out). All done and given I am in no rush I quietly slip to the back of the queue. Eagle eye spots me and tells me to “you no wait you come now” (interesting accent I note). Ok back at the counter where she checks the form and proceeds to weight the box and then says “wrong box”. Now I know this is the same box I used for Canada but she insists “this box only for first class” which is $48 rather than using another box ??? (which to me looks exactly like this one) but will only cost me $33. I sort of want to say who cares about $15 but know that I should care so now with my original box my new box, tape and bubble wrap I go to destroy a perfectly good package to put the stuff into an identical package. 

Slip back into the queue and now both counter clerks insist that I jump to the front. Neither are free but make me stand at the head of the line which is mercifully only 6 long now. So back to the counter but the “other” little helper this time. Tries to charge me $48 which of course I know is wrong and I suggest maybe $33 would be more suitable. Get one of those “we have a smartass” looks but I stand firm. I have been at this now for 20 minutes and already mentally spend some of the $15 on a can opener as ours is somewhere over the Atlantic in the airfreight, 5 cheese graters and only one can opener we need to balance out lives better I think. Good job I managed to rescue one of the bottle openers otherwise I would be in serious trouble. Anyway we agree on $33 but she has no change so now the queue which is getting restless needs to pitch in as I go hunting for change for one of the 2 $20 bills I have.

Interesting that all the males just pull folded bills out of their pockets and the females open up their bags to see if they actually have a purse. On a side note why do females always seem surprised at checkouts and are never ready “oh you want money, I have to pay? for this” that’s a surprise. Then spend a few minutes finding a purse and then finding a card or the cash. Maybe it’s me I just assume if I am near a cash register I had better have some way of paying available.

A kind gentle man breaks my $20 but has to break a $10 with someone else so I can hand over $33 and escape. I am pretty sure the Post offices I am going to use soon are going to be just as much fun but the process’s here never cease to amaze me. 

I have just filled out a different customs form and used a different box but no idea why, everything looked identical to me but I am not the professional here I just follow the process. How could I have been so wrong about something so simple.

Other items I have crossed off. Cancel the House and Car insurance, De-wired everything from the Tv cabinet. Managed to get some money into the new Citibank account in Moscow (it took 3 goes and cost 100 euro’s before it got in so that will get a blog of its own) Redirected the mail but that was on line so less stressful. Got the visa’s back. Got the home Pc ready to be picked up later today (its going to a friend). Booked the car hire for Wednesday. Ordered my eye drops for pick up later. Not booked the hotel for Friday yet but should not be a problem and Eric is off to the vets tomorrow and managed to book a vacation in the midst of all of this.

So it’s coming together and I suppose the countdown has begun. Got a call from the removal firm this morning asking if it was ok for them to come tomorrow and continue the packing which is only slightly worrying given they are booked to come tomorrow I am not going to worry about that I am off to find a can opener for less than $15.

June 9th “Another Airport adventure”

I said on Facebook the taxi Judi booked for the airport Sunday arrived 30 minutes early (what a surprise) well that got negated slightly as we were officially checking out of the flat so we had to wait for the girl to come and get the keys off us and to collect $100 for the mysterious mark which appeared on one of the cabinets. (My view is the cleaner tried to iron something on it, you know it would not have been Judi electricity, heat, water and Judi do not mix well together so she does not iron) 

So off to the Airport only 15 minutes ahead of schedule arriving in 40 minutes which is fine as no traffic at this time of day. Slightly congested drop off zone as it is in realty a parking zone. Russian parking is more stop and abandon than regulated. The place is full of people stopping anywhere and unloading cases and kissing each other. After 5 minutes of horn honking from the 30 or so vehicles waiting to climb the ramp do they even acknowledge “what you mean me, ok another 5 minutes whilst I wander around a bit”.

I am not that fussed as we have lots of time. Ok into the building passed the scanners which nobody is using. no hanging about in the middle as we know we will be on the left. Flight called, use my Delta Gold card to jump the queue and head for check in. Not a problem except the poor girl is trying to get some email from us which is like permission to enter the US. Now I know about this but given we have visas and we are not actually going but “returning” to the US this is not a problem. Well eventually it is not but for a few minutes it touch and go.

Done tickets lounge pass. (I used all of my airmiles for a 1st class return upgrade). Not sure where they hide the lifts so we use the stairs. Fine stuck behind someone trying to blag their friends into the lounge. One would have thought a little sweetener would have worked better than an argument but slip passed and in. Now of course you get a different class of people here. Well you would think so but not really. The usual mix of business suits, engineers who obviously travel the world some of the more affluent locals and others (not sure how the others get in but they are there). As I surf the food for something edible the attendant tries to get me to have a drink, its around 10:30 so whilst is maybe 5 o’clock somewhere not in my head it’s not so I pass on the offer of whiskey or vodka and settle for a coffee. Slightly predictable but not a surprise.
Judi wants to write a list of things to do so we don’t need to do it on the plane. All the items we need to get through and there are lots however everything seem to spin around the visas which need to get to the embassy and back and then the wait period before we can use them. The plan is to leave 20th and timing is fine as long as everything follows the plan. Cat, House, Airfreight, Storage, close accounts, etc etc the list starts to grow but it is finished. Interestingly Judi does not allocate responsibility or completion dates so she must be distracted.

So not much time to watch the fellow passengers. Although I do notice one guy who gets up and turns up the volume on the large plasma TV a little too loud I think not helped by the fact he then goes and sits down and picks up a magazine and starts reading. A couple of minutes later someone else gets up and turns it down someone else turns it up and another turns it down. I am wondering if there is a process and when will it be my turn?
There is a pregnant woman across from me, only slightly unusual but she is rather large which is always a worry to me. Think I might have a phobia about that. I am not keen about sitting next to heavily pregnant women. No first aid training you see. Anyway along comes another very pregnant lady and this one has a dog in a basket so she wins the “interesting person” contest.It is not often you see very pregnant ladies in airports and even rarer to see two at the same time so worth noting. (Let me know next time you see two at once) I decide to go for a wander. Not a lot going on except I get stopped by someone looking for the transfer desk. Why me do I look like a “helper”?. It must be the white shirt and blue jacket, anyway as it happens I do know where it is so I send them on their way (maybe my next job?). I am trying to buy some peanuts which is a staple for me on flights. They have every conceivable type other than “Salted”, Honey, jalapeno, etc. What’s wrong with plain salted peanuts. Sometimes I think the world is too complex, simple is ok. Anyway I will have to rely on my emergency supply hidden somewhere in my bag.

Flight gets called and Judi has me at the gate only 15 minutes before boarding. She has this thing about being first onto the plane. We board and there are only 12 people in 1st so the passenger to attendant ratio is 3:1 which should be fine. Being in first we don’t have to worry about the films. They are showing “Hotel for Dogs and Escape to Witch Mountain” in the main cabin which is no surprise. An 11 hour flight which is a drag as it is a long time to be doing not much. Once you have eaten (finished the peanuts before take off) and had a couple of drinks (it’s now 2pm so it’s ok) you fall asleep for a while wake up and find you still have 8 hours to fill. The lady over the other side of the plane is having the white wine and continues to do so for the whole of the flight. I nearly give her a round of applause when we land for her fortitude. The Russians in front of us recline their chairs so far they are in danger of tipping backwards into my lap at one point. Got the iPod on genius so it keeps me amused but in the end turn to the “Delta Radio” country channel. Sugerland quite good, Kenny Chesney (Who I like but not this one) Tim McGraw greatest hits III sorry Kim a couple of good tracks but some maybe not.

We land at the world’s busiest Airport “Hartsfield Jackson” Atlanta on one of the 5 runways and have to cross three to get to our gate #36. This is as far away from the airport as you can get without being in another county. A good run through customs and Baggage Claim then give the baggage back (don’t ask) so it can go through scanning. Through the personal scanners and onto the train. Follow the route E,D,C,A,B,T,Baggage. No delays no queues and it still takes an hour. I have never landed International and go through in less and often much longer especially if you get behind the Mexican or German flights for some reason.

Off to the car park and pick up the car which is very hot and off to Roswell which is one of the places we still call home (for little a while longer). 

June 8th “Let the games begin”

sorry got to do this one befoer it goes cold on me, I will comment on the flight home which was interesting sometime tomorrow “honest”

So it is now 7 am on Monday morning, Eric the cat has been trying to get us up since 4:30 am and we actually got up at 5:30 am as Judi had a conf call at 6 am (I’m not missing that sort of thing). We arrived in Atlanta at around 4:10 yeterday and despite being first in the queue for customer clearance and our bag waiting for us it still took an hour to get through into the fresh air. 11 hour flight and almost no sleep. (I will comment on the trip tomorrow)

OK the call is done now onto the insurance valuation of the items we are sending by air freight. Easy you might think but what value do you put on that “Shiva” ornament we bought in some little French backwater village in 2001 for 30 euro’s. So it becomes a sort of “the price is right” game where we chose a number and move on. We also have to have the discussion about exactly “why” we are taking that thing and not the other thing but we don’t argue on this we just plod along. 15 minutes and we have the valuation complete. On the one hand thoughts swing between have we packed enough against are we packing too much. Well it is what it is and we can replace almost anything we leave behind.

I had the enviable task of transferring the official files, Tax, bills, credit card notes, etc into new box’s as we are good at keeping all this sort of stuff sort of organized. However in Russia Judi says responsibility will transfer to me (so the filing system will get an overhaul for sure).

The “crew” arrives around 9 am and we show them all the stuff. It is piled onto the dining room table and spilling out into the hallway. Not sure exactly how the process works as we have two air containers but they are not here so everything will be put into box’s and then put into other bigger box’s. “Will they fit” is of course the thought. Anyway Judi puts me in charge and takes the car off to work.

It really does not take long for the team to convert all the mish mash into organized cardboard items and given their driver has gone off with the van by 10 am they are looking for work. “Can we pack the basement please” is the question. “Sure” say and show them everything which needs to go. “Let’s be clear” I say this is for storage not airfreight. The last thing I need is to find all this stuff turning up in the apartment we have just rented. Against the house we are in it is miniscule.

11:30 “is there anything we can pack upstairs Mr Bailwei”. Fine I show them the spare bedroom and another room which we never got around to naming. I tell them to keep out of T5 which gets puzzled looks. Well I know T5 is a reference to the Heathrow terminal which opened up to great fanfare and a lot of consternation as luggage went in but often failed to come out. So T5 is named because that is where we store all our luggage cases along with other items which are essential but not often actually needed.

I decide after all the work on the insurance form I had better print it off so 20 minutes later I have the 3 pages. Not sure why it took so long but it did. I sign them and place them on the now empty table. At this point I notice the labels “Bailwie Rosewell to Russia”. I had put down the way they were calling my name to the southern drawl and not an actual correct pronunciation of a miss spelt name.

Ok Ok all stop. I explain this is wrong and given all the airfreight has now gone I need to get them to focus on this. All of the box’s need to be relabeled and of course none of them are here. Given the amount of red tape and the forms you have to fill in then a basic thing like the name does not match is enough to send our possessions to some cosmic black hole that even the best that Star Trek could offer could not bring them back. There is a golden rule “you don’t mess with customs people” ever ever ever ever ever. Now they tell me there is room for my bike and the golf clubs after all so time to redo the forms (3rd time)

Note to self remind them again when they leave about the name. I do hope the van comes back soon though as I think they are looking to pack more things and we still need to live here for another 2 weeks. Not seen the cat for a while but trying to keep that thought in the back of my mind for as long as possible.

“Is that a naked man on the balcony ?”

Judi had posed the question “is that man naked over there?”.
Well it is difficult to tell really the balcony is covered in up to waist height so “hopefully not” I reply. We are still in our temporary apartment and it is part of a small cluster of flats. All around 10 storey’s high although one of our lifts does have buttons indicating it should have 16 floors. We face East so we get the sharp sunlight which starts around 4 am. Facing us we have 2 blocks so around 80 balconies. In the afternoon when the sun is shining on them there is a constant stream of men coming and going on these balconies all of whom do not have shirts on. A sort of naked “whackamole”. Many with beer in their hand some with cell phones some appear to be grilling although the space is probably no more than 2 feet deep and 12 foot long.

The beer is no longer a surprise to us. Where ever you go there are people drinking beer out of bottles and cans. This is not to say there are lots of drunk’s just lots of people drinking beer. The other day I watched this lady who was extremely well dressed in a black suit with gold accessories holding the hand of a 3 or 4 year old strolling around with a rather large can of Heineken being lifted to her lips every couple of yards. A strange sight but it is just normal people doing normal things.

The Russians also seem to have a liking for t-shirts with English slogans although I wonder if they understand what they say. There was one very elderly lady with what you would term an ample chest which proudly proclaimed “booty call” across it. I do think the baseball cap extolling the virtues of the LA Lakers was also interesting (she would be pleased to learn they trounced the Magic in game 1). “I’m with stupid >”, “Your the one I have been waiting for”,”I survived the 80’s” and lots of name brands like Old Navy, Abercrombie, Gap, etc. 

It would seem every one under the age of 30 walks around with earphones in and everyone and I mean everyone has a cell phone and is using it. The kids could be transported to any other country and would not be out of place. They follow all of the “norms” with interesting hair styles and clothing, skateboards, pocket games etc. Watching them they are no different to anywhere else I have been with small groups of giggling girls sharing text messages whilst drinking coke or coffee. Lots and lots of coffee shops around with locals dominating the scene but several Starbucks around.

We are getting the hang of things but will be glad to move into the permanent apartment when we come back in a couple of weeks.
I picked up the keys yesterday, well I say picked up the keys. What I actually picked up was a magnetic key to get into the building and the two which open the 3 bolt deadlock locks. I still have to pick up.
The second set for Judi
The keys to the cupboards on the landing for the winter wear.
The key for the balcony
The key for the walk through gate
The electronic key for the car park barrier
The key for the underground car park
The key for the stairway door
all of these for a place with 2 X 24 hour security guards.

I am sure it will all work itself out and today I am going to take over some of the clothes we have been accumulating on our various trips. I should be ok as we have emailed the landlady with our car registration so hopefully they will let me in, we shall see.

Anyway back to the original question, I had stepped onto the balcony to see what Judi was on about and of course I had no shirt on as it is still very hot here. I am now looking across at a lady who is looking back and probably thinking “Is that guy naked over there”