Saturday, 28 November 2009

Another Day, Another Dubai Airport Bar

I'm in a different bar this morning at Dubai airport, their Irish Bar, complete with Irish ballards on the stereo system. I've got a four-hour wait here (in the airport, not the bar!) before my flight to Dhaka. The clock says 10.35am, my laptop says it's 6.35am, I'm not sure what time my body thinks it is. It is traditional to have a beer when in an airport bar, regardless of the time (after all, it's 5.30pm somewhere), but even I had to relent when I arrived here, so I had an orange juice and a coffee. An Irish coffee, though :-) Seeing as it is rapidly approaching 11am local time, I think a beer will be ordered next, but I have to think of the bladder effect, I do have 5 hours on a plane soon enough. The beer is £6 a pint - I think expenses will cover it - but at least the internet is free.
It was a good job I chose to take the late flight last night, 10pm from Heathrow rather than the 8pm flight I got last time round, as yesterday was a busy day. We got Olga's passport application checked at the Post Office and sent off, then took the boys for a walk down by the Thames. We let Jackson off the lead, and most of the time he was well behaved, and came back when called, even when there were other dogs to play with. Olga only had to go after him once when we were downwind of him and he couldn't hear us calling him back, so he carried on chasing a spaniel. We hoped he might go swimming in calm bits of the river, and in doing so Mishka would be encouraged to go in, but as you can see from the photo below, they didn't go very far in at all:

They were treated to a bath at home, so we had to very nice smelling, if very fluffy, dogs in the afternoon. I did my best to electrocute myself fixing a new outdoor light, so Jackson can see where he's going when he disappears out of the cat flap in the evenings, but it all worked in the end without any painful disasters.
Lara did her best to look extremely cute before I packed up to go to the airport, I just had to post these photos:

Well, I think that's all for now. More from Dhaka later in the week....

Friday, 27 November 2009

Tree, Dva, Adeen.. Count!!

Lara's speech is improving day by day, she can recognise lots of things in her bedtime story books, she recognises the animals, can say what they are and what noise they make, and remembers how the story unfolds. At least this is the case with one of her "Spot the Dog" books, she shocked me one night when lifting up a flap and saying "Boo", when the image under the flap was Spot in the bath with a speech bubble saying "Boo"! For a microsecond I thought she'd read it, but of course she'd just learnt that that's what Spot says on that page of the book.
She's starting to string words together more, so we hear much more of "My coat", "My hat" etc.. rather than "mine!" and "coat". The current excitement is based on counting, and in the car on the way to nursery each morning she practises counting with Olga - in Russian, just to make it more interesting. I practise with her in English when it's my turn to put her to bed, or at any other time when it's just the two of us. Lara is confident with adeen (1), she loves dva (2) and tree (3), she struggles with chet-eer-re-yeh (4) quite understandably, but enjoys p'yet (5). We're working on 6 to 10, which she copes with quite well, except for vo-sem (8) for some reason, which so far this week has come out as "mornin'". For anyone who wants to practise, here is my phonetic version:
6 - shest
7 - sem
8 - vo-sem
9 - dyay-vit
10 - dyay-sit

Other funny behaviour we're seeing - she's using different tones now, she has different ways of saying "Misha!" and "Jack-jack!" when she's telling them to leave the room (Misha Out!) from when she's wanting to give them one of their toys ("Meeeshah"). She has started ordering us about - we've both been on the receiving end of "Mama, out!" and "Papa, out!", accompanied with a pointed finger towards the door. Once I've been told "Papa, sit!" when I got up from the dinner table. We've dispensed with her high chair now, so she sits on a booster chair at our new, smaller dining table. Hopefully this will help her at nursery, where the staff report that she has a habit of getting up from the table at mealtimes and wandering around, which can set of the other children off wanting to do the same. We think this is where she got the "Papa, sit" command from!

One final thing - happy birthday for yesterday to Olga's mum, and enjoy your reitrement when it finally starts!

A Trip to the Vet

Jackson had his 6-month free check-up this morning, Simon The Friendly Vet gave him a clean bill of health. He's raced up to 8.1kg now, from 5.something back at the start of October, we know there's nothing wrong with his appetite, he normally finishes off Mishka's left over food after he's eaten his own!
He had a rabies shot, which (along with being microchipped, which we had done while he was sedated to have his poorly leg fixed in September) is the first stage of getting him his Pet Passport. In three weeks we'll take him back and he'll have a blood test; if everything is OK, then he'll get his Passport and we can take him to Europe :-)
As usual, we took the opportunity to weigh Lara, and she's now 12.8kg, up from 11.75kg on the 9th September.

Afternoon Tea, Stiff Upper Lip, Cricket et cetera

Olga's ceremony went smoothly on Wednesday afternoon.
There were 16 new citizens, "swearers" sitting on the left side of the room, "affirmers" on the right.  Nationalities represented included India, Pakistan, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Thailand as well as Russia (one other girl was Russian, and looked it, it's strange how I can spot them now!)
The affirmers stood up, each one individually had to say the "I, " bit, then as a group they repeated the affirmation with the Registrar. Then it was time to receive their certificate from the Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Colonel Tim May, and have their photo taken (the attached one is my photo). Olga suffered from the Armstrong problem of being the first one alphabetically called up to get her certificate!
At the end everyone stood for the National Anthem (music only, no singing), and there was just time for a good old British sexist wisecrack from the Colonel (something like "a lovely way to meet such a lot of very attractive women").
And that was that. We went to the pub for a pint of bitter then to nursery to pick Lara up.
Here is Olga receiving her certificate from the Colonel: 

And looking nervous beforehand:

So the next step is to apply for her British passport. The photos have been taken, and the form should be sent off today, so let's see how long the whole process will take.  People applying for their first adult passports now have to have an interview, but the "Applying for your Passport" guide suggests that passports should still be issued within three weeks, although it could take upto six weeks. The plan is to have her passport in time to go to Russia in the second half of January, so she can use the British one to get back into the UK upon her return, although it's not the end of the world if it has arrived before she leaves.
A few other things she needs to work on would be her intimate knowledge of cricket fielding positions and the LBW law, bitter drinking (although she's already quite good at this) and advanced Francophobia, starting with learning this quote from Blackadder off by heart:
Mrs Miggins: Bonjour, monsieur.
Edmund: What?
M: Bonjour, monsieur -- it's French.
E: So is eating frogs, cruelty to geese and urinating in the street, but that's no reason to inflict it on the rest of us.
E: Doesn't anyone know? We hate the French! We fight wars against them! Did all those men die in vain on the field at Agincourt? Was the man who burned Joan of Arc simply wasting good matches?
Of course I'm not advocating Francophobia, I like France. Their Champagne is lovely. As soon as Olga and Jackson get their passports, I'm sure we'll be off there for a weekend trip. It's just the French that I don't have a great deal of time for!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A New Brit

Today's the day Olga becomes British - we're off to her Citizenship Ceremony this afternoon.  I'll post some photos tomorrow - we're currently internet-less at home after our wireless router died at the weekend.

In the meantime, I've added some extra photos to this album:

Photos of William

As promised, here's young William, looking a lot like his Dad, I think...

Don't try to focus your eyes this post is in Russian

This is just a post for the benefit of my mum with some info on UK visas. It's boring and not worth translating into English.

Данный линк откроет вебсайт с информацией о подаче на визу. Ты просто его почитай, но заявление пока не заполняй (оно все равно на английском).

Следующий линк содержит форму, которую надо будет заполнить. В данной форме на стр.13 есть список документов, который надо будет предоставить.

Читай, наслаждайся.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A new nephew!

A quick, but important, announcement... yesterday my sister gave birth to a healthy bouncing boy! William John Joyce arrived at 13:37 (not bad considering Cath's waters only broke that morning!), weighing in at 8lbs 6oz (3.8 kilos). Everyone is well, and I'm sure a photo will appear soon enough.