Today, after breakfast Mr. Penguin, Friend Penguin and I left the hotel and began to explore. Here are some photos of our 90 minutes walk. Temperature was cool and pleasant. Skies were cloudy.
Today, after breakfast Mr. Penguin, Friend Penguin and I left the hotel and began to explore. Here are some photos of our 90 minutes walk. Temperature was cool and pleasant. Skies were cloudy.
We arrived safely in Moscow. Immigration was a doddle though immigration people are very stern. They only seemed interested in asking people if they are carrying $10,000 US. They asked us how much we are carrying and we told them. They wanted to know what kind of dollars we used to transfer into rubles. We said “Australian” and they waved us through. They were definitely not interested in Australian dollars. They must know how little value they have on the world stage. We are staying in a Holiday Inn hotel on the 10th floor. Very quiet and very friendly people. We have today free and our friend from Florida has also arrived. Mr. Penguin has not seen her in about 35 years so big hugs all around. Last night she and I went down to the hotel restaurant and I had a bowl of dumplings and a Russian beer which was very good. My friend had borscht, very red, beetroot soup with a bit of beef in it. Mr. Penguin stayed in the room, had a cup of tea and went to bed. We were asleep by 8:30 pm as the trip was 33 hours long.
There will be no more than 20 people maximum on this tour. There could be less. An easy number to keep track of and easy to remember the names. We will meet the others tonight at the Welcome drinks. So far we have met a couple from Adelaide and there is another woman who arrived very early this morning from Brisbane. We will meet our guide tonight.
It is odd to see all of the signs around us in Russian as there is not as much English spoken here as we find in other countries where we have travelled. We are on the 10th floor of the hotel and the view out the window is quite nice. The sun rises outside of our window in the morning, lighting up the spire of the distant building. Our driver from the airport told us there are 7 such buildings spread around Moscow and they are referred to as the seven sisters. I am sure we will learn more about these buildings. At night time the spire is lit up with green lights that really stand out in the night sky.
I am sure our learning will be on a steep curve in the coming days. I had to laugh as I put the photo of our window view up on my facebook page last night. I wanted my family to know we have arrived safely. My sister, who lives in the San Francisco area put up a remark regarding that nation’s president and the comment was removed, neither by her nor by me. Must be the algorhythms on FB are set to exclude this man’s name. Either way, we had a chuckle about it.
The other thing I usually do when travelling is to put up the art work that hotels like to place in rooms. I like to record them . There is quite a bit of abstract art in this hotel and we have two photos in our hotel room. There is a much bigger one in the hallway on this floor by the bank of elevators.
We’ll look forward to seeing what happens next. By the way the high temperature today is expected to be 12 degrees C (52 F). This is definitely my kind of weather.
We are currently in Dubai waiting for our flight to Moscow. One must go through a comprehensive visa application to get entry in Russia. The application is long and arduous especially if you have travelled a lot during the last 10 years. They want to know all the places you have been and what dates you arrived and then left. Then the application gets sent off with your passport. When approved you end up with a copy of your passport page, details and photos all added as another page in your passport. It is also in Russian. If you have any medication that is a controlled substance then that needs a letter from the doctor, the original prescription, the original packaging and the letter also needs to be translated into Russian. Mr Penguin is on pain medication for his osteo-arthritis so he had to acquire the forementioned information. We’ll see what happens when we go through entry to the country.
We are only visiting Moscow and then take a bullet train to St Petersburg.
On the flight to Dubai I had a man seated behind me who got up every five minutes to get something out of the overhead locker. My first annoying traveller. Melbourne to Dubai is a 14 hour flight and we were trying to rest. All I heard was, ‘Slam, slam, slam.’ He finally settled down.
When we stood to disembark the plane the same man had piles of brochures and paperwork all with Salvation Army letterheads everywhere. I heard him mention he was going to some conference or other. He also had an armful of religious material, also with Salvation Army material. I did wonder if he was with that organization why he was in Business Class. I do hope he was paying his own way. You hear about all the administrative costs so many international charities spend. Was this one of them? Who knows.
Well time to move soon, so stay tuned. Once I learn what can be photographed and what can’t in Moscow I’ll try and put up a picture or two.
Bookwise, I started an autobiogtraphy of Graham Greene, forget the name, that I am enjoying in an old vintage Penguin I had on my shelf. More on that later.
For those of you who follow Odie, he has settled in with the housesitter and is doing well for now. More later…
I have probably had the most chaotic time in the past six weeks I’ve had in a long time. First things first. We are heading overseas to Russia and the Baltic countries on Thursday. I will be taking my laptop with me and although I do say I will try to put up blog posts I find the 20 persons tours we go on are exhausting. However I will try a bit harder. The days we have dinners out at night give us less time for anything else. We are heading to Moscow and St Petersburg then onto Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic. It is a 27 days tour.
Next up, is, our dog Odie had his second ultrasound scan and the tumours remain unchanged so he very happily remains with us. Our house sitter has been briefed and is an angel who cares for him in conjunction with our vet. We expect he will be with us awhile longer. We really are overjoyed at that.
I just had a week in Sydney with two good friends. As it was booked months ago, the timing turned out to be difficult as so much going on but it was a good distraction and we had lots of fun. I spent three days of photography with one friend and then four days of theatre, shopping and a film. We saw The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard at the Sydney Opera House. It is a very wordy play and I thought a bit too long. But once we figured out the first act of a play within a play we soldiered on. One night we went to the beautiful Capital Theatre and saw the musical Chicago. It is thoroughly entertaining with great music, dance, choreography and voices that brought the house down. Lots of fun. We had one very rainy day so ended up at Events Cinema on George street, a large, almost empty theatre to see Downton Abbey which we loved. I hope to see it a second time. It was so much fun.
We also loved visiting the independent Glee Books on Glebe Pt Rd and the second hand shop next door and the big Japanese book store in the Victoria Galleries, Kinokuniya.
I brought back two books, one from Glee Books and one from Kinokuniya. I thought I would share them with you.
Writing Across the Landscape 1960 to 2010 edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson. This is one of the stories of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, now 100 years old, who has been many things: (from the blurb on the back) a poet, painter, pacifist, publisher, courageous defender of free speech and the co-founder of San Francisco’s legendary City Lights bookstore. (A store I absolutely adore.) This is a compilation of his travel journals spanning 60 years of various places around the world. It’s a chunkster so won’t be travelling with it but the bits I’ve dipped into are fascinating.
The book I purchased at Glee Books is called Thumbing It : A Hitchiker’s Ride to Wisdom by Barbara Noske. I have just begun it and not sure if I’ll travel with it as I only tend to take books I’m happy to leave behind and this is not one of them….yet.
Barbara Noske is mad about hitchhiking, especially in trucks, and has 40 years of it, in, among other places, Europe, Algeria, the Sahara, as well as the vast expanse of Canada and the Australian outback. She is a Dutch anthropologist and philosopher whose field is the relationship and the similarities between humans and animals. She lives in the Dutch countryside with a horse and a bike. She has no driver’s license and no smartphone. (Blurb on the backside)
She travelled during the days before the internet, google maps and smart phones. I really enjoy tales of travel from brave women in the past.
I finished Shaun Bythell’s book Confessions of a Bookseller, the sequel to his first bookseller’s tale, The Diary of a Bookseller, in Wigtown, Scotland. It is identical in structure to his first book I know many people have read. If you really enjoyed the first book I would recommend this one. There are more characters introduced, just as quirky as those in the first book. I found it a delightful read, especially in relation to all of the things going on around here during the past month.
Other good news is one of my photos made the finals in the Fremantle, Western Australia International Portrait Prize and will be on exhibition in October. I have been invited to attend but will be overseas so will not be able to. I really am in shock that it has been recognised as a finalist.
I could go on for another couple of paragraphs of activity but feel this has been enough. I wish everyone well and hope to be in touch again soon.
PS- I will remember to pack the Penguin and hopefully he will not end up in a Russian gulag or lost on a bus somewhere.
It is a chilly, raining, dark day here in old Hobart Town. So I played with photos all day. I picked up the photos from the printer that will go into the exhibition in November. Really looking forward to it as I’ve never done it before.
Then our photo club September challenge is coming up and I need the photos submitted while I’m in Sydney next week so got those posted up early. I have a photo club meeting the day after I return from Sydney.
There are two categories each month. For this next meeting one category is Performance. I need to post up anything to do with a performance. Then there is the Open category where we can post anything we want. All the club members post up their two photos and then at the meeting we see them on the big screen and we get a gold, silver or bronze. We don’t know who the judges are as they perform behind the scenes. Sometimes someone might get a Silver + or a Bronze +. It is all good fun, sometimes we get a comment as to why they scored the way they did. It is good practice especially if one is learning Photoshop or Lightroom or some other editing software.
The software is used more to fiddle around with the photos so they come out as they are remembered. Sometimes we take a photo then when it is downloaded we think, “Hey, that’s not how I remember it.” That is the main use of editing profiles. More advanced work though has us compositing photos. That is when two or more photos are combined in various ways to make a new photo. As if illustrating something or doing specialty art work. It is fun but I haven’t done much as it is a real skill to learn how to do it and I’m just not there yet. Enjoy the little challenges this Friday.
See you again soon…
Although Australians think spring arrived on the first of September, I prefer to wait for the equinox because it is quite wintry today. It’s blowing a cold gale and although the sun shone for much of the day Mt. Wellington is currently under a cover of cloud.
It’s been a hectic week, though I am getting through a couple of books slowly. I am enjoying listening to the Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra but I am more excited about the read/listen book I downloaded this week by Shaun Bythell. Remember the Diary of a Bookseller that was so popular. Well now Confessions of a Bookseller has just been released in the same diary format. It begins on 1 January, (though I don’t remember what year) and continues through December. I have a foggy mind this afternoon. It’s fairly recent though. He continues to keep track of the eccentric characters and wacky book business of the running of his shop. He has a great sense of humour and I love following him through his days.
Here is the snippet from Good Reads.
“Do you have a list of your books, or do I just have to stare at them?” Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland. With more than a mile of shelving, real log fires in the shop and the sea lapping nearby, the shop should be an idyll for bookworms. Unfortunately, Shaun also has to contend with bizarre requests from people who don’t understand what a shop is, home invasions during the Wigtown Book Festival and Granny, his neurotic Italian assistant who likes digging for river mud to make poultices. The Diary of a Bookseller (soon to be a major TV series) introduced us to the joys and frustrations of life lived in books. Sardonic and sympathetic in equal measure, Confessions of a Bookseller will reunite readers with the characters they’ve come to know and love.”
I wonder how the TV series will be played out. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a good thing.
Other news this week. Odie is still with us. The swelling in his leg went down and I took him out front to enjoy walking around on a sunny afternoon. A cockatoo landed on the fence. Odie has a rule that birds are allowed on the tree branches in the yard but had better not touch the fence. Well this cockatoo ignored that rule and Odie took off after him running at full tilt before I could grab him. He skidded on wet grass and crashed into the fence. When he stood up his bad leg was at a 90 degree angle to his body and he couldn’t move. He has severe bruising and a sprain on his elbow of his left front leg. So he is being treated for that at the moment. He is scheduled for an ultrasound of his tumours the week before we leave on our big trip the end of September. We’ll know if the tumours in his pancreas, spleen and liver are fast growing or have been there awhile and continue to grow slowly. If they are enlarged more than they were we may be saying goodbye. But we are coping okay for the most part. We’ll just have to see how we go and as my mother always said, “Don’t borrow trouble.” He is happy, alert and continues to eat a lot.
Our Hobart Photographic Society is planning our large photo exhibition for the beginning of November down on the waterfront of Hobart. There will be approximately 170 photographs on display.
I’ve not exhibited before as I’ve not had the confidence.
Yesterday I took four photos to the printer and they are being greatly enlarged and printed on a lovely rag paper and matted. I am putting four into the exhibit. They are photos of wildlife I took in Namibia a couple of years ago and I think they are interesting. So many photos of African wildlife are of elephants, zebras, rhinos. So I decided to put a couple of photos in of animals many people don’t see photos of much. The caracal and the beautiful markings of the wild dogs. I’ll share more on the exhibition later on once we begin.
I am heading to Sydney next Wednesday to spend three days with a photography friend and four days with my theatre/shopping/galleries friend. My photography friend will show me the places she goes to take her wonderful photos and we’ll talk cameras and settings no doubt for hours. We are like two peas in a pod when we get together. It’s quite funny. Then my friend who used to live here but retired on the northern coast of New South Wales and I will be sharing a Tom Stoppard Play at the Opera house and also seeing the musical Chicago. We’ll hit all of our favourite haunts no doubt including a couple of book stores.
Hopefully this is all sounding a bit more upbeat than my previous post as we continue to go through the ups and downs of life as everyone else in the world does. I hope you enjoy the photos. Until next time…
A Recap of the Past Week….
This has not been a good week. Not at all. No, It has been an awful week except for maybe one bright spot later on in the week, but that hardly seemed important. Let me start.
On Monday we took our beautiful dog Odie to the vet for more tests to ascertain why his legs are swelling. Why is he in pain. Making a long story short…A full day at the vet’s, extensive blood work results and three hours of ultra sound tests on his shaved belly have revealed a 5 1/4 cm tumour in his pancreas. As well as another tumour on his spleen and his liver. Prognosis? Weeks maybe? If the swelling doesn’t go down in his legs then probably he will be put to sleep pretty immediately. The swelling has gone down a bit and medication is managing his pain. So he continues to be cared for night and day by us. Now, a week later, we are getting our heads around it and are not a sobbing mess.
We have a month long trip coming up to the Eastern European countries the end of September. That is our dilemma. It’s booked and paid for and the Housesitter who Odie loves has come to visit him and talk with us. The vet doesn’t think we will still have him by the time we leave. But they don’t know if the tumours have been slow growing or came on quickly, all at once. Surgery is not an option as the pancreatic tumour is very inaccessible, a great deal of vascular things tied up with it and we won’t put him through even an exploratory. Besides we all know pancreatic cancer doesn’t generally end well. So if he is still coping okay before we leave do we leave him for a month and hope nothing comes up with the Housesitter? Though the Housesitter and the vet will easily work together. Do we want to have him put to sleep when we aren’t here? Or do we have this happen before we go even though he may be okay while we are gone? The dilemma. I guess we will wait and see until closer to the date and see what the vet says. We trust her and she’s a good friend as well so we’ll see.
Now we are enjoying what time we have left and doing everything in our power to get back to normal and let Odie know that he’s okay. He is very happy and very comfortable. As soon as that changes, then he will gently be put to sleep. And please, I don’t want anyone talking about the ‘rainbow bridge’. I really don’t like the way many people look at death of a pet. He’s had a caring, loving life and has never known pain, hunger or lack of shelter. When it is time for him to go he will go with as much love as he had when he lived. That’s all any of us can ask for.
I have started the book I talked about last week. These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper. I’ve not read a lot as it’s often hard to temporarily concentrate enough this week but the writing is exquisite and I am really enjoying it. The Paris apartment block where this story takes place has interesting characters and wonderful descriptions. I will read it slowly so my slow mind can enjoy all I find it to be offering.
On the Audible scene I am listening to The Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra. It’s historical fiction based on real events in Spain. I haven’t read historical fiction since I was in the my 20s and 30s. But when travelling in Spain we saw a performance of Flamenco dancers that was stunning. I enjoy the music and dance of Flamenco so much. One of the people who travelled with us told me how much she enjoyed this book. It focuses on the time when women were first allowed to dance Flamenco as it was a man’s domain for a long time. The protagonist evidently decides that she is going to change this and the novel is based on the woman in life who made this happen. We’ll see how it goes. Since Audible.com had it for one of my credits I decided to see if the story is good or not. I’ll let you know.
The bit of good news I had is about my photography. Months ago I saw a competition in Australian Photography magazine calling for people photos taken in Black and White. I took a photo of a hotel porter walking in the rain, taking our bags to our room in Sri Lanka. We walked behind him and the photo in my mind called me to pick up the camera that was around my neck and snap his photo. I loved the result and thought why not send it in. Then I completely forgot about it.
Thursday night I received an email from Australian Photography magazine that it had received a Commendation congratulating me on the photo. It didn’t make it through the second shortlist but did make the first shortlist. Considering thousands of people enter these competitions I was really happy it got as far as it did. It won’t go any further now but I do have the commendation certificate on the wall. I needed a bit of good news this week and that could not have been better. Especially as the more conservative landscape photographers in our Photo Club never seem to like my photos of people. They never do well in the local challenges. However a love of photography and all art for that matter is subjective and I never let others put me off something if I like it. That’s all that matters. Photographers in Tasmania take lots of photos of wilderness areas. Lots of lone trees on sun bleached landscapes. I call it Trees and Moss photography and waterfalls that looked like combed ice. It is beautiful photography, no question about it, but I prefer to document life as I see it and Street Photography is my favourite form of photography so I continue to do it. Many in our club believe it exploits people or the photos should not be allowed without permission. I would never focus on someone I thought I was exploiting, ie (homeless people or disabled people). I generally get permission when getting frontal views and never share photos or take photos of children without parent’s permission and telling them why I’m doing it although Australian law states one can take as many photos as one wants if in a public arena. There are ethics around street photography and I tend to adhere to them.
Well we will see what this next week brings because for now everything really is One Day At A Time.