Tuesday, September 17, 2019

New class information

New English class at Kostroma library. Link to the previous post for more information here


Richmond is one of my favourite places, anywhere in the world. It is in North Yorkshire, England and is another typical market town with its cobbled market square.

The lovely old King's Head Hotel, one of the few places I have lived and worked. A place where I was part of the team catering for the banquet in honour of the King of Norway as he opened the Green Howard's regimental museum opposite the hotel. I was in charge of caviar!

Hidden treasures everywhere in this ancient town

Secret courtyards and alleyways

The magnificent River Swale thundering over the waterfalls below the town.

The former railway station which os now a fantastic cinema and arts centre.

Richmiond Castle, a real castle with towers and dungeons, I have spent hours as a chils and as an adult wandering around its turrets and walls, imagining the enemy below under fire from bows and arrows and crossbows. an adventure playground!


Here are some photos from a trip to Pickering with my two brothers Roy and Gordon. 

A beautiful old Market town in the heart  of North Yorkshire

With traditional old hotels, Inns and pubs

And home to the North Yorkshire Moors railway

Every boy's dream

Even named after me!

This how the evacuees from Teesside would have arrived during the second world war.

Among them my mother and her older brother Arthur

Two brothers reliving the memories

Windswept moors

English conversation
урок английского языка
Wednesdays          по средам
18: 00-20: 00
Start date Wednesday 2nd October
Information and enrolment
Thursday 26th September 18:00-20:00
Дата начала среда 2 октября
Информация и регистрация
Четверг 26 сентября 18: 00-20: 00

Course dates. Wednesdays
October 2nd 9th,16th,23rd,30th.
November 6th, 13th, [20th no class]. , 27th.
December 4th, 11th.
Fee 400₽ per session 

Даты курсов. По средам
2 октября 9, 16, 23, 30.
6, 13 ноября, [20-го класса нет]. 27-го
4 декабря, 11 декабря.
Плата 400₽ за занятие

Monday, August 26, 2019

Edinburgh 1 and 2

My first trip to Scotland this year was to get my visa sorted , but it is the Edinburgh Fringe and I couldn't resist a trip to the theatre! the fringe is something special with an atmosphere unrivalled in any place I have ever visited. Singers, jugglers, fire eaters and acrobats all performing to the backdrop of the sound of bagpipes and this wonderful cosmopolitan city.

Here in the Grass market, a new area of discovery for me, a street artist performs another crazy feat of wonder.

Characters from around the world wander around this amazing city only a 3 hour train journey away from home in North Yorkshire. the Edinburgh fringe is an essential visit to make if you are visiting the UK in the summer. The whole of August sees the city invaded by students and tourists, all having fun and witnesing some of the most innovative and creative music, theatre and art. Along with the Edinburgh tattoo, the military musical and marching phenomenon.

On my second visit to Edinburgh in August 2019, I managed also to explore the city a little more, it is the only way to do it, little by little.
 Bobby of Greyfriars is a famous strory of a loyal little dog, a Skye terrier who guarded his owner's grave for 14 years until he died himself, he is fondly remembered with a statue and a grave for him in the grounds of historic Greyfriers cemetery.

 The festival is spread across the centre of the city and farther afield. There are random stages with excellent  acts available free and hundreds of shows, so plan in advance the choice is unbelievable.
I'll be back next year for sure, I will try to spend a couple of days at least,if I can find a hotel room!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Going home 2

 The cenotaph in Middlesbrough and the gates to Albert park. My adventure playground as a child, we played football, tennis, cricket, we went roller skating, fishing and we rowed boats on the lake, We played in the playgrounds on the slides and swings,we climbed trees, we ran away from the parkie and we had ice creams and ice lollies, it was just perfect and only 5/10 minutes walk from home. I have been jogging around the park early on a morning and a million memories have come flooding back.
 This statue is new to me, it is a statue of Middlesbrough born Stan Hollis a Victoria Cross holder from D. Day.
I like it, he should be remembered.
 Another son of Middlesbrough, this statue is just inside the park. Brian Clough, 'old big head' as my dad used to call him. a prolific goal scorer bor the Boro, Sunderland and England. He went on to be one of the most successful managers in English football with Derby County and Nottingham Forest. without doubt should have been given a chance with England, but it didn't happen.
And the Dorman museum, a wonderful place, with wonderful memories, as a boy I was a member of the museum club on a Saturday morning for a while. I loved it and the displays and I always visit the museum when I can.


Skinningrove, a seaside town in East Cleveland. This place is hidden from the tourists and at first glance, I would imagine people would turn around and head for Runswick Bay or even Whitby further south on the Yorkshire coast.

Wild, the North Sea, this is something that I really miss. The waves beating in onto the beach and the cliffs of the Dinosaur coast as it is also know, this is due to the amount of fossils that turn up when the cliffs subside in the shale.
Skinningrove is still hanging on to its Steel industry, only just at the moment. on the wonderful Cleveland way, a walk down from the cliffs remind  you of its industrial past, I think it is a real treasure.
The fishing boats of North Yorkshire are called cobbles and there is a good stock of crabs and lobsters for the local fishermen. Even Spidercrabs are caught, but then they are sent on to the markets in Madrid and Paris. English restaurants don't know what to do with them and the price is probably better abroad anyway.

Going home

This photo was taken at Gisborough Priory, a landmark in the North Yorkshire market town of Guisborough. One of the few places in which I have lived.

Two images of my university . the University of Teesside. the campus now covers a large part of the centre of Middlesbrough. including the area where I was born and lived for 15 years. it is a wonderful addition to my town and we are very proud of it.

The University is on the site of the former Polytechnic and Constantine college, my mum was a former student.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019


 A picnic in Lealholm with the family today. Lealholm is a lovely little village in the Esk valley. Lealholm is in the North Yorkshire moors national park, in the North of England.  The river Esk runs through this tiny place which explodes with tourists in the summer. The Esk valley railway runs along the valley from Middlesbrough to Whitby and teems with people visiting the Steam railway at Grosmont and the seaside at Whitby. 

Lealholm is a tiny place with less than 1,000 inhabitants. typical of the Esk valley villages, the houses are made from local stone and there are 3 churches of 3 different denominations,including the Methodist chapel, roman catholic and Church of England.
The local pub, 'The Board Inn' is traditional in that there are darts teams, domino drives and even a quoits team. This making the pub a focal point for the community, which is good to see in this environment of pubs going out of business and closing every day in the UK.

Lealholm is very much a part of my life and many Teessiders who loved a' ride out in the country' as children.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A sacred, secret mission

The fly agaric or мухомор, beautiful and deadly.
As we set off on our journey to Kostroma Oblast in July, I was aware of many people getting on the bus carrying rolls of plastic bags, buckets, wearing wellies and camouflage. some were carrying fishing rods , so it was easy to guess what they were aiming to do. the bus stopped randomly along the road for a few miles out of the city, as the camouflaged army got off, they determindly headed of in one direction or another to their secret corners of the forests and rivers. Curious to an Englishman, that's for sure, I had this image of arguments, fights and worse, over a patch where the prize is among at least 15 edible mushrooms that an average Russian can identify.

Белые (porcini), подберезовики (birch bolete), подосиновики (red-capped bolete), маслята (slippery jack), лисички (chanterelle), рыжики (saffron milk cap), опята (honey mushroom), грузди (milk mushrooms), cыроежки (russule)

 So, I am looking forward to mushroom picking, I have had a little foray, hence the photos, all I could fine were the poisonous ones and a dead mole!  but I was too late, there had been mushroom pickers before us and they proudly held their basket for us to see as they walked past without a word of course!

The mole of Красное-на-Волге.

There's no f in eggs! My first poetry recital from my first Poetry collection

Kostroma Literary Festival, recital , Open mike appearance.
Never say never! Here I am on stage reciting from my first Poetry collection.

'There's no F in eggs!' 
This is only the second time in fact, that I have recited any of my poetry to the public. I don't get nervous, but on this occasion, yup, I was. 
However, I was received well and made a lot of new contacts and hopefully friends. I am on my way later today back to England to look at the publication details.

July just came and went!

July, A blink of an eye! Where did it go?

Well to start with my tour of Kostroma Oblast continued and I visited 'Bear Corner'.

I wrote a Children's book, completed my first collection of poetry.
I went through all of the necessary precedures to apply! for a work permit.
So I suppose it wasn't really a blink of an eye, rather a busy month.

And now?
Well I am preparing to visit home, which on its own is a seriously scary prospect and at the same time exciting.
I was thinking about what I have missed the most.
Well its clear that first and foremost it is my family.
My granddaughter has grown into a little girl in the last 7 months. My daughters! I miss them every single day, as I always have.
Lets move on before I reach for the Kleenex tissues.
My brothers and their families, My friends,

The Boro!

What else have I missed?  And what am I looking forward to?

 The Dorman's club, bingo! A pint of English beer.The craic with the lads! A walk on the beach, !
A game of darts, The Dudley!

Another walk on the beach, the sea, I miss the sea! Fish and chips, egg and chips, roast forerib of beef, Yorkshire puddings, but not mine, theyr'e shite! Meat!  I miss meat!  Sausages, good sausages.
Oh bloody hell its a lot isnt it!

But it isn't until you start thinking about it is it, that you realise what you miss. I miss Park Run, I miss the friendliness of the people in the North, the North East and in Yorkshire.

I have linked below to a video which I loved about a Northener in London.

A Northener terrifies Londoners by saying hello. Link here.

At the end of the day. Home is where the heart is. And a smile goes a long way!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Manturovo and the toilet police.

Manturovo and the toilet police. Strangely as it seemed later, we had stopped at this place on the way to Vokhma and I commented on the ridiculous fact that the toilet was locked in the station.
It rained and rained as we spent time with friends barbequeing in the rain, Shashlik.  A house full of children made the rain more bearable, fun with drawing. A real family visit to Babushka.
However the Russian love of forms, rules and regulations, meant that we had to wait for the next bus which was two hours later. We had tried to book our ticket the day before , but that is not possible in Russia. We were offered 1 seat and 1 standing in a mini bus on a 6 hour journey. I felt for the people on the way who had to sit on the floor or on their bags, but it seems to be accepted. so it goes, we were waiting at the Railway station for the bus, but of course if you are waiting for a bus, you can not use the toilet in the railway station without paying. Obvious is it not! Not knowing this and seeing the toilet key clearly labeled on the table I went for a pee, only to return to an armed policeman ranting about the rules, thank God I had help and although we asked to complain, it went on deaf ears!

The real Hinterland, Bear corner. Luptug.

Luptuk? Luptchook? Not sure how to spell it even. Now this is the Outback , the Hinterland, Bear Corner. Cousin Andrey is the local Gamekeeper, Bear, Elk, Wild Boar, to name but a few of the wild creatures in the massive forests of the area. Situated just to the north of the Wetluga river, the river where the Kostroma relic of the crocodile was found. It would not suprise me one iota if they still lived here, not at all. This land is wild, beautiful and somewhat eerie. 
Conversations about people doing deals for Elk meat in the forests in the 1990s, a time in Russia of change and of real poverty and problems. This story brought it all home to me, I may look upon a house with an outside toilet now as something from the dark ages, yet this is how people live, this is how it is. The people are welcoming and interested in you, if you show them the respect they deserve and not blank people out because of  P.C. bullshit.
The church in this tiny village [200 people] is probably the best rural church I have seen. A quick phone call meant that we could have access, The priest asked of I would like to make a confession, I politely declined , his English was suprisingly good and then I discovered that a group of American volunteers had been to the town fairly recently, I seem to be following a group of Americans in this area. More to be mentioned later when I have more information. The priest left me his card with his website. 
We were allowed to go up the tower, it was during a storm and the ascent was very scary, but we made our way up the tower. It was frightening, both the storm and the stairs up to the bell tower. There wouldn't be any possiblity in the UK that a member of the public would be allowed to climb this tower. Which made it all th emore exciting really.

 This town will long stay in my memory , we visited the town museum which is a house where a person lives alongside Soviet memorabilia, immaculately kept and cared for. It is not a place that many Westeners would find a lot to interest them, there is no MacDonalds, no fancy hotel, restaurant or for that matter Tourist office.
But this place is part of the real Kostroma Oblast, I have found part of the puzzle here. Part of the enigma, God only knows what it must be like to live here in the winter. Chatting to Andrey, I relaised that he only visits the city when required, a new gun, supplies, but otherwise , he is more than happy doing what he does as he has always done.