Archive for February, 2007

Canaletto plus sushi and kharcho

February 24th, 2007

I forgot to check with the groundhog this year. Did it see its shadow or not? To be honest, it would not make any difference. The winter never really came to England. Late fall lingered… and gradually morphed into early spring…

I will be first to admit that for a well-educated person, I am not all that well-rounded when it comes to fine arts. I am not talking about skills (it is no secret, of course, that I can’t draw, have barely finished one year of musical education, and do not play musical instruments – unless someone is charitable enough to call my recent attempts with guitar “playing”). I am talking about art appreciation. Yes, I am a self-professed admirer of architectural triumphs, but a dilettante nonetheless. Yes, I hold classical music in high regard, have favorite composers and compositions and never resist attending a concert, but lack of formal education in the subject is a handicap. The Nutcracker last week was my very first live experience with the ballet. I have been known to doze off at an opera performance…

When it comes to painting, though, I am not averse to spending time in a gallery admiring works of masters old and new. Furthermore, I rarely bypass a visit to an important art museum in any city that I travel to. Even though I do not have any formal training in this discipline either, I – quite surprisingly to myself – have a reasonable skill in recognizing a painter or a school by the style.

But I cannot say that all styles and forms of painting appeal to me. For instance, I am not overly fond of Rembrandt – I appreciate his skill of portraying the human face, but the end result is just too bleak for me. In truth, I am rather indifferent to portraits as a whole, which makes someone like Van Dyck go underappreciated by me. (I am sure he is not turning in his grave because of that.) Biblical thematic is of little appeal, so widely accepted giants such as Leonardo and Titian have little to none to offer me.

On the other hand, I adore the impressionists. But by far and large, I simply appreciate landscapes the most. And for the many years now, one of my favorite landscapists has been Canaletto. So when I came across an announcement of a Canaletto exhibition in London, we had to go.

This temporary exhibition is held until mid-April in a small gallery in Southeast London (only a few miles away from us, but you have heard me speak about London traffic – it took us almost an hour to drive there). The gallery has a nice little permanent exhibition itself, including works by Lorraine, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Teniers, Van Ruisdael and others. There is one Venetian Canaletto that the gallery owns, too.

But the special exhibition is simply magnificent. Over fifty of Canaletto’s English paintings (he moved to England for nine years in 1746, after the Venetian market got oversaturated with his works), including many views of London and surrounding countryside and several capriccios. Canaletto’s landscapes are almost always panoramic but precise to the last brick and flag-stone. Their vividity lends easily to imagining yourself observing the scene as it unfolds in front of you.

Natasha and I had thought the exposition excellent. Becky acquiesced, while Kimmy got involved in discovering little details that make Canaletto’s paintings so appealing.

Having satisfied our desire for fine art, we drove to Bluewater mall, to satisfy our cravings for sushi. The cravings were Becky’s, primarily, but I happily participated. Natasha has been to this mall before and saw the restaurant, which attracts people with its conveyor of various sushi plates that sneaks around every table and booth. I’ve been to one of these in New York City, and know well enough that you end up spending much more than necessary this way, by giving in to the temptation provided by the endless parade of platters. However, kids required some diversion. Plus, going to the mall always affords time away from confines of one’s home even when it is raining outside. When we were leaving the gallery, it started to rain again. So we went to the mall.

Regrettably, the sushi itself left a lot to be desired, but Becky took full advantage of unlimited miso soup by having four cups. Kimmy excitedly moved plates on, off and around the conveyor, Natasha found herself something to eat, we paid a crazy amount in the end – complete success, in other words.

Friday night, we went to another exotic place – a Georgian restaurant in London. As in Republic of Georgia. Called Mimino, no less. Our new friends invited us for a birthday celebration. It was not a Russian-American-style banquet, but rather a nice long dinner. Four couples, only one person out of eight not a Russian speaker (guess who ended up sitting across the table from him and spending most of the dinner conversing in English – yep, yours truly :( ).

The restaurant is nice, including authentic music. The food is not superb, just good. Traditional Georgian dishes abound (khachapuri, lobio, chakhokhbili, odjakhuri), but somehow on the whole they do not raise to the level of our recollections of youth. Kharcho was fantastic, though. There is a huge selection of Georgian wines, for those who still find them appealing (I did not want to offend the rest of the company and drank Khvanchkara and Kindzmarauli, but I had long graduated to finer things in wine appreciation).

The service was a bit amateurish, but overall, it has been a very pleasant outing. Our young ladies, as you may have guessed, stayed home and even asked us not to call them too often, so that their TV-watching could go uninterrupted…

It is not truly related, but our kids are being well-prepared for self-sufficiency. For instance, for the last week, Kimmy’s education at school revolved around pirates. She came home one day and explained to us which things the pirates liked to steal and why. She went on a school trip on Friday to some ship where her class was given a presentation on how the thieves were punished (cutting off hands and such). Who wouldn’t want this kind of knowledge when they were six years old? I shudder at the thought of what next topic they might be exploring.

Chronicles, Fine Arts, London Album

Random happenings and advice on renting apartments online

February 21st, 2007
Comments Off

The tree in front of our house is in bloom. Natasha says that it is either a cherry or an apple tree. The flowers are small and a frost may yet get them, but it is still quite amazing. It also produces a very strong scent, which I do not find particularly pleasant…
Read more…

Chronicles, Travel Miscellany

Out and about with a mute

February 18th, 2007

Next on the list – learning sign language.

Natasha is definitely feeling better overall, but her regular malady befell her. She lost her voice, and even whispering hurts her vocal cords. She communicates primarily by gestures instead, which are not always easy to decipher. Conversations inevitably turn into drawn-out charades, and we collectively get to the meaning, and even manage to laugh about it. Sign language would come handy at a time like this, especially since it happens a few times a year and lasts for several days every time.

We were out and about on Saturday, and must have been fascinating to look at every time Natasha tried to explain something to us or simply point something out. Her favorite trick is to loudly clap her hands, forcing everyone to look at her, and start gesticulating when she has our attention. Clapping in a public place – that draws some attention, for sure…

Anyway, ever since our first trip to the British Museum, Kimmy was asking when we can go back to a museum where they have backpacks. Her interest was further sharpened by several Brussels museums that we visited, which she labelled not real museums and which did not offer any activities of the types she like. Since Becky missed our first excursion to this museum, we figured we’d make a return there.

Saturday weather was crisp and pleasant, so we enjoyed a bit of time outside. Since this was still half-term break in school, the inside of the museum was teeming with schoolchildren, in addition to tourists. We picked an ancient greek activity backpack, and proceeded for close to two hours with whatever the instructions directed us to do, from learning architectural components of a temple to matching modern sports with their ancient precursors.

One of the activities consisted of learning to play knucklebones, with four of those readily supplied. The rules of the game are eerily close to how we used to play Stones (Камешки ) in my childhood, and I still possess enough skill in that to thoroughly impress my offspring. That was possibly quite the highlight of the trip.

At some point, the crowds started to annoy us – ok, me, primarily, – and we made a leisurely trip home.

That same night, we had another event planned. Well, planned is not exactly how it should be described, as Natasha stuck a printed ad in front of me in the morning and contorted her face into quizzical expression, which I interpreted as Do you want to go? The ad was for a ballet performance of the Nutcracker by the Moscow City Ballet troupe, held on Saturday night not in the city, but rather at a theater in Bromley. I responded with Why not, called the ticket office, learned that there were still some tickets available, and we were on.

Bromley town center is easily reachable from where we live by a direct bus route, #126, the same one that I take weekly when not going to the Canary Wharf offices. We decided not to bother with driving and parking, especially since we already had daily travelcards covering zone 4, within which both Mottingham and Bromley lie. This particular bus route does not run very often, which is a bit of inconvenience, but it never gets too crowded either. Kimmy and Becky got choice seats in front and held a sophisticated discourse about something, while Natasha was doing her best to gesticulate up a conversation with me.

The theater was neither big nor small, but agreeable, right in the middle of Bromley’s pedestrian area. We came a bit early (Natasha even put some strain on her cords to whisper a quip about me always planning for too much reserve time and coming in 45 minutes earlier than necessary), so we explored around a bit.

The performance was excellent. To tell the truth, I understand ballet on par with understanding sign language, and while all the movements, jumps and pirouettes looked good to me, I cannot attest to the quality of the dancers’ skill. But I do appreciate great music, and the show appeared well choreographed. We were all impressed.

Natasha submitted that she liked ballet better than the opera, and Kimmy summed up the day as It was so great! First, museum with backpacks, then ballet…

Chronicles, London Album, Theater

Getaway to Brussels

February 15th, 2007
Comments Off

And we are back! Another trip is in the books, not entirely a success, but still a largely positive getaway.

As I might have mentioned, our choice of Brussels as the next destination was largely influenced by the fact that Eurostar – high-speed train that links London with the continent – has a direct route to the Belgian capital. This was not our first experience with a high-speed train (we travelled on AVE in Spain), but we were looking forward to it nonetheless. Our choice of transportation was definitely a winner: Comfortable seats, quiet movement, overpriced but well-stocked bar nearby…

The check-in procedure was similar to the one at the airport, including metal detectors (but without having to remove our shoes). It was, however, much quicker, which was primarily a function of spaced apart departures.

We lucked into an almost empty carriage. We had two sets of facing seats with a table in between – sort of a coupé – which is a great idea on the surface, if not for the fact that leg-room becomes a problem for anyone not sitting opposite Kimmy (and even that becomes contentious eventually). So, we spread around a bit.

AVE had TV screens, where Eurostar did not have any, but that was probably the only shortcoming. The trip lasted less than two and a half hours with a stop in Lille (which some trains do not make). I estimated that from Mottingham, we needed to leave no more than 90 minutes before departure, add the trip itself plus half an hour for reaching our final destination in Brussels, making the total trip duration about four and a half hours. Going with the air travel, we would have to leave house at least three hours prior to departure, and even if the flight time is less than an hour, disembarking, reclaiming luggage and a considerably longer trip to the city center could easily add two more hours, making the trip last around six hours in total. Let’s not even mention the hassle and anxiety that come packaged together with flying. High-speed train wins handily!

Anyhow, in the early afternoon on Sunday, we moved into a high-rise apartment on the edge of Brussels center. The views from 24th floor – on three different sides of the building – were fantastic. The apartment itself was a bit funky: Quite large loft-like space, with all utilities (including toilet, shower and kitchen) hidden inside closets. The kids had a lot of fun playing hide-and-seek in there. Since our plans normally include as much time out and about as possible, we are always looking for simply serviceable sleeping accommodations, and this apartment definitely sufficed.

I will stay away from a chronological account of our explorations.

Intermittent rain and two young ladies somewhat averse to lengthy walks and in-depth museum visits dictated our itinerary, but Brussels by itself is truly a day-and-a-half city, unless you feel obliged to visit every major museum. The Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts contains a collection of Flemish masters that is one of the best in the world, but little else of note. A couple of other art museums can fill in gaps in schedule, if needed, but are hardly essential stops. There are several attractive and pleasant parks and squares, as well as streets in the center of the city, which could satisfy anyone who is fond of simply soaking in the local atmosphere (but in February, you are likely to end up just soaking wet). All in all, a determined tourist can figure out how to spend several active days in this city; yet, for a person who have seen other grand cities of the Old World, Brussels does not offer a lot of must-sees.

The main town square, though, is worth the visit many times over. Grand Place (despite appearance, this is in French), or Grote Markt (in Flemish), is a magnificent square surrounded by majestic feats of 17-century architecture. Simply fantastic! Thinking back to all the great public places that we have seen in our travels, Grand Place would hold its own in any comparison.

Beyond that, the city is just nice, nothing more. The famous Manneken Pis (the peeing boy) is hardly worth the attention, even though every tourist necessarily comes about and most snap pictures. The Atomium on the outskirts of the city – a huge metallic model of an atom, consisting of nine spheres, connected by walkways and escalators, – provides a good vantage point (but with our high-rise view, we were not too impressed). The Cathedral possesses brilliant stained-glass windows – and bears uncanny resemblance to Notre-Dame de Paris from the outside.

Throughout the city, there are examples of work by Victor Horta, a famous Art Nouveau architect of the beginning of the 20th century. We visited a couple of his houses, and while they are definitely of interest, in my humble opinion, Horta is no Gaudí­.

What Brussels may be lacking in terms of exciting sightseeing, it has in abundance in terms of cuisine. Waffles are ubiquitous through the city center. Great restaurants can be found in many places.

One place, though, is quite unique. Several blocks along Rue des Bouchers and its environs are a pedestrian culinary heaven. Every door is a restaurant, each one offering traditional local dishes with some other regional slant (Italian, Moroccan, Provencal, etc.) Mussels and other seafood dominates, but meats are widely available. The menus and prices are very similar in all establishments, regardless of what they call themselves, and, as far as we can tell, the quality is pretty much on the same level in every one. A la carte selections are rather expensive, but prix-fixe menus are priced very nicely. Each place positions a waiter outside the front door, who extols the virtues of the kitchen to the passerby. It is actually quite hard to walk by without feeling enticed to come in, especially when some sort of a “deal” is thrown in (for instance, Kimmy ate for free one night). I surmise that all of the establishments somehow work together and share profits in the end, as there is little to differentiate them by, yet they appear to compete for customer.

Well, we had all of our dinners in this area, colloquially called Ilot Sacre (sacred islet). Even tried to come over for lunch once, but there is no such thing as a lunch menu, and we did not feel like stuffing ourselves with dinner-quality meal for lunch.

Having visited most of the stops in our plan by end of day Monday, we were planning to take a day-trip to Ghent on Tuesday, but this is where our holiday went awry. Natasha woke up with a fever and had to stay in bed. I cajoled the kids into a museum trip (curious but language-barrier-impaired Comic Strip Museum), then took them to a playground in the central city park, and later that day we went on another walk around city center, while Natasha varied her time between napping and taking paracetamol. She felt better on Wednesday and we went out for a couple of hours, but it was obviously not the same mood.

The return trip on Eurostar was the mirror image of the first one. Except that besides us, in our empty carriage there were three ladies of Far-Eastern persuasion, who incessantly talked in their high-pitched voices in their native tongue. Even moving around the car could not shield us from the sound of their voices, until we reached a point of blocking them out.

P.S. Natasha is feeling much better today – she even drove Becky to the skating practice.

Where we've been

Certain in this world: Taxes

February 10th, 2007

Days are really slowing down. Maybe it’s a function of the general decrease in our touristic activity or possibly routine is continuing to take a greater hold. It could be a function of waiting – I am in the middle of the fun period of knowing the size of my bonus but not actually possessing the money yet.
Read more…

Taxation, That's England

Snow again (brief follow-up)

February 8th, 2007
Comments Off

As was advertised, a beautiful snowy landscape has greeted us in the morning.
Read more…


Broadband fun

February 7th, 2007

Cold weather finally reached our land, too. For a couple of days in a row the temperature hovers around 25°F. The air is dry and windy, which makes it rather unpleasant.
Read more…

Chronicles, Customerography

Walking when trains are not running

February 5th, 2007
Comments Off

It seems as if every other weekend or so, there is no train service at Mottingham, “due to planned engineering work”. As inconvenient as that is, it is a common occurrence with London rail transport (subway included), and you can find out in advance which lines will be closed.
Read more…

Chronicles, London Album

A bit of Essex, a bit of Kent

February 3rd, 2007
Comments Off

As I mentioned, our car needs repairs. So I went to look for a shop.

In England, they are called garages. There is a ton of them around where we live, including a Vauxhall dealer one about ten minutes away. But I still have a lot of Brooklyn left in me, and Brooklyn wisdom suggests that a Russian mechanic will be cheaper and easier to deal with that a non-Russian one. Cheaper is the operative word, as I am reluctant to throw too much money at this car (and not very much keen on putting in an insurance claim for scratches and dents).

Our new friend Valera is knowledgeable in this field, so I ask him for an advice. He recommends a mechanic that he knows and trusts. Unfortunately, the shop is in Essex (north-east of London – we live in the Southeast), 25 miles away. Valera himself warns me that it is in the middle of nowhere, far from public transportation and all.

I decide that I have not got much to lose – I need to show the car to the guy to get an estimate, at least. So I get in the car, and start driving. First on motorways, then on major local roads… then on narrower roads… then on country roads where two-way traffic readily incorporates muddy swaths of grass on each side – it is either that or a head-on collision…

At some point, the navigation system makes me turn onto an unpaved dirt-track lane. My fairly small vehicle almost touches the hedgerows – on both sides at the same time. The road continues for about a mile, and I am thinking to myself, If there is a car going in the opposite direction, how the hell are we going to pass each other? Luckily, the track must have been one-way. Either that, or nobody else is stupid enough to drive on it.

Did I mention the grooves and potholes?

You gotta hand it to my navigation system, though. It knew exactly where I was and led me to the right place. For those who has never heard me talk about it, I bought a Magellan 700 a couple of years ago, loaded it with both North American and Western European maps, and cannot praise it enough. It has its own idiosyncrasies. You cannot easily dictate it your preferred approach beyond choosing an option from amongst shortest time or distance or most or least use of freeways and then relying on its algorithms for optimal route selection. The algorithm, on occasion, produces weird maneuvers (for instance, once, the system made me effect a left turn by turning right, then immediately left, followed by three right turns, and then going straight). New road patterns sometimes stupefy the system. But I have used it all over the States, in Canada and in five European countries by now, and it gets the job done. One of the more worthwhile personal technology investments, in my opinion. I also like the fact that it is portable, so I can use it in any car that I drive. It has become much cheaper, also, with competition from Garmin, Tom-Tom and the like driving the prices down.

Enough of the sales pitch. As the mechanic’s business card did not specify the house number, I found myself on the right street, but not able to locate the garage. I knew it had something to do with a place called Brook Farm, but when I drove up to it, I could not figure out where to go from there. It is a fairly deserted area, truly in the middle of nowhere. I pulled over to a muddy patch by the gate and got out. Beware of Dogs sign predicted what happened next with incredible clairvoyance, as two large shepherds did not fail to materialize, purposefully setting off in my direction. I started to retreat but then a woman got out of the house and called the dogs back. She kindly explained that I had to go through the gate and around back to find the garage in some farm outhouse. Whew!

So, in no time afterwards, Jilvinas – he is Lithuanian – gave me an estimate for repairing all the dents and scratches. Quite a lot of money that is, but at the lower boundary of my expectations. I told him to go ahead, and will be bringing the car to him prior to our Brussels trip. That is bound to be yet another adventure: First, figuring out how to avoid the dirt lane, and then getting home by public transport when there is none in the vicinity…

Switching gears, Becky spent the day today with her friend from school. We dropped her off at their house in the morning and the friend’s parents dropped her back late in the evening. They went rollerblading in Greenwich Park – the day was quite nice and sunny – and then visited an indoor water park with pools and slides. Quite a lot of fun, I am being told.

The rest of the family took it slow, going to a mall for some idle shopping and following that up with a visit to one of my co-workers who lives in Chelsfield, Kent, a bit farther out of the city. I have been mentioning in conversation that we will possibly be looking for different accommodations (including buying) at some point, and she suggested that we take a look at her area.

The area is definitely cleaner, quieter and overall nicer than where we rent now. The train station is about as close from their house as our train station in Mottingham. Express trains get to the city as quick as from where we are, but I suppose that on weekends the trains do not run express, so weekend city outings will probably be a bit less simple.

The cost of our weekend trips to London actually deserves going on a tangent. My monthly pass for zones 2-4 (Canary Wharf, where I work, is not in central zone 1) costs £74.50. When we go to the city on a weekend, I need to get an additional daily “off-peak” pass for zones 1-2 (there is no such thing as just a zone 1 pass) – £5.10. Natasha has to get a similar pass for zones 1-4 – £5.70. Kids get daily passes for just £1 each when they travel with an adult who holds a monthly pass. Our total transportation cost for a day in London is £12.80.

Karen, my colleague, lives in zone 6, and, unlike from Mottingham, there is no convenient way of getting to Canary Wharf besides riding a train into the city center (zone 1), and taking a subway from there. So, if I lived in Chelsfield, I would have to get a monthly pass for zones 1-6, which is £165.20. However, I would not need to buy a separate ticket when traveling into the city center on a weekend. Kids’ passes would still be £1 each. We would only need to buy one adult “off-peak” daily pass for zones 1-6 – £6.70. Total day-trip cost: £8.70. Obviously, the difference not close enough to offset the monthly pass increase, but still an unexpected outcome.

I guess I could buy myself a zones 1-4 monthly even now at £127.50 and reduce our weekend costs to £7.70…

Anyway, back to Chelsfield. If we were to move there, my daily commute would also increase timewise to about one hour each way (door-to-door; from about 40-45 minutes right now). Driving to the city, if we wanted to do that, would definitely be longer by at least 20 minutes. More importantly, it would become completely unmanageable to keep Becky in her current school, and while finding her a public school (which are much better in Kent than in Greenwich) would be a welcome step for financial reasons, I am very reluctant to uproot her like that again, given that she has really taken to the Blackheath High and found herself quite a number of friends already.

But we would be living in an area where kids can actually ride bikes in the street and the cars do not queue up for minutes at an intersection.

There are other places like Chelsfield, obviously, that present a very similar choice of improved quality of surroundings at the cost of certain sacrifices. Something to think about. Our rental agreement runs through the end of September…

Chronicles, London Album, Technology

Selecting my football team

February 1st, 2007

I am changing my football allegiance. If I were English, I would attract unending scorn from every fan in the nation, as I will be switching from Tottenham to their arch-rival, Arsenal.

In hindsight, it was entirely foolish of me to declare which team was “mine” before I had a chance to see them in action. True, I stated my loyalty in a fairly low-key manner, so I could probably even plausibly deny ever having made that statement. But in any case, now, that I have watched a number of games, I realize that, with a potentially limited time horizon, I should be following an exciting team, and forget about the boring one which I kind of followed a decade ago for the sole reason of my favorite striker having played for it for a couple of years.

Last night’s Arsenal – Tottenham game in the Carling Cup was the last straw. The Spurs played without a couple of their best players (Lennon and Berbatov) and, in my opinion, played beyond poor. Defoe is a complete zero. Keane is not only a complete zero, but a whiner, complaining about every single call, even when clearly at fault himself. Robinson is a mediocre goalie – he must be number one for England by some sort of default, due to lack of competition. Not a single player demonstrated any mastery of the ball.

The Gunners, meanwhile, were playing with largely their young second team. Henry (who is one of the best forwards in the world, for my money) was not even on the bench; van Persie is out for several weeks; a couple of other regulars were not playing either. But the team was a joy to watch, with youngsters Denilson, Walcott, Aliadiere providing plenty of excitement. Second-string goalkeeper Almunia made a couple of fantastic saves. Somewhat ungainly Adebayor is an excellent forward, winning balls all over the field. Fabregas and Rosicky, who entered the game sometime after the break, are tremendous in midfield. A fun team, coming strong in this half of the season.

So, that’s it for me. Being somewhat a free-agent as far as football fandom is concerned, I feel no shame in jumping on a bandwagon of a team that I think can be a pleasure to follow for the next few years. Consider the last few months a probation that Tottenham did not pass…

I do feel like apologizing to those readers of this blog who do not follow football. Let’s see, what else can I offer today?

Not too much, apparently. The weekend is approaching, but we have not yet formulated our plans for it. We are, however, actively reviewing our travel plans all through August. Also, this week, several friends have indicated when their prospective visits to us could take place, so we are working that into the schedule.

We have keenly observed over the last several weeks that it is virtually impossible to find a dented or scratched car on London streets. It is unlikely that the English drive so well as to never get into accidents that cause scratches and dents. It is much more likely that a damaged car is not taken on the road until it is repaired.

Why would we be paying attention to this? you ask incisively. Well, our car is now a rarity, brandishing several wounds. One is a result of a small accident on a roundabout – totally the other driver’s fault ;). The others are a testament of our complete ineptitude in exiting the narrow opening of our driveway on a daily basis. I have gotten used to a different judgment of how far away the objects are on the left of me, but, apparently, not on the right. Natasha is the opposite. The back and the front of the car have been spared so far…

I am taking it to a Russian shop imminently and expect to pay quite a fortune for repairs and paint. Maybe, I should swallow my pride – it is already heavily undermined by the fact of sustained damage itself – and continue driving around as is. Otherwise, we may end up needing new repairs soon after completing this round. On the other hand, it is possible that there is some law against driving a dented car, and we simply have not been officially caught breaking it yet…

The saddest part of it is that we have not formed any attachments to this car and are even considering replacing it with something more pleasurable (before anyone says it, I admit, it was not my finest hour when I selected this car). But I cannot help but be concerned that any new car will suffer similar fate…

On a more positive subject, Becky is starring in her own “talk show” tomorrow. Not on TV, mind you, but in her school. Every form (that is British for grade) has occasional assemblies (think общественное собрание ). An assembly can consist of just a series of announcements, but it can also be a presentation. Becky’s class (also known in England as homeroom) is doing theirs tomorrow, as a talk show. The topic is “Famous Women”. Becky is the host. Her guests are going to include Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Marilyn Monroe, the Spice Girls, Serena Williams, Mme Tussaud, Margaret Thatcher, and others. Some girls are playing the part, while others are pretending to be biographers of their respective subjects. Pretty cool idea!

For those who wants to check the answer to the puzzle in a previous blog entry, it is provided here. If you want to try solving the puzzle yourself, please read that entry.

The answer:

The fish belongs to the German (who incidentally lives in the green house, drinks coffee and smokes Rothman’s). If you decided not to try your own hand in solving the puzzle, you may find it interesting to simply follow this sequence of clues that logically leads to the only possible answer: 7, 9, 13, 4+5+1, 8, 11, 12+15+3, 2+14, 6, 10.

Chronicles, Idle Amusements, Sports