Supplies are not forever

We knew before we moved to England that some common household items were considerably more expensive here than in the US, while others may simply be non-existent. It made perfect sense to stick large quantities of some necessary stuff into the shipping containers. Relocating young mothers are routinely advised to ship large supplies of diapers,[…]


Lapland in UK

As if to make sure that my complaints about general inactivity were unfounded, we have decided to entertain ourselves in the middle of the week.

Visiting SantaWe went to the seasonal attraction called Lapland UK, in Kent. As the name suggests, it is a Lapland-themed little village that holds a number of Christmas activities, aimed primarily at children who have not grown out of believing in Santa Claus yet.

Our expectations were quite low, as Natasha have read a number of reviews on TripAdvisor which posited that the attraction was quite underwhelming. Alas, we bought the tickets over a month ago, so we had to go anyway.


Of speed cameras

What motorist would appreciate a device whose main purpose is to convert additional speed into hefty monetary penalties! I am no exception, certainly. A policeman hiding in the bushes with his radar never fails to trigger a Tourette-like urge for me to utter some unflattering epithet in his address. A speed control camera always grates on my nerves…

Objectively speaking, though, I have to admit that unlike those abominable police enforcers, the speed cameras so prevalent in England are a rather effective way to keep the speed with which the traffic moves under control.


School trips are fun

One way in which British school curriculum differs from its American counterpart is in the quantity of school field trips. As they bring variety to frequently dull coursework as well as often become an effective tool for learning certain topics, we are quite happy that our girls are exposed to that. Consider. In this trimester[…]


Becky dances to YMCA

It took me several days to figure out a good way to post locally stored streaming videos on my website. Trust me, every blogging software puts limitations on what you can transparently do, and what appears to be a simple task with embedding YouTube video becomes a lot less simple when you want to refrain[…]


Less than active

Blame suburban living that keeps us away from the hustle and bustle of the big city or blame the expected decline of novelty in things that we can do. Blame the dull weather if you want. But our weekends have disappointingly become devoid of interesting family stuff. We lately got into let’s-just-chill-at-home mode of spending the weekends, as opposed to our earlier explorations (for examples, see here, here or even here just a couple of months ago).

This weekend, I barely set foot out of the house… for about the third weekend in a row.


Disparity in travel costs

The cost of a weekly economy car rental (automatic transmission, A/C, unlimited mileage) in Andalucía for a UK resident: £157. The cost of the same rental for a US resident: $650. Something to be said about the inter-EU travel. On the other hand, business-class-only MaxJet tickets cost almost 50% more (at the current exchange rates)[…]



With a tip of the hat to Jason Bennion.     I don’t know whether to take this as an insult to my mastery of the English language or a compliment to the clarity with which I express myself…


What’s in a name

Say my last name out loud in its anglicized pronunciation. Now, transliterate it phonetically into Russian. What do you get? Right – Бёрлак – which is exactly how it appears on the visa issued to Natasha by the Russian embassy in London. I suppose I can’t imagine a Russian embassy worker in charge of visas[…]


On football

Remember this ESPN commercial that ran during the World Cup last year?


On any given Sunday these days, I proceed from watching one football to the other and back. I can’t help but notice how the environment dictates the primary watching habits. While the last few years of my sports fan life have been dominated by the American football (and baseball), I am now firmly engrossed again in football that only America calls soccer.


Let’s not go to the beach today

We woke up this morning, looked out the window, regarded skies of dark lead hues, and decided to stay home for the day.

Not that we had much planned, but we could go to the city and spend some time with our friends. Only, the weather outside was loudly hinting that it did not welcome our presence.

As it often happens in these parts, at some point later in the day the skies cleared up. We thought, fine, let’s at least go for a walk in the park. The skies thought better of it, and within fifteen minutes turned to threatening again. We surrendered.

This was a fitting coda to an unremarkable week.

After all the excitement that we had last week, there were no social events and only one diversion all week long. Given that Becky and I got back to our morning drive routine and the temperatures started to drop noticeably, we have been working hard just to find reasons for cheerfulness.


Thinking same thoughts

One thing I neglected to mention in my brief tribute to married life. After this many years, Natasha and I have progressed from finishing each other sentences to frequently thinking the same thoughts at the same time. Quite uncanny, I should say. There are obvious house-related things such as remembering an outstanding chore and going[…]


Sleepover and fireworks

The invasion of adolescent girls left one member of the family exuberantly happy, the other exhausted, and the third excited but relieved. Me, I was exempt from proceedings, and holed up in my study occupying myself with various blog-related tasks (for instance, Loire Valley review). The most excited was Kimmy, who was allowed to participate[…]