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The Lion King musical

We went to see the Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in London last night. Confirming what I have been hearing for years, it’s a tremendous show, with imaginative colorful costumes and contraptions depicting various animals, and simple but expressive sets. The acting, I felt, was a bit on the mediocre side, but that cannot[…]

travel-money

More on not so cheap air travel

My cousin Alex – who, in our family parlance, would be referred to as my brother – is on a work assignment in Dublin for the next couple of weeks. Obviously, we wanted to come and visit. And the truths exposed in my onetime editorial on the costs of European travel garnered new evidence.

Four travelers, less than a week’s notice, understandable constraints of time between the end of schoolday on Friday and beginning of the next schoolday on Monday. The route, London – Dublin, is served by a plethora of airlines, from majors to regionals. The actual trip is just a bit over an hour. One would have thought that even at the last moment, the fares would be under £100 per person.
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children

Another parenting milestone

This week heralded another milestone in our parenting life: For the first time ever, we let Becky use public transportation all on her own. The determining factor was scheduling: When Kimmy has her swimming lessons on Wednesdays, Becky needs to stay in school resource center for over an hour after classes, until Natasha can drive[…]

diary

Either doors or phones

The property management agency for our landlord has decided that doors and windows of the laundry room need to be replaced. Fine by us – it’s not like we are paying. The contractors did not show up when they were expected several weeks ago, but except for a little annoyance – after all, Natasha planned[…]

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In favor of Club Med

I admittedly do not like packaged vacations.

There are few things in this world that annoy me more than having to waste my time on account of strangers. Coupled with the penchant I have for being punctual, I would certainly waste disproportionate amount of time if I joined a tour group, which would prevent me from enjoying whatever such holiday could offer.

I am also not much for lazy do-nothingness. The first day at the beach is grand, the second is ok, the third is boringly drawn-out, and by the fourth I am ready to return home if no diversion is forthcoming. Ok, with good company and pleasant conversation, I can probably survive a week-long sojourn at a Caribbean all-inclusive resort, but I would be perpetually conflicted by the inherent desire to extract maximum value from the all-you-can-eat-and-drink around-the-clock buffets against my need to wander outside regimented boundaries.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a do-it-on-the-whim traveler. I have my moments, surely, but most of the time I prefer to plan well ahead and minimize surprises. But what I do plan for is exploring, and that leaves little room for trip-mates who do not share my mindset (or my punctuality), for itineraries that are made with an average highlight-seeking tourist in mind, or for strict daily schedules.

It was with some trepidation that I was looking forward to a stay at an all-inclusive Club Med for our skiing holiday.
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Road tax

The concept of vehicle registration in Britain is substituted by the notion of the road tax. Same thing, different name, really, except that the proof of you having paid the tax – known as the Tax Disc – has to be prominently displayed on your windshield (while the proof of inspection does not). The real[…]

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Skiing in Alps

Disclaimer #1: Admittedly, I am not much of a skier.

Disclaimer #2: The closest that I’ve ever been to a major North American skiing resort is Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, which normally figures somewhere in the Top 20 on the travel magazines’ lists. I have never been to Colorado, Utah or British Columbia, having otherwise satisfied my limited skiing needs with Poconos and once with Vermont.

So, while I want to make a statement of the kind of There’s nothing like skiing in Alps, it will probably ring hollow. And yet, I am pretty sure that an Alpine skiing experience is likely to leave a lasting impression on anyone who’s done it for the very first time.

You clearly need nice weather for your skiing trip to be enjoyable, and we lucked into an entire week of bright blue skies, warm sun and no wind (funnily, the day of our departure started out very foggy and considerably less pleasant than the preceding week). You obviously need good snow on the slopes, as well, and there was a huge snowfall several days before our arrival. And last, but not least, you need gorgeous scenery. And the scenery in Alps is simply breathtaking.

 

*****

 
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Back from Alps

We are back from our excellent Alpine adventure, and since I am sure that everyone is anxious to hear about it, here is a brief recap.     Yes, the skies were azure, the snow was sparkling, the setting was altogether gorgeous, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. My three ladies skied as much as was[…]

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123 meme

A very random meme, but a good illustration of the genre (which you can learn about here). Here are The Rules of this one:

  1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people.

Let’s try it.
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diary

Blackheath at lunchtime

On what was likely the first nice day of the year, I decided to work from home. Actually, I decided that the day before, since there were a couple of important chores to attend to prior to leaving for our Alpine skiing trip. The nice weather was purely coincidental.

That was not the last of coincidences, though. On this same day, my laptop decided that it is not going to allow me to properly connect to the corporate network remotely. I spent about an hour tinkering with it, but finally gave up, used my Blackberry to announce to one or two people who cared that I was converting the day into a day-off, and allowed myself to marvel at how circumstances conspired to force me to enjoy the nice weather.

So when Natasha asked “Do you want to go have lunch in Blackheath?”, I gladly agreed.
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TowerBridge

London’s Low Emission Zone

The indefatigable London mayor, Ken Livingstone, has just inaugurated a low emission zone (LEZ) scheme. It establishes stinging fees – £200 per trip – for high-polluting vehicles’ privilege of driving within Greater London. The heaviest lorries are subject to restrictions effective today, while other lorries, buses, coaches, minibuses and large vans will be phased in[…]

diary

Freezing but happy in the end

We have arranged with our friends Mila, Andrey and their kids to spend the Saturday afternoon on our territory, and the weather was seemingly cooperating, sunny and bright. The meeting point was Greenwich Park, and we got there a bit ahead of the time in order to spend some time outside in the fresh air…

… and immediately realized that with the wind, the temperatures were not so pleasant. We had to resort to playing tag in order to keep ourselves warm – being cold and wheezing from exertion is worse than just being cold, trust me, – but soon gave up and went inside Royal Observatory for a well-needed reprieve.
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Day 489

It would be too spooky if on the very day that I suddenly decided to count how many days we’ve lived in England, the number would come out round. Alas, I was off by just 11 days from a really round one, even though “500 days” carry absolutely no significance timeline-wise…

I managed to post more than once a day on average in January, stepping up expropriations – let’s put it nicely as expanding distribution – of other people’s finds of fun web stuff and diving into movie reviews and such. Not many of those posts are chronicling our adventures or dispensing expatriate advice – a rather drastic departure from this blog’s main theme. As I continue to search for the right balance, here is a wrap-up of the last week.
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