It has been a hard week!  So many lessons coming so close together leaving me little time to prepare and plan, so I have to carefully prepare and plan when I am going to prepare and plan!  On Wednesday I took over another teacher’s class literally as it was due to start, so she could cover the class of a different teacher who had not shown up.  It was a class I knew and a lesson I had already taught, so it was not so difficult.  I walked into another lesson almost completely unprepared because no-one had got the information I needed to me – we pretty much just chatted until someone stuck their head round the door to give me some materials midway through the lesson!  It turns out “just chatting” is more or less the remit for that lesson anyway – it is a student who wants conversation practice with a native speaker.

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Voroshilovskiy Christmas Tree (see blog post Minus 11)

Anyway, by the time I finished on Saturday evening I was beat (although even then I was trying to get as much information and materials as I could for Monday’s lessons, as one starts at 9am and I will have little time to prepare for the others in Tractorniy!).  I had an invitation to come out and see some live music with Peter and Ale, and some of Peter’s workmates from Volzshky, but I told Peter I just didn’t have the energy and needed some quality downtime.  I went to bed around 8pm and slept through until Sunday morning.

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Turtle Canteen (see blog post Winter Is Here)

Feeling fresh on Sunday morning, I decided to sort some things out.  First simple stuff – put out the bin, do some laundry.  Then I addressed the problem of my beard, which needs some explaining.  When I first moved into this flat I could not find the electrical socket in the bathroom, so I tried to run the washing machine, via a series of extension cables, from a socket in another room.  I did not have enough Russian cables, so I used an adaptor to connect my English cable.  Unfortunately this was an adaptor designed for small appliances only, and not for washing machines.  What I did not realise at the time and only discovered this week, is that I need this adaptor to plug in the charger for my electric razor – it is a two pin charger, but the pins don’t fit in a standard Russian socket.  And it needs recharging.  And my beard is growing.

So I needed to find a 1 amp fuse.  And the only place in Volgograd where I felt reasonably confident of finding one was OBI.  So I hopped on a bus to Dzherzhinsky.  Usually I get the number 15, but it was 0C and I didn’t fancy waiting in the cold, so I got on a number 10 instead, which went in roughly the same direction, I wasn’t sure of the details.  I had a bit of an argument with the conductor, I had loads of 500 rouble notes in my pocket, so I hunted through them until I found a 50 and gave it to her, but she started giving me 100s in change.  I tried to explain I gave her a 50, not a 500 (difficult but I think I had the number words right!), but she insisted.  In the end I just accepted I would not be able to convince her and took the money, it was only then she pulled out the 500 rouble note I had given her to prove she was right!  “Isvinitye”, I apologised!  I think the note must have been folded so I could only see the first zero.

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Leningrad – a popular rock band in Russia (was playing on the screens in Harats)

Of course the bus did not take the turning to Dzherzhinsky, but according to my map, I could cut between the buildings separating the two roads further down.  Somewhat fortunately, this did turn out to be possible, the only difference from how I imagined it was that there were no buildings, once you got away from the main roads, there was just waste ground.  Some of it was being used, for scrapyards, kart tracks, etc but it was mostly just (frozen) mud and grass.  And on the other side, I could see the orange roof of OBI.

It didn’t take me long to find the fuse I needed.  I hoped it was compatible with my British adaptor, but it looked the right size and shape.  Of course I looked around, and not having any other bags on me this time, I took the opportunity to make a few additional purchases.  A screwdriver.  A doormat (for outside my door – only 49R, about 50p).  Some sticky tape.  And two pillows.  My neck is sore every morning because the cushions I use for pillows are so thick and not soft enough.  I also checked out the Christmas decorations, but only so I could take a picture for you all!

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Ho Ho Ho!

The bus to take me back home just beat me to the bus stop so I decided to take another look in the Park House mall.  I found a new supermarket called Carousel, and decided to scout it out, in case it had products I could not get in other supermarkets.  I found some nice tall glasses, and decided to buy them!  I found the biggest Pick and Mix I had ever seen.  I saw a cheap water filter jug – I decided it might be useful and save me buying and carrying so much water.  And a bag of Maltesers!

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I had a little explore around the rest of the mall.  They had some Christmas decorations up which looked pretty – not so different from the Glades back in Bromley.  I went into Media Markt to see if they had any Bluetooth headphones (mine are falling apart) – they did but at 12,000 roubles – well beyond good value.  Again I resisted the temptation to lunch on Kentucky Fried Chicken, knowing I had food at home.

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The Glades?

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So I got the bus back home.  Well, I got the bus back to the centre.  There is a 50-50 chance whether the number 15 will turn left or right, right takes me home, left takes me nowhere.  Of course it turned left.  I hopped off at the next stop and wandered back to see a number 10 and a number 8 back to back, both heading for my stop on the other side of the road.  No way I could get there in time, and probably 20 minutes until the next useful bus appeared.  I could have used a marshrutka, but they are hard enough to navigate when you are just carrying a bag, never mind two pillows and some shopping!  So I got the tram.

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While I was waiting for the bus heading out, one of the neighbourhood cats was sheltering from the wind in the bus stop.  They like the bus stop, and not just because it offers shelter.  A woman came up and put down a bag of dry cat food which the cat gratefully wolfed down.  On the way home, I saw the same cat amongst a group of 4 cats being fed by another woman, from the building 3 doors down from mine.  I have been feeling sorry for these street cats living on the freezing cold streets, but now I think they are eating better and more regularly than me!

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Old fuse, new fuse

I got home and was delighted to find that the fuse fit perfectly into the adaptor, and the adaptor worked perfectly to charge my razor.  In a few hours I will have a nice clean smooth face again.  Mission accomplished.

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