Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween from Odessa

Happy Halloween from Odessa, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

I love the colours on this photo, taken at the Flea Market in Odessa last Saturday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jumping - on the beach at Illiychevsk

From a week ago:

Thank you all very much. It was a really great afternoon on our last full day in Odessa. Sergey had been a most wonderful host and it was so good to end with a nice jumping session on the beach!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 Ekim 2009 - Happy Republic Day!

It is the 81st Birthday of the Turkish Republic today.

Reading the (English language) papers in Turkey recently, we see that Turkey has been busy building bridges and making friensd with its neighbours in the region.

Syria was one of the first, where from now on there will be no visa requirements for citizens to travel to each other's countries.

The accords were signed with old enemy Armenia in Switzerland only a couple of weeks ago.

Progress is being made with the Kurdish PKK, when PKK fighters were alowed back into the country from Iraq, with whom Turkey is enjoying good contacts.

And yet, this week we had a group of Euro-Parliamentarians visiting for two days and it seemed to be constant bickering over Cyprus, with Europe lecturing to Turkey what it needs to do. I am all in favour of Turkey joining and strengthening the EU, but if the EU is going to display anti-Turkish, anti-Islamic attitudes, maybe the best place for Turkey is outside as a regional superpower, with a special relationship with the EU and being a member of Nato.

Whatever, it is great to see the country going from strength to strength!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

At the Odessa market

At the Odessa market, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

garethbee says:
what are these? they look good.

CharlesFred says:
They were really foul. Bitter. Apparently they are good for you in a vitamin C kind of way. They lady laughed when we had to almost spit out our little berry. They need to be boiled with LOTS of sugar, it seems.

garethbee says:
Ah, in that case I think they could be Aronia berries - should be cooked with tons of sugar but contain a huge amount of vitamin c and, allegedly, anti-oxidants. I have some plants - their autumn leaves are quite stunning.

CharlesFred says:
Well, you are the plant expert. I will ask Sergey what they are in Russian and maybe we can work back from there...

garethbee says:
please do - I have only ever seen a much darker version of the aronia, but I believe that it is commonly used in this part of the world

steblina says:
It is the berries of arrow-wood (also guelder/may-rose, latin: viburnum). Berries contain Viburnin glycoside, the one that makes them bitter. If you try to extract substances with boiling or drawing, they will lose viburnin. You should use only fresh juice of these berries as medicine for heart and throat diseases. I used to eat these berries when I was a kid. They are really good with tea, making nice flavor.

garethbee says:
Ah, excellent - thanks Steblina, that makes sense now - cheers. Have never tried these but I will keep an eye out for them now.

fadeevbiz says:
KALINA berries )

I dream of travelling to Odessa )

CharlesFred says:
It's a great place! You should go!

hedgiecc says:
Whatever they taste like, they make a very pretty photo!

CharlesFred says:
Thank you! We were immediately attracted to the colours and the lady selling them. Just a pity about the raw taste, when they looked so sweet.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They smoke a lot in Odessa

At Odessa Station, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

... and cigarettes are very cheap here as well. Still, looks quite cool!

Monday, October 26, 2009


At Odessa Station, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Elián says:
What a jolly bunch!

Stuart-Lee says:
LOL at Elian's comment - but it's a great shot - it reminds me of people waiting for the bus in certain market towns in England, especially in the Fens, where I'm from!

CharlesFred says:
I think that many people from these parts have great patience and they have probably been perched here for a few hours. And apart from ogling the naval cadets milling around there would not be too much to entertain these women and put smiles on their faces...

CharlesFred says:
How long do you have to wait for a bus in the Fens. I remember growing up in England in the 1970's and almost never catching a bus (except for n London), as the gaps in the timetables were so great and they never seemed to come even when they were supposed to...

garethbee says:
what are they watching - a cadet? the lady with the purple hat seems to be enjoying herself.

CharlesFred says:
I have no idea - maybe just the comings and goings and I really DO hope that our friend with the purple hat IS enjoying the view of a cadet.

garethbee says:
she could just be holding onto her shopping underneath that coat..

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Odessa in the rain

Odessa in the rain, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

I was a bit surprised to see this photo getting so much attention and I notice that she seems to be references in a 'Femmes in Rubber Boots' yahoo group!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Charles on Gipoteza at Odessa racetrack

This was my first time riding out on a racetrack. Odessa is renowned for being muddy at times and the racetrack was no exception. Still I managed a nice fast gallop. It was exhilerating!

Travelling around Odessa

A naval hero of Odessa, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

One interesting thing about Odessa is getting around. There are buses, mini-buses (old and bew), trams, trolley buses and taxis. And then there is the unofficial way of getting around, which has Sergey standing by the side of the street and putting his hand out a little way from his body, whereby a car, usually one of the first to pass will stop. Sergey tells them where we want to go and negotiates the price (which is chepaer still than the price of an offical taxi) and in we climb and off we go. These drivers have avaried taste in music, from death metal to folk to trance, and often like to drive very fast when the road is clear, when they are not getting up to drive along the tram rails, overtaking the traffic jam. Great fun!

Flower lady at Odessa market

Flower lady at Odessa market, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We were missing our friend the most when it came to looking for a place to sit down and have a nice coffee and a bite to eat. There did not seem to be any nice places to sit outside and have a drink, which is strange seeing as the weaher is usually so good and there is plenty of shade given by the impressive plane trees which line most of the avenues.

So we wandered off to the station area, the tram station and bus station and then to the great market, full of babushkas selling flowers and fruit and vegetables. It was muddy and every so often a bit smelly and it reminded ud do much of a market in Africa. Fred was hungry and irritatted which restricted photo opportunities. We finally found a tea slon selling coffees and fancy cakes but it was already three o'clock!

After that we stumbled across the impressive green and white mosque (or arab church, as they seem to be known in Russian), before visiting a green and white orthodox church.

We returned to The Steakhouse for a delcious meal (I had the tastiest Bistecca alla Fiorentina ever, Fred a large cut of succulent lamb) served by a charming young man who put on a real performance when serving Fred's sambuca, invloving flames, straws and tissues...

Neo-Classical Odessa

Neo-Classical Odessa, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Another lovely day yesterday, this time under clear blue skies as we were left to our own devices to find our way round the city.
We started off in the neo-Baroque are ajust near our very well situated hotel. A boat load of Germans had arrived for the day, just as a boat load of English were seen meandering around two days before.

We then followed some directions given by the guide from the Jewish history museum before following the coast line round from the busy docks, past the crumbling naval college to the Shevchenko Park, where there was a Memorial to the Unknown Soldier.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Odessa - Arkadia beach

Odessa - Arkadia beach, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We then found our way to the charning little museum where a kind lady with pale skin and a pink scarf on her head talked us through the exhibits and the history of the Jews in Odessa, which in the early 1900's was the third largest Jewish city in the world after Warsaw and New York, with at one stage 40 percent of the people being Jewish. However they suffered badly under the Romanians during the Holocaust, everyone being surprised that the Russians didn't defend the city better from the Germans. Later on there was Soviet repression and then economic decline under an independent Ukrainian stste.

Breakfast (today) is now served, excuse me).

After the museum, we somehow managed to skip lunch and made our way to the beaches for a nice long walk in the downs, past all the empty seaside attractions. It was not what I had imagined the seaside would be like but one could easily imagine every spot on the sandy beach being taken up by Russian tourists in the summer.

We spent the evening at Sergey's friend Sergey's house, where I cooked pasta all'amatriciana (just missing a bit of chili) and Sergey cooked some prawns, accompanied by fine wine from Ukraine and plonk from Moldova. We didn't get back til quite late...


Odessa, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We had another wonderful day in Odessa yesterday and we are already more than half way through our stay here. The weather stayed dry yesterday but low cloud hid the sun for most of the day.

Breakfast was served as usual in our pleasabt hotel, Dvor, by our bearded lady hostess with the charming English. Fred and I walked down to the Pushkin statue and chatted to some Turkish students who had just arrived in Odessa to learn Russian, before meeting up with our friend and excellent host to this great vity, Sergey.

We set off for the Jewish Historical Museum, stopping off first to have a look at the paintings and souvenirs. At the market outside the very large Orthodox Church

On the wet streets of Odessa

On the wet streets of Odessa, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We are starting on our second full day in Odessa, hoping that the rain-filled clouds might move and allow us to see this splendid and multi-faceted city in sunshine. We have a few days to go, so it will happen.

The rain has given us the excuse to stop off in one vafe or bar or restarant for delcious cups of cofee, hearty meals and cheap very drinkable beer (but WHY the Stella and Staropramen? Reminds us far too much of an Enlgish corporate pub!).

So far, we have spent time in the neo-classicist city centre, down at the passenger terminal at the docks and in the Old Town (not so old, mind you). This evening, we will go to the fabulous Opera House (my first time ever to an Opera House!).

The Russian language spoken here is quite fun but it is good that we have a very dear freind here to show around, or we might have become a bit lost, not to mention on missing out on the better places to eat and drink!
Posted 2 days ago. ( permalink | delete | edit )

CharlesFred says:
The sun came out is Odessa today at about 2 pm but still the streets are a bit damp.

Tomorrow promises to be beach weather.

Another busy day in Odessa today, which saw us at the East/West art gallery, the main synagogue, the book market, the meat market, 16 floors up, the railway station, a communist area and the Frech Boulevard.

I attended my first Opera and managed to jeep awake most of the time. It was Rossini's Barber of Seville but I didn,t catch him once cutting anyone's hair.

Finished off with Pepper Steak and Ukrainian wine at The Steakhouse. Delisious food and excellent company.

Bedtime now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

||===> 300 km/hr

||===> 300 km/hr, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Just over four hours from Paris to Birmingham - amazing! Travelling overland at 300 km/hour is a great way to travel especially when it mans avoiding airports!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A South Omo sunset

A South Omo sunset, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This was taken during our last (very long) day on the river. We had been dallying too long over impressive breakfasts and hearty lunches and were left with a long way to travel. We carrie on way after dark, until we finally came to shore at about 10 am.

The photo has been scanned from a printed photo, giving an interesting texture.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On the banks of the River Omo

On the banks of the River Omo, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Four years since our Omo River rafting trip:

We really have no idea what it is. Fred suggested, with a grin, a massive cremation site. The gaps between the wood are too big for it to be a kraal (I think). They mainly have goats, as far as we could tell - see the other photos. I had completely forgotten about this construction until I came across the photo earlier on today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Driving licence!

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Here is a copy of the card I received from my Granny and Grandpa Mac wishing me good luck in my Driving Test. I found it in a box downstairs with other memorabilia, which is quite a coincidence seeing as it was either the 10th or 12th October in 1978 that I passed my test (first time). It was a beautiful warm/almost hot day - 25 degrees in the years before global warming. I must have had the day off school and I went to High Wycombe to take my test and I remember driving the car up to the direction of Penn. I didn't make any mistakes but I always thought that the good weather had something to do with put the examiner into a good mood.

At this time, I was still going to school, and having taken my test I would be able to 'do' the school run, driving up from Beaconsfield to Amersham, with my friends Paul and Philip and possibly another, from where we would take the train to Moor Park. I had inherited a car - a purple Austin Maxi - from my Uncle Eddie and Aunty Maud who had recently died and were buried (or, more probably cremated) in Uxbridge.

I used to have lots of cards and some letters from Granny and Grandpa but I lost a box of my 1970's memorabilia, probably during one of the moves to Rome.

I would keep a car until 2004, when I handed in the company car I had been driving - so had been driving for 26 years, now 5 years without - execpting the odd hire car.

The cars I have had have been:

1978-1984 Austin Maxi
1984-1992 Fiat Uno
1992-1995 Rover 216
1995-1999 Rover 420
1999-2004 Rover 75
2004 Volvo 60

Motor racing rally in Asmara, Eritrea in 1950's

In the meantime, talking about cars and driving, here is a video which my father took in Eritrea in the 1950's. showing a motor rally round the bends on the raod up to Asmara. Some nice looking cars. Now, there is not even hardly any petrol in the country...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


La Boca, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Argentina have to win their next two matches against Peru (today) and Uruguay on Wednseday if they are to joing England and Holland and all the other teams in next year's World Cup in South Africa. With Diego Maradona as manager, I doubt that they will make it while, of course, hoping that they do!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Armenia and Turkey to sign accords

Fun in the Fener sunshine, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Turkey and Armenia are set to sign accords to reopen their borders and establish diplomatic ties after decades of bitter relations.

See this article.

Let us hope that these boys grow up in an era of normal relations between the Armenians and the Turks.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Dutch Royal Family

Oostpoort!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

The Dutch Royal Family costs a lot of money and, in a time of economic crisis, they are apparently costing even more than before. A lot of money is being spent on security (well, what a surprise) and also on private flights made by 16 members of the Royal family.

And then there is the villa which the Criown prince and his Argentinean wife are having built on an island off the coast of Mozambique where they have come into contact with dubious estate agents and property developers and... why go all the way over there for a holiday home, when we are all concerned about global warming?

And then, what sort of monarchy do we want here? At present, the Queen plays an active role in politics, in much the same way as in the UK, if not meddling even more. Do we want to revert to the 'Swedish' model of just having a figurehead without any constitutional role?

These were the issues being debated in the Dutch parliament today, wher, as usual, the Prime Minister was made to look ineffective and indecisive.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This is how they do it in Holland...

The English football team go to Ukraine on Saturday for a World Cup qualifier knowing that they have already qualified. It is just Ukraine now which needs to do well to make sure that they qualify instead of Croatia, so there will be some real competitive spirit.

The English football team came to Amsterdam in August (on a cool, grey, miserable summer's day) for a 'friendly' match. The football might have been friendly but the fans (both Dutch and English) managed to create enough of a nuisance of themselves for the Amstelstraat to be closed off and guarded by police dogs such as this.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Istanbul!

Happy Anniversary, Istanbul!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

On 6th October, Istanbul celebrates the arrival of Turkish troops in Istanbul which had been occupied by Imperialist British and French forces. This was 86 years ago, in 1923.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Interview with Simon Reeve

Found on the Somaliland Times website:

Writer and broadcaster Simon Reeve, 37, has hosted TV travel epics Holidays In The Danger Zone, Tropic Of Capricorn, Equator and Places That Don't Exist. A season comprising episodes from the four shows started last Sunday, Sept 20, 2009 on digital TV channel Eden

You like obscure places, don’t you?

There’s a group of people who are looking for experiences to expand their minds, rather than just giving them a tan. You quickly forget the tan, but somewhere such as Georgia orSyria you will remember for the rest of your life.

Do you worry about spoiling places by opening them up to mass tourism?

Look at Madagascar – they only get a few thousand British tourists every year. I’ve been banging on about how it’s the most amazing place on the planet for a while and there’s been no noticeable increase in visitors. Very few people have been to those places and I can’t see them being deluged by package tourism. And who am I to say package tourism is a bad thing? What we have seen in the past few decades is the democratization of travel. People from families such as mine, who would never have had the chance to go abroad before, could go to Spain or Portugal. Package holidays can be a good thing: they pay for national parks, jobs and livelihoods.

When was the golden age of travel?

For normal folk like me, this is. We have opportunities to travel that generations to come will be appalled and in awe of: that we did it, sometimes without thinking of the consequences. In terms of finding new places, the [time of the] great Victorian explorers – going to places that were still gaps in the maps. There are very few wildernesses left. In Africa, most of the giant parks there are glorified safari parks.

Where do you still want to go?

Russia. I’ve been to all the former Soviet republics, but never Russia. Also Canada and Mali.

Where do you want to go back to?

Somaliland, in the Horn of Africa. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve been to because the people there have built it up after a devastating civil war. It’s the democratic, stable half-brother to Somalia, which is a chaotic hellhole. I was nearly electrocuted in Mogadishu, I had to be protected by 12 mercenaries. Then I went to Somaliland, which has tourism and traffic lights but no country in the world recognizes it. I also enjoyed Paraguay: it’s at the end of the world and there were cannibals there until a few decades ago. That’s why I love it.

Any travel tips?

Wear a seat belt, eat the local yoghurt, get the bugs in your system. And don’t worry: people are fantastically welcoming everywhere. Go and visit those far-flung places and tell people about them when you come back.

What is the world’s worst airport?

In Mogadishu, there was a gun battle going on for control of the airfield when we flew in. Nobody else was getting off [the ground] apart from me and my BBC crew, and this very burly Russian pilot and his co-pilot toasted us with vodka – never a good sign – and just laughed at us, slightly hysterically.

Which country should we watch out for in the future?

Turkey is going to surprise people. Istanbul is my favourite city in the world outside Britain. You’ve got graffiti in the Hagia Sophia – one of the most amazing buildings in history – written by the Vikings in 900AD. Politically it is exciting – what’s happening there will go some way towards determining the future of Islam. And it’s an economic powerhouse: so much of what we use here is made in China or Turkey.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sea The Stars, the favourite for the 2009 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

Normally, we would be down in Paris for this first weekend in October, but we have been a bit busy of late, and will be travelling soon for half-term, so instead we are enjoying a free weekend at home. So, no wonderful hats to add to my photostream this year.

The big favourite for today's race is Sea The Stars, who won The Derby in June and went on to win The Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, The Irish Derby at The Curragh, The International Stakes at York and The Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, having previously won The 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. So, he has won six top grade Group One races showing himself clearly to be one of the best horses for the last 40 years. To be really one of the very best, like Nijinsky and Dancing Brave, he needs to win today, as Nijinsky failed (in 1971), but which Dancing Brave did (in 1986).

Will he do it? He has a good starting stall, the ground is good and he has beaten the best of the opposition. BUT, this is his seventh major race of a season which started five months ago and there are many other horses running today, in what is a very big field and it is over one-nad-a-half miles when maybe his best trip is over a quarter of a mile less. My favourite racehorse, Troy, came to the 1979 Arc as the major favourite having won The Derby and other major races and he only came third, after a long season.

My guess is that he WILL win and prove himself to be up there with Dancing Brave (and it would be so good if he could win in the manner of the great Dancing Brave).

The French always do well on tehir home soil and they have Stacelita and Cavalryman who could both run well, while the Brits have Conduit and Youmzain. I have backed Youmzain in teh last two Arcs at 80-1 and 25-1 and I have seen him come a close second both times. He LOVES this race with its fast pace and good ground. However, he doesn't seem to be quite so good this year, so I am quite prepared to see him finish down the field today, although I expect to see his French starting privece to be about 60-1.

I have really just about stopped betting and I think I have used up every penny I had left on my internet betting accounts. Otherwise, I think I might have done an each way bet on Conduit at a possible 12-1 (or more) on the Pari-Mutuel, still hoping that Sea The Stars WILL prove himself to eb an all-time great.

In a way, it is a pity to be mising out on this possible historic event, on the other hand one cannot be everywere, all the time...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My Dad's pet cheetah in Hargeisa, Somaliland

Here is another video from the films which we had digitalised showing my father with his pet cheetah in Hargeisa when he was working there in the late 1950's. I don't exactly know WHY he had a cheetah as a pet and why this cheetah was not put out into teh wild but I will ask my Dad when I next speak to him.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Red on red

Red on red, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

It is pomegarnate time in Istanbul and one of the things we like to do is to walk down to teh bottom of Istiklal Caddesi and get ourselves a glass of fresh 'nur' juice on the way down. Quite expensive in the summer, it is much cheaper at this time of year. Full of vitamins as well as looking spectacularly red!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jumping for love

Jumping for love, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Oh dear, I am way way behind on this blog. I think the main reasns is that flickr has become more of a community plus there is the influence of facebook. It has been more than a month since my last posting, amonth in which I hav ebeen mainly at work, here in Holland, but also a trip to France and a couple of trips to London, not to mention a trip to Istanbul which was due to be for a work-related meeting but ended up with me working away in my hotel room and spending the weekend with Fiona on her first visit to the great city.

And, of course, there was our big party on 12th September ot celebrate 25 years since Fred and I first met! More later... I promise...

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