Heart all a flutter! No, not A Level results. My Russian visa arrived this morning. It is quite different to the last one I had many years ago. It takes up a full page in my passport and includes a big holographic stamp.
That means I am definitely fully committed now. I still have a few things to do before I am ready to depart. One of the vital ones is to arrange transport for the first leg of the trip, from Cork to London. I think I will travel Eurolines, it’s cheap, I have the time and somehow it seems appropriate. I will break my journey for about a week in London. It will be an opportunity to adjust my body clock and see friends.
I shall be in Siberia from 2nd week in September for 4 weeks. I shall start travelling at the beginning of September, because of the visiting in London. Novosibirsk (which is where I’m going) is about as far from the sea as it is humanly possible to get. I’ve see pictures of road signs showing distances of nearly 3000km! Find India on a map of the world, head north. when you reach the middle of Russia, stop! That’s where Novosibirsk is, give or take a 1000 miles.
I’ve exchanged “progress all right so far” notes with the people in Russia, and spent part of the day buying pills and potions for the trip. I’ll settle down and do things in a more organised way tomorrow.
One of my jobs today was trimming the hedge. This is quite a task. Fortunately I have an effective petrol hedge trimmer which is up to the task (even if I may not be!).
Anyway, part way into the job quite suddenly the handle on the trimmer felt “peculiar”. After stopping the engine, a short inspection revealed that a screw had fallen out and that the handle was now well and truly loose. The trimmer was now dangerous to use. My how I cursed!
Before I went to the bit box, I decided to have a look around on the off chance that I would find the missing screw. And… fortunately I found it. So, the proper screw is fitted. It and its mate have been tightened. The hedge has been trimmed. And I have learned that I need to do more than a visual inspection of the hedge trimmer each time I put it away (and get it out to use it).
No harm done, and a nice optimistic story.
(Mass was on Saturday 6th August 2011)
I attended mass on Saturday evening and heard, and saw, the most extraordinary thing.
In the announcements, the Priest announced that there had been a problem with “floor heave” and that the baptistry (a part of the church to one side of the alter, where the font is located) was now out of bounds. It is expected to remain so for some time.
After the service, naturally a lot of the congregation went up to have a closer look at what had been described to us. What we saw was quite astonishing. The effected area of the floor was a rectangle at least a metre wide and a little longer. It had risen several inches above the normal floor level. On of the younger lads said it looked like “someone had been trying to rise from the dead”. I think he can be forgiven the blasphemy, because that is exactly what it did look like.
The area in question is floored with quarry tiles. They have been arranged in a geometric pattern. The upheaval has broken quite a number of them. That’s right – has broken thick quarry tiles. Some of the other members told me that this had happened during the week when a service had been in progress and that the noise (of the tiles breaking) had been frightening. I can quite believe it.
All I can say is, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe.