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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I'm hearing Russian, but who speaks it?

Anna Karenina didn't have it all.
This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. Here's how you can get a better sense of the vast influence of Russia here. First stop a trip to the UK's favourite store, M&S, followed by a London pub. This post is by Nicola Baird (for more info about her books see www.nicolabaird.com

At the start of each term I always ask my university students what languages they speak. Usually a few know Russian - and given how many countries speak Russian that should be no surprise. How many can you rack up - my list (after a bit of research) produced Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Georgia and Abkhazia.

The founder of M&S, Michael Marks, came to the UK "a penniless immigrant" from Belarus.The shop's ongoing policy to green the consumer experience, with Plan B, has seen it back FSC certification for all timber and timber products; stock fair trade items and experiment with packaging.

Notes on a scandal
I think everyone knows that Stalin came from Georgia. It's enough of an embarrassment for the country to have removed Stalin's statues in his hometown of Gori. But do you know the rumour that Stalin and Lenin first met in London (in 1905) at The Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell Green, London. It's still offering pints in a wooden panneled room, so you could try to get a sense of that historic meeting.

In the mood for Russia with lovePerhaps the best-known Russian novel is Anna Karenina (by Tolstoy), and a new film version of the book comes out in September, so I'm taking advantage of this to re-read the book. I had forgotten how fat it is, how slow the story - all meandering scenes and remarkably little plot in the first 50 pages, but so rich and enjoyable if you have the time. The film is much faster of course, and full of gorgeous dresses, see the trailer here.



Anna Karenina is a masterpiece about love and double standards. Even this tiny trailer has left me tearful - not sure how I'll last either the whole of the book - including being parted from your child - or indeed the film when it's finally released with Keira Knightley playing Anna.


Over to you
Are you a Russian fan? Is there somewhere in the world (other than the obvious) that makes you think of Russia in any of its incarnations - old imperial, communist, super-rich or anything inbetween?

4 comments:

Karin said...

нет (nyet) до свидания (Do Svydanya)

Apart from да (Da) that's all I know, learnt from my Dad who once knew a few Russians. I had to use google to find out how they are written.

I did also work out the word for bikini when I saw it written on my form wall at school. Our form tutor was the Russian master.

Do they not speak Russian in Lithuania and Estonia?

Nicola Baird said...

I knew I'd forget a few - and this is vague research as I know very little about these two countries (other than where they are geographically)
LITHUANIA languages
Lithuanian (official), Russian, Polish, Belarusian

ESTONIAN
Estonian (related to German/Hungarian) is the one to speak, plus Russian.

Nicola

Nicola Baird said...

Just to translate Karin...
нет (nyet) - no
до свидания (Do Svydanya) -goodbye

Which should have been what Anna Karenina told Vronsky. Nice tweaked plot summary!
Nicola

Karin said...

Instead she said да (yes)