Crisis... Recession... What we gonna do in 2009?

Since the mass-media is profusely infested by massive reports and opinions on the global financial and economic crisis and the longest recession in a quarter-century (that's for the USA but I assume it's applicable for the European community as well), it's impossible to avoid the constant pondering on what we gonna do next year and after the next and, what is our real perspective for the nearest future?

When I say "our", I mean myself, my family, our friends and colleagues and, generally, our country.

  • So, about myself... I'd worked hard the last 10 years and it seems that nothing gonna change in this department, which is quite OK with me. I'd get used to a tough business environment and do not expect anything special that I've not met before (including job loss, pressure, tight money etc.).
  • About the family... We've obviously get more disciplined in our domestic finance, spend less, try to keep up with the monthly budget and think twice before making any decision which may be quite risky and material. We've suspended our plans for building a new house for a while, unlike our neighbors who's house has been under construction for the last 10 months and the work is nearing the happy end (so, they've managed to escape the crisis so far).
  • About our friends and colleagues. Well, some of them are calm and confident, the others are nervous and pessimistic. It depends on the starting point at which they've met the so called "global crisis" (job, money, health) and, of course, on the personal approach to the living strategy.
  • And as for our country... Our President has reassured the public that his government follows a "calculated financial and social policy" to safeguard the island from the world financial crisis. We shall see how well they've made their calculations and whether Cyprus is strong enough to sustain the tough times when the big brothers are in trouble.

So, what we gonna do next year is: work hard, control our spending, take care of each other, help our relatives if they're hit by crisis, think positive and believe in future.


Highlands, Scotland

The divine natural beauty of Scotland will never cease to impress me.

During the last few days we've traveled across the Highlands and every day there was something new and different for us, something that we've never experienced before. Like a crystal lake hidden between the rocky folds of Glen Coe just about a mile or so from the main road and yet invisible and accidentally discovered by us when looking for a ... mobile phone lost somewhere on the way and found by another tourist who bothered to call us from there!!!

Or, like feeding a wild reindeer at Black Mount - he liked nuts and raisins but also chewed on some apple:
Or me get caught on the Ben Nevis path in darkness and walking a few miles back to Fort William through the forest. That was quite an experience for me, as I'd realised too late that I'd forgotten to ask at hotel whether there were any wild animals in the area (like wolves, bears etc.)...

I've also made hundreds of pictures of the most adorable Scottish sheep who've proved to be really cute and very intelligent as they kept on standing still and looking at camera while being photographed!!

I love this country.

For more photos look here.



Last weekend I’ve attended the annual Les Mills festival in Cyprus, and that was fantastic!

First of all, the location. Coral Beach Hotel and Resort in Paphos is a beautiful place to visit and stay for a couple of days or more. From my room balcony I could enjoy a view of the picturesque landscape where the sea looked more like a placid lake surrounded by the rich green frame of tropic trees and cypresses. The sun was shining, the weather was really nice and summer-like, and that was a good start for a really impressive and exciting two-days sport event.

Yes, the spirit of festival was all over the place. I could not imagine how many people would come and join the fascinating program made of a range of various fitness classes and presentations, including Body Attack, Body Combat, Body Jam, Body Pump, Body Step, Body Vive and, of course, my favorite Body Balance! And you shouldn’t be a very well trained and perfectly fit person to enjoy a great fun of this event – all sort of people of all ages and body shapes were rubbing shoulders at a huge hall designed for training sessions and sharing a genuine joy of being together and doing sport together.

And, of course, our instructors were great! I believe that 50% percent of the success in doing exercises belongs to the quality of the coaching and the understanding of people’s needs. We come to classes to get fit, to lose some fat but also to have fun and get a real change from our everyday routine at work. And our instructors were the best! They made us feeling involved and engaged, they’d never forgotten to praise our good performance and cheer up our spirit during the exhausting training sessions. Sometimes, I felt like a real professional, and that experience was unforgettable.

I will definitely go to Les Mills festival next year, because this is a great chance to feel myself involved and being the part of a big community, to meet new friends, to share experience and have fun and happiness which last much longer than just a weekend.


Images of the day

Sunday noon. Fellow motorists on the motorway (that was a BMW!!! unfortunately I've failed to capture a frontal image):

Later on. Fellow drinkers at Chester's share their views on the meaning of life, Universe and everything:

A little philosopher pondering on the eternity of beauty and quality cat food:


Laptop deals for students in UK

That was such a good idea to make a present to my daughter upon the beginning of her studies at university...
And it had turned into an ordeal which had lasted for three days, cost me money and nerves and ended up in a big disappointment.

This is an address you should remember if you want to make such a "present" to your child:


I would've never expected from "The UK's Largest Online Laptop Specialist" the following exercises:

  • to process my order with an absolutely wrong delivery address I've never given to them and have no slightest idea how it's got into their system
  • to charge me TWICE for the same amount (I've received an e-mail that the second charge has been reversed and the money should be paid back to me in a few days... we'll see)
  • to charge me for "the next day delivery" and never deliver anything
    UPDATE: Eventually, I've managed to receive my order being dispatched to the wrong address, after three days of extensive telephone communication, failed attempts to track the order on the web-site end general frustration.
  • as they've said (by phone and by e-mail), the delivery had failed 'coz the order had been delivered to the wrong address and in order for them to correct my address I should wait for a few days 'coz they should allocate that computer first and then make changes in the order (is that my business or I have to receive what I've paid for and the rest is THEIR business?)

Special comment on the Customers Service: every time I'd tried to contact them, I had to wait a long - I mean, really long!- queue and if that is not enough, every time I'd managed to reach a contact person and explain my problem, I had a different response and promise like "We'll do our best to get your order in place by 20-00 this evening" and then "Sorry, we cannot do anything for you and it takes a few days..." etc.

So, this is definitely NOT a good service and I feel offended being put in a position when I'd been forced to fight for my customer rights. And it seems I'd lost...

Now, I've cancelled the order and eager to see whether the money come back to my account as fast as they've been taken without anything in exchange.

We are going to buy a laptop at a different place and I'm sure there IS a good costomer service in the UK, but we have to be more careful to make a right choice.


Previous update (the order was made sometime in the morning on Mon 08/09/2008 with an option "Next day delivery"):
This order has not yet been transferred from our webshop to our order processing system. Please check back within 12 hours.Page Loaded at : 17:16 Wednesday 10/09/2008


Off to Glasgow

I am the happiest woman in the world.
No, we are the happiest parents in the world.
Because, after all the pressure of the last two years and especially the last two months when our daughter got finished her A levels and impatiently waited for the exams results, we've finally got the answer.

And it is a "Yes"! She's got an unconditional firm offer from the University of Glasgow, Faculty of Biomedical & Life Sciences.

We've been there several times and visited various facilities and faculties, including the medical school's Open Day where students-to-be could observe the process of studying and practice their curing skills a bit (see a photo above).

Beginning September we'll go together to Glasgow and get her well accomodated and equipped for the new and unconditionally fascinating life as a grown-up kid. Sorry, a grown-up full-time student.

I love and always loved Scotland. Now I have a chance to get there way more often. Though, I doubt Ksenia will be too excited about it...


Yet another page to be turned...

This is it. Our daughter has finished school.

Today was her last exam (Chemistry).
When I was driving her this morning, I'd asked: "So, how do you feel?" She'd started saying something, her voice was faultering, and then she just waved her hand and looked away from me at the window: "Mum, please..."

I remember my last days at school, those long days been full of inexplicable urge and anticipation of something huge and wonderful just coming straight on me from outside the open school gates. And I also new that I'd be missing something and I'd never ever get it in my life again. Missing a lot, actually. My school friends, summer camps, my naivety and ackward experiences of love... And above all that feeling of complete freedom and irresponsibility, 'cos responsibility - that's for adults, and the big adults' life just loomed somewhere in the distance yet uninteresting and boring.

I'm proud of our little girl and wish her that the big adults' life will stay at safe distance for some more time.

P.S. Just to mark this life-turning event, we went to Debenhams and bought Ksenia a new swim suit. Summer is in )) And no more exams now!


Images of my love in UK

"Love" is a very big word.
In the UK, my love is for the spirits of the cities I've visited and wish to come back again.

London - sophisticated, indifferent and yet very live and vibrating to smallest details.

- masculine, industrial and never promising.

- all too historical and yet warm and friendly.

This is how I feel it... And try to catch the moments of my love in pictures.


What is our life goal anyway?

I'm really fascinated by this joke spotted nowhere else but in the middle of an article in the professional magazine:

An investment banker is on holiday in a lazy Mexican town on the coast. From his balcony he observes a fisherman who appears, to the banker, to have a dream life. He goes out fishing when he needs some money. The rest of the time he mends his nets and sits happily in a bar with his mates.

The banker comes up with a business plan for the fisherman:

- If you were to work harder you could earn enough to run another boat, and before long you would have a fleet. Further growth would enable you to build a processing plant and then a fleet of refrigerated trucks to get the fish to the stores. You would be rich.

- And what would I do then? - asks the fisherman.

- Why,- says the banker - you would be free to go out in your own boat and hang out with your mates in the bar.

Source: Robert Bruce. The corporate paradox. Accounting & Business. Feb.2008, p.88.

How true indeed...



Earthquake hits Britain?!

OMG! I thought it's not possible in that part of the world...
Britain was shaken by a huge earth tremor at 12.56am this morning which was felt by people from Yorkshire to the South Coast.
When I saw Leeds on the map I was shaken too since we just came back from there...
I do remember an earthquake in Cyprus on 9.10.96 when the magnitude was 6.4 and later aftershock tremors (no less than 78!) continued for another couple of days followed by torrential rain. We were really scared then.

I wonder whether buildings in Britain posses any aseismic stability?


One day in Prague

I've heard that Prague is beautiful and worth a visit but I would have never expected (after seeing Vienna, Warsaw etc.) that Prague is so beautiful...

Due to the flight schedule, we happened to luckily have a 7-hours gap in our journey from Larnaca (Cyprus) to Manchester (UK) and made a trip to the city center that is Old Prague.

The weather was unusually warm and sunny for middle February, the river Vltava was magnificent in its tranquility.

And, of course, The Castle.

From the hilltop we could enjoy a splendid bird-view of the city expanded on both sides of the river and feel the sun and light medieval breeze.

Misty dawn, naked trees stretching their branches to the sun, little squirrel watching tourists from a safe distance some 200 ft over the ground... bohemian glass... even the ancient sewer hatch which I was careful not to step on - everything was fantastic.

I will definitely come back to Prague and sure for much longer stay.