With almost half of 2013 now passed, my mind is already on our trip to Britain. Although we will need to save up the money for the plane tickets, and hope Irina is allowed to take her holiday at the right time, after six months in Astana, it definitely helps to have a target in mind.
So, what am I (and in some cases, we) looking forward to in the UK? First and foremost, seeing family, especially Nick’s new son! Although it is great to see some of them on Skype sometimes, it isn’t the same as sitting down and just catching up on everyone’s lives in a non-rushed way. Next up, I’m hoping to see a few friends (those that haven’t emigrated to Australia at least). Last year I managed to get down to London and Cardiff, and saw people I’d not seen in years (after the Sydney and Brisbane trip in October, I wanted to make the effort and not just take the path of least resistance and see the same friends as normal), but that obviously meant I missed out on seeing a large group of friends we’d normally meet.
Thirdly, events… quite a broad label, I realize, but ever since we moved to Astana, I’ve been hoping to get to some English or Welsh events, be they sporting, comedy or music-based. Each visit home has seen this plan fall to the wayside, with either no time, money or a combination of both meaning I’ve missed out on some cracking stand up, sometimes just the next town across, in Pontardawer.

Shatush, Astana, Kazakhstan

Tim IS Actually Smiling Here :)

Why the apparently random photo of Tim (taken today)? Tim has decided he wants to try wearing big boy pants, instead of nappies, again. This is really encouraging, especially as he is also practicing and experimenting a lot with different basic sounds. So, where is the random connection between Tim and wanting to go to more British events? Well, as you may guess, we’ve had an accident with Tim not making it to the potty or toilet in time (though to be fair, he went to the balcony beforehand, so tidying up didn’t involve scrubbing the carpet. Still none the wiser? Well, some seventeen years ago, a friend had got some tickets to Wimbledon, and we went down to London, leaving just after dawn from Cheltenham. We had planned ahead and bought some food, and a lot of drink, as it was forecast to be a hot day. We found somewhere to park, joined the queue, and began munching and slurping our way through the supplies. At some point, the queue had a concrete barrier either side of it, presumably to try and cut down on queue jumpers, which made leaving the queue for comfort breaks a bit of an issue. After drinking two large bottles of Coke, eventually nature was starting to call really loudly. The line of people waiting to see Henman win, or try and get a centre court seat was ever so slowly shuffling forward, and the closest toilet was quite a walk away. As the minutes dragged past, I eventually realized I was not going to be able to “hold it in” until we got through the entrance to Wimbledon. I was left with the prospect of possibly losing my friend, my place in the queue and having therefore wasted a lot of time, or finding some method of relieving the pressure with dozens of people around me in the queue, and hundreds of people walking about inside Wimbledon’s grounds, who I could see through the metal fencing. Asking a few new-found friends to form a human (visual) shield around me, I gave in to the inevitable, and after what felt like an eternity, I was able to wait a little longer to finally see the players grunting around the courts! Whilst not entertaining as some reports from tennis games in London, the fact that no one else seemed to notice, and that I still got to finally see a few games, I was really happy.
Anyway, returning to things I’ll be looking forward to in Britain, should we make it across this Christmas, technology and food are probably the last ones. Obviously it is possible to get a lot of things over here in Astana (both food and IT supplies have improved in the last seven years), sometimes food just doesn’t seem to be considered worth testing in this market, and the technology available is either over-priced, under-specced or listed as in stock, but not actually in the shop’s storeroom. I try to keep a limit (because of both luggage weight and our budget restrictions) on the purchases in Wales, but a Bacon Double Cheeseburger or latest generation peripheral for our PC is sometimes hard to avoid!