Category Archives: Russia

We’re on a road to somewhere?

Earlier today, not for the first time, I saw a story about a road between London, and New York. Yes, I know, there is a very large lump of ocean between the 2 places (with Ireland in between), but thats not actually the way its going to go. This road goes East from London, not West! A Russian idea, this time around, costing a ridiculous sum of money, and besides which, the passport control points between Russia, and the US, yes, worth seeing!

And that cost is despite the fact that the first long section, between London, and, I would guess, Central Russia, probably already exists, with the exception of the bit linking the UK with Europe, but I guess that could be done through the Channel Tunnel? Equally, the section between New York, and Fairbanks, Alaska, is pretty well intact too.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, the huge snag is the bit in the middle of those two points! I know that in theory, there is some sort of road system heading into Siberia, but its pretty awful quality, during Summer, because it virtually turns to liquid mud, and in Winter, because of the extreme cold. And this road would need developing anyway, because yes, its heading up to that bit of Russia, just across from Alaska, and road building up there varies between negligible, and none.

As for the other side, the simple answer to roads between Nome, on the Alaskan coast, to Fairbanks, is that there arent any! And as for population in between those two points, to service traffic, provide lodging and the like, again, pretty much zero. I guess people could be moved in, and provided with a very good salary to solve these working issues, but its hardly a prospect, unless you’re very well rewarded, for life in the middle of nowhere, lets face it.
But yes, if they ever build a road between Fairbanks, and Nome, I’d love to travel it, all the same.

But even so, we still havent come to what would actually be the trickiest bit. Yes, that 55-60 miles or so, of the Bering Sea, that stretches between Russia, and Alaska. Regardless of whether you go for a bridge, or a tunnel, you still have a long stretch of very rough sea to deal with, much of which freezes over for the long winter!

Above all this, why would you drive that incredible distance by car, when you can fly it in 7 hours, for less than the petrol would cost for the trip!

So fine, my opinion, they released this news 4 days early by mistake!

The video, well, it pretty well sums up what most of the mid section of this journey would be

The end of the Winter Olympics, and Gibraltar issues

Well, pre Sochi, all the fuss was about Russia’s new ‘anti gay’ laws, and how they would effect the Olympic events. In all honesty, its been a bit of a damp squib really, despite certain countries (deliberately) sending diplomatic groups determined to say that, we are sending out all our LGBT celebrities, just to annoy you, Russia.

To be honest, what I’ve seen of the laws, the main thing Russia seemed to be concerned about, was grooming of youngsters, which I personally think is wrong, that everyone should be allowed to make their own choice, and not to make ‘anything’ homosexual illegal!

The irony I find in all this, was the British stance on the matter, because if they looked a little closer to home, they might decide to stay quiet about things. Gibraltar, so very British that you would assume their LGBT rules would match the UK. Wrong!

In fact, it took until 2011 before equality of the age of consent for gay males happened there. Work discrimination rules have been brought in, but for anything else, its under consideration, and will probably stay that way, as long as they can! As for transgender rights, oh please, dont go down that road. Putting it simply, it doesnt matter what you do, you cant change gender out there! So full sex change op, totally a true woman, but in the eyes of Gibraltar, sorry, you’re still a man!

How do I know all this? Well, a few years back, at work, the opportunity arose to move out to Gibraltar to work, when they decided to reshuffle (for want of a better word) the whole telebetting side of the firm. I wasnt really interested, but took a cursory glance, because if things were highly favourable, it might have been tempting to make a clean break, and start again. But, given it was just the opposite, I didnt take it any further. Of course the British government conveniently overlook this, and focus on Russia!

Of course, some folk have taken a look at the whole LGBT thing in Russia, and came up with a wonderful Canadian video, included in this next piece

As noted, some lugers werent impressed lol!

Oh, and one last amusing piece on Gibraltar. Today was the draw for the qualifying groups for Euro 2016 (Football), and for the first time, in the draw, Gibraltar. Firstly, the top seeds were drawn into groups, and Spain were drawn into Group C. Next to be drawn were the minnows, also known as the 6th seeded group, including Gibraltar. Guess which group they came out for, that they should have gone into? Yes, Group C! After a few, err, diplomatic words, they went into Group D instead. For anyone who doesnt understand why, try looking up Spain, and Gibraltar together on Google lol!

Added footnote, which I’ve just found. The first openly gay athlete to play in the ‘Big 4’ US sports.

http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24454370/report-jason-collins-expected-to-be-in-uniform-for-the-nets-tonight

he has played in the NBA for years, as the report says, but this is his first match since coming out. Good luck, Jason

Indirectly at least, more about train journeys

Annette Mary Budgett Meakin (1876-1959)

Yes, I fully expect all my readers at this point to be saying, who? And yes, in all honesty, I dont blame anyone in the slightest for that. And until that point a good number of years ago now, when I picked up an anthology on travel on the Trans Siberian Railway, I would have said the same thing.

What she was, was along with her mother, she was the first English woman to travel the full length of the Trans-Sib (for short) on the route as it was then. Many believe they were the first non Russian women to do so, certainly without male company. But thats just the least of her talents, as I will mention later.

The thing is, her section wasnt written as a travel journal, this was wonderful, ;warts and all’ stuff, of a railway in its early existence in the wilds of Siberia, and she told it as it was through her journey. if you can track down any section of ‘Ribbon Of Iron’, you will see what I mean. Just remember this was written around 1900-1901, and attitudes were very different back then. Poor folk were poor, and Miss Meakin doesnt always hide her distaste for their behaviour, as culture was so different back then.

But strictly, thats half the story. What happened was her, and her mother set out for the World Fair in Paris in 1900 (yes, same time as the Olympics), and got caught up in the PR there for this amazing new railway through Czarist Russia, on wonderful trains. Nowadays we”d probably make notes, do some planning, and then maybe book the trip. Annette, nothing of the sort, her and her mother (I assume they had decent wealth) set off for Moscow by train, to travel on this journey to Siberia! Unsurprisingly, the trains when they got to Moscow didnt match up to the claims. But undeterred, off they went! And yes, after a few social mismatches and the like on the way, they reached Vladivostok. Now unlike today, they couldnt just hop on a plane and fly back, no one had even flown at that point! So what do they do, board a ship to Japan, cross the Atlantic, go across Canada, down to New York, and boat back home! The whole trip took about a month and a half!

All very wonderful you might say, but…this wasnt her only trip! She is widely believed to be one of the first women to travel through Turkmenistan (pre WW1) pretty much on her own, and interact with the natives. She also visited the USA in 1906(?), writing up her adventures for more books. By modern standards, her comments about blacks in America are far from flattering, indeed quite racist, but attitudes have changed since then, I suspect her views were the norm back then.

Oh, and she trained as a chemists assistant during WW1 as well, and some reports state that she actually qualified as a nurse too. Yes, details are unfortunately hazy, a hazard of trying to find out information about a less than famous person nearly one hundred years ago! She was also a strong campaigner for female rights as well, though there is no mention of Suffragete involvement.

Sorry, I’d love to tell you more about this amazing woman, but even tracking down more than the years of birth and death have pretty much drawn a blank. The only thing I do know is that she never married! I know at some point she lived near Reading, another period in Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire, but no details of how long, or when have come from my searches. Place of birth and death, not a clue!

What I do know, is that at a time when most women were shy, quiet creatures, she wasnt! And I so admire her for that, and what she did in her life. Hopefully now at least a handful more people know of her, and what she did.

The musical choice, purely random I think its fair to say. But its a group I knew as a young child, a group manufactured for TV, an irony nowadays given X Factor and the like. I assume there is a place called Clarksville in the US, but I know no more than that. Were there trains there, are there still trains there?

Enjoy one of the great Monkees songs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3_bSfBaPVg