Category Archives: England

Liverpool: In Search of The Beatles Story 

The first time I visited Liverpool was in November 2002. The weather was typical of the English North-West in autumn: above the nil, wind and RAIN.
It should be noted that the trip was an act of appeasement of this Russian girl who was ready to love Manchester United FC provided that no one would stop her from adoring The Beatles. You see, Mancunians are peculiar people. In their view, all best things had happened – or are happening – in Manchester. Therefore, Liverpool, or London for that matter, is a nuisance that throws its shadow on the splendour of the red-brick city. (A note: Liverpudlians secretly giggle at, yet uphold, this ‘competition’). God knows what I had to listen about Liverpool! All people there stretch “i” sound, it’s raining there, Scousers keep outplaying MUFC in the Premier League and at various championships; and on top of that, there is an incomprehensible urban planning and roads that are impossible to navigate. However, as I was eager to even take the train, and my hosts couldn’t risk letting me go on my own, we eventually went by car. 
…and for some reason it was the day of our trip that the firemen trade union had chosen for their strike! To avoid strikebreaking and any incidents, the lifts were switched off throughout the country, communications with the firemen were aborted, hence anyone using electrical goods, shaving and cooking in microwaves was doing so at his or her own risk. We nevertheless went on our trip, but you surely do understand that Liverpool was the cause of it all?!

None of my company knew the city and had barely ever visited it, so we spent a long time searching for Albert Dock where The Beatles Story Museum was located. At first, we ended up at a car park which was at the opposite end of our destination, so we had to brave the rain and wind. In search for a parking space we had to go as high up as level 6 or 7. And whilst going downstairs wasn’t much trouble for any of us, walking back up the stairs presented a challenge even to the healthier ones, who didn’t suffer from asthma and had no problems with legs. The parking was located somewhere near the university, and, as I recall, it was the first time that I saw some tropical plants, like palms, fluttering pathetically in the wind. Later I would see many an unfortunate tree, like those ones, that somehow got settled in the English North-West and in Wales and were courageously soaking wet in the intermittent, cold local rain, the icy winds tearing apart their leaves. 

The road to The Beatles Story was long, though not winding. We had no idea where the museum was, so we took the direction in which everyone wagged and waved. We had to stop regularly because the adults had difficulty walking. We got hungry and popped into a cafe; I tried scrambled eggs with salmon for the first time. This part of the journey took about an hour and a half. Mancunians kept looking for ways to pick at Liverpool, but, apart from the weather (which hardly differed from Manchester), there was nothing to discuss.

After lunch we went on to search for The Beatles Story under the rain. The longer you live in England, the more you realise that the rain is accepted as an inseparable part of life, its absence denying life altogether. Or at least without the rain life becomes palpably incomplete. That time in Liverpool, looking for the museum, I also figured that it was under this perpetual rain the young Beatles had been gathering at each other’s houses, composing and rehearsing songs, and then going to the historical Cavern club to play a gig. They soaked to the bone and got cold but still went wherever the music was taking them. 

Finally, we almost reached our destination: we got to the other end of Albert Dock. Yet we were in Liverpool that evidently decided that those arrogant Mancunians had to get beans for their sharp tongues. On our right a wall was rising, in front of us the boats were floating, and on the left a small bridge was leading to the other bank of the dock. Unconsciously, instead of all this we expected to see some remarkable building with a running inscription, like the British Museum or the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, for shouldn’t Liverpool have been proud of its famous citizens? But alas, there was nothing of the kind. Looking around in despair, I saw two street-signs, one near the bridge, another next to us. Both had “The Beatles Story Museum” arrows pointing at each other. Where they intersected, stood a red Royal Mail post box pinned right in the middle of the little cobbled space where we stood. 
The epic journey was becoming unbearable. This magical mystery tour seemed to be endless but then we noticed a man with his young son. To our question he confidently waved towards the brick wall, and we turned around it and immediately stumbled on a green garbage bin and a sort of cabins painted in the style of the Beatles’ cartoons. And a little farther there was the museum building, with a running inscription, but the entrance led downstairs, rather than upstairs, and The Beatles Story was beginning with the very first steps…

From The City of Optimists by Julia Shuvalova 

The Sights of Manchester Attacks 22-23 May, 2017

As could be expected, the explosion of what is thought to be a nail bomb in MEN Arena last night may be just one of the episodes in a series of attacks. Arndale shopping centre that you can see in pictures is now reported to be under attack, as people are being evacuated following a loud bang.

As you know, I spent 7 years in Manchester (although I travelled throughout England), so in a way this is a native city where I survived many a memory. So it is deeply saddening to hear about the teracts. I hope the police and citizens show vigilance and remain calm amidst the terror theats.

Photographing Flowers

There is no right or wrong way to photograph anything anymore. Even the technically worst photo may become a hit just because it’s struck a chord with the audience. Yet still it pays to try and look at a familiar subject from a different angle…

Paul Arden mentions two photos of flowers, one by André Kertész, another by Irving Penn, in both of which a photographer worked with a wilted (Kertész) or dead (Penn) flower. I attempted to undertake a similar task with a photo of two dried roses in a vase overlooking a rebuilt church in Tarusa, Kaluga Region.
I understand this is done automatically – a visual effect has been applied to my photo by Google+. I think you may enjoy it too.

 

Personal Landmarks Disappear in Manchester

When you live in the city for a number of years, walk its streets, frequent the eateries and entertainment venues, it may be hard to see some of those places shut down. Crisis dealt fiercely with quite a few places across the city of Manchester, but the biggest blow to me was the news about the BBC Manchester building in Oxford Road being demolished. Last time I was in Manchester and had a ride on a number 2 shuttle bus I saw the bare foundations, and it was sad. No more Radio Manchester newsroom where I had had my first radio placement, with the walk down the corridor past the BBC Philharmonics studio. Neither canteen, nor library on Floor 2. Neither floor 4 where Entertainment department was based, nor Floor 5 with Religion and Ethics department. I know they have all moved to Salford Quays, but personal memories have been quite literally swept away along with the building. This is what it looked like.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/loscuadernosdejulia/2845051811/player/9ec0b0555c

Saying that it’s not possible to enter the same river twice isn’t quite true. In spite of leaving the Beeb in early 2007 I returned there already in February 2007 for the first meet-up of BBC Manchester Blog. After a session at the BBC Cafe we moved to ponder the future of blogging to Lass O’Gowrie pub at the top of the nearby street. Well, the pub’s recently closed with a promise to open in early February 2014. Considering its fame and the most recent win of The Best Pub in Britain in 2012, I sincerely look forward to having a pint there at the earliest available opportunity this year. Meanwhile, this is how it looked while I still lived in Manchester:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/loscuadernosdejulia/2845050053/player/de77431294

Here’s a story of the first BBC Manchester Blog meet-up.

Still, the saddest disappearance is that of Mark Addy restaurant. Again, it is set to reopen in February (for they do need to serve all those romantic Valentine dates, I suppose!), but whether or not it keeps the famous name is unknown. Apparently, the reason is the poor state of the building and the inability to meet the cost of renovation and refurbishment works.

I’ve never dined there, but on January 7th 2005 I was supposed to meet a female acquaintance who apparently never came. Fine. It was Russian Christmas, and I think I ordered a pint of bitter (or was it a glass of wine?) I sat there, looking at the cold waters of the river Irwell, taking a moment of calm to think of everything that was happening in my life since 2000, and especially since 2003. Then I made a decision that changed the way I spent the next 5 years. After a very tumultuous 2004 when I realised that I would most likely have to choose between myself and my marriage I had to decide whether to stay in England or go back to Russia. As I was gazing at the waters, the decision came. I even wrote it down on a piece of paper, which I might still be able to find. I decided to stay with the nation that was proud as a lion and hell-bent on winning, and has superbly succeeded at delivering great work throughout its history. Some people advised me to get on the door of a Russian company, just because I was Russian. At Mark Addy I decided to only work with the British. Indeed, if I had such a wonderful opportunity, why shouldn’t I have used it to the full, to learn from the best, to take my English to the next level of fluency, and to acquire the skills and experience that would benefit me in the long run?

The rest is history. Amidst all sorts of setbacks, including various losses, I fully realised the goal I had set at Mark Addy when I decided to stay in Britain. Thus when I eventually came back to Moscow in 2010 it was,  I suppose, a logical outcome of all years of “learning”. I returned because it was finally time to return.

I may be wrong but it looks like I haven’t ever taken a photo of Mark Addy. But I have a pic of the opposite side of the river Irwell near The Lowry Hotel. Interestingly, on this spot in the 19th c. there happened a boat accident that claimed lives of several people.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/loscuadernosdejulia/2959586636/player/b7f52f0c94

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) Is Under Threat of Closure

Like many other Mancunians, I have been unpleasantly surprised to hear the latest news.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester’s Castlefield may be closed.

SIGN THE PETITION TO PROTECT THE MOSI!

As it happens in England, the North-South struggle is on again. The closure may come as a way to keep London-based Science Museum open, Manchester Evening News reports. The National Science Group is said to be considering plans to cut funding to Manchester-based venue. BBC has more details.

The MOSI grew out of the old Science Museum and the Manchester Air and Space Museum, both were merged in 1986. The MOSI encompasses several buildings, including the 1830 Warehouse, where a part of exposition was dedicated to the Irish migration to Manchester during 19th c. I went to the museum many times, and it was often used as a venue for various events. In 2005 I was there with a BBC Bus and my old friend Paul as a story gatherer on People’s War campaign for the Beeb, in 2006 I went there for the opening of my first FutureSonic festival, and the first Social Technologies Summit, along with a few exhibitions, took place at the mentioned Warehouse. I did interviews with the artists there, and at one time a gallery assistant suggested us to use a baby changing room that was a part of a female toilet, although I was going to talk to a man. The last memorable exhibition I went to was The Body Worlds by the German Professor Gunther von Hagens. I could not make it to The Da Vinci Genius exhibition, but it was very actively prepared and promoted with the help of Social Media and Networks. On top of it all, this is a good place to practise photography 😉

The figures have it that the MOSI is visited by 830,000 people annually, which is no small number, considering that the majority of overseas tourists still gear towards London. One of my friends also mentioned on Facebook that her friend regularly brings school children from France to visit Manchester and always takes them to the MOSI. The museum is conveniently located towards the edge of the city centre, with a free shuttle bus going past it every 10 mins. Among the closests attractions are the Granada TV Studios, the Roman fort, the Beetham Tower and G-Mex, and the “Deansgate Mile”, as well as the fashionable Spinningfields area with the Guardian offices on Deansgate side and the People’s History Museum on the River Irwell’s bank in Bridge St. Oh, and don’t forget the Opera House in Quay St. St. John’s Garden is practically opposite the museum’s main entrance, having previously belonged to the church built by the Byrom family whose will ensured that the land was never to be built upon.

I don’t even begin to mention the amount of cafes, restaurants and pubs around the area. Suffices to say, there are plenty of things to do, prior or after visiting the MOSI. It has long been one of the main Manchester attractions that did not struggle to attract both adults and children. The story of Manchester scientific and industrial leap in the 18-19th cc. is mesmerising, but there is more we need to consider, than justs costs of running such museum.

Because I fear this is not the only victim of the funding cuts up North. For a literary piece that was loosely inspired by my visit to Heaton Hall and Park in spring 2009 I needed to pay another visit to the place. So when I went there this May I found that the Hall was not just closed for winter – it was entirely shut down. “Closed for the public” is not just the splendid mansion where restoration works helped to restore some of its bygone splendour. “Closed” are a floor-to-ceiling organ by Samuel Green from 1789, the only remaining set of paintings by the Polish architect Michael Novosielski (1750-1795), when he was yet a painter, a set of furniture by Gillows of Lancaster, and a magnificent suite of furniture that previously belonged to the Duke of Wellington who used to visit Heaton Hall and was very fond of its housemistress, Lady Wilton.

This is more than just an old building closing its doors – this is a whole part of history of the English North West, a resource that sheds tons of light on the tastes and habits of its people. Quite important is the fact that the Hall is a part of Europe’s largest municipal park and easy to visit: the metrolink tram station is exactly opposite the park entrance, and so are the bus stops to and from Bury. I did not investigate the reasons why the Hall was closed, but I would not be surprised if it was also due to “funding cuts”.

The MOSI is not in Prestwich, which may only be known in London if you are Jewish. It is in Manchester’s city centre and, as we saw above, attracts many foreign visitors, including children. As much as I love Arts and am not quite a techie person, I would be unconsolable if we lost the opportunity to study the technical and scientific progress of our nation close to our home. The MOSI surely provides this opportunity for the entire North of England, and this is what the London bosses might be trying to tap into. Perhaps, they think that, if the MOSI is closed down and its collection is moved down south, then people from Scotland and the North of England come to London more often. Of course, I assume that Manchester collection would not just be abandoned or sold by piece. But… it’s silly to think that this would increase a visitor flow to London museums. The costs of going and staying in the capital at the time of severe economic downturn are not going to be taken up by many, if any, Northern families.

And at the same time closing one of prominent Northern museums would severely impact the educational prospects. As a venue and a cradle of information and objects that can inspire future engineers and inventors, the MOSI is indispensable. With less things to learn and do, children are more likely to spend time in the streets, getting involved in gangs, drug abuse, and “anti-social behaviour” of all kinds. Instead of a Northern Rutherford or its female “version” we will get yet another drugged Salford guy with a pregnant teenage girlfriend, applying for benefits and living in a run-down council flat that can be taken away from them at any moment. And when this happens we as the society will shake our heads and wonder, at exactly what point the former glory of Britain went to the dogs.

Finishing now, I do not want this piece to come across as yet another helpless outcry. I think we should consider what measures we can take to save the MOSI. I am sure there are many people throughout Manchester who would gladly volunteer to help at the museum, if it struggles to maintain the staff. And if this means bringing the payment back for the time being, then why not? Just make sure it goes to the MOSI coffers, not elsewhere. I think of it this way: if it costs 4 quid to buy a bus ticket that is valid all day, then how much more can you afford to pay on top of that for a single museum visit that can last all day? And there may also be a family ticket, and an option for a child up to a certain age to go in for free, and maybe even a “frequent visitor ticket” or a “weekend visitor ticket”. It’s not something that we’d like to do, of course. However, I have come to believe that, whatever alleviations the government of any country is prepared to give to its citizens, people must not stop helping themselves, including financial help, be that for art venues, civil initiatives, or something else that directly affects their lives.

In the meantime, SIGN THE PETITION TO PROTECT THE MOSI!

To finish off, here are some of the photos I took between 2007 and 2010 related to the MOSI and the surrounding area.

MOSI - Transport then and now
MOSI – Transport then and now

 

MOSI in the Streets
MOSI in the street

 

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
Entrance to the MOSI

 

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
Another view of the MOSI entrance

The Oistrakh Quartet At the Tarusa Winter Festival, 2013

The town and vicinity of Tarusa are well-known for the love that great Russian artists, musicians, and writers had for it. I mentioned previously that Marina Tsvetaeva, Konstantin Paustovsky, Viktor Borisov-Musatov, and Nikolai Zabolotsky all lived in Tarusa at one or another period of their lives. However, there was one man-of-arts who acknowledged the salubrity of Tarussian air and the glory of its nature, and built himself a dacha in some distance from Tarusa town centre. This was Svyatoslav Richter, one of the outstanding pianists of the 20th c.

Richter founded several annual musical events, some of them specifically targeted at young audiences and musicians. The Svyatoslav Richter Foundation regularly organises the Tarusa musical festival, and this year there was a special event in early January, called “Tarusa Winter Festival”, that lasted from 5 to 7 of January, 2013. I attended it on January 6, 2013 – and was lucky to listen to the David Oistrakh string quartet perform  Edvard Grieg, Maurice Ravel, and Dmitry Shostakovich.
The David Oistrakh Quartet: Andrey Baranov, Sergei Pischugin,
Fedor Belugin, and Alexey Zhilin (courtesy of the official website)
The quartet consists of Andrey Baranov, the first violinist, who symbolically won the first prize at the Queen Elizabeth International Violin Competition 75 years after it had been won by David Oistrakh himself. Just as Richter is considered one of the best pianists of the 20th c., so is Oistrakh the best violinist. His legacy lives in the second violinist of the quartet, Sergei Pischugin, who was Oistrakh’s student. Over the course of his career Pischugin played in the Glinka and subsequently the Shostakovich Quartets. With the latter he recorded virtually all string quartet repertoire existing. The violist Fedor Belugin played with Pischugin in the Shostakovich Quartet and has been successful at combining teaching activities at the Moscow Conservatoire and the Gnesin Music School with both quartet and solo performances. Finally, the cellist Alexey Zhilin is considered one of the best Russian cellists of his generation. He often performs as a soloist with chamber and symphonic orchestras in Russia and abroad.
In 2012 the family of David Oistrakh donned the famous violinist’s name to the quartet.
So, on January 6, 2013 the David Oistrakh Quartet performed Edvard Grieg’s Quartet no. 1, Op. 27, G-moll and Maurice Ravel’s Quartet F-dur. As it happens, however, the public was so fond of the performances, the quartet had to play a bonus piece… and that was Polka by Dmitry Shostakovich. The videos below are Ravel’s Quartet F-Dur, Allegro moderato, tres doux; and Shostakovich. I also included a recording of Shostakovich’s Polka by the Rasumowsky Quartet.

Winter 2013 in Tarusa

A small town in Kaluga Region scattered along the Oka River, Tarusa has long been loved by the creative folk. The Tsvetaev family used to live here, including Marina Tsvetaeva; their house museum is open to the public nowadays. Konstantin Paustovsky, one of the principal Russian authors who had been considered for the Nobel Prize but “lost” to Mikhail Sholokhov, resided here and was buried at the local cemetery. Viktor Borisov-Musatov, an outstanding Russian painter, died and was also buried in Tarusa. Marina Tsvetaeva, as a matter of fact, also wanted to be laid to rest here, and to complete her wish, someone local had set a stone on the spot she had once chosen for her grave. Nikolai Zabolotsky, a wonderful Russian poet, spend the last two years on his life in Tarusa, the house where he lived still standing, although looking half-forgotten.

Across the Oka is the famous Polenovo, an estate named after the painter Vassily Polenov. Tarusa thus overlooks Tula Region which is ever easily accessible in winter: now that Oka sleeps under the shield of ice and snow, people cross it on snow-mobiles, skies, and on foot.
I discovered Tarusa and first visited it in August 2012. I made a few wonderful friends here, artists, writers, sculptors, and the place’s fresh air never ceases to inspire. The sonnet you read recently was composed on the first night of my recent stay in Tarusa.

Poetry: Those Sleepless Nights

Those sleepless nights when ceiling is like a sky,
Heavy with floods of never ending thoughts,
Hiding the long-forgotten thunderbolts
Of memories and regrets that never die –

Those sleepless nights, with feelings running high,
When you’re but forced to re-enlist your faults;
When Fear creeps under the dingy vaults
Of splendid palace of your passing Time, –

Let those nights be blessed with your pain
And every loss, untimely and vain –
To err is human, have you never known?

Let rain pour down and flood your corridors,
Let thunder break the windows, walls and doors,
So you rebuild all that was overthrown.

Julia Shuvalova 2013

Twelve Advice For Christmas In Recession

Christmas season has started in Russia, too, although we celebrate New Year first, and Christmas follows in January.

I know many people suffer badly this year in Britain. Some lose jobs, others have to stretch their budget to stay on a healthy diet. I’ve come across this heart-aching article earlier this week – Food for thought by Miss South, which brought back some painful memories of 2008 when I was out of work for some 6 months when recession had first struck. Losing a job was easier than finding one, but we normally only consider the “job hunting” part of the experience to describe how badly we felt. Food and other kind of deprivation is often omitted, whereas it is the inability to eat well (and that’s not packs of Mars bars!) and to socialise and to attend the memorable events that makes one feel the most miserable.

I guess for quite a lot of my compatriots in Britain this Christmas is going to be sad, dull, and deprived of one or another lovely thing. So, based on my experience and reading, this is the advice I’d give to anyone in dare situation:

1. Do not put blame on anybody.
OK, it may be Tory, or better Labour, or even Thatcher, or maybe even the U.S. or God who is the reason why the world (or the UK, or you, for that matter) suffer. You cannot change it. Even if you change the government, you cannot change America or God. Do not blame anyone, this only strengthens your already negative thinking.

2. Find something beautiful in whatever you look at.
In fact, make it a point of your life. There is so much beauty in life that goes unnoticed simply because we always “look up to the sky” and see Titian coupled with Dali and Britney Spears. If you can imagine anything like this, you will agree it’s not beautiful at all. So start noticing beauty around you. It is there, very close to where you are right now. I’ve been looking at the thermoelectric station and a busy road for most of my life, but I never actually saw them. To tell the truth, I saw the English fields, the French castles, and at best – the sci-fi landscapes.

3. You only fail when you’ve stopped learning.
If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to make mistakes. No matter how many wise men prepared you for the journey, it’s a new journey in a new era in a new country in different circumstances. You are bound to fail at least once, so go for it and stop whining.

4. Albert Einstein gave this definition to insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Enough said. This involves asking some difficult questions. Whether this is about personal relationships or profession, it’s all the same. If you want to change the world, change yourself. Stop expecting a different result from the same thing. It doesn’t work, it won’t, and it shouldn’t. Otherwise everyone could do it.

5. Always look on the bright side of life.
I’ve lost two close relatives, I’ve been out of job, I look after a very elderly Grandma and have to help my disabled mother, and I also have to work. Yes, there are moments when I also wish things were easier and less complex. But most of the time I am grateful for my friends, health, peace in my country and worldwide (most of the time), and all the things I can enjoy. Legion is their name, from art to sport, through science, social disciplines, short-haul travels, and every new experiences, especially if the latter come for free. It’s hard for some (even my mother) to see my point, but the more interests you have, the more opportunities there are – either for work, or for lifting up your mood. As a matter of fact, I was unwell this week, but on Thursday night I’m going to the theatre with my best friend in Moscow. And it’s free.

6. Sex is not the only free entertainment available.
Back in December 2008, the majority of Brits were opting for some bed action as a free entertainment. Already in May it was clear that entertainment brought the most natural results. But it’s instinctive. For the record, I’ve not visited quite a few Russian museums because I got so unused to the idea of paying for the entry, I cannot bring myself to paying the fee, nevermind queuing outside, like they do at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. But in Britain where museums and parks are free, there’s no excuse. This brings you close to 1) Beauty, 2) positive outlook on life, and 3) opportunities.

7. Look for opportunities.
They say recession is the best time to start a business or learn a new skill. The fee is down to your negotiation. When you have the bills to pay and to support your family, negotiating some upfront payment for overwork would be OK for me. Yes, you must then live up to your own promise. The beautiful thing is you never exactly know where this may take you. You may get the job, or you may get the skill and experience, and an even better paid job. To start, just say to yourself “I’m taking every good opportunity”, or such like, and see what happens.

8. Do not wait for the perfect job. Make best of the one you have.
The mistake most of us make is described as “if I were paid more, I’d do more”. This is a typical worker’s attitude who does not count his or her emotional contribution to work. The truth is (and I know it very well) you cannot be successful when your heart is not involved. Remember also that you are getting paid for what you ask. If you ask to be paid for the job you never did, there must be a very good reason for a prospective employer not to turn you down. I knew nothing about PPC marketing when I went to work for Latitude Group, but I knew foreign languages. I could provide them with the skill they needed the most, and in return they taught me and initiated me into the industry, for which I cannot be grateful enough.
On another hand, if you ask to be paid for the actual experience, you will always earn less. This may be a short-term solution, but it’s best not to forget about it.

9. Learn to plan.
This involves both planning your day (week, month, year) and budgeting (i.e. money planning). Recession, being out of work, or just any kind of money difficulty is the best time to learn this important skill. Do you have a diary or a planner? Do you keep it, in that you actually do things you’ve planned? Do you track your expenses? The point is not to kick yourself for spending that extra quid on a pack of Mars bars. It’s about understanding at what point and why you decided to buy the Mars bars and finding a possible substitute to it. But don’t forget that planning underpins the success, so learn to do it now, not when recession ends.

10. Whatever you want to do, can be done here and now.
I recommend you read Essays on Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson:
http://www.archive.org/stream/e00ssaysoftravelstevrich?ui=embed#mode/2up
It’s a mesmerising account of a Scotsman journey aboard a ship to the New World with many other emigrants. A kaleidoscope of characters, with the protagonist’s musings on personal behaviour, makes a brilliant piece of travel writing. Yet this is not all. At one point Stevenson says one important thing: if you want to do something, you can do this here and now. You don’t need to travel to the New World or elsewhere to make a difference. At least you can start here and now. We’re often thinking of the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov who made it both in Russia and in New York (I’m attempting a pun on the famous song here). What we forget is that Baryshnikov had emigrated when he was already a well-known ballet dancer, not a disillusioned wannabe.

11. Learn any skills that you lack that can help you to manage things better.
This can range from the aforementioned planning to cooking, knitting, sewing, hand crafting – anything that can help you to save or earn money.

12. When Life gets in your way, don’t try to get on with it.
Having your goals and priorities in front of you can help you manage any recession or problem. Different to it, if your goals are vague, it’s easy to fall prey to the momentous pressure. If you have a loving relationship and a good family, the most important thing is to preserve it during the financial downtime. Don’t blame anyone, don’t do the same thing again and again expecting a new result, learn something new together and look for opportunities. Chances are, for you recession will end earlier.

Why, you ask? Because I know that the law of attraction works. The positive thinking can work wonders. And when two or more loving people unite their forces, a brilliant result is guaranteed.

I hope you have a good festive season this year.

A Room with a View: The Samling, Cumbria

Arts & Collections have gathered five recommendations for the places to stay that offer the best “room with a view”. Surprisingly or not, the UK’s Lake District has made it to the list, with The Samling in Windermere.

To quote a bit from the description: “Built in the 1780s, The Samling is a large manor house set in 67-acres of estate grounds, among which there are several stone cottages… There are just 11 rooms in the hotel; only five are in the main house, and the rest are suites in the cottages. All are named after the local dialect for counting sheep – Yan (one), Tyan (two), Tethera (three), and so on… Breakfast in bed is a house speciality, so unless you ask otherwise it will automatically be brought to your bedside.” Furthermore, you can explore the environs on foot, horseback or bike, particularly Troutbeck and Hawkshead, as well as Grasmere and Kentmere. If you cannot walk back to the hotel, the staff will pick you up; and you can indulge in a seasonal menu, an impressive wine list, and the most delicious tea in a drawing room. The staff note that The Samling is a hotel in the country, not a stuffy country-house hotel, hence you are expecting a much warmer and relaxed welcome.

For booking details, visit Arts & Collections. I’d love to stay in their dark-blue bedroom.

Last time I visited Lake District was in January 2006. With my ex-family I stopped in Windermere; we had a meal, made some purchases, and drove back to Manchester. I cannot claim to have been all over the Lake District, but I did visit a few places, if always by car. It is true, however, that Windermere and Grasmere are among the most beautiful spots on the Lakeland map. I highly recommend that you visit them, and if you can stay at The Samling, I am sure it will be one of the most memorable trips. And hopefully, to entice you even more, below is a slideshow of my photos taken between 2002 and 2006. Note: they were all shot on film, I didn’t yet have a digital camera then.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615