Up early this morning. Our Landy has a date.
It’s now 12.30pm and we have just driven away from the JLR dealers. New ‘genuine’ fuel filter and a non-return valve fitted. In order to align the wheels to rectify abnormal wear on the inside front tyres, the mechanics were able to make only the slightest amount of adjustment, as the ball joints are seized in the link rods!
Does it start better now? Well, lets just say it seems to be better but I don’t think we have solved the problem. On departure from the JLR centre, Ilya presented us with a “selfie stick”. His wife upbraided him for taking picture of us at arm’s length (selfie), so he bought us a selfie stick. “All good tourists should have a selfie stick”, she said. How amazing is that! He wanted us to order a new track rod and drop arm and have them sent to Almaty in Kazakhstan. We graciously declined his offer, not wanting to be chasing any more parts around the region. I think if we removed the rods from the vehicle and with a liberal application of heat and effort, we could free the threads up. But it’s not critical and we don’t have the facilities to do it. So, we are on our way to Astrakhan. It’s great to be on the road again. First, a supermarket stop to restock the larder. While Jen is inside doing her stuff, I decided to check the Russia Post tracking site, to see if our parcel of parts, sent from England two weeks or so ago, have left Moscow. Bingo, they have not only left Moscow but have arrived in Volgograd. Joy! Straight around to the Post Office. We’ve become familiar with it by now. The excitement of a quick pick up and run, quickly subsides, as while the parcel is in Volgograd, it’s not yet at the Post Office. It’s being ‘processed’. We decide with the parts being so close, we have to wait for them or they will be lost to us, forever. To use up some time, in the hope of an afternoon arrival, the decision is to visit the Stalingrad Museum. Closed yesterday. It’s a brilliant museum. Again, tastefully done. What we notice is an almost total lack of Stalin’s presence. Yes, there are a couple of portraits and a bust in marble but his influence is very low key.
Ninety one percent of Stalingrad was destroyed!
Hiring audio players immeasurably improved the visiting experience, as all text is in Russian, understandably. Dozens of photos later, we head back to the Post office. Alas, still no sign of our parcel. Off to the pub to watch the Switzerland – Sweden game and kill some more time. Jen has a litre of best Russian ale and I, a bottle of mineral water. The Post Office doesn’t close till 10pm. They work long hours here in Russia. To no avail. No parcel. It’s another night in Volgograd. Not such a bad thing, despite the fact that we are again getting behind, but England play Columbia and wouldn’t it be nice to watch an England victory! While in the Pub we got chatting with a patron. He is a ship’s captain (tankers) and home on one of his rare “breaks”. He has had to come down to the pub to watch the soccer. His wife and daughter, both Dr’s, are not interested in football! He told us, with much feeling, how he enjoyed his visit to Whangarei. Whangarei, or close by, is the location of NZ’s only oil refinery. He told us that he has fond recollections of taking his shoes off and walking on a sandy beach, feeling the sand between his toes. To the extent of showing us how he took his shoes off. He never goes onshore normally.
As I write, it’s nil all, half time and a very evenly balanced game. C’mon England!!! I hear Charlie calling. Charlie (Mike) is English (a Pom) that I played soccer with in Wellington for Mana United, then Western Suburbs “Cricketers”. We both moved to Rotorua at a similar time and played social football together, in Rotorua . Charlie and his lovely wife Kim and daughter Jazz, now live in Western Australia. We keep in touch. Trouble is he is a Chelsea supporter..:)
The game is now over and England, the justifiable victors. Well done, them. They played well. We will be in Columbia next year and I hope the Columbians don’t take retribution on us, but I have to say, I thought their gamesmanship…..regrettable!