Thursday, June 27, 2013


Wednesday, and I am due to leave on Friday.  I will not be back for a couple of months and so, as is my tradition, I must stock the freezer for Sandra so she can have so easy meals when I am away.

I am afraid that I have been working on a scheme to to make this an easy half day task, so I decided to put it to the test. 

First off was a trip to the store.  I decided to walk, so that I could first stop at Ram Store and if they had what I needed avoid going to Rahat.  But more importantly this gave me the chance of a last minute check on progress before Sundays VIP visits.  I am pleased to be able to report good progress.

However the first item of interest was not very presidential.  Progress has been made on the pipe that is being buried along the burr of the canal...a valve has been added at the end.  As yet there is no sign where it is going to, or coming from, which is just as well because I know the other end is similarly disconnected.  But we have a big cylindrical concrete lined hole with a manhole at the top and a valve inside. To wit, the concrete cylinder
And the valve with only one pipe into it.
But shortly after I climbed the bank onto Airport Road I noticed that the corrugated iron fencing that surround (I think by law) land waiting for development, is being hung with colourful scenes of Atyrau on plastic sheets.

And where this was not practical, different decorations were used.
The side of the bridge has been beautified with plant pots mounted to it, not a very good picture but I was shaking with horror at the thought of the poor creature that had to do the watering.  This surely must be impractically sustainable?

I think this lady or man is the one who does the watering as that seemed to be what she was doing here, all manually.

The painting activity is continuing and indeed even ramping up.  Today (Thursday) there were thirty or forty people at this bridge location (clearly a key visual impact location as the entry to Atyrau) and they were painting the curbs white, sweeping the roads, digging a bit, and generally beautifying the place.

All along Satpayeva people are at work.  In one place there was a truck parked  in the fast lane of the road.

On inspection they were putting up flags, one Kazakh, the next British.  They were already hanging all the way to the river, where they decorate the recently planted traffic island.
There are three new urns and a new peacock to report, but no more camels!

There are also newly attached plant pots on the lamp posts.  These are surely going to be another watering nightmare as Sandra says these flowers need a lot of water.

Unfortunately Ram Store only had black mushy celery so it was forward and onwards to Asia and Rahat Ideal.
When I arrived at the bridge I was surprised to see the barrier painting had not yet started.  The repairs to the cabling ducts were partially reconnected to the walls but a lot still had to be done.

But rather strangely there had been some painting done, in two places on the Europe side by the steps the barriers had been partially painted, one side green and the other grey.

I hope somebody will be able to explain this because I cannot!

And then, just as I was getting to the Asia end of the bridge I saw a squad of people walking along with buckets.  I think I can report that the painting is about to commence, but I won't be here to confirm or otherwise.
I walked on and finally arrived at Rahat. Where I did all my shopping and took a taxi home to begin the freezer stocking exercise.
The shopping list is below!

4lbs                Ground Beef
5lbs                Onions 
2lbs                Carrots (peeled and finely chopped)
1bunch           Celery (trimmed and washed and finely chopped)
3lbs                Potatoes 
2 large cans    Tomatoes (chopped or crushed)
1 medium can Tomato Paste
2x15oz Can     Red kidney beans 
2x15oz Can     White beans
8oz                 Frozen Peas 
2 Medium        Egg Plants 
1 Medium        Red Peppers 
1 lb                 Cheese...whatever is tasty for sauce
1 Box              Lasagne Pasta Sheets 
1 Head            Garlic   

Now you understand why I took a car home to Zheti Kazyna!

This I then had to prep...and I had nearly an hour of peeling and dicing.

After that came the cooking and the "assembly".  I will do another blog of the full recipes, which are probably of little interest to anyone except my sister, to whom I have been promising them for some time.  But here are pictures of a couple of them...

Actually, this is a big cheat!  Just as they do on TV, I do....and say "here is one we did earlier" except in this case it is two (or more if I showed them all.  In fact these are pictures of assembling a Cottage Pie (left) and  a Keema Curry right.  They were ones I made on my last trip here.  The ones I made this week were done individually so Sandra can just take out as much as she needs.  I also did a large batch of lentil curry the night before, as this is very low calorie and therefore has special appeal!

What I actually had to put in the freezer this morning, when It was cooled and bagged is shown below (including the lentils).  This is an honest picture!

In total there are 37 meals of:

Paprika Bean Stew
Cottage Pie ("Shep Pie"!)
Lentil Curry
Keema and Rice
Bolognese Sauce
and Beef Chili

My job done!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


A Presidential visit to celebrate first oil is on the cards for Atyrau.  And according to The Independent Newspaper he will have company!

Obviously Mr Cameron has been learning a trip or two from Mr Blair, and has decided a bit of Networking could bode well if his retirement retirement from politics is brought about by the Boris Boys.

Anyway, Presidential visits are good for Atyrau because it means a flurry of activity on the cleaning, mending and painting front.  In fact, the astute predictor will be aware that as soon as work begins on Satpayeva Bridge the town is due a VIP visit.  And work began a few weeks ago as I arrived back.
But this time the bridge work is not a casual coat of paint like last year (this blog has pictures of a man spray painting himself and the railings last summer).  This time it is a major job with the white barriers being stripped of their plaster covering and then repaired, filled, sanded and hopefully sometime soon, painted.  This effort has been going on for nearly two months now with varying numbers of people at it.  The plaster layer was all chipped off by hand using tools they use to chip ice off the sidewalks in winter, and scrapers.
But what has impressed me the most is that the sanding has all been done by hand, just pieces of sandpaper and no power tools.  The evidence can be found along the footpath.  

There has also been extensive sidewalk repairing activity underway.  This usually happens over the summer months so I am not sure how much of this is VIP visit inspired, but I suspect that the activity all along Satpayeva, which is the main route to Airport Road in not entirely coincidental.  
Repairing the sidewalks
I also notice that the curbs have all been painted white again, as have the tree trunks.
The flower pots along the route have been planted now, as has the central island at the European end of the bridge.  So now 
Mohambet Square is being busily planted with flowers to catch up.  There is also a planting effort underway on the banks of the flyover of Kurmangazy at Tamasha...It will say Atyrau in flowers.  The bridge itself has also been painted, not blue but green.  In fact this particular green colour is appearing on a few buildings.  
Fifty Shades of Green...the new Atyrau blockbuster colour
I think it is either a new fashion or a large batch was bought by the city at a good price.
Planting on Mohambet Square
One intriguing event is the appearance of three decorative pieces in the grass verge at the Satpayeva end of the Square.  There is a stone with primitive deer drawings on it, a peacock at rest and two urns still wrapped in plastic.  

The urn motif seems quite popular.  In fact in Astana there is a whole building that is built in the shape of a toppled urn.  
The Astana urn is significantly bigger than ours, as one would expect of a Capital urn.
There has also been quite a lot of painting of building that new green or the more common ochre colours.  But by far the most perplexing colour change has been the sudden repainting of pedestrian crossings which used to be yellow and have nor turned red.  It has happened quite quickly and nor it is hard to find any yellow crossings.
Unfortunately the red paint does not seem to stick very well and it is wearing thin in places after just a couple of weeks.

Even the advertising signs along Satpayeva have been spruced up and new ones added, all emphasising Atyraus role as a commercial centre.  
And I have to admit some surprise in seeing that NCOC had put up a sign for Kashagan, emphasising that its efforts were "Benefiting Kazakhstan People". Which of course they are, and will do so even more when there is some oil flowing. 
Nicely located just in front of the Chevron TCO building!
Last but not least there have appeared on the banks of the Ural the start of two structures, the nature of which is as yet unknown.  So, as bad as I feel leaving you in such suspense, I am going to post this blog and leave it to a later date to reveal the nature of the mysterious posts!

Well that was where I planned to leave this blog last Friday, but yesterday I went walking to the shops and discovered a couple of other "new" features in the city, so decided to add them as a post script.  The main thing is the arrival of the camels beside the Atyrau sign (in flowers).  Not only camels but also a post or pillar of some sort.
Unfortunately it is difficult to get a clear shot of this "welcome to Atyrau" scene because of the shed, but I can assure you that it adequately signals what to expect in Atyrau.

But that was not all, further down Satpayeva, in some empty land beside the street, there have appeared more animals, this time of a deer type variety.  I am not sure quite what they are but all add to the interest of walking to the store.
It just leaves us wondering how quickly the city would change if The President visited every month and took a different route around town.  After a year the city would be shining like a new pin...maybe.