Moving to Moscow

About this time last year, my dad applied for an upcoming posting to Moscow. I was so excited because I figured I'd be studying Russian at university in England by the time my family moved out there and I'd be able to practice the language when I visited in the holidays. It is also the first country I've lived in, but because I left when I was only 2 I don't really remember it. We have loads of matryoshka (матрёшка) dolls in our study though and even more in the way of books on Russian architecture and history. My dad still calls me nochka (ночка) which is a sort of nickname, and my teddy that I've had since I was born is named Mischka (Мишка) which means little bear, so I've always been surrounded by bits of Russian culture without really knowing what the country is like.

We still couldn't be certain that we were moving there though, even after my dad got the job, because we had to wait on visas, which the Russians could easily deny us. My parents didn't want us to tell anyone about moving because we didn't want my littlest brother and sister, who are still quite young, finding out and becoming unsettled, especially if we didn't end up going anywhere after all, which is why I haven't put anything online about it until now. I did tell my close friends though (sorry mum and dad).

The visas eventually arrived in November, so there's only been about a month for my family to sort out moving and for me to figure out what I'm doing with my life which has been a bit of a nightmare. I really wanted to move to Russia and carry on learning the language and experience living there but it would be very difficult because I wouldn't be at school like I normally am when we move abroad and I wouldn't be able to have a job without speaking the language. I was offered a promotion and somewhere to live by my work so I decided for now to stay here and work on my wine qualifications and save some money, and maybe move to Russia later on.

Alice saying goodbye to our adopted cat Arthur

So now I'm sitting in one of the empty bedrooms in our house with my sister Darcy, collecting the last bits and pieces that didn't make it into any of the boxes. This is the first time that my dad has taken a posting and we haven't all moved with him. My mum and the two little ones are going to Moscow as well, but my older sister Alice is at university in Edinburgh, Darcy is at boarding school at Charterhouse, and I'm working here in Surrey. It's strange to think that the last time we did this it was 8 years ago when we were about to move to Malaysia, and that my youngest sister Romilly didn't even exist yet.

I don't know when all seven of us will next be here together, but I remember this feeling when we left to Kuala Lumpur for 5 years and thinking that it would be forever until we were back, and now we're off again. Time is weird.


Christmas at work

Since leaving uni, I've started working back at the restaurant I spent most of my gap year with called Bel & the Dragon, which is why I've taken a while to write my first proper post on here! I was worried it would feel like a backwards step and that I wasn't making the most of not studying, but it's not been like that at all. I'm doing what I'm good at and what I enjoy, and it's giving me the time to figure out what I want to do next. I'm hoping it'll be something related to wine but we'll have to see :-) Anyway, here are some photos of the decorations we've put up for Christmas. A group of us spent an entire day tying bows and hanging candy canes all around the restaurant and ended up covered in glitter. If you live close enough then definitely come in for a visit, it's so beautiful and festive!

Godalming isn't a huge town but the Bel is definitely one of the best places to dine (and drink!) in the area. It's in an old converted church built in the 17th century and looks so so pretty when it's all christmassy and candlelit.


And here are some photos of the amazing food that our fab kitchen crew knock up:

Spit-roasted suckling pig with duck fat roast potatoes, spiced apple chutney and crackling (I can't tell you how many of those potatoes I eat a day, they are delicious)

Chocolate fondant with blackcurrant buffalo milk ice cream and caramelised lemon tart with elderberries

Smoked salmon and lemon creme fraiche canapés

Chocolate, vanilla and raspberry cupcakes

White chocolate panna cotta with raspberries, pistachio honeycomb and basil

The one and only apple tarte tatin with vanilla bean ice cream - possibly the greatest creation EVER

Sorry that this post isn't about anything terribly interesting but this is what I'm up to at the moment! And sorry (not sorry) if these photos made you hungry because if you haven't been to Bel & the Dragon yet then WHAT have you been doing with your life?!?!? Come. Seriously.

Also please like our Facebook page because I take lots of photos for work and they get posted there, and because we need 2,000 likes by the end of december!

Lots of love, Helena xxx



So in the last week I made the decision to leave university. There are many reasons why, and I'm sure I'll make a post about it at some point, but ultimately I realised that right now uni isn't for me. I instead want to invest my time and energy into things that make me happy, and after spending the majority of my life in education, I think it's time for a change. One of the things I've always wanted to do is start, or rather, restart blogging. I have tried unsuccessfully to keep a blog going in the past, but I was never happy with the design, or didn't have anything interesting to post, or was too busy with school, but largely I was quite self conscious about what others might think of my writing style or photography. Now, however, I have a little more free time, and I want to have somewhere to record my thoughts and experiences. I also need a home for the several thousand photos that are lying around in my hard drive and that have never been seen by anyone! I don't want to just post photos though, I want to be able to write about things that I care about. I suppose what you can expect to find here will be photos and stories of my travels and adventures, past and present. I hope that this will mark the day that I start living for myself and taking life as it comes, instead of doing what other people expect me to do.

Helena xxx

Me trying to blend in with penguins at Boulders Bay