This morning I had a big breakfast. After losing so much weight I gorged myself on white bread with cheese and honey the colour of amber, a boiled egg, two cups of good coffee and two bowls of cereal.
Amazing what an old-fashioned breakfast can do to a person.
Many people wrote and asked what amber is. I quote:
“Amber is an organic material and originates from the ancient relic pine Pinas succinifera. Its resin fell into soil and stayed dozens of millions of years conserved in it. 50 million years ago the process of crystallization was finished on the territory of the Baltic Sea basin.”
In Afrikaans one would describe it as “versteende boomgom van ‘n tipe denneboom.”
I had a relaxed ride from Luga to Puschkin. The sun was shining and the road was good. I easily found Puschkin and the Catherine Palace. The sheer size of the palace was impressive.
Some information on the palace (thanks to Wikipedia):
“The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russiaengaged the German architect Johann-Friedrich Braunstein to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1733, Empress Anna commissioned Mikhail Zemtsov and Andrei Kvasov to expand the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, however, found her mother’s residence outdated and incommodious and in May 1752 asked her court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo style. Construction lasted for four years and on 30 July 1756 the architect presented the brand-new 325-meter-long palace to the Empress, her dazed courtiers, and stupefied foreign ambassadors.”
So, four years after the end of my 2008 tour I managed to get to and see the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace in Puschkin near St Petersburg.
One may take photographs in the whole of the palace but NOT in the Amber Room. I did try and got shat out thoroughly by an elderly lady that had to oversee the ban on cameras there.
What amazed me even more, there were guided tours only in Russian. One may not go on your own into the palace. I had to join a Russian tour, understood zero, but I got to the Amber Room at least!
Lastly, the operation for the first two children with cleft lips and palates have been paid. Thanks to all the donors so far! I am not worried whether we reach our target or not as every Rand raised is a bonus. However, the experience of the past taught that most donations come at the end. The final date for all donations is 1 September.
A group of friends got together and put some money on the July Handicap horse race of last Saturday. At the end they donated all the money (R 1 000.00!) to Operation Smile. Thank you so much Brenda, Letitia, Elsabe, Syta, aunt Daleen, Jackie and Dorette!
Tomorrow I have to find a place where I can do an oil change on the KLR. I am now only at the halfway mark of my ride.
My thoughts will be with Dick and his family when they bury Dean this afternoon at two.