Safe driving in Tbilisi

Anyone who has actually been to Tbilisi will laugh at the title of this post – Safe driving in Tbilisi is definitely the exception not the rule here!

We don’t have a car here at the moment, so we are relegated to catching Taxis if we need to go somewhere. In saying this, we have found a couple of regular Taxi drivers who we have on call. One speaks English well but has a old car with no seatbelts in the backseat, another has his English speaking son on speed-dial to communicate with us! I also have a couple of lovely friends who very bravely drive here – apparently if you just expect everyone else to drive badly and expect to get a few beeps here and there it’s quite easy (and helps to have a bigger car than other drivers!)

We often get taxi’s with Bubba, so he sits on our lap in the backseat, or on the seat next to me while I hold on to him. This is quite normal here even in private cars. You will more often than not see young kids standing in the back seat of the car, or looking out the back window while their parents weave in and out of traffic. Seatbelts also seem to be a very casual thing here for backseat passengers.

Today, Bubba and I were out walking, and a car drove past us – I had to do a double take, as the man driving had his young son sitting on his lap, both of them holding the steering wheel whilst driving. Wow. Hadn’t seen that before in a moving vehicle!

Many drivers also consider a red light to be a suggestion rather than a road rule. The green light turns from solid, flashes for a few seconds, then turns to the orange light, then the red light. So although drivers get more than ample notice that there is a red light coming, they seem to use that opportunity to speed up and race through the orange or red light. So, if ever crossing the road, you really need to triple check that all cars are slowing to stop at the lights – and when walking across a 3 or 4 lane road, you also need to continually check that the far lanes have stopped as you are walking across – ( or haven’t started to go again before you have crossed the whole way across!) I am particularly cautious if I have Bub in the pram in front of me!!!

Then, if the cars at the lights haven’t started to go again by the time the green light comes on (ie. if someone is waiting for pedestrians to cross the road), he will be beeped / honked at by almost every car in the line behind him. Everyone is in a rush here while driving – but never on time anywhere – Georgian’s are not known for their punctuality!!

Don’t even get me started about Zebra crossings!!! I don’t know what their intention is here, but cars definately do not think they are a suggestion to slow down and give way to pedestrians!

There was a recent article about how Georgia will need to improve their driving standards (dramatically) if /when they sign an EU Association Agreement – read it HERE.  They have a long way to go, but hopefully in the next few years, driving standards will improve and pedestrians will stop being a target every time they cross the road!

Oh… there is so many examples I could give you of bad driving in Tbilisi, and what people consider a totally acceptable street park here would give you a laugh! But I’ll leave it at that for now and go put the baby to bed. 🙂

 

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Blanket for Bubba

Its craft-o’clock in Tbilisi!

Here is a gorgeous green and grey crochet blanket that I made for Bubba last week. I was a little unsure about the colours but it turned out really well! This was a very simple blanket to crochet, with rows of Double Crochet stitch.

How I made it: 

110 Chain stitches across

70 rows of Double Crochet

I’d say its a little over 1 Metre square (yes. I’m Australian and we use metric… and I don’t have my tape measure that converts to inches…and can’t be bothered googling.. and another thing on the list, buy tape measure!!)

Finishing it:

Row 1 (dark grey row): Single Crochet all around, Slip stitch (changing colour to Light Grey) into first SC, chain one.

Row 2: Shell stitch (*SC, skip 1 stitch, 4 DC in next stitch, skip 1 stitch & rpt from * to first chain). Fasten off

I used light grey for Shell Stitch row … as I’d run out of dark grey at 10pm and I very impatiently wanted to finish it off!

Wool:  “Alize – Lanagold” (turkish brand), 50% wool, 50% Acrylic. 10 Ply (Worsted Weight).

Crochet Hook: 7.0 mm

Crochet blanket

Crochet blanket

Green & Grey Striped Crochet Blanket

Green & Grey Striped Crochet Blanket

Green and Grey Striped Crochet Blanket

Green and Grey Striped Crochet Blanket

My next (current) project is a large throw for our bed in blue & grey with a ‘V’ stitch throughout!

In other news, I had a babysitter start today, she will come twice per week for a few hours, I’m thinking of using the time to hide away in my room and crochet for hours on end! Feeling the crochet love! X

Tbilisi

It was a dreary day on Sunday but we went out for some sightseeing, taking the aerial cable car (gondola) from the left bank of the river up to the Narikala fortress. Bubba loved going in the gondola, and it is so easy and cheap – can just tap your metrocard and its 1 Lari per person per journey (ie 2 Lari if you go up and back). The ride is over so quickly though!! You also have the option of walking up and down the hill, but we didn’t really feel like carrying bubba up and down a load of stairs since we didn’t take the Manduca carrier with us.

We then wandered around the Chardeni area in the Old Town, which is rife with bars, eateries and little tourist shops. This area will come alive in the summer, with the restaurants starting to uncover & set out their al-fresco areas! I’m planning on taking all my visitors here to wander the streets.

A few (not very good) pics of some of the areas – I STILL haven’t charged my camera so I’m making do with my iPhone.

A gypsy life

One thing  you can’t help but notice when walking or driving around Tbilisi, is the amount of people begging for money on the streets. Many of these are elderly or disabled people, who just sit quietly with a hand out or little cup nearby for you to drop a few coins in – and from what I’ve learned, many of the older women are widows with no children to support them, and have no other way to earn money.

Then there are the gypsies, of whom you will see the women and children on the streets, and they have a much more confronting approach to begging for money. According to some taxi drivers, some of the gypsies are from Armenia, and they come to Georgia because the Georgians are more generous. (**I don’t know if this is true, just what the taxi drivers say!!!***) For example, our taxi driver – who on a good day may earn 100 – 150 Lari (working from 9am til 10pm or midnight, living 45mins from Tbilisi and having to buy fuel as well) will keep “gypsy money” in his door pocket so that he can easily roll down the window and give a gypsy begging from car to car a few coins. When I was thinking about writing this, I had a quick google about gypsies in Tbilisi, and found a few articles  – one here which noted that because many gypsies didn’t have citizenship or any sort of identification papers (including birth certificates), they weren’t able to get any state funding here in Tbilisi, including health care, and the children aren’t able to attend school.

Therefore, they beg on the street. And it can be very confronting if you haven’t seen it before – for example, there is always the same lady in front of the Goodwill supermarket in Vake, sitting down cradling her baby daughter,  sometimes pushing the baby in your face, pleading for money. Then there is the small girl (probably around 4 years old) that lies on a blanket in the middle of the sidewalk on Rustaveli- usually asleep at any time of the day- but during the cold snap when it was minus 6 degrees during the day, she lay there with her eyes open, with a blank stare on her face.  There are often little kids running after you yelling and begging – one little girl was following me the other day, saying something over and over again to me, then started trying to grab my shopping bag while I had Bubba in the baby carrier – lucky she didn’t understand English although I’m sure she has heard worse swear words in her life.

Today, as usual, I had a few encounters with gypsys. One girl stood waiting as I got some money out of an ATM, then started at it, asking for money – I just said “ara (no)” a few times, and on my way. Walked past the little 4 year old sleeping on the ground, then Bubba and I had a lovely walk up Rustaveli and back (lovely as he was in the pram today…). Bubba was getting a bit wriggly and we still had a good half hour walk home, so as I passed a lady selling popcorn I got a small bag for 10 Tetri (less than 10c!!). And let me tell you… trying to grab popcorn out of the drink-cup section on his pram tray & shoving it in his mouth kept him entertained the whole walk home! Winner!

When we reached Rustaveli Metro station, I noticed a little girl sitting on a blanket, with a bowl next to her for money. She couldn’t have been more than 3 years old. Seriously, she did not look anywhere as old as my little nephew and he’s just turned 3. I also do not know any 2 or 3 year olds that will just sit on a blanket for hours on end and not run off and play somewhere. Her mum needs to come teach that trick to my child. Seriously. What do they put in these kid’s water bottles? In any case, she was so dirty and I felt so sorry for her being put in that situation by her parents or siblings, that I gave her the half a bag of popcorn that I still had.

And let me tell you – the look on her face MADE MY DAY.  The popcorn was just for her… and when I looked back a few seconds later, she was scoffing it down, and kicking her legs around like it was the best thing in the world. She couldn’t care less about money, but I knew that popcorn would make her day 🙂

Sorry no photos lately, my camera is dead and I keep forgetting to get the adaptor out of husband’s bag so I can charge it up (also really need it to straighten my hair, it’s so horrible…). City is so beautiful at the moment so I’ll have to take a few pics and post stat!!

x

The elusive highchair

When moving to a place such as Tbilisi, it really makes you cherish things that you take for granted in Australia.

When wandering down to your local cafe in Australia, you really just take for granted, and assume (usually rightly so) that they will have a highchair or two ready for you. Definately at shopping centres and any of the suburban cafes/restaurants. Possibly not in a busy mid-city cafe, or a fancy-pants restaurant (but really, if I’ve got a baby old enough to be in a high chair, even this clingy mama would be leaving my baby at home for that occasion…).

Finding a highchair in a cafe over here is like searching for a hidden treasure. At the music class we attend on a Friday, I sat around with the other ex-pat mums and had a discussion on which few cafes & restaurants in town were owners of such a treasure. I actually went to a cafe the other day on the sole basis that I saw a highchair through the window whilst walking past. It could have served me a weak, lukewarm disgusting coffee and it would have tasted like a million dollars because my never-stops-moving toddler sat still – IN THE ONE PLACE – and ate his bread roll QUIETLY. AHHHH-MAZZZINNNNGGG! This was the FIRST time that this has happened (in a cafe..) since we have been in Tbilisi.

Usually what happens at a coffee shop: Me trying to get toddler to sit still on chair, then chasing said toddler around cafe, attempting to stop him from going behind the counter, gulping down my Americano coffee while he spills croissant and milk everywhere. It’s not relaxing. At all. It’s just a coffee fix. And the croissant or bread roll is the bribe to try and get him to sit still long enough for me to drink coffee.

Funny story.. A few weeks ago, I told my husband I was exhausted as I don’t get a single chance during the day to just relax. He says to me – ‘but didn’t you go for coffee today? That’s relaxing.’ He got a massive death stare, ‘THAT? That is not relaxing, that was getting coffee’.  So last Saturday, Dadda and Bubba went out for their usual Saturday morning boys time,  and I went for a walk by myself. I met up with them a bit later, and I asked how their morning was. They had been to Entree cafe, and my husband said to me with this horrified look: ‘I didn’t even get a chance to finish my coffee!’. I just smiled and said ‘So not so relaxing then is it?’.

I digress…

We also went out to dinner on Saturday night – I called two restaurants that I had been informed had highchairs. Number 1 (Thai place) didn’t have one (and realistically, the bubba wouldn’t have eaten any thai food…).Number 2… Winner! Success! “Special chair for Baby” booked (and really hoping it was a highchair..), we were on our way! Such a lovely peaceful meal – the place Pomodorissimo is on Chavchavadze Ave and serves Italian food. It also has a non-smoking area, which is not standard over here, and had a TV with Animal Planet channel on. What could be more perfect to entertain an Animal-loving toddler! We had THE most peaceful and lovely meal out, (ie. that I didn’t have to cook). I didn’t even care that all Bubba ate was french fries, juice and ice-cream, while we had Risotto, grilled vegies, Pizza and beer. It was a special night out!

So things are looking up, highchair wise. Funny thing about the cafe I previously mentioned, and the restaurant we went to – they are next door to each other, and the restaurant actually just borrows the highchair at night time.. Seriously, they need an IKEA or Aldi here, thats all the cafes in Aus use!! 🙂

EDIT: SERIOUSLY!! ???? One week on, the cafe I mentioned is now under construction and I have no idea when or if it will open again. Urgghhhh hunt back on.

Crochet Owl & Puppy Hats

I’m feeling very chuffed with myself as I have completed my very first crochet project! No…. its not my throw… still going on that one!

I’ve found a wonderful blog/website Repeat Crafter Me, and the lady has her patterns listed for free! So off I set to create the “Crochet Owl Hat” for Bubba but unfortunately I didn’t copy the directions to the letter and it ended up a bit short and wide… it still fits him its just a little big and doesn’t cover the back of his neck. The eyes are a little crazy looking too…

Crochet Owl Hat

Crochet Owl Hat

So, determined to get it right, I attempted the “Crochet Puppy Hat” off this same website (www.repeatcrafterme.com) , although I made some amendments – I didn’t do as many ‘expanding’ circles, and also did an extra row of Single Crochets at the back of the hat, as I prefer his hats to fit snugly and cover the back of his neck for warmth. I just need to go get a couple of buttons and some brown wool to complete the face of Puppy 🙂

 PUPPY DOG HAT

Puppy Dog Hat

Puppy Dog Hat

I used a 5.5mm hook, and worsted weight (10ply) wool (50% wool/50% acrylic).

I had never done a Magic Ring before, and used the below tutorials (during which I got very frustrated and ate a whole block of chocolate, but finally got it!)

Magic Ring Tutorials: HERE and HERE

** I wanted an extra row around the back of the hat, so when I got to the end of Round 12, I turned , Chain 1, then SC 30 stitches, then turned again, CH 1, and started my first ear flap (starting the decreases on this row). You can check this for yourself by folding the hat in half and making note on the other side where your 2nd ear flap would go and SC until you reach there. You can see in this (very badly taken) picture that it goes down the back of Bubba’s neck a little bit more.

Bubba in Puppy Hat

Bubba in Puppy Hat

Its such an easy project once you get the hang of it – I completed Bubba’s Puppy hat in a couple of hours yesterday!

Ok, now everyone knows what they are getting for presents this year!! Lucky its winter in a couple of months in Aus, plenty of time for me to get started, and plenty more projects to try off of Repeat Crafter Me’s website!

Still pretty cold here, so off to make a nice hot apple crumble for dessert! Yumm!

A Stripy Throw & a Dummy addiction.

As I mentioned in my last post, my very first Crochet project is a stripy throw rug for our bedroom. Unfortunately it is moving at snails pace as my cute as a button toddler has been having very short day naps, very rudely cutting into my Crochet-ing time.

The little mister has a dummy (pacifier) addiction at the moment. He has had a dummy for nap-time and in the car since he was little, but never really cared too much about it, if it was there he would suck on it, if not, he would still go to sleep. Its probably my fault that he has gotten a bit too attached now, as he almost didn’t need it anymore, but I wanted to keep it as an emergency item for on our long plane ride over here (sucking on takeoff and landing), so I encouraged it! But now!!?? He goes around the house looking for one, and even if I have hidden them all up on a shelf up high, he emerges sucking one and grinning at me – I think he must keep a secret stash, hiding them in his toys or cot when I’m not looking!

He has never been a whiny cranky baby but the last couple of weeks he is getting a little whiny when he is tired and doesn’t have his dummy, and it is grating on our nerves! Think we need to ditch the dummy asap so I get my cheery little boy back! The majority of the days he only has it for sleeps (as I only let him have one for sleeps) but he wants it at other times so he whines for it. URGHHHHH

In other news, my crocheting is going well. Here is a pic of where I am up to – I am about a third of the way through. It isn’t perfect but a great learning throw!

I am doing 6 rows of the blue and grey interspersed with the cream – one thicker row of cream (I think 8 rows) at the beginning and end then rows of 3 through the middle section. I will hopefully finish in the next couple of days and post a report with the pattern etc.

Stripy Throw, about a third done!

Stripy Throw, about a third done!

The last four days have been super cold here in Tbilisi, day time temps of around -6 degrees (Celcius) and nights around -16deg (Celcius)… for an Australian, that is ridiculously cold! Our pipes froze the other night so a couple of guys spent 3 hours banging on pipes, flooding the bathroom with toilet water and climbing in and out of the window in Bubba’s room. Eventually they came in with a piece of corner pipe with frozen water inside, proudly showing me and saying ‘eh? eh?’, before heating it up on the stove, reconnecting, etc. Suffice to say, we now have water again. Thank goodness.

The city is very pretty in the snow, and Bub loved walking around on the snowy ground. We still walked around today in the minus 6 degree temp, he stays very warm in the Manduca cuddled up against me! My own hot water bottle.

I’ll post some photos on another post as my camera cord has gone walk-about. Two guesses who is responsible for that – bets are on if I  discover it in a lego box or in a kitchen drawer…