Thursday, 11 September 2014

Day 74 Wednesday September 10th. Less than 1000km from Moscow

Another day dawns and we repeat exactly the same routines.

Toilet, wash, cup of tea then off to the restaurant car for breakfast which today was two fried eggs and bread, but today Dave managed with hand signs to convey that we didn't want pieces of salmon mixed in with the fried eggs.

In conversation with the women in the restaurant car Paul discovered that they work a shift pattern of 45 days on and then 30 days off! When they are working they are available to serve for 15 hours each day. This means that they start say in Vladivostok and do three return trips to Moscow and back. We all looked at each other and didn't think that any of us could manage to work that shift pattern. These women were married or had steady boyfriends and families so the stresses on those families must be enormous.

We have bought the women of the restaurant car and the "pravadnicas" in our carraigea boxes of chocolates to say thank you for looking after us.

Paul and Frank are now up to guests 13 and 14 for their cabin but despite this we still managed a period in the middle of the day when there was nobody else in their cabin and so we gathered there for lunch which involved tins of sardines, oxtail soup and salami, a powerful set of aromas!

Geoff and Dave now have a large woman who is travelling with a little girl. At nighttime the woman looks to be uncomfortable having to sleep on a single bunk with the little girl.

Today there was a repeat of the long running discussion between Frank and Dave about whether the motorbikes were on our train, and whether it mattered. Frank has stuck to his argument that there is no point in trying to find out where the bikes are as it can make no difference to what we should do when we first arrive at Moscow, and Dave continues to try and wind Frank up about the chances that the bikes may never arrive!

(Yesterday Geoff received a text from a Russian number that he didn't recognise, and it was only today when the above debate was raging on that he realised it was the text from the baggage man Sergay in Vladivostok with the number of the wagon which contained our bikes).

At the next station when the train stopped for a length of time Geoff and Dave duly walked the length of the train and discovered that our bikes are indeed on the first carriage adjacent to the engine, but this is now privileged information available only on a "need to know" basis!

Trees trees and more trees, maybe someone should write a song about the trees of Russia.

As we travel on the train there are times when the whole carriage judders and shakes. We have been discussing this for a while trying to understand exactly what is causing this and whether it is something we should be concerned about.

At each station when the train stops there are wheel tappers who pass along the sides of the train and hit the wheels and suspension with a small metal hammer listening for any unusual noise that could indicate a potential faulty component. As they pass along they make quite a musical melody of "ping, ping, clunk dong" which gets repeated at each set of wheels. Our carriage wheels don't sound any different to the other carriage wheels!!

Geoff remembered that at ICI the crane that ran along steel rails would shake and judder when the wheels became slightly out of alignment. This was called "crabbing" and it used to shake the whole building. We thought this may have been the cause of the noise perhaps as the train went around a bend but on examining the carriage axles they look to have some form of differential which should stop judder at bends, and the judder sometimes seems to occur not at bends but when the carriage is first picking up speed or nearly stopped!

You would have thought that with so many mechanical engineers and motorbike experts we would have sorted out this puzzle by now!!

All ideas welcomed on this problem?

More later

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  1. Hi Dad. Not sure if news has trickled through to you yet, ( and not sure what number to use as see that you took your phone for a swim and trashed it!! ) but Jamie and Verity have had the baby today. Dallas Barkess made his arrival at 12.20 midday, and weighed in whopping 9lb and 13oz!! He's a big lad!!! All doing well at mo, still in hospital in burnley, but hoping to come home today. Mum been to see them, and says Jamie walking ten feet tall with pride. Brilliant.
    I have texted Savvi with the news.
    Keep safe. Emma x

  2. You even make a boring train journey fun hope u have let Frank in on the cargo news!! Enjoy Moscow .