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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GROWING PAINS: English Trip Eclipsed By Thoughts of Home




Those diligent few of you who are avid readers of my column might have noticed that last week I was conspicuous by my absence. There was probably some little feature at the end of it that said: "Juliet Butler is on vacation." Well yes folks, I am indeed "on vacation." And when people ask me if I'm enjoying myself I take 10 deep, calming breaths. If cooking and washing up three meals a day for a pack of quarrelsome kids in a caravan is having a nice vacation, then yes, I'm having a ball.


Of course, it's lovely to touch base with my parents and relatives again, but I've been here a month and right now it would be quite nice to follow my husband, who sensibly flew back to Moscow a fortnight ago, back home. Home to a haven of nannies, nurseries and full-time schools.


What I can't understand is why the kids feel the same.


After all, I've been doggedly filling up their lives with things they can't do in Moscow like taking them to swimming pools that are bristling with fountains, flumes, waterfalls and waves, and to sleepovers with friends, or campsite discos.


However, the trip's highs were mitigated by lows of taking the children in a heat wave to peruse instruments of torture at the Tower of London; watch virtual reality movies in Piccadilly and attend Pony Clubs in Devon. Not to mention the endless Kentucky Fried Chickens that can't, apparently, hold a candle to Rostiks. Because yes, when push comes to shove they'd rather see the Mausoleum than the Museum of Natural History (same thing really). They miss Moscow.


But why? What is it about this infuriating country that is either too hot or too cold that fascinates them so? I mean talk about entertainment - I've even managed to lay on a total eclipse of the sun, which happens once a lifetime in Britain. Our caravan just happened to be sitting within the narrow area of totality. So at 11 minutes past 11 on this, the 11th morning of the month, the sun went out and the world turned black as night for one minute. A truly wondrous experience, which the children immediately related to Russia.


"Let's call Daddy and tell him about the eplipse" said Bobby, jumping up and down in the churchyard where we were standing.


"That's so cool - won't Mikhail Vladimirovich be amazed when I tell him!" enthused Sasha of her teacher, "I can't wait to get back!" And Anna is drawing a picture of the eclipse to be put up on the school notice board. So now I'm getting worried. After all, Kolya and I plan to move back to England eventually, but I'm getting this feeling that if we don't do it soon we'll have left it too late for the children. Eleven-year-old Sasha has already announced she's going to marry a Russian and live there forever. "You and Daddy can go where you want" she said firmly. "But I'm staying in Russia."