I’ve moved into a flat – at the bottom of Andreyiivsky usviz – the historic street that leads down from one of Kyiv’s many golden domed cathedrals. Sacrificing practical considerations for romantic location, I now live in a nineteenth century building with dodgy pipework, wiring that wouldn’t look out of place in Delhi, and the best selection of street vendors selling Soviet antiques and Ukrainian crafts this side of Tashkent.
No sooner had I moved in than thousands of tiny ants also moved in…weirdly, the infestation was focused on two brand new, never been worn, items from Zara – both ended up crawling with little ants, but no other clothes on the same shelf were affected. My landlady arrived with ant killer and a tub of anti-wrinkle cream which she rolled into small balls and left inside on the window shelves. She doesn’t speak English, and my Ukrainian doesn’t stretch to quizzing her on this strange practice – I wondered whether it was the ant in anti-wrinkle that was to blame. She had previously taken me to show me where to fetch my water – you can’t drink the water from the taps so one has to buy it from the supermarket, unless you live handily close to a monastery with a supply of clean drinking water.
I visited the Lavra, Ukraine’s most historically significant religious location – a service was in full swing with beautiful singing drifting across the site. (And I’m struggling with sizing my photos so bear with me as I get to grips with blogging).