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So, yeah, the painting is back home now and I even bought a small wooden thing (she’s a wood person, she claims, being born in a cocky year, but the site I looked at said she was an earth rooster, which means I should have sent her pottery; me being a water dragon doesn’t bode well for exciting presents — anyway I don’t believe in any of that crap, being a typical Libran).

So the small wooden thing can go in the post and I must turn my attention to repainting a face. And getting it to Chinaland, in a safely packed A1 crate of some sort.

If you waded through last week’s entry (Taiga Economy), you’ll know I’ve considered but bottled out of taking it on a slow boat, and have been considering the Trans Siberian Railway.

A bit of research showed said train runs a couple of times a week from Moscow to Beijing, via Mongolia or Manchuria (Mongolia has more appeal). Getting to Moscow from Scotland, and the final leg from Beijing to Hangzhou should be un morceau de pis, even if the UK leg will be plagued by replacement bus services. The TSR takes a week and there were visions of going in the cheapest carriage, open plan with curtained bunks. Then the visions of pissed-up, lively Russian folk, filling the long nights with vodka-fuelled Cossack dances round the samovars, led to a more disturbing vision of a booted foot, during a spirited rendition of Kalinka, going straight through the middle of the very masterpiece this form of escorted transport was supposed to keep safe from damage.

So the first class option seemed essential. One could always lock the pic away in the compartment and join the drunken revels in pauper class anyway. And there was the added possibility of meeting the glamorous member of a once-aristocratic family, no doubt with shady connections, over a plate of blinis demidoff, and beginning a great amour de fou.

Trouble is, said first class option brings the price for that leg alone to around £500. As the lady is only offering £400 for the painting, that’s an expensive bit of work for the artist. True, she did say she’d pay the shipping costs too, but I think she was rather assuming that would be care of our old friends at Crystal Sky Trading who usually take care of these matters. Not three times the base cost of the picsh.

As ERNIE failed to fling any Premium Bond winnings my way to start the year, it looks more and more likely that the adventure simply ain’t gonna happen.

Maybe the one remaining hope is that I can interest a tv documentary crew in turning the journey into a ten part series, send a small crew to accompany and film me (or at least give me the necessary state-of-the-art kit to film myself), and, I need hardly add, pay the fares. There’d be plenty of time to do a blog (I assume the TSR has wi-fi) and work on the book of the series, on those endless days where the view is an unchanging vista of open steppes or gloomy forests. That’s if I wasn’t too busy canoodling with countesses or carousing with Cossacks.

Can’t think of a snappy title just yet, but the sub is “a crazy English guy takes a painting of Italy to a Chinese lady via Siberia on a series of trains”. And I’ve no idea how to go about finding who to pitch the thing to. So, if you happen to have the right connections and think there’s any film maker out there who doesn’t feel the barrel of train-related programmes hasn’t quite been scraped clean, do get in touch.

Anyway, before any definitive travel or posting plans can be made, there’s still the impossible task of making her face ‘lovely enough’ …