If you had asked me last week, while I was sitting in the waiting room of the local police station, how I would describe the month of May, ‘merry’ probably wouldn’t have been top of the list. In fact, misfortunate would have more fitting. Or miserable. I’m jumping ahead of myself: there was more to May … More The Merry Month of May
I sometimes think that what is really, truly beautiful is fleeting: indeed, it is this very transience that makes it so achingly lovely. That cannot be held true for Paris. Its great architectures of stone are not transient: countless eyes have gazed upon them over countless years; men and women and children from all walks … More A fleeting fragment of France
I saw the sea again, today. I heard the roar of the waves, tasted the salt on my tongue, felt the wind in my hair. It had been over two hundred days. The crash of waves on the beach; the cold, salty water that fills your nose and stings your eyes and tangles your hair … More Two Hundred Days
What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees, Up, up it goes, And yet never grows? Gollum in ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R.Tolkien They are still there. They are always there. Only when the clouds come down are they temporarily lost from sight, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Innsbruck is just … More Innsbruck
There were not enough words to describe Russia. They flowed effortlessly onto the page, they overflowed: first onto paper, every day, something of a stream of consciousness; and then onto the screen, this time with structure. I had to limit myself, to choose which of the endless stories to share. On to Austria: a mountain … More Where words and colour were lacking
The child looks up at me, wide-eyed. Never before have I considered myself to be quite so terrifying, but now I find I have to do my best to counter-act this rather unwelcome character trait: I crouch down, take off my sunglasses and introduce myself. ‘What’s your name?’ I ask. A small, somewhat muffled voice … More Only a game
I could manage one child. Three was a little tiring, as they spent most of their time falling over. But twelve? How am I supposed to keep control of twelve children on skis? As it turned out, I didn’t have any choice. I counted them once, twice before we set off; I counted them in … More What the doctor ordered
Are you looking forward to going home? I can’t count the number of times I was asked this question before leaving Russia, and every time I wondered whether to give the easy, non-committal answer or to explain the whole story. I inevitably encountered surprise when I said that I wasn’t going home for another seven … More Home?
No stocking. No tree with tinsel. No roast dinner. Is this really Christmas? Not as I knew it, perhaps. Christmas was beautiful in Tomsk. Ice-skating on a lake at night, Christmas trees on every square (or rather, New Year’s trees – a relic of Soviet times when religion was forbidden), hoards of ice sculptures. Walking … More Christmas!
It’s over. I have returned west. One hundred days in Russia comes hand in hand with one hundred stories to tell; and yet no hundred thousand words could do justice to the country and its people. Still, I would like to give you one more snapshot of Siberia, before we travel together through Moscow to … More One Hundred Days