Russian animals in space – for Russia Beyond the Headlines

Follow the link to read my article “Animals in space: What does it take to be tasked with exploring the Universe before humans?” for Russia Beyond The Headlines

Russian animals in space

Travel technologies in Russia – for Russia Beyond The Headlines

Follow the link to read an article I wrote about travel technologies – apps, online communities and resources – for Russia Beyond The Headlines




Cricket in Uzbekistan: some writing for the 2014 Wisden Almanack

Wisden Almanack 2014This year’s Wisden Almanack includes a piece that I wrote for its ‘Cricket Round The World’ section, about Uzbekistan’s first ever cricket tournament.

 It’s been a highlight of my year to write about two things that fascinate me – cricket and the post-Soviet republics – in a book alongside my favourite writers; Wisden 2014 has essays by Gideon Haigh, Ed Smith and its editor Lawrence Booth.

The latest Cricket Round The World comes from Colombia, Hungary, Iran, Nauru and Japan, as well as Uzbekistan and other places. To find out about the games in Tashkent, just send me an email.

There is a now a book of memorable past CRTW stories – Elk Stopped Play.

Also: From Russia With Stumps – my tale of creating London’s Eastern European cricket team.

You can support a children’s charity in Central Asia that I am involved with, HealthProm, by sponsoring me in a 10km run.



My 10km sponsored run for HealthProm

546573_10150823501456186_1626171879_nOn 18 May in London’s Regent’s Park I will be doing a sponsored 10km run for the development organisation HealthProm – wearing a superhero costume as part of the 2014 Superhero Run.

HealthProm is a London-based team, that works to give vulnerable and disabled children in Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe the best start in life. In the Former Soviet Union, where two disabled children every hour are separated from their parents and put in ill-equipped baby homes, HealthProm supports the development of community-based services so that parents can keep their child at home. In Afghanistan, where maternal and infant mortality is one of the highest in the world, they train healthcare staff, and help parents in remote regions to access emergency transport and knowledge so that women can give birth safely.

These causes are very close to my heart; in helping with some of HealthProm’s projects I have seen how dedicated their team is to making vulnerable children’s lives better. And in the parts of the world where they work, a small amount of money really does go a very long way.

You can learn more about HealthProm on their website. Read about the Superhero Run here.

This run is also giving me something to focus my energy on, as I try to get fit for the first time in years. Since beginning training at the start of the year I have lost a stone and a half in weight, my waist is three inches smaller, I have rowed the equivalent of Melbourne to Tasmania and run the same distance as Land’s End to John O’Groats. I’m eating sensibly.

Whether or not I’ll fit into the lycra costume, time will tell…

You can contribute to the money I am raising for HealthProm on my sponsorship page (it’s easy to do). Please also share this page on Facebook and Twitter, via the sharing icons below.

Thank you for your support!


The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

“This year there will be competitors from Brazil, Cyprus, the Philippines… and even the tiny kingdom of Tonga. These Polynesian islands are sending to Russia a luger called Fuahea Semi, who funded his training in Europe by legally changing his name to Bruno Banani – which is the name of the brand of German lingerie that sponsor him”…

My feature on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games is published in the January 2014 edition of Ukraine International Airlines’ “Panorama” magazine. When you click on the link, a page will open with another link to the article in pdf format.

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Rugby in Russia: Russian Bears come in from the cold

On 23 November the Russian rugby team played the USA at the home of London Saracens. Despite a 7 – 28 loss, Russia’s status in world rugby is growing.

Russian rugby fans in London

Russian rugby fans in London

The Bears qualified for the last World Cup in 2011, where they scored three tries in a defeat to Australia, and another against Ireland. Since 2006 they have been ever-present in the top 20 of the IRB world rankings. The 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup was held in Moscow, where both the men’s and women’s teams won games. Russia now has national and regional competitions for rugby union, league and sevens.

The country’s best players are on the books of professional clubs in Britain, and when a player leaves a Russian team, his replacement is often brought in from New Zealand. Surprisingly, Russia’s rugby capital is not Georgian-heavy Moscow, or even French-styled St. Petersburg, but the southern Siberian outpost of Krasnoyarsk – a nondescript industrial town where the country’s two most successful clubs, Yenisey-STM and Krasniy Yar, play their games. The Russian championship, whose 18-game season runs from April to October, also has squads from Moscow, its satellite town of Monino, Kazan in Tatarstan, and Krasnodar in the North Caucasus.

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