“The Rinpoche Bagsha temple crackled with the deep murmur of Buddhist prayer. Under the warm gaze of a golden cross-legged Buddha, eight monks in crimson robes sat at a low table in the centre of the room, ethereal chants bursting from their throats. A bell tinkled. During the final prayer the congregation, squeezed together on benches close to the monks, picked up parcels of food and waved them in front of themselves in clockwise circles. The bell tinkled one last time”. … More Letter from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia, Siberia) – for Russia Beyond
The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2021 includes a piece that I wrote for its ‘Cricket Round The World’ section, about how the game is becoming known in two far-flung corners of Russia.
Being a lifelong cricket fan, I’m thrilled that my article (on page 815) is in such exalted company. Following the Notes by the Editor Lawrence Booth, the 2021 Wisden features essays by Gideon Haigh, Matthew Engel, Ebony Rainsford-Brent and James Anderson. … More Cricket in Russia: Some writing in the 2021 Wisden Almanack
After two years studying in England I thought my Russian was fluent. Trying to talk to people in Yaroslavl I quickly realised I understood almost nothing. The teachers at the school got me speaking with more confidence, and I topped up my vocab by listening to Yulia Savicheva and Zemfira on my walkman as I wandered through the streets. I spent a lot of time wandering: at home Tamara Aleksandrovna, the formidable babushka whose spare room I slept in, fed me spaghetti with tangerines in warm milk, and once cut my bath towel into pieces. … More How Russians changed my life – for Russia Beyond
*** JC: This story ‘Wonder and reflection in the Russian Arctic’ was published in the December 2020 issue of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s magazine, The Geographer. The Royal Scottish Geographical Society is a fantastic organisation; learn more about the RSGS on its website, and read previous editions of The Geographer online here. *** I … More Wonder and reflection in the Russian Arctic
St. Petersburg is a gorgeous – and surprisingly boisterous – city full of mesmerising art, impressive history, and unforgettable hospitality. It is one of the world’s great cities. But a trip to Russia can still seem daunting. Luckily for travellers for whom the Winter Palace, Hermitage Museum and Mariinsky Theatre have felt out of reach, Europe’s fourth-largest city is becoming much more accessible. … More 2021 travel guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
About half an hour outside Ulan-Ude is a vast forest park, dotted with model villages, representing the traditional cultures of the peoples who live in this part of Siberia – the Buryats, Evenks and Old Believers. The park is called the Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of Transbaikalia, but it is more than a museum. … More The prize-winning camel of Ulan-Ude