The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games

South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, a superstar in her homeland, will be competing for the last time at the age of 23. Contenders at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games come mainly from the traditional medal-hungry nations – Canada, Germany, the USA, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland topped the table in 2010 – but athletes from some snow-starved parts of the world are also making their way to Sochi. This year there will be competitors from Brazil, Cyprus, the Philippines… and even the tiny kingdom of Tonga. … More The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games

A travel guide to Kazan (Tatarstan, Russia) for The Calvert Journal

Created by Tatars, evolved by khans, tsars and Russians, and invigorated by cosmopolitan leaders over the last ten years to attract visitors from near and far; it would be passé to describe the centre of Tatarstan as a “melting pot”, were that not the meaning of Qazan, the word the Tatars chose for their town. Distant and accessible, Russian and Muslim, with spotless avenues and open spaces to complement its cultural credentials, Kazan is a treat to explore. … More A travel guide to Kazan (Tatarstan, Russia) for The Calvert Journal


I had a month to teach three Russians, a Ukrainian, a Bulgarian, a Slovenian and a Vietnamese – four lads and three ladies, none of whom had ever played before – how to bat, bowl and field. Finding time to practice together was difficult (I am surely the first captain to cancel a net because my best bowler was in Magnitogorsk), but three lunchtimes a week I took a Kwik Cricket set to London’s Regent’s Park, and made everyone try each of the skills. My teammates’ enthusiasm never wilted: anglophiles all, they threw themselves into the challenge of a complicated English game. … More FROM RUSSIA WITH STUMPS

Elektrichka Shock: Escape From Moscow

In 2005, for my third year at university, I moved to Russia to study Russian in two towns a few hours north of Moscow. In Yaroslavl I had lived with fractious landladies, glued bushy sideburns to my face to act in a play, spent Friday nights with classmates in a nightclub called Joy Party, and made friends with Georgian and Azeri traders at the town’s clothes market. In Tver I had lived in the university hostel with a dozen warm-hearted Finns. … More Elektrichka Shock: Escape From Moscow