British-based writer with a passion for sport and travel, music and photography. Proud dad, exploring the world anew through the eyes of a forthright toddler.
Come for the beer, but what about the community?
With Britain’s coronavirus lockdown coming to an end, more and more pubs are talking up the possibility of pulling pints once again after July 4. Welcome as that news is, though, it is far from clear what a post-COVID pub might look like. For many publicans, there’s still some way to go before a ‘new normal’ can be ready.
Where help and hope are on the menu
Not every café is the same. On Chester-le-Street High Street, REfUSE has established itself as a hub in this County Durham market town. The café has a special ethos – combating food waste by rescuing ingredients rejected by retail and creating a vibrant community space in the town centre. That usually makes it a bustling hub, with live music and open mic nights adding to a winning recipe, and all on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis.
Moscow's problematic statues
You can still find statues of Stalin in Moscow. Despite the dictator’s abrupt fall from Soviet grace during the Khrushchev thaw, those familiar moustaches (in Russian, a moustache is invariably plural) can be spotted where the city’s latte-swilling hipsters come to play. The Muzeon complex is firmly established on the city circuit, between the fashionable ‘Red October’ district, a chocolate factory turned creative hub, and Gorky Park, refurbished to its Soviet-era heyday.
Eight hidden gems of the Moscow metro
Moscow’s metro is more than just a mass transit network; with its lavish underground architecture it’s a tourist attraction in its own right. And, with hundreds of stations to visit, there are plenty of overlooked gems down there. Here are eight personal favourites, selected for entirely subjective reasons, that should have you itching to explore the Moscow underground.
From Roker Park to Radio Tirana
Sunderland fans and communist Albania shouldn’t have much in common. Even allowing for the north-east’s left-leaning political reputation, the unreconstructed Stalinism of Enver Hoxha was seldom debated on the terraces. Yet, for a generation of fans clutching crackly radio sets, midway matches meant the Red-and-Whites of Roker were accompanied by the Reds of the Marxist-Leninist vanguard.
Football in Ukraine
To discover a new country without following the Tripadvisor template, ask a football fan. The beautiful game is universal, but exploring the highways and byways of the local championship offers a unique insight into a different – often hidden – world. Just ask Kyiv-based groundhopper Adam Pate, an exiled Sheffield United fan on a mission.
Breaking through barriers
Does reaching out matter? When a sport makes an effort to include a new audience, does it make a difference? It’s easy to be cynical, especially when confronted with Akim Aliu’s stark take-down of racism in hockey or the recent Brendan Liepsics scandal, complete with hints that his comments may be sadly commonplace in pro hockey. Suddenly, all the noble talk about inclusivity can feel like so much window dressing while age-old prejudice lives on.
Britain's 'Miracle on Ice'
It all came to a head 12 months ago. March 20, 2019. Kosice, Slovakia. Great Britain’s ice hockey team was approaching the end of its first World Championship campaign since 1994. The equation was simple. Defeat France, and the Brits would remain in the Elite Pool – something the country hadn’t achieved since 1950. Lose, and it would be a swift return to the second tier.