Since my mother decided to read the collected works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky while she was expecting me, I've had a lifelong interest in Russia. Since 2006 I've been living in the former Soviet Union, in Moscow and Baku. Memorable moments include staging an impromptu cricket match on a Siberian railway platform while waiting for an interminable border crossing, chasing a stray snake from a suburban flat in Azerbaijan and trying to give an interview to a Russian alternative music radio station in the middle of an excellent - but ear-splitting - gig by Nick Cave soundalikes the Decomposers.
If time and money were no object, a perfect day would start with a crisp autumnal sunrise on a quiet beach on the Northumberland coast, followed by a sea-food lunch in Cabados, Galicia. I'd spend afternoon exploring the luxurious Yusupov palace in St Petersburg before stopping off to watch Dynamo Moscow playing hockey and staying up all night in Kitaisky Lyotchik's cellar bar listening to a folk-rock band until the Metro reopens to take me back home.