Notes from the field

Our work takes us all over the world. Here we share some of our more personal perspectives on some of the destinations we have visited, filed on location.


Yerevan: to Russia with love

The statue of Lenin that used to gaze over Yerevan’s imposing Republic Square (then of course Lenin Square) was pulled down in 1990. But to the chagrin of those that hoped an independent Republic of Armenia would gravitate towards Europe, Russian influence is stronger today than at any point since the collapse of the Soviet Union. more >

Waiting for normal

Cairo is quiet. Not just Tahrir Square, the country's most obvious monument to revolution, which remains eerily empty during the day; but all over the city, the streets are strangely empty. more >

A Myanmar souvenir

To find souvenir key-rings, calendars and T-shirts in an airport gift shop is not surprising. more >

How long does it take to get to Indira Gandhi International Airport?

​The answer is of course 25 minutes. Provided you start from The Claridges hotel in Aurangzeb Road and leave at around 4:30am. Then it is pretty plain sailing. There is so little traffic around at that hour that in addition to completing the journey in record time it is also possible to take in some of the extraordinary developments that have taken place in Delhi in recent years. more >

Changing times in Serbia

Driving from the airport into the city centre on an unusually cool August evening, I ask my taxi driver what the hot topics in Serbia are at the moment. Expecting a characteristically impassioned view on the new coalition government or the perennial question of Kosovo’s status, I am given a local version of James Carville’s famous adage, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. more >

Kosovo grapples with transition

On a hot evening in June, Pristina’s main promenade, Mother Teresa Boulevard, has the relaxed, animated atmosphere of a holiday hotspot. Restaurant and bar terraces lining the walkway are full of young people, tanned and dressed in colourful clothes, chatting loudly while sipping local beer or raki. The rest of the city is quiet and peaceful. more >

Steppe change

There’s a sense of youthful excitement about Ulaanbaatar. Propelled by a boom in the mining sector, Mongolia’s capital is growing rapidly, noisily and, in some respects, uncontrollably. more >

Déjà vu in Malta

Fascinating to be back on the ground in Malta, almost 10 years since leaving the country. I was posted here as a diplomat in the late 1990s, in the run up to Malta’s EU accession and the re-establishment of British diplomatic relations with Libya. A decade later, and I am struck by the parallels. more >

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