How long have you been here for?
Iâve been here for about a year and eight months. Before then I came for four days to look at a school for my son. I have three gorgeous daughters Yasmin, Farah and Soraya, who are in the UK, and a gorgeous son, Guy, who is just 7 years old, and here with us in Moscow. We moved here because my husband was posted here, to the British Embassy.
You are a lawyer, do you have a family background in Law?
Yes, my father was a barrister and a QC, and we have seven lawyers in my family. Iâve been in England for 30 years. Like my father, I attended Kings College London in 1986, was awarded a Masters degree in law, and have worked as a lawyer in London since then. My daughter Yasmin, went to Kings College and my great grandfatherâs brother studied Medicine at Kings College in the late 1800s.
How did you feel about moving to Moscow?
I was very apprehensive. I was worried about the weather, about everything. But now I have lived here for a while I have to say that this is one of those amazing cities that far outweigh any negativity about it, this is my experience. I canât get enough of it. I canât tell you how amazing the friendships are that I have had since I have been here. It has been very heart warming.
Two weeks after I arrived, I was at the supermarket in Kievskaya, I went with my daughter, and we were full of concerns about what to expect. We were trying to find our way around the store, and working out what to buy and were looking at vegetables, when this elderly lady tapped me on the shoulder, and I thought, âhere we go!â Then she started speaking animatedly in Russian, and showing me where to choose better looking vegetables. She held my hand, and guided me to a section where there were better looking tomatoes. She selected the most amazing plum tomatoes and weighed them, and gave them back to me. I just looked at her and thought: âI didnât expect that.â That was the first incident that made me think, Moscow is really not what I have been told to think it is. From then on I have only met wonderful people. One Russian shop worker friend even knitted me some mittens as a Christmas present. It was very touching and completely unexpected.
So now I have some good friends here, and we have such a laugh together. For example, when I go off to the Arbat, there is a Russian lady who works in one of the kiosks who I have become friendly with. She loves to tell me what I think must be the gossip. I have no idea what she is saying most of the time, but in a way it doesnât matter because there is a language of laughter and love, which I understand. She once asked me if I will take a selfie with her and I agreed. She invited me into her kiosk, brought out a palette of make up and we had so much laughter getting ready to take that photo together. A few weeks ago, I had some friends over, and we went on a walk down the Arbat, and my daughter said: âmummy, thereâs a lady calling out to youâ, my Irish friend was rather surprised as we went off together, talking and laughing to each other. I have made another good friend, from the Caucuses, who doesnât get a lot of time off work, and I was surprised how little she knew about the culture around her. So I took her to the theatre, as she told me she has never been to a theatre before. We saw âSinging In The Rainâ together. She loved it! We went to Novo Devichi convent together and have been to Tsaritsino together. We link up every couple of weeks and do something interesting or just have a meal together. I have learnt a lot about Kyrgistan from her.
What else do you do here?
I do my writing. I wrote my first childrenâs book before I came here, and I have started a second one here. Actually, I lost my mum in 2013, and I needed an outlet for the grief I felt. My daughters convinced me to start writing for children as they always loved the stories I made up to them when they were young. Thatâs how I found a passion for childrenâs writing.
My first book is entitled Mrs Lovelyday & Darcy. I used to take my daughters for walks in a lovely lane in suburbia, and we often walked by a little cottage with a yellow door. And I said: âI wonder what goes on behind that doorâ¦â and that was the idea behind my first book. I started writing my second book âHester the Hamsterâ while sitting at a farmhouse shop in Ware, Hertfordshire while my daughter Soraya was taking exams for her boarding school. We came over to Moscow not long after that, and I carried on, perfecting it. I self-published on Amazon and it went it went to the number two in its category for childrenâs books, which was quite a surprise. A friend suggested that I do audio books, and that has worked really well. I have done a couple of readings in the international schools here. I have a third book as well, which is almost finished. Once I have done these three books, I shall take a break from childrenâs writing.
Do you work here as a lawyer?
No, I am unable to.
Are you worried that taking a long break might adversely affect youâre a career?
Itâs a double-edged thing. Personally for me as a lawyer, Iâve been qualified now since 1999, thatâs 17 years, and I am really enjoying this break. It has been wonderful to be released from constant pressure and stress. I can feel the stress that my daughter is experiencing, as she works towards qualifying as a Barrister. I donât regret having made the decision to have this kind of break at all.
Do you think that understanding Russian culture makes it more possible to understand where Russians are coming from?
Yes completely, and it makes me like them all the more. I have a better understanding of Russia. This is a very cultured city, a place of depth. I see Russians as extraordinary people, having gone through what they have gone through over the years. I like the sense of tradition here, I love the way that youngsters look like youngsters.
You go to the galleries, and the Metros stations for example and the elderly are visible working. I went to the Novo Devichi convent, and the older woman could not tell us enough, they are a wealth of information. The older women are carriers of culture and one respects them. I love to see them holding their childrenâs hands coming back from school. Maybe I have a blinkered view about it, but what I see is something that is lost in many countries today.