West Sussex Author Back From Russia With Love
This month is Valentine’s Day, and one West Sussex-based author has returned from Russia with love as he carries on researching for his next book which will feature his travels of the vast country stretching across both Asia and Europe and which will be published later this year as a travelogue.
Travel writer Norman Handy from Horsham, who before becoming a published author worked in financial services has been on his travels again, dusting off his trusty suitcase for a second trip to the world’s largest country by area, Russia for research for a travelogue, the second part of a journey across the land of Putin, Tchaikovsky and vodka.
Norman’s first visit in 2018 saw him travel from the grandeur of the Baltic city of St Petersburg to Murmansk, off the Barents Sea in the far north by train, before travelling down south to Moscow by boat. The second part of the journey in the autumn of last year started in Moscow, the nation’s capital, home to the seat of Russian power, the Kremlin, palaces as well as Orthodox cathedrals.
Speaking about his latest visit, Norman says: “I had a tour of Stalin’s Seven Sisters, tall skyscrapers. The Americans were boasting about the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building and a mass of tall buildings on the New York and Chicago skylines and all that Stalin saw in Moscow were church spires from the old order, so he ordered several skyscrapers.’
“The tallest being the Moscow State University at 240 metres, the tallest building in Europe from its completion in 1953 until 1990. Actually, nine were planned but two were never started. Some of the reinforcing steel had been delivered when the Germans invaded during the Second World War, known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia, so the steel was diverted to the defence of Moscow.”
Norman’s work-in-progress book is entitled White to Black, as in a journey from the White Sea in the north to the Black Sea in Russia’s south, with a publication date scheduled for Autumn this year. From Moscow, Norman visited Volgograd formerly known as Stalingrad where Soviets stood firm against the might of advancing Nazi troops, before Norman arrived in Sochi, home of the Russia Formula One race.
Travelling through Russia presented challenges but as Norman points out it was largely due to timetabling: “It (Russia) has eleven time zones but the relevance of this is that all the trains in Russia run on Moscow time. In order to read the timetable and get to the station on time, you also need to know which time zone you are in and I was already in the next time zone across.”
Not content with an epic journey to Russia, Norman is already planning a trip when every piece of his traveller instinct will come in useful, in April Norman will travel overland for six months where he will visit Poland, Russia, Turkmenistan, China, Nepal to base camp of Everest and back home to the UK in the autumn through India, Pakistan Iran and Turkey.