Spent more time than I wanted in this small blank room at Moscow Domededovo airport yesterday. It is the Consul, on the wrong side of passport control, where I arrived quite late in the evening to be told that my existing work visa (dated to May 2011) was no longer valid; the ins and outs of which are quite dull to recount. After some negotiations and the payment of a new fee I left with a new - single-entry 10 day - work visa. This is because multiple entry work visas are not issued on first entry (despite the fact that my old passport was already filling up with quite a number of multiple entry visas, and I already had a up-to-date visa.) So now another visa will have to be obtained to allow me to stay longer.
I realise this is nothing compared to the Guardian corrrespondent Luke Harding's experiences recently (when he was not only put in a cell but also deported before being allowed back a week later), so I am not complaining, only giving it as an example of some of those 'different' aspects of Russia. Maybe people coming the other way - into England - have similar stories to tell about getting into the UK.
And, mentioning Luke Harding, I am sorry that he and his family are going back to England for now; although this is entirely for selfish reasons as I have still never managed to go on one of Phoebe Taplin's amazing looking walks. I do keep most of the double-page spreads she has written in the Moscow News, suggesting places to go and things to see. She promises to return, so lets hope so.