Jonathan Campion


Jonathan Campion

I am a British translator and travel writer. I now live in London, after working in Ukraine for three years. My blog is a collection of stories about the people and places that have captured my imagination during my travels through Europe - I hope you'll enjoy them.

You can find more of my writing and photography at, and links to my published travel writing here.


Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Westminster February 11th 2012

If you are reading this, it means that you were very kind in subscribing to my blog while I was living and travelling in Ukraine. As you may know, I left Kyiv in 2010 and am now working in London - which, to my great sadness, makes travel impossible. I have had to give up travel writing, but recently started a new blog, called A Brush With Russian, for my friends at the language agency Russian Linguistic Services. It will be all about Russian and other Eurasian languages and culture: you can subscribe to it to learn more about the countries of Eurasia, and share my cultural discoveries from all over the Former Soviet Union. It would be lovely to hear what you think of A Brush With Russian, and your ideas about which countries and ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Victoria October 13th 2011

And so, after years of dreams and snuffed-out plans, I am finally writing about the markets of Central Asia, and being read by tens of thousands of people. But there’s an unsatisfying catch: the markets are the pharmaceutical, financial and energy ones, not ones filled with exotic people and food. The readers are clients of the company that I work for in England. A year and a bit since swapping small, traditional Kyiv for vast and multi-cultural London, my world has never seemed so short of variety. In Ukraine every day was unusual, memorable. I used to type up the eventful parts of my week into a 1,000-word blog; now I can write about 14 months in half as many. I moved to London last autumn to work for a company in Southwark. In order to ... read more
Ana and me.
Ana and me.

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Argyll » Isle of Mull July 16th 2010

A role in Balamory, a BBC children’s programme about a small Scottish community, has seen Tobermory become a popular choice for visitors to Scotland. The real Tobermory, on the north-east tip of Mull, is a lovely place to spend a day or two; it is a small town of friendly people, brightly-coloured craft shops, and cafes that whip locally-caught seafood into delicious meals. It has been my favourite Scottish town since I was a child. While my family stocked up on food in the Co-op supermarket I used to meander from shop to shop, where the gifts were as unmistakeably Scottish as the sea spray blowing across the street outside. This year I took a walk along Main Street with my camera, and tried to capture the harbour’s colour and charm. Tobermory is as unique and ... read more
Tobermory Harbour.
Tobermory Harbour.
Main Street, Tobermory.

Europe » Ukraine » Kyiv May 31st 2010

When Ukraine decides to get on your nerves, it's your ears that suffer first. A day might start with the metallic whistle of a leaky shower, or by switching on the television to silly pop music, or going to work on a grumbling metro train and buses that screech and hiss. Rush hour is at its best a monotonous urban hum, at its worst - a collective grunt. But all of this can be forgiven when Ukraine makes music. Needing to clear my head, I took a Sunday stroll along the most illogical route I could think of: I walked from Pechersky market to the Kyivska Rus cinema, via Bessarabska square, Khreshchatik, Evropeiska square, St. Michael’s cathedral, the outdoor gift and souvenir market on Andriyvskiy Uzviz, Velyka Zhytomyrska and Reitarska streets, Lvivska square and Artema street. ... read more
Khreshchatik fountains.
A view of the city from Park Slavy.
Taras Shevchenko Park.

Europe » United Kingdom » England » East Sussex » Brighton April 30th 2010

The murmur at the train station; £4 baguettes; commuters smiling on their way home; the sea breeze; Brighton and Hove Albion; gastro pubs with enormous sofas; the Laines; shops with naughty names; flip-flops in April; double-decker buses; pretentious delicatessens; Chinese people; personal space; Wai Kika Moo Kau; graffiti and art; seagulls and pigeons; shopkeepers who call you mate. Headscarves worn by women from Palestine; Palestinian scarves worn by maths students from Lewes; smokers; the new library; Seven Dials; fashion consciousness; the beach; recruitment agencies; incense; postcard stands; freedom; brand shops where independent ones used to be; Indian restaurants; "An' I woz like, wh-aaa'?"; feisty tramps; tea houses; Alice Russell and Jehst; Starbucks; Polish people. A couple of familiar faces?; Ugg boots; people speaking central European languages; concert poster... read more
The Royal Pavillion, Brighton

Europe » Ukraine April 6th 2010

Please follow the link on this page to read my article "Orthodoxy In An Eccentric Land" in The Expeditioner travel magazine. .... read more

Europe » Ukraine » Kyiv February 1st 2010

Getting registered to work legally in Ukraine is an infuriating process. Once dozens of documents are filled in, forms are translated and visas are bought, foreigners have to take a series of blood tests. With all the talk of ZhEK, TOV, SPID and OVIR making me irritable, I wondered if one of the tests would reveal an allergy to acronyms. My first appointment was at a poliklinika (clinic) in Lukyanivska. It is a typical Ukrainian public building: brown, sparse and run-down. On the ground floor there is a newspaper stall and a cloakroom, but no reception. I go up to one of the chemists' kiosks and ask a woman in a white coat: "Could you tell me where I need to go for a blood test?" She replies frumpily: "What type of blood test?" - I ... read more
Maidan Nezalezhnosti ('Independence Square').
Chilly night.
St. Michael's Monastery.

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow January 20th 2010

In 2005, for my third year at university, I moved to Russia to study Russian in two towns a few hours north of Moscow. In Yaroslavl I had lived with fractious landladies, glued bushy sideburns to my face to act in a play, spent Friday nights with classmates in a nightclub called Joy Party, and made friends with Georgian and Azeri traders at the town’s clothes market. In Tver I had lived in the university hostel with a dozen warm-hearted Finns. The happy memories were punctuated by being evicted from one apartment, trapped in another, and several bouts of exhausting Russian ‘flu - but the most enduring misfortunes didn’t happen until my last day. It was a warm May evening in 2006, and my second semester had ended the previous day. Instead of flying home when ... read more
The view from the elektrichka.
The view from the elektrichka.
The elektrichka.

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London December 10th 2009

My morning began on one of the platforms at Haywards Heath train station, my head bopping to the Romanian pop music I had downloaded especially the night before and my hands cradling an enormous cup of coffee from the railway café. This year adrenaline has often felt like a hand around my throat, but before a trip to London it sits comfortably in my chest. I was going to London to meet an old friend. I met Cat at university; we both studied in the modern languages department at Exeter but our paths only crossed at the beginning of our fourth year, after we returned from studying abroad. We were asked to talk at a lecture for sixth form students at one of the university's open days: Cat talked enthusiastically about her year in Cordoba, Spain; ... read more
Westminster Abbey
Big Ben and the London Eye
Central London Evening

Europe November 7th 2009

I'm trying to find the right balance between attracting new readers to my blog and annoying existing ones by bombarding them with information about it. If you don't want to receive an email when I publish a new blog, you should be able to unsubscribe from it just by clicking on a link within the email from TravelBlog. J.... read more
Pigeon, Kyiv.
Pigeon, Kyiv.

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