Babushkas of Chernobyl by Holly Morris Showing in London This Weekend

Babushkas of Chernobyl by Holly Morris Showing in London This Weekend

A new film directed by Pilot Productions presenter Holly Morris and Pilot Productions director, Anne Bogart, Babushkas of Chernobyl, is screening in London this weekend as part of the Green Caravan Festival.

The documentary follows an unlikely group of rebels as they continue to go about their daily lives in the toxic and lonely environment. These women defiantly cling to their ancestral homeland in Chernobyl’s radioactive Exclusion Zone while most of their neighbours have long since fled and their husbands have gradually died off.

The film depicts the zone’s scattered ghost villages, now silent, eerie and contaminated. Many villages have eight or 12 babushkas, or babas – the Russian and Ukrainian words for “grandmother” – still living in them.


Why do they insist on living on farms that the Ukrainian government and radiation scientists have deemed uninhabitable? How do they manage to get by, isolated, in an abandoned landscape guarded by soldiers and rife with wild animals? How has the radiation affected them these past 29 years?

“Starvation is what scares me, not radiation,” says resident Hanna Zavorotyna. That stark choice reveals the incredible journey that the women have traveled: from Stalin’s enforced famines in the 1930s, through Nazi occupation, to nuclear disaster.

Like the wolves, moose, wild boar and other wildlife not seen for decades that have come back to the abandoned forests around Chernobyl, the women of the Exclusion Zone have an extraordinary story of survival, and offer a dark yet strangely affirming portrait of post-apocalyptic life.

Directed and produced by: Anne Bogart + Holly Morris
Runtime: 72′
Year: 2015
Country: USA

The film is screening this weekend at the Frontline Club in Paddington, London as part of the Green Caravan Film Festival, a nomadic film festival focussing on environmentally and socially conscious films.

The Soul of Aleppo – The Ancient Souk

The Soul of Aleppo – The Ancient Souk
Originally posted to Flickr by Anas.A at
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and one of the oldest in the world, is no stranger to war and destruction.  Most recently, at the end of September 2012, much of the ancient, covered souk, extending 13 kilometres long and known to many as “The Soul of Aleppo,” is now a shell of its former bustling self after a fire destroyed the medieval buildings which once housed hundreds of  shops as the armed groups of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Arab Army fought for control of the city.

The souk, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was often recognized as being one of the most beautiful in the world and contained over 1500 shops with countless amounts of items, from spices, oils and dyes, to jewellery, silk, precious metals and everything in between.  Not only was the souk popular with the locals, but it was also a must see on many travellers’ itineraries.

Visiting Aleppo at this time is highly discouraged.  However, before the seemingly endless fighting and senseless fire that set the bazaar and surrounding monuments ablaze, the Pilot team travelled to this fascinating city to see the brighter, more vibrant days of Aleppo.

Holly Morris filming Globe Trekker Syria

Holly Morris filming in Syria – click on the Image to watch the Behind the Scenes filming on location in Syria

Host and traveller, Holly Morris, was fortunate enough to have Aleppo on her Syria itinerary.  Holly experienced the rich history and exquisite beauty that the trading centre represented, first-hand.  Through the alleys, stone archways and colossal wooden doors, rows of vendors were plentiful, one selling gold, another of fresh meat, textiles and even a pharmacy were permanent fixtures here, some dating back as far as the 13th Century. Holly also explored the Citadel, an ancient landmark and one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.  She then went on to visit the city of Apamea, the Dead Cities, Saladin’s Castle and eventually makes her way to capital, Damascus.

The Ancient Citadel of Aleppo – Outside its main entrance

Although the enormous destruction in Aleppo is beyond comprehension, it is still possible to rebuild and repair what has been obliterated in the flames.  It comes at no small cost, estimated at millions of dollars, but hopefully the Souk of Aleppo can flourish again and represent the city and its rich part in history that it once did.


Hryvnia vs. Kopiyoks?

Hryvnia vs. Kopiyoks?


The currency of Ukraine is the “Hryvnia“…

100 Hryvnia

… but  how many “Kopiyoks” are there in a Hryvnia?

10 Kopiyok coins

Main Image: Ukrainian Currency, Sharon Hahn Darlin, Flickr Creative Commons

News Flash: Chicken Kiev Not Particularly Ukrainian

News Flash: Chicken Kiev Not Particularly Ukrainian

Now my knowledge of Ukrainian culture has been reduced by half.  Apparently, this dish of exploding breaded chicken breast is only served to tourists who demand it, because somehow, somebody started a worldwide rumour that this is what people eat in Ukraine.

Only 2 more days to go until I find out the truth about Ukrainian national food preferences. If any of you know who started the Chicken Kiev myth, please let me know.

Chicken Kiev