The Lonely Planet once said about Tyumen “if you’re travelling through the area, just continue and visit Tobolsk instead.” Well, screw you Lonely Planet – Tyumen is lovely. Ok, I know you might be thinking I am a touch biased given that this is where I have built my life with my family, but I’m serious when I say this city is a truly undiscovered gem. Like any place, there are unpleasant areas that I’d rather not visit too often, and not every person on the street is the most pleasant individual, but the whole is something wonderful when you take the time to build a relationship with it.

It has a fascinating history. Founded in 1586, it was the first permanent Russian settlement in Siberia when Yermak arrived over the Ural mountains – something locals are rightly proud of – and during the Nazi’s advance on Moscow in the Second World War Lenin’s body was moved to the city for safekeeping. One of the greatest American songwriters of all time, Irving Berlin, was born in the city in 1888 (three years after the Trans Siberian Railway was constructed) when it was little more than a regional outpost of 30,000. In more modern times it has become the centre of oil production which has seen it explode into a city of nearly 800,000 people, while more recent public figures as 2008’s Miss World Ksenia Sukhinova and double Olympic gold medal-winning biathlete Anastasia Kuzmina add a touch of glamour and fame to the list of inhabitants.

I don’t intend to attempt a historical, political of social commentary on any grand scale on these pages, but what I do want to offer is a glimpse at a more personal and unseen side of Russia. On this page, you will be able to find pictures of my favourite parts of the city, perhaps some snippets of incidents I remember fondly, and news relating the city and region.

Don’t believe everything you’ve read about this country – I promise it will pleasantly surprise you.