Spring has sprung

Spring has arrived with bursts of life everywhere and carpets of new flowers. CONTINUES BELOW

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Here in Manchester city centre, little local havens including Parsonage Gardens are a riot of bright yellow daffodils.

A spell of warm sunshine coincided with a relaxation of Covid lockdown restrictions, so I finally travelled beyond the city limits to Dunham Massey in Cheshire. 

Its beautiful grounds boast many varieties of narcissus, the first flush of tulips and Spring shoots.

Then the weather took a cold wintry turn, even with snow flurries. Let’s hope the blooms weren’t too shocked either…

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Little bits of Manchester

Living in a big city centre like Manchester during lockdown isn’t always easy. I’ve been craving countryside and coast, even growing tired of the usual urban views here.

So on a series of walks with my camera, I stopped looking upwards and searched for details that you might take for granted.

If you know Manchester and recognise any of these fragments and their locations, please leave a comment. In times like these, the little things can really help.

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The life of tulips

Tulips are an irresistibly favourite flower of the Spring season. It’s hard not to love their cheerful blooms in a whole spectrum of colours.

I recently came home with a rainbow bouquet and bunch of “rhubarb and custard” blooms. 

It was hard to resist photographing them in their prime. But as the flowers withered and petals dropped, I found them even more compelling.

Flowers in death are as beautiful as when they’re freshly picked. What do you think?

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Five dream countries for your travel wish list

Travelling abroad has been seriously impacted by the pandemic. Under current coronavirus restrictions here in the UK, overseas holidays are effectively banned.

But a long-term plan to ease lockdown holds a glimmer of hope that the travel ban could be lifted by mid-May at the earliest. 

The announcement of a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown saw a huge spike in holiday bookings despite no firm decision being taken on international travel.

I’ll be pleased to enjoy a day trip to the seaside but still dream of exotic, thrilling destinations. Hopefully these five adventurous country ideas will fuel your wanderlust and at some point become reality.


This Balkan nation is very close to tourism hotspots Greece and Italy, but remains more or less unknown. Albania has all the landscape you could possibly want to explore, from the rugged mountains of Valbona to a relatively unspoilt Adriatic coastline. Its towns and cities are a wealth of architecture and history to keep you enthralled. 

Unique selling point: Albania was an isolationist communist country from 1945-91. This fascinating legacy is still very much there to be explored. TAP/CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE ON ALBANIA

Sunset at Skanderbeg Square, Tirana, Albania

Sunset on Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square


A fascinating African country that prides itself for never having become a European colony. Ethiopia has wonderfully rugged and carefully cultivated landscapes alike, and ancient monuments built on its Coptic heritage. There is wildlife to spot and bustling towns to explore and experience.

Unique selling point: Ethiopia’s people. Proud, resourceful and curious. It’s impossible to visit without meeting several along the way. TAP/CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE ON ETHIOPIA

Two Ethiopian men take in the view over countryside near Lalibela

Ethiopian men take in the view near Lalibela


This is your long haul option to a South America which is less samba and tropical rain forest, but a vast country studded with staggering scenery and a people who made their mark on some extreme terrain. Chile is a place to indulge in some pretty full-on landscape photography while air travel is like hopping on a local bus.

Unique selling point: Chile’s geography gives it everything, from searing red desert, magnificent mountains and tundra, and even a Pacific Ocean idyll. TAP/CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE ON CHILE

The Torres del Paine mountains of southern Chile

The Torres del Paine mountains of southern Chile


This corner of the Arabian Peninsula is arid and mountainous in equal measure. Oman is a more traditional society than its neighbours, studded with forts, sandstone-coloured towns and the low-level whitewash of the capital Muscat. With a long, beautiful coastline, you can also relax at a number of stylish resorts.

Unique selling point: It’s not Dubai and is pleasingly restrained. TAP/CLICK IMAGE FOR MIDDLE EAST TRAVEL IDEAS

Minaret and fort wall in Oman

Oman is rich in traditional Islamic architecture


This small nation in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains has had a very long and at times troubled history which you will begin to understand when you’re there. The landscape is stunning and peppered with ancient churches and monasteries which are haunting and mystical. Armenia’s capital Yerevan doesn’t feel like any other European city.

Unique selling point: The old is very much alive and kicking here and the hospitality will delight. TAP/CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE ON ARMENIA

Light coming through a church dome in Armenia

Armenia is a country of ancient spirituality

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