Pearl of the Adriatic

The ancient city of Dubrovnik needs little introduction. It’s Croatia’s coastal gem and provides some of the backdrop for TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones. There is a lot crammed into a relatively small space – rambling orange rooftops, grand churches and sleepy back streets. 

Good weather brings the crowds to this infinitely explorable place, so my advice is to start out early to walk the old ramparts, and climb up away from the main thoroughfares. But it’s a visitor magnet, so be prepared for the throngs. You should also see the city’s port area, just a bus ride away from the old town. It’s very easy to get snap happy in Dubrovnik, but if you can, take a step back and just enjoy this wonder.


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End of the Wirral

This memorable day trip started with a train from Manchester to Liverpool and then my first ride on the ‘Scouse Metro’ which takes you beneath the Mersey to Birkenhead and deeper into the Wirral peninsula. At the end of the line is the town of West Kirby.

It sits on the estuary of the River Dee as it flows into the Irish Sea, with the north Wales coast across the water. But for much of the day there’s little water as the tide is out, creating a vast expanse of open sand. This was a day of rain and leaden skies, making the sense of space even greater.

West Kirby also has a marine lake circled by a road – a natural place for walks. It adds to the sense of place in this distant part of a great northern peninsula.


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Metal trees

I went to the very outskirts of Greater Manchester looking for old mills, green hills and waterways. This was an unexpected bonus, found along the canal near the town of Stalybridge. An electricity substation bristles with pylons – there’s even one that straddles the canal. I’ve never been so close to one before.

They scared and fascinated me as a child with their different shapes and command of the countryside. They may be blots on the landscape, but this close encounter made me appreciate their intricate form and structure. But always keep your distance and never be tempted to clamber up.


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Fuji on the go

My family of cameras has expanded again. This time I’ve invested in a little sibling for my trusty compact system workhorse, the Fuji X-E1.

Little is the crucial world. The Fuji x100T has a fixed 23mm lens and is much lighter than its big brother. My regular camera takes up an entire backpack and doesn’t go with my everywhere.

One evening returning late from work, I got off the tram and was greeted with a stunning sunset pierced with cranes and high rises of urban Manchester. My phone camera is substandard at the best of times and couldn’t cope. I had to leave the sunset to melt away, uncaptured. 

I thought it was high time to have a decent camera to slip into my work bag and be ready for those moments. Fuji has greatly pleased me for nearly six years, so I turned to them and settled on an X100T. This was a cheaper option as it’s already been succeeded by the X100F but there’s still new stock to be had.

I expected a lot of familiarity and wasn’t disappointed, but things have moved on from my X-E1 and the menus and functions took some exploration. I also had trouble getting the electronic viewfinder properly calibrated so preview and finished shot matched up.

Teething troubles aside, working with this little one is fairly simple in my preferred manual mode. The aperture control on the lens can be a bit fiddly, as I’m more used to a chunky lens to adjust. The complete absence of zoom capability is at times an issue, but you have to adapt your photography.

But it’s a nifty little operator and the initial results prove that it has Fuji pedigree that I’ve grown to love a great deal, while having a camera close by much of the time is a huge advantage.

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Stately Cheshire

Tatton Park is a grand mansion with sumptuous grounds which was once home to a very privileged family. But these days, it attracts thousands of visitors and is an excellent day trip from Manchester. 

There are formal gardens, water features and even an old potting shed to explore, while an orchid show was a dazzling side attraction. The house is exquisitely decorated. Photography is permitted but the light is kept very low, which may have proved to be an unexpected advantage…


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