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.


ALBANIA

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


ETHIOPIA

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


CHILE

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


OMAN

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


ARMENIA

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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Winter gold

The UK winter has been cold with a lot of snow. Thankfully there’s an inexpensive way to bring warmth and colour into your life. READ MORE BELOW


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Cut daffodils are plentiful and cheap in the shops and bring a welcome burst of vibrancy to your home. 

While the UK’s winter coronavirus lockdown continues, photographing these beauties has been an absorbing stay at home project.

I suddenly remembered that I’d captured daffodils back in April when the country first went into lockdown. It seemed deeper and more nerve-jangling than the current one.

This was Easter and we were blessed with warm Spring weather. The shots I created were different to this winter set of gnawing cold and lockdown fatigue. Can you spot the contrasts?

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The January album

January 2021 promised so much, mainly because it wasn’t 2020. But the UK has been plunged into further lockdown restrictions to battle a more infectious strain of coronavirus.

A rapidly rising death toll and widespread closures in the middle of winter are doing nothing to bolster hope and good cheer.

I have remained close to home here in Manchester city centre. Going far isn’t an option, while overseas travel remains off the table.

Photographing snowy weather, park life, some of Manchester’s new architecture and indoor blooms have been the hallmarks of a cold, introspective and at times gloomy January. How has the start of 2021 been for you?


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15 beautiful views to take you higher

Another coronavirus lockdown has made the world shrink again. In Manchester city centre I’m surrounded by buildings and take only familiar urban walks. 

Are you also yearning for open spaces? How about clambering up hills to enjoy impressive views? Here are 15 memorable vistas I’ve collected on my travels. Let’s hope it’s easier to enjoy them again before too long.


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