South African beauties

The Protea is South Africa’s national flower. There was no better place to see them than on a recent visit to the wonderful city of Cape Town.

The botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch have the most amazing backdrop of one side of Table Mountain, boasting a treetop canopy walk among its acres of well-manicured grounds.

I made a beeline for the Protea garden with my macro lens, realising there are numerous varieties of the plant, beautiful with blooms and after they’re gone.


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Cape Town’s botanical gardens have a majestic mountain backdrop

Welcome to Ethiopia

This was my first taste of sub-Saharan Africa and I was a little apprehensive before departing.

I chose Ethiopia because of its unique place on the continent – the only ancient country never to have been truly colonised by Europeans.

A lot of the ancient culture still stands in the guise of rock-hewn churches and magnificent castles. Add in some spectacular landscape and you have somewhere well worth visiting.

Ethiopia is a developing country which takes some getting used to. But the odd hotel shower that doesn’t work is part of the experience. 

Most of all it’s a proud, bustling nation that’s a long way from the harrowing images of famine we witnessed in the 1980s.

I’ll revisit Ethiopia soon with a post about its people.


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My mum the photographer

It’s a year to the day since my Mum died at the age of 86. Her passing has prompted a lot of tumultuous change, and no day has gone by without connecting to her memory. I brought home a small plastic box, packed with little black and white snapshots. I sifted through them, finding photographs of familiar family faces from a long gone era.

It didn’t take me long to realise that many of these images were Mum’s work. During the 1950s she took portraits of the important people in her life, including family and even boyfriends who preceded my late Dad. She was also happy to have the camera turned on herself in an era long before the selfie.

So why should it have come as a surprise? During my childhood it was Dad who purchased numerous cameras and took all the holiday photos. Mum was befuddled by complicated machines and consequently dismissed as unable to take a shot.

This little box of pictures reveals that it was Mum who may have possessed the natural flair to use a camera – the simple Box Brownie she mentioned on rare occasions. Dad, an engineer by training with a practical brain, loved the complex workings of cameras and would spend hours studying instruction manuals and fiddling with their controls.

Kitchen Sink, a beautiful shot of everyday life in fifties Britain

Portraits of my maternal grandparents, taken by Mum

Mum left behind thousands of photographs, but this small collection are the only ones which suggest she enjoyed using her own camera on a regular basis. Perhaps life changed after she married in 1957 and there was no longer space for photography. I regret that I didn’t unearth these photos and talk to her about them while she was still here.

As everyone knows, photographs hold cherished memories and in this case, unexpected insights into the long life of a loved one. I’m not at home for the anniversary, but putting this together will help me to remember a very important person.

Mum, taken by me in December 2012

Cuban candids

I’m a reluctant portrait and street photographer. But a recent trip to the revolutionary island of Cuba pushed me into unusual territory.

This Caribbean land mass has a large and engaging population. The warm climate means that life often takes place outdoors. People gather in city squares and on street corners, meaning it’s relatively easy to capture images.

My tips for remaining undetected are a good zoom lens and an ability to pretend that you’re taking a photograph of something else. As you can see with some of these images, that didn’t always work.

But if this gives just a hint of the Cuban people’s essence, it was worth the effort.


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Essence of Armenia

This small landlocked country in the Caucusus mountains groans under the sheer weight of its own history.

For the visitor Armenia offers a great deal. It’s studded with ancient monasteries and churches, set in a majestic, rugged landscape.

The experience can be rustic, but the tables are always full of delicious food. And if you’re lucky, you will find a mysticism and spirituality in this ancient land.

Here’s what I found on my Armenian journey…


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