Land of fire

This was a fleeting visit to an oil-rich country on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan boasts a showpiece capital in Baku, with contemporary architecture and wide, pleasant boulevards.

Outside of Baku, the country boasts fortresses, ancient rock carvings and plumes of fire from the earth.

But the landscape is sometimes barren and unforgiving, while the opulence and modernity of Baku doesn’t extend much beyond the city.

Here’s what I saw…

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A taste of Greece

It’s taken me a long time to get around to visiting Greece, a favourite of Britons and all tourists alike.

I chose the island of Santorini, famed for its azure seas, cliff-clinging villages and magical sunsets.

It delivered all of this and had a fantastic light for photography.

But I have to be an honest traveller. Santorini is incredibly popular and crawls with visitors. Quad bikes choke the roads and destinations like Oia trap tourists like flies. Departing from the oversubscribed airport can be an uncomfortable experience.

If you want to relax in the Greek islands, choose one of the many others which still enjoy relative anonymity. A lesson learned…

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Manchester haven

Here’s a complaint about Manchester city centre. There just aren’t enough decent green spaces – lungs for the metropolis.

But if you board a tram south to East Didsbury and take a leisurely stroll of around 15 minutes, you will find Fletcher Moss Park.

On a July visit when the weather had turned more unsettled, I was enthralled by the botanical garden, woodlands and the park’s tree-lined avenue.

Who said that Manchester doesn’t have any green havens!

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Welcome to Terceira, one of the islands in Portugal’s beautiful and beguiling Azores archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s steeped in history with the oldest Azorean city, Angra do Heroismo, sitting colourfully on the island.

Memorable moments of Terceira: Walking deep into a volcanic cone (Algar do Carvão), sweeping views over the agricultural plains and visiting grand buildings from Portugal’s imperial past.

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Lilium Asiatica

A magnificent bunch of Asian Lilies. There’s little to match their exuberant beauty and heady perfume that fills a room.

This spray came tightly closed and unfurled over a few days.

They are still displayed on my mother’s memorial table and are a fitting tribute.

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