Cape Verde: Santiago

I finally ended three years without overseas travel with a trip to Cape Verde. This island nation sits in the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Senegal, Africa.

European holidaymakers are familiar with the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, which offer sunshine and relaxation in the depths of winter. But I decided to venture beyond the resorts.

I flew from Manchester to the capital city Praia via Lisbon in Portugal. So how was the island of Santiago, my first stop? It’s the biggest and most populous of Cape Verde, but does that always mean the best?… READ MORE BELOW

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My home in Santiago was a beachside area to the south of Praia, which sits on a lofty plateau. A picturesque lighthouse, seaside strolls and decent restaurants were close to the comfortable Hotel Oasis Atlantico Praiamar.

Cape Verde’s capital is the seat of government and bustles with life. But it doesn’t pack the punch of another city in the archipelago which I visited later on during my stay.

A road trip around Santiago reveals an island dripping with attractions, from its epic mountain interior to amazing views over the city of Assomada.

Cidade Velha, the former colonial capital of Cape Verde, boasts historical ruins and charming island architecture.

Pretty bays nestle in the north around Tarrafal and valleys lush with banana plantations stand out in these often arid, volcanic islands. 

Santiago was the first of four islands I visited on my trip and was a good introduction to Cape Verde beyond the sun lounger. Would its smaller neighbours make a bigger impression? You’ll have to wait and see!

The flag of Cape Verde flying above the capital city Praia

A very large Cape Verde flag flies over Praia

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Arctic Manchester

How’s the weather where you live today? January has been mostly grey, miserable and sodden here in Manchester.

But in December there was a prolonged blast of frozen weather with bone-bitingly chilly temperatures.

The city turned into a different place, with stellar light throwing out glossy blues, industrial plumes of steam and strong reflections in still waters.

I spent a day with photographer William Perugini on his first visit to Manchester. It was a very cold, productive day filled with Arctic magic.

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7 moments of 2022

2022 will soon be consigned to history. It was a year when Covid restrictions palpably melted away, although overseas travel remained elusive for me. 

But I visited many places closer to home in Manchester, and the photographs flowed. I’ve picked seven moments that made new memories – and revived old ones. A Happy New Year to you all!

What were your standout moments of 2022? Feel free to comment below.


In August I visited Norfolk in East Anglia, with an emotional stop in the market town of Wymondham, my home for much of the 1990s. The seaside town of Cromer – also with personal connections – was sun-kissed and photogenic.


Cromer pier in Norfolk at dusk


In 2022 I finally dealt with my distaste for smartphone photography, exploring Manchester gathering images for Instagram Stories. This included the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June and her sad passing three months later.


Floral tributes for Queen Elizabeth II in St Ann's Square, Manchester


In March, I went to the famous Lancashire seaside resort of Blackpool – and kept going. The nearby towns of Cleveleys and Fleetwood served up sea paths, giant seashells and even a touch of Brutalism.


Concrete seating on the beach at Cleveleys in Lancashire


The temperatures soared in summer, so what better time to visit RHS Bridgewater in Salford, a sumptuous public garden encompassing both the old and new. A great place to have just half-an-hour from Manchester city centre.


A bed of pink alium flowers at RHS Bridgewater in Salford


My break on the Yorkshire coast was a highlight of the year. Using only public transport, I visited four seaside gems and was largely blessed with glorious weather. Having visitor magnet Whitby to myself at daybreak was very special.


A colourful row of huts at Whitby beach in North Yorkshire


I discovered Entwistle Reservoir near Bolton on a fog-bound winter’s day, a place of water, forests and a magnificent railway viaduct. I went back at the height of our hot summer and found it very different – see for yourself.


Railway viaduct at Entwistle Reservoir on a foggy winter's day


This was my first trip to the West Yorkshire village of Howarth, made famous by the Brontë sisters and their literary classics including Wuthering Heights. An incredibly atmospheric graveyard and beautiful location made this a day out to remember.


A gravestone in the cemetery at Howarth in West Yorkshire

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Wirral at high tide

November in the UK can be dank and turgid. When a day of bright blue skies was forecast, I booked a train to the Wirral, one of my favourite coastal spots. Enjoy the photos and read more below

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West Kirby is the last stop on the Wirral shuttle from Liverpool. It boasts a large marine lake, islands in the estuary and acres of sky.

But this day was different from previous visits. The tide swell was unusually high, filling the Dee estuary next to the peninsula.

Nearby Caldy Beach was underwater so I took the cliff path and enjoyed the views and winter sunshine.

After I headed back to West Kirby, the pathway which rings the Marine Lake was resurfacing. But my walk resulted in a pair of wet shoes and sodden socks!

Since that day Manchester has been cloaked in a blanket of dense cloud and is feeling truly wintry. Maybe some cheery, warm Christmas lights will provide respite from the gloom.

Boats on the Dee Estuary between Wales and the Wirral peninsula

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A glimpse of Brontë country

Haworth is a picturesque Yorkshire village famous for being the home of literary giants the Brontës.

It’s a train and bus ride away from my home in Manchester, and I paid a visit on a sunny autumn day.

Enjoy the photographs and read more below

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When you arrive in Howarth on the Brontë bus from Hebden Bridge you’re drawn up hilly Main Street, lined with dark stone cottages and a plethora of shops and eating stops for visitors.

At the top of the hill is the little parish church and parsonage, home to the Brontë family and the sisters who penned Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre among others there.

Howarth Parsonage, home of the Brontës

The Brontës lived at Howarth Parsonage

The graveyard is filled with old headstones and was intensely atmospheric yet peaceful under the dappled autumn sunlight.

It’s impossible not to contemplate where the Brontës trod and what their lives were like in this remote place.

There are various pathways leading out of the village and to the beautiful surrounding countryside. You can take a lengthy hike to the Brontë waterfall or a gentler meander to Howarth viewpoints like I did.

A last essential stop was a delicious plate of pie and chips at The Fleece Inn, one of Howarth’s surprisingly numerous pubs.

The village is a real mecca for literary types and casual tourists alike and can get very busy. A weekday out of season would be my tip for a contemplative, memorable visit.

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