The north in bloom

I’ve taken a year-long career break and have spent several months travelling. But it’s also a great opportunity to be at home and have the freedom to enjoy what’s nearby.

On a recent spell of warm, Spring weather I visited Dunham Massey, a National Trust property close to Manchester. The expectation was a carpet of bluebells, but instead there was a vibrant display of tulips.

I was using my secondary, more portable Fuji and finally cracked its macro capabilities. Back at home I continued my shoot with some leftover blooms and new plants on the balcony. Maybe there’s truth in the old adage that home’s best…

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Distant Chile is the longest nation on Earth, snaking its way down the side of South America. Its geography is monumentally diverse, starting in the north with the Atacama Desert.

This is the most otherworldly and magical place on Earth that I’ve visited. Between the barren, mesmerising landscape there are vast salt pans inhabited by flamingos, geysers which only bubble into life before sunrise, and Martian sunsets cloaking lunar terrain. A photographic spectacle.

Visitors are looked after well in this at times inhospitable place – you can even have drinks to witness the sunset and a hot breakfast rustled out of nowhere to see off the freezing dawn.

It may be a long journey to Chile, but the rewards are there.

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Cape flavours

Cape Town is an excellent place to start your travels around South Africa. I arrived after a tour of amazing Namibia, and it proved to be a tonic after that country’s unrelenting climate and vast desert terrain.

It’s a city that has it all, sitting by the ocean and bounded by a rugged mountain backdrop dotted with breathtaking viewpoints. 

There are also little coastal towns on the Cape Peninsula, beautiful botanical gardens and the irresistibly photogenic neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap. And don’t forget the cute Boulders penguins.

Cape Town is geared up for tourists but it’s plain to see why visitors flock here. It’s well worth following the herd.

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Portraits of Ethiopia

My visit to Ethiopia shattered the 1980s image of an impoverished nation wracked by famine. Today it’s a thriving, bustling place with a population in excess of 100 million people.

It’s very easy to make contact with Ethiopians as a Western visitor – they’re enthusiastic and want to talk to you. Kids are delighted when you take their photograph. Like Cuba, life is lived outdoors in the warm climate, so it’s easy to come away with candid shots.

They’re a proud bunch, with young people taking great pride in their appearance. Their elders are often serene with wisdom-etched faces. If, like me, you tend to shy away from capturing humans, Ethiopia may shift your focus.

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Glorious Georgia

This small country is sandwiched between the Black Sea and Caucasus Mountains and packs a punch way beyond its size.

Georgia is steeped in history and studded with impressive monasteries, richly decorated churches and rustic castles. Combine that with its mountainous terrain, and you have the real Game of Thrones country.

Its attractive capital Tbilisi bristles with life and energy – definitely worth considering as a long weekend destination.

Unlike its historically introspective neighbour Armenia, Georgia looks to Europe for its future destiny and has a palpable dynamism. It’s a country I would definitely visit again.

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