Five enchanting small islands

I like islands and being surrounded by sea. The more compact, the more I like them. Here are five that I’ve visited and are definitely punching above their cute size. You might like to add them to your travel bucket list.


Country: Malta  Size: 67km²  Population: 32,723

Gozo is a gem in the southern Mediterranean, the smaller partner in the Maltese archipelago. For a little island it has some grand architecture, including an impressive citadel and large churches, while its diminutive towns are charmingly sleepy. And don’t forget the dramatic coastline and a lot of very tasty food.

Top tips: Visit in the verdant Spring. Hire a bike. TAP/ CLICK IMAGE TO SEE MORE

Ta'Pinu sanctuary, Gozo

The impressive Ta’Pinu sanctuary dominates western Gozo


Country: United Kingdom  Size: 50 hectares  Population: 10

This Cumbrian speck of land is the smallest of my picks. It sits just off the Furness peninsula and packs in a ruined castle and a pub. You can only reach it by a small ferry which is an event in itself. It has a long, interesting history and some quirky traditions.

Top tips: Instead of heading to the Lake District, try out the coastline. And obviously have a tiny island pub lunch. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO SEE MORE

Ferry boat to Piel Island, Cumbria

You must take a little ferry boat to reach Piel Island


Country: Portugal  Size: 173km­²  Population: 14,875

This little island is part of the Azores archipelago, situated in the mid-Atlantic Ocean a long way from Portugal’s mainland. It has scenic drama, sitting in the shadow of Mount Pico, the country’s highest peak. Faial is also home to the volcanic landscape of Capelhinos and a partially buried lighthouse. You also have the charming harbour town of Horta to explore.

Top tips: Take the ferry to nearby Pico, a whole other island. For circular stairway photos, head to the lighthouse. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO SEE MORE

Fish artwork in the port of Horta, Azores

Colourful artwork adorning the port of Horta


Country: Japan  Size: 30km²  Population: 2,018

This island is an hour away from Hiroshima and is popular with Japanese people and tourists alike. It’s the home of the world-famous floating Torii Gate (shrouded in scaffolding when I visited) and various other shrines and temples. There’s also a bustling market to find delicious street foods. You can walk up to a cable car ride which offers fantastic views of the Inland Sea.

Top tips: Try the seafood dumplings and green tea ice-cream. Be prepared for deer to steal them. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO SEE MORE

Pagoda on Miyajima Island

There’s no shortage of serene architecture on Miyajima


Country: Croatia  Size: 279km²  Population: 15,522

This island in the blue waters of the Adriatic is full of good things. Its main town is full of honey-coloured stone buildings and a miniature version of mighty Dubrovnik to the south. Explore, wander at a slow pace, find a café – it’s a place to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Top tips: Clamber to the top of St Mark’s Cathedral. Stay on Korcula for several days. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO SEE MORE

Sunset from the island of Korcula, Croatia

There’s something about a sunset witnessed from Korcula

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Manchester concrete

The Mancunian Way is a monumental slab of concrete that takes traffic around Manchester. Bizarrely, I spent a hot summer’s morning beneath its might. READ MORE BELOW

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I went to the Cambridge Street Junction, a large island which sits underneath the bulk of the elevated highway. It’s lined with trees and has a series of pedestrian underpasses enabling people to walk from the area of Hulme towards Manchester city centre.

These tunnels, plastered in graffiti, aren’t long but remind me of visiting London’s Elephant and Castle subway back in 2014. They’ve since ceased to exist, while these passageways show no signs of going away.

Even on a bright sunny day, this place feels desolate and unloved. There were just a handful of people making use of this vital connection and a few smashed booze bottles littering the area. It has a dark mood that’s absorbing to photograph, though I’m glad it wasn’t a dark night…

Manchester Metropolitan University's School of Business

This building, Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Business, overlooks the concrete junction. With its sleek stripes of coloured glass, it’s a very modern contrast to the Mancunian Way, which was regarded as innovative and new back in 1967.

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Five Manchester places you need to visit

Manchester. A large, cosmopolitan city in the north of England with a lot to offer. It’s always been popular with visitors (there are less of them in these unusual times) and the people that live here. Here’s a selection of my favourite spots you should definitely see. 

Mancunians: Please share your suggestions!


I’d be wrong not to start with my very own neighbourbood, just west of Manchester city centre. It’s set in the canal basin which is populated with colourful narrow boats and even has Roman ruins. Castlefield’s industrial heritage is now overlooked by the shiny new skyscrapers of ‘Manchattan’. It’s a popular spot with Mancunians, especially on hot summer days (yes, we do have them!) TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO FIND OUT MORE

View of Castlefield and Beetham Tower, Manchester


This lofty building is situated in Manchester’s twin city of Salford. The Catholic cathedral is less visited than its Anglican counterpart which is in the centre of Manchester. Its stained glass east window is just remarkable. Restrictions on visiting are currently in place, so you should check before going. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO FIND OUT MORE

The East Window of Salford Cathedral


An outside space in south Manchester with a beautiful rock garden, wooded walkways and its well-known pathway lined with very tall Lombardy Poplar trees. A relaxing place to wander around which seems far away from the hustle of the city. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO FIND OUT MORE

Tree avenue at Fletcher Moss Park, Manchester


Here’s a waterfront location that’s been totally reimagined in recent decades. It’s now the home to a swathe of modern glass and steel buildings, not to mention Coronation Street, BBC North and The Imperial War Museum’s northern outlet. The area is also well served with bars and restaurants. My photography tip is to visit for the sunset and stay after dark for bright lights and stunning reflections. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO FIND OUT MORE

Night view of Salford Quays


This beautiful piece of Victorian Gothic splendour is right in the heart of Manchester and instantly takes you from city bustle to quiet, hushed corridors. It’s one woman’s elaborate memorial to her late husband. It’s currently closed due to the pandemic, so check the website if you’d like to go. TAP/CLICK IMAGE TO FIND OUT MORE

John Rylands library, Manchester

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The beauty of decay

Do you think that beauty is exclusively the preserve of youth and vitality? CONTINUE READING BELOW

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I always have fresh flowers in the house and recently bought a lovely spray of roses. Of course cut flowers fade sooner or later and are discarded, to be replaced with a new arrangement.

But this time I held on to the roses as they began to wither away. Fellow blogger and Australian photographer Lee Cleland suggested drying some blooms and capturing them – an excellent idea.

The vibrancy of flowers fresh from the florist is replaced by a darker mood and the sense of impending death.

But the beauty isn’t diminished by degradation. In fact I think the creative rewards and interest are enhanced. How about you?

Click through to mikeosbornphoto's floral greeting cards shop

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