I have now been blogging for two years.
When I started a friend of mine said “I gather as a blogger you blog to yourself for the first two years, and then you realise there are a few people out there beginning to notice you”. Although I may not be at mega-readership levels yet, I would like to thank those of you that have taken the trouble to visit my blog. I continue to keep the focus on ‘all things travel’ and have been genuinely surprised at the number of positive comments and informed feedback over the last two years.
I do hope that, while I continue to enjoy sharing my thoughts and observations on all manner of travel related subjects, readers find some inspiration and take some pleasure in seeing my photos. All of which have been taken by my fair hand, with the considerable aid of a Canon D60E camera and 25-210mm lens. In this blog, as with last year’s anniversary, I have chosen twelve photos (taken over the last 12 months) to share my experiences, and reflect on what was happening at that time.
1. February 2013 – Arab Spring 3rd Anniversary. A dramatic and ever-developing phenomenon that continues to dominate international media channels.
I have chosen this photo, taken from a speeding train at sunset in Dubai, because the silhouette of the Burj-Al-Arab and Jumeriah Hotels – sandwiching the traditional small scale Masjid Mosque – represent both ancient and modern. The setting sun appears to be about to roll down the Jumeriah Hotel, possibly knocking into the Masjid Mosque and Burj-Al-Arab like a ten pin bowling ball.
Although it is a peaceful image capturing a traditional Islamic building between two enormous new hotels, the bowling ball thought could easily be linked to changing times: over the last twelve months Tunisia has seen anti-islamist government protests; Syria has descended into total chaos, spilling over into Lebanon; Egypt has seen Morsi come and go, and a return to Military rule; Bahrain has banned all protests as the rest of the Arabian Peninsular holds its breath. Meanwhile Iraq and Iran peer into a cloudy looking glass.
2. March 2014 – Pope Francis was elected on 13th March. I took this photo from a roof top in Arequipa, Peru just after he was inaugurated. I was particularly struck by how the flame-red cloud appeared to come from the distant church, akin to the smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, announcing the election of a new Pope.
3. April 2014 – Andean shepherdess. Travelling with my family towards the heart of the Altiplano between Peru and Bolivia, we stopped to take in the scenery at about 4,000 metres. Our guide Rosa knew the family of this shepherdess girl who, along with her little brother, were tending the family herd of llamas. As we shared our water and admired their herd, the girl was explaining to Rosa that she wasn’t at school as it was the Easter holidays.
4. May 2014 – Cold Spring. Europe experienced a particularly cold spring and early summer. As cricket coach of the Regents Park Under 15 Cricket Team I remember it well. Although it was exceptionally dry (in contrast to 2012, we didn’t miss one training session or match), it was bitterly cold. This photo, taken in May, sums up the month for me. Bright sunshine, cutting breeze and therefore empty park deckchairs.
5. June 2014 – Arabian June. I took this photo from the Royal Suite balcony, Palm Atlantis, Dubai. The Bladerunner-Palm-Atlantis-monorail crosses the waterway between the extraordinary Palm Jumeira structure, with fans of Palm house developments in the background. The image depicts, on the one hand, the extraordinary wealth that the Arab Springs wants to share more evenly, as well as the searing temperatures the Qatar World Cup will have to wrestle with in 2022.
6. July 2014 – Big Blue Cock, Trafalgar Square. The famous empty fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square unveiled Katherina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock on 25th July. When I took this photo it occurred to me that Nelson, famous for his naval successes over the French, had his back turned and unprotected from the glare of the French national symbol.
7. August 2014 – England v Australia, 5th Ashes Test. The Oval, South London. I have included this photo as it shows how quickly times can change, both in sport and life. Like so many other England cricket fans, as I enjoyed the first day of the 5th Test match (with England in an unassailable 2-1 series lead) it never occurred to me that I would be witnessing a 5-0 series losing whitewash when I visited Australia less than five months later.
8. September 2014 – Peace lanterns. I love the serenity of this photo, taken as I watched a monk lowering candlelit lanterns into the River Thames as a peace offering, just below Battersea Park’s Peace Pagoda. The sun had dropped and night was beginning to come in as the lanterns drifted downstream towards Pink Floyd’s Battersea Power Station.
9. October 2014 –Reichstag, Berlin. Forget the Oktoberfest in Munich, Berlin is where it was at for me. As this photo shows my daughter giving it air over the iconic German Parliament building – 120 years after it was opened to house the Diet.
10. November 2014 – Beefeater’s watch. A symbol of so much of London’s past, the Tower of London stands out as one of the most remarkable city sites. I was lucky enough to be let loose in the inner Tower of London area, with my camera, on a very cold clear November night.
11. December 2015 – HMS Bulwark, Valetta Malta. Although I was captivated by the quite remarkable Old City of Valetta – with enormous stone ramparts and magical interior – it was when I was walking down to the port that I snapped this image of a marine standing guard just before HMS Bulwark slipped out of Malta’s famous harbour. The 12,000 mile tour which included 14 different countries and spear-headed the Response Force Task Group Cougar 13 – which reinforced diplomatic relations in the Middle East. She was homeward bound, arriving back into Plymouth on 16th December.
12. January 2104 – Sydney Harbour Bridge. I took this photo minutes after midnight as the New Year fireworks hit a crescendo.
So as I continue to blog away into my third year, I hope you enjoy my observations, thoughts and images. All, or any, feedback welcome. Even the gentleman who took me to task over my poor spelling of some Middle Eastern towns.
Most of the feedback I get is when speaking to friends who have had a look, as well as potential, existing and returning clients who pass comment on the destinations, or subjects they have been affected by.
One lady called me to say “one thing about writing a blog is that I know everything about you, and you know nothing about me”. True, but after speaking to her for a few minutes it didn’t take long to establish what she finds most exciting about travel.
Thank you for reading and I hope you have a good next twelve months.