End of series update, Challenged in China.

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Dear readers,

It feels very fitting that my fifth short story collection, Challenged in China, has been the biggest test to date of my so-called writing skills. My first year in in The Big Filthy was a culture shock like no other, an experience that made all my previous travels seem like a piece of cake in comparison. I kept an informal blog that year for family and friends, so I had a wealth of notes, thoughts, photos and emails to draw on. At a whopping eighteen chapters, this has also been my longest set of tales by quite some distance. 

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Mediterranean Steps, Gibraltar.

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The Mediterranean Steps, March 2017. The definitive highlight of my two-day visit to Gibraltar came with a hike up The Rock’s breathtaking Mediterranean Steps trail. Billed as a walking route for thrill-seekers, the path starts out innocuously enough with a modest collection of stone steps next to The Ornithological and Natural History Society. But before long the going gets pretty steep and the path rocky and slippy. There are some hairy bends too, with nothing at all between you and a sharp drop down to a state of nonexistence. But with gorgeous views across Gibraltar Strait and the faint outline of Morocco in the distance, it really is an unmissable treat!

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My Photographs: Top 5 Alameda Botanic Gardens, Gibraltar.

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Alameda Botanic Gardens, March 2017. There’s so much natural beauty in and around the town of Gibraltar! I was sifting through my photos on the way back to Malaga when I realised I’d need to write multiple Top 5 posts to do the place any kind of justice. Obviously The Rock is the major highlight, but I was also blown away by the incredible fifteen-acre Botanic Gardens. Commissioned in 1816 by Gibraltar’s then British Governor George Don, the original park served as a recreational area for the town’s resident soldiers. A huge redevelopment program in 1991 resurrected the gardens after it had fallen into disrepair. Continue Reading »

My Photographs: Top 5 Komárno, Slovakia.

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Klapka Square, February 2003. When I jumped on the bus to Komárno I didn’t know a single thing about the little Slovak town I was heading to. I was with Sladjana, a Canadian-Serb girl I was kind of seeing in Bratislava. She was a mysterious, elusive sort and in retrospect I knew as much about her as I did of Komárno. On arrival we were greeted by a wintry ghost town set at the confluence of the mostly frozen Danube and Váh rivers. The streets were caked in snow, with perilous spots of black ice. This pretty square is dominated by Komárno’s town hall, while the statue is of Hungarian revolutionary György Klapka, who bravely led his men as the last line of defence against the Austrian Imperial Army.

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Alhambra – Granada, Spain.

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View From The Muslim Quarter, March 2017. I’ve lost count of the number of palaces, castles, forts and royal residences seen during my travels. The Taj Mahal was pretty special, Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque not too shabby. The ghostly ruin of Slovakia’s Spissky Hrad was an underrated delight and Bangkok’s Grand Palace a monstrous love-hate experience like no other. In Spain of course it’s all about The Alhambra, a fourteenth century palace-fortress watching over the Andalusian city of Granada. A unique blend of Christian and Moorish architecture, with UNESCO World Heritage kudos to boot, today the Alhambra is Spain’s most visited monument. This shot was taken from Paseo de los Tristes in the city’s Muslim Quarter.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Jaisalmer, India.

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1Jaisalmer Old Town, March 2004. I can’t quite believe it’s been thirteen years since I arrived in the Rajasthani town of Jaisalmer. My travel mate Allan and I were instantly charmed as we set off on our first wander. Set on a ridge of golden sandstone at the edge of The Great Thar Desert, the entire place felt like something out of a storybook; a giant fort town home to a beguiling network of narrow twisting lanes and finely sculpted buildings.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Glenfinnan, Scotland.

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Glenfinnan Monument, July 2015. The scattered village of Glenfinnan lies in the Lochaber area of The Scottish Highlands, a twenty-five minute drive from the town of Fort William. It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stuart (better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) started the Jacobite rising in 1745. Today you can check out The Glenfinnan Monument, right on the spot where old Charlie kicked off his ill-fated campaign. A kilted highlander tops the imposing column, complimented beautifully by a beguiling backdrop of misty mountains.

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