Paseo Real, January 2017. Affectionately known as The Florence of Andalucía, the Spanish town of Antequera is just an hour’s drive from Malaga city. I arrived by bus in the early morning, just in time to catch the tail end of sunrise. This is Paseo Real, Antequera’s pretty tree-lined promenade. In the background you can see Estepa Gate, a brick and red stone archway that stands as the entrance to the old town.
Farská Ulica, March 2003. One of the great joys of teaching English in Bratislava was the amazing travel opportunities during weekends and holidays. Between September 2002 and June 2003 I was lucky enough to see virtually the entire country and in many ways Trenčín felt like the archetypal Slovak town. Pretty and low-key, it has enough points of interest to keep you entertained for a daytrip. This shot was taken on the town’s cobbled main street, with the castle providing a dramatic backdrop.
Early Days, September 2003. The tiny, rural hamlet of Sweethope lies deep in the heart of The Scottish Borders, about an hour southeast of Edinburgh, two hours north of Newcastle. My mum, dad, brother, dog Inde and I moved there in 2003, just the latest location in The Thomas Family Scotland Roadshow. Surrounded by rolling fields, scattered farms and the nearby peak of Sweethope Hill, this secret little corner of the world would play a crucial part in my life over the following twelve years. I’ll never forget the summer I spent here after my trip to India, sat atop the hill every day with Inde reading Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. Sweethope was also the base for an amazing summer romance (see my short story Car Crash Girl Part II), not to mention my sister’s wedding and the scene of many wonderful Christmases. Sadly, Inde passed on in late 2006, but it wasn’t too long before another Brittany called Solo arrived to claim Sweethope as his own.
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It’s been two years since I launched Leighton Literature one smoggy Beijing morning. Back then I was blessed with an abundance of free time, access to an amazing American-style diner and that incomparable enthusiasm one has towards a new and exciting project. My goals were simple; to share my experiences of a life predominantly spent on the road and to trumpet the music and films that have most influenced me along the way.
Hanok Maeul, February 2015. One of my favorite things about travelling is when you rock up in a wildcard location you don’t know much about. An unknown quantity if you will, a place that’s somehow remained under-the-radar with international travellers despite having so much to offer. The Korean city of Jeonju, completely unknown to me prior to my trip, definitely falls into this category. As the capital of Jeollabuk-do province, Jeonju is famous for being the home of Bibimbap (a tasty rice, meat, egg and vegetable concoction). But the city’s major draw is its historical folk village and the hundreds of hanoks (traditional wooden homes) that line the sleepy streets. Hanok Maeul is Jeonju’s charming historical quarter and Koreans come here from all over the country to unwind and experience a simpler way of life.
Fort William from Banavie, July 2015. The year I spent living in Fort William definitely won’t go down as a golden one. It was 2003 and I was flitting between a couple of dead end jobs. Low on cash and with no close friends to speak of, I struggled with the dismal weather, a seemingly infinite onslaught of pissing rain, grey skies and aggravating winds. Unsurprisingly, I drew up my plans and got the hell out of Dodge. It was a different story for my sister though, who stayed on, fell in love and eventually laid down roots in the nearby settlement of Banavie. This photo was taken one evening during a summer visit; an actual summer that was so glorious it felt like looking at the place through a new pair of eyes! Walking down to the beachside, Fort William glimmered seductively in the distance whispering a glut of false promises!
The White House, May 2007. My first trip to Washington D.C. came as part of a fantastic three-week tour that took in New York City, Nashville, Lynchburg County and Memphis. After the amazing assault on the senses that was The Big Apple, D.C. felt like a sleepy little backwater town in comparison. With its wide spotless streets, melting pot architecture, world-class museums and sleepy, unpopulated cafes, I found myself instantly wishing I’d allowed for another day or two. Staying with a friend in an apartment on 16th Street (location! location! location!), it was barely a ten-minute meander down to The White House. On arrival I was met by a modest gaggle of loitering tourists, a crazy man wandering around with a box on his head that read Me For President! and a pacing sniper on the roof looking like he was ready for action. In the wave of excitement that hit me, I foolishly approached a couple of meathead cops (crew cuts, square jaws, dead behind the eyes) to enquire if Mr. Bush was currently in residence. “Why are you asking this sir?” “Don’tcha watch the news sir?” “What is your current address in this city sir?” They were still at it when I lost interest and walked off.