Carnival, Olinda, Brazil

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Carnival, Olinda, Brazil

I went to Brazil a few years ago to experience the Carnival. I wanted to see it not in Rio but in a smaller place where I could really take part. It was a marvelous experience, one I’ll never forget. The music, dancing, and partying went on from 10am till 4am the next morning. I didn’t get much sleep but had a great time.

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Easter Island,Chile

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Easter Island,Chile

I took this picture on a long journey I made through South America. Easter Island is one of the strangest places I’ve been to. It’s part of Chile but is so different to other parts of South America. The island is a 5- or 6- hour flight from the capital city of Chile, Santiago, and right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is Polynesian, similar to Hawaii or Fiji. The island used to be covered with trees but now there are none. It’s very mysterious, and it was fascinating to see all the huge statues, called maoi, that were an important part of the island’s religious beliefs. The island’s population decreased dramatically over the centuries, maybe due to the people destroying their land or maybe because of the introduction of rats, which bred very quickly, eating all the vegetation. Notice in this picture that the statues are all facing inland, not out to sea. People are still trying to understand the old Easter Island culture. I was privileged to visit the place but I don’t think I would like to return there.

Ipanema Beach, Rio, Brazil

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Ipanema Beach, Rio, Brazil

This is one of my favourite photos.I took it in the late afternoon on Ipanema Beach in Rio, Brazil. I love Brazil, it’s so full of energy! Rio is a stunning city, with the beaches and the sub-tropical forest covering the many, steep hills there. It’s a dangerous place and there’s a huge difference between the rich and the poor but I would urge anyone to go to Brazil once in their life. Next year, the FIFA World Cup is going to be held there, and in 2016, it’s the turn of the Olympic Games. Brazil is often in the news these days because of these upcoming events.

My Birthday

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My Birthday

I turned 50 on Sunday and I spent the weekend celebrating with my friends and my Mam, who had come from England for the event. It’s so strange to think that I have lived for half a century. On the one hand I feel just like I did 20 years ago. On the other, my life and my attitudes are so different to what they were even a few years ago. Change is inevitable, but I am still coming to terms with the idea that I am so old!!!

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Atago-san, Kyoto, November, 2013

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201311161443001Atago-san, Kyoto, November, 2013

Yesterday, I climbed to the top of Atago-san in northern Kyoto.
We started walking from Kiyotaki, near Arashiyama and hiked up and up for about two hours. The path was steep at first but beautiful all the way.
It was glorious to be out in the open air and to see the autumn colours everywhere.
We had a picnic near the top, with hot soup and French bread. It was a great day.
Atago-san is a very historic place and it is here that the fire god lives. In centuries gone by, Kyoto was plagued by fires, some of which devastated the city. The people would make the pilgrimage to the top of this mountain to pray to the god of fire for safety.
All the way up, we saw the remains of tea houses and other buildings that once served the thousands of pilgrims that would make the long, hard journey to the top.
The views at the top were spectacular and I would highly recommend this trip!

Ryogen-in, Kyoto

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Ryogen-in, Kyoto

This is one of my favourite places in Kyoto, an exquisite sub-temple of Daitokuji. I love to just sit and let my mind wander as I stare at the Zen gardens here. Nearby, is Imamiya Shrine, and next to that are two fantastic tea houses, which don’t seem to have changed in centuries. A truly marvelous corner of a magical city!