The Epic Adventures photo competition

Epic adventures photo competition

Outdoor gear store Blacks have teamed up with adventure holiday company Explore for a new photo competition which is all about epic adventures in the great outdoors. The top prize is £2000 to spend on one of Explore’s trips across the world and four runners up will each get £150 to spend at Blacks. Explore have an amazing range of trips on every continent – top of my shortlist would be their safari and wine trip around South Africa or maybe their tour around the Mayan ruins in Belize and Guatemala. … 

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In pictures: Essaouira sunsets

Sunset over Essaouira on the coast of Morocco

I love a good sunset, and a lot of my favourites have been on the coast, where you can watch the sun slowly dipping down into the water. Looking out across the Atlantic from Morocco’s coastline, Essaouira has a prime sunset position and didn’t disappoint, with a spectacular dusk light show each evening – whether that was the sun peeking out between the sea and a layer of rippling clouds or filling the whole sky with shades of gold. … 

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In pictures: Fishing boats in Essaouira harbour

Boats in Essaouira harbour, Morocco

Looking around the harbour in Essaouira you see endless shades of blue – from the pale skies to the rough seas and the vibrant turquoise and blue painted fishing boats. In the 19th century Essaouira was Morocco’s biggest port. It was nicknamed the ‘Port of Timbuktu’ as goods like gold and spices came by caravan from sub-Saharan Africa to be shipped from here out to Europe and the Americas. … 

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In pictures: Bridging the gap between Newcastle and Gateshead

Bridges across the Tyne in Newcastle Gateshead

Straddling the River Tyne in north-east England are the twin cities of Newcastle and Gateshead. They’re divided by the river, with Gateshead on the southern bank and Newcastle on the northern bank, but have seven bridges to connect them. At the heart of the cities, these bridges tell the story of their history. First is the Industrial Revolution-era High Level Bridge, built to carry trains up the east coast from London to Edinburgh. … 

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In pictures: Walking London’s South Bank at dusk

Millennium Bridge, London's South Bank at dusk

After a quick trip to London yesterday (more on that to come), I took advantage of a free few hours and some beautiful clear skies to take a walk along the south bank of the Thames. Despite living in London for 10 years I only took a handful of photos of the city, so when now I visit I try to make up for it. One of my favourite walks in the capital, the route along the river from London Bridge to Waterloo takes you within sight of some of London’s most famous landmarks – like Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern, South Bank, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. … 

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In pictures: On the slopes in France’s Three Valleys

Ski resort of Meribel-Mottaret in the French Alps

I might not be able to fit a ski trip in this year, but each winter a part of my heart lies out on the slopes of the Three Valleys. This huge ski area in the French Alps, covering famous resorts like Méribel, Courcheval and Val Thorens, is where I learnt to ski and where I’ve been back again and again since. There are over 370 miles worth of pistes to ski or snowboard on, with pretty alpine villages and snow-dusted pine tree forests in between them. … 

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In pictures: The best of the rest of 2013

Sedona views

As I tidy up my desk and my desktop for the end of the year, I always get distracted by the files of photos and can’t help dipping in and reliving some of my trips from the last year. Being something of a photo-taking obsessive, there’s always a lot of them – way more than I can ever use on the blog. So it’s become a bit of an annual tradition for me to share the ‘best of the rest’ of the year’s photos (here are my choices from 2012 and 2011). … 

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In pictures: Christmas carols at London’s Albert Hall

Carols at the Royal Albert Hall in London

The decorations are up, the presents wrapped and the cards posted, but it still doesn’t feel like Christmas to me until I’m listening to carols at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s become a family tradition that each year we head up to London for a Christmas concert. We always have the same seats – behind the orchestra and so close to the choir that we could almost be part of it (though maybe not if they heard my singing voice). … 

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In pictures: Christmas lights at Paris’ Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette Christmas decorations, Paris

In Paris’ 9th arrondissement, Galeries Lafayette is the city’s most glamorous department store – it’s the City of Lights’ version of Selfridges or Macys. And like its London and New York counterparts, it brings out the bling each Christmas. The centrepiece of the store’s decorations is the tree – a 65-foot-high giant decorated with two miles of lights which towers up four storeys under the beautiful stained glass domed roof. Each year there’s a different theme and design, and crowds gather for the annual unveiling. 2013’s decorations were sponsored by Swatch to celebrate their 30th anniversary…. 

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In pictures: Belfast’s Christmas market

City Hall in Belfast at Christmas, Northern Ireland

We’re approaching the start of December, the weather’s getting chilly and the scarf and gloves have been dug out of the cupboard. It can mean only one thing – Christmas market season is coming. I love a good Christmas market and will be sipping vin chaud at one in Paris later this month, but for now I’m revisiting my trip to Belfast. The Continental Christmas Market there is held outside City Hall and is full of the usual mix of food, drink and gift stalls. … 

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