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As part of our holiday to Halkidiki we spent a few days getting to know Thessaloniki a bit better than previous day-long visits allowed. What we discovered was a city oozing vibrance, youth and culture. As day gave way to evening it took the heat and frenzy with it, revealing streets with bohemian charm amongst architectural decay and graffiti. Like many Mediterranean cities, thousands of years of history remain above ground and in unlikely places. Similar to Rome, it is a photographic treasure trove which we intend to return to in the not so distant future.

We have recently returned from a two week trip around Halkidiki in Greece, specifically the north eastern areas of Olymbiada and Ouranoupoli. This is a rural and deeply religious area which remains fairly unspoiled by mainstream tourism. Roads are winding, forests dark and verdant, and summer storms spectacular. Above all it is peaceful and bucolic, a place where myth intertwines with history, and where fact and fiction are difficult to separate.

Our travels around Mauritius saw us visit the popular tourist hotspot of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Under ominous skies we parked and paid the admission fee only to seek shelter from torrential downpours. Oh! how it rained…soaking body and soul. Our photographic efforts were severely curtailed…the examples below representing most of the shoot - in fact we probably spent longer learning to pronounce the name than we did taking photographs. The deluge eventually forced us into a cafe where we drank coffee and ate lunch before moving on to another part of the island (and another soaking), but that’s another story.

While visiting Mauritius we spent three days hiking the many trails found in Black River Gorges National Parks. It is an area of outstanding unspoiled beauty and a representation of the islands’ wilder side, as it would have been seen at the time of the first settlers. There are four main access points into the area; the two most commonly being used are from the coastal village of Black River and, at a much higher inland elevation, Petrin. These are the two we used as they provided good parking and basic facilities. Due to the areas geography, the park has its own micro climate…usually a damp and overcast one. During our three days exploring we encountered a variety of weather, from extreme humidity to torrential downpours, followed by clear blue skies. On more than one occasion we found ourselves back at the coast soaked through, seeking comfort in hot drinks.

Christmas was a little unusual for us in 2017; we had arranged to spend the festive break on the isle of Cumbrae in Scotland. A small seafront traditional cottage in Millport was our base, from where we made several forays exploring the area. As expected, the weather was very changeable, alternating between grey wet skies to freezing clear conditions. Ethan used the trip to fully test the iPhone X’s photographic capabilities, leaving his traditional gear at home. He will be adding a separate review of the iPhone in the coming weeks. I used my faithful X113 for the first time in many months. Below are two separate collections; one from the iPhone X and the other from the X113 for comparison.

Our summer holiday came late in 2017, so while thoughts were turning towards Christmas for many people, ours lay with planning a trip to Mauritius in November. Having never been to a truly tropical destination before, it was our intention to exploit fully the photographic and learning opportunities a destination like this offers. Our walks took us to the top of mountains, through rainforest (with particular emphasis on rain), along coastal paths and through verdant landscapes. Some days were very intense, and on more than one occasion the day ended with muscles screaming with pain and barely enough calories to get us to a restaurant. For us, this is what holidays are all about. Here is a small collection of images highlighting what was an interesting, albeit exhausting couple of weeks.

During November 2017 we visited Mauritius, stopping over for a few days in Dubai. Nothing we had read or seen about it prepared us for the heat and sheer scale of the city. Its bustle and architectural modernity were reminiscent of a JG Ballard novel…testament to mans ability to create a spectacular oasis in a part of the world where a vast city simply should not exist. As usual, our stay consisted of long days with little sleep, miles of walking at the expense of tired feet and insatiable thirst met with litres of water. Did we do Dubai justice from a photography viewpoint? Nope - not a chance. Too little time and too much to see to get under its skin and discover the real city. But we did have a great time recording some of the sites.

We spent a few days travelling around Cornwall during July 2017, visiting the north and south coasts along with a few places in between. The weather was typically English, throwing most things at us except for snow. Unlike Ethan’s previous trip to this part of the kingdom, the rain was limited to one day, leaving us with the rest of our stay to explore beautiful countryside and seascapes. We needed no excuse to pack the car with almost every camera and lens we owned and it gave me the first real chance to explore and use my TL system to its best advantage. Still in love with his Pentax 31mm Limited lens, Ethan favoured this for many of his shots.

One of our most loved areas for local photography is Stanton Moor. Just a fifteen minute drive from Matlock, the ancient landscape offers solitude and excellent photo opportunities; indeed we often use the location to test new gear and it provided great subject matter for a bunch of recently acquired and little used (as yet) lenses. Displayed here are some of our favourites, taken with some of our favourites, notably the Pentax FA 31mm f1.8 limited, Leica TL 35mm f1.4 and Leica TL11-23 f3.5-4.5 lenses.