UK and Europe September 2013
Back in the UK for a couple of weeks. Renu was presenting her findings on her baby car seat study to the Lullably Trust in London, so I had time to do a bit of sightseeing.
Then it was on Eurostar to Paris and the TGV to Milan, just in time for Fashion Week.
We then went on to Venice to catch the Norwegian Jade for a cruise around the Adriatic and Aegean:
Norwegian Jade moored in Venice
The cruise took in Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, Izmir in Turkey and Mykonos in Greece.
UK and Iceland May and June2013
We don't often take holidays at this time of the year; we usually wait until the autumn and winter period when the UK weather is at its gloomiest. But this year we decided to make the most of the lengthening northern days and headed to the UK and Iceland.
Wow! Iceland. Absolutely amazing. OK, I don't approve of them killing minkie and fin whales but they have a relationship with the sea that we cannot comprehend. Anyway, I refused to eat whale, puffin, cormorant and horse, which were all on the menu.
I have to say the weather for much of our week in Iceland was dreadful. Windy and wet with heavy rain and sleet and temperatures ranging between 4 and 8 degrees. BUT there were enough breaks in the weather to allow us to get out of our car, take some photographs and get some walking in.
Apart from the weather, we loved everything about Iceland. As someone with an interest in wildlife, geology and geomorphology, I couldn't have picked a better place to go. Standing in the 10-metre wide gap between the Eurasian and North American plate gave me a real buzz. How sad am I?
The North American Plate (left) and the Eurasian plate drifting slowly apart
But you've got volcanoes, glaciers, lava fields, mountains, huge cliffs, stacks stumps, arches, hanging valleys, and waterfalls.
The wildlife is amazing, too. We saw arctic terns, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, gannets, wimbrels, redshanks, arctic skuas, arctic terns, snow buntings, seals dolphins and whales.
The banking collapse has seen prices fall in Iceland. It is still far from cheap, but alcohol aside, everything was reasonably priced.
After one week of the Golden Circle driving holiday with Iceland Tours, who I can thoroughly recommend, it was time to head back to the UK.
Renu had conferences in Glasgow and Leicestershire and I had a talk in Porlock. With that, and the usual round of family and friends, we got to many parts of the country.
We also had a day out at Royal Ascot. Beautiful weather and three decent each-way bets ensured we had a great day and I've included plenty of shots from here.
Hats at Ascot
UK September 2012
It's been a long time without a holiday, so it was good to get back to the UK for three weeks. A long weekend in London was the highlight. The weather helped, of course, but you can sometimes forget just how great our capital city really is.
Oman - November 2011
A few shots from our trip to Oman. Be warned if you anticipate visiting the country between July and October. The cold Oman Coastal Current results in a lot of cloud and drizzle along the coast on the east coast. It stops the air temperature becoming too hot but water temperatures can be as low as 22 to 23C.
We stayed at the Shangri-La complex. Highly recommended if you can find a two-for-one deal, or something similar.
Maldives - August 2011
We don't usually holiday abroad during the summer months, as for many places in the tropics, this is the rainy season. This is the case in the Maldives, but needs must etc so we booked a week at Vilamendhoo, one of the southwestern atolls.
Weatherwise, it was a bit iffy. Rather cloudy at times with some torrential showers, but after the heat and unbroken blue skies of Doha, this was a welcome change.
Vilamendhoo is approximately 900 metres long by 200 metres wide. It really doesn't take long to get around the island! We booked a beach villa; one of the over-water villas would have been nice, but as we knew we would spend much of our time on, or in, the water, we didn't think it was worth the extra expense.
We booked full board. If you are a big drinker it might be worth opting for all inclusive. But divers need to keep a clear head and so alcohol was limited to the early evening 2-for-1 cocktail hours. (Very good they were too, and quite strong.)
The food was excellent. A full buffet with enough variety to stop us getting bored. Obviously, the fish was very fresh and the curries were excellent. I never fancy curry for breakfast but my wife did show her Indian roots by giving it a go.
The diving was with Euro-Divers who were OK. But what really makes this island stand out is the quality of the snorkelling. The house reef harbours an amazing amount of sealife. Whilst we enjoyed diving off the reef on our own, we saw most marine life from the surface as we opted for snorkels rather than regulators and BCDs.
Arriving and leaving by seaplane was noisey but fun - although it does add considerably to the cost.