Friday, 27 December 2013

Brussels at Christmas time

It was actually 2 weekends before Christmas when I took the Eurostar with some friends, headed straight for Brussels. We were being looked after for the weekend by our friend Fiona and her boyfriend Ben. Brussels lived up to our expectations, there were chocolate shops everywhere, thousands of types of beers and a lady selling waffles at 2am. We even managed to get all of our Christmas shopping done while having a tour of the city and the Christmas markets.

A small church hidden away amongst the shopping streets.

The view from Grand-Place.

The more modern half of Grand-Place

Mont des Arts at the end of a street including a very large musical museum.

An angel statue close to the Mont des Arts.

Chocolate penguins!

Enjoying a late lunch after some very serious chocolate shopping,

Buildings in the town square lit up as part of the Christmas festivities :)
Many thanks to Fiona and Ben for looking after us. Happy Christmas and have a Happy New year everyone!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Cheetah cubs in training

From a young age cheetah cubs learn to hunt by shadowing their mother. This means that often young cheetah cubs will chase other animals around the plains, just to gain experience, whether they would be considered prey or not. In one morning in Ndutu we witnessed a 7 month old pair of cheetah cubs chase zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, a jackal and several species of birds. Finally their mother caught them a Thompson's gazelle fawn to allow them to fine tune their tripping techniques. Even once they had succeeded in tripping the fawn the cheetahs looked confused as to what to do next. Mum came to the rescue, biting the fawns neck, so that they could enjoy lunch.

An over-exited cheetah cub chasing part of the migration.
The same cheetah cub bravely chasing a Jackal.

The cheetah cub looking a little less brave as the Jackal turned around and barked at him.

One of the cubs successfully tripping the fawn. 

The cheetah mum and gazelle mum watched on as the cheetah cubs chase the fawn.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

24 hours in Amman

Amman in the capital city of Jordan, which is known as the city of seven hills as it originally spanned across seven hills. Now spanning 19, the city is growing both in size and economically. Starting at the Citadal on the top of Jabal Al-qal'a I wandered down steep staircases, through markets and past Mosques before finding falafel and humous for lunch. Crossing through protests, churches and 7 way junctions I journeyed up Jabal Ashrafieh in search of the Abu Darweesh Mosque which was at the highest point in the city. Unfortunately I never quite made it on that far, as my map didn't quite stretch that far, and I was side tracked by some friendly locals and the sight of evening prays. Fortunately on my way back through Amman before my flight home I managed to explain to a taxi driver that I wanted to go to the big black and white mosque.

A night time view of Amman from the roof of my hotel.

The Roman temple of Hercules in the Citadel in Jabal Al-Qal'a

One of the many staircases in up and down the hills of Amman.

A spice shop which spilled out into the street. 

A Mosque hidden amongst the winding streets lit by the setting sun.

The magnificent black and white Abu Darweesh Mosque.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The lions and the buffalo

One morning in Ndutu we came across the large pride of lions who appeared to be having a staring match with a Cape buffalo. The Cape buffalo was significantly outnumbered but he knew that he couldn't turn his back otherwise he might find a hungry lion on it. The lions were attempting to spread out to surround the buffalo, however the buffalo charged at any lion that strayed too far away from the group. Eventually the lion pride wandered off towards the marsh area in search for a less experienced buffalo.

The staring match between the lion pride and the Cape buffalo.

A lion running from the charging buffalo.

A female lion being chased by the buffalo.

One last look from the large Cape buffalo, which indicated to the lions that their meal was elsewhere. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Elvaston Castle

Given that the weather was looking good I took a trip to Elvaston Castle to have a look around. Elvaston Castle is just outside of Derby, in the country, and is a Gothic style Manor house built by James Watt. The castle is surrounded by grade II listed gardens, St Bartholomew's Parish Church and woodland.

A view of Elvaston castle from across the lake.

A pathway towards a secret garden, or so I assumed.

A nicely carved wooden chair, reminded me of Goldilocks for some reason..

The bell tower of St Bartholomew's Parish Church.

A view of Elvaston Castle from the garden, as the sun caught the building in front of a stormy sky.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Elephants and Zebra

Apart from wildebeest the most common large mammals that you see on safari seem to be zebra and elephants, which is great because both are really unique looking. These elephants are the first photographs of animals of my trip taken as we entered the Serengeti late in the evening. We caught up with the migration on our way out of the Serengeti heading towards Ndutu. The Zebra were dashing around a sandy basin where a watering hole had dried up, chasing after wildebeest and visa versa. We watched them run in circles, dashing across the remaining water and kicking up dust trails behind them.

An elephant gazing across the Serengeti plains.

An elephant having an evening snack as the setting sun catches their shoulder and tusk.

Zebra and wildebeest dashing across the sandy basin together.

Zebra slowly cross over a stream. 
A mess of strips and ears that could only be the migration

Friday, 1 November 2013


Colonge was one city which I was lucky enough to visit on the way home from a business trip. The weather was very average, with an overcast forecast for the whole weekend. On the other hand the Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Dom, was a spectacular piece of architecture, that looked fantastic at night lit up against the nights sky.

The Cologne Cathedral shot in black and white from the front.

A stained glass window inside of the Dom.

A view of the Dom at night from across the river.

Riverside Cologne.

Lovers locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne.

A train crossing the Hohenzollern Bridge.

A final night shot of the Cologne Cathedral including the bridge.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A tiger playing in a watering hole

I've previously blogged about Noor and Sultan, Mother and Son but what about father? Ustad or T24 is a large male living with territory in zone 1 and zone 2 in Ranthambore national park. He is also Sultan's Dad. After our first encounter with Noor and Sultan we were just leaving the park when Ustad was walking down towards a watering hole looking magnificent in the late afternoon sun. He appeared to be limping, which confirmed a story told to us by some rangers earlier who had seen him walking on just 3 of his paws. When he reached the water he took a drink before splashing around with his injured paw as if to sooth the pain. Just as we had to leave he settled down in the water to cool off.

Ustad (T24) taking a drink from the watering hole.

Ustad looking as though he was about to pounce onto his own reflection.

Taking a drink while holding his injured paw off the ground.

Portrait of a tiger drinking in the watering hole.

Making ripples in the watering hole like a baby in the bath!

Ustad settled down in the watering hole to cool off.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Petra - The Rose City

Following in the footsteps of Indiana Jones, while in Jordan we visited the old Nabataean city of Petra. Over 2000 years old this world heritage sight was carved into red coloured stone giving it the name of the Rose City. Our guide started us off on a 'cross country route' allowing us to see many of the famous sights, such as the treasury, from above. The views were spectacular, we saw a lot of the lesser known dwellings and tombs and we avoided being troubled by camel owners and other punters trying to make money out of tourists. Walking back along the 'tourist route' we gained a better sense of scale of the larger sights such as the amphitheatre and the Urn tomb.

A view looking through the valley of the Amphitheatre.

A dwelling as seen from the doorway of a tomb.

A dwelling showing off the multi-coloured sandstone rock.

Camels lined up in the shade ready to save you the walk back to the entrance.

The Palace and the Corinthian tombs.

The treasury and the camel.

A view of the treasury on the way out through the El Siq