Living here in North Yorkshire I have a pretty fixed idea of what it is like to visit an abbey. We are spoiled for impressive stone ruins set in beautiful open green landscapes. Two of the nation’s stunners – Fountains Abbey and Bolton Abbey – are less than 30 minutes drive from Harrogate. Fontevraud Abbey Heritage I wish that I had cleared my head completely of these pre-conceived notions before visiting Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley. It was a bit of a culture shock. Bear in mind, the French didn’t have Henry VIII so abbey ruins are not…

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Everything in America is bigger, right? The name “Mall of America” conjures up an image of the biggest shopping mall I’ve ever seen. It’s in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota; a northerly city in the American Midwest. And yes, it is the BIGGEST mall in the USA! This is a destination shopping mall which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary year. There’s so much extra going on here that people come for vacations and short breaks. You can buy hotel and theme park packages for the Mall of America. That’s right, I did say “theme park”! This is the home…

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#29 in the Judging a Photograph Series I’m frustrated when I can’t zoom in for a photo sometimes. We took the Staten Island Ferry when we were in New York. It’s free, and a good way to see the Statue of Liberty. It’s a great experience but I found it hard to photograph with a phone. I was using the iPhone7+ which has a great camera but no optical zoom at all. Phones are too flat and thin to contain the amount of glass needed for true optical zoom. Think of an ordinary camera and the circular lens that sticks…

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We had two aims on our family trip to the USA and planned everything around them. The first aim (and the whole point, really) was to see my brother and family in New York state, a 5 hour drive north of New York. The second aim was to see the total eclipse on Monday 21st August and we had a choice of locations for that. We had been saving KLM/Delta frequent flyer points for the last ten years to do this trip, so our travel was always going to be dictated by the airline route map. We flew into New…

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#28 in the Judging a Photograph Series .One of my favourite things about our self-drive trips to France has been the chance to stay in a few different places on one holiday. One time, after a week near Guerande in the Loire Atlantique region, we had a second week in western Brittany. On the drive between the two we stopped to see the Carnac Megaliths. These ancient avenues of stones are as old as Stonehenge but are smaller, irregular shapes. Around 3000 standing stones stretch in eleven lines for over one and a half kilometres. Roadtrain Tour We decided to…

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