A couple of years ago I lost my patience with my massive pro DSLR which weighs about a ton and gives me back-ache every time I try to go out with it. I bought the absolute smallest camera I could find which would shoot RAW and could be manually controlled. I bought the highest quality I could find in a really small compact. Image quality was a top priority. I want to continue to shoot images good enough to sell and to enter competitions (not that I have had the time). There were a few choices at that level but…

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  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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There’s more than just thundering water and breathtaking views on a visit to Niagara Falls. Plenty of other attractions, rides and experiences have sprung up in the area to make a visit into an all-round resort experience. On the Canadian side is Clifton Hill, the vibrant resort centre and the heart of the fun. Getting to Clifton Hill The views of the Falls themselves are better from the Canadian side, but don’t let that put you off if you have already booked your USA hotel. Making a day visit to Canada is easy. Of course there are border formalities and…

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In the last eight months my family has been unlucky enough to have three truly awful restaurant meals. That’s probably about one third of all the meals out which we have had in that time. These meals were all either treats or necessities. One was a lunch on a long motorway journey, one was a meal out on holiday and the third was a family celebration. We’re not made of money; our children are secondary school age and don’t normally order from the kids menu, so the cost is significant. It makes me realise how brave my restaurant reviewing blogger…

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