To the Top of Mont Blanc

I would visit Europe more than once a year, if time allowed. There’s so much to see – nature, history, cities, countryside, food, shopping, architecture, music, art.

This year we went to Geneva for a week, and took a day to visit Chamonix and Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Europe. Chamonix is a great ski resort; however in summer it fills with tourists (like us) who swarm to the top of the mountain to see the view. As it was also our only day in France, we took the opportunity to eat at a friendly little restaurant just outside the town, recommended by Tripadvisor, and a great find.

Continue reading “To the Top of Mont Blanc”

South Africa!

We’re just back from a month or so of travel to the UK and South Africa. 

We had a great time staying with various members of our family in SA—Ralph’s apartment in Cape Town, Caroline and Peter’s holiday home in Onrus River, and Rob and Angela at Watermead. Here are a couple of photo galleries showing our trip to Cape Town and to the farm.

Here’s another gallery: this one is of our visit to Robben Island, the prison / leper colony where Nelson Mandela and many others were imprisoned. The tour is well worth the trouble: the trip through the prison was narrated by a man who was imprisoned there. His commentary was quite understated and matter-of-fact, but compelling and vivid.

The boys had a great time on the farm getting to know their cousins Claire and Emma, picking raspberries, swimming, sailing and playing a variety of board and card games.

Rob’s dairy is amazing—a rotary affair that goes around once every six minutes, and milks over 700 Jersey cows in a couple of hours. I don’t envy him the schedule: up at 0430 every morning, rain or shine!

Ana Nuevo and the Elephant Seals

A big, lazy maleBetween San Francisco and Santa Cruz, on the Pacific coast, lies the Ana Nuevo State Natural Reserve. It’s home to a big colony of elephant seals—in fact the largest colony in the world. Every few years we go out there to see them—it’s different at each season of the year, and this year we went out to see them in early February. The weather was cold and grey, but it didn’t rain (except for a few moments, perhaps), and we were able to have a great view of the different parts of the colony. It’s important to book, because you can only go near the animals as part of a guided tour, which keeps everyone safe, and limits the disruption to the seals.

Lighthouse keeper's ruinThey are really big—especially the males, which seem mountain-like. The males compete for rank in the colony, and develop deep scarring around their chests, and in some cases all around to their backs. The dominant male in a colony is kept busy chasing off all the other males.

There’s a lighthouse, with a now derelict keeper’s cottage on a low island facing out to sea. It must have been very inconvenient, with no direct access by land, and now it’s automated and the cottage is no longer used.

The gallery is here.

Seattle: a few pictures

The original StarbucksWhen we were in Seattle, we tried to spend some time on the water, with a trip to Bainbridge Island, and a tour around the harbor and through the locks. We also visited the Boeing facility in Everett, but they forbade photography, so we went to the Boeing museum closer to Sea-Tac airport, where we saw a lot of interesting aircraft including the Blackbird and the Concorde. I’ve just uploaded some of the pictures, which you can see here.

A few new pictures

Volvo Ocean Race: PortsmouthWhen we were living in England, I followed the Volvo circumnavigation race – big powerful boats doing up to 500 miles in 24 hours under sail. They visited Portsmouth, and we went down to see them and take some pictures. This boat is the Brazilian entry, who came third in the Portsmouth race, but I was supporting ABN Amro One – a European entry, but skippered by New Zealander Mike Sanderson, the ultimate winner of the race. I have infinite respect for these sailors – this is extreme sport taken to the ultimate, with a months-long race in the hottest, coldest, toughest conditions anywhere.

Ducklings in the sunI’ve also put up a few pictures from the UK – Horseshoe Lake. This is one of the many gravel pits in England that have been flooded and are now used for sailing, fishing etc. We used to go to Horseshoe Lake to sail, but on this occasion I think we just pottered around and enjoyed the very tame birds that were hopping around on the bank.

De Young Museum, San FranciscoFinally some pictures from San Francisco: the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park, designed by the Swiss firm of architects Herzog and de Meuron. I learned about them from an exhibition at the New Tate museum in London, where there was an extensive display that described their process, including a lot of the work they did in designing the De Young museum.

New Zealand pictures are up…


A bit of a rush job – it’s challenging to get all the pictures edited, organized and posted, and I think some of my edits might not have made it through to the posted jpegs, but here they are anyway. The main page is here.

Over time I’ll try to get in and edit some of the notes so you know where they are from and so on, but I have at least organized them into sub-galleries, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find your way around.

One of the best things we did was a trip to Akaroa, and a swim with the local Hector’s Dolphins in the wild. These are the smallest dolphins in the world, and endangered. The Akaroa Harbour is a sanctuary for them. Here’s the site for the company we went with – their pictures are better than mine! Akaroa was a French colony, and retains some of the French character in the street names, for example. Also some great cooking!

Have fun!


Baja and Danzante!

Danzante from the beachAfter too long I’ve finally found the time to post some of the pictures from our trip to Danzante! in Baja. We were there just before Thanksgiving – a few days stolen from the working year. We had a great time, lapped up the sun, did very little, ate great food, and enjoyed excellent company. What more can you ask for?

The resort is small enough that everyone gets to know everyone else. We sat around a single large table, and enjoyed an extended happy hour every afternoon, which ensured we were relaxed and ready for dinner.

The picture of the resort is not mine, but you can see my gallery here – a lot of pictures of people jumping / falling into the water, but a few that give you an idea of the landscape. You can download the originals at full resolution from the gallery if you’d like to.



One of the world’s great photogenic places.  Extraordinary beauty, and a quiet sense of isolation make it a great place to visit.


I was there in May, following a conference. May is a good time to visit. It was hot, but not unbearable, and I did a lot of walking. The roads are tiny, and I imagine that in summer it must be very crowded, but it was quite empty when I was there.
Lots of pleasures to be found – the landscape, the architecture, the food, and of course the blue sea, all around.