Category Archives: Photography

Cancun Mexico

Cancun. Wow! What an amazing place!

I spent 7 wonderful nights at the Moon Palace resort in Cancun between the 10th and 17th of November, the temperature there was 29oC and that’s slightly warmer than the frosty temperature back in the UK!

The beautiful Moon Palace resort is split into 3 different zones, Sunrise (more suited to younger couples and family orientated), The Grand (an Exclusive, grandiose and 5 diamonds rated luxury resort aimed at ‘nobby nob nob’ America and Arabic holidaymakers) and Nizuk (a more boutique experience and somewhere in the middle of the other two).

Normally, entry to the Grand resort is exclusive only to guests staying at the Grand; Nizuk and Sunrise guests can crossover into each other’s resort and I liked what I had seen in both places, so being a completionist I was curious to see what the Grand was like!

So I volunteered for an uncomfortable 3 hour tour/timeshare presentation to get a ‘free’ 1 day pass which is normally worth a couple of hundred US dollars.

Folks, don’t do what I did…..just buy the damned day pass if you want to check out the Grand! The Grand has its own water park with loads of slides and the Habibi Labanese restaurant is worth the price of the day pass alone.

However, avoid, avoid, avoid, the pushy Narcos timeshare sales pitch by Miguel at all costs!

Here’s the main bar at the Grand, which had what looked like a Murano glass ceiling. Funnily enough, I experienced gangsters at Mureno in Venice, so it was ironic to see Murano glass having just had a brush with the timeshare bandits.

Whatever zone you choose, you will see spectacularly landscaped gardens, several swimming pools, golf carts with dedicated staff who are only too happy to zip you off somewhere. Night or day, it all looks stunning.

All-inclusive at the Nizuk is a 5 star experience from start to finish. I had a Jacuzzi bath in my hotel room, access to 24 hour room service and fully stocked bottomless mini bar.

I saw my first raccoon and so many species of birds at the resort, Moon Palace has won lots of conservation awards and it’s easy to see this in their daily practices around the resort. I also saw some turtle nests, sadly I did not get to see the little chaps scuttle off into the sea but that’s ok.

What makes Nizuk special are the staff. Yutucan Mexicans (where most of the staff commute in from) are probably the hardest working professional people that I have ever met in my life and they all manage it, every day, with a smile and the kind of genuine warmth that humbled me to my core. If you are ever in their company, please tip very graciously.

Dinning at the exceptional El Manglar buffet restaurant is a spectacular affair; a couple of nights I also went to the resort a la carte traditional Los Caporales Mexican restaurant where I had the hottest habanero sauce of my life! Holy fuck it melted my mouth and tongue!

I think my favourite experience in Cancun was getting up early every day to watch the Sun rise from my balcony or down by the beachfront which was only a stones throw from my room.

I don’t think I would ever get bored of seeing such beauty.

I always enjoy a good swim, but drinking margaritas in the pool? Well that is just bloody fabulous?!?

The bottom line here is that you are not left wanting for anything here.

Going all-inclusive, you also get access to the other hotels that are part of the same group.

The Beach Palace hotel is about 20 minutes away from Moon Palace is on a stretch of beach that has the bluest water I’ve ever seen and has a spectacular rooftop terrace which gives a 360 degrees view of the surrounding area. Showing how the hotel zone strip acts as a divider between the lagoon and the sea.

There is also the Sun palace hotel, which is probably more of a local weekend break option. It was nice enough, but appeared to be very cramped compared to the others and in all honesty I couldn’t be arsed taking photos of all the sardine-like guests there!

I am glad I ventured out around the hotel zone because I saw first hand how local people go about their daily lives.

Mexicans live together and work together in such a fashion that can only make one conclude how disconnected the average London city worker is in compaison.

During lunchtime in Cancun, you see people sheltering together in the shade under the trees to stay out of the roasting Sun, people are sharing out food between each other; in some cases, cars are delivering lunches to everyone at the roadside and I thought this was beautiful, humanity at its finest and something that I really took to my heart (Corazon!).

If anything, it made me consider how extremely privileged I was to holiday at somewhere like the Moon Palace resort, knowing that I was eventually going back to my home and to all the things that I try not to take for granted.

I very much hope to go back to Mexico, next time for 2 weeks if possible, so that I can go on some tours!

I went to Cancun to have fun and relax for the first time in 5 years and I achieved that in abundance; but I think my trip also refreshed my moral compass which was definitely unexpected.

And for that, I say, gracias and salud!

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Lumiere London

Lumiere London took place around the Capital weekend; this is not to be confused with Diwali because there was no curry to be found down in Regents Street.  Sadly.

The various exhibitions dotted about town were a genuine delight; I also thought it was very cool to see a very strong showing from indigenous Londoners amongst the massive crowds who had turned up for a mooch.

Must have been too cold for the Russians!?

The exhibits varied greatly; elaborate projections onto buildings, a garden of light in Leicester Square and an island of household rubbish in Trafalgar square were all very thought provoking.

I think my favourite ‘piece’ was the CGI elephant on the giant LCD screen; it looked so realistic and the various elephant noises that boomed out the speakers gave it a presence that I did not expect!

Check out ma mad tings!!

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Jethro – Sacki Monkey

Jethro is an ageing Saki Monkey at Monkey World in Dorset; he’s absolutely my favourite monkey ever.

I’ve been to Monkey World a few times now; the pictures below were taken a couple of months ago and were the first time that I’d seen Jethro outside of his boudoir.

Born in 1990, Jethro is already twice the average life expectancy of a Saki Monkey; he is fascinating to sit and watch because I think he’s a bit eccentric in his advanced years???

He actually sits and watches YOU, all the while poking his tongue out or putting his fingers down his throat and stroking his tongue…..

Cool dude isn’t he?

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Photography – Sunsets

Thought I’d start off a category on photography as both Al and I are keen amateur photographers. This is a slight irony given that Alex and I were both working in a photo development lab when we became friends. Still makes me chuckle when I remember getting a subtle nudge or look from Al to suggest an attractive woman had just come in to pick up her submitted amateur glamour photographs. We eventually made up a serious of signal words for this (I remember the word Japonica being one for a woman who had submitted an eye catching set of pictures clad in PVC) and other photography faux pas related situations.

I was staring out the window at work today when my boss and good friend Alan pointed out that the evenings were getting longer (yes, it had gotten to that time when we both wanted to sod off for the day). I noticed Croydon actually had a reasonably nice sunset for a change given that it’d been pretty cloudy and rainy of late (I have a slight obsession with the sky you see) and that in turn made me think of the sky in Kansas where I’m going Stateside in March 2008 for the first time in over 8 years.

Kansas being so flat gives the most amazing view of the stars and sunset, sunrise, tornados, lightning storms, you name it. So I was inspired to dig out the picture below which I took on my old Canon AE-01 back in 1997 during my first visit. The shot was taken on the outside my favourite steak shack before driving back to Amy’s house and I think it totally captures my initial default mental image of America. I was always really chuffed with this shot and I still like it a lot now; especially with the pickup and the light on the bonnet. Gravy.

The other pic in this thread is a shot I took out of the window from my bedroom around Christmas 2007 using my Sony Cybershot DSC W55 7.2 Mega Pixel camera which I think is a very funky little gadget indeed and would heartily recommend. I adjusted the aperture slightly and that’s how I got the silhouette effect with the houses to emphasise the sky. I really like this shot, especially the obscure detail on the leaves on the left hand side of the shot.