It's been a busy year travelling and writing but now it is time to take stock and look back at what I have done and where I have been.
|Typical houses along the River Guamo in Brazil|
In January we took a cruise along the Amazon. If I am honest I have to say that cruising isn't my favourite way to travel, but it did give us the opportunity to see some amazing places. Here we travelled along the River Guamo, one of the tributaries of the Amazon. It turned out to be an eventful day: we got caught in a tropical storm and then the small motor launch that had taken us on the excursion suffered engine failure on the way back to the cruise ship. We spent an hour and a half sitting in the middle of the river in our damp clothes in pitch darkness, waiting for another ship to come and rescue us. But I suppose it was an adventure!
|A snowy view of St Peter's Church, Barton-upon-Humber|
We had some lovely winter walks in February, staying local or crossing the Humber Bridge into Lincolnshire. Here we are visiting the 10th century Saxon church of St Peter's, in Barton-upon-Humber.
|The interior of Seville's Cathedral|
|Deer in the New Forest|
Over Easter we went to the New Forest with my two nieces. It was a part of the country I had not visited before. There is some beautiful countryside around there but unfortunately it was too wet for walking. We will have to go back another time.
|Kayaking through the mangroves in Abu Dhabi|
May saw our final visit to Abu Dhabi. We had been a few times previously, visiting my daughter Victoria, but she and her husband Mark have since moved to New Zealand. We managed to do one or two of the things that we had not managed to fit into previous trips, including taking an evening dhow cruise and visiting the Emirate of Sharjah. But for me the highlight of this visit was kayaking through the mangroves - physically effortful but very rewarding.
|The rugged landscape of Mallin Head|
Another wet holiday in June - this time to Northern Ireland. Despite the rain we had a wonderful time exploring the stunning coastline and famous sights like the Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle. One day we crossed the border into Eire, travelling through Donegal. Mallin Head (the northernmost point in Ireland, despite being in the South!) is bleak and beautiful, as well as very isolated. We had a lovely fresh fish lunch in a pub nearby.
|Scarborough attracts hordes of tourists at any time of year|
We had been walking the Cleveland Way (a long distance footpath around the edge of the North York Moors from Helmsley to Filey) in short bursts for a number of years, but in July we finally got to the end. Most of the walk is through empty countryside, or along high cliff paths, but towards the end the trail passes from one end of Scarborough to the other, a complete contrast to what has gone before.
|Through the Chilterns on the Ridgeway Path|
In August I achieved a long held ambition, of walking the Ridgeway Path. This is an 87 mile walk along "England's oldest road", from Avebury in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. The walk is varied, taking in ancient monuments (including Uffington Castle and Wayland's Smithy), chalk ridges and woodland, and parts of the River Thames. In contrast to our wet trips earlier in the year, we had glorious sunshine for the whole walk, making it a never-to-be-forgotten experience.
|A squirrel darts through the gardens of Fulham Palace|
We had a weekend in London in September, catching up with friends and taking in a concert at the Wigmore Hall. Having got the bug for long distance trails, we also took the opportunity to walk a bit of the Thames Path. One of the pleasures of these walks is that they take you to places you might not otherwise go: here we stopped to look around the gardens of Fulham Palace.
|Grand Canal, Dublin|
In October I attended the TBEX travel bloggers' conference in Dublin. I had a great time meeting lots of like minded bloggers, particularly Agata, whose lovely blog NullnFull has whetted my appetite for New Zealand. Our hotel was close to the Grand Canal, a great place for autumn walks in between sessions.
|Pisa is so much more than just a tower!|
TBEX gave me the impetus to launch my new blog, Bewitched by Italy, concentrating on my Italian travels. Of course this meant that I had to visit Italy for some new material so we had a few days in Pisa. I was pleasantly surprised by the city: there is a lot more to see than the tower (although lots of tourists seem to restrict themselves to climbing up the tower before moving on to the next place) and it is a great centre for visiting other Tuscan towns.
|Beverley's White Horse Inn, known as "Nellie's"|
And finally, at the end of the year I have been blogging closer to home. I visited Hull, named as UK City of Culture for 2017, and Beverley, a town with lots of great pubs that still need to be explored!
Thanks to all my readers for staying with me this far. Have a Happy New Year and I look forward to travelling along with you in 2014.
And, looking forward to the new year, luxury travel blogger Carol Perehudoff writes about her inspiration for 2014.