Montezuma Beach – Throwback Thursday

This photo, taken when we visited Montezuma in Costa Rica (ten years ago!), recently won third place in a “seascape” themed photography competition. So I took it as a good excuse to share it (again) on my blog.

It is crazy to think how much our lives have changed since we went to Costa Rica – shortly afterwards Jen and I started renovating the house where we now live with our two boys. And I have not been abroad for over three years, nor do we even have any foreign travel plans for the foreseeable future. Although it would be nice to take the boys over to Costa Rica…

Highlights from the last ten years

I will post my usual year in review post tomorrow, but as we are at the end of a decade, I thought I would look back at key points of what has been an amazing ten years. Of course being me, the key points are cars, cameras, bikes and holidays in addition to the big life events!

To set the scene, I started 2010 single, living in my bachelor pad in Rugby. My life pretty much revolved around cars and photography, especially car photography. At work I was in the middle of a big product launch that went on to set a sales record for our company.


The most significant thing that happened in 2010 is that I went for a date with a girl called Jen – and that pretty much set the course for the rest of the decade! We had a great holiday to the Basque Country and at the end of the season I gave up motorsport photography.


Jen moved into my flat in Rugby, and we had some great trips – to Barcelona and Cyprus. Sadly my old MX-5 turned to rust and I had to replace it, of course I went for a new silver MX-5!


Jen and I had some great holidays – Costa Rica was definitly the holiday of a lifetime, but Croyde with our friends and a roadtrip round the Outer Hebrides were both pretty special too. We also decided to buy a house together and the 119 project started!


We moved into 119 – albeit with a lot of renovation still to do! Fortunately we were still able to get away for a few city breaks – Paris in the snow in March and New York in the snow to celebrate our thirtieth birthdays. My new MX-5 went back to the lease company, and now that we were living less than a mile from my office I could not justify another new car, so bought my MR2 Roadster!


2014 was a quiet year for trips – Jen and I had a long weekend in Copenhagen, I also went to Le Mans with my Dad and on our annual trip to Croyde I proposed to Jen! The big project for the year was building my garage, but the thing that made the biggest change to my life was buying a mountain bike!


Jen and I got married!!! We had an awesome honeymoon cruising round California in a Dodge Challenger. After ten years of daily driving sports cars, it was time for me to buy a sensible car. I also achieved my goal of cycling 2,015km in the year.



The first part of the year was pretty quiet, we had a trip to Croyde in the MR2. Then on the sixth of June our lives changed forever – Owen was born!


2017 was a special year – I got to take two months off work for parental leave, hanging out with my little wingman! We had our first family holiday abroad – to Cyprus to celebrate my best friend getting married. I also bought my dream bike!


It was Owen’s turn to get a bike! We had a great holiday to San Sebastian with our friends Nicki and Mat! We also went to France and Croyde with my family. Jen bought her Toyota Yaris – which replaced the FIAT 500 she had since before we met. And after more than ten years shooting with Canon cameras I moved to a Fuji system.


We became a family of four when Henry was born! I will post a more detailed year in review post tomorrow, but the key points are that I started working with Coventry Bloggers and we had a great holiday to Bluestone in Wales.

What a decade it has been! From living on my own in Rugby, we are now a family of four, living in the house we renovated (well have almost finished renovating), in Coventry. Photography and cars are still important parts of my life, but have been joined by mountain biking and two small boys! At work, I am still working for the same company, on another big project. I do not know what the next decade will have in store, but I doubt my life will change as much as it has in the last ten years.

Top five from 2012

I’d been meaning to take part in the “Your Top 5 From 2012” thread on for a while, so once I’d selected my five favourite images of last year, I though they would make a good blog post too.
Rugby cement works – A shot I’ve had planned for quite a few years, as I can see it out of my kitchen window.

Hoffmann’s Woodpecker – This guy woke up up while I was having a post surf nap at the Funky Monkey Lodge in Costa Rica.

Ali’s Z4 – Taken on the A39 near Porlock on Exmoor during our trip to Devon.

Cloud Forest Abstract – Another one from our trip to Costa Rica, this was taking in the Selvatura Cloud Forest.

Fiat 500 – This was only meant to be a test shot, while Jen was shopping, but I really liked the effect with plain car and bright building.

Costa Rica: Hoffmann’s Woodpecker


When we were in Santa Teresa our afternoon usually consisted of chilling out on the veranda of our cabin, one afternoon I was woken up from a nap in the hammock by a tapping noise, which turned out to be this Hoffmann’s Woodpecker on the tree next to our cabin. I don’t normally take photographs of wildlife, but I was able to get my camera and grab a few frames, including this one which I am quite pleased with, especially as it was taken on a relatively short 200mm lens.

As mentioned in my posts from Costa Rica, we actually managed to see more wildlife in the grounds of the Funky Monkey Lodge, where we stayed in Santa Teresa, than on some of our wildlife excursions. I think the relaxed vibe in Santa Teresa must have affected the local animals too.

Costa Rica: Tamarindo Sunset

Tamarindo Sunset

I’m still working through images from my trip to Costa Rica (renovating a house, is taking up most of my free time at the moment), but I’m getting there! This sunset was captured in Tamarindo, the last place we stayed and there’s just something I really like about it, so I thought it was worth blogging. The photo isn’t technically perfect, in fact it was taken on my Canon Powershot S90 compact camera, but I really like the colours of the sea and the sky (I did accentuate them a bit when processing the raw file) and it just makes me want to be back in Costa Rica on the beach at sunset.

Costa Rica: Cloud Forest Abstract

[photoshelter-img width=’375′ height=’582′ i_id=’I0000AizrfIU3t.Y’ buy=’1′]

I am working my through the images I took in Costa Rica over the last few weeks, and this one has jumped out as probably my favourite.

We were on the “Hanging Bridges” walk in the Selvatura Park, which is in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve and I saw these trees and knew I could do something with the symmetrical lines. However, on their own I wasn’t happy with that shot, it was too messy, so I added in a bit of movement and as soon as I saw the preview on the back of my camera, I knew I’d be really pleased with the final result.

Costa Rica Days 14 & 15: Travelling home

Our journey home didn’t start too well, our shuttle to the airport didn’t show up, meaning we had to get a taxi to get to the airport in time to catch our flight. Liberia Airport was suitably chaotic, probably not helped by one of our airline’s flights being cancelled or everyone having to go to a separate queue to pay “departure tax” before they could even check in.

The chaos continued when we got on the plane, as not only was the air conditioning not working (with the outside temperature well over 30c) but the pilot couldn’t get the engines started, which wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring. In the end we took off over an hour late and got to Newark without any problems, we even got a good view of Lake Nicaragua.

In the end the flight was 40 minutes late into Newark, leaving us less than an hour before our flight to Heathrow took off, with us needing to clear US immigration, collect and recheck our bags, pass through security again and get to the furthest gate away from where we started. It was a bit tense, especially in the queue for immigration and we needed to run most the way after that, but we made it onto our flight just before they shut the doors.

Again, the flight was fine and passed quickly, we landed early and even got through passport control without having to queue, but after waiting ages for our bags it became apparent that they hadn’t made the transfer at Newark, which wasn’t too much of an issue as anything important was in our hand luggage. We were met at the airport by my parents and it was good to be driven in a nice executive saloon on smooth motorways after two weeks of minibuses on unpacked roads.

As I type, my first memory card is being imported into Lightroom, so expect a few more posts over the coming days/weeks.

Costa Rica Day 13: Tamarindo

Tamarindo Sunset

Our last full day in Costa Rica started well, with Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, overlooking the beach. We then walked to the estuary end of the beach as we hadn’t explored that end of town yet, it didn’t take long to get there, but as we were walking we were approached my street sellers trying to get us to buy everything from ceramics to cocaine, then when we got to the estuary someone tried to sell us a boat trip. So we decided to walk back along the beach, which was much nicer as that part of the beach was almost empty.

The afternoon was spent chilling on our terrace back at the hostel, before heading out again late afternoon to walk along the other end of the beach and catch the sunset. As there were clouds on the horizon the latter part of the sunset was gorgeous, but too dark to photograph without a tripod, so I enjoyed it with Jen, drinking an Imperial beer and reflecting on a great trip.

Costa Rica Day 12: Santa Teresa to Tamarindo

It felt like a shame to be leaving Santa Teresa, because we’d both really enjoyed our time there. As we weren’t getting picked up until 8:45 we were able to go down to our favourite breakfast place, Don Jon’s, to get pancakes to fuel us through the 5 hour minibus journey.

The journey itself wasn’t too bad, especially the second half which was mainly on paved roads, and we got to Tamarindo at about 14:00. We checked into our hostel, which we were glad to see had air conditioning, and went into town to find some lunch. It turned out that Tamarindo wasn’t quite the thriving metropolis that we were expecting from what we’d heard from other travellers. It actually reminded me a bit of Newquay in the UK, a surf/party town, but obviously with a more Costa Rican flavour.

I had been really looking forward to seeing the leatherback turtles laying their eggs on Playa Grande, just across the estuary from Tamarindo, but it turns out we are a few weeks too late. Rubbish. As Tamarindo is also on the Pacific coast, we went down to the beach to catch the sun setting, it wasn’t quite as beautiful as in Santa Teresa, but with a few boats moored out to sea I should be able to take some interesting photographs.

I neglected to take any photos on my iPhone, so there won’t be a photo on this post until I get back to the UK.

Costa Rica Days 9, 10 and 11: Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Highstreet

I’ve only done one post for our time in Santa Teresa, as they would get a bit repetitive. We’ve been getting up, grabbing breakfast, going surfing, relaxing during the warmest part of the day, watching the sunset on the beach, getting dinner and then going to sleep.

Our cabin has proved to be surprisingly cool at night and we haven’t managed to get any more bites. The biggest problem is the noise from the local animals, both wild and domestic, around sunrise but we’ve got used to it. We also have plenty of wildlife joining us on our terrace, including a woodpecker and a gecko in our outdoor bathroom.

The surfing is really good, the water is warm, but the sun is a bit on the bright side and we’ve both got burnt, although I consider sore arms and sunburn to be signs of a good surf session. We’re surfing on proper boards (8’6 NSP minimals), rather than the soft foam boards we’ve used before, I actually prefer them and will be hiring one next time I’m in Croyde. I was stoked that on the first day, when we had a lesson, I managed to catch some green (unbroken) waves, which are a lot more powerful and was my aim of the trip. Our lesson was good as we had one instructor for the two of us and we both made progress as he was able to spend time with me when Jen had caught a wave and vica versa. On our third day surfing we noticed quite a few seabirds circling around, then behind us a school of fish near the surface, the sort of thing that we would normally see on BBC’s Planet Earth was happening 25m behind us. Amazing.

Santa Teresa is one of the three villages that make up the Malpais area, Malpais is in the south, about 2km from our hotel, with Playa el Carmen in the middle and Santa Teresa in the north. The area feels less touristy than the other places we’ve visited, with only a handful of tour operators, on the other hand the restaurants are great, with both local and international cuisine covered. The restaurants don’t look like anything special, they’re usually just an open sided hut, but the food amazing, I’m not sure I’ll ever get fish burritos as good as the ones here.

There’s one main road which runs through the villages, parallel to the coast, but it is main road in the loosest sense of the term. The road isn’t paved, so the choice of transport for the locals are quads/ATVs, which seem to outnumber the 4x4s and cars. But the walk down to Malpais isn’t too bad in the evening and it is good to nip down to the beach to catch the sunset. Sunset seems to be the main part of the day, with seemingly the whole town on the beach either surfing or watching the sun dip below the horizon.