Tag: Sydney

Holidays Hobbyists

For Active Adventurers

  • SURF
    Just two hours from Sydney, Surf Camp Australia is designed for surfers of all levels and teaches paddling, standing up, riding the waves and surf  etiquette. Later, kick back in the purpose-built Surf Camp a short walk from the beach, with a swimming pool, hammocks and Aussie barbecues in the evenings.
  • CYCLE
    On Hawaii’s Big Island, active types can pedal along white sand beaches, traverse lava fields or ascend volcanoes on Ride & Seek and Big Island Bike Tours’ cycling adventure. Take the adrenaline rush up a notch with a pit stop for cliff-jumping, then soak in the naturally heated tide pools of Kapoho.

  • WALK
    Hike the picturesque peaks of the Caucasus in Georgia, through alpine meadows, over roaring rivers and along green valleys with Walks Worldwide’s Where Europe meets Asia trip Gape at the breathtaking views atop the 3,430m Atsunta Pass before returning to the capital, Tbilisi, for a spot of sightseeing.

For Wellness Seekers

  • DIGITAL DETOX
    Get off the grid at The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu (one week all-inclusive from AED 25,000; 001-310-457 8700, theranchmalibu. com) where there’s no phone signal or Wi-Fi, allowing you to live in the moment without the distractions of technology. The daily bootcamp features a routine of sustainable activity including group hiking, yoga sessions and fitness classes, after which the last thing on your mind will be sitting in front of a computer screen.

    Detox your body and mind at The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu

  • YOGA
    Set in the Himalayan foothills in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, Vana Malsi Estate (?ve-night retreat from AED 6,850; 0091-135-391 1111, vanaretreats.com) is a modern ashram-cum-spa retreat sitting on 21 acres of forested land. Activities include private and group yoga, hiking, om chanting and spa treatments. Vana doesn’t follow a particular school of yoga but goes back to the roots of the science and includes body postures (aasan), meditation (dhyan), breath control (pranayam) and nutrition to help guests de-stress and recharge.

    Complement a yoga session with natural therapies at Vana Malsi Estate

For Environmentalists

  • WILDLIFE
    Enjoy up-close encounters with mountain gorillas in the lush greenery of their natural Ugandan habitat while aiding conservation efforts with The Great Projects (13 nights from AED 14,080; 0044-208-885 4987, thegreatprojects.com/projects/the-great-gorilla-project). Volunteers work with local communities on tree-planting and reforestation efforts in and around the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a sanctuary that is home to half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as assisting in a pedal-powered film session to educate remote schools and communities about the importance of conservation.

    Spot gorillas in the wild while helping with conservation efforts in Uganda

  • MARINE
    Help replant coral reefs in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, with the Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (two weeks all- inclusive from AED 6,140; 0060-198- 50 5412, tracc.org) where you’ll be taught scientific diving techniques and methods for planting corals and rebuilding a reef alongside scientists. Also on the cards: turtle and shark conservation, which includes patrolling the beaches to protect adult turtles, eggs and hatchlings – then dive with them off Pom Pom Island

For Creative Types

  • MUSIC & DANCE
    For those who like to make a song and dance about their travels, Cuba is the ideal spot. Get caught up in the rumba of Havana, join in salsa classes in Trinidad then learn to play traditional Cuban music and record your own track with local musicians in Santiago de Cuba with Responsible Travel’s Cuba music & dance holiday (nine days from AED 5,510; 0044-1273-82 3700, responsibletravel.com). Both adults and little ones will be wowed by the colourful architectures, vintage cars, Latin beats and friendly locals.

    Trinidad in Cuba is a vibrant place to practise your dance moves

  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    Get snap happy in Marrakech with Creative Escapes’ Morocco photo tour (?ve days from AED 5,195; 0044-207-111 1293, creative-escapes.co.uk/photomorocco), which takes in the bustling souks, Atlas Mountains, traditional Berber villages and gardens of Yves Saint Laurent’s
    home, with a team of experts offering live photography demonstrations, creative tuition and challenging assignments for all ages and levels.
  • FINE ART
    Put brush to canvas on an Andalucian painting holiday with Authentic Adventures (seven nights from AED 7,830; 0044-1453- 82 3328, authenticadventures.co.uk) in the village of Alajar, with its rolling pastures, charming cobble-stone squares and stone houses with wrought-iron balconies and ancient doorways. Paint under the shade of an oak tree, with tips and guidance from professional tutors, and beam with pride, glass of bubbles in hand, at the informal exhibition of your work at the end of the trip.

For Food Enthusiasts

  • FARM
    For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, working on a farm and helping with the harvest is a great way to give back to the earth. World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (wwoof.org) arranges volunteer placements around the world where you can learn aboutseed sowing, composting, gardening, wood cutting, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing and grape-, cheese- and bread-making in return for food and board with the local host, all while helping to build a sustainable community – a great lesson for older kids.
  • KITCHEN
    If cooking is a passion, take it to the next level with an apprenticeship with a chef on your next holiday. Learn the tricks of the trade on an Italian or Mediterranean cooking course with Tuscookany (one week from AED 12,500; 0044-7039-40 0235, tuscookany.com), where you’ll prepare organic meals with local chefs, learning about the ingredients and traditions surrounding the dishes as well as food presentation and grape pairings.

    Learn the tricks of the trade with ravioli- making sessions with Italian chefs in Tuscany

Infinite potential: the source of creative energy

When I first read the book Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, I was enthralled. A close friend had given it to me as a gift as I was leaving the UK for a one-year sabbatical to Australia. I read it on the plane, and again on my fi rst night in Sydney. I was 21 years old and unaware that I was reading a book that would change my life forever.

On a Monday morning 11 years later, a quote from Illusions floated in front of me, causing me to quit my job and follow my passion for wildlife photography (Part 1, OP190). Little did I know then that another quote from the same book would cause a similar revolution in my life several years later.

Imagine it’s already there

It was the winter of 2014 and I had been in Yellowstone National Park for two weeks. I had seen the usual wildlife suspects – ice-encrusted bison, lolloping elk, coyotes, eagles and swans – but I was desperate to see Yellowstone’s most famous inhabitant, the wolf.
Despite being one of the best locations in the world for spotting wolves, this apex predator is still a rare sighting. I had seen wolves only twice before in Yellowstone and things weren’t looking too positive on this trip. None of the guides had seen any signs of wolf – no tracks, no scat, no kills – and the spotting boards (notice boards on which visitors write down wildlife sightings) were blank. Even so, my mind was open to the potential.

The wolf-majestic animal of the nature

One morning during my trip I climbed into the front cab of the snow-coach as usual. As we began the journey into the park – a long, quiet road swathed in the cloak of twilight – I closed my eyes. And there, in the darkness in front of me, I saw the words, ‘To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.’I recognised them from the book Illusions, although, like many of the teachings described by Richard Bach, I didn’t fully comprehend them or, more accurately, I didn’t fully understand how to make them real.
Despite that, with my eyes still closed, in my mind I visualised an image of a wolf standing amid the tall lodgepole pines that define the Yellowstone landscape. The snow-coach trundled on.

Manifestations

About half an hour later, I was making some final checks of my cameras, when there was a commotion on the road ahead. Large numbers of vehicles – vans, snow-coaches and snowmobiles – were lined up and people were wandering about excitedly. We pulled over and I climbed down, grabbing my camera bag. In the distance, I heard someone shout, ‘wolf’ in explanation of the ruckus. I scanned the ridgeline, seeing nothing. I walked ahead without knowing why, other than it felt like the right thing to do – instinct overpowering hesitation. My eyes were glued to the ridgeline when, out of the corner of one eye, I saw a flicker of contrast. I turned my gaze and there, among the trees, regal in its confidence, was a lone white wolf.
He was walking intently, slightly above me, and I followed, parallel to his path. He was always a step ahead. Then he stopped and turned his head towards me. I lifted the camera and he gazed straight down the barrel of my lens. A silent acknowledgement passed between us and then, as quickly as he’d arrived he was gone.

Two fighting bisons in the park

Two fighting bisons in the park

Back at the snow-coach, the chatter between the guides was energetic. It was their first wolf sighting in weeks, but the real reason for their excitement was that it was the first white wolf they’d ever seen. By the end of my time in Yellowstone, 10 days later, he hadn’t been seen again. I kept my own thoughts to myself. I didn’t really manifest a wolf by ‘imagining it was already there’. My morning epiphany and the appearance of the wolf was coincidence – surely?

Anything else was simply too ‘woo-woo’ to consider. I have a scientist’s mind, and there is nothing in any of the classic sciences with which I’m familiar that could explain conjuring a wild animal from thought alone. I am also a bit of a romanticist, however. And although my mind demands the rigors of science when understanding nature and the world around us, the idea of being able to manifest images at will was a fun illusion that was worth playing with.

The power of thought

For the rest of my time in Yellowstone, I set aside my usual approach to image-making (my back-to-front theory of composition, explained in last month’s article) and simply spent time truly connecting with my environment. Rather than chase light and pre-determined ideas I sat in a single spot, letting my senses be caressed by nature and trying to envisage my next image. And the strangest thing happened.

A bison by the lake

A bison by the lake

As I imagined each new image, by some twist of light and magic, immediately it would appear in front of me. I imagined a coyote – a coyote appeared, cool and inquisitive. I imagined an elk surviving in the harshness of winter – an elk appeared, forlorn in its isolation. I imagined bison in a crystal landscape – bison appeared along with rays of sparkling light.
I have had similar experiences in the past. I remember an occasion in India, watching a leopard hidden in some bushes. I imagined the leopard waking out of the bush, crossing an open area of grassland in front of me and settling at a nearby pool of water to drink. Ten minutes after seeing that picture in my mind, the leopard did exactly that. On another occasion, I imagined a grizzly bear snorkelling for salmon in a crystal- clear pool. That thought led to some quite remarkable GoPro footage of a fishing bear. But these were isolated moments that might also be explained in part by knowledge of animal behaviour, and nothing at all like the consistent fl ow of images that occurred in Yellowstone.

A closed up bison

Sadly, after days of thoughtful experimentation, my time in Yellowstone was up and playtime was over. I had to get back to the office and serious work. Still, in the volcano-like centre of my mischievous mind, a thought bubbled away.

Another unexpected journey

A couple of months later, I was in the car with my partner, Monique, travelling back to Switzerland from the south of France. It’s a long journey from the Mediterranean to the Alps, and we were both tired and conversation was slow. To fill the silence, Monique asked if I wanted to listen to something, suggesting some music or an audio book. Normally I would choose music because I have little auditory awareness, which means music is about all I can cope with. On this occasion, however, for reasons I can’t explain, I chose the book option, picking one at random. At some point, I don’t remember exactly when, I started to tune in. Here and there the narration would penetrate my auditory barrier and ping around my head as if my mind was the play zone of a pinball machine. I heard words and sentences such as ‘consciousness’ and ‘quantum domain’ and ‘mindfulness’ and ‘mind is the maker of reality’.

A lonely wolf

A lonely wolf

Something inside my psyche was beginning to put two and two together and coming up with an answer. I asked Monique to grab a pen and write something down so I wouldn’t forget: ‘The science of quantum mechanics asserts that in the beginning was potential. Potential was followed by chaos and chaos was followed by order. Photography mirrors the quantum world: photography starts with the potential for an image (the visualised idea), which is followed by chaos (the visual objects presented by nature), which is followed by order – composition.’

I then asked her to write down the question, ‘What does quantum physics reveal about our individual creativity?’ In answering that question so this journey, this great new adventure, begins. In next month’s chapter of A photographer’s guide to life on Earth: ‘Everything is connected to everything else’.

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