Editorial: March 2016

Well, this has been an exceptionally slow month. Just one post.

I got home on Sunday, and planned to quickly write that Kazakhstan story to get it out before the end of February – but it didn’t feel right. The story wasn’t getting a chance to breath, and I decided that it would only suffer from being rushed. So instead I’ve just added a couple of shorter reports to The Exclusion Zone this month (Bulgaria’s ‘Sozopol Vampire’, and this North Korean shoe factory)… while the Kazakhstan story is being allowed to develop at a natural pace, ready for publishing sometime in the coming week.

In the meantime, here’s what’s been going on this month…

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The fields of Hertfordshire.

 

England

Frankly, my February has been a bit boring. I’ve been working hard. I’ve had Bulgarian tax returns to complete. Extensive DIY jobs. Family to visit. Not an awful lot of adventure going on, I’m afraid to say.

On top of all that, I have been largely without Internet. First they were fixing the roads here in Bulgaria, which involved digging through my precious broadband cables. After that I was grabbing the odd five minutes here and there, while travelling around England. I’m always amazed at just how bad the Internet situation is in Britain – it’s slow, it’s censored, and it can be incredibly hard some days to find bars and cafes with decent wifi.

I did see a few interesting places in the north of England – Hadrian’s Wall, a load of old castles and Roman ruins – and though none of it was exactly front-page material, I’m sure some of those photos will end up making their way into private galleries in future.

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The remains of a Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall.

 

The Exclusion Zone

While I haven’t posted a huge amount this month, I have at least been able to prepare a lot of future posts. I’ve got about 15 photo sets ready to go, along with 4 half-written articles and plans for perhaps a dozen more. I’ll try and spread them out, but you’ll see the first of these appearing on TEZ over the coming week.

Which brings me to my next question – how about a vote? I’ve got a whole bunch of articles I want to write about Kazakhstan. I don’t have many photos to put with them though, as back then in 2012 the blog wasn’t really something I thought about when I travelled. I just went to places and experienced them. However, I’ve got some great little anecdotes that I’m itching to share on The Exclusion Zone. Here are a few options:

Cognac, Fish & Stowaways on the Train to Kazakhstan
Investigating the Kazakh Rave Scene
Overstaying My Welcome in Kazakhstan

As usual, just let me know which of those sounds the most interesting! I’ll get at least one of these titles written up and published in March.

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That time I found myself at a rave in the mountains of Kazakhstan.

 

Balkan Itinerary

February might have been a bit slow, but April will be anything but. I’m planning to tour the Balkans next month, doing a complete circuit of 9 countries in the space of 30 days. I’m terribly excited about it all, and there’ll be a huge number of articles to follow as a result. I’ve got targets I want to investigate in every country, in addition to photographing a load of Yugoslav-era monuments… my plan is to create a second book, to follow up my collection of Bulgarian monuments.

If you’ve got any tips or suggestions for the Balkans, I’d love to hear them! Here’s a preview of the route I’ve got planned:

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Tours

My tour schedule for 2016 is well and truly up and running now. Like last year we’ll be visiting communist-era monuments around Bulgaria, in between banquets, tunnels, mountain peaks and beach stops. The routes are bigger and better than last year, and now with the benefit of experience. I’m offering my Patreon supporters a discount on these tours, so if you’re interested just check out the details HERE.

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Beneath the Monument to the Three Generations, Perushtitsa, Bulgaria.

 

Video

Finally, here’s an idea I’ve been toying around with.

For the last two years I’ve been shooting video. I’ve got footage from three continents, ranging from trips to abandoned buildings to performances of traditional folk dance. I’ve got no idea what to do with it all, though. I don’t have any experience at editing video, and while I could start learning that would only mean time taken away from doing things which I’m better at. I don’t want to do that, and so instead I’m thinking of simply putting the video out there for people to do with as they will.

Perhaps someone will have an idea for it – maybe a full length documentary, maybe just short, 3-minute travel vignettes for YouTube. I really don’t mind, and I’ll be glad to offer my support (and footage!) to anyone who wants to have a go.

So two questions for you… firstly, does this sound like a good idea? I’d love to hear your feedback.

And secondly, of course, are any of you any good with video editing?!

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’m going to crack on with this Kazakhstan piece.

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