This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Still. I think it is quite appropriate leading up to the quietest night of the year, Christmas Eve, that we are posting photos of stillness (i.e. before the next day’s child mayhem of opening presents). As usual, all the image link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

Starting in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture, Japan, is the beautiful Matsumoto Castle. In it’s heyday in feudal Japan it was a bustling centre of the Matsumoto Domain. I woke up at 5am to travel nearly three hours from Tokyo to see this castle and it was definitely worth it. Now it lies still away from the centre of the city, with the only movement being tourists gently climbing through it.

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Travelling to Europe, for my 30th birthday my wife and I did a mini road trip through the Champagne region in France. To get there, we chose to travel through the French town of Provins with its medieval castle walls. It was beautiful, and the local markets were in full swing too. Looking out from the walls were the rolling agricultural hills. This cemetery is one that was built to remember those who passed away during the two world wars, and it stands their still in the middle of the fields with the only thing moving being the flag in the wind.

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Across the pond, in the United Kingdom, I found solace on a lone walk with my camera through the English countryside around where my Mother In-Law lives in a tiny place called English Frankton. As the sun was setting the whole area subdued as if getting ready for a night inside. The winding roads in between the hedge rows were quiet, except for the sounds of birds doing their thing.

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Still in England, not long after I got my first digital camera, I went giddy after seeing snow fall late in the evening around where I lived in North Cheshire (just South of Manchester). The yellow street lights gave off an eerie glow. It was cold, and quiet, but beautiful at the same time. This was also the first time I learnt how to use long exposure too. Ah… my trusty old Canon PowerShot G2…

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Coming back home to Australia, this photo of the boat house in Lorne, Victoria (along the Great Ocean Road) would have to be one of my favourites. The water was so still you would swear it was a glass mirror. Great part of the world.

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The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is an interesting historical museum, but the Hall of Memory is truly stunning. It is silent and peaceful, and a fitting dedication to the lives sacrificed.

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The Hunter Valley in NSW is the playground of wine lovers. While lively during the day (with wine lovers chasing as many cellars as they can), at night the valley is peaceful and surreal. This shot of the sun setting is another one of my favourites. The sky came alive! Yet there was no storm or winds, just the stillness of the valley.

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And finishing off, the stillness of Christmas Eve is where this last shot came from.

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Thanks Ailsa, great theme this week.