Eye-opening senior gap year fulfils an ambition
A former chartered surveyor who was terrified of stagnating in his retirement has fulfilled a dream of being a wildlife photographer. Now Alan Brook’s work will be exhibited at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, under the title Footloose in the Americas. Determined to look forwards rather than backwards, Alan, who owned Brooks Chartered Surveyors in Bath for 30 years, and his wife Sue, bought an elderly Land Rover. It was modified for overland travel through Central and South America. He took more than 30,000 photos over the year-long trip and the exhibition which runs until November 17 will showcase a few of his favourites. The couple, from Bratton, Wiltshire, drove 20,000 miles on the trip from April 2015 to April 2016. Alan said: “Anyone can do this they just have to want to enough. My advice to anyone thinking about this kind of road trip is - be alive to the kindness of strangers. So many people put themselves out for us. It was a continual eyeopener. “One of the best moments for me was watching hundreds of fireflies dancing on the grass in Palenque, Mexico. “And the worst was when the brakes failed as we descended hairpin mountain roads in the Ecuadorian Andes. “Thankfully nothing else was on the road and I could drive into the side of the mountain - that stopped us!” Sue, 65, a retired occupational therapist, says: “We went through countries that people thought we were mad to visit - Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador - but we only ever experienced a warm welcome. “One thing which did not change was our tea routine. Come rain or shine, during storms and hurricanes, we always had a cup of tea first thing in the morning and in the middle of the afternoon.” Alan, 72, says: “I always dreamed of being a wildlife photographer. So I am so excited to have my own exhibition.” He will deliver a talk about their senior gap year tomorrow (Friday) at 7.30pm. Pictures will be available to buy. All profits will go to the BRLSI.
Alan Book takes a rest on the converted Land Rover
Just some of Alan’s stunning photography of a humming bird; a young boy in a crowd at the market; an iguana and a monkey