Today, the sun is shining and the birds are singing: at last it seems to be spring…

Thoughts run to travel. And here, is what we have on offer for this year via Hidden Worlds, the small company Lois and I have run together for almost two decades….though our combined experience of such things is many years more.

We have a brand new website devoted specifically to our tours and workshops…built by Lois. There will be a newsletter and…a blog.


We are small, deliberately so because that way we can ensure out impact on the natural world we love is minimal but also because we can take better care of those who choose to travel with us. We feel (and have been told) that what we offer is unique:

  • A deep knowledge of Italy, its history, culture and food because we live here and have travelled widely for many years before and since we moved in 2003.
  • Paul’s lifelong  study of the Mediterranean and alpine region of Europe that has resulted in numerous books and an unrivalled knowledge of wonderful plants in superb scenery where butterflies and birds also abound.
  • Photographic expertise and the ability to communicate it honed over many years…from beginners, through enthusiasts to those who might want to know about the equations that govern diffraction and resolution – we can vary to suit what you might want to know.
  • We love good food ourselves and are both cooks:  Paul is a vegetarian (and has been since he was 6 years of age) Lois is not… so we make sure you eat well through places we chose to stay, the picnics Lois makes all using the best of locally produced ingredients.
  • Background…the history, the art, the landscape of the country that is our adopted home and which we never tire of exploring.

We are not the cheapest but far from being the most expensive…living and working in Italy and staying small we keep overheads low…you benefit.


With some companies you have a leader who comes to a place once a year…we live in Italy and see the places we visit in all seasons because we are fascinated by this country and its historical and natural treasures. We have an exceptional network of Italian friends who trust us implicitly and with whom we work on projects…we find so much others never see and love sharing this with like-minded people. Good company is of utmost importance to us.

If you have never travelled in a ‘group’ even small ones like ours and you feel that you are too independent…well so are we and that is why we work with you to make sure you see what you want and a whole lot more. If you have a group of friends and make up to a minimum of four then we can arrange private trips …we are, above all flexible with an exceptional knowledge of what we offer and where we live.

People are sometimes concerned about level of activity and fitness…just talk to us. Generally our days involve gentle ambling but for those who enjoy longer walks we can provide that, too.  If you know anyone else who would like to know about us then please pass on the email address:


Here is your chance  to purchase a real classic….

I heard a few days ago, via an email from old friend and author Peter Parks, that he had delivered some copies of his superb, autobiographical work A Passion for Plankton to NHBS

I was lucky enough to be given a set of these, duly autographed by Peter last year. They are simply superb…not just a wonderful set of beautiful and intriguing images of the smaller (and large) denizens of the oceans and ponds but also a fascinating text that threads its way through copious photographs of Peter’s life and work. We have been friends for a long time sharing our passions for nature, hawkmoths and optical gadgetry in the macro realm.

The boxed set standing on my desk next to my microscope…pure inspiration.

Peter studied zoology at Oxford and subsequently  worked as a tutor in biological illustration, based in the Natural History Museum, Oxford, before he became one of the founding members of the legendary Oxford Scientific Films (OSF). Their collective work completely revolutionised natural history filming to give us so much of what we take for granted today. However, the cognoscenti realise that, within this undoubtedly gifted bunch, Peter Parks was the stellar talent.

A man of great modesty, Peter is not just zoologist, superb artist and cameraman of legend but also an innovative and gifted engineer who designed and built much of the equipment used by OSF. Peter used the technology and skills he developed at OSF to branch out into Hollywood and he produced effects for the Superman films, the Fountain and many others. His stunning effects work depended on a knowledge of optics and not the digital side of things and for this Peter won an OSCAR and several BAFTAs. …He is the true Renaissance man.

One of numerous stunning double spreads…including copious views of the rigs OSF used for their ground-breaking work, designed and built by Peter

I had the singular pleasure of working with the master himself and his gifted son Chris (now a doyen of digital stereo technology) almost two decades ago at their Image Quest3D studios – the company formed after the demise of OSF. It was not an easy year for me as I had left an old life behind, but it was wonderful to work with Peter and I had free range to ‘play’ with and rearrange optical gadgetry. This was pure therapy and I owe a great deal to Peter and wife Suzi for support at that time as Lois’ mum gradually succumbed to cancer.

In 2015 Peter and Suzi  came and stayed with us in Italy… what a week that was: Peter and I, two ‘senior’ schoolboys ran my moth trap and talked endlessly in and around our shared passion for nature…it was so wonderfully stimulating… I have his drawings for an aerial runway to fit between our oak trees much the same as the one he has built for his grandchildren. This year I shall build it.

For anyone who loves macro imagery, solving challenges and superb photography then these books at £39.99 for the pair are a real bargain…the set is massive and will provide hours of reading and an ocean (literally) of inspiration. Peter writes superbly and the books furnish an account of the rise and fall of OSF with numerous images of the rigs Peter created and of many other things. I am so very glad Peter has made these available and hope my many friends and contacts who share my loves will order a set. You will not be disappointed, that, I promise.


Paul Harcourt Davies January 2018