Sue and I went to Wales recently – it was planned that we’d go to South Wales first as she was born there but hadn’t physically seen the place because the family moved when she was a baby. We stayed in Crickhowell and used it as a base to cover walking by the River Usk and the Monmouth and Brecon Canal. The weather was forecast to be rainy but we managed to dodge it and find a few good places.

We then went up to Betws-y-Coed for a few days and did the same. Lovely hotel just by the River Llugwy and a room with a balcony thrown in for good measure overlooking the water. We had intended to go to Bodnant Gardens for one of the days but hadn’t realised about booking prior to going so couldn’t get in – I wonder how many people just turned up to be turned away!

Anyway – here’s a few photos of where we went.

Breaks in the Lakes

Only 3 days away but how we managed to recharge the batteries a bit mentally. On the other hand, not having had much exercise for a little while we drained the physical ones. Easedale Tarn, Elterwater, The Coffin Route, Rydal Caves and Rydal Water together with Grasmere meant that we had a series of good sleeps! Here’s a few images :-

A Day Out

What a great day yesterday was. A full day with the camera, in a hide, photographing wildlife. I went to a farm just outside York to photograph kestrels, hare and owls. No owls and only 2 hare but the kestrels were fabulous.

Here’s a few images from the day.

Another day there is called for, perhaps when the chicks hatch and the parents are coming down for food.

Last Photo Competitions of the Season

The Competition Season for my Club, The f4 Photographic Group, has now finished for 2020/2021 and we re-commence in March for the new 2021/2022 season. I had some success during the whole year but finished off the season with a win in Round 9 of the PDI (Projected Digital Images) competition “Table Top & Macro Photography” with this image – “Bee in Flight”

We’re changing our Competition categories this year in order to widen the scope from just subjects defined by the external competitions we enter so hopefully some additional interest will be created.

Merry Christmas

This year has been very difficult for a lot of people and some will have fewer family members owing to the Corona virus which is affecting everyone in some way.

I have meant to photograph this house for a number of years – it is a welcome sight at Christmas and makes people happy. The owner takes great pride in putting on a show and adds new pieces, like the Merry Christmas feature this year. Whilst I was there at least a half dozen walked by and looked and that was only over a 15 minute timespan.

I only took three or four sets of images so here they are – Merry Christmas!

f4 Photographic Group Annual Trip

This year, the decision was made to go to the Lake District. We hadn’t been there for a number of years and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

All the arrangements were made fairly early in the year with the assumption that the Covid-19 situation would have eased and around 10 members signed up and booked. There were no signs of anything improving so one by one members cancelled out until a hardy 4 were left. I felt sorry for Cathryn from Skelwith Bridge Hotel who put up with me changing arrangements , sometimes on a daily basis. But she (and the hotel) was very welcoming, the rooms were comfortable and the food was great. Just ask about the Steak pies – they’re wonderful.

We’d chosen a number of different venues to photograph, Skelwith Bridge itself, Elterwater, River Brathay, The Langdales Crummock Water and Buttermere. A good time had by all and some excellent photographs too. Here’s a selection.

Papplewick Pumping Station Model Shoot

Back in September I booked a Model Shoot through TimeLineEvents – just before we went to Mull for my 70th. I’d never been there before and found that the place itself was just a great place to photograph and must go back and do it one day. The models, Illyana and Emma were just brilliant to work with and had a range of outfits and poses and needed little guidance. There was a reduced number of photographers allowed at the shoot because of the regulations for Covid-19 in place at the time. Here’s a few shots from the day.

Majestic Cruise Line – Mull

For my 70th Birthday Sue took me on the Glen Etive, owned by Majestic Cruise Lines. The cruise was called “Mull – her inlets and islands”. It is a small ship – usually sailing with maximum 14 travellers in 7 cabins – yes, it’s intimate. Owing to Covid-19 regulations, we sailed with just 10 passengers in total, plus 4 crew.

We were due to sail from Oban but decided to break the journey by staying at Duck Bay next to Loch Lomond. I had used this hotel before when on business in Scotland. As we were due to sail late afternoon the following day we planned to visit a viewing platform at Inveruglas and also the Falls of Falloch on the way up to Oban. Fate decided this wasn’t to be.

The next morning we set off and within 20 minutes I got a warning beep from the car telling me we had loss of pressure from my left rear tyre. We decided to make for a garage to get some air and/or change the wheel. The nearest one was a filling station at Arrochar only 2 miles away so we headed for that. It was an automated filling station so I filled up then went to the air machine – it was out of order. I thought I’d try and change the wheel but after having jacked the car up and got the wheel nuts off, the wheel wouldn’t budge. I called The AA – joined and asked for a call out. They said they’d get someone there at 12:30 which would have allowed sufficient time to get sorted and up to Oban by 3:15. At 1pm he hadn’t shown up and I got a text from the AA saying they were still trying to contact their breakdown service. At 1.30pm I got a call from their engineer saying he was in traffic. By this time, panic was starting to set in. A group of bikers came into the station and even if the AA guy arrived he’d have no space to park. I wondered if any of the bikers had a foot pump or something to hand and went over to ask. One guy patted his jacket down and said in a heavy Glaswegian accent that he hadn’t got it with him. He must have seen the despair (I’m gonna miss the boat) and asked what the problem was. As soon as I explained we were trying to get to a boat and I couldn’t get the wheel off he and his biggest mate came over and asked for the brace, jack and spare. He couldn’t get the wheel off either but his large pal said “will I give it a kick” – and he did – the wheel fell off and was changed in 5 minutes. It was a spacesaver wheel so we had to limit to 50mph and got there around 3:20.

Some of the cruise was spectacular, we saw dolphins, White tailed eagles, heron, seals and a golden eagle flying so high it was impossible to get a decent image. The small Lochs we went in were beautiful, especially Loch Spelve and Loch Aline. Unfortunately, because of bad weather, we were unable to get a tender into Staffa for Fingal’s Cave and onto Lungha to see if there were any puffins left – two main reasons for wanting to go on the trip. The crew were really excellent and the food from Gordon, our chef, was fantastic. The cabins are very small but are decently equipped.

We probably won’t go on such a small ship again but Majestic are a very accommodating Cruise Line and we’re pleased to have been on this trip. Thanks to our fellow passengers as well – we enjoyed their company.

f4 Photographic Group – Summer Outings

At f4 Photographic Group we normally have a 12 or 13 week Summer programme of outings to go and photograph things of interest. Various topics and genres – generally something to suit everyone and it’s planned well in advance. This year of uncertainty has brought a great deal of unhappiness to so many people so the fact that our activities have been curtailed to some extent is more of a minor irritation compared to severe illnesses and isolation.

However, the small number of outings we’ve managed have been attended well and after a long period of non-posting, I thought I share with you few images taken from the Summer Session.

We managed to get to Bempton for the gannets and puffins, The Marina in Hull, a selection of sites on the Hockney Trail, North Cave Wetlands & an outdoor model shoot in Hessle. The remainder of the time was spent utilising Zoom for various on line challenges and presentations

f4 Photographic Group – Staying at Home

All we are being asked to do is stay home, stay safe, eat, drink, sleep and look after ourselves. It doesn’t sound that hard does it but we’re all getting cabin fever to some degree. At f4 Photographic, we’ve started to hold on line meetings via Zoom and of course we’ve had to change our programme to reflect the remote access via laptops. We had a “Photographs I took this week” competition which was quite interesting and we incorporated a macro inspired “Can you guess what it is yet?” element as well. We’re managing to hold our internal club PDI competitions but likely we’ll hold all our print comps later in the year to catch up.

Anyway, here’s a few “Photographs I took this week”.

Stay Safe.