Wanderings with Chris……..The Ogwen Valley and a Tale of Woe.

After our last visit to Llanberis and the Lonely tree our sights turned towards other areas of Wales that we hadn’t visited before and this time we chose the Ogwen valley as there seemed to be a lot of interesting photographs coming from that area, it was also half an hour closer to home so we didn’t have to get up so early. Initially when we woke up at stupid o’clock I looked out of the window and saw the rain and just got back into bed but as the morning went on it was decided that ‘why the hell not’ and off we went with hope in our hearts that the weather would be kind and give us a break. Little did we know………

The Ogwen Valley, or Dyffryn Ogwen in Welsh, blew our minds! Part of the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales, this wide glacial valley is surrounded by the most amazing mountains and tucked away are these little lakes with waterfalls, in the rain anyway, as well as historic towns and massive quarries where Slate, Copper, Lead, Zinc and other minerals were mined. We drove through the valley with so many wonderful views but no stopping points and in its autumnal colours, well it was just breathtaking, the colours were rich and saturated and the light was diffuse through the rain, perfect.

When we arrived at the visitors center and youth hostel it was raining, nothing wrong there it had been raining all day off and on, so we had lunch in the car and this is where it was starting to go down hill to one of the worst days ever. To start with the lining of our big flask exploded when it was being filled, so no coffee, that’s number 1. We waited for about half an hour for the rain to go off but it didn’t so struggling into our waterproofs we decided to head out and explore which is where my idea of a walk and Chris’s idea kind of diverged. I wanted the easy route around the lake, he thought I meant the lake to our right not left and took us off that way, it was stunning!

But it was still raining and it was a struggle to walk along the path because who knew there would be so many idiotic people like us walking out in the rain! Hikers, dog walkers, kids on a school trip, all soaking wet and smiling. We were unsure of the path and there was so much to look at, rushing water over rocks, mountains, waterfalls everywhere and we just wanted to stop and drink it all in, in the rain. This is where it gets tricky because here I am big waterproof pants that I had forgotten reached up to my chest and were now pooling around my ankles, new waterproof coat, remember that, camera bag, tripod and new Nikon Z7 mounted on said tripod and I am looking like I don’t know what with a head on a swivel trying to take in the views all at once so I could get the best photos and my new Nikon Z7 flew through the air and crashed onto the stones at my feet, it had detached from the tripod! That’s number two!

Yes my lovely and very expensive camera was on the floor in a puddle, the whole world stood still!

We had made it approximately 400 meters up the damn mountain and I’d broken my lens, the glass was ok but the lens its self looked bent and the focusing ring had a gap on one side, noooooooo! We decided to press on but the shine was gone from the day, I wonder why and yes it was still raining, anyway we made it up to Llyn Idwal and that is where I stalled, emotionally spent and overwhelmed by the view I’d had enough! I took my best photo of the day at the lake but I wanted to go home and cry in the privacy of my own home, in my p’jays, with coffee, warm and dry and as we turned back the sky lightened and the rain started to thin out and the views down the valley stunned my mind. We made it back to the car in one piece, struggled out of our very wet weather gear and to cap off the day found ourselves wet through.

Yes our coats had done a great job but mine in particular had leaked through the arms and the zip and the shoulders and the back, ok it failed spectacularly and it was not a cheap coat, my old waterproof trousers had done a better job of keeping me dry, that’s number three. And it stopped raining as soon as we got into the car! How I wished we had stayed home and I’d had a p’jay day. Anyway, our waterproofs and boots took three days to dry out and my camera was packed up and sent to Nikon for repair all that was left was to look through the photos I had taken and to process the ones I liked the best and here they are for your delectation, I hope you enjoy them.

Wonderings with Chris……Llanberis

The summer has come and gone, blue skies are filling with clouds and autumn is bringing with it the hint of a chill and those colours photographers dream of. Autumn or Fall has to be one of the best times of year, golden, red, yellow colours in the trees as they prepare to drop their leaves, fog and mist, maybe a bit of frost, you cant beat it. This is the time when my blood stirs and I have an over powering need to be out in nature with my camera. Bearing in mind my husband and I are well into our fifty’s, so totally not fit and with several full on health conditions between us that doesn’t bode well for walking any kind of distance, so anywhere we do go has to be well researched and not too long a walk. We decided that our first trip out would be to Llanberis in north Wales with an approximate drive of two hours each way and the decision was to go for sunrise.

I usually shoot sunset photos because to put it bluntly I hate getting up early and wasting all that lovely time in my warm bed but I was so excited to be driving off the Wirral that this time I didn’t mind. Picnic lunch and flask of coffee packed, goodbyes said, we drove off into the night chasing the sunrise, our destination, Llyn Padarn, Llanberis which is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia and is an example of a moraine dammed lake and one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. It is also home to the ‘Lonely Tree’.

As per usual we were late setting off and we literally chased the sunrise arriving at Llyn Padarn just as the best of the colour left the sky. I jumped out of the car and walked as quickly as possible to set up my camera and tripod on the shore, the sky still lingered with beautiful golden light and I managed to take several photographs of the tree backed by the lovely light, then it was gone. We hung around talking to the other photographers for a while, traded some landmarks then over coffee decided where to go next. This trip we visited the lake and found an easy way to the Dinorwic quarry and I have to say that the light streaming down the valley was magnificent! Golden, diffuse light that gave me some spectacular images.

We stopped for some lunch and coffee and a teacake at the lovely Tu Hwnt i’r Bont tea house, we were welcomed very warmly and were soon sat in front of the fire with locally made tea cake and Bara Brith. We went outside to appreciate the red creeper covered house, we had missed the best of the colour by about two weeks i think and had a short walk along the river before heading home.

It was exhausting work driving and mentally exhausting with the emotions that run through me when I am in the situations where there is great light and amazing landscapes, which there were plenty of, it reminded me why I do what I do, the buzz stayed with me for days and editing my photos just kept that buzz going. Posting my work on to social media and seeing it along with the work from other photographers of the same area gave me a quiet glow, so much so that I quietly started researching our next adventure.

Wanderings with Chris …….. To LLanberis

Haven’t done one of these posts in a long while!

Wanderings with Chris to LLanberis which is a village in Gwynedd, northwest Wales, on the southern bank of the lake Llyn Padarn and at the foot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Google it and you will see lots and lots of posts featuring a tree, a lake and mountains. Some are fantastic others are samey samey but they are all unique as there is only one Lonely Tree on the sore of LLyn Padarn. I have seen this tree plastered all over instagram, sunrise, sunset, night, moody, you name it it’s been done and when we came out of lockdown it was the first place we headed to because I wanted to photograph it too. So armed with my new Nikon Z7 we headed out to Wales at stupid o’clock in the morning to get there for sunrise, only there wasn’t one.

Wikipedia says; Llyn Padarn is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia, Gwynedd, north Wales, and is an example of a moraine dammed lake. The lake is approximately 2 miles long and at its deepest point is 94 feet deep, and is one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. At its south-eastern end it is linked to the neighbouring Llyn Peris. The busy village of Llanberis lies on the southern banks of the lake. The outflow of Llyn Padarn is on the northern shore and is called Afon Rhythallt, which passes by the village of Brynrefail, Gwynedd and becomes Afon Seiont below Pont Rhythallt, near Llanrug. It reaches the sea at Caernarfon. Padarn Country Park is located on the northern flank of the lake, including Coed Allt Wen, a rare and ancient sessile oak woodland. Both the woodland and Llyn Padarn are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.’ Wikipedia

We drove for about two hours in the dark, up before any sane person, I was excited to get there as it was the first hint of freedom we’d had for so long. I was expecting hoards of photographers crowding around the lakeside as it is such a popular place, there was Chris, me and two other guys and a few wild swimmers. We politely shared the best views, I was even encouraged by one guy to lend one of his lenses, we had the same camera, we waited for the sky to show colour, it didn’t, they left and we hung around with me taking photos from as many view points as possible in the off chance I could get something different, you can’t really.

Back home and to my horror I discovered my computers graphics card couldn’t handle the images from my new camera, queue new computer, it opened them in Adobe lightroom but took far too long to do anything with them. I have some great shots, the raw files are around 70MB each and are sitting on my hard drive until I get my new computer, those I have managed to process to some extent are below. I’m going back to try again for a sunrise.

Wanderings with Chris……………..Our Dunham Massey Adventure

Several weeks ago i planned a visit to Dunham Massey to coincide with the autumn colours and the deer rut. The first day we had earmarked we couldn’t go, the day we did go we got to about a mile from our junction turn off and traffic came to a sudden stop due to a serious road traffic accident. It was a nice day and not to late on in the morning so we were not worried too much. Turns out there had been a guy knocked off his motor cycle so it was pretty bad. (but i didn’t let that stop me and i managed to get a few shots of the stalled traffic for potential stock photos.)

When we finally arrived at the park we arranged to go on a guided walk around the park in the hope of seeing the deer and learning some of the history of the place.  Our guide John was fabulous, really knowledgeable and nice too. We walked with him for about an hour and didn’t see any deer at all! When we started to walk back through the park we did finally come across some young bucks and Doe’s hiding in the long grass. I managed to get a few photos without disturbing them, which can’t be said for this pair who got up right into the face of this buck. I had my camera ready just in case they were chased.

Wanderings with Chris… Up the road to see the Blue Bells

Over the years the Blue Bells on Grange Hill have multiplied exponentially. We now have a sea of flowers along the bottom of the hill which in the Spring is a beautiful sight. I  dont know how they got there as there never were Blue Bells on the Hill when i was a child, not that i can remember anyway. Maybe someone has planted them hoping to make a beautiful sea of Blue, it certainly worked.

 

Wanderings with Chris…… a mad dash down to the beach

Driving back from Birkenhead on Tuesday evening i turned to my husband, my partner in crime and coo’d over another beautiful sunset. With a weary sigh i wished i had the energy to get my camera and go down to West Kirby and take photos of the beautiful sunset that was in front of us.
I haven’t taken any sunset photographs in over 12 months, we live in a delightful coastal town and the sunsets are glorious so you can get a bit sunset’ed out and i had made the decision not to take anymore pictures for at least a year.
We have had some lovely weather over Easter and i had watched some glorious colours in the evening sky’s and this evening i finally gave in and made my mind up to drag my camera down to the beach.
We got home, i grabbed my bag and we dashed off to West Kirby beach, a mere 3 minutes away and as i had an idea for my photographs we set off at a trot or as much of a trot that you can manage with a leg that doesn’t work properly, to where i wanted to be. Have you noticed how quickly the sun sets when you have a sore leg, are walking on sand and have to walk far enough to get your shot? I didn’t think i was going to be in time but i was! I collapsed onto the sand, luckily in the correct direction to make the shot and as happens sometimes my first shot was the best.

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I wanted something different from the usual ball of colour and scarlet sky so i concentrated on the spartina grass and kept the colour well in the background, i think it works really well and out of the five photos i thought the best i just love the very first i took. What do you think?

Wanderings with Chris…………. and Lizzy and Meg to the Black Pearl

Bonfire night, gun powder, treason and plot. I find it kind of strange and exciting at the same time that we as a nation celebrate the plot to blow up the houses of parliament in the same fashion as those who tried to destroy them. I look forward every year to the beauty of fireworks, the noise, percussion, colour and the fact that i will be among so many other people all looking to the heavens, waiting, wondering what the next explosion will bring. Some years i don’t get to see and feel the excitement because i cant get away from looking after family, the kids wont go or i remember too late, this year i have made sure i remember and if the kids wont go, well they are old enough to stay at home while Chris and i go and ohh and ahh at the pretty fireworks together. For a couple of years the Captain and his crew have been building a sculpture of the Black Pearl (Pirates of the Caribbean) on the sands in New Brighton, we have watched it develop, get washed away in storms, develop again, we have chatted to the Captain and his crew, photographed them and generally enjoyed the way The Pearl has become such a lovely tourist attraction. We discovered, thanks to the power of facebook, that there was going to be an informal fireworks display at The Pearl on the 5th and decided we had to go, fireworks, a walk, nigh time adventures for anyone wanting to come with us, a photographic expedition in the dark, heaven! Middle kid (A) doesn’t like the percussion of the fireworks,( the best bit ) so it was just Lizzy and her friend Meg accompanying us. So we (the nesh adults) wrapped up warm and headed out. When we arrived at The Pearl we were quite surprised at just how many people had come out, several hundred people in my estimation had come down to join in the fun. Some had brought their own fireworks and added them to the crew’s bundle so we had quite a show. I took the opportunity to take some photographs, of course, it’s what i do, i photographed the sculpture decked in fairy lights and children, Liverpool’s sky line and of course the fireworks, i had such fun!

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I am very pleased with the way my photos have come out, the colours are wonderful and i am pleased with myself for having the knowledge, experience and remembering it, putting it all together and actually coming away with 30+ usable images. I wonder what the guy who was stood by me with his camera, tripod and very long lens got, i used my kit lens for all of my shots and have only had to crop one image and that was because of an adjustment in camera raw’s lens correction. I wonder if with modern technology we have lost the ability to just stand and watch, it seemed that nearly everyone had a phone aimed at the sky, watching through a screen what was taking place in front of their noses, only the very young, running around and having fun watched first hand what was going on which was a shame. I think it is very important that at times you just stand and watch and record the event in your mind not on a memory card, after all that is how happy memories are made.

Wanderings with Chris ……Hoylake is enjoying the Open Golf, again!

Eight years ago the Open Golf came to The Wirral, we had money thrown at us to improve Hoylake, which they did really well but it didn’t go all the way through it just kind of stopped up by the Anchor, still Hoylake was left looking pretty. We had thousands of bodies and their cars visiting and they were neatly parked in massive carparks and shuttled in and out. They (quite a few but not all) visited our pubs and wine bars leaving behind their money and going home with great impressions and wonderful memories and we are doing it all over again this month. We have Tigers, McIlroys, Scotts, players from all over the world and they have brought their caddies, managers, families and goodness knows how many other people all geared up to make their week go without a hitch. http://www.royal-liverpool-golf.com/ Our hotels and guest houses are full and if you wander down Market St after 8pm you can hear people commenting on how it feels like you are in a foreign country as there is such a great holiday atmosphere.
During July we have also held Hoylake’s festival of firsts, a fortnight of entertainment and art, the shops, pubs and bars have local poetry and art in their windows and on their walls, which add’s to the great feel of excitement in Hoylake. Thursday was the first day of the Open and i went to Hoylake with Chris to say Hi to our artist friends manning their art stalls hoping to sell their art to the milling hordes. There were plenty of hordes and some selling of art but i was more interested in the movement of Hoylake, the people and the change of pace. People pored from the golf club, jumped on buses and trains or headed for the pubs and bars, they spilled out over the pavements onto the grass and laughed and joked and drank. Prime opportunity for some great street photography.

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We wandered along Market St slowly, chatting to people we know, stopping and sitting drinking in the atmosphere and taking photos of the people doing the same as us. Along the way we walked past Jill’s Cookshop where i have several photographs entered into the Festival of Firsts art competition, in the window is the Lighthouse at Fort Perch and underneath it is….. a Silver award!!! 🙂 Way to go me! and congratulations to all of the others awarded.
fort perch lighthouse
Of course we were really excited and whenever anyone went to look in the shop window Chris would dash over and tell them that i took the photo, i think he is rather proud of me. After we hung out and chatted and took loads of photos we drove down to the promenade and drove along to the RNLI station just in time for a beautiful sunset, a great time to take some photos of the Grace Darling sculpture.

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The sister to the Black Pearl in New Brighton. We watched the sun go down together then headed home to replace the hustle and bustle of Market St with the hustle and bustle of family life. (Read BEDTIME) We have two more days of the golf and then weeks of getting everywhere back to normal again. I hope they bring the Open back to Hoylake eventually it is an amazing event and an amazing opportunity for Hoylake and the Wirral.

Wanderings with Chris 2014….. Eastham Country Park

The New Year is now six weeks old and those weeks have zipped past so quickly, its true what they say about how quickly time goes as you get older and i’m now one off fifty, gulp. Chris and I, well we haven’t done much wandering this year, poor Chris has to have more surgery on his leg, (bad veins) so he has found it more difficult than usual to wander with me.
We have kept our wanderings local as i have had an urge to photograph squirrels. We only have Grey’s locally but they have been fun to photograph. We have to adventure out to Formby to get Red’s which is a bit too far at present.
We went down to Eastham Country Park and had a great time watching the wildlife and birds, it was a lovely day and i found loads of things to photograph. There were lots of different Fungi too and i got up close and personal with an inquisitive squirrel, its just a shame i had a long lens on as i couldn’t focus close enough and it was one of those really great ‘shots that got away’ moments.

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Wanderings with Chris, Alex, Elisabeth……..Cumbria

Family holidays. Love them or hate them they are an integral part of the trial by summer school holidays. Ours usually consist of mum, dad and two out of three kids now, with the usual bickering and moaning and wanting  to go home. We’re used to it and a holiday wouldn’t be the same without it. We had a weeks camping owed to us from last years flooded camp site, so we upgraded to a caravan as i didn’t think we had it in us to camp this time, just too tired, and it was great! We planned our week so we had flexibility for the weather and managed to fit in some great days out. Its done us, me and Chris, a  great deal of good to get away from the trials of cancer treatments, (my mum) and the angst of late teenage, (eldest child) . From the get go i said this would be a holiday on MY terms and they would do what I wanted to do and you know what, they did. We went to all of the places I wanted to go and take photos, they even enjoyed themselves and i took them where they wanted to go and took photos there too. Re visiting places was great and i also found a ‘tin tabernacle’ hidden at the side of the main road in a copse of trees, hidden and abandoned since the mid 80’s, which was a fantastic find. I love going to Cumbria because the land is totally different from the Wirral. It has High hills, deep valleys, folds and dips and lots of forestation.  It’s also inland so the Lakes are spectacular, we went to Windermere and cruised the lake which is great fun, Ambleside to see the house on the bridge, Penrith, Ulswater, Kendall, Appleby, we visited waterfalls which were fantastic because of the rain, South lakes wildlife park to see the snow leopards and we also took it easy, resting, relaxing and having family time together, yes we were one short but we can make up for that another time.

I was a little worried about the new car and if it would live up to expectation as its smaller but we did ok, no one was squashed, all our stuff fitted in the roof bag and boot and we learned some good stuff about the car, so good all round, i will be posting on my other blog wanderingsinafiat500l.wordpress.com my findings if you are interested.

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