After a nice, relaxing Christmas, we headed up to Scotland to spend the New Year.
We'd booked an awesome converted barn 30 miles south west of Dumfries on the coastline near Gatehouse of Fleet.
It was a bit cold for our usual walks, not to mention that a few of us were struggling with the usual winter lurgy, so we pretty much just chilled out with a few little explores in the car. A lovely hidden gem was an old abandoned Kirk pretty much at the bottom of our driveway. We visited this a few times while we were there. I spent an hour on New Year's Eve freezing to death shooting some star photos in the graveyard.
We visited Castles and Cairns. Had a few little walks along beaches in tiny bays and stood on the beach watching the sunset. Went and had a nosey at the awesome Coo Palace - a Palatial Dairy Farm that is currently being refurbished into holiday apartments. Me and my little ginger had fun exploring a shipwreck on the coastline near Kirkcudbright. We visited Dundrennan Abbey - the place where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night in Scotland. Like most of the other tourist spots though - it was closed, so we had to settle for views through the gateway. We visited the lovely little Kirk at Kirkandrews and a few other local spots.
We ate too much, drank too much, and pretty much saw in the New Year as chilled out as can be.
Happy New Year folks. Here are a few snaps from our trip.
Gear used. Fujifilm X70, Fujifilm Xpro2, Fuji 35mm, Fuji 50-230mm, Samyang 12mm
With the weather turning for the worse, we jumped up at the first sign of a non-rainy day, threw our big coats on and jumped in the car to have a little trip to look at the local Wentworth follies. I talked about the follies on THIS blog post a while back, but hadn't really had a chance to check them out until now.
I love autumn. The colours, the leaves - everything is a photographer's dream.
The first stop was Hoober Stand.
Hoober Stand is a pyramidal tower that stands just shy of a hundred feet on a little hill at roughly 157 metres above sea level. Construction was completed in 1748 and was to commemorate the quashing of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
And it looks awesome.
I love pyramids and angled buildings. Shooting this from the side reminds me of one of my favourite buildings in New York - the Flatiron Building. The setting where it sits is also quite nice. My kids love the woods and there was a nice little bit of woodland here for them to go crazy in.
Next stop - Needle's Eye.
The Needle is just down the road from Hoober. A quick 150 yard walk up the footpath from the roadside brings you right to it. It looks pretty bizarre, a sandstone pyramid just sitting at the top of a little rise on it's own.
I do love a pyramid though!
The story behind this one is a little vague. It was apparently built in the mid-18th Century for the Marquis of Rockingham to win a bet that he could drive a horse and carriage through the eye of a needle. Measurements confirm that it would have been possible - so that brings a little bit of merit to the story. Rich folk have far too much time and money on their hands if you ask me!
There's also a little part that made my missus get a good case of the goosebumps - along one side of the pyramid are a grouping of musketball holes at head and torso height, suggesting that this may once have been a site of an execution by firing squad.
Next stop - Keppel's Column.
On the way we happened across a field of Highland cows, so obviously had to stop for a few snaps. A snorting big shaggy cow is a pretty awesome sight when it's a foot away from you. I'm glad there was a gate in the way!
The Column is a 115 foot tower built to commemorate the the acquittal of the court-martialled Admiral Augustus Keppel after the Battle of Ushant.
The tower sits on another hill, not quite as high as Hoober, but still a pretty good viewpoint.
The tower is in a bit of a sorry state. Not open to the public anymore, but it still stands tall and impressive on the rise.
This one is basically 'park at the side and take a photo'. The kids didn't even get out of the car.
And that's the follies! Here are a couple of snaps.
Gear used: Fujifilm X70 with the WCLX70 fitted.
Went out to the Rockley Engine House and Furnace for a bit of fresh air (and for Alfie to wear his new classic army pouches!)
I like Rockley. There's not much there, but the woods have cool trees, there's mega vines everywhere, there's a little stream, it's always quiet and the ruins are cool.
The furnace is from 1700 and the engine house is dated 1813, but reported to be older. The engine house once housed a pumping engine that kept the local Iron mines dry.
And it looks a bit like a castle with the castellated top - so kids love it!
Freddie's favourite part of the day was 'trampoline log bouncing'. And yep - he fell off. Laughing.
Here's some snaps.
Gear used: Fujifilm X-Pro2, Samyang 12mm, Fuji 35mm 1.4,
On Easter Sunday we did what we usually do - wake up, have a cuppa in bed and hand out all the prezzies before sending the kids on a little Easter egg hunt around the house. We all happily filled our faces all morning and started the day feeling very chilled out. And half in a chocolate coma!
That all changed about 1 o' clock when the littlest monkey decided to jump down the bottom few stairs. This is a pretty normal thing for him to do (as with most kids), this time though, instead of chuckling away feeling proud of himself, there were tears...
On Tuesday we loaded up the car with enough luggage for 3 weeks rather than 4 days and headed for Wales. Half an hour later, after going back home the third time for things we'd forgot, we set off again. 6 and half hours and 4 toilet stops later, we arrived.
The land of Myths and Dragons.
And hard to read road signs.
We had booked a little garden apartment in the little seaside village of Tresaith in Cardigan Bay on the Ceredigion Heritage Coastline. Legend says (well, wikipedia) that a King of Ireland set his 7 troublesome daughters adrift in a boat and the currents of the Irish sea led them to beach on the coastline where they all fell in love and settled down with the locals. The name Tresaith means the Town of Seven.
I don't know if any of that is true, but I know we had fun. Even with our little toe rag in a sling!
Wales is beautiful.
We spent our days travelling around the area. We looked at castles, stone circles, burial chambers, lighthouses, abandoned buildings, wildlife and the gorgeous mountains of Snowdonia. We ate chips looking at the sea and walked down piers. We ate pizza at the coolest, most hipster outdoor restaurant ever. We skimmed stones in lakes and tromped across beaches.
And every evening we went down to our local beach where a waterfall fell over the cliffs onto the sand and we stayed there until the sun went down. On our last night we had clear skies, so we got to watch the stars appear too.
It was perfect.
Some snaps from our trip.
We booked our apartment through Airbnb. For some money off your first trip, click HERE.
While we were down in Leicester, we decided to have a little explore. We had initially planned to go visit Ashby de la Zouch Castle, but the weather was a bit too grim for that!
Our first stop was the New Walk Museum where we went to have a nosey at the dino bones and the Egyptian mummies. Freddie was a bit scared of the Egyptian bit, but enjoyed looking at some of the animals - especially the owl. His favourite bit was playing with the gemstones in the gift shop! For more info on the museum, click HERE.
After the museum we drove up to Notts, had some scran at the very nice Badger Box and then went to have a nosey round an old Church built in 1356 (the site is older though, the present church replaces an older one on the same site).
The church was pretty cool, a few nice old details left and lots of gravestones from the 17th and 18th Centuries in the yard. The coolest bit though, was the old Hall and the gatehouse to the rear. Built in the mid 1300s, it was once home to Mary Chaworth, who was the lover of the poet Lord Byron. Lord Byron's uncle actually killed (the then) Lord Chaworth in a duel in the gardens of the house. Very cool place with a lot of history - the home of some very powerful families in Nottingham. Wouldn't mind a revisit to get into the grounds!
Here are a few snaps.
I thought I'd put a blog post together to show what I get up to in my spare time.
I have a strong fascination with all things broken and abandoned. I love rusty steel and twisted metal, broken stones and mossy rocks, shattered glass and age old bottles, broken clocks and worn-out watches. I love to stand in a place where men and women once toiled and bled, the industry long since gone and their efforts forgotten. I love the feel of walking down a hospital corridor where cries of joy and tears of sadness would never be heard again, just the eerie silence of something forgotten - maybe the occasional patter of dripping water from the now broken ceilings. I love to sit in a chair where someone once spent the majority of their daily grind, see the random bits of graffiti carved into the desks, wondering who the initials 'JB' belonged to or whether 'Steve' still loved 'Alice'. The sadness of some of these places can bring a tear to your eye, the thoughts of someone's job gone as another steelworks or mill closed their doors. Some of the sights can be breathtaking too - the grandeur of the details in the building, the size of the doorways, the handwritten signs and the craftwork in the smallest window.
So, here are a few snaps of some of the places that I've visited. Abandoned mills, steelworks, factories, potteries, hospitals, asylums, collieries, churches, mortuaries, houses and mansions. Broken RAF bases, trainyards, garages, farms and barns. Lost cemeteries and junkyards.
I try to see the beauty in the broken. The splendour of the past in the grime of the present.
Have a nosey through - someone you know, knew or loved could have once walked these halls, drove these cars, sat in these chairs and watched these clocks, just waiting for the weekend...
Thought I'd start this little blog to let people know what we get up to. Some personal stuff thrown in the mix too.