In the early 2000s, Nancy and I took a trip up to Yorkshire for a long weekend in February. We were staying in Pickering and we got there just before a decent snow storm arrived. By the time the snow started, we were comfortably tucked up in the hotel bar but the following day, any chance of going somewhere was out of the question as the town had temporarily been cut off by the snow. The day after, the roads had been cleared and we took a drive north.
We ended up spending some time in Whitby. A historic port town, Captain James Cook first went to see from there. It has the ruins of an Abbey on the hill overlooking the harbor and the town rises from the water in a style you would expect of such an old English town to do. We went to a really nice pub for lunch as a recall where we had excellent fish and chips – formulaic I know but still bloody good! I scanned these images when making a surge through my old film shots so I thought I would go back about 20 years to something from the old country.
When we still lived in Lancashire, we made a trip to Shropshire to visit my uncle and his family. As part of the visit, we went to Ironbridge. For those not familiar with industrial architecture, this is a significant place for the bridge made of iron (you’d never have guessed) that was a major innovation at the time. There is a great museum nearby which has old buildings and forging/casting techniques still practiced. Here is a view of the bridge itself and the steeply sided river valley that required it. Maybe we will get back there at some point on a future trip. We have friends that aren’t so far away!
More from the negative scan archive. Another hike we were taking and this time the wildlife is a little larger. This herd of deer was grazing nearby and there were some impressive sets of antlers on display for some of them. One stag was staring in our direction briefly so I got a nice head on shot. The scan of the negative with my 40D seems to have come out pretty well.
I’m not sure what is was that prompted this but something made me think about shooting action sports and I remembered a time I was visiting my friends Jon and Charlie in the UK. Charlie has always been an active horsewoman and has raised many horses, some of which she has jumped competitively. They have a jumping area in one of the fields of their farm and she was interested in getting some photos of her jumping this horse. (Something makes me think this was Grace but I am probably mistaken.)
I was keen to give it a go and was also interested in what angles would be most interesting/dramatic. Of course, they couldn’t just keep jumping all the time to allow me to try different things so we had to give some ideas a go and move on. I would like to have had some remotes with me to have set the camera up in some dramatic spots. Maybe I can come back guys and have another go sometime?
An interesting part of this was seeing what things are of interest for different people. The shots Charlie liked the best were the ones as the horse is coming down to the ground again. Apparently that works well for her and is popular with other horse people. For me it made for an awkward looking shot. (Maybe it is good for evaluating technique?). I liked the ones when the horse is just coming up over the fence as it looks more dynamic and elegant. It’s strange how different things make a shot good for different people.
These two pictures are very old but they appealed to me given the time of year. They were taken in Yorkshire over 20 years ago as we were hiking in the area. It was spring and the lambing season was underway. We saw a couple of lambs gamboling through a graveyard while another was resting in the grass. Lambs in spring are such an iconic scene. With spring upon us, I felt like they should be dug out from my negative scan archive.
A short while ago, Nancy and I returned from a vacation in the UK. We had an excellent time and ended up seeing and doing a ton of interesting things. Consequently, the blog is going to have a stream of things from the UK showing up in the coming weeks. This is just the start.
As a kid growing up by the sea in the UK, I had a fascination with lifeboats which remains to this day. For those of you not from the UK, the sea rescue service in the UK might come as a bit of a surprise. It is a charitable organization, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) formed in 1824 which has continued to this day to provide rescue services around the coast of the UK and The Republic of Ireland. The government has no role in its operations and it is entirely funded by donations. Various members of my family have been involved in fund raising and serving in the crews and I remain a member of the institution despite having left the UK over ten years ago.
The Isle of Wight, where I grew up, had two offshore lifeboats. Cowes, the town in which I lived for many years, is home to the Inshore Lifeboat Centre for the RNLI where they build the boats while Bembridge and Yarmouth both have boats. Yarmouth’s boat is permanently afloat in the harbor while Bembridge’s boat is housed in a boathouse at the end of a pier with a slipway direct into the water.
A few years ago we were in Bembridge for a family wedding. We took a trip down to Lane End where the lifeboat is based and we timed it well since they have a practice launch once a week. I wasn’t going to miss this.
I actually nearly blew the shot. We were on the shore waiting for the boat to come down the slip. I figured I should get as many shots as possible since I wasn’t going to get a second chance. As it happens, the boat goes down the slipway a bit more slowly than I had anticipated. I started firing as soon as I saw it. On the body I had in those days, the buffer wasn’t huge and I managed to fill it up. However, I did still get some shots as it entered the water.
Since that trip, the old boathouse and pier have been replaced with a new facility. I have a shot of it taken from the air. However, if we go back sometime soon, I would really like to set up something with the crew to get shots of the new boat launching from the new ramp. Ideally, I would like to shoot from a boat out at the end of the ramp. I would aim to have a second body mounted on the boathouse with Pocketwizards mounted on both to get simultaneous shots from two angles with both the side on splash and the overhead view of the boat entering the water. I have relatives who know members of the crew. Whether we can make anything happen I don’t know but it would be cool to do!
Another famous Cotswold village about which I knew nothing is Painswick. I am beginning to think that I am clueless about my own country! Even so, I managed to get us there (even if a little GPS assistance was involved).
Painswick is another of those old towns that boomed in a time before industrialization when the local production and access to a river meant it was well suited to commerce. Apparently the town flourished in more than one area if the local signs are anything to go by but if you want to know the details, Google will be more helpful to you than I. The town has an interesting selection of old buildings a winding streets but the area that was of most interest to me was around the church.
As befits a community that had a lot of cash, they had a big church. The idea of buying your way into heaven has obviously been around a long time! While the church is impressive, what really catches the eye is the topiary collection in the churchyard. There are many yew trees that have been trimmed and shaped together over a long period of time. The result is many shapes and archways across the paths all formed from the trees. The town may not be the booming center it once was but it still knows how to take care of itself and these displays really impress.
The rest of the town is worth a wander around too and that is what we did for a couple of hours. If you are in the area, pay it a visit. Then you will know as much about it as me!
Nancy had looked at some possible places to visit while we were in the Cotswolds and one of them was Bibury. I had never heard of the place but it turns out that this is one of the most photographed places in the UK. I guess I should have known about it but I didn’t. The photogenic area is a row of old cottages that are down near the river. We certainly took a look but we also wandered around the rest of the village which is pretty without needing the most visited sections.
The heart of the village is the church. It was a pretty nice looking building but surrounded by some places that were either not too appealing or were being rebuilt and were covered in scaffolding. A little careful angling meant I could avoid the worst of the backgrounds. The graveyard was also an interesting place to look around and see just how old some of the grave were.
We did return to the most visited part of the village. Coach loads of people would show up every once in a while so we did our best to avoid them and find times when they weren’t filling up the view. Also, it was an effort to try and minimize the cars in the shot. When you live in an old home, you don’t have parking included. Therefore, you park outside your house. Perfectly reasonable for the homeowner but having colorful modern cars is not what you want when taking a picture of centuries old buildings!
I can certainly see why the place is so popular with the tourists. It really is about as typical of an English country village. No idea why I had never heard of it but now I have so all is good.
Our stay in the Cotswolds needed a base and Burford was the place we chose. It is Oxfordshire rather than Gloucestershire but just about sneaks in on the edge of an area that I don’t think has a hard boundary anyway. Burford is an old market town and looks just like you would expect a Cotswold town to look. The buildings are all Cotswold stone and fit your image of what you would want. Apart from providing a nice location and a great hotel, it also provided the opportunity to take some walks without having to drive anywhere.
One walk we took was a loop starting and finishing at the hotel. It was a lovely day for a walk (and not just because I could see Hercules and A330s flying from nearby RAF Brize Norton in the distance!). The sun also seemed to be attracting a large number of pheasants. Every time we came around a corner, there seemed to be more pheasants hanging out in our path.
The walk provided a variety of sights as we went. Some wide open hillsides which had been harvested so were easy to cross, wooded areas, small valleys with trees either side and riverside sections meant the outing was constantly interesting. We saw some very old churches, some long views and a selection of wildlife.
The river had swans and geese that were interested in our presence and one section of the footpath included some young cattle. They were not huge since they were young but young cattle are still pretty chunky. While they were busy eating, we appeared to be of no interest. However, once we got a little closer, they got curious and came to greet us. We took a little care since, while they were not going to harm us, they can push you around without realizing it.
The last part of the walk brought us back in through the village and to the hotel. Given how much we were eating and drinking on this trip, it was a good thing to get some exercise in at last!