Posts Tagged ‘ wales ’

Season of Mists

It’s been a while since I posted here – over a year, in fact. Family matters seem to have taken up much of my time, but fortunately they have no place here. I’ve been stirred into action by the traditional sounds of gloomy whining about the weather, specifically last week’s fogs, presented by our media as either the imminent apocalypse or emblematic of our grey and miserabilist national character.

In fact this duvet covering the country was nowhere more than a couple of hundred feet thick, and a quick trip up the nearest hill revealed daily views of astonishing beauty from sunrise to sunset. And all this on top of weeks of superb weather throughout September and October – how lucky we are in our climate.

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Wassail, wassail

A new year, and this infant blog reaches its first anniversary. Quite soon it will be capable of stumbling forward on its own two tiny feet and one day perhaps breaking into articulate speech. That, however, is in an uncertain future. What we do know for certain is that Spring will return and the sun will be seen again – for Presteigne has held its Wassail, without which the world (Radnorshire, anyway) would remain forever in winter darkness. A good crowd gathered in the town orchard to drink quantities of mulled cider and eat everything possible that can be made from apples.

wassail

wassail

wassail

wassail

Under a clear starry sky and lit by blazing torches, songs (ancient & modern) were sung and the trees’ good health was drunk. All traditions have to start somewhere, so the songs included that antique ditty We Are Wassailing (trad., attr. Mr. Rod Stewart). Then the sun’s continued rising was ensured in a fiery ritual.

wassail

wassail

The Apple Queen lights the Sun

wassail

Spring will come again

A happy New Year to all

Snow, ice and fungus

All around a steady drip, combined with the occasional roar as a burst pipe thaws into life. Enough of that. On to the traditional ‘snowy landscape with sheep‘, another unavoidable part of the winter ritual.

sheep in the snow, Presteigne

corrugated iron barn in snow

A brief and bitter walk on Christmas afternoon led past this barn in the last of the light. I found more interest in a frozen stream near our front door, though, before a foot of snow covered it. It might almost have been a photogram by Moholy-Nagy.

frozen stream

Another rather spectacular example of life imitating art appeared in a nearby house where dry rot fungus had spread between two sheets of perspex leaning against a wall. The abstract (about 4 feet high) that resulted when the sheets were peeled apart was a thing of great beauty.

dry rot fungus

Celtic Fringes

To Scotland and both top and bottom corners of Wales this last week. The Scots trip was to photograph the garden at Crarae on Loch Fyne, though it has to be said that the real high (or low) point came with a possibly illicit visit to the anatomy museum at the Gormenghast-like University of Glasgow. The university buildings are awe-inspiring, late Victorian Gothic with bits of Scottish Renaissance mixed in. Where Pugin’s buildings look as if they might lift off, these massive towers seem like natural outcrops from some geological layer deep in the earth’s crust. At the base of one of the towers steps covered in pigeon droppings spiral their way down into darkness. Eventually one emerges into a dim light and a smell of formalin, and enters the museum itself, filled with William Hunter’s beautifully prepared eighteenth-century specimens, bones, and fortunately¬† unidentifiable objects floating in murky bottles.

foetal skeletons

Foetal skeletons

Next to Bodnant in North Wales, where the azaleas were rioting their little hearts out all over the precipitous slopes of the dell. I was last there on the same day two years ago to shoot the laburnum tunnel (then at its peak). This year it wasn’t nearly out; this Spring it seems we’re running about two weeks behind.

Azaleas at Bodnant

Finally to the other corner of Wales, to accompany a friend sailing to the bird sanctuary of Skomer Island, where we passed the night in an anchorage of amazing beauty, surrounded by every variety of seabird, and seals full of the joys of Spring. What a delight, after far too many motorway miles, to wake there early on a still Sunday morning.

Skomer

A current feature

Have a look at Dorian Bowen’s extraordinary minimalist conversion of a traditional Welsh cottage in this month’s World of Interiors (January issue). The story’s called The Slate Wiped Clean, with text by Helena Attlee

A modernist conversion of a Welsh cottage

Bryncyn, near Carmarthen

An occasional progress report from my wonderful world

Here goes – a new year, a new start etc, etc. Resolutions? Work harder. Shoot more pictures – more to the point, shoot better pictures. Think better of people. Chase my slow-paying clients – you know who you are – and try to keep out of debt. Have more fun. Keep this blog passably up to date. On which note, here is a pic from my last shoot just before Christmas. The client was the wonderfully-named Friends of Friendless Churches, who look after such buildings in the remoter spots of Britain and are bringing out a book later this year.

St Mary's Church, Penllech

St Mary's Church, Penllech, on the Lleyn peninsula

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