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Check, Check…..And Check Again

Stained Glass

I could kick myself. I was so intent on getting the exposure right for the stained glass windows that I forgot to check my surroundings. Can you see what’s bugging me? No! I’ll give you a clue. It’s white.

Why oh why did I not take time to do a final check and make sure everything was in place. Ruins the whole photograph, that slight imbalance.

I could probably correct it in Photoshop using the Clone Tool. But do I want to do that? Not really.

Moral of the story. Check, Check…..And Check Again

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection

BBC Scotland

I had forgotten about this photograph which I took last year on a trip to my hometown of Glasgow. Whilst searching for something completely different this was thrown up by Lightroom based on the “keyword” red.

And so to the photograph. It was a sec exposure at f11 and ISO 100. I used a tripod and a remote shutter release as I couldn’t have any movement. otherwise it would have turned out blurred. But if you look at the clouds you can see that they are blurred due to them moving during the period the shutter was open. One of those things, can’t be helped, but I sort of like it anyway.

The building you can see reflected has, as you can guess, something to do with BBC Scotland, which is a division of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the publicly funded broadcaster of the United Kingdom. BBC Scotland is responsible for broadcasting in Scotland and produces about 15,000 hours of programming for television and radio in both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It’s a bit of a short article this week as I’ve been working flat-out on a project to photograph 10 churches before the end of the month. The project requires specific items to be photographed in each church and so I’m spending two to three hours in each one, moving around taking photographs. It can be quite weird at times, these old building creak and groan, especially when it’s windy. Normally it doesn’t bother me but in one church I had a bit of scare. Maybe scare is not the right word here, more of a start.

Anyway, I’m in this beautiful church and I had just gone upstairs to the tiers above to take some photographs looking down to the pews and stained glass windows below.

That’s when I heard something scurrying away across the wooden floor of the balcony. I couldn’t see it but it sounded too big to be a mouse. Thoughts of “The Rats by James Herbert” came to mind at this point. If you’ve never read the book it opens by introducing the reader to an alcoholic vagrant, resting in an abandoned and forgotten lock-keeper’s house by a canal. As he is ruminating over the injustices inflicted upon him in his life, he is suddenly set upon by a pack of dog-sized rats.

Ugh! I hate rats…..


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Saint Michael-Caerwys

Spring is in the air and “She who must be obeyed” has decided that I need to be in the garden clearing a patch of scrub and bushes where she (?) is going to put the summerhouse.

Now the fact that some of that scrub has two small tree-like bushes seems to have escaped her notice. Or the fact that to get the area level the roots will have to be dug out.

But we’re supposed to be talking about inside this week so here’s some news about the “Grumpy Old Man”. His normally quiet and easy going life has been shattered with the arrival of two cats in the house. Mimi and Macavity, two long term visitors. The “puddycats” give Grumpy the evil eye every time they see him but so far Grumpy has adopted an air of aloofness, totally ignoring the two erstwhile visitors. That is, until Macavity decided that Grumpy’s Chicken Dinner was far better than the offering she had on her plate.

Ding Ding, Seconds Out, Round One. With a deep growl, a loud bark and a snap of those big teeth Macavity was down and out (literally, straight out the patio doors into the garden). A knockout in the first 5 seconds. Mimi meanwhile, sensing she might be next had taken refuge on the window ledge.

Magnanimous in victory, Grumpy has now taken to wagging his tail every time he sees the “puddies” Is it a gesture of friendship? Or maybe he’s just gloating? I’m the champ and don’t you forget it.

And so to this weeks challenge photograph. Saint Michael’s Church in Caerwys. It is believed that there has probably been a religious been a religious building on the site since the time of the Romans, but the present church dates back to the 13th century. However there have been many  additions and modifications throughout the years.

Described as an example of the “Clwydian” type of architecture with two adjacent parallel naves, it is similar in style to many churches in the Vale of Clwyd.


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Greg’s Postcard Made It To North Wales

A short while back Greg Urbano posted an article on his blog entitled Where In The World Is My Postcard? In the post Greg’s suggested that if we supplied a mailing address, in return he would send an autographed postcard.

Freebies. I’m up for that and as Greg wasn’t going to use my address for anything other than sending me the postcard, why not?

The postcard arrived today, Saturday 15th March and here it is featured in this photograph.

My Town

Greg suggested taking a photograph featuring the postcard, which I could mail to him. In turn he would write a blog post around my photograph with a link back to my blog.

Now that’s what I call “Sharing, Link Love”

So where am I? I’m standing on the top of Gwaenysgor hill looking towards my adopted home town of Prestatyn with it’s wide sandy beaches. Unfortunately, the wind is strong and cold and I was having trouble keeping the postcard still.

Prestatyn is a seaside resort, town and community in Denbighshire, Wales. It is located on the Irish Sea coast and has a population of around 18,496

There is evidence that the current town location has been occupied since prehistoric times. Prehistoric tools found in the caves of Craig Fawr, in the nearby village of Meliden, have revealed the existence of early human habitation in the area.

The Roman bathhouse is believed to be part of a fort on the road from Chester to Caernarfon. However, much of ‘Roman Prestatyn’ has been destroyed as houses have been built over un-excavated land.

The name Prestatyn derives from the Old English preosta (“priest”) and tun (“farm”), and was recorded in the Domesday Book as Prestetone. Unlike similarly derived names in England, which generally lost their penultimate syllable and became Preston, this village’s name developed a typically Welsh emphasis on the penultimate syllable and a modification of “ton” to “tyn”, as also happened at Mostyn. Although the Domesday Book only extended to demesnes in England, Prestatyn was included since it was at that time under English control.

An earth mound, visible in fields to the south of the railway station, near Nant Hall, marks the site of an early wooden motte and bailey castle, probably built by the Norman Robert de Banastre about 1157, which was destroyed by the Welsh under Owain Gwynedd in 1167. The Banastre family then moved to Bank Hall in Lancashire.

The town appears to have been primarily a fishing village for hundreds of years. The beginning and end of High Street today mark the location of two ‘maenolau’ (or manor houses) called Pendre (translated as “end of” or “top of town”) and Penisadre (“lower end of town”)

The town’s population remained at less than 1000 until the arrival of the railways and the holidaymakers in the 19th and 20th centuries. “Sunny Prestatyn” became famous for its beach, clean seas and promenade entertainers, and visiting for a bathe was considered very healthy by city-dwelling Victorians.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Whilst I was out today I spotted this lone tree standing in a field.


Highlighted against the blue sky and with no foliage it looked quite stark. But you have to get the whole picture (excuse the pun here) to appreciate this tree.

Our eye must constantly measure, evaluate. We alter our perspective by a slight bending of the knees; we convey the chance meeting of lines by a simple shifting of our heads a thousandth of an inch…. We compose almost at the same time we press the shutter, and in placing the camera closer or farther from the subject, we shape the details – taming or being tamed by them. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Right next to the tree was a field of commercially grown daffodils which are the national flower of Wales. By zooming out and kneeling down I was able to bring the daffodils into the scene, adding some colour to an otherwise dull photograph.

Lone Tree and Daffodils

In Welsh the daffodil is known as “Peter’s Leek“, cenhinen Bedr or cenin Pedr) and it traditional to wear a daffodil or a leek on Saint David’s Day (March 1).

What about the leek? Well, according to legend, Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, ordered his Welsh soldiers to identify themselves by wearing leeks on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field.


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Lakeside Tree

Llyn-y-Dywarchen is a privately owned lake which lies alongside the B4418. On the day I visited there was a cold wind blowing with sunlight breaking through the clouds now and again.

My plan was to walk around the lake, mainly to get closer to this tree and some old abandoned buildings which were on the opposite side of the lake from the roadside car park.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, or as Robbie Burns put it;

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley,

I couldn’t get any further round than this. The whole area was flooded with runoff water from the rock strewn hill to my left, forcing me to abandon my plans to go further.

Still it gives me an excuse to go back once the area is drier. Maybe early spring…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Here in North Wales we have more than our fair share of abandoned buildings. Most are associated with either the slate quarries, copper or coal mines which have long since ceased working.

Miners Barracks

Our first building can be found on the Miners Track as you head towards the summit of Snowdon. At the side of Llyn Teyrn stands this now abandoned stone structure which was the barracks for the men who worked on the Britannia Copper Mine further up the valley. The mine closed in 1916 but the ruined barracks and mill buildings still exist.

Nearly all of the abandoned buildings I have found on my travels no longer have a roof. The walls, made of local stone, will survive the extreme weather conditions, but the wooden supports for the roof will not. Even the walls cannot survive for ever. Often the stone is re-used by local farmers to repair the dry stone walls that are a feature of the hills and valleys in Snowdonia.

Abandoned House

The houses are not big. One, maybe two rooms, at most. What where they used for? In the case of the ones near mines and quarries I think it’s pretty obvious. But the houses that you find high on a hill and totally isolated I’m not so sure about. But I have a theory. Wales is a sheep farming country, and the sheep were allowed to roam the hills. I reckon many of the isolated houses were used by shepherds. Does that sound logical?

Abandoned Hut

Of course not all of the abandoned building were used as dwellings. I found this old building at the site of the Dinorwic Quarry. There’s nothing unusual about it. Three walls and a roof made of slate, which you would expect in a slate quarry. As to its function, who knows? A shelter, maybe?

Stone Shelter

Not all abandoned dwellings are one-roomed, low structure buildings  I’d like to leave you with this final image of the entrance gates to Gwrych Castle which is a  Grade I listed 19th-century country house quite close to me.

Gwrych Castle

The castle was erected between 1819 and 1825 and until 1924 it was the residence of the Dundonald family. After WW2 the castle was open to the public, attracting many visitors through the 1950’s and 60’s. The 1970’s saw it being used as a centre for medieval re-enactments, attracting tourists with such events as jousting and mock banquets. But the decline of Gwrych Castle was already starting and finally it closed it doors to the public in 1985.

An American businessman bought the castle in 1989 but his plans to renovate the building were not carried out. As a result the castle was looted and vandalised to become little more than a derelict shell.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

For personal reasons I’ve been kind of quiet recently and not published too many posts, but hopefully by the end of next week I should be able to get back on track. The choice for  this weeks challenge reminds me of one of those great photography jokes that always seem to pop up now and again.

A photographer from a well know national magazine was assigned to cover the fires at Yellowstone National Park. The magazine wanted to show some of the heroic work of the fire fighters as they battled the blaze. When the photographer arrived, he realized that the smoke was so thick that it would seriously impede or make it impossible for him to photograph anything from ground level. He requested permission to rent a plane and take photos from the air. His request was approved and arrangements were made. He was told to report to a nearby airport where a plane would be waiting for him. He arrived at the airport and saw a plane warming up near the gate. He jumped in with his bag and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot swung the little plane into the wind, and within minutes they were in the air. The photographer said, “Fly over the park and make two or three low passes so I can take some pictures.” “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I am a photographer,” he responded, “and photographers take photographs.” The pilot was silent for a moment; finally he stammered, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”

I’m sure you’ve probably heard it or something very similar? Anyway to this weeks challenge. Accompanied by my able-bodied assistant and tripod carrier we set off for Parys Mountain on Saturday. Weather wise we had dark clouds, strong winds and the threat of rain. Perfect.


Parys Mountain – in the Welsh language Mynydd Parys – is located south of the town of Amlwch in north-east Anglesey, Wales. It is the site of a large open cast copper mine that was extensively exploited in the late 18th century. However, there is evidence that the mountain was first mined for copper ore over 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age, Parys Mountain is thus one of the few sites in Britain where there is evidence for the prehistoric beginnings of the British metal mining industry. Nowadays there is a way marked trail around the mountain, giving views of Amlwch Port to the north and the nearby Trysglwyn wind farm to the south.

The Warning Notice at one of the entrances to the mine is quite clear.

Upon entering these premises you consent that Anglesey Mining plc and the occupier of these premises will accept no liability for any loss or damage caused.
Entry is at your own risk.

It’s a cover all statement and as long as you stick to the way marked paths there shouldn’t be any problem. This really is a boots area and in the winter wear warm clothing, Parys Mountain trail is rocky, open and exposed to the elements and there’s almost no shelter…..and Anglesey is known for the winds that blow there.

Our objective was to reach the abandoned windmill tower on top of the hill, but on the way we were going to stop to take some photographs.


The bare heavily mined landscape, with predominant red, yellow and orange colour, gives the mountain a strange appearance which has been used in the filming of several science fiction films and television shows,

Due to the high level of soil contamination little plant life survives on or near the mountain, but there are a number of examples of copper-tolerant plants and bacteria.


Parys Mountain dominated the world’s copper market during the 1780s, when the mine was the largest in Europe. Its rise severely damaged the mining industry in Cornwall. The copper from the mine was used to sheath the British Admiralty‘s wooden ships of war, to prevent the growth of seaweed and barnacles and to protect the wood from attack by shipworms. This increased the speed and manoeuvrability of the vessels, and enabled them to remain at sea for longer as there was less need to return to port for maintenance.

By 1901 production had dropped dramatically and the mine was producing only copper and ochre from the pits. Production carried on for another twenty years, until 1921, when the receivers were called in, effectively meaning that the mine had ceased production.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

I was thinking about this weeks challenge and wondering what to submit. There are many things I treasure, some I wouldn’t share, some I would. But one of the things I treasure the photo opportunities I have found with the scenery, wildlife and historical buildings in North Wales.

We have beautiful sandy beaches along our coastline which stretch for miles, and the added bonus of a very photogenic lighthouse, nearby.

Talacre Beach

Talacre Beach is a great place and can be very popular during the summer, but even at it’s busiest it never feels crowded. In the winter time you can spend hours on the beach and if you’re unlucky you might see one or two dog walkers. The lighthouse was built  in 1776 but fell into disuse in 1884. Only 18 metres high, its not big but it’s always a great photo opportunity. The best time to visit Talacre is sunrise or sunset, especially if you want that extra special photograph..

Further along the coast is Prestatyn and when the sun goes down we get some amazing sunsets. If only I’d been at Talacre that evening.

Prestatyn Sunset

But as well as those glorious beaches we have some great mountain ranges and lakes. They may not be the highest, but they are certainly rugged and a walkers dream.


Cwm Idwal is a hanging valley in the Glyderau range of mountains in northern part of the Snowdonia National Park. Its main interest is to hill walkers and rock climbers, but it is also of interest to geologists and naturalists, given its combination of altitude (relatively high in UK terms), aspect (north-facing) and terrain (mountainous and rocky). In a 2005 poll conducted by Radio Times, Cwm Idwal was ranked the 7th greatest natural wonder in Britain.

Llyn Idwal

Of course almost anywhere you go in North Wales, you will see sheep. Lots of them. Sheep farming is important to the economy of Wales. Much of Wales is rural countryside and sheep are a very common feature in the landscape throughout the country.

Welsh Lamb

Sheep farms are most often situated in the country’s mountains and moorlands, where sheepdogs are employed to round-up flocks. Sheep are also reared, however, along the south and west coasts of Wales. I read recently that there are  more than 11 million sheep in Wales and that sheep farming accounted for 20% of agriculture in Wales. Maybe that’s why in surveys with tourists to North Wales, the sheep are always the first thing they mention.

In some areas of North Wales, especially the Carneddau, Mountains you can find Welsh ponies which roam free and have done for years and years. The ponies go back to Celtic times and form the gene pool for many different breeds of horses in England and Wales.

Welsh Pony

Talking of horses leads me nicely to Harlech Castle. Can’t see the link? Let me explain.

Harlech Castle is a medieval fortification, constructed atop a spur of rock close to the Irish Sea. It was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289.

Have you got the link yet?

Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars, withstanding the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn between 1294–95, but falling to Owain Glyndŵr in 1404.

During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468, a siege memorialised in the song Men of Harlech.

If you still haven’t got the link, here it is. King Edward 1 was a knight as well as a king. Knights rode horses into war. I know, I know,,,,,it’s tenuous at best, but hey it’s my lead in.

Harlech Castle

UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Heritage site. So we move on from a great big castle to a small house. Actually the smallest house in Great Britain or so it’s claimed.

The Smallest House

The Smallest House in Great Britain, also known as the Quay House, is a tourist attraction on the quay in Conwy, Wales. The house, which has a floor area of 3.05 metre by 1.8 metre (10 feet by 6 feet) and a height of 3.1 metre (10 feet 2 inches) to the eaves, was used as a residence from the 16th century until 1900; as its name indicates, it is reputed to be Britain’s smallest house…..

…..and so from one type of house to another. Pentrefoelas church was designed in the late 1850s by Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most celebrated architects of Victorian Britain. He incorporated the south transept, of 1774, from the earlier church on this site.

Pentrefoelas church

Pentrefoelas church is noted for its stained-glass windows and a challenge for visitors is to spot the strawberry hidden in one of the windows. Some of the windows are by the noted stained-glass specialist Sir Ninian Comper (1864-1960).

That wraps it up for this week and I hope you enjoyed the treasure that we are lucky to have here in North Wales.

I leave you with this. Could you live in the smallest house?


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