Upstairs, Downstairs Part 2

Better late than never as they, although due to circumstances beyond my control I had to delay writing this post. Now that I’ve finished the unexpected re-decoration of our bedroom at home I can finally get around to writing this post. Sage green, nice colour, once you get used to it.

Continuing the story of Attingham Hall, In later years Attingham Hall was used as a hospital between 1914 and 1918 for wounded soldiers from World War 1. After the Second World War, Attingham was used as an Adult Education College for 23 years so not a lot remains of the downstairs furnishings. Room that you see are typical of the time but I’m not sure how accurately they reflect actual life below stairs. So let’s get started.

This is the kitchen and of all the rooms below stairs this is probably the most truest representation. The lady was actually putting together the ingredients for a carrot soup when we visited.

The Kitchen

The smell of fresh lemons permeated this room. Attingham has an education program for school children and it looked like they had just finished a lesson in cooking. Pancakes I think….


This room could have been the scullery it’s very close to the kitchen and would be where the pots and pans would have been washed and cleaned. No modern aids in here. Hard work and elbow grease was the only way to get anything clean.


This room was laid out as the staff dining room. The plates you see on the table explain who would sit where. For instance on the nearest plate is the inscription

Head Coachman Frederick Nash, the highest ranking servant wearing livery. Employed for his skill driving and caring for horses. 35 gns per year.

A guinea was worth 1 pound and 1 shilling in old UK currency before we became decimalised. Nowadays that would be 1 pound and 5 pence. So in todays currency GBP £36.75 (USD $46).as an annual salary.

Staff Dining Room

Just behind and to my left from where I was standing, there is a set of stairs that lead straight up to the front door of Attingham . The dining room windows also face the driveway and the front of the hall so staff would be able to see any callers to the great house.

Right that just leaves the Silver Room which has a large vault like door to secure the house silver which you can see in the cabinets

Silver Room

That’s it. The rooms are not as ornate or decorative. Plain and functional as you would expect for an downstairs in a great house.


Upstairs, Downstairs Part 1

The year is 1812, Thomas Noel Hill, 2nd Lord Berwick of Attingham, aged 42, has brought his new wife Sophia Dubochet, a courtesan, aged 18, to his stately home Attingham Park in Shropshire.

Attingham Hall

Like many large houses of the time there was a fashionable distinct split of the state rooms into male and female sides. In part 1 of Upstairs Downstairs I’ll show you how Thomas and his wife Sophia lived, followed by part 2 later this week, looking at life below stairs in the servants quarters and kitchens.

So lets begin with the lady of the house and her boudoir.

Attingham Hall - Boudior

The room is circular in shape, even the doors are cut and shaped so that they fit the round walls. Look at the bottom of the door on the left hand side, you can see the curve. The lady you see, dressed in period costume, is one of the many volunteer guides who help out at Attingham Hall.

Next to the Boudoir lies the Sultana Room. The room takes it name from the sofa or “sultane” which you can see in the alcove.

Attingham Hall - Sultana Room

The final room from the lady’s side of the house is the Drawing-Room which is situated between the Sultana Room and the Dining Room. Interestingly there are no State Bedrooms to view on the upper floor, at Attingham. The ground floor does have a huge collection of Regency furniture, paintings, textiles, porcelain and silver as you can see from the photographs in this post. Unfortunately, Thomas and his wife Sophia spent nearly all of the family fortune and ended up being bankrupt in 1827. The bankruptcy sale lasted 16 days and two years later there was a further sale.

In later years the 3rd Lord Berwick, who became Britain’s Ambassador to Italy, managed to re-furnish the house with French and Italian pieces which he acquired during his time as Ambassador. Much later the 8th Lord and his wife, who had no heirs, added to the collection before securing Attingham’s future with the National Trust.

Attingham Hall - Drawing Room

The Dining Room was more of a male preserve. After dinner the men would stay here drinking port and talking, whilst the ladies retired to the Drawing Room or the Sultana Room. As an aside. this room was so dark, illuminated only by those artificial candles, it was hard to photograph because I wasn’t allowed to use a tripod. But the Olympus Image Stabilisation performed well, allowing me to hand hold the camera at very slow shutter speeds.

Attingham Hall - Dining Room

Next door to the Dining Room is the Library. Just look at the furnishings and compare them to the Drawing Room.

Attingham Park - Inner Library

From the Library we pass through another small room, also was being used a library, and from there we reach the Octagonal Room, used as a study by the 2nd Lord Berwick.

The Octagonal Room

The last room I would like to show you from the Upstairs Tour is the Picture Gallery, or at least, one end of it.

Attingham Hall - Picture Gallery

Now you might be thinking “what has this got to do with this weeks challenge”. Think of it from the servants point of view. Wouldn’t you wish to live in opulence like this?

Each week I like to visit other bloggers and see what they are saying about this weeks challenge. If I find the subject interesting or I like the photographs then I’ll always leave at least a like. Here’s some that might be of interest to you.

Precious wish – Lipstick & Miracles
Weekly Photo Challenge- Wish – Novice Photographer
This is Another Story The Wishing Tree
J9 Pictures Life WPC – Wish
The Difference Between Wishing and Making It Happen – Nes Felicio Photography
Half a photograph Wishes and Wells
Getting the Picture Weekly Photo Challenge – Wish
WPC-WISH – Clicks ‘ n’ Arts
Do What You Wish Twinkle, twinkle
Alba10 I wish – Weekly Photograph Challenge

Against The Odds – I’m Struggling

An ideal subject for this weeks challenge would be the Kingfisher I captured some weeks back and featured in It’s A Kind Of Magic. But I don’t want to show you that, instead I’m going to show you, nothing. Let me explain, at the time of writing this, Saturday 12:07 pm UK time, I’m sitting in my office thinking of what I could show you this week. And my mind’s a blank. I can’t at the moment think of anything that would fit the bill. Mainly because I plan my days out, taking photographs. I know where I’m going. If I’m on the coast, I’ve checked the tide times. In the mountains it’s the weather. I don’t really do spontaneous, instant capture type of photography, even when I’m out on the streets. So this really is going to be a challenge this week, unless I go out with my camera and wait for something to happen… that really “against the odds”.

Of course I could just throw some photographs in, write a story around them to make them fit the theme… that’s an idea.

Right Fast Forward to Monday 20th, it’s 15:44 UK time (that’s 3:44 pm) and I’ve got my photograph.

Breeding Common Toad

Against All The Odds, sure was. I nearly stood on the pair of them as I was wandering by the river looking for something to photograph. This is a pair of Common Toads, the female is the larger of the two. Now the male is smart. He’s “piggy backed” on the female as she makes her way to the breeding ground. But he may not be the one to finally mate with her as more often than not there are more males than females. If he manages to stay with her for the several days required then that definitely is “against all the odds”

Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Photography Journal Blog Weekly Photo Challenge- Against the Odds
Crafting Photolog Weekly Photo Challenge- Lucky Against the Odds
Hot Dogs and Marmalade Play Your Game
Against the odds- The Photo Challenge – I scrap 2
Spirit of Dragonflies WPC – Against the Odds
Photo Challenge- Against All Odds – Tricia T Allen
Ed Lehming Photography “Against the Odds”
Following Him Beside Still Waters Fortuitous Frog Find
Smith Creek-Against the odds photo – Thoughts from an Alabaster Beach Girl

Blackpool Illuminations–A Festival Of Light

Blackpool Illuminations have been going since 1879 when eight arc lights lit up the promenade. Nowadays the light show stretches for approximately 6 miles (10 km) along the promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the promenade to Bispham at the northern end. This year, 2016, the light show will run from the  2nd September until the 6th of November and use over a million bulbs in the light displays. For more information you can follow this link.

Anyway let’s get going with the photographs. As we set off from our hotel I caught this murmuration of starlings before they settled down to roost for the night. It was interesting to watch for a while but I was here for the lights, so time to move on.

Black Cloud

Without the light show Blackpool’s sea front is already quite well illuminated as the various attractions have their own lights which are on all year round. That’s the Blackpool Tower in the background.

Blackpool Tower

Still waiting for the lights to come it was time to take a wander around the amusement arcades on the Central Pier. Free entry, but you pay a fortune for everything else. Yeah I know I’m just a cynical grumpy old man. Oh! By the way, it was half-term this week. All the children were there, the little darlings……..

Ice Cream

Like all amusement arcades there’s the usual mix of “pay your money and take your chances” stalls. Oh! And of course don’t forget your highly over-priced miniature doughnuts, that’s the correct English spelling, ask the BBC.

Hot Donuts

It’s starting to get dark now and it’s time for the donkeys to come off the beach. They were moving so fast that they’re just a blur.


We’re still waiting for the lights to come on and so is everyone else. Way down at Starr Gate the traffic is queuing to start the run, well actually it’s a crawl, along the seafront. It’s at a dead stop and the whole time I was there, about twenty minutes, that white bus moved forward exactly 0 feet. It’s far easier to buy a 24 hour tram pass. You can hop off and on as often as you like, in either direction, for £5 GBP or $6 USD.

Queuing Traffic

Lots of light are on by now, including rides, street lights amusement arcades. Great for photographers to practice shooting lights at night,

Globe Lights

For fans of Doctor Who, who isn’t, there’s a static display on one of the roundabouts as you head towards North Shore.

Doctor Who

But this is what I really was after. Light Trails. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has a great feature called Live Composite Mode. It works by taking one photograph but constantly adding light as it changes. It makes it so much easier to get these light trails which are of trams passing by the camera. Watch the video, it’s only 1m 34s long and it explains Live Composite far better than I can.

You can see the fixed lights all along the seafront but the trails are from moving objects. I love this feature and I’m still experimenting with it to get the right settings.

Light Streaks

That’s it, just a few photographs from our one day trip to the amazing Blackpool Illuminations.

Goodbye Olympus, Hello ???

It saddens me to say this but I’m going to have to say goodbye to my trusted E-M1 from Olympus and seek a more robust camera. As regular readers will know I had a problem with my E-M1 whilst on holiday in Germany. It suddenly developed a green squiggly line in the viewfinder. Fortunately it did not affect the finished photographs and I was able to continue to use the camera whilst I was away.

And now comes the sad part, I thought the camera was still under warranty so I sent it off to be repaired. Later that week I got a bill from the repair centre. My receipt that I got when I bought the camera wasn’t the original bill of sale. I knew the camera was second hand when I bought it from the dealer but I didn’t think there would be a problem when I registered the camera for warranty purposes when I bought it. Turns out I was wrong.

But there’s a second part to this. Apparently damage to the viewfinder isn’t covered under warranty as the service centre took pains to explain to me recently in a letter.

The EVF (as mentioned in the manual) should not be allowed to sit next to, or within direct sources of light or heat as this may cause damage to the TFT LCD screen within the viewfinder.
Excess heat will cause a rainbow effect on the screen, a light source will cause small dots or worm like burns in yellow and green. Something very similar to the effect on the main image sensor.

However you can drop the camera and that will be covered, as Olympus take great pains to say in this months edition of their online users magazine.

So why am I saying goodbye? Simple really. I no longer trust my E-M1 to perform in all weather conditions, in fact, I have become quite paranoid about it. The only way the viewfinder could have been damaged whilst I was on holiday, was with exposure to sunlight. I didn’t knowingly sit it next to a source of bright light but I suppose if the camera was hanging at my side, I use a Black Rapid strap, then it could had the sun shining onto the viewfinder all the time. In that case, there probably would be damage, but I ask myself, is the E-M1 fit for purpose, or maybe I should ask is the E-M1 fit for the way I use it.  Clearly I do not especially as my paranoia about sun damage has stretched to me putting a piece of masking tape over the viewfinder. I’m not having the sun get at it again, ending in me having to pay for another repair.

To be fair my local camera shop, where I bought my E-M1, have tried to help me resolve the problem, as did the local Olympus rep. But this is all down to trust. I need to know that I can trust the E-M1 in all weathers but I no longer do, so sadly it’s time to say goodbye.

The Number 11 Bus

This post has got absolutely nothing to do with a bus but it’s like the old saying, “You wait hours for a number 11 bus and then three come along all at once”. This post is rather like that. I’ve not written anything all week and having just completed the Weekly Challenge post I then follow it up with this one.

Common Lizard

I really am liking the new 75-300 mm lens. It allowed me to capture this little lizard, without disturbing it.

That’s it…oh, nearly forgot. I’m off on my holidays next week so it’s going to be kind of quiet around here for the next week or so.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

It’s 6:55 am and I’ve just stirred. Got a lot to do today. Sort through a load of photographs I’ve took yesterday with the new Olympus Lens, the M Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II. I’ve bought it specifically for wildlife and those low flying aircraft that fly through the valleys here in North Wales. I’ve also got to start preparing my talk, with photographs of course, on “Abandoned Industrial Buildings in Snowdonia”. Strange as it may seem the National Park, known for it’s mountains and lakes also had an industrial heritage, mainly Slate mining.

Anyway time to get out of bed and get to work…..


Alright – maybe that’s not my bedroom but I wanted to show you this anyway.

I’m probably at my most productive first thing in the morning. The house is quiet, I can think and write without interruption for about an hour before my wife stirs. Yesterday I paid a visit to Conwy Bird Reserve. Like the Mach Loop it’s hit and miss what you might see in the lagoons or the estuary. The birds are wild, they choose to be there because they can find food, if there’s nothing they will move elsewhere. It’s not too far away from me so it’s a good place to practice with the new lens and see it’s limitation if any.


Dotted around the reserve are some bird feeders, they attract the smaller nervous birds who will fly in quick, grab seeds and fly back into the trees. I was standing about 10 metres from the feeder which is surrounded by trees on three sides, making the area pretty dark. In an ideal world a good test would be to try to catch them in flight, not as easy as it sounds. I failed miserably yesterday, but that was down to me having the wrong shutter speed on the camera. If it’s too slow the wings just look a blurry mess. Thank goodness aircraft are much easier to photograph. Lock the focus, track the aircraft, fire the shutter. Easy in theory but the low flying military jet is moving pretty fast through the sky so you have to be spot on with getting that focus locked and that’s down to the lens. It has to be fast and not hunt.

Down on the estuary this junior Black Headed Gull had settled down to wait for the incoming tide which brings fish and nutrients with it. Probably about 70 metres away from me.


Walking through the reserve woods I came upon this Green Finch sitting on a branch about 5 metres from me. I’m surprised I didn’t startle it. Hanging out of it’s mouth is the wing of some insect. I managed to take a couple of photographs before it flew off. But this was a good test for snap focusing and getting a useable photograph.


Out on the lagoons the Little Egrets were doing their usual fishing routine about 50 metres from me. They disturb the silt by moving their feet, that’s why there are bubbles, then they dive in with that long beak and catch their food.


At another feeder I found this Bullfinch. It’s colours are not as bright as they can be, mainly down to looking after their babies. See them in the Spring and the colours are so vibrant.


Way across the lagoon I spotted this Grey Heron standing on a large stone. Probably trying to get a bit more height to see if there are any fish about. In reality it was far too far away to get a decent photograph

Grey Heron Far Away

but surprisingly I was able to crop in to get a photograph I could use for FaceBook, Instagram or Blogging. It doesn’t look it in the photograph because I have already zoomed in but that Heron was about 200 metres from me


My final photograph for this morning is of a junior Green Finch. To be honest I had no idea what this was, my ability or lack of it to identify birds is well-known, I had to ask one of the reserve wardens  what it was. This was a real close-up. It didn’t seem to have any fear but I was able to get to about three metres from it.


So there you go, the first part of my morning has come and gone. Time for a nice cup of tea and then I need to look at the industrial ruins for that talk I’m giving in September. Oh! and a heads up. I will be away at the end of the month travelling through Germany and the Netherlands for a week of  photography along the River Rhine.

Right here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Weekly Photo – Monsoon Mornings – Joel Locaylocay Photography
Weekly Photo Challenge- Morning – Liz McCafferty
Morning Menu – Laura’s Photos
DAVID OAKES -IMAGES. Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Morning
The Land Slide Photography Morning
Olssons universum Photo challenge- I feel good!
Westport lake views – Kee Wynne Photography
Mama Cormier WPC – Morning
hereisandrea weekly photo challenge- morning
Rebecca Gillum Photography See the day Begin