This week at Travel Words Jude wonders if we have any quirky red subjects. So I thought it was time to reprise ‘Great Britain’s smallest house’, a piece of opportunistic infill building in a space between a cottage row, and the gatehouse tower of Conwy Castle in North Wales. This squeezed-in dwelling is said to have been created in the 16th century. Inside are two rooms, sitting room with bench cum coal store and fire-place downstairs, single bed up.
The overall height is just over 3 metres (122”) and 3 metres deep; width 1.8 metres (72”). It was lived in until 1900 when the then occupant, fisherman, Robert Jones, at 1.9 metres tall (75”) had to do much bending and folding in order to inhabit the space.
The house was declared Britain’s smallest in the 1920s though these days I think its claim to fame might well have been overtaken by many London dwellings, likewise made from opportunistic infill structures – garages, corridors and the like. The guide in the photos is wearing a version of traditional Welsh dress from around the 18th century when red capes and gowns (as well as the distinctive high-rise hats) were also apparently very popular with Celtic womankind.
…it’s a reed bunting, but it’s the only good bird photo I managed to take when we visited the marvellous Dyfy Osprey Centre a summer or so ago. The osprey nest was too far away for my little zoom lens to cope with and the light was poor.
But the good news is the ospreys are back to breed in the Dyfy estuary, and an egg is expected any day now. Since last year the project has upped its game on the live streaming and camera quality. You can tune in here and check on progress:
This week Amy at Lens-Artists has set us a fine task – the pursuit of natural light. It’s one of the aspects of photography that fascinates me most; especially when it’s in short supply. Anyway, I instantly thought of the strange light effects that happen across the Menai Strait between the North Wales coast and the island of Anglesey, caught here during various December sojourns on the island. All the views are looking towards the Welsh mainland and Snowdonia.
A scene of things to come in the northern hemisphere – daffodil extravaganza. But not just yet. The leaves may be pushing up through the soil, even a few buds showing, but spring is on hold, as in icily gripped. We had more snow last night, only a dusting, but the temperature feels Siberian. So to brighten things up I’m reprising these photos from a visit to Bodnant Garden in North Wales, taken in early spring a few years ago.
I’m lucky to still have them.
Which brings me to this week’s moderate, though potentially horrendous disaster on the computer front, the bottom line of which is: do not put blind faith in an external hard drive for storage purposes! Back up the back up. And then back that up too.
I’ve had so many ‘lost file’ situations over the years – dying computers being the main cause. So I should have known not to keep my photo files on an external hard drive without some consistent backing-up routines. I’m also thinking that leaving the thing mostly attached to the PC was not a good idea – not least with Windows 10 wretched updates so often on the rampage. They seem to create total system muck-ups before and after they happen.
Anyway, the storage failure is not as bad as it might have been, and I have enlisted the aid of an IT whizz to see if he can extract the files. I can also retrieve some lost shots from my blog though I’m not looking forward to doing that. In the meantime more cheering daffodils are called for. It was wonderful to see the effect they had as soon as people clapped eyes on them – and not just the children.
Life In Colour: YELLOW Jude has given as a new colour to think about in February. Guaranteed to lift the spirits.
Look to the horizon, out beyond the oyster catchers and the black-backed gull, and you will see a line of ghostly windmills caught mid-arabesque against the sky. This is the Menai Strait between Anglesey and the North Wales mainland, caught on a December morning last year. We often spend Christmas on the island, though not this year for obvious reasons. And we have often had December days like this – perfect sunshine stillness and warm enough to abandon the winter coat. No wonder the windmills look frozen in space. Not a breath of air to stir them. Only the calls of gulls and waders.
Our Eyes Open Lisa’s bird weekly challenge is birds near/on water or snow
Winter light over the sea can make for some mysterious monochrome images. The first photo was taken early one morning, above the small town Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey (Ynys Mon). In the foreground is Menai Strait; beyond it the mountains of Snowdonia in mainland Wales.
For several years Anglesey has been a favourite place for family Christmases. There have been times of hair-raising gales, but also days of brilliant sun and unexpected warmth. This searchlight-sun effect over the Strait is a particular local phenomenon, and you quickly understand why the Celtic Druids, and later the early Welsh Christian saints were so drawn to the place. Landscape as transcendental meditation.
You can hardly see the Strait in the next photo (below the tree silhouettes), and it was anyway just going dark. But even so there’s a luminous glow on the field slopes of the far shore – a reflection off the water? And then there are the snow slopes making their own light. I like seeing how much of an image can be gained from the least amount of light. At the time I was using my little Kodak EasyShare ‘point and shoot’ camera. It was interesting what it could come up with.
The morning we visited Plas Newydd it was broodingly gloomy – as if the sky gods had forgotten to switch the lights on.
But some sunnier days on the beach at Newborough:
2020 Photo Challenge #46 This week’s assignment from Jude: make sure you have contrasts in your image(s). Clear whites and strong blacks will add impact and create attention.
The reason we were on bleak and windswept Newborough Beach on the last Sunday of December (being unexpectedly wowed by intrepid kiteboarders) was because we thought we should work up an appetite before lunch. And no ordinary lunch either. Sister Jo had booked it weeks before – at the Marram Grass – a little beach shack eatery that has become a legend not only on the island of Anglesey, but far beyond.
To say the premises are unassuming is an understatement. It truly is a large shed – and that’s how it began. Nine years ago, when two young men – Liam (newly graduated surveyor) and Ellis (self-taught chef) Barrie came to help their parents set up a small caravan park, it was an old potting shed. And from it grew a thriving enterprise whose raison d’etre is to serve freshly made food that highlights local and seasonal produce, much of it home-grown.
They’ve won awards. And so they should. We stepped out of the freezing wind and into an all-round glow. We sat in our cosy booth as the afternoon grew darker, ‘50s tracks on the sound system, low hum of chatter beyond, and a complete unknowing of what we would eat. There was no menu. All depended on what the chef had decided to cook, and so instead of feeling like run-of-the-mill clients, we became guests. And it made me think that there was nothing more blissful on a dreary winter’s afternoon than a long, slow Sunday lunch, impeccably created and presented with love.