2 humans. 2 dogs. 1 converted T5.
Mid March we start venturing out in the van. Until then we’ll keep exploring the gorgeousness that is our home: North Wales ♥ Last Sunday we hung out on Moel Arthur in the Clwydian Range. It leads directly on to Moel Famau and is an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty).
Next up: Wales’ very own chicken dance champions: [Disclaimer: No puppies were traumatised in the making of this disturbing routine! Not sure how Rich will feel about it in the long run though....]
We came across 4 or 5 gliders that day. I’m not entirely sure what the puppy etiquette is when it comes to chasing planes but as *the little idiots* (quote from the video) seemed to be enjoying themselves we let them run with it for a short while. Mr. Plane Man loved us. He must have flown back and forth about 10 times. We didn’t mind. Pooches were quiet that night ;) [Oh. And I have nooooo idea what happened to my pronounciation of the word *planes* but I figured if Rich can dance like an idiot then I might as well sound like one ^_^]
My husband is the best!
Inspired by this gorgeous picture, I’ve been dreaming about a van night shot for quite some time now. I wanted: mountains! romance! candles! and stars! of course. But I didn’t know where. Or when. Then suddenly it dawned on me: what better time for darkness, candles, romance & stars than Valentines Day ♥
Of course not everything went exactly according to plan. The mountains I were after lie behind the van…..there was some snow on the ground and even the spot we chose for parking the van was already a little precarious, to say the least. Candles. Welllllll. As anyone in the UK will know, the recent weather has been, errrrrrr, a *little* awful. And although I thought I knew best I simply couldn’t get them to stay lit.
Following some severe weather during the week and more bad weather forecast for the remainder of the week, I decided to bring my shoot forward and so Valentines Day at Van HQ happened yesterday ♥
And would you look at that moon!? Who would have thought it has rays like the sun??? Absolutely beautiful!
By the way. I say *my* shoot but all of these pictures were actually taken by Rich, with a little edit from me. Here’s one of the original pics:
And here’s some edits:
So there we have it. Happy Valentines Day from North Wales ♥
Introducing: dodgy videos ^_^
With the weather being absolutely awful we’ve not managed to shoot a lot of pictures and AT LAST I have discovered videos ^_^ Don’t be expecting anything fancy, edited or with music any time soon but at least you can see a little bit more of what we see on a daily basis: home ♥
January then. The boys were finally big enough to leave the local National Trust park behind and venture out into North Wales’ finest (albeit small) mountains.
I have a feeling Hollywood ain’t come knocking on my door any time soon but you get the jist of what things look like around here.
I’ve not managed to take the new lens out as much as I’d wanted to (one word: weather) but we were out every single weekend and I really cannot remember a wetter or windier month. Ever?
Experiencing thunder & lightning on top of the Berwyns was a first for both of us and something we hopefully won’t have to endure again very soon. You know something serious is up when Maisie comes running back looking for you to protect her ;) And protect we did; can’t remember my butt being so severely pelleted by hail stones EVER so after another outdoor lesson learnt we promptly got ourselves a bright orange storm shelter. And hope we can put it to the test one of these days. But than again – hopefully not!?
So here’s a picture round-up of January: it was a wet’n windy one with real highs (new lens. sunsets. chinese food) and real lows (hail thunder & lightning storm on the Berwyns):
Having seen an advert in the paper for free chipping in a pet shop in Flint, we decided to go & make the most of the hour long trip by hanging out on Talacre Beach for a while.
Back in 2004 [old age alert!?] I used to live in this area and spent a ridiculous amount of time on this very beach with Henry. Bringing the twins was like a step back in time. The weather was awful but we still managed to catch some pictures of the lighthouse. Some might remember it from the Dulux ad back in 2011; I also found this cool little clip on YouTube [no idea how they took that by the way; attach a camera to a drone...?]
On the picture above you can see the other problem I encounter on a regular basis: blurriness! I spent a considerable amount of time reading EVERYTHING there is to know about shutter speed but it just wasn’t connecting with my simple little brain. I like my explanations factual & visual and preferably written in the plainest English there is. Show me a diagram that tells me exactly what to do in times of a crisis and I’m a happy bunny. To stop me from feeling frustrated I ended up printing basic little diagrams that I laminated and now carry with me everywhere.
Since these pictures were taken I have played around with shutter speed settings. A lot. I made one of our apprentices jump. I watched our fire team extract a live dummy from a small hole. I captured flames. And I was brave enough to crank up the ISO. I guess we’ll have to go back to the beach to take sharp shots of the twins running. I don’t mind!
[PS: I discovered that freezing movement works for me and my 10-20mm F3.5 lens from a speed of 500 onwards. You can do this in Shutter Priority mode - and let the camera pick the best aperture - or you can play around on manual until you find the right aperture & ISO to go with your shutter speed. I find that now I have found a benchmark my brain can cope with, it's easy to play around until you find the match you're after ^_^]
This year, my aim is to get better at taking photographs from a technical (nerdy) point of view. It’s one thing to hear I have an eye for a good picture but quite another to get praise for technical brilliance. And brilliance is what I want ^_^
Following instructions isn’t my strongest point and so sometimes it can take me longer than the average person to reach a satisfactory result (translate: if I wasn’t so stubborn and would listen to others now and again I could have already been at this point some time last year. Ah well. Better late than never!).
The above were all shot with F11 @ 1/200 and ISO 200. The one below was shot with F22 @ 1/200 and ISO 200. The foreground was obviously quite dark so I’ve taken a lot of shadow out in LR and subsequently it’s quite grainy. But I loooooove the rays!!
Now then. I’m of the opinion that because my trusted D5000 is quite old and only has 12.1 MP I will never ever be able to take fabulously sharp shots? I am kinda waiting for somebody to take my hand and show me how to get the absolute best out of my old little friend but so far I haven’t found a *camera buddy* who’ll do just that. There are some amazingly brilliant photographers over on IG but I’m sure they wouldn’t wanna spend their Saturdays or Sundays chasing shots in the Clywedian mountains with us so I guess I’ll just have to take a lot of bad pictures to get to the ones I’d love to see printed in my own four walls.
Welcome to the year 2014 ♥
And to kick off the new year….I thought we could go back 4 months and take a quick look at our very last trip of 2013 ^_^
Over the August bank holiday weekend we hooked up with Smudge, one of Mr. B’s (ex) Army mates, and his family @ Llandovery rugby club. Smudge and his wife Judith are super friendly and very generous and generally brilliant hosts (who cooked us a full English on the Saturday morning ♥) and have sited their caravan by the rugby club which is somewhat different to where we normally end up yet definitely not a bad choice at all.
By the time we managed to put some shrimps on the barbie it was already dark and always keen to play with his toys, Rich didn’t need to be asked twice to put his headlight on and get cooking ^_^ I think we played some games that night [of the *dare* variety. Note to everyone we're potentially going to hook up with in 2014: I am THE worst player. EVER. So don't be offended if I talk my way out of it and end up in charge of some ridiculous admin task. Clearly my bah humbug German origins do not sit well with fun & laughter, ha!)
On the Saturday, Smudge suggested we do the Lady in the Lake walk (which was enchanting! If you want to see what it looks like there just follow this little link here) and for the Sunday he suggested the Clun-Gwyn 4 waterfall walk near Ystadfelte. Man, what a place!!! Granted - I wish we could have chosen a different day (it was super busy. and there were lots of people doing things they most definitely shouldn't be doing. but what the heck, we ran with it anyway ^_^)
THE big attraction, of course, is the last waterfall. You can actually walk behind it which at first I didn't want to do (I hate it when hundreds of people try to do the same thing at the same time) but I'm glad Rich managed to persuade me - walking behind an ACTUAL waterfall is totally awesome! [I'm the red one in the last picture. I waited FOREVER for that other man to walk off but clearly he didn't]
After that little adventure it was time to head home. We decided to stop off in the Forest of Dean for a night but hadn’t really looked into where to stay and ended up on a wild goose chase trying to find a nice spot that wasn’t overcrowded. It would appear most campers in the UK are super organised and must have booked their slot months in advance – all of the National Trust sites looked fit to burst. Not my idea of relaxation….
We were lucky and ended up driving past this sign which led us onto an empty field and a very friendly owner who asked for a fiver for us to stay the night. Bargain!
Christmas started early for me as I’ve been quite lucky at work and my boss let us run with a fun Christmas idea – a digital *guess the work colleague* advent calendar.
I managed to persuade some of our crafty DIY colleagues to make us a basic wooden frame and taped & nailed some baubles and other Christmassy bits’n bobs on it. I then literally took the same shot 25 times with a different person for each day and started playing around with their pictures in LR4. Man, that was fun! The comms team published it on our Intranet and also the corporate FB page and although most people discovered some unwanted facial features they all seemed to enjoy waiting for it to be their turn ♥ It’s taken my love of photography to a different level and has brought with it some new opportunities that I cannot wait (!!!) to explore in 2014 ^_^
Looking back at 2013…..there’s no getting away from the fact that it has been a truly catastrophic year for our family and one I for one cannot wait to leave behind.
On the plus side: things at work couldn’t be better; we even managed to pull off a *Made in Chelsea* inspired Christmas jumper shot and seem to have discovered our very own boy band ♥
Next on the list: a bigger lens! A wide angle one is definitely top of my list, so is a lower F range (my trusted Nikon D5000 with its standard 18-55mm lens does not manage to achieve anything lower then 3.8). I think I’m ready to move on; just wish I could say the same for my purse ;)
All that remains then is for me to wish you all the very best for 2014; let’s all have a blast and stay healthy and happy ♥
These pictures are from the last weekend in August and marked the end of this year’s season. The week after these pictures were taken, the twins moved in. I gotta admit – not being able to go out in the van while we wait for them to grow into somewhat responsible little doggies is killing me!! Still.
I really have nooooo idea how we’re all going to fit into our van next year either so if you’re a super inventive person and into your VWs and can think of a way how to accommodate 3 fully grown dogs and 2 adults while unable to lift the roof and unwilling to attach an awning then let us know, we need to hear from you!
Llyn y Fan Fach then. Breathtaking place! Remote and shrouded in Welsh legend, it has been named as one of the 1,000 must-see sights across the globe by Lonely Planet. It is the only spot in Wales to make the list and when you’re there it’s easy to understand why. Legend has it that in the 13th century, a farmer grazing cattle on the nearby slopes spotted the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was a fairy maiden, who agreed to marry him on one proviso – he must not hit her more than twice. No prizes for guessing that in time, the inevitable did happen – three strikes, and the otherworldly wife disappeared back into the lake, taking her magic cows with her. I haven’t heard an explanation as to why he ended up striking her but maybe that’s part of the enchanting story………some things are best left unsaid I guess.
The valley is rich in medicinal herbs and bog plants now, suggesting that this may be the mistreated fairy maiden’s healing legacy. The lake itself is featured in the top 10 most unusual lakes category. You go up to the lake and climb up the ridge and you can see all the peaks of the Brecon Beacons, it’s simply magical!
We spent the weekend with one of Mr. B’s old army friends and his family camping round the Llandovery rugby pitch and Smudge suggested this walk. I’m so glad he did! The day after we chased some amazing waterfalls. More about that some other day.
We loved Llyn y Fan Fach! In fact – if you’re planning on spending just one weekend in Wales next year make sure it’s somewhere near this lake.