An interesting trip out a while ago with my favourite retro camera of the moment, the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SPII. We drove up into Suffolk to the end of the promontory where Felixstowe Docks are located. There is an old Fort called Landguard Fort built in the 1500s originally but the present construction dates much later. Being an overcast day and the Fort a very grey concrete construction I thought it would make an ideal subject for black and white film. So, I loaded up with a 36 exp roll of Ilford HP5+ and put a spare in my bag. I took my 55mm f1.8 and my 105mm f2.8 Takumar lenses fitted with a yellow filter for an added bit of contrast.
I love this old camera. It seems to fit my hand so well and I like the weight of it which has a feel of quality. The shutter sound too sounds really great and makes you feel you have an instrument of quality in your hands. The Takumar lenses are brilliant as is the Zeiss 29mm one.
It was a rather grey and overcast day so it was a little difficult in places accommodating the low light levels but all in all I was very pleased with the results.
Built in 1650, Wimpole Hall is a neo-classical building and is Grade I listed. The estate itself is Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Owned by the Chicheley family for 250 years the house passed through a number of familys before passing into ownership by The National Trust. As the National Trust are now opening up access to their properties we were able to book a visit there a few days ago. I took it as an opportunity to do some photography using one of my 35mm SLR film cameras.
Film: Ilford FP4 rated at 125asa. Developed in Ilford ID11 diluted1+1 for 11 minutes @20degC.
Scanned to digital using a Plustek 8100 scanner.
The park was “naturalised” by Capability Brown. The North Park is particularly attractive with its belts of woodland, gentle rolling hills with individual trees and clumps of trees. The central feature of the North Park is the Gothic Tower known as The Folly and the restored lakes in the valley below.
The folly is designed to resemble the ruins of a medieval castle. It was built on the grounds of Wimpole Hall in the mid-1770s
Single-arch timber bridges were often called ‘Chinese’ in the eighteenth century, probably because they were reminiscent of the bridges shown on Chinese porcelain, lacquer, silk and wallpaper. It was designed by Lancelot Brown and was rebuilt in the mid 20th century.
Wimpole Farm is one of the UK’s largest rare breed centres and they play a key role in conserving rare and traditional breeds of livestock.
Each year on my birthday month I tend to go somewhere for a short city break. This year I chose Istanbul in Turkey. It seemed like too good an offer to pass over with 6 nights including flights and transfers from the airport for a little over £400.
The journey from Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, 30 miles South-East of Istanbul, to our hotel in Istanbul took around 1 1/2 hours including our driver getting into a scrap at a busy junction with a yellow cab driver. The timely arrival of a policeman on a motorbike broke up the two characters rolling around on a bonnet of the yellow cab throwing punches at each other. Fortunately the policeman didn’t arrest the cabbies and cart them off so we could continue our journey.
With all it’s mix of cultures and the changes throughout the ages to it’s architecture I thought it would be an interesting place to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Istanbul wasn’t at that time showing any cases of the virus but we were scanned at the airport when we arrived by a thermal camera which should show anyone with a temperature.
Formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople and with over 15 million inhabitants, the city stands in a position between Europe and Asia. The city is split by the Bosphorous Strait which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. As the only sea route between the oil-rich Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus is one of the busiest waterways in the world.
We had a small but very comfortable hotel, The Hotel Perula, just a few minutes walk up a street from the Hipodrome and ideally located for all the tourist attractions.
We spent the rest of the first day on a short walk around the Hippodrome and the surroundings to get our bearings.
Day 2 – March 6th.
we decided to visit firstly the underground water reservoir called the Basilica Cistern followed by the two local mosques. The Basilica Cistern dates from the reign of Justinian in the 6th century. It consists of a vast underground cavern used to store the water which runs down from the nearby mountains in the vast underground where the roof is held up by 336 columns, each over 8 metres tall.
Following our visit to the Cistern we firstly visited the Haghia Sophia mosque, then Suleymaniye, commonly known as the Blue Mosque.
After wandering round the Hippodrome we vsited the Haghia Sophia mosque. The security here at the entrance is very stringent and I had my mini tripod taken from me. I should have had it in my bag rather than attached to the camera.
The interior of Haghia Sophia was a little disappointing as they are obviously doing some serious refurbishment and there is a lot of scaffolding up but then at over 1,400 years old I guess it’s not surprising.
Our second visit was to Suleymaniye mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque.
Built between 1609 and 1616 the blue mosque is known as such because of it’s blue iznik tiling on the interior. As the Haghia Sophia, this mosque is a little disappointing as it has quite a lot of restoration going on. I think I still managed to get some good shots using my fisheye lens.
Up at 5 this morning. Taxi booked for 06:30. A chilly morning. Caught the 06.49 from Bishops Stortford to Tottenham Hale.
Bloody silly ticket doesn’t work. This happens so much these days with the automatic barriers. I got told off by a rail man for just using my body weight to force through one of the barriers.
07:40 and sitting in St Pancras station at a Pret having coffee. Still got nearly 2 hours before we depart.
12:40 and just arriving in Paris. Reading the news it seems the French rail workers are on strike in some areas. Just hoping it doesn’t affect our journey through Paris to Gare de Lyon for our onward journey.
Disembarked Eurostar and found our way to line D metro in the direction of Melun. It would seem that the strikes have hit this line as there is a 44 minute wait for the next train.
We eventually get to gare du Lyon after a 7 minute metro ride. Our tickets still don’t let us out through the barriers. I’m wondering if we should have validated them somewhere. Haven’t seen a machine though. Liz panicked us by looking at the out of date information which had us departing at 14:19 which only gave us a couple of minutes. Panic over though when we looked at the actual tickets which show we still have an hour and half before we depart.
It turns out that was the wrong location. We had to go upstairs to Hall 2 for the departure.
19:30 and we’ve arrived at the Best Western Galice. We tried looking for the bus stop at the station but could only see a bus to the airport and not one for the Aix old town in the dark. It had been a long day and we decided to splash out €40 on a cab to the hotel.
That’s it. Were settled in. Time for a beer or two!
A walk with members of Bishops Stortford Camera Club.
As we were planning on starting our walk just before lunchtime we started with some of us meeting at a local establishment where we had a brunch to set us up for the day. Following this we caught the train into Liverpool Street.
Following on from this we caught the Cental Line tube to Bank then on to the Docklands Light Railway to end up at Royal Victoria DLR station where we met up with another two of our group who had caught a different train down to London.
We had to go over the high level walkway across the dock to continue our walk along the south side back to where the Emirates cable car. Some of our group didn’t particularly like heights but we all seemed to manage OK. The lift up to the walkway wasn’t operating so it was a bit of a climb up the steps.
Once we were on the south side of the docks we walked back toward the western end where we could get on to the Emirates cable car. Before getting on the cable car we found a nice cafe for some refreshments.
For those that didn’t fancy the high level crossing to Greenwich on the cable car thay went back to the tube to connect with the rest of us at London Bridge.
We went into a couple of cars so we didn’t feel too squashed up!
When you get to the end the cable does drop at quite an alarming rate. At this point I was hoping the maintenance people had screwed up tightly the car connections onto the cable !
Arriving at London Bridge we met up wit those who had decided to forgo the cable car to then proceed along the Southbank taking in the Thames as night fell.
We finished the photography in the area in Lambeth called Roupell Street Conservation area, an area of Victorian Terraces which have been used for filming for quite a few TV series.
We finished the walk around 6pm and we searched out a pub in Roupell that I’d found out about called the King’s Head. It has a Thai restaurant at the back which turned out to be very good and an ideal way to end the day before we set off home.
From evidence in the north wall, the parish church of St Peter’s originated in the late 12th or early 13th century. The windows and glass reflect the history of the church and its time.
HISTORY: The nave is late C11 or very early C12 in origin. The chancel is of uncertain medieval date, but may be late C12 or early C13. The nave was lengthened to the west and possibly widened to the south in the C15, when the bell turret was also built. The south porch is also of this date, and the nave roof may be contemporary. The chancel was party rebuilt in 1850, and the church was further restored in 1883-4 by Frederic Chancellor (1825-1918), a well known church architect who worked widely in Essex and was mayor of Chelmsford seven times from 1888.
Thaxted located in Essex was recorded in the Domesday Book as a well-established and prosperous community by the end of the Saxon period. A market was granted to the town in 1205.
12 members of our U3A Strollers group had a very interesting walk though The village last Tuesday.
There was a rapid expansion in the town in the 14th C as from the 13th century it had become a centre for a cutlery industry. A large number of the population were employed in the cutlery trade. Quite why Thaxted was chosen is not known, although it is known that cheap rents were charged by the landowners. The industry appears to have died out by the sixteenth century.
We started the walk at the Margaret Street free car park and walked through the small garden to cross the road to Thaxted church.
The building began in 1340 and it was completed in 1510. There is much ancient stained glass in the church. The oldest is a picture of a knight in the South Transept and dated about 1341. It is reputed to be Edmund, Earl of March, who owned a part of the Manor at that time. The chancel and Becket chapel east windows date from 1900 and are by C.E.Kempe, a noted Victorian glazier.
Thaxted’s most famous (or infamous) vicar was ‘Red’ Conrad Noel, who served from 1910-1942. Noel was controversial for his leftist views, and controversy seemed to follow his every action. He once hung a socialist red flag beside a Sinn Fein banner and the Cross of St George inside the church, thus launching a ‘Battle of the Flags’, which eventually resulted in the church authorities ordering the flags removed. Noel also purchased The Chantry almshouse for the church, and helped found the Thaxted Morris Men.
John Webb’s windmill
We then walked down the lane next to the church to the windmill.
John Webb’s Mill or Lowe’s Mill was built in 1804 for John Webb, a local farmer and landowner. The windmill was constructed to satisfy the demand for flour locally and in London. It was constructed using local materials, with timber from two local farms and the bricks were made at a nearby location in the Chelmer Valley.
The mill was worked by millers named Lowe or John Webb, thus gaining its names. The mill was last worked commercially in 1910 and was disused for over twenty years until the Thaxted Civic Trust carried out essential repairs and made the structure waterproof.
From the windmill we walked down Fishmarket Street and down to the Guildhall.
This timber-framed building was probably more accurately a Moot Hall, or civic meeting place, and not a guild hall. However, it has been known as the Guildhall for centuries. Built around 1450, it was for a long time thought that it housed a Cutlers Guild, as cutlers were the most prosperous merchants in Thaxted. However, there no evidence that such a guild existed, though it seems likely that wealthy cutlery merchants contributed to its building.
In 1917 Gustav Holst and his family moved into Thaxted to live in “The Steps” now called “The Manse” in Town Street. A blue plaque is beside the front door. In those days it was a quiet place to work. Holst wrote several pieces specially for Thaxted including “Tomorrow shall be my dancing day.”
From here we walked back up Town street to the area where we started which called the Bullring as it’s where the farmers used to bring their cattle on market day. Continuing up Newbiggen Street there were some old cottages of some interest. Many of the cottages here have examples of Essex pargetting, believed to have been introduced to England in the sixteenth century by Henry VIII who imported Italian plasterers to decorate Nonsuch Palace. The craft was referred to as ‘stucco’ in Italy, but became known as ‘pargeting’ in England. Initially, patterns were stamped or scratched into the surface of wet plaster, but the most skilled pargeters came to create their own designs which they then modelled directly onto the wall using their fingers and a spatula to create designs in high relief.
Returning back along Newbiggen Street with a view of the windmill in the distance over the top of the houses we returned to the car park and the end of our walk.
Elsecar Heritage Centre is a collection of buildings in Barnsley which are now of listed building status of historical architectural heritage. Now a collection of shops and craft workshops, they were originally built to support the adjacent mine workings, ironworks and railway. Built in 1850, they were reopened in 1987 in their present guise.
The mine workings in this area were some of the deepest in the area. To access the deep workings required the installation of this beam engine to extract the water. It ran from 1795 to 1923 and is now the oldest example of a beam engine in the country that is still situated in it’s original position. It can now only be operated with the assistance of a hydraulic pump due to the dilapidated state of its steam powered engine.
Day 5. Today we are leaving Karatu and heading to the Serengeti National Park.
We started to drive down from the high ground around the crater and descended to the flat lands of the Serengeti plains. On the way we passed some more Maasai villages.
We arrived at our next accommodation which is a tent on the Serengeti plains. A very luxurious tent though with an en-suite toilet and shower. The shower though was a bag hoisted up a pole behind the tent. You had to ask for the water to be delivered as it had to be heated over the fire first. We also had to have a shower whilst it was still light as no one was allowed to wander through the camp after dark as there were many wild animals around.
Day 6. Start of our early morning game drives.
We stopped at this point to watch a pride of lions. They had a wildebeest kill and they were guarding it from the prowling hyenas in the background that wanted to steal it from them.
The lions would get up and move around but always leave two lions guarding their kill.
Our next sighting was these two cheetahs which had obviously just fed.
The cheetah fare very well in these large open plains which suits their high speed hunting style.
We came upon a rather shallow pond and was amazed to see a hippo had taken up residence. He was even so obliging that he gave us a yawn.
An early start this morning with the taxi picking us up at 05:30. Picking up Gill and Vince on the way we caught the 06:10 from Bishops Stortford, picking up Paul and Lin at Harlow Town. Changing to the underground at at Tottenham Hale we had a bit of a problem with our tickets. The lady at the gate said they weren’t valid because Tottenham Hale isn’t a London terminal. I just ignored here and we all went through the gate.
We arrived at St Pancras in plenty of time to catch our Eurostar train which was to take us to Lille. It was good that we got there early as there was hardly anyone around so we just sailed through security and passport checks. Well, maybe ‘sailed through’ is not the right statement as couple of us had a problem with the Eurostar tickets as they hadn’t printed them correctly and the ticket was missing part of the bar code. We eventually got them reprinted at the Eurostar desk even though they seemed to be having a lot of problems with their ticket printing machine.
Got under way on time at 08:55 after sorting ourselves out with our seating (some of us were fussy about which way they sit ) for a couple of stops before we travel under the channel and on to France. We arrived in Lille around 11:30. A not very interesting station with limited facilities, although they did seem to be doing a lot of work on the station concourse.
We had quite a wait at Lille as we weren’t due to depart until 14:03. Another 3 hours watching the French countryside zoom past saw us arriving at Lyon Part Dieu station where we got the tram (destination Debourg) just across the road to drop us at the Suchet stop. Very convenient location as it was almost opposite our hotel, The Hotel Charlemagne.
We checked in to the hotel and paid the €2.50 per night per person for the local tax and sorted out which rooms we wanted. The hotel is very smart and appears to have had extensive modernisation.
Our room was small but very comfortable, with a large and comfortable bed. A kettle was supplied and fresh bottles of water were supplied to the room each day. The hotel had a nice bar area with a friendly barman who dished out rather large gins and tonics, not that I’m complaining!
In the evening we walked north of the hotel and through a pedestrian tunnel to go to the Brasserie George at 30 Cours de Verdun Perrache. Liz and I had the quenelle.