A sunny day in Wales…

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Seafront – Aberdovey

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always rain in Wales – just most of the time! But when the sun shines, it’s glorious, especially by the sea. Here in Shropshire we are actually quite close to Wales, but about as far from the sea as it’s possible to get – it’s well over 2 hours drive through mid-Wales to the coast (a little closer to the North Wales coast, but you have to pick your spots there.)

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The only ‘crocs’ you’ll find here!

We do love the sea, so despite the fact it was still school holiday time, we decided to take a trip to our favourite haunt, Aberdovey. After a fairly grim journey – not holiday traffic, just the dreaded roadworks – we arrived to glorious sunshine in Aberdovey around noon.  Although it was the middle of the holidays, there were still a few car parking spaces on the seafront car park, so that’s where we settled. It’s a typical seaside town, with a harbour, pretty-painted houses along the seafront, a few decent pubs and the usual seaside shops – buckets and spades, and a few gift/clothing shops. And the beach of course – beautiful fine sand all the way from the road and car park, right down to the sea itself. Then there are the views – across the Dyfi estuary to Ynyslas (more later!), across sand dunes, and with the hills as a backdrop – what’s not to like on a sunny day?

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Fish & chips from Shelleys

A quick paddle in the sea (no Mediterranean temperatures here), and chance to also take a few photos. Then the highlight of any trip to the seaside – fish and chips! Only one chip shop in Aberdovey – Shelleys, on the seafront, but definitely up with the best (as evidenced by the queue out of the doors and up the street…) Well worth the wait, we came out with our fish and chips and settled on a bench overlooking the beach to scoff them.  Wary of the seagulls that were ready to pounce, I kept a very close eye on mine! And good they were too – 10 out of 10 for taste, and pretty good value too.

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The sand dunes of Ynyslas Nature Reserve

M reminded me that as a child she went to Borth – just across the estuary, so off we set.  It’s a bit of a drive – back into Machynlleth, then south towards Aberystwyth, before picking up the coast road again. Borth itself isn’t that special (not to me anyway) – its a bit of a sprawl along the beach road, and for most of it you can’t really see the sea as there is a huge concrete seawall holding back the stoney beach. Anyway, we backtracked and found the spot that M remembered – Ynyslas.  There was the caravan site where she stayed and the sand dunes she crossed to get to the sandy beach.  A long time ago!

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Mr Whippy ’99’ ice cream

We parked at the very end of the road, right on the beach (it floods at high tide, so watch out!).  Fabulous views back across the estuary to Aberdovey, and then we took a walk through the sand dunes (now a very well organised nature reserve.) More great views from the top of the sand dunes!

After partaking of that other Great British Seaside Tradition – a Mr Whippy ’99’ ice cream – it was time to turn our back on the sea and head home. What a great day, and it didn’t rain once!

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Aberdovey (from Ynyslas Beach)

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It’s been a while….

Well, here I am again after a lengthy time since last posting.  Other priorities (mainly family) took over most of last year, but at least I have found time to take a few photos, so lets have a little update and take it from there…..

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Colwyn Bay Promenade – Fuji X100F

In terms of photo gear its been all change – I started 2017 using Fujifilm kit – X-T2 and X-T10 bodies, an IR modified X-E1 body, and most of the Fuji X series lenses then available. To be fair this was overkill, and I couldn’t sensibly carry it all around (too heavy), and then couldn’t decide what to take each time I went out…. Not an unusual photographer’s dilemma! I needed to simplify things – one main body, a backup which would also do for travel/family when I wanted to travel light, and just a couple of good quality general purpose zoom lenses. So the search was on for a more compact kit that would still deliver the quality I was used to.

Until then I’d been looking at getting an X100 series camera again (I’d had 2 before) and while on a touch and try day at Cambrian Photography (see the photo I took using the X100F) I got to also try an Olympus PEN-F. Instant attraction! It does pretty much everything the X100F does (and some more too), but has interchangeable lenses, so I could pop a small prime lens on and have a really portable camera.

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Sunrise – Bassenthwaite Lake

So, PEN-F and 17mm lens bought, and all my Fuji gear moved on… simple eh?  Well, not quite.  I still needed those zoom lenses (much more practical for landscape photos) and after a couple of false starts, ended up with the amazing Olympus 12-100mm Pro lens, and the PanaLeica 8-18mm super wide zoom. Both incredible lenses, but they don’t sit very well with the diminutive PEN-F body, which of course isn’t water resistant either – a bit of a worry when I was out in the rain.  So that resulted in the purchase of another Olympus body – the pro-spec E-M1 mkii.  What an incredible camera! – fast, tough, great quality images (despite the tiny sensor) and so many features its taken me a good few months to master all the options. Other than the occasional ‘wobble’ when I wonder if a full frame camera would give me better images (probably not, and too many other issues to contend with) this is my ultimate camera for landscapes. To be fair, its not a small camera, and my full kit with lenses, tripod and filters is still as much as I can manage, but at least there are no compromises.

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Duke of Sutherland Boathouse, Ullswater, Lake District NP

Still have the PEN-F, although I’m still pondering what lenses work best for me – the small primes are neat, but don’t have the flexibility of a zoom, and the ‘travel’ zoom I currently have (the 14-150mm) does have a few limitations, so watch this space…

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Roach End – Peak District NP

Despite time constraints, I have been out and about quite a bit with the camera in the last few months – I’ve been on several photo workshops and a ’tour’ in the Lake District, and discovered that the nearer parts of the Peak District are close enough to pop along for a few hours shooting, as is the North Wales coast.  I have images from both areas I’m happy with.  With more time hopefully available in 2018, visit plans include Cornwall, Scotland and Ireland, and maybe some more photos from Southern France, so watch this space!