Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

Twinkle, Twinkle, little star…..where the heck are you? My intention for this weeks challenge was to do a night shot showing the stars but all this week, in my little part of North Wales, we have had nothing but overcast skies. With an f2.8 lens and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 I should have got a good photograph. But alas it is not to be so instead I bring you The Catherine Wheel.

Twinkle Twinkle

Now you might be asking where is this? Is it in North Wales? You’re right it could be anywhere….but for this photograph I’m in Caernarfon. There’s a little stone jetty, just to the right of the harbour bridge, in front of the castle and the Anglesey Arms. That’s where we were for this amazing Catherine Wheel being twirled round and round by Nigel Thomas.


Where Is It?

Thank goodness for Google Maps and the Google search engine. generally when I’ going out for a photography day I like to do a bit of research beforehand. Google maps along with Street View is an invaluable tool to show co-ordinates, locations, parking spaces nearby etc. Using Street View you can drive to your location and generally get an idea what the road/track is going to be like.

St Tyfrydog's Church

But last week on Anglesey was different. I didn’t do any research mainly because we were just planning to have an easy week, just driving around, finding quaint little places and generally getting to know Anglesey a bit more. Anyway down a really quiet lane I found this little church, but at the time I really didn’t have a clue where it was or what it was called.

Of course today I now know these things thanks to the tools I mentioned at the top of this post. St Tyfrydog’s Church, Llandyfrydog is a small medieval church, in Llandyfrydog, Anglesey. The date of establishment of a church on this site is unknown, but one 19th-century Anglesey historian says that it was about 450. The oldest parts of the present building (such as the nave and the chancel arch) are dated to about 1400, with the chancel dating from the late 15th or early 16th century. It is built from rough, small, squared stones, dressed with limestone.

It’s Just A Pile Of Rocks….

….but I keep seeing them everywhere these days.


Is it a secret message? Or maybe it’s a new version of “Kilroy was here”.

Help me out here. Do you know the significance of these piles of rocks?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Wales has more than it’s fair share of mythological legends. Dragons, King Arthur, Lady of the Lake, Bedgelert, Tom Jones. Some of these legends derive from folk traditions developed in Wales and some comes from other sources such as the Britons or pre-Christian Britain. But here’s one that seems like a “Boys Own” adventure.

Llanbadrig Church

Now you might be asking, “what a church has to do with adventure”? If I told you this was the parish church of Llanbadrig, you’d still be none he wiser unless you spoke Welsh. But let’s look at the Welsh name, Llanbadrig, which means “Church of Saint Patrick“. Local legend states that Llanbadrig was founded around about 440 AD by Saint Patrick himself. The legend goes on to state that Patrick was shipwrecked not far from this spot on a small island which nowadays is called Ynis Badrig (Patrick Isle). See where I’m heading with this?

Now this is the legend part. Patrick is shipwrecked, he’s the only survivor, he’s stuck on an island off-shore, he gets ashore, no one knows how, and lives in a cave a little to the left and below the  present church. Better still the cave has a supply of fresh water to keep him going. Eventually Patrick founds a church on this desolate part of Anglesey. Not the one we see in this photograph. This is from around the 12th century, with additional work in the 14th and 16th centuries and extensive renovations in the 19th century.

Blue Window

The 19th century restoration introduced some interesting aspects to the altar and windows, Moorish in character with decorative tiling in an Arabic fashion, the blueness attracts your attention as soon as you enter the church. The renovations had been commissioned by the 3rd Lord Stanley who after marrying Fabia Santiago, a Spanish Muslim, converted to his wife’s faith. Lord Stanley wanted something of the Moorish architecture to be incorporated into the renovation.

So there you have it, a Christian Church, with a Muslim connection, a shipwreck….sounds like an adventure to me. Would you agree?

Abandoned Buildings In Plenty

Wales has an amazing industrial heritage and here in North Wales we have some great historical relics that you can visit. The National Slate Museum at Llanberis is one of my favourites but behind the museum is Dinorwic Quarry, which was the second largest slate quarry in the world when it was in operation. Much of the quarry is now fenced off but you can still walk around certain parts of the quarry following the Slate Trail.


You will get to see some of the old buildings and definitely get an impression of the sheer size of the quarry, but some of the best buildings are in the fenced off part. Strictly speaking you cannot enter this area but I’ve seen an awful lot of photographs from “behind the fence”

This weeks challenge is Fray and I think you’ll agree that this old building certainly looks frayed. But wait there’s more. I’ve been back to Parys Mountain on Anglesey. At this time of the year the heather is in full bloom and I was hoping to catch some of the fantastic colours of purple along with the yellows, oranges and reds.


Not quite as good as I thought it was going to be, maybe next week. Tell you what though. It might look sunny here but the wind was howling and cold as well. It was difficult to keep the camera and tripod steady to take this photograph.

Not far from Parys Mountain is Porth Wen, the old brickworks on the coast. Dave Sallery gives an excellent description and history of the brickworks which is well worth reading. Access to Porth Wen is prohibited due to it being Private Property but it can be viewed from the Coastal Path.

Porth Wen

Interestingly though you will see lots of photographs that were not taken from the coastal path. That’s on the hill above Porth Wen. You can see there’s lots of erosion on the cliffs so you have to be careful if you decide to visit Porth Wen by climbing over the metal gate you can see from the coastal path. Around that area there are lots of ferns and prickly gorse bushes. Anglesey Hidden Gems has some useful information about walking the coastal path taking in some of the historic sites on route.

Well that’s it for this week. I hope you will agree that all of the buildings look frayed and as usual I’d love to hear your views on this post. Should you wish to use any of the photographs, you’re welcome to do so as long as you respect my licensing conditions, which are basically, use a photograph, credit me with a link back to my blog. Full licensing conditions can be found on the menu at the top of the page.

Llanfair PG

Whilst we were on Anglesey during the week to photograph Parys Mountain we stopped off at Llanfair PG or to give the village it’s proper name Llanfair­pwllgwyn­gyllgo­gery­chwyrn­drobwll­llanty­silio­gogo­goch or for non Welsh speakers like me [St.] Mary’s Church (Llanfair) [in] the hollow (pwll) of the white hazel (gwyn gyll) near (go ger) the rapid whirlpool (y chwyrn drobwll) [and] the church of [St.] Tysilio (llantysilio) with a red cave ([a]g ogo[f] goch).

Personally I prefer Llanfair PG which is enough to distinguish this village from others that start with Llanfair, such as Llanfair TH (Llanfair Talhaiarn) which would you believe has a church dedicated to Mary.

Llanfair PG

Devised in the 1860’s to give the railway station the longest name in Britain, at  58 characters long it is now recognised officially as the longest place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world. It could be considered one of the earliest examples of a publicity stunt. Nowadays, visitors stop at the railway station to be photographed next to the station sign, visit the nearby Visitors’ Centre, or to stamp their ‘passport’ at the adjacent shop.

A Little Test

According to the blog theme the largest size of image I can use here is 1200 pixels. But I’ve noticed that text spills beyond this size so a little test to see if I can use an image larger than 1200 pixels on the widest size.

Penmon Point

No Passage

Alfred Eisenstaedt once said “All the photographer has to do, is find and catch the story-telling moment”. If only that where true.

No Passage

What does the photograph here tell you? Well the sign makes it obvious. Don’t sail try to sail over that piece of water between the lighthouse and land. With the tide in, dangerous rocks are hidden by the sea and any ship attempting passage is likely to run aground or worse still rip the bottom out. But there’s more to this photograph. You don’t need a lighthouse that size to mark a short passage through the sea. that could easily be achieved by a buoy.

No, the lighthouse is there for another reason. It marks the north entrance to the Menai Strait and more importantly the passage between Puffin Island and Dinmor Point on the island of Anglesey. In 1831 a steamer ship called the Rothsay Castle ran aground and 130 people lost their lives in the shipwreck. Master mariners based in Liverpool started a call for some form of light to identify the passage at night but it wasn’t until 1838 that a lighthouse was erected, costing £11,589.

To get to Dinmor Point on Anglesey head east from Beaumaris and pass through Llangoed. The final stretch, about a mile, is a toll road, but you can park for free close to the lighthouse. There’s a cafe, small shop and toilets, but it does get busy in the summer month.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Move

Bit of a tenuous link to the theme this week. It’s that big yellow thing that occasionally appears in the sky, although at the moment we seem to be experiencing nothing but rain in our little part of North Wales. So what about this motion thing?

The Sun’s motion about the centre of mass of the Solar System is complicated by perturbations from the planets. The barycentre is just outside the volume of the Sun when Jupiter and Saturn (the two planets with the greatest masses) are roughly in the same direction, as seen from the Sun. When they are in opposite directions, and the other planets are aligned appropriately, the barycentre can be very close to the centre of the Sun. Every few hundred years this motion switches between prograde and retrograde. Source: Wikipedia

Well if you understand that I take my hat off to you. Lets talk about practicalities. Most early Christian churches have an east/west orientation with the congregation looking to the east. This stems from the early catholic scriptures which say the second coming of Christ would happen in the east.

Corwen Interior Close

Now here’s where movement comes into it. The sun always rises in the east and sets in the west. For us in the Northern Hemisphere the sun will travel across the southern sky, meaning that if you are photographing in a church, looking towards the altar, strong light will stream through windows in the front, to your right and behind you if you stay late enough in the church. Which means you have to time when you want that photograph, otherwise you can end up with light flares or worse still totally blown out highlights. Of course the upside is you can use the light to get great shadows and highlights in your photograph.

You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.Galen Rowell

Too tenuous a link? Seen as we’re talking of big yellow things in the sky. How often do we see those big yellow helicopters in the skies over North Wales? They’re in the mountains, on the coast, extremely noisy close to, but we wouldn’t be without them. They’re the Rescue helicopters from 202 Squadron RAF Valley.

Search and Rescue

Being a military unit their primary role is the recovery of military aviators who have had to leave their aircraft. But more often than not they are involved in civilian rescues and since 1973 these take up 95% of the missions “the big yellow things” have flown. This photograph was taken just off the cliffs at Amlwch, Anglesey. It was reported that someone had fallen of the cliffs just above the port and in conjunction with the RNLI the rescue mission was underway. here you can see the winch man transferring to the lifeboat.

I’d love to hear from you. Was the link to the sun too tenuous? Let me know?

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

“Better late than never” as they say. Although saying that I have an excuse, I was on vacation in Scotland. Lots of mountains, lakes, forests and tourists. Come to think of it North Wales is a bit like that so maybe not so much of a vacation after all. Anyway for this weeks challenge I have decided to show you the tower at Parys Mountain on Anglesey.

Beware of Edge

Located just south of Amlwch on the isle of Anglesey it’s not easy to miss the mountain because the tower, even though it’s quite small, dominates the skyline. Once the site of a large 18th century copper miner, Parys Mountain looks desolate but just as equally beautiful in its own way.

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