This afternoon Ed and I went for a walk to see the wild exmoor ponies in Sutton Park. I’ve lived in Birmingham for fourteen years and visit the park fairly often, but I’ve never seen the ponies before, just the cows. I just assumed the ponies were shy, and largely kept to themselves in the deepest parts of the woodland. I was hoping to see them today, but didn’t really think that we would.
On Friday evening Ed and I decided last minute to go hiking in Snowdonia. It’s always a bit of a gamble to book a hostel in advance because the weather is so unpredictable, but 24 hours out the forecast looked both clear and dry, and there was a room available at YHA Idwal.
This morning we got up before dawn and went for a walk around Llyn Idwal. It’s one of my favourite places in Snowdonia, and being up in the mountains for sunrise is something we both love. To my complete surprise and joy, we came across a herd of wild mountain ponies grazing the thin pickings of late autumn on our way up to the lake. The light wasn’t great and they were a little bit far from the main path, so I waited to take photos of them until the return leg of our walk.
After spending four nights in Brittany, we drove south to Jard-sur-Mer, learning a very important lesson on the way: don’t travel in France on a Saturday during the peak summer season. Next time we’ll plan our travel days for week days as the roads are much quieter.
In Jard-sur-Mer we stayed at Camping la Ventouse which we had chosen for the shady pitches and proximity to the beach. Our pitch was on the sand dunes on the edge of the campsite, and because tent camping isn’t as popular as caravan camping, we had a double pitch to ourselves which was lovely. The following pictures are a mix of film (Portra 400) and digital.
This August Ed and I spent ten days camping in France. The first half of our trip was spent in Brittany and then we drove south to Jard-sur-Mer in the Vendée. Two years ago we went on holiday to Brittany to make the most of travelling to Roscoff for a family wedding. It was a really lovely trip, so we wanted to go back again this year and stay for a little longer.
We didn’t book our travel or campsites until a few weeks before we travelled and by the end of July the ferries were really expensive so we took the Eurostar instead, and factored in a couple of extra days travelling across Normandy and northern France. In hindsight, we should have just booked sooner and taken the ferry. Once we’d included péage fees, fuel and the cost of a couple of budget hotels it wasn’t any cheaper. That said, I’ve no regrets. We wouldn’t ordinarily go on holiday to Normandy and we got to see some sights that we had both been looking forward to seeing. Next time though we’ll get the ferry if we’re going to western France. The following pictures are a mix of film and digital.
The road to South Wales from Birmingham winds its way through Abergavenny, and for a long time now I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to climb Sugar Loaf which is on the outskirts of the town. We pass it by on the way to and from the bigger peaks further west, and most recently drove through Abergavenny on the way home from Babcia’s funeral down in Carmarthen at the start of June. On Saturday with no weddings or races on the calendar, we finally made plans to drive down to Wales and walk up Sugar Loaf together. It’s very easy to skip the lower peaks in favour of the bigger climbs of Pen y Fan and Corn Du, but Sugar Loaf on the edge of the Black Mountains is a really beautiful climb, with really good views on a clear day.
I’ve just got a couple of rolls of film back from AG Photographic so thought I’d put together a collection of the film photos from our trip to Cornwall at the end of May. This year we camped down on the Lizard Peninsula at YHA Coverack for two nights and at YHA Penzance for three. Both of the campsites were good. We had our own private glade at Coverack (the downside was that the long grass was full of bugs and I got bitten alive). At Penzance I made friends with a lovely long haired cat who I took pity on because she was so desperate for attention and food. I ended up buying her sachets of food two nights in a row as she kept begging for food, but then was woken by her mewing outside our tent at 3am!
On Friday night Ed and I stayed over at Ilam Hall YHA as we were filming a wedding together on Saturday morning. It’s not a long drive up from Birmingham, but it was a 9.30am start so staying local the night before just made sense. We often stay at YHA properties as they’re simple and self-catered, and in really good locations. I think Ilam might be one of the best!
Yesterday morning I was woken up at dawn by the radiator beside my bunk turning on and the pigeons outside my window starting up their morning song and dance. I always forget how noisy the countryside is in the morning. City life is loud at night, but mornings are quiet. In the countryside it’s the other way around. Ed can sleep through most things so I went down to the kitchen in the basement for a cup of tea, and on my way down the stairs spotted the most amazing golden light pouring through the 3m window in the drawing room. With two hours to go until my alarm I picked up my camera and went for a walk in the grounds.
A riverside walk at dawn with wild garlic on the air, bluebells at every turn and rabbits running free across the lawn was such a lovely, peaceful start to the day. I wish we’d had more time to explore the grounds as there are so many good walks from there including the mile downstream to Dovedale, but I’m sure we’ll go back soon, minus a car full of tripods and light stands!
At the start of winter I hoped for snow and for the first time in five years it came. I love snow, as it covers the detritus of a big city in mid-winter and makes the world seem brighter and more inviting. Winter in the UK is usually mild, grey and damp. It stretches on for what feels like eternity, and is more of an endurance than a pleasure. Winter is the season I dread, but snow breaks up the monotony and makes it seem more interesting.
For our wedding anniversary this year we walked the Brecon Horseshoe. The weather wasn’t good so, although it didn’t rain, there was no view as we were up in the clouds the whole time. We walked the route anti-clockwise, but skipped out Fan-y-Big as we’d been up it in the spring. I’d love to go back when the weather is better and do the walk again in good conditions. It’s supposed to be really picturesque.
Here are some photos and a short film from our holiday in Cornwall over the May half term. The photos are a mix of film and digital, as always, and I’ve added locations as captions. I’d like to recommmend a visit to Potager Garden Café if you have the time and are in the area. It’s a lovely little cafe, tucked away in the deepest Cornish countryside and they have a really good cake menu with lots of vegan options. We stayed near St Austell on the Roseland Heritage Coast, but made a daytrip down to the south taking in Lizard Point and Cadgwith, stopping in at Potager on the way home. The short film at the bottom of this post was filmed at our favourite beach on the Roseland Heritage Coast; Hemmick near Boswinger.