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Llansawel Exploration
19th October 2013
Historically the riverfront of Briton Ferry was an extremely important area in the industrial development of Swansea. The original ferry crossing the River Neath was the first along the Roman road that followed the South Wales coastline and remained the lowest crossing point until a new bridge was completed in 1955.
The remains of the ferry slipway can be seen under the bridge that caused its demise.





The Briton Ferry Steel Co and the Albian steel works were founded in the 1840s on the east side of the river surrounding the Dock .


http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/wpw045726


The steelworks closed in 1953 and the only remaining structure from this vast industrial site these days is the huge Engine House. This was erected in 1906 to house a Blowing Engine that provided the vast amounts of low-pressure air needed for the air blast furnaces.



Faded Elegence
23rd September 2013
I recently took a day trip to Llandrindod Wells on the train. I really should do this more often; leave the car and just explore the country on the train as it really does give a different perspective.
I wasn’t sure what I expected of Llandrindod Wells, but I surely didn’t expect to see such wonderful examples of Art Nouveau architecture. It has to be said that the town has seen more prosperous days and in places it was incredibly sad to see wonderful buildings showing visible signs of prolonged neglect, however the grandeur and elegance of the Victorian's/Edwardian's can be seen everywhere in the town. I must go back!





Abandoned childrens home
13th September 2013
There doesn’t seem to be much information about this building in Bridgend available on the web. My personal theory is that it was the Craig yr Parcu children’s home and not the Llanerch care home which I believe was on the adjacent site and has been totally demolished and cleared since the google satellite map image was taken! However regardless of what it was, the building is in a fantastically derelict state of disrepair -









St Govan's revenge
10th August 2013
Saint Govan’s Chapel is a fabulous sanctuary built into the side of coastal cliff near Bosherston. It was built in a fissure in the cliff in the 14th century on what is now known as St Govan's Head.
There are a number of stories proposing who St Govan was; he was either an Irish monk who traveled to Wales to seek the friends and family of the abbot who had trained him, or he may have been Gawain, one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, or alternatively he may have been a thief. One romantic story suggests that Govan was set upon by pirates, when the cliff opened up and left a fissure just big enough for him to hide in until the pirates left. Grateful, he decided to stay on along the cliff, in order to help warn the locals of the impending pirate attack if they were to return.
Whatever the truth, St Govan lived within a small cave in the fissure of the cliff. This is now reached by a long flight of stone steps, the number of which is said to vary depending on whether one is ascending or descending. I can attest to this as I ended up clambering up them 3 times!– I stupidly didn’t take my tripod with me when I first went down. I then decided I really had to have it so I climbed back up to the car for it. Back down and I realised with a total sinking feeling that I had forgotten my shutter release – doh! And you just cant do long exposures without one so I reluctantly (and much slower) trekked back up for a second time.
Quite frankly I stayed down in the tranquillity of the chapel for much longer than I probably would have – I needed some serious rallying to get me back up those steps for the third time. I seriously contemplated camping down to fully ‘live’ the Hermit experience but figured that Mike and Norman wouldn’t go for it! Thankfully at least I got a couple of decent shots out of it, but it is so lovely down there it is definitely worth going down (at least once!)





Found Things
13th July 2013
One of the projects I am currently developing is a collection of ‘found things’. I am always on the look out for old items that have been left and abandoned and I love taking shots of them trying to capture a sense of time passing.
I seem to be developing a bit of a thing about old bottles!
Some of my recent findings:




Dungeness taster
27th March 2013
I can’t believe that it’s the end of March already – I just don’t know where the year has gone. However although I have been rather amiss in updating this blog, I have been busy with many things, both photography related and with my other interests, namely Steampunk and quilting. Mike & I have just come back from a fabulous (but cold) weekend at Camber Sands at the VSS Steampunk at the Seaside event. I didn’t take any shots of the event itself – I leave the portraits to Mike (and I’m sure he will post the results on Flickr:- http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdurie/sets/72157633121786767/), while I flounced around in pretty frocks and tried to stay away from the zombies (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTcHBJIE7zE ).

However Camber is very close to Dungeness, a place I have wanted to visit for ages and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a trip. I absolutely loved the place and it was just a shame that we had to limit our visit to just an hour or so as it was absolutely freezing!











Judo and tattoo
21st March 2013
Mike & I visited the Bridgend Judokwai again recently and were warmly welcomed by the guys. I think I managed to capture a few different images, including the amazing levitating ball! Oh and Matt’s dragon tattoo – stunning ink!









Aberglasney Gardens in Winter
12th February 2013
One of the photography projects I am planning on working on this year, is a study of the seasons of Aberglasney Gardens in the Tywi valley, Carmarthenshire.

I am hoping that the weather might be more conventional this year so that I can capture the distinct differences between the seasons. I was fortunate to visit one misty morning last month to give a feel of “Winter”.







Frosty Mornings
10th December 2012
Difficult as it may be to believe we have actually had a couple of nice frosty mornings recently, which has been a nice change from the perpetual rain that we have had for months. I made the best of these and managed to get out with the camera. Perhaps it’s the contrast of these lovely mornings that makes it so special – but I just loved capturing the flying geese.



Cambridge Gun Tower
28th November 2012
On a recent trip to I visited the town of Pembroke Dock to take some shots of the gun tower. I had previously visited the tower and had an idea of what I wanted to do – but the first time I went the weather was awful so I just had to go back!

Pembroke Dock town built up around the Royal Navy dockyard that was established in 1802 as a major shipbuilding yard for Napoleon’s troops and the Cambridge Gun Tower was built in 1851, to protect the Dockyard along with many other fortifications along the Coast and Milford Haven Waterway.

Barry Island 'Pleasure' Park
19th November 2012
A recent conversation with the organiser of the RPS contemporary group, suggested a trip to Barry Island. Although I have been aware of the presence of the pleasure beach, mainly from its inclusion in the comedy Gavin & Stacy, I am ashamed to say that in all the years I have lived in South Wales, I have never been to this historic site and my tardiness resulted in my failure to see the site in operation. The pleasure park closed its gates for the final time at the end of this Summer.

The history of the park is quite fascinating and it is interesting to see how the passage of time has led to the sombre images I took this week.





Barry Island is situated in the Vale of Glamorgan, some 10 miles South west of Cardiff. Although not technically an Island, the area was largely inaccessible until the 1890s when a rail link opened up the coastal area to day trippers. During the summer months beach attractions, such as carousels, swing boats and playground slides were set up on the beach to attract visitors. In 1897, Sydney White, the local manufacture of the beach swing boats, purchased the Switchback railway (one of the first wooden ‘roller coasters’ designed by LaMarcus Thomson) that had been a major attraction at Cardiff ‘s Fine Art, Industrial and Maritime Exhibition the previous year and installed it on the seafront. This became a very popular attraction for the Victorian holidaymakers and the White family continued to develop the attractions, installing a figure 8 rollercoaster in 1912 and establishing the Barry Island Pleasure Park in 1923. In 1930 they lost control of the park when they were outbid for the lease by legendary showman Pat Collins (after they themselves had outbid Collins on his Evesham Pleasure park the year before and in retaliation for the next 20 years Barry Island pleasure park was renamed “the New Evesham Pleasure park”!).

The Pleasure Park became an established tourist destination and the 1938 Bank Holiday Monday saw a record crowd of well over 250,000 arrive at the island in a single day. The introduction of a spectacular scenic railway to the park in 1940 caused a sensation and with a track of just over a mile long and an initial climb and drop of 72ft it was the biggest wood-built roller coaster ever erected in the UK. It was also one of the last such railways to be built in this country and towered over Barry Island for the next three decades. The park continued to flourish until the 1970s when the ride had to be demolished in 1973 after being badly damaged in a severe winter gale. Unfortunately the changing leisure habits and customer demands for more exotic (and sunnier) destinations saw the resort become out-dated and unable to compete with the newer and more modern high speed 'white knuckle' rides offered elsewhere. The closure of the nearby Butlins Holiday resort in the 1990s led to a marked decline in customers and in recent years a large number of the rides were sold and not replaced. Today only the shell of the wacky goldmine log flume and the rusting ‘Evolution’ ride remain on the site of the Pleasure park and the site is closed. Recently Town Counsellors have approved outline plans to redevelop the site to create an undercover scheme, which includes 121 flats and a 60 bed residential care home as well as leisure/entertainment elements such as a cinema.
Skye landscapes
30th May 2012
I have just added a few landscapes into the Land & Sea and Abandoned & Discarded galleries. As a taster:









for more information about these images please take a look at the galleries
Dundee revisited
10th May 2012
For the second week of my break we went to Dundee. Mike was working, managing the technical aspects of the Local Election count, whilst I was exploring old haunts. Mike and I met at college here more years ago than I care to mention and I spent the week feeling really old as I repeated the refrain – “it didn’t look like this in my day”

Again, I took way too many shots while I was re-acquainting myself with the city of the 3 J’s – Jute, Jam & Journalism, as I explored old mills, parks and of course the Docks.






I also explored a few new areas, including the historic cemetery in the middle of the city, the Howff. This graveyard is unusual in that it was built on the grounds of an old monastery and was given to the town as a place of burial by Mary Queen of Scots in 1564. The area was used as a meeting place for the Incorporate Trades of Dundee until 1776 and the graves were primarily erected by these professionals. The gravestones and memorials often proudly incorporated the symbols and banners of the trades and I spent a few hours trying to spot the graves of the weavers, tailors, glove makers, shoemakers, bakers, butchers, hammermen, bonnet makers & sailers of days gone by. Perhaps the most famous grave is that of James Chalmers, who was the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp.


The Howff West gate . . . . . . . . . . . . . James Ure 1796 - Gardener . . . . . . . Andrew Thomson 1795 Shoemaker

Andrew Smith 1757 Hammerman. . . . . . William Anderson 1834 Brewer . . . . . . . William Clark 1797 Jailer

Thomas Muat 1799 Threadmaker. . . . .Archibald Sinclair 1812 Stonemason . . . James Chalmers 1853 Bookseller
A taster of Skye
09th May 2012
Mike & 1 have just returned from a lovely holiday on the Isle of Skye, and while I sort through the hundreds of photos I took up there, I thought I would post some of the shots I took on my phone to give a taster of the visit.







Skye is just too beautiful and I was in total tourist mode during the stay and fell into the classic trap of going “ooh pretty mountain – snap!” so I have way too many shots to trawl through! However keep an eye out on the gallery pages over the next few weeks as I add my images of the Island.
Ruins of Detroit in London
16th April 2012
Last week I finally received the fabulous book by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffe called ‘The Ruins of Detroit’. Although its taken a couple of months to arrive from Amazon it is absolutely worth the wait and the record of the dereliction of inner city Detroit is amazing. Its quite hard to believe that a whole sections of such a historically important city could just be abandoned and left as though the inhabitants have just popped out for the day and just didn’t come back. But even more interesting for me were the images showing how the police offices were just left, with evidence and records just discarded. Some of the images can be seen in this Guardian photo gallery: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2011/jan/02/photography-detroit#/

But as these things often seem to work out, just as I find out about this body of work I discovered that some of the images are actually currently on show in an exhibition at the Wilmotte Gallery in London. The exhibition is only on until the 27th April, and as I was determined to go and see it but my only opportunity was last Friday, I had to brave the experience that is a Megabus journey. Still this too was worth it, as to see some of the images on a massive scale was great – the amount of detail in each shot had to be seen to be believed. Its well worth a visit if you can get there, but if not – there is a review on Dazed.com: http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/12744/1/ruins-of-detroit



Although I didn’t have much time after visiting the exhibition, I did take a trip to see the new (at least to me) architecture at St Pancreas and Kings Cross train stations. I was bowled over by the change in Kings Cross since I used to use it (many years ago now) and although I only had my phone with me I had to take a few photos.





New Gallery
05th April 2012
As I have been spending quite a bit of time recently shooting street art and graffiti I thought it would be a good idea to create a new gallery to show some of the images off.

So, with my usual flair for nomenclature, a brand new portfolio called "Street Art & Graffiti" can be found in the Galleries tab (and through the shortcuts on the home page!)

I hope you like it

Free Chapel Hodgeston
12th March 2012
The next Friends of the friendless churches church visited was the Free Chapel at Hodgeston.
The original church was thought to be built in the 13th Century although the imposing tower was added at a later date. By the 1850s however the church had fallen into disrepair and the Cambrian Archaeological Association decided that it should be restored. The architect David Brandon was appointed to do the work and the present windows were added although many of the internal features were preserved.

The elaborate floor tiling in the chancel are thought to be by Minton and include the heraldic arms of the incumbent at the time of the restoration, Rector Thomas.





St Eloi, Llandeloy
05th March 2012
As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I have been quite inspired recently by the work of the Friends of the Friendless Churches charity. As a result I have visited a number of their churches over the past couple of weeks however I have been rather busy with other things, I have been quite slow in processing the images.

In an attempt to catch up a bit – here are some images from an absolutely stunning church in Pembrokeshire – St Eloi at Llandeloy.

This church appears to have been originally built in the twelfth century, but by the start of the twentieth century it was practically a ruin. In the 1920s the incumbent Reverend J Lloyd commissioned a complete rebuild of the church and the architect John Coats Carter was engaged to create the wonderful Arts and Crafts interior. The work was completed between 1925 and 1926 and includes some fantastic craftsmanship in the intricate rood loft screen and reredos. St Eloi is a truly stunning place and a real joy to spend time in.

On the day I visited the weather was just lovely – unfortunately, the bright sun led to very contrasty conditions inside the church. Yet again I feel my images are a little too processed, but I guess this is just the excuse I need to go again on a less sunny day. However I hope the images below give a good impression of the fabulous architecture of this wonderful building.





Exhibition Hanging
02nd March 2012
Well I have just hung my very first exhibition at Kenfig Nature Reserve Visitor Centre. I have to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to my Parents and Mike who did most of the hard work. It was quite strenuous, especially for the guys who had to hold the heavy frames up for extended periods while I ‘ummed’ and ‘arred’ over whether they were straight (any one who knows me will understand that getting things level isn’t one of my strong points!)

However I think it was worth it and I am really quite pleased with the results. There are 40 of my images hanging in 7 panels, which are themed ‘Flower studies’, ‘Waterscapes’, 'Lighthouses & Piers’, ‘Swansea SA1’, ‘Interiors’, 'Environmental Architecture’ and ‘Animal Portraits’

The panorama below gives a 360 degree view of the exhibition, although obviously you can see much detail – to see the images you will just have to come along ☺
Im having a small informal opening on Sunday the 4th starting at 2pm, if you would like to come and say hi and share a small glass of something, I would love to see you there.





Directions
Grid Ref: SS793817

Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Ton Kenfig
Bridgend
CF33 4PT
Tel: 01656 743386


Kenfig National Nature Reserve lies on the coast of South Wales approximately one mile off the M4 motorway (Junction 37 and follow signs to to North Cornelly, Pyle and Porthcawl and thence the 'brown duck' reserve signs) between Bridgend and Port Talbot.