12-06-2014 11:02 AM
When I was about 5 years old we went on holiday to Wales, where my father is from. We were going to relax by the seaside, meet the grandparents and see the sights. Amongst the sights my father want to show us were an ancient stone circle in the mountains outside Penmaenmawr and a small 12th-century church, also in the surrounding mountains. The result was one of those vacation adventures that becomes an in-family legend. And not in a good way. We walked all day through rain-sodden terrain, constantly reassured by my father that the Druid Circle was "just over the next hill". Of course it wasn't and we returned without seeing it or the church. I can still remember how wet my feet were and how tired I was by the end of the ordeal.
Flash forward about 40 years and my Significant Other, the redoubtable Dr. Lisa, and I decided to take a trip to Wales. And what's more, we arranged for my parents to join us and share a cottage just a few miles south of Conwy for a week.
The trip was a brilliant success. We toured the mountains and castles of Wales, visited relatives and enjoyed cups of tea in small cafes where everyone spoke Welsh (and chatted freely amongst themselves – thinking we were just American tourists – unaware that my father was understanding every word). Naturally the story of the fruitless trek to find the Druid Circle came up and, equally naturally, we decided we had to have another go at it. Only this time we had Dr. Lisa at the helm. She's an experienced hiker, which means she's tough enough to handle a long, mountainous walk, and she's a Harvard professor, which means she's smart enough to... buy a guide book with directions to the Druid Circle(!)
It turned out to be only about a half hour's walk from the parking area to the Druid Circle which, according to the guide book, is not actually a Druid circle – it's been found by archeologists to predate the Druids by many hundreds of years. Anyone expecting something similar to Stonehenge would be sadly disappointed: The tallest of the stones is only about a meter high, but still has that air of ancient mystery about it and it's much less crowded, to put it mildly. We were the only ones there. I told my father "Well, it only took 40 years to get here, but it was worth it!"
I set up my tripod in the center of the circle and made a 360-degree panorama, linked from the image below:
Useful trick when making 360-degree panoramas outdoors: Try to fit an obstacle between yourself and the sun, to limit the difference in exposure as you rotate the camera for eash shot. In this case a cloud bank helped out considerably.
We headed back to the cottage because my parents needed some rest. Lisa and I, however were up for more adventure, even though it was getting late in the afternoon. Since we had nothing in particular planned for the rest of the day we decided to take the opposite approach from our morning walk, which had been set by a guide book: We picked a nearby footpath at random from our map and set off into the hills.
It was about a 5-minute drive through the narrow, winding Welsh roads to reach the path. I love driving these kinds of roads. Lisa is less enthusiastic about being a passenger. Many sections of road have "ARAF" (Welsh for "slow") painted across them. That's one word of Welsh that Lisa definitely picked up during our trip.
We found the start of the footpath and started up into the hjills without having any idea where we were going, so we were quite surprised when we stumbled upon... the 12th-century church I had also missed out on seeing 40 years prior! Although my photos from earlier that day (like the above panorama) were taken with a Pentax ist-D digital, I was carrying my Pentax 645 film camera at this point. I shot a roll of Ilford HP5+ at the church and came away with several good photos, the best of which is presented here:
So there you have it. Two photos that were 40 years in the making. But worth every minute of the wait as far as I'm concerned.
12-09-2014 04:12 PM