Anyone who grew up in the UK probably did so with tales of Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne’s teddy bear with a thing for honey. I’m sure the stories have travelled far beyond the UK too. As well as the Winnie The Pooh stories, there’s game called Pooh Sticks… it’s a simple game where you drop sticks into a river from a bridge, and the one who’s stick flows first to the other side is the winner.
What you might not know is that this game is famous in Oxfordshire, England, as the World Pooh Sticks Championships takes place here each year on the River Thames, attracting folk from as far afield as Australia! Luckily for me it’s right on my doorstep.
This was my third time at the Championships, and I’m glad to say that the weather was just right today for taking photos. Last years event was postponed due to snow, and the rescheduled event in November was nearly a wash out was it poured with rain.
I took along my camera and got the photographs you’ll see below. Some of the photos required a bit more risk than usual as I wanted to get photos from the bridges looking back at the competitors. I did this by mounting my camera on a monopod and holding it out at arms length over the water – nothing focusses the mind like several hundred pounds of camera dangling above a flowing river!
The monopod is actually one of the three legs from my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian, the leg cleverly screws off and I’m able to mount the tripod head on this leg to angle the camera. This is where a lightweight camera, lens, and tripod are a real benefit.
The next challenge was to take the photo. My Olympus E-M1 camera comes with a rather neat trick for this, built in wifi that allows you to control it using a mobile phone app. So I was able to beam the live view image from the camera to my phone, and press a button when I wanted to take the shot. I set the camera to take lots of photos in quick succession, which meant that hopefully one of the photos would be the one I wanted. As it happens, I ended up with 196 photos which I’ve narrowed down to the 9 best.
You might notice that some of the photos look a bit curved – this is because some were taken with my 7.5mm Samyang Fisheye lens. This lens allows me to cram a lot into a photo, and does curve things a little. It’s certainly one of my favourite lenses.
It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged some photos – I’ve been away on holiday in north Wales, and the next few blog entries will be about that trip.
North Wales is a beautiful part of the world, with a rugged mountainous terrain which drops to some stunning coastal shorelines; an ideal place for photography. I’ve been to north Wales many times and have experienced the rainy climate the mountains bring, but on this holiday I didn’t see rain once. I wanted to walk along the Aberglaslyn Pass whilst I was there and deliberately chose the coolest day of the week. Unfortunately the cloudy skies don’t make for a great backdrop in some of the photos.
My walk started at the National Trust car park at Nantmor (grid reference SH597462 – where you can park for free if you’re a member), taking me to Beddgelert and back. The majority of the walk is alongside the river Glaslyn, which gives great opportunities for some photos of the river and its surroundings. The river is home to some otters, but I didn’t spot any on this walk. Close by the river is the railway track of the Welsh Highland Railway, a heritage railway that runs between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. A few years ago I spent a weekend helping to lay track for this railway before it opened, and it’s great to see and hear the trains in action and smell the steam engines. The river path crosses the railway track and eventually reaches Beddgelert, a village with a lot of history.
As well as some shops and pubs, Beddgelert is home to the resting place of ‘Gelert’, the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great. The story, as written on the tombstone reads:
“In the 13th century Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, “The Faithful Hound”, who was unaccountably absent. On Llewelyn’s return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The Prince alarmed, hastened to find his son, and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a child’s cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but near by lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The Prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here.”
After stopping for some lunch at Beddgelert, walking up to the station for the Welsh Highland Railway and onto Gelert’s Grave, it was time to walk back along the river.