Great Britain

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring!

This is not 'stop press' news: I'm no fan of the over romanticising of the past. And this is especially true when it comes to the period covering the World War Two period.

Harking back to a hypothetical bygone era when people were dying by the thousand and acting like it's some sort of jolly theme park is not something that sits too well with me.

Keep calm and don't carry on.

However, putting slightly curmudgeonly moral issues aside and sticking them in a Jerry can inside an Anderson shelter, I shuffled off with the family to Hughenden Manor in Wycombe to take in their 'living history weekend'.

Now, thankfully Hughenden has plenty of actually non- rose tinted WW2 history being the centre of a secret mapmaking operation during the war.

But also - rather thankfully - my concerns about it being a bit of a theme parky sort of the day really didn't come to fruition as it was actually pretty tastefully done. From beautiful vintage cars to painstakingly put together military re-enactments to a thunderous Spitfire flypast, even this old cynic got vaguely in the mood.

Quite aside from all the 1940's stuff, Hughenden Manor is really worth a visit to find out more about it's most famous occupant Benjamin Disraeli - and this part of its history is - in usual National Trust style - fantastically told throughout the building.

The family (including visiting Grandpa who really can just about remember the war) seemed to have a jolly time, especially when the dressing up box was found, and if nothing else i had plenty of opportunity for an interesting shot or two (hundred) as it felt not unlike being on a movie set for the day.

So there you go. Cynicism put aside, it was a really well put together day with minimal romanticism and plenty of heart, although one wonders what decade the NT could do next - surely a 90's weekend with dodgy Vauxhall Corsa's on show, a re-enactment of the Poll Tax riots and a set from Toploader?

Ugh. Maybe not...

Tech corner:
Usually people capturing stuff so the Zeiss 85mm was out to play along with the old dependable Sony 35mm f1.4 for indoor shots.

Four go mad in Devon.

When you've got a family, how do you fill those half-term hours? 

If you're lucky you might have a bundle of cash to fly off somewhere posh, but we have a just-as-good alternative to that - dear old Devon where we can very luckily hitch our horses with my welcoming father in law.

Being based just outside of Exeter that allows us to hang out at a multitude of exciting places, and this time in four days we packed 'em in.

Down in the dark at Kents Cavern.

Day One featured a trip down to Torquay, to visit Kents Cavern which bills itself as a Step into the Stone Age. Well, it's certainly pretty interesting and the guide was super - kept the little 'uns entertained and informed - and even though it's pretty dark down there I managed to squeeze off a few shots in probably the lowest lit venue I'd ever had to work with - like it was pitch black at times.

Back above ground, we hit the beach for the first time in 2018 at Meadfoot, which whilst a bit chilly still allowed for some tea and ice cream action, and due to the lovely light ensured I got some nice sun-down images. Nobody got soaked too which is always a bonus.


On Day Two, we dropped in on friends in Topsham with its ever lovely windy streets, Dutch style merchant houses and views of the River Exe. Can also recommend 'The Cafe' for lunch. 

So, to Day Three and we really maxed out with an early start to Killerton House - a lovely 18th century National Trust place which is currently running a really nicely arranged through-the-house exhibition on the Suffragette movement called 'Votes for Women' - which while well laid out, thought-provoking and interesting, also allowed the usual family 'dress-up' routine which is always a photography fave.

Gorge Walkers.

From there we soldiered on to Lydford Gorge - another NT place but with a spectacular 30-meter waterfall at the bottom of a medium walk down. Well, it seemed 'medium' until we had to walk up again. Worth it, but I'm not sure my knees are in 100% agreement. They hate me now.

We had planned to do a bit of Tor visitation, but with the light fading we had a cuppa in Tavistock and turned our thoughts to going to Sidmouth for a quick sea view the following day instead.

And visit we did, however Sidders was not giving us the blue skies of previous days - less blue and more white fog with a swirling dark sea and a keen cold wind. Didn't seem to stop somebody getting co-opted into some nonny nonny Morris dancing on the seafront, however. Those shots will be corkers for any eventual wedding slideshow I need to put together...

So four days, lots of photos and plenty done. I think I might need another holiday soon though - when's Easter?

Tech Corner:
All the usual subjects, although the 85mm Batis stayed mostly in the bag this time out.