Images taken within a few feet of Tintern Abbey

With apologies to W Wordsworth

I’ve no intention of turning this into a “what I done on my holidays”, not least because footling with cameras for hours tends not to play nicely with Family Time. But I did want to give the Landmark Trust a plug, and burble on a bit about Tintern Abbey, one of my favourite places. Besides it’s all I’ve done for the last week.

The Landmark Trust is a great organisation maintaining a huge variety of interesting historic buildings, which you can stay in for – generally – extraordinarily reasonable rates. Everything from cottages to (literally) castles and well worth a look. We’ve just had a post-Christmas get-together for some of the extended family at Shelwick Court.

Shelwick Court, Hereford

Shelwick Court, Hereford

It’s a rather splendid old farmhouse just outside Hereford which features (no-one knows why) a medieval great hall, pinched from no-one knows where!

The medieval great hall - enormous, yet cosy

The medieval great hall – enormous, yet cosy

As living rooms go I think I could probably cope with this, though I’m afraid images of the interior are restricted to protect the innocent.

In any case, when you’ve got family around and you’re sitting up until the wee hours setting the world to rights over multiple bottles of wine, the photos kind of have to take a back seat. Certainly sunrise shoots¬†don’t really happen.

However the joy of this time of year is that, as long as it’s not tipping down (which to be fair is most of the time), you’ve got a decent chance of some really nice light at any time of the day.

So one sunny day, we loaded my dear old Mum’s mobility scooter in the boot and took her for a drive down the lovely Wye Valley to Tintern Abbey.

I love Tintern. We’ve got ruins coming out of our ears in Britain but Tintern isn’t your average 3-foot walls and a pile of rubble – this has Substance.

The particular joy of Tintern for me is that the main walls are pretty much intact, along with the ornate window frames, but the roof and glass are all gone, so you get a wonderful play of light, shade and shape. The fact that the floor is now neatly trimmed grass gives it a special character too, as well as bringing an extra colour element in.


Anyway, I was travelling light with just 35mm and 85mm primes so there was no scope for super-wide shots. No, it was all about shapes and shadows.


Repeating arches of stone and shadow


One of these days I’m going to book into a B&B for a week and ramble around the hills with a big long lens getting the whole thing from all angles, at all hours of the day. But that’s not really disabled-friendly so this time I made do with pottering around in the low winter sun. It was no hardship really.IMG_9116

PS. A note on disabled access: Shelwick Court isn’t set up for disabled access, and is certainly not wheelchair-accessible. Sadly that’s often the nature of old buildings. Fortunately my Mother still has limited mobility so could just about manage the stairs – a struggle, but worthwhile. Tintern Abbey does have disabled access though it may involve a short romp across ¬†grass – in that sense it’s probably easier for wheelchairs than my Mum’s little scooter.