The day after yesterday

Yesterday was the opening game of the 2015 Six Nations rugby tournament, with England beating Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. I watched the game on TV from my personal box, with a strong cup of tea by my side. I live life on the edge.

This morning, I took the early train to Cardiff as I wanted to visit the museum to see an exhibition on early photography. More of that later. The train was empty, despite being an Intercity service going to London. When I got to Cardiff, I found that it, too was quiet. The only people around seemed to be the people heading off to open up and run shops. It was clear that everyone else was indoors, recovering from the night before.

It was cold and grey in the capital, and after a reviving cup of coffee, I set off for Jessops, the photographic retailer. After they went bust a few years ago, the brand was sold and a few of the shops were reopened. Cardiff has such a store. I ended up having a chat with one of the salesmen there as it turned out he went to college in Swansea, where I was a technician in the photography department. We shared some stories and caught up with the whereabouts of some of the tutors. It was a breath of fresh air, and there was no sense of sales pitching at all. I always liked the staff in Jessops, and I’m glad the brand has been resurrected.

Then it was on to the museum and straight to the exhibition. A large proportion of the displayed photographs were from or by John Dillwyn Llewelyn and his sister, Mary. JDL was an early pioneer of photography in Britain and was a contemporary of Fox Talbot, to whom he was related by marriage. His earliest images date back to 1840. His mansion at Penllegare was the centre of his photographic endeavours, and the house and grounds feature often as subjects. If you go along to Penllegare Woods to day (and you should, it’s a great place to visit), you can see many of the places and subjects JDL photographed. The mansion, sadly, is gone and the beautiful ornamental gardens are over grown but volunteers are working to restore parts of the grounds to their former state.

Some of the images on display were from the 1850s and it was amazing to see people staring out from 164 years ago. There were familiar sights – Caswell and Three Cliffs Bay, Tenby, Swansea docks and, as mentioned, Penllegare woods.

In the early days of photography the film wasn’t sensitive enough to freeze any kind of motion, so there are photographs of sailing ships in Swansea docks where their movement on the water has blurred the masts and completely hidden the rigging. It meant that people sitting for portraits had to stay motionless for up to several minutes. Neck braces were used to help keep people still. Some of the pioneering work JDL was doing was developing more sensitive films, cutting the exposure time to seconds and making possible more natural looking poses

Other photographers were represented too, some amateur, some professional. The images ranged from studio portraits to reportage and historical records. Some of the equipment and cameras used by JDL and his contemporaries were on display too. The early cameras were crude wooden boxes that weren’t immediately identifiable as photographic tools.

I enjoyed the exhibition and the fascinating insight to the early days of photography it gave. I wish there had been more photographs on display, though.

The things humans do

By Rufus. Typed by Dave because I told him to.

I’m staying with Dave at the moment because my skills as an escape artist proved too great in my temporary home. To be fair, I never signed any agreements not to try and escape. Life with Dave isn’t too bad as I have him trained to a very high standard and I reluctantly admit that the service level and living standards are quite good in his house.

But he has some quirks. I may have mentioned before that he likes taking photos and I think it’s becoming a bit of an obsession with him, Every time I look, he has a camera in his hand. He has several cameras – why do you need more than one?  These days he tends to point them at very very small things in the garden. Yesterday I caught him trying to photograph a fly! As a reward, he turned the camera on me and started taking my portrait. I was trying to get my best side (right, if you must know) into shot but he kept moving. So I flopped down in the garden. Well, it was really warm out there and I hoped he’d get the message and leave me alone.

He’s off this week so we get to see a lot of each other. That’s fine, I like Dave. This morning I was looking forward to a nice lie-in (until about 5am) but there was thunder outside. I don’t like thunder. Don’t judge me, we all have our little phobias. Dave doesn’t like spiders. So It was nice to have Dave to cuddle up to until the thunder had stopped. And his bed is nice and comfy, so rather than disturb him when everything was quiet, I stayed there. It was so comfy that I over slept until 7am!

Later this morning, he was out digging holes in the garden. Now I’m not one to boast, but I am the king of holes. I can scratch a pit in the hardest of ground in minutes. But he didn’t want my help and instead proceeded to dig a deep hole and then plant a stick in it! Admittedly it was a big stick, but even so! Sticks are meant to be thrown, not buried. He spent ages putting big stones in the hole to prop up the stick, and then he filled the hole in and did a little dance on it!  He said something about birds and hung a very nice smelling fat ball on it.

I’ve got to stop now as I’ve asked Dave to finish off the bathroom. While I dislike taking showers, when I have to, I would rather do so in a completed bathroom rather than the half finished building site. There, that’s told him.

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