Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

Iona – the Abbey

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Every time I peel an onion, something I do several times most weeks, it reminds me of our stay at Iona. As paying guests of the Iona Community at the Abbey we took our part in the daily chores which kept the place running, and each morning after breakfast I went with the other ‘Otters’ – the work group to which I had been assigned to the kitchen to prepare vegetables. My part in this job seemed always to be one of two or three of us peeling onions – and you need a lot of onions to cook vegetarian meals for around 50 or 60 people.

There are a lot of dodges that people advise to avoid tears when peeling onions, and I think I tried them all. They may help if you are only peeling one or two, but none help if you have a mountain of them to get through. You cry, and crying only makes it worse. Still, I think I preferred it to cleaning the lavatories and washrooms that my partner was assigned to.

The Abbey is essentially a twentieth-century reconstruction carried out by teams of volunteers from the Iona Community after the site with its ruins was gifted to the Church of Scotland by the 8th Duke of Argyll in 1899, with more modern living accommodation built alongside it in a matching external style.

The Duke is still present – in marble, lying beside his wife.

As well as the abbey, alongside it is a small church, the oldest building on Iona (c 1150) with an ancient graveyard where 48 Kings of Scotland were buried. They were joined more recently by Labour leader John Smith; a boulder marks his grave with the message “An Honest Man’s The Noblest Work of God”.

There are ruins of another chapel in the grounds, as well as those of a former Bishop’s House, and splendid views across the sound to Mull, enough to drag me out of bed for a short walk before breakfast (and onions.) And of course there were a number of short religious services, optional but an important part of the experience, though with too much unaccompanied singing for my taste.

More pictures in and around the Abbey from our visit 12 years ago on My London Diary.

Yorkshire Dales

Monday, February 10th, 2020

Writing this at the end of a day of lousy weather, wind and rain that caused transport havoc somehow seemed an appropriate time to think back about our week’s holiday last year in Wharfedale, one of the Yorkshire dales. The weather forecast for that week was little more encouraging, but in fact the weather turned out rather better than the forecast. Folowing our great gale back in 1987, when BBC forecaster Michael Fish had told us not to worry about it, according to Wikipedia, “major improvements were later implemented in atmospheric observation, relevant computer models, and the training of forecasters. Perhaps the major aspect of that training was to make all forecasts on the pessimistic side.

And while today there have been floods in some towns, trees blowing down and blocking roads or falling through roofs and it must have been terrible for those concerned, as well as for the many homeless on our streets, it hasn’t been a great disaster for most of us. And many photographers will have been out taking ‘weather pictures’, and a few living in the worst hit areas may have made decent sales. It’s not a speciality I’ve ever had much interest in, though I have sometimes gone out to take pictures in the snow because of the very different look that places have.

So although the forecast for our holiday week was pretty dire, it didn’t turn out quite so bad, though we did get quite a bit of rain, but there was also some unforecast sunshine. And that rain did make the several waterfalls we visited rather more impressive than in a dry summer.

I took only one camera with me on holiday, travelling fairly light with the Olympus E-M5 II  and just a couple of lenses. No flash, no tripod but several spare batteries made up my kit. It would have been a very light kit with just the 14-150mm, but I also took the slightly buliky but outstanding Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH, something of a mouthful. To be fair it is well less than half the weight of an equivalent full frame lens, but for a holiday I could perhaps just have taken a fixed focal length ultrawide. But such things hardly exist.

The Olympus is a fine camera for holiday use, and I have used it for photographing events, but there I find it just a little disappointing, espcially in low light. With both a physically smaller sensor and a smaller file size the results have sometimes not quite had the image quality I want.

One thing I was pleased to have with me was a poncho. I’d bought one after seeing another photographer working wearing one, but hadn’t yet worn one myself at work. I generally rely on the Met Office’s forecast and dress accordingly and somehow it hasn’t yet been poncho weather, but up in Yorkshire it certainly was on several days, with at least light rain and reasonably warm. Warm enough to work up a sweat walking up hills in a jacket while a poncho gives plenty of ventilation. Most of the time the camera sits in the dry under it, and you can just pull it up on the outside when you want to take a picture.

Here are some links to the pictures:

Kettlewell and Starbotton
Bolton Castle
Wensleydale waterfalls
Kettlewell & Arncliffe circular
More Kettlewell
Skipton Castle
Litton Church & Falls
Buckden circular
Kettlewell final
Conistone walk

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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