Friday, 23 May 2014

Bala, North Wales

After a short lunch break in Wrexham and a quick stop in Llangollen (photographed a better set ... later), I arrived at my destination for the weekend. It's not an obvious tourist destination as many people travel on to the north or mid Wales coast and it was only the second time I had been here. This is blogpost 2 of 3, otherwise entitled "Understanding  ... Entrances, Exits and No Entry" !! Not the best set in the world but it is what is ... i.e. turn up the day and take what I see.

(Apologies for my absence in many ways, The month of 'May' to me means 'away'. I have had other distractions too including the april jungle that doubles as a May(never does) / June garden. Friends want to see my images of last weeks trip to Scotland but you got here first. Computer issues again with my photo library that have got sorted for now... need to spend a month not taking pictures and cleaning up the computer.)

My first Welsh trip was to Llandudno with my parents on the train where we explored a few coastal places in addition to the town. After falling for everything about the North West Corner of Wales (Mountains, Railways, scenery) I decided to return and use Llandudno and Aberystwyth as a base for a North and Mid Wales rail rover to explore the area further in my "pre-car" days. The week in North Wales became a ritual even after a car purchase and became an excuse to find places in the country inaccessible to reasonable public transport. One day I chose to visit the Bala Lake narrow gauge railway but underestimated the realistic road speed and consequently just caught the train so no time for a look around town.

This particular weekend was a social activity weekend with a few strangers and acquaintances that I had met before at other events in the North of England.

Entrance ... to Accommodation 
A walk around the back garden
Entrance to ... history ... at the other end of town
The town centre of Bala is essentially one long main street with a historic mound thought to be a Roman camp on top of a small hill and a large Lake at the southern end.

The view south from the top overlooking the town
One of the things that always strikes me about the North Wales coast is the ease of transport access that the English have had to infiltrate society over the years for business and tourism. The inland places are very Welsh preserving their own language and customs.

Something to say
The statue of the politician T.S. Ellis (Thomas Edward Ellis) could possibly be the main focus of the High Street. He was leader of a Welsh society (Cymru Fydd) in the 19th century that wanted home rule for Wales. However T.S. Ellis decided on a more pro-active route by joining a mainstream political party where he thought his voice could be heard more effectively. Unfortunately due to his subsequent promotions in Government, he had to withdraw from his time constraining Welsh activities.

Welsh Language and literacy seem high on the agenda here as 78.5 % of the residents can speak fluent Wesh according to the 2011 census with the figure increasing to 95.7 % for the 5 -9 year olds.

The other landmark .... English Chapel  .... Eh?! ... Grim skies, grim mood !
On a tangent but loosely similar theme, history records that a young teenager called Mary Jones walked 25 miles to Bala to buy a Bible in 1800.

Entrance to ... The English Language !

Just before I gear myself up for activity in the next post, time for a quick look at other things in the main street.

The Welsh and English put there differences aside for an Indian takeaway !!

The night at The White Lion Inn with a load of acquaintances who seemed to know one another well from previous occasions wasn't the best in the world. However, as I write here I look forward "today" to another weekend with the same group of people....

Struggling for communication in Bala
... so it can't have been that bad or my memory isn't as good as what it once was !!

I don't often show the progression of image editing but here's one to keep the professionals happy ... entitled ... "Bala, don't even go there"...

No entry ... Original

Straightened verticals and unshadowed ... but not overdone
Colour popping and saturation ... "A little colour in the weekend"
Ooo, is time to fill up and go home?!  no, there's blog post 3/3 to do which is why I came !


  1. You are starting to have fun here. What software are you using?
    I love the English Chapel. The clock face really lifts it but not excessively.
    You may be a bit slow posting and I know I'm a bit fast but your posts are always worth the wait.

    1. Hi Adrian, thanks for the comment. I'm a slow learner and still a techno dinosaur but getting there. Even though you might not think it, you don't know how much of an inspiration you have been. I use a mixture of photoshop elements 11 I think it is and aperture. I've had a Flickr account for some time lying dormant not really knowing what to do with it. They changed the storage fees recently to allow 1 TB free. Haven't been happy with Picasa for some time for a few reasons and only recently worked out how to copy & paste from there.
      The English chapel was a poor original ... Badly in the shade, gloomy moment, telephone wires across it, pleased it made some talking point as I was struggling to fill this post without dipping into the material of the next one. The clouds are highlighted a bit in the rooftop scene.

  2. These are great shots and wonderful cloudy-and-blue skies! I always love doors, gates, and churches, but also that stone building (barn or house?) that looks like a rummage sale is being held out front. An interesting photo! So tell me again, the red sign with the white bar means 'No Entry' ?

    1. Thanks Cranberry morning for the great input you have here once again. You are right about the no entry sign, sorry I forget some things with international readership haha. All the shots are taken along the length of one street which is essentially what Bala is except the gate to the old Roman fort ( should have taken a shot of that for historical purposes for this post but looked nothing through the lens ... It's on google images). The house is at the bottom of the street up a side road.

  3. Hi J,

    "Straightened verticals" - I like that.

    I read or heard about an app for a mobile phone/camera which facilitates lining up verticals when taking a photo but can't recall where. All my blog images are-hand held and unedited so that app would be useful. Any idea what it is or where it is available?

  4. Thanks Brian, sorry I'm not great with apps or phones, had a smart phone for 2 months & it scares me. Had an iPod touch for two years so I'm dipping my toe in the water. Apps do certain things like HDR and making the pictures better but straightened verticals I've only found in photoshop ... Something I resisted for a while but had to relent in the end as it was annoying me with architecture. I'll have a hunt around & see what I can find, they're always updating things like that if there's a need.

  5. Maybe it's the Western American in me, but I really liked that photo of the jumbled items in a yard. It's interesting that more young people speak Welsh than older ones---in today's world that's counter-intuitive, but it shows the people's determination.

    1. JoLynne ... Maybe I am influenced by Western America by taking this shot. It's one think to shoot but another to publish it. It might not look anything to some but I thought it was worth showing although I did have difficulty giving it a title or gelling it with the post.
      The Welsh language seems more important than ever these days in the current period of separate UK Governments and all that involves. I think it would be fair to say that the Welsh language and issues I discussed in the post would be more for the countryside of Wales rather than the coastal areas. I'm sure there would be difficulty finding the welsh language on the North Wales Coast other than the road signs to remind tourists where they are. A lot of day trippers and holiday makers from Liverpool and Manchester seem to like the idea of eventual migration !

  6. BTW that gate photo is just gorgeous. And I was wondering, as a native of Britain do you find it easy to pronounce place names like Llandudno and Llangollen? Or are they difficult for everyone?

    1. I suppose you could say with the more popular name of Llandudno, the ignorant or lazy way for the English is to get away with Landidno as opposed to using the tongue with Thlandidno. Those that live in the area would be more passionate about it and I have heard another phrenetic play on it which is a half way house of Clandidno.
      When it comes to the less well known name of Llangollen, those that don't know would just call it Langollen. When I did the Llandudno trip following the coach in order that my Mother could fulfil her holiday with me being the "medication administrator", I was shocked that the coach driver called it this, making everyone think it was the correct pronunciation. There seems to be different levels of correct pronunciation, the hardest being the most accurate :-)

  7. J, I like these intriguing and interesting captures of the town, including the yard, you don't see such a photo in a travel guide and yet it adds to the atmosphere of the place. I also like that some of the photos show the overall view and then a detail like the statue in the street, the door of the chapel, the thoughtful lion... Great idea.

    I enjoyed your example of editing, the final image looks both impressive and interesting. In my opinion, straightening lines is an important part of editing as well as adjusting shades and light, contrast and saturation. I appreciated your remark about the photo being unshadowed ... but not overdone. Once I read that people tend to remove shades too much and thus lose the third dimension of the photo and I realized that sometimes I make that mistake as well. Shadows are necessary in the right amount and depth for sure.

    1. Thanks Petra, there wasn't a lot to photograph in the main street and as usual I look for a classic title shot or general postcard view, then something quirky, arty or humorous. I always seem fortunate that when I do some research later, the post and images mostly seems to gel together nicely. It's a case of trying to do the best with what you've got to shoot. You can probably tell if you study the images that it's not the most popular destination in the world, but then again people come here for the subject material that I talk about in the next post.

      I agree shadows are important to show the image is real. On a similar note, based on some of your comments over time in your blog, you are an inspiration to me for keeping my images believable although I'm not saying that I don't like dipping my toes in the water :-)

  8. P.S. I especially like the golden light in photos 2, 3, 4, and 5. But they're all beautiful, as usual.

    1. Thanks Cranberry Morning, photo 3 almost missed the cut on subject matter but crept in with the light and the thematic dialogue.
      Thought you would like to know that I've loaded all the photos for the next Bala post and just need to think about what to write.

  9. Nice set of photos, J_on_tour! I would have appreciated too that accommodation:)


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