Tag Archives: Wales

Photo Sans Frontiers Showcase: Chris Adams…

This week I finally began the task of sorting through the hundreds of pictures on the recently inaugurated Photo Sans Frontiers Facebook page, intending to compile a blog with which to showcase the photography posted by the members of our slowly growing little group.
But there are just too many great pictures.

So I’ve decided to make it a series of posts, each one of which will feature one or more photographers’ work
(almost like a proper photography blog, instead of just foisting my own twisted creations or travelogues on you)

So it seemed only fitting that I should devote the first chapter of this new venture to by far the most prolific contributor to the group, Chris Adams, in particular his wonderful nature photography, much of it taken around Ceredigion in Wales.
As I add more posts to the series, I shall be trying to get a little background from some of the people behind the camera, but for now just enjoy the rugged coastlines, dappled forests and winter landscapes that Chris has captured so beautifully.


















That’s just a taster, there’ll be more from Photo Sans Frontiers ( and Chris, I’m sure) very soon.

Stay tuned.


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Spring windup and the persistence of The persistence of memory…


As is predictable for an English bank holiday Monday, it is now grey and raining outside, but the rest of the weekend has been very pleasant indeed, not least because we had an unexpected guest on Thursday evening.

Old friend and co-star of my Wales watching… posts, (about our pilgrimage to Portmeirion, the home of psychedelic, spy-paranoia fixated cult TV show, The Prisoner) Trevor arrived on the doorstep not long after I got home from work, ostensibly on a short break to try his hand at some fishing on the rocky North Devon shoreline, but as with many weekends that I’ve spent with Trev, plans tend to be rather elastic.

While I went off to work on Friday morning, after a late-ish night of catching up and reminiscing, Trev went in search of a suitable fishing spot and somewhere to pitch his specially purchased tent.
When I returned home at lunchtime however, Elaine had already put him to work in the garden and there were a few more jobs lined up for us too.

Obviously there were some memories to be mulled over, some bollocks to be talked, some cider to be drunk and some pool to be played along the way, so what with buying and fitting a replacement for our suddenly defunct electric shower, fitting a new ceiling light in the bathroom, drinking some more cider, laying a couple of paving slabs, making and consuming a pan of,..ahem..herbally enhanced Hyena Soup, (enabling you to make a “laughing stock” of yourself) repairing our front door, reading all the e-mails and blogs I’ve got behind with, and drinking some more cider, I haven’t had a lot of time to do any blogging.

And Trevor never did go fishing.

The upshot of which is, this post is like one of those cheap-to-make TV episodes which recap a character’s back-story for no discernible reason.

Except this is really interesting.


Ok, now I’m worried I’ve built it up too much.
All I was going to do was give you a bit of an update really, nothing earth-shattering.

{Note to self: comparing posts to crap tv show formatting is not sensible or effective blog promotion}

Back in February I had a bit of a rant about the rise of stupid nomination challenges on social media and how it would be nice if people used the same communication technology for doing something positive for a change, suggesting BlogNominate as the way forward.
As with a lot of these things, there was plenty of support for the idea but I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really considered all the logistics of the plan and it kind of fizzled out.
But not before two friends at work had rebranded the idea as EggNominate, the idea being that people would contribute either cash or Easter eggs to the appeal, to eventually be distributed among the residents of Little Bridge House children’s hospice and the local children’s cancer ward.
The final total was over 150 chocolate eggs, which were delivered personally to the children, and nearly £200 in cash to be donated to the hospice.

But one event I probably can shoehorn into the “Random act of kindness” category is the fundraiser we held at work, whereby myself and the two erstwhile EggNominators, Mike and Shane, challenged ourselves to raise the modest sum of £45 between us on the Friday of Breast Cancer Awareness week.
There was a catch however; should we reach our target in the two hours or so before our morning break, we would allow a couple of our female colleagues to give us a makeover (our version of the “make-up-on selfie” that became a popular male response to the campaign of women posting photos of themselves without make-up on social media to promote breast cancer awareness) which we would wear for the remainder of the working day.

It seems as though there is an unhealthy urge for people to see grown men made up like the world’s least convincing transvestites, (although a disturbing number of people told me how good I looked as a woman) because by ten o’clock we had raised nearly £130.

Ok then, let the plastering begin…


Me, getting a bit of slap on, courtesy of Gemma, one of our volunteer artistes.

…and yes, apparently I have to let my hair down..


That “Cher / Max Wall hybrid” look in full.


“The Sugarblokes” – Shane, Mike and I, with our make-up artistes Gemma and Naomi.

Possibly the most worrying part of the day was, having driven back from work in full make-up, with my hair by now a tangled mess, I stopped at our local shop on the way home and……nobody batted an eyelid.
Which only struck me as strange until I remembered that over the past few years I’ve walked in there dressed as a cowboy, Elvis, a native American chief and a pirate, amongst other things, so perhaps it wasn’t that strange after all.

(additional makeover photography by Vernon Smith, cheers Vern)

And finally in this random round-up of stuff that’s occurred to me this Spring, I have a puzzle for you;

What is the connection between a 1931 surrealist masterpiece by Salvador Dali and a blog post about the horrors of war?

Well, this is The Persistence of Memory, a painting by Salvador Dali…


..and this is The Persistence Of Memory, a blog post by dalecooper57.

I pinched Dali’s title because it went with the theme of remembrance and the importance of keeping memories of terrible events alive for future generations to learn from.
I was pleased with the post and I got some good feedback from it.
Ok. Happy with that.

(At this point I should say that my previous best day’s traffic on the whole blog was 269 hits, and that was on a day I posted three times. Very rarely do I get anything like those numbers, especially on a day that I haven’t posted anything)

So imagine my surprise when, over a week after publishing the post, which got a respectable 100+ hits on the day, I suddenly got 385 hits on that post alone, ending the day on an astounding 409!
Now this was amazing enough a month ago, but ever since then the same post has been getting many more hits than any other, to the point that on one platform alone it’s passed the 2,000 mark, something I doubt anything else I’ve written has come close to.

All of which would be fine except for one thing.
No comments.

Not that I’m saying nobody commented on the post originally, several of my lovely readers made valuable contributions via that little box at the bottom of the post (the one so many of you seem scared of. Come on in, I won’t bite) but after the avalanche of traffic began I haven’t had one single word of feedback and that does strike me as odd. And not just because I’ve had a lot of spam get past my filter recently either.
(Note: Before you ask, none of the search terms for the post were mistaken searches for Dali’s painting)

So if you’re one of the allegedly thousands of people who have read The persistence of memory… in the last couple of weeks, let me know.
Because much as I’d like to think that it was a moving, heartfelt, brilliantly researched and potentially award-winning piece of journalism, therefore attracting inordinate numbers of (very shy) new readers, I can’t help thinking that something maybe amiss.

Please feel free to prove me wrong.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of new readers, I’d like to welcome the flurry of new followers I’ve been honoured to receive in recent weeks (Diary of an Internet Nobody now has 320, thank you all) I shall attempt to justify your interest in my continuing total failure to find a theme.

Since I began writing this post yesterday, I think that I should now wind-up my Spring clean of the odds and sods from the blog and I shall leave you with two views of another fabulous Devon sunset from the weekend, along with the rainbow and ethereal clouds that appeared opposite it.




{See, that was better than a flashback episode of Star Trek wasn’t it?}


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Wales watching 2 – We are not numbers we are free men…

Trevor and I set off from the campsite, after a suitable period of relaxing in the morning sun, and made our way into the town to find a pub.

There are a good number of places to visit in the area, even without taking into account the stunning countryside and mountain scenery of the Snowdonia National Park.
The Ffestiniog Railway isn’t far away, neither is the picturesque town of Betws-y-Coed. But we had other plans.


First, the pub.
The Australia Inn was the obvious choice, given the advice I’d received the day before, so that’s where we headed.

Now, I know the antipathy towards the English in North Wales is a bit of a cliche, but when we tried to cross the wide slate doorstep to the pub, the two troglodytes who sat there, resolutely refused to move. We had to practically climb over them to get inside.

Once inside, we opted for a game of pool in the back room, until we noticed a convex mirror – much like the ones used to catch shoplifters – angled in such a way that it allowed the customers in the bar to glare at us from a completely different room.

After one game, we left.

So, now we came to the whole point of our trip, and we headed out of town along the peninsula road, towards…the Village!


From as far back as the 1850’s, Portmeirion was an estate – then called Aber lâ – built on the site of an 18th century boatyard and foundry, on the  coastal edge of Penrhyndeudraeth village.
Until Sir Clough Williams Ellis got hold if it that is.

Starting in 1925, Ellis began building his own, very unique take on italianate village architecture, holding lavish parties which would be attended by people from many miles away. The party-goers would stay in the cottages (some of which existed from the original estate) and ornate houses which Ellis had built, including a hotel. There is also a mediaeval castle, Castle Deudraeth, bought by Ellis in the ’30s, with the intention of converting it into a hotel, an ambition not achieved until after his death.


Portmeirion, viewed from the estuary. The “yacht” at the jetty is made of stone.

However, the thing that had drawn Trevor and I here was a more recent phenomenon altogether.

The eclectic and sometimes downright bizarre styles of  architecture in Portmeirion have always made it popular as the backdrop to, or the muse for, art and literature, whether it’s as the inspiration behind Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit, the location for the Dr Who episode, Masque of Mandragora, or most famously, as The Village in ’60s psychedelic-paranoia-spy-trip The Prisoner.


The main piazza. Note the dome – the home of “Number 1” – in the background.

The historical value of the entire site of Portmeirion (now owned by a charitable trust) is obviously not to be underestimated, and contains not just the village, but also the famous pottery, and an internationally recognised collection of Rhododendrons, some of them enormous. There are some beautiful walks that meander beneath these giant prehistoric-looking shrubs, and lakes to wander around too, but for fans of Patrick McGoohan’s extraordinary series, wherever you look there are images that are instantly recognisable.


The view from Number 1’s house.




View from cliffs above the village, towards the harbour.

The Prisoner-themed souvenir shop is actually in Number 6’s house!..

…and when Trev and I visited, it was run by a member of the genus geekus nerdex.
I’m not kidding, this bloke had an anorak, thick national health glasses – no word of a lie, they were held together with sticking plaster – nylon trousers about three inches too short, and terrible acne.
And he knew everything about the series, and I do mean everything.
If we picked up anything in the shop (I eventually bought a keyring and a badge, both of which I still have) he would pounce, and say something like, “Ah yes, that was when Number 6 had just been gassed and woken up in Number 1’s house, series one, episode four…”, all said with a mildly disturbing, glassy stare.


We spent several hours there, exploring the grottos set into the cliffs, the buildings of the village – some of which, we found to our surprise, are merely facades with fake doors and windows, false frontages cleverly designed to give the impression of hugely impressive rococo structures, in reality, hollow follies – and walked some way along the white sands of the beach on which the album cover for This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours by the Manic Street Preachers was shot.


Trev, giving it some “neo-gothic, light operatic, italianate chic”.

All-in-all, a thoroughly worthwhile journey, and while originally conceived as a slightly nerdy pilgrimage to Cult TV Mecca, it is one I have retaken since with family and friends, every time discovering something new.

I hope the re-photographed 35mm snaps have done a good enough job of capturing the enchanting uniqueness of Portmeirion, because quite honestly, it’s almost impossible to take a bad picture there.


Although, the best way of capturing the full majesty of the place – whether you’re a fan of surreal, inexplicable ’60s weirdness, fine pottery, giant exotic shrubs, or simply want to take in the spectacular scenery – is to visit it yourself.

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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Music, Personal anecdote, Photography, Travel, TV


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Wales watching, the journey begins…

The best kind of holidays aren’t planned, they just sort of happen. The sort when you’ve “gone on holiday by mistake”, much like the two main protagonists in the fabulous Withnail and I

Well, I’ve had a few unplanned excursions like that in the past, once when a friend and I first discovered the Barge Inn in Wiltshire, and another time when we drove all the way from Brighton to Halifax overnight one Good Friday, on the spur of the moment, to go and visit someone I’d only met once before at Reading Festival.
Those were both completely unplanned trips, and surprisingly successful too. But on another occasion, my friend Trevor and I decided to go and visit somewhere specific for a change.

In the early-mid ’90s, when I was living up in Sussex, my local pub was The Wheatsheaf, and back then it was a free house.
When the owners went away on holiday, they would call in a couple of semi-retired publicans who, at that time worked as locums, filling-in for absent landlords.
This couple, Martin and Di, were consummate professionals at the pub game. The sort of people who could meet you once, and when you came back in a week later, would know your name, what you drank, who all your mates were, and what they drank too.

Everyone instantly loved them. Martin, a giant of a man with a big laugh and a gentle nature, and Di, a dizzy, glamorous, beauty who used to frequent some of the sixties’ more infamous London underworld hang-outs, with photos to prove it.
They came back to look after the Wheatsheaf on a number of occasions, and on one of these visits, Trev and I arranged to go up and visit them at their home in south Wales.

So it was, that in July of ’95, the two of us set off in Trev’s car on the trip from Crowborough to the Wild Welsh West.

You are now leaving England

The journey to Martin and Di’s went more or less according to plan, the only minor bit of excitement occurring as we drove over the Severn bridge.
It was scorching hot, and all the windows and sunroof were open as we’d just gone through the bridge toll. The change – including a £5 note – from paying the toll, was on the dashboard.
So we’re cruising across the river Severn, admiring the scenery, when a sudden gust of wind picks up the fiver, and it makes a quick bid for freedom out of the driver’s side window.
With almost supernatural cool, Trev, who has both hands on the steering wheel, one holding a cigarette, catches the note on it’s final approach to being sucked out into our slipstream, between the knuckles of the same hand holding his smoke, and calmly places it back on the dashboard.

This, we take as a good omen for our holiday to come.


Trev – in unflappable, fiver-catching pose. (note cigarette in right hand)

Arriving at our genial hosts’, we declined their kind offer of indoor accommodation, electing instead to pitch my vintage, inflatable Arctic survival tent (no, really) in their garden.
We spent a pleasant couple of hours catching up, and taking their gigantic Great Dane for stroll being taken for a drag by their gigantic Great Dane, and then retired to the local pub.

Surprisingly, for a tiny village in South Wales, with high unemployment and no tourist trade whatsoever, we were made instantly welcome by the locals, and after a few games we were even invited to take part in the pool tournament that was about to start.
We had to decline, however, as it turned out that “We start playing tonight, (this was Friday afternoon) and the pub stays open until we finish on Sunday night”, and we had to be on our way the following day, because we had a plan.

We soon discovered that the landlady, by amazing coincidence, was from Maidstone in Kent, not all that far from where we’d come from. As we chatted to her, she asked where we were from, and Trev said we came from Sussex.
“Not you, your mate. He’s an Aussie isn’t he?” she said.
Now, I’m always getting this. I don’t know what it is, but I’m frequently mistaken for an Australian. I have a twang apparently, whatever that means.

A thought occurred to me;
“We’re driving up North, to Porthmadog tomorrow. Would I be better off claiming to be English or Australian?”
“Oh, Aussie every time” she said.

This then, was our great plan. We would drive up through the centre of Wales, through the Brecon Beacons, and on to the spectacular scenery of Snowdonia.


              Our route North.

Bidding Martin and Di a fond and grateful farewell on the Saturday morning, we set off on the 150 mile journey through the mountains and valleys of Wales in the beautiful summer sunshine.
There was always music on in the car, and for some reason, I remember listening to Love Shack by the B52s as we snaked round the curving Snowdonian roads.

The trip took about four hours from what I remember, but that included at least one stop for lunch and for the odd photo opportunity. (I’ve had to reproduce the pictures from the 35mm snaps I took at the time)


Presumably Trev has a picture somewhere, of me taking this picture.

We arrived in Porthmadog early afternoon, and set about finding a campsite. We settled on the Black Rock Sands site, in the shadow of an impressively towering black mountain of rock.


        That inflatable tent in full.

We spent the rest of the day setting up camp, which took all of ten minutes*, and just taking in the scenery, and the contents of a few cans.
Tomorrow was to be the day that we would reach our goal, the very reason for us making the journey in the first place.

Tomorrow we were going to visit the location of the most culty of all cult TV shows…

I fell asleep dreaming of being chased by terrifying, giant white globes. To find out why,…go to Part two.

*My inflatable tent was one that I had been given some years before, and consisted of nothing more than a single, rolled up, pumpkin-shaped, orange canvas dome, with a waterproof base with a door flap in one side. Four rubberised canvas ribs ran from the corners, crossing over at the top, where the release valve was. At one corner there was an ordinary tyre valve, so all you did was peg the four corners down, attach a footpump or compressor, and blow it up. As the ribs became rigid, the tent erected itself, and to take it down, you simply undid the valve on top and the whole thing deflated like a burst balloon.
It has sadly succumbed to age since then, and I have never seen one similar to replace it.


Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Personal anecdote, Travel


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