Today was a special treat for me. I was booked in on a photographer’s workshop at Abbotsford. Abbotsford was the home of novelist Sir Walter Scott. It sits on the bank of the mighty River Tweed near Galashiels here in the Scottish Borders. It has recently undergone extensive renovations and was just re-opened by the Queen.
Abbotsford is a magnificent country house built by Scott in the early 1800s on the site of a traditional farm. The interior is full of Scott’s eclectic collections of books, guns, armour, art and quirky interiors salvaged/collected from all kinds of famous and unlikely people and places. It is full of treasure and a great place to visit. The gardens are lovely too and the setting is absolutely stunning.
The objective of the day was to use a SLR digital camera (I have a Nikon D3000) and tripod (Christmas prezzie from Mechanic Man a couple of years ago) and practice taking shots in manual mode (no Auto!). We were to choose appropriate exposure times and depths of field. All very technical I know – I usually use the auto settings but do occasionally fiddle about in manual so today was an opportunity to spend time practising with manual.
Basically I took hundreds of photos using different settings – longer and shorter exposures – for example and then chose the best ones. Normally, one doesn’t have the luxury to spend all day trying to get a good shot but that was the point of today. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I just kept at it, experimenting. Tea breaks and lunch were laid on as part of the package!
Today, the weather was good so I concentrated on taking photos outside – it was cold and windy and a bit gloomy this morning but not raining! The sun conveniently came out in the afternoon just before it got dark! Despite the cold air, I was cosy in my new hat.
I was determined to get at least one good photo of the house and one good snap of the trees and/or River. I took nearly 300 photos and these are some of the best (in my opinion). I really should do this type of thing more often.
This last photo is the new visitors centre at dusk, taken as we were leaving.
Hubby, like Winnie the Pooh, is a honey man – he loves the stuff; so, as part of our father’s day weekend, I thought he’d enjoy a trip over the Border to England to the Chain Bridge Honey Farm near Berwick-upon-Tweed (approx 30 miles from our house). I had no idea it would be in such a very special spot. Needless to say, the honey was great, but the Union Chain Bridge was amazing – a Wonder of the World in fact.
To set the scene, the mighty River Tweed forms part of the border between Scotland and England in our part of the world. So, getting from one country to the other often involves going over a bridge. The Union Suspension (Chain) Bridge was built in 1820 between Horncliffe in England and Paxton on the Scottish side.
At the time of opening, it was the world’s longest iron suspension bridge (It was completed before Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge and Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge). Today, it is the world’s oldest iron suspension bridge still carrying vehicular traffic – albeit one car at a time! The deck of the bridge is actually wooden with a tarmac roofing felt-like road surface! Apparently when it opened, it was an engineering marvel and the then 18 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel visited! We walked across it and it moves up and down when a car drives across. It is fun to walk from one country to another and very funny how the accent changes so significantly in a hundred yards!
On the English side, lies the honey farm (with a very impressive collection of vintage vehicles and tractors) and about a mile upstream on the Scottish side lies Paxton House. We walked along the River to Paxton House and were enchanted by the highland cows, the boathouse and salmon fishing boats (cobles) and the adventure playground.
So, another grand day out in the Scottish Borders (we preferred the Scottish side of the River but then we’re biased). The English had nice old road signs though – the ugly modern Scottish ones (what were they thinking?) were far too hideous to even show you! Of course, the yummy honey was on the English side, although I expect the bees eat the nectar on both sides of the river!
The wee man’s rainbow puffle enjoyed the outing too!