St Pancras Renaissance

For a friend’s birthday in the SUMMER (for goodness sake), we went on a history tour of the ‘new’ St Pancras Grand hotel. It opened a couple of years ago following an enormous and expensive refurbishment which took the building from severely neglected Victorian station hotel to one of the most high profile venues in London, and for good reason because it’s quite breathtaking. The tour, which may have been an unusual birthday gift for some but fits right in with my oldest friend (er, by which I mean we have known each other since we were 6, not that she is 102) and the kind of things we enjoy, was very interesting and gave us the chance to see inside a hotel that we could never afford to actually stay in without a lottery win. We also learnt a lot about carpets.

It has now been such an embarrassingly long time since this visit that I can offer no good explanation as to why my aperture values seem so off. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. It was really quite dark inside so I suspect I had tried to open up the aperture as much as possible. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to cause too many problems.

34mm, f/4.5, 1/12 sec, ISO 1600

34mm, f/4.5, 1/12 sec, ISO 1600

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Bletchley Park

At some point last winter we paid a visit to Bletchley Park. We live close enough to this fascinating site that, frankly, we were ashamed to have not visited before. Particularly when you consider how much can be seen there, and that your entrance fee covers as many visits as you may wish to make in a year.

Bletchley Park, for those not familiar, is the site of secret codebreaking operations during WW2, the biggest & most famous being the breaking of the Enigma code. This was also the birthplace of modern computing, and the workplace of Alan Turing, Tommy Flowers and sometimes Ian Fleming. Due to the Official Secrets Act, the park was close to being bulldozed due to the fact no-one was legally permitted to speak of it’s history, and it is only in recent years that the 50 year silence was finally allowed to be broken. It is now run as a sort of massive visitor centre and museum, and in the last few weeks has secured Government and Lottery funding to continue to preserve and restore the site.

Many of the buildings – huts, in fact – where history was made are currently still boarded up and derelict in appearance, something which excites me the most when I have my camera. I know they need to be invested in and restored to preserve the history, but I have great affection for looking at places like this and knowing that what I’m seeing has remained largely untouched and undiscovered since monumental things happened there.

Needless to say, I cannot recommend enough that you pay a visit. These photos were taken on our second trip, as this time I knew to bring the camera with me.

21mm, f/8.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 100

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Italy – Torre Guinigi, Lucca

Looking up the inside the tower
18mm, 1/6 sec, f/9, ISO 800

The Torre Guinigi┬ástands out in Lucca because, well, it’s a tower. Whilst there are quite a few church towers around, this seems to stand alone – I believe it was once part of a palace. I should have done a bit more homework on it before starting this post. For now all you really need to know is that you get a good view from the top. Continue reading

Italy – Lucca

We visited Lucca twice. It was the nearest major town to us, and definitely deserved more than one visit. As with everywhere in Italy, there’s much history to be had (among many, many other things, this is the birthplace of Puccini) and of course much photography. In fact I have another couple of posts based on Lucca. For now, consider this an introduction. A very image-heavy introduction.

Av, 55mm, 1/200 sec, f/14, ISO 100

Also, please do click on the images for better quality versions.

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Italy – Coreglia Antelminelli

We stayed in (or really just outside) the village/town of Coreglia Antelminelli. As with all places in Italy it has a long history, and is, apparently, famed for its plaster statues. I was personally more interested in its narrow streets and views of the surrounding countryside.

Everywhere we visited in Italy had a pedestrianised centre – and I don’t just mean one street of shops. The cobbled roads there are just not big enough for cars in most places, having been built long before Mr. Ford came along, and so by default cannot take any traffic. Although it is just when you come to enjoy this relative peace and freedom that you can bet you’ll be mowed down by a cyclist or someone in an ‘Ape’. However, these narrow roads make for great perspective photos, although you do have to rely on a wide angle lens for the most part, and it can also mean balancing the light levels is tricky, especially in bright sunshine.

Av, 55mm, 1/80 sec, f/14, ISO 100
As you can see, our first few days were quite overcast

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