Hunting Easter eggs in the land of Dragons.

Posted in Castles, Celtic, dragons, Festival, forts, gawain and the green knight, king arthur, knights, legends, lumix lx7, medieval, medieval castle, medieval joust, Monument, moods, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, renactment, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, Wales, walking, walks on April 20th, 2014 by wabisabipix

A delightful place to spent a day during an easter break is the highly impressive Caerphilly Castle in South Wales.Famous most recently for its role in the popular BBC TV Series Merlin but with a long history that very much equals the drama of its fictional roles.It is an enormous stone beast surrounded by moats and drawbridges and on approach looks very much like it has just repelled a siege by a well equipped invading army.It was built by the Norman Gilbert de Clare who was an enemy of the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the 13th Century and provide the influence for many of the concentric designs of Edward I castles in North Wales.As time moved on and regime change took place,the role of the castle changed and it found itself without a purpose.The castles condition declined until eventually in the late 19th century the third marquess of Bute began preservation work on this and other castles in the region.It is a great destination for tourism and provides a great Easter egg hunt for the kids,look out for the Dragons in the ancient hallways though!

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Camera used was a Lumix LX7

Copyright Kerry Davies

No unauthorised reproduction.

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Traveling light

Posted in Alcoy, Castles, Crusades, Festival, knights, Leica, lumix lx7, medieval, moods, Moors, photo, photoblog, Photography, road trip, Spain, technology, tourism, writing on November 17th, 2013 by wabisabipix

P1010836I took the opportunity of shooting a few pictures with only a lumix LX7 camera the latest incarnation of the LX series of cameras which has proved very popular with professional photographers because of its high speed 24mm Leica Summilux f1.4 zoom lens. DSC07462 (2) It is a great option for carrying just one small camera that has a quality that you can rely on even in the lowest of light conditions. I was particularly impressed by its great ability to shoot rapidly at 5 frames per second with full follow focus at f1.4 and also its wide range of special effects filters ranging from soft focus to HDR and the exposures always seemed to be spot on finding that sweet spot almost every time. It truly is a pocket Swiss Army Knife of a camera. The pictures shown are of the walled castle town Alcoy near Alicante in Spain.

Alcoy is famous for the yearly festival held in April every year celebrating the historical event in which St George and his Crusader knights who according to legend are said to have swept into the town through the cliff arches that form the center stage of the town and defeated the occupying Moors in april 1276.

Alcoy is also said to have been the home town of Federico Borrell García the falling soldier in the famous image of a “falling soldier” captured in his dying moments by Photojournalist Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War. He is said to have worked in the Alcoy textile mills and was part of the Alcoy Militia

 

  la glorieta Federico Borrell García is seen pictured at the La Glorieta Park in Alcoy in this article,www.photographers.it/articoli/cd_capa/img/taino.pdf and this is the band stand and park today.  

P1010443                                                                                                              P1010822                                                                                                                                      A view of Alcoy during sunset. P1010826 A few examples of the LX7 built in HDR effect showing the arches where Saint George as legend says                                                                     rescued the town from the Moors P1010684 P1010704 Two pictures one day apart showing the Saint Jordi Bridge during an unusual weather front in the region. P1010785 A mural of Saint George a popular historical figure in the region. P1010655 Doves flying in the Plaza De Dins. P1010650   P1010060 alcoy 3 The Town hall in Alcoy. P1010593     P1010657The Saragata Cafe ,great coffee, food and service located in the Plaza de Dins. Check out the Spanish omelette rolls for breakfast.   P1010616     P1010619       P1010625The plaza De Dins P1010434   San Mauro Watch TowerP1010440

For more on Federico Borrell García see this excellent and well illustrated article (in Spanish):

www.photographers.it/articoli/cd_capa/img/taino.pdf

Colour photographs copyright:Kerry Davies.

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The Staffordshire Hoard a voice from the past.

Posted in Archaeology, arrows, Artifact, bows, British Museum, Castles, Christians, Crusades, England, Film set, forts, knights, medieval, photo, Photography, Relics, renactment, saxons, Staffordshire hoard, swords, travel, Treasure, Wales, writing on December 4th, 2009 by wabisabipix

Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua ~ “Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”

An inscription carved on the back of a twisted metal crucifix possibly cleaved off a slain Saxon warriors battle shield.If ever the past reached across the centuries to speak to us about life in 7th century saxon Britain then this was it.

Wandering through the British Museum in London is a fantastic experience on any day but a recent visit left me reeling with wonder.

An announcement on the notice board near the main entrance caught my attention while visiting recently.

See the Staffordshire Hoard in room 36-7.

“It will redefine the dark ages ” say the experts.

The Hoard was discovered in a field in July 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert and composed of 1500 individual items of  silver and gold mostly consisting of what appear to be battle trophies,there were 84 Pommel Caps,71 Sword hilt collars and gold crucifix formations looking like shield fittings that were cleaved off along with helmet cheek pieces and personal items.

The Items date from around the 7th Century,a  period when Britain was a maelstrom of tribal rivalry and religious revolution as the country went from pagan to christian beliefs.

Having seen the news and press announcing the find I was filled with anticipation as I clambered up the stairs and into the room containing a selection of the find in several glass cases just around the corner from another amazing artifact room that of the Sutton Hoo finds.

I was gobsmacked! It was stunning!!! absolutely amazing to see!!You almost have to pinch yourself to remind yourself  that what you are looking at is simply the real thing from all those centuries ago inches from your nose and not some prop from a Hollywood movie.

I fully understand how Terry Herbert the metal detectorist  who found it said he was dreaming for days about what he would find next.

It has been valued at 3.285 million pounds and the British museum has launched its hoard appeal to pay for it.

If you are in London grab the chance while its on show,it will enrich your sense of history and the ancient world.

The official Website is here:http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/about/

Pictures courtesy of the Staffordshire Hoard Website and Dave Rowan and Daniel Buxton.

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Moors and Christians in the Mountains of Alicante.

Posted in Alcoy, Almeria, Castalla, Castles, Christians, Churches, Crusades, forts, knights, medieval, moods, Moors, photo, Photography, pirates, relax, Relics, renactment, road trip, Spain, travel, walks, writing on November 29th, 2009 by wabisabipix

While traveling through the Mountains of Alicante region I came across many interesting sights.Two areas in particular captured my interest.The ancient Moorish Castle in the town of Castalla and the town of Alcoy world famous for its Moors and Christians festival held every year.

The town of Alcoy is the site of a yearly re-enactment that happens every April in which the entire population dress in  full historical costume.It remains one of Spains most well known and Colourful Fiestas.

It is based on  the battle of Alcoy in the 13th Century and is in place to honour St George the patron saint of the town who is said to have saved the town from the Moorish forces of Alazraq in 1275.

As the tale is told James I of Aragon led a campaign of reconquest through the region after centuries of Moorish occupation and influence. In retaliation the Moors  invaded once more to recover their lost ground.However as the battle was starting St George is said to have appeared in the sky over the v shaped famous gorge in the town to save the day.

It is a colourful and entertaining day in which mock battles are fought all over the town and where a fog of gunpowder and fireworks descend amidst the playing of traditional period music and merriment and much feasting.

It is a 3 day 24hr long festival in which 28 armies do battle and the whole town is festooned in the red cross flags of St George.                                  St George saving Alcoy from the Moors.

Being from the UK I was fascinated by the  interpretation of  the patron saint adopted both here and in  England and its interpretation in both countries.

In the U.K  St George is frequently shown as the slayer of a dragon but in this area of Spain he is shown as a saviour from the Moors.

The local Church of St George at Portal de San Marcos shows fascinating murals of the battle painted by Fernando Cabrera Canto painted in 1921 and a relic said to be St Georges finger that is paraded around the town during the festival.

Heres link to the Alcoi festival tourist site:http://www.alcoiturisme.com/

The Battle of Alcoy in St Georges Church

The Relic of St Georges Finger

Further South heading back to Alicante one sees the outstanding pinnacle on which is perched the Castle of Castalla.

The Castalla Castle

Raised in the 11th century by the Moors it was incorporated into the kingdom of Aragon in 1244.

In 1362 the castle was given to Ramon de Vilanova to defend against Castilian attacks and ultimately became part of the Hapsburg Monarchy’s defence strategy against Barbary pirate attacks on Alicantes coast line.

Throughout the 18th century Spanish war of succession it became a place for storage and sadly was in ruins by 1813.

Castalla like Pamplona also has its own running of the bull festival in August and like Alcoy above has its own Moors and Christians festival.

The town found itself embroiled in the Spanish Civil war and between 1933 and 1935 the hill and fort was sacked by the locals looking for treasure.In recent times it has been the subject of restoration with a view towards tourism.

Wandering through the old medieval town on an early morning sunlit stroll is a nice way to start the day and each corner throughout the maze of passage ways can reveal odd surprises and treats for the senses with sun bleached bright coloured old buildings and elevated views of the area ,a coffee and a taste of the local olives is also highly recommended.Below are some views around Castalla.

All these images were shot on a Nikon P6000 compact camera which I like to set up with easy access to manual overide settings for compensation,flash output and white balance using the my menu settings for speed.

Its a great light weight durable tool for keeping in your pocket when traveling light.

Bon voyage!

 

copyright:Kerry Davies.

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Six Guns,Swords and Sorcery a road trip in Almeria and the Alicante Region of Spain.

Posted in Almeria, arrows, bows, Conan the Barbarian, cowbay, cowboy, Film set, indian, knights, medieval, moods, photo, Photography, relax, renactment, road trip, Spaghetti, Spain, swords, Texas Hollywood, travel, Uncategorized, walks, Western, Wild West, writing on November 28th, 2009 by wabisabipix

“Howdy partner!” The gunslinger announced as we turned up unannounced in a wild west tumbleweed town strangely somehow familiar after traveling hundreds of miles across the sun scorched desert.There had just been a torrential downpour and the ground steamed as we disembarked from our metal horse with rubber hooves and examined our surroundings.” This Sure isn’t Kansas anymore toto”,I muttered as my boots hit the sand,”then again it isnt quite America either,more Almeria Spain,mmm! I think I fancy a pepsi and some tapas might be a good idea!!!”

We had just arrived in Almeria Spain,surprising to some this was the real wild west that is portrayed in the classic movies from the 70s starring such famous stars as Clint Eastwood,Yul Brynner and many others.

Clint apparently even bought his famous Poncho locally in the area.

It was the location of such Spaghetti Western classics by Sergio Leone  as “a fistfull of Dollars”,”for a few dollars more”,and “The Good,the Bad and the Ugly” and also for other films such as Conan the Barbarian and Michelangelo Antonioni film “the Passenger” starring Jack Nicholson.

My interest had been drawn to the area after seeing an hilarious Spanish black comedy film by Director Alex de la Iglesia called  “800 Balas” meaning “800 Bullets”(2002),starring comedy actor Sancho Gracia,Angel de Andres Lopez and Carmen Maura.Its an hilarious film about a Stuntman and his colleagues who make a living at a Wild West town in Almeria Spain.They are making a living entertaining small groups of tourists that are deposited in their Wild west  movie set town.The stuntmans son, also a stuntman, was killed in a filming accident back in the towns golden age somewhere far back in the decadent past when westerns were popular.His child grows up fascinated in the life his deceased father lived.So begins an hilarious quest as the son runs away seeking out the wild west town to learn more about his fathers percieved heroic past.When the childs powerful theme park executive mother finds out the son has run away she pursues them angrily trying to close down the park with hysterical results.

This film rekindled my interest in the Spaghetti westerns and I was totally stunned to find that the town portrayed in the film was in fact very Real and that it did indeed have a contingent  of Actors making a living out of the old Wild West movies.

Its called Texas Hollywood in the area known as Tabernas Almeria.

So hi ho silva and away and here we are!!!

It was a hilarious afternoon walking around the exact same set as 800 Balas almost pinching ourselves as to how we had stumbled across the attraction.

Throughout the day they put on shows for the public and provide excursions and carriage rides around the area giving a tour and insights into its movie past.

There are pictures from its film set days and you can see quite a few famous faces portrayed treading the dusty streets in which you now find yourself.

Theres also an Indian village and a few Buffalos, by the way,dont miss the Camels apparently related to those in Lawrence of Arabia which was partially shot in the area!!

Most recently a Pepsi advert was shot here starring David Beckham and his pals and the area is frequently used by car commercials needing that authentic Wild West touch.

All in all it was quite a surreal and amusing afternoon as well as quite informative from a movie history point of view. I’ve been watching the old spaghetti westerns lately just trying to catch a glimpse of parts of the landscape.

After some refreshments at the saloon  we saddled up,put in some more petrol,set up the Sat Nav and headed south  across the pass and into other areas of movie interest.

The area was  also the location of the film Conan The Barbarian by John Milius starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman and the nearby Las Salinas mountains featured  in scenes portraying Conan in Hyboria which were in fact locations better known as the land of the spaghetti western.

Almerimar was the scene of the Wizard/Stone Fortress encounters along with La Ciudad Encantada,El Condor,Cuevas de Roque and Penon De Bernal the famous Mount Doom in the film.This was the location we headed for next in our whistle stop tour of the region.

Penon De Bernal was the mountain upon which a spectacular Temple of Doom was built and Arnold Schwarzenegger Aka Conan The Barbarian confronted his nemesis ultimately burning down the temple film set in the movie.

It is located near the town of Almeria itself.you can find more locations from the film here:

http://www.western-locations-spain.com/almeria-top-20/conan/index.htm

I found the Conan Completist Web site very useful in finding these locations and it is packed with great information on the area.

I am sure local tour groups provide tours of this movie history rich area and a little research would provide a great trip if you are interested in the area.

After a long day passing thorough several periods in movie history we turned our wagons back north and headed back into the sunset.

“By the way where did I put those bangers and mash? errr! black lotus ,anyone? Stygian the best!!

Contemplate this on the tree of woe!!”

Enjoy.

Blog Pictures:Copyright Kerry Davies.

The Battle of Hastings and a Medieval Sunday lunch!

Posted in arrows, Battle of Hastings, bows, east sussex, England, king Harold, knights, london, medieval, moods, photo, Photography, relax, saxons, sunday lunch, swords, travel, walks, william the conqueror, writing on October 14th, 2009 by wabisabipix

Kd hastings Blog 8“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of War!” or maybe ” Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries!” Quotes from Shakespeare and Monty Python.

Two thoughts that entered my mind as my 4 wheeled time machine touched down in Battle near Hastings circa 14th October 1066 in a muddy field at the back of Battle Abbey.

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As the mists of time cleared there was the thunder of hoofs and the clash of steel as armoured knights battled it out across the hillsides of East Sussex England.

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“Oy! dont throw that spear at me! oh watch where you fire those arrows!!!!! ouch!”

Actually it was a  rather excellent day trip to the ancient Battle field of Hastings on Sunday the 11th of October where celebrations were underway for the actual nation changing battle all those years ago.

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In the rear area of the Abbey built just after the battle circa 1079 (as a sorry for killing so many of the locals gesture by William the Conqueror) ,a reenactment  society had created a medieval village for the yearly event run by English Heritage.

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It was a feast for the eyes for anyone with the slightest interest in things medieval a the event filled the air with smells of cooking meat  on wood fires and the sight of  leather workers and artisans at work.

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There  were metal workers and woodworkers offering their wears along with trinkets and other gifts to take home and celebrate ones ancient ancestry and kids battled it out locked into their imaginary world slaying dragons in the abbey ruins.

Medieval musicians and Bards told tales of deeds long past among the cloisters and  young warriors were showing off demonstrating how to duck oncoming arrows!!!!

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Wandering the battlefield I took along with me a Nikon D200 equipped with a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 and a  Nikkor 24mm f2.8 traveling very light.

It was a great way of meeting the locals as they would have been in times past!! Read more »

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