Category Archives: Galleries

The Doctor Who Experience, Cardiff Bay

As I mentioned earlier, my brother and I visited the Doctor Who Experience today. This is an major, permanent attraction in Cardiff Bay, developed from an earlier version which was in London or some such place for a while. You can book in advance, but we took a chance and just turned up, which was fine – we only had to wait for about 15 minutes to get in. They allow about 46[1] people at a time so that everyone can see everything without crowding.

And what do you see? Well, I’ll avoid some details to avoid spoliers – there’s a story to enjoy with video inserts recorded specially for the event by Matt Smith, who’s on perfect form, and seeming to be having a lot of fun in the process. Without revealing anything about the story, I can tell you that along the way you’ll meet an assortment of enemies, play with the TARDIS and generally have a load of fun. The Doctor has got himself into a bit of trouble and needs some help. He intended to summon Amy, but as he notices that the visitors aren’t Amy, or even Rory, but a bunch of people out shopping[2], he decides to make the best of it…

And so you’re led through lots of corridors, in the finest Doctor Who tradition, before the story comes to a proper conclusion. This interactive part of the experience is enormous fun, and you really need to go there and enjoy it right now. Well, not right now, because it’s early evening and it’s probably shut, but you should definitely go.

After the exciting bit, you’re led into the exhibition, which contains enough costumes, props, creatures and stuff from all periods of the show to make any fan grin like a loon for ages afterward. And while photography isn’t allowed in the interactive bit, it’s actively encouraged in the exhibition, which is a Good Thing. And here are some pictures I took, plus a couple that my brother helped out with[3].

[1] Yes, that is an oddly precise approximate number, but never mind…
[2] The Doctor makes “shopping” sound like the lowest, most boring thing imaginable. Which I suppose it is if you’re him
[3] I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones

Along the coast – 29 June 2012

After the Ffestiniog Railway trip, we visited a few places on the coast. In Pwlleli there were some interesting contrasts – somewhat run-down old shops with glass canopies that must once have been quite up-market, and a short distance away, a marina full of expensive-looking boats. Not to mention a hotel with a nifty sign. Abersoch had a part-time road and a nice bit of coastline, and things were starting to get a bit rough at Aberdaron. Here are the pictures.

 

Ffestiniog Railway – 29 June 2012

After the Snowdon fun and games, the next day’s highlight was a trip to Bleanau Ffestiniog on the famous narrow-gauge railway. As I mentioned at the time, our cunning plan to go from there to a slate mine was slightly foiled by the invisibility of the bus to take us there, possibly caused by the redevelopment going on at the station approach. So what we have here are some pictures from Porthmadog station, the scenery on the way, the engine at Bleanau Ffestiniog, and the scenery on the way back. Oh, and a strange character with a camera.[1]

 

[1] Hi Geoff  :wave:

Penrhyn Castle – 28 June 2012

After our low-visibility ride up and down Snowdon, we moved on to Electric Mountain for the really cool but photography not allowed tour. After that, we paid a late afternoon visit to Penhryn Castle, which rather like Castell Coch in South Wales, is a 19th century recreation of a castle rather than an actual preserved ancient one. But it’s been very nicely done, so that’s fine. I understand there’s lots to see inside, so that may be one for a return visit. Another feature is the quite spectacular views from the grounds, and presumably the towers, which explain why you’d want to build your castle in that spot. Here are some pictures:

 

Snowdon – 28 June 2012

Having had a bit of trouble with the weather the last time we tried the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a return visit was top of our list for this year’s holiday. And guess what? Yeah, visibility was even worse on the way up this time, with the cloud level being low enough for zero visibility most of the way up. I’m beginning to suspect we have a similar relation to Snowdon to that of a bunch of Hobbits to Caradhras[1]. Before we entered the clouds, we did see some ruins. And sheep. There are always sheep. Our cunning plan for the next North Wales visit is to try an afternoon visit to Snowdon. That might be better. Or not. Here are the pictures, such as they are.

[1] Sorry, had to be done.

Heading North – 27 June 2012

After the Gwili Railway trip, our next stop was at the Forestry Commission site at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. This was a good place for lunch, and to enjoy the landscape. While the red kites didn’t get low enough for me to get any clear pictures of them[1], we did at least see them wheeling overhead. Not only that, but we could just see Aberystwyth in the distance. From there, the next stop was on the coast at Borth, where the gulls were much more obliging, and did let me get some good shots. Not only that, but the sun shone a bit, too.

We then passed through some stunning countryside and passed through Barmouth before stopping at Harlech. Last year, the rain was so heavy at Harlech that I had to abandon the plan of taking pictures of the castle, but this time it was a lot better. All that can be seen in the gallery below.

 

[1] Note to self: pack the 70-200mm lens next time!

Gwili Railway – 27 June 2012

Our first stop on the way to North Wales was the Gwili Railway. We took the train to from Bronwydd Arms to Danycoed and on the way back had a refreshment stop at Llwyfan Cerrig. In this gallery, you can see the engine Haulwen, some nicely preserved British Railways coaches, a station or two and Thomas the Tank Engine, who runs on the same line on certain days. Haulwen is flying a Thomas flag, which you can see in some of the pictures. At Bronwydd Arms, an old coach is being converted into tea rooms, which should open fairly soon.

 

Cardiff – 26 June 2012

As I mentioned at the time, on my first day in Wales I went to Cardiff for the day. In the gallery below you can see a selection of pictures including some architectural details from the National Museum, the City Hall and the Law Courts, some views of Cardiff Castle from its less photographed, and altogether more interesting side, and one of Cardiff’s old shopping arcades, which were a distinctive feature of the city long before modern shopping malls were thought of.

 

Locomotion – National Railway Museum Shildon

In a quite shocking development, I’ve got to grips with yesterday’s pictures already. This means I’ve still got a load from Wales to do, of course.

Anyway, in the gallery below you can see a selection from the collection at Locomotion. There’s the experimental and not altogether successful tilting Advanced Passenger Train (APT-E) and its tilting gear. There’s the Deltic prototype with a plaque which gives a hint into how the engine got its name. There are some lovingly restored steam engines, some still in need of a bit of work, a goods shed with lists of some of the goods carried, and a cool sculpture thingy that changes colour if you send it a text message. And, as they say, much more. This just gives a taste of what’s there – it’s well worth a visit, and like the main museum in York, admission is free.

Click the thumbnails to see the big versions.

 

Welsh Mountain Zoo – Harris’s Hawk

I’ve started going through my holiday pictures, and I thought I’d start with this set. One of the daily events at the zoo is a display of falconry, starring a quite magnificent Harris’s Hawk. At the end of the show, the hawk flew off into the trees, but apparently this is quite normal, and it generally returns at some point.

It wasn’t until I saw the images on my larger screen that I realised that I’d managed to get some rather good shots. It seems the improved autofocus on the 5D Mark III is working as advertised.