Cwm and see!

I can’t believe I ruined this website blog thing with a full post on a sandwich.

It’s not getting deleted though.  It’s staying cos the content – my thoughts – are totally valid and might be worth remembering in December 2019.  I tried a lot of sandwiches in the run up to Christmas, and Greggs was definitely the winner.

Anyway, I haven’t done of these in a while and I need to get the writing back on track, if only for another excuse to post more photos that I’m proud of.  These have already featured on instagram, and less so on Facebook, but now it’s time to share here too and give a bit more story.  That’s the thing with those other platforms is that it’s hard to get the story across.  Even if the story is boring, it’s still there to be shared, so I’m here to share.

As I often need to do, here’s the explanation of the blog title:

Cwm is pronounced like come, but spoken by a northerner calling his dog.  Coom, but not like boom.  The oo should be like cook rather than cool.  Cwm is the Welsh word for Valley, specifically a glacial valley.  Cwm Idwal (Idwal Valley) is the first place that I visited in Snowdonia (already mentioned this in a previous blog post that you can go and find) and over a year later I returned.  This time it was Autumn going in to Winter.  I wanted snow, but I didn’t get it.

This visit wasn’t quite as romantic as 2017’s trip, with the stay in the cottage.  This time “home” was a Premier Inn sharing a plot of land with KFC and Aldi.  There was a curry house a few doors along though, so ultimately that swung it.  Wifi was rubbish though.  Millennial nightmare.

We actually got there really early and the sun was still up so I grabbed the opportunity to get to the coast.  I’d seen photos of Point of Ayr lighthouse on Talacre beach but had never visited it.  Google maps (using my own data now, dammit) says that the beach was only 20 minutes away, so off we went.  Ever been to a beach in November?  One that tickles the Irish sea?  It’s windy.  Wasn’t too bad though.  The main thing about beaches in November is that no one else is daft enough to go there so you end up with images like this:

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Talacre Beach

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Talacre Beach

The sun was getting ready to set just off to the left of this shot, which is why we have that lovely soft light coming in.

I took another shot of this from the sand dunes, and it was picked up by Visit Wales’ instagram account, shared, and attracted over 30000 likes.  Unreal!

The next morning we got up way before the sun and headed down the North Wales Expressway towards Bangor, turning off to the A5.  We were hoping to get up to Cwm Idwal before sunrise to catch it rising and filling up the valley with light.  That didn’t really happen but it was a nice walk at least, and I got the drone out.  The cloud was quite low, it was a bit cold, there was a bit of rain, and the light was quite flat for some time.  We decided to walk a lap of the lake (Llyn Idwal) and just see what happens.  Along the way I spotted this waterfall and couldn’t resist it:


To get this sort of shot where the water has almost turned to milk, you need to slow your shutter speed down.  There are 2 key pieces of kit needed for this – a tripod and a filter.  You need a decent ND filter that makes the light work harder to get down the barrel of the lens.  I think for this I used a 6 stop ND filter by Hoya, which is kinda like wearing 6 pairs of sunglasses I guess.  Other than that, you just need to fiddle around with your camera settings to get the timings right.  I think this one must have been between 2 to 3 seconds long.

At this point we’re close to being halfway round the lake, and the weather is awful now.  Visibility doesn’t even stretch to the next path.  This is going to be a waste of time as far as photos go, but at least we’re out in the great outdoors.  Look at this poor lone tree, lost in the very odd green fog:


Getting closer down to the water, things improved a little and actually I think the tone of this one came out really nicely.  It’s a very calm and tranquil image:


Then this happened:

Pen Yr Ole Wen

Pen Yr Ole Wen reflecting in Llyn Idwal

The cloud just seemed to fall down in front of me to the Ogwen Valley and then roll across the nose of Pen Yr Ole Wen, seen above.  The water at Llyn Idwal was almost perfectly still and crystal clear giving amazing reflections, so it was time to run down to a decent spot in the water, set the tripod up and snap away quickly.  Moments like these usually come and go very quickly.

Turning back to face the Devil’s Kitchen, the cloud was still lingering and giving the place a really spooky feel.  I had to get a quick shot of what was behind me, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realised 2 other explorers had just snuck in to shot on the left.  It turned out to be the outdoor extraordinaires John and Hollie who saw the image on Instagram and identified themselves.  Small world!  Just look at that water though!


From here, there was only the slope back down to the car park left to navigate, and the area was filling up with people.  The world had woken up and were keen to explore.  I was keen to get a bacon and egg sandwich so took the A5 north to Bethesda to Fitzpatrick’s cafe.  That turned out be a great decision.

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That there London, again

I’m basically an adopted plastic cockney now.  I know all the slang including “apples and pears”, “ruby murray”, “trouble and strife” and “i’m off for an Eartha Kitt”.  So it goes without saying that London is going to feature quite a lot in the blog, but I don’t want to tire the same places out all the time unless I find new angles or new themes.

New theme #1 that I came up with for 2018 was “the rat’s eye view”.  A simple enough concept: take photos from low down as if you were a rat.  Maybe it could give a different perspective on the world from what we usually see approximately 5 to 6 feet higher up in most cases.

I’ve only just started with this so I’ve only a few snaps to share, but here they are:


St Paul’s Cathedral at night


Classic Red London Bus


More London and Shard


On Tower Bridge


Shad Thames

Of course, spending 2 whole evenings on your knees in London without suitable payment would be ludicrous, so I did manage to take a few shots whilst stood upright.

Maybe it’s also worth pointing out that I was apparently walking through the place that’s recently been described as a “war zone” and has “no go areas”.  What a brave soul I am, or of course I could be being fucking sarcastic as neither of these things are true.  Nowhere in London is a “no-go zone”.  It is bullshitio.  The orange man and his supporters are full of shitio.

You’re more likely to have a hipster spill a mocha-choca-gluten-free-synthetic-hazelnut-fairtrade-parrot-friendly-soya-latte-espresso-combo-hybrid over you than you are to get stabbed or attacked in any way.  If you find yourself in London and being aggressively shouted at, the chances are some one is trying to sell fruit and veg to you.

Back to real life and photographs.

I took a cracking stroll from Tower Bridge all along the river to Tate Modern and then across to St Paul’s Cathedral as you have seen in the first rat eye view pics.  The lights of London really do shine brightly once the sun has gone down, and this is when I really like to have fun with the camera.  Street photography is fairly difficult during the day and an extra challenge at night, but when the neon lights are on it’s hard to resist.

First stop in Soho was the Windmill International, which used to be a theatre.  I thought it was still a theatre, but no, it’s a table dancing club.  Look closely below and you can see the bouncer on the door giving me a huge thumbs up and welcoming smile.  Aye.



Windmill Soho

Just around the corner, still in Soho, was this barber shop.  It was closed, obvz, but the neon lights at the back gave a very soft glow to the grooming chairs and were begging to be photographed.  I obliged.


Teds Grooming Soho

Mere feet away from there was this quaint record store.  I don’t know much about the place but the design and tiling on the building suggested to me it may have been something to do with the London Underground in a previous life.  It had that Underground station feel to it.


Soho Record Store

And if you’re going to photograph a bloke outside a record store you might as well do the same outside a book store, right?  Fifty Shades and Extra Strong Pills?  Suits you, sir.


Soho Original


The posh bit

If you’ve enjoyed this, you can find these snaps and a few more that didn’t make it to the blog, over on Instagram @iamtheinstadan or on facebook 

Cheers for reading.

Gogledd Cymru

Wondering what that title is about?  Phonetically, it’s “gog-lethh cum-ree”.  It’s Welsh for North Wales.

In 2017 I decided to celebrate turning 35 in style by spending a few nights in the most beautiful 17th Century Welsh cottage that you ever did plonk your eyes on.  Cross Keys is a Grade II listed building that sleeps 6 and was previously a late Georgian hostelry.  Now it’s an idyllic spot to get away from the big city lights and just chill in Welsh history.

This isn’t some subtle advertisement or sponsored post.  I was genuinely in love with the place as soon as we walked through the door.  The link is here if you fancy finding out for yourself.  Carol was a star, making sure that we had absolutely everything that we needed.  The only thing that Carol didn’t provide was our clothing and food.  We had to bring that ourselves.

Cross Keys cottage was, as you’ve already gathered in the first 2 paragraphs, a lovely base to have just south of the edge of Snowdonia National Park.  The plan of attack was to check out Bala, the local town, as well as Barmouth on the coast, Llangollen, Ruthin and to go deep in to the mountains.  Welsh weather doesn’t always allow your best laid plans to execute, but we did alright.

First up was Llyn Tegid, the local lake.  I like lakes.  Sometimes they are big, and sometimes they are small.  The very very small ones are usually called ponds or swimming pools.  Llyn Tegid is MASSIVE!

The weather forecast for morning #1 was looking average to alright, so I set the alarm early, way before the sun was ready to rise, ready for the whole house to wake up and join me at the lake with my camera.  Then I closed the front door alone, and made the 10 minute drive down to Llangower, alone.  On my own.  This either says that my friends and family hate me, or prefer the beds in the cottage to a cold morning at a lake.  Or both.

Llangower was a lovely little spot with its own mini train station right on the edge of the lake.  It also had its own jetty and this was where I got set up for some early morning long exposure work.  Unfortunately the sun wasn’t going to be making an appearance thanks to the clouds but the light actually helped me out a bit, to create this calm and tranquil image of the lake and the rolling hills in the distance.  The smoothness of the water was created by putting a 6 stop neutral density filter in front the lens and leaving the shutter open for a long time.  The filter is a bit like putting 6 pairs of dark sunglasses on your camera.  It takes a while for enough light to get through to create a decent image, and the water is passing by during that time, ending up looking like a sheet of ice.

Llyn Tegid - Bala

Llyn Tegid – Bala

After a bit of a wander and a few more shots at the lake and Llangower, I headed back up to Bala and then on to Llandderfel, where the others were still sleeping.

Llangower Railway Station

Llangower Railway Station

The next time the camera came out was when we hit the narrow, windy mountain road over to Pistyll Rhaeadr; Wales’ tallest waterfall.  When we first arrived at the cottage, Carol recommended visiting here, and it didn’t disappoint.  The initial drive over the mountains was incredible, but the final long lane up to the car park was quite a pain in August.  Worth it though:


Pistyll Rhaeadr

From there it was on to the A494 to Barmouth for a spot of grub, some souvenirs, some time in the amusement arcades and a stroll along the very beautiful and very windy beach:


Barmouth Beach


Barmouth Harbour


Barmouth Harbour

And then it was time to head home (the cottage felt like home by now) for curry.

Over the weekend we spent a nice amount of time in the towns and villages of Ruthin and Llangollen, and found 2 of the greatest shops in the whole world, in Bala – Stori and Aran Hufen.  Stori is a Welsh off license where you can buy local lagers and ciders poured from taps in to 1 litre plastic bottles to take home.  Aran Hufen creates and serves the smoothest, tastiest ice cream in the world.  If you’re in Swansea reading this, and there’s a good chance you are, please forget that Joe’s rubbish.  Verdi’s is fine, but nothing compares to Aran Hufen.

But what I really want to show you is the huge array of photographs that I took one evening as we ventured deeper in to Snowdonia National Park, along the A5 to Llyn Ogwen where we parked up and walked the Cwm Idwal route to Devil’s Kitchen.  The weather stayed dry for us on the walk, but the sun was a little shy and it was getting late in the day so I ended up with some pretty moody apertures.  The photos do the talking from this point onwards:

This wasn’t the most recent trip to North Wales for me.  The Snowdonia National Park was barely ventured in to and it looked like it needed more of an explore so I returned in November for an evening of astro photography, before catching sunrise over on Anglesey the next morning.  Those images will be saved for a future blog post so feel free to hit the follow button on here.  It should be in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Thanks to Sarah, Oliver, Caroline, Josh and Nanny Mumtaz for coming along for this brilliant birthday break.

Storm Brian

What a stupid name.  All storm names so far have been stupid.  If we have to go alphabetically, Storm names should be as follows:


Big Barry


Dan Davidson







King Louis









Uganda’n Policeman

Victor Meldrew

Wonder Woman


Yoga Extreme


Are you actually still reading this rubbish?

Here’s some pics I took last Autumn during Storm Brian.  If you’re a child reading this, please don’t try to take similar photos as it was pretty dangerous being on the seafront and by this particular bit of harbour wall.  If you’re an adult reading this; whatever, I’m not your mother.


Storm Brian Black and white


Storm Brian Porthcawl


Storm Brian Porthcawl


Storm Brian Porthcawl


Storm Brian Porthcawl

It’s quite rare that I get an opportunity to go back to Wales these days, but when I do I like to take advantage of the views and the good weather… or really bad weather in this case.

The advice that day really was to stay well away from the coast, and a webcam had been set up at Porthcawl lifeboat station so that we could view the storm from the safety of our own homes, but I wanted to go and see for myself.  My mate, Fil, came with me.  Stupid and reckless, maybe, but I never felt in any real danger.  For info, I can’t swim and have a fear of drowning, so would never have taken a massive risk anyway.

I think the results are decent here and really shows the power of nature, the sea, the weather, when it decides to put on a show.

My advice is stay indoors though.  My boxer shorts took a few hours to dry out after these were taken even with heated car seats.

In total contrast to this, I then headed to Cardiff 24 hours later and captured these lovely images of Bae Caerdydd, or Cardiff Bay.


Mermaid Quay and the Pierhead Building

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Wales Millennium Centre

If you’re still here and seeing these words then leave a like or a comment below, or maybe even share on social media for me.  Follow the blog if you really want to.  There’s an option on this page somewhere.  You’ll find it.  You’re clever.

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Plenty more to come on the blog in 2018 including a recent visit to North Wales.  I think I’ve already blogged about Snowdonia last August, but I returned for a 24 hour road trip to cover astrophotography in them thar hills, and to explore the coast of Anglesey including South Stack Lighthouse and Ynys Llandwyn (there’s a chance I’ve not spelt that correctly).


Caldecotte Lake


As usual I have slipped with the blogging but I needed the time to get out and get more images, and now that the weather has improved massively it seems like a good time for some quality snaps.

This is meant to be the warmest May in history or something, and I do actually remember there being at least 4 more-than-tepid days in a row so that must have been Summer.

Warm weather means 2 things to me.  No, 3 things.  First of all, the barbecue comes out of hibernation and the grass gets cut.  Then of course the bike gets a wash and a liberal covering in WD-40.  Finally, but by no means least, no one looks at me when I’m walking around in shorts.  All through the Winter you’d think I had personally shat on their cats as they slept, with some of the looks I would receive wearing shorts.  I have legs.  Get over it.

Back to the point of today’s blog; Caldecotte Lake.  I hadn’t really given the place much chance as I always thought it was a big splodge of water and nothing to  do there apart from drink at the pub and get bitten by those annoying midge fly things.  I’ve already mentioned warmer weather, shorts and bikes.  If this is a surprise to you, for God’s sake, it was only the previous paragraph!  But anyway, me and SWIWWWTGFM decided to hop on our bikes one evening and pedal down to the lake.  When we got there we took the brave deicision to turn left and go round the lake instead of going right and directly in to the pub.  What a lake!  It’s a fantastic size, not too busy, very pretty from every angle, and nice and flat to get around as it was my first bit of exercise for 2016.

I didn’t take any photos on the day as we whizzed around but made a few mental notes of where to return with my camera in the future.  It turned out that the good weather didn’t go too far and returned quickly less than a week later so I took my chance and drove there an hour before sunset.  Then it was just a case of walking swiftly around the one edge so that I was doing a  lot of shooting back in to the sun.  That’s generally not a good idea but if you get it right, it is so so right.

Enjoy the shots below and as usual please feel free to find me and like the page at and if you are an IGer then follow me on Instagram @dangleberrydan7


The Dungeness Monsters

Ever been to Dungeness?  It’s in Kent.  If you haven’t been and you are ever in the area, then go!  How good is it there?  The boyband A1 filmed a music video there, that’s how good it is!

The Prodigy made one there too by the way, just er FYI.

The headland and shingle beach are also home to some pretty impressive wildlife in the form of birds and over 600 plants.  I can name about 4 of them as nature isn’t really my strong point but I’m very aware that Kent is home to some fantastic wildlife photographers like Ian Hufton.

I wasn’t in the area to cover nature though.  I was there to see the boats, the fishermen, the cool houses and huts, the lighthouse, the nuclear power station and to simply be near the coast again.  I’d been meaning to visit for a while but never made the effort.  I had a lot of free time over the Christmas period so planned a day when I hoped that not many people would be out and about.  It had been so long since I had spent time working on landscapes so I was looking forward to this.

The M25 was pretty decent for a change and I was at the car park by 11am.  Plenty of time to wander around, get cold, snap what ever I see and get home again before the sun goes down!

As usual, this is meant to be a photography blog so as usual I would like the photos below to do the talking.   I’ve started off mean and moody but ended with a bit of colour.  These are just a small selection of my favourites starting with the abandoned hut next to the old railway tracks, a fisherman’s hut, the boardwalk that helps to protect the local wildlife on the shingle beach, a very cool Airstream caravan, a shy machine, Prospect Cottage, and the boat that also features at the top of this blog post.










Britain’s only desert

Prospect Cottage

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage


Boat RX435


Winter Wonderland


Love it or hate it?

I discovered during the recent cold snap that opinions seem to be divided right down the middle.  Personally, I sit very comfortably in the love camp.  I do love the stuff.  I love the cold, I love Winter, but it’s not enough to convince me to watch more than 10 seconds of Frozen.

Rather unexpectedly, I woke up to a decent dusting of whiteness just last weekend and even more unexpectedly, I got out of bed.  On a Sunday.  The camera was already very well charged from a recent day trip to London (photos will come in a future blog post) so I was ready to go once I had showered and got dressed.  Ah, but snow melts quite quickly so maybe I don’t have time for that.  Other people may wake up soon and want to play in it or walk on it which would ruin my photos.  Having quickly brushed my teeth and put on more socks, I was ready to go and snap some magical winter wonderland snow scenes around this crazy little town.

First stop was to be Willen Lake, a spot visited so many times as a practice ground for me as there is a great big lake, a bit of wildlife, a fantastic Peace Pagoda and a lovely backdrop for portraits.  It’s also been a great training ground for running but that’s another story.

Tickling the South face of Willen Lake and park is Campbell Park which then links up with the town centre.  The next series of snaps are taken there after walking around the Grand Union Canal, adjacent parkland and around the Light Pyramid at the top of the little hill.

All in all I was only out for just over an hour but managed to capture some really lovely local landscapes.  Snow confuses the camera’s sensor though and when I got home to review the images they were so dark and grey!  Youtube came to my rescue, and a short tutorial from Anthony Morganti’s fantastic channel meant that I had a good idea of how to correctly process the scenes so that you see what my eyes saw on the day.


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