I've just returned from six days in the UK. The trip was a present for my birthday and I went to see my mum's new house for the first time and to work through a "bucket list" of images that I'd been thinking about for some time.
My visit coincided with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
This is my take on the Jubilee celebrations.
Taken in a "greasy spoon"
Highlight of my trip however was a trip to the top of the Earl of Durham's Memorial, known locally as Penshaw Monument.
On Easter Monday, 1926 a 15-year-old boy, Temperley Arthur Scott, fell to his death from the top of Penshaw Monument. The boy was with three friends and 20 other people when the accident happened. They had got to the roof through the spiral staircase situated within one of the pillars. Witnesses said that the boys went round the roof walkway twice before deciding to make a third circuit. However, Scott fell trying to avoid the other visitors by passing around an open end where there was no protecting wall. Afterwards the spiral staircase to the roof was closed and remained so until a special opening on 29th August 2011, when the public were granted access to the spiral staircase and views from the top of the Monument. This was an initial test to see if it was popular enough to open again for future one-off days. The National Trust did not take bookings, the public simply turned up on the day. It was so popular (over 2000 people), not all those who turned up got to go to the top of the Monument.
I was excited when I heard this as I'd always harboured a desire to go to the top.
I emailed the Trust and was told that the time slot I would like was OK and off I went.
The Monument itself is a folly and is a half-sized replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens The Doric tetrastyle monument is 30 metres (98 ft) long, 16 metres (52 ft) wide and 20 metres (66 ft) high. The columns are each 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) in diameter. It was designed by John and Benjamin Green and built by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland, based on the Doric order.
I arrived with plenty of time together with my a good friend Michael who also expressed a wish to get to the top. Due to very windy weather, and it being the Queen's Jubilee, there weren't many visitors. Each visitor must wear an LED headlight to help with navigating the narrow staircase and must leave all bags down below. There are 75 steps to the top and I'd recommend holding cameras close to your body or else they'll be banging off the walls.
The steel doorway and the narrow staircase
The trip to the top is well worth it, especially if the weather is good. It was very windy when we were at the top (as can be heard on the video below), but this had the effect of making the air a lot clearer with no haze etc. I shot all my pics using the EOS 5d MKII and my workhorse 17 - 40.
75 stairs later...
Great views of the English countryside
The narrow walkway
Panoramic view. Three images stitched together. Lens set at 35mm
After about a half an hour at the top We descended again and I took the following view whilst lying on my back. The lens was zoomed right out to 17mm.
My final shot was this one as we were walking back down the hill.
As mentioned earlier. here's a quick video I took at the top. You can hear how windy it was!
Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment.