Our last visit to Kenilworth castle was in 2019 when the grandchildren were much younger. A revisit was needed now that they were in a “run about mode”. The weather was kind and ideal for outside activities. We arrived and the children were very excited. I brought my x100v with me plus I activated the flash on the camera at around 1/64. I knew that I would be taking lots of pictures often in dark areas of the castle. The children ran to the far end of the castle and we were led straight to the Elizabethan garden. This was immediately followed by the Norman keep. It was difficult keeping up with them. However it made for some interesting photography as you are constantly trying to adapt and keep up with their sudden movement! The ruins have many nooks and crannies which are ideal hiding places for children. Sometimes we really thought we had lost them. There was a path that went upwards to the battlements. No sooner had we reached the top when it was back down into the Great Hall. After all this expended energy, it was time for lunch. Near to the Tudor stables where the tearoom is situated there are the ruins of the chapel. These make great stepping stones for the children.
After lunch it was to Leicester’s building and English Heritage have constructed an internal staircase which allows you to climb to the top of the tower. As we were looking out onto the adjacent fields, we saw a wedding party moving through the footpath. This is where I would love to have the telephoto lens attachment. It was great to see a local celebration happening around the castle.
The pictures show the fun that we had at the castle and with the grandchildren growing up it is so much more enjoyable visiting such places. You can compare this to my last blog about the castle in 2019. We loved it so much that we joined English Heritage and now have them alongside the National Trust for places to visit.
Coventry is the City of Culture for 2021. This prestigious title runs from May 2021 to May 2022 and it follows on from Derry/Londonderry in 2013 and Hull in 2017. Taking my first train for over a year, I set off from Leamington to Coventry. So let’s be brutal, Coventry is not a place you would first associate with culture but do a little digging and you will be pleasantly surprised. The home of the Specials and Ska music offers up several delights. Autumn 2020 was my last visit to the City. Then my pictures were taken around the two Cathedrals and a brief stroll around town. This visit began at the train station and we moved through the city to the Canal Basin. The train station is sixties architecture which has seen better days. Leaving the station area we moved into the Plaza towards the much loved Trigger statue. Trigger, a metal horse, was put together by Coventry University student Simon Evans in the 1980s using scrap materials. Lots of photo opportunities around Trigger whether it is close up details or the interaction of people around it.
Moving on through towards the shopping centre, next stop the rainbow street or better known as Hertford Street. Here the Coventry City of Culture offices are situated. I asked the volunteers if they did not mind having their photograph taken to which they were a bit taken aback. I love their jackets! The street is colourful and a haven for Streetphotography as you will see from my photographs. I had my polariser filter on the wide angled Canon 5D which brought out the colours as people wandered past. We could have spent hours there but we moved on into the central shopping area.
We took a look at Pepper Lane that had been spruced up with colourful paint. The street art mural by @mattchuuk dominates the far end. The mural is a past, present and future dreamlike composition representing the spirit of Coventry.
Moving on to, through and past the Cathedral Square. We hit upon the tired and brutal architecture of the Britannia Hotel and moved swiftly onto the Whittle arches around Hale Street. Their imposing shapes fits in well with the surrounding area. Everything is blue including the buses and the spiral overpass into Lady Herbert’s Gardens and Volgograd place. So good to take pictures and another place where you could spend a great deal of time people watching and taking pictures.
Moving on our next destination was the Coventry Canal basin. I warned my photo buddy not to expect much as at my last visit, there was not much to see. I was glad to be proved wrong as there was activity around the basin and a few long boats were moored up. By chance I noticed people sitting outside a café near the canal bridge. Playwright’s café turned out to be a hidden gem. Scones were lovely and the coffee just right. Great service from the owner as well. So my opinion of the area is changed now!
Time to make our way back through the City to the train station. So lots to like about Coventry in its new clothes as City of Culture. There is still the awful Brutalist buildings, the bad architecture but there is also a sense of optimism around the place. The Specials sang in 1981 “This town is coming like a ghost town”, to which I would have agreed a few years ago. Now “the good old days before the ghost town” are slowly returning. I really hope so!
Coombe Abbey Country Park is to the east of Coventry and both the gardens and lake featuring designs by Capability Brown make this a must visit attraction. Even though this is on my doorstep, it is nearly 10 years since I lasted visited on the occasion of a wedding. The family decided this was the place to visit on a Saturday afternoon in December. I got my camera gear ready. I am now well practised at taking photographs under family pressure. Those lovely views by the lakes are only available for a few minutes as I am asked to hurry up and stay in touch with the family walk. In some ways that makes it fun as you have to get your settings right and take the picture quickly.
The park is picturesque and lends itself to photographs. The downside is that even on a late Sunday afternoon, there is a lot of people around. Making sure that they do not feature in the photographs is difficult as well. My tips are to look for different views of the well known pictures that are taken. Coombe Abbey Country Park is photographed so often that it is difficult to find that different view.
One tip is the timing. The family decided to visit after 2pm on a December afternoon. The weather was good and the sun was starting to come out. The Golden Hour beckoned. There were some delays along the way when we got there. The birds had to be fed by the grandchildren and other small holdups, such as splashing in every puddle that we saw, made the walk slow. In many ways that was an advantage as it gave an opportunity to take a few more pictures.
Finally on the way back the sun started to set very low and it lit up the classic view of the Coombe Abbey Hotel from the footbridge that separates the main lake, Coombe Pool, and the smaller Top Pool. There is a lot more to see and when Covid-19 restrictions are finished then there will be a return visit to the park. Meanwhile enjoy the pictures!
Do you want to know more about Coombe Abbey Country Park? Then visit the Coventry City Council website which will get you started Coombe Abbey Country Park