Posted by: digibirder | September 5, 2011

Up, up and away…

Well, we’ve been here and there over the past few weeks, so here is another catch-up post.

We both had a trip down to Northampton the other week, to take part in a free course offered by the framing supplier where Keith bought his latest equipment. This course was to learn about ways to protect images prior to framing them, namely to encapsulate them with see-through film, either using a hot press machine or a cold roller system. It was very interesting, and probably useful information, but the machines cost quite a lot, so it will have to wait for now.

We went down a day before the course, so that we wouldn’t have to get up too early for the long journey, and booked into a cheap hotel for the night. On the day we went down, there was a balloon festival and fair, so we went there prior to booking into the hotel. It was the final day of the festival, so a lot of the balloon owners had gone, leaving only the local groups. In the afternoon they had a ‘tethering’ where they inflate the balloons – sometimes in order to test them and dry them out – but they do not take off. There was due to be a flight that evening, but we didn’t go back, and it turned out that it was cancelled anyway. The highlight was the previous evening, when they have a ‘glow’ where all the balloons are lit up inside. I will have to try and get to one of those.

Keith also decided that he needed some more advanced training, and so booked on a course with a framer in north Wales. This was not cheap either, but it sounded as if he would learn a lot, including some business advice. He explained what he needed and the chap said that he could sort him out. It was a residential course which included bed and breakfast, and it was decided that he would need three days. I decided to go along for the ride, paying extra for my bed and breakfast cost, and took myself off to some local beauty spots to take photos while Keith was having his lessons.

As it turned out, the tutor did not really give Keith what he needed, and seemed to have his own ways to solve the framing issues, rather than passing on industry-standard knowledge. And he seemed to do everything the cheapest way rather than the correct way. His business advice was next to useless, as he had a way out of date pricing tool and basically just seems to pluck numbers out of the air for his framing customers. And on top of the cost of the course, he even has the cheek to charge extra for the materials used. I was asked if I wanted to have lunch (Keith’s was included in the price), which I did on two occasions, but they failed to inform me that it was an extra £5 per lunch, which we only discovered when we were handed the extras list when we checked out. So, Keith is not best pleased at the moment, and is drafting a long email to tell him what he thinks. Whether he’ll get any refund remains to be seen. He might also be placing a review on the sites where he advertises these courses. I think if you are a brand new framer and go away with six or eight basic frames, you might be reasonably happy, but he completely messed up trying to frame some of Keith’s dad’s medals, and was completely flustered by trying to frame a football shirt, having only ever done one himself. This never got done, and the medal framing is not complete, so Keith is having to learn how to do them both another way now.

We’ve currently got scaffolding being erected round the back of the house. The solar panel company are changing the panels for some more powerful ones, so that they get more money from the government scheme, and we get more solar power to use. Obviously there was some issue with the current panels not producing enough. Still, we have already made savings on electricity costs as compared with the same period last year, so hopefully we will save even more with the new panels.

Here are some images from the past few weeks.

Balloon Festival

This was a small balloon compared to some others

There wasn’t much wind, but they were still struggling

Then for the big one! This was tethered to three 4x4s to keep it from taking off

The top has these panels which are adjustable by the pilot when they want to descend

Didn’t stay up long before the decided to abandon the exercise


The weather was OK, but the skies were totally blank and grey for the most part. There were glimmers of brightness, but this didn’t last very long. However, I made the most of my trips out and hopefully have a few nice images.

Some blustery weather at Rhos-on-sea

A peaceful corner at Bodnant Gardens

And lots of colour

Llyn Crafnant, after a very hairy drive up a single-track road!

Conwy Falls near Betws-y-coed

Saw plenty of this alien invasive Himalayan balsam everywhere

Found this stone circle in Llanrwst, but it dates from 1951, erected for an eisteddfod

On a detour to an ancient chapel, a mother peahen came to the car with her five chicks, hoping for some scraps no doubt, which I didn’t have, but they hung around the car for some time

The falls at Betws-y-coed

Snowdon in the mist – to the left of the peak you can see

The following day in better weather

Swallow Falls near Betws-y-coed

The river running down from the falls – decided to try some black and white

Swallow Falls from another viewpoint

Reflections in Llynnau Mymbyr near Plas Y Brenin Mountain Centre

Peaks of Snowdonia over Llynnau Mymbyr

Llyn Gwynant from the Snowdon viewpoint



  1. some nice pics like 0943 the guy walking in front of the balloon

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