London and a mixed bag of Photography

Last week I ventured off on a day trip to London.  It had been a while since my last visit and I was long overdue a day of ‘me’ photography.  I had no real agenda and no expectations of what i would find or photograph, but, as London is place where you can find and photograph anything and everything, i was more than confident of getting something ‘in the bag’.

With that in mind it did make me take a little more kit that I really should have, but, with the light weight of the Fuji XT1 and its complement of amazing lens’ it wasn’t a real issue.  I did however make a return trip to the car shortly after parking at the rain station to dump my tripod as a last minute decision to leave this behind.

Monday morning in London was manic, it’s manic every morning to be honest, but this particular Monday was the day after the London Marathon.  The cleanup process was still in full swing and there were stacks upon stacks of those meal barriers everywhere, but, the cleanup team must have been very hard at work all night restoring the city to its normal self ready for there Monday morning onslaught.

I love the huge diversity London offers and it’s great to see all the tourists taking in the sights but i’d wish they would leave those blooming selfie sticks at home.  Having nearly had my eye taken out on a couple of occasions was beginning to wear a little thin as they waved them around with little or no regard to those around them.

All-in-all though it was a great day where i photographed ‘that’ anything & everything, from some of the iconic buildings, life on the street, life under the street and even those blooming tourists with their selfie sticks, lol.  The weather was very changeable with some heavy rain showers but it certainly did not stop play, moreover, it helped create a winning image, more about that a little further on.

Again, the Xt1 was a dream to work with, occasionally shooting from the hip and zone focusing for the street shots – but i must admit that i still need a little more practice at this technique.  As for that tripod i left behind, i didn’t even miss it.  I photographed a few long exposure images, some in excess of 75 seconds, all helped with the Lee Seven5 filter system, and just used what was available such as walls and even the pavement.  It helped me compose some great images with a low perspective and the freedom of working without a tripod was very liberating.

The week ended on a high by me submitting an image into the Fujifilm_UK #fujifridaychallenge, with the weeks theme being reflections, and having my entry chosen by renowned Fuji X Photographer Paul Sanders as the winning image.  As mentioned above, the image was taken just after a heavy rain shower and i was in an area of high-rise office blocks, with a view of the Shard in-between, and the wet pavement in combination with the glass sided buildings created an amazing reflective scene.

Anyway, I hope you like the images i’ve added below.  Please do feel free to share the blog and leave me a comment and if you missed my last blog post on why i moved to the Fujifilm X system you can read that here.  Thanks, Rob.

London Photography by Rob Ferrol

There’s more to London you know.

News reader on the streets of London by Rob Ferrol

News reader ready for action

Tourists in London posing with selfie stick

Grrr, the curse of the selfie sticks.

Padlocks left by lovers

Lovers locks

A newly married couple on Westminster bridge, london

Just married

big ben London with blurred London bus and jogger

Lunchtime rush hour at Westminster bridge

stormy clouds over westminster by rob ferrol photography

Stormy clouds over Westminster

London bus blurred with motion as it passes red london phone box by rob ferrol

elderly females taking a cigarette break

Fag break

two males outside bookshop in london by rob ferrol

Another fag break

lonely female in cafe by rob ferrol

Deep in thought

 

london city skyline in black and white by rob ferrol

London city skyline

long exposure of tower bridge by rob ferrol

Tower Bridge long exposure

st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

St Paul’s from Millennium bridge

statue of fire fighters and st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

Firefighter statue near St Pauls

shard reflections on a rainy day in london by rob ferrol

The winning shot

Why i moved to the Fujifilm X system

Ok, i can hear you all moaning already “not another i’ve moved to Fuji blog” well yes, sorry, but it is.  It’s a poignant post for me as i’ve been integrating Fuji x cameras into my workflow for some time and now the move is now complete.  Yes, i’ve sold all my DSLR gear and am now a ‘fully Fuji’ X system photographer.  So, this is a little blog of why ‘I’ personally have made the move.

Fuji x100-3348

The Fujifilm x100

Some years ago, and a year or so after its initial launch, i purchased the original Fuji x100 which I was drawn to after seeing a full page add on the back of a camera mag.  I though “WOW that looks awesome” the design was amazing, it had so much character and it just called out to me – I wanted one so much!!  Yes, i can be a bit of an impulsive buyer but I mused over the idea for sometime on whether to purchase one.  Anyway i did and made my purchase almost a year after it’s initial launch.  Sods law though, not long after my purchase, Fuji released the X100s with many improvements – lesson learned do some more thorough research.  But not perturbed i persevered with the x100 and I remember being in awe of the first few initial test images.  Below is my first portrait of my daughter with the x100, about the 5th frame i made since taking it out of the box.  Simple window light on a dull day with a not so willing model.  Her expression was ‘hurry up, i want to go out’ – she didn’t share my excitement over my new toy.

Fuji x100-0013

First image out of the x100 – 

My kids had been my test subject on many occasions and somehow this little camera made grabbing images of them somewhat easier.  It was far less intimidating than my big DSLR with equally big lens, easier to grab and pop it my my pocket at a moments notice and it quickly became my ‘go to’ camera for family outings etc but thats as far as it went.  For some bizarre reason i never considered it a tool for my professional work.

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X100 | f/4 | 1/250 |iso200

For my professional photography i stuck with the DSLR gear and continued to do so for a couple more years but as a Wedding and Commercial Photographer, along with some other random assignments & commissions, 2 full frame DSLR’s and an accompaniment of lens’ was quickly taking it’s toll, and my back was beginning to groan.  I’m a small chap at 5′ 5″ and i felt like the weight was compressing my spine reducing those valuable inches even further.

Fuji x100-0249

Street photography with the x100

 

XT1-2590

Street Photography with the X-T1 | 1/4sec Handheld

Fuji xt1-7002

X-T1 | Ramada Hotel, Leicester

In a bid to ease my back woes i researched and tried many options for carrying the DSLR’s, waist holsters, double harnesses, roller bags, the lot, and none seemed to suit me.  I’d used the ThinkTank belt pouch system for a number of years but sold my set during my quest to find a suitable alternative but i ended up buying another as it proved to be the best of what i’d tried.  But, at the end of a busy wedding at the end of the 2014 season, i could take no more and i decided to look at alternative camera systems.

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X-T1 | xf35mm | f/1.4 | 1/125th | iso200

Fuji xt1-1035

X-T1 | xf35mm | f/4.5 | 1/30th | iso400

Fuji xt1-0982

X-T1 | xf35mm | f/1.4 | 1/420th | iso200

Over the Christmas break of 2014/15 i looked around at the alternatives.  I loved my X100 and the X100T, a successor to the x100s, had just been released but i wanted a system that offered interchangeable lens’ and being left eye dominant i wanted a central viewfinder DSLR style design.  I was drawn by the Fuji lure to the X-T1.  I can’t remember where i first saw this camera but i had heard wonderful things about it.  It had been on the market for almost a year and a few other photographers that i know were already using it in a professional capacity and raving about it.  So, my Christmas holidays were spent between my family and frenzied research for more info about this camera in eager anticipation of an early new year purchase.

Fuji XT1-2251

Fujifilm X-T1

I purchased my first Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver edition with a couple of lens’ and, just like the impact the X100 had one me, i was blown away with the image quality.  It was on par, if not surpassing, what i was getting from my Canon DSLR.  The instant image preview with live exposure simulation in the large EVF was a dream to use and the camera instantly felt much more comfortable in my smallish hands compared to my DSLR.  The tactile controls, reminiscent of a bygone age, were very different to my DSLR but took me back to my days with the Canon AE1, oh the irony!!

Fuji xt1-0352

X-T1 | xf35mm | f/1.4 | 1/4000th | iso200

Fuji xt1-0360

X-T1 | xf35.. | f/1.4 | 1/2300th | iso200

From the outset of 2015 it worked amazingly alongside my Canon gear, using it to shoot weddings and commercial commissions, but it lacked a vital element that was crucial to a particular genre of photography that i also undertook, corporate events with onsite sales, which required me to shoot tethered.  At The Photography Show last year i spoke to the Fuji team who said the software was coming and had already been given out to a select few for testing.  In fact, i recalled Bert Stephani seamlessly shooting tethered during his presentation at the show,  it gave me hope that it wasn’t far away. By the way, i’ve followed Bert’s work for a few years with his early YouTube ‘Confessions of a Photographer‘ and ‘Motivational Light’ video series and it’s well worth checking out.  Here’s a few commercial jobs undertaken with the X-T1.

One of the biggest factors forcing my move was weight and during my weddings of 2015 i found i was using the X-T1 more and more.  The X-T1 and a selection of lens’ was a massive weight saving.  I felt a sense of liberation from the heavy ‘bricks’ that were weighing me down during long wedding shoots, sometimes in excess of ten hours.  The image preview in the EVF allowed me to see what i was getting before the shot was taken so i was shooting less but ending up with many more ‘keepers’, thus speeding up my post processing workflow.  Here’s a bunch of wedding related images shot on my X-T1’s, nothing overly fancy, im still building on my X-T1 wedding portfolio but you can find more of my wedding photography here.

Very soon the DSLR never made it out of the bag and after just a few months with my initial X-T1 i purchased another, this time a black model, and further lens’ to compliment what i already had.  Additionally, i found that i was favouring prime lens’ having always used zoom’s on my DSLR and the quality of the Fuji glass is equally as good and my Canon L series lens’.  Once the tethering issue was sorted with the software patch for Adobe Lightroom being made available it was full steam ahead with my complete move to the Fuji platform.

Derwent Cascade

Derwent Reservoir | X-T1 | xf14mm | f/11 | 1/30th |iso200

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Saltburn Pier | X-T1 | xf18-55 @20mm | f/14 | 14secs | iso200 | Lee Filters

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Ladybower Reservoir | X-T1 | xf14mm | f/11 | 1/30th | iso200 | Lee Filters

I’ve used the Fuji X-T1’s extensively now across my compliment of services covering weddings, landscapes, commercial & charity events and also a little travel photography where i took them to Morocco, North Africa.  Shooting from the city to the edge of the Sahara where the temperatures often exceeded 45 degrees celsius and the camera never faltered.  Moreover, the massive weight reduction compared to my much heavier DSLR gear made working thought the day in the blistering heat bearable.  Below are a few images from that trip but you can find my blog post with more images from that trip here and a clip on YouTube here.

This by no means a technical evaluation or reasoning for my move, i’ve purposefully avoided going down that route on this blog post for the sake of simplicity, many of the factors are just personal preference for me.  The system has proven to be a worthy workhorse across all the genres that i cover and not once have i regretted my decision to move away from DSLR’s.   I’m not saying its a camera system that will suit everyone and i’m not ruling out a further change somewhere down the line myself, the recently released X-Pro-2 looks sublime and is receiving much hype on social media and i’m eagerly awaiting to hear more of the much anticipated X-T2, but for now its a tool that i am more than happy with and would happily recommend to others.  The journey, and the story continues………

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x100 | Oban, Argyll

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x100 | St Pancras, London

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x100 | St Pancras, London

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X-T1 | St Pancras, London

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X-T1 | London

A mixed bag of London – Street, Architecture, Fashion & Sports Photography

In my last blog post i gave you an highlight of my images that i took of the final stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race.  A chance encounter on a fantastic weekend in the city.

I had planned to be on a 2 day workshop that ended up being cancelled last minute but having already paid my travel & accommodation costs i decided to still head down there and have a weekend of self indulged photographic fun.  It was my first ever time in London on my own with my camera so i had just planned to take my time and soak it all up and it ended up being a mixed bag weekend.

I’d arrived late in london due to a train delay but was pleased to see East Coast Trains staff handing out refund vouchers which was a pleasant surprise, id always thought train delays were part and parcel of modern day rail travel so well done East Coast Trains for your fist class customer service.  So, having arrived late, i decided to head straight over top Tower Bridge to get some late evening shots.  I didn’t plan on dragging all my luggage with me but i didn’t want to waste my first evening.  The hotel checkin could wait a little while longer.  As i mentioned above, the weekend turned into a mixed bag of photographic subject.  As well as stumbling across the Tour of Britain on the Sunday i found myself in a photographers melee on Saturday afternoon.  After a quick lunch at the Covent Garden food market I wandered down to the Strand and found London Fashion Week in full swing.  There were photographers and models everywhere, it was like organised chaos and one couldn’t resist grabbing a few shots.  I may have to venture down to London just to capture the atmosphere around this event one day.

Anyway, i suppose i’d better let you get to the images.  As I said a very mixed bag of stuff which i hope you will like.  Please do feel free to leave a comment and maybe share this blog with your family & friends.  Just before i go i’d like to finish in a couple of thank you’d both heading in the direction of two London Cabbies.  Firstly to a kind chap called Dave who, after chatting in the cab on the way to the hotel, decided to give me a free ride out of gratitude for my past military service and also for my current public service as a Paramedic.  I was blown away with his kind hearted gratitude.  Secondly to another London Cabbie and good friend Terry who is also an amazing photographer, you can see some of his fabulous images on his website here.   He took time out of his hectic weekend day to catch up over coffee and then to show me a few locations around Canary Wharf.   So, on to the images.

London by Rob Ferrol Photography

Tower Bridge, London

Underground, London Rob Ferrol Photography

Early morning tube ride – so quiet compared to the evening rush hour.

London, the shard,rob,ferrol photography

Dawn Light on the Shard, Lomndon

The Shard London Rob Ferrol Photography

Dawn Light on the Shard, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Skateboard Graveyard, Golden Jubilee Bridge, London

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Sh*@ting on Humanity

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Going Underground.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Street Photography

London Rob Ferrol Photography

What to have for lunch?? Food market in Covent Garden

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Flying the flags, Covent Garden, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Fashion Week

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Fashion Week

London Rob Ferrol Photography

London Fashion Week

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Dusk colour at Canary Wharf

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Canary Wharf in Mono

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Bright Lights Big City. Canary Wharf, London

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Millennium Bridge & St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Millennium Bridge & St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Canary Wharf Clock, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tube Tunnels, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Spot the Banana, Canary Wharf, London

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Lloyds Building, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Gherkin abstract, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tour of Britain final, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tour of Britain final, London.

London Rob Ferrol Photography

Tour of Britain final, London.

Reflecting on a good year – 2013

Just been archiving a load of images from 2013 so i thought I’d put up a little blog post as a sort of reflection on the year.  Its been one of my busiest photographically and i’ve pressed the shutter button more times this year than any other.

One thing that I have noticed this year though that I have neglected making images for my own pleasure, most of my work has been commercial or wedding orientated, so, over the course of the next twelve months i intend to make more of an effort to shoot some personal images in the genres of Landscape & Street photography.

The images below are not a “best of”, they are more of a look back of some fun, memorable moments from 2013.  I hope you like them!!

The glitzy highlight to the North Notts business calendar.

The glitzy highlight to the North Notts business calendar.

The highlight for me was seeing the Vulcan Fly.  As a young Airman I used to stand in awe as this huge beast flew it's practice displays above RAF Marham.

The highlight for me was seeing the Vulcan Fly. As a young Airman I used to stand in awe as this huge beast flew it’s practice displays above RAF Marham.

It's been rumored that the road to Spurn Point has been destroyed by all the recent storms making future visits here impossible.

It’s been rumored that the road to Spurn Point has been destroyed by all the recent storms making future visits here impossible.

This place was something else.  A surreal mix of industrial abandonment & tranquility.  Well worth another visit or three.

This place was something else. A surreal mix of industrial abandonment & tranquility. Well worth another visit or three.

Cant beat getting some shots when names like Citizen, Rihanna & Victoria's Secrets are in the lens.  All part of my commercial clients Advertising campaigns.

Cant beat getting some shots when names like Citizen, Rihanna & Victoria’s Secrets are in the lens. All part of my commercial clients Advertising campaigns.

There were plenty wedding throughout the year.  Along with the stunning brides there were some stunning venues too.

There were plenty wedding throughout the year. Along with the stunning brides there were some stunning venues too.

I was luck enough to gain early access to Hodsock Priory to photograph their annual Snowdrop display.  Well worth a visit of you are in the area.

I was luck enough to gain early access to Hodsock Priory to photograph their annual Snowdrop display. Well worth a visit of you are in the area.

Being only 10 minutes drive away this play was always a favourite for a day/evening out.  It also proved a popular spot for many of my pre-wedding photoshoots.

Being only 10 minutes drive away this play was always a favourite for a day/evening out. It also proved a popular spot for many of my pre-wedding photoshoots.

Ya can't beat celebrating with good friends.  We've known Gill & Glen a long time now and whenever we're together there is always much fun, laughter and eeerr beer!!! :-)

Ya can’t beat celebrating with good friends. We’ve known Gill & Glen a long time now and whenever we’re together there is always much fun, laughter and eeerr beer!!! 🙂

A big highlight to our summer was hosting a child from the Ukraine for a few weeks.

A big highlight to our summer was hosting a child from the Ukraine for a few weeks.We gave a few weeks of our lives to give years of life to the little people of Korosten, Ukraine. An area affected by the Chernobyl disaster. I’ve blogged about this earlier so will leave a link below.

The Aurora Cancer Charity Awards were one of my busiest events of this year,  I love working with charities and having lost close family members to cancer this once was close to my heart.

The Aurora Cancer Charity Awards were one of my busiest events of this year, I love working with charities and having lost close family members to cancer this once was close to my heart.

For the second year running Andrew asked for Alan from A Team Fitness who runs 'boot camp' style parties for kids & big kids.  I wonder what he will choose for his birthday party theme this year?.........

For the second year running Andrew asked for Alan from A Team Fitness who runs ‘boot camp’ style parties for kids & big kids. I wonder what he will choose for his birthday party theme this year?………

A big celebrity shoot, this time for another Cancer Charity.  Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity asked me to photograph their annual 'light the night' walk and the bonus this year was that Jessica, the charities patron, would be there for a special photoshoot and to start the event.

A big celebrity shoot, this time for another Cancer Charity. Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity asked me to photograph their annual ‘light the night’ walk and the bonus this year was that Jessica, the charities patron, would be there for a special photoshoot and to start the event.

Another celebrity in the bag this year was Colin Salmon who was presenting the awards at the Redemption & Justice awards.

Another celebrity in the bag this year was Colin Salmon who was presenting the awards at the Redemption & Justice awards.

This year saw the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid in Germany.  A occasion that was marked by a memorial flypast of the Lancaster bomber.

This year saw the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid in Germany. A occasion that was marked by a memorial flypast of the Lancaster bomber.

Sticking with the Lancaster theme.  I photographed the ceremony to mark the laying of a memorial stone in memory of a Lancaster that crashed close by killing many of its crew.

Sticking with the Lancaster theme. I photographed the ceremony to mark the laying of a memorial stone in memory of a Lancaster that crashed close by killing many of its crew.

Jodies Birthday party was at Creswell Craggs.  A prehistoric cave complex which suited these Neanderthal kids to the ground.  I tried to give this image a 'Land that time forgot' look.  Not sure if it worked...

Jodies Birthday party was at Creswell Craggs. A prehistoric cave complex which suited these Neanderthal kids to the ground. I tried to give this image a ‘Land that time forgot’ look. Not sure if it worked…

Lost count how many times i've been here.  There have been occasions when I never made it out of the car but when the light is good you can see its well worth it!!

Lost count how many times i’ve been here. There have been occasions when I never made it out of the car but when the light is good you can see its well worth it!!

I entered a few images into the Nottingham Flickr groups 'Connected' exhibition and was in awe at the quality of the work on display.  I even managed to sell one of my images on display.  I wonder if it's gracing a prime location or a toilet wall somewhere in someones house

I entered a few images into the Nottingham Flickr groups ‘Connected’ exhibition and was in awe at the quality of the work on display. I even managed to sell one of my images on display. I wonder if it’s gracing a prime location or a toilet wall somewhere in someones house

Andrew loves sports day which is a far cry from my childhood memories of them.

Andrew loves sports day which is a far cry from my childhood memories of them.

I love street photography.  One of my goals this year is to shoot a lot more than i did in 2013.  Capturing life in an uncontrolled environment is not easy but its loads of fun.

I love street photography. One of my goals this year is to shoot a lot more than i did in 2013. Capturing life in an uncontrolled environment is not easy but its loads of fun.

Not sure why I've included this image.  Possiblhy because it encapsulates all that is right with this country and all that is wrong with it too!!  I love this country for its history, architechture, culture and diversity  but boy do i get annoyed with those that run it.  I'm not going there in this blog though :-/

Not sure why I’ve included this image. Possiblhy because it encapsulates all that is right with this country and all that is wrong with it too!! I love this country for its history, architechture, culture and diversity but boy do i get annoyed with those that run it. I’m not going there in this blog though :-/

Managed a few model portrait shoots along the way too.  Mostly TFP stuff, portfolio building, playing with lighting techniques etc.

Managed a few model portrait shoots along the way too. Mostly TFP stuff, portfolio building, playing with lighting techniques etc.

Chernobyl, and it’s personal effect on me!

Back in 1986 when I was aged just 15 an event took place in the former USSR that I never know would have such a profound personal and emotional effect on me.    I’m talking about the catastrophic explosion of reactor 3 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power station.  The event was the result of an ill-fated experiment that resulted in radioactive fallout reaching an area far and wide and across many countries.  At its peak the radioactive fallout was 100 times greater than that caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki combined.  It was a disaster caused by human error and poor design that had a cataclysmic effect on the lives of many and still does to this very day.

This radioactive contamination reached many countries but the bulk of it was concentrated in Belarus & Ukraine regions.  The local town of Pripiyat with a population of 40,000+ was evacuated within hours of the event but the communities further afield were not and to this day they live with the Chernobyl legacy and the continuing radioactive contamination.  This contamination poses many health risks and the young and infirm are especially vulnerable to its effects.Since 1992 a charity called the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line has acted to help these young children by bringing them from the affected area for a short break away from the contamination.  This short break allows them to eat fresh food and breathe clean air, this simple process alone gives a massive boost to their immune system, it can also effectively increase their life expectancy by up to two years.

This year my wife Samantha saw an advert in the Primary Times magazine asking for volunteer families to host one or two children for a 4 week period.  After a short discussion we decided to put ourselves forward and become a host family for a child this summer.  We embarked on a journey that would be somewhat life changing and very humbling..

After the necessary paperwork such as CRB checks we attended the local “link” meetings.  The charity is divided into “links” which have a certain catchment area and build links with certain areas, towns & schools in Belarus and Ukraine.  We got to know the other host families and found that there was a good mix of “first-times” and those who had hosted children for many years.  Everyone had some questions so it was nice to have these answered with the wealth of experience within the group.

The excitement, anticipation and to some degree trepidation grew as the date neared for the children’s arrival. A few weeks before we received a profile of our visiting child, this gave us a little background information about them and their family.  It also gave us the opportunity to write to their parents and introduce ourselves.  It’s very difficult to imagine how they felt sending their child away to a foreign country to live with a family who they’d never met for a whole month, could you do it with your own child?? Probably not.

So, the day arrived and all our foreign visitors appeared off the coach, all looking a little timid and nervous, and also very tired as this was probably the longest journey they some of them have made.  The group posed for a quick photograph then it was into another room to meet all the host families.  As we were all introduced to our visitors there was an amazing atmosphere in the room, a sort of mix of excitement and nervousness.  We’d all been learning a few Russian & Ukrainian phrases, as had the other families but we soon found out we needed lots more practice and like a Mexican wave we all dug out the iphones in search for our best friend Google and it’s amazing translation app. From that point on the language barrier had been breached and there were many smiles and laughter.

Their stay here was a full on adventure with days out far and wide, with a few rest days mixed in for out recuperative benefit, lol.  Below are some images from our various days out and I think we can safely say that everyone had an amazing time and experience.  There were so many highlights and the whole experience is one that will stay with me and my family forever but one highlight for me was sitting during our evening meals teaching each other a new language, there was so much laughter and humour that the language barrier seemed non-existent at times.  As a family we have laughed, cried and learned a great deal and the whole experience has brought home just how selfish and materialistic our society has become.   Our young proved to be a fine stalwart for his culture, upbringing and his family – he was also an amazing teacher of Russian & Ukrainian although I do need a lot more practice, lol.

A massive amount of thanks must go to everyone involved in running the charity, these visits would be impossible without their dedication and hard work.  I would also like to thank all the other host families and visiting children for the most amazing and profoundly poignant few weeks.  We gave a small amount of our time in exchange for a massive life experience, for us and our new found friends. It was a huge privilege being able to record their visit photographically for the charity link. We ensured each child went home with a copy of the images for them to treasure.

So, if you are a family who can dedicate a little time, would like a life changing experience and would like to consider hosting a child then please check out the charities website for further details.

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Dambusters 70th Flypast

It was a huge pleasure to be able to witness a fantastic display of flying history and see the aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight mark the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid.

On March 16th 1943 133 airmen of the Royal Air Force’s 617 Sqn took to the skies in 19 Avro Lancaster bombers specially adapted to carry a unique bouncing bomb designed by Barnes Wallace. Of the 19 aircraft that took off only 11 returned resulting in the loss of 56 aircrew.

Their bravery and skill changed the course of WWII by breaching the Mohne & Eder Dams and severely damaging the Sorpe Dam. This gave a catastrophic blow the industrial might of the German was machine by destroying countless factories and hydro electric power-plants.

Having my own 18 year military career as an aircraft engineer it was a privilege to witness the display and be part of the huge crowd of people who were there to remember this historic moment but to also remember the countless number of lives that have been lost on both sides.

The "little friend"

The “little friend”

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Heading over Ladybower

Heading over Ladybower

Lancaster with a "little friend" following

Lancaster with a “little friend” following

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Hear the whine of the RB199

Hear the whine of the RB199