Pegasus Bridge

This is the first in a series of posts about Normandy, and now you know where I went on holiday this year! Having lived in France for so long Normandy conjures up images of apples, cider, Calva, and Normans amazed by the fact that you can actually eat apples and not just use them to make alcoholic drinks.

It conjures up images of rain for the French, and I jokingly remind them that the British go there for the “good weather!” It conjures up history by the bucket load, William the Bastard, who became William the Conqueror, and the Bayeux Tapestry which is 1000 year old propaganda, and sparked off a rivalry between the two countries, which lasted for centuries, and still does especially when we beat the French at rugby. It conjures up images of landings made by Allied troops on the 6th of June 1944, to free France and Europe from Nazi occupation and tyranny.

This article is about one of the places where one of those battles took place. Please take the time to click on the various links to Wikipedia to learn more about the operations and people involved. Thank you.

To some Pegasus Bridge might mean nothing but to others it means the end of Nazi occupation in Normandy, France. Madame Arlette Grondée is the same age as my mother and witnessed the Second World War first hand. On the night of the 5th of June, just before midnight, three gliders containing airborne troops landed just across the canal from where her parents ran a café. That café is still there and so is Madame Grondée. I know, because I asked her for a photo and she very kindly agreed. It’s not every day that one meets a legend, and part of history.

I visited this area as a boy and I lust have been the same age as my daughter is now when I was last there. But as an adult, the whole thing has an other dimension to it. The bust of Major Howard (Company Commander of “D” Company, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and part of the 6th Airborne Division) is on the exact site where the three gliders landed. It’s literally on top of the bridge!

Operation Deadstick was a success and a vital victory in the D-Day Operations. The dead were buried in the Parish Cemetery in Rainville, and amongst them is HD Brotheridge, the first British causality of the actions in Normandy. To the left of his grave is a plaque put up by the Grondée family in recognition of his sacrifice.

The tools of the trade that day were the Canon 6D Mark II, and the Canon 16-35mm lens.

Certain images from this gallery can be purchased for a limited time here

Humber Street

In 1987, my father bought me my first SLR. Notice the D is missing. So, I did say SLR and not DSLR. It was a Praktica MTL3 and it is now retired (polite way of saying Kaput) and sitting on a shelf in my son’s room. It took film. And the first roll of film that I shot with it was down Humber Street

In 1987, Humber Street was the fruit market of Hull, and I’m not making an unpolitically correct joke about sensitive men looking to do sensitive things with other sensitive men. No. That would be wrong and very un-enlightened of me. No, they did that in other places dotted around the city.

I used to shoot my film, get it developed at a place on Newland Ave, where I got the camera, and the guy would present me with a contact sheet and critique my photos. For those of you who were born after this analogical age, a contact sheet is where you lay out the negatives on a sheet of photographic paper, and expose the paper, and develop it, and get a whole load of thumbnail images that you can look at and decide which were worth printing. Yes, just like the thumbnails you get on the gallery on your phone, except it might have taken a little longer…

There was one image that pleased me immensely of a cat sitting quietly on a box of fruit wondering what the hell I was up to. That was then.

Skip forward a few years, just a few mind you, because I’m not an old git yet. No sonny Jim, I’m just a git! The area came into it’s own in 2017 when Hull was declared City Of Culture. People were proud of their city again and there were whisperers whispering, “Come to ‘Ull, it’s not shite anymore!”

The ‘gentrification’ of the area started with bars, and even Art Galleries! Then of course came the Humber Street Sesh, showing some amazing local musical talent. This year’s Street Sesh was last night, so you’ve missed it!

At the bottom is the Minerva. Minerva is of course the wise old owl in Greek mythology. It is also a pub which always has such a special place in people’s hearts. They do good food and good beer, and good gin, so the wife was more than happy.

The two nights before these photos, I had met up with and old friend from my school days who was kind enough not to mention all the silly shit that I used to get up to in my youth. The next night was a school reunion with people I hadn’t seen since 1985 and 1988 for the lads. Tales were told that I will not repeat here including stories about a pogo stick, and how I once said “merde” to my French teacher and left the room throwing my French books into the bin on the way out. They told my French wife, “Well he always was a bit European….”

Well now, you’ve kept reading up to now so I suppose I should tell you about these photos. They were taken on the Sunday night when I needed some “me” time to deal with the overwhelming overload of nostalgia. I was out with the Canon 6D Mark II, and the 16-35mm lens. Hope you like them.

Did I go on for too long?

Abbaye de Maillezais Vendée

Originally from Yorkshire, we were brought up on the merits of Rievaulx and Fountains Abbeys. They were of course the most famous and beautiful of the abbeys destroyed by Henry VIII when the pope said no he couldn’t have a divorce to be able to marry Anne Boleyn. Bit of an over-reaction in my opinion especially when you think how it turned out in the end…

Anyway. This article isn’t about them. No. It’s about Maillezais Abbey in Vendée. It’s a little bit of a hike, but you basically just get on the motorway and don’t forget your exit the way I did, and ended up taking a very scenic route, which was very scenic. Luckily my daughter didn’t realise this. My wife would have been telling me how bloody useless I am. Ahhh, the joys of youth!

I’m going to start with the photos I took on the Easter Monday 2019, and then I’ll do an other article about my previous visit when I was with a film camera…

In this series I was using the Canon 6D Mark II with the Canon 16-35mm lens, and the Helios M44-2 58mm lens, which seems to be becoming my “go to” kit…

Île de Saint Cado

So you now that some of my French family lives in Brittany. Just near to where they live is the Island of Saint Cado. It’s one of those quaint places that you see on post cards. It can get a tad windy in winter, but the last time that I was there everything seemed fine.

So what you’re getting today is landscape photography and some wildlife photography. I’ve always like birds and birdwatching and I’m always on the look out. Today I saw a Spoonbill. It’s basically a big bird that wades in the water and has a beak (bill) shaped like a spoon. 10 out of 10 for originality, eh? It’s a bird that is quite rare in the UK and at 47 years old, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen one. I just stood there looking at him and snapped away. It was like being a child again.

I wanted to test some new ND filters with the 16-35 lens, and as you will see further on, I also had the 75-300 lens with me. All this on the Canon 6D Mark II.

Alignements de Kerzhero

My mother in law lives in Brittany. In France that conjours up a whole load of clichés; salted butter, crêpes, kouign amann, pretty houses, the sea, granite, and standing stones. My sister in law also is a fan of Photography and the last time I was up there I made damn sure she wasn’t working and we took out our cameras. That day I was using the Canon 6D Mark II, and the 16-35 F4 lens.

When I fist got these photos back I was in utter dismay at the crap that I had created. I thought I’d never be able to use them and they were doomed to be forgotten. However I didn’t want to have a photographic Waterloo (remember I’m in France) and started up Lightroom and tried to salvage something. This is the result of that salvage, and I have to admit that I was very happy that I did!