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Bank Holiday Terrific

August 31, 2013

I’ve recently been given a fantastic brief to photograph a whole load of pubs around the UK and, with the summer about to draw to a close, I took advantage of last weekend’s beautiful weather and headed out to Wales to tick a few off the list.

Oh, and as it was the Bank Holiday weekend, the family tagged along too.

Aberystwyth sea front and beach

Aberystwyth sea front

With work, moving studios and house renovations, it’s been a busy old summer – besides, it’s almost impossible to plan family holidays at the height of the wedding season. It all seems to have flown by this year, so, when it was suggested I combine a shoot with a long weekend’s tour of one of the prettiest parts of the UK, I didn’t take much persuading.

My borrowed van was packed, the kids were briefed to be on their best behaviour and we were on our way the west coast seaside town of Aberystwyth.

Arriving on the Saturday evening, the first job was to get to the pub and bag some nice shots as the sun started to go down.


A pub – Aberystwyth

It would have been rude not to stay for our tea, so we did.

After a night in a perfectly serviceable holiday cottage, the kids and husband were packed off to explore the town and I was back the next day to take more shots ahead of their busy lunchtime period. It is always tricky shooting in working environments that are open to the public and there’s an art to being in the thick of things while not getting in the way.

It means you have to work fast, get all the shots that are needed and get gone. Though all the staff here were very accommodating and helpful which makes a huge difference.

Bar staff and a snapped dragon

Bar staff and a snapped dragon


Diners dining

As well as the pub exteriors, interiors, staff and customers, I had also been briefed to capture a few local vistas , so I got to explore a bit with my cameras. Beach, marina, castle, pier… all the essential seaside town ingredients are present and correct in Aberystwyth.

I was quite taken with it.


Aberystwyth marina and castle


The Hut

The business of the day done, I headed back to town to find the rest of Spiveys, who, having spent up in the arcades were sitting on the sea front, all damp from a paddle in the Irish Sea.


Having spent all their money on slot machines, the Spivey boys improvise donkey rides


The seafront had a distinctly Cymru and western vibe

There was just time for fish and chips and a round of ice-creams before we had to leave the delights of Aber behind and head overland in the direction of Llandovery and the Cwm Mynys Yurt.


Everybody yurts, sometimes

It was tricky finding accommodation for a family of five last-minute on a Bank Holiday, but one of a very limited number of options was this incredible spot.

In a place where sat nav has no meaning, along a van-unfriendly windy track, you can live like a woodland elf. Owned by a delightfully carefree couple, we had the full run of a remote edge of their small holding, containing one Mongolian yurt, an eco caravan, a sweat lodge by a babbling brook and a hole to poo in.

It was ace.


Stove on. Wine open.

Not being a big camper, I was intrigued by the idea of sleeping in a yurt. With its wood burning stove and ample room I’d recommend it, and this place in particular, to anyone.

Waking up surrounded by sheepskins and ethnic throws I felt like the true Kahlessi, with my little dragons snoring next to me.


The interi-yurt

The woods were really quite magical and it didn’t take the twins long to find an old moss-covered swing that flew out over the stream. I was really glad to have my proper camera with me.


Nature boys


King of the swingers



It was such a shame we had to leave and get back on the road, but another hostelry was waiting for us in Carmarthen.


A pub – Carmarthen


Pull up a chair | Pulling pints

Another pub done, and another pub lunch eaten and we were on our way to Saundersfoot, arriving in time for our little ones to hit the beach and our oldest one to sulk in the hotel room and watch anime on the iPad.



Up and out early on Tuesday morning we headed of to our final location in Chepstow, but not without a slight detour at the request of all the sc-fi geeks in the party.

Southerndown beach has been used in a number of Doctor Who episodes, most famously I am informed as ‘Bad Wolf Bay’. A dramatic and dynamic location. I felt for the BBC camera crew as I too clambered over the rocks with a few grands worth of camera equipment!


Bad Wolf Bay

Photos posed for and souvenir pebbles taken, I packed four happy nerds back into the van and we were off on the last leg of the journey to Chepstow.


A Pub – Chepstow


Room at the Inn

While it was a very fleeting visit, we packed a lot in and got to see a few different sides of Wales. Everyone I encountered was lovely, especially the staff in the pubs and I’m certainly hoping I can go back and hang out in the yurt some more.

It’s not often that I attempt to combine business with pleasure. For the most part, the kids understood when mum was working ‘though I’d be lying if I said that having them around didn’t get stressful at times. As a nation of working mums breathe a collective sigh of relief as the schools re-open, I know I am not alone in trying to maintain that balance through the summer holidays.


All being well, there’ll be more pubs to photograph over the next few weeks and we’ll see where that takes me.

Massive thanks to Jeremy and Alice at Vital for helping make our little Wales trip happen.

RS x

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