I had the pleasure of photographing the stunning Chester wedding of Melanie and Carl just around the corner from my house at the Mercure Chester Abbot Well Hotel. II haven’t been to this lovely hotel for a few years now and it was very nice going back. The Abbot Well Hotel certainly did a brilliant job of looking after Carl and Melanie on their wedding day.
I’ll start the blog with this lovely evening image with a setting Chester sun in the background.
Some of the little details of one amazing wedding.
Perfume flowers and champagne. A lovely trio!
I think the guys are getting into the relaxing before the service routing rather well!
All the ladies escorted by Dad to the wedding service which was in the hotel.
Melanie looking amazing on her way to the wedding service.
Carl waiting for his beautiful bride.
Melanie and her ladies walking up the aisle.
The wedding day emotion.
Black and White really looks perfect in this sequence of shots of Carl and Melanie exchanging their wedding vows.
The rings, the never ending band of love.
It is a beautiful room for such a stunning couple to have their first kiss!
The register and the rings.
I really love the the rear of the Abbots Wells Hotel. The entourage look very relaxed.
A lovely couple and totally in love.
A colour sepia shot taking advantage of the amazing architecture at the back of the Abbots Well Hotel
This one really made me laugh, it amazing the things kids do at weddings!
And here she is. What a beautiful young girl
The hotel had done an amazing job on the room.
Cake. Everyone likes cake!
The sky is so dreamy in this late autumnal afternoon shot.
Melanie and Carl were an amazing couple to work with. I love this image of them it would make a fine canvass on the wall?
This was taken in the evening at the front of the Abbots Wells Hotel, a very contemporary background for the wedding photographs
Melanie looking amazing.
A playful moment for Carl and Melanie
The stunning Melanie looking amazing on her wedding day.
The last dance, the end for me and what a wonderful day it was.
It was an amazing day and a pleasure to photograph and record the most amazing day in Carl and Melanies life.
The Snow Roads is one of the finest 300K (186 miles) Audax rides in the UK over the ski resorts of Eastern Scotland. Apart from being long it is also rather hilly with 5000 meters of climbing and in some very wild and open land of the Scottish Highlands. It was my second time around the Snow Road and as a Aberdeen lad these are the roads of home.
You have to love the organisers sense of humour (Yes Alex!!) when you look at the profile and realise the second half is much harder and the first!! These are the highest ‘proper’ roads in the UK.
The preparation for the Snow Roads was riding the Way of the Roses the week before, not really that clever as I only had five days to recover! I figured I would ether fly around the route suffer. No guessing which one was correct! I was nearly put out of worrying, the Thursday before the ride was due to take place the Snow Roads were closed due to erm snow! The Forecast was good so the worst part of the journey was about to begin the long drive to the start at Kirriemuir. I hate driving…..
Alex Pattison the organiser had as always done a wonderful job arranging food, accomodation in the hall and sleeping quarters for the 100 or so riders who had entered, it was lovely meeting some old friends and making some new acquaintances but all too soon the alarm was ringing and we were all ready for the 6am start time.
The is something really wonderful about leaving to start a big ride in the morning with such a big bunch going through the Angus Glens as we meandered through the beauty of this often forgotten corner of Scotland on to the first climb of the day – the Cairn O’Mount which really gets the legs going and is a pretty steep at the top! On the Graph above it is at the 50km mark and goes up to 450 meters.
On the Cairn O’Mount with wall to wall blue sky and rapidly increasing temperatures. To think the area was snowed under a few days before. The decent off of the Cairn O’Mount is a wonderful fast one as the route sweeps you away to Banchory and then into the remoter parts of Aberdeenshire towards Kemnay and over to Dufftown (where I once lived as a baby in arms) all the time the route undulates and my legs never felt good as soon as the route went up! I blame the Coast 2 Coast 5 days before.
Bennachie, in a past life as a runner it used to be one of my local haunts. A long long time ago!! At least 15 years.
This is a pretty typical road for the ride, heavy and undulating in gorgeous scenery.
An unshaven and sunbaked me. Sunbaked in Scotland – who would’ve guessed!
The ride stopped in Dufftown for food and this is a the turning point as finally the road heads for home, but at around a 160 km (100 miles) in the stiffest sections are still to come. The Lecht with it 20% climb is the first obstacle but it seems to take forever to get there as the road undulates through Moray towards the Ski stations and the Cairngorms National Park.
Snow on the distant Cairngorms
The bottom of the Lecht climb, it not that bad really but has a steep pitch in the center it would help not having 200K (125 miles) in the legs!
The Ski station is a great target.
The Lecht climb leads onto one of the finest stretches of cycling in the UK, if you check the graph at the top you can see it climbing just before the 200K mark and two more hills after, I am not sure if these are categorized in any way but I did hear people referring to them affectionately as climb B1 and B2 where B stands for a certain obscenity I think you can guess! I managed to find a Youtube clip of this section of road from a fellow rider – brilliant riding! The weather was also (for Scotland) really warm now, well over 20c and a few riders had overdressed and had started to suffer!
Me just after the first drop from the Lecht. 20% up 20% down!
The Cairngorms across Strathdon from near the summit of the Lecht
Hopefully you get an idea of the stunning surroundings from the photos above, it really was a privilege to be riding in such wonderful country in such perfect weather even with heavy legs!
After this the ‘Queen’ section of the route we arrived at the last control of the at Braemar. The organisers had hired a hall and attempted to feed 100+ riders with the best part of 150 miles in the legs. The beans on toast and cake was gone very quickly! It was a shame but the seemed quite a few riders scratching at Braemar. The distance and heat finally getting the better of them. I couldn’t help but think the was only one more big un to climb and that was at a modest percentage and then apart from the uphill bits it was all downhill..
Leaving Braemar the route heads towards the highest point of the day at the top of the Cairnwell Ski Resort, it may be higher but it is actually a very nice climb, or it would be if you hadn’t got a 150 miles in the legs! The views are never nothing but spectacular and as the evening closed in the temperatures dropped to a much more Caledonia average.
The approaches to the Cairnwell and the final climb of note and the highest point of the day. It is also the highest road in the UK. Still wall to wall blue sky and spectacular scenery.
Riders lost in the vastness of the Cairnwell Murno’s. This is at the top of the pass ready for a fine down hill.
After the Cairnwell the is a fast descent down into Glen Isla, this bit is predominantly downhill but has a few kicks, I remember on my first Snow Roads beginning to lose my sense of humour in Glen Isla in the dark but this time it didn’t seem so bad and even through the legs never felt good all day I felt pretty strong running into Kirriemuir.
Glen Isla, a magical glen which leads you straight to the finish.
It was a superb outing and I think possible one of the grandest tours you can do in there isles. When this is combined with great company and brilliant weather it is hard to find a better way to spend time on the bike. As soon as the Audax calendar is published I am checking my availability. I can’t ride in 2014 through work commitments but then again I don’t think I could ever get such good conditions again.
I’m not quite sure how it started but I blame Tony Henman and his enthusiasm for cycling and Photography, anyway four of us where stood at Morecambe on the West Coast of England in May at the start of the 170 miles crossing to Bridlington in the East. The intrepid four where Tony, Glen, Gary and Gary who were all either Police people with an interest in Photography or Photographers who were once in the Police!
The Way of the Roses passes through some of the finest scenery England has to offer and half of it is a bit lumpy!
Way of the Roses Profile
Way of the Roses Route
The four of us, from left to right is Glen, me, Gary and Tony in the pitch dark at Morecambe pier. Well it was the start of the ride but not sure if it was a pier….
From Morecambe the route follows cycle paths through the historic city of Lancaster which I must admit looked very nice in the early morning and seemed to have quite a few cycle paths. After crossing under the M6 se had the first climb of the day and it was a bit of a taster for the delights to come and certainly stopped the conversation! And then as if by magic the scenery changed to open moorland and narrow more or less car free roads (which would continue for the entire route – excellent planning!) The route continued over to Gressingham to Clapham and Austwick all the time undulating happily along. Seattle was out first stop at a garage for coffee and cake – well I had cake I think others may have had a more healthy choice! Settle is a big landmark, not only is it 35 miles into the route the biggest climb of the entire route is as you leave, and it is steep!
I can’t imagine the tourist board will be rushing to use this image but as you can see the weather was a bit Northern! Glen leads the way and looks a bit too comfortable!
Tony and Gary on the high moors somewhere above Settle, it would be horrible to go over there in foul weather….
Tony climbing out of Settle, this is the hardest climb – the picture is taken at the top but I thing you can see the strain from the 20% + climb.
And Gary deep in thought at the top of the same hill.
Tony and Gary in the Yorkshire sunshine.
Gary, banging out a tempo across the moors.
Stunning country. I must go back again when the sun comes out! The weather did pick up and by the time we were leaving the high ground.
Look it did stop raining! Gary and Glen.
Glen looking very relaxed.
Tony popping a wheelie!
Me on the moors somewhere in Yorkshire!
Ripon panorama courtesy of Tony
Ripon the lunch stop and a change of character for the ride as it goes from hilly to pan flat.
Afer passing through the amazing Fountains Abbey we stopped for lunch in Ripon which is a really delightful market town with a big square and a bakers! We stripped off arm warmers and Gilets and could finally feel a bit of May warmth and it is also a turning point of the route as we are now out of the high country and some unrelenting climbing. It also for some reason was a point when the sun came out and the cameras went in! No more photos…..
After Ripon we had the chance to up the average speed over the Yorkshire planes, the contrast was amazing from the hills to the west, suddenly everything was pan flat. I remember quite lanes and very few cars as the route meandered on to York which was heaving in the sunshine and we managed to get lost there! On leaving York we stopped for a sit down meal and met up with Gary’s better half and their little baby. The back of the route was broken now but the was still a couple of climbs to get over.
The climbs over the wolds was for me one of the highlights of the route – I remember traversing this route before in the dark on the Moors and Wolds 400K Audax and it is a one of those areas which when you get high you seem to stay up for ages and have wonderful descents.
From there we passed on through Driffield where Gary had arranged for a support crew! A can of coke was quickly devoured as we made one last climb above Bridlington before descending into this bustling seaside town and we even made it in daylight. And I haven’t got one photos….
It really is a stunning route but be prepared it does go up and down a bit! The route passed through stunning One thing is assured if you invite four photographers out on a ride – you’ll get crap photos!
Route stats are 170 miles (285km) and according to the GPS 6500 ft 2007 meters of climbing. The climbing is really all at the start and that is squeezed into about 50 miles so not be underestimated even if the headline figure is not too bad for the distance. We were moving for 12 hours 15 minutes and averaged 14.5 mph (23.5 km/h).
I met some new friends and had a ball of a time riding across the country. If you like cycling you’ll love the Way of the Roses.
Many thanks for Tony for organising this grand day out, for Gary for putting me up the night before and for Glen well for being Glen!
What a wonderful Cheshire Wedding and such a pleasure to be part of it, Tony and Emma had a wonderful day starting at Pulford Church in Cheshire for a wonderful wedding service and then continuing over the road at one of Cheshire’s finest wedding venues The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa. I am privileged to be recommended by this wedding stunning venue and have the opportunity to shoot some amazing weddings at the Grosvenor Pulford.
One from the end of the wedding day to start the blog! The magnificent front of the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa in the evening light.
All the little details for a fabulous wedding and a rather fine pair of shoes!
I love this wedding photograph of Emma walking down the stairs to her fan club! The emotion is tangible.
The little people! Kids make a wedding day a little bit special and these two were so well behaved I think they could be hired out!
Back at the Grosvenor Pulford Tony is also getting ready for his big day, with a little liquid courage!
Not to be outdone the girls are having just as much fun back at the house! It was such a pleasure working with the entourage at Emma and Tony’s wedding. Brilliant people.
Tony and his best man make the walk over the the magnificent Church in Pulford. It is only a few hundred meters from the Grosvenor Pulford but I imagine it seems a long way on your wedding day!
And here comes the Bride! I love this part of the day as the congregation await the star of the show!
The interior of Pulford Church is wonderful and has a ambiance perfectly fitting for such a wonderful wedding.
Emma at the altar and looking amazing in this black and white image. Just look at the detail in the wedding dress. Stunning bride.
A loving kiss from a handsome groom to his beautiful wife at the alter of Pulford Church
A kiss walking down the aisle of Pulford Church. It has an amazing interior and is a perfect backdrop on a wedding day.
The stained glass window but in black and white. Emma and Tony just before leaving the Church.
In the doorway of Pulford Church and Emma and Tony have finished the first chapter of their wedding day. I really like this colour sepia effect on the photo. A bit romantic don’t you think?
Emma and Tony outside the lovely Church.
Leaving the Church for a quick spin as husband and wife.
Tony and Emma arriving at the Grosvenor Pulford for their wedding reception.
The Grosvenor Pulford is an amazing venue for a wedding reception. Beautiful.
The families on the bridge at the Grosvenor Pulford. The garden in the Grosvenor is really magnificent. A Cheshire Garden at it best!
I love the fun in this photo, the little flower girl was brilliant on the day. And it is a very long day for young ones.
Guests having fun!
The speeches. I think the speeches cause more fear on the day for a lot of people than the service but they are be a brilliant part of the day.
After the speeches we sneaked off into the Oriental Garden at the Grosvenor Pulford.
An artistic photograph with a dramatic sky as a background in the amazing gardens of the Grosvenor Pulford. It easy to see why it has been voted Cheshire’s finest wedding venue.
What a wonderful couple.
The waterfall in the Oriental Garden is just perfect for framing a wedding photograph.
Big Sky Country! The Oriental Garden really does catch a perfect evening sky!
The reflection of the sky and Emma and Tony in the water works perfectly to give a symmetrical wedding image. I like the colour sepia finish also.
Water and Sky make a perfect balance in this wedding photograph.
Emma my perfect bride.
This is a cracking shot of the two of them on their big day. The Oriental Garden at the Grosvenor Pulford makes for a great backdrop.
And the last one before venturing inside as the sun was setting.
A classic shot at the massive mirror inside the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel. I have met couples who have booked this venue just for photographs here!
Emma looking every inch the model bride in her amazing and stunning wedding dress.
Double take! Tony gets in on the act for this one. Do you prefer colour or black and white?
A brilliant time for everyone.
Sometimes I have no idea what is going on!
And last but not least a stunning shot of the front of the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa.
I had a real ball at Emma and Tony’s wedding it was such a privilege to work for two such incredible people and all their friends and family.
Abbeywood Estate is a new venue for me and a wonderful one at that just on the outskirts of Delamere Forest in Cheshire. You could see immediately why Louis and Lyn fell in love of this Cheshire Gardens venue. And what a wonderful wedding they had all at Abbeywood Estate starting with a fabulous service and a finishing with one of the loudest and biggest parties I’ve seen, mind you they have had a lot of competition this year!!
This photo caused a stir when I put it on Facebook receiving the most views of any photo up to now. What a better way to start the blog then start at the end!
The stunning Lyn in the morning prior to her wonderful wedding at Abbeywood Estate
All the little details that make up a fabulous wedding. I really love the colours of choice. Perfect for a Cheshire Garden Wedding.
Mom and Dad with Lyn in the morning. Proud parents and a beautiful bride.
Lyn on the way to the the ceremony, she looks amazing. Look at those flowers! Beautiful.
This was taken as Lyn walked over to the the service with her girls, it was raining ever so slightly and the white brolly is a lovely frame.
Walking up the aisle at Abbeywood Estate. The girls and Dad look stunning and Louis looks slightly nervous!
This is a lovely part of the service as Dad passes over the most precious thing in his life to the safekeeping of Louis.
The wedding service was wonderful and the a pleasure to be part of.
Abbeywood did a wonderful job of preparing the room for the wedding breakfast, it looked wonderful.
The speeches a highlight of the day.
What a wonderful bunch of guests. It was a very fun wedding.
Love this page of wedding guests photos.
It poured down at times – just look at the rain on the window! The guys look brilliant.
The entourage inside Abbeywood Estate. The girls look stunning in pink.
The interior of Abbeywood Estate is a great backdrop for the wedding photos.
Let hear it for the girls. The bridesmaids where an amazing group to work with.
What an amazing garden! Lyn and Louis chose a brilliant venue.
I love this playful couple of photographs, Lyn and Louis are so in love.
Lyn looks a million dollars, what a stunning bride.
The weather was a bit well wet but the moody sky was a magnificent background to the wedding photographs. Sometimes poor weather can really add some drama.
Lyn and Louis looking wonderful against a brooding darkening sky.
Abbeywood Estate has amazing gardens, some of the finest in Cheshire.
Louis carrying Lyn, a couple so full of love.
I love this image of Lyn and it is probably my favourite of my wonderful bride of the day. The flowers are wonderful.
Love this one also, Lyn was an amazing bride to work with.
Lyn and Louis in the amazing Cheshire Gardens of Abbeywood Estate.
What an amazing garden at Abbeywood.
What an amazing sky and gardens. Beautiful couple.
The party is just starting! And what a wonderful wedding party.
Girls, Girls, Girls!
This young lady had the voice of an angel. Beautiful singer.
The first dance at Lyn and Louis wedding was wonderful. They also had about 250 guests.
And at the end the was just one standing!
It was a lovely day and a brilliant wedding to be part of it. Abbeywood was a new venue for me and a brilliant addition to the wedding venues in Chshire.