I have a few days off work early next week, so we decided to get into the holiday mood a little early and visit a local National Trust property in Cambridgeshire, Wimpole Hall.
It only took about 30 minutes to get to the location and we got there fairly early and were able to park without difficulty. Instead of buying tickets we decided to become members of the National Trust, because we are going to Northumberland on holiday in a couple of weeks time and intend to visit Cragside. When we added together the admission price to both properties, it was about the same price to buy membership because of the current deal they are running (two months free). This also gives us the option of re-visiting at any time, and visiting any of the other properties across the country.
Once we had bought our membership we started to have a look around. Of course, I took a couple of cameras with me – my DSLR (Pentax K5) and my favorite compact camera of the moment a Ricoh GXR with a P10 module.
Our first port of call was the shop in the courtyard under the clock tower. There were several flowers for sale here and I took a couple of nice shots using a Sigma 18-125 Std Zoom on the Pentax. I also used my latest camera, the GXR, to try a few macros as the P10 lens unit will focus down to 1cm. Obviously the results were not a good as the Pentax, but were still fairly impressive.
We decided to have lunch about this time, so we bought some rolls and sat in the courtyard at one of the tables, having lunch and observing the other visitors. Unfortunately we were plagued with wasps, which James finds particularly difficult, so that made it less pleasant for him.
After lunch we set off for the Farmyard, which we knew Emma would enjoy. As it turned out, there were some bales of straw and small sit-on tractors in a play area by the farm yard, and that amused James and Emma for 30 minutes as they jumped about the bales and pulled each other around on tractors. On one of the shots I successfully managed to use the technique of closing the aperture and using a longer shutter speed to blur the background a bit as I panned with the movement. I can’t remember ever making that work before, although it’s a really simple technique.
As we watched James and Emma playing, Jan looked at the map and thought that it would be a good idea to move into the wooded play area after the farmyard. Because this would be a lot darker, I fitted an old 50mm f/1.7 manual focus lens to the K-5 and took a few test shots around the playground before we moved to the woods. The results seem quite impressive, and it made me think about getting the GXR m-mount sensor with a Pentax K-Mount adaptor at some point in the future, because the Lens is pretty good, and the GXR A12 m module has no AA filter and should give pretty good results. (I don’t think even I could quite justify that purchase to Jan at the moment).
We headed to the woods and found another set of adventure play equipment set up which James and Emma loved. I also found quite a few plants swarming with hoverflies, ladybirds etc, so I fitted my Tamron 90mm Macro lens and spent a happy few minutes taking a few pictures of them. There were also dragon flies buzzing about, but unfortunately it was too hot for them to settle so I didn’t get a chance to capture them.
After the wood, we took the walk back to the farm and then took the opportunity to visit the interior of the house. A guide gave us an introductory talk about the history of the house, and then we had a walk through the house. Emma had a quiz to fill in as she walked round, which was a good idea to keep children interested. I was pleased to see that I was allowed to take m camera and bag round the house as long as I didn’t use flash. I once again used the 50mm f/1.7, although I found this a bit long for interiors (the crop factor on the K-5 makes it a 75mm short telephoto).
All in all it was a very enjoyable day in which we all found things to do. Click on the photos above for a better view.