Photographic memory on the Llangollen Canal

I do not claim to have a photographic memory in the normal sense, quite the reverse, I suspect I have a memory which is in large part based on photographs.  We recently took a trip along the Llangollen Canal, a place I last visited in 1977; the odd thing is I could remember virtually nothing from the previous visit other than the well-known highlights such as Chirk and Pontcysyllte Aqueducts.  This prompted me to go searching for some pictures I was convinced I had taken with a Mamiyaflex C330 on 120 roll film – I could find no black and white contacts but eventually came across some colour positives. For some long forgotten reason I had temporarily abandoned Kodak’s black and white Tri-X Pan in favour of colour; the results looked good held up to the light but with no suitable projector they were filed and forgotten. There were no prints, no album, no hooks for associated memories, so the detail of the trip was lodged in the brain’s discard folder and drip fed to the recycle bin; so this is the conundrum – how much of my long term memory of events is based on the actual experience and how much is based on a collection of pictures.  The evidence would suggest it is mostly the latter; regardless, it was an interesting exercise akin to time travel with a few surprises along the way.  I will eventually do a ‘then and now’ post but I was quite taken by this pair of hotel boats ascending locks somewhere between Hurleston and Ellesmere.  The first is my favourite because it shows something maybe I had never noticed before; just beneath the tiller can be seen a brown dog nosing its way, uninvited, into the boatman’s cabin.  This will be Kerry, our delightful red setter who went through life convinced that the entire world loved her and would welcome her muddy paws regardless of circumstance; she was mostly right:

Hotel boatsHotel boatsHotel boats

Click on the images to enlarge – the original 120 positives were scanned using a fairly ancient Epson Perfection 1650.  The associated TWAIN drivers are not supported beyond Windows Vista and whilst 120 film is supported it fails to auto-detect the format – the solution is to switch everything to manual and scan the transparencies individually – tiresome but worth it.


  1. greenmackenzie · May 14, 2013

    Wonderful, and I love the sound of Kerry, just as a dog should be 🙂
    I think I have to agree with you that much of my memory is based around photos which captured details and enhanced the emotions.

    • northumbrianlight · May 14, 2013

      Thanks for taking the time to read. Odd how our minds work – until I saw this picture I had forgotten all about Kerry’s social habits – I now remember her rushing through someone’s open front door in a wet & filthy state. Fortunately the occupants found it all very amusing – she was always well insured 🙂

  2. LaVagabonde · May 14, 2013

    The photos have really held up well. Looks like a nice days out. 🙂 Whenever I write about a long ago trip, I look over photos to help with details.

    • northumbrianlight · May 14, 2013

      Yes, it’s surprising how little I had to do to bring them back to life, they have really worn well – wish I could say the same for myself 🙂

  3. mybeautfulthings · May 15, 2013

    I like your definition of a photographic memory – it’s what I have too! Thank goodness for my obsession with recording everything for years and years. Looking at the photos brings me so many lovely memories.
    We have case loads of old photos. Your scanning of these inspires me but I think I need an expertise that I don’t yet have (and equipment!) 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · May 15, 2013

      I would recommend trying it – the only potential difficulty is 120 roll film; 35mm and flatbed picture scans are straightforward. I particularly enjoy scanning negatives I had previously discarded as uninteresting – it is like photographic archaeology, it can be surprising what you dig up 🙂

  4. Tish Farrell · May 17, 2013

    Like the photos. I mentioned Pontcysyllte in my blog this week too! Not a name to slip easily off the tongue (for the non-Welsh that is), nor off the keyboard that matter.

    • northumbrianlight · May 17, 2013

      Thanks Tish – I had read your really fascinating post; I really enjoyed it and the unexpected connections.

  5. restlessjo · June 2, 2013

    I absolutely love canal boats. Well, any boats at all really, but canal boats are special. Many thanks for following my blog.

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