Monday 21 December 2009

The movie's real stars

Last night I squandered a couple of hours of my life that I'll never get back watching the movie 'Stardust', a silly although honestly-intentioned fairy story about witches and princes, simply because I wanted to spot the locations it was filmed at. It did look pretty spectacular - or, pretty and spectacular - as scenery in England, Wales and Scotland panned past behind the actors.

My greatest triumph was spotting the Quiraing, on the Isle of Skye, above, where Michelle Pfeiffer as a wrinked crone frowned into the distance. Skye isn't a huge place, but it has some deeply impressive moors and mountains, down the side of one of which I watched my Canon DSLR cartwheel in slow-motion after someone sneakily dialled up the gravity and my bag suddenly slid away from where it had been lying for 10 minutes at my feet. It was only when it reached the scree slope that the camera flew out of the open top, sigh.

So this was one of the last photos I took with it: it was a sorry sight when we scrambled down the slope to retrieve it.

Another location was Pen y Fan, a steep, bare peak of over 800 metres in the Brecon Beacons, the highest in South Wales and the big expedition on the annual camp for third-years at Newent Community School where I taught for a while. I was astonished at how some of these country girls collapsed by the path in the early stages, crying and frightened by how their legs were hurting - apparently, they'd never tackled anything more challenging than a flight of stairs, and had never felt the burn before - and this back when Jane Fonda was aerobics queen! (But my scorn came back to bite me on the descent, when I copped wind-blown grit under both contact lenses and ended up frozen to the spot, both eyes clamped shut.)

And then there was this place, Arlington Row in Bibury, in the Cotswolds, where I last went just a few months ago: perfectly pretty and, so the sign claims, England's most-photographed view. No surprises there.

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