Who am I?

A journalist student from Dublin, Ireland. I'm looking to show the world a view through my camera's lens and where I point it. You may even learn something about photography along the way! Weekly blog posts about my adventures.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Deep in the Vale of Avoca

Ovoca Manor is a christian retreat centre in the middle of the Vale of Avoca, Co, Wicklow. This is where I spend most of my summer for the last four years. It is run and facilitated by Scripture Union Ireland and it is a modern retreat centre engrossed with beautiful views of nature in fields and being able to see every star in the sky at night from the bonfire spot.

below is a video of some of the activities that are run on a typical day in the manor and the 21 acres of space that they have for all the different obstacles, games and various other fun filled trips.

The video was shot on Jonny Somerville's drone and edited by Oppermann Productions. The YouTube link can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki3xks4_bKE .

Every summer I help at a few camps run in Ovoca Manor and I help with the different tasks that needs to be done around the grounds and for the camp. Four years ago I did an internship with Scripture Union which also involved me taking trips out to the manor a lot and running retreat days for schools and young people from all over Ireland.

My personal favourite spot on the whole grounds is the bonfire spot. It's out the back of the manor and is used at most camps for s'mores and biscuits with camp fire songs and the odd 'scary' story. I love the spot because during the day it has this beautiful view of the Vale behind it and during the night, the sky is lit up with so many stars you can't count them. Once the fire is lit and the young people are being brought down to the fire, you can hear their voices and the screams of joy when they see the sparks flying up into the air and then this massive fire for them. I had to capture this picture from one of the camps I did over the summer when I was getting ready for the campers to come down.
Bonfire Spot, Ovoca Manor, Co. Wicklow. Taken on Canon 1000D.
 The grounds is covered with some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen and the views just never get old. The manor has so much to offer as well with a sports hall, obstacle courses, a slide and a top of the range manor with can sleep up to 150 people.

Avoca Vale, Co. Wicklow. Canon 1000D
From some of the bedrooms, you can look down onto the grounds. The manor is based up on the side of the vale and you really get a good view. These two pictures on the left were both taken from my canon.

Densmore Lodge is another house on the same grounds as Ovoca Manor and is also owned by Scripture Union. It is used for smaller camps or even as an overflow space for people to have beds during the bigger camps. It also has another handful of bedrooms with more kitchen space too.
Densmore Lodge, Avoca, Co. Wicklow. Canon 1000D

Having my camera hand was great for these shots. I sometimes bring it with me to camps so that I can take shots for the brochure, for the website or even just for general shots that can be used in general by Scripture Union. I usually focus on the young people and the run they're having but this time my aim was to catch the surroundings.  

There's more around the grounds too. There are team challenges with all different levels to test the teams and different types of games. There's mental games and physical games. They all involved the team to work together and achieve a task. Then there are other activities like the zip-line which is always a huge hit, the climbing wall and high-ropes course for climbers and the basement of the maor has a pool table, table tennis table and a fuse-ball table. 

Pictured below is the balance beam from one of the team challenges. A very simple game of getting your team from one side of the up-right logs to the other with the three beams provided. Depending on the size of the group this usually works really well as a welcome game too and for groups to get to know each other. 

The balance beam, team challenge, Ovoca Manor. Canon 1000D

So Ovoca Manor is stunning. Well that's my own personal view any way. I love spending time up there. All the photos taken on my 18-55mm lens. Next week I will be talking more about choice of lens for shots. Why I choose certain lens for certain shots and what happens if I get a shot wrong. 

Andy Waller,