Home Tech Apple Land of my fathers lands in the Vickers Vimy hangar at Brooklands

Land of my fathers lands in the Vickers Vimy hangar at Brooklands


With my surname, it’s no surprise that I have an affinity for Wales and the Welsh. This isn’t to say I am Welsh. Wales is the land of my great-great-great grandfathers, so I am now a fully accredited Englishman (with a fair smattering of Irish and Scottish into the mix, as is common in this country). But the tenuous ancestral link with an unknown part of Wales is my excuse for enjoying the sound of a Welsh choir in full chat.

All unsuspecting, yesterday I stumbled over none other than the world-famous Treorchy Male Choir in my favourite haunt, the Brooklands Museum. I first noticed the group of Welshmen, most of a certain age, in their smart blue blazers as they enjoyed a coffee in the Sunbeam Cafe. I put two and two together rapidly. Earlier today was the England-Wales rugby match at Twickenham, which lies between my home and Brooklands. Evidently, the choristers had taken a coffee break at the Museum en route to Twickenham.

Where’s the video button?

But, as I’ve heard, a Welsh male choice cannot go anywhere without bursting into song. Within minutes they were lined up in the Vickers Vimy hangar, chomping at the baton on a sunny but rather cold afternoon. I captured a few shots on the M11 and, as they broke into the first song, I ran my fingers hopefully over the camera’s top plate in search of the video button. Quel dommage! S’gibt kein Video-Knöpfchen! Donnerwetter! I then remembered that I’d fought to have the video button removed. Never would I need video, I maintained, but this was probably the one occasion when I felt the pull of the moving picture.

The hobbled M-Elf was consigned to the Billingham and I produced the iPhone to make a very amateur video complete with interesting wind noises. I’m ashamed to post it here, but I tell myself the occasion overrides the technical shortcomings. For, you see, this is the Treorchy Male Choir’s impromptu but polished version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the stirring Welsh national anthem. It was a rehearsal for the gala version to be sung at this afternoon’s rugby match at Twickenham.

Bring out the iPhone, the Leica M11 isn’t up to the task

If you enjoy it, here’s your opportunity (below) to learn a bit of Welsh from the wonderful Jason of the Learning Welsh Podcast. I’ve always had an itch to learn the language of my great-great-great grandfathers but, despite the coaching of Jason, I’ve failed miserably. I should have realised this at an early age.

In my youth, I was riding a very heavy BSA Golden Flash twin down an icy and snowbound North Wales pass when I came across a minor accident. Soon, the local bobby arrived in his Ford Prefect cruiser and collared me as a witness. As I handed over my driving licence, he addressed me with words to the effect of, Mr Evans, yr ydych yn bell o gartref. My blank look told him I wasn’t a true son of Wales, despite the deceptive surname. I realised it would be a long learning process.

So how’s about it? Should we all learn to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau? Jason, below, will set you right, word by tongue-twisting word… On our next reunion, we can all have a bash — but we’ll never be as good as the lads from Treorchy.

Gwlad to be here: Later in the day at Twickers (not really…). Looks a bit rough, judging by the ears and foreheads, so I’ll stick to blogging

Join our community and play an active part in the future of Macfilos: This site is run by a group of volunteers and dedicated authors around the world. It is supported by donations from readers who appreciate a calm, stress-free experience, with courteous comments and an absence of advertising or commercialisation. Why not subscribe to the thrice-weekly newsletter by joining our mailing list? Comment on this article or, even, write your own. And if you have enjoyed the ride so far, please consider making a small donation to our ever-increasing running costs.


  1. I must have missed this the first time around. I love listening to Welsh male voice choirs. Sometimes it is nearly worthwhile being beaten by the Welsh at Cardiff Arms Park just to hear the anthem being sung. It is rumoured that St Patrick was actually a Welshman. Our language is, of course, much closer to Scots Gaelic, but we have a few words in common with the Welsh. There is a place called St Fagans near Cardiff.

    As for the Evans angle, you may have heard of the great Welsh rally driver Gwyndaf Evans, who was a school bus driver and was known locally as ‘Evans the Bus’. I suppose with your background you could match that with ‘Mike the Bike’ or would that be Mr Hailwood?


      • Might work, but it does not trip off the tongue like the list of village characters in ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas, which featured such names as Organ Morgan, ‘Nogood Boyo’ and the local undertaker ‘Evans the Death’.


  2. Totally unrelated, has anyone been able to connect their iphone via Leica fotos to their Sl2 or Sl2-S. I have not been able to even following Leica instructions multiple times over months. I easily connected to my recent purchase of the Fujifilm x100v. What am I missing?

  3. I am a Welshman, albeit from Pembrokeshire (known as Little England Beyond Wales). Not much Welsh spoken in my neck of the woods, though we were taught a little until age 11. Agree with you on the male voice choirs, Mike. Wonderful sound. I can’t sing, either…or play rugby for that matter.

  4. Wonderful stabilisation on your phone, but perhaps I’ll send you an iPhone clip-on mic, Mike, with a windshield on it, and what’s called a ‘Mid-Side’ mic pickup pattern, Mike, so that you get a nice ‘closer’, brought-forward, ‘telephoto’ effect of closer proximity, plus some broad stereo ‘ambience’ (Shure and both Zoom make them ..and that’s just the Mike you needed, mic!)

    Always carry a Mike mic, Mike!

    • If I were to think of doing more videos, this would be something I’d look at. As you can imagine, on Saturday the last thing I expected to find was a Welsh choir, and Treorchy no less, blasting out in the open at Brooklands. I did my best with the equipment I had…

  5. Even though I don’t do video I actually kind of disagree on the video part. There are people out there who still like the fact that the M240 had video. I am not saying that the base M model should do video, I am also not saying that the M should be optimized for video but according to me it also wouldn’t hurt if one of the numerous variants of the M did basic video. Leica is now charging 3x as much for the same sensor as Sony and they are deliberately deliberately crippling its capabilities by leaving video out…

  6. Nice post. It must have been a delightful surprise and experience.

    You never need video on an Leica in my opinion. Do not ruin a perfect stills camera. The smart phone everyone carries has great entry level video – and it is with you all the time. The next level up is Panasonic M4/3 for reasonable professional video and then pick your poison above that with video centric cameras.

    I dislike that product management with most camera companies throw every conceivable feature
    into a camera; making it a jack of all trades and master of none, the menus are so complicated that you need a multi-hundred page manual to do initial setup as constantly look up what various menu settings do (and then pray you know what mode the camera is in), put countless reprogrammable buttons on so that you have no idea what most of the buttons are doing, and then add the electronics and heatsinks and added complexity of video,…eeek! I am a photographer. I want to master my camera so that I can capture images with speedy confidence. I use it as a tool that I am in charge of rather than have it in charge.

    Please Leica, do not take my video free M from me. Well, if they add video, I can always buy a used earlier model.

    • Thanks, Brian. Yes, I was joking of course. The iPhone is perfectly capable. Otherwise, I’d have had the Panasonic S5 or the SL2, having sold out of MFT about five years ago. But then I thought I never would do video. Today’s experience persuades me I should try it more often.

    • Or you can just ignore the video feature if they introduce one! – same as you aren’t probably going to use 60 MPs every time you take a picture.

      • Hi Mahesh, I do not want to “just ignore” the COSTLY feature of video. It adds to the price of the camera, there are development costs, it adds electronics and weight to the camera, often adds thickness to camera for significant heat sinks, adds firmware complexity, and on and on. I have a M11 on order and I do plan to use 60MP for every shot as I just pick up my camera and use it and do not fiddle with menus. I also like the crop ability with 60MP which minimizes need for additional glass.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here