Once upon a time a group of a dozen or so photographers arranged to meet up and take some photos together. They arranged to meet at Loch Lomond, and after a successful day they thought a weekend meet might be a good idea. The idea was put into the forum threads and a gathering was organised for November 2005. It was attended by approximately 50 togs from far and wide, who wanted to get together, to relax for the weekend and take some photos in and around the Loch Lomond area.
Who would have known that the meet would have been so popular. The demand snowballed, and it was such a success that another 6 meets over the next 3 years would follow, and the Rowardennan youth hostel would close its doors for the last time on ePHOTOzine members in November 2008.
Dave Watson, his wonderful wife Wilma and their daughter Megan were the genial hosts who invited folk to come along and have a great time. The meets began by being 3 days long - Friday to Sunday, but more days were wanted, so the meets were extended to 5 days. And so it was that every March and November, the hostel would be filled with cameras, food, drink, fun, frivolity and eager photographers.
Every meet has had its own special moments. From being snowed in, to frustrated folk not being able to get there, either due to flights or ferries being cancelled. Many friendships have been forged along the way and even a romance or two. There has even been some that took part in a bit of photography! Members have travelled from far and wide to attend the meet. the farthest (forgive me if I am wrong) Barcelona.
Thursday the 6th November 2008 arrived and after clearing local supermarkets of alcoholic beverages, the eager members of EPZ took the high road and the low road and started to descend on the eastern banks of the loch. Slowly but surely everybody arrived and the cameras came out. Though it seems there were more pap shots than serious photography thanks to the lack of blue skies. The weather was not as kind as it could have been and any images successfully bagged were captured with much dedication, patience and frustration!
Silly hats were, of course, the theme for the weekend, inside the hostel and out.
Alarms were set for stupid o'clock each day, and convoys headed out to get "that shot", in and around the Trossachs and Highlands. Glencoe was swarming with keen and willing folk, chasing rainbows and blue skies. Many were duly rewarded with moody, powerful, interesting and original images. Many were left soggy with their efforts, one who shall remain nameless even went as far as getting stuck in a peat bog, and in need of his pals to get him out. Much to their disgust they missed stags and rainbows in the process and never even got the most important shot - the pap shot! There were "fun" games of rolling lenses into lochs to see if they sink or float and even an attempt at getting an original shot at Glencoe from beneath the water's surface which involved injuring a hand in the process.
Of course there are those who never even ventured out of the hostel or even went to bed on occasional nights (you know who you are..) There was even the annual "after dark" semi-clad skinny-dipping session for a few mad ladies and gents and Teresa was not even there to encourage them this year!
A raffle was organised for Saturday night and everybody met up in the lounge of the hostel. Many prizes were won and the booby prize of the evening was the Pan Pipes version of Daniel O'Donnell tunes kindly donated by some Irish chap who was probably getting rid of his last unwanted Christmas present. A wonderful amount of about £250 was raised which was taken home to one of the founder Rowardennan members, Ian Homewood (digicammad), who was unfortunately unable to make the meet due to having had a serious operation only a week or so before. The money was donated to the hospital who took such great care of him.
Like all good things, the meet came to a close once again, and sadly this time, for the last time. Even Dave drove away from Rowardennan now that he and the family have taken residence at their new abode in Pitlochry.
But this does mean of course that next year around November time will be the very first EPZ Pitlochry meet!
Is the poor town ready for us? We will have to wait a year to find out...
I am sure that all the people who have attend any or all of the Rowardennan meets will join me in saying a very huge thank you to Dave and Wilma for giving us all so many happy memories. Here's to future memories and friends to be made further north.
Ps. Did I hear somebody wanted a recipe for Lasagne?