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|Wednesday, July 6th, 2011|
What a crazy 48 hours. I finished work at Wombledon's ladies singles on Saturday evening and went straight up to Hampstead heath to indulge in several silly Zombie hunting excercises. We were issues guns, night sights and given objectives such as rescuing a VIP from a zombie infested zone. One of them even had a detachable hand that he'd throw at you to 'infect' non zombies.
The game ended with 8 humans armed to the teeth (with Nerf guns)in a circle defending their base against 50 approaching wailing undead folk. Exciting stuff!
The next day was my 'Red Letter Day' Segway Rally. The Segways were an amazing ride, particularly once they 'unlocked' the full power of the accelerator. Due to the mechanical failure of 2 out of the 6 units, I have been given another free voucher for two people :-).
Yesterday, I drove (with one of my mates) to Stoney Cove to try out my new dry suit. I had a couple of great dives, but for the second, I forgot to do up the main zip across the shoulders. As I entered the lake, with 15 Kg of lead around my middle and my fins not on yet, I very nearly sank without a trace. Luckily my buddy dragged be back out. So I emptied out my 'dry' suit, wrang out my 'fluffy warm fleece' and got back in. It was a bit chilly with a wet dry suit, but we found a good amount of sunken hardware over the next 40 mins, hidden on the lake floor. My favourite was a decrepit Wessex helicopter.
I came out fairly near frozen- but I have learned my lesson!
|Tuesday, July 5th, 2011|
I have just finished my video from the Sea Forts last month
Hope you enjoy it!
|Tuesday, June 21st, 2011|
(Claudia's picture credit)
On Saturday, twelve intrepid people ignored the impending inclement weather and took to a pilot boat to visit the mysterious Maunsall sea forts.
These enigmatic seven towers reside where the Thames Estuary merges with the North Sea. They were built in the war to repel German bombers approaching London from the East.
Now abandoned and forgotten, they stand on the Red Sands sandbar, rusting sentinels of London's sad past.
Our first obstacle was the Queenborough bridge, which refused to open for us. There was talk of power issues and we would be stuck.
Our intrepid skipper had an idea and dismantled the mast, reducing our air draught to a mere 5.1 metres. Radioing ahead to the bridge he asked for the bridge's air clearance. "5.6 metres" was the reply, luckily it was low tide, but the waters were rising swiftly.
Jim was on guard on the roof to see if collision was imminent. We eventually passed the point of no return, the tide was pushing us along faster than the engine could stop us. The skipper held his breath.. and we were through!
The weather was taking a turn for the worst and our skipper was reluctant to head further out into the approaching force seven storm. We could see the towers, mocking us on the horizon. I assured him that we were made of sterling stuff and nothing would deter us. If any of my crew begged for the stormy voyage to stop, then they would be flogged and towed home on the tender. No one complained. I must mention though that a couple who I will not name, lost the ownership of their previous meal.
As we approached the towers, the sky to the West was as black as night, lit by occasional flashes of lightning. It was a close match as to who would get to the towers first; our rowdy wide eyed band or mother natures worst.
We got there just in time and sailed straight through the cluster of rusting behemoths. As we passed out the Northern side, the storm hit us. We hung on to the sides of the boat as the high winds, rain and lightning crashed around us. The boat surged up and down, it rolled from side to side but we clung on mesmerised by the incredible sight of the 100 foot rusting towers standing proudly from the water's swell.
A bell in the large red marker buoy rapidly tolled it's low churchlike chime, the sound almost drowned out amongst the noise of the storm and the call of dozens of disturbed gulls circling above us.
The sky was black, the sea bright bronze, the charge of electricity was in the air..... it was all .. a bit weird.
|Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011|
|the most incredible thing...
I really must be growing up as I thoroughly enjoyed my night at the Sadler's Wells ballet with Sarah and Ruthypops.
Strangely enough, one of my colleagues was three rows behind me and another was on the circle.
The show was a joint production by the Pet Shop Boys, who I spotted in the crowd and took the stage for the final curtain.
I'm not their biggest fan, but their style of music was great for this.
The story was an adaptation of the fairy tale 'the most incredible thing', where a king holds a competition to find the most incredible thing in exchange for the usual half of his kingdom/hand of daughter combo.
The competition was presented 'X-factor' style, with an incredibly posh hostess. Other than that there was no speaking (other than occasional bit of PSB)
The rest of the show impressed me with devices not normally seen at the ballet; dancers appearing out of a table a massive round video screen and an almost continually morphing set.
It seems odd that considering how quickly it sold out, it's only a 10 show run.
I have never experienced "pre-clapping" at the start of the second half.
In other news, an interesting temporary structure is to be built on the roof of the Southbank.
" a 'boat' perched, as if by retreating floodwaters, on the very edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall."
It seems slightly poor taste considering the recent floodwaters in Japan doing exactly that, but would certainly make for an interesting hotel room.
|Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011|
|The Route to Hogwarts...
On the way back home from my folks yesterday, Sarah dropped me a line to say that the bar in the old booking office of 'the renaissance hotel', or 'St Pancras Chambers' as it was called in 1873 was opening it's doors to the public.
The hotel closed it's doors in 1937 and mostly fell into disrepair for the next 70 years. One of the security guards, Roy, on many occasions took several of us on tours of the derelict hotel until work began in 2007. He was a nice chap and I would always bung him a bottle of something for his efforts. We explored from up in the attic to the bottom of the basement. It was used as a set for films like 'Batman returns' and 'From Hell'. Many of the rooms were left as dressed for the shoot. By the way, someone spotted Roy's talent and he is now the official tour guide for the hotel.
At first I couldn't get in to the booking hall bar. I met locked doors at the back, and was turned away by security at the front.
Somehow, Sarah managed to get in and the back door was opened up for me.
It turned out that this was meant to be a 'soft' opening with no more than 20 people. There was probably twice that number there.
The old booking hall itself is a lovely piece of victorian brickwork and carved wooden oak. It was the place that Harry Potter bought his ticket to Hogwarts from in the first movie.
I digress though, we befriended the bar manager, John Davies and I blagged a little as I had just read an online article on the way in about the place and it's celebrity mixologist, Nick Strangeways.
Only invited guests were allowed to dine, but before long we had managed to order meals and John even discounted our first drinks and starters as it was all so disorganised. For us that was part of the excitement of being there on the opening night.
After dinner and slightly inebriated, we sneaked out of the side of the bar, into reception (which used to be the taxi pickup area) and onto the base of the spectacular staircase.
They had found a scrap of the original axeminster carpet in the attic and had got the manufacturer to recreate it in its original glory. We wandered though the corridors and levels which were virtually derelict four years ago. It was interesting to discover the 'ascending room', one of Britain's first lifts entombed. And some of the giltwork on the ceilings had been painted over rather than restored.
All in all, the building has been transformed. I took a few pictures with my blackberry, but needless to say, they do not begin to do it justice to the place that takes my breath away.
So here's one from a proper camera
There's a great article too HERE
|Monday, January 10th, 2011|
I just enabled the "Location History" on Google Latitude. It's a bit scarey to look back upon.
So this was my weekend....
|Wednesday, January 5th, 2011|
happy new year and all that.
Sarah and I had a lovely and low key Christmas, which left us feeling happy and non-broken.
New Year's Eve was a big party followed by a 15 hour work shift on New Year's Day- that left me feeling decidedly fuzzy round the edges.
So far this year I have managed to see two exhibitions, do a London walk (the Pox of Soho) and see the very funny Bill Bailey last night (link to "Cars" on bike horns here
We have booked a couple of holidays to Crete and Bali, but now I am completely broke until payday on the 15th Jan.
Let's hope I didn't peak too early there.
|Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010|
|3 days late
Despite my organisation running several complex television events a week around the world, the Christmas party always seems to be too difficult to sucessfully arrange.
At last though, Sis Live have announced the party is on, but on the 28th December.
Well at least they won't have a problem getting a venue.
Is this unusual, or do other businesses do this?
|Saturday, December 18th, 2010|
|Up and Down
I have been feeling increasingly irriated when I look at my advance work rota and see an endless stream of football matches in Northern towns.
I finished the camera rig in Liverpool yesterday then checked in to my generic hotel, situated on a generic ring-road.
I looked out onto the carpark, that served as my hotel room's view and said "Bollocks to this"
3 hours later I was in a pub, with good friends and my lovely wife, celebrating Amber's birthday.
I didn't have to be back in Liverpool until mid-day so caught the train back up at 9am. Half an hour later I received a call from one of my collegues to say that the match is snowed off and not to bother coming back for the de-rig.
So I get the WHOLE weekend off now. This is making me VERY happy as there is more fun to be had tonight too.
|Tuesday, December 7th, 2010|
On Friday, I arrived to the bitter cold of Blackpool and started to set up for televising the football in the shadow of the famous tower.
Imagine my delight at 3.30 when the referee declared the game suspended after scrutinising the pitch and declaring it as malleable as cast iron.
I found myself back home by 8pm, with a smile on my face and the prospect of an unexpected weekend off.
So today I am travelling up to 'FC United of Manchester', the forcast is for minus 7 degrees freezing fog and they don't have under pitch heating.
I love this weather!
*** EDIT *** the buggars have put the whole pitch under a heated tent!
|Wednesday, November 24th, 2010|
|NHS Dentists- Brits only
For the last few years I have been going to the BBC dentist, where I'm registered as a national health patient. Since I have been out of the Beeb for almost 3 years and the BBC dentist itself is soon moving to the nearby shopping mall, Westfields. I thought I'd experiment with elsewhere.
So I have just gone to a local one in Camden for a checkup/hygenist. It's about the same price as my other dentist, but won't accept NHS patients.
So is the NHS account really worth keeping? As far as I can see, the only benefits are a £14 check-up and cheap amalgam fillings (which I would never want).
Any thoughts from people out there in LJ?
|Monday, November 22nd, 2010|
|New Star (You can tell I'm not working today)
There is now a magnitude 15.3 star in the sky, that goes by the name "Jonny Tuna"
It is located at 9 Hours and 52 minutes ascension and almost 5 degrees into the Southern Hemisphere.
It also seems to be bang in the middle of a constellation named "SEX"
|Crystal Casles v Robert Smith... "I'm Not in Love"
I have been listening to the track a lot today
It's a fantastic mixture of the familiar and, for me nostalgic voice of Robert Smith, combined with the pure electronica of Crystal Castles.
The verse is melodic and the chorus is fantasically noisy and crunchy (play loud and set to Replay)
|It's all about the pies
There's an anecdote which I have recounted many times, about when I had to get up very early in the morning and fly to Ayr to film a football match. That day, it seemed impossible to get any food.
For the lunch section of that day, I was directed to a house by the grounds. The window was open and a home made sign above it said "Pies £1". There was a small queue and when I reached the front, I asked the retailer what kind of pies he had, hoping there might be a vegetarian option.
"Ye what?" He said in a strong Scottish accent
"Your pies, what fillings do you have?"
"Yes, but what have they got in them?"
"They're PIES you fool, they've got PIE in them.... they're PIES!!"
As the conversation went on, he got more and more agitated and eventually I settled for a beer and a bag of nuts in a nearby boozer.
Obviously the concept of there being more than one form of pie had passed this chap by completely.
I won't go into the lack of food in the evening,(it was valentines day and the place was booked solid)
But back to the point...
One of my colleagues on Saturday, seemed quite excited and told me that my pie anecdote had made it into print into the latest Terry Pratchett novel, "Unseen Academicals"
I don't have this book, but if anyone has a transcript, I would be grateful to check this out for myself.
|4D 4 free
I have had to work the last 6 days covering 3 football matches in Woking, Ebbsfleet and Liverpool.
I got the early train back to London yesterday to meet one of my old school chums, his wife and three kids down on the Southbank.
The Christmas market has just opened down there, so there is lots for kids to see. New in the area is a skating rink. It was lots of fun, but a little too small. They also had some bright orange seal shaped supports for unsteady skaters, that just got in the way of more stable folk.
If you get a ticket for the skating or for the London Eye, you qualify for free entry to the "London Eye 4D Experience". It's actually 3D, but it involves, smoke, bubbles, water and fake snow, which scientists would be surprised to find out constitutes the 4th dimension.
The reason I am sharing this with you lovely folk is that they don't seem to check for tickets as it's situated at the back of the ticket hall for the Eye (we went on it twice to double check).
So if you are passing, drop by and hopefully you will get a few minutes of 4 dimensional fun for free.
|Wednesday, November 17th, 2010|
A few days ago I dug out my old Sinclair ZX Spectrum, computer cassettes, found an emulator and have been enjoying playing all the rubbish games that I wrote back in 1982.
I actually made a few pounds out of the above game in 1984 which, incredibly was sold commercially. Some of my games appeared in "Sinclair User" , for which i was paid the princely sum of £10.
I knew the Spectrum back to front during my nerdy adolescence. Thinking about it, it' s funny that I never considered computers to be a viable career back in the 1980s.
How wrong I was!
|Tuesday, November 16th, 2010|
|The DaTuna Code
I found a copy of "The Shadow of Solomon" abandoned on the train to Woking yesterday. It looked like a Dan Brown-esque affair so I popped it into my bag for future investigation.
On inspection there was a business card inside, so I decided to 'fess up and tell the owner that I had found his book.
He was pleasantly surprised and wanted to arrange a meet-up to get it back.
Since I was only going to be at Waterloo today, I hid the book in a bag, under a brick behind the church opposite the station 'St John the Evangelist'. I attached a photograph of the hiding place and wished him happy hunting.
This was his reply;
"Thanks for concealing the book for me, I will try to hunt it down later today.
Considering its a book demystifying the latest Dan Brown novel, perhaps the cloak and dagger approach is appropriate.
However I shall be concerned if I see an albino monk or blacked out Lincoln Navigator nearby."
Nice to deal with a random person that has a sense of humour isn't it?
|Sunday, November 14th, 2010|
This weekend a few of us popped 'dahhn to Margate'
in order to visit the legendary Maunsell towers.
the original plan evolved into a birthday outing, but as the boat hadn't much capacity I couldn't invite more than a handful of people. Apologies to anyone that feels I was leaving them out for any reason. There are many people I would also have loved to have along.
We took the train down from St Pancras and found ourselves in the rather faded and dilapidated glory of Margate.
The first stop was for tea and cake at the Mad Hatter's Tea rooms. The Mad hatter Himself was hoovering up as we arrived (wearing a baseball cap). He disappeared upstairs and promptly re-appeared in full mad-hatter's outfit. the tea shop was full of victorian bric-a-brac and sported permanent Christmas decorations. One of the unusual features of the tea room was a genuine turn of the last century toilet (well worth a visit). By the way, this place is only open for 5 hours a week, Saturday 11.30-4.30
He was assisted by his long suffering sister who he introduced as 'Alice'. When he left, she said to us, "I'm not called Alice you know"
The mad hatter had been up since 6am baking delicious cakes.
Afterwards, we walked on to our hotel, which was recommended a while ago by chris_damage
, the Walpole Bay Hotel and living museum
It's an Edwarduian family run hotel/museum complete with four resident ghosts. The whole place had the feel of it's 1900's origins, from it's decor down to the clothes the staff wore. The reception desk was adorned with an ancient wireless and a toaster that looked like something out of a jules verne novel.
Unfortunately, despite the dry,calm weather and mill-pond like sea , the RIB owner had called the trip off as he thought it was all too rough out there to set sail.
After a few quick calls I managed to organise another, more sedate trip around the coast and up the river Stour to visit a nearby seal colony with the Sea Searche
r. I have never seen so many seals, there were between 35 and 40 of them basking in the November air. Really a very lovely experience to see them all enjoying life in the wild.
I had already, but rather informally, reserved a space in the back of a pub, The Lifeboat Inn, which had recieved enthusiastic online reviews. It was a 400 year old building in the heart of Margate's old town, but had only been run as a pub for the last seven months.
Julian, the proprietor had arranged the place without a tradional bar as such. He just drew great jugs of ale, cider and porter for us and brought them to our table. This was supplemented with local cheeses, salad, fish, dressed crab and lobster which was just plonked down before us all.
We had a long bench table by an inglenook fireplace and jim roasted the chestnuts which Julian had collected in Ashdown forest.
If I can recommend anything from the weekend, it is this place. Probably worth the trip in itself.
Needless to say, much drink was drunk and there were a few fuzzy heads this morning. One person who I wont name, was caught trying to let himself into his hotel room with his house keys.
Before we came back today we took a trip to an odd local attraction, the Shell Grotto
. It's an ancient subterranean winding complex, it has a rotunda, an ornate serpentine corridor, an alter and even a little dome. This is all decorated with an estimated 4.6 million sea shells. No one even knows it's origins (probably early 1700s), but it was discovered by accident in 1835. It's a real mystery, some people have even taken it as a secret pagan place of worship. This is also well worth a visit and I'm just plain surprised that it never featured in Chas and Dave's eponymous song about the town (see first link on this post)
So in the summer next year, I will go back and I will take a RIB and see those sea forts properly- but this time with a skipper who's has a pair of balls.
There's some great information about these War of the Worlds behemoths herehttp://subterrain.org.uk/maunsell/
|Wednesday, November 10th, 2010|
I have just finished cutting a dive video from the many rushes I shot out there.
You'll be glad to know that it comes in at under 8 minutes.
This video features Whaleshark, Manta ray, turtles, pinksarah
many thanks to mostly_farmless
for the soundtrack
|Friday, November 5th, 2010|
I was phoned up by work yesterday and asked if I would mind working on The One Show.
I reluctantly agreed, but was excited to discover that the guests were the Goodies. I think it's the first time I have seen that trio together since the 1980s. Apparently they are having something of a resurgence in popularity and might be re releasing "The Funky Gibbon".
The 3 seater tamdem (trandem) was along and all the crew were trying it out.
The last one of these shows I worked on, I got to talk to Miss Piggy on a link to LA. I might have to say yes more often.
I ended up meeting an old friend at the Hope and Anchor, and discovered Lucy-fiction working at the bar.
Upon regailing the events of the day to her she said "but who are the Goodies". Of course there's no reason why anyone under 35 would really even know about them.
Kind of mkes me feel a bit elderly!