One of the nice things about living in a village like Sarratt is that there is a heady mix of people, dogs, horses, cars and pubs. Some of the folks in Sarratt are descendants of many generations of Sarratt dwellers and others just come here to drink or do business in the “Business Park”.
The Business Park is one of Sarratt’s best-kept secrets, half way down Church Lane midway between the Cricketers and the Cock pubs, it’s more of a farmyard with a stables than Stockley Park East.
The horses look out over a row of units that contain a cleaning firm, a Ferrari garage…and a Brewery. Micro-breweries like Paradigm are on the up and Neil Hodges and Rob Atkinson have sunk their savings into this project. It’s a neat little factory using equipment bought from another brewery which was closing down. Their "WinWin" and "Low Hanging Fruit" Ales are a homage to the corporate lives they left behind.
Although the temperatures, recipes and cleanliness have to be absolutely spot-on to get a consistent result, brewing ale is just cookery so you can make as much or as little as you want, using new recipes as seasons or markets demand.
I loved making this little film not least because it is the first time I have ever, (or am likely to ever again) taste beer directly from a brewing vat called Perky. It was bloody fantastic.
Hops, Barley and a dash of irony
Jack Jackson Recording Studios
There are museums that specialise in all sorts of things if you know where to find them – I saw an extraordinary collection of vacuum cleaners at Knebworth House and once I was taken to the Erotic Art Museum in Hamburg. There’s diversity for you; two types of sucking on two continents.
In deepest Buckinghamshire there is a museum that finds, moves and rebuilds interesting buildings called The Chiltern Open Air Museum. The work they do is very specialist and preserving heritage buildings is a costly and time-consuming business.
So when they asked me to do a short video of their campaign to restore the Jack Jackson Recording Studios, I jumped at the chance. This funny little brick cottage, a former cowshed built in around 1745 saw both George 2nd and Lemmy from Motorhead on the throne (slightly different ones) during its extraordinary lifetime. Elton John, Ian Dury and many others used it and Jack Jackson himself who claimed it for music was crowned “Father of DJs”.
The studio is currently a pile of bricks but with the funds raised by the museum and this campaign, the idea is to restore it completely and fill it with vintage recording equipment. In time, Shure mics will gleem, needle gauges will flicker and valve amps will glow once more as the next generation of popstrels discover what it was like to record in the punk era.
For more info or to donate go to
I was lucky enough to get away over the Xmas hols in Singapore and Australia. Of course, I took my little Sony a7 with me. I took lots of snaps and clips and assembeld them into this little holiday diary. It's a family affair but I hope you enjoy it anyway (especially the epic game of yard cricket - England Vs Australia which took place on Christmas say after lunch. Most players were too full or too drunk to know who was winning!)
I was pleased to be able to produce a mini documentary this month for a local event now in its 9th year – The Chorleywood Litfest.
This festival is not only a Kindle-free celebration of books and their authors but a celebration of village life and community too and more than 1500 people came to The Memorial Hall over seven nights to listen to talks from Charles Spencer (Killers of the King), Jodi Picoult (Leaving Time) and Tanya Byron (The Skeleton Cupboard) to name a few.
What strikes me about this event is how reading a book (a thing with covers, pages and a spine – not an electronic device!) is as popular a thing as it ever was. And that reading, once considered to be something of a solitary activity, has matured into a social channel all of its own, collecting and engaging readers to share and debate the merits of the written word.
Chorleywood Litfest – the movie!
This week I finally finished a new video for a charity called The Move Partnership. It’s a mini-documentary about the work they do for disabled kids at a School called Lakeside. I wrote about it before in “Why we must never take running for granted“.
Now that the film is done, you can see the impact that a structured combination of education, physio and other activities can completely change the lives of severely disabled kids and in doing so the lives of their parents and carers too.
The Move Partnership
I say Chiltern you say Warrior!
The rise in popularity of tough-mudder style obstacle events is a visible trend in the running calendar so I couldn't resist a trip to leafy Chesham last week to film Chiltern Warrior.
As obstacle events go Chiltern Warrior, now in its 2nd year, is not hardcore but no less enjoyed by its 300 participants. It's a family day out more than an SAS assault course. Organised by The Chiltern Open Air Museum, this 5k woodland event (two laps for the 10k) throws runners under and over cargo nets, up mud walls and through iron-age ditches...
Iron-age? yes, the museum is a heritage charity where historical buildings are re-constructed and protected. Not many running routes take you past an iron-age settlement, a mission church, a working blacksmiths as well as Elton John's studio (actually still a pile of bricks but not for long).
Social Video's efforts contributed to a seven-fold increase in fundraising through a short but intense social media burst and an event video.
Good weather is not a pre-requisite for obstacle events but the sun glinted through the clouds to light up an excellently organised day out.
Endure24 on 28/29th June was a blog-worthy event and I filmed it too so I thought I'd post the video and add a note...
This is my 5th year of attending a summer 24-hour trail-running relay event - The Thunder Run (2010/'11) and Endure24 (2012/'13 and now '14). I find them irresistible and I've filmed the last two. It's a 24hr, non-stop, 5-mile, wooded trail relay around the Wasing Estate near Aldermaston and we attended with a team of 7 including this year my unfeasibly fit son Charlie, two of his mates and former Thunder team-mates JohnFol and the eager whippet, Nollie (32 minutes for 5 miles??!!!).
There's something unique about running with a pack of runners of assorted paces at odd times of the day and night. Some walk through the night others smash out single loops but all have a great time and there's a Glasto spirit what with tents, kids, dogs and kitchen sinks. All that exercise needs fuel and the 24hr food tent took same abuse. I'd like to have known how many meatballs and flapjacks were consumed. Most of them by Charlie and his mates.
Despite some massive thunderstorms which merely added to the fun, our team put in a total of 155 miles in 24 hours (as the senior team member I only put in 3 loops, Charlie managed 5) putting us 29th out of 132 teams in our category. Not half bad.
Endure24 2014; It rained, we ran alot, ate meatballs.
Aquatorch; light in a splash
Product "explainers" are all the rage these days. A visual demonstration of how a product works will convey much more information than is possible in words and it helps search engine prominence too.
This product just needed to be seen to illustrate just how clever it was. A torch that lights up on contact with water - 200 hours of constant light for emergency and other uses.
I shot some of this on a go pro mounted under the water in a fishtank. Messy but fun and product-relevant too.
Some nice typography from the client helped alot too.
We Heart Pulse;
how video won the business
So you spend all that time telling people that video helps to sell an idea or a business and then someone comes along and actually believes you.
Pulse is a recruitment business and they were to re-pitch for their biggest account. They asked if I would film some client testimonials so they could use them in their presentation.
I did. They won. In fact the roster was reduced from 6 to 4 agencies and so the win not only cemented a good client relationship but they'll bill more next year than last.
Video 1, boring old powerpoint nil.
Janathon the 4th
There you go - my sins are laid bare. It's now the 7th of Jan and I'm still only on Janathon the 4th. Four outings and two of those were walks. Tally: about 12m. Yesterday's 6m run along the Chess River Valley was quite the wettest and stickiest I've been on for ages. Inov8 Roclites (319s for the running geeks who were wondering which model) were and will continue to be an essential kit component for the Chilterns in any season but particularly so after weeks of wet and Xmas walkers and mountain bikers have thrashed the paths mercilessly.
Fitness levels are good though, what with a massive down-scaling of alcohol consumption. My liver is on sabbatical.
I've booked up Endure24 again (where I was *official videographer* last year, if you please!) this time hoping to bring my unfeasibly fit son and re-engage with the hatters that came last year and prior to that the Thunder Runs. And a walk of the course at Chiltern Warrior where i'll be filming in March also looks like it will be fun.
A tough time for turkeys and trees
(From my own blog "The only way is up") I’m starting to reach the conclusion that up is in fact not the only way. For every up there must be a down and vice-versa. Celestial balance, the circle of life etc. Up is not a great place to be if the only way is down and being down can be great if the prospect is upwards. You get the picture.
And so it came to pass that I went out to get my Christmas tree last weekend and as I wandered round the forest of little spruces it crossed my mind that these trees had a pretty miserable existence. Battery-farmed with a four to eight year life expectancy, each one quietly crossing its little needles that it won’t be chosen. The reason they don’t move much is they don’t want to be noticed. But they saw me, making mental notes of the location and relative bushiness of those that I passed and doing my Ant and Dec thing muttering “It might be you…”
My victim was a stout three-year old, shorter than most I've bought over the years with a view to it sitting up on an old trunk that had occupied the space which last year saw a fulsome seven-footer. The felling of a Christmas tree is not a fair fight. A man with a saw versus an unarmed, immobile object, rooted in mud with limbs outstretched as if in surrender. It takes a few short seconds to introduce it to the concept of being horizontal amid cries of “shame!” from its neighbours whereupon the enemy is bundled into a truck, trussed in mesh and stowed in the boot of my car.
On the upside, like the arrival of the season of goodwill after a long and arduous year, Christmas trees are eventually transported from a cold muddy field to a short life of ecstasy; central heating, baubles, lights, worship and a fairy on top.
Happy Christmas everybody.