We've just returned from an amazing week's holiday in Cornwall. Jen and I stayed at a place we’ve returned to again and again. Trelowarren is an old estate on the Lizard that rents out lovely cottages deep in a forest. Besides brilliant woodlands to walk away the stresses of work, they also have an excellent restaurant, pool, spa and tennis court. We always go out of season. Then we have the run of the place for walks and snuggling in front of the wood-burning stove while watching endless episodes of The West Wing or The Sopranos.
I can’t remember the last time I was at a proper festival. I suppose it must have been the Hebridean Celtic Festival in 2000. Even then it probably doesn’t count as a proper festival experience because I could lay down in my own bed in the wee small hours.
So when I got offered the chance by Alex to go to the Secret Garden Party and show some films at the explorers' tent along with other filmmakers like Phil Stebbing with his important and ambitious Lifeline project, it seemed like an offer that couldn’t be refused. Big thanks to Olly for setting this up. I showed Living with the Mek and got some great feedback.
Apart from the fact that I got to buy a new tent and go camping, (I Love Camping), we heard great music, met fantastic people, learned to hula-hoop and in general were thoroughly inspired. Top tip, the next sport to sweep the western world will be 'Sock Wrestling', you read it here first.
The Saturday night was an epic. It followed a very merry afternoon with Jamie Buchanan Dunlop that nearly put paid to the night’s entertainment, but once the evening really got going there followed a series of bizarre encounters.
By far the most unusual experience was spending the hours before dawn with a knight in shining armour. My first encounter with Forest, the trainee radiographer and Medieval Knight, lead me to think that he may have been a tipsy fancy dress wearer who had succumbed to the weight of booze and armour.
It turned out that Forrest the Knight was just resting before a historically inaccurate but none-the-less spectacularly titanic clash with Duncan the Viking. Beware, it seems that it is almost obligatory to be a tipsy fancy dress wearer at the SGP, but not thankfully, to engage in flaming combat.
While at the fireside we also met Kata, the sustainable forestry person from the Eden project and Jason an inspiring ex-city man now hedger from Exmoor. It was that kind of night, or should I say knight.
Go, but don’t tell anyone else because it’s a secret.
I've been flat out at work finishing the next season of 'Locked Up Abroad' or flat out in the park enjoying the summer sun. Here are a few images taken over the last two weekends from my neighbourhood of London. The bottom shot is of 'The Bonfire Band'. They are a brilliant DIY Country Blues band that I listen to a lot on my iPod.
Easter in Brighton…When I left the Hebrides and sailed south to live, my first port of call was Brighton. It’s where the serious southerly seduction began. Brighton has the sea, the situation and the attitude to seduce anyone hungry for contemporary culture, space and fun. Nine years later and the love affair is full blown. We have relatives and friends there now.
So despite having to work over the Easter holidays, we made an impromptu dash to Brighton. It's ten years since we met, so we picked up some very gooey but beautiful his and her's jewelry from Jeremy Hoye's, visited friends, walked the beach, drank wine and played vintage computer games. Easter bliss.
And if you want sexy shoes which also happen to be vegan (and ethically sourced), then the award-winning Neon Collective is for you. Jen has a new pair of these red shoes and gets all sorts of compliments when she wears them.
Continuing the theme of spreading sunshine in a dark winter, I thought it would be nice to post a picture of Jen and I in Victoria Park taken the summer before last.
You might notice the bindi on my forehead. This was applied by a highlighter which had until then been used to mark out passages in a very boring Open University financial strategy course book.
Jen spent three and a half years working for her MBA while still holding down a fulltime job, and this was easily one of the most pleasant days of study.
She graduated last April, and it was one of the proudest days of my life.
I love to cycle. I call it urban surfing. Each day I cycle into work, which isn't far. But I also pedal back and forward from my office in Raw Television to the edit suites at Envy. It's about twenty minutes of hardcore urban cycling through the centre of London and it's joyous weaving. We are making another 13 part series of 'Banged Up Abroad' or 'Locked Up Abroad' as it's called in the US. It's a great series to produce. My crews get to work all over the world but I get to go urban surfing each day in London. I took this picture on my phone in the Lee Valley where the London Olympics are going to be held in 2012.
I thought this was sad.
It’s raining, it’s London, it’s January and it’s time. We’ve talked about this kitchen for as long as I can stretch the conversation. The quote from John Lewis would have made us fall off our breakfast barstools if we’d had any. Arriving early, we float between banks of birch veneer and brown boxes and catch an eddy into kitchens. We swither between Solar and Abstract and think breakfast might help a decision along. I’ve forgotten my wallet. Nothing for it but to jump in the swelling river of trolleys and be washed through, bedrooms, children’s and flat-packs back into the Tottenham rain. Grab wallet, find shortcut and down caustic coffee...and...yes we have an Abstrakt decision. It’s one pm and the trolleys are thick as logs on the Amazon as we make it out through the tide of Sunday shoppers, smiling.
One of the places in England I have got to know reasonably well is - probably unsurprisingly - Cornwall.
It's a place I'd always wanted to go to, drawn by the idea of a Hebridean-esque landscape, but a tad warmer.
In reality, the Cornish landscape is really quite different from the Hebrides, but still notably celtic. In the Lizard in the south of Cornwall, where this picture taken, there are lots of little creeks and inlets where wildlife abound. We have stayed several times at Trelowarren, an ancient forested estate that is re-inventing itself as an ecologically sound holiday location.
When I was there at Christmas time, I saw a rare turquoise flash of kingfisher in the same spot as these swans had performed their ballet a year previously. The moment was somewhat ruined by my lovely wife trying to have an earnest debate about the advantages of fixed rate over variable rate mortgages.
Despite travelling around the world, I haven't spent very much time getting to know the country that I live in beyond London.
Beachy Head, which I'd read about and seen in all sorts of media, was still a revelation. Stark white cliffs, crashing sea. Wild, but somehow still very English.