Ramblings

The Deep South
14th May 2012
Last weekend was my first trip to Wiscombe Park when I attended the VSCC hill climb.

It's always good to visit a fresh venue and even better to do so when the sun's shining. After a month of being drenched through it was smashing of the VSCC to haul along some good weather for their visit to Devon. That said (here we go with a typical photographer-never-happy-with-the-weather story) it was devilishly tricky exposing shots accurately under the tree canopies.

Wiscombe's a big, rambling hill involving lengthy walks if you want to shift around on it but it has some wonderful places to see the action and to take photographs. The bottom paddock was crammed with unique vintage cars scattered around on the grass along with some lovely people so I spent an hour there after lunch with the camera.

Many thanks to Steve Walsh for taking my media tabard back down and saving me another big walk late on in the day when my muscles were just beginning to protest.

The mixture of images are here so take a look.
Welcome to the hyperthermia Championship
04th May 2012
Last weekend was quite testing. I've been colder and I've been wetter but not at the same time.

The orchard resembled a scene from The Somme. The ruts from the previous weekend's Bike Fest exhibitor trailers were still evident and the ground was like a swamp. I got there early, took the RAV and managed to park on some relatively firm ground to make it easy to extract myself later on.

With winds of up to 40MPH and temperatures of around 5 degrees, it was never going to be a warm day but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so bone-numbingly cold. I sought shelter in the marshal's hut at Bridge a number of times and sloped off to fetch hot chocolate drinks now and then. I also got changed completely at lunchtime then again before heading off for home. Remember my number one tip for motor sport photography: you can never take to many pairs of socks with you.

I have to take my hat off to the marshals for sticking it out in those conditions: that wasn't an easy meeting by any stretch.

Tough day to take photos too but the rewards can be good in conditions like that. I don't think I've ever got so many spray shots. Aside from being unable to feel my fingers, the biggest problem was my lenses fogging up and having to swap filters or dry off various pieces of glass. All good fun though. What's the point if it isn't a challenge?

Shelsley tomorrow so perhaps the weather will be a little kinder. My boots have just about dried out this morning so bring it on.
The Bike Fest II
24th April 2012
Well, despite the British weather attempting to wreck things, we had a great day on Sunday at the second Prescott Bike Fest.

Once again, we built it and they came in their droves to support us. Our team of photographers took to the hill and shot the living daylights out of it throughout the morning with a forecast of heavy rain later. This proved to be accurate and it tanked it down just after lunch.

The gallery is now live for people to simply dial in their run-the-hill number in order to see their shots of the day.
Click here to see your shots The event has already made over £30,000 from the weekend so order your photos now to add to this amount.

Thanks for all your support and we look forward to seeing you all next year. Bring your friends along for an immense day of fun and action in a cracking location.
Fingers Crossed For A Non Glastonbury Situation
20th April 2012
Having taken a quite severe drenching up at Loton on Easter Monday, it'd nice to think that the Prescott Bike Festival this weekend will be better. The forecasts all week have been pretty dire for this weekend but, joy of joys, I managed to find a lovely sunny one for Sunday on my iPad's weather app so I'm sticking with that one.

Despite sleepless nights planning this entire thing, I'm now desperately looking forward to it. Last year's PBF was the best event of the season.

We're off to Prescott tomorrow afternoon to set everything up. Wrestling with gazebos and playing with nail guns, eh? Brilliant.

Sunday morning will be manic. Track opens at 10.00 but I'm hoping to be there around 7.00 as there'll be cameras to synch and bacon to consume.

Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome is on telly tonight so I'll record that as watching a tripe film to unwind before a day like this is a must and one with bonkers cars and Tina Turner.

What a way to spend a weekend. Bring it on.
Trials & Tribulations
06th April 2012
The slate grey skies cleared last Sunday just in time for the LC&ES Welsh VSCC trial near Llandrindod Wells.

It never fails to amaze me that so many pre war cars still exist let alone that people are happy to bounce them over chronically rough terrain in mid Wales.

VSCC events have a uniqueness about them. Where else could you see a couple of gazebos set up in the middle of a field serving tea in bone china tea cups and saucers alone with slices of home made cakes?

Gotta say, Wales has been kind to me over the years regarding weather and motor sport events. I'm sure it'll all go belly-up one of these days but so far, so good.

Whilst I have your attention, good people, I'd just like to thank every single one of you for making this website the success that it is. In a little over a year I've had over 108,000 hits. This is quite extra-ordinary and I'm immensely proud of the fact that so many of you want to keep coming back for more. This year will be the biggest ever with the Prescott Bike Festival 2 and my Olympics photo team extravaganza so hang on in there.
A dusty March Day
26th March 2012
I headed for the AGBO Stages Rally at Weston Park early on Sunday morning.

All week I'd deliberated between going to Loton's member's practise weekend and this. As I'll soon be swamped with hill climb action, I thought on this occasion, the rally should be the place to go.

Good choice as the weather was amazing and Weston Park looked lovely. The only downer was the water splash was dry - absence of water is never a great feature in a water splash, I feel. Making up for that, we had tons of dust on most corners. This really was not a day to change lenses.

It was a fantastic entry and its always good to catch up with Roger, Joy and Dave as they play with the stunning looking Mk2 Escort. Third place was a fantastic job so, well done guys.

It would have been a perfect day aside from my car battery dying whilst I was there. Two extremely kind marshals jump started it for me and I've put a new battery on it today so all is well with the world once again.

Many thanks to Anton Bird and his good people for allowing me access to this cracking event.
An Epynt Day
12th March 2012
Spent a fantastic day up on the Brecon ranges yesterday with Pons chasing down rally cars in unseasonably nice weather.

The Tour Of Epynt rally is a belting event held in one of the most stunning areas of Wales. On a bad day - and there are a fair few of those up on the Brecons - you can't see your hand in front of you. Yesterday started with a few whips of mist but it then cleared and we had a freakishly sunny day.

This is a truly top notch event with a to-die-for line up of cars. A fab line up included ex WRC cars and a gaggle of Merk I and Mark II Escorts. Check it out here.

Been down to the BOC office at Prescott today to drop off a couple of prints for their forthcoming exhibition. Just starting to think about sorting images for the first programme for the Member's Season Opener on April 7th and then the BHC meeting on the weekend of April 28th/29th.

Next weekend's the Loton Park member's practise event. I'm hoping to get up there for the Sunday. Much as I've loved the rally stages I've been to recently, I'm now hankering for some hill climb action.
Race Retro
27th February 2012
Up until yesterday, I've never visited the Race Retro show but, having received an invitation from the lovely folk at Poppyseed Media, it would have been plain wrong not to go along.

The weather was excellent and it wasn't too packed. I'd got a pass for shooting the live rally stage. We were treated to 52 classic rally machines. I fired off a mass of shots and seeing all those amazing Escorts, Quattros and 6R4s has sparked my interest in readiness for the Tour Of Epynt rally in a couple of week's time.

Aside from grot that settled on my sensor during one of my lens changing episodes, no dramas unfolded. Saw a fair number of people there that I knew including the bods running the MAC stand. All in all, RR's a fine show and I'll certainly visit it again.

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On Saturday evening I visited that famous rock venue, Sinton Green Peace Hall to photograph a double bill of Men In General and Four Tart Harmony. Cracking night's entertainment and lovely to take photos of the Tarts afterwards - along with their guest member, The Ladder.
Big Week
22nd February 2012
My diary's like a ticking bomb. Its been glowering at me for the past few weeks but now its about to explode into life.

I was down at Hackney Community College all day on Monday for my Olympics 'role specific training'. The more I learn about my 2012 Games adventure, the more I like the sound of it. It'll be the most fantastic ten days imaginable. Some of the technical stuff thrown at us was mind boggling and the quality of the people training us is staggering.

Had my media pass for this weekend's Race Retro event at Stoneleigh showground arrive this morning. I've not been to RR before but as the good folk of Poppyseed Media emailed me asking if I'd like a media pass, it would have been just plain rude to turn it down. The Live Rally Stage alone looks worth going for. They've got 50 great rally cars cavorting around as well as tons of other stuff too. early start Sunday but worth the effort, I reckon.

Off to an open mic night at the Lunar Bar in Worcester tonight where I'll be taking photographs and also performing some of my old material. When I get in, I'll bang tonight's shots up onto Facebook.

One day soon, I'll pause to draw breath. But not just yet because if I stop, I'll fall off the merry-go-round.
Mucking Around In Shropshire
27th January 2012
Last weekend saw the first proper car action of the year for me with the MAC Clee Hills Trial up at Craven Arms.

The first stage in the woods was extremely muddy. Keeping your feet was an achievement. Driving a car all the way up was close to a miracle.

Headed across to the Long Mynd afterwards and munched on a sandwich before the merry sound of engines tore through the peace and quiet of the Shropshire countryside. This event really had the most diverse collection of motors. I'm full of admiration for anyone who has a vintage MG then proceeds to belt it up a filthy hillside before driving it home.

I've been looking at my diary and it looks insanely booked up. I've barely got a free weekend until the end of the year if I attend everything in there. Excellent.

This Sunday sees the first meeting of the Prescott Bike Festival committee so that event's already starting to loom. April 22nd seems a long way off but time's flying by as if we're all onboard a malfunctioning Tardis.
AI Time Again
12th January 2012
I can't believe how quickly the Autosport International show comes round.
It feels as if the carpet's barely been rolled up from last year's show when we were crawling up the choc-a-block M42 to do it all over again.

One of the highlights of the show included the wonderful Senna exhibition. This was a stunning collection of cars driven by the great man. Fortunately, we got into the show before the public so we had this area and the rest of the halls virtually to ourselves for the first hour. Very nice.

Mr Danby fancied the look of a 1966 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE Cabriolet. It's going for auction and has less than 70,000 on the clock with a price prediction of somewhere between 55 and 75K. Go on, Rich. You know you want it.

The promo girls were, as ever, excellent fun. Lucy on the Faro stand was a great laugh and scarily photogenic. The statuesque Danielle working for Pro R was astoundingly tall (6ft even without her sky-scaper heels) The MIS Motorsport ladies lined up wonderfully in a rock-video kinda way. The Ginetta girls showed how to perch daintily on a bonnet without doing damage. Yes, there's no limit to the talents these ladies have.

Great show. Many thanks to Autosport for tolerating us once again and to my editor for the accreditation letter that got us in. The photos of the day are here
The Big Orange Army
30th December 2011
Marshals. What can I say? Constantly entertaining when in their natural habitat? Full of backchat? Never stop eating? Abusive to defenceless photographers? All of the above really.

I spend a fair chunk of my weekends with the men and women in those ill fitting orange romper suits. There's a cheery optimism about them that makes me glad to hang out with them. Highlight of 2011 might well have been Chris and Jan having their own Bottom Ess photo call. They were like the Posh and Becks of the hill climb scene but their co-marshals soon brought them back down to earth with a few well chosen comments. Oh, yes, most of the photos of Jodie I ever take feature her sticking her tongue out at the camera. (Her wedding pictures should prove quite a challenge for whoever gets that task next year.)

Anyway, a belated Merry Christmas and a riotous New Year to all my marshalling friends. I might taunt you all summer long but I'm always glad to have such a great bunch standing alongside me in all weathers and all situations. In motor sport, when the grit hits the fan, orange is the first colour I want to see near me.

PS. Here are a few shots of you lot.
Not quite in hibernation
06th December 2011
All's quiet now on the motor sport front. No more hill climbs. Club events have pretty much dropped off the radar. Even rallies are a touch scarce this side of Christmas.

So, what's a guy to do? Well, its not a problem really as there still loads of things to muck about with. I'm still tidying up the BOC archive. I've just written a Prescott guide for new photographers who might join us on the hill in the future. Last Saturday was our end of season meal for the Bike Fest mob. That involved chowing down huge amounts of Chinese food at The Great Wall in Tewkesbury whilst planning next April's event.

I shot an open mic night last week in a room festooned in convex mirrors so that was a challenge in itself.

Yesterday I scoped out a room where I'm going to do a bunch of corporate shots after Christmas. I'm also rummaging through my season's photos for shots for certain drivers.

Considering I've not even started with the brutal editing of the season's shots, I'm amazed how hectic it is really. I'll be glad when the season arrives so I can take it easy.
A Classic
15th November 2011
I used to be able to trawl the halls of the NEC without breaking sweat. Not any more. After a full day covering this year's Classic Motor Show, I felt like I'd walked across the Brecon beacons on a military exercise.

Fantastic show. Every owners club worth their salt was there. Great to see the MAC and the BOC stands. Caught Richard Gilbert photographing a Morgan (again) Saw Millards senior and junior.

The girlies on the Citroën stand were immense as they posed for the whole Robert Palmer Addicted To Love rock video thing.

Angelina on the e-Lites stand was fantastic. I almost wanted to start smoking just so she could help me to quit.

Huge thanks to Andrea and the team for inviting us along again. Now I really want to do Race Retro next March.

Photo gallery is here here
Malton Forest Rally 2011
08th November 2011
Got back yesterday from a trip into deepest Yorkshire shooting the wonderful Malton Forest Rally.

Kicking off at the Pickering show ground, the rally then headed off to Gale Rig, Cropton and Langdale forests with two stages at each. The Langdale stage proved a good hunting ground for some good forest rally shots with great backdrops with terrific scenery and trees in full autumn colour.

The rally featured a cracking mix of histories and modern cars. Mark 1 and 2 Escorts are always guaranteed to put a smile on my face and there was a stunning turn out of them at this event. Charlie Payne was the overall winner in the rapid WRC Focus.

For the second year on the bounce, we had weather that was outstanding for early November.

Many thanks to Dave Holliday and his team for running this event so smoothly and I look forward to heading off to it again in 2012.
2012 Stuff
03rd November 2011
After eighteen months of online form-filling and an interview back in the summer at Warwick University, I finally got the nod last week confirming that I've been selected for the Press Operations team at next year's London Olympics.

When it was announced on July 6th 2005 that London was to be the host for the 2012 Games, I never even thought about being part of the team. I came across a Games Makers email early last year and applied just to see how far I could get before I was ejected. I now have it in writing that I'll be part of the Photo Team based at Horse Guards Parade. I'd have loved to have been in the main Olympic stadium but I said at the interview that I'd be happy to be based at any of the venues. Let's face it, someone has to cover the beach volleyball event.

I'm still slightly stunned by all this. Although I thought the interview went well (yes, it does pay to wear a suit and tie) I wasn't totally sure I was going to get a place. Aside from the small issue of not having anywhere to stay just yet, all is good. The only draw-back is that is clashes with the third Loton Driving School day. I wonder if I speak nicely to Seb Coe, he'll move the date of the games?
On Tour
20th October 2011
I headed up to Weston Park on Sunday to shoot the Mac Vintage & Classic Tour.

Despite the bizarre refusal to serve me with a cup of coffee because I wasn't eating lunch, Weston Park was still a good venue for this event. The tree lined driveway was crying out for some nice motors to rumble along it and the Mac duly obliged. We had a fine mixture of machines and the sunshine ensured everyone had a smile.

Great day. The photos are right here
A Half Dry Day In Wales
12th October 2011
The VSCC upheld the tradition of making rallies highly elusive. Arming yourself to the teeth with maps and GPS devices simply isn't enough to ensure that you'll be successful in following the action but at least this one wasn't buried in some obscure forest stage in the back of beyond.

I loved the idea of holding the rally finish up where their trial event was being staged as this meant that plenty of photo opportunities arouse to point the camera at them as they rolled in.

The trial was going swingingly until the rain started. Foolishly, when the first few spots fell, I thought it was only going to be a tiny shower. Wrong, Geoff. This is Wales where it's either dry (not often, admittedly) or slaying it down continuously. This was the latter and it instantly reduced the trial hills to pure grease. This did provide some entertainment as those wonderful old cars struggled to tackle the steep slopes. The evidence is here for all to see.

All-in-all, terrific event. Many thanks for the VSCC for holding it and allowing me to capture it.

My stuff's dry now.
The Final Throw
06th October 2011
I never expected to be heading for the shade at an October meeting but that was the case last weekend at the Autumn Classic as Prescott.

I spent a pleasant couple of hours under the shade of the trees in the morning but shooting start-line and the paddock from midday on was searing stuff. I must confess to spending large chunks of time eating pizza and ice cream in the shade to avoid the heat but my reasoning was that I've shot thousands of trackside images this season so it was time to award myself a break.
A Day Of two Halves
30th September 2011
Loton Park last weekend really was a proper hill climb: the sort of meeting you won't forget in a long time.

The weather in the morning was pretty dismal but the action on the track was full-on. As soon as we reached Top-12 runoff time, I just knew Roger Moran was the man to beat. This guy is the Michael Schumacher of the hill climb world. If there's a wet track, Roger is the man.

Given the morning's conditions, you wouldn't have put your shirt on a new hill record but Scott, ever the one for a drama, pulled it off with the final run of the Loton season.

Freakishly, we concluded proceedings by 4.00 PM - another record, I'd think. Great to see a huge number of people hanging on for the prize-giving afterwards.

I'd just like to say a big thanks to the officials of Loton for allowing me access to their smashing hill and for making me feel so at home. See you all again next year.