Free as a bird and busy as a bee

Matt and Marion take in a fine sunrise from Ramshaw Rocks.

It’s that time again when things go all quiet for me and blogging – I’ve got so much work on at the moment I barely have time to breathe.

I’m frantic with a number of projects at the moment, one of which is the promotional video for Staffordshire Peak District. It’s coming along nicely so far, but there’s still much to do – the official launch for this feature is on March 20th at a business conference in Stoke on Trent, and it will be available to view online through various websites thereafter (including here of course).

But the past week has already given me some fond memories to look back on fondly.

I spent a day following Rose Clarke a Peak District Park Ranger over a couple of days – the variety of duties she has to undertake were really quite bewildering. A real eye opener. The video I’ve produced for this is very much a fly-on-the wall documentary (coming soon).

An enjoyable evening was spent in a hostel in Hartington – the YHA property is one of the very best I’ve had the pleasure of staying in (which isn’t often at all nowadays). A fantastic building renovated only a couple of years or so ago showcasing it’s history as a stately hall for the surrounding parish. Gotta admit though, it was pricey. Well beyond the reach I’d say for the youthful masses who they’re really aimed at. A sign of how the YHA has really lost sight of it’s original goals and ethics in my opinion – makes me rather angry in that respect.

Happy hours were spent in The George at Alstonefield. Top drawer food and ale all courtesy of it’s fab landlady, Emily Brighton. Emily has a real passion for traditional English pubs serving good ale and locally sourced food (the Tissington sausages I munched on one evening was filling and tasty to say the least). Oak beams abound and a fine log fire sits near the bar. A real gem of a place where I caused a bit of a stir at one point.

I was happily chomping away at my meal and slurping from a pint when I noticed a delicate ‘burning’ smell. Confused as to it’s source I dismissed it thinking it was my imagination – only moments later did I discover the magazine I was reading was actually alight thanks to a small candle on the table! Whoosh! On to the log fire it went followed by a bit of backdraft. Bit embarrassing I have to admit but Emily laughed it off and kindly passed me another magazine to read with my meal. Kids and fire don’t mix, eh? My wife would be barging and pushing her way to the front of the queue to remind people I’m a big kid!

After some careful planning I managed to achieve a couple of shots I had in mind on Ramshaw Rocks one Saturday morning at dawn. Matt and Marion a lovely young couple from Lincoln kindly volunteered to spend a night out on the moors with me to ensure I captured the scene I desired at the crack of dawn. Admittedly, a sheet of cloud loomed up above but come 7.30am a break appeared and moved to the east enabling the sun to blaze it’s colours onto the land around including my delightful models perched on a boulder nearby.

At one point when I was taking some close up shots (see video below) of Matt and Marion when a photographer barged between us shouting “coming through!” ruining the moment and clearly ignoring the fact I was obviously working.

I’m not one to swear on my blog but I have to say – what a bloody prick! How rude can you get??

It’s not often this sort of thing happens by any comparison – even so, it pissed me off a treat and that skinny bespectacled prat was lucky I didn’t grab him by the scruff of his neck and throw him onto the moor below. Manners, courtesy and all round respect for your fellow man are clearly not part of the making of this idiot.

And finally, yesterday I undertook my first soiree into the skies above Peakland. The weather wasn’t ideal but I got some useful shots which I’ll use for the Staffordshire Peak District video. Make no bones about it. Heading up in a microlight (flex wing) can be bloody frightening! Within minutes of leaving the landing strip we reached an altitude of 3000ft. Strapped in with one waist belt atop a seat you’ll struggle to position yourself in with all the world around you is quite something. The sense of exposure is daunting.

But once I got the video camera out and literally duck taped it to my hands the fear soon gave way to marvel as we flew up and around clouds and zoomed down to the dales below. In truth I’m still buzzing with adrenaline from the 2 hour ride and will be doing the same again soon (hopefully with better weather). Not for the faint hearted I’ll be the first to tell you – but such matters are a state of mind. The experience was really quite overwhelming (cliche, cliche!) and most definitely put a new perspective on the Peak District.

Not a very flattering pic – but I was reluctant to stretch my arm out and take this photo

Even from a few thousand feet up my navigation was much better than the Tony’s (the pilot)! OK, he was saving the GPS for the journey home, and was in unfamiliar air space but having to look around and find our bearings and then head off to a given point of the compass was still hard work.

The cities of Derby and Nottingham below passed us by in minutes, Sherwood Forest appeared large but fragmented and the Peak District looked a simple crumpled delight for the eyes even for phoney birds like us.

Anyway, back to work for me and until next time….


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