One weekend. Three pictures.

Buck. Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
Handsome young fella I captured on camera up Cannock Chase.

Three pictures that just about summed up my weekend. A busy run around with the missus in Staffordshire as I chased locations to film for Enjoy Staffordshire.

I was particularly impressed with the two museums we visited in Stoke-on-Trent. The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is one of the best city cultural exhibits I’ve visited in England. The team there have done a fantastic job of managing the space, displays and collections along with being very informative and welcoming.

And if you ever happen to be in the area, I thoroughly recommend you pay the Gladstone Pottery Museum a visit. It’s not too many miles from the city centre and you do have to pay to enter but it’s worth every penny in my opinion.

You get to wander amongst wonderfully preserved kilns – as this area was renowned for – admire steam engines in action and marvel at live displays of craftsman showing you how pottery was made in times gone by. A seriously atmospheric place and one I wished to have hung around longer before moving on elsewhere.

Next stop was Stafford and then Cannock Chase, the smallest “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” on mainland Britain. The mix of deciduous and conifer woodlands coupled with open heathlands certainly made it a magical landscape to explore. I shall be going back there again soon to spend a couple of nights out capturing scenes of the area on video. I can’t wait!

Even so, on this day I was fortunate enough to observe a young buck within 30 feet of me while I took a slow and steady stroll in the undergrowth away from a main thoroughfare on a moor. I couldn’t believe my luck to be honest. All this wildlife letting me get up close and personal with them is beginning to freak me out!

The buck stared at me solid for a couple of minutes while I stood still gazing straight back at him. I was hoping he’d not see me as a threat and stay put. As the moments passed on by I kept my eyes fixed and carefully positioned my tripod and camera and then hit the ‘record’ button.

Not long after, he bolted off into deep bracken and out onto the moor with a few does for company.

Magical moment. I was buzzing after that, and couldn’t wait to get back to my wife and tell her.

At the end of the day, we spent the night in a ‘pod’ on a nearby campsite (first time for me and I really enjoyed it!) and Sunday was spent down at the OTS Outdoor Trade Show near Coventry.

The show was really quite large (even golf buggies to drive you around outside!). I meant to go along last year, but didn’t bother for some reason or another. But this year I had some photography and videos on display. So, I was keen to check it out.

On the gear front, despite the hyperbole folk might read in the media who will have visited the event – I came away generally thinking “same old, same old”. There really is much of a muchness to some brands out there nowadays and only a handful who endeavour to innovate or keep pushing the limits of kit and materials further. That’s only my opinion of course.

The gear side of things does form part of my work now, but I’ve made the concious decision to do less of it of late and only be involved with kit I think is relevant or interesting to the majority of backpackers out there. I’ve never been one to be a ‘gear whore’ in truth as some of you will know.

However, there was some new kit that did catch my eye and I’m sure they will many other hikers and backpackers. But I’ll talk about them in another post. Two I will mention though….

A bivvy with 3/4 length zip, 1500mm HH minimum, weighs 244g, and has reflective material inside for warmth. “Ahh!” I thought. “I like the look of that!”

And a new inflatable airbeam type tent from Heimplanet. Huge 2 person shelter, semi geodesic (sort of) design and weighs 3.2kgs. They’re fast approaching the realms of acceptable weights for solo backpackers here. And it certainly seemed tough and durable. I did try giving the air beam a sneaky quick stab with a pen, but the PR folks were keenly watching what I was up to.

Anyway, I shall not waffle much longer and leave you folks be….

Gladstone Pottery Museum, Staffordshire.
The fabulous Gladstone Pottery Museum. Well worth a visit.

Force Ten tents.
One of my videos for Force Ten on display at the OTS. This one filmed in the French Alps a short while ago. Was really
rather humbling seeing it on a big screen, along with some of my photography plastered over displays nearby.

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