Thursday, January 31, 2008

Too Much Coffee

That has been the flavour of this week. Too much coffee.

At the moment my journey around the world, the free flowing easy going travel with no worries has take a severe detour towards one of the busiest times in my life.

While the weekends are still lots of fun, which is clearly demonstrated by my trips from London to Newquay, Big Wave Surfing in Ireland and Australia Day in London, my Monday to Friday is taken up with work work and a little more work.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Everything has their place in life, and a busy time in London has it's place in my life at the moment. It's winter throughout the rest of this hemisphere which means that long days spent at the beach simply won't happen, and even if they could the day only goes from 8.30 am till 4.30 pm, the rest is full of darkness.

So while the days are short, the weather is freezing, and while the only reference we have that the sun still exists is it's reflection off the moon at night when the clouds clear, it's probably the best place to be.

For one, my best mate Roland is here in London with me, and I'm sad to say that he'll be heading off in a week or two to start the next stage of his own round the world trip. I could go in to details of where he's going to be go, but I know that by the end of this weekend the plans would have changed at least 3 times............... maybe 4.

Of course, being so busy and having long days can be known to take its toll.

The other day I got home from work and picked up the guitar to strum away my worries, but when I started to play my favourite Stone Temple songs I couldn't for the life of me remember the chords to the songs, and even when I had checked the net for them I couldn't remember the strumming pattern.

For the first time in a long time, instead of being relaxing, strumming the guitar actually worked me up more.

I threw on a pair of thongs and a hoody, grabbed the house keys and went for a walk down the street. As I walked I thought about where I was, what I was doing, how my plans had changed and just how I had got into the situation I was in...... and the further I walked, the more I cast my mind back to how the whole trip started and how I actually arrived at the situation, rather then the situation I was in.

Thinking about and reliving the series of moments leading up to the present made me realise that in almost any occasion, no matter how bad it was, the past makes it more then alright to be in that moment. Not only that, it goes a long way towards the realisation that the future is going to hold even more of those great times to later look back on.

After about 30 minutes of walking I realised I was in thongs, shorts, and a hoody, felt better about EVERYTHING and that I wasn't sure if my toes were still there.

Luckily that moment coincided with me walking past an Irish pub which has in the past lead me to having a pint or 10, 0000.

While I sat in the pub watching the football, enjoying a beer, and slowly getting the feeling back in my toes I couldn't help but smile not only about the things that brought me to London, but also all the opportunities I've had by being able to travel so easily from here, like the Big Wave Surfing in Mullaghmore, making a short flick with Al Mennie Tony Plant and Duncan Scott and getting a video posted on the Billabong XXL site (thanks to Al and Duncan) next to some of the big names in the business.

When you think about it, really think about, life is simply amazing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Australia Day in London

I just spent my first Australia Day out of our pie eating, beer guzzling, Green and Gold wonder land..... and we managed to cover just about all of those bases.

We kicked off celebrating Australia Day in London the same way that we would do at home, with a few beers listening to Triple J's Hottest 100, although because we were doing that in London we actually kicked off at 8pm on the Friday night.

I remember hearing number 27, running out of beer and drinking Jamesons and Dry in slightly over zealous proportions, and glancing at a clock with 3's 4's and 5's, but I can't quite recall what number 27 was or which order the numbers were. Judging by my recent light weightedness in the drinking area it was most likely 3.45, but my hangover in the morning definitely screamed 5.43

Oh yeah, the Morning...... Head thumping, feeling queezy, and wondering how that little midget got into my room and shat in my mouth again.

The only way to start a hungover day that requires social interaction and a bit of drinking is.... well...... to start on it again.

I opened up a beer and mixed up 4 eggs with chilli, tomato's, bacon, mushrooms and cooked it in about a litre of oil. We sat in the kitchen and had a few more drinks while Lauren got her Green Tree Frog costume ready.

Lauren Greaves as a green tree frog

We left the house and headed down towards Lauren's friends party, only to bump into another one of her friends at the bus stop along the way. We all looked pretty Australian, wearing just about all green with Australian flag tattoo's and wearing thongs (yes thongs, not jandles and not flip flops, we call them thongs).

3 London Aussies.......Myself, Sarah Francis and Lauren Greaves

Sarah had never been to a Walkabout Pub before, and I was desperate to see the tail end of the last test against India, and what better day to do that then on Australia Day.

Surprisingly the Walkie was pretty quiet when we got there, although it was still before 12 so that might have had something to do with it. I grabbed the first round of a VB, Ted and a meat pie with sauce which came to about £8.75, but the barman was sooooo blind that he did a shot with someone else, then skulled a cocktail in a bottle, and then gave me all my money back but in change. Go you good Australian Lad!!!!

Sarah Francis enjoying a VB and Meat Pie on Australia Day in London

We sat in the pub, on a table as you do, and talked shit for a few hours. Each time I went to the bar I returned with only drinks, yet every time Sarah went up she came back with promotional hats and Aussie flags.

Me and Sarah Francis, spot the Aussies!!!

After a couple of hours we decided to kick off to see the other girls, a good idea at the time which eventually took us in an hours round trip right back to where we started.

Fortunately in between I had an argument with a bus driver and refused to get on the bus, big loss for the driver (and I now look back and think "idiot!"), which then meant we had to wait 17 minutes for the next bus, but fortunately there was a pub on the other side of the road, which of course we grabbed a couple of pints at, which of course led us to missing the next bus again.

We decided to regroup and head back home to have some steak sanga's before heading back out into Clapham to see Lauren. Unfortunately after a little over 12 hours out on the drink, and a late night the night before we promptly ate the steak and both fell asleep in the lounge room.

At the end of the day I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to, but I still got to spend it with my very cool house mates and had a ball (even if Gary Mills and Madeline Gowlett our NZ and UK representatives couldn't be there). All in all I still got to do everything I normally would (except actually play cricket), except I did it in cold weather.......... but still in thongs!!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Surf the Dream makes Billabong XXL

Just a quick bit of good news, the clips of Alistair Mennie and Duncan Scott taken on the 1st December at Mullaghmore in Ireland have made it onto the Billabong XXL website in the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year category.

Thanks for to the Billabong guys for putting it up, and a HUGE thanks for Duncan and Al for losing their minds and letting go of the rope on 50 foot waves.

Hopefully this will go a long way to putting Ireland on the map as a XXL Big Wave Surfing spot.

I'm going to be focusing on Fingers crossed this will be the first of many clips I'll be able to supply to the surfing community on a global scale.

Next up will be getting my Canon XL1S from Aus, getting an underwater housing for the Canon HV20 and it'll be off to Aileen's and further North to capture some big sessions on some lesser known waves.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Surf the Dream meets Surf Twisted

Just a quick hello to my new buddy out in Newquay, Tony Plant.

I spent most of the weekend in Newquay at Tony's house ploughing through his coffee and sugar and having way too much fun with the fart machine in the living room.

Tony's place was full of great artwork all relating back to the Ocean. If you get a chance check out some of his photo's and paintings over at

This week we've managed to get a bit done. Both Duncan and Al made their regional BBC/UTV news appearances with some of the big wave footage, I sent off some footage to Billabong XXL Ride of the Year and I've got my good video gear getting shipped over to the UK.

Once that arrives we just have to wait for a big swell to come rolling in and there'll be more footage to come!

I've been a bit lazy with my pictures of late, but here are a couple of frame grabs from the big tow surfing session at Mullaghmore
Alistair Mennie

Duncan Scott

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Surf Filming in Newquay, Cornwall

I love train rides.

It's definitely not the speed at which you get from place to place, It's partly the interesting characters that are on the train with you, but mainly it's the opportunity to see the country side between your destinations without having to watch your speed, watch the other traffic, check the fuel and make sure you get there in one piece.

The weekend didn't get off to the best start though. I managed to get out of work on time and got the tube without any problems to the Paddington Station. I even got to enjoy a feed of sushi after seeing that my train was still on time. When I got back to the platform after sushi I stood watching the departure/arrival screen slowly canceling trains heading towards west UK and I got a deep sense of Deja Vu.

Could my trip get cancelled twice in a row?

My first trip to Ireland was over an hour delayed, but I was still able to get there, the second trip was cancelled due to a thick fog that descended onto the City Airport, and now my third trip away by train to Newquay was delayed more then an hour and trains all around it were being cancelled.

All of a sudden "Paddinton to Penzance Platform 15" shone up on the screen and I breathed a sign of relief.

In the first 5 minutes of the journey I was nearly in tears of laughter as a rather posh Englishman was on the phone to his wife trying to explain why she was still back at the Paddington Station platform while he was on a train, a train that was not only 80 minutes delayed but still a full 60 minutes earlier then the train he was supposed to be on, and racing away from that very same platform she was waiting on.

"But you said meet on the train so that's were I was waiting for you" was his stock standard excuse and he was sticking to it......... over and over again.

Try imagining the most posh old irritating English accent you can imagine............his was worse. Basically he fucked up BIG, and was trying in vein to get out of a grilling from the wife. To make matters even worse for him a bunch of young and already drunk lads pointed out to the conductor that they should check this gentleman's ticket. Bastard act, but damn funny.

After a 6 hour train ride I met up with Duncan Scott for the first time and his stunning girlfriend Hannah at Bodmin Parkway. From there we headed off to Tony's, an ocean photographer with who was out taking photo's in the line up during the epic day in Mullaghmore.

We sat around the kitchen table and worked out what footage we already had and what we wanted to achieve over the next couple of days, but not before we went back through the footage of Mullaghmore to do some more "oohhhh" "ahhhh" "woooooohhhhh" "whoopppeeeee" and "Faaaaaarrrrrrrrk".

The plans were laid out and I headed off to check into, a newly refurnished hostel with great facilities, rates and friendly staff.

On Saturday morning Al Meenie picked me up from the hostel and we headed off to Hannah's place to pick up the ski. From there Duncan, Al, Tony and myself all got together for the first time and what followed was two days of good times and a LOT of laughter. The weekend contained so many memorable moments, and it would take me the whole 6 hour train journey to explain just half of them.

I will however list a few things to jog the memories. Things like getting cleaned up by horses, gay barn door openings, disabled photo shoots, 1....2.....3 push the ski further down the beach yet get farther from the ocean, chunder in the ocean, claiming the mighty cribber, falling off during a rescue pickup and getting caught inside, the "what are they up to?"'s, another session another interview, baking brownies during the interviews, um and then......the interview waffle, it started 15 years ago, car trouble...................

Actually, that last one is worth a mention.

After filming all day saturday we were brining the ski back onto land. Al was driving the ski around near the shore while Duncan headed up to grab the car. I was unhitching the trailer from the side and was wondering what the hell Duncan was doing with the car. He would back down the hill, then stop, then back down then stop. Tony and I walked up to the car to find that it wasn't starting at all, in fact it wasn't even turning over.

We tried and tried but couldn't get it to make a peep. We tried calling the owner (of course it was a borrowed truck) but they weren't answering either, and after about 15 minutes I noticed Al was standing up on the ski frantically waving his arms around. I jogged down to let him know about the car and we made our way back up the beach and left the ski there.

This happened around 3pm and it wasn't until after 7 that we finally got everything sorted. I used all of my expert car knowledge to help with the situation, which consists entirely of being able to pop the bonnet. Actually, this time I was able to pop the bonnet AND check the battery, the connections and spray the shit out of them with WD-40 (I'd seen Cory do that once before, seemed to help something).

We tried adding more fuel to the car, extra oil (these were both very low anyway), jumping the car from something less powerful then my hairdresser car back home, still nothing.

Eventually we got hold of someone with a van to tow the truck to the top of the hill, grab the trailer and head over to the Wharf to get the ski out. By this time the tide had come half way up to the cliffs and was washing away the tyre marks left on the beach (earlier Al had told a guy that he could only turn around if he went onto the beach, which he did in a very tight turning circle and subsequently buried the car. Feeling a bit bad, Al ran down to dig him out and it eventually took Al, Duncan and another photographer Tim 5 minutes to explain how to and help maneuver this guy back out again).

The problem with the car? We had taken the key of the key chain to take out in the ski...... the key chain that also contained the immobiliser....... the key chain that was on the front seat nowhere near the immobiliser.

Of course after all of the effort to get this going again we had killed the battery so AAA came out to get us going again......but of course keeping with the theme of the day they didn't bring any jumper cables. That's right, the association that is dedicated to helping people with car troubles didn't actually have any jumper cables with them.

Comedy of errors, and as the everyone said there is always something that goes wrong with days like this, it's just a matter of how long it takes to get around the issue and get going again. Things could have been worse, this could have happened before we launched the ski and we would have lost the whole day of filming

We did all the interview on the Sunday, and we spent as much time in tears laughing as we did getting usable interview footage..... and after I run the out-take clips pass the guys to vito anything they don't want I'll post up some of the stuff here at Surf the Dream and also at Surf Twisted.

As I sat down on Sunday night I reflected over where I was and what I was doing.

It is amazing to think that a single passing comment about a big swell would trigger a series of events that would lead me to a situation where I am working with two professional big wave surfers who have been nominated for the Billabong XXL awards and a professional water photographer with a trail of photographs in numerous surf mags.

Twelve months ago I was a government employee of 8 years and now I've had the opportunity to travel the world and have filmed Hawaii, Mayan Ruins, Puerto Escondido, Barra De La Cruz, an epic day at Mullaghmore and now the vicious "hell-man only" cribber.

If ever an opportunity to do something you're passionate about you should grab it with both hands, go whole heartedly with it and do what ever you can to get there.

We can only every realise our dreams once we let go of our reality.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

London to Newquay

After enduring a 15 minute phone call with a painful echo that went something along the lines of

"Ask him for his departure station"
"What is your departure station"
"Ask him which day he wishes to depart"
"Which day do you wish to depart"
"Ask him what time he wants to depart"
"What time would you like to depart"
"Ask him where he wants to go"
"Where would you like.........

and so on and so forth for EVERY possible detail of the trip. Thorough yes, required.... not really. I suppose I was a little annoyed because I had already been through this with the online booking system 5 times only to find that at the last stage the system could not book the tickets because of 1 of 17 possible errors with the site.

Hmmmmm, helpful? I think not.

The reason all these questions weren't required was based on the fact that I had completed this 5 times already and new the exact departure time place, arrival time, connecting stations and even the name of the driver for the trip..... and I explained all of these things as soon as the first question was asked.

But the guy was new and I suppose he had to learn how to cover all the bases at some stage, not everyone would be calling up thinking they know everything about a trip.

The good news is that I'm booked in and am finally going to make it over to Newquay for the weekend where I'll catch up with the boys and get some more filming done.

I arrive on the Friday night and I'm not due to head off until Monday afternoon so there's plenty of time to get all the shots and make sure that I kick up my feet and relax in one of the laziest towns in the UK.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Years 2008

Happy New Years!

I was just going to leave this post at that first line, but I figured seeing as we're all reigning in a new year something more probably should be said of the situation.

It's about 11.15 New Years Eve and I've just convinced my gorgeous house mate Sarah (who is single by the way.... but you'd better be nice to her because I'm kind of protective) that I'm not going to head out tonight for the celebratory fun.

I wonder why that is though?

Why this year of all years should I not head out for a big night?

I've been telling everyone it is because I've been sick over the Christmas break and that another good nights sleep and a lazy day in bed will do me wonders to get back on top of things again. Of course, the other way of looking at it could be a social night out bathed in the warm glow of fireworks amongst the happy reveling crowds which could spark the life back in to me. But of course there's the risk of being out till 5pm tomorrow afternoon still drinking at a big New Years Day recovery session (how good was the cav that year!)

I'm definitely close to booking another trip over to Ireland for a few days this time with the two surfing maestro's which will be long stints on or near water in freezing conditions, so I want to be fully fit for that when it occurs. Could that be it as well?

I shouldn't forget either that 12 months earlier we were all struggling to keep our eyes open in Torquay at the house. It wasn't until we started up a game of taboo between the sexes at the back table we were able to make it through to till the am (although me and the rest of the boys still think the girls were cheating, there's no other reason why they could have possibly won by that margin).

This year New Years Eve falls on the biggest year of my life to date. I've seen more of the world, learnt more about other cultures and myself, and have made more friends and close family then I ever thought was possible.

New Years Eve is a night to celebrate the past year, be thankful for what you've accomplished and look forward to new beginnings. The strange thing is that while I have been travellling just about every day has had that outlook.

In the end I think it is a culmination of all these things which have kept me quiet for this new years...............and I couldn't be more happy than this if I tried.

So from me, thank you to everyone that helped me out in 2007! You know exactly who you are, and I thank you thank you thank you! With out you there is no way that I would be at this situation right now (and that's a good thing).

It's now 11.51 (see, it might not seem like it sometimes but I do actually put some thought into these posts) and I'm about to flick the light off. I'm sure my house mates will be in to wake me when they get back, but for now another BIG ..........