2016: Review

This year has been very busy and emotional. Work has been very hectic and stressful and this will continue for the first part of the year at least. I was hoping to get round to doing some filmmaking this year but due to unforeseen circumstances, I was just never able to get round to organise something.

IMG_1650In May I went on holiday to Spain as normal. I spent a few days in Barcelona and then went up the coast to Lloret to visit friends. When I got to Spain the weather was not the best (it was than back here!). It was raining and there were a couple of storms. However, I still had a great time and the weather did eventually clear. Whilst I was there, I did something new and Girona (a filming location for Game of Thrones) during the Temp De Flors, a flower festival where the city is decorated with flowers in various exhibits and settings. This was amazing and the impact Game of Thrones can clearly be seen [Sic].

It’s no secret that I love Barcelona and want to live there but people find it hard to understand why I love it so much. The only way I can explain it is that Barcelona feels like home. I am more relaxed there. I know my way round (I know lots of good places to eat and drink) and I have friends just up the coast who are like family. That is why I have the goal of living there, I don’t feel like this at home or anywhere else in the UK. I feel awkward, I never seem to get comfortable – always on edge. It’s hard to explain. It’s just how I feel.

When I got back from Spain, a curveball was thrown at me – work asked me got to Boston for 5 weeks to work at a suppliers office for the Project I am working on. The opportunity to go to America and work was something I could not say no to. The experience was very helpful and the work I did with my coimg_0283lleagues has been very beneficial to the project. Boston is a great city (we stayed in a nearby town called Burlington). It was about a 30 minute train journey into Boston and I managed to get a few day trips in over the 5 weeks we were there. I loved the area of Cambridge (where Harvard is) and the fact that I can honestly tell people now that I went to Harvard! [sic] I particularly looked forward to attending a baseball game – as I have become a big fan of the game over the last few years. I have also been following the Boston Red Sox  and I was not going to miss a chance to go to Fenway Park. The game was great and I although I did not see a home run; I was able to see David Ortiz (aka Big Papi) hit an amazing shot in his farewell season. I also made a couple of visits to The Cheesecake Factory times and had a some great steak.

14051834_10153822705112688_5434941402416404245_nWithin 2 weeks of returning from Boston I was off on holiday again. But before that, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of 2 close friends, Rich and Anne-Marie. The wedding was amazing and held in the stunning St Audries Park. I wish them both many years of happiness together.

The first part of my holiday was in Milan, where I would spend a few days before heading on to Switzerland where I was staying in Lugano to attend the Locarno Film Festival and then a weekend on Zurich. I had a great time and really enjoyed each part of the trip, although I was a little disappointed by Milan. The Duomo in Milan is amazing on the outside but I did not get the same feeling of “Wow!” as I do with Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or I had with the Cathedral in Seville. The food was good though, and it was not as expensive as I thought it would be.

image1Switzerland was amazing! Lugano is a lovely city and really did feel like the “Monaco of the  Mountains”. The weather was great my entire time there and I had chance to explore some of the nearby towns. I also took a few long excursions by train. First, I went up into the mountains to First in Grindelwald. That was amazing and I got some amazing photos of the mountains views from the top. I would love to go back. I also loved my short stop over in Lucerne (Luzern) and will be going back there again. When in Zurich I took a short train journey to Bern and spent a few hours walking around the old town which was really enjoyable and I got some great photos.

The Locarno Film Festival has always been on my bucket list and I was not disappointed. I was amazed at the films I saw and it really has inspired me to follow my ambitions and get back into doing film stuff. Watching films in the Piazza Grande was a fantastic experience and I would urge you all to attend and experience what I think is the most amazing communal cinema experience in the world – 8000+ people watching a film on the worlds larger screen, outside – under the Swiss night sky!

When I got back from Switzerland, work was really became busy but I still managed to attuned my 10 year university Reunion that I had organised in London and managed to catch up with some of my great friends. In November, my Granddad passed away and this really was a shock. Although he had been  ill for sometime and we knew that he could pass away. The shock, is still so overpowering. My mum has done amazingly well to manage and cope with everything and day by day we are getting by. However, it still feels strange. He is missed by all of us and we will never forget him.

Next year, I am going back to the Locarno Film Festival, where I will be staying in Ascona (in what should be a Lake front room of the stunning Lake Maggiore!). I will be heading to Spain for my usual holiday in September to see friends in Lloret and for a few days in Barcelona. I hope I get chance to go to another Barcelona game (if the dates work out!)  I am not sure what else will happen but I am sure there will be some more surprises.

I am very excited about what 2017 will bring for me but I need to start focusing on my goals and what I want in life.

I wish you all a happy new year and I hope 2017 brings you good fortune!

 

Back from Locarno/Switzerland

14051834_10153822705112688_5434941402416404245_nWell I arrived back on Monday from Zurich and have caught up in work. I had a great time in Switzerland and at the Film Festival. I was also able to relax and enjoy myself.

The first part of my holiday was in Milan. I was only there a couple of days but to be honest I was underwhelmed. The Duomo and Sforza castle were impressive but the rest of the city and especially the San Siro did not live up to the expectations I had. Navigli was a really good area full of bars and restaurants. I only had 1 pizza in Milan (honest) but it was quite good…

For the next part of my journey and for the film festival I was staying in Lugano in southern Switzerland. It is a 14054215_10153822708907688_2827719544685494036_nbeautiful place and I will be going back there again. I managed to visit a few places locally and really enjoyed the food. The weather was also very good (hot!) and the food was good, although very expensive. As I had a travel pass, I used the rail network a lot to see as much of Switzerland as I could in my time there. I did day trips to Interlaken (and Grindelwald) to see the mountains and Bern (from Zurich). The Swiss Travel Pass is a great value and I recommend anyone who goes on holiday to Switzerland to consider it.

After the film festival I headed up to Zurich where I spent a few days relaxing exploring the city. Overall Switzerland is an amazing place and I enjoyed every part of the trip there. I just wish I had taken more money as I had to budget a lot due to the costs of food and drink. I already know of a few things I want to do next time I go!

13938175_10153822706227688_795095372382476441_oThe film festival was amazing I managed to see lots go great films and have come back refreshed and full of ideas. Watching films in Locarno’s Grande Piazza is amazing. The atmosphere is really electric. The screen (one of the biggest in the world) fills one end of the Piazza where 8,000 people sit. The sound is also really impressive for being out doors. I can’t wait to go back again and I hope to have a film screen in the Grande Piazza!

The night I arrived at the festival I was able to watch Jason Bourne (2016). Great film by the way and it was packed so the atmosphere was amazing. No Matt Damon, but he did send a video message. While I was there several big names were at the festival (Gemma Arterton, Bill Pullman, Harvey Keitel, Roger Corman and Ken Loach).

 

Now I am back in the UK I have to start work on my film and see what I can do before the end of the year. I have decided that I am not going to rush anything, as I want to focus on quality. I want to make a film and tell a story that I can use for entry into Locarno in 2018 (its seems the most realistic date). In the meantime, work will keep me busy and I have to work towards my ultimate goal of moving to Spain…

 

 

Back from Boston!

Well, I am back from Boston!

Working in Boston was an experience. We all worked long hours and but hopefully the 13719483_10153749393892688_751864468164720865_owork we have done has helped and things should improve, going forward. I definitely had cabin fever though…being in a hotel for an extended period is not for me!

Apart from work, Boston is a great city with lots to see (I like Cambridge – where Harvard is) and there are some great places for food. I also managed to catch a Red Sox baseball game when I was there and that was awesome. Over the last few years I have realised grown to like baseball.

I have 2 weeks in work and the I am off to Milan, Lugano/Locarno and Zurich. I can’t wait for the film festival now. Very excited about sitting in the Piazza Grande for Locarno69 – will be watching Jason Bourne (2016) on the 5th August and the possibility of meeting Bill Pullman. I wish could I spend more time in Milan. A day and a half is not enough time really – especially as I will not be able to see The Last Supper.

I need to start thinking about my film and what I am going to do, Work has been very busy and has taken over my life-it always has when I plan to do anything. I have to write the script something very soon if I am going to do anything in the near future. But I don’t want to rush it though as I want to have a script I am completely happy with.  There is not enough time to do start filming this year but I can make a start in the new year hopefully.

Well, I will be posting more regularly and I will be working on my film going forward…that a guarantee!

Hola Amigos!

My holiday was amazing. The weather was not brilliant for most of it to be honest but I was able to relax and enjoy myself. Just what I needed to forget work for a few days to relax and re-charge my batteries.

Well, I have been back at work a  week and I am exhausted and need another holiday! lol I had planned to do some work on my film whilst I away. But to be honest I have not done any work on my film. I was too tired and needed to relax. I also don’t think I will get chance to do much work on it over the next few months (news about why coming soon).

IMG_1608Barcelona was stunning as always even if it was raining (well short bursts of drizzle really). When I arrived I walked up to the Bunkers Del Carmel and all I have to say is wow! The sore feet were worth the walk up the hill for the stunning views of Barcelona. I will be going back up the hill again next time I am there for sunset, as I am sure I can take some amazing photos!

 

Thankfully, the heavy rain happened over night so you could walk about without getting drenched. I have been before in winter but it was great to see the city like this as it gave me chance to see what it can be like there when the sun is not shining. It has not put me off moving there one day! I felt at home and calm. Something that oddly I never feel like in Bristol. I always feel on edge and that I have to keep moving when in Bristol and its hard to explain why…I guess it is true what they say – home is where the heart is.

My friend from university, Miguel arrived Friday night for the weekend and I gave him the grand tour of Barcelona taking in as many attractions as possible. It was surprising how much we fitted in during the 2 days – and also a shock at how much of the city I didn’t show him! Was great to catch up and laugh about the times we had at university.

IMG_1996-1

Whilst in Barcelona, I did a few things I have never done before. On Saturday, me and Miguel visited the Basilica Santa Maria Del Pi for the tour up the bell tower – 54 meters above the streets of Barcelona. It was a good tour with a fantastic tour guide. The views of the city were amazing – despite the cloud, fog and rain – I will be going back. Hope the tour guide is the same as well 😉 [sic]

I also did a day trip back down to Barcelona when the weather had improved and visited one of the newer attractions in Barcelona, the modernist/Art Nouveaux Sant Pau Recinte Modernista (picture above). The site is a world heritage site and use to be a hospital. The mosaics on and inside the buildings are amazing.

IMG_1733On Sunday night I went to the Camp Nou for the last home game of the season, a derby against Espanyol. Barcelona won 5-0. Great game! I the atmosphere was electric and the weather held. It was a shame that we didn’t win the league that day. When I saw that Levante had gone 2-1 up against Atletico, I was hoping for a Valencia equalizer. I will go going to another game next season – Visca Barca!

IMG_1800After Barcelona, I went up the coast by Train to Lloret De Mar. It was great to see all my friend up in Lloret, even if it was briefly. They will get to see more of me in future though…when I move out to Barcelona though. Seeing the weather and the beach was shocking when I arrived. It was like a winter storm and I through the waves were going to erode the entire beach! The added irony was that back home, there was a heat wave so everyone felt disappointed for me. The staff at hotel I stayed in, Hotel Ninays were amazing and very helpful as usual.

IMG_1877-1Whilst in Lloret, I visited Girona where there was a festival on, Temps de Flors. It was amazing to see all the displays and settings decorated with or inspired by flowers. Some are small and simple while others are larger very theatrical. The photo on the right it just an example of what the displays were like. The sword has been thrust into the steps of the city and it (the city) is bleeding.

Girona itself is an amazing city (its got a large medieval history) and there are several museums. The city also has lots of festivals and events on through out the year.

Whilst I was in Lloret there was also the Formula Weekend  (the weekend of the Catalonia Formula 1 Grand Prix) was different and quite interesting. There were some cool sport cars, karting and a stunt show.

I also managed to eat a lot of food whilst on holiday. I really need to start a diet! [sic] I recommend the gourmet burgers at Bacoa (Carrer de Ferran, Barcelona). I had a Japanese inspired burger covered in teriyaki sauce.

The first week back in work has been hard and the next few months will be very busy. So I may not be posting as much as I can (or should). I will be trying to work on my film but I doubt I will make much progress…

 

I am going to the Locarno Film Festival 2016!

resized_650x365_461023I have just booked my outward bound flight for the 69th edition of the Locarno Film Festival! I am so excited about next summer…I wish it was tomorrow!

I will also get to enjoy the wonderful sights of Milan, Lugano (where I am staying in Switzerland for the festival) and Zurich on my trip. I may also fit in day trips to Lake Como and perhaps Basel too!

I have sorted out my accommodation in all 3 locations. All I need to do now is sort out my rail travel from Milan up to Lugano and then on to Zurich. I will also be getting a Swiss Travel Card for when I am in Switzerland as they seem great value to travel around (and to get free entry into lots of museums).

I have always been drawn to the festival and that is due to the romantic nature of the Piazza Grande in Locarno and watching films funder a Swiss Alpine night sky…I guess I am a romantic at heart myself then. My dream would be to have a film I have directed, screen at the Festival – in the Piazza Grande in front of an audience of 8,000 people! Although, I will be satisfied with just watching a film for now…with some popcorn!

I aim to meet lots of filmmakers in Locarno and make some contacts for my own ambitions. I will need to have a script (or 3) on hand and have lots of ideas to grab the interest of potential backers and collaborators. The perfect motivation for me over the winter to get my head down and write!

Next August expect lots of blogs about the festival, films I see and my travel through central Europe…as well as photos!

Check out the festival here: http://www.pardolive.ch/pardo/festival-del-film-locarno/sponsors-and-partners/Top-Events-of-Switzerland/Festival-del-film-Locarno.html

San Francisco (September 2015)

In September, I went on one of the best vacations of my life, SaIMG_7427n Francisco! This was my first visit to California and the West Coast.I stayed a few blocks from Union Square and I managed to cover a lot of ground – on foot!

I Walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Alcatraz and took in a Giants Baseball game. I also took the train down to Cupertino to the Grand Re-Opening of the Apple Company Store (geek alert!).

Probably the best experience was meeting William Baker, probably better known as Inmate 1259 at Alcatraz. Along with the Cell House tour, hearing him speak about his time on ‘The Rock’ was extraordinary.

I took lots of photo’s (as I normally do when I travel) and thankfully the weather was amazing (only a couple of half days of overcast).

I really enjoyed the baseball game surprisingly. The game still makes no sense to me now but I understand why it’s America favourite past time. For me, it seems to be more about relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere (and food) with friends and family. Defilanlty will be going to another game if I get chance.

A few recommendations:

  • Rouge Ales Public House (opposite Washington Square) – Good beer and bar food.
  • The Pub BBQ (Beach Steet near Ghirardelli Square) – Amazing BBQ
  • Book in advance for Alcatraz and the Cell House tour is a must!

I wish I had more time in San Francisco as I wanted to visit Muir Wood – maybe next time. I cannot recommend San Francisco enough for a visit. Great food, great people and amazing views!San

Looking forward to 2016

2016 is going to be a great year and I will be very busy! I have a lot planned and I am still adding to the agenda. But so far…

In May I will be going on holiday to Barcelona and Lloret de Mar to relax and catch up with some friends. I will be going to the last league game of the season (RCD Espanyol) where I will be sitting a few feet from the pitch. I will be visiting Girona for the Temps de Flors and may also pop up the coast for a day in Cadaqués.

In August I am off on a mini-European tour. Starting off in Milan for a couple of days before heading up to Lugano where I will spending nearly a week as my base for the Locarno Film Festival. I plan on taking a trip across to Lake Como and exploring the beautiful region of Ticino. Finally, I head up to Zurich for a few days before returning home.

I am going to try and sneak in a couple of more European adventures as well (Barcelona again in October and perhaps Lisbon).

I wil also hopefully begin production on my yet un-written short or feature film…very busy!

I am very excited about the Locarno Film Festival. For me the experience of watching a film under an Alpine night sky in the Grande Piazza will be a fulfilling a life long dream.