I am not a number…

Prisoner fans at Portmeirion


I recently joined fans of the cult 1960’s TV show “The Prisoner” as they returned to “The Village” for the “Portmeiricon” Prisoner fan convention.

The Prisoner was probably one of the most influential pieces of television of the 1960s not only in the UK and USA but also in France, Australia and many other countries. Even The Beatles were fans. Its cult status was confirmed with the establishment in the 1970s of the official Prisoner Appreciation Society, Six of One.Prisoner human chess

Patrick McGoohan not only starred as Number Six, the leading role in The Prisoner, he was also the creator and driving force behind the 17 episode series.  Many well known actors had guest roles in the series: Leo McKern, Peter Bowles, Eric Portman, Patrick Cargill, Mary Morris, Paul Eddington and Donald Sinden to name but a few.

“PortmeiriCon” is the name given to Six of One’s regular Prisoner Convention.  This unique event is staged at the original filming location at the hotel village of Portmeirion in North Wales.  The gathering has a full programme of activities and entertainment for members of Six of One and visitors.  Everyone can watch outdoor events, but the indoor programme was for society members only.

The conventions started in 1977 when Six of One met with Portmeirion’s creator, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.  The star of the show Patrick McGoohan became Honorary President until his sad passing in 2009, and the event has been supported by numerous stars over the years.

Events include a protest march in support of number 6 and several games of human chess.  Click on the images below to see them interactively, but watch out for Rover !

Luckily I managed to escape in time to get the pictures into the Mail Plus edition of the Daily Mail – as the prisoner said: “I am not a number. I am a free man”.








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Back to school


NewarkViolins2Take a look at the students and staff at the internationally renowned Newark School of violin making. This wonderful place provides a wide range of practical instrument making skills for violin, viola and cello. It also teaches professional techniques for the repair and restoration of stringed instruments covering the main requirements of the violin trade, they even know how to repair your bow.

The ambiance and atmosphere in this wonderful building takes you back in time.  Students learn skills that are as much in demand today as they were 300 or 400 years ago and travel from all over the world to study in Nottinghamshire.  There is a rich and diverse range of experience, age and culture.

These 360 degree images appeared in the Mail Plus for iPad App recently.  Make sure you look carefully around the drying room where instruments are left to hang in ultraviolet light in order to ‘age’ and colour the wood.

Although the college is located in the centre of Newark it is actually part of Lincoln College.  Over the years the school has developed close links with many professionals and organisations within the industry including the BVMA, Luthiers Sans Frontiers and the Italian violin making centre of Cremona (home to the maker of the famous Stradivarius).  Graduates find employment in violin workshops around the world and many have progressed to become leaders in the fields of instrument-making, restoration and dealing in rare instruments.



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It really is a small world


Photo 01-11-2013 21 08 57When I was building this website I was joking about the small planet images and saying just how small our world really is.

Following on from my shoot with England Ashes cricketer Joe Root, the bat manufacturers Gunn & Moore kindly featured the assignment on their website (see picture & click on it to read full story).  When I visited the site to check my moment of glory I was surprised to see an old friend featured on the previous news item.

Many, many years ago I was a useful lower league cricketer for my home town club, Keswick in Cumbria.  At that time we used to buy our equipment from another local player who has started up his business in the neighbouring town of Penrith.  Dickie Spruce was a very useful cricketer who was always happy to help the local clubs.  He brought top class equipment to Cumbria at a time when most sports shops in the area carried one cricket bat.

Nothing was too much trouble and he went out of his way to find the best and most up to date equipment for his Sportscraft shop.  I was delighted to see Dickie collecting his award from another Cumbrian cricket legend Paul Nixon after his years of service to the game and Cumbria.

So almost thirty years since I last saw Dickie I met up with him in cyber space – you see it is a small world….

PS:  I can’t claim to know Paul but I played many games against his dad !

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Root set to batter Aussies


ROOT10England cricketer Joe Root visited the Gunn & Moore bat factory in Nottingham last week and I was invited along to shoot some 360 degree interactive panoramic images for the Mail Plus iPad app.

The Gunn & Moore craftsmen produce English willow bats from start to finish at the Nottingham factory, this is the only place in the UK to complete the full process.

Joe picked the new GM Six6 for Test Matches and the GM Octane for ODIs and T20s.

The Ashes tour party fly out tomorrow with the first test at The Gabba in Brisbane on November 21st followed by further fixtures in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

Click on the images below to look around the factory.

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The land of giant vegetables


Mail Plus Nottinghamshire gardener Peter Glazebrook is the daddy of giant vegetable growers.  He has a long standing reputation for producing award winners and record holding monsters.

As you wander through the polytunnels in his garden you see onions growing on pedestals, surrounded by artificial lighting and cooled by fans.  Leeks look like small trees and the cabbages will only just fit into his wheel barrow.  The vegetables may look like mutants from a science lab but they come from simple cross-pollination. Peter explains it as essentially the lesson of the birds and the bees, only with giant onions as the outcome.  The frustrating part for the grower is that they have no way of knowing how they have done until they uproot their vegetables and clean off the dirt.

Peter, 69, devotes his life to his garden.  He says he is ‘full-time’ at it and his wife, Mary, helps with a lot of work as well.  They don’t have a holiday, and just go away when visiting the shows. Peter is up at six and usually working until it’s dark.  The hours are long, the costs of heating and cooling their greenhouses are expensive and the financial rewards are minimal.  The retired building surveyor proudly showed me around his garden and I shot some interactive 360 degree panoramas for the Mail Plus for iPad app.

Peter claims giant vegetable growing is a gentle pastime for gentlemen. It may largely be about sheer weight, but a tender touch is needed to get to the scales.  Too much sun or some heavy rain and months of hard work can be ruined in an instant. Peter has held eight world records, including one for the biggest onion weighing 8.16 kg.  This years attempt came up just short as his onion only weighed 6.84 kg !

Click on the images below to join me in Peter’s garden.



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