We had breakfast early in Stockport, but in truth I didn’t sleep well. That’s nothing new, I really hate hotel pillows. Why? Well at home I have feather pillows. I blame my mum, I’ve used them all my life! Hotels tend to have foam based pillows that I hate.. I just can’t get comfortable. Anyhow, I’ll add to this later on..
The Stockport venue was The Moor Suite, a masonic hall that had a good size. Not to mention £2 for tea and coffee all day and a £3 buffet lunch. The day went well, although we had to put an onOne banner sign on a table to block the sun from hitting the projector screen. I nipped out to shoot a local church during the lunch break. I actually used one of the shots in the later seminars to show Camera Profiles.
The deep blue of evening was well set in as we packed the van before heading to our next destination. With little sleep on my travel day, and the previous night, I managed an uncomfortable nap in the van. Carl was kind enough to post a less than flattering shot on Facebook.
My mustachio for Movember was starting to develop at that stage. Nice. We got to Pontefract late enough and had dinner in the associated Italian restaurant of the Kings Croft Hotel. Starter was nice, but things went downhill for Mark. His calzone was practically raw coming out, so it was sent back. It came back 2 minutes later with a burnt top and sauce all over, hiding the original cut, where we could see the raw pastry. Which was still raw. Not good. Anyhow the rest of us had a great meal. Our service went from good to terrible though. We had to ask a number of times for desert menus, and after we eventually got them, it took stopping a waitress 15 minutes later to actually order. The duty manager would circle the room and stop before our table, and then go the other way. It would’ve been funny, except for how tragic it was. Mark was starving so I ordered desert on his behalf.. So off to bed.
Another night of little sleep, but I at least managed to get work done on the iPad. I went down to breakfast and was sent back to bed for an hour. Much needed, felt way better. Although this venue had the lowest numbers of the tour, the crowd were really interested and had great questions. One thing I did really enjoy was giving people specific answers to questions that they need answers to. We packed up and made our way to Coventry. And a treat. When the Mark Cleghorn/Phototraining4U gang are at Focus On Imaging, one of the evening always entails a trip to Coventry to eat at the Wing Wah. It’s an all you can eat Chinese buffet, with the cooking and service area shaped like a boat. Nom Nom Nom. So seeing as we were in Coventry, we went to the Wing Wah. One really funny thing that happens in the Wing Wah is the birthday celebrations. The head waiter brings out a cut melon filled with ice cream, with a practically nuclear sparkler flaring away. An he doesn’t look at all pleased about it. His name was Guy, so cue hilarious jokes about ‘Who’s that guy?’ or ‘That guy over there’ etc. Did I mention the birthday song? The background music comes out with a cute girly oriental voice singing Happy Birthday. Priceless. The place was mostly empty, but there still managed to be 4 birthday parties there that night. We nearly made it Andy from onOne’s birthday!
The Royal Court was the Coventry venue. It’s a really plush hotel, marble floors, the works. We did have a sound issue though, our PA was bust. Fortunately, we had time to get a replacement from Maplin, so despite a little panic it all came together well. Again loads of great questions throughout the day. I was exhausted though, by the end of it, because I still wasn’t sleeping well. In a moment of pity, I was taken shopping after we packed up… so I bought a feather pillow.. Cue the ‘Awwwwwsss’. I slept like a baby in the van. I still woke up during the night, but I did manage get back asleep for the first time.
Cambridge was our last venue for the first week, or rather Sandy. For a change we went to an Indian restaurant. Called Ghandi. So we went to Ghandi, in Sandy. It was really close, so I guess that was handy. We had a good time. It was dandy.. I think you can see where this is going? Loads of bad rhyming, in even worse Indian accents. By Indian I mean from India too BTW, not native American Indians, just to be clear. The food was fantastic. A well fed boy fell into bed. Sleep was still fleeting (probably the most consistent thing about the tour!). The funny thing about a tour is that despite being prepared, it takes a few days to get to where it’s solid. There’s nothing bad about the 1st or 2nd day, but by the 3rd day the material has tightened up, and the order flows better. There’s still the same information being shared, but it’s become more natural and questions from the previous days have become incorporated into the material. So being there at the beginning can influence the tour, and it’s worth it for that. So Sandy was rock solid, being 5 days in.
The one great thing about Sandy was we were heading to Cardiff for the weekend. A long drive, and a good sleep for me 🙂 There were serious traffic problems though. One of the attendees actually rang the office to warn us to avoid the motorway we had intended taking. There’d been a serious accident and traffic had been at a standstill for 25 minutes at that stage. We detoured, and while it made the journey longer, it wasn’t so difficult.
Saturday in Cardiff was great: Wales were playing South Africa at Millenium Stadium. It was a wicked game, and Wales almost won, but just couldn’t get the final try they needed. It was the first rugby international I’d been to, and thoroughly enjoyed it. After, I did a bit of shopping for presents and we ate in. Debbie (Mark’s wife & the boss!) and Carl cooked. Best. Yorkshire Puddings. Ever. Carl used to chef at a 2 star restaurant and it showed. Debbie’s a mean cook too. Off to bed and then up early for some Grand Prix to see Sebastian Vettel win the Formula 1 drivers competition. Knowing there was spare time, Mark was kind enough to book a model for me. I used the images on the rest of the tour, you can see a selection over at Random Panderings.
After dinner we made our way to Twickenham and in to bed early. Another good day, including a comment by a lady that’s been to many seminars. She’s been to a lot of big name photographers, and said she’d learned more here today for £30 than she’d learned from them for hundreds. Nice. There were 2 days left and so we made our merry way to Southampton. I made the called for pizza. Our hotel recommended a local Italian, so we went for it. Wonderful. Both Andy and Doug from onOne had their first calzone, and I think a conversion was had. It wont’t be their last.
There was one thing that I had been warned about Southampton. The Lightroom Queen, Victoria Bampton, mentioned her parents would be there. Now there’s something to make the day interesting. I got great reactions from the audience to my timelapse and tilt shift sections, and was inundated with questions. Of course I did get to meet Victoria’s parents. They enjoyed the day (phew!). The best thing about Southampton, was we were travelling back to Cardiff! A familiar bed again, even if it wasn’t my own. The weather was miserable though, the next morning. And the fact that we had a puncture pulling into the hotel didn’t help either. Still we got over it and got everything set up. The room was warm, and warm rooms tend to have nodders, so I had fun teasing Paul, who works on the PT4U backend, as well as being a photographer for nodding! Cardiff in Mark’s turf, so I was glad that I was still getting questions there. I also met Gary Williams, another Phototraing4U Master there. Nice to meet you, Gary! And so ended the tour. I still had to wait until the next day to go home, but it was still a ball, even though it was hard work and tough going. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Great fun.
I think the boys still liked me after it. Which isn’t bad really after 10 days in a van!
And it was great spending more time with the onOne boys, who I’d only really spoken to briefly at shows before this.