Saturday, 11 March 2017

Hampshire Coast

It's 10.55am and I've only just woken up! Yesterday was a long old day, which involved much driving, and saw me getting back to Highgate finally at almost 2am.

The day started in our Farnham hotel, with a walk down to breakfast through the corridor with the really peculiar atmosphere. I eventually asked our waitress if anyone else had reported ghostly sightings in the passageway. She nodded profusely. "Many times. By the bar there, and up in room 2." Fortunately I hadn't been staying in room two. Mind you, go to any ancient coaching house in the U.K. and someone will tell you it's haunted, so I don't think anyone should feel the need to sack Derek Acorah on my part.

We had a little wander about the charity shops in the town centre before jumping in the car and driving down to Lymington, where we were due to run a second quiz. Abbie made my day by mistakenly calling it "Lymington Spa." There's a joke in Em where someone confuses Leamington and Lymington, and, funnily enough, when my Mum went down to the Isle of Wight for holidays with her grandparents, she went from Leamington to Lymington, so the names of both towns are firmly engraved in my family's consciousness.

We had most of the day off and really wanted to see the sea. Neither of us get an opportunity to see it very often. Lymington is at the top of an estuary but isn't really very beachy, so we continued down to what, on a map, looked like it might be the nearest seaside town: Milford on Sea.

It was hugely romantic and misty down there. It was rather odd to think that, on any other day, we'd have had extraordinary views of the Isle of Wight from down there, but, instead, the light grey waves vanished into a pure white echoey haze. We walked along the steep pebble beach for a while, taking in huge gulps of the bracing, yet enriching sea air.

We both had work to do, so stationed ourselves in the corner of a little seaside cafe, where a pot of tea and an enormous slice of cake cost just £2.80. I suppose we worked for three or so hours. I continued my Nene composition, periodically looking out of the window at the sea for watery inspiration. As it happens, I was writing the sequence where the Nene becomes tidal and ultimately flows into the sea, so it couldn't have been more appropriate.

Whilst in the cafe, I caught up on Twitter, and realised that Harry Hill's ode to Coventry Market The Musical on his Alien Fun Capsule programme has caused a bit of a social media stir. We'd known for some time that Hill was going to be parodying my film on his show and had obviously been delighted by the prospect because he's a great fan of wackiness and is never cruel when he takes the pee. As with all of the musical films I created for the BBC regions, the entire Coventry Market film was made with its tongue very firmly planted in the side of its cheek, and we knew Hill knew that. I'm told he's been watching the film for years.

I haven't yet watched the piece, but I know Cathy Burke, Ainsley Harriott and Lorraine Kelly are singing lines in an updated version of my song, so, really, one could argue that my work on this planet is done!

There's also been a spike in visits to my other films on YouTube. The Metro film now has 114k views.

Just like Coventry Market, the cafe in Milford on Sea was filled to the brim with characters, many rather old and infirm. We watched people shuffling in with sticks and strollers, each footstep seemingly causing them more pain than the last. But they were still there. Still going to the cafe every day. Still keeping their minds alive. The conversations were wonderful, "ooh, look, Peter, that painting on the wall's finally been sold." "I wonder if John's going to put jam in his hot chocolate..."

Our quiz was in a beautiful school which apparently has grounds which feature majestic views of the island. When it's not misty! 

The quiz went well. It was a lovely, boisterous crowd, all of whom seemed to be genuinely up for it.

The journey home took us through the New Forest, which was deeply eerie. Putting the car headlights on full beam was a really bizarre experience. They reflected on the mist and made it look somehow like an alien aircraft had its landing lights pointing down on us. I half expected to see the Black Shug or some mystical white horse rearing up in the middle of the road.

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