Watts Happening

26th September 2010
I love Asia, the madness of it all. The fact that life is so different. This photo's for Louise.

Chef Siddharth
26th September 2010
I've just had a personal consultation with Chef Siddharth regarding my lunch. There I was, perusing the menu, when he came up, said hello and proceeded to recommend the wok specials. He even showed me his noodles so nothing was left to chance. I've opted for the thinner variety and extra cashews.

It smells good and I'm about to taste my complimentary mange tout with garlic (mange tout Rodney, mange tout.) Very garlicky it is too, lovely.

The restaurant's open plan with beautiful, simple decor: natural woods, bamboo screens and white pebbles.

Chef Siddharth is on fire in the open plan kitchen. Not literally you understand, but there are flames dancing around the wok as he whips up my noodles and pak choy with cashew nuts, no chilli.

This is all accompanied by the two man house band (for my MotoGP friends it's very similar to the house band at the Pan-Pac at KL airport.) Their repertoire includes Robbie Williams, The Police and The Doors.

Given the build up, I'm sure your tastebuds are desperate to know how lunch was. It was perfect. The noodles an understated support act to the ginger kick pak choy wok special. Chef Siddharth knows his stuff, he could prove to be my food salvation while I'm in Delhi.
Bathroom Jeopardy
25th September 2010
Look at this luxury hotel bathroom. It’s stunning isn’t it? Only one problem, there wasn’t any water coming out of the taps when I tried to have a shower.

However, water did start coming out of them about a minute before the plumber in blue overalls arrived. I think he was quite disappointed not to be able to spring into action. He just shrugged and walked away when I told him the good news.

It adds that element of jeopardy, not knowing whether there'll be water and it gives you pause for thought as to what it's like for the millions that don't have water on tap.
Norma's Happy
24th September 2010

Norma, on the right, got delayed on her way to meeting me for dinner. She was in the lift and noticed that there is a Whiskey Bar on the lobby level. In her excitement she then failed to leave the lift and rode it back to the 6th floor and down again before realising that she should have left the lift at the lobby, or what she now calls, the Whiskey Bar level.
Arrived in Delhi
23rd September 2010
A couple of years ago Delhi airport was voted the worst in the world by Wanderlust readers. With that, and a week of stories involving Delhi’s failure to be ready for the Commonwealth Games in mind, I was trepidatious upon my arrival.

Instead of chaos though, we were greeted with smiles. We were escorted from the plane, along the travelators, to our first checkpoint where our accreditations were checked off a list. Our officials ushered us to our second checkpoint where our accreditations were validated.

After passport control, we were sat down and given tea and biscuits giving me time to photograph these hands that decorate the walls. There are 12 of them, based on the traditional Indian dance, each of them representing a different emotion.

After a suitable amount of time waiting we were guided to our baggage, which had been removed from the carousel for us, and led out of the baggage hall into arrivals. We waited for a bus, then (drumroll please) 90 minutes after landing, we boarded it.
Traffic Jam
23rd September 2010
We got caught in traffic on the way to the hotel, no surprise there. A lot of people were waving at us from their buses and lorries as they whizzed past.

Even when the road was clear our driver pootled along at 5mph because the hotel staff were on the bus trying to distribute room keys before we arrived at the hotel. They realised with 5 minutes to go that they had more keys than journey time, so our driver was forced to slow down, allowing bicycles to overtake us.

Two and a half hours after landing, we arrived at our hotel. Twenty minutes after arriving at the hotel, there was a power shortage. Welcome to Delhi!
Lennon, Lupus & Laughter
13th September 2010
John Lennon wrote the song: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds about the sister of one of these tutu clad women that I filmed with today. See, I knew that would make you read on. How cool is that for John Lennon to have written a song about your sister?

Anyway, Fran (in the middle) is running the Great North Run in memory of her sister Lucy who suffered from Lupus. (I didn’t know what it was either, but you can find out more by visiting Team Lucy’s website: www.justgiving.com/Lucyinthesky.)

Fran’s got two brilliant friends, Gina and Deborah, who are running with her, dressed in purple tutus and sporting butterfly headdresses. The tutus are so wide and flouncy that anyone who dares to run between them will find out what it’s like to go through a car wash.

Their training’s included a 5 mile run to the pub and a taxi ride home, but I’m sure they’ll make it and enjoy the celebratory cool beer with white wine chaser at South Shields. If you’re in Newcastle and see them, cheer them on or buy them a pint. If you see them on the TV, be inspired.

I’m filming two more charity stories this week; I love doing them so it completes what has been a brilliant summer.

Good luck Fran, Gina and Deborah, remember to smile for the cameras even if your butterflies are wilting!
Travel is a funny thing part 1
07th August 2010
I was on the Heathrow Express on Thursday (this, for those of you that don’t know, is the train that runs non-stop from London to Heathrow) a train, which is designed for people who are travelling to and from the airport with bags.

A family of five boarded the carriage that I was on, lugging their bags behind them. There’s nothing unusual in this, they’d all packed more than they could carry and were leaving it to one member of the group to get the bags up into the luggage rack. (Is this why luggage is so named I wonder, a merging of the words lugging and bag?)

None of this is unusual. However, I did raise a quizzical eyebrow when the ticket inspector reached our intrepid family and the dad asked if the train would stop long enough for them to get their bags off. I repeat: it’s a train to Heathrow carrying people with luggage to and from their holidays and business trips. What did our family think the train was going to do upon arrival at Heathrow? Judging by his concern, the dad believed the train would slow down, the doors open and the passengers would fling their bags out then jump for their lives, landing in a bundle on the platform. Likewise, passengers getting on at Heathrow for the journey back to London, would have to hurl their bags on, then jump in behind them, landing in a pile of bodies and bags playing Mrs Muddle in the carriage entrance.

Unlike me, the ticket collector didn’t seem phased by the question and, he answered without any sarcasm, informing the dad that the train stops for two minutes, plenty of time for people to get their bags and their families off.

I returned to gazing out of the window.

“How will we know when we’re there?”

I turned back to our intrepid family. This question hadn’t come from one of the children; it had come from the dad. I looked at the ticket inspector, the ticket inspector looked at the dad, the dad looked expectantly at the ticket inspector, the ticket inspector walked down the aisle “tickets please.” I handed mine over.

For the record, you’ll know when your Heathrow Express train has arrived at its destination because it will slow down and then stop, the doors will open and the signs on the platform will read Heathrow Terminals 1 and 3 (I don’t know what happened to the signs for 2) and the doors will stay open long enough for you to get your luggage off.
Travel's a funny thing part 2
07th August 2010
I’m flying to Stockholm from T3. It’s my second passage through T3 in 4 days.

Terminal 3 is horrible.

It may have a new plaza area at the front, but that doesn’t reduce the chaos inside and also means non-smokers now have to pass though the smog that lurks just outside all of the entrances.

Once inside it’s bumper-to-bumper trolleys with owners looking backwards while pushing forwards. Interestingly, you notice the plural of trolleys is trolleys and not trollies. Why is that? It’s very difficult trying to find a way through the congested trolleys laden with too heavy luggage. When faced with such a sight I think of Crocodile Dundee walking across the top of the crowds in the New York subway. One day.

I’m carrying my simple, but lovely, red leather carry-on bag for my Diamond League sojourn in Sweden. My sole aim: to pass through the airport at both ends as quickly and efficiently as possible. You can imagine my joy then, when I got stuck behind an old lady who was pushing her wheelchair very slowly. Now, if she can’t walk faster than minus 1mph, why isn’t she in the wheelchair?

Another senior lady further scuppered my plans for a smooth passage to the aircraft when she stepped out in front of me, dragging her too heavy hand luggage. The fact that she was wearing an orange velour leisure suit just added insult to injury. Did I mention that she had a limp?

T3 trauma aside, I did make it to Stockholm and, in stark contrast to Heathrow it was uber efficient at Arlanda airport. I disembarked, swept through passport control and the baggage hall, bought a ticket for the Arlanda Express and then travelled down two escalators, on my own, to the train. There wasn’t another soul in sight.

And guess what? There was even enough time for me to get my bag off the train at Stockholm Central!
Barcelona 2010
06th August 2010
Great Britain's long distance double act took to the stage in Barcelona and kick started an exciting and rewarding week of athletics. Their grins couldn't have been wider, nor the respect for each other any greater. True sportsmen.

Mo Farah & Chris Thompson, Gold & Silver in the Men's 10,000m.

No medal for Chambers in Barcelona, not that you'd know it from this smile. MLF won the silver, I hope he can keep up the good work and continue to prove himself.

I like Phillips. He's a friendly athlete who seems to have found his groove and, in doing so, has won the World and European Championship titles. He doesn't seem to take it for granted either, his reaction to this victory was really emotional when he was talking to Phil. Here's to 2012.

You'll remember the last time that Christian featured in the watts happening section was in Beijing 2008. Then I was happy to see him in an Olympic final. Whilst the European Championships are a pared down field, it was still fantastic to see Christian medal.

Our intrepid crew set off to the W hotel in Barcelona, tasked with interviewing Linford for a preview for the Men's 100m. Imagine my joy, when I saw this bar full of gold sofas and cushions. It couldn't have been more perfect for the golden team of Christie and McIntosh.

24th June 2010
I don't think I've seen HRH before. I had a letter from her (when I was 6) in response to a card I sent her (don't hold it against me, I didn't know any better.) But I think today's sighting, we were just a couple of metres away from each other, is the first.

No doubt, Mum will put me right if I've forgotten a meeting with her when I was 2 months old. Anyway, the Queen's visit meant that I couldn't get into work the normal way (she's so disruptive,) but I did have a good chat with one of the maintenance guys while waiting for her to walk past.
Poor Pete
23rd June 2010
At some stage during the afternoon of live athletics on Sunday, I asked Pete if he'd be able to do something while playing out replays. I can't remember what it was, but I do remember that his response was priceless.

The VT boys have a tendency of pulling faces at me. On a previous OB (outside broadcast) I pronounced that "I have a plan" only to turn around and see one of Pete's colleagues rolling his eyes. No respect! Pete's one of the people I'll be working with in Delhi, I'm not sure he's looking forward to it!
Abba, Fish & Trolls
19th June 2010
I was serenaded by Abba at breakfast, Mamma Mia, here I go again. How appropriate. I’m in Norway, high up on the west coast in Bergen. I last visited here in 1987 when Paul and I were inter-railing and my hair was brown. It’s unrecognizable.

I wandered around the fish market to capture a flavour of the place and experienced a first: whale meat for sale. I was quite taken aback to see it. It looked different to how I thought it would, but then. I’ve never contemplated what I thought whale meat would look like. The prawns are massive and make the tiger prawns in the fresh fish counter at Morrisons look positively puny. For my Australian readers, they’re even bigger than any prawn I’ve ever seen down under too. Huge. (You can tell this is a good day when the highlight was the size of the prawns.)

After a foray into the world of all things fishy the work started. First, interviews at the team hotel with Steve Cram followed by filming in Bergen with Jonathan. I found him a troll to film with, but he didn’t seem too keen (Jonathan, not the troll.) I also spotted a tour guide with a pink umbrella and megaphone, which I offered to borrow for Jonathan to use for one of his links. Alas, he turned that down too. We do have fun, I'm sure he's laughing with me, not at me.
And The Bafta Goes To...
11th June 2010

The World Athletics Championships Production Team, BBC Two/BBC Sport

We won a Bafta! After eight years with the athletics team the hard work and time spent sitting in the same truck in a different car park somewhere in the world editing features and turning round replays has paid off. It's brilliant and a tribute to everyone in this photo. It's a fine way to sign off as a staffer at the BBC but also tinged with sadness. One more summer of athletics and it's all over. It's Norway, Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, Zurich, Brussels and Delhi before the final farewell, so there'll still be stories.
Webby's Last Day
28th April 2010
If you watched the London Marathon coverage on Sunday you may have heard the commentators talk about Martin, who's leaving the BBC after steering our ship for many years.

This is he, keeping an eye on Micky as he directs the marathon coverage. Martin's a maverick, an amazing director and a fantastic line manager, in fact he's one of the very few people who knows how to manage me! Missing you already Webby.
Meet Ollie and George
19th April 2010
"I'm going through fat balls like there's no tomorrow" complained Phil as we were driving in Manchester on Saturday night. Both being grey and middle aged, we were discussing his new bird feeder that had been hijacked by the squirrels. Apparently, they merrily shimmied up the pole, balanced on the birds' perch and helped themselves to the birds' food on a daily basis. "I wouldn't mind if they were hungry, but they're just squirrelling it away. Enough is enough."

I sympathised, since installing a bird feeder in my garden, I've had a whole array of new feathered friends visiting number 29, however, some of them have taken it a step further and have moved in, bed and breakfast bird style. I'm sure I have at least one nesting in the guttering or under the roof tiles. Give them an inch...

Anyway, the reason I was with PJ was because we were filming with Ollie and Georgie Battye on Sunday. Ollie's recovering from bone cancer and Georgie's running the London marathon for Ollie and Clic Sargent. We had a brilliant day with them.
Flutterbugs Photoshoot
04th April 2010
It's been an interesting Easter weekend. Yesterday, I saw Jesus and Herod's men walking up the hill in Halstead. Apparently, it happens every year. Then on Good Friday I spent a day photographing butterflies. Not real ones of course, but they still proved too difficult for my little helpers to catch.

If you want to read more about the flutterbugs/butterflies, check out www.flutterbugs.co.uk.
Happy Easter!
The Prince
20th October 2009

I'm staying in one of my favourite hotels for a couple of days: The Prince in St Kilda, Melbourne. It's lovely, apart from the building work that's going on. The early morning banging noise aside, everything else is great, the colours, comfortable beds (I have 2 bedrooms) and the beautiful shower room complete with Aesop products. Plus, the internet is free. One of my biggest gripes about hotels is that they charge extra (£18 for 24 hours in Sydney) for the internet. Why? It should be included. Anyway. It's 28 degrees outside today, so I'm off for a wander along the beach before drawing up the running order for next weekend's MotoGP from Malaysia. Must dash. Laura
18th October 2009
Did I tell you that I went to Rick Stein’s new restaurant in Australia last week?

You know, Rick Stein’s new restaurant that had only been open a week?

I didn’t?

How rude.

TC, Dave and Lesley organised it as a special treat for me on my first trip to Mollymook, a place as cute as it sounds. It’s a perfect seaside town, 3 hours south of Sydney. Apparently Rick thinks so too, which is why he’s bought a place there.

My first ever RS experience involved seared (melt in your mouth) tuna with guacamole, red snapper and Chinese greens and a part share in a passionfruit meringue. I don’t want to make you too jealous, so let’s just say it was an altogether very pleasant meal made even better by the company of my new friends.

Thanks Rick.
Adventures in Sydney
09th October 2009
Sydney’s a big city.

So big in fact, that you’d think you could escape the local drunks.

This was not the case yesterday.

I made my long-awaited and much anticipated trip into the city, excited by the prospect of sitting by the harbour, watching the world go by while lapping up the sun’s warming rays. In reality, and stark contrast to Surfers Paradise, it was cold, windy and I needed two jumpers on to keep warm. I’m sure many of you will find that amusing, I didn’t.

The fact that it was probably the same temperature during spring in Sydney as it was in Essex in autumn did not deter me. I carried on round to the opera house, keen to get some photos. I found a sheltered spot and sat down to watch the busload of tourists decked out in bright red hats as they climbed the steps to the opera house, taking photos all the way. That’s when it happened. He sprung out of nowhere. The drunk. “Why are you sitting there?” “Where are you from?” Time to move before he sat down next to me.

About half an hour later, I was taking some photos, absorbed by f stops and shutter speeds and waiting for clouds to blow out of my shot, when I heard: “Why are you standing so close to that?” He’d found me again and proceeded to tell me that other people take photos from over there. Well, I’m taking one from here, I said and moved away again.

I followed the red hats as they wandered through to have their photos taken with the bridge in the background and then left the opera house. I mooched about in the Quay, watching the boats come and go, then headed for home.

There are hundreds of bus stops in Sydney.

So many in fact, that you’d think there’s no way on earth the drunk you’ve been dodging all day would turn up at the same one as you.

Think again.

There I was waiting for the 433 to Balmain, when I saw him. Walking towards me.


He proceeded to talk to me about the Storm washing away the Eels. He wasn’t talking about the weather, but referring to the Grand Final in which Melbourne (Storm) had beaten Paramatta (Eels). Not wanting to engage with my new stalker I turned my back and studied the timetable.

Thankfully, he jumped on the next bus and left me standing there, checking over my shoulder in case he’d got back off at the next stop and sneaked up on me again.