I surprise myself sometimes. This afternoon I plan to buy a box of chocolates and leave them where I’m bound to find them.
Airbnb, if you haven’t yet met it, can take you into the unknown.
We had planned the first week and a half of an Italy trip but had no idea what lay beyond. So it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves at an apartment close to Lake Garda with no particular schedule for the few remaining days other than to eat cheese and fall off mountain bikes.
Well, she did. I keep forgetting she was never the 9 year old boy I once was, daring myself to do stupid things. I’m going to have to avoid taking her to slopes in Italy because it happened skiing a few years back too. Then though, she was attended to by a posse of 15 handsome young Italian medics all keen to practice making a huge fuss of a poor, abused Englishwoman with a husband so evil and inconsiderate they wouldn’t allow him in the medical room. But I digress…
This place we found was, I imagine, heaving in high season but it was September and most people had gone home. We had the communal pool to ourselves but even better, and warmer, we had Lake Garda to swim in. Which was actually quite handy for soothing a bashed knee and various scrapes.
All too soon it was time to pack up again and leave the country which failed to fulfil my main reason for going; to find proper minestrone… I mean to talk to my darling girl for the first time in years without interruption. We did talk in the car… quite loudly sometimes, particularly about French car ferry signage and Google maps not waking up after making the effort to do so in good time ourselves.
But we’re back. The warning lights are still on but Vlad has exceeded all expectations and we can now get resume the business of proper sized cups of coffee and hacking back the garden.
It’s obviously been hot and sunny back in Blighty. Have we just needlessly spent a fortune? No. We had a great time. And where else would you see this?
Well we made it. Somehow.
The engine warning light came on just as we were about to enter that 17km tunnel under the Swiss Alps but Vlad kept on going and as we practically freewheeled 400 miles or so down into Italy (forgive the mixed units, I’m too tired to care), I was thinking, ‘we have to go back up this somehow … loaded with cheap wine and olive oil!’
Our introduction to the insanity that is the Milan motorway system… in the dark… deserves its own blog. I hope you don’t mind then, if I just blank it out completely, because I want to concentrate on how precious life truly is. And my doctor says I mustn’t go there again. Physically or mentally. How I’m going to get back home then remains even more a mystery…
So we’ve swum in the Ligurian sea on a beach plagued by hawkers and littered with so much plastic that it has put my #2minutebeachclean efforts into perspective. I’ve somehow not quite thrown up after eating the obligatory deep fried calamari and sat in other restaurants thinking the food is better at Prezzo back home. In fact the Italians don’t appear to have much to offer beyond the staples. I was lured here by those damn food programmes. Extolling the virtues of Italian fare maybe one thing but you really have to know people who know exactly where to go for it. So far, so good then for a couple far too rusty and unpractised at the real art of walking into strange places.
With euros rapidly decreasing and morale dipping, we eventually meet up with friends whose house in the Tuscan hills we have come to help with. We meet them at a supermarket for coffee and then try to keep pace round the hairpin bends until Pescaglia comes into view. How beautiful! Here we will work (repointing medieval walls – as you do) and play for the next four days until our AirBandB booking kicks in.
The engine warning light is still on but Vlad seems to be running fine. Time to adopt the Italian strategy of ignoring all red lights and warning signs I think.
Well boy, that time of life is upon you. You know, you promised yourself you’d do the travelling if there was anything left of you after the kids were grown? Well there is so it’s That Time.
You had no clue how starting a family would pan out; but look, even if you’re none the wiser about what happened back there, it was fine, and your carriage awaits. And the wisdom of travelling to Italy … in a beaten up old Fiat?
You’ve checked the oil. You’ll be fine!
Ladies and gents, I proudly present to you our transport of delight, Vladimir Punto.
He’s red, a bit dodgy and could take you into countries you probably shouldn’t go to. I bought him from a bloke who wasn’t actually there when I collected it…from Jaywick… I saw it on gumtree… 300 quid… I think that tells you everything you need to know about my attitude to risk. On the plus side it wasn’t dark at the time.
That was 2+ years ago. I may have spent a bit on it since.
We’ll be attempting to drive to Lucca. Or filthy Lucca as a friend called it. I’ll let you know how it goes. I have visions of pushing old Vlad over a cliff to his spiritual home Italian Job-style and flying back. In fact we could fly there!
Nah. What would there be to write about?
So here it finally is, the trailer for our feature length film With Love From Suffolk. The whole thing was done on under 7 grand with a LOT of input and love from local businesses.
It’ll be screened at Suffolk cinemas throughout June and July so make sure you go if you’re in the county. Tickets are a fiver.
Enjoy and please share.
Happy new year, what’s left of it. Exciting times here at Old Git central.
It’s nice to report writing projects are starting to queue up since making this film (premiere 15th Feb) and people talking about filthy lucre which is always promising.
I’m just over an hour into a full length film. It has a beginning, a middle, currently two endings and the possibility of a sequel… assuming it ever gets made.
I was approached to do something dark and tense (not really my genre) so wrote a couple of example scenes thinking they’d hate it but alas, they loved it. So what began as a writing exercise has now become quite enjoyable.
Screenwriting seems to be finally providing the answer to that lifelong nagging question: what are you going to do when you grow up? Although I do feel a bit (a bit?) … a massive fraud since I’ve always avoided the whole cinema experience thing. Like many, I just don’t enjoy or need that huge screen with badly positioned speakers and people around me chattering, rustling crisp bags and slurping drinks, texting and doing what cinema goers feel obliged to do.
But now he’s here… and this time he’s actually installed a large screen and a projector in his man cave.
Always loved film, me.
The most extraordinary thing has happened. For three long days, people I’ve never met before gave their all to make ten minutes of dialogue I wrote come to life on the big screen. I am struggling to process this happy fact.
A few years ago I approached a writer after he’d given a talk and asked him for any tips. His response was to the point. “Be lucky”, he said. I kind of knew what he meant so went in search of this “luck” ( for “luck” read “slog”). Though it turns out a bit of luck was involved as the piece being filmed would have been missed had I not submitted a second script with a covering note for the previous submission.
Anyway, the script made it and all eyes became focussed on the weather forecast. Whose stupid idea was it to set a story on a Suffolk beach during a British summer? Sunday 26th of July’s forecast was ominous with lightning and hail symbols everywhere you looked. Go to bed, it’ll be fine. It’s the driest part of the UK.
A 5 a.m. start meant driving Vera, a rather lovely, blagged-on-twitter, 1967, expensive, left-hand drive VW campervan to the set. This was by far the scariest drive I have ever undertaken in my life! We madE it through the gathering storm and arrived at the beach just as the clouds began to part.
After several photographs and a local radio interview, we set about the task of filming ‘Back On Board’ which is the first of eight stories in the rom com feature film With Love From Suffolk. It will be released over Valentines weekend 2016 in at least ten Suffolk cinemas.
I couldn’t wait to meet my characters. Now I can’t wait for the premiere!
I am currently watching in awe as the team behind With Love From… Suffolk take on the Herculean task of making a film happen.
It’s slightly surreal in that I’ve created some characters and these FILMSuffolk guys are clearly more determined than I could ever be to bring them to life on screen. How fantastic that I don’t have to do that all by myself!
I’ve just been on a location recce for my script ‘Back on Board’ (affectionately known in the production office as Bob) and I think it’ll be a stunning piece of cinematography.
We have some pretty experienced filmmaking experts behind the project. Hollywood director Graham Baker(Alien Nation), our Director of Photography will be Steven Hall (Imitation Game, Warhorse) and many other talented individuals are offering their services.
It’s going to be amazing! If you live in Suffolk, get involved! And why not help us crowd fund it.