Saturday, 4 July 2015

Udderbelly in the sunshine in preparation for @FollowTheCow

P6281410 tell it to tomorrow
As well as the moody street pictures, we at Mixtape took a few at the Udderbelly on the South Bank the udder day. It was a kind of pre kickoff fest in the Love Shack bar.

For anyone that hasn't visited the Udderbelly in the South Bank, it's good fun, even to go there for a drink in the Beach bar or other areas. We were able to meet a few other shows too, and took a few joint pictures. Here's a few:

First of all, the Houses of Parliament, with a Golden Mixtape, naturally.
Maybe to add a piece of blatant Mixtape advertising outside the London Eye. We did take some others too where we'd ahem replaced the C*ca C*la signage,which is the Eye's current sponsor.
Then there's the actual shows:
64 Squares
The Eulogy of Toby Peach:
And an early sighting of a purple cow with a golden mixtape. There will be others, I'm sure.

Friday, 3 July 2015

@ukmixtape is staying 6mm from the bleed line for #edfringe

P6270263 Tied up Mixtapers - gold blammerIt's surprising how the #edfringe deadlines are rapidly approaching. Today was another one for a leaflet insert. We'd got one kind of graphic and needed another one, so some hasty editing was required. At least there's plenty of pictures from the photo-shoot last Sunday, and most of them are respectable.

We've got some moody indie band shots:
Some well-behaved '50s pub scenes:
Oops, I meant well-behaved and 1950s.
A few cake shots:
Until it started to get out of hand:
So we moved to the boy band pictures:
And formed the girl band as well:
P6270319 we decided to form a band
It will take a little time to get to the location shots from the river's bridges and the seaside, so here's one of those wall shots to keep things going:
Next is the fun of A5 leaflet production. We must remember to allow for the 3mm bleed line on all margins and another 3mm for the edge line as well as setting the output to CMYK. Print ready PDFs will be produced.

Now it's time to break open Indesign.
P6281410 tell it to tomorrow
Get tickets to see your new Mixtape friends:
Underbelly Booking Office
Edinburgh Fringe Booking Office
Live Theatre Preview

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Using Olympus OM-Ds for Mixtape photoshoot

We've started sifting through the various pictures from the Mixtape Photoshoot last Sunday. We are in main marketing mode at the moment, with leaflets, posters and social media publicity being released.

For the snaps I used a couple of Olympus OM-Ds, one with a 45mm lens for basic portraiture (=90mm at 35mm) and another with the very useful 9-18mm wide-angle (=18-36mm at 35mm), which works well in the enclosed spaces.
I've pretty much moved from Aperture to Lightroom now and it handles most adjustments I need. By comparison, I only use Apple Photo to extract pictures from my iPhone.

Lightroom is much quicker to use than Photoshop for most of my photo edits and I only used PS for pictures requiring people to be moved around in the frame (Don't ask).

Since I started using Olympus OM-Ds a couple of years ago they have progressively become my go-to camera.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

in which I discover I have 10 days worth of iTunes duplicate tracks

I seldom look at the inner workings of things like iTunes, but following its recent change I decided to press a few of the control buttons.

The one that surprised me was 'View Duplicates', which showed me the various duplicates that have piled up inside iTunes over the years.

A quick peek at the total running time of just the duplicates is - gulp - 10 days, 21 hours, 12 minutes and thirty three seconds. That's 3769 tracks and takes 20Gb of disk.

Randomly I noticed that I had 37 variations of remixes of Bjork's 'Army of Me', for example. Worryingly, they are also often of different lengths.

I haven't started chopping any out yet, because in some cases there's a difference between, say, a live version and an album cut. And what about when a track is also part of a compilation? Should I keep both versions?

I've also tried that 'View/Show Exact Duplicates' - which cuts the number down to 825 tracks (2 days worth), but for example still lists a 2:57 track and a 5:42 track as exact duplicates.

Maybe I'll just pretend I never pressed the button.

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

cone-y island

The 'Operation Stack' road-signs have been switched on around the routes I've driven over the last few days.

I've been delayed in previous Operation Stacks when on my way to France by road. That's when they close the motorways in Kent to use as a giant lorry park until the Channel crossings re-open.

Even more it's the sheer amount of the UK road network covered in cones. My regular route from London to the south-west has had cones for the last year and they continue until December 2016. They are just adding another section beyond the current 16 or so miles. I was stopped in a traffic jam after midnight on one stretch.

Similarly on my recent 300 mile route to the north east. It is mainly motorway, but between 30%-40% of it is coned. More than 100 miles is under special traffic management including single lane and even a stretch that was closed.

That old drawing of a country lane, a replacement motorway and then a coned motorway emulating the original country lane still applies.

Monday, 29 June 2015

setting up the @ukmixtape photoshoot for #edfringe2015

We'd planned to run a flexible Mixtape photoshoot on Sunday afternoon.

It meant clearing a big enough space and finding a plain wall for individual pictures, to feature various types of band.
We also needed some external shots, requiring the inevitable railway arch wall, the obligatory closed and shuttered shop and a broken down hotel. Some beach would also be useful.

We found all of these within easy walking distance and also adjacent to a useful pub.
Mixtape at the Central
A quick bit of furniture rearrangement, a cleaning of wall that had somehow gained mysterious tea stains and we were ready for business.
I'd brought my little Olympus cameras to take the pictures and we'd found an angle-poise lamp to add some illumination/toning without resorting to flash guns.
P6270259-Edit.jpgThe plan was some colourful 80's pictures, some grainy indie pop and some rock'n'roll which we'd set in the pub.
We also needed a few headshots and some Mixtape identity shots with wristbands, actual cassette tapes and even some pulled out tape which could be wrapped around things.
Next stage is reviewing the photos and selecting a few for publicity.
Get tickets to see your new Mixtape friends:
Underbelly Booking Office
Edinburgh Fringe Booking Office
Live Theatre Preview

Sunday, 28 June 2015

a few of the @ukmixtape escape into the wild


I know, There's been a gap in transmission from rashbre central.

A combination of being on the road, away in hotels, very late nights and general tardiness.

We'll soon get things going again.

I may have to backdate the visit to Southampton, the trip to deepest Norfolk, my experience of the 34% coverage of the entire route to the North-East with traffic cones, or the entertaining time back at the Udderbelly on the South Bank.

For now, it's Lewis, modelling a Mixtape.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

reaching industrial stage of #mixtape production for #edfringe

We're going into full production of the Golden Mixtapes in preparation for Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Back in a box, the finished tapes look like a strange gold bullion.

And yes, we have experimented with silver, bronze, stone and purple mixtapes too. Everyone craves Limited Editions.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

London to Brighton Bike Ride Pt 4 : Afterwards

Photobombed by Pippa Middleton*

My final 2015 #L2B post where I praise the great organisation by the British Heart Foundation, the big sponsors (like Tesco), the hundreds of upbeat marshals, police, paramedics, bike mechanics and other helpers, as well as the amazing reception along the route and at Brighton.

And a special thank you to my own sponsors and those of Team Nemo.

Admittedly we didn't have the sort of outfits that some teams managed, and it would have conveyed a spurious professionalism if we'd adopted a 'look'.

So after my recovery on the pebble beach at Brighton I made my way through the crowds and cycled along to the next town (Hove) for the bus back to London.

It's a two part affair, with the bike loaded with 95 others onto an articulated lorry and then an accompanying couple of coaches to wend back to Clapham Common.

Team Nemo had split up again at Brighton, with some staying overnight and three of us making our way back to London. The other two had gone for a burger, so I was by myself at this point.

Fortunately, I had a good travelling companion, a svelte woman cyclist who was preparing for the Prudential 100 in August. Her team had also split up after the event although they'd managed a lunch in Brighton before returning. I guess from that fact alone that they were somewhat faster than us.

Chatting made short work of the journey and our lorry had already unloaded most of the bikes when we reached Clapham. I was soon reunited for the cross London journey, although I decided to cut through Battersea Park around the loop, to avoid most of the busy traffic.

Except, I'd forgotten the Formula E Grand Prix, which they are preparing for next weekend in the park.

The whole Battersea Park internal perimeter road was being converted into a sort of Le Mans racetrack, with crash barriers, pit lanes, new pedestrian bridges and more.

I couldn't use the road at all and had to traverse some of the footpaths to get back. So I finished my day of cycling with a muddy scramble. Truly a long longest day.

* Pippa couldn't really be in my picture but sends her best wishes to everyone in @TheBHF #L2B

Monday, 22 June 2015

London to Brighton Bike Ride Pt 3 : Riding it

The first ten or so miles of the ride are through the streets of London, progressively further into the sticks until the route turns rural.

It's a psychologically good way to start, with what is a gentle downward slope to the entire first section, although there's buses and traffic to deal with after the first couple of 'closed to traffic' miles.

I'd decided to abandon my Garmin and other technology for this ride. We'd all planned to use WhatsApp to communicate, but once my phone started saying 'no signal' I realised, like last year, this would be technology free.

The first bottlenecks appeared around Tooting. The same places as last year, with the difference that we cleared them much faster. The organisation and marshalling was brilliant throughout, keeping the roads moving in a cheerful manner.

Then onward to the edge of contiguous London and the first of the hills, somewhere between miles 10 and 11.
At this stage, it's not too bad, although by the top I'd certainly noticed the incline. It reminded me that this wasn't really one of the bumps that counted, yet I'd still noticed it.

A short downhill and then on to Chipstead, where the little lane is cleared for the cyclists. I say cleared, but it had large rock chippings along it, washed there from yesterday's rain. Bumpy, steep and I saw a few cyclists pulled over looking at tyres. I soon also had to dismount too and walked until the road's gradient eased.

Along this section are a couple of the official stopping points. The first one I really noticed had countdown from 800 metres, and I was shocked when I eventually saw the second countdown at 400 metres after what seemed to me to be an eternity.

I'd decided to avoid the stopping points on the right, if they were on hills. I'd found this out the previous year when theres a complicated manoeuvre to move out on an uphill section into the faster moving traffic.

So onward!

Then the long downhill stretch after Fanny's Farm Shop (that's where I stopped last year and had my awkward restart). I pay heed to the hay bales and people shouting to slow down, and there's also some sudden turns to deal with on this stretch.

Then it's speedy progress until the uphill section into Nutfield. The villagers turn out in force, cheering, providing cakes, sweets and water from along the roadside.

Then downhill before getting into the lanes that lead past the Dog and Duck stopping point. This would be an ideal stop for me, but last year I was stuck there for two-and-a-half hours, so this time I kept going.

My own first stop would be at the pretty little village of Turner's Hill. The whole place has a friendly carnival atmosphere and we had a brass band playing on the triangle by the pub.

At this point we are past the halfway mark. Its followed with about 6 miles of largely downhill cycling before the first bump heralding the approach to Ditchling Beacon. So from here, to about the 40th mile, it's a pretty good ride, and with an increase in the number of refreshment stops too.

I decided to stop once more, at the Scout place just before Ditchling Beacon, where many of us sat in the sunshine drinking cups of tea.

I'd decided that I'd go as far up Ditchling Beacon under pedal power as possible and then walk the rest. That wasn't very far. I had to walk the rest of the away to the top at 740 feet. My approximation is about 50% walkers and 50% cyclists at the time I started walking, with the walker percentage increasing as we got closer to the top.

"Only another 100 metres", said the woman shouting encouragement. I really felt that last 100 metres, but then it flattens and the entire road is filled with happy cyclists.

As luck would have it, the ice cream van didn't have a queue at that moment, so a Mr Whippy '99' was in order, before continuing the last seven or so mainly downhill miles into Brighton.

Then, across the line, over to the pre-assigned meeting place where our various supporters already had a picnic. We arrived in stages, so those of us already over the line could go back to cheer the others in.
I stood for the triumphant bike/beach/sea/pier snapshot.

Then I laid on the pebbly beach. It somehow felt just right...(tbc)
IMG_2869 (1).jpg

Sunday, 21 June 2015

London to Brighton Bike Ride Pt 2 : The Start

The combination of the evening's festivities, a bit too much expresso and the thought of the ride itself helped me wake early.

04:30 early. The building works at Battersea power station were temporarily the source of the greatest light.

This was even earlier than my strategically placed iPhone alarm, which was set for 04:50 (OK, and 05:00).

I decided to make a start. First priority was to check for early rain.

None. So far so good.

Now to get ready, including an optimistic application of SPF30. Light breakfast (okay, with the instant porridge and a banana) and I'm ready to go. Acquire bike and backpack and begin my cycle to the start on Clapham Common.


I've left the water bottles in the fridge! I usually cycle around with a small Camelback backpack, so this normal water bottle process was something of a variation. I hadn't gone far, time to turn around.

Cycle back to pickup the water bottles.

Second attempt to reach the start. I'm all labelled up with my number so basically ready for my 06:00 start.

The Sunday morning roads at 05:30 were surprisingly busy. I realised that much of the traffic was on its way to do drop-offs at the Common. I also noticed the increasing number of converging riders, including a whole team in proper kit who tagged along at the same gentle pace as me to the start.

I'd been told that there might be some very enthusiastic riders at the 06:00 start, because this was the time least likely to be troubled by bottlenecks.

This was Lycra city with vibrant colours cutting through the early light, as well as every other variation from fancy dress (lightweight obviously), serious looking teams and every type of bike from single speed fixie, basket bikes, mountain bikes and racers.

Sure enough, 05:45 and I'm in a good position near the start of the funnel.

"Are you losing your bottle?" asked a fellow rider.

She looked towards my bike. One of my originally missing water-bottles was hanging sideways at a jaunty angle.

I suddenly remembered.

I'd only put the water bottle cages back on Friday. I'd hand tightened them until I could get the right spanner.

I wheeled my bike to the side, rummaged in the saddlebag and found the Crank Brothers all-in-one tool. A few minutes of twiddling things and I'm ready to rejoin the line.

But what a difference a moment makes. I look up and there's suddenly another 3,000 people in front of me. I can't even see the people I was standing with any longer. Everyone has bunched forward to get into the funnel ready for the start.

I'm now in what is probably the third batch to get away. It's all good natured as we thread our way to the start, walk the first grassy 200 metres until we can get to the road surface and gingerly start pedalling through the already quite dense throng.

I know that this early start will be less busy than later and that the density will thin out as we get onto the main road systems leaving London.

But hey, we are on our way! ...(tbc)

Saturday, 20 June 2015

London to Brighton Bike Ride Pt 1 : Before

I was sitting in the coach, smiling. It had been a good day.

"Mind if I sit here?" asked a fellow cyclist.

She sat down next to me.

"What did you think?" I asked.

"It was brilliant..."

I agreed, "Yes, and with a real sense of achievement at the end..."

We carried on chatting, but I must rewind to the start.

It hardly seems possible to have packed so much into a single day, but it was the longest one, after all.


Yes, I've assembled all of my materials for a kind of Wallace and Gromit 'New Trousers' start the following morning. Sports gear, breakfast, spanners. The water bottles are in the fridge chilled and ready.

There are bananas.

I'm ready to go to the pub to meet the others.

I'm standing looking up at the sky. It is what I call 'car wash rain'. I decide to retrieve a better waterproof from the boot of my car. Then walk along the road to The Mason's Arms. I've taken my stripped down wallet, which I'd prepared for tomorrow's bike ride. Folding cash and one debit card. No Oyster Card.

So I have no choice but to walk the ten minutes or so to the pub. Using a 137/452/44 wouldn't normally enter my head for such a short trip, but the rain, which was on - let's say - setting 8 has just moved to a 9 - Fire Hose.

I notice that I'm now the only person walking - everyone else is sheltered in doorways, the petrol station, under railway bridges. I'm glad I picked up my waterproof with the hood with the wire in it. I'm now a little walking rainproof canopy on the way to the pub.

I spot David straight away, drinking something Balham-hip which starts with the name Sierra Nevada. I'm thinking beer with a story, gold rush, Lake Tahoe?

David is mildly amused at my appearance. I notice the pub mainly contains people in shorts who look as if they have been, or are on their way, to barbecues.

There is that moment of pub silence as they register my bedraggled appearance. I make for the bar. Two separate people ask me:

"Raining outside, is it?"

They know the answer.

I get my beer and we chatter whilst waiting for the others. Eventually John arrives in an understated version of my wet appearance. He'd managed to get a cab for the last part of the journey.

We all look at the menu. We are still waiting for three more to arrive at seven o'clock.

"They'll be late" we hazard.

David is the expert on cycling and says we should eat something pasta or pizza based. The menu looks delicious, but is more skewed towards Ash goat's cheese, salmon with wilted garlic spinach, samphire, Chalcroft farm burgers with Cholla buns that kind of thing. Normally it would be perfect, but this evening we decide to cross to the nearby Italian.

Our remaining group still haven't arrived. We get the text explaining they have only just left. They are an hour away. The rain, don't ya know?

So we move to the Italian. Get a lovely window table. Order starters. Eat them. Order pizza and pasta. Still no sign of them. A phone call. Complicated.

They are bringing their bikes on the train. Into London worked fine. They are now in the deep tube network. On the Victoria Line. Bikes are not allowed on Victoria Line Trains. The first driver notices them board.

"Will the person with the blue bicycle please leave the train"

The driver refuses to move the train until they leave. Passengers glower quietly. The scene of eviction has probably made their early evening. Especially as one of the bikes has mudguards and panniers.

Another train. Same story. Rule of thumb is inside the Circle Line permits folding bikes only. Back in the Italian restaurant we muse how they got their bikes down the very long escalators.

They renegotiate their way to the surface. Two of them are Londoners. The other is from Norfolk.

The two Londoners lead the way. They get lost/separated.

That's when they phone.

We decide to tell the restaurant waiters that they are cycling in from Essex. The entire restaurant is impressed.


We ask for our main courses. They arrive.

Just as...

The others finally arrive. They are all very bright. Orange. Yellow. Bicycle-y. We go outside to greet them. Hugs all around.

The staff and people in the restaurant cheer them. Everyone knows about this epic journey from Essex.

They are only one-and-a-half hours behind schedule. It's great though - they've arrived and we diners are all feeling well established. The three latecomers decide to go on to their hotel before joining us for something to eat.

We order pudding/coffee.

But enough. This is still the build up to the ride.

There's another event in their travails when they order a minicab from their hotel (1.4 miles from the restaurant) and it shows a starting price of £12.

But lets's skip over all of that and move to the now rapidly approaching dawn of the ride...(tbc)