BBC Blast in Birmingham

What an event! This was the last of the tour for this year, and it was a big one!

We were located in the middle of Birmingham, in Victoria Square. Since it was so ‘public’ there was a huge number of people visiting each day. As it happens, schools were reluctant to send children, but other institutions were more than willing!

We had a great time – best workshop for me was the stage make up one, where we had ten or so ‘tough’ cases who really didn’t want to learn about make up. Once we got to creating the blood and gore bullet wounds and knife injuries, we had them hooked! Fair play – most were very capable of applying the wax and some were very good… it was a real eye opener for me, and I hope for them as well.

Other workshops were all as good, really, with music, song development, dance, Flash animation and of course me running clay animation, short movies and photography sessions.

I worked out that over the course of the summer we have produced somewhere around 90 unique DVDs this summer, and duplicated seven times that! Phew!

So that is it for this year, BBC Blast on tour has gone back to Acton to be re-fitted, and we have to go over the events one by one to understand what went well, and what needs more thought for next time.

One thing is for sure – if I am fortunate enough to get asked, the answer is YES!! I WILL DO IT AGAIN!!

The Fixture Exchange, PHP Coding, Dreamweaver, MX Kollection

For quite a while now I have been helping to run a fixture exchange system for youth rugby clubs. It started off life as a phone based pencil and paper system, but we moved it onto the Internet in about 1993. More recently it has been database driven and we relied on a company to build it using .ASP

All has been well until the host company said they were no longer going to host .ASP and that I should get this converted to PHP.

Now, I am no web coder but for a few years I have been working with some very skilled people. Sadly they haven’t had the time to help build this for me, but have offered loads of suggestions and ideas. I really needed to get this done myself.

So I went to and looked for anyone who could do the conversion. As it turns out there are lots of folk there who thought it would be easy, but I needed to work fast!

I have for some time been using Dreamweaver as my HTML editor, along with BBEdit on a Mac. There are a number of in-built tools to help code PHP, but you need to know what you are doing before you understand when and how to use them. I have also bought a copy of Interakt’s ‘MX Kollection’ This is basically a framework that writes the PHP code from a library of functions. All you need to know is what function you are doing.

The online help system for this is pretty good, and there are dozens of tutorials to help. It handles just about everything you need for a fairly complex site, including registration, sessions, listing information, amending records and so on.

Have a look at to see the site I built (if you are a youth rugby team, sign up!!), and check out for the dreamweaver extensions. I notice the company has now been bought by Adobe (who also now own Macromedia) so perhaps even better things are around the corner. All I know is I couldn’t have built this from nothing to a fully working site in less than a week without this set of extensions, so many thanks to Interakt!

Holiday in the Maldives

This summer we were looking for a break to just simply stop working and relax. As ever, came up trumps and we found ourselves heading to the Maldives and a tiny resort called Ranveli Village.

What a gem of a place! If you want two relaxing weeks doing nothing except sun bathing, snorkling and some very, very good diving you can do no better, IMO.

The staff were all exceptionally polite and friendly and whilst it was monsoon (and we did get a couple of big storms) the weather was excellent.

Food and drink were top quality as well (although I don’t usually have maple syrup on pancakes – the Shrove Tuesday kind – which was a new thing). Best of the bunch was Friday night which was ‘maldivian Night’ – all local foods served by waiters in local costume. It was excellent!

Snorkling with sharks, turtles, octopus and watching clown fish (like Nemo), parrot fish and tuna amongst a huge variety of others was, simply, breath taking.

If ever you get a chance, go there! Do take some sunscreen though – I got burnt on day 1, which was a bit of a downer…

BBC Blast in Norwich

The truck arrived in Bristol on the 24th July, and ran workshops over the Wednesday and Thursday of the week.

One of the main activities was making a video for up and coming star DJ Swift. I worked with BBC editor Julian Langham who, to be fair, basically ran the gig! We filmed DJ Swift and his posse all over the town centre in different locations and Julian helped cut it together. The film crew were all Blast participants and each helped make their own version of the video which we hope DJ Swift will place online at YouTube.

The amazing thing about Norwich was that we were located right outside the Forum. The BBC Studios in the East are here, and they were full of old Dr Who props. Yes, we had Tom Baker’s Tardis, and a couple of early versions of Daleks for company. Wow. I’ll try to get a few images uploaded when I can, but as you can see I’m writing this very much ‘after the event’ having fallen very behind in the blogging stakes!

It also rained in Norwich. Very hard. Fortunately it was only during the evening and not the day with the young people, but it came down in sheets. Unfortunately, much of the truck electrical equipment was on the floor and by the time we got to it we were a) soaked and b) wading through four inches of water trying to rescue the kit. My wristwatch still has a misty dial from the rain that night.

BBC Blast on Tour in White City

BBC Blast LogoThe truck rolls onwards… in fact, as I write this, it has gone all through the tour and now sits being cleaned and rejuvenated somewhere in Acton!

White city was an enormous event. Located in the car park outside the media village, the truck hosted dance workshops, animation, video, singing, photography and all manner of creativity.

We started at 8am each day, finished at 8pm and went home quite tired in between! The Anglia Ruskin Summer School crew arrived at the truck on the Wednesday (better late than never, although it was *very* late) and we had a lot of fun creating animations to fulfil part of the work we started at the university. The crew left tired but elated and pleased with what they had achieved.

The dance workshops were brilliant and several of the young people made it on to the TV on the Saturday night to dance at the national dance festival (with Bruce Forsyth). Several world records were attempted (and broken) on the night and we were over the moon to have worked with these folk!

The Sunday was spent in Trafalgar Square, hosting more freestyle dance and even some juggling… there was a scary picture of me learning to juggle, but it is probably best not unleashed upon you poor unsuspecting people 😉

Needless to say, creativity in spade loads, and plenty more to come!