Watts Happening

Stay Curious
10th July 2017
When I mentioned that I was going to Do Wales, all my friends (bar one) replied: “What’s that?”

The one friend who didn’t respond with “what’s that?” Simply said: “What? All of it? You’re going to be a busy girl.”

And I was.

In the space of 4 days, there was wrestling, dancing, lots of listening (mostly in awe) and oh! I attempted a heist with a TV Exec. who shall remain nameless for legal reasons.

It all kicked off on Thursday, with 80 Doers sitting in a barn, gazing expectantly at Scott Colton.

Scott who?

Scott Colton.

No. Don’t know him.

He’s also known as Colt Cabana.

Colt Cabana, right. What is Do Wales again?

Scott/Colt’s a wrestler, who’s been obsessed with wrestling for most of his life and he’s a very funny man. Which is a good job, because he’s also doing stand up at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Apart from warning us not to wrestle with strangers in their basements, his main message was to learn the rules then break the rules. Break The Rules. BREAK THE RULES.

The next speaker, Jim Brunberg, is definitely negotiating the rules as he takes his twin daughters Vern and Dana out on the road in Roam Schooled. He keeps their teachers happy with the promise of practising those dastardly multiplication tables as they explore and learn about their world. Do listen, I will be.

Kate Berry transported me to a land I love with tales of packing up her kids and a stash of avocados in a battered car and driving to Uluru. As Kate’s story unfolded though, we may as well have been on a rollercoaster rather than driving through the Outback.

The discovery that her daughter was being bullied over the food she took to school, the determination of a devastated Mum to deal with the problem and the apparent success of landing a magazine deal that should have helped fix it. This all culminated in the news that Kate’s just resigned her role in order to Do what she’s been writing about.

Inspired and full of ideas, my fellow Doers began wrestling with the past, the future and everything in between. In the spirit of Do I was wrestling with Colt Cabana, under a tree in a field in west Wales.

Inspired by Glow (a Netflix Original series) I demonstrated my tackling skills, and the moves that I’d learnt from watching the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling while pedalling on my turbo in the living room. Specifically, the arm lock and head lock.

How very unladylike and inappropriate, but the endorphins! The joy!

When Scott revealed that he knows some of the characters in Glow, Welfare Queen and Macchu Picchu’s brothers amongst them, I couldn’t contain my excitement and as a responsible journalist I felt obliged to dig deeper into the life of a wrestler with questions like: “do you self tan?” And “do you oil up?”

The answers: sometimes, but self-tanning booths are quicker and yes, with baby oil.

So that’s how it went for the whole weekend, Can Do attitudes from all walks of life on all of the important and not so important stuff.

I couldn’t believe my luck that artist, Rob Ryan made the cut and was speaking at Do Wales, I love that I fell in love with a chair that Gregg Buchbinder breathed new life into and I now know who the most important person in the world is thanks to Floyd Woodrow.

Singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau with a Male Voice Choir was good for the soul, so, as it turns out, is being recruited to the world of criminal mastermind/genius saxophonist James Morton.

He created a soundtrack and encouraged us to join him on a heist. Our imaginations ran wild as I and the TV Exec, who shall remain nameless, created the story to accompany the score. Suffice to say, it involved a yacht in Monaco, a submarine in Cardiff Bay and bullion stashed in the Welsh hills. We’re going back to recover it in October.



After a short sleep balanced on the edge of a sloping bed in a sloping tent on a sloping Welsh hillside, the sound of James playing the sax stirred the camp at 6am, and in so doing, created an earlier than expected rush for the showers.

Saturday morning presented a real life dilemma. One of life’s big choices: watch the last 20 minutes of the All Blacks v British Lions test series decider, it’s currently 12-all, or head up to the barn and listen to Dominic Wilcox.

Dominic who?

Dominic Wilcox.

No. Don’t know him.

Dominic is the man who can make a single line interesting. Laugh out loud funny in fact. Not only that, he’s encouraging kids to dream and invent stuff and then getting grown-ups to make the stuff that kids dream up and exhibiting their inventions for all to see.

What happened in the rugby?

Who cares?

A sight to behold on Saturday night was the silent disco. Well, that and Mark Shayler in a Superman outfit. Anyway, back to the disco.

It was my, and many others' first experience of this phenomenon and is something that could have come straight out of Dominic’s head.

The thing is, it was anything but silent.

Not silent?

No.

Explain.

Everyone danced around with headphones on, listening to one of two channels depending on their musical tastes.

So there was no music playing in the room?

No. Some Doers were tunefully singing along while they had their headphones on, but the rest of us were wailing along to the tunes while flailing our limbs around.

Wailing and flailing?

With gusto.

The silent disco gave me a moment to treasure. Mid wail and flail, I spun around to see Rob Ryan dancing, headphones perched on top of baseball cap perched on top of wild curls and I thought: I’m dancing in the same room as Rob Ryan. Do what?



For some the evening didn’t end, it just became morning. The lights from the silent disco lit up an empty dance floor while stories continued to resonate and drive conversations, how a Joshua Coombes haircut and Sophie Thomas listening can impact so positively and change lives. Or how, like Julien Millot, balancing your passion with your promise can challenge you but that it’s better to live a life than not.



Still don’t know what Do Wales is? In the words of Green Day: It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right. Thanks Do Wales, I had the time of my life.
Climbing Mount Aconcagua
04th July 2017
Want to be inspired? Here's the inside story of how the Adaptive Grand Slammers took on the highest summit outside of the Himalayas.



No excuses, just one foot in front of the other, as Martin Hewitt, Terry Byrne, Jaco Van Gass, Matt Nyman, Kelda Wood, Del Spry, Sean Winder and Jake Gardner take on the fourth mountain in the Adaptive Grand Slam series.

#7peaks2poles
#NextStopEverest

Produced by Watts Where Media for Adaptive Grand Slam.
Post Rio Pincer Movement
23rd August 2016
With the closing ceremony to Rio 2016 looming, the question in my mind was what on earth am I going to do now that wall to wall live sport is ending?

The four yearly fix of physical feats: of how do they do that? He/she is amazing, I wish I could pedal that fast, left me determined to try a new sport. So I did my research and set off on Sunday with my long suffering nephew, Kieran, in tow.

With cameras and microphones packed, we were Wivenhoe bound for the annual crabbing competition.



Read More
Suited Not Booted
22nd July 2016
As retirement from international competition looms for 100m sprinter Dwain Chambers, he's preparing for the day that he hangs up his competition spikes.


Chambers is building a business as an elite performance trainer to professional men and women, in the belief that if you're strong in the gym you'll be strong in the boardroom.





There's more Watts Where photography at www.chambersforsport.com
Lest We Forget
03rd July 2016
Witham marked the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme with a Drumhead Service. Essex Army Cadet Force Corps of Drums led a march through the town and the Essex Yeomanry Band played at the service. Reverend Sally Lodge, Councillor Bill Rose and The Right Honourable Priti Patel MP took part in the commemoration.


Read More
Braintree Town FC in bid for play off place
29th April 2016

While attention is on Leicester City securing the Premier League title this weekend, at the other end of the scale, Braintree Town are playing the biggest match in their history on Saturday.

A draw against Altrincham will guarantee them a play off place for a chance of promotion to the football league. Manager, Danny Cowley and Centre Forward, Sean Marks preview the big match.

This film is made in memory of Len Brett, a committed Braintree Town FC fan.
Watts your story.
Running kit or pyjamas?
09th April 2016
6 years ago Clare Bond was training for the Great Manchester Run while on the waiting list for a liver transplant. Phil Jones and I went along to film a preview with her for the BBC. With the feature edited and delivered, our plan was to interview Clare during the 10km run and get an update from the course. Little did we know, what would happen next. Over to Steve Cram to pick up the story...



Clare did get the result she wanted. She traded her running shoes for a bicycle and five years on qualified for the British Transplant Games cycling team. We marked her selection and the five year transplant anniversary with a photo-shoot.










#CricketforHeroes
25th August 2015
I've been working on a fantastic project for Old Mutual Wealth, profiling members of the Help for Heroes cricket team and hearing how sport is changing lives. Here's Soldier Poet, Lee James' story:


Lee's teammate, Barrie Griffiths shares the value in using sport as part of a recovery programme at Tedworth House:



Now meet the rest of the team who present a specially commissioned poem, written by Lee James.

Matilda's film debut
11th April 2015
My God-daughter Matilda steals the show in my latest short film for Quilter Cheviot featuring Fox Umbrellas


Thanks to all at Fox Umbrellas for a great day of filming and to Tilda for the giggles. Bring on the April Showers!

This is one in a series of films that I'm self-shooting on my Canon EOS 5D MKIII, below are some others. Who had any idea crafting cricket bats and umbrellas could be so interesting?

The skills demonstrated by Gray-Nicolls' master bat maker, Christopher King are something to behold.


Likewise, Lock & Co. Hatters' creations are beautiful and I want them all!


Jersey based artist, Jason Butler gives a rare insight into his work at his studio in St Helier. He creates intriguing conceptual artwork and captures the essence of the individual in his portraiture.

Sprout Challenge
07th February 2015
Picture this:
Postponed Christmas dinner (in January) due to international jet set lifestyles.
Matilda's nearest and dearest gathered to honour the births of Jesus and Little Nell.
Granny, Jim and Dennis working their magic in the kitchen (Jim's culinary capabilities were a true and welcome surprise, what he can do with a roast potato...)

Anyway, back to the point of this post. It was all lovely and then Dennis asked the killer question:
"Who wants sprouts."
"Not me" I said.
"You have to have one."
"I don't want one."
"It's Christmas, you have to have one."
"I don't want one, they're mean, green and horrible."
"Just have one."

By now I'm having flashbacks to my childhood. My mum tried exactly the same thing. She managed to get a sprout on my plate, but that's where it stayed. I think they're quite fun to look at, I like them when you see them on their stems at posh markets, but I really don't want to eat sprouts.

"No."

So I, a little ashamed, took my sprout-free plate to the table and pretended not to feel inferior or inadequate in the grown up world of sprout eaters. Even Matilda had a sprout on her plate.


Then a funny thing happened. As people finished eating, I noticed there were sprouts left on their plates.

"You haven't eaten your sprouts Dennis." I pointed out politely (smugly).

"I don't really like them, I only bought them because it's Christmas."

At that point, everyone else (apart from Grandad Dickie) confessed to not really liking them either. Enter the Sprout Challenge. At this point the pictures probably speak for themselves:







Matilda just ignored the green offender completely and concentrated on the pigs in blankets and her non-alcoholic cocktail.


Grandad Dickie though, what a star, he not only ate his sprouts, he visibly enjoyed it.


You'll notice neither Jesus or Little Nell feature in the sprout challenge. Little Nell was having a nap, saving herself for the present giving in the afternoon, I'm not sure about JC.
Crazy Copenhagen
04th January 2015
I didn't do a lot of research before heading off to Copenhagen for New Year, but given the Danes' minimalist style and cool demeanour I presumed there wouldn't be any nasty surprises.

There was a sprinkling of snow on the first morning, transforming the City into a winter wonderland and making the blandest everyday objects more photogenic.



Ah, pretty.

But when the sun went down the darkness was punctuated with the sound of minor explosions. These minor explosions being very loud fireworks. Fireworks that echoed, their sound bouncing off the buildings so you had no idea where they were coming from. There is nothing ordered or minimal about the Danes' approach to fireworks. Kids light them in the city centre, grown men carry 3' long rockets to the pavement and launch them next to parked cars. By 4pm on New Year's Eve it was a free for all, a run to the restaurant was perilous. There's no oohing and ahhhing, it's survival, watch your back, check someone isn't lighting a roman candle at your feet. Strangely exhilarating and quite unexpected.



Happy New Year!
The Chespys are back
04th November 2014
Remember the Chespys? You know, my crazy Australian family who fit in a day's activity before breakfast? Well, they're back. Or rather, I'm back in Sydney. With the Chespys. All five of them. You already know Anita, Adrian, Kai and Asher, brace yourselves, there's a fifth.



Meet Cleo.



Cleo is trouble with a capital T, capital R, capital O, capital U, capital B, capital L, capital E and she's ramped up the crazy levels in the household.

For example: The boys were showing off their swimming, diving and surfing skills in the pool, Cleo was walking around the edge of the pool and Chilli the chocolate labrador was taking the occasional dip to cool off. Adrian and I were enjoying the sunshine and keeping a watchful eye.

On one of her laps around the edge of the pool, Cleo stopped in front of me and having removed her nappy, squatted down and pooed right in front of me. It's the little whimper that accompanied the action that's most memorable. Being a responsible adult, I headed down to the house to get some tissue for the clean up operation. When I returned to the scene of the crime, Adrian was standing guard over Cleo's little offering. I asked why. The reply: "because Chilli would've eaten it."

They have taken it to another level these Chespys.

Talking of Chilli eating things, the kids were all playing in the lounge when we heard Asher's dismay: "Chilli's chewed up a dragonfly and spat it out on the rug." Followed by Kai's perfect comic timing: "And Cleo's stepped in it."

See. Another level.

Royal Flypast
16th June 2013
Those of you that know me, know that I like to do things properly, so it won't surprise you to hear that I organised a Royal Flypast to mark my Goddaughter's first visit. Matilda and Dennis arrived in time for a nice cup of tea and unwind after the journey. Then they helped prepare for lunch and the arrival of Mr and Mrs Watts. Lunch was a relaxed affair with Matilda at the head of the table, Mum regaling stories of brain tumours and toe operations and Dad in charge of the cutting and chopping duties:
"Please could you slice me some of that Wensleydale and blueberry (limited edition) cheese Alex?"

"Please could I have another slice of the tiger bread (freshly baked) Alex?"

"Ooh, I'll have some of that cheese please Dad."

Of course, none of my guests had any idea about what was to come.



Dad had retired to the sofa with his strawberries and cream. Dennis was enjoying her fruit cake (Marks and Sparks' special) and Matilda was tucking into a strawberry (healthy option without the cream) when I heard the rumblings. Not of food poisoned stomachs, but low flying aircraft. I grabbed Matilda and ran outside, Mum hot on our heels. And there they were, graceful and fearsome all at the same time, fighter jets, a Lancaster Bomber and the Red Arrows all flying over my house.

We waved at all of the pilots, warming them up for Betty on her Balcony. I think we did a good job because when we ran inside and turned the TV on (it takes 5 minutes to warm up because it's on eco setting) the Queen looked jolly happy as the Flypast continued over Buckingham Palace.
Out of hibernation
14th May 2013
Have you ever wanted to know what Love looks like? I can show you. It looks like this:



Congratulations to my two wonderful friends M + H on their Wedding Day. It marked the end of the longest winter ever with the sun finally making an appearance and giving those of us that are solar powered, much needed energy and warmth. So, Watts Where is officially out of hibernation. There's been a lot of work going on behind the scenes and thanks to the patient, creative, tolerant and beautiful Ladies Who... Natalie and Janina, there are some lovely new images in the Ladies Who... gallery.



I feel the need to apologise publicly for asking Janina to wear a snorkel with her evening gown before getting in the water, but if I'm honest, I'm only apologising so that I can actually include this photo in watts happening:



In a quantum leap, or should I say quackum leap, meet Derek. He's a Woolly Purls creation of Chief Knitwit Lydia. His friends are currently occupying my sofa waiting for their photoshoots.



So far, Derek's the only one who's had the Watts Where treatment, rest assured, I will share the images of Rodney, Rarebit and Geoffrey when they're done. I just need the sun to shine again, so you may be waiting some time.
Wild Witham
19th September 2012
I was enjoying my nutty muesli this morning when there was a loud bang at the back door. As I looked up I saw feathers flying and a dove sliding down the glass and landing motionless on the gravel. Bang, splat, what on earth? Just as I was thinking “stupid bird” I saw the reason that the dove was distracted and not looking where it was flying. A Bird of Prey was chasing it.



As the dove sat motionless at my back door with stars whizzing round it's head, I looked around for the BoP and there it was, sitting on the fence, just a metre away from me. The dove's concussion and immobilised state clearly saved it as the BoP lost interest. Good news then for the dove. Not such good news for the blackbird that was happily hopping around my neighbour's garden looking for worms. Happily hopping that is, until the hungry BoP spotted it, took off, caught and killed the blackbird in seconds. Amazing to see but it did put me off my muesli.



While all this was happening I was on the phone to Dennis giving her a running commentary on the Wild Life in Witham. We decided that Chris Packham should come round to see it for himself, so Chris, consider this a formal invitation.



The dove was on my mind while I was at work today. My main concern being: what would I do (or rather who could I call) if the dove was dead at the back door. I'm really not very good with dead things. When Laura was here she had to put a dead sparrow in the bin for me. As it happens, the dove from above was gone when I got home, but for future reference, and in anticipation of further drama, please let me know if you're available for dead bird removal duties. I really don't like spiders either.

Update: My friend Sue (she who knows everything there is to know about these things) tells me the BoP in question is a Sparrow Hawk. She also says they're common in urban and rural areas, although I prefer to think of it as rather an unusual event that one turned up in my garden.
Smile After Tears
15th September 2012
After 3.5 hours of laughter and tears with Moyles, I jumped in the car for a 100 minute drive to visit my Goddaughter Matilda. I told her I was keeping the Chris Moyles Show free downloads for her and she was very happy.

The Final Chris Moyles Show
14th September 2012
I got home from work three and a half hours before Chris Moyles' final show on Radio One this morning. When the radio alarm clock started up with the Final Cheesy Song I crawled out of bed, dragged my duvet downstairs like Linus from Snoopy, switched the TV onto the Red Button and savoured every last second of the Chris Moyles Show. For those of you that don't get it or haven't tried it it's your loss.

My long suffering friends have often received a text at random times on a Friday with the words It's McFly Day! Again, no explanation for those of you that don't get it, but for those of you that do, watch and enjoy the very last McFly Day courtesy McFly and BBC Radio One's best DJ ever: Chris Moyles.



Moyles is a brilliant broadcaster who knows his trade inside out. I'll miss waking up with him.
Mouse
08th August 2012
Who do you think was more surprised when I opened the recycling wheelie bin and dropped a banana skin in it? The mouse that's lodging in the bottom of the bin or me when the mouse moved eversoquickly at the shock of something yellow flying in and landing on its head?

My first thought after assessing the situation and realising that it wasn't going to jump four feet and lock it's tiny but powerful jaws on my jugular vein, me only to be found lying dead in the garden on Friday when Laura visits was: "Seriously?"
My second thought was: "How on earth did it get in there?"
My third thought was: I must take a photo.



So, how did it get in there? More importantly, how do I get it out? I couldn't leave it in the bin knowing what fate awaited it on Monday (the bin men) so I called Dad. After initial chit chat about the Brownlee brothers' epic gold and bronze medal winning efforts in the triathlon (yes, the Olympics goes on even when you've got a mouse lodging in your wheelie bin) I posed the question: how do I get the mouse out?

The answer: Take the wheelie bin down the garden, lie it on its side and it'll run out.

So the mouse endured a bumpy ride over gravel, patio slabs and grass to the bottom of the garden, where I gently tipped the bin over onto its side, left the lid open and out it shot. Quickasaflash.

The problem is, and now you'll realise why my first thought was "Seriously", some rats took up residence under the shed in mine and my neighbour's garden a few weeks ago. They were feasting on the bird seed that, because of Chris Packham, I felt obliged to provide for my feathered friends. The rats aren't there anymore because of the poison that the rat man put under the shed. The very same shed that my little wheelie bin mouse shot under to take cover after its dramatic encounter with a banana skin. I hope it wasn't hungry. I also hope that it dodges the cats that have been loitering in my garden terrorising the birds that have been enjoying the bird seed and fat balls.

I'm seriously over unwanted visitors of the rodent kind. On reflection, as I don't want the mouse to take up residence and move its family in, I probably should have left it in the bin. I'm no longer feeding the birds.

How did it get in there?
The Best Night Ever
05th August 2012
For the first time since 1994 I entered a sporting stadium with a ticket, not accreditation. I joined the queues for security rather than flash my pass to the fast track entry and I huddled under an umbrella when it poured because I didn't have an IBC (International Broadcast Centre) to shelter in.

After meeting up with friends who are working at the Olympics and showing signs of mid-Games fatigue, I entered the London 2012 Olympic Stadium and was immediately overwhelmed by the noise of the crowd. It wasn't as if anything was even happening, the announcer was just introducing the competition schedule on the big screen. Little did I know that this was just a murmur in comparison to what would come later.

I sat halfway down the back straight, three rows from the track, directly behind the long jump coaches. I was next to a woman who unpacked a four pack of muffins and began eating the first one before competition even started. Despite this, it turned out to be the perfect spot to watch the story of Britain's second gold unfold. (I haven't forgotten the first, it's coming later.)



As Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson battled it out, their coaches suggested minor tweaks accompanied with arm waving and nodding. The crowd did their bit, clapping in unison helping the competitors with rhythm, momentum and drive.



There can only be one winner and as Rutherford leapt to victory, it was disappointing not to see Tomlinson hang onto silver. As for the woman v food sideshow, I probably don't need to tell you who was winning at this stage (2.5 down, 1.5 to go.)



The long jump competition was interrupted by track events. Not any old track events, but the Heptathlon 800m and the Men's 10,000m Final. As Jess Ennis began the first of her two laps, the crowd exploded into a roar like I've never heard before. Each stride she took was accompanied by a wave of sound that picked her up and lifted her, like a surfer riding a wave. Gold medal number one. I've never experienced anything like it.


Jess is amazing.
As is Mo Farah.
"Go Mo!"

And he did. Another Brit surfing that wave of sound that every one of the competitors mentions when they speak to the best reporter on the best night ever, Phil Jones. Gold medal 3 safely in the bank. Oh, and 3 down, 1 to go for those of you still interested in the muffins.



I don't think Jess or Mo really had a choice about winning gold. The crowd wouldn't have allowed them to finish anywhere but first. Greg's victory was an unexpected bonus that made the night. With the muffins gone and Jess' medal safely round her neck it was time to leave the stadium, still buzzing and knowing how privileged I am to have been at the greatest night of athletics ever. Thanks to my brilliant friend who made it happen. 2 hours after leaving the Olympic Stadium my ears were still ringing. If it's possible to give a sound a colour, I'd say it was golden.

3 Women And A Baby
09th July 2012
How do you think we fit this?
Not sure, we’d better do it now before going to get Dennis.
Does the seatbelt go through here?
Looks like it.
Pass the strap through.
Have you got it?
Yes, now pull that strap back towards you.
That’s it. We’ve done it!

You’d think a Gadget Guru and her able assistant would have no trouble fitting a baby seat in a car wouldn’t you? I have to confess though, it did initially challenge Suzi and I, but we managed to fit the baby seat that was to transport Matilda from the airport to our weekend retreat in France without too many dramas. And after initial protestations, Matilda gave the seat her seal of approval.


She and the largest suitcase in the world (packed with food, toys and furniture) were bundled into the car after hugs and hellos at the airport. Then we were off, pootling along while singing the tune to the Renault Clio advert which featured Nicole? Papa! You know the one: doo doo doo doo do do do do, do do do do doooo dooo. Do do do do dooo, etc and apologies for overseas readers who have no idea what I'm talking about. Because of course, everyone else recognizes this tune!

We survived the hairpin bends and my singing and arrived at our perfect holiday home. The next challenge was for Dennis and Suzi to erect the bouncing baby seat. That done (it took a while) we rewarded ourselves with some French hospitality. Suzi having found a bottle of wine with Dennis' name on it.



Indeed and unsurprisingly, Suzi was on fire as hostess:


I woke up to see the sun shining through the white linen curtains. Do those of you who live in the UK remember what that looks and feels like? I'll tell you. It feels amazing. Especially if you're solar powered like me. Of course, the heat would have been unbearable without a pool, but lucky for us, Chez Perry has everything.


So thanks for a great weekend Suzi, Dennis and Matilda. The sunshine and surroundings were beautiful but catching up and chatting for 3 days was priceless.