Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Bye bye snow! Hello New Zealand!

Saturday 8th

As usual I had managed to take all of yesterday getting my kit organised and packing it for the trip to New Zealand.

We are off to the other side of the earth to do a little bit of a preview of what those lucky enough to be going to the Rugby World Cup could get up to.

As if we had not had enough to last a very long time the forecast snow had been falling steadily but, not too heavily from late afternoon on Friday through to Saturday.

I kept an eye on the airline and airport web sites. Right up until I was about to fall asleep and get four hours of sleep there were no problems to report.

It was 2 am. Just before I switched off the bedside light I did a last quick look at Twitter.

The last tweet was from @edi_airport, edinburgh airport’s twitter name.

My blood ran as cold as the white snow drifting down to the ground outside the bedroom window.

The airport was closed and would not reopen until lunchtime.

That meant that there would be no way that I would get to Heathrow in time to catch the flight to New Zealand.

I had to do something.

I checked the weather at Glasgow airport.

It was snowing, but a tweet from them popped up to say that the snow clearing was working and the airport was operating normally.

My fingers then started flying over the touch screen on the iPad and I called up the BA web site, found suitable flights and booked a seat.

If the snow outside my window was anything to go by then the Edinburgh City By Pass and the M8 to Glasgow would not be easy routes.

I gave up the idea of any sleep and set out.

The roads in my estate looked very pretty and the gently falling flakes of snow was still somehow magical, but the thought that I was soon to exchange that for the New Zealand summer gave me the impetus to make sure I did not miss the flight.

The snowy road to my estate.

As I suspected the roads were really quite bad, down to one lane. It was not until I was very close to Glasgow that the snow thinned out and I was able to go at a more respectable speed.

De-icing an aircraft at Glasgow airport.

The flight was full, but left on time. However, there was the usual hold over London for a while so we landed late. Passengers all around me were worried about their connecting flights.

The patient cabin staff calmly repeated the same mantra to each of the stressed people pestering them.

I heard them say the same thing a dozen times. How could they not hear the same thing and be happy that there would be people at the arrival gate to help.

Sure enough when we disembarked there was a legion, well a small handful really, of BA ground staff with placards showing the various flight numbers that the grumblers were worried about.

They would have to rush whereas, I, on the other hand had plenty of time to get to terminal 1 to meet the rest of the team.

I had enough time to get my Customs Carnet sorted before the guys arrived.

There was no queue for once so it did not take too long to get the thing stamped and signed. Although for a moment when I gave the woman the list I thought that there was going to be a problem.

She scrutinised the list of equipment for what seemed like ages, scanning it up and down, running her pen against the items.

I knew what was coming. I’d seen that look before. She was going to

ask to see a serial number.

“Please nothing in the flight cases!”, I mentally pleaded. “And not the wide angle lens.” I did not have that to show her. Fraser, the researcher was bringing it.

I was so relieved when she asked, “have you got the camera?”

She did insist on seeing the serial number though, all tucked away under the tightly strapped camera cover.

I was just leaving her with the official stamp in the correct place when the rest of the crew pitched up.

Stuart, the producer and Fraser were first with Nigel the sound recordist and Dan the Presenter arriving a short while later.

We then proceeded to check in.

Dan was going Business Class whereas we were going to be up the back as usual.

There was some good news for us and for the Daybreak coffers.

We were to be given access to the Star Alliance Lounge and the total bill for our excess baggage came to a measly £70. That was £30 less than I had paid on the flight from Glasgow.

In the Lounge we took full advantage of the cold food, the hot food and of course the cold drinks.

Onboard the plane we turned right with the masses and their young children. Dan turned left in to his haven of peace and personal service.

It was going to be a long one.

Dan paid us a few visits and the head of the cabin staff came back from her arduous duties looking after the little lot at the front to offer us nice headsets and glasses of champagne.

It was my first experience of Air New Zealand and if the rest of the crews are as good as this one it certainly gets my vote. The guys and girls were very attentive to each and every one of the passengers.

Of course it did not take long for the youngest fliers to take it in turns to make themselves heard.

The four of us in our cramped economy seats dozed a little on the way to our stop in glamorous LA.

Up in the spacious glamour of Air New Zealand’s Premier Business section Dan was enjoying the comfort of the big seat and the fine wines and food that accompanied it.

The excitement of a bit of window shopping combined with a possibility of some star spotting in the airport was cruelly destroyed when we arrived at LAX.

We were all herded into a gate area that doubled as a transit lounge. Even though none of the hoards of passengers that came off the aircraft and were about to get back on the self same one that we could see through the window of the gate area, we were all put through the American immigration procedure.

Our passports were checked. Our fingerprints were scanned. Were were photographed. Our passports were stamped and scribbled on.

So as far as we could gather we were officially and legally in the United States of America, but we were never allowed more than fifty meters away from the plane.

Our plane on the stand in LA.

There was not a hint of a shop, posh or otherwise or the smallest sniff of an A listers scent or sight of any sort of entourage.

None of the electric sockets in the lounge worked. In fact one lady that I spoke to said that her laptop had gone kaput when she plugged in to a socket.

All the ones that I tried had nothing coming out of them at all.

The only thing that was on offer from a refreshment point of view was coffee or water.

Stuart and Fraser passing the time in the "lounge"... does Dan...

...and Nigel. What did we do before mobile phones?

This was the one and only, albeit fairly big downside to the whole Air New Zealand experience. If it had not been for that I would have to have given them high marks for the rest of their service and the quality if the staff.

When we got back onboard four of us turned right again and Dan turned left to go up front for more fine dining and flat sleeping.

On this twelve hour leg of the journey Fraser, Stuart and Nigel said that they spent most of the time after the meal giving me jealous looks.

It was daytime by our body clocks but night time by New Zealand time.

I was determined to get whatever sleep was possible.

So, I popped a Nytol tablet, wrapped myself mummy-like in the blanket and stuck on an eye mask.

For at least four hours I was pretty spark out and for another four or five I slept fitfully until I was aware that breakfast was being served.

When we got off in Auckland the others including Dan were looking and feeling like utter crap.

Thanks to my sleep I did not feel too bad, but did look crap and my teeth felt like the hull of a boat that had been moored in stagnant water for a year and a day.

There was still another flight to go and we had to go through the customs rigmarole with our carnets.

The carnet thing was not quick but the Customs Officer was as pleasant and efficient as he could be so that at least it was not stressful.

We're in New Zealand, see it says so.

In the food court of Auckland airport’s domestic terminal we had time for a leisurely breakfast of fresh juices for all. Nigel and I also had some very nice sushi and noodles.

Dan plays with his Flip video as we have breakfast.

Our healthy breakfast.

Pete, our fixer/guide from the NZ tourist office met us there and will be with us for the tour.

There was quite a long queue to go through the security screening which was not too bad, but when a succession of groups of Japanese tours turned up just in tome for their flight and were ushered to the front of the queue there were quite a few disgruntled voices not just from the passengers that, like us had bee patently waiting in line, but also from the security people who dealt with the influx very quickly and with good humour, but were not happy at being put under such pressure because the tours arrived a lot later than they should have.

Anyway the flight was fine and after we got to our final destination of Christchurch we had been on the go for somewhere like forty hours.

Spectacular views on the way to Christchurch.

See, it says so.

We were all pretty tired, including me.

We did not want to crash out straight away but stay awake for as long as possible to give us a chance to get into the time zone and sleep through the night.

We showered and changed fairly fast and went to spend what was left of the afternoon taking in a bit of the city.

We had a short wander to take in the sights, had something to eat and drink and met some greedy hovering sparrows.

Out and about in Cathedral Square, the centre of the city.

Not too long to go now.

Hmm, which way does it go?

Dan the cameraman with his Flip.

Tram riding Christchurch style.

It might not be a flat white but, they know how to make coffee here.

Could be Oxford or Cambridge. Punting on the river Avon.

The bird hovers, ever so briefly to take food from Nigel's hand.

In the evening we had dinner in a restaurant a few meters away from the hotel and managed to make it through to ten o’clock before we went to our beds with the hope of a full night’s sleep.

I think the Nytol might get another try again tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment