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.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

More snow and Wildcat poo.

Wednesday 5th

We had arrived at the hotel in the dark last night.

Even in the dark grey morning the view from our room windows was spectacular. It was a shame to say good-bye to it when Adrian, Steve, Louise and their two cute spaniels arrived to lead us to Wildcat country.

The view from the hotel.

I followed their mini van along the twisting single track roads for forty minutes or so out on to the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

We were heading to the locations where we would be fairly sure of finding the signs of the elusive Scottish Wildcat.

Chances of actually seeing one would be remote to say the least. It we did we would be very lucky indeed given that the estimates for how many are left range from a very few to around four hundred.

The grey skies were chucking out rain in a liberal quantity. As we began to clime gently further along the road the drops of rain on the windscreen became splats of sleet and as if a magic screen had been lifted we were in a white landscape and the sleet was heavy snow.

The road conditions start to get bad.

Adrian pulled the mini van over and got out.

We were in the area where it was known that a Wildcat prowled. Lots of signs if its droppings, or scat as it is called by the professionals along with paw prints in the snow has been seen.

We needed to work as quickly as possible. There was a real chance that the only narrow road we had arrived on would soon become to difficult to drive back on.

I filmed Nick with Adrian and Steve looking for signs of the Wildcat. Of course any sign that had been there was being obliterated by the wet falling snow.

I was not enjoying this part of the job. The lens was getting battered by swirling snow, the radio mic that Nick was wearing was picking up a lot of wind noise and getting covered in snow along with the camera mic not behaving itself either in the horrid conditions.

We did a couple of interviews with Adrian and Steve more in hope that the sound would be fine because I did not have time to check things properly and in a gust of wind I had lost the covers from my earphones so now they did not fit in my ears properly.

It was difficult to monitor the sound.

Things looked not too bad on the meters and what I could just about hear although not perfect was certainly usable.

I really hope that the bits that was unable to hear was alright because the shots looked great with the wet snow sticking to everyone making the scene very arctic.

It was pretty unpleasant for us all, but a passing local in a 4x4 who clearly was not impressed by a TV at the side of the road and decided to show it by speeding up and driving quite quickly through a deep slushy puddle right beside us.

We got drenched up to the waist in freezing water and covered in thick liquid sludge from the puddle.

I think each of us individually called the driver a colourful collection of names.

Dripping wet and chilled to the bone we got back into the vehicles and managed to get back down below the snow line.

Getting back in the car as quickly as possible.

Nick still manages a smile.

The next stop was a visit to a fantastic local lady called Liz. Well not quite a local, she had only been in the area for thirty five years.

She was a real font of knowledge about wildcats and had seen them on numerous occasions.

Over the coffee she made us we listened to her stories of her sightings, looked at the Wildcat sculls she had found and marvelled at her tales of shooting stags and playing with dynamite.

One of Liz's Wildcat skulls, delicate but a little scary.

Nick photographs a skull watched by Adrian and Steve.

It gave us a chance to dry out.

Sadly this wonderful lady did not want to do anything on camera. It was a real shame because she would really have made the film come alive.

She was willing to take us to an area where there was a good chance we would see some signs of the creatures.

The beautiful little bay near the Wildcat's area.

Nick, Adrian and Steve got fairly excited when they found what could be Wildcat droppings in the moss covered scree.

Nick and Steve discuss the possibilities of it being Wildcat poo.

The rain had eased by this time so now the only really difficult part of the job was negotiating the large boulders on the steep hillside.

The rain was getting less but, Jasper the spaniel wanted to shelter in the crew car.

Adrian on the hunt for more poo.

Adrian and Nick photograph the Wildcat droppings.

Getting pictures of poo is fun!

With that done the only thing left to do was a couple of interviews with Adrian and Steve which we did on the garden area of the Ardnamurchan Visitor Centre which was closed for the season.

As the forecast had predicted the bad weather was clearing and the low setting sun was emerging from the departing clouds.

In these beautiful conditions we had to say bye to the guys and the Wildcat country to head back to Edinburgh in order for Nick and Luke to catch their flights home.

The first part of the drive was a photographers dream and nightmare rolled into one.

The sights were breathtaking. The low rich golden light from the sun shone on the white snow topped mountains making them glow and the deep colours of the bracken on the lower slopes were vivid and spectacular.

The problem was that we did not have time to stop to do it justice either with moving or still images.

I did manage to knock off a couple of shots.

One of the many views on the way home.

Another one.

At the general store at Strontian we literally ran in and grabbed some sandwiches and drinks to guzzle in the car.

The final rays of the sun shone on the Corron Ferry as we waited for it to arrive at the little quay.

The tiny Corron Car Ferry bathed in the colours from the setting sun.

We entered Glencoe as the light faded from the sky. It was a dark snowy wilderness both erie and lovely.

At the end of a long drive at the end of a long day, for me I dropped Nick and Luke off in time to catch their flights.

They both still had a few hours of travelling to do before they could call it a day. I just had a short drive home.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! It was fun working with you Martin, glad you all got back safe!