Thursday 10th April
The Duke and Duchess were off to do a bit of wreath laying to commemorate World War in the small town of Blenheim.
Most, but not all of the media were off there too.
We did not go because for logistical reasons around when we needed to broadcast live it would not have been possible to then get to the next big event in Auckland.
So, it was a relaxed morning for us.
The weather was still really rubbish. In the afternoon we would be doing little pieces to camera from the gates of Government House again that would run in the news bulletins.
These had to be done as close to the time they would be broadcast meaning we'd be stuck out in the rain for three hours or so as if we were broadcasting live.
This time there would be no satellite truck to give us at least a little bit of shelter because the material would be going to London courtesy of the small BGAN dish.
There are also no nice little cafes or shops nearby in which to shelter.
There are not very many bits of electronic hardware, particularly computers, that like water. With this in mind I went out to get something fairly waterproof with which I could protect the kit.
An outdoor store not far away provided the solution with a tent ground sheet
Alex had secured an interview with Nick Cuthell. He's a Kiwi artist based in London
We were going to do the interview and a few shots of him at the Portrait gallery in Wellington.
It was very likely that this tour would be remembered by us in the media and probably the Duke and Duchess as the "Rainy Tour".
Today it was certainly a day when that was ringing oh so very true. The rain was not torrential but it was constant and the sky was very grey.
It was then that we encountered the first person that did not bend over backwards to help us, or indeed any sort of bending to help even though it could have been expected that a taxi driver would know their way around their city.
We got in and told him we needed to go to the Portrait Gallery.
His response was short and succinct delivered in a quiet lazy kiwi drawl.
"Never heard of it."
Then silence and no movement of the taxi.
Alex gave him the address, 11 Custom House Quay.
Without saying a word he drove off and a few moments later as we drove down a road he said, "This is Custom House Quay."
The concierge in the hotel had said that he thought that it was near the Civic Centre.
Alex told the driver this. Then with an ill disguised sigh he wheeled the car round in the opposite direction and turned a few corners pulling up outside the Civic Centre.
"Do you want to get out here?"
The rain was still chucking it down so given that we were not sure where the place was and there were no signs to it we said no.
We were looking for what had been described to us as a red building. Beyond the Civic Centre we could see a red building. When I say we, I mean Louisa, Alex and I. Without turning his head to look the driver said that he could not see it and once again suggested that we just get our here.
I told him that the building we thought was the place was apparently round on the other side of the block and that he would probably be able to drive us there.
He turned his taxi round without comment and drove us to the building in question. As soon as we pulled up it was clear that this was not the place.
"Do you want to get out?"
Again we said no because we had not reached our destination.
By now Alex had found a photograph of the low rise colonial quayside warehouse type building which she showed to the driver.
He looked at it as if he was being forced to look some distasteful image and simply shook his head.
I had seen a few buildings that looked like that when I had been out so I suggested that we head towards them.
He pulled round on the Custom House Quay once more and then stopped.
Wordlessly he pointed to a building a hundred or so yards away and then said, it was becoming a mantra, "Do you want to get out here".
Sure enough the building roughly fitted the description and looked a little bit like the photograph but the clue that it was not the portrait gallery was the huge sign that took up a large portion of the front of the building which read "The Boatshed".
There was also a bit of the harbour between us and the building .
He drove off and then we saw it. The building matched the photograph exactly.
He drove the taxi into an area of Queens Wharf about two hundred yards away from the building, stopped and said nothing.
The rain was still relentless.
Our sullen friend's mood was not helped when Alex had the audacity to ask for a receipt.
I got out to get the kit from the back. After asking twice he popped the boot open. Up until then and every time since all the taxi drivers in New Zealand and Australia had jumped out of their cars, even in atrocious weather to help put the stuff in and then take it out. No surprise that it didn't happen on this occasion.
We did the two hundred yard dash to the Gallery, getting pretty soaked in the process and saw that there was plenty of space to stop right outside the entrance.
Any sense of disgruntlement that Louisa and Alex may have felt filtered away when we met Nick.
His tall bohemian looks, clear intelligence and warm relaxed personality instantly had the pair feeling much better about life.
|Louisa interviewing Nick|
|A photo opportunity in front of anther of Nick's portraits|
Although in a few hours his portrait of the Queen was about to be unveiled in front of the Duke and Duchess he was very calm and collected yet did admit to a sense of excitement and nervousness.
He gave us a sneak look at an image of the portrait but was not able to let us had a copy until much later on as its release had been embargoed until the royal couple had seen it.
|Nick's portrait of the Queen|
The rain that soaked us on the short walk to do Nick's interview continued for the rest of the day.
The local Sky News team, camera operator Janine & her reporter had been blown, or rather rained totally off air the other day standing outside Government House doing their live broadcasts. As well as their gear packing in they had been doing so many live crosses, as the Aussies like to call live broadcasts, they had run out of battery power.
So, today they had put up a little gazebo and had a small generator for charging and lighting.
Thanks to them our nightmare was made a little bit easier because we tucked ourselves under a corner of the gazebo and when the power ran out on the mac I was kindly offered some precious power.
|Even we find recording a voice over on location amusing|
|Trying to keep the kit and ourselves dry was not quite so funny|
Even though we had a modicum of shelter there was no real escape from the swirling constant rain. By the end of our broadcast day, when all the other broadcasters, live TV3, and Maori TV had come, set up, done their one short stand-upper broadcasts and left we were soaked to the skin right through the supposedly waterproof gear that we were wearing.
At least our new friends from Sky News had their crew car to take refuge in when they were not on air.
It was a very busy afternoon and early evening for us with lots of live broadcasts using the BGAN satellite dish and also sending material back.
|It was almost time to call it a night and get dry|
We would be leaving Wellington for Auckland on an early flight tomorrow. It would have been nice to get at least some of the kit packed for that. However, all of it was so wet that it was impossible.
So, before crashing out for a few hours sleep, around five, I had a gobbled, but very tasty bit of fish and chips from room service whilst I set to work with the hair dryer on as much of the gear as possible.
Friday 11th April
At 04:20 I carried out the arduous task of dragging myself out of bed.
The work I had done with the hair dryer last night and the time I had been sleeping had converted the sodden gear to simply very wet gear.
I now had three things to do before I could leave the hotel at 06:30 along with the rest of the media for the flight to Auckland.
The promo that I'd done with Louisa in the wind and rain on the quayside yesterday had to be sent to Daybreak, the gear needed to be dried out as much as possible and then packed.
Two hours to pack, shower and dress seems like a long time. Trust me it is not.
A frantic two hours later I was on the bus to the airport feeling like I had been juggling five chainsaws after crossing the marathon finishing line in a monsoon. The working day had not started and it was going to be a busy one.
|Off loading the media and kit at Wellington airport|
|Sky News checking in, next the BBC,..|
|..then CH5 and Daybreak|
The airport has gone all out to exploit the Lord of the Rings connection.
|Pretty impressive even if you're not a Lord of the Rings fan|
|It's not just Gollum, Gandalf is there too|
The flight safety video is something to which few of really pay any attention, particularly frequent flyers.
Air New Zealand have an answer to that, make the video fun and interesting.
The last time I flew Air New Zealand there was something to keep the ladies and my gay friends happy. The All Blacks rugby players did the video, not taking themselves too seriously.
This time it was one for the hot blooded males on the flight. I have never seen so many guys with their eyes fixed with interest, pleasure and amusement to a flight safety briefing video. It was done in association with the Swimwear Models from Sports Illustrated.
If it was put out as a DVD or download on iTunes it would certainly sell.
|One way to get the boys to watch the safety video|
When we arrived in a clear sunny Auckland a bus whisked us to the marina.
Wills and Kate would be doing a bit of competitive sailing in a couple of Americas Cup yachts and then going for a fast ride across the bay in a boat that can drive out of the water called Sealegs.
The first of these was a revisit for Wills. On his last trip I had filmed him one one of these very yachts. It was said that Kate was a more experienced and accomplished sailor.
They are known to be a competitive couple. How would it go?
Most of the media were on a large boat that would film the race between the pair and their crews once they took to the water. Louisa and Alex would be on that boat. Well that was plan A.
I was doing all the land based shots before they left and after they returned along with the trip across the bay.
A sizeable crowd had turned on this sunny day to welcome them to Auckland.
|Some pretty excitable kids|
|Sky News doing their live broadcasts with the crowd|
They were not disappointed. Prior to casting off the pair did a nice little walkabout that along with a New Zealand cameraman and a couple of photographers I covered.
There was some of the usual nice interaction between Kate, William and the crowd.
Just at the end of the walkabout, out of nowhere, we were underneath an almighty cloud burst. Out came the brollies. There were some lovely shots of Wills holding the brolly over Kate. It is during little moments like these it becomes clear that they are a couple who genuinely care for each other.
They went on board a rather swanky gin palace of a boat tied up to a pier in between the racing yachts to have a little bit of lunch and get kitted up for the challenge ahead.
I took position on a raised area above the boat to get the shot as they parted to join their respective crews on board the yachts.
As suddenly as it had started the rain had stopped. It did not take long for us to dry off I the warm sunshine.
We waited for them to come out.
|Posing for a quick team photo before they were off|
The parting shot was worth getting. It was another of those kind of intimate fleeting moments that we witness as Kate gave William a gentle pat on the shoulder and wished him good luck.
It was around then that I was getting a few texts, e-mails and calls from Alex.
She had not gone on the boat with the rest of the media.
My phone buzzed and vibrated in my pocket as I filmed the boats depart and be picked up by the massed lenses on the media boat.
Daybreak had been in contact with Alex. The boys and girls in the office in London wanted to do live interviews with a crew member from one of the boats that either the Duke or Duchess had been on.
So, Alex was trying to get to where I was in order to try to speak to one of them and see if they would come and be on UK television.
Also, Ben the satellite engineer for the day had been in contact about the location for the afternoon's broadcasts. He was very close by, not far from all the other TV trucks around the marina.
The only thing was that we would be doing our broadcasts from the marina where the couple would disembark from the Sealegs boat which was quite a distance on land from the harbour.
Once Ben had found it on the map he set off.
Our area on the quayside was a sterile area. In other words once inside there was no getting out or in until the couple had left. Alex might not be able to get in at all.
Once the yachts had set off on the race access was eased for media until a shortly before the yachts returned.
I went out, found Alex and escorted her back to the quayside.
There was now a bit of time to get a drink, copy the material that I had shot for the others in the pool and charge our phones.
When the boats were due to return there was a choice of which one I could be at.
Something told me that I should be at William's boat even though most interest is in Kate.
So there I was getting the shots of him and his crew coming ashore when I realised that I was on my own. The other cameraman and the photographers were on the other pier at Kate's boat and she, we now knew had won both the races.
Although I had managed to record a bit of nice audio when he said that he was "a selfless husband" and he "wanted to get a good night's sleep" I still thought "Shit", as he disembarked and headed towards her boat, "I've blown it."
I could see the other guys out of my left eye all over Kate, their shutters firing off sounding like a big motorbike engine ticking over.
I was behind Wills, his back was to me as he advanced towards Kate. My shot was a mess. The others were mining the mother lode. The voice in my head was screaming at me for screwing it up big time.
Then as suddenly as the heavens had opened earlier my gamble paid off.
Kate turned to her losing husband, her back to all the other lenses, briefly, yet tenderly touched his arm gave him a smile and said "sorry".
That was the moment.
Things speeded up after that. They went straight to get on their Sealegs boat and I had to rush to get on to my boat that would be the camera boat for the bouncy ride across the bay.
It was a very exhilarating ride but not easy keeping some sort of steady shot of the speeding boat as we thumped from wave to wave.
The battering we got was so violent that twice the battery on the camera became a battery off the camera.
|The couple on the Sealegs boat|
|Filming them from our fast boat|
We were about three quarters of the way to Westpark Marina doing over 40 mph when the driver of the boat told us that it was going to get a bit faster to allow us to get ashore before the royal boat.
He opened the throttle more and we belted along arriving at the pier between the two ramps used for the amphibious boats to drive out from.
When we got to there I was relieved to hear my phone ring with Ben on the other end saying that he could see me and was all set up ready to go.
|Ben on location getting set up|
Mike from Channel 5 was also there doing the fixed point stuff.
The event neared it's with the boat Wills and Kate were in emerging out of the water of the marina and driving up into the car park where once they got off they were presented with a miniature Sealegs boat for George.
Their final thing was a short impromptu walkabout to say hello to the little crowd that had gathered to get a glimpse of them.
Then it was time for our copying, ingesting, editing, rigging, sending and broadcasting frenzy to start.
At the same time both Alex and Louisa arrived in a taxi, Louisa from her jaunt at sea with the media crew and Alex from her fruitless journey to get an interviewee. Unsurprisingly none of the America's cup crews were prepared to make the fairly long journey to our live location.
Some material was going back via the little BGAN satellite terminal and some being set down the line from the camera.
|Alex getting ready to do a quick clip edit|
|sending the material|
Of course there had to be a minor problem to keep the adrenaline pumping. The satellite signal was getting as far as Sydney where the downlink was but had not made it to the BT tower in London to be sent on to Daybreak.
It took a little while to get it on the right path.
The location could not have been better, lots of boats with tall masts in the foreground behind Louisa and the Auckland cityscape in the distance.
|..with Auckland across the bay|
|Alex in microphone holding mode|
|Doing one of the broadcasts|
|A bit of hand held lighting with my little LED lights|
|The final one in the evening|
It was another busy afternoon/evening.
The only little hiccup for me was because the picture quality was so good when I was working at maximum aperture with very little depth of field Simon the director and James the technical director pointed out that the zoom tracking was a tiny bit out. This meant that although I had checked focus when I zoomed out the picture was a little bit soft, which they could see on their large high quality monitors in the studio.
At around 8pm local time with the rain starting to fall gently we loaded up a taxi and headed for our hotel to check in.
By 9 we had dumped our kit in our rooms and went to a Thai restaurant next to the hotel that resembled something more like a 1970's student union. The fashion police would have made many arrests. Without doubt Auckland's streets were about to receive a few portions of pavement pizza.
By just after 11pm we got to our rooms.
Even though we were not doing any live broadcasts tomorrow because the programme is not on air at the weekend it was still going to be a very busy day.
At least we would get about six hours sleep.
Saturday 12th April
It was a bright sunny morning as we got the taxi to the airport to pick up a hire car for our drive to Hamilton.
The very nice Glaswegian guy at Europecar had no details of any reservation in any of our names and when Alex checked the e-mail, although she found a reference number there was no voucher attached which meant that, in essence we had no booking.
We just hired one there and then. It was not too long until we were on the road. Thankfully we had given ourselves enough travelling time.
Breakfast was a carton of orange juice, a slightly greasy croissant and takeaway coffee which we ate and drank in the car on the way.
Alex and I met up with the rest of the media at their hotel and got on the coach to Pacific Aerospace, an aircraft factory where I would be doing a pool shoot.
Louisa had some time to have a look around and enjoy a little bit of down time.
This morning the royal couple were doing separate individual trips.
Kate was off to a hospice.
William was visiting an aircraft factory.
No prizes for guessing where the shots of the day would come from. It certainly would not be my stuff of him checking out the manufacturing process of a single engined STOL aircraft whilst she interacted with lots of kids.
There was the usual period of hanging around. Most of the media were in a large area
outside the factory.
|The usual briefing before the arrival|
|Satellite dish for one of the broadcasters|
I was with a Kiwi cameraman broadcasting live using a portable backpack unit called LiveU, it uses 8 SIM cards to transmit the pictures over the mobile phone network, and four stills photographers.
The anticipated lack interesting action on the tour came true. The most exciting thing was that as the motorcade came into view one of the little girls in the receiving line waiting for the Duke got stung by a bee or wasp, causing a bit stress.
Things did get a bit more fun when the tour of the factory was over.
William was going to get to see one of the aircraft being put through it's paces.
The plan was that our little pool would dash to the coach that brought us to the factory as soon as the tour and the boring bits were done.
The coach would then take us the short journey to the runway to set up for the arrival of both the Duke and the plane.
This was all going to happen at speed because we would be just in front of them.
Knowing that it would be a bit of a rush I had organised my tripod on the bus at the front so that when we go to the runway I could get set up as fast as possible.
|The edit of the shot above that I tweeted|
So, the boring stuff was done, William had done a very short impromptu chat with some folk in the small crowd and had been shown the aircraft that was about to be shown doing it's stuff.
The six of us along with Katrina the Kensington Palace media lady ran to the coach. The driver looked at us questioningly. Katrina asked if we could go as the Duke was about to get into his car.
"Where are we going?" asked the driver.
"To where we can see the Duke watch the plane take off!" came our collective reply.
"I don't know where that is. I'm waiting for someone from Pacific Aerospace."
A few hundred meters behind us the Duke and his entourage were getting into the cars.
In unison we almost screamed at the driver, "Just drive!"
He shut the door and drove towards the airfield.
As we approached the security guys that were waiting guided him to an area to park.
On the h of the hiss of the hydraulics that heralded the opening of the door we piled out, me with my camera and tripod.
We could see the convoy of cars and plane heading towards us. I spread the tripod legs, clicked the camera onto the fixing plate and started shooting the arriving vehicles and plane.
As I panned round with them there was a vehicle blocking my shot. The plane was now entering the runway. I repositioned the camera for the take off.
The plane was starting it's take off roll. Suddenly there were people right in front of me. They were all I could see.
I had to move again. The plane was rolling.
The short take off capability of the 750XL was certainly impressive. So impressive that before I got the camera settled it was climbing away.
That was it! The one shot from this otherwise uneventful visit that might have made air had gone.
As the helicopter pilot watched the fixed wing pilot demonstrate the plane bank and climb I got a selection of shots of him watching and the manoeuvres of the aircraft.
Much to my relief one of those manoeuvres was another take off. This time I got it cleanly bringing William into view as it lifted off the runway.
Whilst my time had not been the most exiting I've had the folk at the fixed point were on the verge of insanity through boredom because not only was their opportunity to get shots very short the shots there were possible were frankly rubbish.
What did keep them amused was being subjects of a piece that New Zealand TV were doing on the media and the Royals. ITN's Tim Ewart was asked if he would do an interview. He was happy to oblige during which he pointed out how pointless the fixed position was getting good shots of the action.
I must say though it was perfect for catching a few rays of sunlight.
Breakfast had been in the car. Lunch was in the bus. In my case a packet of crisps and a Mango and Orange drink.
|The media pack descend on a garage..|
|..Alex with our lunch..|
|..Georgina with ITN's supplies..|
Next stop was "The Avantidrome", a very impressive brand new velodrome which would be opened officially by the Duke and Duchess.
My second job of the day was the doing the moving pool as the couple spoke to some of the cyclists, saw various demonstrations and accepted a gift of a small bike for Prince George.
The first part of this was the speeches and unveiling of the plaque.
The venue had provided sound feeds for the speeches which was good. The only thing was that the position that I had to take did not have those feeds. They were at the other position, the fixed point.
I'd need to use my radio transmitter for that. The only problem was that I didn't have the relevant cable. Luke from ITN came to my rescue loaning me one. Not that it did much good because a combination of lots of RF flying around the venue and a stack of bodies between me and my tiny transmitter meant the audio was unusable to the point it eventually went completely.
Thankfully Mike from Channel 5 was at the fixed point and would cover the speech. I was free to concentrate on wide shots and cutaways.
|There weren't that many of these on this tour|
It was clear that the New Zealand cameraman on this pool had not done a royal visit before. Although, unlike trips with the Queen we do not need do do the suit or collar and tie thing we do need to be dressed appropriately.
This guy had turned up in a baggy stained grey t-shirt, scruffy shorts and filthy shoes.
It was also clear from the way he behaved that he'd not done one before. His was the only other TV camera on this pool and there were only four photographers. It was a large arena with lots of space to work with.
Even so, right at the start he got right in front of me a couple of times and did the same to the snappers. Also when we were moving backwards he tried to stay put. At one point I had to pull him back with us.
It did not take long after a couple of warnings for Ed to take him aside and give him a severe finger pointing and talking to.
By the late afternoon the job was finished.
|..with people that had spoken to them..|
|..and ITN, CH5 and Sky get down to copying the material|
Louisa came and picked Alex and me up and I drove us back to Auckland with time for a quick coffee stop on the way.
The evening was a relaxed one in the company of Simon Channel 5's royal correspondent and cameraman Mike having a Teppanyaki meal experience.
|..and at the end|
I wondered if we had become lightweights because we were in our beds by half past ten. Although, I did have to be up again pretty early.
Sunday 13th April
I was up at 5:15 am to pack for the flight to Christchurch.
The car that we had to hire was only a small one, not big enough for us and all the kit. So, I drove it to the airport with as much of the kit as possible. Alex and Louisa took a taxi with the remainder.
This morning's breakfast was sushi at the airport.
It was not a long flight on which we were accompanied by the NBC crew from the American network's Hong Kong bureau.
There were no taxis available large enough to take us and the kit, so we got one of the little shuttle buses with a big trailer for the gear to take us into the city.
The last time I had been here was just a month before the big earthquake when the city had been in the process of rebuilding from the previous quake.
To say that I was stunned would certainly be a massive under statement.
More than three years had passed since the city had experienced the devastating shaking but, looking around if we had been told that it had only happened three months ago we would not have argued.
There were still large areas where rubble lay around many buildings, weeds starting to grow round it.
Some buildings were being held up by sturdy bracing struts.
There were huge swathes of green grass where once houses, offices and shops had once thrived.
All around there were construction sites, some nearing completion with others in the preparation stages and some half built.
The city was quiet, quite eerily quiet. In fact it had that silence that if we had been in a war zone or area of conflict the hairs on the back of my neck would have been standing up and nerves would be jangling, but this was no war zone it was a beautiful city in a warm welcoming, if somewhat wet country.
The three of us were feeling pretty knackered when we went out to get some lunch which we had in one of the cafes in a new shopping mall called Restart. It has been creatively and colourfully built out of shipping containers.
Then we went out to do a few general shots of the city for us and the rest of the pool who would not be arriving until much later and would have no daylight to do any constructive filming.
A matter of less than a few hundred yards from the shopping mall were buildings that were cordoned off, deemed unsafe to enter.
There we saw and I filmed a Starbucks coffee shop, the ceiling half collapsed, the chairs and tables, covered in a layer of dust still arranged as they had been when the earthquake struck.
Louisa spotted something that really made us stop and take stock of what had happened and when it had happened.
There was a yellowed newspaper open on one of the tables with the date of the quake clearly visible on the top corner of its pages.
I filmed it wondering who had been quietly enjoying a reading the paper over a latte or cappuccino and just how they had felt when their world had been quite literally torn apart.
|..with the newspaper still on one of he tables|
We went back to the hotel where I sent the pictures back to Daybreak and did some tests with the little BGAN satellite dish, comparing it with the speed and quality of the hotel internet.
Simon and Mike from Channel 5 had arrived. We met them and had a meal in a restaurant not far from our hotels.
By ten thirty we had returned to our hotels and crashed out after our fairly early start.
Monday 14th April
William had visited Christchurch not that long after the quake which had really endeared him to the population.
All the people that we spoke to and interviewed expressed how grateful that he had come then and was now back with his wife, taking the time to visit their little city so far away.
It was going to be a busy day for me. I was doing the moving pool on the three events that were scheduled
The first was on the site of the CTV building, now a memorial garden, where 115 people died.
|The site of the CTV building..|
It was not the flowers and messages that were attached to the fence at the back of the lush mown lawn that made up a large part of the area where the structure had once stood, but the small rectangular area like a bite out of the footprint off the building.
This was where the small three bay car park was and in fact still is. The faded white lines of the bays along with the similarly faded and scuffed paint of the CTV markings were to me a very moving and poignant sign of what had been before, but was now no more.
As usual after our short walk from the hotel Alex and I were there, with the rest of the small pool a long time before the Duke and Duchess were due.
The families of the victims arrived in a couple of coaches and congregated on the grass.
Alex and I took the opportunity to go and talk to some of them. There was one lady that Alex had already been in contact with who would also be a live guest later when we did our live broadcasts.
We had spoken to a couple of people when a lady, introducing herself as the media officer for the families came over to us and politely told us that most of them had requested not to be pestered by the media and that the only media access would be after the visit and only with a small willing group.
I was puzzled because I had seen a two people in amongst the group wearing clip on microphones, presumably radio mics.
"That's a bit naughty", I thought because one of the things that is frowned upon is too much eavesdropping on the conversations that the royals have.
The odd snippet of a conversation or short comment is fair game but having a microphone up close and very personal is generally a major no no.
I questioned the media lady about it, suggesting that it was unusual. She assured me that it was alright because CTV were doing a special programme just about this bit of the tour.
So, we left having pretty much filmed enough anyway for the short clips that might possibly appear in a news report.
A while later the Duke and Duchess appeared, rather unusually getting off a small bus rather than the big flash car. There was of course still quite a motorcade with the motorcycle outriders, security and a posse of officials.
They came over and spent quite a while speaking to the families. Along with two other cameramen, one broadcasting live, and a handful of photographers we recorded what we could.
The couple then placed a small stone each in a pair of low wooden boxes.
Whilst this was going on over the road Duncan, the BBC cameraman was busy doing pieces to camera with the correspondents, including Louisa.
The next location was also across the road behind Duncan and Co.
Christchurch's main iconic building, it's cathedral had been devastated. Although, behind a sturdy fence a large part of it is still standing.
An impressive temporary cathedral made out of cardboard has been built to stand in until the original is brought back into commission.
This large tent shaped building with its huge stained glass front certainly looks any thing but temporary and it's difficult to believe what has been used to build it.
As the royals headed for the front entrance we were hastily ushered in through the back door to get the shots of them coming in and having a look around.
Before they exited we headed over another road to get in position for the walkabout leading to a cricket event to publicise the Cricket World Cup in New Zealand next year.
It was then that I notice that there were only two of us with TV cameras. The other guy was from CTV and only did that event.
The walkabout was down a walkway in the gardens of Latimer Square lined by, as they say, enthusiastic well wishers.
When the couple came over the road William was on my right speaking to that line with Kate taking the left line.
There'd be no covering both.
So both the TV NZ guy and I did little bits on either side, hoping, because that's all you can do, that we did not miss any vital bits of interaction.
There was a good bit towards the end of the walkway when William was confronted with several mums with several buggies containing several sets of twins.
The next bit was the cricket. A large fixed position filled to capacity with photographers and TV cameramen.
Our little pool took position off to the side to get what we could get of the action.
In a line beside us was a line of kids each one wearing the strips of the different countries that would participate in next year's tournament.
By a lovely coincidence I was right beside the lucky lad wearing the Scotland strip.
I was very happy to use him as a bit of foreground interest during the action. I didn't think it would see air in any of the short news reports, they'd be full of the close ups of Kate and Wills having a go. There was a chance that the shot might make it into the Sky News documentary of the trip.
There would definitely be more chance of that than the Scotland team getting anywhere in the actual competition.
My final shot of the day was of William leaving and saying to one of the organisers how brilliant it had been. That bit of audio had a chance of making it to air.
|Local cameraman and Luke from ITN getting the interviews done when the couple had gone|
When the events were over there was time for Louisa and me to have a quick spot of lunch in a little cafe on the quaint New Regent Street. I thought that it had been restored and rebuilt in the last three years but we were told by the lady in the cafe that luckily this small historic part of the city had not been badly damaged.
Alex came back with some of the other pool material which along with some the stuff I had filmed we edited and sent back to London.
This was when things started to get as frantic as ever.
We were trying to do a combination of sending material back and doing live broadcasts via the Internet.
Even though I had done tests to ascertain the best option for doing the live broadcasts there were problems.
The location could not have been more convenient, albeit somewhat cramped, my hotel bedroom, one window of which overlooked the cardboard cathedral with the other one giving a nice clear path up to the satellite if I needed to use it.
The hotel Internet was much faster so that was the way to go.
The line to London for the live broadcasts was established nice and early, the pictures and sound might not have been perfect, it was a narrow bandwidth on the Internet after all but acceptable enough.
|..and the camera view|
That was of course up until just before we were due to go on air then it all got a bit ropy and one one of the broadcasts it was so bad that we fell off air.
When Marianne, one of the survivors from the CTV building arrived to do a down the line interview the folk in London were so nervous about the quality of the line and it's unpredictability we were asked to go out and record an interview and piece to camera with the lady and send it back for Daybreak rather than risk it live.
This we had to do at break neck speed because the process of getting recorded material back to London the way we had to do it is nowhere nearly as quick as if we just played it over a good satellite connection with a large dish.
However, a feverish few minutes of work had it all done and in London ready to go.
In the end for some reason I don't know or can't remember it never made it to air.
Our live broadcasts had started in full overcast daylight. The recording had been done in the dying light after sunset and our last broadcasts had been done well after dark.
Then we turned our attention to what tomorrow had in store.
We were off to the slightly better weather of Australia. The only thing was that we would have to be up at around 2:30 am to get the flight and when we landed the day would be three hours longer because of the time difference between Christchurch and our destination, Sydney.
I combined a room service salad and chips with getting as much of the kit packed as possible before bed. I couldn't pack it all because of the need to charge batteries.
By 9:30 pm I managed to get to bed which was not too bad really.
Tuesday 15th April
At 3 am we arrived at Christchurch airport to find the workers arriving and that the shutters to the departure area were still firmly shut.
The friendly security people told us that it would not be long until they were raised. Sure enough a few minutes later we were going through to check in.
At around 4 am all the customs paperwork had been done, the kit was in the baggage system and we were sitting down to a very nice, very early breakfast.
The PA boomed into life with a request that I should go to the information desk.
A mild look of horror on their faces Louisa and Alex stopped eating and looked at me.
I told them that it would be because when security had been scanning my boxes they’d seen a lot of big bits of black with lots of electrical things, wires all over the place and were a bit concerned.
I was right. I was shown through to the baggage scanning area to open my flight cases. The security lady gave then a cursory glance and I was soon on my way back up stairs.
|On approach to Sydney|
It was around 9 am local time, 11 am by my body clock when I joined a little media queue at Australian Customs to get my carnet stamped.
Not long after that we had checked in to our hotel in Sydney very close to the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Darling Harbour.
It was not the hotel that the rest of the media were staying in, which was a bit of an inconvenience, a ten minute taxi ride away in light traffic, a lot longer in busy traffic.
We had checked in but the rooms were not yet ready.
So leaving Louisa and Alex chatting and researching on the internet in the hotel lobby I went out for a wander around one of my favourite cities and get one or two bits and pieces of kit that I might need during the rest of the trip.
After last night's fairly short sleep we were a little tired. Louisa was looking forward to getting a bit of a kip when her room was ready.
|Good luck with that then! New lift coming soon!|
|Man at work..|
|..with a very noisy drill|
|Lousa dealt with the din. I dealt with a bit of..|
|the rain that seemed to be following us|
|At least this time it was a short shower. National Maritime Museum|
|The work'll be worth it though. One of the lifts already renovated|
In the evening we attended another of those media briefings where we are told the precise details, or as near precise details of the events, the timings and the way that they would be covered.
|It's going to be a busy one|
|It felt like we are at a meeting of the UN|
|The written journalists discuss who will cover what|
|Likewise the broadcast producers try to sort out pooling arrangements|
At the end we were let into a bit of a secret concerning Kate and Will’s trip to Uluru.
We were left under no misconceptions that it would be in our interests to keep this information to ourselves.
As well as going to have a look at the red rock close up the couple would also get to see it from a distance in all it’s spectacular glory at sunset.
There are only a limited number of areas from which the sunset on the massive rock is viewed.
So, if we were to let the Australian media or public know that this would be happening it would not take a genius to work out where to go to see the couple and it was hoped that this would be as private a moment as a media opportunity can be.
The Australians would be told about it on the day and given the same facility to cover it that we would get.
In the evening I found out through the means of Twitter that there would be the possibility that I, along with a large portion of the Scottish media be spending another series of sessions at Edinburgh Zoo on the possible panda pregnancy story.
Tian Tain had once more been artificially inseminated.
Wednesday 16th April
The morning was fairly relaxed, watching some of the wall-to-wall coverage of the Royal Visit on all the Australian TV channels.
In the afternoon we headed to a location that I had been to before and was looking forward to revisiting.
Dawes point is virtually underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge beside the very swanky Park Hyatt hotel.
It is the perfect place from which to see the Opera House.
The only problem would be that as the sun goes down this area ends up in deep shadow but the Opera House’s white sails are bathed in a strong golden glow.
I was not looking forward to having to deal with that again.
Neil from Astralinks was already in position with his flyaway dish set up when we arrived.
|Time to get scripting Louisa|
|Resorting to getting Louisa on a box to keep her in the sun for as long as possible|
It was a busy and challenging afternoon with Louisa doing lots of live broadcasts a couple of interviews with Camilla Tominey, Royal Editor for the Sunday Express and a down the line with Katie Nicholl, the Mail on Sunday's Royal Correspondent.
On the first broadcast with Louisa the noise one of many helicopters overhead almost drowned her out. I looked up to see that it was a news one..
|..Channel 9 to be precise|
|Alex does a photo of Louisa and Katie for Katie to tweet|
|Neil helps out with the mic|
|Katie doing her down the line interview into the Lorraine programme|
The highlight of the afternoon for Alex and Louisa though was when Alex spotted a heavily bearded Gerard Butler wandering past taking in the stunning view.
|..all around us..|
|..at any time of day|
Although, it is interesting to note that at 3 am the Opera House is not lit, much to the distress of Simon and Mike from Channel 5. They had been sent there at that time to do a live broadcast into the Channel 5 News.
In the evening we were joined at dinner by Dassian the guy from CH 7 who had been organising all their coverage of the Royal Tour. He was a very nice guy and also very useful giving us some essential tips on some of the places from which we would be broadcasting.
The main one was that if we were going to be broadcasting live from the base of Uluru a satellite phone would be essential because there was absolutely no phone signal there what so ever.
Alex immediately got on the case of organising one, which proved to be a little bit more difficult than at first appeared.
However, she managed to track one down.
Thursday 17th April
Another of those early starts, up at 5 am for our trip to the Blue Mountains.
There was another little cock up with the hiring of a car so we had to go out to the airport to pick one up.
The good news was that it was sort of in the direction we needed to head and when we got there we were upgraded, that’s always a good thing to hear, to an SUV.
On the way the office called and expressed surprise that we were on our way to the Blue Mountains. They had thought that we were going to be doing our live broadcasts from Admiralty house where the Duke would meet the Prime Minister during our airtime.
The events at the Blue Mountains would be over by the time we went on air.
The only thing was that the blue mountain activities would be spectacular. We needed to get some material and be part of the pool coverage.
Also the meeting between the Duke and PM would be a simple ten-second shake without any other chat and the Duchess would not be there.
Added to that was that we would get nowhere near Admiralty House to get a good shot for the live broadcasts on the BGAN.
As we continued on our drive towards the Blue Mountains, scene of the horrific recent bush fires, there was much thought and discussion about which location would be best.
Eventually the decision to carry on was made.
In Winmalee we did some interviews with people that had been affected by the fires, many losing everything as the fires ripped through the area at breakneck speed consuming trees, homes, cars and a lot of livestock in the process.
|Mobile editing in the back of the hire car|
|Beware of the TV Crew|
My contribution to the pool coverage was small.
Outside in scorching heat I waited to do the arrival shot of the Duke and Duchess as they went into a Girl Guide hall to speak to victims of the fires and members of the emergency services.
They were also going to plant a tree in the grounds.
Mike from Channel 5 did the stuff inside the hall. I did not envy him that job. The place was stiflingly hot and rammed with people hoping to meet the couple. It would not be an easy job.
He was also there to cover the tree planting.
|..and then as they do a bit of hand shaking|
|Feeding the media in the tree planting press pen|
As soon as we swapped material Alex, Louisa and I headed for the amazing spot in the Blue Mountains called Echo Point.
This was where the couple were going but by the time we went on air they would be gone. So we would be able to do our broadcasts from the very spot that they had been a matter of minutes earlier.
Well that was the plan.
Time was always going to be tight for us to get to the location and set up in time to send the material that we needed to send back to London before doing our live broadcasts.
|..and Alex edits as we head towards Echo Point,..|
|..but the busy traffic has other ideas|
We set off as quickly as we could but it was becoming clear that it if we carried on to Echo Point we would jeopardise not only getting the material to London but also the live broadcasts.
The decision was easy to make. We needed to stop, get the material sent and set up for the live broadcasts.
I spotted an area with a great view. OK it wasn’t Echo Point but at least we’d get on air.
Even stopping here we had to be quick to get the material back in time.
The shot may have looked good but I hoped that there would not be another long very loud train on the tack in front of us, or any big noisy trucks on the congested motorway that we had come off and was just behind us.
On that score at least things went off fine.
|The later broadcast as the sun starts to get lower in the sky..|
|..Alex gets to work with the reflector..|
|..to give Louisa a lovely golden glow|
|Louisa and Alex keeping in touch with the programme in London|
We got everything sent back to London it time and did most of the broadcasts successfully.
However, the line did drop out just before the eight o’clock news with no time to get the connection back up. So we could not do that short broadcast into the news bulletin.
It was not until the last broadcast into the Lorraine programme when things really started to go horribly wrong.
It was getting to twilight. The sky was a deep sapphire blue. I had my little lights out lighting Louisa just enough to keep the colour of the sky. The shot was looking good.
I started the process of getting the line through to Daybreak.
I tried repeatedly but it would not connect.
Everything appeared to be working. The only thing that was not one hundred percent was the battery in the BGAN.
I did not think that was the problem. Fortunately I had started the process in plenty of time.
I called ITN’s MCR to see if everything was fine at their end, which it was.
The problem persisted.
The battery might have ben the problem so I changed it.
That was when I discovered that the problem must have been the actual BGAN terminal itself.
Once I had powered it down to change the battery it would not power back up.
Now the time for the broadcast was getting close.
There was only one option to try.
I had a good 3g signal on my iPhone. So I created a hot spot and tried to make the connection.
It worked. James the technical director said that the quality of the sound and pictures was as good as it had been all morning.
The connection was not up long before Louisa was doing here live broadcast.
I looked down at my phone as text after text started pinging in from Vodafone telling me just how much the data call was costing.
As soon as Louisa shut up I dropped the line.
It might have cost a few quid but probably not that much less than a call on the BGAN and at least we got on air.
Feeling both a bit frazzled and tired I packed the kit away not looking forward to the two and a half hour drive back to Sydney.
At ten o’clock I was tucking into a room service meal and try to work out what the problem was with the BGAN terminal.
In this instance the term terminal was very appropriate because as far as I could see it was not going to work again on this trip.
So to bed with a problem I’d have to try and solve tomorrow.
Friday 18th April
A bit of a lay in this morning, I did not need to get up until 6 am.
The first thing I did was sort out some laundry. I was fast running out of clean clothes and this would be the last chance to get any done before heading home as the rest of the hotel stays were going to be short ones.
Then I had to sort out the problem with the BGAN I still needed to be able to do a few more days live broadcasts and send material back to London.
I was relieved to get the good news from my colleagues at ITV news. Luke, the cameraman had brought his BGAN with him. Up until now he had not used it. So it was free for me to borrow.
That was news I was pleased to hear.
A few moments before I left my room to head with Louisa and Alex to get the taxi to the Shangri La to get the media bus to the massive Sydney Easter Show I got a call from the hotel housekeeping department.
My laundry would not be getting done today because it was a holiday it might get done tomorrow and there was a good chance I might not get it back until Sunday or Monday.
I said that as far as I was concerned it would not be a problem. I could make my undies last until then with out having to resort to tuning them inside out.
However, I had not thought about the consequences of what I had just said.
It was a baking hot day, ideal for this huge event in Sydney’s calendar. It is a big agricultural show akin to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh or the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.
The Duke and Duchess were going to officially open the show.
I was down to do the moving pool with the couple as they were given a tour of the show.
Louisa was going to be with Luke, Tim Ewart and producer Georgina to do pieces to camera.
The good news for me was that most of my work would be inside whereas the other guys would be spending quite a few hours in the blazing sun penned in with the prospect of only a fleeting chance of doing their pieces to camera with the couple in the background.
There was an added bit of incestuous spice today because Panorama were filming for a programme about the media and its relationship with the royals.
On arrival at the showground we were herded together and given our show passes and I was given my pool sticker.
Then just before I was able to grab a cup of coffee along with two photographers Chris and Sam I was whisked away to a room where there were already two Australian photographers and crew from ABC.
We were stuck in there for almost an hour and forty-five minutes.
The only place we were allowed to go to was the toilet and we had to be accompanied.
We were not permitted to go and get a coffee or drink even thought there were kiosks not far from us.
Our area was regarded as a sterile one.
Rather tantalisingly there were a couple of containers that were labelled with coffee but were empty.
|..where once again the gear was screened by a sniffer dog..|
|..we could see into one of the halls the royals would visit|
Shortly before the couple were due to arrive we were taken down to the entrance of the first hall.
On the tour they were shown giant vegetables, a demonstration of sheep sheering, a variety of produce and at the end a ram that had been trained to bow.
The whole tour lasted the best part of an hour.
As we went round and I filmed them shake another hand and make polite comments about this and that I was thinking that given their next event at Manly beach with lots of lively things going on the stuff I was shooting was destined for the cutting room floor, but I carried on getting what I could.
The predicted shot of the day from that event was the ram bowing at the end.
I did get the shot but it was singularly unspectacular particularly because we were on the side with the handler between the ram and us.
At least I got the shot.
It was not until later in the day did the story of the tour come out.
Kate had been given a small sample of Alpaca wool. As she was given it she said that it would be ideal to cover Williams bald spot.
I was asked if I had the shot. I could not remember. What I could remember was getting a shot of Kate handing some ball of fluff to one of her aids. Was that It?
Turns out that indeed it was. When she was being handed it I was getting another shot of the Duke doing something else.
|One of the media pens outside|
When the show was finished from our point of view it was really just starting for the Aussie public.
They were streaming in to the showground in thousands as we were trying to get out.
|Back packs, the way to go for Louisa and ITN's Georgina|
Once we were on board the bus I handed my rather full card over to be copied, albeit unbeknown to me without the shot of the day on it, up until that point anyway.
On the bus to Manly as the card was being copied we had a rather surreal conversation about a bowing ram as if this was the most important thing happening on he planet.
I’m sure that this must have given Steve Hewlett and the Panorama producer food for their programme.
When we arrived at Manly beach the main pack was going to cover the royals arriving and whatever it was that they were going to be doing.
We on the other hand were heading to the other end of the beach to prepare for our live broadcasts.
|The UK media pack..|
|..got off the media bus..|
Before I could start getting ready for our live broadcasts I needed to get my card back from Duncan. He was busy copying it as he made his way along the promenade with Luke equally busy copying another card.
I followed them along like a little hungry puppy waiting to be thrown a titbit.
When the card was copied I scampered off with it to our end of the beach where once more Neil was there with his flyaway dish all set up and ready to go.
|My card has almost finished being copied by Duncan|
As soon as we were connected I got the material sent to London.
We all then turned our attention to the live broadcasts.
From my point of view this was not a particularly stressful prospect. I did not need to worry about getting the signal back to London, the quality of the pictures and sound or about talkback. Neil was taking care if this for me.
|Our set up on Manly Beach|
Louisa on the other hand had the prospect of quite a stressful afternoon ahead because she was going to be commenting and commentating on an event that was happening a few hundred metres from where we were without actually being able to see it first hand.
Although it was being broadcast live by the Australian TV networks we did not have access to an off air picture.
She would be relying on being told over talkback by the producers in London what was going on as they could see the live pictures.
Another help was Twitter. The immediacy of Twitter is ideal in these situations providing it is a reliable source coming up with the photos and information.
The brief from Daybreak was also that we had some families to talk to about seeing the royals and the royal tour in general.
This was where the stress came in for Alex because quite naturally anyone interested in Kate and Wills would be along the beach where they were.
Thankfully she had managed to find a family that pretty much fitted the bill exactly as requested.
|Ready for one of the broadcasts|
|Doing one of he later ones as the sun goes down|
|Neil, Alex, me and Louisa. Team Manly|
Ideally we should have been right beside the action but because it had not been thought about and sorted out months ago this was as close as we were permitted to be by the police.
We did lots of broadcasts into the news bulletins and also the main Daybreak programme and one into the Lorraine programme.
There were a couple of little technical hiccups that took the shine off an otherwise perfect day.
At one point in a weird coincidence we lost both the programme sound and talkback from the gallery simultaneously.
Even more weirdly they reconnected at exactly the same time after several abortive attempts calling two separate numbers.
During the eight o’clock news there was a big audio splat on the radio mic that I was using on Louisa.
When I got back to the hotel I was pleased to see that my laundry had in fact been done. However, I had not bargained for the bill. It was quite a bit more than I thought it would be.
Saturday 19th April
The good news for us was that we could have a bit of down time.
There was no Daybreak programme.
The Royals along with the pack minus us had gone for a bit of a day trip to lovely sunny Brisbane.
|We came across this beautiful place..|
Although there was no Daybreak programme on today it was going to be a busy day with pool commitments.
It was potentially going to be one of the biggest days on the tour so far because little Prince George would be making the second of his planned appearances apart from being carried on and off aircraft.
It lived up to expectations.
The good news for me was that my first bit of shooting was at St Andrew’s Cathedral a matter of a five-minute walk from our hotel.
|Our busy media pen|
|Katrina, Ed and Nick the couple's media team|
|Some photographers relax whilst one works in the dark..|
|..and a Sky News reporter does a live broadcast|
Unsurprisingly I was there with the rest of the photographers and TV crews a long time before the royals arrived.
When they did, it was a quick easy shot of them going in to the Cathedral. The bright sunlight was not great for what Kate was wearing. Some of the photographers found getting the exposure correct a bit of a challenge.
Louisa and Alex had made base camp in a coffee shop opposite the cathedral. They were not part of the pool for this event.
Whilst the Easter Service was on I joined them briefly in order to get a takeaway coffee for Dave, the ABC cameraman that I was working alongside and myself.
I had a request from the producers on the pool to get shots of the very old books that they were going to sign because Diana’s signature was also on them.
So after the service I shot William and Kate sign the books and once they had left I got lots of shots of the signatures.
|I managed to snatch some stills..|
|..of the couple as they left the cathedral|
Next on the agenda was the amazing Taronga Zoo.
The big event for us though was that Alex was back on chocolate after having given it up for lent.
|Easter Egg time for Alex|
|..to get another good sniffing|
|The Australian media minder team organising where we were going to in the zoo|
|Back on to a small bus to take us into the zoo|
It must be the most perfectly positioned zoo on the planet having the skyline of Sydney and the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop.
|It must be the zoo with the best background on the planet|
The big pool of the day was when Wills, Kate and George would see the Bilby, a kind of long nosed rat in the enclosure named after George.
Initially there was only going to be one UK camera allowed to cover the event. The BBC’s Duncan had been given the honour of doing that particular one.
Then after much negotiation another camera was allowed. Sky News’ Mostyn was given that job.
They split the job simply. Duncan would stick on George and Mostyn would get the wide shots and cutaways.
The other thing that was happening after that was Kate and Wills getting to see a birds show and given the chance to interact with some small furry creatures in the zoo’s small, but not tiny amphitheatre.
This was originally planned as a bit of a free for all fixed point because generally the view for everyone would be pretty good.
Then on the day the decision was taken to allocate a bit of space solely for two TV cameras, one from the UK and one Australian.
This position would be the best vantage point for the couple sitting watching the bird show.
On behalf of the UK I was given that job.
Luke was in the middle of the amphitheatre. During the bird show he got the action and wide shots. I concentrated on the couple and their reactions to what was going on.
|The spectacular view at the amphitheatre|
|The little viewing crowd building up..|
|..beside the media crowd,..|
|..and taking the opportunity..|
|..like CNN, to do a piece to camera..|
|..or like Sky News UK..|
|..and the BBC, prepare for the event, or..|
|..even broadcast live for Sky Australia|
|The waiting continued as the amphitheatre filled to capacity..|
|..because the couple were running late|
|At least there were portaloos nearby, even if we did have to queue|
|Still more waiting and we were not allowed to stand up then or for the show|
The pair really got into the show and I got some great shots of them smiling and laughing.
There was one small problem that I had to deal with that turned into a much bigger problem when they came to have a look at the furry animals.
The sun was getting quite low in the sky and it was pretty much blasting straight down the lens.
When they were seated I was able to shield the flares with my hand because there was a bit of an angle between the sun and the camera. However, when they came into the middle of the stage the sun was absolutely behind them.
I had to keep the shot very tight and my hand was virtually covering the whole lens preventing as much of the flare affecting the lens as I could.
Even so there was still a bit of a flare towards the bottom of frame that I could not get rid of.
The shots, even with the flare were really good as the couple were shown a little Kangaroo and Koala up close. Kate even bent forward to take a bit of a sniff.
Up at the back of the amphitheatre whilst all this was going on Louisa, Tim from ITN, Nick from the BBC, Simon from CH 5 and Paul from Sky News were doing pieces to camera with Mike.
|..meanwhile ITN's Luke does the post show interviews|
|..live with Sky's Jonathan Samuels|
On the media bus on the way back to the Shangri La we got a quick look at Duncan’s shots of baby George.
It would be a struggle for my shots of Kate and Wills with the Kangaroo and Koala to make air never mind the shots I had done of some signatures in an old book.
The shots of little George had a much bigger ah factor than anyone could have anticipated.
He looked cute and as far as it is possible they looked like a regular family.
With those pictures being so good and us going to be spending the bulk of tomorrow travelling we anticipated that we might be asked to provide some sort of report for Monday morning even though the pictures would be quite old in news terms.
So I went with Louisa to the Opera House so that we could do a piece to camera with the Harbour Bridge as the backdrop.
Once we had done that we went to the fairly plush but not opulent lounge of the Shangri La to get the material that we needed to ingest and then send to London.
A few of the photographers were just finishing off their edits in the lounge when we arrived.
We hadn’t really had any lunch just a snack from the kiosk at the zoo. Dinner was also a bit of a glorified snack because that was all that was available in the lobby.
If we wanted a proper meal it was only available in the restaurant. We got enough from the little tapas menu to keep us going.
When we had put together the report we went back to our hotel over at Darling Harbour. By that time it was around 11:30 pm. I had to be back up again at 5 am to get packed for the flights to Uluru.
Monday 21st April
Sydney to Uluru
There just never seems to be enough time to pack. By the time I was all packed up and ready to go it was time to go.
So no breakfast, I could get that at the airport.
Thanks to a Qantas “Ambassador” getting the flight to Alice Springs was a lot more bother than it should have been.
This red jacketed old gent firmly in the mould of Captain Mainwaring mixed with Colonel Blimp decided that he would “help” with our hand luggage.
He accosted Alex and Louisa as I was getting the luggage labels from the self service machines.
The helpful old gent proceeded to insist that our hand baggage be weighed.
My hand luggage was way over the limit because I was carrying the camera batteries in the bag.
When he found out the weight he was quite apoplectic and said that there was no way that I could be allowed to take it on board.
I informed him of the Qantas rule about camera batteries and that they have to be hand carried.
He said that he had never heard of it, which didn’t really surprise me and said that he would need to get a “ruling on the matter”. He then went off in search of one of the ground staff.
The first lady that he approached told him that she was busy dealing with something else.
Meanwhile we had moved away and started to load our bags onto the automated belt system, which was not proving too easy a task because of a lot of bar code stickers that were all over my flight cases.
A few moments later he appeared with a supervisor who agreed that I was right about the batteries but also said that because the weight of the bag had been brought to his attention he needed to deal with it.
I got the impression that this helpful old duffer, a volunteer the supervisor told me in a tone that spoke volumes, was quite often adept at bringing things to the attention of the ground staff providing them with a little more work than was really necessary.
The solution was simple. He gave me another bag in which to decant the batteries and then take that on board too.
So that was sorted but we still having trouble trying to get the better of the automated baggage system so we decided that it would be just as quick if not quicker to go to one of the bag drop desks that had no queue at it now that the hand luggage problem had been sorted.
Well that just dragged things out even more because the lady at the bag drop desk started quizzing me about the batteries once she had spotted the camera.
Even though I told her it had all been sorted by the supervisor she insisted on getting all the details of the batteries and wanted to look at them.
At last she was happy with them and I had paid the excess baggage fee we were free to go.
The time it took was making me think that the window of opportunity to have breakfast before the flight was ebbing away.
There was just enough time for a quick bite before the flight.
At Alice Springs we had a short wait for the flight to Uluru.
During the morning the Australian media were running some footage of Kate and Wills at Admiralty House that had been taken on a very long lens from one of the news helicopters.
It showed Kate doing a sort of jump and kicking her heels.
The Dukes press people politely requested that we in the UK media did not run with these pictures because they were taken when the couple could have reasonably assumed that they were in a private area and there was clearly no public or news interest in them.
The members of the British media did not have a problem in complying with the request.
|Going out to board the flight to Uluru or Ayres Rock|
|On the approach to Uluru|
|..just need to get the gear off another baggage belt|
|First sight of the rock on this trip from the bus to the hotels|
The material that we had spent a large portion of last evening and night sending to London was designed to prevent what was now happening.
The programme wanted us to do a live broadcast as soon as we got to the hotel in Uluru.
There was a slight issue with that because there was to be a media briefing at about that time that was compulsory to attend if anyone was going to be shooting near the rock.
The reason for this three line whip to go to the meeting was because the rock is a very spiritual and sacred place of the indigenous people and there are many rules about what can be shown on TV or photographed.
This meeting was going to give us the details of how we should conduct ourselves around the rock in order to keep the locals happy.
After a bit of discussion it was decided that if at least one member of each team went to the briefing and could pass on the details then that would be fine.
So, as soon as we arrived at the hotel and checked but before we went off to our rooms Alex went off to the briefing, Louisa and I stayed at the front of the hotel and did the one live broadcast as requested.
|..whilst I got the kit set up..|
|..in the sunniest and hottest day yet|
When we had finished the broadcast and I had put the kit away we were able to head to our rooms.
The Desert Garden Hotels rooms are in blocks that spread out from the reception area.
Me being the one with the most to lug around I was not best pleased to discover that my room was in the furthest corner of the hotel.
Once we had spent a few minutes settling in we had to go across to the main media hotel, the Sails in the Desert for another one of those media receptions with speeches and canapés.
This part of he planet must be one of the darkest. When you look up into the sky you really do have to marvel at the universe.
There are so many stars and other bright things in the sky that it is truly mind blowing.
We spent a bit of time just taking it all in before we went off to our beds.
Tuesday 22nd April
I set my alarm to wake me just before sunrise but I was awake before it went off.
The night had been one of the most silent I had ever experienced. I had been here once before but could not remember it being so still and quiet.
When I had closed my eyes to go to sleep I encountered a feeling of sensory deprivation. There was absolutely no sound. I could just about hear the very faint chirruping of a cricket or something way in the distance.
I think that rather than give me a better night’s sleep the lack of noise had the opposite effect and I did not sleep particularly well.
In the pre dawn glow I joined a few others at the look out point not far from the hotel to take in the sun rise and enjoy the dark shape of he rock and the sand around us turn a deep red as the warming light seemed to breathe life in to it all.
|The rising sun on the rock and sand|
|I wasn't the only one up taking pictures|
The morning was quite a calm affair. All that we needed to do was to get some vital supplies and equipment to take with us in the afternoon to sustain us through the five or so hours that we would spend in the baking bright sunlight.
We had to be prepared for not having any shade for the whole time that we were going to be there.
|..of water and snacks in the cool box|
|We also got fetching fly nets. Modelled by Alex|
At the appointed time we headed over to the media hotel again to get on the bus that would take us down to our live location at the rock near the entrance to the Kuniyaa Walk.
There was some confusion about which of the buses that we needed to be on because we were bypassing most of the events to go straight to the live spot where later on in the day we would see the couple walk down to have a walk around part of the base of the massive rock.
We were taken to the training centre, the first place the Duke and Duchess would visit, in the Australian media bus. The plan was that once it had dropped off the Aussies it would take us the few miles across to Uluru itself.
However, once we had seen the Australians get off the bus Nicole the Australian media lady came onto the bus to tell us that there was another bus coming to take us to the rock.
A few moments later the three of us got on a large coach and were driven to where all the other media were starting to set up their live outside broadcasts.
It was whilst I was taking in the beauty of the geological phenomenon in front of me and noticing the shapes and colours that I began to see where aboriginal art got its inspiration.
|with the odd bit of green looking for a place to grow|
We did a combination of live broadcasts using the Channel 10 satellite dish and our, or should I correctly say, ITN’s BGAN.
|Others, like Channel 7 have a few more toys, autocue,..|
|..and something we never have on location, a make up artist|
|UV protection brolly|
|Louisa went for a walk down to the place Wills and Kate will visit later..|
|..then ready to do the first set of broadcasts|
|The temporary media camp|
|Other reporters doing their broadcasts|
|No mobile signals. Sat Phones essential|
|Alex using ours to speak to London|
|Louisa just before one of our broadcasts|
|Some folk didn't bargain for us when they came to visit the rock|
|Usually we use vehicles to shelter from the rain or..|
|keep warm. Here it's to hide from the sun,..|
|keep cool, but just like home, record voice overs|
|After doing her voice over, Danielle Isdale from Channel 10,..|
|..our broadcasting neighbour,..|
|..got ready to do her broadcasts|
Everything worked like it should. We had no problems this morning at all.
The only thing that did not fall at the perfect time for us was when Wills and Kate took the walk down the path and then came back up again we were not on air.
We did see them do the rather staged walk back up form the rock on their own for the benefit of the camera lenses on variety of rostrums built up especially for that one shot.
It was quite a funny sight seeing the security detail and other officials running up the path before couple so that they could get out of the way of the camera shots.
|Coming back up on their own for the sake of the cameras,..|
Before it got dark we had finished our live broadcasts, packed up in a hurry and made it onto the media bus that was heading back to the hotel via a point where we could watch the sun set on the rock.
On the way to our vantage area, the large coach park, we passed the little royal group, including the select few media waiting patiently at the other viewing area for the sun to go down.
|Sunset on the rock|
|Team photo after a successful mornings broadcasting|
As soon as the sun had gone below the horizon and the rock had once again become a lifeless, colourless lump the producers from the other TV organisations were in a rush to get back to their hotel to get cracking with their edits.
I had not realised that I was missing my camera, hat and sunglasses until we were gong for dinner back at the media hotel and an e-mail from Nick the main communications officer pinged in to say that a Nikon stills camera and hat had been left on one of the buses on the way back to the hotel.
I collected them from behind the reception of the main media hotel.
Wednesday 23rd April
Uluru to Canberra
It was another pretty early start at 6:15 am.
The first thing that we had to do before heading for the flight to Canberra via Sydney was to record a shot promotion spot and get it sent to London.
All we were doing was travelling.
The royal couple were having a day in Adelaide. The logistics of getting there were such that it was not practical for any of us to go and cover that part of the tour.
So a plan was formulated where Luke and Georgina went on the Royal flight to cover the events in Adelaide.
It was worth the trip because there were some nice little things happened like a bit of skateboarding and some playing at being DJs.
We had thought that all we would have to concentrate on was getting ourselves to Canberra fro Uluru. The journey was going to take us pretty much all day because of the length of the flights and their departure timings.
Thanks to the goings on in Adelaide and the desire for the programme to have some material from us we had to do, or really Louisa had to do some frantic work before we boarded the flight from Uluru to Sydney for to then connect with the short hop to Canberra.
Whilst we were in the queue for the check in Louisa was keeping across what was going on in Adelaide and putting together a script.
|..where Louisa started finding out what was going on in Adelaide..|
|..then sat down to think about the script,..|
|..finishing off at the check in desk|
Daybreak was getting a feed of the Australian broadcasters live material. So the pictures of what was happening would be in London. All that was needed from us was a voice track from Louisa.
The solution to getting that to Daybreak was to record it on her iPhone and e-mail the file across to London.
This needed to be done at the last possible moment before we became incommunicado after boarding the flight because there were still things going on and the script had to be as recent as possible.
We were in Ayers Rock's small airport departure lounge with only a short time left before we boarded the flight.
It was a pretty noisy place with no sanctuary from the din that I could see where we would get peace and a bit of quiet to record the short voice track.
I saw a couple of those big massage seats at one end of the lounge. There were not too many people around them and when the Australian ABC crew returning to Sydney were not guffawing with raucous laughter the area behind the chairs was relatively usable.
Louisa crawled in on her hands an knees to do the recording. It was not perfect studio quality for sure when I listened back to it but acceptable and with a bit of sound from the pictures that would go over it there should be no great problem.
So, it was e-mailed off. Immediately a message came back to say that it was all quite distorted and unusable.
I though it better to re-record it to be on the safe side.
The lounge was now busier and noisier. The area round the massage chairs was now not an option.
Then I spotted a little fitting room in the tiny airport shop.
It was a bit more acoustically lively than I would have liked but when there were no airport announcements going on and the till was not pinging away we might just get away with it.
It was our last chance anyway as the flight was starting to board.
This time the message came back to say that it was fine.
So our actual work completed we got on the plane for the first of the two flights to Australia's capital and one of the world's dullest cities.
It was not in one of the most dynamic cities on the planet that the tour would reach its end.
The general feeling was that the best was over and that we just needed to get through the next couple of days and go home.
As we were taxiing the short distance to take off I heard the pilot make an announcement I'd never heard beforeś, bearing in mind the plane was somewhat packed with journalists, a breed that never likes to be out of touch for very long it was not that surprising.
He said that on the flight deck they were experiencing interference consistent with that coming from mobile phones. He asked if we could all check that our phones were off.
There was brief moment of collective activity when I suspect quite a large number of phones were then actually turned off.
The connection in Sydney was a very quick one. We got off at one gate and were immediately pointed to the gate opposite only a few metres away where we went straight on to the flight to Canberra.
In no time at all we were taking off.
I was a little bit concerned that the bags might not have made the transfer quite as quickly and efficiently as we had.
In the baggage hall in Canberra I fears were realised. Although it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.
There was a rather stressed lady from Virgin Australia with a wad of small red folders with the details of the bags that had not made the connection. In my case it was just the one case that had not left Sydney.
At least one of Sky News' also had not made the journey to Canberra.
The annoying thing for me was that it was my personal bag that had not arrived.
I did not relish the prospect of wearing the clothes that I was dressed in for another day. I was already feeling scruffy and a bit grubby.
The bags were most likely going to get to Canberra sometime tomorrow.
There was a small bus organised to take us to our hotels.
The first strop was the Hyatt, the main media hotel where all the other broadcasters were staying and where I had stayed previously on the trip with Tim and Georgina to cover the Queen's tour three of years ago.
Of course we were not in this hotel. Ours was another one a bit of a drive away.
Our place, The Rydges, doubled up as a time machine, when we walked through the door it was like travelling back in time to the 1980s. Also there were vintage Porches parked all over the place.
When we arrived, this time it was Louisa's suitcase that was missing. It had been off loaded at the Hyatt and not put back into the little luggage trailer that the bus was towing.
A quick call to the Hyatt soon had the case found and put in a cab along with the ITN BGAN which I again needed to borrow for tomorrow afternoon's live broadcasts.
It was time for dinner. We ate in the ghostly quiet of the hotel's restaurant feeling like the only people on the planet. The food however, was very good.
On the way to my room I picked up a shaving an toothbrush kit from reception so that at even if my clothes were going to be a bit on the scruffy smelly side tomorrow my personal hygiene would not be that bad.
At ten thirtyish I was gently drifting off to sleep when I was rather annoyingly woken by the phone. My annoyance at being roused instantly vanished when the girl on reception to me that she had a nice present for me. My suitcase had arrived and was being brought up to my room.
I had just replaced the receiver when there was the knock at the door to reunite me with my suitcase.
Thursday 24th April
Only two days left of the tour. The most interesting and exciting events, places and people were behind us. We were reaching the anticlimactic end.
My pool job of the day was to film the couple at the National Arboretum where they would sign another book, plant another tree and maybe meet some more kids.
It is quite an impressive place it has to be said and the new kids playground with slides coming out of things shaped like acorns is fun and interesting.
|The usual crop of broadcasting media|
|The kid's playground|
|Proving she's a producer, Alex on the phone again|
|The broadcasters broadcasting|
In the end it turned out to be a little bit better than I thought it would be when both of them spent a fair bit of time talking to some of the little kids in the playground and the two wee boys that helped plant and water in the trees were very cute.
The thing that I found refreshing and put the whole madness of these celebrity style hyped visits was that whilst Kate and Wills were doing there thing there were lots of kids totally disinterested in the couple, us the mad men from the media and all the fuss that was going on around them. They were just being kids, playing in the playground, oblivious to the manufactured lunacy around them.
The next event for the Duke and Duchess was a pretty formal visit to the Australian parliament.
The media bus took us there even though we were not going to get involved in that part of the day. After I had copied it we just needed to drop off the card with the material on it for the rest of the guys to use later.
It took a little while to do that because Alex and I had to go through all the security screening to get to where all the other UK media were happily waiting to be let into the main area.
|The media waiting to get in|
The card was safely with the pack. We were then free to head over to the National Portrait Gallery to do our live broadcasts.
The pair would be coming there having a look and leaving all in the time we would be on air.
As soon as we arrived Alex selected the little clips of interviews with the people that the Duke and Duchess had spoken to and I got them sent via the BGAN to London.
|Then getting it sent to London|
|The satellite trucks for the other channels|
This fairly short process had already depleted the computer battery a bit more that I would have liked particularly with quite a few live broadcasts still ahead of us.
The actual gallery building was now a sterile area and we were not allowed in. So there was no chance of getting a bit of power there to keep the mac topped up.
There were three open air food and drink kiosks that the Gallery had set up which were doing a brisk bit of business.
I had a quick chat with the manager about nicking some of their power. He was very nice and said that he'd love to let me plug in but the circuit was already on the edge of tripping out with all the coffee machines, coolers and cash registers running off one socket.
If I did not get any power to keep the mac charged then there was no way that we would be able to do all the planned broadcasts.
Over on the other side of the square is the High Court of Australia. I had a wander over. None of the courts were in session. The place was open to the public.
I asked one of the security guards if it would be possible to plug into a socket for a little while to charge the computer. He was more than happy to help out. That was a relief. The only slight problem was that it was going to close up a while before we came off air particularly if we did a broadcast into the Lorraine programme.
Whilst I was waiting for the mac to charge I had wander round the building. A very nice retired Malaysian chap called Cecil gave me a bit of a tour and told me a bit about the building and how it was full of symbolism.
An example is that there is a lot of glass in the building and it is possible to see from the outside at the front all the way through to the outside at the back, symbolising the transparency of the law.
Around us the other Australian broadcasters were doing their live crosses.
|..and then a bit of recording|
|Doing one of our live broadcasts|
We got a couple done and then Louisa did a recorded piece to camera linking into some interviews and then picking up with some more chat when they were finished.
It was to be used as a standby in case the line dropped out.
There were two takes, the first of which Louisa had stopped part of the way through.
When it came to the time for the actual live broadcast the line dropped out and then the computer, rather unusually for a mac threw a bit of a wobbler meaning that I had to restart it.
We were not going to get back up in time to do the live so the standby piece that we had done half an hour or so previously was played out.
The only thing was that the producer in London had put the wrong take in the system.
Louisa was not a very happy bunny at all and quite rightly so too. Given that the piece had not needed to be turned round for transmission really quickly and there had been plenty of time for it to be checked before it went out the producer in question was given a bit of a bollocking.
Louisa did very quickly receive profuse apologies.
Then we did a recording for the Lorraine programme in case the line went down again.
My only concern with that was that the recording was done in daylight albeit a very fading daylight but by the time it it would be time to do it live it would be dark.
I was also a bit concerned as we approached the time for the live broadcast that the power on the mac was diminishing fast.
It became academic anyway because the Lorraine team took the decision to run the recorded one.
I was a bit disappointed because I had lit Louisa quite nicely and the shot would have looked good and been different from the ones on Daybreak.
However, it was not to be, and we came to the end of yet another busy and sometimes fraught afternoon and evening's broadcasting.
Alex and I went for dinner. Louisa had the pleasure of spending what was left of the rest of the evening with some of her husband's relations now making Canberra their home.
Friday 25th April
ANZAC Day is a big day in the Australian calendar.
The Duke and Duchess would be attending the main service at Australia's National War Memorial and then right after it flying home.
Most of the UK media interest was in the shot of them leaving with little George. So ITN, Sky News and Channel 5 were at the airport to get the shots of them leaving and do pieces to camera.
It was left to Duncan from the BBC and me to cover the actual ANZAC event. So, for the one and only time on the trip I'd be dressing up in my suit. At least I hadn't carried it for nothing.
The day started with a bit of minor stress. The media bus was due to leave our hotel having come from the main media hotel at 8:30.
We had put our kit in the lobby beside some of the snappers cameras and suitcases. Like the royals some of the guys were heading straight to the airport after the event.
We were sitting down grabbing a quick coffee at around 8:20. At, according to my watch, a minute or so before 8:30 I glanced round to see the lobby devoid of kit, bags and people, barring my little pile of kit.
I dashed out to the front. There was no sign of anyone. Evidently the bus had gone.
We grabbed a cab and headed for the National War Memorial.
It was getting pretty busy. A lady ushered us past the barriers and pointed us in the direction of the Media Registration tent where we were given pretty smart dark blue bibs and shown where the main press area for the wreath laying was.
There was no sign of either the BBC or the rest of the UK media. It turned out that we had not missed the bus. The guys had gone round to the side of the hotel to wait. We had actually arrived first.
This turned out to be a good thing because space was quite limited, made worse by the ludicrous position of the ABC OB camera. It was right in front of all the other cameras.
I had a bit of a moan about it, more to make point rather than anything else because I knew it wasn't going to change. I got some flim-flam from a guy from the War Memorial about it being insisted upon by the director blah blah blah...
I managed to get my camera and tripod into the best position that I could still not sure if this was where we were meant to be as it was more of a fixed position than a pool position.
|The broadcasters area|
Alex had been speaking to Simon the producer from the BBC about what we were doing and I was not going to be doing the wreath laying part. I was going to be inside the memorial itself including the wall of poppies, doing pretty much what I did when the Queen and Prince Philip visited it.
So leaving the camera in position, I didn't want to lose the spot just incase things changed, Alex and I went up to the Memorial where our splendid blue bibs were exchanged for elegant black ones inscribed with Official Media.
|Australia's tomb of the unknown soldier|
|Ed and Alex talking about what will go on in here|
Once we'd had a quick look at the two locations we went back to collect the gear.
Duncan was now set up behind a row of snappers, his camera high on its tripod. He would do the wreath laying and yet one last tree planting.
I took my camera out. Duncan slotted into the space now able to lower the camera to a more manageable height.
|The security detail checking things out before the couple arrive|
Alex, the kit and I had to be locked into the War Memorial a while before the couple would come through it.
I say locked in but we were, minus the kit, able to nip out a back door for a little while.
We joined Louisa in the Terrace cafe where she had set up camp with the rest of the kit that might be needed for the live broadcasts but not for the recordings to prepare for going live.
|OB Camera on the terrace of the War Memorial|
|The view from the terrace during the march past|
|The Duke returning to his seat|
|Shooting the wall before the arrival of the royals|
As well as the wall of poppies that the Duke and Duchess would see I was also going to get a chance to shoot the fly past.
Way in the distance above Parliament there were three black dots slowly getting bigger. Was this the fly past? It certainly looked like it but it seemed strange to have the fly past during a quite solemn hymn that was being sung.
I focused up on the three specks that were now clearly jets they came towards us right over Parliament. However, rather than go straight over our heads they veered off to the right before they got right to us.
The timing had indeed been a bit off.
They did come back at the right time. However, we had been moved from the best position from which to get the planes approaching and then going overhead. So when it came to it the shot was a lot more messy than I would have liked.
On the other hand the shots along the memorial wall covered in bright red poppies when the Duke and Duchess arrived were really good.
We then went down stairs for another book signing, receiving of presents and a chat with recipients of the VC.
Then the pair were off.
My final bit of recording on the tour were two interviews with men who had been awarded the Victoria Cross.
Unfortunately my last shot was not the best and a bit of a schoolboy error, that I didn't notice until I was sending the footage to London.
In the interview with SAS Trooper Mark Donaldson, the first Australian to be given the VC in forty years I had started with a framing that did not include his medals. I then pulled wide to get the row of medals in shot. What I had not spotted in the viewfinder was the little tell tale fluff from the camera mic wind gag just dipping into frame in the top right corner.
Craig from Astralinks had arrived with his mean looking 4x4 truck to set up for the live broadcasts.
|..and a happy Craig|
He was a familiar face. I'd worked with him a couple of times before when I'd done jobs in Australia.
It felt a bit strange because all the other broadcasters were busy packing away their kit as we were just starting to rig.
|Alex on the phone again this time in her black bib|
|It hadn't taken long for the people to leave|
We did quite a few news and programme broadcasts including interviews with two royal journalists, Robert Jobson and Camilla Tominey finishing with the final tour broadcast for the Lorraine programme.
|Ready for another live broadcast..|
|..not many left to do|
Just the journey home to look froward to on Saturday.
Saturday 26th April
Canberra to Edinburgh
As journeys go it was not a major disaster just filled with little irritating hiccups that we could have done without.
The first came at Canberra's domestic terminal on the way to Sydney.
There was a problem with the aircraft and we were hurriedly and efficiently switched to another plane a few gates down.
When we got to Sydney and went to get the bus for the international terminal the significance of a warning beep when we had our boarding cards scanned did not come to fruition until we were about to board the flight to Singapore.
Again there was a warning beep as the lady at the gate scanned my the card. This time she did not say it was OK. She immediately picked up the phone and made a call. A few seconds later the duty manager was by her side and they were having a brief intense chat including a lot of pointing at the computer screen.
The duty manager took me aside and said that for some reason the staff at Canberra had off loaded us from the flight, but she would try to sort it.
Alex and Louisa were not at the gate yet and I pointed out that we were travelling together and they might have the same problem. The lady said that she'd sort theirs too.
After a little while and a lot of work on the keyboard I was given a couple of boarding cards. She told me that the one for the flight to Singapore was for an aisle seat at an emergency exit and the one for the longer leg from Singapore to London was for an aisle seat.
That was a bit of a result, my preferred aisle seat and a bit of extra leg room.
Sure enough Alex and Louisa had the same problem but it was, as promised sorted out, although they had not been given boarding cards for the flight from Singapore.
The flight to Singapore was not too bad on a nice new aircraft in good seats. We were looking forward to a leg stretch, a coffee and perhaps a bit of shopping in Singapore's Changi airport.
All that Alex and Louisa had to do was to pick up their boarding cards at the transfer desk then chilling out before the long flight to London.
For them the hour or so that we had in the airport was not spent relaxing but, sorting out getting on the next flight and dealing with the excess baggage.
Although we had been told that the excess had been paid in advance as it had on the way out evidently it had not. A call to the travel company confirmed it.
So, after it was all sorted out they had to run to the gate to get on the flight.
To make this hassle worse the plane that we boarded for the long flight was an old careworn 747 without the refinements that we had on the 777 we had just alighted from.
It was my most miserable flight. The promised aisle seat turned out to be a narrow middle seat with a fidgety woman in front who constantly bounced back and forwards on the back of the seat and behind me, what I thought was a kid kicking me in the back turned out to be a young woman.
The good news was that when I eventually arrived in Edinburgh very knackered indeed all my baggage had arrived with me.