Top Five Tunes

I watched a programme about the 90s the other night and it made me want to do a 90s Top Five. I started trying to choose tracks but there was just too much great music in the 90s to choose just five, so I abandoned that plan. I’ve been listening to loads of 90s music this week as a result and I’ve chucked a couple of random ones in here.

To Scale: The Solar System

For some reason, I’ve always loved the vastness of space and how absolutely massive the figures are when talking about it. I actually like how insignificant it makes me feel. It never really occurred to me that a lot of the pictures you see of the solar system aren’t to scale. I saw this short come up on Vimeo staff picks this morning, it’s a lovely piece of film making and well worth a watch.

The Tribe (Plemya)

This weekend I had the horrible realisation that I had become ‘one of them’. As I walked out of the theatre, it suddenly dawned on my that I was a film student who had just gone by himself to watch a foreign language (Ukrainian sign language, actually), independant film at a festival. I sat in the room filled with lots of other film industry/student-y looking types with various trendy hair, shirt and skinny jean combos.

The film I went to see is called The Tribe, or Plemya in Ukrainian. It’s a film about a boy who goes to a boarding school for the deaf. The cool thing about the film is that the entire cast is deaf and the whole film is in sign language. There is no dialogue, dubbing or subtitles. I saw an interview with the lead actress a few months ago which sparked my interest in the film and more recently I had read some reviews. Critics were saying that the power of the narrative transcended the language barrier and even people that didn’t know sign language could follow it. I was curious to find out if that was true, so as soon as I found out it was going to be screened at Bedford Film Festival, I bought a ticket.

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Having not read much into the actual plot of the film, I was shocked when I actually started watching it. It’s such a dark film and probably the most shocking film I’ve ever seen. It’s not the most graphic or violent film I’ve ever seen, but I think I was taken by surprise because I wasn’t expecting some of the themes and events that it covers. I did enjoy the film but I can’t help but wonder if I got the same story as the people sitting in the room that could understand sign language. One of the reviews I’d read, the reviewer had said he couldn’t stop thinking about the film afterwards and I’ve found myself doing the same thing. I think not fully knowing what was going on all the time makes you think more about it. There were some scenes where there was a lot of conversation between characters and while I got the gist from their body language. There were a few scenes where two characters were arguing, but I never really knew what they were arguing about. I think I know and the story makes sense with the reason that I got, but I could be completely wrong and it could be a completely different story. I think that’s what’s making me think so much about it afterwards.

The acting was a bit dodgy in places, I feel that the fight scenes let down the rest of the film massively. They just weren’t convincing. Maybe it’s because I’m used to seeing really well choreographed fight scenes in Hollywood films. Despite that and the language novelty, I enjoyed the aesthetic greatly too. There were lots of really long takes using steadicams and despite the obvious tension-building nature of shots like that, technically they are impressive too. I also love the look of the locations used. It was a really run down area and building which gave the entire film a massively post-apocalyptic feel. Combined with that, the cinematography was really nice. MOst of the shots are so nicely composed and you can see that from the trailer. I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in film.

Top Five Tunes

Not done one of these for a while.

I’ve been watching a lot of Hindi films recently and it got me thinking. I’ve always loved that Indian drum sound and it lends itself to drum & bass so well. There must be some great Hindi DnB. I did a bit of searching and it turns out, there is!

There’s also lots of great ‘Eastern’ dub around too.

Muffler has a new EP out. Most of it is banging but this is my favourite track.

Stunning keys and vocals.

The original trap version is great too.

Epicaly Palestine’d: The Birth of Skateboarding in the West Bank

Skate culture has become so popular that it is almost a mainstream fashion trend in itself.  That’s why I find it so odd when I hear about places that have no skate scene at all. I’ve just watched this short documentary about the birth of the skate scene in Palestine. It’s really cool to see something that’s so developed elsewhere finding its feet for the first time in a country where you’d never expect.

It reminds me of where unicycling was when Leo and I first discovered it. Everything we learnt felt new, like no-one had done it before. I love the part in the documentary where the guy stops mid-interview when his mate ollies a 3 set.

I found it so interesting. Check it out!


Behind the scenes at the video shoot

I love unicycling. Which other sport can you phone the top retailer, asking if you can interrupt business for a day or two to use their warehouse to film a video and their only question is; ‘When are you coming?’.

After finishing my HNC course for summer I didn’t want to sit around until October when the HND starts without filming anything. After playing with a few ideas I had in my head I got on the phone to Roger at and we discussed ideas. I took a trip up to the warehouse in late July for a recce, where we all managed to put our heads together and came up with a rough plan. A guided tour style video, shot in one take, tracking the progress of an order through the warehouse, with lots of riding going on around it, obviously!

In order to make the video interesting we wanted to be able to ride on the unicycle box that would be the subject of the video. This required a bit of pre-planning and the guys at UDC made this ‘special’ 36″ unicycle box.


To the untrained eye, it just looks like any other unicycle box you would receive if you ordered from However, once you open the box you can see the difference.




Having the box lined with the wooden box allowed us to hop on it, kick it, throw it and generally abuse it without risking damaging an actual unicycle.

One of the main obstacles I’d wanted in the video from very early on in the project was a stairset that looked like it was one of the stacks of unicycle boxes in the warehouse. It’s something I’d had on my mind for a very long time. Amazingly, with the help of the guys at UDC, we made it a reality.
We started with the stairs from Stockton Unicycle Club’s trippy trials course and used cardboard to cover the steps. Then we attached pieces of strapping to make each stair look like a box stacked in a staggered fashion. Finally, we hid the stairset among the piles of boxes and made a run up with pallets, a sheet of plywood and a final top layer of cardboard.







Complete! Just add riders.

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Then came the difficult part, choreographing everyone to be in the right place at the right time. The video follows one box through the warehouse as it gets passed from one person to another and we never wanted the box to stop moving for very long. In order to keep it visually interesting we wanted some sort of action to be on screen all the time. This presented a challenge because we only had 8 people on hand and we also had to make sure that they didn’t get in shot when getting to their positions. We went through about 10 dry runs without rolling the camera and once we thought we had it all figured out we went for a take. I think the total number in the end was 18 run throughs. I won’t go into detail, but check out the behind the scenes video for an insight into what went down on the day.

Finally, here’s some photos taken by Doug Harris. Big thanks to him for taking these and letting me use them.












British Muni Weekend Photos – Whinlatter August 2015

I’ve already written a ride report and posted some of the ride photos from the August edition of the British Muni Weekend over on the website, be sure to check that out. This is more of a collection of my favourite photos from the weekend plus a few I didn’t post on the BMW website.

Taken at about 1am, this was just playing around with my Sony A7s and it’s silly high ISO settings. Taken handheld at 1/60 shutter speed…
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Down-day on the trails. Matt and I were absolutely ruined from riding Parys Mountain on Anglesey and then Skiddor in the Lake District on consecutive days. We had an extremely gentle ride around the red Altura trail at Whinlatter. Stopping often for cake. This is Matt just soaking up the atmosphere.
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The British Muni Weekend is always a very social event. If anyone drops behind we always stop and wait for them to catch up. The lighting in this part of the woods was so nice.
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It was so good to see this guy. I haven’t seen Joe for years so it was great to get out riding with him. As usual he ripped. You wouldn’t know he’d been off of the unicycle for months.
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We had a great riding crew. Most of us go way back, so it was great to catch up. Unusually for a British Muni Weekend, the standard of riding was extremely high, so we blasted round the trails.
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The lads offering Stu some encouragement at the bottom of a particularly difficult section.
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Panorama from the top of the trail.

Our last evening was a tranquil one. I loved my time up in the Lakes. We rode some of the steepest, gnarliest stuff I’ve ever ridden. I’ll be back.
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You can view the whole set on my Flickr.

VW Camper Update – Bedtime!

The VW van has been on the road for a while now and I haven’t done an update since it passed the MOT. I’ve been slowly working on it and I finally have enough to make a reasonably interesting blog post about it.

Leo and I haven’t really used the van much since it’s been on the road. We took it to Big Bang, went to a unicycle meet in Wales and Leo used it to move house.  Since then it’s broken down twice. I had the carb off and totally overhauled it, fitting all new seals, gaskets and giving it a good clean up.



The end goal with the van was always to turn it into a proper camper to go unicycling in, so as soon as it was roadworthy I started thinking about building a camping interior.

The most obvious thing we needed was a bed. I wanted something that could be used as a seat and a bed, so I started looking at rock ‘n’ roll beds. Proper ones seem to sell for around £300. I thought I could do better than that, so I scoured Ebay, Gumtree and the local free ads. I managed to bag this old futon for £15 off Gumtree.



By some kind of miracle, after a bit of measuring, I discovered that the hinges were almost the same distance apart as the width of the van. I unbolted the hinges and seat from the base and set it to one side for making extra supports later. Then I cut off the very ends of the seat base and back. This made the seat the same width as the van.



I managed to work out a way of mounting the futon hinges to the van without having to cut or drill the van. I utilised the existing seat belt mounts and made up brackets that the futon could bolt to. Once I’d fabricated those, I loosely bolted it all in to check the fit. I realised that the seat base and back were too deep. When I sat back on it as if travelling with a seatbelt on, my legs would hang in the air and the back was almost as high as my head. It also protruded futher forward than I wanted it to, not leaving much living space. To get around these problems I moved the hinges back on the brackets I had made and shortened the seat base and back. No photos of the brackets, not sure why I didn’t take any of them.

I cut out about 100mm from each so they were both 500mm deep. I also re-drilled the hinge mounting holes in them so they bolt to the hinges the other way round. I wanted the rounded corners to be on the outside so that you weren’t constantly hitting your knees on the sharp square corners when climbing in and out of the sliding doors.



Then I cut down the wooden slats and gave it all a lick of paint.



Then the exiting bit, I bolted it in the van smug in the knowledge I’d just saved myself £285. I cut up the original base from the futon that I’d set aside earlier and used it as supports for the front of the seat. It had rubber feet which I took off and fitted to them and makes it look quite neat. You can see them fitted in these photos.



Finally, I cut the foam down to fit. All I have to do now is modify the cover so it fits the cut-down foam and buy a couple more bits of foam for the rear portion of the bed.




Obviously this is a massively simplified version. In between all of these steps was loads of measuring and test fitting. I must have bolted and unbolted the whole thing from the van at least 50 times. Worth it though I think. More updates on the van coming soon!

The Finer Things: Tate Roskelley

Sometimes I watch a video and I just have to blog it straight away. This video is one example.
Tate Roskelley threads the eye of the needle in almost every single clip. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video quite like this one. Hit play for a four minute WTF fest!

Top Five

If heaven existed, this is what it would sound like.

I heard Insomnia on an old trance album I had in the car and it reminded me of how much I actually love Faithless. This is my favourite Faithless track.

Really nice vocals and keys. Only just discovered C Recordings. I’m a fan.

Lush free tune from Gavin G.

Reef are by far my favourite rock band ever. Been listening to them a lot recently.