Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Maddie's on The Gadget Show

Sitting in a railway station...got a ticket to my destination.
So, here I am, sitting in an old railway carriage. It's at Station Kitchen, West Bay, the home of Broadchurch and today, for one day only, Channel 5's The Gadget Show.
I'm being interviewed by Jon Bentley about the pros and cons of two very different mobile phones. I'm not really a techie person but producer/director Robert Murray emailed me out of the blue and asked me to blog about the whole experience.
Along with a photographer and a gamer, I'm being asked to test out a cheap phone and a not-so-cheap phone and see what results I get.
This photo was taken on the Honor 6X. 
And here's Jon, in the same pose (and researcher George, looking a bit bored), in a picture taken on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. 
You can judge the results for yourself.
I'm also meant to be doing a little bit of blogging on each phone, having downloaded Blogger and WordPress apps. To be honest, I've cheated with the blog you're reading now as the Blogger phone app is terrible but the WordPress one works really well.
So I've just cut and pasted what I've written on WordPress for my A Dorset Year blog and put it into The World From My Window Blogger blog instead, and added bits to it so it makes sense when you're reading it today.
Blogging on a phone is good if you're on the move. But I'm not sure I can prise myself away from my trusty laptop. I even took it to Colombia.
Still, you can find out what I - and the photographer and gamer - thought about the two phones if you watch The Gadget Show on Channel 5 at 7pm on Friday night. 
I'll be sitting on the sofa, watching it through my hands. But I hope they show off the wonderful carriage I was in. During filming, it was slightly shaking in the wind but it was a great adventure. And lunch was most excellent, too.
I fully expected to alight in France before getting back in again and being homeward bound.
That's about it.
Love Maddie x

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Broadchurch - this time it's personal

Broadchurch fever is gripping the nation. Well, at least it seems like that around these parts.

I'm sorry not to have written about anything else for The World from my Window over the last few weeks, but it's taking over my life.

As part of my day job at Bridport Electric Palace, I've been involved in persuading series writer Chris Chibnall - soon to be chief writer for Doctor Who - to come along for a question and answer session following the live screening of the last-ever episode on Easter Monday, 17 April.

The event sold out within days and everyone is very excited. It's a charity screening in aid of  Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre and The Dorset Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Both organisations were consulted extensively throughout Chris’s writing process and on in to production. You can read more about that here.

In the Grigg household, we're hooked on Broadchurch.  I almost choked on my secret chocolate stash at the scene in the second episode where local newspaper editor Maggie takes issue when an important front page story about homes being built in the town is replaced by a large picture of abandoned (and cute) kittens.

She was told in no uncertain terms by the upstart responsible to get with modern times. The newspaper office was going to close and Maggie would have to 'hot desk' at head office. Had I stayed as editor of my local paper, The Bridport and Lyme Regis News, that's exactly what would have happened to me. I left thirteen years ago but, even then, I could see the writing was on the wall.

Bridport no longer has its own newspaper office but a weekly surgery at the Friend's Meeting House. Staff operate from 'head office'.

The priest also complained about having an empty church. I do wonder if the finale will see the police station closed and Miller and Hardy walking off into the sunset along the beach. Not many places the size of West Bay have a full-time police station in a spanking-new building close to the seafront.

However, I digress.

The Broadchurch storyline is gloriously convoluted, with as many layers as East Cliff at West Bay (aka Harbour Cliff), and almost as many red herrings in it as herring gulls.

I'm grateful to Viv Groskop, who writes a regular Guardian column recapping each episode. If I was writing for The Guardian (which I'm not, currently, but all offers will be considered carefully), this is exactly the style I would adopt when talking about Broadchurch. To misquote the narrator at the beginning of that great American parody, Soap: 'Confused? you will be.'

Locally, we're particularly gripped by the backdrop, because this land is ours and we know it so well. It's not shot through a rose-tinted camera lens. West Dorset really is like this. Beautiful. Stunning. Wonderful.

As in Broadchurch, bad things happen here, too. Not often, it's true, but we have had our fair share of headlines and more than enough nasty things going on behind closed doors.

But back to the landscape. As well as the usual shots of West Bay, where our boat is moored during the summer season, we've been treated to views of the coast road near Burton Bradstock, which is one of the finest seaside routes in the world. Forget South Africa's Garden Route, California's Big Sur and Australia's Great Ocean Road, the stretch between Bridport and Weymouth is magnificent in both directions. There's the sweep of the Chesil Beach to Portland to the east and Golden Cap (the highest point on the south coast) and beyond to the west, with a twinkling sea in between.

The Broadchurch locations dip down off the coast road to the house of central character Trish at West Bexington, where you might gaze out to sea but should never swim, and then, closer to Bridport, our local farm shop, Washingpool, where fellow Open University graduate Lenny Henry could do with a lesson in spelling.

We've also seen the A35 at Askerswell, the point between Dorchester and Bridport where as a local, when you're heading for home, you really feel like you've arrived. The hills and countryside rise up to meet you, shake you by the hand and wrap themselves around the car steering wheel, guiding you in.

This security blanket landscape extends to the tiny village of Littlebredy, where I once had a very enjoyable birthday picnic followed by a game of rounders next to the lake in the grounds of Bridehead house. This is the home of the High Sheriff of Dorset, Sir Philip Williams, who allows the public to wander around part of the grounds free of charge but keeps access to the house private.

In Broadchurch, this is the stately home called Axehampton House and is the location for a party at which Trish was raped next to a waterfall.

Rather splendidly, Sir Philip and Lady Williams have decided to cash in on the Broadchurch effect, not for themselves but for the benefit of two good causes. Instead of moaning about the house's role in the harrowing storyline, they've decided to open up the mansion over the weekend after the series comes to an end and raise money for the Dorset Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the village church in the process.

We'll be sad when the series is over but it's been good while it lasted. And it won't be long before something else is filmed in our neck of the woods. Benedict Cumberbatch in Rogue Male, for instance.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 27 February 2017

After the Oscars drama of La La Land here comes Broadchurch

After the La La Land madness at last night's Oscars ceremony, in which the hit musical movie was given Best Picture award by mistake instead of Moonlight, here in the UK we'll be sitting down tonight to watch our own award-winning drama.

It's the third and final and long-awaited series of BroadchurchIn Dorset, this programme is particularly special, because much of it was filmed at West Bay, with its wonderful layer-cake cliffs.

When the first series of Broadchurch was broadcast on ITV in early 2013, I was away in Greece, having exchanged my life in west Dorset for a year in Corfu.

Writer Chris Chibnall has described the show as his love letter to the area he is proud to call home. And being so far away from my own home, I was desperate to see the programme everyone was talking about.

When I got hold of the DVD box set, I understood. It's not comfortable viewing but it's utterly compelling.

Here's a personal reflection which I wrote about for the Marshwood Vale Magazine.

And along with millions of others, I'll be glued to the television screen on Monday nights for the next eight weeks.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Happy birthday to a music legend

One of my all-time musical heroes is eighty five today.

Take a bow, Mr John Williams. You are epic.

By Chris Devers (Flickr: DSC_0937.JPG) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This man, this incredible man, has provided the soundtrack to so many wonderful films which have become the soundtracks to our lives.

Of course, there's Star Wars and Jaws and ET and Indiana Jones. He also wrote the music to Schindler's List, Lincoln (now there's a film for current times), Saving Private Ryan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Home Alone and many, many more. The man is a legend, bringing classical musical to the masses through these fantastically atmospheric film scores.

How can anyone not like the theme to Jurassic Park?

So when Mr Grigg and I were travelling travelling up to Heathrow last year (on our way to Colombia, don't you know) and heard a plug on the radio for a special Radio 2 Friday Night Is Music Night concert devoted to the music of John Williams, played by the BBC Concert Orchestra and hosted by film critic Mark Kermode, well, we almost stopped in our tracks.

We were just passing Stonehenge at the time. I whipped out my notebook and wrote down the details. Watford Colosseum on a school night in January. Watford? That's where my brother lives.

So I texted my sister-in-law to get us some tickets. We could go up during the afternoon, go to the concert and then stay overnight. Perfect.

And that's what we did.
Picture: BBC
From the opening bars of the Star Wars theme to the finale, I was gripped. Each piece was like one cliffhanger after another. I was an emotional wreck by the end, crying pure tears of joy.

I love the music of John Williams. And I loved the Friday Night Is Music Night concert.

And so will you. It's on Radio 2 this Friday evening.

You can listen to it on the radio or catch up with it on the iPlayer. I shall be playing it continuously until the broadcast disappears from the BBC website.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Forever Archive - films about West Dorset

I was trawling through the internet the other day, looking for something specific, when I came across something completely different.

(That's the thing with the internet. It can take you down rabbit holes - some of which land you, like Alice, in Wonderland while others take you to a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.)

Anyway, I came across a number of videos that formed part of Forever Archive, a project I helped research back in 2012.  Scarily, I was the subject of one of the inteviews, as they ran out of people to film.

Here's the blurb:

In 2012, the Forever Archive project set out to increase awareness of archive film and its relevance to our lives today, and to put across that the idea of archive film is a continuous process – the films from a hundred years ago are a fascinating insight into the way we used to live and similarly, the films we create today will be of huge interest in another hundred years.

Archive film is not something alien and remote, locked into another time; just random fragments of boring history. It goes on as long as life itself and is utterly relevant to now. In the early days of film cinemas often commissioned a cameraman to shoot films of local events and scenes, involving local people in the pictures as an encouragement to come and see themselves and their friends and neighbours on the screen. It was a simple concept but one which made film an intimate part of the community. 

This project aimed to be more far-reaching but with the same kind of impact and in the same tradition. 

With its focus on West Dorset, the project was overseen by Windrose Rural Media Trust, and enjoyed the involvement of Bridport Arts Centre, Dorset History Centre and Bridport Museum. 

The films were produced by James Harrison and featured ten local people, including singing teacher Penny Dunscombe, photographer Kris DutsonDorchester tour guide Alistair Chisholm, Lord and Lady Sandwich from the Mapperton estate, Palmers head brewer Darren Batten, apple farmer Rupert Best, balloonist Steve Davis, Emily Fearn from The New Hardy Players and [my alter ego] writer Margery Hookings.

So, in no particular order, here are the films:

That's about it.

Love, Maddie x

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The sun still rises in the east

Over on A Dorset Year, I'm enjoying the beauty in nature in a world gone mad.

As my famous ancestor, Ernest Hemingway, would have noted, the sun also rises.  To read more, please visit A Dorset Year.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 20 January 2017

Something terrible has happened

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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