Saturday, 24 May 2014

Quite a high level of distrust

I am encountering what I believe I haven´t come across in a long time, possibly not ever as a film maker, a genuine distrust in what I am doing. Let me just say, I fully understand it! I would be exactly the same, possibly, if I´d live here in Moss Side AND England, because I feel it is not only here. And there is a reason. We, my family, have come across this item that people tell you one thing (Talk-Talk for example) and you agree and you get lied to and given something completely different. It is quite common it seems, especially when media is involved. The Moss Siders, and others in the same situation, and there´s quite a few here in England, have been told that the TV-crew/film makers will do this, but in reality it is all totally different and always negative. This is causing serious problems for me, who wants to do something positive. It takes a lot of time to gain people´s trust. But as it is, I can´t film in my favorite pub and other places, and people, who could give a positive, realistic image of Moss Side. Who I see as a unique place on earth in a very positive light. But this English media hysteria, which I come across all the time as an explorer when I am getting offers to be fooled out of my ideas for others to use, by some media company calling and lying initially why they contact me. Yesterday somebody called from a media company in London and said they loved my films and Expeditions and wondered if I had any ideas I could share. So I asked, which particular film do you like? They had no idea. 

So I understand this mistrust of outside media and people. And no, I haven´t come across it elsewhere. It is of cause the competitive nature and crappy tabloid press which shines through. It is also well known within exploration, that some English "explorers" do not fully tell the truth and overdo their own importance. To suit their commercial needs. Something I saw today when I got a contract from a UK possible sponsor, they´re terrified that I would write something bad about their product. Amazing! I have never come across that before either!

Having said that, there´s hell of a lot I like about the English! But, there´s no doubt about it, being a great ally to the US and a global power, seems to create a society built on extreme security, worries and distrust. Or at least that is my feeling now, before I start walking.

I did meet two great fellas today, A and H. The best of the best. Which is such a common sight in Moss Side, once they open up! And I visited the Windermere center and enjoyed it fully. It helped me loads. Thanks A!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The kit list

This kit list as regards to Expedition England is based on the needs of me and my daughter Dana. The third member, who´s name I will reveal the day we start the expedition, since I have received so many questions on the topic and I want to make it a bit special since it took such a time to find somebody and it turned out so good (!), she will bring her own kit. Tent, rucksack, clothes, personal effects and so on, but she will assist me in carrying Expedition gear and Dana stuff.

1 Mountain Buggy Terrain Stroller with Raincover, Mountain Buggy
1 pump
2 pkts of puncture repair kit and levers
1 Foam pad
1 Sleeping bag (heavier and colder than mine, but there´s just no pro kit for toddlers)
3 DVD (Ice Age, Shrek, Lion King)

1 Backpack, 65 liter, Lifeventure
1 Backpack 25 liter, Eagle Creek
Raincovers for backpacks
4 Waterproof stuff bags, Lifeventure
3 season sleeping bag
1 Therma Rest
1 Goretex jacket with hood and trousers, Mountain Hardwear
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of running shoes, Diadora

2 long sleeved shirts, Mountain Hardwear
2 trousers, one which can be used as shorts, Mountain Hardwear
2 T-shirts, Mountain Hardwear
1 pair of polythene socks
2 pair of wool socks
2 underwear
1 pair of thin long johns for camp
1 pair of light shorts for camp
2 tophats
1 vest
1 pair of thin gloves, Mountain Hardwear
1 fleece jacket, Mountain Hardwear

1 LED lamp, Ledlenser
1 pair of Sunglasses, Julbo
1 750 ml Camelbak bottle, Camelbak 
Soto Muka stove, SOTO
1 gas canister
1 cup, Lifeventure
1 set of pots and pans
Leatherman Tool, Leatherman Tool
1 knife
1 fork- and spoon 

3 1.500 000 Maps
Map cover in plastic, Lifeventure

Personal effects 

1 Note book
1 account book 
1 big roll of tape for the feet
1 lipbalm
1 sun tan cream 50
1 passport
2 credit cards
1 big roll of duck tape
1 roll of electrical tape
1 towel (small one)
Toiletries (personal use ,e.g  small soap, tooth paste, toothbrush, 2 rolls of toilet paper)
Medical bag  (aspirin, bandaid, bandage, rennies, Compeed)

Technical Equipment 

1 Canon XA10
1 Kata Raincover
2 boxes of SD Cards (16 all together, 32 mb/95)
1 Canon recharger
3 batteries
1 pair of earphones from Apple (small)

1 Sennheiser Microphone with windcover from Rycote Deadcat
2 cables

2 GoPro´s (1 hero 3 and 1 Hero Plus), Scandinavian Photo in Malmö and Anders Nordgren)
3 different settings for the GoPros, for handlebars, my head, my chest

1 Lumix GH
1 Lumix recharger
1 Wall Recharger

batteries, cables, USB drives, transcenders, adapters, plugs

4 hard drives from Samsung 1 TB each
1 hard drive 1 TB from Seagate

1 lightweight laptop Acer Aspire V5
1 charger

1 Iphone 4s which works as compass, GPS and route plotter
1 juice pack Mophie (extra battery pack for Iphone)

1 software from ViewRanger (all 1;25 000 maps of England including GPS), ViewRanger

Our partners on the trip, see here!

diadora_logo (1)
mb label (2)
VR CMYK Positive

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Reflections on my second rec tour

After breakfast, having been given a break from the kids, (thanks love) i set off on my pushbike to find a good route out of Manchester. A guy who turned up on Facebook, Ian, had amazingly enough taken his time to plot a route for me, so I stuck to that. I cycled to Cheadle and turned around. About 16 km.s all together and I realized a lot during these 2 hours. First of all, I found out when meeting a possible partner the other day, that free camping is not allowed in England. This will make things a bit more complicated of course. Secondly, I realized I am out of shape. As usual, so it will take some time to get rid off the beer belly and get into shape. So, that means shorter days, shorter distances initially. Thirdly, I have realized the last week that Sardana is just incredibly active and demanding right now, so I see a few obstacles coming up....tomorrow we will start raining together, even though the proper stroller hasn´t arrived yet. But much other stuff have. And yesterday a great Moss Sider, Ness, we tried out a drone to see if it would work. We didn´t make it the whole way, but it looks promising. 

The journey today, once I left Fallowfield, it was an all white neighborhood more or less, like another world. But just after awhile I realized how incredibly boring it is without a cultural mix. Suddenly everything was clean, tidy and....boring. Everyone looks the same, behave in the same way and, yeah, boooring! Traffic, even if it was a Sunday, was bothersome and this will be the challenge, finding routes to avoid this eternal traffic. Having said that, I see they´re used to slow moving vehicles, which we definitely will be!

I also checked how well the ViewFinder App works, it was great and I did a punkt where I turned around. See both maps here, ViewFinder here and Punkt here! So the question is now, will i have a female English partner tomorrow? We will see! And who should come Dana or Eva. We parents are trying to figure out who this is best suited to. Dana´s advantage is her age and she hasn´t any friends as such yet. For Eva, her friends at school are very important. On top of that, the jealousy between them is tiresome right now. And , having toddlers, and a wife who is doing her exams exactly now, takes its toll. There´s a lot of things i just have to forget.And, like now, when the girls are sleeping, we two parents will work until the early morning hours. Again. Two weeks to go....And my helper and researcher in Moss Side, Anastasia Roache, just left three weeks for South-Africa, that is a major loss.....

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Moss Side Reality and a good insight into England

The last few days have been important for how to see Moss Side. As you know who have followed my reporting from our life in Moss Side since we came her the first of September last year, 2013, initially it was one of shock and despair, the cold took its toll as did the vision of eternal concrete. After the New Year it all changed as dramatically. Instead I fell in love with Moss Side. A lot due to that I was finally meeting people and not only concentrating on being a good dad for the girls, especially Sardana. Eva was settling in school, my wife at uni and me and Dana, I was getting easier by the day. So finally I could enjoy Moss Side and its rich variety of people, cultures and atmosphere. And as always, as regards to meet, i have problems keeping in between, it is either heaven or hell. But after these last few days, I have a better perspective. thanks to Colette Williams!

Colette is campaigning for a better Moss Side. And, believe me, with her it would look brighter, because what I am have experienced meeting possible voters and people, there´s a lot of struggles for work, general surviving and feeling of despair. Which is kind of shocking considering the UK is the 6th wealthiest country on earth. It shouldn´t have to be like this. It is very, very hard to understand. And there´s no doubt it is far more difficult belonging to one of the minorities, like for example to Afro-Caribbean community of Moss Side. 


Colette and others have said I actually look like an undercover cop. The fear for them is real in Moss Side. Once again, like always, it is hard to get people saying something to the camera, but, and this is a big BUT, together with Colette, as the guide, it is far easier. She is really, really important to me and the documentary. The main worries for people is the rubbish all over, which brings tons of rats and cockroaches (my family knows them well), nothing to do for the young, nothing, and the incredibly little chance of finding work. Benefits are just needed, but comes with a price. Like Arbetsförmedlingen i Sverige, the British variety of the Unemployment Agency, is the same or even worse, the force you look for a job, any, full time, which in general, since it is so hard finding one, hundreds and hundreds of other going for the same job, may it be like cleaning streets, one just loose touch with reality and loose one´s confidence. I now what they talk about. Back in 2010, when my wife got pregnant and my life was generally a disaster, I went to the Swedish variety and spent 5 minutes there and said, I will never ever put my foot here again. It stank of incapacity and lack of knowledge.

But, as a whole, I am still extremely positive towards Moss Side. great place, with great people and today, after asking around for such a long time, I found Ness who had a drone where I can stick on a GoPro and finally get a view from the birds perspective on Moss Side!

Loads of other kit is arriving by the day. I think have all camera kit now, a new rain cover...just a grip for the stroller, which hasn´t arrived yet....I might have a new partner coming up. I am meeting her tomorrow! She is pretty much in the same line of work as me and comes highley recommended by a great outdoor fella I have known for years! We will find out tomorrow, if it doesn´t work out well, Dana and me will shoot off and see what happens. It will be incredibly heavy and hard!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Expedition England - The Synopsis

“I am sitting down shivering whilst writing this piece. I am dressed in my down jacket, boots, long johns and a hat. I am indoors and the cold from the floor is startling. But there is no snow on the outside. Neither below zero degrees. In reality it is 7 degrees Celsius and raining.  And this is the normal day.  The house my family and I are living in is a traditional Victorian house from 1909 that once housed cotton mill workers and their families. The walls are thin, there´s moisture and mould on most walls, insulation is missing almost entirely and the electricity and gas are expensive. We pay it with a card, which charges us more than double compared to people who have proper electricity supplied centrally, and when you most need it to work, it stops.  I have to run down and top it up at a corner store, run by a Pakistani family who also sells camel milk for 6 pounds a liter. This has been one of the coldest winters I have ever experienced. This is Moss Side, England 2014.”  

My experiences in Moss Side have changed my image of England. For better and worse. I had no idea that such poverty that I have come across here existed in England, the 6th richest country on earth. But neither did I have an idea that such a vibrant, diverse cultural society like the one in Moss Side existed on this continent. For me it has been discovering a hidden gem! That is why I have decided to do a walk from Moss Side to a suburb of London named Buckhurst Hill.

This is where I spent my first eleven summers.  Buckhurst Hill is in a pretty much all white affluent English area back then and it was a time, which turned me into an Anglophile.  The plan is to walk 450 miles from Moss Side.  This foot journey is together with a partner and my 20 months old daughter Sardana, who I will push in a stroller. I am bringing her for two reasons, first of all because I cannot, like most English people, afford paying 800 pounds a month for a daycare.  Secondly, it seems like the English are the most private people on earth.  In this case, since I need them to open their doors, and I believe my daughter will be very helpful!

I believe that I, like most people on earth, have an image of what they believe England is like. An image I have noticed many English still try to sell today. An England of an equal society dominated by polite and proud people, quite reserved and always drinking tea, dressed in bowler hats and thick coats, who loves the past, rugby, fox hunting, the royals, their gardens and who with great conviction believe they saved the world from the Nazis and that the island still has a lot of influence on the world and its future.

The England I have experienced so far is quite different. During my 10 months of living in the north of England I have realized that very few people fully understand the great changes which are taking place in England and Great Britain. For example, more than 1 million need help from Foodbanks today, and unemployment is rife and growing. Most English I come across today have a migrant background from Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe or Africa. In my part of Moss Side, quite a few women are dressed in niqab and abbaya (full covered Islamic dress for women) and men and women go as much to the mosque, gurdwara (sikh temple), hindu temple as to the Anglican church. A major part of the kids in my daughter’s school are Afro-English. Some of the white neighbors I have lack healthy teeth due to no help from the government. And most of them are in their early twenties.

So, the question is, what does the ‘real’ England look like today? This is what I want to find out during my walk through the heart of the island. The main goal is to do a positive documentary about this extraordinary island, which seems stuck in between the US and Europe. So far, including the demanding winter experience, the newer England for me is a positive experience. But I also know that by 1922 the British Empire had control over about 458 million people, one-fifth of the world's population at the time and they held sway over almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is considerable. 92 years later the Empire is all but gone, but Great Britain (especially its engine England) is still one of the global powers. For this reason, what happens in England, have major implications for the rest of the world. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Probably the best interviews in Moss Side I have had so far

Less than a month to go and I haven´t slept a thing last night. To many unknowns and it is important not to make any serious mistakes. As always I have to follow my gut feeling to take the right decisions. because during this sleepless night I went through all needed kit, set up the Expedition laptop, which doesn´t include Office and start thinking about what is the most important when doing a positive and important documentary, it is joy. If there´s no joy, it just won´t be good.

I have also pretty much figured out the map issue. Bringing 1:25 000 maps or 1:50 000 maps would be very complicated, heavy and bulky, so i am hoping there is a solution based on the Iphone. And I have also realized that I will be quite heavy, so I need a very strong and helpful assistant. Still not sure there. two months and around 500 miles of walking, means 12-13 miles average a day, every day. And bringing Dana will even make it more hard work. More than ever, the right partner is of essence.

I have found it quite hard getting people to talk straight without coming across as politicians here in Moss Side. Luckily I ended up at Champs Gym last week with two great characters who really filled me in with a lot off stuff of importance. best so far. They´re extensive travelling did help! These two are British Boxing Champions many times over!

And I talked to one of the young boxers to be, who gave me this great interview!

I need to get Dana´s all gear now. The stroller seems to be on and most of my kit. My wife still needs to go to Malmö and pick up the rest of the kit!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

London and magician

Less than a month to go, and, yes I feel  the stress. I don´t have a 1/3 of the kit yet, still trying to figure out what I need as regards to the technical aspect, still don´t know if I have a partner, or if I need anyone except Dana. At least i believe she is on! But, for sure, I would need a partner to help me with Dana, and, look after her when I need to film. I might have a partner, but I still don´t know...maybe CW, see below:

I have been in London for a few days, some pain involved knowing Pam needed all my help, since she is in her final month now, but I just had to check maps, meet friends who can help and get opinions from Shane Winser the great! And all my other great friends, I am privileged indeed.

I have figured out a route, how to walk and which maps are needed and that feels great. I just need to sort out Moss Side properly now and of course, Monday is a Bank holiday so the girls are free from school, what to do, my wife is first in line to get her work done. So, I will start doing late nights again. Dana is sleeping now, and the wife and Eva is at Ballet school. And Ulrika left this morning after a bit more than a day of inspirational talks with her. She is really smart and has the plot in her head. An extremely important visitor for all of us. And she brought proper coffee, Skåne Rost!

I just need to figure out which maps, a lot and lots of money, and which kit I need.....