Sunday 18 October 2015

Cloak and dagger.

The South West Alpaca Group (SWAG) set a challenge to produce a photograph of a breeder with some alpacas infront of a high-profile interesting public place for use on the cover of the Royal Bath and West show programme.

Well I had an idea, but then had to assess the logistical and other issues - safety, security, bio-security - the public, dog-walkers, stress on the alpacas, which alpacas could we take: non-pregnant, not nursing etc., time of day for sunlight - parking near the chosen 'icon' - permission from land/building etc. owner (or not).

After all that, would it be worth it? Well, when I join an organization, I try to be an active participant - committee members work hard to involve their community, and it's often a thankless task, so I try to take part in most events.

Then I had to consider that I couldn't do it on my own, I'd need a photographer if I was to be in the photo. Discussing it with Joy, she thought my suggested 'target' was a good one, and she particularly liked the 'naughty' side of what we would try (she reads too many crime thrillers).

I then had the bright iidea of looking at Google Earth to check the location, access and parking possibilities, as it was too far away to visit on a 'whim' - this gave the perfect view and answered all the questions. But then, what if there was some other activity going on, such as building work, road-works, a fun run, boat race, fair etc.etc. - a search of various web-sites clarified this.

So the plan was we would arrive at the location at sunrise, so there would be few dog-walkers about, and the sun direction woud be right (if it shone) - we would do it on a sunday for the same reasons, and not a work day (for me) - we'd pull up onto a grassed area, so no street parking issues (apart from not actually being allowed on the grass with a vehicle!), drop the ramp, lead the chosen year-old males out, Joy would start 'snapping', a few poses, then before anyone could ask questions we'd be on our way back to the trailer.

I woke up in the night worrying about the possibiity of one breaking away, accidentally releasing a lead clip, spooking by a dog etc. - it wasn't an 'enclosed' location like a show ground, and with no other owners/handlers etc. around capturing might have been difficult - we decided we could use a piece of cord to tie the lead to the halter as a fail-safe, and I would wind the leads around my wrists, so if they 'went', I went with them!

So we left at 7.30, arrived in good time, no-one around, parked as planned, 'click-click-click', back to the trailer, just as some dog-walkers were arriving, and set off home. We are still awaiting a knock at the door to say we were caught on cctv, after all you can't go anywhere discretely, to be told we'd broken a local bye-law - and then I'll end up with egg on my face! but then perhaps there is a bye-law that says you can do what we did on the third sunday of the month, provided you take an alpaca with you. It was rather overcast, but hopefully the camera has adjusted for that (I couldn't possibly say yet)

Oh, we didn't need the cloak and dagger, or balaclavas. Where did we go? I couldn't tell you that either - the competition has a few weeks left to run...

Sunday 4 October 2015

Radio Gaga

Apple Vale Fortune s: CCNF Talon of CME

BBC Radio Bristol & Somerset's Steve Yabsley drove down from Bristol after his lunch-time show on a lovely sunny afternoon, and after a brief introduction, we set off up the hill to show him the herd and our farm. Talking into a single hand-held microphone, Steve interviewed me about all things alpaca for the best part of an hour,  finishing with an interview with Joy in the fibre studio. It went surprisingly smoothly, we were pleased with the broadcasts, and I've received favourable comments (but do I really sound like that?) - I've always thought that getting involved with the media is like putting your head into the mouth of a lion, so I had reservations.
Apple Vale Freedom of Caton s: Dovecote Jaquinton CME/Alpaca Stud

We were on holiday in Florence when the broadcasts went out, so I was glad to be able to hear it on i-Player, while we took a lunchtime break from the 28degree heat!
Apple Vale Florina s: Van Diemen Qjori of Patou

You're not likely to learn anything unless you don't have alpacas, but if you are interested for the sake of considering inviting your local broadcaster for an interview, it may be worth a listen. The first one is available for another 9 days - they were broadcast from monday to friday, in 4 to 5 minute pieces, and can be found at about 1 hour 34 minutes into the show at the following locations:

monday 14th Sept.:
tuesday 15thSept.:
wednesday 16th Sept.:
thursday 17th Sept.:
friday 18th Sept.:
Fiesta and Fortune in the evening glow.

There were a few minor 'bloopers' - for example, with an alpaca in front of us, Steve said 'now talk me through the alpaca from one end to the other' - I didn't follow what he was after, bearing in mind it was for radio, and so I said "well that's the back end, and this is the front end"!
Apple Vale Gala s:CCNF Talon of CME