Monday, April 8, 2024


It's been a curious week of unexpected connections, conversations, sights and sounds, underpinned in some shape or form by panic.

I was recently contacted by Ania, the model/actress featured in my recent pin up shoot with a request to step in as behind the scenes/stills photographer for a short film she is producing, titled The Third Visit. 

Hopefully I'll be able to share more in time, as the film is to be submitted to a number of film festivals this year.  But for now, I can tell you that on the sunny Saturday that was 30th March (Easter Saturday), the final scenes to be shot for the 30 minute film were a dream sequence/picnic in the park and a traumatic car crash.

The weather was a great relief after a week of incessant rain and the small crew comprising make-up team, three actors, Sarah, the director, Cam, the cameraman (easy to remember) and myself assembled in the car park of a local nature reserve.

Improvisation is common on film sets, including make-up.  Without the luxury of a studio for final touch ups, a car boot and bright sunlight did the job.  But not too bright, you understand. 

We trudged up the hill to a quiet spot and set up the picnic scene.

Filming takes forever.  There are often multiple takes, waiting for clouds to pass, deflecting harsh sunlight, checking of footage and pauses for hair readjustments and make up retouches.  

The child star of the day had no acting experience or lines and so it was a long morning for him, but with quiet encouragement from Mom... and jollity...

...and a kick about, he relaxed into it and proved to be a little superstar!

After the director called "Cut" on the picnic scene, over an hour of make-up ensued to transfer the fresh faced Ania and Don into this gruesome twosome!

A quiet, but gritty urban location was selected for the aftermath of the car crash.  The warped humour derived from the sight of Ania driving into position in apparent need of urgent medical attention was not lost on any of us.

Harriet, one of the make-up team, doubled up as special effects operator, hiding out of sight of the camera in order to release a steady stream of smoke into the car... and there was much deliberation over the eventual position of Don's head on the dashboard.  

Some final touch ups (wounds need to stay fresh) and finally, we were ready to go.

In breaks in between filming, I asked Don to give me his best used car salesman pose.  What do you think?  Would you buy a used car from this man?

Filming of this scene went smoothly and before long, it was a wrap!

Thanks all for a great day!  I'll be sharing details of those involved at the end of this post.

Another weekend and another atypical day.  Remember our recent adventuring over Kinver and that glimpse of Drakelow tunnels?  Well, last Saturday was the date of our booked tour.  For those of you unfamiliar with the tunnel complex, you can read more here:  Winter Peach Photography: Tunnel Vision   But if you're short on time, the tunnel complex was built initially for use as a shadow factory during the second World War and later repurposed as a nuclear bunker during the Cold War.

The new Drakelow Tunnels Museum operators have grand plans for this site.  However, photographs were strictly forbidden during our tour.  The reason given for this was that a large proportion of the tunnel complex is utilised as a bonded warehouse for wine storage and the company heading up that particular enterprise, are extremely security conscious. But, the rebel in me could not resist a few sneaky iphone snaps when the tour guides' backs were turned.  What harm could they possibly do?

The tunnels were blasted into the hillside and the copious tonnes of spoils deposited in and around the site of the former village of Drakelow.  The sandstone walls are lime washed and you can still see the scars of the machinery used during the tunnelling process.

All good nuclear bunkers need power...

...and should the worst happen and panic sets in, a decontamination area is a must!

The tour really was excellent value for money.  I could tell you all about it, but I really think you should go and see for yourselves.  Tickets aren't cheap but the tour is approximately 2 hours' long and the guides are good humoured (ours was Mike) and extremely knowledgeable.  

You'll see a mock-up of a factory, offices, a medical facility and a particularly eerie Cold War era canteen (formerly a theatre during WW2 frequented by the likes of George Formby).  

If you do decide to go, be warned.  Advance booking is essential. Further information can be found here.  Drakelow Tunnels (

Our top tips? Wear sturdy footwear and lots of layers.  It is very cold and damp in the tunnels.  We emerged, hands almost blue with cold, like moles blinking in the sunlight, amazed to discover that the mercury had climbed to a staggering 19 degrees while we were dithering below ground.

Even though the weather remains unpredictable, the garden is definitely getting on with the business of Spring - so far with minimal intervention from me.  

The tulips and primroses are flowering.

The robins and blackbirds are nest building in the garden.  The robin is exploiting the upside down umbrella that is our burgeoning Gunnera Manicata, eating up all of the fat ball remnants that the squirrels drop as they make their hasty getaways.

Plus, Noah, Lotte's former nemesis, has made friends with us.  Well, sort of.  He's very vocal and will now stop for some fuss whenever he's passing through our garden.  He did bite Gareth the other day, after tricking him into touching his belly, but that was a schoolboy error.  I'm not falling for that!  He always looks startled, but is a bit of a bruiser and very vocal!

Our final panic themed excursion was last night's gig at Wolverhampton Civic.  On the bill?  Johnny Marr (legendary guitarist, aka Johnny F**kin Marr, formerly of The Smiths and "Panic" fame) and Gaz Coombes (former frontman for Supergrass).  

I'd clocked this gig some months ago, but had planned a photo shoot on the day and couldn't commit.  However, the shoot was ill feted and fell through.  Storm Kathleen would have put paid to it in any event.  I therefore decided to see if we could get tickets last week.  We were in luck and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a Sunday night. 

Wolverhampton Civic Hall is only a short drive away for us and is, in my humble opinion, the best music venue in the West Midlands.   We were excited to see Gaz Coombes, but were only vaguely familiar with Johnny Marr's solo stuff and wondered just how many hits from his days with The Smiths he would perform.  We weren't disappointed.  Both are supremely talented artists, but Johnny Marr blew us away.  He struck the perfect balance between new material, songs from his solo back catalogue and Smiths classics.  Everyone was singing along.  The atmosphere was electric, even if he did have to - in his words - " the vibe police" and reprimand one inebriated and "gnarly" audience member.  

Sadly, my big girl camera wasn't allowed, so I only took my iphone.  I had an interesting conversation with an Instagram follower Ken (a seasoned photographer) who tried his level best to help me secure a precious camera pass (including forwarding Johnny Marr's record company details and suggesting he would have asked Billy Bragg for help "...but he's in America at the moment.")  In reality, it was just too late in the day.  But he did give me some great tips moving forward. Thanks Ken!

So forgive the grainy images. I did my very best, holding the camera high in the gaps between the thick-necked six footers standing in front of me and trying to maintain some level of focus.

Gaz Coombes

Johnny Marr

As we suspected, we came away with that definite feeling that we had witnessed something very special.  As much as I would like to leave you with a clip of his Johnny's performance of Panic, I somehow managed to fumble with my settings and film it at a speed that makes Johnny sound like the spawn of Satan. 

So instead, I'll leave you with his performance from last night, uploaded to YouTube by someone with both a better position and filming expertise!


The Third Visit Film credits:

Writer/Director:  Sarah France
Cameras:  Cameron Sheldon
Actors:  Ania Cummins and partner, Don
Lead HMUA:  Kacey Comarsh
MUA:  Bella Whitlam
Harriet Smith


  1. Wow, so many exciting things in one post. Looks like you have been having a fabulous time. That special effect makeup is so clever too. Xx

    1. Thanks for reading! The makeup was so realistic. Even though I watched them apply it from scratch, I still felt that I could barely look at it afterwards! xx

  2. That shoot looks so interesting. The makeup is so realistic, I'd have been really worried if I'd passed Ania in her car! How exciting that the film is going to be submitted into a few film festivals. You might need to get your Oscar speech sorted.
    The Drakelow Tunnel tour sounds utterly fascinating.
    That sounded like a good gig. I love the Civic. Gaz Coombes and Johnny Marr both played Beautiful Days, I was surprised at how much Smiths stuff he did - possibly more that Morrissey when we've seen him. He's such a lovely, genuine man. Much as I love GC's voice I'm sorry to say that he doesn't do much for me live, it's all a bit too wishy-washy. Great selfie, of all your lovely clothes that Dilli Grey dress is one of my favourites, the colours look so good on you. xxx

    1. Haha! I wish them all the best with it.
      You would have loved the Drakelow Tunnel tour. You can imagine how frustrated I was not being allowed to take photos. It was so creepy and atmospheric!
      The gig was so good. We've always loved the Civic too. I was so pleased when the Halls reopened. It's so handy for us and great acoustics.
      We enjoyed Gaz Coombes too. His latest album is quite mellow and I was worried that his set might follow suit, but he threw in a good mix of songs. He doesn't come across like his cheeky chappy persona from the Alright days. He seems quite a reserved character.
      Thank you! It must look as though I don't own any other clothes! I do, but that Dilli Grey dress is a fail safe outfit. xxx

  3. thanx goodness the panic in the title of this post was only one of the arty kind
    the film stills you made are gorgeous - and it looks like an interesting piece of cinematography..... love the car selling pose!
    this tunnel tour sounds worth ever pence. cold war is over since 35 years in november - but look at the world today :-(
    total gig envy! we danced our shoes off to "panic" in the mid-80s........
    sweet couple selfie <3

    1. Haha!
      It was a fun day and I enjoyed the challenge of constantly having to strike a balance between getting interesting shots and not being in the way of the cameraman.
      The tour was fascinating. It definitely provided food for thought, when the focus turned to the tunnels' Cold War era days. We watched the old BBC information films advising on how to better your chances of surviving a nuclear bomb. We're all wiser now, which makes it all the more terrifying. I really hope the world calms down!
      Oh Beate, you should have heard the crowd singing along. You would have loved it! Thanks! xxx

  4. How fantastic to be part of that film shoot. I do hear you about the waiting around - I was an extra for a Flemish film back in the 80s, which took absolutely forever - so hats off to that little boy!
    The Drakelow Tunnel tour sounds fascinating, and I'm loving your photos of the cheeky robin and handsome Noah!
    But Johnny F**kin Marr! As a diehard Smiths devotee, I am slightly green with envy! xxx

    1. It was a fun day. At least I didn't have to stop working when the camera stopped rolling.
      I wonder if you've ever seen the film you starred in Ann?
      The gig was one of the best we've seen in a long time. His playing is faultless, but he's still humble and practices every day. Needless to say, we've been playing The Smiths on repeat ever since! xxx

  5. It must have been interesting seeing the make-up artist at work! Nice pic of you in your very pretty dress. Your photography is always interesting.


Rue Britannia And The Search For Avalon

Before we exit the month of May (where is the time going?), I thought I'd share with you a couple of quintessentially British events we&...