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AUTOMATICALLY UPDATED PERSONAL VIDEO BLOG
(This video blog below is my personal log and is not all Wye or Forest connected - Scroll below for the Wyenot blog)

VIDEO BLOG

The video blog above is my personal blog and covers more than just Ross-on-Wye, the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean.

The written 'Wyenot Blog' can be found below . . . . .


28th December 2009 - Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2010!

At the time of writing, heavy snow is forecast overnight tonight, ready for the New Year. We had a nice quiet family Christmas but things soon got back to normal and, to be quite honest, I am bored, so I'm thinking of going out overnight to time-lapse film the white stuff accumulating.

The only work I did on Christmas day was my annual visit to cover the old folks lunch at the Ryefield Centre. I like covering this event because the genuine people are there - those who willingly give up part of their own Christmas to help others. Unlike the Flower Shows and the Christmas Tree Festivals, there is no competition as to who can do the most do gooding in public and this always makes for a nice atmosphere.

Our 'What's On?' page is looking extremely sorry for itself at the moment. I do know of several events which are due to take place in 2010 - all of the usual ones plus at least one new one but if the organizers of these events do not take the time to ask us to publish details about them, I am not going to publish them. Usually, we end up chasing people by phone for their 'What's Ons' but I am not going to do that this year. If there are no new events sent in, without further prompting, by the time that the current two still listed have passed, I shall simply remove the page. I am not being difficult here - I am simply sorting the genuine readers with a care for what the community as a whole is putting on and who take the trouble to find out, from the users who only look after their own interests without a thought for how their events become popular.

New Year's Eve will soon be upon us. I'm not sure where we are heading for the evening - probably a tour of Ross Town to see what is going on, finishing with the usual at the Market House. Last year, I suggested that we might provide the midnight countdown and Aulld Lang Syne - which would have been quite useful as the Market House clock is currently not working. When I suggested it in the relevant places though, the idea was not turned down exactly but the subject was immediately and conveniently changed and so I took the hint. We'll see you there anyway though, if you are around.

Wishing all of our readers, wherever you be a Happy and Prosperous 2010!


22nd December 2009 - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Noddy!

The winter solstice occurred at precisely 16.47 GMT on Monday and from that moment, here in the northern hemisphere, the days will gradually begin to get longer. The change from darker to lighter days takes about 3 days to noticeably kick in, hence the 25th December becoming 'natalis Invicti' the Birth of the Unconquerable - the sun.

Here in Ross-on-Wye and the rest of the UK, the Christians will celebrate 'Christmas' - the birth of Jesus Christ and on its 'Eve', Noddy Holder's pension fund will be given another massive royalty boost as radio stations around the globe give the 'Christ' removed, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' song more airplay.

All of this bears absolutely no relevance to reality though. I have been looking at Facebook this week and the fact is... life as we know it has changed forever! 'Rage Against the Machine' has beaten the 'X-Factor' winner to the Christmas Number 1 slot. Tina had to stop me going to the garage and hanging a noose from the rafters - and we haven't even got a garage! I am still reeling from the shock and seeking counselling!!!

Seriously though... Whatever your politics - be they Christian, Islam, Bhuddist, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative or Monster Raving Loony - whether you worship God, Bing Crosby or Simon Cowell - - - - or whether, like me, you just wish for it all to be over and for Spring to bring renewed life to the rivers, forest and countryside of the beautiful Wye Valley - we wish you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hope you enjoy the Christmas film from Ross.

I'll leave you with the best Christmas cracker joke I've ever heard. Somebody read to me on Sunday: Why does Noddy have a bell on the end of his hat? .... Because he's a twat.


16th December 2009 - Free Christmas Download Coming on Sunday Evening

Firstly I would like to apologize for the poor quality of some of the photos in the news articles. I have been trying out a Nikon D300 camera for a friend who was having some problems with it. I can see what you mean, Andrew. The photos in this week's news at the Council Coffee Morning, Rudolph in Three Crosses and the Maltings carol singers were taken with it. They all turned out fuzzy, with poor colour resolution and I have had to do a considerable amount of sharpening and contrast adjustment to get them into a near usable condition. I have since reset most of the camera's settings back to factory default and will experiment further when the next opportunity arises.

I did some specific filming and started to put the Ross-on-Wye at Christmas film together this week. As a result, I must have had at least 20 people ask me, 'What was going on in town on Thursday? I saw you filming by the market house.' The only unusual thing going on was a sky with no clouds in it and a dry pavement. I was taking advantage of this rare December phenomenon to shoot a time lapse sequence for the film and was there for two hours, so a lot of people saw me whilst driving past.

The film is almost complete and I am very pleased with the result but I have one more pretty major sequence to shoot this coming Saturday before finalizing and releasing it - the Ross-on-Wye Christmas Carnival. Once this event is over, I shall return home and immediately begin work on the final edit, which should be finished by Sunday evening. As I said initially, the film will mainly benefit the town in the lead up to next Christmas but it is also my 'Christmas present' to our 2009 readers. Look on Wyenot during the evening of Sunday, 20th December to watch.

A free download of a 720i High Definition file of the Christmas film, for shops and others who rely on tourism to use, either on computer screens, or to put on DVD (to run in DV quality) will be available. I will include instructions for its download when I run the film on Sunday.

Our What's On Page is looking depleted of events for next year. This page is one of THE most popular pages on Wyenot with people visiting the town and, unlike what's on events in the newspaper, it is free to use (see instructions on page) and has nation/world-wide coverage. It is THE most successful means of boosting visitors at local events because virtually everybody taking a holiday or weekend break in Ross looks at 'Wyenot' first - look at how Jamstand, Ross Country Music Festival and many other of the events which have become major over the past few years have grown through our work publicizing them to the world free of charge. Despite this, we virtually always have to chase people to list their events just to get the town looking busy on this page.

This year, I am NOT going to chase anybody. If you do NOT send in your event without prompting, it will NOT get advertised, free of charge on our 'What's On' page. If this means the end of the 'What's On' page then so be it. It's up to you. If you are organizing an event, just put yourself out for five minutes and think where a high percentage of your visitors to past events have come from - or have your event become a lot less successful in 2010. I'm just fed up with thinking for and chasing people who do not bother to think for themselves. We do not get paid for advertising these events, so it would be no loss to us if the 'What's On' page were to be discontinued. Use it or lose it.

Recent support from local business has made me feel more optimistic about the future of Ross and has given me more hope for the future of 'Wyenot'. At last, after 10 years, local shops seem to be realizing its value and are coming on board. On Friday, Tina and I visited 'Ross Old Books and Prints' to take photos and notes to make an ad on Wyenot and I actually felt, 'These people, along with others we have recently built ad pages for seem genuine and a huge asset to Ross'. I was (this week) asked to remove a shop ad page from 'Wyenot' as the owners had decided to retire but forgotten to mention it to me. Some people had turned up at a local café and asked the proprietor why the shop had closed as they had made a special journey to Ross having seen it here. Coincidentally, I bumped into the retired owners of the shop on Saturday (Sweetest Memories), who told me, 'We spent lots of money advertising the shop in various ways when we opened it but the ONLY ad which did any good at all was the cheapest of all - the £90 per year one on the Wyenot website'. Thank you for your support, Paula and Andrew. We wish you a long and happy retirement!

Somebody else running a B&B business which they decided to stop due to their other venture, a tea garden, being very successful also recently said to me: 'Thank you for removing the B&B ad. You might like to hear a success story from a different point of view to the usual.... Our phone has rung constantly with enquiries about the B&B over past years. We forgot to tell the other advertisers - Smoothhound etc. to remove our B&B ad but the moment you removed it from Wyenot, the phone stopped ringing. Stopped dead that day. We have not had one call since.

It may seem that I am blowing my own trumpet a lot here but that is not why I mention these things. I mention them because hearing this type of feedback spurs me on to think of more I can do to boost the success of all local business. I am not going to continue to do so though at the expense of myself...

My New Year's Resolution this year is, as always that I will try to make 'Wyenot' more of a success for the town than it already is - by continuing with the successful series of video films and by promoting individual local businesses in the best and cheapest way possible.

This year though, I have added to it one more point...that I'm not going to do this at the expense of myself. I intend to stop all favours such as, 'We can't pay you but can I use that photo you took of.., in our brochure'. 'I promise to advertise in future but will you just run this news item about our new shop free?' Of all the 'New Shop in Ross' articles I have run in the past, under the heading of 'news', not one single one of them has ever kept its promise to take out an ad.

My new year's resolution is to keep promoting Ross to the best of my ability, but not at my expense!

Enjoy the run-up to Christmas and the Christmas Carnival on Saturday, look out for our Christmas in Ross film on Sunday evening and we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


A scene from the Christmas film.

9th December 2009 - B side of I'm Walking Backwards to Christmas

Some weeks I can write a blog easily and on others, I struggle to think of much, if anything to say. This week is a bit like that, I'm afraid as the weather has been mostly dull, we have been catching up with the accounts and I have just covered the necessary. Not the most exciting of weeks! It puts me in mind of the Goons record, 'I'm Walking Backwards to Christmas' which I used to own on a 78. On the other side, Spike Milligan simply said, 'There's nothing on this side.......long pause......Are you still listening?...........Might as well beat a tin or something'... It was one of the best records the Goons ever recorded.

We did manage to get out one evening during a break in the cloud and take some film of the stars rising from the inside of King Arthur's Cave but I think, to be honest, that was the highlight of my week.

News wise, I thought that the Ross Christmas Festival went down very well, if a little early in the year for one like myself, who tends to do his Christmas shopping during the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. I took some Christmassy photos there, for use in the Christmas film I'm making. I've solved the music problem there, by the way. My brother, John plays the piano well and is going to record some Christmas carol arrangements for me, which I can mix with general outside broadcast sound.

Well, rather than waffle on about nothing, I'll write more when I have something to say. Here's looking forward to spring and the lighter nights... Look forward to seeing as many as possible at the other Christmas events first though!


1st December 2009 - LIGHTS, 2009 AND ARTHUR'S STONE

I decided to remove the blog I wrote yesterday about my experience at St. Mary's on Saturday. The experience upset me deeply but there is no point in holding a grudge as doing so would put me on a similar level to those involved.

Ross now has its new Christmas lights, which I must say are a tremendous improvement over those of past years. I like white Christmas lights. I did film the switch-on and will continue to film for the Christmas video. I actually spent the Friday evening and Saturday morning searching for music which I could license to use as the soundtrack, so far, unsuccessfully. I can easily get hold of a licensed CD with tacky supermarket piped Christmas music but this is not what I want to use. I would like to use proper Christmas music - in particular, the Coventry Carol - but it needs to be a version for which I can be granted lifetime and international broadcast rights without too much expense involved. I never make back the money I spend on licensing music for my films on Wyenot because they are free for anybody to watch. I hope I might see some return when I release the DVD this coming spring.

I put together a new film over the past week - a narrated wildlife / cider making review of the year 2009. I am actually quite pleased with this one, though unsure about my voice-over. I don't like hearing my own voice recorded but feedback so far is good. It can be seen, either in the separate article or as the first item in the above video blog.

Tina has this week off as we need to catch up with our accounts for the tax return. Yesterday was the first sunny day in ages and during the late afternoon and evening, wanting to escape for a while, we went to visit one of my favourite places locally - the Neolithic longberrow, Arthur's Stone to film some time lapse of the stars. The photo below may seem nothing unusual, until I tell you that I took it nearly 3 hours after sunset, and that it is lit by nothing other than the light of the 26 day old moon. It is such a long exposure that even the apparently black (to the naked eye) sky over exposed to the point that it looks blue and the grass, green.


Arthur's Stone - a Neolithic longberrow by moonlight.

25th November 2009 - WATER AND EBENEZER SCROOGE

We can count ourselves lucky in this part of England that the big storm passed to the North of us - we have however not been without rainfall. I do not understand why my automatically recorded rainfall chart differs so much this week to the figures produced by Ross weather station. I hate to say it but, from memory of becoming very wet on several occasions, I know which set of figures I am more inclined to trust on this one occasion. Having said that, the rain did mostly fall in heavy showers rather than continuously and my weather station is located on the opposite side of town.

It is the rain which falls in Wales that affects the depth of the river, which has burst its banks several times over the past two weeks. I have not been out this week with the cameras every time the river has risen but I am keeping a close eye out and will cover any serious rises in water level.

The generic flood film I finished last week has proved to be very popular. It is probably because I spent hours working on it and saw the various sequences too often during the editing stage but I was not overly impressed with the final result of that particular film on first watch-through. Public opinion however has said otherwise and it has in fact generated the most positive feedback in a short period of time of all the short films I have made for Wyenot. Thank you to those who took the time to send feedback. When I hear nothing, as is often the case, it can be quite disheartening but your response has kept the windy, rainy, dark November miseries away.

Christmas is looming on the horizon and begins for us news-wise this coming Saturday, with the switching on of the new Ross Town Christmas lights. We will of course be covering all of the major Christmas events for Wyenot News and if you attend, you will almost certainly see me, not only taking photos for the news but video as well. Special attention is being paid to the town this year by the Town Council and by Ross Traders. The lights are going to be better and there will generally be more going on.

I'm planning some Christmas 2010 promo: Yes - Ross-on-Wye's biggest, Bah Humbug Scrooge said that! 'I've seen the ghost of Christmas future,' he lied.

Although I will be shooting video at this year's Christmas events, it will not be appearing immediately on the news, as will the photos. I am filming for a reason. My plan is to wait until all of the pre-Christmas events are over, including the Christmas Carnival and then edit together what I am hoping will be a nice 'Christmas in Ross-on-Wye' film at the end. I shall release it on Wyenot late this year (after the Carnival) but it is really aimed at bringing people to the town next year. If I can get enough really good footage together this year, I will be able to make a pretty good, 'Come to Ross at Christmas' promo for next year, which should help the town and its traders as a whole. If you have a Christmassy event or even a Christmas scene planned which I do not know about and you would like it included, please let me know. (I already have filming of the house lights in the many decorated streets in mind.)

Blimey! I need to switch off and down a neat cup of tea to recover, having written all that positive stuff about Christmas. It isn't my favourite time of year but if I have a technical challenge to occupy my mind whilst others enjoy the season, I'm happy. That's about all for now. It's a quiet news week but things are about to buck up on that front, I feel. Have a good week!


18th November 2009 - THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Surprise, surprise! Our coverage of the River View affair last week was the most viewed news item ever on Wyenot, with over a thousand readers on its first day of publication and continuing similarly all through the week. It even overtook the BNP protest in terms of readership. This makes me quite sad really. It's human nature I guess but if we publish something good, hardly anybody reads it (the Community Policing video, released the same day has been watched 50 times, to date) but the moment something controversial happens...

News has been quite sparse this week but I have not been idle. I spent virtually all of the weekend (and last) filming the River Wye for a sequence showing the water levels increasing. My original intention had been to show all four seasons on the Wye, narrated. I do have the footage but when I put it together on Monday, it just seemed a little long winded - a bit like a Horizon programme - going on just to fill the hour long slot. Having worked on it for most of the day, I decided against early in the evening and ran with just the deep water footage - some from July and most from the past two weekends.

There are very late and very early scenes included, so I did not get much sleep while the river was high. On Saturday, Tina wanted to go and see the band, Silva at the White Lion. To be absolutely honest - good as they are, this is not really my thing so I delivered her to the door, acted sociable, took a few photos and then went out filming while she danced the night away. I knew she would be complaining about her back the next day!!!

On Sunday evening, I finished the filming by taking a trip up the rock in Yatland. To my surprise, I met quite a few people I know up there - not all at the same time and this passed the time until dark fell, when I was left alone. After about an hour of filming up there alone, a young couple arrived in the darkness. I think my presence there had spoiled their plans and so they stood, looking over the edge. They stayed for about ten minutes then wandered off and had just reached the footbridge when the most amazing thing happened. If only they had stayed - I would love to have shared the experience with somebody - even perfect strangers..... Without warning, a fireball meteor just fell from the sky - and I mean FELL. It came from the region of the W shaped constellation, Cassiopeia and dropped vertically, glowing brilliant white, so large I could see the rock itself until it burned to nothing at about 10,000 feet - a third the height of a passenger jet. As it fell, it began to spiral as it became smaller in mass and the friction of the atmosphere slowed its fall to parachute speed. Had my camera not been set up taking automatic shots, I could have taken a straight point and shoot type of photo. Sounds like the astronomer's version of the fisherman's 'one that got away' story but I can assure you - it is absolutely true! I did catch the International Space Station in front of the Milky Way on one frame, and have published the photo below to prove it. :-)

Well that's enough from me as I can't think of anything else to say but the flood sequence can be watched, either in the Blog player above or in the separate article. Have a good week!


The ISS orbiting below the Milky Way whilst I was filming at the Rock. This is a 180 degree straight up photo and the thing in the top right is a flagpole.

11th November 2009 - FIREWORKS, A NICE MEAL AND COVERING A SIEGE

Nobody can say that nothing ever happens in Ross! I had expected the beginning of November to be a quiet period but it has been far from quiet. We were up working on the news until the early hours this morning and then needed to watch some poop on television to help us wind down enough to be able to sleep. I think it was actually 55 minutes past Milkman when we finally switched the light off. (Milkman o'clock has become a precise Time Standard in the WNN household due to our long working hours, and is the time we hear the milk float rattling its way along our street. It is a precise measurement of universal time and equates approximately to 3.00am - a measurement which tends to vary between the summer and winter months, and one's global position.)

We were rather hoping that it would remain dry for this year's Ross Lions firework display, which took place in the grounds of the Chase Hotel on Saturday. However! Although not monsoon conditions like last year, once again our camera lenses got wet, along with our bodies. It was still a great display though and lots of people managed to make it to the event.

Film wise, I have not achieved a lot this week, although I did manage some nice sunrise footage by the River Wye on Saturday, when the water levels were high. I am keeping this back for a future 'River Wye' tourism project.

Thinking that, although I had only published the one firework article, we were pretty well up-to-date with the outside reporting of news on Monday, Tina and I decided to take a lazy day and save the work for Tuesday. That was a big mistake because the unexpected always happens when you least expect it. I guess that's why it's called the 'unexpected'! We had lunch planned at Bridge at Wilton so that Tina could introduce me to Paul, the new chef. We were just about to leave when somebody stopped me whilst loading my camera into the Wyenot Mobile and mentioned the incident which was taking place in River View. I went by that way on my way to the Bridge and took a photo, thinking that it would all be over in an instant.

Although I'm usually one for plain food - mostly involving chips, the meal was lovely. We finished, took some photos and left for home. As we drove up Brampton Hill, I heard somebody shout, 'Good! Wyenot News are here'. I was only driving past, Gov. Honest! Other people also began waving at us and pointing, so I thought I had better get out of the van and see what was happening. I spoke to the Inspector McLaughlin, who gave me a rough outline of what was going on, I took some more photos and went home to work. My intention had been to wait for the official info from the Police Press Office, however pressure to cover the incident started arriving via email and phone, so I returned to the scene a few times throughout the day and covered the event photographically.

There's very little else to say really other than what we thought would be an easy day, turned out to be very stressful, trying to write up the stories we had covered earlier in the week, editing press items sent in to us and simultaneously covering a very topical incident photographically. I was in and out of the house all evening - stress about the time I was going to see my bed adding to the pressure I was feeling to get the incident reported. My job was easy compared to that of the Police but I am so glad that yesterday is over! And that it ended without a shot being fired!

I apologize if this seems hastily written but I had 4 hours of sleep last night and my writing is not up to much at the moment. Hopefully, things will get back to normal for my next blog. Until then...............


5th November 2009 - BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE WEBCAMS

Webcam format change: I have changed the way the webcams on Wyenot are viewed today. In some ways, I prefer this new look but the change was not purely for cosmetic reasons. Because the original system opened small windows which could remain open after a visitor had left Wyenot - and because those small windows could be linked to by other web sites they were being abused. Other web sites - particularly fishing sites (not local, funnily enough) had been pulling them and making them appear as part of their own fishing web site. Some were pulling the windows virtually 24/7 - stealing my bandwidth, along with the pictures supplied by Rose Cottage and the White Lion.

I have changed the system so that they open in a normal size, Wyenot.com style window, which in Internet Explorer, returns to the top of the page on the 60 second refresh. Hopefully this will stop the system being abused. I intend to continue to regularly change the webcam url as well, as an added precaution against theft. This will make no difference to the way our regular viewers see the camera (other than it will not be worth adding that page to favourites) but it will be a considerable inconvenience to those pulling the cameras illegally.


4th November 2009 - AUTUMN ART CAVES FIREWORKS AND A CASTLE

Autumn sunshine arrived for a day last Wednesday and as a result, I was able to finish off the 'Autumn' film for the tourism pages of 'Wyenot'. That is now up and running on an updated Forest of Dean page but can also be seen in the video blog above. When I say 'updated' Forest page - I have updated the photographs but have yet to write some better text for the page. I shall try to do that this week. The film is a culmination of two months work and included 5,700 photographic frames run as video frames plus three actual video clips. I prefer running still images as fast stop motion frames as this produces crisper images. I hope this will attract more visitors to the area next autumn.

Another tourism 'Places to Visit' page of 'Wyenot' I have updated this week is the King Arthur's Cave page. I have long thought my original photographic pages showing the Doward caves were too personal and have removed these in favour of just straight forward, autumnal photos of the caves. Actually - this page is worth looking at, even if you know the caves well because I used an extremely wide angle lens to take the pictures, and some inside photos were taken using long exposures in natural light, rather than flash light. These show the caves, quite possibly as you have never seen them before.

Association of Ross Traders: I received a call this afternoon from Richard Mayo, Chairman of ART, the Association of Ross Traders asking me if I would be willing to help promote a possible future parking scheme, which is currently in the ideas and planning stage. I would just like to say here that the answer is YES. Promoting the town of Ross-on-Wye is what Wyenot is all about and has been from the very beginning. I built it specifically to help everybody in the town that I have enjoyed living in since 1976.

Virtually everybody uses the internet to look up holiday destination information these days and 'Wyenot' has become THE reference source for virtually everybody visiting Ross-on-Wye and a large part of the Wye Valley before they plan a holiday or weekend break in the area. People from all over the United Kingdom, and indeed, the world use it. During the months of November and December, Wyenot's pages are read mainly by local people reading the news and a few holiday planners but on 1st January every year, the page view count triples, from around 2,000 to around 6,000 pages per DAY, with people looking for somewhere to visit. The viewer figures drop a little during February and the first part of March but then it picks up again. Throughout the summer, 6000 plus pages of information are read daily - about 4,000 of them by town visitors looking for places to stay, things to do.

ABSOLUTELY! I will help the Association of Ross Traders in any way that I am able by publishing details of new schemes to attract business into Ross. I do not mind publishing this information for free, on the most frequently read visitor pages of Wyenot, such as the Ross-on-Wye and other related pages. 'Wyenot' is the obvious place to post this kind of information as it has a far bigger reach than the local radio or local newspapers.

HOWEVER.... Over the past 10 years, 'Wyenot' has attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the town of Ross-on-Wye. Without traders realizing it, every single one of them has gained business as a result of my efforts in keeping it running, which takes up virtually every minute of every day of my life, including Christmas Day. The reason 'Wyenot' is so hugely popular and successful is purely down to the amount of work which goes into it keeping it current - covering local news and events - photographing scenic places to visit in the area - making films about local places of interest - and projects like the recent 'Navigating Ross and its Car Parks' video. In return for this, all I have earned for myself is bags under the eyes, aching bones and a huge overdraft.

Although many guest houses and other places offering local accommodation have supported Tina and I with this venture, very few Ross Traders have. I can count those who have on my fingers. I realize that times are hard for everybody but keeping this level of business flowing into Ross is far from easy and I need more support from Ross Traders. If more local shops supported us by advertising on our 'Shops' page, Ross-on-Wye Town would look a far more vibrant and interesting place to visit and more people would come to Ross as a result.

WHAT I AM SAYING IS: I will help Ross Traders in any way I can, providing that it is not all one way traffic. In return, I would like some more support. Our advertising costs £90 per YEAR for a full page, which, unlike having your own web site, advertising on local radio or in the local newspapers, will get seen by people all over the UK who will know where to find various shops before they leave home. Equally, local people will be able to look up local shops on their lap top computers.

If I could, I would make our advertising cheaper but I simply cannot afford to do that. Building each advertisement takes an awful lot of my time. Just work out how much advertising you would get for £90 per year on local radio or in the newspaper. Look at other town web sites and see if they are half as popular, or if you can get a year's ad for £90. To use a cliché regarding local traders - I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

I am not - never have been after making huge amount of money for myself. I'm not a materialistic person and could not care less about having a big car or holidays in the Bahamas. Been there, done that in a past life with the holidays abroad. I love England and just want to earn enough to live whilst doing what I enjoy - making local scenic and local wildlife films, and helping Ross to thrive. (And glancing through my telescope at the stars when the opportunity arises.)

The Annual Ross Lions Bonfire and Firework Display is due to take place this coming Saturday at the Chase Hotel. All of the money taken at the gate goes towards the Ross Lions charity and the event is by far the charity's biggest fund-raiser. Last year, it rained heavily and everybody got very wet. Tina tried to help out by holding an umbrella over my cameras but they still got soaked. Let us hope for a dry display this year. We will be there to cover the event and look forward to seeing as many as possible of you there.

One last thing. I thought readers might like to see the photo below, which I took of Wilton Castle last week. Again - as you have probably never seen it before. It is a time exposure taken during a brief break in cloud cover, at night. The stars are genuine - not painted in. A lens open for a long period of time can gather far more light than the human eye. If you look closely, you can see them trailing more in the top left (south and further away from the pole star) due to the rotation of the earth. The white streak, bottom right, is traffic on the bypass.

If you are near to Ross and enjoy watching fireworks, I hope to see you Saturday, if not - until next week....


Wilton Castle at night.

28th October 2009 - A BIT OF AN UNUSUAL WEEK!

Thank you very much to all who wrote in answering my navigation video poll. Usually when I ask a question which involves an email response, only a few regulars take time to answer it but the response to last week's poll was huge. Everybody chose the straight video version of the info film, I remade it this week, adding some additional routes and it can now be seen live on the main Ross-on-Wye page of Wyenot. I still have more routes to film but the weather has not been right for filming this week. This was the important one to get finished first though as it is from this direction that the one way system tends to direct visitors past rather than through Ross. Maybe a few more will stop and visit shops in town now.

Saturday was a strange day. My only plans had been to go to Broome Farm and cover the story of Ross Girl Guides and their visit to learn the apple juice stage of making cider. (No. They were not there to earn their cider drinking woggle!) Throughout Friday and Saturday though, I kept receiving emails informing me of the BNP Party's visit to Ross and the planned protest. I had seen the police helicopter hovering on Friday. It was on an information gathering mission, looking at the grounds of the Chase Hotel to plan safety security measures. Although we have our own political views personally, we do not favour or disfavour any one particular political party with Wyenot and there were too many emails for me to ignore, so I covered the protest - purely from a Ross-on-Wye local news point of view. We rushed from Broome Farm and the Girl Guides, straight to the protest in Gloucester Road.

We covered the protest with photography and video. This made me quite sad, in a way. The video I enjoy filming and editing is the local scenic films, such as those I have been producing over the past year to boost tourism. These films are always popular, but on average, each one takes about a month after upload before it reaches 1000 views. The controversial BNP protest film on the other hand, was watched 300 times within an hour or two of upload. It was watched so much in fact that it jammed the You Tube view counter at 330 views and many hundreds, probably a thousand views were not counted (this is a bug in the You Tube system with popular videos). That 'Protest' news page became the most read news page in any one day since I first started Wyenot News. It alone clocked up 750 visits on my server log, in just its first day, and continued similarly over the following days.

I was not intending to make a personal political statement, regarding the BNP but I will just say that following the video upload, the BNP have shown me their true colours. Within hours I started receiving not very nice mail from BNP supporters. This is an exact copy and paste of one of them, sent to me by somebody calling himself, 'NOislamification'...

'lmfao @ you pathetic fat unwashed traitor. youl never stop the bnp, you just make us stronger'

I'm no skinny waith, I know but he is wrong about one thing. I took a bath as recently as last April. The spelling and general grammar in the email say it all really and running a news report does not make me a traitor. I have never supported the BNP, so how can I betray them?

The weather has not been good for continuing filming for my 'Autumn in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean' film and it does not look good for at least another week. I'm hoping that the leaves stay on the trees in their autumn colours long enough for me to make it. It could end up becoming an autumn wind and flood film.

That's about it at the moment other than that there might be a little good news. I contacted the disputes department of the bank about my problem with 'Bitesizedeals.co.uk' in California (mentioned a couple of blogs ago). When I explained my situation, the bank said, 'Bitesizedeals is a name which is NOT unknown to us!' They are hopefully going to get my money back for me, which is something of a relief. The down side is that I need to post hard copies of correspondence and there is a postal strike.

Hope you find this week's news interesting. Until next time...........(Although she found it very funny, Tina advised me against the joke I was going to put here on grounds of political correctness.)


21st October 2009 - TICK FOLLOWED TOCK

To use an Americanism, which I really do not like doing, I was truly blown away by response to the 'Yat Rock by Starlight' film I uploaded during the week. (Top one in the video log above.) It seems to have gone down a storm on You Tube, Vimeo and Facebook with people saying things like, and I quote directly from Vimeo, 'wooooooooooooow!' and others on You Tube asking, 'tell me how u did this plz?' and 'Absolutely fantastic !'. The film has been watched over 300 times, from various different uploads within 7 days.

The answer to the 'How?' question is: with a lot of patience, taking hundreds of 30 second long exposures in total darkness, sometimes alone at the top of Yat Rock for hours on end whilst getting spooked by strange noises in the woods. Sometimes, Tina came with me to film and sometimes, my friend Mike. In all, the time I spent filming it was a relaxing and most enjoyable experience. The sequence is less than 2 minutes long but the response it has generated has prompted me to film many more star sequences and make a longer edit - nothing to do with 'Wyenot' and tourism - simply for pleasure.

Other than that, this has been a pretty mundane week. Other than covering the articles which can be seen in this weeks news, tick has followed tock on my wrist watch, the fine weather turned from sunny to dull on the day I had planned to film more autumn scenes and life has gone on. I can't really think of much else to write at the moment other than: please let me have your opinion on which 'Navigating Ross' filming style to go with. The town's diabolical one way system does nothing to help local tourism, thousands and thousands and thousands of people who visit Ross look at Wyenot before leaving home and I really want to get this going to help all local traders.

Until next time... Have a good'n.


14th October 2009 - 9 MILLION AND COUNTING PLUS A WARNING

Thank you to those who have remarked that the counter on the bottom of the pages of 'Wyenot' clocked over an impressive 4 million pages viewed this week. This is pretty good news, however it is unfortunately inaccurate as this counter grossly under-reads...

...When I first uploaded 'Wyenot.com' to make it 'live to the world' back on 12th December 2000, I used a different counter, which eventually crashed out and so I abandoned it. Learning from the trial and error method, I then made an error with the current one and for 4 years, it only counted visitors to one page of 'Wyenot', rather than all pages. As a result, the 4 million figure does not come anywhere near the total amount of pages which have been viewed. The figure it should read (taking a rough server log count) is approximately 9,125,000 - over 9 million page views and counting. I realize that I should stop paying the 18 US Dollars per year renewal fee for this counter but it is embedded on so many thousands of pages of 'Wyenot' that it would take me the proverbial 'Month of Sundays' to remove the code. If I did not remove the code, it would leave an unwanted ad for The Counter.com on every page. I therefore pay the 18 dollars per year out of laziness, I guess. To quote another cliché ('clamp', if you speak English), they have me by the short and curlies.

On to a much more serious matter: BEWARE if you buy anything on the internet and pay by card, on-line. To help with the local films I am making, I needed/wanted a very specialist fisheye lens for my camera - the type which does not come cheap. The cost was on the absolute limit of money I felt I was able to spend, if I did not buy anything else for several months. From the shop I generally use for purchasing my camera equipment, the price was £519.00 plus postage (it is so specialist that no shop within 50 miles keep it in stock), making a total of £527.

Thinking I was doing the right thing, I looked on the internet to see if I could find it cheaper. I looked up the specific lens model number on Google, adding the suffix 'UK' and this brought up the page of a company called 'Bite Size Deals.CO.UK' which were offering the lens for £475. 'Great', I thought and started to place my order. When I went to the 'shopping trolly', the site then said I had a further discount of £2.00, bringing the price down to £473.00. I put in my card details, ordered and forgot about it for most of that day.

During the late afternoon, I received a phone call from California. 'You placed an order with Bite Size Deals and before processing, we would like to ask you a few questions to protect you against credit card fraud,' said the man at the other end of the line, speaking with a broad American accent.

My suspicions were aroused. 'This is most unusual,' I said. 'I gave you all of the necessary security details when I placed the order on-line.'

'Yes, but we have to check, otherwise we will not be able to process your order,' said the American, who then began to ask for a lot more details about my account. I began to seriously suspect this was not genuine and told him so, refusing to answer his questions about my card account.

'If you do not give us these answers, we will have to cancel your order', he said.

I was angry by this time. 'Firstly, your web site gives the impression that you are a British company and secondly, I am not willing to give details of my bank account to somebody I do not know, in the USA, over the phone. Go ahead and Cancel. I will buy the lens from a company that I know for sure is in England.'

'OK, your order is cancelled', he replied and the phone conversation ended.

I checked my email and, immediately, I received confirmation that my order had been cancelled. Thinking all was well, I reordered from Jessops Photography, at £527.00.

It was the following morning that I checked my on-line banking, to make sure the Jessops payment had gone through. To my amazement, having called me to 'Protect me' from card fraud and having cancelled my order because I was not willing to give them the information, 'Bite Size Deals.co.uk' had taken £473.00 from my card. On complaining they say that they will refund the money, but that my refund has 'joined the queue and will take up to 30 days'. My further emails of complaint to the company, who should not have been able to make the charge to my card as I had not answered their security questions have bed answered with stereotype replies, not relating to my actual complaint. They are playing a 'we do not understand' game.

As a result, until / if I get my money refunded, the one lens has has cost me £1000.99. I WOULD ADVISE ANYBODY THINKING OF USING 'BITESIZEDELAS.CO.UK,' DON'T DO IT. THEY ARE NOT IN THE UK AND THEY HAVE £473 OF MY MONEY, WHICH THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO HAVE TAKEN!!!! (See statement below.)

It seems that, whenever things begin to look up, something else is waiting around the corner but despite this, I have remained pretty cheerful this week and have been relaxing by filming at Yat Rock. I hope you enjoy the 'Yat Rock by Starlight' film and I'll be back here next week. Wishing you all better luck than mine.


7th October 2009 - ZEBRAS AARDVARKS AND GENERAL UPDATES

The response from Ross traders who have taken out ads within the past weeks (since the Traders' Meeting) has been very pleasing - one of them writing to me to say they were really impressed and are definitely going to spread the word to other local traders. This is great news for Wyenot, and for the town, which will benefit as a result of more shops appearing on our 'Local Shops' page. I have completed two of the new advertisements and have virtually completed the third.

I am very seriously considering - in fact I have made up my mind to make a pre-Christmas promotional video within the next few weeks, highlighting our local shops and what they have to offer - just those who support us, of course. This will not be a chargeable thing - just another part of the service to our supporters. Our £90 per year advertising service does not stop at just the page - it covers extras such as this, photographic 'What's On? events and personal, more detailed coverage of news items.

We listed businesses on our 'Accommodation' pages in alphabetical order, right from the very beginning. This seemed the fairest thing to do at the time however, recently, two accommodation owners actually changed the name of their house so that it begins with the letter 'A'. This is, of course, one method of getting to the top of the listing but I feel that doing this is somehow, not quite right. I am afraid that I am not going to keep messing about, shuffling the listings on these pages because people change there house name from Zebra to Aardvark.

I am trying to think up a fair system to help those who wish to be listed at the top of the page. This thought is only in the embryonic stages at the moment but I may consider keeping all the current listings on the page in alphanumeric order, but introducing a new, limited section at the top of the listings, in which those who have a page with us can bid on top of the usual £90 per annum fee for an extra 'top of the page' listings. This is just a thought at the moment and I may dream up a better solution first. Any thoughts or ideas on this matter would be welcome. We want to help those who help us, in the fairest possible way.

I have continued to film Autumn approaching this past week and the time lapse footage is building up nicely. It has however been difficult at times due to weather conditions. The difference between clear sky and just small amounts of thin cloud can make a huge difference to how a river or lakeside scene appears on film. Looking at the weather forecast and then banking the exact opposite type of weather occurring has been working remarkably well in this respect.

That is about all I can think of at the moment, other than I was rudely awoken this morning after just 4 hours sleep, by workers who wanted me to move my van so that they can dig the holes in the road necessary to 'move the electricity cables from overhead to underground'. Now, in Cawdor, as in other parts of Ross, the cables ARE overhead and desperately need moving underground but here in Hillview Road... I have the 'before' and am going to take some 'after' photos of the overhead to underground transition for a 'Spot the Difference' article. I was extremely self-controlled and refrained from 'green side up'' jokes when the workmen were relaying the turf, having dug across our lawn.


30th September 2009 - FILMING AND A NEW RIVERCAM AT SYMONDS YAT

Firstly. I don't know how it happened but the above video blog player has been showing the wrong set of films for, I don't know how long. I have only just noticed this and corrected it (I hope) but somehow, things have become muddled. All of the films are still there, but not necesarily in the right order.

This week I have continued filming and taking photos for my series of local promotion videos and future new tourist information pages on Wyenot.

The recent 'Portrait of the River Wye at Symonds Yat' film has gone down extremely well. I deleted the first version of the film because I was slightly unhappy with one small technical issue and I filmed a better ending (due to weather conditions) after having completed the 'final' edit. That version had been watched over 200 times in just a day at the time I deleted it and had been given 6 five star ratings on You Tube. The updated version, at the time of writing, has been uploaded for less than a week, has already been watched over 300 times and currently has 9 five star ratings. I hope this does a lot to boost tourism during the 2010 season.

I am currently working on two things in particular - a page and film about Garway Hill and an Autumn in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean film. I have completed much of the Garway Hill filming but I am not going to rush production as I want to produce as good an edit as possible, first time round. I need to wait a few weeks before filming some of the autumn shots for the other.

The other major update, tourism wise, to Wyenot is the addition of a second webcam, located at Symonds Yat East and producing a live picture every minute. From experience of the White Lion camera, I know that this will be a tremendous boost to that area. Thank you to Nick and Angie of Rose Cottage Tea Garden for having the camera installed and supplying the picture.

News is always a little lacking at this time of year but we have a few items this week. I hope that you will bear with us through the quiet news period of September and October. Events will soon be starting up again in November with the local firework display and then, I hate to say it but Christmas is looming on the horizon like a bad dream. Most regular readers will have gathered over the years that I cannot stand the Christmas period. I find it clinically depressing. Not the Christian festival itself but the commercial bullshit that comes with it. There are bound to be lots of local news stories arising from the 'Season of Good Will' though and local news will soon pick up again.

Until next week.... Have a good'n!


23rd September 2009 - LOCAL SUPPORT SEEMS TO BE ON THE INCREASE

I was not sure whether or not to make that bold statement in the headline. Many years ago, I was talking to an aunt of mine, who is long since gone about car tyres and punctures. 'I have been driving for 5 years now and have never had a puncture.' I said. Guess what I found when I went to get in my car to drive to the station the very next morning!

Richard, from 'Truffles' mentioned us at a meeting of the Local Traders' in the week. I have no idea what he said but as a result, two shops have definitely come on board and we have an enquiry from a third. This is really good news... For us, but also for the town as a whole! This will of course help us to keep 'Wyenot' running but I would particularly like to emphasize the 'for the town as a whole' bit.

Our accommodation section works fantastically because thousands of tourists looking for somewhere to go look up Ross-on-Wye or Symonds Yat on Google, arrive at Wyenot and all that they need to book a holiday or short break can be found in one place...... places to stay, places to dine, places to drink, places to visit and things to do.

They have always also been able to look up one or two shops, but so far, in the 9 years, since I started 'Wyenot', not many have come on board and that area of our tourism medium has seemed pretty void of information. With more shops coming on board now, to help fill our 'Shops' page with links to pages on Wyenot about individual local traders, Ross-on-Wye will look a much more interesting place in general to the thousands of people who visit Wyenot every day of the week throughout the holiday season. More people will find the Town of Ross itself interesting, rather than just stick to finding somewhere to stay, eat and the places of scenic and historic interest. They will also be able to look up more places to shop and EVERYBODY will benefit as a result. All of the information will be in one place.

That's the way I see it anyway. I know that the first time Tina and I wanted to book a short break in Burnham on Sea, I searched the internet high and low and had the Devil's own job finding somewhere to stay, or any other local information because there was nothing like a 'Wyenot' equivalent for that area. There is now - a pretty good one (www.burnhamonsea.com), with lots of local support, but at the time...

But that's enough of that. This week has been a quiet one for news and events, which may not be good for those who like lots of local news to read, but for us the quieter period has made a refreshing change. As well as allow us some free time, it has given me the opportunity to work on more tourism attracting content for 'Wyenot'. I finished a second film project for Symonds Yat, which I actually began 2 years ago. This can be seen on the above video log as well as in a separate article for this week. It can also be seen from the Symonds Yat and many other tourist information pages on Wyenot.

The film was an absolute pleasure to make, especially the more recently filmed scenes, due to the peaceful times I spent filming both at dawn and after dark. The final time-lapse sequence in the film lasts no longer than 15 to 20 seconds but it took 12 hours to shoot. The reason for this is that each individual frame took 1 minute to shoot, so that the river, cloud and stars would show up in the dark. The photo below is my favourite frame from the whole film. I hope you enjoy watching, and that the resulting movie will reap rewards for local tourism. If it gets watched only half as much as the one I made in March, it should do well.


My favourite frame from the film. The view from Yat Rock as darkens falls and the stars gradually emerge.

15th September 2009 - DOWN BY THE RIVER AND FILMING JESSE

This week, our routine turned out to be somewhat different from the norm. Some will remember last October, when I made a short video for my life long singer/songwriter friend, Steve O'Kane, to go with his song, 'Down By The River', showing a kingfisher diving and other local wildlife. That song and video became a favourite with many people around the world, not only on Wyenot but also on Facebook.

Last weekend, Steve came to Ross to perform some of his songs at Ross Cider Festival - I filmed one his songs and used it in the video coverage of that event. Coincidentally, before Steve came to Ross, he played at the Havering Show and met another friend. When he told her that he was visiting Ross, she said, 'We have an apartment in Ross which you can use if you wish.' As a result, Steve and his partner, Fiona ended up spending the week in town, sleeping in Brook House but spending the days with us. We spent a lot of time 'by the river' and I even got my small boat out.

Having seen last October's video, many people mentioned that they would like to see Steve perform the song live and so he did just that so that I could film it. Not only that but he actually performed it 'Down by the River' - here in Ross, by Wilton Bridge. At the time of writing, that film can be watched, second video in on the player above. I hope all of Steve's followers enjoy watching this very 'spur of the moment' recording. Steve and I were sat in the White Lion just prior to the recording and it was a 'let's do it now' decision to film.

Saturday evening was also a very different evening for me. Another of my long term friends from my 'Dagenham Roundhouse' days, Ken, with whom I had kept in touch but not actually seen for 30 years called recently. I have to admit that my interest in heavy rock music has been waning of late but Ken is still very heavily into rock and blues. Although he has moved to Swindon, Ken is still involved in both visiting and arranging rock concerts involving some of the more well known bands.

Ken asked me to Swindon on Saturday evening to film the legendary guitarist, Jesse Davey and some of his friends, including the also legendary Jon Amor. Both are members of a former band called 'The Hoax' (and no, this is not a hoax) who are big names and have a huge following in both the USA and Holland. They have appeared on Jools Holland's 'Later' programme and have a following here also but they are far better known across The Pond.

The Hoax are reforming for a few concerts later in the year and Jesse and Friends are next performing in Holland on 3rd October but in the mean time, I was asked if I would film their gig in Swindon on Saturday evening. It was nice to see Ken again and to meet Jesse and Jon for the first time and we had a somewhat different kind of Saturday from the usual 'about town' stuff, so there is no film from Ross this week. The first (most recent) video in the Auto Log above is Jesse and Friends, performing at the 12 Bar on Saturday evening. Within a few hours of uploading this, I began receiving requests from across the pond to upload more of this film but... Sorry, I cannot do that. It was a great evening but I filmed it for the band. They may upload more in the future. BTW: Jesse is second from the left in this video and, in what is evidently his usual modest way, his friends are taking the lead. Jon Amor is the vocalist and guitarist.

We have been covering some local news during the week, which can be seen below this week's blog on the News page but, this week has been very different for us. Although local events are cooling down now for the winter, we will continue to cover those that do take place. The next biggie being the Ross Lions' Firework Display in November.

Thank you to Tim Harris, who was the one and only person who took the trouble to reply with his thoughts regarding last week's blog. It's nice to know that somebody out there cares. I'll give your idea some thought, Tim.


Steve O'Kane 'Down by the River'.

10th September 2009 - CIDER FESTIVAL AND ONWARDS

Just in case you have not noticed it in this week's news, Ross-on-Wye Cider Festival took place at Broome Farm over the weekend. Tina and I camped in the orchard for this year's festival and really enjoyed the whole event, from Friday evening's ceilidh to Sunday's farmers' market. This of course had the advantage of me not having to drive, so I took the unusual step of partaking of some of the fruits of the orchard on both Friday and Saturday. I don't think I partook quite as much as Tina did as I was busy filming - probably had my '5 a day' though in liquid form and despite the fact that I was working, I really enjoyed the event itself!!!

As I have mentioned, time and time again... Broome Farm is my absolute favourite place to visit in the whole of the Wye Valley, and not because I am a cider drinker (I actually prefer a nice cup of tea to any form of alcohol) but because everybody there is so friendly and welcoming. Going there is like going home for a huge, happy family reunion. One immediately becomes a part of the family on first meeting the team and they all become friends for life.

It was really nice that my friend of decades, Steve O'Kane and his partner, Fiona McBain were able to visit and perform at the festival on Sunday. Steve and Fiona have stayed here in Ross ever since, sitting in our living room with Tina and putting up with the expletives coming from this office for 2 very long days as I struggled to put the video films of the event together. Having finally finished all that though, getting most of the local news up by the early hours of Wednesday morning, we then spent the rest of sunny Wednesday messing about on the river. In all, it has been a very enjoyable, if not profitable week and, as I type, Steve and Fiona are in my little boat, heading for Symonds Yat via the pretty route and I am going to meet them there shortly.

On the subject of the 'if not profitable week', I am thinking - I am going to have to branch out a bit from Wyenot very soon. Wyenot is helping everybody locally by bringing in the tourists but I am still running it at a financial loss to myself, which I cannot maintain any longer. I am not thinking of winding it up but I am thinking of branching off into video production - maybe weddings, promo video - anything. I seem to be spending 99.9% of my life just lately covering events with video and photographically without getting paid a penny for it. Maybe I should start advertising this service as a service I charge for. Any thoughts, anybody?


1st September 2009 - AFTER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND

I have spent a lot of time this week adding 'Google' advertising links to some of the pages of 'Wyenot'. Although the place where they would definitely earn us the largest income would be from our own information pages such as 'Accommodation' and 'Dining', I am not adding them to these pages as I do not want the 'Google' links taking people away from our own advertisers.

So far, this has been something of a success in that it seems to be earning us an average of £1 per day extra. Although I cannot see it earning a huge revenue for us at any time in the future, every little helps and we need all the help we can get.

Moving our video streaming from 'Vimeo' to 'You Tube' seems to be reasonably successful also and is beginning to work now as more people are used to the latter. If anybody is interested, my actual 'You Tube' channel can be seen here. If you do go there and watch any of the content, I would appreciate it if those with 'You Tube' accounts would rate the video content HONESTLY!!!. The ratings give me some idea of the type of content viewers like to see, or do not like to see.

I have also been prepping edits of my film material for a DVD showing Ross, the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean at its best this week. Depending on the cost of having these run these off professionally, with printed, shrink wrapped and bar coded packaging, I am hoping to get these out in time for Christmas, thus helping 'Wyenot' financially for next season. It really depends on how much the lump sum outlay is for reproducing the DVDs as to whether or not I will be able to do this.

We have covered a couple of events over the weekend and the rest of the news will be uploaded by tomorrow morning. We are behind due to it having been a holiday weekend. We went along to the Regatta for half an hour on Monday but the event I personally enjoyed the most this weekend was the knights battling it out at Goodrich Castle. I shall run some photos of this event later today but not the film I shot. I am saving that for another short film about local places of historical interest.


22nd August 2009 - UPDATE

Amid other news and general updates, I have continued to make the changeover, streaming the video on all but the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean in High Definition pages from Vimeo to You Tube this week. I intend to leave the HD page as it is because on this page, the films can be watched full screen and in much higher quality.

The reason for the change is a cost cutting exercise in order to help us keep going. I do not have to pay when people view the video on You Tube whereas I do on Vimeo and just this month, I have had to pay the annual fee for the 'Wyenot' domains and web space as well as the page counter fee. Not to mention the equipment maintenance and replacement.

I know I keep harping on about lack of financial support for Wyenot but if you look at it seriously, the running costs of Wyenot are HUGE in terms of equipment replacement - thousands of pounds every year.

People keep writing in saying, 'I love Wyenot and it does so much for the town and local area. Please don't stop!'

I will try my very best not to but I have a total 88 supporting advertisers paying £90 per year to support the whole of Wyenot financially. There are a small handful of others who support us with the £20 per month sponsorship, but after 9 years, Wyenot is still running at a huge loss, which I cannot sustain indefinitely from my own pocket. I have already spent my redundancy money and pension lump sum, earned over a period of 30 years to keep Wyenot going and have no more financial back-up left other than perhaps selling my house, which I am not willing to do. If support continues to not arrive, I will have no option other than to pull the plug.

One advertisement for one year out of the 88, before tax, pays us less than a week's food shopping. When my roof bars were recently stolen - that alone cost me the equivalent of two full page ads on Wyenot for one year. Yet still people seem to expect me to do everything for kudos rather than money. 'Please can we use your photo in our book / magazine? We can't pay but we will credit you with a by line'. This past month, I have been constantly busy covering events, working 18 hours per day for absolute zero income.

All of that aside... I am happy in general with the way Wyenot is going - especially the video but I am already regretting making the video streaming change from Vimeo to You Tube as I am not at all happy with You Tube's system for counting views. I have had problems with the view count sticking at around 300 views, when I know that people are watching. I am not the only You Tube user suffering this problem - it is a known issue and, according to You Tube, happens when a video gets watched a lot in the first few days. As long as this eventually corrects itself, it is not a problem though.

It may seem trivial, wanting to know how many people watch what, but to me, it is an extremely good and important indicator of which films are watched and helps me plan future film making, both for Wyenot itself and for another project I have in mind to support Wyenot in the future. I plan to make a Wye Valley and Forest of Dean DVD to sell locally. Any thoughts on this idea would be much appreciated. I need to do something to keep us going and I am hoping this will be a big help.

I realize that what I have said about switching to You Tube to cut costs is something of a paradox in that I have chosen this method because it is free but need people to support us with money. You Tube is run by Google though, which receives a huge, world wide amount of advertising revenue, so I do not feel guilty about that.


18th August 2009 - UPDATE

Much of this week's news should be available by late tonight but I am currently a little behind in prepping. This is due to everything I photographed and filmed having taken place at the weekend and my not being available on Monday to work on processing it all.

I went to Chelmsford, Essex on Monday to say farewell to and remember Joyce Evelyn Bowles, who passed away during the morning of Sunday, 2nd August. Joyce was the mother of Bernice and the grandmother of my three Children, Matt Chris and Sarah. She had been ill for just over a year. We will all miss you Joyce. May you Rest In Peace.

On the way home, I specially drove through London, rather than take the M25 so that I could film the route for reasons of nostalgia.. That short stop motion film can be seen in the video blog above.

On Wyenot this week, I have been working to move most but not all of the video so that it streams from You Tube rather than Vimeo. This is not because I prefer You Tube I might add because I do not. It is for two main reasons. One is that more people are used to You Tube than to Vimeo, and know how to use the system. The other is that it is a cost cutting exercise as I am finding 'Wyenot' extremely expensive to run and I need to cut costs to try to make some of the advertising revenue help us, rather than just pay towards running costs.

Although I have only had a few days in which to study this, it appears that the video move has already begun to make a difference to the amount of people watching when they go to a page containing video. To make this move, I have had to reedit two of the films to fit them into the 10 minute You Tube time limit. I have split the Standing Stones film into two halves and remade the Aerial Wye Valley film. I had always planned to remake this as I was never happy with the original version - making the change to You Tube just made me get around to it.

I hope you find the new system an improvement. All films are still available to watch via Vimeo from the HD Video page, if you did prefer the old system.


14th August 2009 - JAMSTAND

What a brilliant job Jack Baldus did in arranging Jamstand! The event was great for the town of Ross-on-Wye. We have been with Jack from the very beginning with Jamstand. The first free Jamstand concert, back in 2007 was only given the go-ahead a little over a week before the event, so we were unable to give it a lot of publicity until a week before the concert. All the same, a few hundred people enjoyed the day, sat around the bandstand in deck chairs

We had a full six months to promote the second event in 2008, which although had its organizational problems such as lack of toilet and litter collection problems attracted a couple of thousand people over the course of the day long event.

This year, Jack had learned from all past experience, enlisted help from his friends and made a superb organizational job of arranging a 2 day festival, which again attracted several thousand people over the course of the two days.

Here, I just wanted to say, WELL DONE JACK AND FRIENDS! YOU DID THE TOWN OF ROSS PROUD! IT WAS HARD WORK BUT YOU GOT THERE IN THE END.

We were there covering the whole event and the video play list below shows just how successful the event was.

3rd August 2009 - CARNIVAL WEEK AND WATER

We have not had our best ever summer this year and I followed the forecast daily last week, hoping that Saturday would be nice for the Carnival. A lot of work goes into this event, all year round and it would have been a shame for it to have had to be cancelled. Luckily, with a last minute change of venue for the field event due to flooding leaving soggy ground by the Bandstand, Carnival went ahead. I was surprised at the turnout, to be honest. It was brilliant and all, other than the predictable moaners, seemed to enjoy the day.

On the Wednesday and Thursday prior to Carnival, I filmed the river rising in time lapse (below). Unfortunately the actual rise and fall took place at a time I was not willing to leave a camera unattended but this film has still proved to be extremely popular.

This weekend and into late Monday, I have not had a moment's rest from taking and processing carnival photos and video. I filmed the event with three cameras, which was difficult in the rain but I managed to shelter under the back door of our van. The second part of the video of the day is made up of over 4000 still images one second apart, each showing for just 0.02 of a second. This is faster than the actual frame rate of the film (25 frames per second) and makes people movement extremely rapid.

I hope you enjoy the Carnival coverage, which also includes a joke hidden message somewhere. I would be interested to know how many figure it out. Answers in pencil on the back of a used £20.00 bank note please and posted to Wyenot HQ. :-)


24 hours of flooded River Wye footage in 2.4 minutes (ish).

28th July 2009 - RECOVERING

At last, the horrible illness is beginning to go away and I am feeling slightly more human. The ill health as been a combination of three things. First, I caught a 24 hour virus - I think whilst at the Ryefield Centre to film Princess Anne. Then I took part in a tug of war, put my back out and couldn't walk for three days. The pair of us were a sorry sight at home for those few days. Tina, with her permanent bad back had to help me even to get out of bed or out of the chair and her mobility scooter was inside the house. Neither of us could lift it outside, so we were confined to base. I was just recovering from that when I caught another nasty illness. I'm not sure if it was swine flu but it did start with a sudden cough, involuntary dripping nose and weakness. I felt rough with that one for two weeks.

Anyway, things are slowly getting back to normal and I have been out and about filming this week to finish off the Ross-on-Wye time lapse and stop motion film, which I began last April. This seems destined to be a good one, despite the fact that I accidentally left out my personal favourite scene from the final edit. It was a scene looking at Ross from Brampton Abbotts as it got dark with the stars coming out and two aeroplanes with their navigation lights on zipping across the sky. I'll save that one for a future film.

I was really lucky on Saturday night, picking up an unexpected bonus for the final scene for this film. I was stood in the market house with the camera, filming from inside the building down Broad Street. I was actually just thinking of moving on to a new location when the mother of all firework displays suddenly fired up at the Chase Hotel. I have to admit that the first bang nearly made me poop myself but I survived with underwear in tact and managed to run the camera across the road to film it. I don't know what the occasion was - maybe a wedding - maybe Bilbo Baggins was in town and staying at the Chase but it made a great final scene for the movie. I was filming in time lapse and so was not recording sound. The sound I used to go with the display on the film was recorded at a Ross Lions' display back in 2007. The film has only been live for a day and already, I have had loads of good feedback from it. It is rare for people to comment, so this pleases me. And the comments have not only been arriving via 'Wyenot' - they have been arriving from the USA via Vimeo - where I host my HD films. Let's hope it does wonders for local tourism.

It's Carnival Day on Saturday! This is one of our busiest days of the year - the other falls the following week - Jamstand. The weather is not looking good but let's hope the rain holds off!!! Hope to see you there at one or the other or both!


22nd July 2009 - TO CLARIFY

Since running the blog below, we have been receiving email which makes me think that some have misread our intentions. We are not stopping the publication of local news entirely. We are just becoming much more selective about what news we publish and less tied to deadlines.

What we are cutting out are the advertisements for local businesses which are disguised as news items, shop (and other business) openings - whether they are officially opened by Joe Bloggs or The Queen, and the coverage of events which take place in venues which do not support us by advertising, thereby gaining them free publicity.

We will continue to cover events such as the Carnival, Jamstand, the Country Festival - anything which helps the community as a whole and not just individuals or their respective businesses, unless they support us in return. We give our financial supporters as much coverage as possible for their £90 PER YEAR advertisements or other sponsorship. (Which I am pretty confident is far better value and has a far better reach than any other form of local advertising available.)


21st July 2009 - WE HAVE MADE OUR DECISION ABOUT THE FUTURE

The original idea, when I started taking photos for and building 'Wyenot', back in May of the year 2000 was to promote Ross-on-Wye and the Wye Valley to the rest of the world. This was a success from the very beginning. 'Wyenot' was officially launched on 1st January 2001 and it immediately began attracting tourism to Ross - during the foot and mouth disease crisis. Despite a total lack of local support during the initial two years, the local promotion part of 'Wyenot' went from strength to strength and is still growing to this day, bringing thousands to visit the local area.

As well as being a huge success for Ross-on-Wye and the local area, the tourism part of 'Wyenot' is the only section which generates us any kind of income. The income earned for us from this is still small to this day. We cannot survive on that alone and this is why Tina has to work an average of 40 hours per week elsewhere. We actually find ourselves in a situation where we need Tina to be able to give up her job so that we can attract more income by way of advertisers but cannot afford to do this because we need the income from her job.

We have always covered news to a certain degree on 'Wyenot' - right from the very beginning. We have covered all major events in the town of Ross, such as the Carnival and Gala day since May 2000. In July 2004 however, I thought it might be a good idea to cover more local news and added the section 'Wyenot News'.

'Wyenot News' grew very quickly and has readers, and viewers of the video items, not only locally, but nationally and world-wide. Over the years it has built up a huge regular readership and people rely upon it. It has become one of those things which is 'there'. Many - especially the younger and older, recent computer convert generations, who have not seen it grow have no idea how it gets there. It has become just one of those things which appears for free when they switch their computer on.

To us however, 'Wyenot News' earns us no money whatsoever in its own right and has grown from something which was originally easily updated occasionally, to something which takes up absolutely every moment of our time, leaving little left to keep the tourism attracting part of 'Wyenot' going, hardly any time to sleep and certainly no time whatsoever to do anything for ourselves. To be perfectly honest. Just lately it has been making us both ill.

OUR DECISION ABOUT THE FUTURE: We will continue to publish some news, however.....

We are only going to cover events photographically or with video which help local communities as a whole, and events held by those businesses which support us financially by advertising.

We are not going to cover any more shop (or other business) openings. Hardly any shops in Ross support us and from experience, once covered, we never hear from the shop again.

We are going to completely abolish any deadlines - weekly or daily and publish as, if and when we have the time.

This will give us more time to get back to basics with the original and very successful tourism side of 'Wyenot' - the part which works for and attracts advertisers; covering places of local scenic and historic interest, local walks, activities and so forth - both photographically and with HD video.

The News Index Page will change (I have changed it) from being a 'NEWS' page and will become a page where visitors to 'Wyenot' can find both the latest news items we have covered and the latest updates / pages added to 'WYENOT.COM' as a whole.

WE WILL BE COVERING SOME NEWS - EVENTS WHICH HELP THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE, BUT WILL NOT BE PUTTING OURSELVES UNDER ANY MORE PRESSURE TO DO SO - NO MATTER HOW GOOD THE INDIVIDUAL CAUSE. OUR MAIN OBJECTIVE IS TO PROMOTE THE LOCAL AREA FOR ITS SCENIC AND HISTORIC VALUE AS A TOURISM DESTINATION. FROM NOW ON, WE WILL ONLY BE SUPPORTING THOSE LOCAL BUSINESSES BY WAY OF NEWS COVERAGE WHO SUPPORT US FINANCIALLY BY ADVERTISING - OR AT THE VERY LEAST, MAKE A DONATION TO COVER OUR EXPENSES WHEN WE SPEND HOURS AT AN EVENT TO GIVE IT PUBLICITY, FOR NO PERSONAL REWARD.

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