Saturday, 21 September 2013

Dunmow Jam 2013

Today I dropped in on Dunmow Jam. Organised by Essex locals this gathering was expected to be held at the outdoor skatepark set in a small park close to the town centre, but due to a light but persistent misty rain the jam was relocated to a well attended Urbside - an under-bridge DIY park on the fringe of the town. This was a fortunate turn of events. As we passed the park area we noticed it had been occupied by a travelling fair and was swarming with thrill seekers.
I am very lucky to know this pocket of skaters fairly local to me that are so enthusiastic about concrete construction. Helped by local authorities appearing to either ignore or approve of the project, it takes shape slowly. 
This park is small, but a growing, interesting place. Covered by the standard concrete motorway bridge with a large bank on one side and pillars on the other, surrounded by lush green with the added danger of a river. Many boards have been lost to it's depths.  
With every build, the quality improves and the large quarter pipe - a recent build which received massive input from skaters with building skills and equipment from all over the region, was the main focus of the session for the short period I was there.
One of the nice things about local events is that you get to see a lot of the skaters you meet at different parks and spots around the region when visiting, all in one place, and most of them know the spot a little. And if you look, you see the interactions between skaters from various areas which have also met on different occasions when visiting and the various crews that intermittently settle on the edges of the park. 
There is usually an 'MC' with a megaphone getting the skaters hyped or more likely taking the piss. And sometimes a friend surprises you or you get your first good picture of a friend.

--I've included both colour and black and white copies of these photos. I would appreciate any comments you may have about the tweaks. Thanks.--

Mikey Joyce, No Comply F/S Crail Revert

Nick Remon, B/S Feeble F/S 270 (?)

Mark Munson, Invert
Mark Munson, F/S 360

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Barcelona September 2013

So, I haven't posted for a while, let me explain with what has turned out to be an epic post...

Earlier this year my good friends at Milk Skateboards were invited to the DC Embassy - a private skate park in Barcelona, Spain operated by the foot wear giant DC Shoe Co.

On Monday 9th September at 4am, a group of six skaters - Sam Hayter, Harley Miller, Jordan Thackery, Charlie Munro, Luke Petty, Nathen Farrow and myself met at London Gatwick airport.
Due to date/cost issues we were forced fly from Gatwick rather than the much closer Stansted and the day before, I admit I was unsure that we would all make it to the airport! After some good bargaining (and a bit of luck) we were checked in and sitting airside with a pint by 5am.
Knowing that Dan Shervington - trip organiser & Fuller weren't arriving in Barcelona until Tuesday due to other work commitments, I felt it was my responsibility to get everyone to the DC Embassy on time on Tuesday afternoon to meet Dan & Fuller and everything up till then. With skaters.... not something to take lightly.

On arrival at Barcelona Airport I relied on Sam - who has lived in the city in the past to get us on the right bus to our home for the next five days - the Kabul Backpacker Youth Hostel and thankfully he didn't let us down.
I've never stayed in a backpacking hostel before, and although I'm no stranger to rough sleeping this was going to be a new experience for me and I have to say, as we climbed the stairs to the reception desk, I began to get a little nervous.
Once keys were arranged for each of us and a surprise security deposit of €90 paid, we moved into our already occupied rooms (one of us, Nathen was booked into a separate dorm which turned out to be full of Brazilian lads).
In our room, a couple of German fellas who stayed two further nights and a guy from San Francisco who was gone when we awoke on Tuesday morning. All the German guys seemed to do was sleep. They were there when we left in the morning and there when we arrived back each night. 

Dumping all non-essential items in our lockers, we headed out to search out some spots. In Barcelona, this is not difficult.

Sam, Charlie and Luke have all skated Barca before, so they took us to MACBA, a renowned spot and meeting point outside the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art a five minute skate away.

Charlie,  a very long nose manual drop off

Harley playing with footplants
The 3 set at the back of the museum gave us a quiet place to warm up, we also met a large group of drunks and a very elderly lady with 2 tiny dogs.

Jordan,  crail 

Harley, Backside ollie
 Feeling very hungry as we'd not eaten since 10pm the previous night (it was now mid-afternoon), Sam recommended a kebab shop around the corner, and so, we ate.
This was to set the tone of most feeding times over the next 5 days varying only in the direction of bad pizza a couple of times. Not ideal, but cheap and filling!

We moved on following Sam to the next spot.
Just around the corner was a large double stair set at the end of a terraced garden dropping down a six foot wall to a road. 
Nathan - recently added Milk Skateboards flow rider wanted to ollie from the top of the steps, over a high hand rail into the road. Three attempts and it was all done. By the time he got it, quite a crowd of onlookers had gathered.
Unfortunately, on the final attempt, although he rolled away, Nathan popped his ankle. This put Nathan on the bench for the rest of the trip. Nobody wanted to see him hurt, especially with what was to follow over the next 3 days and I know he was pissed about not skating further.

Nathen, Ollie
With Nate down and finding walking a challenge, we opted to rest in the gardens at the top of the stairs.
It was covered in dog shit and smelt of piss. This in my experience is the general scent around a lot of the city, not pleasant at all at times.
Harley & Jordan played on a long ledge down some steps and Harley rolled away from a nice ollie up to long manual.
Harley, Ollie up to manual
 After this short break we headed down to the port area to a ledge to gap spot.
We skated through the streets looking out for police as we had been told they like to confiscate boards and ticket people skating on the street. An uneventful journey saw us to the spot. I promptly fell asleep on a bench.
Once everyone was skated out, they woke me up to make our way back to our hostel.
On arrival, Sam, Harley, Charlie and I decided to shower and have a drink before finding food in the courtyard below our room surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes. The remaining guys opted to return to MACBA for street beers and chills.

A waiter seated the four of us at a table in the corner of the courtyard and took our drinks order.
When our order arrived, we realised that large beer meant large beer. A litre each. Awesome.

After two large beers some shots and an €80 bar bill, the conversation turned to our imminent three day filming stint at the DC Embassy, spots we wanted to skate around the city and ended up getting deep.
With the party mood now enveloping all of us, the others decided to get proper sorted so they acquired something that resembled a good time from a fella in the hostel bar upstairs.
I hung around in the courtyard, people watching. I also met some pleasant people staying at the Kabul and chatted to people for an hour or so. People of interest include a friend of the Kabul security guard who was a camera man for an Algerian news channel, an American girl with a Russian friend and a German guy obsessed with a video of Ken Block drifting a Ford Fiesta around New York & San Francisco cities. He would be quite jealous of the photo later in this post.
At one point, Harley appeared with a pint and with a "there ya go mate!" thrust it into my hand, grinned and ran back upstairs.
As I had finished my beer I made my way back to our room on the 4th floor.
I later found out that the party was not what it seemed and after laughing at the others for a bit I left to find food and returned to sleep in the early dawn.

Waking at around 7 with a banging headache I showered to avoid the rush (this, I found was a good trend to set), and returned to bed with water and painkillers. I slept for an hour and awoke fully functional, which was not how last night's party pros were feeling!
Once all the crew had assembled in the courtyard, we made our way to one of the industrial areas outside the city. After some wrong turns on the Metro we got within skating distance of the park.
Stopping only to buy fruit, snacks and drinks for the day ahead, we walked on with tensions rising, to the DC Embassy.

As we arrived, Dan & Fuller were relaxing in the shade of the unassuming formed concrete warehouse within which the skatepark is contained. The greetings between everyone seemed elated yet slightly apprehensive. 
We entered the park via a full height hallway with a huge steel staircase and a gigantic DC Shoes Logo covering the entire wall.
Not too intimidating 
Immediately, the mood changed and everyone got down to business. And once Winkle put some tunes on, things started to take shape.
-I did not take any photos of tricks in the Embassy as flashes would spoil the video edit and I would have to declare anything to DC Shoes. Also, park photos aren't very interesting.-

Over the next three days the crew set down some great lines and bangers in around the park, and played a game of honour around the park - a filmed knockout competition where three skaters take it in turns to perform a trick on a pre-agreed obstacle within the park the two challengers have to repeat the trick or receive a strike. 3 and out. this would make up part of the video edit that Winkle - DC's filmer at the Embassy would produce with all the other footage shot over the three days.

We left the Embassy after a good session looking for spots, food and beer.

Sam led us to yet another spot. This time a banked hip.
We ate pizza and drank beer and went home. Sleep came in the early hours only to be awoken by a naked drunk girl throwing up on our boards and Sam's shoe. She didn't clean it up. 

Charlie, 360 shuv while the crew look on

Jordan, tail drop from the rail into the bank
The next two days brought more afternoon filming at the Embassy and evening skates around the city.
On Thursday afternoon, after the final filming session in which Jordan near killed himself attempting a frontside 360 down the big stair set, we gathered around Winkle's desktop to watch a rough edit. I got a ten minutes to look around the showroom while Winkle worked his magic.

Winkle doing his thing


On Thursday evening, having seen Dan & Fuller off back to the airport, the remaining crew took the metro to Parallel and seafront spot the Forum. Some night shots of a barely standing Jordan at the brick banks were taken. He really took a beating that day but just kept going!
On our way back to the hostel in the early hours, we met up with an old friend of mine - Wolfie. Once a Bury St. Edmunds resident but now living in Edinburgh back on home turf with his wife and young daughter.
It was great to see him and hear his outstanding news. We chatted at the side of the road for about an hour as the crew skated a small concrete park. 

Jordan, Backside nose blunt

Nate shedding a little light on the subject
We skated on along the smoothly paved sea front stopping at a 2 foot deep DIY bowl for a while and skated back through the city to our beds.

On Friday - our final day we decided to return to the Forum spots for a few hours before returning to the airport.
Very little skating was done, not really a surprise considering the late nights and constant skating!
We collected our bags and caught the bus to the airport.

Another good trip with the Milk Skateboards crew and a one off chance to skate the DC Embassy.
Next stop Australia?