Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Urbside in Winter - A Dry(ish) Session In The Rain

These past few years our little island has seen some fairly punishing weather over the winter period. And if you know anything about this country you'll know that it only takes a few flakes of snow or a unusually strong gust to set the countries transport authorities to tell us via TV & radio news to "...stay indoors..." or "...only make a journey if it is absolutely necessary...".
This must be the funniest thing to a visitor to our shores in winter. Geographically, we're barely a stones throw from some of Europe's best ski slopes yet we always see snow as a deadly foe with a vicious back hand ready to swipe as soon as our guard is down.
This year has begun not with the drifts and white windscreens of past years, instead we have, for the past few months experienced strong winds of which many have commented were "worse than the great storm of '87" (if you feel you have to, look it up. We had hurricane force winds across the south east that blew an estimated 15 million trees over. 18 people lost their lives in one night. One national weather man, Michael Fish completely dismissed any chance of extreme weather on the evening of the storm and after a night of chaos this unfortunate BBC Meteorologist became the victim of a media witch hunt which practically ended his TV forecasting career), widespread flooding and unusually high tides rolling over our shores.
In a skateboarder's terms, this time of year, given the funds and availability of venues results in an increased number of visits to indoor skate parks. We in the south east of the England have a small number of these establishments dotted around the region. Although one or two are gems, in the most part they are generic driveway, ledge, flatbar, flat bank setups with a small mini, if you are extremely fortunate.
In short, winter in this Great Britain is depressing. Whether wet or frozen, the thought of visiting that scooter packed indoor park again is a grim one and any chance of an outdoor session is gleefully grasped with both hands!
There is however, one place that bucks the wet in winter trend as just an hours drive from my door is a small, clean, under-bridge DIY setup called Urbside under the A120 near Dunmow, Essex. It's not Washington Street, but it has begun to take shape with transition sections at both ends and obsticles of various designs built on the large flat bank, on the flat and up most of the supporting concrete posts.
You will see photos from last year's big build day in an earlier post.
Given that this was likely to be the only dry spot within driving distance (and also the fact that none of the guys, including me are very impressed by the never changing interior and lack of scene support by the owner of the park on the coast that others in the Milk Skateboards crew were visiting), we opted for Urb.
I feel I should tell you that this plan was hatched between Sam, Harley & myself before heading into town for "a couple of drinks" on Saturday night. As we chatted our way to the  the Maison's Arms we made comment on what we were planning for tomorrow and by the time we reached the bottom of our pint glasses we'd got a plan!
These plans were quickly scuppered when we met some friends at the next bar. None of us remember getting home. Events from the previous night began filtering through as the day went on and it became clear that none of us were home much before 4am. 
Photo credit: Gabbi

Rather pleased that I'd dodged the worst of what could have been a bitching hangover, I woke Sam and prepared for the hours drive by visiting Krazy Horse for breakfast.
Not able to contact Harley until nearly 1pm, we finally got the car loaded and set off.
It was at the point of arrival that we realised that we'd forgotten one of the Urbside Winter Essentials - spare shoes. And to be quite honest, we weren't going to be satisfactorily protected against the mud on this occasion without waders!
As I said, the park is clean & kept so by anyone who skates there, but unfortunately the dirt track from the nearest road to the park is not the driest place in winter, what with a swollen River Chelmer passing under the bridge, feet away from the park. So a quick stop at a supermarket to blag some carrier bags and off we staggered through the mud. Biodegradable plastic bags are probably fit for purpose, but not designed to keep mud off shoes and so, my Vans are ruined.
A group of locals had exactly the same ideas as us and after the usual greetings I watched Harry filming a trick and spotted a good shot.
Harry Wilson - f/s over-crook along and up
By this time and after a little medication, Sam had woken up a bit and was trying a few bits which turned into the next two shots. 

Sam Hayter - wall ride nollie pop out

Sam Hayter - wallie b/s tail slide
By now the light was fading and skating the centre of the park became impossible, so moving to the dry end and surviving a barrage of flashes following an unannounced sequence shot (sorry mate!), Harley came through with a cheeky one on one of the 1/4 pipes.  
I've posted both a black & white and a colour version as I'm not sure which I prefer.

Harley Miller - f/s no comply disaster

#skateboarding #urbside #essex #uk #photography #outdoors #diy #skate #skating 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Milton Keynes Sequences - Jasper Pegg

Here is the second of two sequences shot at the Bussy. This one is of Jasper... minus his right hand for a couple of frames.

Jasper Pegg - nollie f/s lip nose grind revert

#milkskateboards #fortyounce #smashskates #skateboarding #gif #sequence #miltonkeynes #uk #photography 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Milton Keynes Sequences - Harley Miller

The first of two sequences for you. Both shot at the Bussy. This one is of Harley.
These are the result of my first venture into sequence shots using flashes. I'm quite pleased with the result.

Harley Miller - b/s board to lip  slide

#skateboarding #hardcorehobbies #milkskateboards #dickies #voxfootwear #miltonkeynes #photography #uk

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Milk Skateboards in Milton Keynes

Back to the usual longer post, and this time it features the Milk Skateboards crew on a day trip to Milton Keynes for some street skating in the cold, and what turned out to be the rain. In attendance were Dan, Fuller, Justin - fresh from NZ travels, Jasper, Charlie, Harley, Radman, Diss, Luke and Matt - fresh from The States.  
Arriving at The Bus Station, a small covered area with lots of ledges and manual pads the crew set to play and it soon became apparent that everything was very slippery. Not just slippy to skate on but glass like under foot. I don't know how anyone managed to stay upright all day, it was lethal!
The first shot I bagged ended up as one of my best of the day on an upturned paving slab. I'm glad Mark asked me to look at it, it worked really well. The second is a very colourful one, and of an easily recognisable and well known UK spot. 

Mark Radman - b/s lip
Justin Rawnsley - half cab b/s crook
Although I have skated in MK before I've never visited the Bussy, mainly because I don't tend to skate street these days and I only know of one transition in the entire city! 
Harley & Jasper had headed out from the main group to find a spot they knew and after these shots were taken we followed in the cars. 
Pulling into the car park, I was surprised to see what I thought was an overhanging roof which seemed to protect the entire spot - a large flat area at the entrance to offices with a selection of composite blocks spattered across the front of the building. I was greatly disappointed to find as I approached on foot  what was in fact just a decorative arrangement of metal strips which did nothing in the way of protecting the area below. Worse still, ground maintenance had found it necessary to cover all visible paving with corse salt. I swear it wasn't that cold.
Jasper and I had chatted about a long shot with good composition and this place looked perfect. I set up and walked across the road and into the next car park. Both the floor and block Jasper was skating were wet. Not just a few spots, but black footprints on grip tape wet. Not a simple session!
As I hurried back to show Jasper the shot, we were ejected by two very quiet security guards but to be honest, it was too wet to skate anyway. *blows raspberry*
Jasper Pegg - wallie b/s lip
Just a block or two away, Radman led us to a tight set of steps, high walls on both sides and barely 6 foot wide. Not the easiest place to skate or photograph for that matter.
2 snapped boards and this shot resulted.
Alex Diss - bonus
Harley and Luke shot back to the previous spot to get a line on film and came away with the goods as the same pair of guards entered the fray. We again left the area as they radioed for backup, returning to the bus station to get some sequences in the dark. These will hopefully be the content of my next post.

On a different note, this week saw the start of a skatepark build in my home town, Bury St. Edmunds. 
I've lived in BSE for about 13 years now and since my first visit to the rider owned Hardcore Hobbies, I've been astounded by the level of commitment and enthusiasm shown by the local skate & BMX community. Headed by shop owner Jay Mills and initially Dom Tinkler before moving to the mountains, the scene was given a leg up with a complex of wooden mini ramps at Olding Road in 2000, which was later extended with a street coarse and a BMX pump track. Although the park was maintained by the local authorities, by 2012 this very well used park was heavily rotting from the frames outwards and was in need of serious structural work if the ramps were to survive another year. 
With the council's support, a plan was hatched to replace wood with concrete. Extensive meetings and fund raising led to what is to hopefully become my favourite skate park.
The old wood was removed and the site cleared just before Christmas in preparation for the new park.
I plan to start a new blog to cover this build over the coming months to update you with the latest and expect to see more shots from the park here once it opens.  

#skateboarding #photography #milkskateboards #miltonkeynes #uk #hys

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Happy Halloween!

This is a very short post as there is only one photo to show you.
It was taken at the Empire Skatepark Halloween Jam back in November of last year. I wasn't able to post this shot until now, but I've just heard I can so here it is... a little out of context.
Blackwell came to the jam dressed as Brandon Lee off of The Crow and after a very busy night of hammers, I had to get one of him in the air!
Cerven is in the mask and Jordan is barely made up in the background. He'd been trying a flip out of a smith on a sub box for ages and his face paint had run all over his face.
Lee Blackwell - method
I documented the rest of the night in my earlier post, Empire Skatepark Halloween Jam, go take a look if you want.

Empire Skatepark, Colchester, Essex, UK. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Ipswich Skate Missions

Having a week off from the daily grind gave me time to do a number of things. Visit my parents for a lovely Christmas day, re-decorate my spare bedroom which now doubles as a work room and another four walls to cover in boards. 
I also had the pleasure of visiting the Suffolk town of Ipswich with the Milk Skateboards crew...twice.
These photos were taken on a trip with Dan, Fuller, Harley Miller and Jasper Pegg. Charlie Munro, Nathen Farrow, Sam Hayter, Reece Bartlett, Aaron Clapham and Luke Petty joined us on for the second trip.
The first excursion consisted of a scouting visit to a school yard in Claydon and a session at the locally renowned Crown Pools.
The brick laid spot at the entrance to this public swimming pool was originally made up of a couple of accessible sets of steps, a wide five foot high ledge and a flat bank alongside a sloped footpath, topped with a handrail. A set of rails blocking the line for the larger steps and a five foot wall set across the bottom of the flat bank were added a few years back to discourage likeminded individuals. The spot continues to be skated regardless.
The brick bank is a slippery fella with a lip resembling broken teeth. This mixed with the brick wall at the end, narrow, fast exit and passing shoppers makes for an interesting session.  

Harley Miller - no comply b/s blunt slide (atm?)
Jasper Pegg - switch f/s blunt slide 
Jasper Pegg - switch f/s tail slide
The second trip again started with what was meant to be a quick look at the school yard spot, but with the whole crew in attendance we ended up staying for a couple of hours. 
Charlie, Aaron, Reece and Dan started attacking the bank to rail with an early cracker from Charlie although the one he wanted got away this time. The spot is a pig to skate, therefore some of the following shots are of attempts on the first visit. I don't care about this as the compositions are some of my favourites and I've told you now. We plan to return and conquer. 
Charlie - nose stall fakie (make!)
Dan Shervington - nose stall revert (make!)

Charlie - nose stall biggy (atm)

Luke Petty - the camera guy squint
On to Ipswich, and a quick look at the Worsley Theatre before heading down to a very compact spot on a major junction just down the road from the football stadium (Portman Road). 
The traffic was extremely heavy and the line out from one block ran into a slip road used sporadically by motorists as a cut-through to avoid some of the lights and visit the chippy.   
I had decided earlier that morning to try some long shots and Jasper provided the subject on this occasion. After a couple of close shaves with a flash gun and cars, this one was bagged. Available in both black & white and colour format.
Jasper Pegg - wallie board slide

And back to the Worsley Theatre for another look at the well skated steps out front.
This is a long set and a challenging skate. Charlie played with switch ollies for a bit. I took the shot from the wrong side. I reckon he's got more in him. I'll get in the right place.
Charlie Munro - switch ollie