Highland Game

High in the mountains of Scotland - during the early winter months - the annual harvest of wild deer is under way.

It's a legal and mandatory cull which landowners must undertake as part of UK wide deer management strategy. This has evolved over many years to achieve and maintain healthy deer, other wildlife and plant species populations.

At the forefront of  food developments in the last 15 years, Scottish based Highland Game has tirelessly led the way and created a wide, healthy and nutritious range of venison products.

Over the coming weeks, we're documenting the journey of venison, from hill to plate .

In this short blog you can see the difficult the work of the Highland Deer stalker who has to go out in all weather conditions reach the deer.

Celebrate Yourself!

The name of this beautiful young woman escapes me now, although I did receive her permission to take this photograph at La Feria de Abril in Seville! It's an amazing week long celebration of flamenco music and dance.

Over 1000 brightly coloured 'casetas' - small marquees - are erected by local businesses, aristocratic families, and trade unions a short walk across the river from the city centre.

The impromptu tented village acts as a base where friends, colleagues and clients are entertained and partake of the famous Andalusian hospitality.

Andalucia

Originally the site of a cattle fair in 1847 it has evolved to become the most stylish and stunning equine event in the world, with over a million visitors flocking to the week long festivities.

I have been thinking about this event recently as I've been richly entertained and informed by a friend's compulsive blog from a cooler part of Europe some 2700 road miles to the north of Seville!

Returning Scots blog is a fascinating insight into Norse culture and captures the essence of what we humans are at root all about.

Adapting, living and celebrating!

So many of us get caught up simply trying to survive our daily routine we forget what it's all about!

Whatever you do, however you do it, don't forget to celebrate a little every day!

Now, wouldn't that make this world a happier place?

Donald Robert Bryce

I do not remember exactly when we turned off Donald’s life support. In the days, weeks and months that followed his death, time took on a different dimension. It seemed to matter little then, although I suspect it was nearing midnight, on Sunday 27th February 2000.

That ten years have passed seems unbelievable, that the pain has never truly diminished, does not.

Donald was our 21 year old son with the world at his feet! He had just passed his international ski instructor’s exams and decided to celebrate, by kayaking a Grade 5 Scottish river in full winter spate. How he capsized remains a mystery, but when he was swept into a massive whirlpool, a safety rope thrown by his friend, failed to come close to his grasp across the ferocious, thunderous cavern.

Many hours later in intensive care, with no brain activity present, the awful decision to remove Donald from all clinical support was made.

My Father always told me that being pre-deceased by a child was akin to a living death. That was his way of telling us country children, to take care around farm machinery, or up in the mountains, or fishing alone at night on the river.

Yet what he could not know - how could anyone - was the total heartbreak and utter emotional devastation which would be experienced with such loss.

It was only then, that I began to truly understand how anyone could die of a broken heart! The grief and pain were as physically palpable as was the sense of total abject hopelessness.

Then three years ago, like a bolt out of the blue, I received a call from friends in Midhurst, East Sussex, informing me of the tragic news, that Clare Milford Haven’s 21 year old son James, had committed suicide.

I knew Clare through the Cowdray polo circles and was absolutely shocked. It was not until a year later when I read Clare’s courageous article in the Times could I gain any understanding of what had happened.

Suddenly I realized that I’d embraced Donald’s death over the years in a manner in which I’d granted myself special permission to suggest my grief was more valid, or deeper than others.

It’s not that it was intended. It’s what unconsciously evolved. At it’s most basic I suppose it is what is referred to rather glibly these days as a coping mechanism. For me, it was simply survival.

So, when I read Clare’s harrowing account of the events surrounding James’s suicide, it lent some acute perspective to my situation.

Months after Donald’s death, his ashes were scattered on Schiehallionin, in northern Perthshire, without my knowledge. That it was the wrong mountain, made it somehow even more tragic. But, that’s another story!

That Donald died undertaking what he so enjoyed, does not lessen the pain, not at all.

If however it serves to underline how precious, and tenuous life truly is, then these words will have not been written in vain!

Song

Carpe Diem!

This is Paul Lupari and he is one of those unusual individuals who welcomes change! In fact, you could say, he has made a career out of it, and often puts himself in the spotlight to explain to his customers, how they can benefit from it too!

Recently he decided it was time to invigorate his market place and came up with the idea of creating an unusual campaign to help circulate more product amongst his clients.

He knew many of his consumers had been going through a lean time so he decided to put on a show, which is where we came in! Paul wanted actors to illustrate and underline his views with a sprinkling of thespian drama and humor to create emotional impact!

We were commissioned to write the screen plays and produce a film of the entire event.

You can see an uncut and unmixed clip ( no sound EQ ) below.

 

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It was a fun, and oversubscribed show with a serious message though!

Paul’s business is selling high quality NEFF Kitchen appliances. They’re at the upper end of the market and in these uncertain economic times not the easiest article to sell. What they do represent though is high value as well as great design and style. They are, some would argue, the iPhone of the kitchen world, and that’s the way to present them!

So, these days if you see an unusual business opportunity - like Paul - you need seize the moment and embrace it with all the passion and zeal of a cheetah lining up it’s next gazelle on the plains of the Serengeti!

And don't let go!

A new Apple initiative!

By any stretch of the imagination it’s one of those strategies which could go horribly wrong, or might just take off! But these days it’s all about calculated risk, and this is one of them!

Now, you might be forgiven for wondering what the iPhone and Mac giant is about to next launch on an unsuspecting world? After all, we’ve only recently been informed about iPad, which, I hasten to add, I’ve already ordered!!

Well the answer is nothing! At least not immediately, not that I’m aware of..........

You see, this particular Apple initiative, is an Irish organic food venture, centered in the picturesque hilltop village of Kilrea. It’s the brainchild of restaurant owner Barry Dallat who has just issued a national challenge to get everyone thinking about where their food comes from, and the real cost to the environment.

Perched above the River Bann, where 1200 years earlier marauding Norse Vikings once sailed upstream, his award winning restaurant Arbutus sits just off the square.

IMG_0145 Over the last year Barry’s struck up a trading relationship with Culmore Organic farm, less than a mile across the river, As a result Barry believes he has the lowest carbon footprint of any epicurean establishment in the country, and is offering a personally supervised, weekend cookery course with lunch, to anyone who can better his claim.

Organic beef, milk, cream, potatoes, eggs, honey and of course apples, are all sourced from the farm, and used in his extensive and succulent dishes.

Given the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Barry’s hoping he can be disproved.

It’s a very Irish approach to doing business and raising your profile!

Yet, at it’s heart is a genuine conviction to open dialogue across the country with fellow restaurateurs and clients to discover what others are doing and how he can improve his approach.

So, perhaps ultimately, the challenge is to all of us, to engage with the spirit of Barry's initiative, wherever we live!

What do you think?

Black Bear

This guy is called Balmachie Black Bear and he's just become the hottest piece of bovine real estate in the world! He's a two year old Angus bull who was sold this week for a UK record price of 75,000 guineas.

That's more that $130,000 and you're going to be hearing a lot more about him, wherever you live and whatever you do. That's because, he's a bull in a million who has stats and facts that make him not just a winner, but a superstar!

Cattle growers around the globe want his progeny!

We filmed him at the end of last summer for the renowned Angus breeders John Lascelles & his father John Snr. at their beautiful farm near Carnoustie, in Scotland.

The link to the fim was emailed to the USA where it was watched by husband and wife team Jackie and Kelly Grissom of 8G Angus near Dallas, Texas, who have leading herds of both Angus and Brangus (Brahman x Angus) and export bull genetics to Brazil and Venezuela.

After watching the film they decided he was the bull of their dreams.

He will be flown to his new home in America, after he visits the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh this summer.

What made this assignment special was not only the amazing civility and kindness extended to me and my film crew by John and his lovely wife Vivienne, it was also a return to my roots, as my late Great Uncle, Dave Bryce, of Formal (Farm) in Glen Isla was a near neighbour and close friend of Mr Lascelles Snr, in the early fifties and sixties.

Just before Christmas, I visited Balmachie to catch up on Bear's progress.

Vivienne directed me over to the bull shed where I also met John Jnr, who had just returned from school at the end of term, and was helping his father and Grandfather with the livestock.

Three generations of Lascelles, working together under one roof, in the great continuum of farming, cattle breeding, and life!

It made me smile! Hope you enjoy the film!

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Elegance

I cannot know why I took the photograph of these shoes. Perhaps it was the contrast between the elderly man in the background and their lit form?

Perhaps the reversal of perspectives? Perhaps it was their femininity and style?

Whatever it was, the image has been at the back of my mind since I shot it three years ago, and it’s been kind of stuck there, waiting to see the light of day.

Last week we were on the home stretch of a long edit, yet something didn’t feel right and it wasn’t coming together as I wanted! The end frames - where the credits appear - had to reflect the spirit and essence of the films, but I was thinking too hard about them, and it felt uncomfortable........

We had cut seven short natural history projects in ten days and I was beginning to loose my way! The creative sensibilities had become dulled and editorial auto pilot had kicked in.

When I explained to Paul - my VT editor - what I was trying to achieve I remembered the shoes, Suddenly the image which had lain dormant seemed apposite, and in a strange way, I knew it embodied what I was trying to articulate and achieve.

Elegance!

It’s a word, which apart from it’s often flagrant misuse, in the fashion industry these days, seems to have all but gone out of popular currency. And this is a great mystery, especially when you consider it’s conveys such a beautiful, and potent, understated message.

In deed, in action, in mind, in character, in grace, deportment, solution, and most of all, in being!

It’s as simple as that.

And now we’ve completed our credits. They’re not “normal” and they don’t follow any conventional rules, but everyone who has seen them likes them.

I hope you do too!

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Dan Buglass

I've just arrived at Glasgow airport en-route to a new, blue stone film, preview meeting in the city. Key sponsors of the film including Pfizer, Gruenthal and Napp - are going to be there, as well as NHS clinical consultants and other leading figures in the health sector.

It's an important day and to be honest these occasions are a bit like giving birth!

There's always a heightened sense of expectation and uncertainty as everyone wants to see how the new baby is going to look and sound!

However, for once, an event like this is tinged with some sadness.

Today is the funeral of Dan Buglass.

Dan was one of the first journalists to call me - many years ago - when I joined the BBC and extended an unconditional hand of friendship, and welcome.Picture 6

I will never forget his magnanimous gesture.

Although he did not know me well at that time, it did not matter to Dan. He knew that a new kid on the block needed friends in the business, and in the know, and that's exactly what he gave me with great bonhomie.

His sartorial flair was legend and he cut a dapper figure from city board meetings to country shows.

Today he would be called, a specialist correspondent, which is of course, exactly what he was.

But to Dan, his prodigious knowledge and reportage of UK and global agriculture, was simply a natural extension of his life and love of farming matters and of those who lived and worked on the land.

He was one of life's gentlemen and of that old school where decorum and grace was inherent.

What is never discussed but widely known and I feel is in no way disrespectful to his memory is he had a great liking for his “morning”. That this widely held Scottish tradition - until our more recent sober times - of a wee nip or dram early in the day, was a dying tradition, was a great mystery to Dan. He was someone who happily enjoyed his uisge bhea and made no apologies about it!

Despite being warned away by BBC exec's - because of his liking for the “cratur” - not to engage Dan, as a contributor to the many programmes I produced, I chose to ignore them.

He was punctilious to a degree, always added value to any story, providing insight, depth and analysis, and was the consummate professional who never once let anyone down.

That I cannot attend his funeral this afternoon is a mater of great regret to me.

To Dan, I owe my unending gratitude and respect, always.

I will miss him.

A REAL PAIN IN THE NECK - GLASGOW - DAY 1

So, when did you last experience a pain in the neck? PF Oh no, not the human kind! Hey, we all meet those from time to time, thats just life!

What I mean is that deep searing burning sensation, which spreads from your neck, then into your shoulders, and seems impossible to escape from?

Or the deep dull ache in your lower back which makes you wince at every move? NAPP

Can you imagine having to live with that every day of your life?

Well, thats a very small indication of chronic pain, which affects one 1 in 5 of the worlds population, causing misery and wrecking lives.

It's a serious and and debilitating condition which costs the UK economy, a staggering £18 billion a year (almost $30 billion) and 208 million lost days of work.

Over the last two years I've been liaising with Dr Peter Mackenzie, a dedicated and tireless consultant anaesthetist, at the Royal Victoria hospital in Glasgow. Pete has worked with a relentless zeal to source funding to produce an educational film about this debilitating condition. It's focus is to help junior anaesthetists communicate more effectively.

Earlier this year Dr Mackenzie was awarded an advisory role to Government for his work in chronic pain. His colleague at the Royal Victoria, Dr David Craig - lead psychologist in pain management - then effortlessly and efficiently continued as co-ordinator of the project.

Not only is it humbling to work in the company of such dedicated professionals, its also a very great privilege and rewarding experience to be associated with such a vital subject.

This morning we're in Glasgow with our film crew to begin shooting the film for the NHS which has been supported by Pfizer, Grunenthal and Napp.

Over the next five days - in pictures, film clips and words - you'll meet our team; the consultants, the patients, the actors and our crew, who are involved in the making of the film, and find out what you can do to help yourself or others who suffer from this exhausting and  emotionally draining condition.

Please share this with your friends, family or colleagues and help spread the word about managing an effective approach to chronic pain.

NHS GR

Chocks Away!!

It does your heart good,  doesn’t it? You know, that wonderful feeling when you meet professionals, who are not only great at what they do,  but simply full of enthusiasm and zest for their work, which leaves you with that warm happy feeling, just being in their company.

Early last week we filmed a short promotional film for our respected clients, Aker Solutions.

We arranged to record a short passenger arrivals sequence at Aberdeen International airport and our crew arrived duly prepped and fully briefed.

We were met by the vivacious and charming Sarah Campbell, who is not only an incredible ambassador for her company - Aberdeen Airport - but also a veritable human whirlwind. IMG_3484

No request was too much trouble, no effort too great to ensure our team got the shots they wanted, inside and outside the terminal.

Irrespective of what might happen during the rest of the day everyone agreed they’d been energized working with Sarah.

All to soon the gear was de-rigged, and our next location beckoned.

At Aker Solutions we were met with a large smile and the gentle presence of Lesley Yeats at their HR department. This was day two of the shoot and Lesley was well prepared for our film crew.

IMG_3265Despite all the accoutrements of lights, stands, cables, monitors camera, sound equipment and personnel, no request was to much bother that it could not be easily accommodated.

Before each sequence Lesley was always on hand gently encouraging and listening to young graduates who had volunteered to be interviewed

There was a quiet serenity to her presence which affected the crew every bit as positively as our morning meeting with Sarah.

It occurred to me that there was a grace and inner drive to both women, which was difficult to quantify, but nevertheless tangible, to all who came into contact with them.

That evening as I took a flight out of Edinburgh airport I remembered the old aviators phrase, “chocks away!” to enable their aircraft to roll down the runway and take to the skies.

And that was it!

The spirit, drive and total commitment of our early pioneering pilots - who took off in ramshackle old Tiger Moths - was alive and kicking in Sarah and Lesley, who saw no barriers, to making it happen.

Maybe, it’s time to unshackle the blocks from your business?

An Honest Hand

I don’t know about you, but I love hands! Dh118 Unlike a book - where the content often doesn’t live up to its cover -hands tend to tell an honest story.

Hand made, hand written, hands on, hands off, hands free, hand shake, a beautiful hand.

Oh yes, and even underhand! Of course, throughout history, hands have been manicured - literally and metaphorically - in an attempt to hide the scars and blemishes of life and what they actually purport to offer.

IMG_9063A couple of years ago an unfamiliar pair of design agency hands presented me with a relatively modest film contract.

Deep down I didn’t trust the finesse of these hands despite the promises and acceptance of terms and conditions of contract.

So I decided to ignore my intuition, which was - as it transpired - a big mistake!

We produced a remarkable series of films - on time and in budget - for our client - the designer.

His client - a major international oil and gas customer - was absolutely delighted with our films.

However, the designers’ hands were dishonest. Dh114

He refused to honour our contract.

Expensive litigation was pursued and inevitably a lot of money was lost.

Recently, honest, intelligent and sophisticated hands have come my way.

And that has made all the difference!