Lewes Boot Scrapers

Have you ever spotted those weird little metal things sunken into the walls of Georgian houses and wondered what they are? They look like miniature fire-places, don’t they? In the days before the motor car and when travel was really only possible either on your own two feet or by those of a horse, the state of the walkways was dreadful. The roads were barely paved and where they were, dirt, mud and other animal waste collected in sloppy piles. Consequently, one’s foot attire became encrusted with plenty of unwanted crap. The last thing any respectable gentleman, or gentle woman for that matter, wanted to do was to bring this putrid soil into their expensive households or spread the filth on their exotic carpets. Behold, the boot-scraper; a cunning little wrought iron device adorning the exterior of the house, at ground level and close to the front door – the perfect gadget to remove this unwanted muck.

In another of the mini-series episodes on my new Youtube channel, I am in the rural county town of Lewes, in East Sussex, on the search for a boot-scraper and another oddities from our heritage. It is amazing t see what is still out there,  left alone and for all to discover if we open out eyes. Originally, the footage appeared in the full length documentary about the town and shown on the Community Channel, but knowing that not everyone has time to watch these long format videos, I have pulled out interesting moments and repackaging them into shorter films. I do hope you will like them. There is unseen footage too – so you get a bonus as well.

Do go and check out the channel, if you have time and please, don’t forget to subscribe. Many thanks.

Is Paid for Subscription dead?

Subscription iconBe prepared, this article contains nostalgia!  In the old days, I subscribed to many things, The Beano, Movie Maker magazine, fan clubs and so on. It was a thrilled each month to receive something through the post, almost unexpected and addressed exclusively to me. When the Internet arrived, you could do the same online and there was still a tingle of excitement when an email arrived to announce the latest newsletter or some other content was waiting for you to download.

Of course, that still goes on, but originally this service was paid for up front, not a free subscription.

Now, I am curious;  it seems to be the law that everything on the Internet, and most especially video content, has to be free. I am not including recent feature films and hot off the press television series here, although if you know where to look, even they are available without paying. Totally illegal, I hasten to add.

The reason I ask is that I am attempting to find a financial method to pay for the continuation of the Bald Explorer series. As you may be aware, I have a Kickstarter fund-raiser currently on the go to try to bring in enough money to make another episode. Whether it succeeds or not in achieving this, that will only give the Bald Explorer fan base with one more  programme.  Britain is full of exciting places to go to, amazing stories to tell and lives to discover.  Is there another way to fund the series?

I am curious what my audience think. Would a paid for subscription, in principle, be doable or is the very concept these days objectionable. Would a monthly delivered ten minute mini programme be of interest, available to download privately, and yours to keep for ever warrant a fee of,  say £10 a year? And would anyone subscribe?

If you have any thoughts, please do comment below. Thank you very much.

NB: If you look down in the comments below, Ross suggests a pre-ordered DVD might be a sensible way to fund an episode. I am curious, would viewers be interested in that mechanism?  An episode would be approximately 45 minutes in length, with behind the scenes footage and outtakes. And what price would you expect to pay? Thanks.

talk

At the beginning of 2011, I started to formulate ideas for a documentary series in which I explore the history, places and legends of the British nation. By the Autumn of 2012, I had a number of full length episodes produced and had been approached by the Community Channel to have them broadcast.

The series is set to grow and with luck transfer to other channels.

But why television and why go to the trouble and expense of funding these programmes on a shoestring budget in the first place? My story is an odd one.

I started as a teenager making 8mm home movies, went to mime school in London, walked on glass and ate fire for a living. I also wrote and starred in a children’s slapstick television series and acted as a bit part player in many of TV classic’s, including London’s Burning, Waiting for God, The Bill and Poirot, to name but a few. I have a few stories to tell there!

Unfortunately, in my mid 40s, I lost an eye and had a number of operations from 2006 onwards so turned to the corporate world of video production – I guessed, if I was no good in front of the lens, I could at least pay the mortgage by working behind the camera.

The corporate world is not a world I fully understand, or enjoy, so to combat that, I started to record audio podcasts – I even won an award for it for the best ‘Sound Seeing Tours’!

But heritage and history has been in my blood, only I didn’t know it. When I realised this, I wanted to learn more about our fabulous nation and make films about it.

My talk is fun, witty and entertaining. I come self contained, with a PA if necessary and do not need any hi-tech assistance.

Find out more here: Talks Website

The Bald Explorer Kickstarter Project Video Update

Richard Vobes, aka, The Bald Explorer is running a project on the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.com. The idea is to raise enough money to make a television programme about Britain’s hidden heritage. The series is already showing on the not-for-profit UK TV station, Community Channel.

In this video update, Richard informs his backers about the influences that gave him the idea for the programme and the appeal of visiting Britain’s unknown towns.

Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, is one such town that interests the Bald Explorer. There is the high town and low town, the River Severn, the castle, the market hall and the funicular. The heritage line, the Severn Valley Railway has one of its stations at Bridgnorth.

Crowdfunding is a way that supports can pool their contributions together to get projects funded. Even pledging a small amount can help.

Kickstarter Has Launched!

kickstarterDo you love British heritage? A TV documentary series that explores this nation’s greatest secrets.

The Kickstarter project had launched. The aim is to raise money for a new episode, which shall be broadcast on the Community Channel TV station and on Youtube.

Kickstarter Project

I am Richard Vobes, the Bald Explorer, and for the past three years I have been self-funding a series of films exploring Britain’s wonderful heritage. Community Channel, a not-for-profit digital TV station, has been broadcasting these programmes on their network which have now been enjoyed by thousands of viewers.

Following this success, it seems I now have an audience who would like some more. However, being a charity funded organisation Community Channel cannot commission me, and I do not have the funds to make these programmes myself anymore.

Log on to the Kickstarter website and find out more. There you can pledge money and explore our rewards for your support and backing.  Kickstarter Project

Rather than trying to fund the whole series in one go, we just want to raise enough money to make the first episode. If successful, it will be broadcast in the New Year on Community Channel and repeated many times thereafter – and your name could be on the credits!

And, of course, all of our Kickstarter producers will have advanced downloads of the episode the minute it pops out of the edit room!

The First Episode – Bridgnorth, Shropshire
The reason we have chosen Bridgnorth is simple; it is one of Britain’s gems. Tucked away in the Midlands, it is found next to Ironbridge; birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It lies on the River Severn, above Worchester and below Shrewsbury, and is at one end of the Severn Valley Railway – which still offers a fantastic heritage steam service. There is more to it than that, of course. It has a unique funicular; a Victorian Cliff Railway, the steepest in Britain; a church designed by the great civil engineer Thomas Telford; a castle keep, which is currently tilting at a greater angle than the leaning tower of Pisa; cave dwellings, once the home of the poor; a hermitage; and was also the scene of dramatic skirmishes during the English Civil War.

Thanks very much for helping making this happen. Kickstarter Project

The Battlefields Trust

As part of my Bald Explorer episode about our crumbling churches I have been working with Julian Humphrys from the Battlefield Trust. The reason was to explore a rather nasty clash between the Roundheads and Cavilers during the English Civil War (1642–1651) at a church in Alton in Hampshire. I further wanted to find out more information about the Trust and their work so I popped over to see him at his house in Surrey and filmed a short interview.

Julian suggests that nearly everyone in the UK lives within half an hour’s drive of a battlefield. Some, like Hastings, Bosworth and Culloden, are familiar to most of us. Others are relatively unknown. Yet the battles fought on them all played their part in shaping the way that we live today. How much do we know about these important fields where dreadful battles were fought, arguments were settle and Kingdoms were won and lost.

More information about the trust and how to join can be found on their website: The Battlefields Trust