Almost finished with the Smugglers

It’s almost at the end. At least the filming process is and it has taken a while to complete. I aim to get one more shooting day in and then the final compiling together of all the strands. I have loved filming in this particular part of Britain, on the border between East Sussex and Kent, down on the south coast and running about the Romney Marshes. It is another world, unique and of it’s own. Also we have been very lucky with the weather on the days we have been filming, although we have had a range different conditions and temperatures, including mist, sunshine and frost. It has been a most unusual winter.

Fairfield Church, one of the backdrops to the filming on the Romney Marshes

One of my favourite locations was at the deserted church at Fairfield, near Brooklands on the Romney Marshes. Originally a village, now gone leaving this renovated and completely isolated church amongst the drainage ditches with little bridges crossing beside it. Although away from the maddening crowd, (isn’t everything on the Romney Marshes?), amazingly there are still services held at this remarkable church.

On your bike Mr. Explorer

Another new aspect of this episode of the Bald Explorer was the introduction of the bicycle. Of course being so flat this expanse of Kent was perfect for zipping along under peddle power. From the power station and lighthouses at Dungeness to the road adjacent to the Royal Military Canal or encircling the Martello Towers or even along the Dymchurch barrier, the bicycle has been a marvelous device for getting the Bald explorer about.

Exploring Rye was a dream. The little town that is locked in time with its Landgate, Ypres Tower and Mermaid Inn. There was so much more to see and discover but as usual there wasn’t enough time in the one episode to fit it all in. I will definitely have to come back and shoot another programme there.

The old defensive fort which goes under many names from Ypres Tower to the Rye Museum.

With luck, one final day on location shooting should finish off this part of the production and then with all the computer graphics, maps and photographs all designed and produced we should be almost there to release the third adventure on the Bald Explorer to the waiting public. I do hope people will like it and forgive any errors made along the way.

Meeting Dr. Who in Rye on Location

It was a glorious day when Jimmy Hastell and myself headed off on what should have been a cold January morning, but the 2012 weather has so far been mild, much to everyone’s surprise and no one could have asked for more than we two budding film makers.

Its great to be back at helm of the Bald Explorer project and the first day’s shoot of this new year went like a dream. We were down on the boarder with Kent and East Sussex in the fabulous ancient town of Rye. Ancient not only by age, but by definition from its original official charter which lists it as part of the Confederation of Cinque Ports and Two Ancient Towns. So Jimmy and I were quite prepared to be humbled.

Actor Tom Baker takes time to chat with Richard Jimmy during shooting in Rye, east Sussex.

After shooting sequences down by the harbour on the River Rother we marched up the steep slope to the infamous Landgate, a flint arched tower that at one time formed the only entrance to the walled town. It was here that we stumbled across the old Time Lord, Tom Baker who was out doing a spot of shopping. He was certainly intrigued with what we were up to and the camera we were shooting with. I don’t recalled the legendary Dr. Who of my school days being a keen photographer, but the distinctive actor turns out to be a budding amateur.

Having engaged in a splendid chat for some 15 minutes discussing a multitude of topics from fiction to girlfriends we parted our ways and Tom whizzed off to a blue box on the other side of the Landgate. I am sure it was blue, but when I went to check it had completely vanished.

Filming often presents itself with unusual encounters, but this was a rather fabulous one to be treasured. Thanks Tom for taking the time to chat to us today.

Video: Sneaky Peek at Ep Three

Richard Vobes is on the trail of Smugglers of the 18th and 19th Century. Episode three of the Bald Explorer series is not yet finished. There is plenty more to film, interviews to shoot and editing to start, but here is a sneaky preview to give you a flavour of what is in store. I hope you will enjoy it and watch out for news of the final release, hopefully in January 2012.

Paul Baxter talks about the Oak and Ivy

Paul Baxter, landlord, talks about the smuggling past of the Oak and Ivy public house in Hawkhurst, Kent. It was once the headquarters of the notorious Hawkhurst Gang who operated in the mid 18th Century. They were the largest and most certainly most violent of the smuggling gangs from that time.

These days the Oak and Ivy offers great English food and a large selection of the best beers from around England. Situated in the rural countryside of Hawkhurst, Kent the Oak & Ivy sits in one of the great English garden landscapes. Check out the website at

Video: The Smugglers Headquarters

Richard Vobes is the Bald Explorer and in this short clip he visits the Oak and Ivy pub in Hawkhurst in Kent.Back in the 1740’s it was the den of the notorious Hawkhurst Gang, a large and violent bunch of smugglers who arranged and oversaw the illicit bringing in of contraband on the Romney Marshes and the transportation of the luxury goods to London.

You crossed the gang at your peril as they were known for murder and brutality among other things.

The pub is now a family friendly venue with some great beer, super food and a very friendly landlord. Check it out at