The Bald Explorer in 2014

My job, if you can call it that, with the Bald Explorer programmes, is to look back in history and follow a story from the past with the perspective of today. In other words, I am retracing the steps of people or things that have gone before us, whether they are the smugglers on the Romney Marshes or a Shropshire canal that has long since been abandoned. I also try to discover the historical highlights from small, perhaps lesser known, towns and villages in the British landscape.

The documentaries, which are broadcast on the Community Channel, a not-for-profit television station and freely available to most of the British population on various digital platforms, as well as on the internet website, Youtube, are completely self-funded. By that I mean, the production budget, such as it is, comes directly from my own pocket or the kind donations received from viewers and fans who appreciate the series. I am not, at time of writing anyway, in receipt of any payment for the programmes and they currently do not make any financial return.

Although these somewhat quirky, individual, and hopefully unique, programmes are not what could be strictly described as ‘expensive’ to produce (I visit places and present the material to camera), there are costs associated with each episode. Travel expenses, overnight stays, liability insurance, food and, occasionally, location fees can be listed as the necessary out-goings that I have to find. To date, I have been lucky, in that it has been possible to cajole friends, offspring or interested parties to give up their time for free and assist me with the making of the Bald Explorer episodes. The subjects covered and locations visited have, for the most part, been within easy reach of my home, or a friend’s home, and as a result, the programmes have been made possible to produce. However, as we move into the future, and with 2014 around the corner, I would like to broaden the scope and reach of the Bald Explorer documentaries. Travelling further afield and exploring places that are genuinely ‘new’ to me would, I am certain, add value, as well as, audience enjoyment, to the series. The problem is financing it all.

I have experimented with a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter, but the results, although optimistic, did not bring in enough pledges to make a series of several episodes in one go – the most cost-effective method of making television programmes. As a consequence, I am forced to continue making each episode one at a time and simply try to cover the basic expenses. Naturally, at this stage, I am more than happy to give up my free time to produce the episodes (they are very important to me) but, self-funding them as before, is no longer possible.

The question, therefore, is can the viewing public help and how can this be managed?

In an ideal world, it would be great to have a dedicated fund-raiser to take on the role of managing the fundraising process. I am not sure I can do this myself, for I know my limitations and although I maybe good at researching the shows, scripting the episodes, pre, shoot and post production processes, the marketing and money-finding is definitely not one my strengths. So, I would be curious to see if the readers of my website and enthusiastic fans of the show might like to help or could suggest ideas towards raising the necessary cash to make the future episodes of the Bald Explorer happen?

Before I leave you, as always, may I please draw your attention to the donations button on the top right hand side of the Bald Explorer website, where your generosity is much appreciated. Thank you.

Bald Explorer’s New Video Channel

Finally, and I do not know why it has taken so long, I have gathered all the Bald Explorer video strands together and placed them within their own channel on Youtube. This will enable fans to find all the programmes a lot more easier, and also they can discover additional video snippets too – like the teasers and interviews that I do.

Over the years I have taken out three Youtube accounts and not really taken advantage of the benefits. I have the main Richard Vobes account, the video production account, Vobavision and now the Bald Explorer one. Of course, Youtube themselves haven’t really helped too much as they keep changing the interface and how to use it. I think they have settled down on a format they like. From what I can see they wish to encourage ‘channels’ – themed or niche channels with content that is searchable and easier to organise.

I do like the ability to make your own playlists and have, in effect, mini channels within the main channel. I would rather have more control on branding the layout, I don’t like it terribly much, but then, I can embed the videos into my own website any way I want so I really shouldn’t moan. 🙂

I hope shortly, to record a regular Bald Explorer video blog – something I have tried before and not kept up. With so much going on, it is tricky to keep everything in shipshape and Bristol fashion, but it would be good for the site to have a regular video newsletter. Watch this space!

Anyway, www.Youtube.com/BaldExplorer is the new Youtube hub, so please do subscribe and you will receive all the updates as they come along. The new episode, Taking the Water – the story of a spa town is complete and will be available to watch soon as well as broadcast on the Community Channel. (www.CommunityChannel.org)

The Bald Explorer is a self-funded television series broadcast on the Community Channel and Youtube. If you enjoy what I make and would like to see more programmes, please help make it happen. Do, if you can, make a donation towards the cost of the production by using the donate button on the right hand site of the website. Every little helps to pay for the costs! Thank you.

Humphrey Kynaston – A Highwayman in his Cave!

The highwayman Humphrey Kynaston was a bit of a Robin Hood character – robbing the rich to give to the poor. But who was he and where did he live?

I am the Bald Explorer, from UK television’s Community Channel and I am on the trail of this notorious blackguard. He had a fortified manor house in the village of Myddle in Shropshire, but at the beginning of the 15th Century he was outlawed for murdering a man and was forced to live in a cave.

Follow the other explorations of Richard Vobes as he goes around Britain in search of its myths and legends, history and heritage. Travel the UK and visit some of the places in the films he makes.

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.

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.

Hopton Castle, Shropshire.

Hopton Castle in south Shropshire is a medieval tower house which thanks to the funding from the National Lottery the old ruins have greatly been preserved for future generations. The remains, a subject of the Channel Four TV programme Time Team is looked after by the Hopton Castle Preservation Trust.

Richard Vobes, aka The Bald Explorer meets up with local historian Tom Baker to learn about the story of the castle from his construction by Walter De Hopton to the dreadful and bloody siege during the English Civil War in 1644.

‘I have always been fascinated by medieval castles in England and Wales. We tend to think of these buildings always as being made from stone, but some of the early fortifications were in fact simply earth works and then later timber forts. After the motte and bailey castles were deemed to be easily destroyed with fire, bigger and more stronger defences were required. This is where the stone castle came into its own, although these were often attacked successfully by mining underneath the thick seemingly impenetrable walls.

Hopton Castle, although called as such is not really a castle in the true sense of the word. It is a tower house of square design. It wasn’t designed to withstand much of an assault, although put up a pretty good defence against the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. However, the siege that took place in 1644 ended up in tragedy with many deaths.

To find out more about Hopton Castle why visit the website at http://hoptoncastle.org.uk/