Last Thursday I made my way down to Salisbury to take part in the Hansel of Film, a project organised by the Shetland Film Festival (Screenplay) that saw a relay of short films heading down the country from Shetland to Southampton and back. From each venue the films were taken by ‘runners’ to the next venue. I was one of the runners. The only one actually running.
So, anyway, a 5 or so hour train journey down to Salisbury during which I managed to make more mess eating a scone than anyone has, ever. I arrived and it was pissing it down. Unfortunate. I had decided to travel light due to the fact that I’d have to carry everything, on my back, for the 35 or so miles I’d be running between Salisbury and Southampton, this meant that I didn’t have a coat, which meant I got wet. Really wet. After some surreptitious drying of myself (and my clothes) with a hair-dryer at the b&b (which looked ridiculous and was completely ineffective), I met up with some relatives who live locally and we went off to Salisbury Arts Centre for the screening.
The Arts Centre is in a beautiful old church, I made my usual clumsy introductions to the Hansel people and then got introduced to Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode who curate the Film Festival in Shetland. I’m not going to lie, meeting Mark Kermode was ace.
The films themselves were a real mixed bag, in a good way. There was everything from surreal comedy, to creepy vampire stuff, to music videos, documentaries and short animations. I was surprised at how good the quality of everything was, for me the standouts were Ted – about a suicidal teddy bear, absolutely perfectly done and an odd animated piece that I can’t remember the title of but that was absolutely inspired in its weirdness.
The following day involved lots of running for the camera (they were filming a documentary about the project) and then I set off with an assortment of OS maps, computer printouts from my uncle (with helpful annotations – seriously, these were invaluable) and Google Maps (which may be the most helpful thing ever in this sort of situation). The route quite quickly left the horrible A36 and I was suddenly in the middle of nowhere, running down beautiful country lanes, yes it was raining but it was still completely brilliant – there was hardly any traffic, any cars that did pass gave me plenty of room and it did feel a bit like I was on an adventure, I had no real idea where I was going and no idea how long it’d take me to get there so I just trotted along with my gps tracker bleeping at me every kilometre (breaking the silence in a horrible, but useful way).
When I’d looked at the route the previous evening I had made the remark ‘oh, there aren’t even any hills’. Of course there were hills, and they weren’t fun. I rattled off the first 15 or so miles relatively quickly and easily, meeting up with the filming guys a couple of times to get footage of me striding majestically across southern England (or something). However the last 5 miles of the day were really not fun, my legs suddenly felt incredibly heavy and I realised I hadn’t had anything to drink or eat for about 3 hours. Idiot. Anyway, I made it to where I was staying on Friday evening with only a minimal amount of fuss, had a shower and almost immediately fell asleep.
The following day I creaked into action – I need to get much, much better at warming down and stretching and the like – and set off through the New Forest. Almost immediately the heavens opened, the rain was torrential. I briefly tried huddling under a tree, which served absolutely no use whatsoever. It wasn’t that cold, it obviously wasn’t going to stop any time soon and I had 15 miles to run so I figured I was about as wet as I was going to get and set off again – I have never been as soaked as I then became, I think I probably looked like I’d just showered wearing all my clothes. I passed a number of New Forest ponies looking completely miserable but really, it wasn’t that bad. I made it to Southampton in incredibly good time (I got to run over a bridge, I bloody love running and cycling over bridges), the route getting markedly less picturesque with each mile – the last few miles into the city centre were about as uninspiring as it could get, an anonymous, grey ring road. But I’d made it in plenty of time and squelched my way over to the hotel to meet up with the lovely Kathy and Roseanne from Hansel. They then had to go off for some meetings about the screening the following day.
I briefly considered how I could celebrate what felt like a bit of an achievement, I had run 35 miles (and not really got lost – well done me), ordering extravagant room service wasn’t really on the cards as I was staying at an Ibis so I wandered around Southampton city centre in search of somewhere to have a steak, then went to the cinema, inadvertently bumping into some Olympic Torch-related celebrations on the way.
Originally I wasn’t going to go to the screening in Southampton as the cinema was on one side of the city and the train station on the other, and I had about 20 minutes to get from one to the other -which disagreed with my desire to be incredibly early for everything, all the time. However I got into the whole idea so ended up running into the cinema, handing over the canister, making some useless remarks to the crowd and then running out. The best thing was that everyone cheered me out of the cinema, which was hilarious and brilliant.
Sweaty and knackered I then sat on a train forever to get back to Leeds.
A great few days, with great people, working on a brilliant project. If you can get along to a screening then I’d urge you to do so, it’s free and fantastic.
More info about the Hansel of Film here: http://www.hansel2012.org/about
Oh and if you ever want to run from Salisbury to Southampton then this is more or less the route I took… Day 1, Day 2