Arriving Fit for Work

An important part of video production is the filming process itself. Often that involves traveling from location to location and it's easy to underestimate the importance of good logistical planning. An hour or so spent poring over maps, checking internet traffic reports and researching the best place to stop for meals and overnights can make a huge difference to how well the shoot goes. Spending three hours on the road in traffic jams and arriving late on location, frazzled and hungry is no way to start a day's filming. I know, I've done it!
Satellite navigation is a great boon, of course, but must be treated with caution. We've all heard stories of people turning up in a similar sounding location miles from their intended destination. I particularly like the one about an American visitor who arrived at a pub in Bristol called "The Windsor Castle" asking if the Queen was at home today!. But equally dangerous is relying on the post code: you pop in the post code and off you go. "You have arrived at your destination", confidently announces the polite voice from the Tom-Tom. We have? Where? And then you realise that you are on one side of a motorway and your intended destination is on the other side with no easy way to reach it. Thirty minutes of good filming time is wasted finding out how to cross the great divide. A quick phone call before we set off would probably have prevented this frustrating experience.
Once you are lost the temptation is to ask a passer-by. Don't! People love to be helpful and most folk honestly believe they do know the way. Even those who have no idea won't admit it. If you must resort to asking for directions choose a policeman or postman.
But even a well planned journey can go wrong. A trip to the other side of London using the M25 is best tackled before 7 am or after 9 am. Often it's best to leave early and stop somewhere for breakfast when the worst is over. The trouble is, often there is nowhere convenient to stop. A recent journey from Watford to Bexhill-on-Sea offered no service area between Thurrock (too soon and surrounded by road works) and Tunbridge Wells (too late). Sometimes a superstore can make a good rest stop - so we Googled Sainsburys. Sure enough there was a store with petrol, cafe and toilets, at Sevenoaks, just off the A21. Big mistake! We hadn't reckoned for the school run. When we finally fought our way through the Chelsea Tractors we were dismayed to find a building site "open as usual". Not quite - there was no cafe. Misinformation on this scale shows total contempt for the customer. Sainsburys is a FT100 company, not some social club with an amateur webmaster. What are they thinking of?
"There's a Mcdonald's next door" said the helpful lady at the customer service desk. It is true that many people like Mcdonalds (a lot of people used to buy The News of The World but that didn't make it a good newspaper). The coffee was tasteless, the egg overcooked and the hash brown simply oozing with fat. The orange juice was good but that was Tropicana. On some stretches of trunk road and motorway there are service areas every few miles, many with Costas which are superb. Other stretches are barren. I thought free enterprise was supposed always to meet customer's needs - only when profit can be maximized, it seems.
Sometimes there is no choice but to take pot luck. On a recent trip to rural Lincolnshire for a video production on pet-friendly care homes, no suitable service stops were evident on the map so we kept our eyes open. Those pubs which were open offered no food but in the middle of the countryside we happened upon a delightful garden centre with a cafe serving freshly made paninis, home-made cakes and coffee as good as Costa. Sometime you just get lucky!

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