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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Time to think of winter sun - and the Caribbean

It is starting to get a little cold....

Sadly the year is ending, and we are switching attention from the Mediterranean to the Canaries. We leave to film the stops there next week so they will be ready for next years choices. But you might like to click here and flip to our web site www.DorisVists.com and see the many Caribbean stops.

My guess is you are going to fly into Barbados, so remeber it is an easy place to get round and you do not have to stay in the town. Even on the regular local buses for $2 you could go north and have lunch at Mullens, go south and see Oistins, or travel west to the rougher Atlantic coast and Botanical gardens.

We are web bloggers, so let the film show you Oistins and Mullens. Take a few minutes.

Then there is the other side of Barbados. So beautiful for completely different reasons and again, just a bus ride away.

You then have a wide choice of islands to choose and that and the ship make the cruise so different. It is not just the islands from Cuba to Tortola, but the main land. A Caribbean Cruise is often a hard choice because there is so much to choose from. Again, I suggest you go to our main web site to see more stops than in this blog, but if you go to St Maarten, the local bus is also good. We show you how to get from the Dutch side to the French side and back.

How we shoot Doris Visits on the move

Shooting Doris Visits - the Kit

It is amazing the amount of people who ask what the camera is when we are out, and the photographers who turn their heads because they don't recognise what I am holding. I am amazed that people recognise or don't in my case cameras. The reason is that it is not a stills camera and cannot take stills... just looks like one.

We shoot a number of things from movies to web content, but we have just sold our larger movie cameras the 5k Epic Dragon cameras. That is because we are so pleased with the small toy.

It was bought for our first venture into the web content, a web drama series shot in a small area.  ‘Doris Shades Of Bad’ the drama series. We wanted to keep the quality at 2k, which is the quality of most current televisions bought and sold. That is certainly as good as most TV shows if not much better than daily soaps and lower level TV which are often shot at 720 lines and they are interlaced. If  I have lost you there I apologize, but most shows are now HD which the retailers are currently calling 2k.
The camera had to be small and I did not need fancy add-ons like slow motion. I just needed a camera that is used widely on the professional market and the cameramen that came in would be able to use. So, I asked them and Black Magic came out tops. I have seen recent blogs where the BMPCC goes up against some newer cameras and it wins hands down. BMPCC stands for Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera.
The kitchen that Shades Of Bad was all going to be shot in is small by filming standards and none of the walls fly away or have traps. I mean none of the walls are force and can be removed. What you see is the space we had. The BMPCC was ideal and there were few other choices. Stills guys compromise, but we never needed it to take stills, we just needed a dedicated movie camera. By choosing the BMPCC our ambitions to shoot proper film were still there. The BMPCC can shoot 2k raw but that means huge files and is over kill and would certainly be well beyond our Apple based edit suit, so we shoot at 1080 uncompressed. As film makers we had to leave the kitchen and while shooting episodes of Shades abroad we just wondered why we were not shooting a travel series.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Restaurante La Cabaña, Sotogrande, Spain

Restaurante La Cabaña, Sotogrande, Spain

Following our series on the Costa Del Sol, we take you to Restaurante La Cabaña.

Restaurante La Cabaña is up in the hills just behind the Sotogrande Hotel and is surrounded by stables and cork forests. The land used to be owned by sherry farmers and farmed for the cork, but the riding and land were perfect for holidays and horse people.

Not only did riding for fun become a huge passtime of the area, but Sotogrande is a centre of excellence for the game of Polo. With riders and teams travelling to Sotogrande from every corner in the world, Argentina to the Middle East .... gauchos, cowboys, dramatic sport, dramatic dance and dramatic food are the landscape.

We have seen the most amazing Spanish dancers in restaurants during the season when the polo matches are still on, but this visit was at the end of the season and we had the restaurant almost to ourselves.

The restaurant serves steaks, pig, and fresh fish from the vast coast line of old Roman fishing villages that are now family retreats during the holiday season and golf hotels afterwards.

See the Doris Visits films on Malaga, Mijas, Marbella/Puerto Banus, Estepona, Duquesas and Sotogrande. This film was made on an evening out with friends Alan and Sheila who are excellent hosts, we dined out in style at Restaurante La Cabaña.

The menu

Mixed starters inc
Cheese Figs
Black Pudding
Jumbo Prawns

Mains between us were
Suckling Pig,
Leg of Lamb
Sea Bass in Salt

Puddings missed the film because of the wine...
Chocolate Mouse
Chocolate Brownie

In the edit we have a film on our Paella Night at the Villa ...... to be continued.

Costa Del Sol, part 2 of our road trip. Estapona, Sotogrande, Duquesas and more....

Costa Del Sol, part 2 of our road trip. Estepona, Sotogrande, la Duquesa and more

You may have left the Spanish coast behind for a year, unless you are a golfer and the golf courses are another film altogether. But now as the school holidays are long forgotten and the sun has dropped the golfers are the ones who keep the resorts financially viable. You however might like to look at 2016 in the Costa Del Sol and consider it for next year. 

This is the second blog on that wonderful coast line where stars have villas, eat like kings and play polo with the rich, and families play together for just pennies in the sand next to them and find as much fun walking in the historic old towns and all they have to offer.  


A place we have visited many times, and played golf at quite a few as we have stayed with friends in a Villa. We therefore passed through with special interest as we had heard so much about the investment into Estepona. We were not disappointed.
There was also a little sadness that one of Britain's best loved entertainers, Cilla Black who lived part year in her villa there had died there. One of her favourite eating places was Robbie's, a restaurant that pays tribute to many entertainment greats with signed photographs filling the walls.


Duquesa, like so many of the established main ports on the Costa del Sol, was once a large Roman fishing village, protected in part by the 18 Century fortress of Castillo de la Duquesa, which stands just south a little back from the huge stretch of sandy beach.
Now three areas, Sabinillas, Duquesa and Castillo, it has been suggested that the village may have been called Saltum back in past eras. Here you can find a budget way to stay and enjoy and just a car ride from the party night life of Estenpona or Sotogrande.


Time out! This is the Beverly Hills of the Costa del Sol. Here the villas cost more than just a few million and it is where the wealthy Spanish holiday as well as international horsemen and polo players. Boat lovers also bask in the world class port. So from beach to cork forests, eating steaks with hugely expensive red wines to riding, Doris Visits reveals a little of Sotogrande.


If you haven't been to the Costa del Sol for a while you will be very pleasantly surprised. The investment shows, the beaches are clean and cleaned, and just back from them are gardens and play areas and summer open gyms. Villas and apartments, golf or sun bathing, take a look.

If You have missed the summer in Spain but are looking for some winter sun, then take a quick look at 10 Caribbean favourites it is easy to cruise round. Maybe it is time to think about that summer break and do something outrageously different. let Doris Visits help you dream.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Secret London, walking with stories is a great way to see London

Doris Visits secret London

London is an old city just full of stories. The Great Fire of London is 350 years only this year, and it features in so many stories and nursery rhythms. Actress Jean Heard who plays Doris in Doris Visits, has a one woman show on Nel Gwynne which all takes place in that time of wooden London and Samuel Pepys.

Nel Gwynn's London

Take a look at her stories following Nel Gwyn from the theatre pubs to Covent Garden.

If the theatre pubs and their stories interest you then jump a few years forward and look at another Britsh Royal and his affair with an actress, Lillie Langtry. The two are connected as you will find a signed photo of Lillie Langtry in the Nel Gwynne pub if you look hard enough. The other big one to see is Rules.

Rule Restaurant

Rules claims to be the oldest restaurant in London and the staff will charm you with the stories. There are posters on all the walls models of the site along with pictures of the Kings secret entrance and the curtain that separated them from the other diners. From the window you can watch the actors go in and out of the stage doors which no doubt made it the Kings favourite. We would like to thank Rules for giving us such access and assistance.

The Palace and the Royals

Buckingham Palace itself was not immune from the stories and affairs of Kings, infant they were known to share the balcony with the Queen. Take a look at the Palace in our film and the stories that surround it and the nearby buildings.

Yes, there is nothing like stories of affairs and trysts to make a good walk around London even more fun this weekend.

Doris is interviewed in Fiji on Fiji TV about the Status Quo film

Rick Parfitt of rock band Status Quo is improving daily and living a fairly normal life, But, as Doris reveals, Status Quo is far from normal.

Actress Jean Heard appeared with Quo in Fiji in the film Bula Quo.
Her company produced the film, Bula Quo.
The sequel, Namaste Quo, was to be in India but as Rick recovers slowly plans will have to change. Here she is being interviewed on Fiji TV when DORIS VISITS travel show went back to Fiji for the release of the film.
The recess were done in India and the script was written as you can see from the Kerala film and other India references on www.DorisVisits.com and the DailyMotion and You Tube channel. Just search Doris Visits India.

We had hinted that many things would go on hold as Rick was unwell, and as pleased as we are to know Rick is really so much better that work plans for him to join Quo have gone on hold. The stage show is a huge under taking for which you have to be fit, then there is the travelling between cities in between. Here is Rick talking about the film.
Rather than say no, the film may well be changed, but as the last one changed over and over again, it could well be that this one changes and the film is a swan song for a band. Doris Visits will start to release the Fiji film footage and behind the scenes when the Costa del Sol is finished in the edit.
Here is the official statement from Status Quo.
Status Quo regrets to announce that guitarist Rick Parfitt has been ordered to rest for the remainder of the year at the very least following on from his heart attack and associated complications following a Quo show in Turkey on June 14th.
This means, of course, that he will be unable to take part in the forthcoming ‘Last Night Of The Electrics’ European and UK tour which commences in Vienna, Austria on October 12th.
Simon Porter, the band’s manager comments, “Although Rick is recovering well and is now able to lead a relatively normal day to day life, he is far from being fit enough to undertake the rigours of Quo’s touring schedule. Perhaps now is the time to reveal that Rick actually ‘died’ for several minutes directly following his heart attack which resulted in mild cognitive impairments for which he continues to receive neuropsychological support.
His medical team continue to be confident of a full recovery, but Rick’s absolute priorities for the foreseeable future are for his health and wellbeing and to be able to see his eight-year-old twin children Tommy and Lily grow up.
To this end, Rick may well have performed his last show with Quo, but no final decision will be made until next year. Regardless, it is his wish that the band continue to tour as planned and he will always be a part of Quo’s numerous other off stage activities”.
Rick has given his full blessing for the band to continue to honour their touring schedule in order to not let down the fans. Until the end of 2016, Status Quo will continue to utilise guest musicians. Irish guitarist Richie Malone, who is currently playing with the band, will continue in this role at least until the end of Quo’s European schedule which concludes in Paris on December 4th. Freddie Edwards, son of Quo bass player John ‘Rhino’ Edwards also stepped in for Rick during some of the Summer shows.
Rick will also use his convalescence period to compose songs for a long overdue solo album which he plans to record early next year. In the meantime, both Rick and the band would like to thank the fans for their continued understanding and support.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Ever wondered how film music is composed? Private visit with composer at his studio

Film Music does so much, meet one the great composers.

With composition work that stretches from the film Nativity, to Disney, to cartoons, corporates and comercials to working with Status Quo doing the score to their feature film Bula Quo, Mark Blackledge has done a lot and worked with many of the best musicians. He has also composed the music for both Doris Shades Of Bad drama series and Doris Visits.

So in this unusual 'Doris Visits' film, Doris (actress Jean Heard) heads out to the East Of England and spends the weekend with composer and orchestra conductor Mark Blackledge and wife Maryam. Then on Sunday morning she manages to get a very rare interview with the man in his writing and recording studios.

They talk about music composition for film, TV and Shades Of Bad as they have now done three feature films together as well as the web TV series and travel show spin off. His music has been more used in the Botanical Garden films of Barbados and St Lucia (and one in the edit on Tortola BG) and it is creeping in more to all the films. Click this paragraph for the Botanical Garden playlist which features much of Mark's music.

Actress Jean Heard has known Mark for 20 years, he has composed the music for the INDYUK films she has co produced, Freight with ICON, Bula Quo with Universal and Devil's Gate which was signed to an American company that went into bankruptcy, (which now they have back and hope to put on Amazon).

The music from Shades Of Bad helps lift the web TV show to a level way above the current web TV show, maybe other web TV shows do not consider music and sound enough. Mark's sound design in episode 13 was quite brilliant. He plays the music and breaks it down talking about the key changes and moods he produces.

Mark has now supplied Jean with a library of music cues that she lays on after each edit, but up to about episode 30 Mark did the complete sound design as well as composition.

Mark has also done other major films and TV from Nativity to many US cartoon shows some which he was never allowed to take the credit for, but that is the business and it now affords him to pick and choose what he does, sitting at the grand piano in his recording studio space which could house a mini orchestras or a large band comfortably, or on his mixing suite with screen projection on the wall opposite his desk which he also uses to remotely watch the musicians he mixes.

This is a very rare and unusual insight into film composition and Mark's methods. Good post production means better pictures.

On to Cromer

Doris then leave Mark's house and travels to an old dancer friend who worked with her in the summer shows that were part of pier entertainment at UK holiday resorts. She arrives in Cromer and find there are links with her lecture series that she has on Royal Mistressses, as Cromer was one of the hide-aways where the King met with actress Lillie Langtry. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Today, beautiful people, we are in Marbs! Marbella, Puerto Banus and off to the Starlite

Today, beautiful people, we are in Marbs! Marbella, Puerto Banus and off to the Starlite

Costa del Sol pt1

We are taking some time to travel up and down the Costa Del Sol while the weather is super hot, and I have to say it was super hot last week when we tried to play golf at mid-day ... daft idea.


Let its start at Malaga, to us, previously a place of transit. A port for a ship to dock or a plane to land and then travel on. However, we stayed in Malaga for a day and it is quite some City with a lot to offer. Doris was actually heard to say she would like to holiday there. Castle, Port, and the best Botanical Gardens in the whole Mediterranean. Take a look.

So from Picasso (and Doris worked on Surviving Picasso as chaperone to her then young daughter actress Laura Aikman who played Hopkins daughter), we leave the main city. Passing along the coast are the beach resorts of Torremolinos and the lift up to the Safari Park. Miles of area and beach designed for family fun and although packed solid when we were there the atmosphere was electric. We did little filming there because people on beaches look the same everywhere. So, into the mountains....


Mijas does have a beach, and a town, and a mountain village. It is the mountain village famous for the Donkey Taxi which drew us back there to show you. If on a cruise, Mijas is just 20 minutes from the port and a half day there is ideal. If on a beach holiday, it is a very different experience and very relaxing. It has some of the best views in the Costa del Sol. let the film show you.

Back in the car, water in hand we headed for the mid way stop. We were looking for the area known as Marbs! Marbella, and the adjoining Puerto Banus. We first went there when shooting a Lunn Polly commercial what must have been 30 years ago. Then we were staying in and filming in Fuengirola which for a time had a few tin shacks as small studios. It is a beach like the one at Torremolinos. We went to 'Banus and had lobster.... it is still as swanky but much much more developed.

Marbella and Puerto Banus

Marbella is a different experience, the place to pose. You can hire a Ferrari by the hour, a Bentley by the hour, a yacht by the hour and many do. It is the place to show off the nails and the shoes. There is not much to say about it other than it is about where you eat, where you are seen to eat, and drink cocktails of all varieties. We went there to meet with friends Status Quo, whom we have known since the 70's and with whom we made a feature film in 2012 in Fiji called Bula Quo. Had they not been playing the club carved in the mountains, in an old quarry we would maybe never have gone. We are grateful we did.

Not a bad start to the Cost Del Sol. The plan is to carry on down towards Gib' ... trendy name for Gibraltar though it is not trendy. Not like Marbs anyway. On the way we will stop at a few more towns. The Costa del Sol changes as you get to the other end as you will see, and the wealth changes from hiring a Ferrari to hiring a team of grooms to look after your polo horses..... Part two follows after we have had a few more beers.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Doris Visits travel channel now stands alone....

Doris Visits travel channel stands alone with a huge future.

As of today we have got 73 travel films on the new Doris Visits YouTube channel and 73 on the Daily Motion channel which automatically goes to Opera TV.  And growing ....

Complete Costa Del Sol next

Which means we can leave for Spain next week knowing a huge hurdle has been jumped. There we shoot Sotogrande, Dequesas and Estapona to complete the Costa Del Sol. You may have seen the film on Puerto Banus where we went out last week to see our friends Status Quo play the Starlite.

Shades Of Bad

The travel show started as a spin off of the drama series Shades Of Bad, which next week publishes episode 61 that was shot as we left Barcelona. If you have not seen the Barcelona episodes, or the sunset as we left (which is a cheat as it was as we left a Caribbean Island). Then take a look now.
Click this text for Episode 61 of the drama. This episode is not released until Friday on YouTube and we shoot episode 62 when we return next week. That will be a tight deadline.

73 films in 6 months

61 drama episodes is a huge body of work, but not as big as the 73 films on the travel show Doris Visits, which is less than 6 months old. To produce that kind of product output has required systems to be put in place and changed and changed again. But now Doris Visits stands alone, its own web, instagram, and channels.




So you may have been watching Doris Visits on the Shades Of Bad, but now we are throwing away those big numbers and redirecting you to the new channel. In the pipeline as are some Fiji films with Status Quo, as well as a cruise to the Canaries after our trip to Spain.

If you can keep spreading the word, directing your friends and fellow cruisers to the new channels, we will continue to make the films.

London Films and a celebration

We have also started a London series and as we were celebrating this weekend, a very belated special birthday of SSP,  we have got two unexpected films to add to the London section.
The first is the Canal boat trip from Little Venice to Camden, which you can do for a few pounds, the second was a meal at London's premiere restaurant, Restaurant Story, for which you need the national debt of a small country but for which you will be rewarded.