Adventures in London town

Well what a week it’s been. We’ve bombed out of Europe twice and lost some pretty influential figures from top jobs as a result. In terms of Brexit – I’ve never been more glued to the news and Social Media, trying to find out the latest developments in an evolving story, which lets face it, has shaken our country to the core. Whatever side you’re on and whatever vote you cast – the result has come as a shock to us all.

The other big news, of course, is that I was released from the grasps of my three young children and ventured down to the bright lights of London on a work trip for two days. Freedom from wiping bums, cleaning dried up Rice Krispies and staring at my ironing pile.

I used to go away with work fairly regularly before I became a Mummy and since the twins were born the furthest I’ve ventured is Holbeck!

Before I had Florence I would always be on the road, travelling all over the place and filming anything from pregnant elephants to pregnant surrogates!

Working in TV has certainly allowed me to experience lots of different places and meet some splendid people. I’d sometimes have to pinch myself to remember that it was my job that had meant I was in that position. I’ve got some ace anecdotes (which some of my nearest and dearest are bored of hearing about i’m sure)! From the time, as a young twenty-something working on North West Tonight, when I offered (far too enthusiastically) to ‘carry the tripod’ when Gordon Burns announced that he needed help on an interview with David Beckham!!! I absolutely jumped at the chance and was even more amazed when the room we filmed him in was as small as a box room and he was sat about 30 cm away from me as I held a boom microphone at his face!

Then on my next job  – on the rather overdone world of TV list shows – ‘100 Greatest Albums’ for CH4, I somehow talked my way onto the filming shoot of my life. It only involved interviewing the likes of The Specials, Mark Owen, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller!!!! Can you imagine the excitement!! At the end of the interview with Noel Gallagher he told me some wise words about the best thing for a hang-over was bananas and Paul Weller, who was wearing a very cool electric pink jumper told me he liked MY shoes!!!

I still bang on about those first few jobs in telly, which were just too cool!! From there I didn’t really head down the ‘celebrity’ programme route and sought more of a documentary, current affairs type career.

I have to say working in this area of programming isn’t necessarily as exciting as the dizzy heights of rock stars and footballers but has been much more interesting, full-filling and rewarding. Meeting real people with extraordinary stories has been a real privilege. Interviewing people who have experienced life-changing events such as a policewoman who was shot at point blank range whilst watching her colleague  -Sharon Beshenivsky – die next to her – so moving. Also filming a young 20 year old girl give birth to a baby she was having for a couple who couldn’t have children. The moment she handed the baby over was mind-blowing stuff. Another memory was when I filmed in a prison  – intimidating and so interesting too and also when I worked on a film about people who go missing – following the police and families in those first few hours of reporting the missing person was very exciting and sad all at the same time.These are literally just a handful of the experiences and people who I’ve met and remembered in my career.

I’ve also travelled to exciting places too – from Holland to Kansas City, Spain and France there have been some splendid adventures.

Despite all this – I still believe the adventures I’ve had by starting my own family and having three children in a fairly short period of time has really had the most impact on me. The life I had before children was exciting of course – but I wouldn’t swap it for what I have now. At least I can say I’ve done those things, had those experiences and add them to the memory bank of life.

I don’t really have opportunities like that anymore – my priorities have changed. Leaving my three children to go work in London for a few days is rare. I tend not to take jobs where I would be expected to travel and go filming all the time. It’s not fair on the girls and I wouldn’t want them to have to go to bed without our usual routines every night. It’s the little things I would miss – the bedtime stories, tucking them in, smelling their cheeks and kissing their foreheads as they relax into sleep.

But once in a blue moon is just fine of course…..Mr H is more than capable of holding the fort (or is he…) while I remember what it’s like to be 25 again. Believe it or not sitting on the train alone with a coffee, my book, my laptop and a middle-class salad travelling South is actually rather exciting for me!

On arrival in London I immediately head for Covent Garden where the rest of my team were congregating and planning for the shoot which is an adult colouring in café. It’s for an online marketing campaign for Ribena light (other soft drinks are available..!)

Once we’ve established a plan of action we check into our hotel and have a team meeting in the hotel bar. Where else? Then head out for pizza. London is buzzing with excitement, tourists and locals just going about their business. I love it!

The next day is such an ace day. We’d invited over 120 people to come and colour in a tile which was to form part of a huge mural. All designed by a super cool and lovely street artist called Alex Lucas. She was there throughout the day too, with her kooky style enjoying how people were interpreting her artwork. It was all filmed in a documentary style capturing people as they came and coloured, ate cake and chatted to strangers. People from all walks of life came to colour a tile and what really struck me was how ‘high’ people were from the very simple action of colouring in! People were so happy and proud of their tile and when they placed it on the wall we all cheered! No-one was on their phone or their laptops like in every other café across the country – of course the bloggers who attended were taking photos but that all added to the buzzing vibe.

The day culminated in a very cool surprise which was a projected light show where the artwork came to life before everyone’s eyes while people sipped on purple prosecco (genius) and sang to Zoobidoo – the MOST catchy song in the world!

All good things have to come to an end of course and after a full on 12 hour filming day I gathered my bags and contemplated which train I was going to get back up North. It was about 8.15pm and so I thought I’d check in with Mr Hills before I descended into the underground.

The conversation went like this:

‘Hi’. You ok – I’ve just wrapped in London’

‘Hello’ (background noise doesn’t sound like bedtime stories usually sound)’I’ve been better’.

‘Why what’s wrong’ I ask with a rising amount of concern in my voice.

‘I didn’t want to worry you but I’m currently sat in Wythenshawe children’s A&E with Sylvie.

‘WHAT? Why, what’s happened??? Cue sinking feeling in stomach…

Now to anyone whose a parent – this has to be the worst feeling in the world, hasn’t it? You’re husband has just told you they’re in hospital with your baby and you’re at least 3 hours away from them.

‘Well erm…..Sylvie has drank some Calpol and I’m just not sure how much – so thought I’d be safe rather than sorry’.

As you can imagine – this wasn’t what I’d wanted to hear! I immediately raced through London to get to Euston station only to miss the 9pm train by a few minutes. Typical. My neighbour was holding the fort at home with the other two and so a quick call to her put me at ease. Another call to Mr H made me feel a bit better and after I’d spoken to Sylvie and she seemed her normal self the only thing left to do was get some food and wait for the next train.

So I headed to Leon and got myself something to eat on the train – I chose an amazing box of falafel, hummus, salad and brown rice  with extra chips and the obligatory glass of rose wine  in a plastic beaker (to calm nerves – obvs.)  – and took it all on the train and willed it to get me home as fast as it could. All was going well until I realised I’d forgotten to pick up a fork so spent about five minutes trying to eat all this with my fingers  – I was so hungry, tired and past caring what people thought of me! I soon discovered it was taking far too long to eat (and I looked like a tramp) so I nabbed some posh cutlery from the adjoining first-class carriage and all was well with the world for a while.

And it turned out Sylvie was absolutely fine after tests and monitoring – no Calpol was found in her blood. Her and Daddy got back at 3.30am and we were all finally back together again. It’s nothing compared to the turmoil our country is in at the moment but the last few days have certainly been an adventure for us all!


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