15 Jun 2012

Some Horsing Around with James

You've probably noticed that as you go through life you will come across two types of people;  those who are doers, and those who don't.  James is a doer.  Quite a good one too.

He's the man behind Horse Zine, a hand screened DIY and Skateboarding Zine that he's recently stepped up to produce his complete book that looks at all aspects of the DIY skateboard culture, which I'm sure he's saved me a copy, but more about that when he finally agrees terms to come and do an interview for the Lizard In A Lab Coat blog.

For now James is helping me drag out last Saturday's Kennington photos.  I shot this in the middle of a little corner session that James and Questions where having, both coming at it from opposite directions and both getting the travelling tricks they were after. Unfortunately I didn't get Questions lip-slide but I stopped chatting long enough to grab James's Crail Slide.

I'll give you all the details of Jame's book and his other DIY projects when he has a chance to talk to [LIALC] ... James?

See you out there.


14 Jun 2012

Danger Taking Advantage

After the recent long gaps between posts, I've decided to hold a couple of bits back.  In reality I just didn't have time to sort them out quickly enough so when people started pestering to see photos I figured I'd make sure they got posted via this here blog.... everyone's happy.

Here's a little sequence of Alan "Danger" Christensen recreating a much loved line that has survived the re-vamp at Kennington.  Mixing the old with the new is always a romantic proposition and this time it looks like it's paid off.

The original "DIY" quarter-thing had a lot of "Personality" and this recreation has managed to retain some of the original's unique characteristics, which the guys who did the work should get a good old pat on the back.

Of course I've yet to skate it, but that will happen soon enough.

That's your lot for now.

See you out there.


12 Jun 2012

A Slight Return to Kennington Sun

This happens with blogs, by that I mean it happens with THIS blog. I'm talking about the long gaps. Between posts.  It's never deliberate, things just happen that way.  I'm not going to go into the reasons for this most recent period of dead-air but it's a combination of injury and biblical weather, suffice to say I ain't been skating much.

Thankfully Jamie Harrison got my attention on friday with a message about having a skate to Celebrate the Hippy's (Johners) birthday, that he had kept pretty damn quiet, Johners that is.  This kind of occasion would usually mean a session at Stockwell but a recently revamped Kennington had just been returned to a skateable condition thanks to the eventual installation of a drain. Yep, a drain, singular. I know, me too.

I'd just kind of imagined a bowl that big would need more than one, but that remains to be seen and so far THE DRAIN was doing what is paid for and the standing water, that had caused a certain amount of blood pressure increase in the South london Skate community, was gone. Now a distant memory.... so no real need to post this...

Since when did I need real reasons to do anything?

There are going to e many more conversations in the near future about brands like Nike and Converse getting involved in skateboarding and what that means to us in the short term and long term, if what I hear is true.  More on that when it happens.

But for now, here are some photos documenting a brief explosion of sun in this dark and grim June.

More crap from me soon, see you out there.


Harry in search of some frontside shade.

Questions to fakie

Birthday-Boy just hanging around in the melancholy position

Alan taking his 5-O of the end of the re-creation of the old quarter-thing.

Johners and Craig talk late 80s Hip-Hop.

Some front-side action from Mr. Gold.

Willis going long distance from the funny quarter.

23 Apr 2012

I Put My Back-out Amidst A Photo Black-out.

I'm not a fan of the "text only" blog post.  But there is a very good reason for this one.  Secrecy, and lots of it.

I've talked about the etiquette of secret spots and DIY builds before and I'm not going to go over old ground here but, that's right, BUT it would seem that not all skaters in the UK read this blog, a revelation that rocked me to my core.  How do I know this? 

I know it because of our recent escapades at the new Secret Spot.  A combination of a poor grasp of the etiquette and the introduction of the interwebs and associated social media has had blood pressures rising and stern words a-spoken.

I was going to bring you images of the spot depicting the leaps and bounds in construction that happened on Saturday and even more that went down on Saturday. Unfortunately we are now on a photo-blackout.  Hence all the words.

So with no visuals for your eye-balls it leaves me only one course of action.  To moan about my bad back.  It'll get you too you know.  I was very smug about back pain when I was younger, I was a very flexible teenager, as my golf swing proved, and bad backs were what lazy, inactive people got as karma for being lazy, inactivate and quite possibly fat. Now I know better.

My back's taken a beating over the years, like most skaters, just think of all the times you've landed on your coccyx.  This Saturday I learnt that crouching on my knees hammering away at a concrete floor with a masonry chisel and a flimsy hammer for an hour or so can have an even more devastating effect on my back. Since the hard labour of Saturday I've been walking like the worst kind of incontinent pensioner and, of course, unable to skate.

This is where I finally get round to making my point.  Skateboarding is amazing, we all know that.  Building something to skate is even more amazing.  Crippling yourself building something to skate is still amazing because pain is temporary. I'm gutted I won't be able to skate for a week or so but knowing what is in the works at the spot totally makes up for it.  If my back goes once we're finish and it's ready to shred,  I may well be less philosophical about it.

Look after your back kids.... Pah, as if you're going to listen to me?


P.S.  bend zee kneez!!

28 Mar 2012

The Candle-light Session - Secret Spot

I've been meaning to get these up for a while now, got loads going on at the moment so it's only now that they make it onto the world wide web.

These shots were taken before the clocks went forward so we were arriving at te spotin the dark and having to get light any way we could. Head-torches, wind-up lamps, bicycle lights and candles were all being employed in a desperate attempt to light the place enough to skate it safely.  We failed.

It was lit, a bit, just not enough.  The bottom of the quarter-pipe had just been skimmed to meet the floor and the thin section at the floor started to crack up and finally big enough chunks were coming up to throw me into the face of the hip opposite.  There really isn't a lot of time to take evasive action.

Johners and James kept on shredding until we'd finished the beers and the candles were fading.

Since these pictures were taken there have been big steps forward and hopefully I can get down to help out again soon.  But for now you can all take a look at how things looked a week or so ago.

Go build something to skate.


15 Mar 2012

Nocturnal Bristol DIY Fun.

It's been a while since I made it down to Bristol for a skate.  This time round it was a flying visit, driving down on Saturday morning and back on Sunday afternoon.  After hanging out with the family Plews, it was time for Dave and I to head to Daveside, his new DIY spot.

Joxa with a RnR Slide going that way >

Habgood had a face full of snot so it was just Me, Joxa and Dave that made it down to the amazing little spot.  I'd seen a few photos but none of them really did justice to just how good this spot is.  The location is amazing, right by a vast expanse of smooth tarmac with superb lights all the way along the side. 

Dave had spotted the location ages ago and had tried to get people to get something started down there without success.  Then he decided to take the bull by the hors and started building the first quarter with rubble, as soon it started to look like something was possible people started being available to help out.  There have been hic-ups along the way, some loose lipped moments had the place open for business way before Dave would have liked, as is often the case with these things, and several bags of out of date concrete at a pound each later... you have what yu see in these photos.

Dave retaliates with an RnR slide coming this way.

The transitions are by no means perfect and the surface is showing signs of being a little to thin but Dave and the crew are going to resurface what's here before starting on the expansion programme.  The concrete structure that they've build up against is like a gnarly gift from the skateboard gods.  it's topped off with angle iron that has some heavy duty bolts, nails and rivets protruding out here and there, making for some interesting grinds.  A few backside grinds had me tipped to the floor, who knows what stopped the grind but each time the effect was the same, me on the floor.

Tail blockage.
Dave and Joxa were having it.  They both paid no attention to the holes and rough patches and just shredded for the couple of hours that we were there, luckily an ankle roll for me made me pick up the camera a bit earlier than usual.



 Hopefully the next time I make it down I can lend a hand with the next stage of the build and skate it without hurting myself.  Thanks to Dave for the invite and to both Dave and Joxa for a really fun skate.

So if you are reading this and thinking "I could build something like that", YES, you can, just buy the concrete and have a go, that's exactly what Dave and the crew did.

Build it, skate it!


28 Feb 2012

Chapped Lips and Bad Backs - The Price of Living Your Dreams.

This time last year the Fox Spot was already starting to take shape. Now we know it's time is limited thanks to the redevelopment of Burgess Park and the inclusion of an Olympic size BMX track.  The site of the Fox Spot is where the final corner before the home straight will be.

Continuing to add to the Fox Spot seemed stupid if it's only a matter of weeks away from destruction, so a new site was needed.  Thanks to Johners' and James' keen senses, we have one.

There's no telling how long this will last so for now it's staying a SECRET location.  But you can see how we got on with the fist afternoon of building below. Fingers crossed there are going to be many more to come.


The beginning

Fuck the Olympics, build a skate-spot


Johners' gadgets

Mixing by hand


Fag break

The Hip

Keep it tidy.

21 Feb 2012

Kingpin's Set In Stone - Finland, and a bit of extra Alv.

So that's it, this is the last in the series.  This time it's Finland with a lot of rain involved.  This place looks like it's going to be amazing as time goes on and more bits get added and seeing as they have a deal to stay on site for the next five years or so there cold be a lot to skate at the eviction party in 2017.

All of the edits have touched upon the hard work aspect of DIY skateparks, this one introduces the discomfort angle quite nicely too.  The wet is shit at the best of times but when you are trying to get concrete to go-off against the clock with the rain coming down in bucket loads, well that just taking the piss. But that's what these guys had to deal with and I love that the muck and wet and cold feet aspect of this build really comes across.

The motivations behind this park are set out really clearly at the start.  Basically no-one was going to do it for them, so the had to do it for themselves and it seems that the local government were happy to give the skaters temporary residency as long as it meant they didn't have to put their hands in their pockets.  And so it began.

In the accompanying article, Alex irvine delivered a gem.  It's great to get advice, tips, instruction on how to build, shape and finish concrete and even make your own tools but there is, as Alex points out, only one minimum requirement "That you can ride it"!  The cover of the magazine is a portrait of Pontus Alv, who appears in this edit and who I'll be returning to in a minute, crouching in the pocket of an unfinished transition surrounded by re-bar, an illustration of where DIY can go.  But Alex is pointing you towards the starting line.  A handful of old bricks and mud, some pre-mixed concrete from Wickes/BnQ, a bucket, some water and a trowel and you are off and running.

Pontus talks about the smaller scale stuff in the edit and about there being a greater reward-to-work ratio from making something skateable out of a tiny pour/build and lets not forget, ten tiny pours later you're going to be looking at a lot of stuff to skate.

Staying with Pontus for a second there is aa new edit/interview with him doing the rounds today. In it he talks about his return to his homeland and his feelings about the skateboarding's ability to affect your emotional and mental well being.  I can't remember if I've talked about this on here before but I've definitely had conversations with other skaters about the ability of skateboarding to almost act as a form of meditation.  To take you out of the maelstrom of all the worries, stresses and anxieties you might be dealing with.  Years ago when I was going through a weird patch I would go and skate the vert at Playstation and for the three hours I was there non-of that stuff would enter my mind and I was free of it while trying desperately not to land on my face.  I know some don't like to talk about skating in these terms but I am all for it, the more we appreciate skateboarding for what it really means to people, as well as the purely fun aspect, the better.

Take a look.

Well done everyone at Kingpin and Carhartt for putting these together and giving me something to write about.  Keep up the good work.

Now go and build something. Who knows, maybe I'll put my money where my mouth is too.


15 Feb 2012

The Life Saver Park that couldn't Save My Weekend Skate.

 Last weekend I was all set to have a good skate at a park up in Derbyshire that is round the corner from a relative's house.  I was amazed when it got built and I've only skated this Park in Wirksworth once. I remember being quietly impressed with the simple layout that puts something in every corner allowing you to keep a good flow going.  Also the inclusion of a mini-ramp that is more than 3 feet tall and wooden bowled hip that makes for some fun.

Unfortunately on the Thursday night when we were due to set off up the M1 the weather reports were all about extreme weather warnings, freezing rain and 97 car crashes in the space of two hours. As soon as we decided to postpone the drive until the Friday morning it started to snow in London. Vindicated.

Either side of the M1 was like winter wonderland the whole way up.  As we got closer to Derby a quick phone-call revealed that the snow had missed the Wirksworth area all together.  Now I felt a bit sick as I'd left my board at home, resigned to the bad weather.  My sanity remained intact though, because the week old snow had refused to melt away so it made no odds after all.

While taking these shots I noticed that qquite a few sections of surface plyu had recently been replaced others hat were marked fr replacement.  So it looks like it's going to be kept in a skateable condition for a while yet, despite the Derbyshire climate.

One day I'll get to skate this little beauty again.


14 Feb 2012

Kingpin's Set In Stone - Sheffield - with some added Casper

That's right, a day late again.  Why fire yourself into the eye of the storm when you can sit back, ponder and let the calm settle before sending your ship of words floating out onto the sea of the interweb?

More Skateboarding Videos

I know I promised to read the accompanying issue of Kingpin in order to have a little more insight into the motivations of those involved with these builds. I have of course been distracted by beer, snowfall,  hanging with Harper, motorway driving and preparations for Valentine's Day.  This is not so say I have failed completely, I have read the first couple of articles and was struck between the eyes by something Daryl said in his little interview.

Daryl's interview is mainly about the process of building and demystifying some of the technical aspects and explaining how you can do things on the cheap rather than having to buy all the expensive tools.  Hidden in this interview was a little throw away remark that struck to the heart of what sets these places apart form others "it's your spot for you and your mates and not for a load of poxy kids on sc00ters".  If that single sentence doesn't get you excited about the prospect of spending all of spring, all of summer and all of Autumn up to your elbows in concrete, nothing will.

As for any hi-brow dissection of the motivations and thought processes of the people involved in these builds you'll have to wait until the final installment.

What I can do is mention how pleased I was to see the skating of Casper Brooker in this Sheffield edition.  I saw Casper at South Bank in the dying days of SEDJ and couldn't help but be a little jealous of his pop and power. I think this "Set in Stone" shows the what I mean by that.  and if you want to see more, here's his Emerica welcome edit from October last year.



7 Feb 2012

Kingpin's Set In Stone - Brescia, Italia

Although it's a day late, I get to break my post S.E.D.J radio silence to bring you the next in the series of four films from Kingpin Magazine designed to inspire every skateboarder out there to get building.

This one features Daryl again, and Jerome Campbell who was out there getting his skills up and helping build what looks like a really good qiality DIY park. Going on a DIY fact-finding misssion to Brescia must be fun eh?

More Skateboarding Videos

One of my favourite bits of this film is sseeing someone mixing some concrete in a wheelbarrow with a stick.  It's that kind of image that helps bring these large projects back down in scale to something that me or you can handle. This is where I could wax lyrrical about what the project means to Sam Bailey and those involved but right now it would all be conjecture; so I'm going to read my copy of Kingpin from cover to cover and get back to you on that one.  After all this is a project created by a magazine.

Kingston Car Park training tonight and Playboxstation66 tomorrow night if you fancy it?


1 Feb 2012

S.E.D.J. Day 31 - A Multi-Story Finale

OK I'll admit it. I didn't quite realise how hard Skating Every Day in January would be.  The Planning, the skating, the blogging, the editing, the pain, the late nights and it's general all consuming grip on my brain.  Having said that it could have been worse.  The weather for January was pretty dry and I only really had two spanners in the works out of a total of 31 skates.  I managed to get through all them on the same board, that still has a little life in it, that I'm swapping it out and keeping it as a memento of what has just happened.

The hardest working board in showbiz.
The last skate of S.E.D.J. was back at the Kingston car park that has served as the dry, late night refuge through this challenge.  It's got a couple of manual pads, some grindable curbs and that's about it.  It's just like all those car parks all over this country that have sustained UK skateboarders through winters and wet summers for more than 3 generations.  For that reason I'm perfectly happy to finish off S.E.D.J. here.

Sam and Dave were up for a skate despite the cold.  The conditions were nice and dry and we had the place fully lit for the first half an hour so we got warmed up just in time for the majority of the place to be thrown into darkness. It still left the main two curbs in enough light to skate and we all concentrated having a fun roll late on a Tuesday night.  If you were stood still for more than a couple of seconds you instantly felt the cold getting at you, which kept up our motivation.

Gradually we all started to slow down and I started to allow myself to think about the fact that I could stop skating and consider my challenge of Skating Every Day in January accomplished.  Eventually we all drifted over toward the car and started chatting and I mentioned that I was done for the night an Sam produced a bottle off Stella from his bag for me to celebrate with, a nice touch I thought. Thanks for that Sam.


So that was it. From about 2-3 skates a month before Christmas to 7 skates a week for the month of January.  It's got me out on my board more that's for sure.  By skating has got a bit better in some ways but the constant fatigue in my legs did hold me back in some ways, my pop definitely suffered because of the tired legs.  I learned a couple of tricks, re-instated some others and skated quite a few places that I had yet to make a trip to.  I got skate with my mates on all but about three occasions which was unexpected.  The response to this has been amazing and I can't thank people enough for their words of encouragement and diagnoses of insanity.

I really want to thank the following people for coming out and Skating, Johnners from Day 1, Martyn Thomas, Sam Noble, Phil Proctor, David Line, Matt Gold, Jim Thompson, Dave Reading, Marcus Adams, Kev McKeon, Jeremy Donaldson, Jamie Harrison, Alex Irvine, French, James Hall, Jotham, Adrian Downie, James Mclean, Jack T. Moore, Stu Kolakovic, Justin Gates, Martin Smith, Alan Christensen, Reuben Goodyear, Howie Kearey, Will Kraemer, Awadh, Ivan Rodriguez, Steve Crawford and of course anyone else I may have forgotten at this point in time.  You lot made a potentially nightmarish challenge a fucking good laugh.

I reserve the most important thank-you to one Rachel Madill, my wife. In the same way that I didn't know what this was going to be like, neither did she but she supported me completely through the whole thing and has never made me feel like I shouldn't or couldn't do it.  I couldn't have done it with out her, it's that simple.

Would I do it again? Not fucking likely. Once is enough and it has shown me that the dream of skating every day can become a bit much and letting ankles and backs have a rest for a couple of days is never a bad thing.

I hope you've enjoyed reading these ramblings and come back when I've figured out what the fuck I'm going to write about now.

I'll see you out there.


31 Jan 2012

Kingpin's Set In Stone - Berlin

Now that there is a lull in the S.E.D.J. activity, until the final post, I thought I'd better post this little beauty.

You may have already seen it as it was released by Kingpin Magazine yesterday but I'm determined to do my bit to get it seen by as many skateboarders and non-skaters as humanly possible. Why?  Because it's a forward thinking project that showcases what can be done with a little time, effort and , I won't lie to you, money. 

More Skateboarding Videos

I was lucky enough to be involved in some of the building at last years Fox Spot that featured on this blog quite a bit (and again below).  I got to work with Daryl and pick-up as much from him as I could, which was easy as Daryl has no problem at all in sharing his knowledge.  As a result I could now go away and build something of my own, Johners did immediately, adding elements to the Fox Spot as a one man building team.

DIY is not a dark art.  It's the same as most things in life; some basic rules and some key techniques that once you know them a whole world of possibilities is opened up to you.  That's why I'm so pleased to see Set In Stone come to fruition.  Imagine if everyone in your crew knew how to build like these guys, you would never run out of new things to skate.

Keep your eyes out for the next 3 of the series of four, don't worry, I'll point them out if you miss them.


30 Jan 2012

S.E.D.J. Day 30 - Solo Lunch-Time Skate at Meanwhile Gardens

Another cold day in London and another lunch-time skate mission for Skate Every Day in January.  It was either going to be Meanwhile Gardens or Meanwhile II and only the weather would decide.  I was happy that it had stayed dry over the weekend into today meaning Meanwhile Gardens was on.

Arriving at work today on the motorbike I was all set to park round at the back of our building and then I remembered what happened last week, with the Vans blocking me in, and decided Soho Square was the "Better safe than sorry" choice.  Fucking good thing too, seeing as when I was walking to my bike at about 1.00pm I saw a van jammed into the entrance of the Mews that would have blocked me in again.  I felt quite smug as I walked past and jumped on my bike and off without any delays, and with no urges to kill anyone.

Nice try.
Although I've generally found these lunch-time skates quite stressful, today I really enjoyed the ride up to Westbourne Park, leaving Soho heading down to Piccadilly, round Hyde Park Corner, Park Lane and off down to Notting Hill.  The sun was out and maybe I was a bit more relaxed knowing this was the last one of S.E.D.J. For whatever reason it struck me how lucky I am to live and work in as amazing a city as London and how this city has really helped me in getting this far with my challenge.

Another Meanwhile Gardens Panorama

When I got to the bowls they were empty; not a huge surprise. The lack of company was not a problem today, I knew what I was there for and it was just to have a relaxing roll around and do a load of backside disasters in the two top sections off the bowls, in an attempt to get a bit more consistent with them.  While skating I became very aware of the aging that's taken place here.  Last summer was all about the fox spot so I didn't skate here too often and maybe that's why the change seems more drastic but there are a lot more dodgy bits to keep an eye out for. God knows what the chances of repair are?

Add caption

Towards the end of my skate Awadh was walking past and came into the park for a chat, he was heading off to check out Clapham, it's a shame he hadn't set out half an hour earlier and we could have had a skate, there aren't many people who are more fun to watch skating Meanwhile Gardens than Awadh.  Back to skating, a few more Back-Ds and I was done.

Day 30 was never going to set the world on fire but I did put it to good use and avoided a potential Van-blockade disaster.  Having ticked this one off the calendar I only have one more day to go, that's right only one left.

The final skate, Day 31 is going to be back in the same kind of surroundings that my skateboarding life began, a Car Park. Part of me feels a little disappointed that it'll be ending in a whimper rather than a huge fanfare and another part of me thinks that it's fitting because is representative of real skateboarding and how it's been done on this country for decades. Tomorrow night from about 9:45pm I'm heading to the Sainsbury's Car Park in Kingston to finish what I started and to have fun riding my skateboard.  If you fancy a slice of the good-times you know where to be.

Maybe see you out there.