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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.