36 hours – 3000 miles – Good Times!

Posted on January 30, 2012


36 hours and 3000 miles

That’s how my weekend started, which means that in the last 36 hours my average speed has been about 80 miles/hour. So, let me tell you story how it all went…


Somehow a flu always know when it is most inconvenient to strike, and so at the start of my journey I was feeling rather fluish(not sure that’s a word). Cameras and other goes all packed and ahead of me the first leg of traveling – 170 mile drive to Gatwick Airport.
Good thing about driving during the late evening is that the roads are reasonably clear, which got me nicely on time to the airport.
The initial plan had been to dose-off in the car for five hours before catching an early morning flight to Madrid. But with the flu, I thought it better to book a ‘pod’ for few hours at the airport – so I could get bit of rest.

Place:Yotel, Gatwick
Crashed to the bed at the pod around 1am – and woken-up by the alarm 5.40am. 10 minutes later i had had a shower and was dressed and checking out.

Place:Gatwick security check
As normal my carry-on luggage attracts plenty of interest from the security people – and this time was no exception.
‘Good morning Sir, what might you have in the bag that we need to check it?’
Said the cheery little fellow behind the conveyor.
‘Cameras, and plenty of them – with few lenses and laptop…’
My routine answer.
‘Aaah, cameras – then we have plenty to talk about… let me see (he looks at the X-ray image).. I’d say you are a Canon shooter??’
He smiles at me.
‘Damn, you can see that from the X-ray image – can you tell me which lenses I have as well?’
I replied a little surprised.

We then take out four camera bodies, four lenses, laptop, camcorder..spare pair of underwear…while he swipes my bag and gear.. we talk about sport photography and his experiences with some ‘snobby’ photographers who have been less than friendly with him.
In the end he asks if I would mind looking at his website…’shooter paradise‘… I promise to look it up after the weekend and drop him a message. Maybe you feel like having a look as well – I am sure he would appreciate more ‘hits’ on his website 🙂 From strange people whom he has never met/seen before..

Time:between 8am-11am
Place:somewhere between London and Madrid

Flight boards normally, once again I manage to sneak into the emergency exit row. Anything for a little bit of extra leg-room 😉 Amongst the last people to join the flight, the middle seat gets taken and so I am squeezed next to the window.
We seem to be slightly delayed at departure.. and then the moment you always fear.
‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain…’
No… please no – I am on a tight schedule as it is.. no cancellations..
‘We seem to be having some problems and our baggage handlers don’t quite seem to know which bags are at the hold..’
OK – this isn’t too bad, delay of maybe 30 minutes as they rummage through the hold to check the luggage..
This often results in people starting to talk to each other – so I strike a conversation with the woman next to me. Talk about work, travel..and so on.. as I mention that I will be flying back at 6am tomorrow.. she laughs and says.
‘Lucky you, I am coming tonight at the 10pm flight..’
She is flying all the way from London to Madrid – for a single day seminar..CRAZY!!

Time:between 11am-3pm
Place:somewhere between Madrid and Zamora

Plane lands maybe 40 minutes late, no big problem for me. Quickly go and get the rental car.. which ironically is exactly the same model of a car that I own in the UK. With the little difference that the steering wheel on this one is on the ‘wrong’ side.
Wait for 10 minutes for Sat-Nav to find a signal and plot the route to Zamora..3 hours and 170 miles on the Spanish motorway. If you are ever stuck on the Spanish roads – I can recommend EuropaFM for some quality ‘Euro-Pop’ from today and past..kept me going for the three hours.

Time:between 3pm-5pm

You gotta love the Spanish way of life, Saturday afternoon and all the shops are closed, as I walk along the quiet streets of Zamora in the sunshine. Seems like a typical small Spanish town to me, old buildings nestled in with some newer ones. Few old ruins of some castles or things. But wait a minute – where am I?? I am quite sure I came from ‘this way’ – but I can’t remember this street? Oh well, lets just walk this way for few more minutes and see where we end up. Would be quite typical, going for my little excursions in a strange city and get lost.. and from the people I’ve seen on the streets.. not sure many of them would speak English. Eventually I see an old city wall that I have passed earlier.. I know where I am and where to go to.. as long as I’ve got the right place for the game tonite. Aah, there is a poster for the game.. name of the place looks like where I’ve parked the car.. excellent!! Game starts at 6pm – so a little rest in the car before heading for the evenings work…

Time:between 5pm-9pm

This is why I traveled here for – to take pictures of 40 minutes of action on the court, some might say that it is an excessively long way to work when you travel almost 1500 miles each way for such a short spell of work.
I met the players before the game – and there was also a big surprise for me when I arrived there (but, I can’t tell anyone about that yet.. as it’s not supposed to be know… Oh, and in case you wonder what it is, I am sorry to say that is not proof of Extra Terrestrial life 😦 ) and talked to them for a good while on court side before the warm-up. Pictures taken during the game..pictures sent during the game, video interviews done after the game. For my British Basketball followers – Women’s league in Zamora gets attendances of around 1000-1500 in Zamora.. crazy atmosphere with drums going on and people participating in supporting the team.. felt great!

Links to interviews (in Finnish) at the Finnish Basketball Associations video-channel :
HERE !! and HERE!!

Time:between 9pm-1am
Place:trying to get to Barajas airport

Now – clock is ticking towards the flight back home – I have about 9 hours before the plane takes-off, and about 300 miles to drive. Back to the car – good on EuropaFM blasting EuroPop all the way through the drive – with the compulsory stop at the filling station to grab ‘non branded’ energy drink.. strange experience going to a petrol station that is in the middle of nowhere-spain and being the only customer around midnight..
One issue I often find with rental cars and early flights – is that to fill up the tank again before returning the car can be difficult, you need to find a petrol station, it needs to be open, needs to accept cash payments or have an open till – and I can say that those are few and far in-between near airports (surprisingly!).
You also have to do constant battle against you Sat-Nav – which insists on taking you through the city centre of Madrid to get to the airport.. funny as the the journey to Zamora didn’t involve such drive.. oh well, this was my third visit to Madrid airport and first time I’ve actually seen any of the city – be it through the car window.

Time:between 1am-7am
Place:Barajas Airport, Madrid

Now, I only have few hours until the flight starts to check-in/board, so being the little tight-fisted person that I am, there is no room booked for at the airport or a hotel near-by. Which leaves me to sleep here and there.. first two hours goes OK in the car as the temperature keeps above freezing (got my thermal underwear on!!), but around 2am-3am things are getting quite cold. Moving inside the terminal, lucky I have booked to my flight online so I can go through the security screening and find free seats to lay down on on departure lounge – few more hours of sleep.

Time:between 7am-10am
Place:somewhere between Madrid and London

Flight, still suffering from blocked ears, another flight is not what one is looking forward to – luckily tiredness overcomes me and I fall asleep about the time we take off only to wake-up 20 minutes before landing – with a major ear-ache. At least there are no problems about staying awake now 😉

Time:between 10am-1pm
Place:somewhere between London and home

On the move again, I wonder how my body reacts to when I eventually do stop moving? Up the M25, join the M40 – swap lanes to catch M42, before heading south on the M5. During the drive I am entertained by Djokovic vs Nadal tennis from Australia, with a occasional switch to Absolute 80’s (showing my age there!).

Time:between 1pm-2.30pm

Good to be home – no time to relax though. Few more images to edit, video to get online..and maybe get something to eat. As those who have read all through this have possibly noticed.. I have not stopped to eat during the last 34 hours or so – this is not an over-sight my writing.. I just actually did not stop to eat, apart from munching on my lunch-pack I prepared at home on Friday evening..
Quick shower – with thanks to my lovely wife for being kind to have the water heating on for it when I arrived (not to mention that she had cleaned the whole house as well, while I was away!!) – and then I am off again..

Time:between 2.30pm-3.30pm
Place : M5/M42

Driving to the Birmingham City Ladies training – tennis is still going on on the radio. Shame I couldn’t watch the game on TV – sounds like a thriller.. Djokovic wins..commentators talk about the game of the decade.. best game ever played, etc.
We then go to a football game.. two not so big English teams playing the first rounds of F.A Cup.. and commentator starts by saying (not exact quote) “I know you’ve been entertained by this tennis from Australia – but here at Stadium of Light we are witnessing a superb and even more exciting game between…’
Right.. so two top players in the world of tennis play a 6 hour game..and your 20 minutes of football somehow surpasses this.. oh well – we do live in England I suppose.. how can ANYTHING be more exciting than football 😉

Time:between 3.30pm-5.30pm
Place:Birmingham City Training Ground

Here to take ‘head shots’ of the Blues Women’s team for next weeks match programme.. initially envious of the girls running (it’s a dome facility, so cold!!) and keeping warm.. but soon emotion turns as they run a bit too much for my liking (well, just in a way that i could not have kept up). Training goes on, and so I wait for my turn to take the pictures.. 14 ‘very happy’ girls/women come to be photographed just after they have been running and sweating for 3 hours.. you tell them to be happy about it 🙂
Pictures done – day is almost over.. drive home ahead of me…last leg of the journey.

Time:between 5.30pm-
Place:On the way home/Home

Journey back home is just a blur – way too tired to be a responsible driver, if anyone breaks suddenly – not a chance that I can react on time.. better take things slowly/easy.
Get home around 6pm.. pizza ready and waiting for me.. quick and easy dinner, but can’t say I am up for cooking, and whatever I would.. it would possibly taste like the best thing EVER! Pizza gulped down.. Man, I am shattered, I try to keep up conversation and follow what’s on tv.. but no chance.. body is just giving up now.. upstairs.. under the duvet..5 seconds.. out like a light! Only waking up around mid-night.. needing something to eat.. and finishing some work for Monday morning..

So there you have it, just a normal traveling weekend for me. And next time you talk to a Sports photographer who looks like he’s been through 48 hours with minimal sleep, no food and traveling at 80 miles per hour.. it just might be me 🙂 So just give me a friendly tap on the shoulder.. that will keep me going for few more hours..
And WELL DONE !!! if you have stuck with the blog entry all the way through..