London: Blue skies and the London Eye

Monday was a success by every measure. Steve and I worked a 19-hour day, taking advantage of spectacular weather. When it’s clear, dry and sunny in London you keep rolling because you never know when the weather could change.

LONDON – Good morning from sunny London, home of the Summer Olympics. Photographer Steve Rhodes and I are headed to two interesting stories today. We are going to ride the London Eye, a gigantic ferris wheel on the Banks of the Thames River. Each of the capsules can fit 30 people and one rotation takes half an hour. I rode it two years ago with my wife and kids. On a clear day (like today) the view should be spectacular.

Also today, we are doing a story on London’s “Singing Cabbie.” Aiden Kent drives a cab during the day and sings in pubs and restaurants at night. A unique day.

Monday was a success by every measure. Steve and I worked a 19-hour day, taking advantage of spectacular weather. When it’s clear, dry and sunny in London you keep rolling because you never know when the weather could change.

We spent a portion of the day on a “Harry Potter” film tour, seeing many of the London landmarks used by filmmakers. Our guide carried a portable DVD player and showed us the scenes at each location (Thames River, Trafalgar Square, Scotland Yard) and then described in vivid detail what was filmed on location and how moviemakers used post-production techniques to create the magic. We saw dozens of “Potterheads” taking pictures at Platform 9 3/4 where Harry catches the “Hogwarts Express”.

The Kings Cross tube station set up a photo location with a luggage trolley that appears to be halfway through a brick wall. Harry Potter fans would instantly recognize it and each person wants a photo to see if they can be like Harry and disappear through the wall. The famous platform has apparently changed locations several times inside Kings Cross. The actual filming area is between two working train platforms.

We caught up with Kevin Beresford, president of the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society. Who knew there was such a group? Kevin is a “bout” fanatic, creating a calendar of Britain’s best roundabouts. He’s a character, exactly the kind of passionate person that we seek for our stories. We had dinner near one of his favorite roundabouts where a huge IMAX theatre is located. We rented a cab and went around the “bout” photographing it from every angle. We are meeting Kevin in another English city later in our trip to see what’s known as the “Magic Roundabout.”

We capped off the night shooting video of Big Ben, the London Eye and other London icons. My highlight was hearing the bell from Big Ben ring 11 times at 11pm. Stunning!

The “behind the scenes” of this Olympic pre-trip is very unglamorous. Steve and I share a tiny “linen closet size” London hotel room near one of the underground train stations. We share a room to save the station money. Two twin beds. Most elevators have more space than we do.

When we are not doing interviews, we are downloading hours of footage on computer hard drives. It is tedious work for Steve. We pack cables, batteries, hard drives and video cards and bring them into the hotel lobby late at night to work. Of course, we need electrical converters for all of the gadgets and finding AC outlets isn’t always easy. Steve was up well past two in the morning downloading and dubbing video files so we can be ready the next day.

People often wonder why we come to the Olympic host city and don’t gather stories about athletes, sports, or venues. That isn’t our role. We have crews who will come to London in July to cover those angles during the Summer Olympics. Our assignment, which I prefer, is to capture the distinctive, compelling stories that most media either ignore or don’t have time to see.

Channel 13 has created a reputation for unique storytelling that goes well beyond the stadiums where gold medals are won. Steve has been doing these pre-trips since Sydney, Australia. I have covered Olympics in one form or fashion since Salt Lake City in 2002. I have been fortunate to travel with WTHR to Athens (2004), Torino (2006), Beijing (2008), Vancouver (2010) and now London (2012). We see so much more than we would covering the Games. In total, we are spending 15 days in England, taking a train to the southwest tip of England, then driving through the Cotswolds, into Liverpool and York. We hope to bring back 20 or more stories that will air during our Olympic coverage this summer.

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London: The perfect pub, royal castles and Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, castles, queens, wine and beer. Yes, that seems to sum up our itinerary today.

LONDON – Sherlock Holmes, castles, queens, wine and beer. Yes, that seems to sum up our itinerary today.

Since this was our last full day in London, we wanted to squeeze everything in. We worried this morning because the forecast called for rain. Didn’t rain a drop. Cloudy and cool across London.

Our day began with wine. Seriously. During our months of research, we learned Gordon’s wine bar was the oldest in London, established in 1890. We didn’t go there because it’s old. We went to Gordon’s because of the unique ambiance. Descend the flight of stairs into an old wine cellar lit by candles. The walls are covered with old photos and historic newspapers featuring the Royal family and England through the years. Very cool.

The owner encouraged us to arrive at 11am before the lunch crowd showed up. If you want a romantic, unique place for wine or lunch consider Gordon’s. The ceilings in the old cellar are less than six feet tall, forcing taller guests, like myself, to duck. Each table has candles.

There is one private area, a cage with a larger table. We met a group of American women, whose husbands work in the UK, who make weekly wine outings to places in England. They chose Gordon’s today. We were fortunate to meet those lovely and funny ladies. Melissa Alger and Purdue grad Beth Van Volkinburg are part of the “Wednesday Wine Time Women” group that enjoyed wine, laughs and conversation in the cage at Gordon’s.

They also joke about their group’s other acronym, “AWOL” (American Women on the Loose).

After our midday wine experience we jumped in a cab for a short drive to Buckingham Palace where we photographed the exterior and did some promo shots. We knew the Queen wasn’t home because the monarchy flag was replaced by the Union Jack.

After a short stay at Buckingham Palace, we took a cab to the Tower of London, perhaps the most important castle in England. There is so much history. The crown jewels are located inside and it’s the place where our cabby said three queens were beheaded. The Tower of London is located along the Thames River and near the spectacular Tower Bridge.

Our final story of the day was Sherlock Holmes. The fictional detective is realizing a rise in popularity in Britain because of the wildly successful BBC series. Most Americans either read Arthur Doyle’s books or saw Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal on the big screen. But this is London. Sherlock Holmes has a special connection here.

221b Baker Street is often called the most famous address in the world because that was Doyle’s fictional address for Holmes and Watson. We drove to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes museum. The sign above the museum door is 221b Baker Street. There was a big crowd of Sherlockian fans buying souvenirs and walking up three flights of narrow stairs to see a recreation of the Holmes’ bedroom, study and other rooms.

We took another cab near Trafalgar Square where the Sherlock Holmes restaurant is located. We met several members of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. These people are passionate Sherlockians, know every detail of the books and movies and have become huge fans of the BBC series. They attend lectures on Sherlock Holmes, plan trips to sites in the novels and can easily recite facts and passages from the books. We talked about Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Homes restaurant while enjoying cheese fries, fish and chips and a glass of beer.

Now we’re back at the hotel lobby, sitting at a table with a computer downloading video clips onto hard drives. We will likely be up past midnight again with little time to sleep. Thursday we catch a 7am train to the southwest tip of England. While you are sleeping, we will be taking a six hour train ride to Penzance.

Good night from London!

St. Michael’s Mount, Land’s End, castles and pub signs

Since the tide was high this morning, we took an amphibious boat across reaching the castle in five minutes. Along the way, we saw two dolphins swimming in Mount’s Bay.

BRISTOL, UK – Greetings from Bristol, England where it’s 12:30am. Steve and I just pulled into the hotel and turned on soccer after another long, memorable day.

Our alarm went off at 6:00am in Marazion so we could capture the sunrise at St. Michael’s Mount, the incredibly beautiful castle in the southwestern corner of England. It’s unique for two reasons. It is located in a tidal bay. When the tide is high, it is surrounded by water and accessible by boat. But in low tide, St. Michael’s Mount is not an island and you can walk along a stone causeway or beach to reach the castle. The second unique thing is that St Michael’s Mount has a family living inside. More on the family during my story this summer.

Since the tide was high this morning, we took an amphibious boat across reaching the castle in five minutes. Along the way, we saw two dolphins swimming in Mount’s Bay.

The castle is rich in history dating back hundreds of years. There are more than 50 rooms, many accessible to guests. The views are incredible. In one direction, the coastline of Cornwall. In the other direction, the Atlantic Ocean.

After our tour, the tide was low enough that Steve and I could walk across the causeway, which had been covered in water hours earlier. Since it was a sunny day, there were thousands of people visiting.

We also spent a portion of the day driving along the coastline to Land’s End, a spectacular town along the southern coast of England with beautiful views of the Atlantic. I had the traditional Cornish meal, a pasty which reminded me of a “Hot Pocket.” It was filled with meat and veggies. While it’s popular in this part of England, I will pass on the pasty next time.

Back in the car for an 90-minute drive through Cornwall to reach Andrew Grundon, a talented pub sign artist who works out of a studio in his garage. Andrew designs and paints approximately 200 pub signs across England. While some artists use computers to create signs, Andrew is “old school” doing it all by hand. His work is beautiful. He captures the story of each pub, painting portraits, animals, crowns, crests and dynamic lettering designed to bring visitors inside for food and a pint of beer.

After our interview with Andrew we drove to the fishing village of Padstow to videotape many of the pub signs Andrew created and enjoy my third plate of fish and chips.

Our day ended with an often white knuckle ride along narrow streets to reach Bristol. Imagine driving from Indianapolis to South Bend mostly on a narrow two lane road, in the wrong lane, while sitting in the passenger seat, using your other hand to power a stick shift. That’s what it’s like for an American to drive in England. Again, we didn’t crash. So, it was a good day.

Tomorrow, we go to Thornbury castle where an English couple is getting married. Imagine that. Your wedding in a real castle! Now imagine spending the night in the same room where kings once slept. That’s our assignment Saturday.

You will see our stories during the Olympics on channel 13.

Good night from England!

© Copyright 2012 Channel 13. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Highs will reach the low to mid 70s today with a mix of sun and clouds.  There’s a chance of a spotty shower or thunderstorm, especially this afternoon.  Don’t cancel outdoor plans, the day is not expected to be a washout.

If your allergies are still bothering you, pollen counts are at a medium-high level, with ash, mulberry and birch being the top three.

Tonight, the clouds break and temps drop to the low to mid 50s.

Monday is the start of a fantastic week.  Highs will reach the mid 70s and starting Wednesday, temps will reach the low 80s through next weekend!  There’s a slight chance for rain Wednesday, other than that, the week looks dry as of now.

The normal high this time of year is 72, so we’ll be warm this week.  Enjoy!

Your Mother’s Day Forecast

Happy Mother’s Day! I wish I could offer sunshine and 70s, but I can only come through on half of that promise. We’ll have clouds throughout the day with the chance of some passing showers from midday through afternoon. But temperatures will be seasonable in the low to mid 70s.

How much rain? At this point it doesn’t look like much. Most areas will see less than 1/10″. Rain totals could be a little higher in Southern Indiana where isolated thunder is possible – but no severe storms are expected in the Hoosier State at all. If you’re heading to the track, the showers may be a factor, but for other outdoor events like Mother’s Day at the Zoo or the Indians game, a little rain shouldn’t be much more than a minor nuisance.

After a few Sunday showers, we’ll see a mainly dry week ahead, which bodes well for practice at the track. There’s an outside chance at a couple showers Wednesday and again Friday. Otherwise, we’ll be dry and gradually warmer with highs surging into the 80s by late week into next weekend.

Finally, our WTHR-TV Hoosier Pic this evening – a gorgeous hot air balloon photo captured by Daniel Paull over the skies in Lapel. Submit your pic on WTHR’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WTHR13

Have a great Mother’s Day!
-Chikage
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Great Opening Weekend at IMS

A pretty nice weekend is ahead for Central Indiana.

If you’ve got outdoor plans, Saturday is probably the best day to soak in the sun.

Highs will reach the mid 70s today with partly cloudy skies.  A light breeze out of the south up to 10 mph will help push warm air our way.

Tonight, an isolated shower or thunderstorm is possible as temps drop to the mid 50s.

For Mother’s Day, keep an umbrella handy.  There’s a chance of scattered showers and storms.  The day won’t be a washout, but you’ll want to keep an eye on the radar if you have outdoor plans.

Next week looks perfect if you like sunshine and warmth!  Temps will settle in with highs in the mid to upper 70s with sunshine.  On Wednesday, there’s a slight chance of an isolated shower or storm.

Mother’s Day Weekend Forecast

It’s a gorgeous sunny Friday today and temperatures will be just a tad warmer than the average high of 72 for this time of year. I’m forecasting 75 for Indy. You can head to the IMS ’til 3pm where the Firestone Indy Lights are doing test runs…and it’s free.

Tonight’s game at Victory Field is looking great with mainly clear and mild weather. That will be perfect for the first Friday night fireworks of the season after the game!

Tomorrow’s Kids’ Day / Rookie Run at Monument Circle looks a few degrees warmer than today with more cloud cover, but it should remain dry. While northern/northwest Indiana could get a shower/storm before sunset tomorrow, here in Indy we should stay dry ’til late night tomorrow – possibly until Sunday.

Unfortunately, Mom’s Day does look like it will turn wet. Right now, it looks like Southern Indiana will have the highest chance of rain (and the most rain expected). Here in Central Indiana, we could get up to 1/2″ rain with the timing looking most likely from midday through the night. It doesn’t look like we’ll be dodging anything severe, but the rain could impact your Mother’s Day plans.

For now, it looks like next week will be bring a long stretch of dry, warm, and pleasant weather.

Finally, our WTHR-TV Hoosier Pic at noon. Due to a time crunch, we did not get to show Jerry Byard’s pic on-air, but here it is…a nice one from Mounds State Park in Anderson where Jerry spotted this Carolina Wren. Share your pic: https://www.facebook.com/WTHR13

Have a great weekend!
-Chikage
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Fantastic Friday & Weekend Changes

A fantastic Friday is ahead for Central Indiana!

A fantastic Friday is ahead for Central Indiana!

Highs will reach the mid 70s with mostly sunny skies.  A light breeze out of the south will help bump temps above our normal high of the low 70s.

Tonight skies remain mostly clear with mild overnight lows in the low 50s.

Saturday we’ll see increasing clouds with highs in the mid 70s.  Late Saturday night, there’s a 20% chance of an isolated shower or thunderstorm.  Most spots will stay dry until Sunday.

Sunday, scattered showers and storms will develop.  As of right now, the day doesn’t look like a washout, but keep the rain gear handy!  Temps will only reach the low 70s.

By Monday, we’ll watch for radar activity to die down, then it’s smooth sailing with sun and 70s (close to 80) by the end of next week.

Sunny & Mild

Sunshine and below average temps rule the day across Central Indiana!

Sunshine and below average temps rule the day across Central Indiana!

Normal highs this time of year are in the low 70s, today we’ll warm up to the upper 60s.

Our weather pattern remains quiet tonight with lows in the low to mid 40s.

Friday and Saturday we’re back into the 70s with sunshine.  Late Saturday clouds will be on the increase, and late Saturday night a few showers are possible.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms look more likely for Mother’s Day on Sunday.

A few isolated showers and storms may remain Monday, before we warm into the upper 70s with sunny skies beginning next Tuesday.

Cool Wednesday; Spotty Showers Possible

Today’s weather blog is short and sweet!

Today’s weather blog is short and sweet!

Highs will reach the mid 60s today with partly cloudy skies and a chance for a spotty shower.  Winds will gust out of the northwest up to 25mph.

Tonight temps drop to the low 40s with mostly clear skies.

Thursday, get ready for more sunshine and highs in the upper 60s.

More sun and warmth on Friday and Saturday with temps in the low 70s.

Our next chance for scattered showers and storms starts Sunday.