Category: News

Celebrate 70 years of the Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival marks its 70th anniversary this year. The event runs May 17 to 28.

I’ve always been a French film fan — ever since taking a module in French cinema as a student at Leeds University.

I was in Cannes last weekend, indulging my interest in cinema and French culture, to preview the build up to the festival.

I was there on assignment for France Magazine.

Touring the attractions for a cinephile’s guide to Cannes, I found the handprints of Pedro Almodovar [pictured above], the president of the jury for this year’s festival, outside the Palais des Festivals.

I also followed a trail of film-themed murals around the town, including giant facade-dominating images of Buster Keaton and Alain Delon.

Cannes is not an obvious weekend-break destination for Brits but, I discovered, it’s compact, culturally rich and pleasantly spring like — even in low-season February.

Here’s a preview of my story:

Cannes has been closely associated with the glamour of the world of cinema’s cornerstone event since the origins of the festival in 1939. The red carpet, today rolled out in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congres just off the Boulevard de la Croisette, retains a frisson of Hollywood glitter. Not bad for the town that provided the backdrop to Meg Ryan’s French Kiss and Mr Bean’s Holliday.

Look out for this and more stories from the trip in May.

Inside fatherhood drafts: life changes for stepdad Dom

Dom wasn’t planning to be a father figure. Hell, he didn’t even want kids.

Besides, he was too busy building a career and going on tour with his band.

But life has a habit of throwing your curveballs and that’s exactly how Dom found himself going from nought to 60 into parenthood — virtually overnight.

One day, hanging out backstage with the band. The next, a suburban house, a ready-made family unit and a dog.

I interviewed musician and entrepreneur Dom Smith [pictured above] as the latest case study for Inside Fatherhood, my forthcoming book to be published by BRF in 2018.

Here’s a taste of his experience of fatherhood:

“I’m not a stereotypical disciplinarian. But that’s what not being a dad by blood does for you — it lets you stand back and take stock more.

“We talk about video games, comic books and music. Our dynamic is pretty chilled out. He’s just a good kid with a taste for rebellion.

“I’m not always comfortable with the role but being a parent and getting him to listen to me is what I’ve got to do. Hell, I didn’t even know I had this authoritarian voice inside me.”

Do you have an experience of fatherhood to share? Contact me if you would be interviewed for the book.

Spring walks for English Heritage magazine

I’ve finished two stories looking forward to spring this week.

And, let’s face it, we all need a hint of snowdrops or a glimpse of daffodils at this time of year when the days loom grey and the vitamin D levels are low.

The first is a piece for the English Heritage Members’ Magazine and profiles a series of spring walks for some blow-away-the-cobwebs spring days out.

Suggestions range from a walk in the footsteps of the Roman legions around Housesteads Roman Fort, Northumberland, to soaking up the Arthurian legend on a walk around Tintagel.

The walk descriptions come with short route plans to discover the walks for yourself.

Pilgrimage route

The second is a feature about the Two Saints Way [pictured above], an ancient pilgrimage trail between Chester and Lichfield cathedrals.

The long distance walking trail, recreating the ancient pilgrimage paths, takes its name from Werburgh and Chad, two Saxon saints who brought Christianity to the ancient kingdom of Mercia in the 7th century.

The saints were laid to rest at Chester and Lichfield respectively, establishing the ancient cathedral cities as alternative pilgrimage destinations to Rome or Jerusalem.

Both magazine articles are out in the weeks to come, so check out my Twitter feed for links.

On the trail of Teggie in Wales for Rough Guides

This year marks the Year of Legends in Wales.

That’s why my first assignment of the new year took me to Bala Lake — that’s Llyn Tegid in Welsh.

The lake is allegedly home to Teggie, Wales’ answer to the Loch Ness Monster. And I took to a canoe on a cold January morning [pictured above] to go in search of the camera-shy beastie.

The feature is for Rough Guides and will be published March 1st — St David’s Day in Wales.

Life lessons

Here’s a preview of what to expect:

They regale me with kind of folk tales familiar to all Welsh schoolchildren. The cast of characters would put Game of Thrones to shame — evil kings, brave knights and mischievous elves. These stories, I learn, are passed down through the generations and integral to preserving the Welsh language and culture.

“Every place name has an old story attached to it. hese legends ground us,” explains Llinos Jones-Williams. “Based around universal themes of love, life and death, they can still teach us something about the way we live today.”

I’m interested in other ideas around Welsh folklore and have a possible assignment around the summer solstice. Watch this space for more.