Trip of a lifetime - part five

Day two of the JD Williams film shoot in Cape Town took place over two locations, here at the Dairy Shed and at an outdoor studio which I'll show you later. This was the base for hair, make-up and wardrobe as well as the site for photos and film plus interviews, so it was pretty much the hub. The day had started out being dull and wet, but by the time the first lot of filming was taking place it was seriously hot. When I dodged outside to take some photos I was advised to wear a hat so that I wouldn't get sun burnt. The landscape looked just like the lush green of the UK, but there again, perhaps that was the whole point - to recreate a lovely spring day in the middle of January!

This sight was just like home from home for me. Both the Agapanthus flowers and the Eucalyptus trees are to be found on the island where I live. 

And this was Operation Central. The Dairy Shed was a wonderful cool sanctuary no matter how hot it got outside. There was wardrobe, hair and make-up stations and a restaurant where all the crew convened for lunch from both venues. We had a lot of extras on this day for one of the film scenes so we had quite a crowd assembled by mid-day. 

Louise is one of JD Williams permanent models who has worked for them long term too. She is the archetypal English Rose of a model and as such, was in front of the cameras almost all day - how she didn't wilt in the sunshine I just don't know! This was the typical flurry of activity needed to prep her ready for her change of wardrobe for her next scene.

The word flawless, comes to mind.

This is Sian Moss, who was my make-up artist over this shoot. I use the term artist specifically to describe the skillful way she applies the make-up. Sian spends almost as much time sitting back and observing as she does painting on her chosen colours. There's no chit-chat with her as Sian gives her full concentration to the task in hand. There's a real pleasure in handing yourself over to her, knowing that she is out to create the very best version of oneself. The face, to her, is a blank canvas, one that she can visualise as she works away, painting on the right shades and tones to compliment hair and features.

Sian has played up my eyes and helped to restore a fresh look to my skin all through the power of make-up. In due course I hope to feature Sian on my blog so that I can pick her brains for some beauty tips.

I was dressed to keep cool and this outfit worked fine. The skirt was a charity shop find, as was the turquoise top. The embroidered top is from H&M, but again was pre-loved. And my sandals were bought from Primark a couple of summer's ago.

Rose petals had been brought in freshly picked that morning for the big film shoot that afternoon. 

Lights, soundtrack, action and all that jazz!

My photo shoot and interviews took place at the Dairy Shed towards the end of the day and I must admit most of the time I was thinking about this amazing backdrop, Studio 26, where the film crew were based for the majority of the day. We had whizzed past the outdoor studio in the early morning, but I myself wasn't part of the cast who was filmed there. Later on I managed to blag a trip up there when the crew were relocating for the last shoot of the day. I forgot to mention my lovely Cape Town beach bag which I bought at the top of Table Mountain - happy memories for me every time I spend a day at the beach with this!

We arrived at dusk just as one shoot was finishing. Louise had been strutting up and down those stairs like a good un! Richie was my guide on the set, showing me behind the scenes and keeping me out of trouble. Once the sun dropped there was a quick reshuffle to another corner of the studio for the final shoot.

The stylist Aldene and her assistant Nicky were trying to keep the model warm as the temperatures dropped rapidly once the sun had set. A coat was found to bundle her up as the lighting and set was tweaked. I had no idea how complex and time consuming this could be until I was involved. Filming seems to take forever!

It was coming up to about 10 o'clock by this time when a few of us were offered a lift back to the hotel. My need to spend time in the pink paradise was well and truly fulfilled by then so I jumped at the chance. There was a wrap party arranged in a bar in Cape Town which Louise and I were both in a quandary about as to whether we would go or not. As it happened, the rest of the cast were waiting for us at the hotel, so we had a quick change and off we went!

It was at the wrap party where I met up with Beccy who works for the production company in Cape Town. I told her of my plan to swim at Camps Bay the next morning. Beccy gave me lots of good advice, particularly on the safety aspect of my plan. Eventually we agreed that it might be a great idea if she were to meet me there and show me where it's safe. 

So this is Camp's Bay. Beccy's told me that despite looking quite safe, the beach is only safe to swim on when the flags are up and there are Lifeguards on the look out. Today, no flags, no Lifeguards, therefore no swimming. But all was not lost. Beccy took me just around the corner to show me a tidal pool that has a sea wall to protect the bathers. 

When I had told Beccy about wanting to swim here she told me it was far too cold, freezing in fact and that's what the Concierge at the hotel had also said too. This was me testing the temperature to show her that I wouldn't expire from the shock.

My best beach babe shot, hahaha!

Beccy was dashing off to work and I was due to meet up with the rest of the cast for one final breakfast so we said our goodbyes. How fortunate for me that Beccy's children are training to be Lifeguards which is why she knows about the heavy undertow and currents on Camp's Bay beach. I know there can be huge risks swimming from a beach that's new to you. Cheers, Beccy for keeping me safe!

Breakfast entailed a series of Ab Fab goodbyes (see part four) and Nicky from wardrobe was party to this one. I do think that he probably lives his life in the Ab Fab lane most of the time dahling!

After breakfast we had time for a final tour around the V&A Waterfront to buy some last minute souvenirs.

I would have loved to buy this large bowl, and yes they offered to ship it, but my ongoing dejunking at home reined me in. 

Paulina and I were flying back to the UK at 6pm that evening and had time for a few last minute photos. We finished our stay with afternoon tea.

We drank in the view for one last time. The holiday had been an amazing one, a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The venue, the 5 star luxury, the filming and photo shoots in such a beautiful country and the warm welcome of the people made this a totally memorable experience. JD Williams had really pushed the boat out for this campaign. I always have in the forefront of my mind how important it is to savour these moments. I treat every little escapade as the last one, knowing full well how fickle the modelling world can be. The English Rose, and the strong Afro hairstyle are defined looks, great looks in fact and as such there's always going to be a call for them. I know I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I also come home after every trip believing it's my last. Call it self protection, call it a reality check. Whatever. I'm very grateful for having had this opportunity and if it's my last whirl around the block with JDW, well, it's been grand!


and more planes

and one final little plane.

Goodbye Cornwall, goodbye to the mainland...

... and hello, Isles of Scilly!

The boat homeward was bittersweet. I was sad that my adventure was over, but also so happy to be going back to family, friends and home. The day job was waiting and I was ready!

                                                                                           Anna x


Trip of a lifetime - part four

The first day of filming in Cape Town for the JD Williams shoot took place here on location at The Castle of Good Hope. The fortress is a National Monument which dates back to 1666 and is the oldest existing Colonial building in South Africa.

Evon and I had been picked up at 4.30am and arrived when light had barely broken. She and I were the first to be called for shooting - she for TV, me for Content, which I had learnt was the name given for anything that wasn't TV ie. social media, magazines, etc.

The sun rose and quickly the courtyards within the fortification became like melting pots capturing and holding the early sunlight. I was photographed in shade initially, but the second shoot for me was in full sunlight. I had my own personal brolly holder who came to shade me between shots. 

This was my spot.

And this was my backdrop. At the time we were shooting there was no shadow for me to take refuge in. My biggest worry was that the heat was melting my lipstick almost as soon as it was applied!

After my shots, I got changed and Louise and I did a bit of personal photography for our Instagram stories. I definitely could do with some lessons from her with regards to posing as she is such a blooming natural. Maybe that's the answer though, just to be natural.

Louise Boyce has been modelling for 20 years and most of those for JD Williams as part of their stable of full time models. She is a consummate professional who is also blessed with the most amazing bone structure and perfect teeth - she's everything we have come to expect in a model. Best of all, she's very down to earth and approachable. I did quite a bit of hanging out with her on this trip, including a very long breakfast where she shared her (now revealed) secret that she was 12 weeks pregnant. No-one could have guessed as she was fit as a flea and able to work the long hours needed to get the shots. See her blog here - Mamastillgotit

I sometimes worry that my constant gushing negates the validity of my comments, but I shall forge on regardless. Elisabeth Hoff was the photographer who captured my likenesses on this shoot. I'm unashamedly suffering a girl-crush about this woman. I did, at one point, shout across a crowded dining table that she reminded me of my Sindy doll who was the most beautiful thing in the world to my childhood self. My grown up self loves this living Sindy doll with as much fondness. Elisabeth is a total perfectionist in her art, and as such isn't to be messed with. Her entourage ran, fetched and carried at her bidding, aware that magic was in the making. She made me feel at my ease, saying the right things at just the right moment, helping my anxieties to melt away. She even stepped in at one point to disagree about an outfit that had been chosen for me as she didn't feel it reflected who I am, refusing to photograph me. She then rifled through wardrobe, pulling together something that was indeed totally me. I can't wait to see the shots.

Inside, more magic was being spun around the next wave of models. Hair being styled and sprayed and make-up skillfully applied to enhance all that nature has bestowed.

And this is where the technical stuff happened. Orchestrating all of the different shots from the filming was the production team, overseen by the client. It's just as you've seen, "Quiet, please. Action!" ringing out, time after time until the take is in the bag. 

In between shots, we all found ways to while away the time. I had taken a book to read - "Bonkers: My Life in Laughs" by Jennifer Saunders which was brilliant and totally absorbing. I must admit that the whole, Dahling, Luvvie thing became quite infectious and something that I played up terribly on the final morning at breakfast when our large table of models was being visited by stylists as they came to say their goodbyes. We were being watched (blatantly so, in fact) by a couple nearby, and so just to give them full value for their money, I switched onto full Ab Fab mode, with lots of air kissing and cries of "oh we must work together again dahling, and soon!" - goodness knows if they saw right through it, but they just couldn't keep their eyes off us.

Once all of my shots were done, I made a foray around the castle, dodging into the shadows to get out of the now scorching midday sun. 

I found these plaques honouring the brave men who fell during battles for their countries, all tucked away in this tunnel. The castle is still protected by South African troops who can be seen exercising throughout the day within the castle walls. Filming and photography were interrupted a couple of times as the sound of marching approached and soldiers strode through the middle of the set. 

Being the oldest woman on the set often had me playing the mother hen role, but sometimes I was touched by the kindness of the team as they would keep an eye out for me too. Richie Lattin is Content Director for TBWA Manchester and as such seems to be around quite a lot, filming for social media, organising as well as giving hands-on help with the set, overseeing choreography and is very much evident at the happening side of things. He is kind and considerate to me as one might be to an ancient aunt. He understands me and my insecurities, my dance limitations and my readiness to put myself down and yet still believes in me. Unlikely as it is that he may actually read this, I'd still like to say "Thank-you Richie for making me feel comfortable and part of this other-worldly situation".

I do hope that I've not bored you to death with my glorified holiday snaps. I'll be back with part five, the finale, soon and in the meantime I wish you a lovely weekend.

                                                                    Anna x

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