Saturday 25th March 2017

Today was an absolute failure of a day and I had a great time.
One of the downsides to the day job is that I’m often on call, needing to respond to emergencies.  It pays extra money and our setup is such that we very rarely get called up.  Except, when we do… it tends to be something that needs reacting to fast.
And so, when it comes to weekends, I rarely get the chance to travel too far from either home or the office.  When I do get a free weekend, the weather is either bad… or I’m too lazy to get my arse into gear.
But this weekend the stars aligned and I could see that not only did I have a free weekend, it looked like it would be an incredible day.
So I decided to go to the beach.
Or to be more precise, travel down to Somerset to Brean Down.  I first came here geocaching many years ago and I fell in love with the place.  It’s essentially a rock that juts into the Severn estuary, with an old Victorian fort at the tip.  It’s the type of place I’d go if I ever needed to get away from it all and contemplate important life decisions.  Not that was needed today.
Aside from getting out of the house and having a change of scenery,  I wanted to test some camera kit I have for storm chasing this year.  Last year I kickstarted a device that plugs into your camera and allows you to control it from your phone.  It can do timelapses and be triggered by lightning and a load of other stuff.  I plan to use it extensively whilst chasing.
I’m also planning on doing a little bit of vlogging in the future and wanted to test how well my external microphone worked with wind.
So after a morning of doing some chores, I got in the car and headed down to Somerset, stopping at Cribbs Causeway to admire the cameras and pick up a few fitness related items from Sports Direct.
I’d timed my trip so that I’d get there just before sunset.  That would allow me time to set up my kit, take some profile pictures with the remote trigger and then do a timelapse of the sun setting over the water.
The climb up to the Down is one huge flight of steps and I was interested to see how well a much slimmer version of me handled it.  I have to admit, I still felt a bit puffed out by the time I got to the top.
I arrived at the perfect time and then started setting up the gear.
And that’s when everything went wrong.
You see, the device needs to connect to the USB of the camera and I brought the supplied cable… only to find that it was the wrong type of micro-usb.  I’d spent the morning testing the connectivity between my phone and the device but never thought to check the USB cable.  I just assumed it was right.
This meant that I couldn’t try the timelapse nor the remote trigger.
No matter, I thought,  I’ll connect the external microphone and experiment with a bit of vlogging in the winds to see how the sound quality handles.
Except, I discovered my DSLR does not have an auxiliary in.
As Donald Trump would say:  total failure!
I did take some photos with the DSLR, playing with perspective.  I also took a ton of iPhone shots – mainly for future use on social media.  I also tried some iPhone video on the walk back.
But as far as driving all the way down there to achieve the goals I’d set myself, I accomplished not one.
But it doesn’t matter.  And do you know why?
If I’d not tested, I might not have found out these problems before I went to the US.  And as much as someone might argue I could have done that without driving all the way to Somerset… I’ve had the device since before xmas and yet I’d never bothered to test it.  It took the trip to force me to test.
Plus, I saw an amazing sunset at one of my favourite places in the entire world.
Failure is so often a matter of perspective.  Some people are so afraid to fail that they never try, which for me is the bigger crime.
As I was in the area, I popped in to see an old friend, Mark, who lives in the area.  We’ve been friends now for 12-15 years and so I told him all about my failures at the fort.
He told me about his personal website he’s not built yet, because he wants it to be perfect and keeps spending time creating greater and greater plans for it.  As a result, it still hasn’t been done.  Whereas, if he’d just been prepared to fail, he would have a website he could now be building upon.
I told him about my self-doubt yesterday and how I need to be more patient.  He told me how, if the whole publishing gig totally fell apart and I decided to just go into full-time vlogging, he thinks I’m the type of person who would make that succeed.  It’s a nice validation when friends who rip the crap out of you most of the time, tell you how much they believe in you.
Mark thinks that in a few years, I’ll be so successful I’ll have forgotten all about him.  I hope this was just his dry sense of humour as I think if everything does go well I’ll be needing my friends more than ever to keep me level.  I love stories of people who build huge companies and then are able to create jobs ideally suited for their mates but writing is quite a solitary profession.  But who knows what the future will bring.
We talked about cameras and, despite being in what seemed like the country’s worst mobile reception area, looked up potential cameras.  I want something lightweight, I’d like a flip screen, I need an external audio input plus horseshoe mount, and I might want a Canon so it’s compatible with my existing lenses (albeit via a connector).  Oh and I want it cheap.
We swapped between the EOS M10, a second hand 70D, the G7X, and even some Sony cameras, but none seemed to match what I needed.
But then as we realised, we were coming at this a bit like Mark and his website.  I’m wanting perfection and so am not starting utilising the equipment I already have.  I’m not prepared to fail and so I stay in that stasis of talking about it but not actually doing anything about it.
I planned to get home early enough to cook but it was 11:30pm by the time I got back in the door so instead had a couple of bowls of porridge.  Yet another failure.
And yet, I had an awesome day visiting one of my favourite places and catching up with one of my favourite people.  I should fail more often!
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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