Thursday, September 19, 2013


Re-invention has been one of the most important reoccurring events in my career. As market trends change, recessions come and go and, of course, you get older... a voice-over needs to regularly reassess so many aspects of his work sphere: are my demos sufficiently current and do they reflect the best of my work to date; do my web sites serve purpose adequately; am I marketing myself to the right people and are there voice-over fields I haven't addressed yet; am I using social media and other platforms to promote myself?

As a one man band who has to work, be secretary, accountant, lawyer and marketing manager, finding the time to do all this can be very time consuming. But - if we don't do it the work load is going to decrease. This summer I took on three new agents - in Colorado, Chicago and London. Both US agents have already paid dividends with lucrative work. I voiced a national radio campaign (Canada) for Muskoka Brewery and a statewide TV campaign for the Texas Lottery. There has been one job for the London agent and several new leads. That element of the re-invention is going well so far.

The last few days have involved a web site keywords overhaul, a new "Father Christmas - The Voice" Facebook page and moves to start yet another voice-over web site. I'll keep this going until I see the rewards.

Personal re-invention also helps the process and a move to new house has certainly been stimulating. In February we moved to the delightful Rose Cottage at Cwmcarn.

Part of the house is 17th century and it is the oldest inhabited dwelling in the area. A well renovated combination of old oak beams, lovely stone work and other features make for a beautiful home.

It was a cottage on a farm estate for hundreds of years and is now the only element of the farm left.

It is in one of the most beautiful valleys in Wales and the views from the house are quite spectacular.

We leave behind us a larger house with several acres and a headache of outhouses, fields, fences and trees - in other words stressful maintenance problems. At the new home we can start to relax our lives enjoy life more.

So - re-invention all round in my life is the name of the game. I feel as though I am now at the peak of my career and doing some of my best work. Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Old Year/New Year

The last year has shown a marked improvement on the recession pressed 2011. December was especially good with many Santa voice-overs to be done. I was also invited to voice my usual Santa Session with local children for a Christmas Eve radio broadcast. It doesn't matter what the parents tell you their children like, when you ask them they come up with something quite different. One Chelsea Football Club fan denied that he liked them and the boy who was supposed to be a keen Manchester United Fan said he supported Manchester City. Ah well - you can't win them all. On a personal level, December was a very hard month as I lost my father. He was 92 and had been seriously ill for two months. Dad lived a very full life. He was a pioneering eye surgeon who founded and built one of the best Ophthalmic Units in the UK between 1954 and 1984. Even at 92 he was still involved with the Rotary Club, the local Youth Club, the University of the Third Age, various ornithological groups and was a trustee of a Conservation Centre. I will miss him.
They say that the three most stressful events in life are losing a family member, moving house and divorce. Well - I am not getting divorced. However, I am moving house. If the legal eagles can get all the contracts in order we should be in the new home in a week or two. If it all goes well I will post a photo in a new blog. In the meantime - Happy New Year to everyone.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Promising Recovery

Well - the UK voice-over world has certainly improved since last year. The end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 were not good in my business. Things have been much better since February. Some of the UK corporate narration work which had virtually disappeared began to come back. Although, in May, I didn't invoice a single UK company until the end of the year - almost all the voiceovers came from the USA, the Middle East and Europe. An added bonus in June was being chosen as the voice for Lego's US TV Commercials for a new product/game launch later this year. There's a chance the commercials will air in the UK and maybe even Australia.

On the home front' just like 2011, we had an another early year loss when our beloved dog Pippin died. We were lucky enough to have him for six years longer than expected because of brilliant veterinary help. All the same, he was part of our lives for twelve and a half years and he will be greatly missed.

We now have a new member of the family. His name is Mud and he is settling in really well.

At the end of May we headed for Provence, France for a week's holiday. We went to meet up with old friends who were over from Australia. We had a wonderful time visiting the Camargue, Arles, Avignon and some wonderful sites in that area before moving to the Haut Var for a few days. It was a good opportunity to use my French again. Here are just a few of the things we saw...

Flamingoes in the Camargue

The amphitheatre at Arles

L'Abbaye Montmajour

Les Baux de Provence

One of Barjol's many fountains

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy New Year? - Roll on 2012!

I don't think I have ever experienced such a bad winter. The big freeze and snow caused havoc at Cwmcaddon with frozen pipes and, with the road largely unpassable to the average car, the problem of how to get the cats into the Cattery for the Christmas and New Year peak. Two other family members experienced loss of electricity and water. My father fell and broke his hip. there just seemed to be one problem after another and it didn't get any better in January.

The worst of it all was losing our wonderful rescued pony Frodo to cancer on Tuesday. The vet did all he could to save him but we had to let him go. He was only 12 years old - far too young to go. At least he had a better life with us. A good neighbour has permanently loaned a young mare to keep Frodo's pal company.

The recession began to hit work as long ago as August and, by January, there was very little voice-over work about. Things have improved a little in February with voice jobs for the UK, Portugal and the Middle East. Happily, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is knocking at my door again with a world-wide TV campaign for the resort in Florida. Hopefully things will continue to improve. I was very sad to say goodbye to a company I have worked for for over 25 years, voicing Interactive Safety Training programmes for the power industry. I have no idea how the rest of the year will go - far too difficult to gauge that - especially with the actions of the present government. Just have to wait and see.

Well. It has taken me quite a time to get to grips with migrating my blog to the new system. I hope it works. This is just a test to check.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Of pastimes and past times

July has been an extremely wet month so far and I am missing the Grecian sun. We spent ten days at Lindos, Rhodes again in the second half of May "en famille". A leisurely lunch of calamari and an assortment of other dishes at a beachside taverna is a delight but all too soon over.

In complete contrast we spent my July birthday dodging clouds in Somerset. We took my father-in-law to visit some of the villages where his ancestors lived in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. On the way home we stopped at Wells to gaze briefly at the Cathedral (right), which is truly awesome - what an endeavour!

I spend so much time in front of a computer screen, either in the studio or doing my admin, that a good outlook is essential. My desk looks out onto a small garden enclosed by hedge. I have a pond with shubumkin, ghost fish and tench and a wonderful array of birds. One of the rare and infrequent visitors to my bird tables is the Willow Tit. I love the Long Tailed Tit which arrive in a group of six or eight. The occasional Goldfinch and Goldcrest are attractive, too. Without fail each year the woodpeckers feed - here is a young woodpecker enjoying a snack.

Work wise the recession has not been too unkind to me. This month my Harry Potter Video Game TV commercial voice-overs went to air. I believe they are being used in English speaking countries across the world. I have also been busy providing voice-overs for a growing number of Talking Telescopes at tourist locations around the UK and I have been replacing all Avis Car Rental's phone messages for at least six months now. The real problem with the recession is the danger of a company failing before paying for its audio. So far I have been lucky and have but one or two bad debts. The biggest irony is a Financial Solutions company in Sheffield which offers advice to those in debt and which has refused to pay for a voice-over without any explanation! That company now has a County Court Judgement against its record. Ah well.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the year.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring forward Fall back

We have seen in a New Year and the season is changing once more - but what a roller coaster the last months have been. The family suffered a loss in November but rallied well for Christmas. A plague of illnesses littered the winter months, including the voice-over's nemesis... laryngitis. The fires in Victoria, Australia, though, put all our woes into perspective and the horror was made the more frightening by the concern for close friends in that region. They survived the fires but came so close to danger. The fire came within 10 metres of the house and then, miraculously, sped off in a different direction. This picture shows the trees along the nearby creek igniting. It was a shock to see Michael on the Australian TV news and to see how shaken he was by the experience.

I heard from another friend in Melbourne that Leonard Cohen gave 200,000 australian dollars of his concert fees towards the funds to help victims. He announced this at one of his Melbourne concerts but I have never seen it in the news. The good news is that just two weeks after the fires the regeneration began. Here is a striking shot of the new life against the charred ground.

I experienced my own little bit of magic in December. Just when the workload was looking rather slim Harry Potter came to the rescue. Sometime this year my voice will grace some TV commercials across the world for the new Harry Potter video game. The last month has been exceptionally busy and with quite a variety of work. I voiced a rather nicely put together travelogue for the Danube Delta, have taken over production of all audio for Talking telescopes around the country and, if you rent from Avis Car Rental, allow my voice to guide you through their telephone service.

Now - if I can just find enough time to complete construction of the new cubicles for our Boarding Cattery, prepare the programme for the International Folk Dance Festival and make some new demo material for the big Radio Industry/Voice-overs event before swanning off to Rhodes for a holiday - all will be well.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

There is a Crack in Everything. That's How the Light Gets in.

Last night I saw Leonard Cohen in concert in Cardiff and it was one of the finest concerts I have ever experienced. At 74 years old the voice is deep and sure and wondrous. His musicians and singers were all magnificent and the audience in raptures. It was a sublime event involving two and a half hours of many of Cohen's best known songs. "Thanks for keeping my songs alive". He said. Cohen was gracious, stylish, humble - yet always the poet. Referring to his previous stage tours fourteen years earlier he said "I was sixty then - just a kid with crazy dreams"!

"Ring the bells that can still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."

Anthem - Leonard Cohen

Just over a month ago I was in Ireland. We went over for a short break. starting with a visit to an old friend near Cork. Our friend lives in an old cottage way up in the hills. I was especially struck by a stone statue in the garden. I have no idea how old it is or who or what the lady represents. I just love it.

After Cork we headed West to County Kerry for a few days. We stayed close to Killarney Lakes in full view of the wondrously named MacGillacuddy's Reeks, the highest mountains in Ireland. Day one we toured the Dingle Peninsula and Day two we toured the Ring of Kerry. It was a lot of driving but the scenery was wonderful - the weather was good, too. The stretch of road at Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula was especially beautiful.

On our last day we took a trip through the Gap of Dunloe. A vintage bus picked us up and took us to the start of the gap. From there we shared a jaunting car with another couple and rode the seven miles through some stunning scenery. The final stage of the trip involved an eighty minute boat ride through the Killarney Lakes. We saw two White Tailed Eagles which have been introduced to the area.

That night we went to see Riverdance which happened to be on within walking distance of where we were staying. We had always wanted to see the show and were not disappointed. It's a spectacular show which lterally takes your breath away.

Now all eyes are looking towards Christmas and the rather unsure new year ahead. I have already donned my white beard and red costume for the scores of Father Christmas radio scripts which are likely to come my way in the next six weeks or so. I rather like being a Santa voice-over. It is comforting in a cheerful way which is a good thing. As Leonard Cohen said last night... he had to give up the discipline of religious order because the cheerfulness kept breaking through.