Back from Tunisia

We had a very good shoot despite working from some rather iffy information (the 60 Oryx turned out to be the same group of 20 seen in 3 different locations on 3 different days, no newborn while we were there, and the jackals, I’m sure, play very little role in predating the young) – other than that we did pretty well. We focussed on filming another rare species of antelope called Addax – rather lovely, a bit like miniature Eland, and we got some really beautiful courtship, rutting , mating and young behaviour. So no night-time filming which was half disappointing and half a major relief.

The Bo-Hedma 'eco museum' which was home for 3 weeks

We were living in a rather strange set up inside an ‘Eco-museum’ in the Bo-hedma National Park. Lots of space which was lovely, lots of dust, not quite so great, and rather unpredictable cold showers. But compared to many of the places I’ve stayed in over the last couple of years filming in Madagascar, it was luxury. The limited menu of biscuits, white bread, rank Nescafe coffee and mysterious meat things floating in watery sauce , coupled with 3 weeks of 4am starts, wore a little thin, but BBC director, Katrina Bradley, was fantastic and we managed to keep ourselves amused by grumbling about all of the above.

Me looking rather spooky - filming jackals from a hide

On the plus side, once we had settled into a filming routine, there was a fair amount of down-time during the day and I worked through John Jorgenson’s ‘Gypsy Jazz Guitar, Book 1’ – which was fantastic (I now have ‘Book 2’) and I got a few more bars into Francisco Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra – which I adore, but completely butcher, but will be able to play all the way through one day.

The Chott el Jerid ... or is it Morcambe Bay?

Once we’d finished with the Addax (completed by a memorable mating ‘event’ on the last day) we headed to Chott el Jerid – a salt flat, which is apparently the ‘closest thing to Mars on earth’. In true BBC style, we arrived at this most hostile and arid of environments to be greeted by 24hrs of rain and the whole place ended up looking like Morcambe Bay – is was cold, wet and windy – and the worst bit was that I’d call home to hear that Julie and the boys had been enjoying wall to wall sunshine at the beach. But we did manage to get some really great images of this amazing place, as well as boosting the income of the local pizza / coffee joint.