Mike and Alanna Clear are now on the UK leg of their journey; travelling the length and breadth of the country asking couples what is the secret to a long lasting relationship. Keep updated by following Going the Distance on Facebook and share your secret to love.

The true test of a relationship starts here.

November 10th, 2011 by admin

Charlie Clive Clear has arrived!

Born on Sunday 6th November, 8lbs, and totally awesome.

www.charliecliveclear.com

As a direct result of our last journey around the UK, we are about to start the next epic leg of Going The Distance. The sidecar has been replaced with the moses basket, and our average number of miles covered per day will drop to zero. We were profoundly affected by the conclusion of the UK journey – especially our meeting with the Bowls Club in Launceston. I dug out the blog post from that day – still on goingthedistance.co.uk.

(mc:) Our last day in the saddle began with a brief trip to Dunheved bowls club. We met Brian and Rhona (40 years together), Ron and Mavis (50), Edward and Gloria (51), Bernie and Mary (47) and Colin and Julie (35)
So with 223 years of marriage between them, they had more combined experience than any other interview on this project. We covered a range of topics; from bowls to arguing….But they clearly remember the wedding day, and the birth of their children and grandchildren. It’s more important to enjoy what you’ve got, than to get what you want”

The other thing they mentioned, which we didn’t recount in the blog, was the timing of it all. If you want to be a grandparent at 60, then you need kids around 30. It’s just maths. It’s not whether you’re you think you’re ready for a baby now, you’ll never think you’re ready. But it is something you need to get on with at some point soon to have a family to enjoy when you’re old. And it is that family that will help you Go The Distance.

So with that in mind, we’ve got on with it and here’s the result.

I’ve found that once you start writing a blog about significant life events, it’s hard to stop..

Have a look at www.charliecliveclear.com if you want to see the next leg of the journey.

The journey continues..

December 13th, 2010 by admin

UK leg of Going The Distance. Go to www.goingthedistance.co.uk

November 24th, 2010 by admin

Hello Friends of Going The Distance!

It’s been a while since we were last in touch. Back in August we asked you to watch our ABC piece on Going the Distance; and I think some of you did – we had 4.1 million viewers in total. Hurray!

After interviewing 120 couples through the Americas between June 2009, and April 2010 – we realised that we had only scratched the surface of the subject; everyone we spoke to offered us different advice, and each story was an inspiration. What’s more, having spoken to everyonw from Americans to Argentinians about the secret to lasting love, there was a nationality we missed out – the British – the very one that’s most relevant to us. We were left wondering how couples in our own country make their relationships “go the distance”.

So on January 1st 2011, we’re going to set off from John O’Groats, Scotland, on a 6 week Going the Distance adventure around the UK. In the cold and driving rain (ah, for the heat of the Mexican desert!) in search of the secret of British love, and to find adventure on our own doorstep. This time though, we have some support in the form of our friends at FreshOne (Jamie Oliver’s production company), MatchAffinity.com (who, like us, are trying to find out the secret of lasting love) and as before, Ural motorcycles. We’ll even be accompanied by a director and a cameraman!

So if you have any advice for us, or even better if you know a couple who we could meet who may be able to tell us the secret of a lasting relationship, then please let us know.

Finally, we’re relocating our activity to goingthedistance.co.uk – where you’ll be able to see our latest film, and track our progress in January.

To help us answer the question: “what’s the secret to a lasting relationship?” either join the facebook fan page and share your secret, or tweet your secret using the hashtag #secrettolove

Lots of love, literally,

Mike and Alanna

ABC Nightline Prime appearance

August 20th, 2010 by admin

In May, we were asked by ABC if we’d like to appear in a documentary on the brain in love, given that we had had our brains scanned to analyse our love.

They flew us out to New York, we met with Drs Helen Fisher and Lucy Brown once again, and we even had another brainscan – meaning that we have now had 3 scans over the last year.

The programme, entitled Secrets of Your Mind, aired on Thursday 19th August on ABC, hosted by Cynthia McFadden.

Here is a link to the programme (it’s in two parts):

Part 1

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Prime/love-tested-extreme-trip/story?id=11420276

Part 2

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/love-survive-20000-mile-journey-11441944

Best Short Film at Cannes!

June 24th, 2010 by admin

On June 23rd we won the prestigeous Fireflies / Framepool short film competition in Cannes, with Leonard and Janet’s story:

The brief was to create a short film entitled ‘Courage’. It had to be no longer than 3 minutes, and it had to contain no less than 20% stock footage.

Mike enlisted the help of Ben Harrex at Final Cut, to cut the hour and a half long interview we had with Leonard and Janet down to precisely 3 minutes. And Rob Hughes, an expert in video archiving, then selected appropriate stock footage.

Last night, on the aptly named Courage beach, we watched the Top 10 films of the 45 entries from directors and production teams around the world. The calibre was much higher than we anticipated, with teams filming complex shots, hiring skilled actors, and sometimes adding many effects in post-production.

To our delight and overwhelming surprise, our film won gold. Beating an amazing  Japanese entry and last year’s winner of Cannes Lion Young Director of the Year from LA. We are over the moon, and want to say a huge thanks to Ben and Rob, the music guys at Human Music, the sound at Factory studios and the film was graded at MPC.

The work on Going The Distance continues, and here is the latest trailer for the project:

Gone the Distance – Thank you and goodbye

March 4th, 2010 by admin

going the distance - driving away2

Before we disappear into the gargantuan task of going through all the footage we have filmed for Going the Distance (around 200 hours in total), we just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone out there who took the time to be part of our journey. Both, of course, the people who gave us their time, their thoughts and their intimate and cherished love stories, but also a huge thank you to you folk out there who have taken the time to read about what we have done.

I think I said from the very beginning that I’m not a particular believer in blogs – I read a statistic that suggested that over a million blogs are written worldwide and less that 1% of them are read. By anyone. Which is why I started the mad adventure that is Going the Distance with a couple of bulletpoints a day. But slowly, inevitably, I was beguiled by the heady lure of daily self-expression, and the entries got longer and longer… So thank you so much to everyone who took the time to wade through my ramblings (often written from the sidecar, or a few days after the event – I never once watched back the footage so they were done from my memory rather than cold hard quotations – which the book will be)

Which brings me to my final farewell. We had the experience of our lives, and now, we have the pressure of trying to make something of it… I’m taking 5 months to write a book, and Mike is going to work through the footage. We will be trying to pitch the documentary idea out to try and get funding (normally this happens at the start of the process, but we will be pitching for post-production funding) so we’ll be working our butts off to try and get Going the Distance on television.

If that does happen, it would be likely to  be at the start of next year, 2011. If we’re lucky… I’ll post any developments on this site, but nothing in between, so if you’d like to know how we’re getting on, sign up to an RSS feed from this site and you’ll be updated when I finally have news. If not, please do just drop us a line at mikeandalanna@gmail.com.

We have loved hearing from you guys with your thoughts on love and your endless encouragement for the two of us. Thank you so much, and with that, I sign out.

Gone the Distance. xx

Friday, 26th February, over the Atlantic: flying home!

March 2nd, 2010 by admin
Well, I can’t believe this is finally it. Yesterday was a whirlwind, and has somewhat shifted the focus from the enormity (in my head) of our return to simple relief. I’m really looking forward to getting home. I have moments when this really disappoints me – the wishing away of the last month on the road, which now pains me to recall – but I also am just bursting with a childish excitement to see all the faces which I have missed so much over the last 8 months.
One change that I feel, and that I hope I can retain, is finally a sense that London is my home. I kicked and screamed my way through my early 20s, desperately wanting to live in seemingly more exciting or different global metropolises (metropoli?!) believing that somehow I’d feel more fulfilled, more challenged, more appreciated, abroad. I fixated specifically on New York because I had my handful of very close friends there and every time I went, I threw myself into its captivating energy.
I believed myself to be bigger than London, wanted to feel more international, less normal. But now I know, with a certain pride and a strong sense of contentment, that London is my home. The wanderlust, the desire to be somewhere else, the sense that everywhere was more interesting, which gnawed away at the better part of my first decade of professsional life is now sated, I hope for good. It’s almost as though (she says, self indulgently, sleep starved) it’s taken me these 8 months of being away, working my guts off with Mike, meeting people from such amazingly different backgrounds and hearing such personal details of their lives, to realise that really people are pretty similar wherever you go. And the people I know best happen to be in London.
I’ve been blown away by the people that we have met on this journey. In a way that no other travelling experience has let me understand before. This project has been an amazing way of opening the lid on people’s lives – people from so many backgrounds, so many ways of life. I honestly feel privileged and blessed to have had this experience, and I hope that it has enriched me in a way that no amount of real life could have. The subject of love has allowed us into people’s hearts, and my own heart has swollen with the love that we have felt from people at every step of the way.
I realise I’m descending into a cheese fest here, but my faith in and love for humanity has grown beyond anything I could ever have expected. People are, by and large, wonderful and I feel blessed to have been able to go out and experience that. Every country has overwhelmed us with its warmth and generosity, and going home, I feel a certain obligation to express that in what we do with all that we have filmed, but that said, I’m so proud to have met every single person that we have found (and who has found us) along the way. There’s lots of love out there, and it’s really made me feel good about the world, basically.
So, going home. Friends and family are what make home, and God, I’ve been reminded how much I love my lot. Going back for Mike’s mum’s 60th means that the whole of his family will be together for the weekend, we’ll meet baby Eva for the first time – Mike’s brother’s daughter, born in October. The first female Clear to be born in over 100 years (Peggy, Mike’s great aunt, was the last one born in 1908. Around 8 boys have been born since then) and the first of the next generation in this branch of Clears (Mike’s father was an only child). We’re both so excited to meet her, and have been buying small presents for her all along our journey so she’ll have a panamerican menagerie in her nursery!

Well, I can’t believe this is finally it. Yesterday was a whirlwind (after 7 hours of sitting on the plane/waiting for luggage to be unloaded/elbowing other passengers in the bunfight for hotel vouchers, we finally got to sleep at 3.55am), and it has somewhat shifted the focus from the enormity (in my head) of our return to simple relief. I’m really looking forward to getting home. I have moments when this really disappoints me – the wishing away of the last month on the road, which now pains me to recall – but I also am just bursting with a childish excitement to see all the faces which I have missed so much over the last 8 months.

One change that I feel, and that I hope I can retain, is finally a sense that London is my home. I kicked and screamed my way through my early 20s, desperately wanting to live in seemingly more exciting or different global metropolises (metropoli?!) believing that somehow I’d feel more fulfilled, more challenged, more interesting, abroad. I fixated specifically on New York because I had my handful of very close friends there and every time I went, I threw myself into its captivating energy.

I believed myself to be bigger than London, wanted to feel more international, less normal. But now I know, with a certain pride and a strong sense of contentment, that London is my home. The wanderlust, the desire to be somewhere else, the sense that everywhere was more interesting, which gnawed away at the better part of my first decade of professsional life is now sated, I hope for good. It’s almost as though (she says, self indulgently, sleep starved) it’s taken me these 8 months of being away, working my guts off with Mike, meeting people from such amazingly different backgrounds and hearing such personal details of their lives, to realise that really people are pretty similar wherever you go. And the people I know best happen to be in London.

I’ve been blown away by the people that we have met on the Going the Distance journey. In a way that no other travelling experience has let me understand before. This project has been an amazing way of opening the lid on people’s lives – people from so many backgrounds, so many ways of life. I honestly feel privileged and blessed to have had this experience, and I hope that it has enriched me in a way that no amount of real life could have. The subject of love has allowed us into people’s hearts, and my own heart has swollen with the love that we have felt from people at every step of the way.

From a distanceI realise I’m descending into a cheese fest here, but my faith in and love for humanity has grown beyond anything I could ever have expected. People are, by and large, wonderful and I feel blessed to have been able to go out and experience that. Every country has overwhelmed us with its warmth and generosity, and going home, I feel a certain obligation to express that in what we do with all that we have filmed, but that said, I’m so proud to have met every single person that we have found (and who has found us) along the way. There’s lots of love out there, and it’s really made me feel good about the world.

So, going home. Friends and family are what make home, and God, I’ve been reminded how much I love my lot. Going back for Mike’s mum’s 60th means that the whole of his family will be together for the weekend, we’ll meet baby Eva for the first time – Mike’s brother’s daughter, born in October. Not to mention friends who are now married, other friends with new babies, friends who have suffered loss, my younger brother getting engaged! Time to get back to real life now with its highs and lows, its mundanity and routines, and the nest of friends and family.

Thursday, 25th February, Newark: snow way you’re leaving tonight

March 2nd, 2010 by admin
New York has been a perfect quarantine for us before we head back to the wonderful madness of the UK. I have friends who I love in New York, one of whom gave us her sumptuous flat near Union Square, and we have spent time catching up with old friends, laughing and generally behaving like we have never been away. After 8 months of living with virtually nothing, feeling like I was becoming less materialistic (“All my crap can fit into two small bags. What more could I possibly need when I get home?”), there really is nothing like New York for restoring a rampant consumerism.
After the relative mental difficulty of Buenos Aires, New York has been a breeze. One week here and it feels like nothing has changed, like we never left here to set off on our self-indulgent odyssey.
Except of course that I got a cold the minute we landed.
That’ll happen after returning from 8 months of summer to piles of snow on the pavement. But I have basically been a snot fountain and felt shit for our entire time here. Hey ho.
We’re now in the plane. Sitting here. At the stand. After initial delay, we taxied out to the runway, then just as we got to the front of the queue, the captain came on and said that we had to go back to the stand because there was an issue with the de-icer. Now, an hour and a half later, the snow is inches thick on the wing and gathering at the base of the windows like some cheesy Christmas scene. It’s difficult to make any shapes out beyond the wing. We’re not going anywhere.
(and, indeed, we didn’t. It’s now 24 hours later, we waited in the plane for 3 and a half hours before getting off and waiting another couple of chaotic hours for our bags to be unloaded and to be taken to local hotels. Around 500 weary and confused Virgin and BA stranded passengers. Eventually, after getting on the plane at 9pm, Mike and I put our heads to the pillow at 3.50am. We spent a day at Newark in the hotel and are now above the Atlantic, finally well on our way back to London where my parents will be waiting for us at the airport. Yippee!! I’ve missed a day of seeing friends before we head to Mike’s family party then self inflicted quarantine in a secluded house in the country for 2 weeks, but all in all, it could have been much worse)

New York has been a perfect quarantine for us before we head back to the wonderful madness of the UK. I have friends who I love in New York, one of whom gave us her sumptuous flat near Union Square, and we have spent time catching up with old friends, laughing and generally behaving like we have never been away. After 8 months of living with virtually nothing, feeling like I was becoming less materialistic (“All my crap can fit into two small bags. What more could I possibly need when I get home?”), there really is nothing like New York for restoring a rampant consumerism.

After the relative mental difficulty of Buenos Aires, New York has been a breeze. One week here and it feels like nothing has changed, like we never left here to set off on our self-indulgent odyssey.

Except of course that I got a cold the minute we landed.

Going the Distance - New YorkThat’ll happen after returning from 8 months of summer to piles of snow on the pavement. But I have basically been a snot fountain and felt shit for our entire time here. Hey ho.

We’re now in the plane. Sitting here. At the stand. After initial delay, we taxied out to the runway, then just as we got to the front of the queue, the captain came on and said that we had to go back to the stand because there was an issue with the de-icer. Now, an hour and a half later, the snow is inches thick on the wing and gathering at the base of the windows like some cheesy Christmas scene. It’s difficult to make any shapes out beyond the wing. We’re not going anywhere.

Thursday, 25th February, Philadelphia: the economist

March 2nd, 2010 by admin

We’re leaving New York today on a flight out of Newark at 9.25pm.

Going the Distance - PhilidelphiaWe wake up to heavy heavy snowfall. Not cool.

The real curveball today was devised entirely by me: I have organised an interview with an economics professor at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It’s a last minute plan – like everything on the Going the Distance trip – a friend of mine forwarded us a link to a New York Times Article on the evolving state of marriage, with contribution from our much loved Dr Helen Fisher.

Professor Betsey Stevenson, PhD, is a professor of business and public policy. She’s written a number of papers on the economics of marriage and has created a Marriage Calculator based on US census data over the last 50 years which gives individuals their percentage likelihood of divorce.

Going the Distance - BetseyThe statistic that 50% of marriages in the UK (and pretty much the Western world) end in divorce has been the driving force for this entire journey – we wanted to find out what makes marriage last. The opportunity to interview a US economist who could talk about that statistic, why it’s not entirely reliable, the changing dynamics of marriage – all without subjectivity, simply by analysing the numbers – was an opportunity not to be missed. Which is why we found ourselves hauling every single item we owned from New York to Philadelphia in the heavy heavy snow. Only to be there for 2 hours before returning to Newark to catch a plane.

But she was worth it. 100%. Our last interview on the road for Going the Distance was an absolute cracker. She was fascinating, talking about the evolution of marriage from one of shared production to one of shared consumption. In essence, that a couple 50 years ago chose each other on the basis that they would be establishing a small factory (he goes out into the market, she has to run the home and raise the children) and now, the model has changed so that it makes more sense economically for both partners to be earning (it costs less now to buy clothes from Walmart than to make them at home) and with both partners financially independent, marriage now is about sharing the fruits of the work. ie people chose each other now based on shared goals, opinions and leisure activities, whereas it boiled down more to choosing a business partner in this game of life.

I’m not doing her justice with this garbling, but needless to say, she was superb. Thoroughly worth the schlep out of state!

Saturday, 20th February, New York: day with the Going the Distance documentary crew

March 1st, 2010 by admin

It’s all about us today! Poor Sue and John and the sound guy Frank are going to have to spend a day listening to our inane ramblings. Yippee!

They arrive at the flat at 10 and set up around us. For our interview, they are doing green screen – they haven’t yet decided what they want the background of the couples to be.

Mike and Alanna 1Though I’m looking forward to the interview – someone will actually be asking us questions! And hopefully not just the same old questions we got all the way down (which we got good at answering in Spanish) but new ones – I’m actually a little nervous about having to come up with decent answers. This ain’t no Bolivian children’s TV.

Mike has been great at calming me on this front. Every interview we have done for Going the Distance, someone will ask “well, what IS the secret of lasting love?” and I haven’t got a clue. There are things that we have seen – like every couple has a unique love, no relationship dynamic is the same, there are no templates – but I have no soundbite answers. Mike just said to me that I should think of the journey as our ‘data gathering’ and now we need to go back and start on ‘data analysis’. What a job that’s going to be.

Mike and Alanna 2As ever, with this blog, I’m writing this more than a week after the interview so details which were so important and felt so powerful at the time are now hazy. That’s what the book’s going to be for, I suppose, when I’ll actually have watched all the footage again and had a chance to think about it properly.

That said, the interview with Sue was one of the most affirming moments for me in the entire trip. All the fears which I had harboured for so long about whether what we have done is worth it (or rather, how we are going to be able to do it justice) seemed to lighten: she asked us questions about how we feel about each other, what has changed, what we have seen, what we have learnt, why we married in the first place… all of which we answered with a candour and detail which I found totally surprising, given that for the rest of the trip, we have been so busy ‘doing’ that ‘thinking’ has not been an option.

Mike and Alanna 3I think the most extraordinary moment was at the end of the interview when Sue leant forward and said, “I just have to say one thing – you do realise that you two are not normal?” (we have heard that before) I laughed. She said, “no, I mean, that everything that you have said about your relationship, how you said that you both really thought about what marriage meant before you tied the knot – that is very unusual” We had spoken at length about why we had decided to get married (which is the main thrust of her documentary) and about our thought-processes that got us there (I confessed that I never even questioned that I would marry – I know that I would never have been strong enough not to marry, in the face of convention) She finished off by saying that the two of us have done more thinking in 8 months about our relationship than most couples do in a lifetime and that the two of us evidently have something very special. Which was uplifting to hear. Like everything, you can never know if your ‘normal’ is like other people’s ‘normal’…

After about 3 hours of the interview, we headed out to get shots of the two of us around New York. It was very cold, but it was great fun in many ways. These poor people had listened to so much of us warbling on that it felt like we were spending the day with old friends…