Hand washing is rubbish!

As per the title, hand washing certainly is very rubbish!

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A few weeks ago, the drum of my washing machine broke and the whole thing has dropped down, so it won’t actually turn round anymore (I basically put too much washing in it!), and so I’ve just bought a cheapo portable washing machine from Maplin. It’s kind of like a food mixer for clothes – you fill it with warm water and washing powder, and leave your clothes churning around in it for about half an hour.  So far, so good.

But unfortunately, that’s all it does!

So you then have to take the clothes out of it, and spend hours rinsing all the clothes to get all the soap of out, and trying to squeeze out as much of the water as possible. And because they’re still really wet when you hang them up, the clothes take ages to dry!

Not sure how much longer I’m going to have to do it for… I obviously need to buy a new washing machine, but with me planning to get my kitchen extension done sometime this year, there’s not much point getting a new one until I know what the new kitchen will be like. I may even start going to the launderette – although the thought of doing that is quite weird!

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Also, the Sunday before last, I went on another bike ride with Dave and Rob. Tom was planning to come with us, but had to drop out at the last minute, which was a shame. Although, since he’s such an experienced cyclist, I think I’d have been worried I was really slowing him down!

This time we didn’t venture too far – we cycled down to Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve, following the River Mersey from Didsbury, and then circling back to Dave’s via Chorlton.  I’m still a bit wary riding on main roads, especially with buses randomly pulling out, but I managed okay!

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It was actually a pretty cool route – for quite a bit of it you forget you’re so close to the motorway and built-up areas, and most of it was a dirt path alongside the river. When we got to the nature reserve, the route Dave was planning on taking us down was all closed off for some reason, so we had to double-back on ourselves a bit, taking a bit of a short-cut across to Chorlton.  All in all, I think we did about 12 miles which I didn’t find too knackering!

The weather was really nice too – pretty sunny, although since it’s only March, it isn’t quite t-shirt weather yet!

I’ve added photos from the afternoon to my biking photo album of Facebook.

I’m a geek!

Last night I was at a Geek Party at Rob & Jenny Kay’s, where you had to go dressed as something inspired by geek chic! Now it may come as real surprise (since I am a bit of a self-confessed geek) that I was really struggling with a costume for the night, but with a couple of days to go, I suddenly hit on gold!

I decided to go as the ultimate geek – Mr Dave Bateman!

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To make this dream a reality, I wondered about the best way to go about it, even Googling to find out how to make an actual 3d head(!), but finally settled on printing his face onto some card to make an oversized mask, with a couple of eyeholes punched through his actual eyes!

It wasn’t the most comfortable thing to wear for the whole evening if I’m honest, but I really enjoyed how it slightly freaked people out as they talked to me!

When Dave himself finally arrived around 10 o’clock, I think he found it pretty strange to have a bobbing-head version of him staring right back!

And the mask proved so popular that everyone wanted to wear it!

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Check out the full set of photos from the party in my Facebook photo album.

So what else? Well, going back a couple of weekends, I was down in Tamworth for Brandon and Chloe’s 2nd birthday party!

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There was a bit less alcohol at this party(!), although it was more of a family thing compared to their first birthday, when they had loads of little kids there as well.

Every time I see them, they’ve grown up so much!  I’m not sure if they totally realised what was going on, but they seemed to be happy enough with all their presents, party food and cake!

Just to round off this blog entry, last week we took on our first employee at doodledoMOTION!  It’s Rob Lee, who’s done various freelance bits and pieces for us over the last year, so we’ve taken him on part-time to work across all areas of the various projects we take on.  So, it’s a bit of an unknown for us, but pretty exciting at the same time!

Not my favourite day…

For me, Valentine’s Day = annual slap in the face!

I appreciate that if you’re in a relationship, it’s probably a great way to demonstrate your love to each other, but when you’ve been single for as long as I’ve been, the sheer amount of Valentine’s stuff that’s bombarded at you just really rubs it in.  I’m sure people would tell me not to take it seriously, and that it’s all a bit of fun, but I’m sure they’re people who’ve actually received a card at some time in their life!  I’ll admit that I’ve occasionally sent cards in the past, but obviously with me being the overly confident person that I am(!), I’ve never actually admitted to the girls I’ve sent them to that it’s me!

I know it’s probably really sad putting this all in a blog, but sometimes it’s easier to write this stuff down and throw it out there than to actually talk about it with anyone! I’d always thought that by this time of life, I’d be married with kids, and all that kind of stuff, but I guess I’m starting to accept that’s probably never going to happen. It doesn’t help that for years I was crazy about one girl, and wasted a load of time getting to know her better by spending time with her, and trying to do stuff that I thought she’d like (and other crap like that!)… and then trying to deal with it when she finally made it clear that she’d never be interested in someone like me, which has taken a lot longer for me to get out of my system than it should have done.  So now I’m the wrong side of 35, with no sign of anything in the distance, and obviously the older I get, it gets less and less likely that I’ll have kids of my own, which is pretty tough to be honest.

I’m sure there are other people who have similar issues, and struggle massively with the whole singleness thing, but often when you see so much focus on relationships around you, it’s hard.  As your mates get married, and then have kids, on one hand you’re really pleased for them, and you know it’s an amazing thing… but sometimes it’s really hard not to get jealous about it all, and ask yourself why they’ve got all that you’re desperate for as well. (I use the word ‘desperate’ in a way that hopefully doesn’t make make me look ‘desperate’!)

Wow – it’s a good job that Valentine’s Day is once a year… I wouldn’t want to be this honest on here too often!!

26 miles this week!

I’ve been cycling again this week – first off I did 10 miles at the gym, which took took me about 40 minutes, and although my legs were like jelly when I got off, I was pleased that later on, my legs weren’t aching at all.  Again, the only thing which I could feel was the negative effect of the saddle!

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Anyway, today we went back to the Upper Derwent Valley at the end of the Snake Pass, and did the same route as a couple of weeks ago.

I went with Dave again, and this time Rob came with us.  We started a lot earlier than last time because Rob needed to get back mid afternoon to travel down to a gig in Solihull, so we got to the visitors centre at Fairholmes at about 10.30am, and set off around the reservoirs just before 11 o’clock.

There was a lot less snow and ice this time round, although there were still a couple of places where a few small snow drifts are still hanging on in there.

I found the first 10 or so miles pretty alright, and was able to go much longer between breather stops than last time, and I managed some of the ‘hills’ that I struggled with before, although I did get off and push for a few of them still!  At about 13 or 14 miles, I started getting really tired, and unfortunately at that part of the route, there’s a bit of a stretch which has an incline, so I ended up doing that on foot!  Then I managed the last couple of miles back to the car park, where we managed to grab a hot drink which was very welcome!  Dave and Rob were really good too, because obviously I was slowing them down, but they kept pretty much at my pace, and when they did ride ahead, they’d always wait for me to catch up.

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I’m feeling totally knackered now, but it’s more of an overall tiredness rather than any aching legs or anything, which is good.  One thing I’m pretty sure of is that I’m going to get a good night’s sleep tonight!

I’ve added some photos of the day to my biking album here.

New blog – same news!

I’ve just spent the last few evenings converting my original blog to a new WordPress one.  Google announced this week that it’s getting rid of FTP functionality for its Blogger service, which I’ve been using since before Google had even thought of buying it up!

But basically, what Google’s announcement meant was that from next month, I wouldn’t be able to update my blog in its current form, without re-arranging the structure of my website, or hosting the actual blog on their servers.

So I was recommended WordPress which I installed and then had the fun of importing my original blog, and then reformatting it all so that it still looks right, and adapting a theme to be an evolution of what I had before.

It’s been interesting looking back at what I’ve written over the years – 168 blog posts since March 2002!  And however tempting it’s been at times, I haven’t deleted anything I’ve posted over those 8 years, even though with hindsight, some of the stuff is either a bit stupid or embarrassing!

But the upshot of it all is that it’s still business as usual, and at first glance the features provided by WordPress actually seem a lot better than Blogger!

Back on my bike

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Yesterday I went to the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peak District with Dave for a bit of a bike ride around the three reservoirs there.

I’d not ridden my bike since my holiday in Anglesey last year, and the last time I did this route was back in 2007 when I did my first ride in 16 years with Jamie Hill.

Anyway, back to yesterday, and we arrived at about 1.15pm and parked up, and set our bikes up before changing into our riding gear.  It was pretty cold, so I’d gone for a layers approach with t-shirt, hoody and coat, and tracksuit bottoms over some cycling shorts.  Dave being the crazy man that he is opted for a Villa top and shorts!

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I was really out of practice, but soon got into it, although I do find hills quite difficult.  Obviously I need to build up my strength and stamina, and if I can get rid of some weight over the next year it will really help as well.

There was quite a lot of ice and leftover snow around, which made a few sections quite interesting, but it was a bright, dry day which was good.  Although when we were in the shade it was absolutely freezing!

Dave was a really good bike partner to have, because I know he was riding a lot slower and took more breaks than he normally would do, but he was totally fine about it.  Hopefully the more riding I do, the better I will be with regard to that.

I got a couple of painful muscle twinges nearer the end of the ride, which is a bit concerning, but maybe that’s just down to me not being used to so much exercise!

We actually did 16 miles which is quite a lot really!  And to be honest my legs aren’t aching too much, although I have a really sore arse from my saddle!  Again, I assume that’s something which you don’t notice after a while!

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My goal with the whole biking thing is to be able to cycle long distances without too much pain (and to get much fitter in the process!)  Dave’s really keen on doing a Land’s End to John O’Groats ride next year sometime, and I’d really love to be able to join him on that, even though I know it would be the hardest thing I’d ever do!  As part of the build up to it, the plan is to look to do a Coast to Coast ride this year, with about 50 – 60 miles a day for about 4 – 5 days, so it could be achievable for me if I really work for it.  Hopefully me blogging about it might give me more of an incentive to really train for it, so that I can avoid the embarrassment of looking back at this in a couple of years time having not done it!

You can see the photos from the ride here.

New Year, and dM work on Five

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Tonight sees two programmes with titles and graphics done by doodledoMOTION on Five in prime time!  First off, ‘Paul Merton In Europe‘ started last Monday night at 9pm, and we did the title sequence for the show (which has had so much work and detail put into it!), as well as the maps which show Paul’s journey across Europe.  It’s the 3rd travel series of ‘Paul Merton In…’ that Tiger Aspect have done following on from his documentaries about China and India, and so far the reaction to this new series seems really positive.

And then the second show for Five we’ve been involved in is also a Tiger programme – ‘Celebrity Quitters‘.  It’s a ten-part reality series that’s going to be on every week-night for the next 2 weeks, and features Linda Robson, John Burton Race, Chloe Madeley, Paul Danan and Derek Acorah as they all try to give up smoking.  We’ve done the titles and graphics for the main show, as well as their online content.

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The programme starts at 7.30pm tonight, and to promote the show, Linda Robson, one of the Celebrity Quitters, appeared on BBC’s Breakfast this morning for an interview, where they showed some clips from the series.

It was a good promo for the show, but the best bit was that the main title graphic that we’ve produced appeared on the big screen behind them throughout the whole interview which is really cool!

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Back to the beginning of the month, and on New Year’s Day, I went for a walk over at Alderley Edge with a group of Reach guys.

I went there a few years ago with James and Helen for a birthday walk, so I recognised quite a few places we went to.  It was pretty chilly, and we were wandering a bit aimlessly at times, but it was a really nice walk.

Then afterwards we stopped off at a really nice pub in the village called The Merlin for a meal.  It wasn’t that cheap, but the food was great, which kind of made up for it!  There are some photos of the day here.

The only other thing I’ll quickly blog about is the crazy snow we had at the start of the month.  We had a little bit of snow the day after our walk, but then on the Tuesday morning, I woke up to a crazy amount of snow outside!

It was a bit of a nightmare getting into work – luckily I’d parked on the main road rather than in my actual street, otherwise I wouldn’t have been going anywhere!  All the buses had been cancelled, so the only way I could get in was by car, and the drive in took nearly an hour compared to my usual 10 minutes!

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And when I got to the office, I made the mistake of driving into the car park, where I discovered James had already done that and had been stuck there for nearly an hour trying to get back out up the slope!  Then someone had the genius idea of using some carpet tiles to build a track for the car to drive on, so we were eventually able to get out, and so we then parked on a nice flat bit of road on the front!

Luckily it’s pretty much gone now, so life is back to normal!

A busy Christmas week

It’s that funny time between Christmas and New Year when generally nothing really happens – so the ideal time to do a blog update!  And since I last posted a week and a half ago, I’ve actually done quite a lot of stuff in that time!

Last Wednesday night, I went over to Liverpool with John Roberts to see a production of ‘The 39 Steps‘ at the Liverpool Playhouse.  He runs a theatre reviews website called The Public Reviews, so we we got free tickets which was pretty cool!  It was actually a really good show – it’s a comedy and was performed by just 4 actors, who changed roles continuously throughout the play, which surprised me at how well it worked!

The show culminated in fake snow being showered on the audience, and then as we left the theatre, we discovered that there was real snow falling – and I’d have been really impressed if that was part of the show as well!  We’d already had a bit of snow in Manchester a couple of days earlier, but there was none in Liverpool when we arrived.

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We got back to the car, and within a few minutes we were driving through a pretty intense blizzard, and the snow really started to build up on the roads.

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Pre-Christmas catch-up

Just thought I’d do a quick catch up before Christmas. I’m currently at James and Helen’s house babysitting Jess, and there’s nothing decent on TV so I thought I’d do this!

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We’ve had quite a bit of snow these last few days, and yesterday a few of us went for a walk in Macclesfield Forest. It was freezing cold, and we walked quite a way – and seemed to be going uphill a lot more than downhill – but it was a really great afternoon.

We were kind of busking it a little bit, since we didn’t have a map or anything, and the cloud came down quite quickly as we made it to the top of one of the hills – but Penny had been to the forest before, so had a rough idea of where we needed to go! Though there were times when I wasn’t convinced we were ever going to make it back to the cars, especially when we’d been walking so long that it got dark!!

There are some photos I took of our walk here.

Work’s been quite busy recently, and we’re trying to wrap some jobs up before we finish for Christmas. We’re working on graphics for two shows on that will be on Channel 5 early next year, so really need to try and get them pretty much sorted by Wednesday at the latest.

On Thursday night, me and James went out with a couple of the other businesses from Houldsworth Mill for Christmas drinks down at the festive markets, and then onto some bars. We did the same last year, and it’s a pretty good way of doing it, because it would be quite a small event if it was just us!

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Anyway, we ended up in probably one of the most pretentious places I’ve been to! I’d heard of the Circle Bar, but had never actually been in there, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d be that bothered if I never went there again! The beer was nasty, the music was rubbish, and the other people there were just really strange! It was like they were all people who thought they were something special, but weren’t at all!

The only positive think was that there was a sofa that we’d managed to grab, so at least I was able to get a comfy seat!

First Reach

reach-lift10 years today that I went to Reach for the very first time… 12th December 1999. That’s pretty crazy… TEN YEARS!! Now I’m feeling old because it really doesn’t feel that long ago!

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I moved to Manchester at the end of November 1999, and it was the 2nd week here that I went (which was also the last one before Christmas). It’s really weird, ‘cos I can quite clearly remember the people I spoke to afterwards as though it was much more recent – Andy Knox, Dan Plagerson, Neil Cornthwaite and Sarah Smith.

I still have my Reach sampler cassette and copy of ‘Lift’ that I got that night, and I guess even with how things have turned out, it’s still had quite an impact on my life because a lot of the people outside of work that I know in Manchester are through Reach, and of course that’s where I met James, who I now run doodledoMOTION with, so that’s obviously quite a big thing!

Delirious – Fabula Est Vestri

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I was down in London yesterday so I could be at Delirious’ last ever gig at the Hammersmith Apollo. I saw them in Liverpool just over a year ago, and I thought then that that would be the last time I’d see them, but obviously they announced this final goodbye tour, and so I decided I wanted to be at the very last one.

Anyway, I made it into the venue at about 6.30pm and got my position about 10 rows from the front. First up, they all appeared on stage as ‘The Cutting Edge Band’ – which is how they started back in 1993. Everything about it was amazing.

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I first saw them back at the start of 1995 at Spring Harvest, and then many times in the next few years in school halls and often other smallish venues, and the whole of this ‘support act’ set brought all those great memories back.

And at the end of this, they did the whole ‘There is a light’ section that they used to do to end their gigs, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.

It was all just so beautiful – I really can’t think of another word to describe it, it really did feel special.

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Birthday football!

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Yesterday was my birthday – something I’m generally not to keen to celebrate, but James insisted that he and Helen take me for a birthday lunch at Kro, so I couldn’t really make up an excuse to get out of it!

It was nice actually – I got to see Jess, who’d changed so much since the last time I’d seen her back in July at Soul Survivor. She looks so much more grown up, and she’s now trying to walk, although it’s more a case of manoeuvring herself around things that she can hold onto!

The food was good – I had a steak ciabatta and chips, and it was much better than my usual Morrisons sandwich – so thanks to the Torrys for a really nice birthday lunch!

Then in the evening, I went to Hillsborough with James to see Sheffield Wednesday take on Preston! He mentioned in the afternoon that there was a ‘friends for a fiver’ night, and wondered if I’d be up for it, so I said yes!

We left straight from work (which unfortunately meant I couldn’t get changed into warmer clothes, and it was quite a cold night!) but it took us a while to get over to Sheffield, so by the time we got to our seats, the game had already been going for about 5 minutes.

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dsc01345Preston scored first after about 15 minutes, but Wednesday hit back with a goal not too long before the end of the first half. Then, not long into the second half, Preston scored again, and the score unfortunately didn’t change for the rest of the game. Wednesday had loads of chances, and it was really disappointing that they lost, but I could see that Preston were really lucky to get a win.

In my… ahem… ‘expert’ opinion, I really don’t reckon Preston should have been allowed their first goal – just before they scored, we thought the ball went just out, and then when we went to have a drink at half time, we watched the replay on the monitors they had on the wall, and I was convinced the ball went over the line beforehand.

And generally, there really were some shocking decisions from the ref! I might not be gifted with the greatest football knowledge, but even I could see that!! I actually thought it was quite apt that the added time was sponsored by Specsavers!!

I’m really not sure I could handle the ups and downs of regularly following a team – it messes with your emotions far too much! But I did really enjoy being there, watching the game and getting caught up in the atmosphere, and I’d definitely go again to see Sheffield Wednesday if I got the chance!

Turkey

I’ve just got back from my first proper holiday in many years (I’m not counting Anglesey over new year!). Quite a few of my family were on holiday in Turkey staggered over a couple of weeks, so I managed to get some time off work and join them over there for a week.

I’d never been there before, but my mum and dad started going over there on and off for holidays about 10 years ago, and both my brother and sister had been there quite a few times as well.

Anyway, I headed over there from Manchester Airport with my cousin Sam and her husband Matt, and we got into Bodrum airport at about 5am, after having been awake since the morning before! Then it was onto a mini-bus for me, whilst Sam and Matt went onto a Thomas Cook coach (I’d booked with a small travel company, so my transfer was with a local company), and the journey from the airport to Altinkum seemed to take forever – the roads we pretty ropey, as was some of the driving! I eventually got to the apartments for 7.30am, and then crashed down for a few hours sleep.

Venturing out around lunchtime, the first thing I noticed was how much warmer it was than the weather I’d just come from! To the locals, it wasn’t hot at all, but to me, it was just about right!

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Loads of great music…

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Well, after seeing U2 last month (which was amazing by the way… have I mentioned that?!) I’ve experienced some more great bands in the last few weeks.

I went to Greenbelt over the August Bank Holiday weekend with Ali and her mates from Bristol. Because she was working on the set-up team, it meant we were able to camp a lot closer to the main area, which was much better than the last time I went, when we were camped so far away!

There was a great variety of music over the weekend: Athlete, Röyksopp, Sixpence None The Richer, Cornershop, yFriday, plus lots of smaller artists as well.

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Also, I got to hear a bit of Rob Bell too, which was really interesting. I’ve got a few of his books, but I’ve yet to read them – that’s something I need to do when I get a bit more time! He was doing a Q&A session, so covered quite a few subjects. He did a couple of specific talks as well, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get into those because the queues were so long that people got turned away. I need to get an MP3 of them!

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