Tom’s wedding

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Last weekend I trekked down to Bideford for a pretty special day – Tom Green’s wedding to Vicky!

Tom’s probably my oldest friend – we spend pretty much all our time together when we were kids… whilst at school we tried to start TV and radio stations, produced the school magazine and a yearbook, made a short film, wrote a ‘commercial’ computer game that earned us about £100(!), plus loads of other crazy ventures!

And then after school, we’ve kept in touch, firstly helping start up a community radio station together, and we’ve both then taken career paths in media – Tom in radio and me in tv and video.  We even shared a house together in Birmingham in the summer of 1997!

Anyway, Tom’s been living in the UAE for the last few years, and was in Cairo before that, so we don’t see other loads, but do keep in touch online, and have caught up when he’s been back in the UK visiting family.

So when I was invited to his wedding down in Devon, there was no way I was going to miss it!  It was a heck of a long journey down there from Manchester, but I stayed at a Travelodge on the M5 the night before to break it up a little bit, and then stayed in Bideford on the Saturday night after the reception.

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The wedding service itself was in a really picturesque village church, and then everyone drove into the town for the reception in a hotel at the side of the river.

It was great to see them getting married – I’d not met Vicky before, but we had spoken once on a Skype call about a month ago! And I also got to catch up with Tom’s sister Ellen, who I hadn’t spoken to for about 20 years!  It was a bit mad, because when I was younger, she was just Tom’s kid sister who we didn’t really have anything to do with, because that’s how it is when you’re kids!  But it was really nice to see her now with her partner and young daughter, and just seemed really happy with life and stuff.

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I also got to meet a few of Tom’s radio mates, which was cool – they were people I’ve heard him mention in the past, but never seen before.  And it was good to say hello to his mum and dad, who again I’ve not seen for a very long time!

I’ve uploaded photos from the wedding here.

One extra thing – after the robbery at our old office, we’ve now moved the business into a new place.  It’s in east Manchester, in a brand-new complex called The Sharp Project, and it’s designed to house digital and media businesses, as well as offering studio space to production companies.  It’s pretty exciting, and we’ve only been in there a month, but hopefully it’ll prove to be a really good move for us!

Summer 2010

Thought I’d better do a bit of a recap about what’s been going on over the summer, and I supposed the first thing I need to blog about is that we had a bit of a setback at work last month when we had a break-in at the office.

Basically, the whole top floor of our building was targeted, and the burglars broke into about 50 separate units in all! Most businesses had stuff stolen, but it seems like we were the worst hit, with us losing 3 iMacs and a Macbook Pro, plus all our filming kit comprising of a Sony EX3 and Z1, as well as a load of audio stuff as well.  It’s been a pretty horrible experience – luckily we’ve only lost a bit of work since they didn’t take our server or external hard drives, which would have destroyed us really since we hadn’t really got a decent back-up of all our work. But it’s just so gutting that you put so much time and effort into building the business to have some scum just take it away from you.

Anyway, we’re currently looking at options for what to do next – hopefully we’ve got a new office lined up because I really don’t want us to go back to our old one, because I think it might just happen again if they don’t sort out the security issues.  Should have a clearer idea of the future soon.

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On to happier stuff… at the beginning of August, Rob and Clare got married in a field in Mellor (a small village not too far from Stockport), and I was one of the 12 ushers who were all dressed fully in white!

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Enigma

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Last night I went with John to see Derren Brown’s latest live show ‘Enigma‘ at the Lowry.  John runs the Public Reviews website, and he had a couple of press tickets to go and review the show, so I went for free on his spare ticket!

I find Derren Brown fascinating – I think all his TV shows are great, and he presents traditional magic and illusion in a very contemporary way.  I also find it amusing to read people online who think he’s got real powers(!), but I’m actually in two minds as to whether he uses hypnotism and NLP as part of his act. Certainly stuff I’ve seen on the internet about those methods demonstrate that it’s quite possible, but I don’t really know, and am suspicious of any of his own explanations!

Anyway, back to ‘Enigma’. It really was a brilliant show – great theatrical staging, a very clever structure to the performance, and some really good magic tricks!  And Derren Brown’s an incredibly engaging character – he basically had the whole theatre eating out of his hand.

I’m not going to write about the tricks themselves – mainly because he asked people not to since the show is still touring – but I’m sure it will end up on TV in the near future, just like his previous ones have.  I’ve got an inkling how some of them were done (and today I’ve read a bit about some of the other perfotmances which have given me some more clues), but some of them were truly mind-blowing.

The final trick was one that I just can’t work out how he managed to pull everything together in the way that he did, and with a clever back-reference to something earlier on that seemed pretty throw-away.  John was actually part of the finale – he was one of the 6 volunteers who caught a frisbee thrown out into the audience – so I know it wasn’t done with stooges!

If you get a chance to see the show at all, I can thoroughly recommend it!

A bit about April

The heading kind of gives away the content of this post!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with a weekend in Tamworth, a day at the beach, catching up with old friends, and a fancy dress party!

For Easter, I went down to Tamworth for the weekend, and it was nice to spend time with Brandon and Chloe again.  I was obviously down there a few weeks earlier for their birthday party, so I think they remembered me this time round!!

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I went with mum, Vikky and the twins to the Easter Service at ECC in Lichfield – it was weird going back there since the last time I was there was when I was 18 or 19 – nearly 20 years ago!  We got there pretty early because they were having a buffet breakfast before the service, and Brandon and Chloe managed to get quite a bit of the food down their smart clothes!  I guess that’s quite normal!  I said hello to a few people there who I remembered from when I was there years ago, and also chatted with Dave Bateman’s sister Helen who goes there, and actually works for them as a student worker!
Then on Easter Monday, I was back up north, and a group of us went over to Formby to spend the day at the beach!

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It was pretty windy, and not the warmest of days, but we had a good laugh walking along the beach, and climbing up the sand dunes.

I managed to provide a bit of hilarity for the others when we decided to do a group photo where we all ran off a 1½ metre step of sand, with the plan for the photo to be taken whilst we were in mid air.

Anyway, eight of us lined up to do the running jump, so on cue we all went for it, but as we landed, I stumbled whilst still running, and smacked down face-first into the sand!  It properly winded me – I didn’t get a chance to break my fall with my hands, and someone managed to collapse on top of me as well which didn’t help!

It was pretty funny, but it really knocked it out of me – and I guess I was most impressed by the great support from the others… especially Penny who was in complete hysterics and just couldn’t stop laughing at my misfortune!  Thanks guys! 😉

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And to add insult to injury, the photo was taken too early, so we had to do it all again!! Luckily this time I managed to stay upright, and the picture was taken at the right time!  I’ve nicked it from Steph’s Facebook album and posted it here to make the pain worthwhile!

I’ve uploaded a load of photos of the day on my Facebook.

Then last Saturday, I had to go out and get a new mattress for my bed because the springs had started to come through my old one!  So when I got back, I started to unload it from my car, when I started getting heckled! My next-door neighbour Jo had a visitor for the weekend, and they were sitting out on the doorstep drinking wine with Jez and a few other neighbours. Anyway, the woman who was Jo’s friend was actually being quite mouthy about my new mattress being quite small, so I started bantering back a little bit.  Then the next thing I hear is someone making a comment about her being from Tamworth, which is where I’m originally from!  So I said that I used to live there, and when the woman thought I was just saying it for the sake of it, but we soon discovered we both went to the same school, and then it turned out that I was in the same class as her sister, Ellie Sutton – and she was Faye, who I do kind of remember, although she was a  year or two below me. Really small world!!

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And last night was John Roberts’ 29th fancy dress birthday party at Baa Baa in Fallowfield.  The theme was musicals and theatre, so luckily there was quite a lot to choose from with regard to costumes, although I always do get a little bit stressed trying to sort out stuff like that! Anyway, I decided to go as a pirate, complete with hat, eyepatch and hook… I was also planning to add scars to my face using facepaint, but since I was going by bus, I chickened out and didn’t turn into a pirate until I got to the pub!

It was a really good night – I had enough drank enough beer to get me briefly up onto the dancefloor!  After the party finished in the function room, we headed down to the main bar – all in costume – so did stand out quite a bit! John and Matt’s costumes were so amazing – Shrek and Dracula – that people kept wanting to get their photos taken with them!  We eventually left at about 3am, slightly worse for wear, but it was worth it!  You can check out the photos from the night here.

Oh, the other thing I was going to mention with regard to random meetings was about when I was down in Tamworth for Easter.  On the Saturday, I nipped into Asda to buy a few bits and pieces, and bumped into an old mate from school – Dan Martin – who I hadn’t seen since sixth form!  Was really weird reminiscing about school days together and learning about what people are up to nowadays. I know Facebook has that pretty much covered nowadays, but it’s more real when you meet someone in person!

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!