May Day walk in Rivington

Well today’s been the 4th bank holiday in 2 weeks which is rather odd!  We obviously had Easter last weekend, but on Friday it was the Royal Wedding, which I actually managed to avoid watching at all, and instead went and did some shopping at IKEA, which was probably the quietest I’ve ever seen it! I’d planned to buy some storage furniture for my new bathroom, but I’m struggling to find something I like – I did find a unit there that I thought might work, but when I went to collect it I discovered that they’d discontinued the shelves needed to go inside it! So the search continues!

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Anyway, today was May Day bank holiday and I found out that there was a walk being arranged for the Vinelife / Reach crowd, so I headed up north of Bolton to tag along.

We all met up at Rivington Hall Barn, which really is in the middle of nowhere! I got a little bit lost – my SatNav first tried to take me across a golf course, and then eventually led me to a random collection of cars amongst some trees! Luckily, as I was pulling up, Dan and Gemma arrived as well, along with a few others, and we took an educated guess at which direction to take to get us to the main barn where everyone was meeting.

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There was quite a crowd really – I knew a reasonable proportion of the people there, but I did feel quite an outsider to be honest.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised about that really!  It was nice to get out into the countryside though, and we all made our way up to Rivington Pike which is the top of Winter Hill, and has a great view of the surrounding area stretching for miles and miles. It was very windy up there – it’s all quite exposed, and it felt at times like you could get blown off the hill!  Luckily there’s a tower at the top you could use a shield when it got a bit intense!

There are some photos of the walk here on Facebook.

On Easter Sunday I went down to Tamworth to visit family – the first time this year!

In the morning, I went to church with my mum, sister and the twins, and then in the afternoon, we took them down to the fair in the Castle Grounds. It was a proper old-school funfair, and Chloe went on the teacups ride with Vicky, but Brandon wasn’t really up for trying any of them! He’s not quite as adventurous as his sis!

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Then afterwards, we took them to the kids’ playground nearby and they played there for a bit before we grabbed some ice creams!  And then we headed back tomum’s to break into some Easter eggs!

One final thing – I finally ordered myself a new washing machine yesterday! It’s been over a year since my old one died, and I’ve been using the launderette ever since!  I’d decided to wait until I’d got my kitchen done before replacing it, and I now have done… only a few months late!

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!

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!

Music and pain

A couple of weeks ago, me and James went down to London for two days to do a shoot with the 29th Chapter for their new music video.

It was a pretty manic couple of days – we headed down late on the Tuesday night and stayed in a Travelodge on the M1, and then arrived in Ealing for about 10 o’clock. The shooting was split into 2 blocks – the first day was a chromakey day, and the second was a live performance.

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The greenscreen that had been hired for the shoot was massive! We spent the morning rigging it up, then tried to light it evenly which was easier said than done! Then the guys got into their costumes (which I won’t reveal at this stage – I’ll wait until they’ve announced what single they’re releasing!) and we spent the rest of the day filming various set pieces and individual verses. It was a pretty long day… we wrapped around 10.30pm and then had a bit of a drive to a really nice hotel in some other part of London (I have no idea where!)

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Then the next day we shot a load of live performance footage using Rob’s EX1 with a Letus 35mm adapter, and the shots looked really great. It’s amazing how much difference using 35mm lenses makes – the depth of field you get makes it look so filmic. I really want to get one, but need to make sure we’d get enough use from it to justify the expense!

We finished at around 11pm on the Thursday night, and then had to drive back to Manchester, and it took forever! We were both really tired so shared the driving, and I finally managed to get to bed about 4am… but had to be up at 8am to take back the equipment we’d hired – brilliant!

Then yesterday was John Cieszynski’s stag day, which saw me try paintballing for the first time.

I didn’t realise how expensive it can be – I basically rationed the paintballs that I got as part of the basic price, but some of the others spent a fortune buying extra ammo!

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It was a good laugh, although it would probably have helped if I was a bit fitter! And during the first game, I got shot in my leg by a member of my own team! And it really hurt – I’ve had quite a big bruise come up today! I also got hit on my ear and the back of my hand, so it was a day of pain!

Then in the evening we met up in town for some food, and as we were arriving the heavens opened. I’d not seen heavy rain like that for a long time – the streets of Manchester turned into rivers! It was a good day all in all, and looking forward to the wedding in a month’s time!

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One not-so-good thing at the moment is that on Thursday I discovered that I may be going to the Coldplay gig on my own in September. I’m supposed to be going with James and Helen, but they’ve now found out they have a family wedding on the same day which they can’t get out of. It’s quite gutting for them, because we bought the tickets last October, and James bought Helen’s ticket as a Christmas present. For me, I was looking forward to going with both of them – obviously the gig itself will be great, but the fact I’d get to spend some time with them outside of work was definitely a bonus. I think they’re going to see if they can get there later on, but obviously with so many people there, the chances of us meeting up there would be impossible.

I’ve still got a spare ticket to sell, which might mean I find someone else to go with, but I don’t really know anyone else who wants to go, so might have to just sell it to a random person. Just a real shame, because I was really looking forward to it.

Festival:Manchester

Spent this weekend over at Heaton Park for Festival:Manchester which has been running in the city all week. They’d set up a big stage and skate park there, and I think they said there were around 30,000 people attending on the Sunday, so it was pretty packed there!

There were some good bands on – ones that stood out for me were Cathy Burton, bandwithnoname, Steve, Michael Tait and Toby Mac (from DC Talk), and Tim Hughes wrapped the whole thing up with the London Community Gospel Choir on the Sunday night.

29th Chapter and the band that Hope’s in (BlushUK) also did guest appearances with the Tribe which was really cool – they looked pretty comfortable up there, even in front of such a massive crowd.

On the Saturday afternoon, I went over with Michael (when I eventually found his house to pick him up!) and also bumped into a few people there who I knew as well. It actually got quite cold, and I hadn’t really taken particularly warm clothing with me, something which I rectified for the Sunday! Anyway, for the second day, I went up to Heaton Park on my own, but met up with Sarah and Emma who were there with a load of friends, and it was a really good afternoon and evening. My voice is still wrecked from Soul Survivor, but I did at least try to join in with some of the acts up on stage!

I’ve got some (slightly blurry!) photos of the weekend here.

House nightmare, plus Commonwealth Games!

Right… quick update on what’s happening in my life!

I moved out of my house a week ago, which was an absolute nightmare! All my stuff is now spread about at my mum and dad’s garage, my grandparents’ spare bedroom, Cathy’s cellar, Sarah’s garage, Jeb & Nicky’s back room and a storage unit in a warehouse in Stockport! I’m also currently renting a room in Emma’s house in Levenshulme with a girl from Spain and a guy who’s up in Manchester as a volunteer in the Commonwealth Games. It’s a pretty small room, with quite a lot of my things in it(!), but hopefully it should be just for a few weeks.

Actually, we’re looking to exchange contracts and have completion for around the 20th August, so that’s only a couple of weeks away. It’s worked out quite well (I hope!), ‘cos if it does get sorted that week, then I’ll be at Soul Survivor for week A – be back in Manchester during week B, which is when I should get the house – and then be back down to Soul Survivor for week C. I was originally planning on being there for week B as well, but Chris had problems booking, and by the time he applied, week B was totally full, so all the Coton Green guys are going on C.

I got into the spirit of the Commonwealth Games on Saturday – there was a spare ticket available to go and see the Rugby Sevens Quarter Finals at the City Of Manchester Stadium, so I ended up going to that. It was really cool… I thought I might not enjoy it ‘cos i’m not particularly interested in rugby, but I really got into it, and the atmosphere in the stadium was amazing! I even ended up watching the semi-finals and final on TV on Sunday afternoon – I never thought that would happen!!

Launch night

Just got back from a kind of launch night for a new band produced by Zarc Porter and Mark Pennels called ‘The Band With No Name’ (www.thebandwithnoname.com) and they were pretty cool! It wasn’t exactly my taste (hip-hop/rap/dance) but I could appreciate the quality of it. My mate Jeb asked me this morning if I wanted to go ‘cos he had a couple of complimentary tickets, so I wasn’t originally planning on being there. We drove probably about 10 miles into the Cheshire countryside to this massive hotel in the middle of no-where, on a hill overlooking the whole of Manchester (was a pretty impresive sight!) and saw this band perform some tracks and outline their vision for working with kids across cities all over the UK. Andy Hawthorne was there as well, and he gave a short talk and it all sounded really exciting! I did feel like me and Jeb were the outsiders slightly ‘cos there were probably about 150 people in this function room, and I’m sure they were all reasonably important bods… I recognised quite a few faces of people from events I’ve been to. Anyway, came away with a nice goodie bag with a poster, single and t-shirt, so all in all, a good night!