Some non-work-related stuff!

We’ve been working incredibly hard recently, pulling in some all-nighters for a couple of our jobs, but instead of going on about that, I’m going to blog about some non-work stuff I’ve done over the last few weeks!

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Most recently, this weekend I’ve been down in Bristol visiting Ali, and Helen also came down so we could have a bit of a mini uni-get-together!

I was originally planning to drive down there on Saturday morning, but I’ve been doing such long hours at work, and on Friday afternoon I was totally knackered after having had just 3 hours sleep in 3 days(!), so at the last minute I booked a train ticket down there instead!

I got into Bristol around lunchtime, and walked the short distance from Temple Meads to Ali’s house.  It’s interesting to see how much the area has changed over the years. When I first visited Ali there back in the 90s, it was a pretty run-down area, but now a lot of it’s been replaced by riverside bars and restaurants, and hotels and posh apartments – and Ali’s estate is right next to it!

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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!

Two very different parties!

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It’s been a weekend of parties – but there was quite a difference between the two!

dsc02422Last week was Brandon and Chloe’s first birthday – I can’t believe they’re a year old already! It’s gone so fast, but then at the same time it’s like you can’t remember what it was like before them! I went down to Tamworth on Friday to see them (their actual birthday was the Thursday), and then on the Saturday afternoon, it was time for their party!

It was a new type of party for me really – when the main guests are all under 2 years old! The twins looked really cute – Brandon had a Superman costume, and Chloe had a pink ballet tutu!

They’ve really got their own personalities now, and it’s amazing seeing them growing up. I reckon they’ll be walking soon – they keep trying to stand up, and move around using furniture as support!

All the kids seemed to have fun, and there weren’t too many tears, although at that age, you can’t really explain to them about sharing toys and stuff! There are photos of the fun here.

Anyway, after their party, I drove down to Bristol for another one! Ali and Julie were having a joint late birthday party – but this one had a theme… 80s cheese!

I really struggled to come up with a costume for it. The night before I still didn’t have anything, but a trip to Asda found a rock star wig and inflatable guitar!

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So on the Saturday I bought the most horrific t-shirt (a nice skull, sword and snake design!) and a head-band, and created my 80s rocker look! It turned out alright, but I think it’s a lot easier for girls to put costumes together for something like that!

Anyway, nearly everyone made a pretty good effort, and it was a real reminder of how bad the fashion was in the 80s! Ali and Julie back-combed their hair which was an interesting look, and there were some great wigs making an appearance!

Then yesterday afternoon, I went into the centre of Bristol to get lunch with Ali, then we took a ferry down the river back to her house which was really cool! You don’t get anything like that in Manchester!

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Check out the pics of the party and our afternoon in Bristol here.

Merry Christmas!

Helen and AliToday’s blog entry is being brought to you from Bristol! I’m down at Ali’s for the weekend because she had a party last night which I came to… it was kind of to celebrate Christmas, to welcome her two new housemates Kate and Julie, and to be a get-together before she heads off to do some volunteer work in a Christian school in Lebanon in the new year (obviously the situation isn’t the greatest out in the Middle East at the moment, but apparently where she’s supposed to be going is quite a way from Beirut, off in the mountains!)

I got here about 5.30, and because I was a couple of hours early, I had the pleasure of helping to set everything up! We put up 2 gazebos in the garden, and decorated them with fairy lights and genuine Egyptian lanterns! I made a slight effort to look Christmassy… I had planned to wear a santa hat, but I couldn’t find the one I used to have, so just attached some tinsel to my jeans and shoes!

The only other person I knew here was Helen who was at uni a the same time as me and Ali, and she was here with her boyfriend Pete (boyfriend/girlfriend seem such odd words to use when you’re our age!) and he was a really nice guy. Spent a lot of the night chatting to both of them which was cool, and then they popped in this morning before heading off to Cornwall for a week’s holiday. I’m not jealous that they’ve got a relaxing week ahead of them!!

I’ve been out pretty much every night this week! After the Cannonball night on Tuesday, Wednesday night saw me head up just north of Bolton to watch a DVD with John Cieszynski, and it was a nice chilled out night. We grabbed some chips and just vegged out in front of Mission Impossible III, which I’d seen at the cinema but had kind of forgotten exactly what happened in it!

A film though that I have seen twice in the last couple of weeks (so therefore could remember most of the plot!) is Casino Royale. I went to see it the other week with Jamie, Sean and Selina, but Sarah hadn’t been to see it, and since everyone else already had, I said I’d go with her and watch it again!

Sa with the cinema essentials!We went to the Odeon in town, and I’d suggested we try out the posh seats in ‘The Gallery’ – which I’d never tried before but was keen to give it a go… and it was really cool!! You get up there and you’re welcomed into a bar where you can have free popcorn, nachos, chocolates and soft drinks (though technically you’ve paid for it with your more expensive tickets! ) There was even a little grand piano in there(!), and you can also buy drinks at the bar and take them in with you when you watch the film – which I didn’t do because I was driving, but it meant Sa could get herself a nice glass of red wine!

And then into the cinema itself… basically it’s like a balcony over the main cinema, with just four rows of seats – but these aren’t your normal cinema-style seats. They’re kind of blocked off into pairs, with a little arm-rest table either side, and they’re much bigger and more comfortable than regular ones, so we could just kick off our shoes and slouch in the seats with our feet up on the ones in front (which we probably weren’t supposed to do, but hey! ) And I didn’t mind watching the film again because it is really good, and it was nice to spend the evening with such good company!

So, it was a really good experience and one I’d definitely like to do again – just need to find another good film!

Christmas party #2

Last night I went to my second Christmas party in a week! I guess this was probably be the last social event for me for a long while, so I’ve been making the most of these last couple!

Like last year, we had our party along with all of the Manchester United employees, and it was provided by ‘The Christmas Company’ again… the theme this time was ‘Gatecrash The Kremlin’ – so there was quite a bit of Russian music and Cossack dancing going on!

The meal was pretty good, and we didn’t have to pay for our drinks… so the night didn’t cost me anything… which was definitely a bonus (especially since my heating died on Sunday and I’ll be paying to get that fixed this week!)

They had dodgem cars there but I didn’t get to go on them because I couldn’t be bothered queuing(!), as well as a fairground stall where you had to try and hammer a lever to get a rubber frog into a container – though after about 10 failed attempts I gave up!

You can see the party photos here.

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Last night I was at Airplay‘s Christmas party (I’ve done various freelance work for them over the last year) and it was a pretty good night.

They’d invited all of their freelancers along as well as the regular staff, so I knew a few people there, but there were quite a few faces I’d seen around their offices who I spoke to for the first time at the party!

Leighton even came up from Birmingham for it, and everyone seemed to enjoy the night… he was slightly the worse for wear by the end of it! There was a free bar until half midnight, and Dave Walker made the mistake of buying a drink at 12.40am… and ended up buying a single Malibu and Coke for £7.50. He was well hacked off!!

There are a load of photos from the night here.

Got my second Christmas party – the Manchester United one – on Monday evening, and that one should be really good if last year’s is anything to go by.

Christmas Party, plus Dave & Ceri’s Wedding

Well it was the MUTV Christmas Party last night, and for the first time in the years I’ve been there, I actually enjoyed it!

This year, we’d all been invited along to the main Manchester United staff Christmas party, so it took place in a massive marquee in one of Old Trafford’s car parks, which was done out in the theme of Rio (apparently!) We got a four course meal, and then there was a disco, free bar, and a mini fairground! There were loads of people there, and it was a bit weird have Sir Alex Ferguson just 3 tables away from where we were sitting! I took some photos of the night and you can see them here.

Two days earlier and it was Dave and Ceri’s wedding! It took place at Ivy Cottage in Didsbury, and it was packed!

It was a really nice service, and saw a few people I hadn’t seen for a while.

Then we headed up to Bolton for the reception, and because it’s nearly Christmas, the decorations had quite a festive feel, and was all really arty! It was a nice day, and Dave and Ceri obviously were really enjoying it!

You can check out the photos from the day here.

Catching up…

Happy Boxing Day!

Actually, I’m at work at the moment, so it really couldn’t feel less Christmassy! We’ve got a free-to-air weekend in a couple of days, and I’ve got so much to do for it that in the last couple of weeks, I’ve only had Christmas Day off – hopefully I’ll be able to get this Sunday off as well ‘cos I’m feeling a tad tired!

Just looking back at the last entry I made back in October… and the fireplace still looks the same! I’ve had a quote for a builder to complete the work on it, but I have to get someone to remove the gas fire first, so I’ll try and get it all done in a few weeks time. There’s so much I want to do to my house, but finding the time to do stuff is a major problem, as is whether I actually have the skill to do all the jobs that need doing! I’ve bought a DIY book so I can at least have a fighting chance!!

Oh, and the photos from Rhona’s Bollywood Bash back in October are now up on the site… you can see them here.

Anyway, I’d better get back to my work now to at least give me a chance of leaving today before it gets dark!!

Weddings and parties…

Not that much more to report at the moment! I’m settling into the new house pretty well – I’ve smashed out most of the massive fireplace that was in the living room, but stopped short of totally removing it when it wasn’t totally clear whether or not the wall is being supported by the bricks that I was carefully removing! So I now have a really nice looking feature as soon as you walk into the house!

Had a good day at Steve and Claire’s wedding but it was very tiring. I was shooting pretty much solidly from about 12pm until about 10pm! There are some photos that I managed to take when I wasn’t doing the video here! And a few of the shots that I took of the ceremony made it onto the end of Midlands Today the next night which was pretty cool!

Went down to Bin’s housewarming party down in London the other weekend and it was a pretty mad night! It took hours to get down there ‘cos of engineering work on the railways, so I had to do part of the journey by coach. Jon & Eve were there as well, and there were quite a few Sheffield guys who I’ve met at previous parties when I lived in Birmingham.

It was my sister Vikky’s 21st birthday on Tuesday, so I was down in Tamworth for a load of us to go out for a meal. Was quite a whirlwind trip, and drove back up to Manchester the same night – but had to pull in at a few service stations on the way just for a bit of a rest ‘cos I was so tired! It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks but I’m not looking forward to that event at all – the number is getting too big!!

I’m off to Rhona’s party down it Tottenham this weekend. It’s a Bollywood Bash, and she wants people to go in Bollywood costume! I’m kind of thinking I might conveniently forget that bit of it, and go in normal clothes! I think quite a lot of uni guys will be there as well, so that should be good catching up with everyone.

Found a house to buy!

Well, the house situation has moved on a little bit… I made an offer on a house yesterday and it’s been accepted! Scary!!! Actually, the house belongs to Jeb & Nicky (who I know from uni in Birmingham, and they now live up here), so I know the house is in good shape. The only problem I may have is that they haven’t got anywhere to move to yet, so it’s like a kind of mini-chain situation… I’ve got to hope my landlord doesn’t give me my notice too soon, otherwise I may have to find a solution for myself and all my stuff between houses.

The party at Rhona’s was cool – it was a good train journey down, much better than driving… I could just sit back, close my eyes and listen to some CDs!! It was cool catching up with people – Rhona’s off to India on Wednesday I think, and I also met Naomi’s new husband Nick for the first time. It was good seeing Bin again as well – oh have I’ve missed his little chats!!!! ;o) Also, Fiona was there as well, and I’ve not seen her for a long time, so that was good too. There are some photos of the night here.

Looking for a new place to live…

Current news – luckily the house I’m living in still hasn’t sold so I haven’t been given my notice yet! I’ve just spent the last two days looking at various houses to buy, but with no real joy, although there is one which may be suitable. Hopefully, I’m arranging to view a load more next Tuesday (my next free day), and who know… maybe I’ll find my perfect house that day!

Have decided to travel down to London for Saturday evening to go to Rhona’s leaving party (she’s off for a few months to work in India, which has been a bit of a surprise for everyone!!) I’m going down Saturday lunchtime on the train, which only takes about 3 and a half hours (slightly quicker than driving there!), and I’m coming back on the Sunday morning so it’ll be a fleeting visit. Actually it should be pretty cool, ‘cos Naomi should be there (and unfortunately I couldn’t make it to her wedding over Easter, so it’ll be good to catch up), and Bin’s going to try and get there as well. Maybe some other ex-uni-guys will make it as well, so it can be like a mini-reunion!

Have had to take down the CU Oldies website for the moment…. to be honest, it really wasn’t complete, but also I’ve run out of web space to host it ‘cos Skeggy Stewards has grown so big… I’m even having to store a lot of the new pictures on my own website!