Holiday in Ireland

A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday in Ireland again, meeting up with mum and my niece and nephew. They’d already been there for a few days, and I set off really early on a Sunday morning to make a 9am sailing from Holyhead to Dublin, followed by a 3½ hour drive across the country to Mai & PJ’s house just outside Listowel.

The following morning – we took my mum’s hire car back to Shannon airport, with me following behind, so we could then carry on in just the one car.

We carried on northwards for a bit, before making a brief stop in County Clare’s main town, Ennis, and then carried on to the north west of the county, finally arriving at the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher.

They’re really stunning, and you can really sense the power of the sea crashing onto the rock a couple of hundred metres below. It was really windy, and it had been quite drizzly all morning, but it did dry up for us whilst there. It was a pretty strenuous walk up a load of steps to an old round tower overlooking the sea, and we carried on walking along the cliff top until we got to a little hut selling ice lollies (which of course we partook in!).

It was crazy seeing the amount of people who’d left the path to position themselves really precariously on the cliff edge to take a selfie – I’m not sure any photo, no matter how stunning, is worth potential death!

Afterwards we went into the visitor centre, which seems to be a giant cave inside the hill, and there were quite a few interactive things which Brandon & Chloe could have a go at. Even mum decided to try out the greenscreen selfie area, although the camera they use is really low quality and the keying wasn’t that great!

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Anthony

I found out yesterday through Facebook that one of my best mates from school died last weekend of a cardiac arrest whilst he was just walking near to his home. He was only 44 and it really is a total shock. Sadly, I hadn’t been in touch with Anthony for about 20 years, but I spent pretty much the whole of my early life with him, doing loads of crazy stuff with our partner in crime Tom.

Here’s the article from the Birmingham Mail.

RIP mate.

Orlando, New York and Aruba!

It was my sister’s wedding last month, and she’d decided to have a beach wedding in Aruba, so I decided that since I’d be travelling across the Atlantic, I’d also add a short USA holiday to it as well!

So I flew out to Orlando on the 6th October, leaving Manchester at lunchtime, arriving at 4.30pm local time. The queue through passport control was crazy – it took 2¼ hours to get through it, and then once my passport had been checked, I was then picked to have my suitcase examined! I eventually checked into my hotel – the ‘Holiday Inn & Suites Across From Universal Orlando’ – and it really was ‘across’, being just a 15 minute walk to the main entrance to the Universal theme parks!

After a long day of travelling, I went to bed pretty much straight away, and then woke up ridiculously early because of jet-lag! So annoying!

Anyway, I got myself breakfast from a nearby McDonalds, and then arrived at the theme park around 10.30am.

I entered the Islands of Adventure park and hit the rides straight away! I stayed there until about 2 o’clock, and after a bit of lunch, took the Hogwart’s Express from Hogsmeade to King’s Cross over in the the Universal Studios park. Generally, it was busier than when I visited in 2014, and the queues were longer, but I imagine no-where near as busy as it is in peak season!

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Scotland weekend

Last weekend I was up in Scotland with Ali for Steve & Tatiana’s wedding! The wedding was on the Friday, so I drove up on Thursday afternoon and then picked up Ali from the airport, who’d taken a flight from Bristol. However, as I was driving to the airport, I got a major warning light and message on my car saying ‘system fault’ which wasn’t ideal!

I get RAC membership with my car servicing, so called them up early evening, and an RAC man finally arrived quite late, and determined it was probably an issue with my battery not fully holding its charge and causing the error message. He reckoned it would be safe to drive over the weekend but that I’d need to arrange to get it checked soon at a Nissan garage.

Anyway, next day was the day of the wedding – I’d offered to live stream it for them, since a lot of Tatiana’s family weren’t able to make it over to the UK. We had breakfast and left first thing so that I’d have time to set up kit. I was only using a single camera with a BlackMagic Web Presenter plugged into my laptop. In hindsight, I wish I’d packed a 2nd camera to plug into it, but I think they were happy that there was any kind of broadcast!

You can still watch the live stream of the service on YouTube.

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Edinburgh Fringe

I’ve just got had a knackering but brilliant few days up in Scotland at my first Edinburgh Fringe! I was basically there for 57 hours, getting home late last night, and in that time managed to take in a total of 13 shows! It was pretty intense!

I’d only decided last weekend to head up there, so the guys at Gag Reflex got me some complimentary tickets for some of the shows they were producing, and I then found some other show that still had tickets available that would fit around them.

Kate, Dean and Hannah in the Gag office.

Lee loves his spreadsheets.

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Jess’ music video

I spent last Saturday with Jess Torry and loads of her friends making a music video! It was her birthday last month, but rather than have a regular birthday party, she had a music video party, which involved them all dancing and singing along to Justin Timberlake’s ‘September’ track from Trolls.

James directed and operated the main FS5 camera, and I had the Sony A7s on a gimble rig to get some smooth moving shots (although I’m not that practiced in using the gimble, so it was a bit of a steep learning curve!).

We filmed them in a nearby park, then in a cul-de-sac of an industrial estate, and finally back in their back garden where they performed in various bits of fancy dress.

It was quite chaotic at times, but the kids had a blast, and James even edited it overnight so that they could all watch it the next day!

A catch-up

I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up of what’s been going on the last few weeks.

At the start of last month, we had a bit of a crazy weekend shooting a TV commercial for Transform, which involved a mix of interior and exterior locations. We were really banking on the weather being good, and we were so lucky that the rain didn’t materialise until Sunday afternoon, because by then we’d filmed all of the outside stuff. We shot it all on the FS5 mounted on a Ronin stabiliser, and the shots looked great.

The week the shoot saw us having to get it edited and through Clearcast clearance to allow it to be shown on TV, and it was pretty tight, but we managed to get it on air without too much trouble!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Lowry to see ‘The Elis James and John Robins Experience’ – I started listening to their Radio X show and podcast back in September, and I heard them mention that they were doing a tour, so checked online and saw that there were just a few tickets left for the show! It was really funny – there were some references that I didn’t get that obviously would be known to a long time listener, but it just made me want to check out more of their back catalogue!

Elis James & John Robins.

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The Edges Of These Isles


Last week saw the the culmination of a project between Simon Bray and Tom Musgrove with an exhibition at the Whitworth Gallery, and as part of the night, a short film documenting the process was shown to a packed out room.

The idea behind the project was to look at how a photographer and artist saw various UK locations differently, and me and James had travelled with them to Lindesfarne back in August 2014 to film them both, and then earlier this year I went with them to Northern Ireland to get footage of them at the Causeway Coast, and then I also filmed them back in Manchester to get extra material to use alongside some stills and footage they’d taken themselves at some of the other locations.

I was really pleased with how the final documentary came out – I think it tells the story really well, and it got a really good response on the night. The completed film (which includes footage from the Whitworth exhibition) is now up on YouTube, and you can watch it here:

#batemantakethiswoman

This weekend I’ve been up in North Yorkshire – specifically Selby and Thorne near Doncaster – for Dave Bateman’s wedding to Abbie – hence the hashtag #batemantakethiswoman!

Me and Jimmy drove up first thing yesterday morning, grabbing a quick McDonalds breakfast nearby because we were a bit early, and then arrived at the church in Selby where we sat with Rob & Jenny, Chris & Debbie, Tom, Ralph & Laura, and Penny. Of course, John Roberts was there too, but since he was best man, he got to sit down the front with Mr Bateman!

Abbie and Dave.

It was a really nice service, and afterwards the rain stopped just long enough to take some photos in the churchyard, and by the yellow VW camper that was taking Dave and Abbie to their reception!

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Malta with Annie Mac!

Me, Annie Mac and James.

The last week has been a really busy one, producing a video trailer for next year’s Lost & Found festival in Malta, hosted by Radio 1’s Annie Mac. The job came in pretty last minute, and with very little time for planning, last weekend me and James were on a plane leaving Manchester at 6.30am, heading to Malta! We met up at the airport in Malta with Oli from The Warehouse Project, and Wilf who’s a Manchester-based promoter who I think runs and produces a lot of the stuff for the festival.

Oli and Will were staying in a hotel in Sliema, whereas we carried on in the taxi for about another 40 minutes to Bugibba, where we checked into the Topaz Hotel. What with it being early afternoon, it was now incredibly hot, and since we had to wait for our room, we ended up sitting in the shade by the pool, eating ice lollies for lunch!
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A last-minute holiday in Majorca!

Other than my 3 America trips, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve been on a straightforward ‘sunshine holiday’, so at the end of June I booked a last-minute holiday to Majorca! I’d heard that away from the north-east of the island, it’s a lot less commercialised and generally classier(!), so I did a bit of Googling, and ended up booking a hotel and flight for a week later!

I flew out early on Saturday morning, and it took ages to check in – the queue was really long, so I was a bit worried I’d not allowed myself enough time! But I eventually got through, and we took off just before half eight, arriving in Majorca early afternoon. I collected my suitcase and headed outside, and the heat really hit me! I was still dressed for the UK, so was wearing jeans which weren’t the best! And as I was looking for the coach to transfer me to my hotel, I was eating some Polos, and then suddenly I managed to chip one of my teeth! I could feel a bit had broken off, and it seemed quite sharp, but luckily there wasn’t any pain, so that was a positive. Not the best place to be needing emergency dental work!

Anyway, I took the coach across to the other side of Majorca and and got dropped outside my hotel in Port de Pollença. I stayed at the Hotel Eolo, which to be honest was pretty basic, but did have a balcony and decent view. I realised straight away that somehow I’d managed to bring the wrong UK plug adapter with me, but when I went down to the hotel reception to ask where I could buy one, they actually lent me the type I needed!

View from my balcony.

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Birmingham (still) Live!

Peter, Ashley, me, Karen, Michael, Ava and Ian.

Last weekend I was down in Birmingham for a re-union with some of the people I worked with in my first full time job at Birmingham Live TV.

It’s been 14½ years since we’d all seen each other, and I was a bit worried that it’d be really weird, but it genuinely felt like hardly any time had passed at all!

There were seven of us in all – me, Ian, Michael, Karen (who now lives in America), Ashley, Ava, and our old boss Peter (who was also my boss later at MUTV!)

It was a really fun night, and hopefully it won’t take almost 15 years for us to meet up again!

Wedfest

I spent last weekend camping up in north Yorkshire at the Camp Hill Estate for the event of the year – Wedfest!

Rather than opt for a regular wedding, Darren and Claire opted to make a whole weekend of it, and include camping, and get married in the open air! Luckily the weather was perfect for the whole weekend, so no wellies were needed!

We all arrived on the Friday afternoon to pitch our tents… I was camping near to Rob, Clare and Tabitha, along with some of their friends who were really nice. The first night we had a barbecue in the woods, followed by late night consumption of alcohol back at our tents!

Then on the day of the wedding, after a breakfast of bacon rolls, we all chilled a bit before getting changed into our smart clothes (something that isn’t a particularly easy thing to do in a tent!). Then it was time to head over to the wedding area.

Darren and Claire.

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The Boy With Tape On His Face

Last night me, James and Rob Oldfield went to the Contact Theatre to see ‘The Boy With Tape On His Face‘. He’s managed by Lee from Gag Reflex, so he got us some complimentary tickets for his Manchester show.

We got there in time for the support act, who if I’m totally honest wasn’t great. He didn’t really tell jokes, but rambled on about stuff that wasn’t really funny! And I don’t think the tone of his material really complemented what was to come from the main event.

So, the main show… how on earth do you describe it?!

The Boy is fundamentally a mime artist, but not in the way you’d image when hearing that term. His show involves lots of music, random household props, audience interaction, and lots of red balloons! And even though there’s no speaking, so much humour is conveyed in his actions! I don’t want to give any of the gags away, but it’s genius, and if you get a chance to see his show, then you definitely should!

Afterwards, we were invited to join them for a curry at the Moon in Withington – Lee hadn’t been at the show, but met us there and introduced us to Sam (TBWTOHF) and his support act, Phil (awkward!)

It was really cool though, and Sam is a fascinating person, and very talkative without the tape over his mouth! He told us about him starting out as a clown in his native New Zealand, and all the crazy stuff he got up to as a street performer!