Holidays 2019

I thought I’d post about my holidays this year – I’ve not done it sooner because I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with health stuff!

First off, over Easter I went camping with my sister’s family in Wales. We stayed at Abererch Sands, which is on the Llyn Peninsula, just between Pwllheli and Criccieth.

We all arrived at the campsite at lunchtime on the Thursday, and went on a part of the site where both caravans and tents could be pitched. It took me quite a while to get my tent up – I’d recently been getting tired really quickly (which I later discovered to be because of heart failure!), so I paced myself with it, and Brandon and Chloe occasionally broke away from playing frisbee to help a little bit when an extra pair of hands were needed. Vikky and Andy set up their caravan on one side of the field so they could plug into a heavy-duty electrical hook-up, whereas I pitched up on the opposite side, and made use of the electrical hook-up for tents. It was the first time I’d had electricity whilst camping, and it really does make a difference! I’d bought a small powered fridge to use for the week, plus a camping kettle which mean I could boil water much quicker than usual!

Continue reading →

Holiday in Ireland

A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday in Ireland again, meeting up with my mum plus 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!

Continue reading →

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!

Continue reading →

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!

helen-ali-june-2011

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!

Continue reading →

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!

dsc01298

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.

dsc01280

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!

img_0692

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!

Christmas and new TV!

Yet another Christmas has been and gone… and for this one I decided to stay at home and cook myself a Christmas dinner in my brand new kitchen!

I think Christmas dinner has to be the best meal you can have! It has so many different things in it, and you’re kind of allowed to over-eat for that one meal!

christmas-dinner-2010

I cooked a joint of turkey and a joint of gammon, and also had he full works with sausagemeat stuffing, bacon wrapped around sausages, roast potatoes, and loads of veg!  It was washed down with a nice glass of wine whilst watching Christmas Top Of The Pops on iPlayer live on my laptop!

And by the time the Christmas pudding made it onto the table, I couldn’t have been more festive if I’d tried!

Once I’d had my dinner I just relaxed and watched TV for the rest of the day! It was a proper lazy day, and I did actually enjoy it!

And last week, just before New Year, I popped down to Tamworth to visit my mum, sister and the twins, and give them their Christmas presents.  I bought Brandon and Chloe some Lazy Town costumes – a Sportacus suit for Brandon, and a Stephanie outfit for Chloe.  The only problem was that it freaked them out a little bit!

Obviously they’re so used to seeing those characters on the TV that they couldn’t get their heads around the fact that they could dress up as them! Maybe they’ll play with them sometime in the future, but I don’t reckon they’ll get much use in the immediate future!

And in other news, I’ve bought a new TV for my living room!  I’ve had a big widescreen CRT for about 10 years and I thought it was time to get myself a HD set.  I’ve bought a Samsung 37″ Freeview HD internet TV – and it’s got BBC iPlayer and YouTube built in. I’m quite pleased with it… now I just need to get Sky HD and a Bluray player!

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!!

brandon_chloe_easter_2010

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!

beach-jump-1

Continue reading →

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!

dsc04854

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!

dave-heads

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!

dscn5373

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!

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.

liverpool_snow_drive

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.

Continue reading →

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!

Continue reading →

Brandon & Chloe walking!

brandoncholejune2009

Yesterday I was down in Tamworth and got to spend some time with Brandon and Chloe. I think it’s been about 3 months since I was last down there, so I could really see how much they’ve developed.

They’re now walking (and running!) and it really does make a difference. It’s kind of strange to see!

They seem so much more independent now, and they’re pretty chatty, even though you can’t make sense of anything they say other than the odd word! They’ve got such character, and are really cute! Obviously I’m biased because they’re my nephew and niece, but they really are the best kids in the world!

dsc00042

We played in the garden for a bit, then they spent some time in their sandpit, where basically they poured sand over each other! It’s a pity I don’t get down to see them more often, but at least I get to chat to them on Skype every so often – although I’m not sure they totally understand what’s going on when we do that!

Work-wise, me and James have been busy. I’m trying to get the 29th Chapter music video sorted, but it’s taking a lot longer to do than I’d hoped. I think it will look good, but the work on it is more intense than we’d first thought.

dsc00006

Also, we’ve been working on the graphical look for Channel M’s new daily magazine show. We shot the titles for it with Tim a couple of weeks ago, and we delivered the majority of it on Monday for their pilot week ahead of the show launch next week. It’s not exactly what we’d originally planned to do with it all, but I think it still looks good – especially with the amount of time we’ve had to do it in!

Two very different parties!

dsc02380

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!

dsc02430

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!

dsc02495

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

Christmas with the twins

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone!

dsc01624
I’ve been down in Tamworth since Christmas Eve, and it was my first Christmas back down there for quite a few years – certainly since I’ve been living in my current house anyway.

Part of my reason for going down this year was that it was Brandon and Chloe’s first one, so wanted to be there for that really. My sister was doing lunch at hers, and there were quite a few of us there for it… me, mum, Vikky, Damien, the twins, Damien’s mum and dad, and Damien’s brother, Gavin. Also, Steve and Julie popped in before dinner, so it was quite a full house!

dsc01540

I was quite surprised that the twins also had Christmas dinner with us – they were eating pretty much the same as us, and it didn’t seem that mashed up really! They like to be able to grab food and put it in their mouths themselves, so the more food they can hold the better!

It was actually quite weird being around people – I’ve really got used to being on my own on Christmas Day, and doing what I want to do, when I want to do it! So I didn’t get my usual lie-in, and didn’t really get to watch the TV I wanted to see either!! Thank goodness for Sky+! I’ve got so many shows I’ve recorded over the last 3 days that I need to try and find the time to watch!

Anyway, back to Christmas Day at my sister’s…

Brandon and Chloe had a great day – even though they were both a bit snotty. And they got so many presents from everyone, it was ridiculous! My sister said she’d have to put some of their new toys away, and swap them all round every month! It must have been quite bewildering for them, because they got so much attention, and then were going from one new toy to another!

dsc01567

dsc01614

One of their cool presents was a talking Elmo toy – and it was amazing! The movement on it is so realistic, and if he falls over, he even asks you to pick him up again!

Both the twins were transfixed by him – especially since he was sitting at the same level as them – although Chloe eventually decided she wanted a hug from her dad rather than a robotic toy!

It’s amazing seeing the kind of toys you can get for kids nowadays – when I was that age, there was nothing like that at all! It was just teddy bears and Fisher Price telephones!

dsc01718

They also got a ball pool which was great fun! We put them in there and buried them under the balls. I don’t think Brandon quite knew what to do at first – he just lay there as they piled up on him! And Chloe spent a lot of time trying to eat them!

dsc01716

There are photos from the day here.

While I was down in Tamworth, I also dug out some old VHS tapes of stuff I filmed years ago and copied them to DVD. Some of my stuff was so bad!! But it’s fun to look back at it now though, especially some of the videos I made with Tom whist I was at school. It also made me realise how bad quality VHS is – especially when I was editing it back then, because the picture got much worse on every pass, whereas nowadays you can copy stuff or edit footage without any quality degradation at all.

I also copied some old home video stuff from when we hired a camcorder back in the early 90s. It’s really strange looking back at video footage of yourself from so long ago! And also of all my grandparents, as well as my dad. It’s one thing looking at old photos, but watching footage puts a whole different perspective on it all.

Anyway, that’s Christmas over… I’m back in Manchester now, but this afternoon I’m off to Anglesey for the next week to see in the New Year in a cottage next to the sea, so hopefully that should be fun!

The last few weeks…

It’s been a strange few weeks.

A few posts ago I mentioned about my nan being ill. Well unfortunately she died a few weeks ago on the 1st November, and we had the funeral just a couple of weeks ago. It was weird thing – obviously it was all really sad, but with it being a Catholic funeral, there was a service for the family on the Sunday night when the coffin was brought into the church, then the actual funeral ceremony the next morning. It’s also quite strange, because I’d never realised that Catholics believe that the soul of the person is still in the coffin whilst it’s in the church, and they ask the saints and Mary to protect it overnight, and then in the second service the priest kind of commits the soul to heaven. All a bit odd!

It was also the same weekend at Steven’s birthday, so it was a strange weekend really. Also odd to note that last year dad’s funeral was 2 days after my birthday – and then this year, nan’s was 2 days after Steven’s.

On to yesterday then, and I had the most rubbish day, and it turned out totally opposite to how I’d hoped it would. It was Jess Torry’s dedication service at Vinelife, with Helen then being baptised afterwards, followed by a gathering back at their house. I’d totally planned to be there for the whole thing, and am truly gutted that it just all went pear-shaped. I arrived for the service about 10 minutes before the start, and it was all going fine until unfortunately, just as it was starting, I bumped into someone who I really wanted to avoid, and then just had to get out of there. I really tried hard not to let it get to me and stay in my seat, but I just couldn’t do it, even though it was such an important day. I’m actually really angry with myself for not being able to deal with it, but also pretty annoyed that the situation arose in the first place. As it was, I listened to the dedication part of the service from outside, but then left which meant I missed the get-together in the afternoon as well. I guess I just feel rubbish ‘cos I really wanted to be there for the whole of their special day, but because of what ultimately is just stupid stuff, I wasn’t there for them.

A year on…

It’s a year today that my dad died, and if I’m totally honest, I still don’t think I’ve properly felt anything abut it. I commented after the funeral that I hadn’t really had much of a reaction to it all, and maybe it’d come further on, but it hasn’t really. Maybe that makes me heartless – I don’t know. But maybe now isn’t the right time, and it’s still something I’ll deal with in the future.

Also, nan’s been taken into hospital this weekend, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that. When I first found out on Thursday, it sounded like it was really bad and everyone was fearing the worst, although mum’s texted me today to say that she’s improved, and is now eating and drinking (she hadn’t eaten in a week before being taken in), but they don’t know whether she’ll be allowed home or not. I guess it’s just a case of waiting really.