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!

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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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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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Ireland holiday

Last week I got back from a week’s holiday in Ireland, staying at Mai & PJ’s house in County Kerry. I took an overnight ferry from Holyhead, so it took a couple of hours to drive there, arriving in plenty of time for a 2.30am sailing. Because of knowing how hard it is to get to sleep from my trip last year, I booked a cabin, arrived in Dublin just before 6am, having had a few hours of decent sleep.

My mum, Vikky and the kids were flying over from the midlands, and they weren’t due until the evening, so I decided to do a bit of a tour on my way to the west coast to make the most of my day.

So, after leaving Dublin, I drove south down the coast, and stopped briefly at Wicklow, but as it was only just after 7am, everywhere was still closed!

Wicklow.

From there, I was back on the road and carried on down to Waterford, about 80 miles away. Basically, it was a place name I recognised because it’s famous for its crystal, and that’s the only reason I ended up there! I had a bit of a walk round – the weather had gone a bit drizzly, so didn’t stay there for loads of time. I had a stroll along the harbour area, and also around a bit of the town. I was starting to get a bit wet, so went back to the car, and hit the road again.

Cork.

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Back in Ireland after 35 years!

I think the last time I was in the Republic of Ireland was 1980, so my memories of our two visits to visit family over there are pretty hazy – but there are some bits that I can still recall even though I was so young!

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was back in Ireland for a holiday with my mum, sister, Brandon & Chloe (who all arrived a week before I did) – all staying at my mum’s cousin’s house!

I took an overnight ferry to Dublin from Liverpool, setting sail at 3am, and the facilities were really basic. I sailed with P&O, and I quickly realise they were really catering for the freight industry, but also take regular passengers too. I tried to get a bit of sleep sitting in a pretty uncomfortable chair, and I finally got off the ferry into Dublin Port at about 11am.

It took about 3½ hours to drive over to Listowel in County Kerry, and after arriving at Mai & PJ’s house, I went with mum, Vikky and the kids to the beach!

The nearest seaside town is Ballybunion, which is about 20 minutes away from the house, and I do have some memories of going there as a kid. Even thought it was later in the afternoon, it was nice and sunny, so we spent a couple hours on the beach.

Brandon, Chloe & mum on Ballybunion beach.

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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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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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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!

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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!!

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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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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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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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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!

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Brandon & Chloe walking!

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Brandon and Chloe.

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!

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Brandon and Chloe.

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Two very different parties!

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Me and Brandon.

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

Last 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!

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Chloe.

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