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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Edgeley Park gigs

So this week, I’ve been to 2 different gigs at Edgeley Park stadium – handily just up the road from where I live!

The first one was Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, and it was very last minute that I got a ticket for it. I saw Lee post on Facebook that he had a spare ticket available for the gig that night, so, having been a big Beautiful South fan back in the day, bought the ticket off his friend who couldn’t make it.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott.

I thought about walking up to the stadium, but with my health situation, took the bus instead! I met Lee outside the ground, and we went in to grab a drink, before his wife Katie and her friend turned up. It was nice to catch up with Lee having not seen him since the beginning of February, and hopefully I didn’t bore him too much talking about my heart stuff!

So back to the music, and they were really good – there are so many songs you just know all the words to! I was worried it might rain, but even though it was quite cloudy, it stayed dry. I had to have a sit down for about 10 minutes half way through because I was starting to tire a bit, but then I was fine for the rest of the gig. I only had one beer – I don’t normally drink that much alcohol anyway, but at the moment I can’t have more that 1½ – 2 litres of liquid a day, which is a lot harder than you’d think!

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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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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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#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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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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Catch-up of last few weeks

I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up of what I’ve been up to recently, so here goes!

Last month, I got to see Rob Bell speak at !Audacious in Manchester. I’d caught him at Greenbelt back in 2009 (but was hard to hear because it was outdoors and I was quite a way from the stage). He was on a book tour of the UK, and the night was billed as ‘An evening with Rob Bell’, which meant he could talk about stuff in his new book, as well as talk about other things, and also take questions from the audience.

I know he’s often regarded as controversial, but I did find a lot of what he had to say really interesting and thought provoking, although I think there are things he says that I’m not sure I agree with, but I’m glad I went to hear it.

Then, the following week, we had a bit of a Sharp Tenants social night! After a successful trip to the Frog & Bucket back in March to see some comedy, our next thing was a curry night at Akbar’s on Liverpool Street.

Christian and Alex.

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Coldplay at the Ethiad

On Sunday, I was at one of the most amazing gigs I’ve been to – Coldplay at the Etihad Stadium! I bought 6 tickets on a bit of a whim last year, so have spent the last few months trying to find people to come with me! I only got rid of the last 2 tickets a couple of weeks ago!

I went with Dave Bateman, John Cieszynski, John Scruby, and met up outside with my brother Steve and one of his mates.

We were in the standing area to the right of the stage, and my legs were quite achy but the time we’d got through the 2 support acts, Rita Ora and Robyn. Not overly impressed with Rita Ora – she’s had a few songs out, but mainly vocals on someone else’s track, so it felt a bit strange, and it’s really not my kind of thing… but Robyn was a lot more to my taste!

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Sore head

Happy New Year!

I had a great time celebrating last night, but I’ve been really suffering for it today! I went to a party at Steph’s house, and there were loads of people there – mostly people I know from Reach, but a few that I didn’t know.

Me, Dave and Jimmy.

Dave.

It was a really fun night – there was a bit of a buffet, and lots of beer! We all watched Big Ben chime midnight on the TV, before lots of music and dancing! To be honest, I didn’t really do any dancing – I mainly took photos and also videos on phone! Spent quite a bit of the evening chatting to Dave Bateman – now he’s in Liverpool we don’t catch up too often now, so that was cool.

Midnight!

Abhi and Chloe.

I’m not really sure what time the party finished, but I stayed over, trying to sleep on a sofa in the lounge, although I didn’t really get that much sleep! A killer hangover started to form once I’d settled, and I felt really rough when I eventually woke up this morning. There were a few others that had stayed over, but I think I was probably the most obviously not feeling great – I’m not really used to drinking that much! Steph found a packet of Resolve tablets in a cupboard, so I took one of those to try and help (she also had the need for one too!), and then I felt a bit sick, so spent a few minutes leaning over the downstairs loo (which incidentally was hotter in there than a sauna!) – really classy!

But all in all, a really great New Year’s Eve – and one long-lasting memory will be me and Dave singing along to Dappy’s ‘No Regrets’ very loudly (whilst Dave drank from a teapot spout!!)

Good times at Momentum 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I was camping down in Shepton Mallet for Momentum at the Bath & West Showground.  I went last year, after having taken a few years’ break, and thankfully this year the weathers was so much better! We had a bit of rain, but nothing like last years’ gales and flooding!

Dan, Joel, Me and Tom.

I pitched up camp with a small group from Reach, some of who I was with last year – Joel Pambakian and Tom Brown were both part of last year’s group – and there was also Golibé, Dan Butler, with special appearances over the weekend from Simon Bray and Tom Green (who actually ended up sleeping in my tent one of the nights!

Camped with us were various mates of the group, and they were really cool people! Right next to us were Rachel and Katie (who were the source of much entertainment over the week!), Kossy, and Golibé’s friend Andy.

We had pretty decent weather for most of the week – there was a bit of drizzly rain on one of the days, but we got to see quite a lot of sun! The main advantage of that is we all got to hang out together loads, so that was good. And the main meetings and after hours stuff was cool too.

Sugary Joel.

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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!

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!

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The year so far…

It’s been a while, so here’s a bit of a catch up!
Yesterday I went to Liverpool Cathedral to hear Rob Bell talk about his new book – ‘Love Wins‘. I’d seen him do a Q&A at Greenbelt last year, so was quite interested to hear him in person talk about his new book which has already caused a bit of controversy within the church.

It was quite bizarre because quite a few influential people were highly critical of it via Twitter, even before the book had actually been released, so I decided I’d rather make my own mind up, rather than listen to emotional ramblings from people who can come across a bit arrogant at times!

large-rob-bell-photo-for-blog

I went with Tom Green from Vinelife, and met up with Dave Bateman (who’s now living in Liverpool), and I also bumped into Tim Follin and his wife who were both there too. The place was pretty packed, and it was really interesting to hear his thoughts, but even though I think some of the stuff he said was quite though-provoking, I’m not totally sure I agree with all the points he put across.

After he did his main talk bit, he was ‘interviewed’ by the host of the evening, but he wasn’t really very good at it and asked pretty rubbish questions.  And then they invited people from the audience to ask questions, but again I thought there were a lot of missed opportunities, and Tom went forward to ask a question, but they wrapped up just before he got a chance to which was a bit annoying!

I bought the book afterwards, and I want to read it myself to see what I reckon – I certainly think it’s good that he’s causing people to ask questions about it.

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America – YEAH!

Well, I’ve just got back from an amazing two weeks in the USA!

I’d never been there before, so when I got an invite to Emma McNeil’s (now Patterson!) wedding to Gerald in North Carolina, I decided that it’d be really cool to be there for that, and also to discover a bit of America at the same time!

I flew out from Manchester Airport on Tuesday 7th, and got on the plane around lunchtime, but not before being selected for a security check as I was boarding!  I guess it was because I was travelling on my own, but it’s funny how you start to feel guilty when you’ve not actually got anything to hide!  About 8 hours later I made it into Newark Airport – and it was really weird being able to see such iconic views as the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty as we came in to land!  After a bit of a delay waiting for my next flight to Greensboro, I finally boarded what can only be described as a coach with wings!  It was a 50-seater, small 2-engine plane, that was incredibly narrow with just 3 seats across, and an aisle separating one of those!  It was a bit of a bumpy journey – I’m not the most experienced flier, so it doesn’t take too much to make me a bit nervous! But we eventually landed safely at Greensboro airport quite late, although my awareness of time was a bit screwy due to the time difference!

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After getting through the airport, I met up with Emma and her mum, as well as her brother and his family who’d also just flown in, before picking up the car I was hiring for my time in North Carolina. It was a little automatic Chevrolet, and I then had to follow them back to her apartment on the other side of the city – which considering I’d only driven on the right-hand side once before in 1997, and this time it was also dark, it was quite an experience! I was actually quite relieved it was an automatic because it meant I didn’t have to worry about changing gear with the wrong hand!

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