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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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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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!

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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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Tom’s wedding

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Last weekend I trekked down to Bideford for a pretty special day – Tom Green’s wedding to Vicky!

Tom’s probably my oldest friend – we spend pretty much all our time together when we were kids… whilst at school we tried to start TV and radio stations, produced the school magazine and a yearbook, made a short film, wrote a ‘commercial’ computer game that earned us about £100(!), plus loads of other crazy ventures!

And then after school, we’ve kept in touch, firstly helping start up a community radio station together, and we’ve both then taken career paths in media – Tom in radio and me in tv and video.  We even shared a house together in Birmingham in the summer of 1997!

Anyway, Tom’s been living in the UAE for the last few years, and was in Cairo before that, so we don’t see other loads, but do keep in touch online, and have caught up when he’s been back in the UK visiting family.

So when I was invited to his wedding down in Devon, there was no way I was going to miss it!  It was a heck of a long journey down there from Manchester, but I stayed at a Travelodge on the M5 the night before to break it up a little bit, and then stayed in Bideford on the Saturday night after the reception.

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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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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!

Back on my bike

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Yesterday I went to the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peak District with Dave for a bit of a bike ride around the three reservoirs there.

I’d not ridden my bike since my holiday in Anglesey last year, and the last time I did this route was back in 2007 when I did my first ride in 16 years with Jamie Hill.

Anyway, back to yesterday, and we arrived at about 1.15pm and parked up, and set our bikes up before changing into our riding gear.  It was pretty cold, so I’d gone for a layers approach with t-shirt, hoody and coat, and tracksuit bottoms over some cycling shorts.  Dave being the crazy man that he is opted for a Villa top and shorts!

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I was really out of practice, but soon got into it, although I do find hills quite difficult.  Obviously I need to build up my strength and stamina, and if I can get rid of some weight over the next year it will really help as well.

There was quite a lot of ice and leftover snow around, which made a few sections quite interesting, but it was a bright, dry day which was good.  Although when we were in the shade it was absolutely freezing!

Dave was a really good bike partner to have, because I know he was riding a lot slower and took more breaks than he normally would do, but he was totally fine about it.  Hopefully the more riding I do, the better I will be with regard to that.

I got a couple of painful muscle twinges nearer the end of the ride, which is a bit concerning, but maybe that’s just down to me not being used to so much exercise!

We actually did 16 miles which is quite a lot really!  And to be honest my legs aren’t aching too much, although I have a really sore arse from my saddle!  Again, I assume that’s something which you don’t notice after a while!

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My goal with the whole biking thing is to be able to cycle long distances without too much pain (and to get much fitter in the process!)  Dave’s really keen on doing a Land’s End to John O’Groats ride next year sometime, and I’d really love to be able to join him on that, even though I know it would be the hardest thing I’d ever do!  As part of the build up to it, the plan is to look to do a Coast to Coast ride this year, with about 50 – 60 miles a day for about 4 – 5 days, so it could be achievable for me if I really work for it.  Hopefully me blogging about it might give me more of an incentive to really train for it, so that I can avoid the embarrassment of looking back at this in a couple of years time having not done it!

You can see the photos from the ride here.