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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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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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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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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USA Adventure

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I’m just recovering from an amazing (but exhausting!) 2 weeks travelling around America!

I decided earlier this year that with a major (and unwelcome) birthday coming up, I’d arrange to be out of the country for it, and so the planning for a trip to the States was begun! I spent ages working out the trip – flights, trains, coaches, hotels – and surprisingly, it all went really smoothly!

DAY ONE: Chicago

The journey started on the 6th October, when I flew out from Manchester to Chicago. We left the UK on the Saturday morning, and after an 8½ hour flight, got into Chicago O’Hare Airport early afternoon (the magic of time travel! 😉 )

Actually, the descent into Chicago was quite memorable because when you first come through the clouds, you see a cluster of skyscrapers by what looks like the sea, but of course is Lake Michigan, and then from that the city sprawls for miles upon miles. Also, I won’t forget it in a hurry because as we were dropping towards the runway, the plane suddenly started pulling up again, and we went into a massive circle pattern over the city – the pilot told us that air traffic control had accidentally put us on the shorter of the two runways, which wouldn’t have been long enough for our landing, so they aborted right at the last minute! For someone who’s not the greatest flier, that’s not really what you want to hear!

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Summer Holidays and stuff

It’s been a couple of months or so since I last posted, so I thought it was time to remedy that! I’ve been away a few times this summer – twice camping, and also a weekend away for a wedding!

I got back this week from Greenbelt in Cheltenham at the racecourse, and it was so wet and muddy! I’ve been to it quite a few times now, but the conditions were never this bad before!

There’d already been quite a bit of rain during the week, so they weren’t letting cars driving up to the camping pitches as they had in previous years, and the last couple of times I’d been, I was with Ali who was working on site, so we’d been able to camp really close to the main areas, but this time we were a long way away!

Amy, Rosie, Sharon, Claire and Michelle.

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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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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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Summer 2010

Thought I’d better do a bit of a recap about what’s been going on over the summer, and I supposed the first thing I need to blog about is that we had a bit of a setback at work last month when we had a break-in at the office.

Basically, the whole top floor of our building was targeted, and the burglars broke into about 50 separate units in all! Most businesses had stuff stolen, but it seems like we were the worst hit, with us losing 3 iMacs and a Macbook Pro, plus all our filming kit comprising of a Sony EX3 and Z1, as well as a load of audio stuff as well.  It’s been a pretty horrible experience – luckily we’ve only lost a bit of work since they didn’t take our server or external hard drives, which would have destroyed us really since we hadn’t really got a decent back-up of all our work. But it’s just so gutting that you put so much time and effort into building the business to have some scum just take it away from you.

Anyway, we’re currently looking at options for what to do next – hopefully we’ve got a new office lined up because I really don’t want us to go back to our old one, because I think it might just happen again if they don’t sort out the security issues.  Should have a clearer idea of the future soon.

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On to happier stuff… at the beginning of August, Rob and Clare got married in a field in Mellor (a small village not too far from Stockport), and I was one of the 12 ushers who were all dressed fully in white!

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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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Loads of great music…

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Well, after seeing U2 last month (which was amazing by the way… have I mentioned that?!) I’ve experienced some more great bands in the last few weeks.

I went to Greenbelt over the August Bank Holiday weekend with Ali and her mates from Bristol. Because she was working on the set-up team, it meant we were able to camp a lot closer to the main area, which was much better than the last time I went, when we were camped so far away!

There was a great variety of music over the weekend: Athlete, Röyksopp, Sixpence None The Richer, Cornershop, yFriday, plus lots of smaller artists as well.

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Listening to Rob Bell.

Also, I got to hear a bit of Rob Bell too, which was really interesting. I’ve got a few of his books, but I’ve yet to read them – that’s something I need to do when I get a bit more time! He was doing a Q&A session, so covered quite a few subjects. He did a couple of specific talks as well, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get into those because the queues were so long that people got turned away. I need to get an MP3 of them!

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August catch-up

Thought I’d better do a bit of a catch-up…

It’s been a busy few weeks – we’ve had a lot on at work, which is obviously a good thing, but it would be nice to take a decent break at some point!

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Jess, Helen and James.

A few weeks ago, I went down to Soul Survivor North in Stafford as a day visitor. James and Helen had taken the Vinelife youth there for the week, so I met up with them as they were dishing up tea to a crowd of teenagers in very wet conditions! They’d taken Jess with them, which must have been interesting for them, but she seemed to be really enjoying herself, and I got to feed her a bowl of pasta which she wolfed down! It was just a shame the weather was so poor, because camping’s much better when the sun’s out!

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to Soul Survivor, when I was working down in Shepton Mallet venue doing visuals in the Underground venue. It actually felt a bit weird being there as a punter – you kind of can’t switch off from being aware of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s happening!

Then that weekend it was John and Carolyn’s wedding up in South Shields.

I won the prize of being the driver for the trip, so it was a full car that set off from Manchester at 7am on the Friday morning up to the North East. Me, Dave, John, Jimmy and Mike were all crammed into my Focus, but luckily we actually had a really clear run up there, and it was a good laugh!

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