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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.

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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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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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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!

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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!

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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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!

New Year, and dM work on Five

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Tonight sees two programmes with titles and graphics done by doodledoMOTION on Five in prime time!  First off, ‘Paul Merton In Europe‘ started last Monday night at 9pm, and we did the title sequence for the show (which has had so much work and detail put into it!), as well as the maps which show Paul’s journey across Europe.  It’s the 3rd travel series of ‘Paul Merton In…’ that Tiger Aspect have done following on from his documentaries about China and India, and so far the reaction to this new series seems really positive.

And then the second show for Five we’ve been involved in is also a Tiger programme – ‘Celebrity Quitters‘.  It’s a ten-part reality series that’s going to be on every week-night for the next 2 weeks, and features Linda Robson, John Burton Race, Chloe Madeley, Paul Danan and Derek Acorah as they all try to give up smoking.  We’ve done the titles and graphics for the main show, as well as their online content.

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The programme starts at 7.30pm tonight, and to promote the show, Linda Robson, one of the Celebrity Quitters, appeared on BBC’s Breakfast this morning for an interview, where they showed some clips from the series.

It was a good promo for the show, but the best bit was that the main title graphic that we’ve produced appeared on the big screen behind them throughout the whole interview which is really cool!

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Back to the beginning of the month, and on New Year’s Day, I went for a walk over at Alderley Edge with a group of Reach guys.

I went there a few years ago with James and Helen for a birthday walk, so I recognised quite a few places we went to.  It was pretty chilly, and we were wandering a bit aimlessly at times, but it was a really nice walk.

Then afterwards we stopped off at a really nice pub in the village called The Merlin for a meal.  It wasn’t that cheap, but the food was great, which kind of made up for it!  There are some photos of the day here.

The only other thing I’ll quickly blog about is the crazy snow we had at the start of the month.  We had a little bit of snow the day after our walk, but then on the Tuesday morning, I woke up to a crazy amount of snow outside!

It was a bit of a nightmare getting into work – luckily I’d parked on the main road rather than in my actual street, otherwise I wouldn’t have been going anywhere!  All the buses had been cancelled, so the only way I could get in was by car, and the drive in took nearly an hour compared to my usual 10 minutes!

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And when I got to the office, I made the mistake of driving into the car park, where I discovered James had already done that and had been stuck there for nearly an hour trying to get back out up the slope!  Then someone had the genius idea of using some carpet tiles to build a track for the car to drive on, so we were eventually able to get out, and so we then parked on a nice flat bit of road on the front!

Luckily it’s pretty much gone now, so life is back to normal!

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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Pre-Christmas catch-up

Just thought I’d do a quick catch up before Christmas. I’m currently at James and Helen’s house babysitting Jess, and there’s nothing decent on TV so I thought I’d do this!

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We’ve had quite a bit of snow these last few days, and yesterday a few of us went for a walk in Macclesfield Forest. It was freezing cold, and we walked quite a way – and seemed to be going uphill a lot more than downhill – but it was a really great afternoon.

We were kind of busking it a little bit, since we didn’t have a map or anything, and the cloud came down quite quickly as we made it to the top of one of the hills – but Penny had been to the forest before, so had a rough idea of where we needed to go! Though there were times when I wasn’t convinced we were ever going to make it back to the cars, especially when we’d been walking so long that it got dark!!

There are some photos I took of our walk here.

Work’s been quite busy recently, and we’re trying to wrap some jobs up before we finish for Christmas. We’re working on graphics for two shows on that will be on Channel 5 early next year, so really need to try and get them pretty much sorted by Wednesday at the latest.

On Thursday night, me and James went out with a couple of the other businesses from Houldsworth Mill for Christmas drinks down at the festive markets, and then onto some bars. We did the same last year, and it’s a pretty good way of doing it, because it would be quite a small event if it was just us!

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Anyway, we ended up in probably one of the most pretentious places I’ve been to! I’d heard of the Circle Bar, but had never actually been in there, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d be that bothered if I never went there again! The beer was nasty, the music was rubbish, and the other people there were just really strange! It was like they were all people who thought they were something special, but weren’t at all!

The only positive think was that there was a sofa that we’d managed to grab, so at least I was able to get a comfy seat!

First Reach

reach-lift10 years today that I went to Reach for the very first time… 12th December 1999. That’s pretty crazy… TEN YEARS!! Now I’m feeling old because it really doesn’t feel that long ago!

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I moved to Manchester at the end of November 1999, and it was the 2nd week here that I went (which was also the last one before Christmas). It’s really weird, ‘cos I can quite clearly remember the people I spoke to afterwards as though it was much more recent – Andy Knox, Dan Plagerson, Neil Cornthwaite and Sarah Smith.

I still have my Reach sampler cassette and copy of ‘Lift’ that I got that night, and I guess even with how things have turned out, it’s still had quite an impact on my life because a lot of the people outside of work that I know in Manchester are through Reach, and of course that’s where I met James, who I now run doodledoMOTION with, so that’s obviously quite a big thing!

Music and pain

A couple of weeks ago, me and James went down to London for two days to do a shoot with the 29th Chapter for their new music video.

It was a pretty manic couple of days – we headed down late on the Tuesday night and stayed in a Travelodge on the M1, and then arrived in Ealing for about 10 o’clock. The shooting was split into 2 blocks – the first day was a chromakey day, and the second was a live performance.

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The greenscreen that had been hired for the shoot was massive! We spent the morning rigging it up, then tried to light it evenly which was easier said than done! Then the guys got into their costumes (which I won’t reveal at this stage – I’ll wait until they’ve announced what single they’re releasing!) and we spent the rest of the day filming various set pieces and individual verses. It was a pretty long day… we wrapped around 10.30pm and then had a bit of a drive to a really nice hotel in some other part of London (I have no idea where!)

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Then the next day we shot a load of live performance footage using Rob’s EX1 with a Letus 35mm adapter, and the shots looked really great. It’s amazing how much difference using 35mm lenses makes – the depth of field you get makes it look so filmic. I really want to get one, but need to make sure we’d get enough use from it to justify the expense!

We finished at around 11pm on the Thursday night, and then had to drive back to Manchester, and it took forever! We were both really tired so shared the driving, and I finally managed to get to bed about 4am… but had to be up at 8am to take back the equipment we’d hired – brilliant!

Then yesterday was John Cieszynski’s stag day, which saw me try paintballing for the first time.

I didn’t realise how expensive it can be – I basically rationed the paintballs that I got as part of the basic price, but some of the others spent a fortune buying extra ammo!

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It was a good laugh, although it would probably have helped if I was a bit fitter! And during the first game, I got shot in my leg by a member of my own team! And it really hurt – I’ve had quite a big bruise come up today! I also got hit on my ear and the back of my hand, so it was a day of pain!

Then in the evening we met up in town for some food, and as we were arriving the heavens opened. I’d not seen heavy rain like that for a long time – the streets of Manchester turned into rivers! It was a good day all in all, and looking forward to the wedding in a month’s time!

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One not-so-good thing at the moment is that on Thursday I discovered that I may be going to the Coldplay gig on my own in September. I’m supposed to be going with James and Helen, but they’ve now found out they have a family wedding on the same day which they can’t get out of. It’s quite gutting for them, because we bought the tickets last October, and James bought Helen’s ticket as a Christmas present. For me, I was looking forward to going with both of them – obviously the gig itself will be great, but the fact I’d get to spend some time with them outside of work was definitely a bonus. I think they’re going to see if they can get there later on, but obviously with so many people there, the chances of us meeting up there would be impossible.

I’ve still got a spare ticket to sell, which might mean I find someone else to go with, but I don’t really know anyone else who wants to go, so might have to just sell it to a random person. Just a real shame, because I was really looking forward to it.

Whodunnit?

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Well, another bank holiday yesterday – it only seems a few weeks since the last one!!

I went for a walk in the afternoon with some guys from Reach – we drove over to the Peak District and parked up by Derwent Reservoir, just off the Snake Pass. It’s actually where I went with Jamie a couple of years ago for my first bike ride in 16 years(!), and I’ve realised it’s certainly a lot quicker to go round on 2 wheels rather than walking!

We only did about 4 miles – we got quite a bit round one side of the reservoir, but soon realised that it would take us ages to get round the next one and back down to the car! So after examining if there was anywhere else where we could cross, we turned around and walked back pretty much the way we came.

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The weather was pretty rubbish – it rained a bit – but it was just really nice to do something different. Not been out for a walk for quite a while… we used to do them a lot more regularly, and I guess I miss it a bit. But this was good and hopefully I’ll get to do it again.

Something I’m not sure that I’ll be doing again too soon is what I did next! It was John Cieszynski’s birthday on Friday, so last night he had a murder mystery party!

dsc02935Now, I’ve never been to one before, and it’s never been something I’ve been in a rush to try, but since it was for John’s birthday I decided I should go. The big problem for me was that it’s all taken very seriously! Basically from when it starts, you’re supposed to then stay in character for 3 hours until all the different elements are solved! Add into that the fact that there were 27 people there in character – most of whom I didn’t even know in real life(!) – and it becomes my biggest nightmare!!

To be fair, pretty much everyone else seemed to like it, and maybe if I was doing it with a much smaller amount of people, and if I actually knew them well to start with, I might find it okay. But it really wasn’t my kind of thing, and luckily my role wasn’t an important character so it didn’t matter that I kept a low profile!

John seemed to really enjoy it though, which is what’s important… next time though, I’ll suggest to him a night out at the pub!

Life’s a beach

Well it’s been a pretty busy few days… I was in the office for most of the Easter Weekend trying to get some graphics work finished for this show we’re doing for Tiger Aspect. It’s basically a couple of documentaries about Fawlty Towers for G.O.L.D. (very similar to ‘The Vicar of Dibley‘ and ‘Blackadder‘ ones we’ve worked on previously), and we’ve been working on titles, stings, episode guides and interview backgrounds.

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But I did manage to get a few hours off on Monday to go to the beach! I was in the office preparing another time-consuming render, when I got a text from Dave saying that a group was heading off to the beach for the afternoon, so I decided to go to that instead and carry on with the graphics later!

We set off to Formby in a few cars, and it was all fine until we actually got near our destination – it appeared that everyone else in the North West were heading there as well! Rather than spending the whole afternoon waiting to get into the car park, we eventually managed to park up on a housing estate and then took a short walk back towards the beach.

We eventually found a bit of the beach that wasn’t full of people, and also didn’t have bits of brick sticking out of the sand – not ideal for playing sports! I didn’t bother with the game of American Football, since I have no idea at all how the game works!!

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But later on, we played beach volleyball with a proper net that Dan had just bought from Decathlon (he was taking it seriously!) I was pretty crap at it, but it was good fun!

There are some more photos from the afternoon here. All in all, it was a good Bank Holiday Monday, even if I had to be in work for part of it!

Catch up

Quite a bit’s happened in the last few weeks, so I thought I’d better do a quick catch up and write about some of them… I’m manically busy with Preview stuff at the moment – got to try and get it all done for Monday because they need it for a presentation in New York, so that should be fun!

In my last post I mentioned that I had a ‘possibly interesting weekend ahead’… well I ended up in Wales at Cefn Lea for the Reach weekend away, which I suppose was interesting in a way! The last time I went on it was back in 2004, and there were quite a few people there who I hadn’t seen for ages, which was quite strange, but I guess in a way, I am glad I went on it, though it was pretty tough at times. I’m not sure what I was really expecting from it all, but maybe that’s something I need to reflect on over the coming weeks.

One cool thing about the weekend was that I managed to catch up with Russ (from uni and who I used to share a house with in Birmingham) on the Saturday night – he lives a few miles from Cefn Lea so popped over to say ‘hello’. We had a really good chat, and I can’t believe it’s about 3 years since we last met!

I may write some more about the Reach stuff in the future because I know I’ve been a bit vague – (or I may not!) – but I think I’ll leave it there or the moment, except to say that I’ve put the photos that I took here.

Then last Friday, I met up with Jamie who just wanted to get out of the city for the evening so we planned to go for a walk in the evening up by Kinder reservoir in Hayfield. But we got stuck in traffic going into Glossop and by the time we parked up the car to walk up to the reservoir it was already pitch black! We’d taken torches because we’d expected it to get dark whilst we were walking, but I wasn’t expecting there to be no light from the start! We did an hour walk, up to Kinder reservoir, where we could see a big house lit up on Kinder Scout (Jamie reckoned they were just showing off ‘cos they’d really gone over the top with the floodlights!), then we headed off west over some moorland to get ourselves heading back towards the village. It was great actually – being out in the middle of no-where (without even a phone signal!) and seeing the countryside only lit by the moon and stars was cool.

We made our way back down towards the village, and the original plan was to get a meal in the pub there, but they’d just stopped serving food which was a bit annoying! So we grabbed a pint and crisps before heading back here for takeaway (which was a bit grim – Jamie’s kebab was particularly rough!) Had a great night though – I’d love to do more stuff like that… it can get so boring just working all the time – although I usually end up feeling knackered after going anywhere with Jamie!! He’s much more active than me!

And finally, last weekend was both James’ and Helen’s birthdays, and I went along to a pub meal they arranged on Sunday afternoon in Didsbury. The plan changed twice because it’s quite difficult to find somewhere to eat for so many on a Sunday lunchtime! But we ended up at the Old Cock Inn and it was actually a pretty nice pub – I always had the impression that it was a bit of a smoky old-man’s pub, but I think they must have done it up recently, because I’d definitely go there again.

There were about 15 of us there altogether, and again it was nice spending time with some of the guys I don’t see all that often really. I took some photos on my phone and they’re now here.

Soul Survivor 2004

Got back yesterday from spending 10 days down at Soul Survivor, and am still feeling pretty tired! It pretty much rained nearly every single day, and it ended up getting quite muddy!

For the first half of it, I caught up with a couple of Reach guys…Dave Bateman was DJing in Lift (the skate park), and also saw Rob Kay who was DJing on one of the nights with thebandwithnoname.

On the changeover day, I went up to Bristol to visit Ali and Pete (and to stick my jeans and towels in their washing machine!), and that was the only day when it didn’t actually rain!

Then for the second part, some guys from Tamworth were there – Andy, Tom, Dave, John, Fiona and Sophie, and I spend a bit of time hanging round with them.

I originally planned to stay until yesterday morning and return, but after waking up on Wednesday morning, decided I couldn’t stick staying another night in my tent, so left late that night and got back to Manchester at about 2.30am yesterday morning!

There are some photos of this year’s Soul Survivor here.

Delirious gig, and Reach weekend away

Right, well it’s been a few weeks so I thought I’d better do a quick update!

At the end of January went to see Delirious play a gig at Liverpool Cathedral, and it was awesome! There was quite a group of us – me, Oliver, Rosie, Sarah, Emma, Colin and Caroline – and we also saw Fiona, Jules, Neil and Sarah who had made their own way there.

The cathedral itself was amazing – it’s 100 years old, and looks really cool. And it was fantastic seeing a band like Delirious playing there. I saw them play Coventry cathedral when I was at uni, and that was one of the best gigs I’d been to. The atmosphere at this one was brilliant, and they played a good mix of their new and old stuff.

The place was totally packed, and the view wasn’t the greatest because the stage wasn’t that high, but even with the wierd acoustics of such a large building, the sound was really good.

Then last weekend I went down to Kidderminster for the Reach weekend away. I had to take the Friday at work because the coach was leaving Manchester at 5.30, and it would’ve been pretty difficult to get there for that time. Anyway, there were two coaches taking us all down there, and I think I chose well, because the other coach got lost and went north instead of south, and arrived a couple of hours after we got there!

It was quite wierd, because the place we were staying at used to be called Fort Rocky, and I went there on a summer camp back in 1987! I had hazy memories of a lot of the things there, but the place was a lot smaller than I remember it – maybe that’s because I was a just a kid then!

Jamie managed to dislocate his shoulder again playing basketball on the Saturday afternoon, and since he’d travelled there in his car, I ended up driving him back home, along with Sarah, and a new guy called Simon, who I discovered is good mates with Andy Chadwick who I knew as a kid, and was on the same summer camp at Fort Rocky back in ’87!

Check out the photos here.