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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Filming on the Causeway Coast

I’ve got a couple of mates who are in the middle of a long-term art project called ‘The Edges of These Isles‘, where they’re looking at the differences in how an artist and a photographer capture the same location – and back in August 2014, me and James filmed them visiting Lindisfarne, and you can see that video here.

Well, we’re looking to produce a short film to tell the story of the whole of Tom and Simon’s project as they travel the UK, using some video stuff they’ve shot, along with footage that we’re able to get at certain points.

So we found out they were going to be travelling to Northern Ireland to visit the Causeway coast, so it was organised for me to go with them to film what they got up to! I had to travel really light, because the best flight Simon could find only had a really small bag size for hand luggage, with a weight allowance of 10kg, which would include both my clothes and all the kit I needed! Small items could be stuck in my pockets, but unfortunately I wouldn’t able to take any kind of camera support, or the Canon 70-200mm lens since it’s pretty heavy!

Tom and Simon.

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Malta with Annie Mac!

Me, Annie Mac and James.

The last week has been a really busy one, producing a video trailer for next year’s Lost & Found festival in Malta, hosted by Radio 1’s Annie Mac. The job came in pretty last minute, and with very little time for planning, last weekend me and James were on a plane leaving Manchester at 6.30am, heading to Malta! We met up at the airport in Malta with Oli from The Warehouse Project, and Wilf who’s a Manchester-based promoter who I think runs and produces a lot of the stuff for the festival.

Oli and Will were staying in a hotel in Sliema, whereas we carried on in the taxi for about another 40 minutes to Bugibba, where we checked into the Topaz Hotel. What with it being early afternoon, it was now incredibly hot, and since we had to wait for our room, we ended up sitting in the shade by the pool, eating ice lollies for lunch!
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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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Day in Northern Ireland

This week, I was over in Northern Ireland for work – I’d never been to the north before… I went to County Kerry on the west coast of Ireland a couple of times as a kid, but that was about 35 years ago!

We needed to shoot a customer testimonial for a client, and it needed to be done at a showroom in Belfast, so I went over there with Andy Fidler on Thursday.

Because we were flying, we weren’t able to take much kit with us – I needed 2 cameras for the interview, but we didn’t have any economical way of taking a couple of tripods with us, so I had to try and find somewhere to hire from. Obviously, in Manchester it’s pretty easy to find a hire company for pro kit, but I really couldn’t find anywhere in Belfast that we could use! I eventually found I could hire a couple of tripods from Calumet, but they weren’t quite what we were after since they didn’t have proper video heads, but they would have to do! Oh, and annoyingly, the bank decided to cancel my work debit card the day before (fraudulent activity supposedly!), so I had to hire both a car and the kit (along with deposits!) on my own card!

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Family holiday in Florida

Last month I had an awesome time in Florida with family, so I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up of what we got up to!

I drove down to Tamworth on the 2nd November and stayed at the Travelodge there to get a few hours sleep before a really early start the next morning. So at 4am, we all got in a taxi minibus from mum’s at 4am to take us down to Gatwick, and it has to be said, it wasn’t the most comfortable journey! There was me, mum, my sister Vikky and the twins, my brother Steve with his partner Ameena, and her daughter Amelia.

One particular lowlight of the taxi journey was when Chloe threw up whilst we were in traffic on the M25! She was sat next to me, so basically I had to catch it in my hands which was gross! I managed to transfer most of it into a plastic bag, but some of it ended up on my hoodie and smelled pretty bad! We had to pull over on the hard shoulder for her to get rid of the last of it before carrying on to the airport!

After a bit of a clean-up at the airport, we got on our flight about 1 o’clock. We flew with Virgin Atlantic, and it’s the biggest plane I’ve been on – it was a 747 and had an upstairs, which is where our seats were! It’s quite a long flight, and then when we got to Orlando, there was a massive wait to get through immigration, which isn’t ideal when you’ve got a couple of tired kids with you! We finally got through at about 7.30pm local time (which of course felt like it was after midnight because we’d started the day on UK time). It took a bit more time to collect our two hire cars – me and Steve were both driving Chrysler Town & Country 7 seaters, which is a bit bigger than I’m used to! We has had to take a bit of a trip to get an envelope containing a code for the keys for the villa in nearby Kissimmee where we were going to be staying. Eventually we got everything sorted, and finally were able to crash out!

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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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Working in the Med

Me filming in Menorca.

Got back last night from doing some filming on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. I spent 8 days on the Island Star which left from Majorca and visited Sicily, Italy, Corsica, Sardinia and Menorca, before returning back to Palma yesterday morning.

Basically we were shooting as much as we could on the ship for them to use for promotion, such as travel agents, the website and also for TV travel channels. It was pretty intense – we were doing 12-14 hour days, and didn’t really get much of a break all week, but it was enjoyable, if very tiring! It didn’t help that people on board kept commenting on what a great holiday we must have been having!

Quick recap of the week: our flight from Manchester was delayed because of storms in the south of England, but we eventually got onto the ship in Palma by about 8pm. Then on the Sunday we had a day at sea and started work filming various stuff around the different parts of the ship. Monday saw us arrive in Palermo, Sicily, and me and Sparky jumped off first thing to see if there were any good views looking back from the port. However, it was quite industrial, so we actually spend a lot of the day shooting interviews with the captain and crew. We also used a mini-jib to get some nice shots in the Guest Relations area – it was the first time I’d used one, so was a little apprehensive about operating it, but it worked a treat!

Tuesday was Rome day where over two thirds of the passengers got off to visit the sights, so we made good use of the ship being quiet to get some nice shots of the pool area (at all the other times it was very busy, and not quite the image we wanted to portray!)

Filming with the jib.

We set up the jib over the jacuzzi and the pool, and by the time we’d got some of the ship’s dancers to pretend to be holiday makers, it made it look really inviting with sweeps across the deck making it look really spacious!

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