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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CU reunion

Yesterday, I was in Worcestershire for the annual UCECU get-together! I drove down there with Jeb, and we got to Phil & Mary’s mid afternoon – it took us about 2 and a half hours to get there, which isn’t too bad.

It’s always nice meeting up with everyone – it feels like no time’s passed at all! I got to meet Helen’s boyfriend Dave for the first time, and he seems a nice guy.

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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!


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 When I first visited Ali there back in the 90s, it was a pretty run-down area, but now a lot of it’s been replaced by riverside bars and restaurants, and hotels and posh apartments – and Ali’s estate is right next to it!

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Ali’s 30th

I went down to Bristol this weekend for Ali’s 30th (I find it quite amusing that she’s now back in the same decade as me!) and in true Ali-style, it was a barbecue… in February!
It wasn’t the hottest of nights(!) but they had a bonfire and fireworks, so you didn’t mind spending time outside.

Me and George.

I didn’t know most of the people there, but two others from uni were there – George (minus Hazel because she wasn’t well) and Helen were both there, so it wasn’t too bad.

I drove back up yesterday afternoon – but because of roadworks managed to miss the turn off from the M4 onto the M5 and I nearly ended up in Wales! I managed to get off just before the Severn Bridge and turned round to head back the correct way!

I’m off down to London this week with James to go to an exhibition and conference called VideoForum. It’s not costing too much either – we’ve managed to get train tickets for £25, and the uni are paying for a room in a Travelodge for James, so I’ll be able to crash in there with him… so it’s worked out loads cheaper than I expected. I reckon we’ll find it really useful – we’ll be working together this year producing DVDs for a trend forecasting project, so I think it will be good to see what kind of kit is out there, and also to get to some of the seminars too so we can get the DVDs up to a higher standard (hopefully!!)

Weekend at Pres’

Spent the weekend down in Kent, meeting up with some of the guys from the CU when I was in Birmingham – Bin, Russ, Jon, Eve, Rho, Pres and Ginge. It took absolutely ages to get down there – I left at 8pm from Manchester and got to Pres’ house in Paddock Wood at half one! I thought the motorways would be better at this time of night, but no chance! On the M25, I was at a total standstill at 11.30 – you just can’t win!

Anyway, following a good night’s sleep (after watching a tape of that night’s Big Brother!), we went over to Tonbridge for lunch, and then went rowing around the castle’s moat! It has to be said that we weren’t really the best of rowers… we all took turns, and ended up in the bank many times, and also came perilously close to some big boats on a few occasions! I had a go at rowing on my own nearer the end, and that was a bit easier to control than pulling on just one oar… but I have definitely decided that sitting on a rowing machine in the gym is a lot easier to control – even if loads more tiring!!

The weather was gorgeous – in fact I got a bit burnt – so that’s my summer tanning completed then! In the evening we had a barbecue which somehow I pretty much got out of doing! Actually it was my second barbecue of the week having been to Jamie’s lifegroup one on Tuesday night, so I was getting quite used to burnt sausages and burgers by now!

Sunday again was really sunny – so we just sat out in the garden taking in the rays! I left just before 3 o’clock, and this time it only took me 4 and a half hours to get home, getting back to Manchester at half seven… arriving late for a quiz night thing Reach were doing at Jabez Clegg! I joined Dean’s team and they actually won(!), even though I came in half way through, and could answer hardly any of the questions! Oh well.

Have a look at my photos of the weekend here.

Busy month for weddings!

Well the last two weekends have been pretty busy with both taken up by weddings!

Saturday just gone, I was up in Burnley for Rob and Lib’s wedding. We all met stewarding at Spring Harvest many moons ago, and they’d asked me to be an usher at their wedding, which was a totally new experience for me! And it meant I had to hire a suit as well (I don’t have one ‘cos I never normally need to wear one!)

Anyway, I drove up for the rehearsal on the Friday night after work, and spent the time making notes and hoping that I wouldn’t do anything wrong the next day. On the day itself, everything went really smoothly. The weather was fantastic, and Rob & Lib really enjoyed the whole day. Oh, and slightly freaky coincidence-type thing… Ben, the other guy who was ushering (who I didn’t meet until the Saturday afternoon), lives in Lichfield and works in Tamworth about 5 minutes walk from where I used to live!

It was good seeing the Skeggy guys again so soon after Spring Harvest… Spike, Su and Jude were there, and I also caught up with Lib’s sister Rosie who has also done Spring Harvest. Spike and Su came back with me on Saturday night to stay over, and they travelled back to Hartlepool and London on the Sunday.

There are some photos from the wedding here.

And then the weekend before, I drove down to Lewes near Brighton for George and Hazel’s wedding. I shared a house with both of them the first year I moved away to uni – and I was the most surprised when they eventually got together a year or so later! It’s only taken them nearly eight years to sort it out properly!!!!

Again, it was a really cool wedding, at the church in which Hazel grew up (since it was her home town!). I met up with Ali and Pete in Hemel Hempstead on the Friday night, and we then drove the rest of the way first thing on Saturday morning. Because it was the Bank Holiday weekend, we had decided to stay for the Saturday and Sunday nights, so we were booked into accommodation right over the local pub! Also at the wedding were Helen Oakes, John & Helen Fuggle, and Sally Westlake (who I hadn’t seen for years!). I met John again a few years ago at Phil Ball’s wedding, and he hasn’t changed one bit! I’ve kind of sporadically kept in touch with Helen, Ali and Pete – but I am pretty useless at keeping in touch with people properly!

After the reception, me, Ali and Pete drove across to Brighton – which is a pretty interesting place! It seems to attract all the UK’s stag and hen party crowds, as well as loads of clubbers and students! We went on the pier, and I wasted a few 10ps in those arcade things with the sliding shelves where no matter how much money you drop into them, that ledge of cash balancing over the edge never falls!

Sunday was a pretty chilled out day – went to the church in the morning, and had a pub lunch afterwards, then we met up with all those that were still around from the wedding (including George & Hazel!) for a cream-tea… which was good!

Sunday night saw a return visit to Brighton seafront – this time Helen came along with us as well – and we all watched fireworks from the pier, and also bought some pretty useless souvenirs!

Weekend at Russ’, plus a night of sheer madness!

It’s been a busy few days. On Saturday morning, I decided to drive down to Newtown in mid-Wales because some of my old mates from uni CU were getting together for a weekend. It was nice seeing the guys again – Russ, Bin, Eve, Jon, Pres and Rhona. We went for a small walk in some forest somewhere, and went out for a meal at an Indian restaurant with some of Russ’ Welsh mates on the Saturday night (where, as tradition dictates, I ordered my standard chicken and chips with naan bread!!).

Got back to Manchester Sunday night, and then last night was witness to one of the maddest things I have ever seen!

Jamie arranged a group of guys to go out to Derbyshire late last night, and to bridge-swing off an old viaduct in the pitch black!! To be honest, even though I said that I was only going to watch, before we got there I thought that maybe I might be tempted to give it a go so that I could say that I’d done it. But after looking over the edge of the bridge and shining my torch to see the river rushing past 50 feet below, I decided that there was NO WAY ON EARTH that I was going to throw myself off the side of the bridge!! What they were doing sounds crazy, and it really was!

Basically, they tied two climbing ropes to one side of the bridge, and took them underneath and pulled them up to the other side where they were pulled tight and attached to someone wearing a harness. Then all that was required was for that person to hurl themselves off and swing under the bridge in a massive arc, hoping that they wouldn’t hit one of the nearby trees! And then when the swinging had subsided, a rope was thrown to them as they were lowered down to pull them into the bank of the river. It probably is a really cool thing to do, but the thought of throwing yourself off into total darkness, relying on a rope to stop you hitting the river was a little bit more than I could contemplate doing! Photos of the whole mad night are here!

Weddings and parties…

Not that much more to report at the moment! I’m settling into the new house pretty well – I’ve smashed out most of the massive fireplace that was in the living room, but stopped short of totally removing it when it wasn’t totally clear whether or not the wall is being supported by the bricks that I was carefully removing! So I now have a really nice looking feature as soon as you walk into the house!

Had a good day at Steve and Claire’s wedding but it was very tiring. I was shooting pretty much solidly from about 12pm until about 10pm! There are some photos that I managed to take when I wasn’t doing the video here! And a few of the shots that I took of the ceremony made it onto the end of Midlands Today the next night which was pretty cool!

Went down to Bin’s housewarming party down in London the other weekend and it was a pretty mad night! It took hours to get down there ‘cos of engineering work on the railways, so I had to do part of the journey by coach. Jon & Eve were there as well, and there were quite a few Sheffield guys who I’ve met at previous parties when I lived in Birmingham.

It was my sister Vikky’s 21st birthday on Tuesday, so I was down in Tamworth for a load of us to go out for a meal. Was quite a whirlwind trip, and drove back up to Manchester the same night – but had to pull in at a few service stations on the way just for a bit of a rest ‘cos I was so tired! It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks but I’m not looking forward to that event at all – the number is getting too big!!

I’m off to Rhona’s party down in Tottenham this weekend. It’s a Bollywood Bash, and she wants people to go in Bollywood costume! I’m kind of thinking I might conveniently forget that bit of it, and go in normal clothes! I think quite a lot of uni guys will be there as well, so that should be good catching up with everyone.