Tron at the National Media Museum

New Years Eve brought the rare chance to get across to Bradford. The National Media Museum is in the centre of the city and houses an IMAX cinema, a 5 floor surround sound 3d capable venue. It is one of the most advanced cinemas in the world and the first IMAX to be opened in the UK. On at the IMAX at the moment is Tron Legacy (official site), the sequel to the 1982 cult Disney Film, Tron. This is a film I have been waiting many years to see and blogged about it way back in August 2009!

Don’t worry there will be no spoilers!

Disney Re-boot the Cult Classic

Tron (IMDB) isn’t really science fiction, it’s far more fantasy based with the whole idea being that what happens inside a computer is imagined into a way everyone can understand. So programs become people with a specific task. The story is separate from the first Tron film but follows on from where it left off with Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner returning as their roles in the first film. There are several nods to the original film and the premise of forcing imperfect programs to destroy each other on the ‘Game Grid’ remains central to the film.

Computer technology has moved on at an incredible rate since the early 80’s when Tron’s vision of a computer generated world was incredibly ambitious. It bent, if not broke the boundaries of what was possible at the time. The only way forward was to make Tron Legacy as convincingly real and complete a computer generated world as is possible. Surely 3D and IMAX was the best way to view the film?! I believe it is, forget standard cinemas, go 3D, go big, it is worth it. Creating a Jeff Bridges from 30 years ago all in CGI is quite incredible and graphics are getting so good that it will not be long before we will get fooled by them. (That wasn’t a spoiler, he is in the trailers!)

Daft Punk in Disney's Tron Legacy

As for the story, critics say that the plot in Tron Legacy is a bit weak, this may be true but the first Tron plot wasn’t exactly a masterpiece of script writing. However, what is true is that it is the winter family blockbuster I hoped for when I heard it was being re-booted a few years ago. I enjoyed the film, I thought the graphics were incredible. I also thought the inclusion of Daft Punk as the writers of the soundtrack was a perfect choice and only adds to my respect and enjoyment of the electro duo from Paris.

As for the Media Museum itself, I have decided I need to go for a proper visit sometime soon. I’ve been a couple of times, but only for the IMAX cinema. There is a fantastic exhibition in the foyer demonstrating the history of computer games with playable examples. I remember spending hours on arcade games like Street Fighter 2, Time Crisis and many more. The arcade machines have all been converted to take new 10p pieces so you can play to your heart’s desire! The console based games are free to play and include Goldeneye for the N64, Mario Kart on the SNES as well as Sonic 2 on the Megadrive and Pong on the Atari amongst others. There are 8 floors of exhibits and features and 2 standard cinemas in addition to the IMAX. Easily worth an afternoon out especially as the main galleries are free to all!

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Looking back: 2010

As the book on 2010 closes and we put it away on the shelf I think it is only right for me to reflect one last time!

While the year has by no means been straight forward, This post is going to be looking back at the good times, I’ve got 5 specific events to share with you. There are many more but these are the ones I’ve chosen.

  • 1: Return to Canada:

The Ottawa River from The Peace Tower

In April/May I returned to Canada and the USA for the first time since living in Ottawa for a year in 2006/07. I got to meet up with some old friends and go do some of the things I didn’t get the chance to do when I was there the first time. Going up the Peace Tower is a big highlight but so was a road trip to Boston, MA. I had originally planned to go in early 2007 but a fairly horrific snow storm stopped me that time. A double visit to the legendary Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox and hours upon hours of ‘Great Big Sea’ while traveling through New Hampshire and Quebec will stay with me for a long time!

  • 2: Promotion at Last:

Rochdale Get Promoted

April also brought something that I didn’t think would happen, Rochdale, my football team got promoted! It’s not happened in my life time, infact, before 2010 the last promotion the side gained was in 1969. Over the last few years I have been to many, many matches through mediocre performances, one off cup days out to play off victories and failures. At the final whistle on April 17 2010 I was one of the hoards of people who flooded the pitch at Spotland Stadium. Some young and had only ever known the good times, many older and in tears having never thought they would ever see it happen. Football is often over rated for it’s influence on people, sometimes, it’s all about the escapism, 40 years of not very much to shout about was released in one big joyous cheer at the final whistle. Pure Joy.

  • 3: Chicago/Columbia:

September came and another trip to the States, this time for work with a de-tour to South Carolina. Seeing the other sides of America away from New York State and New England and into the wilds of South Carolina and rich heritage of Illinois was wonderful. This is actually the first time I’ve been sent on a work related mission. The mission: to go and learn about the American manufacturing market at the IMTS manufacturing show in Chicago. The USA might be seen as our close brothers in politics and in attitudes but things are very different. Stereotype at your peril because there is much to surprise you and much to learn about our American friends beyond what we see in the news and on the TV. You can find the articles I wrote at the time here: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4.

  • 4: Kidz Klub Cycle Ride:

The Kidz Klub Cycle Ride Group

This was one of the most draining and painful things I’ve ever done and that was just the planning! The Cycle Ride to end all cycle rides was 6 of us biking the entire length of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, a whole 132 miles and 18 hours of shingle, gravel, grass, cobbles, tarmac, locks, gates, gates and more gates. I was ruined after the ride but it was all worth it in the end. We well passed our target of £4000 raised for Kidz Klub Leeds and money is still trickling in some 6 months after the event. Excluding the pain it was actually highly enjoyable knowing we were doing this for something worthwhile and far bigger than us. However, if we ever decide we are feeling stupid enough to do something like this again it WILL NOT be on canal towpaths! You can follow the entire story of the ride on the sister blog I set up at the time here on: Doing the 132.

  • 5: Weddings and Engagements:

Peter Beardsley Like!

I was honoured to be best man for Rob at his and Andreea’s wedding in the Spring. With this, I must include the Stag day in Newcastle including box time at St James’ Park for a Newcastle United game. Being best man is probably the highest honour a man can give to another man so to be asked once, by Ed for his wedding some 18 months ago was incredible. This was the 2nd time I have been asked and I was only too happy to make Rob squirm when making my speech. The wedding was wonderful and the reception afterwards was fantastic. A true rock out, enjoyable and proud day.

I’ve actually been asked to be a best man for a 3rd time later on in 2011 by Chris, one of my oldest and best Kidz Klub friends. I feel incredibly privileged by this and to have such great friends who trust me enough to stand and represent them in front of their nearest and dearest and their new family. However, it does give me a problem for if and when I get married. Who do I choose?! The royal rumble fight might be held later this year as seen as all the candidates at the moment will be in the UK at the same time!

Finally, one of my very best friends got engaged at Christmas time, I am beyond overjoyed for Grace and of course for Dave. I would write something deep and meaningful but I hope they both know already how happy I am for them.

  • Conclusion: Growth

Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, professionally, perhaps even physically I have grown stronger and more mature this year. It was very flattering to be told my my supervisors how much I have improved since the beginning of the year in many areas but especially in a professional sense. I think I am settling into my roles far better now than I was last year. I think I was a little lost come 1st January 2010. I don’t claim to be any clearer on the answers on January 1st 2011 but then it would be no fun if I had those. But I feel I can address situations better and push on into the next year.

I’ve enjoyed bringing this blog back to life this year, I forgot how much fun and useful it is it for me to write down what is going on. I hope you have enjoyed reading it, from what I gather there are a few of you out there (who are not spam bots) who do!

Here’s to a wonderful 2011!


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Holiday Music

The Christmas break has been one of those where I have collected some new music that needs to be listened to over the next few days. To say they range from the common to the, well, uncommon is a probably a bit of an understatement. Here are my recent purchases to be caught up on. Not a bad mixture in my opinion.

A good bit of Madchester from the 1990’s by The Stone Roses. Of course I was only a young lad when they were at their prime but ‘Fools Gold’ became one of those songs that kept me interested. It was on the soundtrack from the FIFA 2004 computer game that currently sits along with my other Gamecube games and is hardly ever played anymore. None the less, I remember every song from that game. I had to add the first album, ‘Stone Roses’, first released in 1989 just for ‘She Bangs the Drums’ which is one of my favourite songs.

  • Fleetwood Mac: The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac (MP3 Link)

This one has my Dad all over it, so many Sunday dinners while he was cooking singing along to this. So many of their songs covered in the last decade or so by sub par groups. ‘The Chain’ remains prominent in the British sporting scene by being the theme tune to the BBC’s Formula One coverage.

  • Toumani Diabate: King of The Kora (CD Link)

A gift from my Dad this Christmas. He does enjoy “expanding my musical horizons” so this West African based artist seemed to be a perfect choice. I can safely say I don’t have anything like this in my collection. I like.

I got into Sufjan Stevens when in Canada, his songs were much more main stream over there than here in Britian. I bought Avalanche a long time ago and have been meaning to add to my collection. Greetings from Michigan is an oldie where as Age of Adz is his latest offering. His indie-folk mix is very much suited to nights in relaxing or watching the world go by. These albums will be my soundtrack of choice for my journey back to Leeds on Tuesday.

  • Gentleman’s Dub Club: Members Only (EP) (MP3 Link)

This is one of the reasons online MP3 stores are great, instant buy, instant download and a new band for the collection. A recommendation from my Dad, who is a big Dub fan, this group are from Leeds and are under the radar. Bouncy, happy dub music. Sounds good to me!

  • Ministry of Sound: Anthems Electronic 80s 2 (MP3 Link)

70s and 80s music is very much in fashion, I think TV shows such as Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, that showcase the music from the time have a big part to play in this. The Ministry of Sound come out with some crackers every now and then, this is one of them. 3 Cd’s of remastered 80s electro classics. I bought, and very much enjoyed the first one when it came out in the summer and it would seem only right to add the sequel. Sometimes you just can’t help but sing along.

Toumani Diabate’s album is actually the first CD I have bought or been given in such a long time, possibly in the whole of 2010. It was a gift from my Dad who’s music collection is incredibly vast. I seem to have bought all my music from itunes or as a preference Amazonmp3. A friend of mine, Carlton Reeve, wrote about how we have sacrificed quality for convenience in his blog: Play With Learning. I suppose in this instance I, like a lot of people, have become part of this significant revolution in technology.

MP3s downloaded through the internet are generally of poorer quality than that of CD’s which lost the warmth and emotional and precious nature music had with vinyl. I do support online downloads, legally of course, I think is is a natural way that we are going now the internet era is almost a necessity in the working world. It just makes sense. Of course there are problems for the physical retailers who now have to diversify their stock and try to seek other markets. HMV (famously short for His Master’s Voice) for example now sell clothing as well as CDs, DVDs, computer games, books and accessories. All this has the aim to avoid joining other high street giants such as Woolworths, Virgin Megastores and many more as casualties of not only financial chaos but also the “convenience factor.”

I am a keen user of, my computer and phone both send my play history to my profile on the site through scrobblers and it is a really interesting way to look at your listening trends and explore other music related to what you listen to. Take a look if you like, I make no apologies for my music taste!

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Christmassy Photos From Home

Christmas eve comes and the weather turns out to be sunny and fine. Surely no better excuse to go for a stroll around Dunchurch to go see the village and the country side. The village hasn’t changed a lot but the Alpaca farm across the village at Toft Farm has grown to grand proportions with what must be hundreds of the hairy creatures enjoying the snow. Originally from the Andes mountains they are used to the cold and snowy weather we have had lately. Draycote Water Reservoir had frozen over at the country park end for the first time in a long time and generally a Christmassy winter wonderland was to be had everywhere you went.

Here are a few photos for your enjoyment as you digest your Christmas Dinner.

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Home for Christmas

I love going back home to Warwickshire. More specifically Dunchurch, on the outskirts of Rugby. This is where I grew up and went to school and where my parents still live. I don’t come home regularly, this is only the 2nd time this year thanks to the rather cramped schedule I have had. Warwickshire is one of those areas that calmly displays its heritage amongst rolling hills that just make things relaxed. It makes no fuss, there are no fan fares, just go and explore.

I got back home last night (Thursday) through the 6-8 inches of snow across this part of the Midlands, the heaviest single day snow fall in over 15 years by my memory. I think today I am going to go out for a walk through Dunchurch and the countryside around it, go and see the sights and what has changed about the village. I’m not back for long, just enough time to do a tour of the family and friends then it is back to Leeds to complete an assignment for my Chartered Managers Institute (CMI) diploma and perhaps get some of that long standing research done.

It is interesting to see that the similarities between me and my Dad have grown over time. I didn’t intend to follow in his footsteps into Engineering and I certainly don’t specialise in it. However our fields now overlap so much so that he used to work for customers of Craftsman Tools way back before I was born! A few years ago it would have been ludicrous to suggest that there would be conversations about the manufacturing industry in our household although it is nice to have someone in my family who understands what it is I do!

The holidays are a good time to relax and reflect on the year, the people who have been important factors in it and to start planning for next year. I need to start making some longer term decisions fairly soon and I have got the business end of a two year project that needs delivering! But work get’s left alone for now, at least until Tuesday and my return to Leeds. For now, it is time for family, friends and a bit of me time.

I don’t think I write a thoughtful post this afternoon or for the next few days but I’ve got some photos to share with you from frozen Leeds and there will be some from a snowy Dunchurch to come.

So in the meantime I hope you have a Merry Christmas and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2011!

God Bless,



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Sometimes You Don’t Hear The Phone Ring

Sometimes you find yourself so far from where you thought you were in life that is scares you to look back and see how far you have come. Sometimes you spend months, even years waiting for the call, or the opportunity to be something or do something only to realise you have actually already gotten to that place.

I went into early 2010 a little scared and lost about what was to come and looking for some definition of my roles both in work and my personal life. I guess up until recently I thought I was still looking for that until I realised that I had reached that point in at least a couple of aspects some time ago.

At Kidz Klub I wanted to become an example of what can be done, what a full time professional (I have accepted that that is what I am now as well!) away from youth work can be and someone who could hold my head high saying that this is important and powerful work just by my actions. I have found this week that it isn’t until something goes wrong that you realise you are there already and actually you are in a lot deeper, in a good way, than you ever realised.

What went wrong doesn’t matter anymore, it turned out simply to be a confused misunderstanding, much to my joy and relief (along with many others both on the bus and at Kidz Klub). But I suppose the point is that I have now realised just how much doing what I do means to me.

We joke around about that being on Bus 4 is like being part of a family with a mum, a dad, a crazy uncle (sorry Chris!) and a couple of aunties. Between us we have around 150 children in our family. This is a fantastic mentality to have for the 5 or 6 or us, if slightly confusing to explain to other people… We try our best to know each kid by name and in a few cases we have known them for almost their entire lives. This means we take have created a personal connection with each and every kid and when things go wrong it hurts. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, this is a very good and important thing for us to have. We try to be an example to the children about how to deal with all kinds of situations through team work while having fun and caring about each other.

As a kids worker you face all sorts of challenges and situations that you just don’t get in any other field and even though I was clearly emotionally affected by what happened last week I was determined to be strong and supportive to those involved. This is the best example I can be and the right example I should set.

Often I feel that I fly by the seat of my pants through a lot of life, making it up as I go along and attempting to seize opportunities if I spot them. However, I often won’t and I have notoriously bad timing. I can’t pretend to you that I can have everything planned out, it is not always my plan I am working to after all. If I come across as cool calm and collected then the illusion is fantastic but it is not always the truth. Saying that, it is important to be ready for whatever comes my way and act intelligently based on what I know through experience and my beliefs when needed. Often that includes being strong enough to ask for help in a time of need. To those I asked for help, and willingly gave it this week I send you my heartfelt thanks and the warmest of Christmas cheer.

Fortunately this whole episode lasted less than a week and outside of a select few people it wasn’t even an issue. However it is an experience that has taught me a lot about myself and where I am at the moment. I might have been running on fumes for the last few weeks and glad for the Christmas break but as long as I am to stay in Leeds; Kidz Klub and the children and the workers there will remain an important part of my life that I will support as best I can.

But for the next few weeks I am going to enjoy a break from Kidz Klub and as of Wednesday lunchtime, a break from work and I will come back in January hopefully refreshed and ready to do it all over again.

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CV Updated

Finally a long awaited piece of housekeeping news for you.

My CV has now been updated and is live on the CV and Contact page along with a PDF Portfolio of my work.

Or you can download the PDF of my CV here

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