Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I can see for miles...

This is the view from Pontypridd. Well, actually it’s the view from the mountain up above Ponty, called Cefn Eglwysilan, which stands at 1,253 feet (I know for someone who used to live at above 1,000 feet in Ebbw Vale, its not exactly high). There’s a bit of info here. Walking up it is the most exiting thing I did this festive weekend. The picture shows the view south to Cardiff and England beyond. You can see the Millennium Stadium on the very left, and Flathom and Steepholm are visible too.

The only other happening even worthy of report this weekend was a visit to the new Border’s bookstore opened in Llantrisant recently. Spent a lazy morning there stocking up on books for my holiday to the Maldives. Authors as diverse as PJ O’Rourke and Richie Benaud will accompany me.

CD of the week

Bought the new Bob Dylan CD today – Modern Times. If it’s anything like as good as his last, Love and Theft, it’ll be good. First hearing left me impressed. (But then what do I know – there are others who do this review stuff so much better.)

Rugby Notes

With the Tri Nations championship already in the bag, New Zealand fielded a virtual second team in South Africa last Saturday. After a close first half, Dan Carter’s 60-yard penalty at the stroke of half time seemed like a kick in the Springbok privates.

The second half turned into a procession, with New Zealand running in tries at will. Jacque Fourie got a couple of consolation tries late on. It finished up 45-26. The South African captain Jon Smit was a complete pain and whinged to the referee throughout – Chris White showed great patience not to penalise him despite repeatedly telling him to shut up.

The world rankings right now look like:

1 New Zealand
2 Australia
3 New Zealand II
4 the field

Cricket Notes

In the C&G 50-over cup final on Saturday, Sussex beat a star-packed Lancashire team by 15 runs in a great low-scoring final. Some superb bowling, especially from Mushtaq with 2-19 and James Kirtley with 5-27 was the difference. Lancashire’s Dominic Cork was unlucky to be stranded at the end – he’s an irritating git but I’d have him in my team.

Kirtley’s tears at the end clearly showed what it meant for Sussex to win their first trophy for 20 years, and for him to have come back from a reportedly dodgy bowling action.

England’s 20/20 team looked pretty average, and when Pietersen got out first ball, the game followed to its natural conclusion. They couldn’t bowl to Afridi and a win with 13 balls to spare is a pasting in this sort of game. Highlight of the game was Michael Yardy’s blinding boundary catch.

Link of the Week

This is brilliant and original video. Well, what would you do with eight treadmills? The band are called OK Go, and their website has more of the videos in the same lunatic style. They’re an international (and more well known) version of Choc Ice!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Veale Crest

Right, lots to talk/rant about this week, so let’s get straight to it.

Found a family crest for the Veale family on the interweb – isn’t technology wonderful, eh? The motto is “conquiesco” means translates as something like “contented”.

As for the coat of arms, here comes the science bit. They are described as being Argent (silver), on a bend sinister Gules (red), three calves Or (gold).

This site gives a brief family history. The name is first found in Gloucestershire where two knights called De Vile were honoured in the Honour Roll of Battle Abbey, in 1066, and were granted lands in that shire. Following on from that the Veale family of Over were quite famous, apparently. I think that is roughly where my grandfather came from (Percy of PJ Veale & Sons).

Some of the first settlers to America which this name or some of its variants were: Jane Veale settled in Virginia in 1636; Christopher Veale settled in Virginia in 1663; James and Ann Veal settled in Portland, Me, in 1820; and Tony and Heather Veale settled in Massachusetts in 1996.

Yob Notes

We were sitting in the Cwm Con Club last night, as we do every fortnight for a quiz. Terry & Marilyn, regular quiz-goers got a message that their house, four doors down, had been vandalised. A brick had been thrown through the front window, and the windows of their car had been smashed too.

This apparently happens just one day after a public meeting about anti-social behaviour in Cwm. Nice to see the police on the scene after the event, but it’s a case of too little, too late. If this can happen on Marine Street at 9pm then it seems anything is fair game.

On a more pleasing note, it was nice to see Cardiff’s finest arresting a youth in Bute Park yesterday whilst I was out running. Guess how he was dressed? Grey hoodie, baseball cap, baggy jeans, and this year’s must-have accessory – handcuffs.

Work Notes

Office accommodation reorganisation has just been announced. Am I affected by it? Yes. Was there any consultation? Of course not. Well, announced is a strong word for it. It’s a more like a half-arsed series of whispers. I know I should be used to it by now, but it still irritates the hell out of me that people don’t think to communicate. Even worse is the suspicion that you are deliberately being kept in the dark.

Clearly I don’t get paid enough to have a worthwhile opinion on anything. This is probably the third major issue affecting my job in the last year where it seems I was the last to know.

Last year the whole department got reorganised, and the fact that my job was fundamentally changed just happened to get mentioned in a team meeting. Yeah, thanks for that.

And earlier this year a new programme of work gets developed, and eventually a copy gets to me. I find my name alongside a list of activities, all of which comes as a complete surprise.

Oh, sorry, I forgot seems to be the sole defence to this institutionalised shambles. But that’s not good enough. It does nothing to help develop a feeling of belonging or any sense of being in this together. Clearly it’s every man for himself.

Most hated update

Tempting though it is to add a few work “colleagues” (PtW), I’ll stick to celebs.

Another glaring omission from the list: Craig David. His singing/talking career has been in freefall since Bo’ Selecta did a magnificent hatchet job on him.

Weather Forecast

According to Bwrdd, the Mensa Cymru magazine…

“50% chance of rain in some areas with the prospect of sunshine in others. Strong winds possible in exposed coastal areas. Temperatures around normal for this time of year although there will be variations to this in some parts. Colder on the higher ground and cooler everywhere in the evenings.”

Doesn’t that spoof remind you of every BBC weather forecast you’ve ever seen?

Book Notes

The BBC’s Big Read was a search for the UK’s best-loved novel, and we asked you to nominate your favourite books. The site lists the Top 100. This is the top 10 and, intellectual pigmy that I am, I’ve read just three of them. And that includes Winnie the Pooh!

1. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

Cricket Notes

Its August bank holiday, the last weekend of the summer: so there’s cricket, right? Wrong.

The international series is stuck between the end of the test series and (hopefully) the one-day games next week – starting in Cardiff next Wednesday.

Glamorgan’s next home game is 6th September, their last floodlit 40 over game against Northants. They’ll need the floodlights on from the 4pm start in September.

Rugby Notes

The Tri Nations is all over after New Zealand saw off Australia for the third time this series, this time 34-27. This time they had to come from behind though with a couple of late tries from Chris Jack and Luke McAlister.

The incident of the game was a spear tackle from Australia wing Lote Tuqiri on Richie McCaw, dumping him on his head. The ref saw nothing wrong at the time, but after being cited, Tuqiri has been banned for five matches after being found guilty of a dangerous tackle.

South Africa, stilling looking for their first win of the series, take on New Zealand this Saturday on the high veldt of Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Soccer Notes

Saw probably the worst tackle ever on the news last night. Ben Thatcher decided to lay a forearm cross on the jaw of Pedro Mendes. There was a ball nearby and apparently a football game was going on at the time, although this didn’t seem to have anything to do with the incident. The “ref” saw this as worthy of a yellow card.

Thatcher’s manager said that "What happened on Wednesday was indefensible. Any form of discipline will be discussed at board level, kept internal and we will move on from there.”

That’s laughable. The guy ought to go to jail for assault. One of Mendes’s team mates got it right when he asked "How can that not be a sending-off? What do you have to do? Kill someone?"

Fantasy Football Notes

OK, I’ve got the team drafted (Ebbw Vale Steelers) and I’m ready for the new season. My starters look like this:

QB Duante Culpepper (Miami)
RB LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego)
RB “Cadillac” Williams (Tampa Bay)
WR Plaxico Burress (New York football Giants)
WR Donald Driver (Green Bay)
WR Derrick Mason (Baltimore)
TE Antonio Gates (San Diego)

I’ve got some reasonable cover in Jake Plummer, Keyshawn Johnson and Mike Bell. So, as always at this time of year I fancy my chances. Roll on the first game on September 10. You can track the fortunes of my team here.

Incidentally, aren’t there some wonderful names around? I mean, Plaxico? Duante? Carnell Williams decided that he needed something fancier and so renamed himself the Cadillac.

Link of the week

Quizardry is a great picture quiz website, where you can download general knowledge quizzes. They tend to be pop culture and sports, and range from NBA basketball players to characters from Eastenders. A good way to while away a Bank Holiday hour or so.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sitting off

Spent the weekend visiting friends in Liverpool. Wonderful welcome and a great lazy weekend. Time was mostly spent just lazing around and putting the world to rights. “Sitting off” is a scouse term for just hanging around, doing nothing. Describes the weekend perfectly.

Karen and Ray live near Crosby beach, the site of Anthony Gormley’s Another Place installation. These cast iron figures are standing on the beach and often in the sea as the tide rises. It’s a brilliant piece of art, and hopefully it can be a permanent feature of the area.

Bar Notes

Alma de Cuba is a church converted into a bar in the middle of Liverpool and is supposed to the trendy, happening place. I’m told that you’re likely to bump into a footballer or a Hollyoaks actress in there. Not that I’d know because a) I wouldn’t recognise any footballers or Hollyoaks actresses and b) it was too dark to see anyone in there. They call it atmospheric; I call it dingy. This reviewer in The Times liked it though.

Restaurant Notes

Il Forno was the venue for an excellent Italian meal on Saturday night. Good food and excellent service. If you happen to be in Liverpool, try it.

Travel Notes

Enjoyable I – Very happy to report that the decent into chaos of Heathrow airport has been hugely exaggerated. Trip to take mum to catch a flight to Boston last week went off without a hitch. Got to airport before check-in opened, so asked to wait in one of the new marquees. Expecting some version of a refugee camp, we were greeted by BA staff with free newspapers, sandwiches and drinks. Online check-in meant beating the queue and dropping the luggage took five minutes. Clearly BA have got their act together.

I wonder when BAA will catch up and take their security responsibilities seriously?

Enjoyable II – It would have been aggravating if I’d chosen to travel to Liverpool via the M6. Thankfully previous experiences led me to choose the scenic route through mid-Wales and the Mersey Tunnel instead. What a good decision. Whilst Friday’s radio reported 20 mile queues on the M6, we tootled our way up through the A and B roads.

There’s a town near Oswestry called Knockin. I amused myself on the journey by hoping that a local trader took up the challenge and called their store the Knockin Shop.


On the way to a meeting in North Wales yesterday I called into a coffee shop in Mold called Brew. Great little place with a cosy atmosphere, and a very good mochacchino. It’s a shame that more towns don’t have independent coffee shops like this with good coffee and good service.

TV Notes

A motivational speaker once said, "I don't believe there are many stupid people, but I do believe they move around a lot.” And most of them end up on TV.

Spent Friday night in the company of our Liverpudlian friends Karen & Ray with a pizza & a glass of wine. The final of Big Brother was on. Oh dear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collection of self-centred celebrity-obsessed morons in all my life.

Glyn Wise, an 18-year-old from North Wales was runner-up, and our esteemed First Minister Rhodri Morgan sent a message of congratulation. He said that he was “an inspiration for other young people”. Cut to pictures of Glyn falling over drunk and throwing up. Yep, that’s right – this is what Rhodri thinks should be a role model for the youth of Wales. God help us all. But then, we get the politicians we deserve – after all, we voted for them.

The X Factor is train-wreck TV. You know you shouldn’t look, but something makes you watch. Some families are cruel. They tell their partners/children that they are talented only for Simon Cowell (and the rest of the TV world) to know that they are anything but.

Cricket Notes

Subject to final confirmation, the Haddocks are promoted from Division 3. We finished in second place and will return to Division 2 after a one year absence (we were relegated on the last ball of the season last year).

Watched the lunacy at the Oval unfurl on Sunday afternoon. Its not the first time that ball-tampering has been spotted – I remember a game between Glamorgan and Gloucestershire being affected (and points deducted). The Pakistani administration badly misjudged umpire Hair and are now furiously back-peddling (protest was “only for a few minutes” and “we were ready to play”). I hope the ICC doesn’t back down on this, although I fear that Hair’s umpiring days might be over.

Rugby Notes

I had a hit on the blog from New Zealand last week. Thanks to my nifty new surf monitor, I can tell what people were looking for when their google search comes up with my site. There’s a Marty Veale who until this year played lock/flanker for North Harbour NPC in New Zealand (home of ex-Ebbw Vale utility back Andrew Whiteman). According to their site Marty’s gone to play in Japan.

Weekend away means I haven’t caught up with the Tri Nations game yet.

Link of the week

Peter King is a columnist for Sports Illustrated, simply the best sports magazine around. He writes a weekly newsletter on the NFL, the Monday Morning Quarterback, which reviews each week and gives his great insights into the game. An intelligent read.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Today's game got rained off, and that together with 7 points in a losing effort on Tuesday evening is enough to get the Haddocks promoted! Its all subject to the final table being updated - I'll keep you posted. (http://www.cmcl.org.uk/)

Monday, August 14, 2006


On the walk back from the Bunch of Grapes on Saturday night, C spotted some sort of flash in the sky. Wondering whether it was part of a meteor shower C found the relevant book and, yes, 12 August is/was the best day of the year to see the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The Perseids is made up of bits of dust and stuff from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet which burn up when the Earth’s orbit moves through the debris. Apparently, even a microscopic dust particle burns up so brightly that it’s visible to the naked eye. So we spent a while stargazing. As a result, I saw my first ever meteor, a spectacular bright streak that only lasted a second or so – but well worth the wait.

C Notes

Cath’s recent cover feature and article for the BMJ (British Medical Journal) got a write up in The Times recently. Cath is also writing a regular column in The Times on Office Dilemmas.

Most hated update

I know that Coldplay make a very good case for topping everyone’s most hated list and topped my list the other week – after all Chris Martin is a tediously dull and whiney git with fruit for offspring.

But I managed to forget about Bono, the most irritating man on the planet and my new Number One with a bullet. You know how sometimes you block traumatic memories out? It’s the same thing with Bono. He’s a self-righteous hypocrite wants to change the world whilst flying his hat around the world first class.


A while ago now, having to kill half an hour in Abercynon having missed my train I wandered into the local café and asked for a cappuccino. The lady behind the counter replied “I can do you a milky coffee, love.” And good it was too.

There’s a quantum leap between Abercynon café society and the Starbucks and Costa Coffees of the world. OK, I know that they are overpriced, but the range is enormous and during the recent heatwave the cold drinks have been greatly appreciated.

Two I can heartily recommend are the low-fat Raspberry Frescato in Costa Coffee and the Banana Caramel Frappuccino coffee in Starbucks. Sampled them both on my recent trip to London.

Needless to say though, Starbucks and Costa have yet to crack the lucrative Pontypridd market yet. There seems to be a hundred cafés in Ponty where you can get a milky coffee for a pound (I recommend the café in the indoor market – excellent for coffee and crowd watching), so they are facing some stiff competition if they want to conquer the valleys.

Travel Notes

Aggravating – Thankfully haven’t been caught up in the mayhem that is airport security yet, but I’m taking my mum up to Heathrow tomorrow, so all that’s going to change.

The current restrictions on hand luggage are completely barking mad and unsustainable. Denying people on long haul flights access to a book, iPod and bottle of water is complete lunacy. Shouldn’t there be a bit more profiling of travellers, rather than suspecting every 70-year-old granny of trying to blow up the world?

Enjoyable – I happened to see the historic transport procession through Pontypridd town centre on Saturday. Some wonderful old vehicles – horse-drawn and steam-powered all the way through to Jags.

Cricket Notes

With two games to go, the Haddocks are top of Division 3. All to play for with just two games left – this Tuesday and Thursday.

Dean Jones, the former Australian test cricketer has been sacked as a TV commentator for a comment of Big Ron proportions. Atkinson was famously sacked as an ITV pundit for calling Marcel Desailly "a lazy f***ing nigger" - his excuse being that he did not think he was on air.

Well Dean Jones' comment was perhaps even a touch more insensitive when he labelled the South African Hashim Amla “a terrorist” after he held a catch at slip: "the terrorist has got another wicket”. Switchboards were flooded with calls of complaint and Jones' employers Ten Sports reacted swiftly, sacking Jones immediately.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale won their first pre-season matches at the weekend. They had wins over Cornish Pirates (5 - 0, Kristian Owen try) and Launceston (17 - 12, Kristian Owen, Jon Bowd and Andrew McLaughlan tries and Sam Mills conversion).

Next pre-season game is versus Bristol next Monday.

No Tri-Nations game last weekend, but it’s the last New Zealand/Australia game next Saturday, 6:30 am start. I’ll be setting my Sky+ gizmo to record it.

Football Notes

Here’s a link to how blogging should be done. It’s a sports blog of Notre Dame college football. It has stacks of technical information and behind the scenes news, and a pile of links to other college football sites.

HTV used to show some college football in the middle of night way back before Channel 4 existed, let alone brought the NFL to the UK – perhaps 25 years ago. That was my first exposure to football and how I became a Notre Dame fan. It has always been one of my ambitions to go and see a Notre Dame game at South Bend (a second best would be to see them play at Boston College).

In their first pre-season game, the New England Patriots went down to the Atlanta Falcons 26-23. Nobody reads too much into pre-season games as they tend to be a chance for second and third team players to show what they’ve got.

Link of the Week

My mate Ben Stovold has been blogging for years now, writing of his travels between Australia, the UK and places in between. The photos on the blog and his Flickr site are impressive – clearly an Aussie with too much time on his hands.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Safe Speed

Found a great website from the Safe Speed campaign. It argues that you can't measure safe driving in miles per hour, and that you can't measure safe speeds in miles per hour either. Very true, and 180 degrees from the official line that the speed is all that matters.

Drivers fulfil their duty to road safety by selecting a safe and appropriate speed according to the conditions. The message from the conditions is so clear and powerful to experienced drivers that choosing a slower or a faster speed than that dictated by immediate conditions actually feels wrong. In fact, setting an appropriate speed, and reducing it when necessary is the essence of safe driving.

Their figures show that the typical driver exceeding the speed limit on almost every journey, he will be able to go over 100,000 years before he causes a "speeding related" fatal accident (there are just over 300 a year).

Of course, we've all seen the films on TV of joyriders in stolen cars blasting through town centres at 90mph & doing donuts in B&Q's car park. That really is a dangerous use of speed. But guess what? The reckless joyriders are included in the figures. The boy racers are included in the figures. The high speed drunks are included in the figures. The young and inexperienced drivers are included in the figures. The unlicensed and underage reckless drivers are included in the figures.

If you are a normal responsible motorist who regularly exceeds a speed limit, your chance of causing a speeding related fatal accident is probably 1 such accident in 200,000 years. This doesn't sound like the expected results of reckless behaviour does it? So much so that we can say for sure that it isn't reckless behaviour.

Last month the government announced a three-month moratorium on further speed cameras. This was partly in response to Safe Speed who have been looking at why, though the number of cameras has risen exponentially, there has been no corresponding reduction in traffic fatalities. They conclude that, far from acting as a deterrent, speed cameras take responsibility for safe speed away from drivers, and their concentration from the road. Cameras are as likely to cause an accident as to prevent one. This article in the Observer agrees.

This maddening over-reliance on speed cameras takes away from all the other bad things that happen on the roads. The message to joe public right now seems to be that as long as you stay within the published speed limit then you can do what you want on the road. That’s so wrong.

Google Earth

Google Earth really is quite unbelievable for a free product. It’s a great web application that you can use to find your own house from a satellite picture or any other place in the world.

It’s one of the first web applications that you can just sit on the sofa and watch for hours, flying around the world’s great wonders, hidden secrets and of course sports venues. Have you tried to look for rugby grounds of the world? How about F1 circuits?

Cricket Notes

Great day out in Ebbw Vale yesterday for the one-day game between Glamorgan and West Indies “A”. Over 650 runs scored, some big hitting and a win for Glamorgan in the last over. What more could you ask for? Well, in my case some shelter from the sun – I went home rather pinker than I started the day.

Hopefully Glamorgan can make this trip to Ebbw Vale an annual fixture as it used to be.

A strange mix of concession stands together on the rugby ground – a beer tent (naturally), Carini’s ice cream (Marco being ever inventive) and the St Lucia Tourist Board (somewhat out of place, but very good rum punch nevertheless).

Minor niggle – in olden days Ebbw Vale used to operate a second scoreboard at the rugby ground end. Yesterday there was only the main scoreboard, partially obstructed by seating.

Chatted to former Ebbw cricket stalwart Hugh Davies at the game. His daughter Marsha Davies was part of the Kent Invicta Ladies team that recently won the Women’s County Championship. Congratulations.

Another win for the Haddocks last night while I was at the Glamorgan game. Skips won the toss again, and opted to bat. Fine performances from Charlie, Buncey, Coxy and Tim, including sharp running between the wickets, gave us an impressive 146. The opposition never looked like getting near, and were effectively tied down by sustained accurate bowling from Skips, Matt and Ganesh and by good fielding pressure. Their 6th wicket fell to Dan (newly returned from being the best man at a wedding in China) with last ball of the game, and they ended up with around 60, giving the Haddocks an 18-point victory.

The post match celebrations took the form of a week-early end of season pitchside BBQ. Beer and cava in quantity, and the usual barby items, burgers and sausages, but with a twist - two smoked haddock.

Two games to go next week and promotion is a possibility, although there are six teams within 12 points at the top of the table before yesterday’s games.

Rugby Notes

Good decision on my part not to go to Cross Keys last night to watch a Gwent Select XV take on the Dragons. The Dragons won it 66-0. The team seemed to be selected by the Dragons to give as little opposition as possible. It worked.

One Ebbw fan’s comment on the forum on why he wouldn’t be going to the game: “Sorry, I'll have painted the back fence by then so will be observing how the moisture in the paint is lost to the atmosphere by evaporation.”

Football Notes

No not soccer, football – American style.

The new season is almost upon us, and means that it’s almost time to pick my fantasy football team. I use Yahoo for fantasy sports as it is 1) good and 2) free. I’ll update you when I’ve made my picks in the next few weeks.

The NFL website has all the fixtures; Sky Sports will again be carrying a bunch of games although five will hopefully have the Monday night game. Go Pats!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sports Notes

Rugby Notes

Australia squeaked past South Africa 20-18 on Saturday. The first half was an ugly kicking contest with nobody seemingly willing to run with the ball. Australia looked dismal compared to recent outings and the knives seem to be out for George Gregan.

It could have been the shock of the tournament when the Boks were leading with 3 minutes to go. A late Matt Rogers try and Sterling Mortlock conversion stole it for the Aussies at the death.

Highlight of the game was ref Joel Jutge’s comment when penalising South Africa for diving into a ruck – “It’s not a swimming pool”.

Cricket Notes

England won in fine style in the 3rd Test against Pakistan. Chris Read showed well with 38 and 55 and 5 victims. Looks like its back to Abergavenny Shackleton’s for Geraint Jones. Who would have guessed that Monty and Mahmood would each have 6 wickets? With 4 run outs (Pakistan’s running between the wickets was reminiscent of Geoff Boycott in his prime) there were only 3 wickets for Harmison and Hoggard.

Highlight of the game was Pakistan’s 3rd wicket partnership of 363. Farce of the game was Inzamam’s hit wicket dismissal.

Cricket fact that might interest only me I

The Times reports that Inzamam-ul-Haq has now been out 8 of the 10 ways you can be in cricket. Only hit the ball twice & timed out left for a full set. Like most people, I've got the usual 5.

Cricket fact that might interest only me II

Q. Which batsman playing in his first and only Test match for England, scored ducks in both innings and never played for England again due to unfortunate circumstances?

A. George Frederick Grace, the youngest of the three Grace brothers who made their England debuts at The Oval in 1880. He died from congestion of the lungs following a severe cold, aged 29, just 2 weeks after that match ended. Although he scored a pair and did not bowl, he did hold a magnificent running catch off such a towering hit by George Bonnor that the batsmen had allegedly almost completed their third run.

Gavin Hamilton (where is he now?) also got a pair in his only test for England against South Africa in Johannesberg in 1999-2000.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Spent the weekend in London. Calling it cosmopolitan doesn’t start to do justice to the thronging mass of humanity that makes up the streets of London nowadays. Every colour and creed is represented. It was always a magnet for tourists, but another wave of tourist armies has arrived, coming from the sub Continent, SE Asia and the former communist block countries.

Stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel which is of course on Baker Street. Good location, quiet rooms with air con – a tranquil retreat from the chaos outside.

The only British voices I heard all weekend were the two cockney guys running the ferry from Westminster to Greenwich on which we whiled away Saturday afternoon.

Sunday was the Dali exhibition in the old County Hall next to the London Eye. Retreated from the crowds with a picnic and a paper for a relaxing afternoon in Regents Park.

Cool music?

August is always a slow news time, and the papers resort to lots of “fillers” to pad their pages (likewise here of course). This time is a list of “guilty pleasure” songs compiled by Q Magazine – ones that are uncool but people like. The top tem is:

1. ELO - Livin' Thing
2. Boston - More Than A Feeling
3. S Club 7 - Don't Stop Movin'
4. 10cc - I'm Not In Love
5. Gary Glitter - Rock'n'Roll Part 2
6. Foreigner - Cold As Ice
7. Billy Idol - Rebel Yell
8. Status Quo - Whatever You Want
9. Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
10. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive

I have to admit that three of these currently reside in my record collection, and as a kid I used to own another as a 45 (back when such a thing existed).

Travel Notes

The £1 litre is almost upon us. Petrol (and diesel) has stuck at the magical 99.9p per litre mark for the last week or so. Apparently the delay is until the filling stations and supermarkets get new signs that can show ££s!

We shouldn’t forget that 99.9p a litre is £4.50 a gallon. At 30 miles a gallon that’s 15p a mile. Yikes. (Why is it that we have litres at filling stations, yet road signs are in MPH and speedometers show MPH & the economy of cars is advertised as MPG?)

A great perk of weekend train travel is the chance to upgrade to first class. £10 buys you an upgrade to the first class carriages. A bargain.

£4.90 is good value for a one-day travel card in London; it lets you use all the buses, tube and Docklands Light Railway. £3 for a single underground journey is a complete rip-off though. I know the plan is to encourage people to have passes and the new “oyster” cards, but the occasional user (read: tourist) gets it in the neck.

Oh, on the subject of the tube – the London underground dates back to 1865, but that’s no excuse for not having any air conditioning. The temperatures are ridiculous. Sort it out, Ken Livingstone.

Cricket Notes

The Haddocks are flying high in Division 3 of the Cardiff Midweek league. Last week saw two wins (20 runs and a walkover). All of today’s games have been rained off, so that leaves just 3 games until the end of the season. The promotion run will be close, with five teams vying for the two promotion spots.

Wednesday sees the return of Glamorgan cricket to Ebbw Vale when they host West Indies “A”. I’ll be there. Glamorgan’s website has a nice piece.

There’s been some great batting in the Test this week, and some pretty average bowling. Kevin Pietersen (135) was flashy and Ian Bell (116) dogged, but the Pakistan reply from Younis Khan (173) and Mohammad Yousaf (192) was simply awesome. It looked an impossible job to try to get them out. Should be a good last day.

Rugby Notes

Held over until I catch up with the Tri Nations from last weekend.

Ice Hockey Notes

Cardiff Devils' plans for the coming season are on hold as they wait for their new home to be completed. Their old Wales National Ice Rink in the middle of Cardiff is in the process of being demolished to make way for another shopping complex, St David’s 2.

After Glamorgan cricket failed to get planning permission to erect a temporary rink at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff Council are to put up a temporary rink in Cardiff Bay. The rink is currently in transit from Finland, and delays may mean that the first few weeks’ fixtures are played on the road.

It will serve as home for the Echo Cardiff Devils until a permanent home is constructed in the almost mythical Sports Village in Cardiff Bay.

Obituary Note

Richard Avent, Cadw’s Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings died last Wednesday in a scuba diving accident in Malta, along with his teenage son.

I occasionally worked with Richard when assessing applications to Cadw for grant aid, and he was always very friendly and hugely knowledgeable and passionate about his subject. He will be missed.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Don’t you just hate…

According to a recent poll the top 10 most annoying things are:

1. Cold-callers
2. Caravans
3. Queue-jumpers
4. James Blunt
5. Traffic wardens
6. Tailgaters
7. Brown-nosers
8. Chantelle & Preston
9. Ex-smokers
10. Noisy neighbours

My list is a bit different. Firstly a list of stuff that annoys me:

1. Loud mobile phone users (“I’m on the train” and “I’m shouting loudly to show everyone how important I am”)
2. Call centres (“you’re call is important to us”. Oh yes, then why don’t you employ someone to answer the sodding phone?)
3. Caravans (not just the road-hogging, but the whole concept of caravanning)
4. Shop assistants who can’t be arsed to be helpful
5. Fog lights when it’s not foggy (or even remotely cloudy), usually but not always linked to…
6. Chavs, especially those who flaunt their chavness with the Burberry baseball cap & chav uniform
7. Modern parents (the type who drag little Tristram and Sienna around IKEA when they would rather be out playing)
8. Muffin tops (the mutton/lamb expression applies here)
9. Queue-jumpers
10. Soap operas & ham acting (quality TV can’t be knocked out 4 times a week every week)

Now a list of annoying people:

1. Coldplay
2. Wayne Rooney
3. Jason Mohammed (he is deeply irritating on Wales Today and even more so in person)
4. Jimmy Carr
5. Cliff Richard
6. Tim Henman
7. The Beckhams
8. Chris Moyles
9. Anyone who has ever appeared on Big Brother
10. Love Island & I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here “celebs”

This is easily a feature that could run and run - there’s plenty more where these quick hit lists came from.

Running Notes

Just sent in my application for the Swansea Bay 10k race. It’s on Sunday 24 September, which worryingly is only 7 weeks away.

Going to have to get back to running 3 times a week. The schedule has completely gone to pot in the heat since we got back from Lanzarote. Lunchtime running in the heatwave has been nigh-on impossible and it seems every evening is taken up. Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes and a longer run on the weekend is the plan from now on.

Cricket Notes

Glamorgan’s John Player League game was rained off on Monday evening. Should have played it on Sunday afternoon when the sun was shining.

Haddocks had another fine win last night. Skips called correctly and opted to bat against Rags. We reached a substantial 136, runs coming from Tim, Coxy (riding his luck with aplomb), and Angry. I chipped in with a useful 5 not out at the end.

After an early success, we came under a bit of pressure from a big-hitting pair, and some wondered whether our bowling lineup would be strong enough to contain them in the later stages. I took a catch in the deep off a steepling top edge off a no-ball. Nice bruise on my thumb for nothing.

But with four or five to go, and the opposition looking for around 10 an over, Shotgun and Andy each put in a nerveless over, putting the target almost out of sight. The opposition were forced to hit out, and wickets fell in consequence. Skips bowled the final over to complete an excellent spell of 3 for 9 off 5 overs, and give us a twenty run victory.