Wednesday, September 27, 2006

10k +

Lots of photos from the Swansea Bay 10k here.

According to the published results (available here), I finished a creditable 2,105th. A few Ebbw Vale connections: David Roberts (67 mins – raising money for Ebbw Vale First Responders), eyejay (54 mins) and Andrew Biston (49 mins).

TV Notes

And so Rockstar Supernova comes to an end. In the end Supernova (Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke and Jason Newstead) picked Lukas Rossi, a Canadian who was previously working at a Hooters restaurant before this leap into fame. My money was on the Aussie Toby Rand, who I would pay to see sing. They now embark on a tour starting in January, and probably coming to a big stadium near you.

Must see TV this autumn appears to be The Sopranos (although this series doesn’t seem to be up to speed yet) and The Apprentice USA. These two are buried in the schedules on More4 and BBC2 at midnight respectively. There’s obviously no room for any good TV in amongst the “soaps”.

Season 2 of The Office: An American Workplace starts this week (on ITV2 of all places). In the first series Steve Carroll did a good job of taking on the Ricky Gervais character, so it should be good.

Rugby Notes

Clive Rowlands talks a lot of sense. He’s got a beef with the “regions” & the number of foreigners coming in. Especially when they claim some key tasks, such as ex-All Black Ben Blair taking over kicking duties for Cardiff. This robs Wales second-string outside half Nicky Robinson of the job. Let’s hope that Stephen Jones doesn’t get injured this season.

Fantasy Football Notes

My team duly went down to a crushing defeat last weekend. I had a few key players missing and the rest all decided to have off days (Burress so much so that he got benched in the second half of the Giants game).

This week doesn’t look to get much better unless Culpepper finally gets it together. Otherwise I’m completely dependent on the LT bandwagon in San Diego continuing to roll.

Link of the week

This site has been developed by a Pontypridd man (not me) to demonstrate how soccer players can be prima donnas or sometimes just stupid. The name of the website “Footballers Are Idiots” says everything.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Some Glasgow pics

This is the slightly surreal walkway from the Glasgow Exhibition Centre to the train station.

And this is the Science Centre and the Glasgow tower.


Well, I finished the Swansea Bay 10k run. It was a good running day, if a little on the warm side. A good-natured field of 3,000 duly lined up at 1pm and by 1:05 many of them were dots disappearing into the distance as I plodded along.

I thought I paced myself OK, with 6½ minute kilometres right through (except the 8th km which seemed to go on forever). Finished well though, and completed it in 65 minutes.

That time is right in the middle of my 3 over the past 3 years: 2004 was 59 minutes, 2005 was 71 minutes.

Rugby Notes
Oh dear. It started so well too. We won the first half at Maesteg 23-6. The problem is that we lost the second half 31-0. There was a strong wind at the Old Parish, but that wasn’t enough to account for the change in fortunes.

We took almost all of our chances early on, but crumbled under the onslaught of the Maesteg pack after the break. With two in the bin early on, the 13 men were no match. To be honest, all 15 were no match for the rampaging Maesteg team second half. I’d like to know what they put in their half-time tea. Maesteg’s Ian Boobyer was head and shoulders the best player on the field.

Scorers: 2 tries for Andrew McLaughlin, both converted by Sam Mills who also added 3 penalties.

Highlight: Andrew McLaughlin had a great game at full back. Andrew Bevan was everywhere again.

Lowlight: Dismal start to the second half, when we were down to 13 men.

Cricket Notes

The end of the season brings relegation for Glamorgan after a play-off hammering by Hampshire in the Pro40 League. So it’s going to be Division 2 in one-day and the county championships.

Last season, they lost 14 out of 16 matches in Division One of the Championship and they found Division Two no easier, with just two wins. They finished bottom but one.

According to reports they are going to have to play without overseas players until 2009. All available cash is to be channelled into the ground development. So there will be a lovely ground but nothing worth watching there.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hospital hell

Had an appointment this morning for a consultant to do an ultrasound on my shoulder. It was at the Heath – University Hospital Wales in Cardiff.

Appointment was at 10:30, so naturally I’m still waiting at 11:00. It gave me some time to get a glimpse of a system teetering on the brink of complete collapse. A guy in front of me asks why he’s had to wait since 9:30, and this starts off a discussion amongst receptionists and staff as to whether the consultant is actually in the building.

Generally the receptionists answer to any question is “I don’t know”. Which she has to use on a regular basis. The only thing she was sure of was that she wanted “two toasts with butter, love” to a colleague on the phone whilst another patient stood patiently waiting to be “receptioned” (their word, not mine).

One yoof in the waiting room had a nasty case of chavitis – pink burberry baseball cap & fully be-Burtoned. Oh, and the average age of mums-to-be waiting for their ultrasounds – about 17.

Fantasy Football Notes

I had a good fantasy football win last weekend on the back of a good performance from LaDamien Tomlinson and an overtime TD catch from Plaxico Burress.

This week I’m hit by some players on their bye week (especially LT) so I think that I’m struggling to keep my unbeaten streak alive.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Just how far was that?

If you’re sitting at home resting your aching bones and wondering just how far you’ve been running, then this is the gizmo for you. It’s an online pedometer - a Google hack (whatever that actually means!)

Google Notes

Came across this guide to how to get the most out of Google, including ego-surfing. There’s a whole book called 55 ways to have fun with Google, which you can download free of charge.

Link of the week

The title of this blog is Question of the Day, and that’s exactly what it does. Pose simple, obvious conversation/argument starters.

Tardis in Glasgow

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On a bus to Clydebank

Just returned from a long weekend in Glasgow. Very nice city centre; City of Culture a few years ago. Did an open top tour bus around the sights. Ok, not that many of sights really – a few museums and art galleries, a bunch of universities and lots of churches and pubs. Huge selection of shops in the Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch shopping centre. Oh, and the last remaining “tardis” style police boxes in the UK – this one I saw in Buchanan Street (picture to follow).

Spent part of Monday afternoon (whilst avoiding a downpour of biblical proportions) in the Gallery of Modern Art. Some nice exhibits and some utter tat. But the common theme was the staggeringly pretentious write-ups each piece had. For example, one piece allegedly “alludes to our own nature constantly moving between the two states of lightness and darkness. An artist is someone capable of unveiling the invisible, not a producer of objects.” And in this case a producer of conceptual bullshit!

Yesterday, we decided to venture to the Science Centre. Asked in the hotel’s reception how to get there. “Get the number 40 bus from just around the corner.” The number 40 bus duly pulls up, a Glaswegian version of a Shamrock Shoppa. “Does this bus go to the Science Centre?” I asked. “Aye.”

And so the journey through hell began. Our £1.20 single bought us a trip through every council estate in the Glasgow area, and East Dumbarton too. The driver was clearly multiskilled, as he was able to have one eye on text-messaging and one on counting his change whilst barrelling down the road. In fairness, he only ran two red lights, probably due to having his baseball cap pulled down over his all-seeing third eye.

After almost an hour we arrive at Clybebank bus station, having never been nearer the Science Centre than when we got on the bus. A six stop train journey back towards Glasgow got us to the Science Centre eventually – about an hour and a half after we set off. The return journey by train into Glasgow was under 10 minutes.

On the plus side though, we saw parts of Glasgow that the tour bus didn’t take us to.

Interesting fact of the week that may interest only me

The Gorbals district in Glasgow was originally a leper colony. The lepers were allowed into the city on market day provided they rang a bell to warn others. These bells became known as the gory bells, and over time the area they lived in became the Gorybells or Gorbals. Bet you didn’t know that.

Travel Notes

Enjoyable: Flights from Cardiff to Glasgow on bmi baby were just 99p each way. Taxes pushed the total up to £60 for the two of us.

There were 16 staff on the security checkpoint in Cardiff Airport. One of the good things about travelling through provincial airports is that there aren’t the queues at check-in and security that you can find at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Aggravating: On-site car parking is a bit of a reach when it’s a 20 minute walk from the car to the terminal.

Restaurant Review

The Willow Tearooms are famous for being redesigned by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early 1900s. The tea room in Buchanan Street is a reproduction of the original in Sauchiehall Street nearby. Populated largely by ladies who lunch, it’s a great spot from which to watch the Glaswegians. Apple Pie and coffee were the order of the day, and they went down a treat, accompanied by a Times crossword (T2 rather than the nasty cryptic version).

Rugby Notes

It’s a draw! Ebbw drew 23-23 with Neath on Saturday. They were champions last year and by far the best team in the league, so we would have taken the draw at the start of the game. We definitely would have settled for a point after going in 17-6 down.

Second half was far better, and our constant pressurising paid off. We led 23-20 into the last minute of the game. Kicking game was an improvement too.

Scorers: 2 tries for Andrew Bevan, both converted by Sam Mills who also added 3 penalties.

Highlight: Chunky had a blinding game in the loose, and new boy Matt Jess showed well on the wing. Young scrum half Tom Edwards was the Western Mail’s man of the match.

Lowlight: Surprisingly, a couple of line-outs lost on our own throw late in the game, the last of which could have cost us the game.

Cricket Notes

Crofty’s gone. Robert Croft has resigned as captain of Glamorgan. David Hemp will replace him for the rest of the season (what there is of it) and presumably will be Glamorgan’s full-time captain for next season too.

Its bizarre that as Crofty has had his best season as a bowler for many years (he’s generally been regarded as the best off-spinner in “English” cricket this year) so his ability to motivate the side has completely disappeared. OK, he hasn’t had a pretty average team to run this year, but sometimes he appears completely disinterested.

Worryingly, there’s talk that Glamorgan may not be investing in overseas players next year as their cash goes into the ground redevelopment for the 2008 season. It looks like the 2007 season could be a write-off.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

Went shopping in my local Tesco the other night, when I came across an aisle full of… Christmas puddings! Yes, there are less than 100 shopping days to Christmas. Quick, go buy your turkey now!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Our true purpose?

At a meeting earlier this week I heard what I hope was a malaprop “we need to keep the inertia going”! At last one civil servant has recognised his true purpose.

Wikipedia has a good section on examples of malapropisms. Of course, these are different to spoonerisms.

Random Thoughts

A petrol price war is looming. Nice to see prices down to 88p a litre when they were over £1 in some places last month.

Travel Notes

The London Underground is unbearably hot still – even in the middle of September. And its now £3 for a one-stop journey. That’s a far cry from when Ken Livingstone was leader of the GLC (no, not the Goldie Looking Chain) in the 1980s and Fares Fair meant that people were actually being encouraged onto public transport.

Fantasy Football Notes

My Ebbw Vale Steelers came away with a draw in week 1, thanks to a useful Monday night effort from my San Diego contingent.

Will be running out the same team this week, but picked up SF running back Frank Gore to pad out my bench.

Rugby Notes

So the Scarlets will go bust if they don’t get their new ground, eh? Just one question. When’s the party?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Severn Up

Its 40 years since the first Severn Bridge was opened. Boy didn’t they have foresight with that name, eh?

It cost £8 million to build, and at £4.90 a pop to drive over it, that’s only just over 100 cars a day for 40 years to pay for it. So why does it seem like there are thousands using it?

Evening All

In a move that’s a million miles from Dixon of Dock Green, the local police have gone online. They’ve set up, which is a useful contact with local police officers, and also a great name for a website.

I’ve been in touch with the local constabulary after a spate of ASBOs-in-waiting “doing donuts” in the local B&Q car park at night. “We’ll send a patrol car” they reply dutifully. Perhaps an hour later, well after said yoofs are elsewhere, a patrol may arrive. Never mind, I’ll persist with the local council and constabulary, and perhaps something will get done (lock up the car park or the yoofs, or both) before someone gets killed.

Garden Notes

Spent a chunk of time on the weekend pulling out brambles. This stuff grows like wildfire and has taken over some of the bedding areas. I’ve got a nice bunch of war wounds where the brambles put up a good fight. But in the end there was only going to be one winner. Until next spring that is, when growing season starts again.

Rugby Notes

What can I say? We were a shadow of the team from the week before. The three injuries we picked up at Bridgend were all missing this week, and the lack of strength in depth showed in a 7-12 defeat vs the evil empire Newport.

That said, in the words of David Lloyd, “We flipping murdered them”. They didn’t look like scoring a try, and we must have had 80% of the ball. We played a ten-man game, but when the penalties game we didn’t kick them. Bryan Shelbourne missed a couple at Bridgend but thankfully they didn’t matter. This time the four missed penalties would have given us a comfortable win.

Scorers: tries for Andrew Bevan, converted by Shelbourne.

Highlight: Neil Edwards winning almost every Newport throw at the lineout.

Lowlight: Dismal lack of variety. We seemed afraid to pass the ball through the three-quarters.

Personal high spot: Handing out a hefty chunk of abuse to the evil empire’s #14 Michael Poole. He looked like he was out on day release from some institution. He proceeded to muff every ball that came his way.

Football Notes

The NFL is back. Sky’s first game was the Thursday evening season opener between Miami and Pittsburgh. Defending champion Pittsburgh’s defence won it 28-17 in the end with a couple of interceptions. TV coverage was from NBC who haven’t had an NFL contract for years, but looked just like any other channel. They even imported Al Michaels and John Madden to call the game.

The early Sunday game was Atlanta’s demolition of Carolina. The acquisition of John Abrahams looks like a very good one, since he terrorised the Carolina QB Jack Delhomme. Carolina won it at a canter 20-6.

New England won 19-17 late to beat Buffalo.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I’ve been moved out of my office and into Cube-land. Yep, I’m now on a huge open plan area. By my reckoning there are 200 souls living in this one section of Cube-land. It’s called the South Wing, and is a million miles away from The West Wing.

Fortunately, my desk in right in the corner of this chaos. And to boot, I have windows. In estate agent parlance, I now have a dual-aspect window. With views over the university and the old Welsh Office building. Could be worse I guess.


Ebbw go top!

OK, joint top with all the other teams who have played one, won one. Saturday saw a very encouraging win at the Brewery Field, 16-7. Good travelling support; it sounded like a home game. A couple of dropped try-scoring passes in the first half kept it to 6-0 before a Bridgend breakaway led to a penalty try for a high tackle at the corner flag & a 6-7 half-time deficit.

Second half could have seen us loose our heads after a running battle between new winger Craig Jones (who looked lively throughout) & his opposite number, but regrouped well & got two good tries to wrap it up. The picture shows Neil Edwards soaring to take another clean line-out. There’s lots of chat and comments on the game on the Ebbw Vale fan forum.

Scorers: tries for Bryan Shelbourne & Matthew Griffiths, 2 penalties for Shelbourne.

Highlight: DNG falling over on the terrace whilst celebrating an Ebbw try. Hope the ankle’s OK.

Lowlight: Worryingly, there were a few injuries. New lock Craig Blunsden, hooker Matthew Williams (Chunky) and ex-captain Kristian Owen all went off in the first half. Hopefully none of the injuries were too serious.

Personal high spot: It’s now become a tradition that after the first penalty of the season to Ebbw, I give the shout "All the time, ref!" I thoroughly milked the round of applause too.

With losses for last year’s top teams Newport and Neath (our opponents the next two weeks) as well as Pontypridd and Cardiff it was a very good opening week of the Principality Premiership.

In other but less important rugby news, South Africa beat New Zealand. Well, it was NZ IIs, but you can only beat the team in front of you. The Boks won 21-20 in a good close game, New Zealand’s first defeat in 13 games. The last game of the Tri Nations is this coming Saturday when South Africa takes on Australia.

Local shooting of the week

A man in Golivon apparently took exception to neighbours making lots of noise with their motorbike, so he shot and injured them both before turning the shotgun on himself. He’s dead, the others are in hospital. So much for a quiet Sunday in sleepy Monmouthshire. The story is here.

Sad, bizarre but rather inevitable news of the week

Steve Irwin - the Crocodile Hunter – died on the weekend. Apparently he was killed by a StingRay. He was 44. There’s a report here.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse

I was sitting in a café in Pontypridd market on Saturday morning taking my morning constitutional coffee, when I spied a mix of old and new. Across the other side of the café was an older gentleman, complete with flat cap and thick glasses. But in complete contrast to this setting, he had a flashing Bluetooth earpiece. It looked more out of place than lipstick on a pig.

TV Notes

The Apprentice USA is back. Donald Trump runs the rule over another bunch of business wannabees. Each week The Donald utters the immortal words “You’re Fired!” Unmissable stuff. It’s on two nights a week at the midnight hour on BBC2.

The Sopranos is back for its last ever series, on E4. As usual, full of action and swearing in a Noo Joysey accent. Now that The West Wing has gone, it’s the best thing on TV.

Some new dictionary definitions?

Abdicate (v.) - to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
Balderdash (n.) - a rapidly receding hairline.
Coffee (n.) - the person upon whom one coughs.
Esplanade (v.) - to attempt an explanation while drunk.
Flabbergasted (adj.) - appalled over how much weight you have gained.
Frisbeetarianism (n.) - The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
Lymph (v.) - to walk with a lisp.
Negligent (adj.) - describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
Oyster (n.) - a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
Rectitude (n.) - the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
Testicle (n.) - a humorous question in an exam.
Willy-nilly (adj.) - impotent.