Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ava's Diary

Here’s the first entry in my new diary I’ll be keeping as part of my dad’s blog. I’m sure that when I grow up I’ll have a Facebook or Bebo page of my own, but until then, I’m going to have to settle for occasional contributions here.

10 January (day 1) - Quite an exciting day. I took everyone by surprise by arriving eight days early. It didn’t seem to phase anyone at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. All the staff were wonderful, and my dad says that the hospital was far better than when he had to go into Prince Charles Hospital a few months ago. I got delivered by midwife Mair Matthews. Dad was there too, and a medical student was watching - he learned a few new words off mam that day.

Later on, nanna Irene and grandpa Frank visited; they were very happy to see me. Mam and I had to stay in the hospital overnight, whilst dad and my grandparents went home and had fish and chips. I had to make do with breast milk.

11 January - Got to go home. And to celebrate it snowed on the way. Got to try out my new car & carry seat. Its pretty comfy since I fell asleep as soon as I got in. Met Marvin.

12 January - One of the community midwives visited me today. They’re supposed to looking after my health but always want to wake me up. I had my first bath today. My mam and dad looked like they were terrified of dropping me. Not exactly dignified either. The bathtub is on the kitchen table and there are lots of photos being taken. I bet the photos will resurface to embarrass me in front of boyfriends in years to come.

14 January - Nanna and grandpa went home to Swansea today, leaving me with mam and dad. Did I notice a trace of panic in their eyes?

15 January - I had my first trip out. Or so I’m told; I slept through the whole thing. We went to Starbucks for a coffee and then Tescos to do some shopping. I’m told that this is as exciting as it gets for a while.

18 January - My first visit to Ebbw Vale. I went to see my nanna. She cuddled me on her lap and I snoozed through it all.

22 January - Had my first ride in my pram, now its finally stopped raining. We went for a walk through Ponty Park before mam took me to the GP surgery for more poking and prodding.

23 January - The health visitor visited to check on my health. She weighed me and found that I have put on a full six ounces since birth. I’m now a strapping 6lbs 6oz.

24 January - Went to my first pub. Mam and dad took me to the Bunch of Grapes (just by the bottom of the garden) for lunch. Well, lunch for them anyway. I snoozed through it all.

27 January - Both mam and dad went out and left me at home. Thankfully mam’s friend Louise was there to change my nappy and feed me.

28 January - Went to university today. To check out their nursery facility. I’ll probably start gong to a nursery when I’m six months old, so I need to be enrolled soon.

29 January - Mam and dad took me to my first Baby Club meeting. Its for all local babies under one year old, and its held in the local health centre for a couple of hours every Tuesday. It was nice to interact with lots of other babies and their mums. I played a bit and slept a bit. I met another baby Ava too.

All through there has been a constant stream of visits from friends, family and midwives. I’ve been sleeping a lot so the most that people get to see is me asleep in my Moses basket.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale saw off Caerphilly 31-14 yesterday to progress to the last 16 of the Konica Minolta Cup.

Ebbw were 12-0 up after just four minutes, but never really stamped their authority on the game in the way they should have. In fairness, it was very much a scratch side due to a string of injuries, Nio’s suspension and three call-ups to international Sevens duty.

The result was never in doubt, but Caerphilly stuck at it well. Ebbw’s makeshift half backs struggled to get the line going, but Kristian Owen organised the defence well and Andrew Bevan bagged himself a hat trick of tries. Neil Edwards, whose partner was in labour at the Royal Glamorgan at the same time as Cath, returned to dominate the lineout again.

The picture, nicked yet again from Graham’s website, shows Tom Edwards launching another Ebbw attack, with me and Philly watching from the terrace.

Ebbw Vale: A McLaughlan (C Anderson 64), J Williams, K Owen, G Roberts, A Bevan (R Downes 77), A Bramwell, T Edwards, A Coundley (I George 26), R Wilkes, A Lott (M Jones 64), M Griffin, N Edwards, J McPhail (R Bowen 69), G Donaldson, W Thomas (captain).

Scorers: Tries - A Bevan (3), I George, G Roberts; conversions - A Bramwell (3).

My man of the match: Kristian Owen

Friday, January 25, 2008

Photography Notes

This picture comes from The Times’ travel photo competition. The closing date is 25 February if you want to enter: details here.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale’s game versus Aberavon was monsooned off last week. With other games being played around the league, Ebbw are now in second place in the league, 8 points behind likely winners Neath.

The league takes a break for a few weeks now, for the Six Nations next week and for the Konica Minolta Cup this week. Tomorrow Ebbw entertain Caerphilly for a place in the last 16.

Football Notes

New England duly saw off the San Diego Chargers to continue on their unbeaten season. The classic game was on the frozen tundra where the Green Bay Packers lost out 20-23 in overtime to the New York football Giants.

Its not enough just to say that it was cold. It was -31C or -24F, cold whichever way you look at it. Scot Lawrence Tynes made the kick that sent the Giants to the Superbowl on 2 February.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby Notes

A huge thanks for all the cards, gifts and phone calls that we have received over the last week. Clearly little Ava Grace has a huge number of wonderful people around her - grannies and grandpa, aunties and uncles, cousins and friends.

At eight days old the three hour loop of change, feed, sleep is pretty well established. More pictures of Ava, sleeping mostly, have been added to my Flickr photo site.

Photo Notes

I’ve been published. A company called Schmap have developed an internet travel guide to Los Angeles, and they asked to use this picture I took of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

OK it doesn’t pay but I do get a credit. This must be how all the great photographers get started.

Rugby Notes

Today’s Ebbw Vale game versus Aberavon has been rained off. Not really surprised, since its rained non-stop since Wednesday. Next game is in the Cup next Saturday when Ebbw take on Caerphilly at Eugene Cross Park.

On rugby, Ava is clearly a discerning rugby fan already. She sat with me to watch Cardiff’s game in the Heineken Cup last Friday, and promptly fell asleep. Not the first person this has happened to, and not the last.

Football Notes

It's Championship weekend and we’re down to the last four. New England host the San Diego Chargers, whilst Green Bay take on the New York Giants on the frozen tundra of snowy Lambeau Field. I’m rooting for the home teams in both.

It’s a great time to be a Boston sports fan. The Red Sox won the baseball World Series last October, and now the New England Patriots are going for a perfect season and the Superbowl. You can throw in the amazing, best in the league start to the season by the Boston Celtics (32-6) for good measure too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Baby Notes

I've added a bunch of photos of Ava onto my Flickr site. Click on the link on the right.

Cath and Ava got home this afternoon (Friday) and everything seems to be under control.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's a girl

Ava Grace Janes-Veale was born this morning at 11:08 AM at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. She weighed in at an even 6 lbs.

The first signs of action were at 4:15 this morning, so a reasonably short labour. More details to follow when I've come back down to earth.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Music Notes

I know that I’m getting old when the bands I listen too are the same as ones as 20 years ago.

For Christmas I got the Eagles’ Long Road out of Eden. Just before Crimbo, Cath and I went to see Talon, the Eagles tribute band. They were furiously having to learn new material from this new album!

And then there’s Bruce Springsteen and his return to form with Magic.

I’ve already bought my ticket to go and see Bruce and the E Street Band play at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 14 June.

I guess that they can tour again now that Steve van Zandt is back from The Sopranos.

Baby Notes

Cath and I went to my first ante-natal class on Monday.

In answer to Billy Bragg’s line “do you ever wish you were better informed?” my answer is a resounding No!

Train Notes

Good to see Milo and some other Ebbw Vale rugby fans being interviewed for an article on the ill-fated train line in yesterday’s South Wales Andrex.

Wales’ first home game in the Six Nations is on 9 February, and that will be another key milestone if fans can’t use the train service to get to the game.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Rugby Notes

A convincing 28-13 win for Ebbw Vale over Maesteg on Saturday. Four tries ensured a bonus point, and with other results going in our favour we have returned to the top of the Principality Premiership table.

Realising that the best way to beat Ebbw is to try to rough us up and hope the ref lets you get away with it, Maesteg set off with bully-boy tactics. Ref Neil Ballard was having none of it though (unlike refs at Glamorgan Wanderers and Cross Keys) and the first yellow was issued in the first 10 minutes. Another two yellows followed in the first half before Maesteg settled down and actually dominated a big chunk of the second half.

Ebbw’s young Aussie outside-half Mike Delore showed his skill in making a few line breaks, one of which started the best move of the game which led to a 75 yard try for Ebbw, but some of his distribution was wayward and so the backs had very little rhythm. Ebbw mostly played the tight game that has served them so well this season, and Neil Edwards, Will Thomas and student Will Jones were a handful in the line-out.

Maesteg’s best player was sub No. 8 Karl Hocking, who showed some great handling skills and set up their only try before being rather harshly yellow-carded (a grand total of 4 yellows for the day) in the dying minutes.

Match reports on the Ebbw Vale RFC website and the Western Mail (whose reporter was watching a different game). The reporter thought that Maesteg were “down to 13 men for seven minutes and 33 minutes with 14”. By my reckoning that’s 47 minutes of yellow cards, not 40. Obviously an ability to add up isn’t required in order to be the voice of the nation.

Next match is away at Bridgend on Saturday.

Scorers: Two first half tries for Ian George at the heart of a couple of rolling mauls, one for Bryan Shelbourne to cap a wonderful move, and the other 13 points from Aaron Bramwell through a try, a conversion and two penalties.

Man of the match: Ian George (pictured) – he terrorised the Maesteg scrum and was always in the thick of the action.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This week's sign of the apocalypse

Sighted in Tesco's on New Year's Eve - the Christmas stuff has gone from the "seasonal" aisle, to be replaced by Easter Eggs.

Easter Eggs - a full three months ahead of schedule. Yikes

Friday, January 04, 2008

Rugby Notes

I mercilessly nicked this picture from Graham’s website.

Featured is ex-Mayor and loyal Ebbw fan Don Wilcox, dressed in appropriate attire for the Boxing Day match versus Llandovery. Luckily it was a pirate-themed day, so the stuffed parrot singing Jingle Bells fitted right in.

One Ebbw supporter was overheard saying "I have got a problem with the whole pirate thing. There I was trying my outfit on. The minute I put on an eye patch I had an overwhelming urge to support Llanelli!"

Baby Notes

Not long to go now. A fortnight to go to the due date, but that pretty much means due any day in the next month. Most of the redecoration is complete, so now we turn to trying to sort through all of the paperwork and finances.

I never knew that there were so many different types of benefit and allowance available to help with the costs of having a baby. There’s maternity allowance, child benefit, child tax credits, child trust fund and Sure Start maternity grant. And there are just the one we think we are entitled to.

It fairness, the government has a really useful website which lists most of them. Now for the mountain of paperwork to complete…

Transport Notes

As well as failing to get the Ebbw Vale train line up and running, news has now reached Ponty Towers that the current dualling exercise on the A465 between Abergavenny and Gilwern is behind schedule. Originally planned for completion by summer 2007 the A465 website now says that work will not be completed until April 2008.

What is it about public works projects and the Heads of the Valleys area? No wonder the Western Mail reported this week on a study which has found (unsurprisingly) that the regeneration of the south Wales valleys is lagging behind other coalfield areas across the UK.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Accountancy Notes

The New Year's honours list saw an MBE given to Lionel Griffiths ACCA, for services to the accountancy profession in South Wales.

Lionel, from Beaufort, is a senior lecturer at Newport Business School, part of the University of Wales, Newport, where he has worked since the mid 1970s. He is past president of the Association of Chartered Certified Accounts (ACCA) in South Wales and, last year, received an ACCA global achivement award.


Rugby Notes

Poor show at Cross Keys on Saturday, where Ebbw Vale went down 11-10.

There was an almost inevitable feeling that the game was going to slip away after a promising start when Ebbw failed to get well clear of the Keys. You need room to play rugby and the ref allowed Keys to close the gap - in the lineout, in the scrum where the flankers were up offside (finally penalised in the 75 th minute) and generally in the loose.

Ebbw were the better side, but played well below their abilities, with some aimless kicking and a lack of streetwise-ness. Usual service will hopefully be resumed when Ebbw plays Maesteg at home next Saturday.

Tries for John R Williams (in the 2 nd minute) and Aaron Bramwell.