Friday, February 29, 2008

Ava's Diary

20 February – Went out for dinner at the Chapter in Cardiff, and then we went to visit Sion and Cath and their three kids.

23 February – Watched all of the Six Nations games on TV with my dad. He said that my namesake played in one of the games – Wigglesworth!

24 February – Visited Nanna and Grandpa’s in Swansea for the first time; they put up a welcome sign out for me. I had my photo taken in Alfie’s Bar, which I’m told will take pride of place behind the bar. One problem though: I can’t reach the optics yet. Met Nanna and Grandpa’s friends Bill & Lynne too before they head off to Australia for a month.

25 February – Amongst all of the other facial expressions, I’ve been working on my smile, and I unleashed it on Mam and Dad today. It seemed to make them very happy.

I’ve also been working on my throwing up, and I’m getting really good at it. My record is being sick on a new outfit just five seconds after being changed.

I’m starting to sleep for about four hours at a time through the night, so there’s only one proper night feed for Mam and Dad.

26 February – Went to Baby Club today (every Tuesday morning) and played with some of the baby gym stuff there. Mam and I had a long walk back through Ponty Park.

27 February – Went to the Bunch of Grapes for lunch with Mam and Nanna Irene.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Music Notes

My favourite video on MTV right now, Rockstar by Nickelback. Not a favourite band by any stretch of the imagination, but one of the few songs that gets any playtime on the dozens of music TV stations on Sky that I can get through without reaching for the zapper.

Beaufort Hills Ponds

The Beaufort Hill Ponds and Woodlands Preservation Society have produced a couple of great videos of the area which have been posted on You Tube by Adrian Markey.

Here is the latest posting, and another from a few months ago is here.

My next IT task is to work out how to get the videos to play directly from here rather than having to link over to YouTube. Might take a while.

A link to the Preservation Society's site is in the local blogroll in the right-hand column.

Beaufort Hills Ponds

Ah, so that's how you post video!

Photo Notes

My photos are gaining recognition - I’ve been published again.

Schmap’s internet travel guide to San Francisco have asked to use this picture I took of the AT&T Park - home of the San Francisco Giants. it’s the second photo of mine they have wanted to use; last month they used one of my photos of Los Angeles.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale got an away draw in the quarter-finals of the Konica Minolta Cup. On Saturday 5 April Ebbw will be at the Talbot Athletic Ground to take on Aberavon in front of the S4C cameras.

The other ties are:
Pontypridd v Bridgend
Glamorgan Wanderers v Newport
Cross Keys v Neath

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ava's diary

12 February – Went to baby club this morning and picked up the picture of my feet. Mam dipped my feet in paint last week, and the nurses running the club got the picture laminated for me to keep as a souvenir.

The health visitor weighed me again, and I'm now 8lbs 3oz.

Nanna and Grandpa visited again. Mam and dad took the opportunity to go to the pictures. Dad’s gone a review somewhere on his blog.

14 February – Mam and Dad took me out for a Valentine’s Day lunch at the Bunch of Grapes.

16 February – Visited Uncle Wilco and Mrs Uncle Wilco for dinner. I slept for almost the entire time, so missed out on learning about plans for July’s Shed Week.

Movie Notes

Went to see No Country for Old Men last week.

Its terrifically acted by Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones, superbly written and directed by the Coen Brothers. A great modern Western tale of the good, the deranged and the doomed - this is an intelligent and imaginative movie, but with lots of violence thrown in for good measure.

In Javier Bardem as Antoine this movie what will no doubt become one of the most famous villains in all of movie history.

Best line? Following a shoot-out, when a deputy declares, "It's a mess, ain't it, Sheriff?" and Tommy Lee Jones as the sheriff answers, "If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here."

Two thumbs up; its likely to harvest a bunch of Oscars later this month.

Rugby Notes

The Steelmen beat the Waterwheelers on Saturday. In other words, Ebbw Vale beat Tondu 62-7 to go into the quarter final draw for the Konica Minolta Cup.

The game was played in a good spirit but the result was never in doubt from the first few minutes. Tondu played with great spirit though, and were warmly applauded for their efforts.

Ebbw ran in 10 tries in all. The picture, nicked again from Graham’s website, shows Nelly’s eyes lighting up as he spots a tiny Tondu winger trying not to get under his feet.

News of the quarter final draw will no doubt be sneak out from the WRU eventually.

Scorers: John Rees Williams (3), Aaraon Coundley (2), Greg Roberts (2), Simon Hunt, Andrew Bevan and Matthew Griffin. Chris Anderson added 6 conversions.

Man of the Match: Rhys Bowen, but could have gone to any of the pack who had a completely dominating day.

Match reports in the South Wales Andrex and the Western Mail.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Marvin is no more. He’s gone to the great kennel in the sky.

It got to the stage with the dodgy legs, lungs, eyes, etc, etc, that we had little choice but to have him put down. Vets Jon & B came to the house to sort him out last night – thanks guys, it was really peaceful.

Let’s not forget though, he was a complete fool of a dog. He ended up on a neighbour’s roof when chasing a cat, and in a ravine in Tresaith the first pitch-black night at our caravan. A dog with no learning curve whatsoever, he was content to bark at shadows, and the bigger the other dog, the more likely Marv was to fight it.

All the cats, dogs, birds and clouds of Pontypridd can rest more easily now; Marv won’t be chasing them any more.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rugby Notes

There were a few Ebbw Vale rugby connections in the Wales team last weekend. Lock Deiniol Jones played a few seasons for Ebbw (on loan from Bath) before heading off to Bridgend at the beginning of the 2001 season. And new wing Jamie Roberts had a few games for us at full back about 18 months ago when Macca was called up to the Dragons.

Oh, and Huw Bennett was born in Ebbw too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ava's Diary

4 February – it was my Dad’s first day back in work after his paternity leave. What a shock to be left alone with my Mam for an entire day.

6 February – the health visitor called again; I’m now 7lbs 7oz. Went for a walk with Mam and Bernice in the afternoon sunshine. OK, I didn’t walk; I was in some sort of papoose. I’m a bit colicky in the evenings, I don’t really shout the house down, but tend to be very fidgety and unsettled for a few hours every evening. I’m getting good at throwing up over my Mam too.

7 February – Nanna and Grandpa visited again. Mam and Dad sneaked off to the Cwm quiz for the evening when I wasn’t looking.

8 February – Dad had the day off (worn out after 4 days work and me keeping them up at night). We went to Hoffi Coffi for lunch. Dad says that they do a very good chicken balti. Dad went to watch Ebbw Vale play; he says that when I’m older I’ll have to go too.

9 February – A beautiful day, so Mam and Dad took me to the seaside. We went to Barry Island for the afternoon. Quite a crowd there enjoying the sunshine, playing on the beach and eating chips and ice cream. We joined in.

10 February – Dad took me out for the day to Ebbw Vale to give Mam a bit of quiet time. We visited Nanna Ena. I was very happy there as I slept almost the entire time.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale succumbed to champions-elect Neath on Friday night in the best game of the season. Ebbw eventually went down 12-22 after leading for most of the game. Eventually Neath’s greater strength in depth showed through against our makeshift team.

From their first choice XV Ebbw were missing wing Simon Hunt (7s with England), backs James Lewis and Rob Lewis (7s duty with Wales), outside half Dai Langdon, back rows John Bowd and Rhys Williams (all injured) and Nio Aiono (suspended). Ebbw gave a debut start to 17-year-old number 8 James Thomas, who had a good game.

Up front, the Ebbw pack took on and for most of the game beat Neath. The highlight of the game was some wonderful counter-rucking which earned a number of turnovers for Ebbw.

Ebbw lead 6-3 at half time and were still ahead 12-10 with just 20 minutes to go. The ref managed to be the only person in the stadium not to see the forward pass in the build-up to Neath’s second try. Eventually though, heart and a pile of great defensive tackling wasn’t enough, and a couple of late tries won it for Neath.

Scorers: 4 penalties for Aaron Bramwell

Man of the match: John McPhail for an enormous game against his former club.

Train Notes

The Ebbw Vale train link finally opened last Wednesday. No fanfare, no big launch, and the first train sneaked out under cover of darkness. At 6:40am.

So just in time for the first home game for Wales in the Six Nations. So guess what happened on Saturday. The South Wales Andrex carries a story about major travel disruption, with hundreds of fans being left on the platform at Ebbw Vale. Hopefully its just teething problems, but knowing the history of breweries and arranging alcoholic drinking here…

The full train schedule is on National Rail’s website and there’s a page on Arriva Trains Wales’ site too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Football Notes

OK, I admit that it was an exciting end to the Superbowl.

But I could have done without a New York Giants win. The 17-14 loss showed up a few weaknesses in the Patriots team, which had been creaking in the run-up to the big game. The offensive line didn’t stand up to the pressure that came from the Giants rush, and the Pats’ secondary missed a few big plays too.

The best of the quotes following the game came from Michael Strahan (who will probably retire now):

"As Mike Tyson would say, 'Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.' "

All in all, plenty of motivation for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to scheme their way back to go deep in the playoffs again next year.

Cricket Notes

New coach Matthew Maynard has been busy during the off season, recruiting new players for Glamorgan. Much needed too, after a woeful 2007 campaign.

Leading the new batch is Aussie bowler Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie. Other recruits include England all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple, from Middlesex, and left-arm seamer Adam Shantry from Warwickshire, and former England U-19 opener Matthew Wood from Yorkshire.

Let’s hope that 2008 sees a better performance on the filed. The field being the newly revamped Sophia Gardens, home to a 2009 test match against Australia. After travelling the length and breadth of Wales for their home games last year, its back to having the huge majority of games in Cardiff, with just one trip each to Colwyn Bay and Swansea.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Ava's Diary

30 January - The health visitor called again today. I’m now 7lbs 1½oz, a full pound heavier than when I was born three weeks ago.

Spent my first night in my own room. I only woke up once in the night, which seemed to please Mam and Dad.

31 January - Took a bath with my Mam today. Either I’m very pink or she’s very white. Probably both.

Went out for lunch to a coffee shop (see Dad’s review) and then did some shopping in Tescos.

1 February - Visited by Nanna Ena, Great-Aunt Stella, Great-Uncle Gwyn, and second cousins Helen and Sarah.

Got lots of pressies and clothes again. I’m looking forward to playing with all my toys. Had my picture taken a lot, but managed to sleep through most it.


There’s a new coffee shop opened near the University of Glamorgan in Treforest. It’s called Hoffi Coffi? (translates as Like Coffee?)

Very convenient to take little Ava out for lunch since its only a mile down the road. Their home made sarnies and specials and strong Segafredo coffee are served up by friendly and helpful staff.

Its taken over from Starbucks in Llantrisant as the best coffee shop in the area.

This week's sign of the apocalypse

Talk about dumbing down. On Thursday, the BBC weatherman Peter Gibbs was fretting about wind chill. To explain, he pointed to his chart and said "...and the lower the number, the colder it will be."

Thanks for that explanation. Its a good job you studied for years in meteorology school to explain these complex ideas to us, eh?

Football Notes

Superbowl weekend has arrived. The New England Patriots are going for 19-0, and to complete their perfect season must beat the New York football Giants in Superbowl 42 on Sunday evening.

The game is being played at the University of Phoenix in Glendale, Arizona. It’s a university facility that is also home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. It’s a university facility that would put any UK university facility to shame. In fact, it would probably beat most stadia in Britain. The stadium has a retractable roof, and to grow the grass the whole pitch moves on rollers outside. As a complete pitch; not on lots of pallets like in Cardiff.

Anyway, my prediction is that Tom Brady will rise from the dodgy foot worries to play an MVP game, with a couple of long throws to Randy Moss amongst a bunch of heavy running from Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk. The D will struggle to get to Eli Manning though, so look for a high scoring game. Pats to win 37-30.

The game is live on Sky Sports from 10pm.

Go Pats!

Rugby Notes

No game for Ebbw Vale this weekend as it’s the start of the RBS Six Nations tournament. Its Ospreys versus England on Saturday.

There are 13 Ospreys in the team picked by new Wales coach Warren Gatland. Worryingly, the best two Ospreys players, Justin Marshall and Marty Holah are New Zelanders and aren’t available for selection.

The same is true of the Blues - all of the their best players, with the exception of Martyn Williams, are Kiwis too - Ben Blair, Paul Tito and Xavier Rush.

None of this bodes well for Wales, when Welsh players Mike Phillips and Jonathan Thomas can’t hold down first team places in their own club sides.

TV Notes

Being at home for the past few weeks has meant sitting in front of way more TV than usual. Albeit at some strange hours of the night with a small baby in my arms.

The dearth of decent drama and comedy worth watching is amazing. Thank goodness for reruns of The Sopranos and The West Wing on More 4. The best comedy is The IT Crowd, also on More 4.

At least this week sees the start of the forth season of Boston Legal on Living TV and the third season of The Office: An American Workplace on ITV2. Torchwood remains probably the only UK show worth watching nowadays.

Blog Notes

My blog is now two years old.

Many thanks to the 4,000 and more of you who have dipped into my ramblings at one time or another.

There are more than 10 million blogs out there in cyberspace, and half of them fall into disuse within a few months. So I'm pleased that I've been able to find something to rant about most weeks. Hopefully you enjoy reading my ramblings too.