Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ava's Diary

So I’m all geared up for Halloween. Except the crèche for some reason can’t call it that, so we’ve got Orange Day tomorrow. I’ve got a ‘Hoppy Halloween’ froggy t-shirt to wear.

In other news from the crèche, we have started rehearsals for the Christmas show. I’m going to play the part of a star. I think it involves sitting on the floor wearing something glittery.

I have great fun dressing up in crèche. Today I was a fairy, and yesterday I had a pumpkin outfit. I have two new best friends. Bethan and Abigail have both started at crèche, and are a few weeks younger than me. I’m still the smallest (and the cutest) one though.

Oh, and I love bathtime, as you can see.

NFL Notes

Last Sunday I got to go to Wem-ber-ley to see the NFL on tour. The New Orleans Saints hosted the San Diego Chargers in only the second regular season NFL game to be played outside of North America. I’m glad that my mate Philly got the tickets through his work, because I probably would have balked at shelling out £125 for a ticket.

There was a great atmosphere before hand, with most NFL teams being represented in the replica shirts worn by fans. Of course that meant that the home team advantage would be lost, so the organisers did everything in their powers to encourage any neutrals to cheer for the Saints.

Great game, and what looked like it could be a blow-out was in the end won by the Saints 37-32. The Chargers could have won it with a Hail Mary at the bitter end, but wouldn’t have deserved the win. Now all the two teams have to do is go and try playing some defence.

The niggling annoyance was that our seats in the Club Wembley section were mostly filled with people on corporate hospitality, and as a result I overheard endless “what happened there?” and “who’s got the ball?” questions.

The event was wonderful, and there were only a couple of glitches. Firstly the Saints ran out from a different tunnel to the one everyone was expecting and caught the cameras unaware. Then there were problems with the ref’s mic and so the penalties weren’t always explained. And finally, a general point about Wembley: they have to do something about the Underground station – it took around half an hour to get a train.

There’s a full report on the NFL UK website and stats and video clips on CBS.

Rugby Notes

Pinched straight from EyeJay's report on The Steel Daffodil...

"A wonderful afternoon's rugby at a windy Eugene Cross Park saw Ebbw Vale overcome the self styled Welsh All Blacks by 29 points to 10.
Perhaps a more accurate description would be Ebbw Vale 29 Neil Ballard 10, as quite frankly Neath got their points from persistent help from the dreadful official. Does he know any of the laws at the scrummage? 90 degrees, binding, popping up etc., etc.

"Let's not take anything away, however, from a superb Ebbw Vale performance: rock solid tackling, chances taken opportunistically, and massive commitment. It's difficult to single out individual players in such a wonderful team display, but Simon Pengelly at 7 was immense and Aaron Bramwell makes ground every time he has the ball.

"It's all the more sweet when you overcome such an over confident and arrogant bunch as Neath, who seem to think that you can just buy the league. To see 20 of their supporters stroll up the bank at half time in full expectation of our 22 being the centre of the 2nd half action is just too damned cocky for my liking, and belongs 20 miles further west. I don't dislike Neath as much as, say, Llanelli, but they don't half have a superior attitude to Ebbw Vale."

Here, here.

My Man of the Match: Open side flanker Simon Pengelly, the honorary Welshman from Cornwall, who was everywhere and made countless tackles as part of the in-your-face defence that kept Neath at bay.

Scorers: Two tries for Kristian Owen and yet another interception try for James Lewis (his dad looked happy), a conversion and three penalties for ever-improving Aaron Bramwell, and a penalty for late substitute Andrew Williams.

Team: Andrew McLaughlan, James Lewis, Kristian Owen (c), Aaron Bramwell, Andrew Bevan; Andrew Williams, Robert Lewis; Aaron Coundley, Richard Wilkes, Anthony Lott; Gavin Lucas, Nick Eaves; Jonathan Griffiths, Simon Pengelly, Rhys Jenkins. Subs: Mathew WIlliams, Marc Jones, Craig Jones, Dale Newell, Shaun Powell, Ieuan Evans, Ieuan Coombes.

Next Saturday Ebbw travel to Swansea, 2:30 kickoff, where I will be joined by a busload of Ebbw fans and one man and his dog supporting Swansea.

Baseball Notes

The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. They beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4 games to one. The winning game was bizarre, it had a two-day rain delay inthe middle.

Didn't watch much of it, due to other sporting priorities, and the fact that it wasn't the Sox...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Travel Notes

I was in Liverpool last week. The conference was held at the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, next door to the Cavern Club in the heart of the Beatles quarter. So yes, it’s a Beatles themed hotel with memorabilia everywhere and 24/7 piped Beatles music.

The logo, pictured, has two links to the Beatles. Firstly, it’s the first chord of Its Been A Hard Day’s Night, the most famous first chord of any record. Ever. And secondly, it represents an overhead view of the layout of the stage when the Beatles performed.

It was great to be in a city where the local accent was the predominant one, unlike London the week before. And I was hugely impressed by the work that’s gone on to develop the centre of Liverpool. Liverpool One is an enormous new shopping area, where plenty of WAG wannabes were out in force.

Cricket Notes

Glamorgan’s poor season is now but a memory, but EyeJay has written a cracking review for the Third Umpire blog.

One of the most encouraging things for the future is the comment that Glamorgan is thinking of getting off the moral high horse and contracting one or more Kolpak players.

Blog Notes

The world of blogging continues to grow in these here parts.

The most recent to enter the fray is EyeJay, whose blog The Steel Daffodil covers his two passions (apart from accountancy) – Ebbw Vale rugby and Glamorgan cricket. A good read thus far.

Baseball Notes

OK, it was a great attempt to stage the big comeback, but the Boston Red Sox fell at the last hurdle, losing Game 7 of the ALCS. That means that the Tampa Bay Rays will play in the World Series, starting on Wednesday, against the Philadelphia Phillies, who convincingly beat the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Interesting fact that may interest only me… I’ve seen games at the home ballparks of all four of these teams. Admittedly, the Philadelphia game was in the old Veterans Stadium, which was demolished in 2004 when the Phillies moved to Citizens Bank Park.

As for the best of 7 World Series, live on NASN and five, I’ll take the Phillies, well rested and with a better bullpen. Plenty of preview stuff here.

Travel Notes

On the way to Tresaith, there’s a village in Ceredigion called Beulah.

It's now my ambition to buy a house there and call it Ferris. The address would then be…

Ferris, Beulah

Rugby Notes II

Some former coaching staff of Ebbw Vale in the news…

Paul Pook (pictured), former strength and conditioning coach has been appointed to that role for Ireland. He joins Declan Kidney’s staff on a three year contract.

Alex Codling, former coach has joined Cardiff as coach this week. Alex left Ebbw Vale a couple of years ago to be coach of London Welsh and to take up a teaching job in London.

Rugby Notes

Another good win for Ebbw at the weekend, beating Llandovery 15-9. I wasn’t there, but by all accounts (here and here).

Good defence and opportunistic attack won the day.

Scorers: Tries for James Lewis (his third in two games) and Dai Langdon, and a penalty and a conversion for Aaron Bramwell.

Team: Andrew McLaughlan, Ieuan Coombes, Kristian Owen (c), Aaron Bramwell, James Lewis; Andrew Williams, Llyr Lane; Anthony Lott, Richard Wilkes, Marc Jones; Gavin Lucas, Jonathan Griffiths; Jamie Ringer, Rhys Jenkins, James Thomas.
Subs: Chris Thomas, Gareth Jones, Nick Eaves, Simon Pengelly, Ieuan Evans, Dai Langdon, Shaun Powell.

Next Saturday will be a big test. Ebbw host Neath, 2:30 kick off.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rugby Notes

Terrific win for Ebbw Vale at Cardiff last Saturday. 26-25 tells the story of the nail-biting end, but not of the way the game see-sawed. We completely dominated the first half and were 16-0 up at half time. Then the early part of the second half was all Cardiff and we shipped 25 points in 25 minutes. A late interception try and touchline conversion got the lead back for Ebbw, and a backs-to-the-wall resistance for the last 10 minutes ensured a well-earned victory.

Special mention needs to go to the pack who took the game to Cardiff. On the face of it the influence of “consultant” Lyn Jones has started to show through. Whilst they made too many mistakes, they didn’t wilt under the second-half pressure and seemed to start to believe in themselves.

Reports on the game can be found on the Ebbw Vale RFC website here and here, and on Wales Online (the Western Mail in other words).

My Man of the Match: Number 8 James Thomas, who had a storming game, and was all over the paddock until being substituted with an injury late on. The Western Mail and RS agree with me on this one.

Scorers: Two tries from wing James Lewis, and 16 points from the boot of Aaron Bramwell.

Team: Andrew McLaughlan, James Lewis, Kristian Owen (capt.), Aaron Bramwell, Andrew Bevan; Dai Langdon, Llyr Lane; Anthony Lott, Richard Wilkes, Marc Jones; Gavin Lucas, Jonathan Griffiths; Ciaron Ruddock, Simon Pengelly, James Thomas.
Subs: Chris Thomas, Gareth Jones, Craig Jones, Rhys Jenkins, Ieuan Evans, Andrew Williams, Shaun Powell.

Next Saturday Ebbw Vale play at Llandovery, 2:30 kick off. I won’t be there; I’ll be down Tresaith.

Ava's Diary

Had my health check-up yesterday. Got a clean bill of health. I’m now a full 18 lbs and I’m 2 foot 1 inch tall.

My first two teeth have started to show. They are the bottom ones, and I’m told that I’ll have 20 coming through over the next year or so. Plenty more drooling to come, then.

I’m sitting up on my own, and I can stand up – provided I’ve got something or someone to cling on to.

I’ve just discovered a great TV programme. It’s called In the Night Garden
In the Night Garden, and its on BBC cbeebies. When it’s on I squeak at the TV and flap my arms up and down. And I like Mr Tumble from Something Special, a programme that teaches sign language.

Travel Notes II

The thing about going to London is that it could be any big city in Europe, black cabs and red buses apart. I did not meet a soul born within the sound of Bow Bells. Hotel check-in Turkey, the restaurant waiter from Estonia and most of the people in the street weren’t speaking English.

Oh, there was one English guy. He was relieving himself against the window of Borders at 8pm. Classy guy. A trip to London nowadays is definitely more of a chore than something to enjoy.

Travel Notes

Had to spend a night in London last week. Stayed at the Copthorne Hotel at Chelsea FC. Nice, but nothing too special. PIcked it because of a special deal through Travel Zoo, a really useful website which emails you with details of special deals for hotels and holidays.

Anyway, the plus point was to have a night’s sleep without interruption from little Ava. Except that the fire alarm went off at 4:46am! The hotel’s story was that someone was smoking in a non-smoking room. At that time of the night?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The future of nursey rhymes

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
The structure of the wall was incorrect,
So he won a grand with Claims Direct.

It's Raining, It's Pouring.
Oh shit, it's Global Warming.

Mary had a little lamb,
it ran into a pylon.
10,000 volts went up its arse
and turned its wool to nylon.

Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie
kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play
he kissed them too cause he was gay.

Jack and Jill Went up the hill
and planned to do some kissing.
Jack made a pass and grabbed her ass;
Now two of his teeth are missing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ava's Diary

There are lots of photos up on dad’s Flickr page.

Now I’m almost 9 months old, I can sit up unaided, but tend to keel over after a while. I’ve been trying to stand up, usually by rolling forward onto all-fours with my bum in the air. As for crawling, I don’t really see the point – everyone brings we whatever I want!

I missed a week in crèche when we all had a week down at the caravan in Tresaith. We had great weather and I went to Aberystwyth, Llanerchaeron gardens, Cardigan and Newport. No, the proper one in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Rugby Notes

I’m waaay behind with my postings on Ebbw Vale rugby this season. Of course, I’m sure you are all following the action via the official website and the supporters forum.

OK, to catch up…

Back on 13 September Ava and I travelled to Bridgend to see us lose to Bridgend 19-33.

The following Saturday Ava attended her first ever home game and saw Ebbw beat Pontypridd 13-3. Well actually she was sleeping in my arms when we scored the decisive try, so I couldn’t shout and had to make to with jigging up and down the touchline.

I missed the game at Cross Keys as we were all sunning ourselves down in Tresaith. Ebbw won a close one 19-17.

Which brings us up to yesterday. Ebbw hosted Newport in front of the S4C cameras and in rainstorm. Ava stayed at home and had to make do with watching on TV.

The desperate conditions meant that there was a dearth of running rugby. After losing the first half into the teeth of the rain just 0-3 hopes were high for the second half. But the next 20 minutes were poor; Ebbw’s dismal lineout performance was the main difference between the sides. Following the loss to injury of Rhys Williams, Ebbw had just one lineout option, and Newport knew it. Haemorrhaging possession to an experienced Townie side meant that Ebbw had no chance, and in the end 3-9 wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

The whole game will be available to watch again for the next month on S4C’s website.

The game marked the end of Will Thomas’ playing career and his final game as coach of Ebbw Vale as he moves to become Academy coach for the Dragons. Good luck for the future.

In an exciting move ex-Ospreys coach Lyn Jones has been appointed. He was in the stands yesterday and hopefully will bring his experience to bear on our inexperienced squad.