Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rugby Notes

At a cold Eugene Cross Park last night, Ebbw Vale were well beaten by Llanelli, 17-25. The red pack (well, they’re not ‘scarlets’ are they?) dominated throughout, and #10 Luke Richards hoofed the ball so often the ball was heard to yell “ouch”!

Llanelli dominated the set pieces, and under the circumstances it was bizarre to see Ebbw opt for a scrum in their own half when awarded a penalty. Ebbw duly got shoved off the ball and conceded a penalty which Llanelli kicked.

It wasn’t a night for good handling, as Ebbw’s frequent drops demonstrated. Llanelli played with four deep defenders forcing Ebbw to play with ball in hand and waited for the mistakes to come; which they did. Llanelli on the other hand kicked for position all the time. To my recollection Richards made just two passes all night, one to his centre and one for an interception try.

Ebbw had a purple patch (well, puce anyway) early in the second half when they got within sniffing distance of the Llanelli line, but mistakes and a few well-judged hands in the ruck prevented Ebbw from getting the score which could have made it closer.

Management of substitutes went awry: all Ebbw's subs were used 10 minutes before the end. A late injury meant that Ebbw ended the game with just 14 on the field. Would have been more embarrassing if we had really been in with a chance at the death.

Scorers: Tries for Shaun Powell and Morgan Allen, two conversions and a penalty for Andrew Williams.

Team: Dai Langdon, Andrew McLaughlan, Kristian Owen (c), Shaun Powell, Andrew Bevan; Andrew Williams, Ieuan Evans; Aaron Coundley, Mathew Williams, Anthony Lott; Gavin Lucas, Nick Eaves; Jon Griffiths, Rhys Jenkins, Morgan Allen. Subs: Richard Wilkes, Marc Jones, Gareth Jones, Matthew Griffin, Llyr Lane, Peter Smith, Dai Absolom.

My man of the match: Andrew Williams, who distributed the ball well and gave Ebbw lots of territorial advantage early in the second half, which unfortunately was not capitalised on.

Ebbw Vales’ next game is at home to Aberavon on Saturday, 6 December, 2:30 kickoff.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Travel Notes

On the way to work one day last week, I saw a student cycling to his class. Nothing unusual, except that his mode of transport was a unicycle.

A bunch of builders nearby burst into the traditional circus theme tune -

Rugby Notes II

Wales yet again flattered to deceive on Saturday, plucky losers again. Losses to South Africa and New Zealand bracket a poor showing against Canada, and things don’t look too clever in Gatland’s world. They face Australia this coming Saturday.

In things you can’t make up, Shane Williams has been selected as IRB Player of the Year.

Now the dancing one hasn’t had a bad season, and was just about the best player in Wales not called Ryan Jones, but the best in the world? Give me a break. Obviously Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and the rest of the New Zealand team weren’t eligible this year.

The former internationals that decided the award probably felt it would look bad if New Zealand won every award.

Player of the Year: Shane Williams (Wales)
Team of the Year: New Zealand
Coach of the Year: Graham Henry (New Zealand)
Junior Player of the Year: Luke Braid (New Zealand)
Sevens Player of the Year: DJ Forbes (New Zealand)

The previous winners of the player of the year award have been:
2001 Keith Wood (Ireland, hooker)
2002 Fabien Galthié (France, scrum-half)
2003 Jonny Wilkinson (England, fly-half)
2004 Schalk Burger (South Africa, flanker)
2005 Dan Carter (New Zealand, fly-half)
2006 Richie McCaw (New Zealand, flanker)
2007 Bryan Habana (South Africa, winger)

Rugby Notes I

In the category of better late than never, a quick report on Ebbw Vale’s loss to Glamorgan Wanderers last week. Ebbw lost 9-13 in the dullest game of the year. Yet again Ebbw failed to cope with a team that was streetwise but had limited skill. The Ebbw Vale RFC website called it forgettable, and The Steel Daffodil called it disappointing.

Team: Andrew McLaughlan, Ieuan Coombes, Kristian Owen (capt.), Shaun Powell, Andrew Bevan; Dai Langdon, Robert Lewis; Aaron Coundley, Richard Wilkes, Jamie Corsi; Gavin Lucas, Matthew Griffin; Jonathan Griffiths, Rhys Jenkins, James Thomas. Subs: Mathew Williams, Anthony Lott, Nick Eaves, Simon Pengelly, Ieuan Evans, Andrew Williams, James Lewis.

Scorers: 3 penalties for Dai Langdon

My man of the match: A struggle to pick out someone who stood out, but Matt Griffin grafted well.

Ebbw’s next game is tomorrow (Tuesday) night when Llanelli visit, 7:30 kickoff.

One game I will be missing is the 4th round of the cup. Ebbw Vale has been drawn away again this year, and the trip is even longer than usual: Llandudno on the north Wales coast.

For rent

The property in Canterbury Road, Beaufort, Ebbw Vale (my old house) consists of a hallway, a large lounge/dining room with laminate wood floor, a fitted kitchen with cooker & fridge.

The first floor has two double bedrooms with fitted wardrobes, a single bedroom and a fitted bathroom that was done out only a few years ago.

The property is double glazed throughout and has gas central heating. A new conservatory has been constructed in the past two years.

The property has a garage and a driveway, a workshop with power at the rear, a patio, and gardens front and back.

£450 per month. Email me if interested.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Typo Notes

Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. This list of church bulletin bloopers, or a variation of it, has done the rounds on the interweb, but its still worthy of repeating here. Enjoy!

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water.” The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

The Rector will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

This evening at 7pm there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7pm. Please use the back door.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7pm. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours".

Today in History

The Allied powers a signed a cease-fire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, France on 11 November 1918, bringing World War I to a close.

Between the wars, November 11 was commemorated as Armistice Day in the United States, Great Britain, and France. After World War II, the holiday was recognized as a day of tribute to veterans of both world wars. Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U.S. wars.

Owl Notes

The front page of the Gwent Gazette amazed me this week. Blaenau Gwent council and the RSPCA raided The Owl Sanctuary at Ebbw Vale Festival Park and removed all of the birds. The Council said that they were responding to a complaint. This is the same Council that gave Malcolm Jones, the owner, an environmental award for his work only a couple of weeks ago.

There’s more about the story in the Gwent Gazette and the South Wales Andrex.

I hope that everyone comes to their senses very soon and that Malcolm gets his owls back very soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blog Notes

What a great discovery is the blog The New Adventures of Mr Stephen Fry. It covers a wide range of musings, including highlights from his technology column in the Guardian, his travels in Africa and general ephemera.

Stephen Fry’s travelogue on the BBC, Stephen Fry in America, is currently one of the few TV shows worthy of setting the Sky+ box for. Catch it if you can on BBC TV or iPlayer. A slice of the world viewed through Stephen Fry's particular point of view.

Travel Notes

Not my travel note, but Bev and Philly’s. They went down from Ebbw Vale to Cardiff by train to watch the Wales v South Africa game. So far so good. But when the arrived back at Cardiff Central to board for the return journey, they found that the train goes from Platform 0.

A bit like Platform 9¾ in the Harry Potter books, it’s a bit make believe to think that someone on crutches can manage the 20-odd steps to the platform. There’s no disabled access to Platform 0, which is a makeshift platform used as an overflow.

Eventually the train managers realised the cock-up (which allegedly will be fixed when Cardiff Central gets a makeover in the next couple of years) and Bev and Philly were given a voucher for a taxi ride home instead.

Ava's diary

We had a great Halloween party at the crèche; I had sandwiches and cakes and threw most of it on the floor. Great fun.

The following weekend we all went down to Swansea to visit nanna and grandpa. Mam and dad weren’t well, so nanna looked after me, and we walked for miles (well, nanna walked, I slept in my pram). Mam got me a new fleecy ‘cosytoes’ liner for the pram, which means that I’m all snug whatever the weather.

With everyone feeling sick and bard, I stayed down in Swansea until Tuesday, but then was back in crèche as normal on Wednesday.

On Friday mam went to Glasgow on a weekend shopping trip with her best friend Louise. So dad and I were left to fend for ourselves. It was a close call as to who was the most helpless!

But we survived. On Saturday we went to IKEA. We went early and beat the crowds. Dad still managed to get lost in the store.

Visited nanna Ena on Saturday, and snoozed all the way to Ebbw Vale. We had pasta and caramel cream and I loved it. Then dad got into an argument in Morrisons’ car park when somebody tried to park in the parent & baby spaces without having a small child in tow.

On Sunday I visited auntie Bev and uncle Philly. (Yikes, am I really related to uncle Philly?) Bev’s family Deb and John were home for the weekend too. I was a bit overawed by the crowded room and cried.

I was glad to see mam when she got home on Sunday evening. But I think dad was even more relieved!

Work Notes

The Welsh Assembly Government’s offices in Cardiff (wiki) were used to film an episode of BBC’s Torchwood over the weekend. I didn’t find any alien artefacts lying about when I went into the office this morning though.

It’ll be obvious when the series is broadcast which episode was filmed at Cathays Park. It’ll be the one with dark, gloomy sets and a distinctive 1970’s feel.

Photo Notes

Gratuitous cute photo of the week.

"Peek-a-boo": a carer holds a giant panda cub in an incubator at the Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre in Yaan, China.

Sick Notes

Both Cath and I were laid low by a virus last weekend, which meant that the toilet seat was never cold! I felt like the world was falling out of my bottom. We took turns in looking after Ava and being ill.

Cath went down sick on Thursday evening and I succumbed on Saturday. I must have been rough – I didn’t even go to Ebbw’s game in Swansea. We spent the weekend recuperating at the Bonymaen Cottage Hospital, the in-laws’ place. Finally got back to work last Friday.

Rugby Notes II

Wales went down again to South Africa, 15-20, in a game they could have won. They never lead, but had plenty of the ball and lots of opportunities. South Africa, though, were more composed and professional, and when their chances came, they did not miss out.

Andy Powell, on his debut, played like a man possessed, and was rightly named man of the match. Other stand-out players included Lee Byrne and Leigh Halfpenny.

But there were too many mistakes. Three missed penalties and too many mistakes at the ruck (diving in) and line out (poor throws). When the lineout came under pressure Matthew Rees failed to find his jumpers consistently and vitally at the last Wales attack. Little Shane Williams ran up too many blind alleys.

And the kicking game was bizarre: why give Steven Jones just one attempt before handing the ball over to Halfpenny? Halfpenny, of course, doesn’t get to kick goals for the Blues, Kiwi Ben Blair gets to kick goals and block development there.

Scorers: one penalty for Halfpenny and four for substitute James Hook.

Team: L Byrne (Scarlets); L Halfpenny, T Shanklin, J Roberts (all Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Gloucester); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jones, A-W Jones, I Evans, R Jones (all Ospreys, capt), M Williams, A Powell (both Cardiff Blues).

Rugby Notes I

This post is a week late, due to me being sick and bard for most of last week, but rather than skip the game altogether…

Ebbw Vale played Swansea at a deserted St Helens on Saturday 1 November, and came away with a 20-20 draw. I didn’t get to the game, but from all accounts (here, here, and here) Ebbw should have come away with the win.

Scorers: Tries for Andrew McLaughlan and Kristian Owen, and 10 points (two penalties, two conversions) from Andrew Williams

Team: Andrew McLaughlin, Andrew Bevan, Kristian Owen, Shaun Powell, James Lewis, Andrew Williams, Ieuan Evans; Anthony Lott, Matthew Williams, Marc Jones, Gavin Lucas, Joanthan Griffiths, Rhys Jenkins, Rhys Williams, Simon Pengelly.

International rugby got in the way this past weekend, but Ebbw return to action (see, even writing in clichés like a proper journo now!) when they host the feisty (for feisty, read fighty) Glamorgan Wanderers next Saturday, 2:30 kick off.