Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ava's diary

It’s been a while since my last post here on dad’s blog, so lots to catch up on.

As you can see, I’m still loving bathtime. I lie back and kick my legs as hard as I can. Dad has to hold on to me and so is in the firing line for a soaking every time.

My crawling is now up to Olympic standard, and I’m starting to explore all over the house. Its funny how mam and dad move stuff out of the way as soon as I get anywhere near. I’m starting to hear them say “no” a lot too. But I just smile and carry on regardless.

This morning while dad was getting ready to go to work, I crawled from my bedroom onto the landing. The stairgate was closed so my escape was foiled. So I had to occupy myself by throwing anything I could get hold of through the bars in the stairgate and down the stairs. Empty bottles, toys, whatever.

My new trick is standing up. I have to cling on to chairs, tables, anything I can grab to get me upright. But then I’m stuck as I don’t know how to walk and I don’t know how to sit down. So I usually end up crying until someone comes to my rescue.

There’s been a new intake at the crèche, and some new babies have arrived. As an old hand now I’ve been showing them the ropes.

On the weekend I went with mam, dad, nanna Irene and grandpa Frank to Llangoed Hall. It was very nice and everyone loved me. I stayed up late on Sunday night but was still first down for breakfast (with dad in tow) the next Morning. My high chair was waiting for me and I proceeded to litter the floor with weetabix and toast. I had great fun.

YouTube Notes

This is the video for this year's Comic Relief. It features Uncle Bryn and Nessa of Gavin & Stacey fame singing 'Islands in the Stream'. And what's occuring is a guest turn from Sir Tom Jones. Tidy, like. Simply as.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Birthday Notes

Happy birthday to sister-in law Heather, a fellow blogger and all-round good egg.

Rugby Notes

It was a glorious day. The pitch was in wonderful condition, considering that it was covered with snow just 10 days ago. Spring in the air. A day for some great rugby...

But, oh dear, Ebbw Vale didn't read the script. They went out of the cup on Saturday, losing at home to Swansea 13-23, although the score could have been a lot worse. The Western Mail’s report uses the words lethargic and one-paced, and few who saw the game could argue.

A few Ebbw players stood out, number 8 Rhys Williams was everywhere (as he is every time he plays) and centre Shaun Powell being the brightest lights although credit should go to the front row who performed well in the tight and loose.

Poor old James Lewis had a Sunday People ‘shocker’, when every time the ball went to him something bad happened. I think that even he was surprised not to be substituted at half time.

Best call of the day from the bank: “Rhys, have you got 14 brothers?”

Ebbw website’s report is here and EyeJay’s blog views are here together with some more photos.

Next up in Cardiff on Saturday. It doesn’t get any easier.

Team: Aaron Bramwell, Andrew Bevan, Kristian Owen (c), Shaun Powell, James Lewis; Dai Langdon, Llyr Lane; Anthony Lott, Mathew Williams, Marc Jones; Jonathan Griffiths, Gavin Lucas; Morgan Allen, Rhys Jenkins, Rhys Williams. Subs: Aaron Coundley, Richard Wilkes, Nick Eaves, James Thomas, Ieuan Evans, Andrew Williams, Andrew McLaughlan

Scorers: Try for Rhys Williams, a conversion and two penalties for Aaron Bramwell, clearly playing out of position and ineffective at fullback.

My man of the match: Rhys Williams, yet again

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baseball Notes

So Alex Rodriguez is a drugs cheat and a liar. I knew that my intense dislike wasn’t simply because he plays for the New York Yankees, the evil empire.

Following an article in Sports Illustrated which outed him as someone who took performance enhancing drugs (steroids, in other words) in the early 2000s, and clearly demonstrated that he lied in previous interviews when he flatly denied having taken steroids.

Rodriguez admitted in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons that he used "a banned substance," then saying "I don't know exactly what, um, substance I was guilty of using," and then "I started experimenting with things that today are not legal." So what he is saying is he took something or some things for three years and didn't know what they were, but even though he didn't know what they were, he somehow knows that they were banned.

As Tony Kornhesier said on Pardon the Interruption, he clearly didn’t take the right kind of performance enhancing drugs – the ones that get you a World Series ring or even a hit after the seventh inning.

Now comes a press conference apology (of sorts), but there’s a whole lot more to come on this. And as for A-Fraud’s future Hall of Fame candidacy? Time will tell.

Website of the Week

funny graphs

Reminiscent of the letter to Viz which went along the lines of “I think Joe Strummer should stay since he would only be in half as much trouble” here’s the same info in graphical form.

GraphJam is a great website and a nerd’s delight. Lots of stupid, clever and funny graphical representations of songs, sayings and pop culture. Well worth a peruse if you have a spare five minutes.

Dog Notes

The Westminster Dog Show is a big deal in the USA, a bit like our Crufts.

Anyway, this is Stump, a 10-year-old Sussex spaniel, who became the oldest Westminster champion, and he did so in style. After nearly dying with a bacterial infection in 2004, the floppy-eared pooch came out of retirement to win the crown.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TV Notes

Watched Scrum V tonight, on Sky+ from Sunday.

Oh dear. What a waste of an hour. Rick O’Shea asks stupid questions of stupid people, and Jason Mohammed throws gentle lobs at the guests. No analysis, critique, insight, knowledge. Lads’ TV at its very worst.

Mohammed was just as irritating in person when I played against him in the Cardiff midweek cricket league for the Haddocks a few years ago.

Probation Notes

An occasional visit to my part-time role as a member of the South Wales Probation Trust.

The performance of each of the 42 probation areas across England and Wales is measured through a scorecard collecting scores against a wide range of performance targets.

In addition, whether an area is red, amber or green is dependent upon its performance relative to the other areas. So, as most reasonable people can see, not everyone can be green – since not everyone can be above average. Duh!

Nevertheless, this is seen by some as an indicator of failing performance, although to my mind I think that is a convenient hook on which to hang the drive for change.

Earlier this month, Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice said in a speech pointed out that the Ministry of Justice (of which probation is a part) needs to make savings of £1billion over the next three financial years, and threatened to impose new structures and systems to ensure that good value for money is delivered.

At the end of the day, though, the employer organisation isn’t that important; what matters is that good quality services are provided to the local people – public protection and offender management to the local people.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hospital Notes

There’s not a lot of progress to report.

Mum’s settled in OK at Tredegar General Hospital. Mum, of course, says "I don't know what I'm doing here". While sitting down or lying on the bed there's no problem - when it comes to moving around its all a bit wobbly. She has started the regime of physiotherapy to get her back on her feet - literally. She's walking with her stick but with a nurse holding on to an elbow.

Mum's sister Stella & Gwyn visited her on Friday (giving me a day off), and they called in at Ponty Towers on the way home to visit Ava. The photo is of Ava with here great-aunt Stella.

Ava and I visited on Saturday, where Ava was the centre of attention. She sat on her nanna’s bed and scattered her toys everywhere.

There was a mass exodus of visitors around 4:30 as everyone, me included, rushed home to watch the Wales game on TV.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rugby Notes

Great 23-15 win for Wales over the old enemy yesterday.

Ir is nice to see that Wales can beat England without being at the top of their game. Few of the backs had the chance to shine (Leigh Halfpenny, pictured, apart) due to some good English defence, but up front Ryan Jones (Lions captain?) and Alun Wyn Jones were simply awesome. BBC report and highlights here.

Although not to many people’s taste, I like the commentary pairing of Eddie Butler and Brian Moore. The “analysis” team (their word, not mine) are completely inane. Jonathan Davies insightful pre-match comment of “now the talking ends” is clearly what he is paid the big bucks for. Jeremy Guscott is simply the English version of Davies; Austin Healey is the only one who does any analysis and he is woefully underused by self-important and self-appointed ‘one of the lads’ John Inverdale.

Didn’t see the France vs Scotland game which should have been a goodone but wasn’t.

I haven’t seen an Ebbw Vale game in what seems like months, but actually was on 17 January. But, weather permitting, there is a run of three successive Saturdays of home games, starting with Swansea in the cup and followed by Cardiff and a local derby (according to the WRU) against Llandovery.

Ebbw have already lost three games to the weather, and with the reluctance nowadays to play two games in the week I can see the season drifting well into May.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shed Notes

The 2009 Shed of the Year competition is looming upon is, and its about time I gave a plug to Uncle Wilco’s website ReaderSheds. Shed week starts on 6 July, and culminates with the award of Shed of the Year.

This years judges include Sarah Beeney and Chris Evans, and I almost swerved off the road when I heard him talk about our own Uncle Wilco on Radio 2 last week.

As well as Readersheds, Wilco also has a Shed blog, a Shed forum and even a sheds group on Flickr. Gloriously barking - he really has too much time on his hands!

Even Ava has been bitten by the shed bug.

Video Notes

A fabulous link to a spoof ad for the latest bit of Sony technology. Picked this up from Stephen Fry’s Twitter page. If you’re into Twitter, my occasional meanderings are here. This link is definitely ‘not safe for work’.

Hospital Notes

Mum continues to be on the mend. She is in good spirits, and has even sent someone to buy a newspaper for her. Her only complaint is that she is a bit bored.

The latest position is that the physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessment are due to start, and that the hospital has made contact with Social Services.

So today mum was transferred to Tredegar General Hospital. A bit nearer home and a shorter trip for me too. The hospital is only 58 beds and specialises in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, so it sounds like she is in the right place.

The last time I was at this hospital was to get stitches after I rearranged my front teeth playing cricket on the day that Charles & Di got married – that was a while ago now.

Snow Notes

Some top photos of the recent snow on String’s Flickr site here. This is one of them, the chapel at Carmel Chapel, Beaufort.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Hoffi Coffi finally has a website. It's And a page on Facebook.

No wonder it's the best coffee shop in the world.

Rugby Notes

The first weekend of Six Nations saw a good win for Wales, a good contest between Ireland and France and England winning a shocker. Watched the Ireland game in full, but only saw Wales on video (OK, Sky+. It’s a bit like saying Hoover when you’ve got a Dyson.)

So roll on this Saturday. Former coach Dick Best thinks that England are staring down the barrel of a good hiding. We can only hope, eh?

Ebbw Vale’s game against the Llanelli Reds at the new Parc y Scarlets has been postponed. It may be rearranged for this coming Friday.

Wales U20s lost up in Scotland, and Dai Langdon has paid the price, being dropped from this week’s team. Another Ebbw player Aaron Coundley has been selected for his first game for Wales U20s. Congratulations.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hospital Notes

It’s been a bit of a weekend.

Rung mum on Saturday afternoon. No answer. Rung again later in the evening. Still no answer. After a third attempt, I got in the car to find out what was up.

Mum was on the floor, having fallen. She was conscious, thank God, but completely unaware of what was going on. From the newspaper on the doormat, it was clear she had been on the floor for some time.

The 999 call got a rapid response guy (‘Dave’) to the house within 5 minutes. An ambulance followed about an hour later; they were all tied up queuing at A&E at Nevill Hall. All of the ambulance people were great, including the operator who did a good job of calming me down. Good work, Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust.

So off to Nevill Hall Hospital. By this time it was around 11pm on Saturday night. Not a great time to go to A&E. Nevertheless, the A&E staff were excellent too, even though they were dealing with a wave of injuries and accidents. X-rays, blood tests, ECGs, the whole nine yards. Mum was put on an IV feed to rehydrate, as we tried to work out what had happened. Eventually (around 6am Sunday morning) when a bed is available in the Emergency Assessment Unit, mum was transferred to a ward.

Hospital staff today confirmed that mum has/had an infection, a common side effect of which is a confused state. But when this started and whether it contributed to the fall isn't clear. It almost certainly contributed to her not being able to get up from her fall. They don't think there was a concussion.

Antibiotics have been pumped in, and today she was lucid, chatty and clear-minded; an enormous step forward from yesterday when Cath and I visited (and which mum has no recollection of). She can't remember anything about the last 3-4 days, and has the vaguest of memories of falling in the kitchen and trying to shuffle into the living room to get up and/or reach the phone.

Today she has been moved from the Emergency Assessment Unit to Ward 4/4. They will continue her on antibiotics for a couple more days, and then start the process of assessing her fitness to go home. Then there will also be a referral to Social Services for them to do an assessment and work out what additional care she needs.

Whilst the hospital has been great in reacting to her admission, I'm more than a little miffed at the lack of action by mum’s GP over the past few weeks. That’s another matter for another day.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Bad Joke of the Week

A Yorkshire man takes his cat to the vet:

Yorkshire man:"Ah've come to see thee abaht me cat."

Vet:"Is it a tom?"

Yorkshire man:"Nay lad, I've browt it wi' me."

Hopefully that won't get me banned from the BBC these PC days.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Snow Notes

Well, the Met Office and the Beeb got their geography a bit off. Yes, snow fell, but there really hasn’t been much around here. Ebbw Vale’s resident blogger Robo reports a couple of feet of drifting snow, but here in Pontypridd the picture (Ynysangharad Park) shows the snow at its height. And I figure that the height got to not more than 4-6 inches.

My sister-in-law reports that they have three feet of snow piled up around their house at the moment, and through the winter, accumulations get measured in yards rather than centimetres! OK, that's Massachusetts, USA, but the world doesn't come to a halt even with that much snow.

I recall as a kid of 14 or so going to school on a Friday morning. It was snowing hard, but first lesson was rugby, so off we trooped to the leisure centre to change and then over to the rugby field by the old grammar school. I have to say that was as cold as it gets (except for standing on Brynmawr square, of course). After an hour of rugby in a blizzard on a completely white pitch, we got back to the leisure centre to find that school was closed.

Another snow remembrance I have is of being out delivering for dad’s shop one Saturday. The snow was so high that for most houses, rather than open the gate I simply walked up the snow drift and over them.

And of course the time when the snow was so high that Beaufort was cut off and dad, our brother and I had to dig our way out the house and walk to the pub! One of my ambitions is to be snowed up in a pub. We can hope.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snow Notes

According to the Met Office, more snow is on the way tonight and tomorrow, hitting hardest the bits in orange on their map.

They say “There is a high risk of a severe weather event affecting parts of the Midlands, the West Country and southern and eastern Wales during Thursday. An area of snow will move in from the south during the early hours of Thursday and will continue through the morning and into the afternoon. There will be accumulations of 2 to 5 cm of snow in general, with 5 to 10 cm likely in places and 20 to 30 cm possible over higher ground. This will cause disruption to travel across the region.”

This will cause disruption to travel across the region? No sh*t Sherlock.

So I suspect it’ll be home-working from the laptop tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Ava's diary

Lots of snow today. Good job today wasn’t a crèche day because dad wouldn’t have been able to get me there.

Dad worked at home while mam looked after me. We all ventured out in the snow for lunch at my second home, Hoffi Coffi. They say I’m like Norm in Cheers, since everyone knows my name there.

Then it was back home for some snow shovelling. Well dad shovelled while I did a bit of sledding and mam threw snowballs. Mostly at dad. Then we then built a snowman, which leads to my question for today…Why are snowmen white?

Hoffi Coffi Notes

Now, there's no place finer to sit and watch the snow than the wonder that s Treforest's Hoffi Coffi, the best coffee shop in the world.

So a quick lunchtime trip through the snow brought this wonderful view: a skinny latte while looking out at the snow outside.

BTW, not a bad pic for a mobile phone, if you ask me.

NFL Notes

Sunday’s Superbowl was the best for several years, with the lead changing twice in the last couple of minutes. As the world knows by now the Pittsburgh Steelers ran out winners over the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

There are plenty of reports on the web, but to my mind the best NFL analyst and damn good read is Peter King of Sports Illustrated. His Monday Morning Quarterback newsletter is required reading.

From my perspective, Arizona hurt themselves with too many penalties (over 100 yards) and of course the killer turnover right on the stroke of half time, which was effectively a 14-point play. On a play at the Steeler goal line, instead of a Warner completion and touchdown it turned into an interception and a 100-yard touchdown the other way. So that’s in excess of 200 yards given away.

Arizona did well to rally in the second half after that, and Larry Fitzgerald did become a playmaker late on with two touchdowns, but ultimately it was the Cards’ inability to put enough pressure on Ben Roethlisberger that cost at the death. Santonio Holnes’ TD catch in the last minute (pictured) was a thing of beauty though, and for that alone he deserved the MVP award.

I managed to stay awake for the first half and watched the second after work on Monday. It’s easy to avoid the result in the UK since very few people follow anything other than soccer.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ava's diary

I had a busy weekend. On Saturday I went with mam to visit nanna Irene while dad and grandpa Frank went to the rugby. On Sunday we went for lunch with mam’s friends Sue and James; I got on very well with their kids Tom and Matty, although Matty’s drums were too loud for me.

I’m crawling well now, so dad had the job of putting up stairgates at the top and bottom of the stairs.

And as for today… Snow! The first I’ve seen. I’m told it snowed the day I came home from hospital, but frankly I wasn’t paying much attention back then. I went outside and was fascinated by the snowflakes.

I went to the doctor this afternoon for some more jabs. Needless to say I didn’t like them very much. The nurse weighed me and I’m now 9.3 kgs, or 21 pounds in old money.

Oh, and dad has put a few more pics of me up on Flickr.

Rugby Notes

Didn’t go to watch Ebbw Vale play Newport at Dave Parade on Saturday. Good decision too. Ebbw duly went down 7-37 and from reports it looks like the score flattered us.

So I was planning a rugby-free weekend until Philly came up with some free tickets to watch the Scarlets play the Barbarians to mark the opening of Parc y Scarlets. The game itself was entertaining in the way that BaaBaas games always are – very little tackling and few scrums; not proper rugby.

The Scarlets ran out 40-24 winners, and I concur with the match report here that put Morgan Stoddart (pictured) was head and shoulders above the rest of the players on the field.

The stadium looks really nice, but the travel arrangements were shocking. The stadium is built on a retail park, so Saturday afternoon games are a traffic nightmare as rugby fans have to compete with shoppers. A park and ride system has been set up, but that was completely shambolic. A queue duly formed for the bus to the stadium, only for the first bus to pull up near the back of the queue. So without anyone marshalling the fans, it became a free-for-all.

The return trip was even worse. Leave right on the final whistle and get onto bus. Bus fills and drivers gets ready to leave. Stewards tell him that he can’t because of the fans leaving on foot. So we sit on the bus for a full 20 minutes before going anywhere. The clear message is that it’s better to take your chances parking near the stadium than to use the park and ride.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Janesy Notes

There’s an underrepresented element of the Janes-Veale household on this blog. And that the Janes bit.

So to in an attempt to rectify that problem, here’s a link to an article that Cath had published in Saturday’s Guardian. It had the whole of the front page of their work section, and is an antidote to next Friday’s Stress Down Day.

If you want to read more there’s a permanent link to her website in the right-hand column.

YouTube Notes

This is a terrific time lapse film of a nine-month-old baby boy playing with his toys and creating chaos. I can completely relate to this, although Ava's crawling now makes it all a bit more structured. And widespread.