Monday, March 30, 2009

Comedy Notes

Cath and I went to see Rhod Gilbert at the Beaufort Ballroom (sorry, Beaufort Theatre) last weekend. Very funny. This YouTube video shows part of his routine, and I’m afraid to say that I can completely empathise with his rants.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

TV Notes

Yes, The Apprentice is back, and the contestants are just as aggravating as usual. Normal Wednesday night service has been resumed. All the background to the new series is here:

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale's losing streak continued at Pontypridd with a 51-12 reversal. The last league win was back in December, and on Saturday’s showing it’s started to get to some of the team.

Poor Kristian Owen playing on the wing was terrorised by the Ponty backs, and probably half a dozen of their nine tries came from breaks down that side of the field.

The full match report is here. It doesn’t make pretty reading. To paraphrase the late, great Byron Denning, it would be best to cover the eyes of small children before clicking through.

Referee Colin Kirkhouse was doing his first game in the Premiership, and whilst he wasn’t perfect, he was far better than many I had the misfortune to see this season. And he ref’ed the game with a smile on his face. Oh, and it was nice to heckle Gareth Simmons running the line once again.

Aaron Bramwell has been in Hong Kong representing Wales in the Sevens, and he scored a try when Wales went down to England.

It doesn’t get any easier as next week Ebbw travel to Neath, a ‘tough ask’ for the fans right now. Easter weekend its Pontypool at home, which I’ll miss as I will be in Tresaith at the caravan.

Team: Andrew McLaughlan, Kristian Owen (capt), Peter Smith, Shaun Powell, Andrew Bevan, Dai Langdon, Llyr Lane; Anthony Lott, Richard Wilkes, Marc Jones; Jonathan Griffiths, Gavin Lucas; James Thomas, Rhys Jenkins, Rhys Williams. Subs: Aaron Coundley, Mathew WIlliams, Will Jones, Nick Eaves, Simon Pengelly, Andrew Williams, Ieuan Coombes.

Scorers: Tries for Richard Wilkes and sub (why was he a sub?) Simon Pengelly; one conversion for Wales U20 Dai Langdon.

My man of the match: Gavin Lucas, for getting some ball for Ebbw by consistenty robing Pontypridd’s lineout, despite the Ponty pack looking twice the size of our boys.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ava's diary

I haven’t posted for a while, as I’ve been ill. Dad’s been too busy looking after me to type up by scribbles.

It all started last Saturday when I was a bit sicky. But otherwise I felt OK and was my usual happy and playful self. Then on Sunday things went downhill. I went in for some serious projectile vomiting and couldn’t keep any food or water down. I had a few trips to the Out of Hours doctor down at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. As suspected, they simply advised mam and dad to give me little sips of water with some elctrolyte powder added to keep me hydrated.

So all I did on Sunday and Monday was sleep and vomit. Day and night.

Tuesday was a lot better, and I even went to crèche on Wednesday morning. But by lunchtime they had sent me home following an enormous bout of diarrhoea. Thursday saw another trip to the doctor, this time to my own GP, Dr Gail. She told dad to collect a sample of my “leavings”, and the results showed that I have the rotavirus - a particularly nasty virus.

Friday I was a lot perkier, so hopefully I’m on the road to recovery. I’ve slept well the last couple of nights and the sudden movements from either end have stopped. Just as well – dad says that he was going to declare the house a bio-hazard.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cricket Notes

I can already hear the sound of leather on willow. Or should I say the sound of leather missing willow, the sound of muscles being pulled combined with the smell of Ralgex just afterwards, the sound of wheezing after 10 minutes bowling in the nets, and lastly (and most painfully) the sound of leather hitting unprotected flesh and not in a nice way.

Oh, summer is just around the corner.

And that means cricket nets for those intrepid members of the Haddocks, competing again in the Cardiff Midweek League. As the club motto goes – aspiring to mediocrity. Knotty, pictured, will help Skips keep the team just out of relegation trouble.

God luck with the season guys, but after a successful retirement last before last season I see no need to go back to the summer game, other than occasionally watching from the boundary.

Monday, March 23, 2009

YouTube Notes

Terrific outtakes from a taping of Sesame Street featuring Ricky Gervais.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ava's diary

I’m doing new stuff all the time.

Last weekend I stayed with nanna Irene and grandpa Frank whilst mam and dad went down to Tresaith to the caravan. I had a great time. I played with all the exhibits at the Swansea Waterfront Museum and then listened to some live music outside. I crawled all around the house, and even started climbing the stairs. Alfie (nanna says it’s a dog, but dad says it’s a cat) has learned to stay out of the way when I’m crawling around.

On Tuesday I went with mam and dad to visit family in Midsomer Norton. Auntie Stella did a great lunch, and I ate roast pork, peas, carrots and gravy. I drew the line at crackling though. The weather was wonderful, and I played in the garden all afternoon.

My new toy is a ball. You can keep your electronic gizmos, my favourite toys are a tin and a wooden spoon and my new ball.

I’m learning new words all the time. This week its “more” and “wawaa” for water. I point to a cup if I’m thirsty, and to my mouth when I’m hungry. Thankfully its pretty obvious when I need my nappy changed!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Time

Happy Five involves listing 5 things you are happy about each day. It can be something as trivial as having a good hair day, or something as exciting as winning the lottery. This exercise promises to fill you with positive and happy thoughts, try it!

Here’s my five for today, so far.

1. Ava gave me a big smile went I went into her bedroom this morning
2. All the kids in crèche were dressed up in loud clothes for Red Nose Day. It looked like an explosion in a paint factory. Ava wore orange T-shirt, green trousers with white spots, pink tights and a blue so’wester!
3. Had the leftovers from last night’s chilli for lunch & it was fab
4. Enjoyed reading a list of accountancy jokes – see post below
5. Its Friday, and after work Cath and I are off to the caravan for the weekend

Accountancy Notes

I was sent these jokes today as part of Red Nose Day.

Three candidates are short listed for the accountant's job. They're all equally excellent, experienced and personable, etc. So the chairman asks each the simple question "what is two and two?"

The first replies "Four"
The second replies "Statistically anything between 3.999 and 4.0111"
The third replies "Well what figure have you got in mind?"

Needless to say, The third guy got the job.

An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor.
"Doctor, I just can't get to sleep at night."
"Have you tried counting sheep?"
"That's the problem - I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it."

The accountant was visiting the Museum of Natural History and said to the person standing next to him, "That dinosaur is two billion years and ten months old."
"How did you get such exact information?"
"I was here ten months ago and the guide said the dinosaur was two billion years old."

Q. What do accountants suffer from that ordinary people don't?
A. Depreciation.

Q. What's the definition of a good tax accountant?
A. Someone who has a loophole named after him.

Q. What do accountants use for contraception?
A. Their personalities.

Ava's Diary

The other day I heard the Children’s Commissioner for Wales talking about answers he was given when he asked children, “So, what do you want adults to do for you?”

They replied:
Recycle - we need to save the environment
Drive slower - keep us safe as passengers and pedastrians
Be nicer to each other - stop arguing and fighting
Be nicer to us!

See, we clearly have all the right answers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TV Notes

Bookaboo is a new TV series for kids on ITV. It features a rock drummer puppy who needs a book to be read to him before he can go on stage. “A story a day or I just can’t play” is his motto.

It’s a modern take on Jackanory, but its great fun. Ava likes and I do too!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale played in Llanelli tonight, and lost 13-35. I didn't go, but first reports suggest that it was a better performance than on Saturday. I don't think they could have been any worse though.

I didn't go, and I suspect it was a skeleton support travelling down to Parc y Scarlets.

There's a two week layoff while the Six Nations is completed before the rearranged trip to Pontypridd on 28 March.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Rugby Notes

I can’t find a lot of positive stuff to say about Ebbw Vale’s 3-27 loss at home to Llandovery on Saturday.

EyeJay’s blog report on The Steel Daffodil gives a fair reflection, as does the official Ebbw Vale website.

My take? Shockingly poorly organised, low morale, woeful effort. A complete turnaround from all the good work of the week before. Llandovery were gifted an interception try and another from a wayward lineout 5 yeards from our own line.

Our 9th place in the table belies our poor run of results since Christmas. It’s just a good job that its only one team down (via a playoff) and that Pontypool are 16 points behind with just 8 games to go.

For the first time in my life, and that’s 34 years of watching Ebbw Vale, I left before the end, although the fact that Ava was with me and she wasn’t enjoying the rain influenced that. By all accounts I didn’t miss anything though.

Roy Lewis’ wisdom shines through in his review when he says “all we ask is for the spirit and endeavour shown against Cardiff to return.” And on the subject much debated at the game and on the forum afterwards, I agree that “we shout FOR the Steelmen, not at them.”

A lot of what Ebbw is up against right now is summed up with these comments posted on the forum:

“Extremely disappointing though yesterday was, and it was, we all need to remember that the club is in a transitional stage.

“We have lost the following players from last year's squad: Ian George, Neil Edwards, Will Thomas, John Bowd, Neil Aioni, John McPhail, Simon Hunt, Brian Shelbourne & (virtually) Will Jones & Robert Lewis & you don't replace players of that calibre overnight - it takes time (& unfortunately money), & we haven't replaced them yet.

“Furthermore, we lost our headcoach in season, then his replacement & we have lost James Thomas, Aaron Coundley, Rhys Jenkins, & Dai Langdon to U20 calls.

“At times we have had 13 players 22 & under on the park.

“We clearly have a vaccuum when it comes to a senior player group, but the club is working on that.

“It is Mat McCarthy's 1st season with the club, and to be honest the fact that he is still looking forward to a good end of season run in & to next season, speaks volumes for his resolve. It is a new club to Mat, - he does not have geographical or family attachments which some of us have that go back generations.

“In recent weeks their training program has been severely restricted by the weather - including no training for 2 weeks - the playing program is disrupted by the 6Nations - & it shows. “So what do we do.......we deal with it.

“Rugby is cyclical & we support the team through these bad times. That is not to say they are beyond criticism for they are not & if approached will take it on the chin. But they should not, EVER, be subject to personal abuse.

“There are some very good players in the team which the club will want to retain, and I know that some of those players are attracted to EV because they find it a friendly environment....they could get more money elsewhere. If it becomes an environment of hostility then even the good ones will not want to stay.....& those 'supporters' responsible for driving them away should hang their heads in shame.”

Team: Andrew McLaughlan, Ieuan Coombes, Kristian Owen (c), Shaun Powell, James Lewis; Aaron Bramwell, Llyr Lane; Anthony Lott, Mathew Williams, Marc Jones; Jonathan Griffiths, Nick Eaves; Morgan Allen, Jamie Ringer, Gavin Lucas. Subs: Jamie Davies, Richard Wilkes, Craig Jones, Simon Pengelley, Ieuan Evans, Andrew Williams, Oliver Halford.

Scorers: a solitary Aaron Bramwell penalty (which ironically, was a longer kick than the two he missed to deny Ebbw a win the week before).

My man of the match: Nobody stood out, but at a push I’ll give it to Andrew McLaughlan, who sometimes looked like Canute trying to keep back the tide.

Hoover Notes

I guess the beginning of the end was the ill-fated ‘buy a Hoover and get a free airplane ticket to the USA’ marketing fiasco. It wasn’t helped by being the manufacturing base for Sir Clive Sinclair’s C5 ‘car’.

Those two things didn’t help the Hoover brand, and the inevitable globalisation of trade pretty much meant that the day would come when Hoover in Merthyr Tydfil would be no more. It’s going to close at the end of the week.

The brand has entered the language as the word to describe vacuuming - to hoover.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sprout Notes

Uncle Wilco has a new dog. Sprout. He’s a rehomed Dogs trust hound.

And Sprout has a blog. Follows his adventures at

Work Notes

The building I work in was featured on BBC Wales’ Dragon’s Eye TV programme last night. A 'furore' has blown up over apparently leaked plans for the Welsh Assembly Government to spend £42 million on the refurbishment of its main offices in Cathays Park.

This is just one of our 85 buildings across Wales and the world, but was described on TV last night as the biggest office block in Wales, as it houses more than 3,000 staff.

As the Beeb’s Betsan Powys says on her blog, the figures were reported to the Board back in December and are widely available to the world on WAG’s website. I don’t know any more detail than that report, but if anyone is in doubt of the need for at least some refurbishment needs to come and visit the office I work in, a windowless, soulless room more akin to a cave than an opulent office.

Here’s a link to the story on BBC news.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ava's diary

On Friday we celebrated St David’s Day in crèche (a bit early), and everyone dressed in red. And next week we get to dress up for Red Nose Day.

Wales played on Friday night. Now Wales have never lost in the 6 Nations when I’ve sat on dad’s lap, but on Friday the gem was after my bedtime. So I was disappointed to be told first thing on Saturday that Wales lost in Paris. See… they don’t think about small children when scheduling rugby nowadays.

So to get my rugby fix I went with dad on Saturday to watch Ebbw Vale play Cardiff. It was cold but I enjoyed watching the game and the people in the crowd. The only time I cried was when dad shouted at the referee. But as dad explained – if he doesn’t tell the ref what he did wrong how is he going to learn?

For the next couple of weeks, I’m a guinea pig. Mam has ‘volunteered’ me to test drive some prams and buggies for a friend who writes in one of the Mother & Baby magazines. The first one arrived today (a Babyjogger), and after dad assembled it I had a ride around the house in it. Very nice too.

So two things are guaranteed. One – plenty of buggy rides for me over the next few weeks. Two – it’ll rain every day!

Rugby Notes

Another reason why rugby will always be better than soccer...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hospital Notes

Progress report...

The current plan is for mum to be discharged from hospital on Wednesday. There will be a period of getting back to normal where Social Services will keep an eye on her – not that mum is too keen on that!

The physiotherapy has worked well in Tredegar Hospital, and that will continue at home as well. The physio must be doing her job; mum’s been aching afterwards.

I’m sure that mum will be happy to be back home after three weeks in Nevill Hall and then Tredegar.

Twitter Notes

The new hot communication medium is Twitter. I’m on it, and many others besides are.

The leading celeb use and self-confessed tech geek Stephen Fry. This article on his website gives a good background to the phenomenon.

His Twitter site is and, unsurprisingly, mine is There’s a list of my twitterings on the right column on this page.

Pie Notes

Did you know that it’s British Pie Week? Me neither.

Now then, favourites. For me, it has to be steak and ale, beef and Guinness (O’Neills does a nice one) or such has to tops, but a good chicken and leek is hard to beat.

YouTube Notes

A video from which perfectly demonstrates why rugby is so much better than soccer. Warning: contains scenes of soccer 'players' falling over for no reason.

Rugby Notes

This is the guy who has been responsible for boosting the number of blog hits I have had from Down Under in recent years.

Now New Zealander Marty Veale (see how this works?) has been signed by Wasps until the end of the season.

The 31 year old second row has had a varied and wide-ranging club career, playing in the NPC with Canterbury and North Harbour, two years with Japanese side Kubota, a spell in America with New York Old Blues and most recently a season with Northland in the Air New Zealand Cup.

"I've been to London a couple times before and had seen Wasps play a few games so I had an idea of what the club was about and knew about their past achievements and how highly regarded they are as a club," he said.

"The players here work hard in the gym and it pays off with results on the field. I tend to come from a background where you don't spend as much time in the gym but work more on skills and set phases so coming into this environment is a new challenge - but one that clearly pays off when you see the success the club has had over the last decade. I am looking forward to getting some game time and I hope to help the team get a few results, climb up the ladder a bit and aim for a place in the play-offs where anything can happen from there."

Clearly when rugby skills were being handed out in the Veale world, most of them went Down Under. I had to make do with propping for East London Uni thirds and the Beaufort Arms. And frankly I wasn't even up to those standards.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale played far better than last week, but just went down to the evil empire Cardiff 13-15. Some very good performances, but the tendency to be turned over in the tackle is something they are going to have to work on.

The pack played well as a collective unit, but a couple of wayward lineout throws from Richard Wilkes cost us dearly. Rob Lewis looked bright and distributed well, Shaun Powell was busy again, but I feel that there should be room in the team for Andrew McLaughlan, and I’m not convinced that Aaron Bramwell’s best position is at full back.

Despite leading for most of the game, a couple of missed kicks, range rather than direction, meant that Ebbw failed to get more than a score clear, and it was almost inevitable that Cardiff would get the last minute try to win it.

A couple of bizarre incidents to report.

Firstly Lee Jarvis, Cardiff outside half and self-appointed second ref, kicks a penalty to touch from yards in front of the mark. The ref calls the play back. And then proceeds to give Jarvis a second go. As several people in the crowd pointed out, there’s no rule in rugby for a mulligan. So instead of an Ebbw scrum at midfield it’s a Cardiff lineout near our line, which eventually cost us 3 points.

Secondly, a solid tackle from Rob Lewis led to Cardiff’s scrum half being dumped on the ground. The ref, perfectly positioned plays on and eventually awards an Ebbw penalty for Cardiff holding on. The touch judge comes on and the penalty is awarded to Cardiff for a spear tackle, which it was not, and the ref didn’t think so either initially. Jamie Ringer points this out to the ref and is given a yellow card for dissent. This is in marked contrast to the endless backchat and challenge to decisions by Jarvis, the scrum half and numerous others in the Cardiff ranks whenever a call didn’t go their way. Inconsistent to put it mildly. As a wag on the bank pointed out when Jarvis was substituted “who’s going to ref the game now?”

Also a fight which consisted of an Ebbw guy being pinned to the floor for a minute of more, despite the attempted intervention of a touch judge, was deemed 50/50 and unworthy of a penalty. Curious.

The Ebbw Vale RFC website has a report on the game. The unnamed Wales on Sunday ‘reporter’ was watching a different game.

Next week we host Llandovery in the third of an unusual string of home games. We’re due a win and on this week’s form continues I reckon we’ve got a good chance.

Team: Aaron Bramwell, Andrew Bevan, Kris Owen (c), Shaum Powell, James Lewis, Andrew Williams, Rob Lewis; Anthony Lott, Matthew Williams, Marc Jones, Gavin Lucas, Nick Eaves, Jonathan Griffiths, Rhys Williams, Jamie Ringer

Scorers: try for substitute hooker Richard Wilkes, a conversion and two penalties for Aaron Bramwell.

My man of the match: Anthony ‘Vinny’ Lott for a great performance at prop, and for showing up out wide to sell wing Craig Morgan one of the best dummies of the season. A champagne moment.