Wednesday, July 29, 2009

YouTube Notes

A video complaint from a guy who had his guitar trashed by United Airlines.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ava's Diary

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Dad was away at school for a whole week, and I was very grizzly and off my food. I missed my dad.

The next week was a treat though. I went with mam, dad, nanna and grandpa to France. A friend of mam’s lent us their lovely cottage in rural Brittany for a week.

It was my first flight. The people at the airport and on the plane were very nice to me. I didn’t have a seat of my own though; I had to sit on dad’s lap for the whole journey. My seat belt was linked to dad’s, and my teddy bear was tucked into my seat belt.

I waved at the trees and houses as we took off, and at the clouds as we got higher. I had a great time.

At the cottage, I had a great time exploring, and climbing the stairs. Only once I tried to launch myself off the top step – dad was coming up the stairs and I decided to go and meet him half way. He caught me as I fell! Phew!

We had some great day trips. We went to Mont St-Michel (not exactly pushchair friendly), Dol-de-Bretagne on market day, the seaside town of Dinard, and the medieval town of Dinan. My favourite trips though were to the beach. I loved the enormous beach at St Lunaire (in the picture) and the tiny one on the Rance estuary at Pleudheim. There I met Sally the Seal, who was snoozing at the water’s edge in the late afternoon sun. I liked the beach so much I threw that I never wanted to leave; I’ve never owned a ‘wobbly’, but dad reckoned I threw one!

But my favourite animals on the trip were the cows in the field next to the cottage. Grandpa took me over the see them every day. The farmer also had a lovely red tractor, which I waved at all the time.

I loved all the attention as we went around the supermarket, but I couldn’t understand a word that any of the locals said to me. But neither could mam or dad! There are lots of holiday snaps from France on dad's Flickr site.

Then last weekend we went down to our caravan at Tresaith. We were lucky with the weather, it only seemed to rain when we were all tucked up in bed. We went to the National Trust gardens at Llanerchaeron, and dad sobbed as he had to buy me my first proper kid’s meal – I usually just get a bit of everyone else’s meal. But no – I had a ham sandwich, a juice box, a piece of cake and some raisins. And I scoffed the lot.

Then on Sunday we went to Cardigan Island Farm Park, where I played on the swings and with the toys and puzzles.

I tell you, I was glad to get back to normal this week.

Probation Notes

It’s almost D-Day for the four existing probation areas in Wales to bid to join forces as an all-Wales Probation Trust. Closing date for the bid is next week.

If the application succeeds, an all-Wales Trust will be established with effect from 1 April 2010. If it isn’t, then plan B is some combination of mergers and/or stand alone probation trusts (I reckon there are 11 permutations: 3 + 1, 2 + 2, 2 + 1 +1, etc.).

The financial arguments for a single trust for Wales appear to be overwhelming; we’ll have to wait until September to see if the argument is won.

A by-product of the merger will be that there will be one Board instead of four, and so I would have to apply afresh to be a non-executive member of the new organisation.
There’s lots of interesting information on trust mergers and more on the Probation Association website.

Health Notes

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had news of a friend and a colleague who have both been diagnosed with cancer.

My best wishes and hopes for a full recovery go out to both of you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

University Notes

One of the nicest parts of being a governor at the University of Glamorgan is that you get to see the fruits of the University’s labour. Graduation Day.

So last week I had the chance to see the business and technology graduation ceremony. At the ceremony Dr Lyn Evans (“Lyn the Atom”) received an honorary doctorate.

I was very fortunate to have lunch with him beforehand. He struck me as being a quiet man who finds all the publicity surrounding his work with the Large Hydron Collider at CERN rather bewildering. He chatted about the demise of Physics as an A level subject in Wales and rubbished the science behind Angels and Demons which is set at CERN. He was very nice about Tom Hanks though.

The University’s press release on the day is here, and Lyn’s wildly impressive biog is here. As he says himself, “not bad for a bloke from Aberdare”.

Rugby Notes

I know that I slag off soccer for being a year round sport. (The European Cup final was only a few weeks ago and Rhyl have already been knocked out of this year's competition.)

But I need my rugby fix to sustain me. Now that the terrific Lions tour has ended, attention will switch to the Tri Nations (Sky Sports, Saturday mornings, Sky+).

It'll keep me going until the real rugby starts. Beginning with Ebbw Vale's home friendly against Barking on 8 August. Keep up to date with all of Ebbw's fixtures and team news on the 'new, best-ever' website at

Marmite Notes

To help support England in this season's Ashes struggle (and to make a couple of quid for themselves), Marmite have now brought out a limited edition version flavoured with Marston's Pedigree bitter.

I snagged myself a year's supply (i.e. one jar) in Tescos last week. Love it or hate it... I love it.

Travel Notes

Spent today at a meeting in Millbank Tower in London. Lunchtime sarnies were enjoyed with this view from the 26th floor - Westminster, the London Eye, St Pauls and the Gherkin were all part of one of the best panoramic views in the city.

This isn't my photo (thanks Flickr). The sky wasn't this colour; it threw it down all day. From up there the thronging mass of tourists looked like ants. Wet ants.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TV Notes

Here at chez Veale we have been hooked on Torchwood.

Shown on BBC 1 over five nights last week, I thought it was some of the best British-made TV in a long time.

With death and destruction, and a very dark feel to the show, its far more grown up that Docrtor Who. I won’t spoil it for anyone who missed it, but to those I’d say – rush over to BBC iPlayer and watch it now!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Travel Notes II

Quiet roads - what an surprise. A very pleasant one.

In a week of driving around Brittany, the closest I came to a traffic jam was a five car queue at 5pm on Friday. The major motorways and dual carriageways were light on traffic; the back roads almost deserted.

Travel Notes

What a joy it was to use Exeter Airport.

It is unrecognisable when compared to the soul-crushing pit of despair that is Heathrow. Walk to the terminal from the car park, no queue at check-in, no queue at security. OK, the cafe was interestingly priced, but at least the food was good. Gentle stroll to departure lounge, gentle stroll to the plane.

Why more airlines don’t use regional airports and avoid Heathrow and Gatwick is a mystery to me.

Cricket Notes

Cardiff has been awash with cricket fans these past few days. There are tents in Pontcanna fileds and Bute Park, and plenty of drunken Aussies and Brits wandering around.

I didn’t apply for tickets for the game, I didn't have the time - so I've had do with the daily highlights on five. But the cricket’s been good. The bat has dominated the ball, and Ponting, Katich, Haddin and North (pictured) all deserved their centuries – the first time ever in an Ashes match that four Aussies got 100s in the same inning.

Its been quite subdued, as though England are playing for the draw. There may be a little spice today if Australia think they can get a win. And that’s when sledging comes into its own.

That’s just an excuse to post a few sledges I saw in the newspaper the other day...

  • Heckler to Phil Tufnell: “Can I borrow your brain? I’m building an idiot.”
  • And a few from Merv Hughes: “Mate, if you just turn the bat over you’ll find the instructions on the back.”
  • And: “Does your husband play cricket as well?”