Monday, August 31, 2009

Bear Notes


Here's a great story.

Ava has become very attached to her Bedtime Bear; he’s her favourite and the one she has to take to bed each night. I’ve heard horror stories of how upset some kids get when their favourite toy disappears, so I started searching online to get a spare bear.

Having failed to find him online, I contacted the manufacturers directly. I found an email address on their website, and asked if they still made Bedtime Bear. They told me that the range was discontinued, but they had a slightly larger one, the last one, if I wanted it. I asked if I could buy it, but instead they sent it to me free of charge with a nice note. Now that’s what I call customer service.

Thanks Aurora World soft toys.

Friday, August 28, 2009

IT Notes

Rather than the usual 404 error messages that come up when an internet page can't be found,
this website has some clever pages that have been developed. Who says programmers don't have a sense of humour?

Old Jokes Home

Its Edinburgh Festival season, and the best (and worst) comedian's are trying out their new material. Here's a selection:

Have you heard about the dyslexic alcoholic? He choked on his own Vimto.

I’ve just been attacked by an agoraphobic skinhead. He said: "Oi you! Inside."

How do you kill an entire circus? Go for the juggler.

I had a ploughman’s lunch the other day. He was well annoyed.

What do Mexicans put under their carpet? Underlay, underlay.

What do you call a cat who eats a duck? A duck-filled-fatty-puss.

Rugby Notes

Its almost here.

The new rugby season is almost upon us. Hopes run high amongst Ebbw Vale fans after a busy off-season of recruiting.

The season kicks off with a tricky trip to Glamorgan Wanderers tomorrow. Ebbw Vale give debut starts to seven players for the visit to the Ely Memorial Ground. The Steelmen are led by new club captain Andrew Jenkins (pictured) and include Wales IRB 7s star Nick Wakley and Cambridge Blue Will Jones. The experienced Gareth Bowen takes the pivot role.

The team is: Gareth James, Andrew Bevan, Nick Wakley, Shaun Powell, Lyndon Johnson; Gareth Bowen, Andrew Jenkins (c); Matthew Jefferies, Mathew Williams, Alex Murphy; Nick Eaves, Will Jones; Chris Jenkins, Rhys Jenkins, Rhys Williams. Subs: Dale Powell, Marc Jones, James Thomas, Matthew Amos, Neil Wilcox, Nathan Jones, Mark Lewis.

I won’t be there mind you. It’s a birthday party for one of Ava’s friends followed by a long weekend down at the caravan in Tresaith. I’ll have to save my debut for next Saturday’s home game against Cardiff.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Broadband Notes

Normal services has been resumed and we once more have a phone line and broadband at chez Veale Janes.

It seems as though RCT guys put a spade through the phone lines on Monday whilst installing new street lights in our street. When the BT landline goes dead, you have to ring BT to report the fault and listen to a recorded threat that says if you haven't checked that the fault isn't in the house then they will send the boys round (or words to that effect).

So having done all the internal checks and discovered that, yes, the fault is out there somewhere in BT-land, BT's system is pretty good.

The land number was diverted to Janesy's mobile, and regular text messages were sent to keep us posted on the repair. It took a couple of days, but at least we're back to normal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Travel Notes

Plans for a gentle weekend, a bit a rugby, catching up with friends and family.

As always though, that turns into another marathon drive around South Wales. I clocked up 200 miles whilst doing very little. Good job we didn't plan to go far!

Two trip to Ebbw Vale (one for rugby, one for a curry) on Saturday and then Sunday's family get together down the other side of Newport.

Travel Notes II

And another thing.

The M4 between Cardiff and Newport is now the most soul-destroying stretch of road in the country. It's got an almost continual 50mph speed restriction, mile after mile of cones, endless speed (sorry, safety) cameras, and not a single workman in sight. Traffic jams on a Sunday morning.

Great way to encourage tourism, people.

Family Notes

Our brother and his family have just returned to the US after vacationing in sunny Newport. Robert and Emma have been staying with their grandparents for almost a month, and Tony and Heather were over for 10 days.

As usual, didn’t get to spend enough time with them. We had a nice evening out at the Maenllwyd Inn in Rudry, a Ebbw get together at the Tara Mahal on Saturday night and a big family get together at the Groes Wen in Penhow on Sunday.

We also managed to spend a day with Robert and Emma before their parents arrived. We went to the Dr Who exhibition and Techniquest down in Cardiff Bay. The guys had lots of fun looking after Ava, and Robert volunteered to babysit whenever we visit.

We’ll have to try and visit next year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nature Notes

Sunday afternoon finished with a visit to the Newport Wetlands.

I didn’t know that the place existed, but I sure it will become a regular haunt of ours. Lots of paths to walk through the wetlands, a play area, and somewhere to sit with a coffee and watch the birds. Wonderful.

Film Notes

Watched The Wrestler on Sky Box Office on the weekend. Thoroughly entertaining, with the lad Mickey Rourke playing a blinder. No wonder won a Golden Globe for his role. Without him it would have been just another aging-pro-down-on-his-luck film.

Another top film I watched in the last couple of weeks is Frost/Nixon. Michael Sheen seems to have cornered the market in playing real life characters. He played Tony Blair in The Queen, Brian Clough in The Damned United and now David Frost. Frank Langella plays a wonderful Richard Nixon, steals the film and well deserved his Oscar nomination.

I reckon the last time Cath and I actually went to the pictures was back in May to see State of Play with Russell Crowe and Ben Badflick. Top film too.

Rugby Notes

Ebbw Vale took on Barking in the first pre-season friendly last Saturday. Nothing friendly about it though.

Plenty of fire and quite a bit of fisticuffs too. Some encouraging signs, but any team coached by Alex Codling is going to be useful and Barking were no exception. Their big pack bested Ebbw, and some late livewire tries meant that Ebbw went down 7-20.

The cricket still have use of Eugene Cross Park, so Brynmawr school’s pitch was used instead. Really good facilities, far better than I remember from my school days. REL’s take on the day is here.

As usual, thanks to Graham for his pictures that I pinch for my Ebbw rugby posts. His gallery is here.

Next Saturday is the second pre-season friendly, down at Bonymaen, just round the corner from the in-laws. Needless to say, I’ll be there.

As the season proper, the fixtures have finally been announced. First game is down at Glamorgan Wanderers (they of the ‘passive’ scrums) on Bank Holiday weekend. The end of season sees a new playoff between the top eight teams in the Premiership. Don’t quite know what the point of it is.

This season will also see the first British and Irish Cup. The top six teams from last season’s Premiership will take part, further messing up the fixture list. I don’t object to the Cup, but the fact that the qualification criteria weren’t established until part way through last season was a bit iffy, to say the least.

TV Notes

Following the demise of Setanta, ESPN America has continued to be available on the Sky platform. Its now part of the ESPN package, newly established to provide the soccer coverage that it bought when Setanta went to the wall.

The coverage is still the same, lots of baseball and college football due soon, supported by ESPN’s American magazine programmes and a bunch of obscure stuff like Major League Lacrosse. ESPN will have almost wall-to-wall soccer, but will carry French league rugby.

No NFL coverage on the horizon either, with word being that Sky Sports has all the NFL rights in the UK. So that probably means no NFL on five either.

On the bright side, the ESPN package only costs and extra £9 a month, when before I was paying £15 for NASN.

Probation Notes

Some welcome good publicity for probation’s work in south Wales from a couple of weeks ago. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, went to visit a Community Payback (Community Service in old money) scheme in Fairwater. And had some nice things to say.

The South Wales Andrex’s coverage is here.