Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Foodie Notes

Now, this is how to write a restaurant review. Kudos to Pete Wells of the New York Times for applying to a well-deserved show to the backside of a Times Square celebrity-chef eatery.
As Not Seen On TV
GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square? Have you pulled up one of the 500 seats at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar and ordered a meal? Did you eat the food? Did it live up to your expectations?
Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex? When you saw the burger described as “Guy’s Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,” did your mind touch the void for a minute?
Did you notice that the menu was an unreliable predictor of what actually came to the table? Were the “bourbon butter crunch chips” missing from your Almond Joy cocktail, too? Was your deep-fried “boulder” of ice cream the size of a standard scoop?
What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniature croutons makes Guy’s Famous Big Bite Caesar (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy’s, in any meaningful sense?
Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are? If you hadn’t come up with the recipe yourself, would you ever guess that the shiny tissue of breading that exudes grease onto the plate contains either pretzels or smoked almonds? Did you discern any buttermilk or brine in the white meat, or did you think it tasted like chewy air?
Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret — a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers — called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?
When you have a second, Mr. Fieri, would you see what happened to the black bean and roasted squash soup we ordered?
Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?
At your five Johnny Garlic’s restaurants in California, if servers arrive with main courses and find that the appetizers haven’t been cleared yet, do they try to find space for the new plates next to the dirty ones? Or does that just happen in Times Square, where people are used to crowding?
If a customer shows up with a reservation at one of your two Tex Wasabi’s outlets, and the rest of the party has already been seated, does the host say, “Why don’t you have a look around and see if you can find them?” and point in the general direction of about 200 seats?
What is going on at this new restaurant of yours, really?
Has anyone ever told you that your high-wattage passion for no-collar American food makes you television’s answer to Calvin Trillin, if Mr. Trillin bleached his hair, drove a Camaro and drank Boozy Creamsicles? When you cruise around the country for your show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” rasping out slangy odes to the unfancy places where Americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it?
Or is it all an act? Is that why the kind of cooking you celebrate on television is treated with so little respect at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar?
How, for example, did Rhode Island’s supremely unhealthy and awesomely good fried calamari — dressed with garlic butter and pickled hot peppers — end up in your restaurant as a plate of pale, unsalted squid rings next to a dish of sweet mayonnaise with a distant rumor of spice?
How did Louisiana’s blackened, Cajun-spiced treatment turn into the ghostly nubs of unblackened, unspiced white meat in your Cajun Chicken Alfredo?
How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable? Why augment tortilla chips with fried lasagna noodles that taste like nothing except oil? Why not bury those chips under a properly hot and filling layer of melted cheese and jalapeƱos instead of dribbling them with thin needles of pepperoni and cold gray clots of ground turkey?
By the way, would you let our server know that when we asked for chai, he brought us a cup of hot water?
When you hung that sign by the entrance that says, WELCOME TO FLAVOR TOWN!, were you just messing with our heads?
Does this make it sound as if everything at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar is inedible? I didn’t say that, did I?
Tell me, though, why does your kitchen sabotage even its more appealing main courses with ruinous sides and sauces? Why stifle a pretty good bison meatloaf in a sugary brown glaze with no undertow of acid or spice? Why send a serviceable herb-stuffed rotisserie chicken to the table in the company of your insipid Rice-a-Roni variant?
Why undermine a big fist of slow-roasted pork shank, which might fly in many downtown restaurants if the General Tso’s-style sauce were a notch less sweet, with randomly shaped scraps of carrot that combine a tough, nearly raw crunch with the deadened, overcooked taste of school cafeteria vegetables?
Is this how you roll in Flavor Town?
Somewhere within the yawning, three-level interior of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, is there a long refrigerated tunnel that servers have to pass through to make sure that the French fries, already limp and oil-sogged, are also served cold?
What accounts for the vast difference between the Donkey Sauce recipe you’ve published and the Donkey Sauce in your restaurant? Why has the hearty, rustic appeal of roasted-garlic mayonnaise been replaced by something that tastes like Miracle Whip with minced raw garlic?
And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?
Is the entire restaurant a very expensive piece of conceptual art? Is the shapeless, structureless baked alaska that droops and slumps and collapses while you eat it, or don’t eat it, supposed to be a representation in sugar and eggs of the experience of going insane?
Why did the toasted marshmallow taste like fish?
Did you finish that blue drink?
Oh, and we never got our Vegas fries; would you mind telling the kitchen that we don’t need them?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Blog Notes

World's worst directions
A top blog here. This is what the tinterweb is for. Pointless but very funny takes on the useless and overblown self-importance of the everyday world. So every photo is the World's best/worst...

Music Notes

MTV. How do they manage to fill 100 music TV channels with just 6 songs. At any time of the day or night you surf up and down the music channels and find at least one song by Rhianna, Beyonce or Lady GaGa.

Its programming by chimps. 

And how am I supposed to explain to my daughter that you don't have to take off most of your clothes to be a singer?

Baseball Notes

Watching the baseball wildcard game between St Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves. Always thought that adding a second wildcard to each division was a crazy idea, especially since there it is a single game to decide who advances.

And tonight's game is a great example of why, after 162 games to qualify, it is madness to have a single game decider. Simply put, bad officiating. "Blue" made a terrible call on an infield fly in the 8th inning, and the crowd went nuts. Cue 15 minute delay and huge embarrassment for MLB. And the Braves duly not beaten.

As the rest of the post-season, well there's no Boston Red Sox. New manager Bobby Valentine duly got his cards after a single, dismal season. So as usual its a matter of supporting anyone but the evil empire Yankees. 

Best story this season has been the Washington Nationals, after a string of poor seasons they have won the NL East and are generally regarded as having the best rotation in baseball. But they have to play the Cardinals first up.

Travel Notes

The world needs to stop for a moment. 

I reckon I've actually spent three full days at my normal office in the past month. As well as the usual weekly trips to Aberystwyth, there have been meetings in Llandudno, Shrewsbury, Swansea, Resolven, Llandovery, Nantgarw and Garwnant. Oh, and on Monday its Birmingham.

Worst moment? Trawling Llandudno on an out-of-season Monday evening during a torrential downpour trying to find somewhere to eat.

Best? Had a meeting at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday, and was able to have lunch sitting in the President's Box and look out over three guys mow the hallowed turf.

NFL Notes

Just a few weeks to go before the NFL comes to Britain. Yep, I've got my ticket for the New England Patriots game "at" the St Louis Rams at Wembley.

Before the season started it seemed as though this could be a blow-out, but the Pats have shown themselves to be fallible, and the Rams are off to a 3-2 start.

Saw the Saints Chargers game four years ago, and that was good fun, even though some in crowd seemed oblivious to the rules.

My fantasy football team, the Ebbw Vales Steelers,  is off to a 4-0 start, mostly due to Falcons Matty Ryan and Julio Jones, and running backs Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles. Don't think the Atlanta wave is going to last too long, but enjoying it so far. http://football.fantasysports.yahoo.com/f1/863069

Friday, October 05, 2012

Rugby Notes

Top result last Saturday. Ebbw Vale beat Newbridge 37-7. It was a poor effort from Newbridge, the only team to do the double on Ebbw last season.

This from the South Wales Andrex:

Ebbw Vale and Newbridge met at Eugene Cross Park each seeking a fifth successive win, with the home side boosting a try count of 30 in only four fixtures.

The visitors had been no slouches in their quartet of games, crossing 18 times, and the game was expected to be a close encounter.
However, that’s not the way matters panned out as Ebbw Vale’s try-scoring exploits continued, no fewer than five being recorded in a fine 37-7 success which takes them above Bargoed.
Ebbw Vale head coach Neil Edwards expressed his delight at the success: “It was a good performance once we got going and we are obviously very pleased with the result.
“We started OK, but took a while to really get going and we had to react because there was a lot of pressure on us to get the win.
“We have a good squad here and matters are going well at the moment, but no-one here is getting carried away at all.
“We now need to kick on from here because there are some very difficult challenges ahead for us.”
Newbridge team manager Darryl Williams was gracious in defeat and revealed his side had deserved to lose.
“We made too many mistakes while they were very clinical in their finishing,” he continued.
“However, we now have another derby on Saturday and a game against Pontypool gives us an opportunity to bounce back.”
Scoring five-pointers for Ebbw Vale were number eight and skipper Ronny Keynes, wingers Tom Ashmead and Wes Cuncliffe, centre John Lewis and replacement scrum-half Josh Davies.
Outside-half Dan Haymond kicked three conversions and a penalty and Lewis landed a penalty, while Newbridge had one moment of glory a minute after the interval, when former Ebbw Vale scrum-half Tom Edwards charged down a Haymond clearance for a try which stand-off Neil Burnett converted.
Next up is a trip to Blackwood.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ava's Diary

Told my first joke today.

Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the moo-vies.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rugby Notes

Wasn't at last weekend's Ebbw Vale game, as the weather was too good to turn down a last fling of summer down in sunny West Wales.

Sounds like it was another impresive performance though, with Ebbw beating Pontypool 55-8, nine tries to one.

Fellow blogger/accountant EyeJay was there, and so there are reports on his blog and on the EVRFC website:

Next Saturday is another Gwent derby, this time featuring Newbridge's visit to Eugene Cross Park.

Twitter Notes

Now, I'm down with the technology. I've been known to Twitter and FB, and of course blog.

But sometimes all this social media can bite you in the bum. And that's what happened to Waitrose last week. They were trying to generate some interest with the post "I shop at Waitrose because.." They should have known what was coming.

Some of the best responses included:

"I shop at Waitrose because I don't like being surrounded by poor people."
"I shop at Waitrose because Clarissa's pony just will not eat ASDA value straw."
"I shop at Waitrose because the toilet paper is made from 24ct gold thread."
"I shop at Waitrose because darling, Harrods is just too much of a trek mid-week."
"I shop at Waitrose because I was once in the Holloway Road branch and heard a dad say 'Put the papaya down, Orlando!'"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rugby Notes

Another good win down at Tata Steel last Saturday. A 36-14 win, but without the winning bonus point, was a good result given the shocking refereeing display that meant that Ebbw saw three yellow cards. One was well deserved (spear tackle, albeit instinctive), one was for retaliation and the third for not committing a foul at all. 

So, despite 14 points from a possible 15, Ebbw drop to third in the table. Pontypool home is next up. This report from the EVRFC website:

Ebbw emerged as comfortable victors in this tough clash between reigning champions of Division Ones West and East. Playing on a table top surface, Ebbw always looked in control and put Tata under a huge amount of pressure, reflected in a penalty count of 16 to 10. Yet referee Mr. Morgan of Swansea saw fit to brandish three yellow cards to Ebbw and just one to Tata. Dan Haymond's immaculate kicking, the power of Spencer Gibson and Polu Uhi, and the excellence of flankers Cameron Reagan and Ronny Kynes represented the difference between the sides, while Ashley Sweet was prominent in tight and loose play. 

Gibson got the Steelmen's first try when he took a pass from Kynes 25 metres out on the right flank and crashed through five tacklers to touch down. Haymond's conversion added to his three previous penalties to make it 16-6, a lead Ebbw took into the break, despite being down to 13 with Haymond and Robert Sevenoaks in the sin bin. Tata had offered little, but winger Gbemi Fisher had featured prominently in their attacking play, and the pack, well led by former Maesteg favourite Gareth Edwards, had succeeded in slowing Ebbw's tempo by playing on, and sometimes over, the offside line.

A third Gareth Walters penalty early in the second half made it 16-9, but that was the closest his side got. Two more Haymond penalties stretched it to 22-9 before lock Ben Davies squeezed in at the corner when Ebbw were back down to 14, Kynes having been mystifyingly carded when seemingly competing fairly for the ball on the floor. Almost immediately, the Steelmen struck back with Polu Uhi showing fantastic strength and power to shrug off half a dozen tacklers in running in from 20 metres. Haymond's extras took the score to 29-14 and the scoring was completed when Ronny Kynes broke from a great line out drive to capture a third try which Josh Lewis goaled. 

Ultimately there was no bonus point for Ebbw, but they would have been satisfied by another big win, especially over the champions of the West who will certainly be in the mix at the end of the season.

Charlie Simpson, Tom Ashmead, Josh Lewis, Polu Uhi, Daniel Ajuwa; Dan Haymond, Josh Davies; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams (c), Robert Sevenoaks; Joe Bartlett, Ashley Sweet; Cameron Reagan, Ronny Kynes, Spencer Gibson. Bench: Josh Powell, Jonnny Bowen, Rhys Clarke, Will Owen, Jamie Jones.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rugby Notes

Strange rugby days.

Narberth beat last season’s Div 1 West champions Tata Steel last week, so should have been a tough game. But Ebbw Vale won well 45-16 on Saturday without looking very good. Perhaps we’re used to watching Ebbw win and win well each week and so we’ve become greedy. But there was plenty for the coaches to work on: sloppy ball retention, some struggles in the scrum, and a few penalties given away.

Outstanding was No. 8 Spencer Gibson, whose running with ball in hand scared the bejesus out of the Narberth team. The rest of the back row, Ronny Keynes and Cameron Reagan were excellent too. Matthew Williams, “Chunky”, was a good cool-headed captain who appeared to leave the pack leader duties to the ever-solid Ross Jones.

The centre partnership of Josh Lewsi and Polo Uhi looked strong, whilst Dan Haymond at outside half connected well and scored a belting individual try. By the end the Narberth full back resembled a rather shell-shocked turnstile.

Tries for Dan Haymond, Polo Uhi, Josh Lewis, Ashley Sweet, Cameron Regan and sub Jamie Jones, all six tries goaled by Dan Haymond who also kicked a penalty.

Match reports feature on both the Ebbw Vale RFC website and the WRU’s, and there are lots of pics on the ebbwplayers website taken by Robbo (get well, Gra – I had to tell him to take lens cap off again).

Next up is a tough game away at Tata Steel (is it Ta-ta or Ta-tar?) down in PaTalbutt.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Christmas Notes


Its the first week of September. The sun is shining. Its the first week of the new school year. Everyone is just back from their summer holidays, all relaxed and tanned.

So, what's on the supermarket shelves? 

Christmas stuff. This selection box was spied in the Co-op /Somerfield in Aberystwyth. I had to check to see if it was early for this Christmas or left over from last Christmas.

In the good old days, the Crimbo rush didn't start until after Bonfire Night or Halloween. Talk about wishing our lives away. 

Rugby Notes

Missed a good first outing for Ebbw Vale last Saturday. They went to Ely and handed out a thrashing to Glamorgan Wanderers.

Wasn't there though (I was enjoying a last glimpse of sun in Tresaith) so here's what the EVRFC website thought of the game:

Ely stroll for 12-try Steelmen: Glamorgan Wanderers 13 Ebbw Vale 76
Ebbw opened the new National Championship with their highest ever league score, running in 12 tries in a 76-13 victory. Ronny Kynes got the scoreboard rolling from a lineout drive, Josh Lewis converting to make it 7-0. Ebbw attacked from the restart but, with an inviting overlap, there was an interception and the Wanderers ran in a good try. Any thoughts of a tight tit-for-tat match were dispelled by half time, with Ebbw having added tries from Josh Lewis, Mathew Williams, Wes Cunliffe (for the bonus point), Cameron Reagan and Luke Davies to give them a 38-8 advantage. 

Ebbw carried on where they left off the interval and could certainly not be accused of relaxing as Charlie Simpson (2), Spencer Gibson, Ronny Kynes (2 to make it a hat trick) and Tom Ashmead touched down. Conversions came from Josh Lewis (5) and Dan Haymond (3).

In an excellent team performance, the experienced Mathew Williams led by example and debutants Spencer Gibson and Polu Uhi made very impressive first appearances, causing constant problems for the home side. There will be much tougher challenges ahead, most notably and immediately at home  next Saturday to Narberth. who dispatched last season's D1W champions, Tata Steel, 45-21 in their first game, but, as one old stager reminded us all, "You can only play what's in front of you." Ebbw did that extremely well and there were a lot of happy, smiling faces heading back up the A470 on Saturday evening.

Team was Charlie Simpson, Wes Cunliffe, Luke Davies, Polu Uhi, Tom Ashmead; Josh Lewis, Chris Thomas; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams, Robert Sevenoaks; Joe Bartlett, Ashley Sweet; Cameron Reagan, Ronny Kynes, Spencer Gibson.
Bench: Josh Powell, Jonny Bowen, Rhys Clarke, Dan Haymond, Josh Davies.

Tomorrow Ebbw have a far tougher challenge against former Division 1 West outfit (as they say) Narberth. I'll be there.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rugby Notes

Its almost here.

The new rugby season is looming fast. Ebbw Vale plays this year in the newly formed/created/dreamt up/invented league SWALEC Championship. Its made up of 6 teams from last year's Division 1 East, 7 from Division 1 West, and unlucky Pontypool who were cut adrift from the Princiaplity Premiership.

First up is, as usual, Glamorgan Wanderers away followed by  a home game against Narberth. Some new trips this year and some old acquaintances to be remade. I've not visited the grounds of Tata Steel, Whitland, Narberth, Cardiff Met (UWIC in old money, or SGCHE in even older money)

Having won Division 1 East in each of the last two seasons, this looks like a tougher task. The drop-off towards the bottom of the division was marked last year, but that's unlikely to be the case this time around. A few players have left and there are a few new faces, but new captain Ashley Sweet has a good nucleus to work with. Good luck guys, although I can't be at the first game. Remember - "all the time, ref!"

Things I don't understand (OK, this could be a long list, but this is just for starters):
How is Bedwas worth a place in the Premiership?
How is RGC 1404 (the made up North Wales region) in Division 1 East? East? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Joke Notes

As usual this time of year, the media draw up a list of the best jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. From amongst the ordinary and/or dross, a few gems:

"When I die I want my remains to go to my iPod, my iPhone and my laptop. I want to be left to my own devices." Gareth Richards
"I'll never forget the day when I got a rear-view mirror installed for the car. I never looked back after that!" Jimmy Cricket
"I find that ants over-praise me. Sycophants? Yes I am." Tim Vine

And a few off the telly:

"The Scots released Al-Magrahi because he only had three months left to live. That still made him one of the healthiest people in Scotland." Frankie Boyle
"How does Bob Marley like his doughnuts? Wi' jam in!" Peter Kay
"I spilled spot remover on my dog.. he's gone now." Stephen Wright

Notice that there's nothing by Michael Macintyre here. There's a simple reason...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Movie Notes

Ava was packed off to the in-laws last weekend, so we went to the movies. Yeah, we know how to roll.

Ted. Now, if you like Family Guy, you'll like this. And if you like the idea of a sweary, come-to-life teddy this is definitely your movie. Its got mixed reviews but I thought it was terrific.

A typical exchange between Mark Wahlberg and his Ted:

Ted: Oh hey listen, try this. I told my weed guy to step it up and he gave me this.
John: What is it?
Ted: It's called 'Mind Rape'. Its actually pretty mellow.
John: It doesn't sound mellow.
Ted: Well he only had three other batches: 'Gorilla Panic', 'They're Coming, They're Coming' and something called 'This Is Permanent'. Go on, spark it up.

BTW, I think Gorilla Panic would be a great name for a rock band.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cat Notes

We have gained a cat.

Within weeks she went from being a stray stuck in a tree in the garden, through tentatively accepting food left on the patio, all the way to being a properly domesticated puss curled up on the sofa.

A trip to the vet (handy that we know a couple of reputable ones) revealed no microchip and an RSPCA collar got no response, so she has been adopted. She was no thin and light when we first got her that we thought she was a kitten. Jon the Vet told us she is about two years old, and most likely got lost from a previous owner or else has been abandoned. Which is unfortunate, but a huge benefit in that she is already house-trained, happy around people and probably spayed.

She has been given the fine name of Ferris Mewler. Ferris has been working hard to impress us; already we have been presented with the bodies of three rats and ten shrews (a maximum of one on any given morning, thankfully). It appears that Ferris has settled nicely into a routine of eating, sleeping and killing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Olympic Notes

Enjoyed the Olympics far more than I thought I would. I guess it started with the torch relay, which I wanted Ava to see. The crowds for the relay through Pontypridd were huge, and that got interest growing.

And as for opening ceremonies, they are usually cheesy, confusing and full of weird dance routines. 2012 was exactly the same, but somehow it worked as a brilliant ceremony that was completely barking and completely British (& N Irish).

BBC coverage was an improvement on the Jubilee nonsense, but their continuing use of recently retired athletes means that there is never any criticism of the British athletes - as usually they are all mates. I'll let them off the excitement over Mo Farah, but generally the coverage was sycophantic. Gary Spinneker was as useless as ever ("how does it feel?") and John Inverdale was an excited schoolboy most of the time.

Clare Balding was the best of the anchors, and Michael Johnson was cool and rational. The coverage of the diving (mostly on the red button) was excellent, and Leon Taylor was spectacularly knowledgeable.

The BBC coverage itself was so biased towards British athletes that if they wasn't a Brit then it never appeared on TV. Jess Ennis and the heptathlon was wall-to-wall, the decathlon (no significant Brits) got probably a minute. Ennis' win whilst carrying the weight of expectation of the entire British public was a wonderful achievement.

Best moment? Grenadian sprinter Kirani James winning his heat and then shaking hands with the rest of the field before going to Oscar Pistorius to exchange shirt numbers.

Worst moment? The realisation that all of the sporting coverage for the next four years will again be soccer. How does that provide sporting role models for young girls? Victoria Pendleton or John Terry? Jess Ennis or Wayne Rooney? Gawd help us.

Crash Notes

Hell is other people. Or more specifically, other drivers. Had a head-on crash with a motorbike on the way home from Aberystwyth on Monday.

It was a narrow lane and thankfully I was going slow enough to stop - but of course he wasn't and so plonked his Sakacakky 5000 into my front bumper and headlight. Couldn't rant too much though as he was a sorry sight as he picked himself up off the muddy road mumbling "I'm sorry", and struggling to pick up his bike from under my car. He then took off his helmet to reveal a pensioner who told me that he was on his way to Llandovery for a cup of tea.

Oh, by the way did I mention that I bought the car three weeks ago. Argh!

Endless phone calls to insurers will ensue no doubt followed by "no witnesses" and the dreaded "knock for knock". Bugger.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cricket Notes

After enjoying the England India ODI in Cardiff last year, I treated myself to a Glamorgan season ticket for 2012. £100 seemed like good value.

Didn't factor in the dodgy summer though, did I? And adding in work meetings and being away with work, thus far I've managed just two CB40 games - a drubbing of Scotland and a hammering by Hampshire. The plan is to see a few days of the two remaining 4 day matches, weather permitting. But looking at the results, I don't think I've missed much. 

After all the investment in Sophia Gardens, its a shame to see the place almost deserted. But you need attractive cricket (or at least some results) to get people to attend. And as the saying goes "they don't come and see me when I'm bard".

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I'm back

Now if there was a magic way of simply getting thoughts straight on t'interweb without all the messy typing, spellchecking, formatting and such, then I reckon the blog would run like clockwork.

Anyroad, with the rugby season approaching and after a long layoff I think there's plenty for me to bang on about. And if you enjoy reading my assorted rants then that's just gravy.

More to follow soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rugby Notes

God, how I hate going to Dave Parade. Its been a few years since the last trip, in which time the Townies have built themselves a posh (and empty) stand. Oh, and got themselves one of the most useless ticket offices in the world. Not exactly a bumper crowd, about the usual for a Gwent derby. All pay, and queues stretching for 50 yards or more. I stood in line for 20 minutes, and others didn't get into the ground until well after kick-off. Why print tickets for allocated seats when you have thousands of empty ones to choose from?

Anyway, onto the game...

Nothing more to say than that already up on the Ebbw Vale RFC website. Tony Brown, your boys took a hell of a beating. A 26-13 win at Dave Parade was more than most could have hoped for, but nothing more than was deserved.

This is our webmaster's view of the game, and since I was stood next to him we clearly saw the same game. My man of the match was Ronnie Kynes, who tackled his heart out and had the advantage of the Newport hooker picking him out at every lineout.

"A superb performance saw Ebbw Vale through to Round 3 of the SWALEC Cup at the expense of Premiership Newport. Most pundits had tipped the Black and Ambers to take the tie with ease, but, in truth, it was never even close as the fantastic Steelmen dominated every aspect of the game. An early penalty from Dorian Jones started the ball rolling and Newport simply couldn't get their game going as Ebbw put in tackle after tackle, sending their opponents backwards over the gain line time after time. Even when the Steelmen were down to 14, Dan Deardon having been harshly yellow carded for what the referee judged to be a tip-tackle, they kept up the pressure, electing to kick for the corner when 3 points seemed an easier option. It proved most fruitful, though, as a great driving maul resulted in the Newport pack descending into total disarray and Ross Jones grabbing the touchdown. Two penalties by ex-Steelman Gareth Bowen and a reply by Dorian Jones made it 11-6 to Ebbw at half time.

"The second half had barely started when Ebbw worked the ball right for Wes Cunliffe to outpace the defence, going around behind the posts to make Dorian Jones's job that little bit easier. It was 18-6, Newport looked broken, and the home supporters were expressing their fury! Another Jones penalty, and a great try by Gareth James did nothing to improve their mood. By this stage, Ebbw's forwards had total control and were pushing the home eight yards backwards. A pushover try seemed on the cards - from 22 metres out! - as Newport back-pedalled at a rate of knots and their front row shot up. Inexplicably, the referee penalised Ebbw, indicating an upwards drive! In the loose, the Ebbw back row was yards quicker to the ball, Ronnie Kynes winning a whole stream of turnovers and penalties in his best game so far in red, green and white and Nicky Coughlin, Ross Jones and Mathew WIlliams relishing the physical battle. Against the run of play, Newport finally put a decent move together and their left wing showed real pace to score. Bowen converted to make it 26-13 but that was as good as it got for the city boys as Ebbw demonstrated maturity and sound game management to run the clock down and secure a superb victory.

"As well as it being an excellent defensive performance, Ebbw posed constant problems in attack, with strength, control and aggression up front and pace and power behind.The team was:

"Charlie Simpson, Wes Cunliffe, Tristan Davies, Dan Dearden, Tom Macpherson; Dorian Jones, Gareth James; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams, Robert Sevenoaks; Damien Hudd (capt), Ashley Sweet; Nicky Coughlin, Ronnie Kynes, Ethan Matthews. Bench: Dan Goode, Ben Parry, Josh Powell, Cameron Reagan, Dai Jones, Dan Haymond, Aled James."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rugby Notes

Top video of Nigel Owens giving a telling off to a typically mouthy scrum half.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some new notes

Forestry Notes
For anyone who wonders what the heck I do for a living, this video may help. No, it’s not about the joys of double-entry bookkeeping, but rather it’s a multimedia video produced by the European Forest Institute (no, I didn’t know there was such a thing either).

The video, European Forests: Central to the World we Live in, gives an overall picture of Europe’s most versatile ecological infrastructure. It’s an illuminating 10 minutes.  

Janesy Notes

Janesy’s blog, the kraken wakes, is taking on a life of its own. As well as there being far greater productivity than this here blog, as well as being somewhat more provocative and edgy (sweary in other words), and a damn sight funnier, it has now moved on to new realms. 

For the grand sum of 99p, you can now download a copy of the blog for the Kindle, via Amazon. I kid you not. Go look here.

Pedantry Notes

Good article in The Times this weekend about lazy journalism, and use of words like ‘more’ and ‘less’.

“If I have 100 objects, and someone else has ‘three times more than’ I, how many does that person have? Three times 100 = 300, therefore three times more is 100 + 300 = 400. However, I suspect that in most cases the writer means 300, that is to say three times as many as I.

“If someone else has ‘three time fewer than’ I, how many does that person have? Three times fewer than 100 is then 100 - 300 which equals minus 200. Does the writer mean one third the number I have? Or possibly one third fewer.

“The same applies to ‘less’, e.g. three times less wine than before. Is this meant to mean one third as much or one third less? Why can’t you say what you really mean?”

Wise words there from a fellow pedant.