Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's Back


Blog Notes

By popular demand, it's back. I can't guarantee a weekly update, but I'll have something to say about rugby, cricket, Wales and the world in general on a pretty regular basis.

Ava's Diary

Just about to finish my reception year at Pencoedmaen school in Ponty. Loved every minute of it. I was a bit worried about moving to a new class but was OK when I realised that all my friends would be moving up to the new class too.

Had a school outing to Barry Island last week. Nanna and Mam came with me, but they just watched as I organised my friends to make a really big sandcastle. I fetched the water for the moat, but as the tide went out that became hard work so I delegated it.

Tomorrow is pirate picnic day in school. I get to dress up and Mam gets stressed over making an outfit.
 
Went to cousin Helen's wedding to Mark a couple of months ago. I managed to photobomb most of the pics, as you can see.

Cricket Notes

I had tickets for a couple of the ICC Champions Trophy games in June, the “mini World Cup”. I saw India v South Africa and West Indies v South Africa. Enormous contrast.

The India game saw blazing sunshine and an enormous crowd, and some brilliant batting from India and a comfortable win. A colourful, deafening experience.

The West Indies game saw a long rain delay, effectively making it a T20 game. West Indies were their usual brilliant/laconic selves, and were thwarted by more rain juts as they had the game one. Confusion reigned at it started to rain, and the game ended in a very unsatisfactory tie.

The restrictions and rules around the competition imposed by the ICC were at times laughable. The branding of the ground had to be changed to ensure that only ICC-approved sponsors could be mentioned. So no SWALEC stadium. Fair enough I guess, but they couldn’t even use the old name of Sophia Gardens. So instead it was the rather disconnected “Cardiff Wales stadium”.

The ICC also had piles of stuff around the game too. Anthems before game, half time on-field sponsored activities and such like. All fair enough on a normal sunny day, but when the window of opportunity to play the cricket was limited by the weather, this guff ate into the time available to play cricket and ended up preventing a proper end to the rain effected game. It seems sponsors come above the game itself nowadays.

International games aside, I have ventured to a Glamorgan county game and a T20, and with the weather set fair hopefully I’ll be able to fit in a few more games through the summer.

Rugby Notes

There’s not much that I can add to the miles of coverage of the Lions tour except to say well done to Dan Lydiate, who played for Ebbw Vale and Toby Faletau who as a youngster lived at the Tongan Embassy in Ebbw Vale when his dad played for Ebbw Vale.

And special mention to Adam Jones who as well as being one of the best props on the planet is also a really nice bloke. Met him at Llantrisant Starbucks the day before a 6 Nations game.

Ava and I were in the queue and he and a bunch of other players were in front of us. Ava says to me (not exactly sotto voce) “Why does he have so much hair?” So he turns around and asks “Do you think I look scary?” Ava said no, and told him that he looked like a teddy bear.

We watched and he signed autographs, posed for photos and was patient with all the well-wishers when probably all they wanted was a bit of quite time before the big day.

More Rugby Notes

The square ball was drawn out of the bag again by the WRU again. Ebbw Vales’s first game in their defence of their Championship title is the small matter of an away trip on 7 September to… Colwyn Bay. The first game is at RGC1404, newly promoted. Sharn’t be travelling to that one; I’ll wait until the following Saturday when Ebbw Vale “entertain” Bargoed.
 
Nothing like a soft start to the season, eh?

Travel Notes

“Ice cream! Vipers’ noses! Albatross! Squirrels on sticks! Sea snake venom!”

Not the usual fayre offered by Arriva Trains Wales, but nevertheless it’s a different way of getting people’s attention when pushing the tea and coffee cart up and down the Cardiff to Bangor train.

Thanks good ness that there are some people in the service industries who enjoy their work, and like to bring a smile to customers/passengers.

IT Notes

A new abbreviation I heard the other day referring to IT problems: PICNIC. That stands for Problem In Chair, Not In Computer. Often very true.

Podcast Notes

I’m a late arrival at the Tony Kornhesier Show podcast. Latterly a Washington Post sports/opinion columnist and now on ESPN (America), he does a daily radio show for ESPN 980 in the Washington DC area, but the show probably has more podcast followers across the world than radio listeners in the local area.

Not a show or a guy who takes himself seriously, its wonderful entertainment for car journeys, one example being that the show’s email address is thisshowstinks@espn980.com. It’s certainly far better company than the BBC or commercial offerings from in-car radio.

TV Notes

It seems all of the good drama on TV is imported. My current pick of the TV crop is The Americans. This is on ITV, who have ventured into uncharted territory by actually buying a good programme. Set in Washington at the height of the 1980s cold war, it follows undercover Russian spies and their FBI neighbour. Terrific stuff, and the 80s soundtrack helps too.

The Americans is certainly up there with Homeland and the Scandinavian dramas from BBC Four The Bridge, Borgen and The Killing.

My guilty pleasure is The Apprentice. “Angry little business bear” Lord Sugar/Sir Alan/that-bloke-who- knocks-out-Amstrad-computers has a good line in put-downs. Most of them are well earned by the apprentices, whose lack of gumption is sometimes a wonder to behold.

Shed Notes

A couple of weeks ago the 2013 Shed of the Year award was announced. The competition, which good friend and "├╝ber sheddie" Uncle Wilco has grown from nothing, received coverage on the BBC, ITV and the national newspapers. A shed in Machynlleth with an upturned boat for a roof was the deserved winner.

Great headline quote from Uncle Wilco in a recent Wales Online feature: "Like all good things, the idea for the Shed of the Year competition came to me in the pub."

Outdoor Wales Notes

Spent a cooling Sunday at Garwnant, Natural Resources Wales’ forest and visitor centre above Merthyr Tydfil. Plenty of nice walks, and the shady animal puzzle trail kept Ava entertained. Reward was coffee and ice cream.

Beer Notes

The beer on tap at the Anglesey Arms in Menai Bridge is from JW Rees, the Manchester brewer. Given it’s the cricket season, I went for a pint of Streaker, a light-ish 3.7% beer. Very nice. Just the one though.

Someone Else’s Blog Notes

Great spot by Peter King of a wonderful line in an obituary:

“A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder … he respectfully requests six Cleveland Brown pall bearers so that the Browns can let him down one last time.”

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