Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday Snaps 6 - A Town Called Helen

Over at From a Yellow House, Dori has posted many a photo of our travels around Wiltshire and other parts of England. So I thought it was high time that I did the reverse and posted some pictures of Georgia, taken during my visits over there.

These snaps are of a small town called Helen in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North-East Georgia. As you can see, Helen is a recreation of a Bavarian Alpine town. It felt quite surreal when I first went there to find this little piece of Europe thousands of miles away!

It even comes complete with it's own windmill.

Helen is a cute little town, which I enjoyed visiting tremendously.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Fifty Things About Brit Boy

Dori posted this meme on her blog back in August, and invited whoever wanted to take it to do so. So I have (even if I have taken my time about it!) :-) I have changed 3 or 4 of the questions - because they weren't really relevant - and swapped them with other questions from other memes. I know you are not supposed to do that and the meme police will probably be knocking at my door in the morning, but hey, it's my blog and I'll do whatever I want with it!

If you want to take this meme and use it yourself, then please do.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
6:20. I had a lie-in as it is the weekend! The alarm goes off at 6:10 during the working week. I’ve not been sleeping in lately at the weekends. Don’t know why.

2. How do you like your steak?
Well Done. Although the steak we had in Paris on our 1st anniversary was still pink but tasted gorgeous. I guess it depends more on whether the person cooking it is actually a good chef or not, as well as the quality of the meat.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Really enjoyed it, even though I had never heard of Julia Child before the film was released.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
The West Wing. The most intelligently written, entertaining show on TV ever a mile. And very prophetic too, as it turned out! Gonna talk more about The West Wing on here in a few days time.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Near a beach, somewhere warm

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Skipped breakfast today (slap on wrist ...naughty boy!)

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
Italian or French, I guess. Not really a foodie, just like food that’s been well prepared.

8. What foods do you dislike?
Nuts, cherries, olives, ...I won’t bore you with the full list!

9. Favorite Place to Eat?
Frankie & Benny’s is my current fave. I’m a cheap date.

10. Favorite dressing?
Uhhh, ranch?

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?
Rover 45

12. What are your favorite clothes?
Casual. Hate wearing suits or anything formal. Spend most of my time in jeans and t-shirts

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
Whoo, where to start?!! Lapland is on our list for a Christmas break one year. Australia, Rome, New York, Washington, California, Paris (again), Scotland (never been up there despite living only a few hundred miles away),.........

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full
Half full ....mostly.

15. Where would you want to retire?
To that beach house I mentioned earlier.

16. Favorite time of day?
Early morning, just after the sun has risen from it’s bed.

17. Where were you born?
Wiltshire, England

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Football (soccer).

19. Would you move for the person you loved?
Yes. Dori has already done it, and we intend to move again - back to the States in a few years time.

20. Where did you live in 1987?
Bath, England.

21. What is your favourite film?
The Shawshank Redemption – love that film.

22. Are you a bird watcher?
Not really. Birds scare me.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Definitely a morning person, which is a switch from my younger days. But if I don’t get what I need to get done in the early part of the day now, then chances are it won’t get done!

24. Do you have any pets?
No. Not unless you count Trevor!

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?
Yes. I recently passed the course I have been taking on Web Design at the Open University, and can now put a whole sentence of letters after my name.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
A rock-climber, a doctor (I even had the stethoscope and a little bag for all the equipment!), a magician, the Six Million Dollar Man, grown-up, ....

27. What is your best childhood memory?
Family holidays (vacations) in Cornwall.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
I guess a dog person, cos I really don’t like cats. We used to have a dog when I was growing up, but I can’t say I have any great urge to go out and buy one now. Unless it was a robotic dog of course.

29. Are you married?
Very happily so, to the wonderful and beautiful Dori.

30. Always wear your seat belt?
Certainly do.

31. Been in a car accident?
Yes, yes and thrice yes. I’ve been hit by a car, a lorry and a van ...and aquaplaned into the back of a van myself on a very wet surface. I sometimes think our car must have a target painted on the back somewhere!

32. Any pet peeves?
People who stand in shop doorways, or who stop dead in front of you when you are walking along. Shopping. Bad drivers.

33. Favorite pizza topping?

34. Favorite Flower?

34b. How much cash do you have on you?

35. Favorite ice cream?
Not a big fan of ice cream. If I do ever have it then it is usually a “99” – thats a soft ice cream with a flake for the unitiated.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
Steak n Shake. Thank you Dori for introducing me!

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?
I passed first time – much to both my own and my instructor’s surprise! Never been so nervous in my whole life.

38. From whom did you get your last email?
The National Lottery to tell me that our syndicate had won a massive £13 in Friday’s Euromillions draw. So near to that £89million jackpot and yet so, so, so far away.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Gotta think about this one.... Ummm.......Ah, I know! The merchandise store at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Loved it. Can’t wait to get back there - that's to the KSC not the store!

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
Not great at spontaneity. Oh no, hang on. I bought Dori flowers for our proposal anniversary a few weeks back. That was a sort of spur-of-the-moment thing.

41. Like your job?
No. And yes. But mainly No.

42. Do you like broccoli?
It’s OK. Wouldn’t nominate myself as the leader of the Broccoli Lovers Association, but yeah, it’s okay.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
Paris for our first anniversary. We were only there for a few short days but the whole time was magical, including a virtual private audience for us of the Eiffel Tower doing it’s night time lights thing.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?

45. What are you listening to right now?
Swindon Town playing against Walsall. It’s 1-1 at the moment if you are interested. :-)

46. What is your favorite colour?
Don’t think I’ve got one. Always struggled with this question ever since I was a kid. I’ll say RED, cos that’s the colour of Swindon Town’s shirts. (Grabbing at straws here)

47. How many tattoos do you have?

48. How many are you tagging for this meme?
I’m not. If anyone wants to take it forward then they are more than welcome to do so.

49. What time did you finish this meme?

50. Are you a coffee drinker?
What? Hold on, the previous question asked what time I had finished this, and then you go and ask me another question!? What kind of **** is that? Uhh, yes I am but only if it is not instant coffee, and then only sometimes. And now it’s 8:35pm and I’m being made out to look like a liar....... you can’t get the staff these days ....grumble grumble...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

South African Dreams

Yesterday evening Dori and I went our separate ways as Dori had some study to do for her course, and I settled down in front of the TV to watch the World Cup qualifier between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium. This qualifying campaign for the England national team has been somewhat unusual in that they have not had any of their usual mishaps or freak results. In fact, prior to last night’s game, they had won all 7 of their group matches in the quest to qualify for next summer’s tournament in South Africa. Victory in the match against Croatia would guarantee England their place at the World Cup Finals, which, as you can see from the Countdown Timer on this page, starts on June 11th 2010.

There was a little history to this fixture too, as just two years ago England were again lining up against Croatia in a match that, if they had won it, would have meant they had qualified for the European Championships of 2008. In a bizarre performance that night, England somehow contrived to slip to a 3-2 defeat and hence failed to qualify for a major tournament for the first time in 14 years. That result also led to the sacking of manager Steve McClaren who was later replaced by Italian Fabio Capello. So, last night was an opportunity to put things right and re-establish England as a major force in world football.

Wembley Stadium

And the match could not have gone any more smoothly, from an English point of view. The team went ahead after just 8 minutes when Aaron Lennon was tripped in the penalty box and Frank Lampard smacked home the resulting penalty. Then, just 10 minutes later, it was Lennon again who played a crucial role, this time providing the inch perfect cross for Steven Gerrard to power home a header to make the score 2-0. Although the score remained the same for the rest of the first half, England were dominating the play and the result was already looking a foregone conclusion. The second half saw England score another three goals (Lampard again, Gerrard again and Wayne Rooney). David Beckham made a cameo appearance to notch up his 114th International cap. The only blot on an otherwise flawless performance was a momentary lapse in the England defence, allowing Croatia to score. But a resounding 5-1 victory meant that England have now qualified in some style for next year’s World Cup Finals, with two qualifying group matches still left to play. It is the first time ever that the national team have qualified so early for a World Cup, and they have scored 31 goals on their way to doing so – more than any other European team.

So, now the countdown to June 11th really starts, when the world’s best football teams will gather again to battle it out to become World Champions. England have won the World Cup just once before – in 1966, before I was born. Every four years, when the World Cup rolls around again, the expectation that England might just do it this time is ramped up, and each time they fail to live up to that expectation – more often than not going out at the quarter-final stage. But could this time be THE time? Capello has got the team playing impressively, and he is a manager with a proven track record. I am not going to predict an England win, as there are teams such as Spain and Brazil who have much stronger claims to be favourites for the crown. But this qualifying campaign has renewed belief in the national team and given me, and several million other long-suffering England fans, that little bit of optimism that means we dare to dream once again.

Just 273 days to go! Yay!
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