Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!

"The Christmas Song" - Nat King Cole

I hope that everybody has a happy and safe Christmas, and that Santa brings you everything you asked for!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

One Week to Go

"I remember one christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire"

"I Believe in Father Christmas" - Greg Lake

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Getting Ready for the Big Day

It is now less than 10 days to go before Christmas Day is upon us. Doesn’t it creep up on you fast?! Luckily, Dori and I finished our gift buying a little while ago before it got too manic in the shopping centres. We have, believe it or not, also already wrapped those gifts and they are currently snuggled safely under the Christmas tree. Well, I say we wrapped them, but it would be slightly more accurate to say that I wrapped my present for Dori and she did all the others!

Before I was married, I would just about be thinking of starting to buy presents at this point in the year, and yes I have even done the stereotypical male thing of rushing round the shops on Christmas Eve trying to get those last few gifts :-) But age, marriage and the sheer dread of battling with thousands of other sharp-elbowed shoppers has led to me being much more organised nowadays. So, the gifts have been bought, wrapped and installed under the tree, and the decorations are up around the Yellow House. Talking of the decorations, for those of you that didn’t see them over at Dori’s blog, here are a few pics to give you an idea of what some of our festive characters look like.

The forecast is for the snow to return tonight and over the weekend, so there is the very real possibility of a White Christmas at the Yellow House this year. I can’t remember the last time we had snow on the ground at Christmas. Santa may need a sleigh for real next week!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Catching Up

It’s been a little while since my last posting. Apologies for my absence, but sometimes real-life takes precedence over the blogosphere :) So, what’s been happening in the interim?

Well, I guess the big news was the announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton and the subsequent fixing of the date for the Royal Wedding. It’s been a while since there has been an occasion of this size in this country, certainly not since the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and probably not since Charles and Diana’s wedding back in 1981. Back then there were street parties across the country and a real mood of national celebration. I suspect that it won’t be quite like that this time round. Questions have already been asked about how much the taxpayer should be paying out for the wedding at a time when drastic cuts are being made to public spending, taxes are on the rise and people are fearful for their jobs. But the reality is that hundreds of thousands of people are going to want to be in London to see some of the wedding and it will obviously be a huge security operation for the police that is going to cost millions of pounds. At a time of such austerity in can sometimes be a positive thing to have an event such as this to celebrate and get people’s minds away from the daily drudgery. Whatever the rights and wrongs, I can only wish the couple every happiness in their life together.

We have also been doing some celebrating of our own over the last week. Of course, last Thursday was Thanksgiving. This year we had a quiet, though very delicious, celebration here in the Yellow House. Last year, you may remember, we flew over to Georgia to enjoy the holiday with Dori’s family. Well, plane tickets sadly aren’t getting any cheaper and so we stayed on this side of the Atlantic this time round – although thanks to Skype we were able to experience a little of the festivities over in America :)

The celebratory mood continued yesterday as we attended the christening of my nephew’s baby girl. The weather here for the last week has gotten progressively colder and icier with many areas experiencing heavy snow, so the thought of spending an afternoon in a cold and draughty church – even for such a happy occasion – was a little daunting. However, as it turned out, the church was quite small, not at all draughty and even had some very welcome heating! The service was lovely and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Ironically, after the fears of getting too cold in the church, when we all decamped to the venue for the celebration meal afterwards, we found that the heating there was not turned on and it was frrrrrrreezing!!! Everybody was sat there, still in their coats and scarves for the entire time. It is always good though to have a story to relate to an event like that though – makes it even more memorable. :-)

The forecast looks like some of that snow I mentioned may be heading our way tonight. Hopefully it won’t be too heavy, although if it is we may be able to get some even better photos than we managed at the start of the year when the country was paralyzed for a couple of weeks! Here are a couple that we took at the time as we walked around on the first day of heavy snow.

Finally, can I wish the team bidding to bring the World Cup to England in 2018 every success over the next few days. FIFA will be announcing on Thursday the host countries of both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and England have thrown their hat into the ring for the 2018 competition. Football politics may scupper their chances apparently, but you never know. Everyone assumed that the 2012 Olympics would be in Paris and look what happened there! Good luck to everyone involved!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Remember, Remember

As I mentioned a couple of weeks or so back, we are now in holiday season and they are starting to come thick and fast. After Halloween at the end of October, we celebrated Bonfire Night aka Guy Fawkes Night on Friday. Although not strictly a holiday anymore, it is a day of celebration and one of the landmark days in the calendar.

The day commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in which a group of men attempted to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5th. The man tasked with setting the explosives was Guy Fawkes, and it was during the night before the State Opening that he was discovered in a cellar beneath the parliament building with over 30 barrels of gunpowder. He was arrested and later executed (in horrific fashion) along with the majority of his fellow conspirators.

Since that time, November 5th has been marked as a day of national celebration. At one time it was, apparently, a public holiday but that has long since been abandoned. Nowadays, it is marked by the lighting of bonfires on top of which are placed “Guys” (effigies) and by firework displays. As kids we were also all taught the following little rhyme...

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot

There were many firework displays around here over the weekend, both official and unofficial. Whilst they always used to take place on the day itself, most modern public displays tend to be held on the nearest weekend to November 5th. Dori and I were out visiting on Saturday night and saw and heard many fireworks as we travelled to and from our destination. It is one of those nights of the year that I very much look forward to.

Whilst talking of remembering, I would also like to mention that Norman Pritchard passed away recently. Whilst none of you are likely to have heard of him, and indeed few in his home town knew of him either, his legacy has garnered world-wide attention, for he was partially responsible for the design and implementation of Swindon’s notorious “Magic Roundabout”. This junction at the intersection of 5 roads was very revolutionary when first built and still strikes fear into the heart of many a driver today. It consists of a central roundabout with 5 mini-roundabouts around the outside. The beauty of it (if you are experienced at negotiating it) is that you may take several different routes through the road junction to reach your desired exit. Dori has previously posted a video over at her Yellow House blog to show what it is like, and here is another one to give you an idea of this wonderful creation!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Sunday, as well as being Halloween, also marked the end of British Summer Time (BST) for this year as the clocks were turned back an hour in the wee hours of the morning. We are now back on good ol’ Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for the duration of the winter.

This, of course, means lighter mornings (for a few weeks at least) but darker evenings. With the days getting ever shorter as we near the winter solstice, the hours of sunlight that we have are getting less and less. It is already darker at 5:00 pm now than it was at 10:00 pm at the height of summer! It is for this reason that a “Lighter, Later” campaign has been gaining some following over recent years. Their idea is for Britain to adopt Central European Time (CET), meaning that our clocks would be advanced to an hour ahead of GMT during the winter, and an hour ahead of BST during the summer. Their argument is that this will move an hour of sunlight from the mornings to the evenings, when more people are up and about to enjoy it.

Is this a good idea? It will certainly alleviate some of the darkness in the evenings, which can make the winter days seem so short and miserable, and it is said that it will also save on electricity as the lights won’t be turned on until an hour later. That is all good. But, the mornings will be terribly dark when a lot of people are getting up and going out in the mornings, or when children are walking to school. Whatever we do with the clocks, we will still only have the same amount of daylight as before. And it is not as though the mornings are light at a ridiculously early time of the day anyway. I, for one, am still dragging myself out of bed whilst it is dark outside now – that would only be exacerbated if this new system is adopted. But then, I like the lighter evenings too.

So, I am a little undecided on this one. There is going to be a parliamentary debate on the subject next month but it is unlikely that anything will be changed very quickly. No doubt the campaign will continue, and new times may well lie ahead at some point. If only they could make the daylight last longer, then that would definitely get my vote!!

Friday, 22 October 2010

It's a Jungle Out There!

We have a new pet, of sorts, here at the Yellow House. As you will see below, a new friend has decided that he or she wishes to hang out with Dori and Brit Boy!

I took these pics the other day through our back window. Spidey has taken to sitting there on his/her web during the day and soaking up what little bit of sunshine that we get. In fact, Spidey even decided to eat with us a few days back as I looked out on my way to the kitchen and saw that an unfortunate fly had been captured and was in the process of being bound up before becoming our friend’s teatime treat :-) Having done a little bit of research – ie I googled it – I believe that our new lodger is a Cross Spider, by which I mean that is the type of spider, not that he/she is particularly peeved! Apparently, despite appearances to the contrary, they are harmless creatures – unless you happen to be a fly I guess.

Spidey isn’t the only visitor we get in our back garden. During the all too brief summer, we had an army of butterflies who graced us with their presence, as well as a battalion of wasps (yellowjackets) who were somewhat less welcome! We also have a pair of blackbirds who like to visit us, again quite often at meal times, and pick at the grubs and worms outside as we feast on something a little more tasty inside. Dori was also “lucky” enough to see a snake slithering its way around our garden shed a couple of years back. Snakes aren’t exactly common here, so that was quite an unexpected find!

So, the Yellow House garden has quite a little menagerie building up, and apparently that now includes a neighbour’s cat who we have just seen in our garden for the very first time. It is starting to sound a lot like a song I remember....

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Tale of Two Cathedrals

As I mentioned in my previous post, it was my birthday last week. It was also my mum’s birthday on the same day - strange how that happens every year! :-) For her gift from us this year, we decided instead of giving her something that would probably be put away in a cupboard somewhere never to be seen again, or that would be used up in 5 minutes and forgotten about, we would take her out for a day sometime. And so, as the weather was so good at the start of this week, we went for a little day-trip.

When my mother was a young child, during World War II, she would often spend some of her holidays in Coventry, staying with some distant relatives. She loved these vacations, I guess because the city was so different to the rural life she was used to. It was on one of these visits that her “aunt” took her to see what remained of the recently bombed Coventry Cathedral. During the night of November 14, 1940 the whole city of Coventry had been decimated by a Luftwaffe bombing raid, and the cathedral did not escape from the punishment. Several bombs hit the cathedral and it burned along with a lot of the surrounding city.

My mum has very vivid memories of the sights she saw when she was taken down there sometime afterwards, and of the overpowering smell that still lingered in the air. But, she had never been back since to see either the remains of the bombed cathedral again, or the newly erected cathedral that was built alongside it. So, Coventry was our destination this week!

The new cathedral was designed by Sir Basil Spence and completed in 1962. Although there was some opposition at the time to its modern design, the cathedral is now very well loved, and was voted as Britain’s favourite 20th century building in a national poll. It certainly is an amazing place, and Dori has taken some wonderful pictures which I believe she will be sharing with you sometime soon when she returns to the bloggy world :-) In the meantime, here are a few snaps that I took with my mobile phone that will give you a little idea of what this house of worship is like.

The old....

..and the new...

The tapestry that you can see behind the altar is apparently the largest in the world, measuring 74'8" by 38' and was made in just one piece by Graham Sutherland. The stained glass windows are stunning, and my pictures don't even vaguely do them justice. As we had set off early, we were lucky enough to have the new cathedral almost to ourselves for a few minutes before a group of schoolchildren arrived, and it was an amazing experience to be so peaceful in that huge space.

It was a great day out, and a long-held ambition fulfilled for my mum.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Birthdays and So Much More

For Dori and me, this last weekend marks the start of a holiday season that goes all the way through to next spring.

It began with my birthday, which I celebrated by watching Team Europe squeak a victory in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales. As I foretold in my last post, the weather left a lot to be desired for much of the competition, only to end with a gloriously sunny day on Monday as the contest entered an extra day for the first time in its history. To say this year’s event was close would be a massive understatement, with every single match counting towards the final outcome. If just one individual match had gone from a Europe win to being halved, or from being halved to a US win then the American team would have been flying home with the Ryder Cup yesterday.

The tie ebbed and flowed considerably over the course of the 4 days, with Europe starting well only for the US to gain the upper hand, and then Europe fighting back with a stunning third session of games to take a commanding lead into the singles matches. But all was not done and dusted, and the Americans made a tremendous effort to claw their way back into the contest and level the scores with just one match left on the course. The pressure on those two final players must have been immense and it was US Open champion Graeme McDowell who managed to hold his nerve better and secure the win for Team Europe. Yet again the Ryder Cup produced sporting excellence and drama in equal measures and I am already looking forward to the next staging of the event, which will be at Medinah Country Club, Illinois in 2012.

Aside from the golf, we also went out for a meal together with my Mum, who celebrates her birthday on the same day as me. The food was delicious and we all had a very pleasant time. It was a good weekend.

But, as I was saying, this is the start of our holiday season. Being from two different places, as I have mentioned here before, means that we get to celebrate even more holidays than most people. Starting with my birthday, we then have Halloween, Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Dori’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, Pancake Day, Mothers Day, St George’s Day, Easter and our wedding anniversary – and no doubt I’ve forgotten one or two in there :-) And by the time we have gone through all of it will be time to start looking ahead to next summer! Time to get buying cards methinks!!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Let Battle Commence

It may not seem like it, but it was 6 months ago that I posted an entry on this blog looking forward to the sporting summer ahead. Well, now obviously that summer has been and gone and we have seen some tremendous performances over the months. It has been a very good year for the Spanish, with the football team finally realizing their potential and winning the World Cup after many years of thwarted dreams – and, of course, Rafa Nadal completing his collection of Grand Slam tennis titles at Flushing Meadows earlier this month.

There is, however, still one huge sporting event of the season still to take place, and that will be happening this coming weekend. I am referring, of course, to the Ryder Cup which will begin early on Friday morning and reach its climax on Sunday evening. This year the golfing battle is being hosted at Celtic Manor in South Wales. That is not too far distant from us and both Dori and I would have loved to attend the event and cheer on our respective teams. Sadly the cost of the tickets is exorbitant and we just could not justify the expense at this time. So, instead, I will be heading over to my Mum’s house to watch part of it there, as she has the sports package on her TV. Attending the Ryder Cup one year is, however, definitely on my bucket list! 

Ever since the Great Britain and Ireland team was expanded to include the rest of Europe in 1979, this contest has never failed to provide drama and exciting competition. Having won 5 out of the previous 6 matches the European team suffered a heavy defeat last time out, losing by 5 points at Valhalla in Kentucky two years ago. So, this year they will be out to avenge that defeat in what looks like being some fairly wet and windy weather.

As always on these occasions, Trevor’s loyalties will be divided and he will no doubt be cheering for the American team when Dori is in the room, and the Europeans when I am there – or, failing that, maybe he will just be rooting for whoever may be leading at the time. He is a bit of a glory hunter after all   :-) Whoever wins, expect a lot of ups and downs and some very heated competition. May the best team win!

Friday, 24 September 2010

A Happy Friday

Happy Friday everyone! And today is an even happier Friday for two reasons. One is that we are finally getting a new shower installed after nearly a month of wrangling with our property agents (of which you can read more over at Dori’s blog), and the second is that I have received the Happy 101 Award from Lis of An American Girl in Bristol. Thank you very much Lis, I am very honoured to receive this award, especially as it is the first blogging award I have received from someone who I’m not married to!!

The Rules of the Award are that you should say who passed on the award ( thanks again Lis), and to name 10 things that you like and then pass on the award to 10 other people and notify them with a comment. Well, I’m going to bail on the last of those conditions and just say that if you have ever commented on my blog, or if I have commented on yours, then you are free to take this award away with you and do with it as you please. :-)

The 10 things that I like are:
1. Cheese – the food of the Gods
2. Football – the beautiful game (aka soccer in some places!)
3. Sunny days when you don’t have anywhere in particular to go
4. Snow days when you don’t have to drive out anywhere
5. Bath – that’s the city in England not something you may find in your bathroom, although now I mention it....
6. A long soak in the bath when you can just relax and let the stresses melt away
7. The West Wing – see Friday Favourites #1
8. Music – I couldn’t live without it
9. Sophie’s Steakhouse, Covent Garden – our new favourite, affordable London eatery
10. Travelling with Dori and seeing the wonderful world around us.

As I say, feel free to take this award home with you if you are a commenter/commentee.

Have a great - and happy - weekend everyone!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Random Monday #4 - To Be or Not To Be

It must be time for another Random Monday I think. So here goes -
Today’s question is ....

Have you ever appeared in a school play?

Well, the quick answer is no, but that would make for a very dull and short blog post!! So, let me bore you instead with tales of my (very brief) stage adventures!

As I said, I haven’t appeared in a school play, but I did appear in a play at school. I may be interpreting the question incorrectly, but to me a “school play” is one where the participants are drawn from the whole school and the play is performed for the public. I ain’t never done that! But I do have a tiny bit of theatrical experience from my schooldays.

Our secondary school, like many here, was split into “houses” and every year, just before Christmas, each house year-group would put on a play, performed in front of the rest of your year. The plays were then judged by the headmaster and the head of year, and the winners would be rewarded with something. No doubt the prize was fabulous and stunning, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Maybe that is because we never won - I couldn’t possibly say :-)

Anyhoo, it was in these yearly plays that I made both my stage debut and my final performance. Most of the plays were stolen ...uhh, I mean borrowed from somewhere else. I recall that one group did their version of a Fawlty Towers episode one year, which went down a storm. In the first year (when we were all 11 or 12) our house-group did a small play about a wax museum where for some reason or other the wax figures suddenly came to life, and the people froze. My role in this masterpiece was as one of the visitors to the museum, and I had one line to say. Yep, one whole line. About half a dozen words if memory serves me correctly.

I learnt the line in five seconds flat – well, how long does it take to memorize six words? And, of course, when it came to the crunch on the big day itself, those same six words somehow flew away from my brain and stubbornly refused to return. To be honest, I think that if you had asked me at the time what my own name was, I may have struggled to remember that too. As a visitor to the museum, my character was supposed to freeze, but as an “actor” in the play it wasn’t called for so much!! So, yes I appeared in the play but I completely bombed out! LOL

My memory is a little hazy, but I believe that I also took part in the 2nd Year production, although I can’t recall what the play was or what my part in it might have been. I know for sure that it wasn’t a speaking part!! “Member of crowd” was clearly my theatrical forte! After that I moved to backstage roles in subsequent years, which I have to say I enjoyed immeasurably more. Not all of us are cut out for the limelight I guess.

Do any of you have a more auspicious experience of school theatrics? I am guessing that no one has a worse tale, although I suppose that at least I didn’t fall flat on my face!! Let me know your own stories of woe or wonder.

Keeping it random!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Two Popes

Today is the first day of the state visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain. He arrived at just before 10:30 this morning at Edinburgh airport, and has spent the majority of the day in Scotland before flying down to London in the evening.

It is the first Papal visit to these shores since Pope John Paul II came here in 1982, and has caused a little controversy in some circles. Whilst some people are against the visit on religious principles, others are up in arms over the Catholic Church’s role in recent abuse cases and then there is the matter of who pays for this event. Unlike the Papal visit in 1982, this is an official visit by the Pope in his position as a head of state and as such a large proportion of the cost is to be borne by the British taxpayer. This comes at a time when the country is struggling under a heavy debt and massive cuts are being made to public spending.

I do think, however, that it is a shame that only the second visit by a Pope to this country has been categorized, in the media at least, by the negativity surrounding it. Hopefully the good will outweigh the bad during the 4 days that His Holiness is here and people will come away with good memories of the time, much like people still have of John Paul’s 1982 visit.

I cannot quite believe that it is 28 years since that time. Somebody is definitely accelerating the passage of time somewhere behind the scenes!! Anyway, as a reminder of what the world was like way back in May/June of 1982, here is a video of the song that was at Number One in the charts during the majority of Pope John Paul’s visit way back when.

The subject matter is quite ironic when you think about it!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

New Look and A Wonderful World

You may have noticed that things look a little different around here today! I decided that after nearly 18 months, it was time for a bit of a revamp. And as we are fast heading towards autumn, I plumped for an autumnal feel. Of course, that means that I will have to redecorate again in two or three months time, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it was about time for a fresh feel to the blog. I hope that you like it.

Today’s is just a short post, to show you this little video that I put together last weekend. I was browsing through some of our old photos and thought how gorgeous some of the places we have visited look. So, I put a few of the pictures together and set them to some appropriate music. The photographs were all taken by either Dori or me (mostly Dori) and are mainly nature shots. This is the first video that I have uploaded to our new YouTube channel. We hope to post some more videos in the near future, of our travels and other stuff. So, bookmark it now! :-) Apparently this video won’t be available to watch in every country because of copyright issues, so I apologize in advance if you can’t see it.

Anyway, here it is. I hope you like it.

If you don't see the video above, then click here instead to watch it on YouTube.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Random Monday #3

So here we are again. Another Monday, another Random Monday post. By the way, Happy Labor Day for those of you celebrating it :-)

Today’s mind scrambler is:

When was the last time you drove “out of town”?

Now, I am going to have to interpret this question to stop my answer from being extremely mundane! As we live in a small town with just a few local shops and a couple of supermarkets, going out of town is a regular occurrence and a necessity on an almost daily basis. Strictly speaking, the last time I drove out of town was on Saturday when we went to get ourselves a KFC, which was a mistake in itself but that’s a whole other story!

Before that, we did, of course, go to London a week or so ago, but we travelled on the train and the question does specify driving. So, the last time that we actually drove somewhere else was a couple of days after our London trip. It was a Bank Holiday here, and we decided to go on an impromptu little drive around after visiting another fast-food outlet (maybe we should look at our eating habits!!). We ended up going through the northern part of Wiltshire and over the county border into Gloucestershire, and then on into Oxfordshire.

This led us into the Cotswolds, with its beautiful scenery and lovely golden coloured buildings. It is so picturesque around there. We didn’t have a camera with us on the day, but we will have to go on a photography mission one day soon so that you can all get to see how gorgeous that part of the country is. We drove through Lechlade, which was bustling with cars and people out enjoying the holiday, and on through Burford, before looping round back towards home past Cirencester and back into Wiltshire. It was a very nice change to do something a little different, and we saw some stunning panoramas in just that short time. As I say, we will have to take you all along with us the nest time that we head that way!

But, we never actually stopped anywhere on that drive, so I don’t know if I have even now really answered the question properly. Where did we last drive to that was outside of the surrounding area, that wasn’t for work purposes and where we actually stopped and got out of the car? I will admit that I am struggling to think of the answer here. Give me a minute....

Five minutes later....
Aha! It took a while but inspiration has finally struck!! The last time that I drove out of town, with a purpose, was to collect Dori from Gatwick airport after her visit back home to Georgia. Now that was back at the beginning of July, which says to me that we need to go on a few more trips out before the weather turns much colder – I won’t say wetter because that would just be silly :-)

So where have you driven to lately? I would be interested to find out. As always, leave me a comment and we will see if anyone has a more interesting answer than an airport!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Friday Favourites

Sometimes as a blogger inspiration is somewhat lacking when it comes to deciding what to write about, well it is for me at least! So, I was racking my brains this morning trying to think of what I could share with you all. Dori has already described, in wonderful detail and great pictures, our trip up to London last weekend for what we thought was going to be a visit to the theatre but ended up being a delicious meal, a walk around Covent Garden, a visit to the Science Museum and a bit of relaxation in Hyde Park. So, what else can I write about today?

Looking around the room for inspiration, my eye fell (not literally you understand!) on our DVD collection, and I had what passes for a brainwave in my head. So, today I am starting yet another semi-regular series on this blog – Friday Favourites, and yes I am spelling it like that :-) Now, as with everybody, my favourites come and go and change over time and with my mood, so there may well be different subjects appearing in these blog entries under the same topic. For example, my favourite song very much depends on whether I am feeling happy, sad, optimistic, melancholy, etc.

Anyway, the first in this series is my favourite TV show. Now there are many shows that I could have plumped for under this title, from way back in the 70’s as a kid when I was watching the Banana Splits or The Six Million Dollar Man or Star Trek, through the 80’s and 90’s with Inspector Morse or The Simpsons, and into the new millennium with current shows such as Brothers and Sisters or Monk. Some of you may also remember that I wrote a guest post on Dori’s blog about the cancellation of Eli Stone, which I thought was a wonderful and original series and was ditched way too soon.

But the show that I have decided to highlight today, and which is my first Friday Favourite is The West Wing. It is one of a very few shows of which I have the full DVD collection. I may tell you sometime what the others are ;-) The West Wing premiered in September 1999, which incidentally was also the month when the moon was knocked out of Earth’s orbit at the start of Space 1999, but I may be getting a little sidetracked there! The show ran until May of 2006, clocking up seven seasons and 156 episodes. It won countless awards including three Golden Globes and 27 Emmy awards.

For the few of you out there who might not know, The West Wing chronicles the ups and downs of a fictional Democratic administration in the White House. Starring Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet, the show also featured Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Rob Lowe, the late John Spencer, Richard Schiff, Janel Moloney, Dule Hill and many others.

The dialogue is consistently sharp, funny and very well written. Like many West Wing fans, I prefer the first four seasons of the show which is when Aaron Sorkin was still the main writer and creative driving force behind it. But right up to the very last episode, this show never failed to deliver a combination of incisive writing and great acting. I am constantly remarking to Dori how some current situation in the world reflects what has already happened on The West Wing. For example, they solved the Israel/Palestine situation many years ago on the show, and we currently have the two sides in talks as you read this post!

As another example, way before the 2008 Presidential election, the show’s writers modelled their own Democratic candidate on a relatively little known Senator from Illinois (Barack Obama) and the Republican candidate on Arizona Senator John McCain. I guess they really did have their fingers on the pulse of Washington politics!

I love this show for its realism, its humour, its drama and its message of hope. And, when I have the time, I love nothing better than to sit myself down on the sofa and watch episode after episode after episode. Bliss.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Is That Rain I See?

It was a typical English summer’s day yesterday, i.e. wet and cold! Today is no different, and it has been much the same story ever since mid-July. It seems that nowadays we no longer get hot and sunny weather in July and August, instead we have to deal with floods and downpours. The best weather, such as it is, appears to be more likely to appear in April or September than in the summer months!

Anyway, as the day was a wash-out, and since we hadn’t been to the movies for a couple of months, Dori and I made the decision to head on over to the multiplex and catch a film in the afternoon. Now, as we are both big kids at heart we were quite keen on seeing Toy Story 3, but it is still the school holidays over here, and we thought that it might be a little packed out in there. So, instead, we plumped for “Salt”, starring Angelina Joile and Liev Schreiber.

If you don’t already know, Jolie plays a CIA agent and the film follows a “Bourne Identity” type line, with her character on the run and the audience left to work out if she’s actually a good guy or bad guy. It won’t be winning too many Oscars come next February, but it was certainly an entertaining and diverting way to while away a couple of hours on a wet Wednesday afternoon :-)

In other news, I forgot to mention that I became a great-uncle a couple of weeks back. I mean, I already was by virtue of marriage, but this new arrival was to my brother’s eldest son. They are calling their little bundle of joy Macy, or possibly Macey – the lines of communication have been a little fuzzy! Baby and mother (and even father!) are said to be doing well. I can’t quite believe though that my brother is a grandfather – it only seems like 5 minutes ago we were both in school! Time, as they say, does indeed fly.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Walking In A Summer Wonderland ?!

They say that Christmas comes earlier every year, and that is certainly the case this year. Dori and I went into town on Monday to get a few essentials, as well as a new shower head as the old one has been falling apart on a disconcertingly regular basis lately. In fact, thinking about it, our plumbing system as a whole has been a menace ever since we first moved in to the Yellow House. During the 6 years we have been renting here we have had a new cistern, repairs to the bath as it was leaking through the ceiling downstairs, a brand new shower, a new washing machine, several replacement parts for the immersion heater and a few dripping taps. Dealing with the landlord/property agents has been a nightmare at times, and so nowadays, as long as it is not going to cost us too much, we tend to do any running repairs ourselves and save ourselves the hassle!

Anyway, as I was saying, we were in town doing our little bit of shopping. We had finished up and were on our way back to the car park when I happened to glance at the window display of a shop to my left. And what did I see? A Christmas tree, faux presents, a Santa and Rudolph blow-up thingy (!) and some random Christmas crackers. I must admit that for a second there I did a mental flip, thinking “what month is this?”. But, yes, on checking with myself I found that we are still indeed in AUGUST!!! Yes, August! I fully expect the shops to be crammed full of Christmas decorations and the like by October time - a mere two months or so before the festive season, but August!? Seriously? The kids here haven’t even gone back to school from their summer break yet! Grrr.

Of course, it is not just Christmas that comes around early. There are Easter eggs in the shops before New Year’s Day, summer clothes are on the racks whilst the snow is still on the ground and Valentines cards have to battle it out with the Christmas cards for shelf space. I guess that looking ahead is no bad thing, but surely it is better to first enjoy and relish the season that you are actually in. I don’t want to be thinking of buying Christmas gifts in summer (though it has felt more like winter here lately, but that’s another story!), just as I don’t want to be buying in BBQ supplies in January!

Friday, 13 August 2010

A Fresh New Season

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! I hope that your day goes well :-) I wouldn’t be quite so spooked by the date if I didn’t also (yet again) have 666 followers on my Twitter account (@BritBoy)!! I will be avoiding walking under any ladders, spilling salt or going anywhere near any mirrors for the rest of the day. Not that I’m at all superstitious you understand!

Anyway, that is not what this post is meant to be about. Tomorrow, when Friday the 13th will be safely behind us all, will see the start of the new English Premier League season. Another 9-month campaign will begin again to see which super-rich, but heavily indebted, club can secure the Premiership title. I would like to say that the field is wide open, but if the eventual champions aren’t either Manchester United or Chelsea then it would be a major surprise. In fact, those two teams plus Arsenal are the only ones to have won the Premiership since 1995, and they all occupied the top three positions in last season’s competition. Despite a miserable showing by the English players at this summer’s World Cup, every team will be hoping that this is “their year”. The start of a new season brings fresh hope to every fan, player and manager alike and optimism is rife. For some that optimism will be fulfilled, whilst for the majority it will be a season of struggle and ups and downs.

Away from the Premier League, the rest of the professional teams kicked off their seasons last weekend. Swindon Town, fresh from reaching the play-off final at Wembley last season, have started this campaign rather badly. They have so far played two matches, and lost them both, going out of one of the cup competitions in the process. Of course, last season started with a 5-0 drubbing on the opening day, so it is worth remembering that you can’t predict the outcome in May based on a few games in August! It is, however, a disconcerting start and some of that optimism that I was just talking about has already dissipated!

But the life of a football fan (and a Swindon Town fan in particular!) is often harrowing and filled with disappointment, but it is those very same hard times that make the good times, when they do eventually come round, all the better and more satisfying. If you are a Chelsea or Man Utd supporter, then second place at the end of this season will be a disappointment, and first place is just “job done”. But as a Town fan, another season like last year, with the excitement of the play-off matches and a day out at Wembley Stadium, would be a very exhilarating experience. I guess it just comes down to your perspective :-)

Anyway, as the season gets into full swing this weekend, I wish every football supporter a great 9 months ahead – unless your team is playing against Swindon, or you happen to be an Oxford United fan!! Let the games begin!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Random Monday #2 - Yes, already!

So, one week on and here is Random Monday #2. “Not very random” I hear you cry – but the whole point of randomness is that you don’t know when the next one will occur. Who knows, Random Monday #3 may well appear next Monday ...or not. :-)

Thank you for your answers to last week’s question, which ranged from the very mundane (mine included) to the truly extraordinary. Hopefully this week’s question will also provide a wide-ranging variety of answers. So, without further ado, this week’s Random Monday question is:

What was the last concert that you attended?

Now, Dori and I are avid concert-goers, but we have had a bit of a drought lately because of a number of factors. In order to go to a decent concert over here we usually have to travel into London, and often stay overnight as the trains don’t run quite late enough for us to get back. So, concert-going is not a cheap occupation, especially considering the already astronomical prices for the tickets themselves. Added to that, there haven’t been too many of our favourite acts touring lately. We missed out on seeing Alicia Keys at The O2 in the spring, and have been searching the listings ever since but nothing has really caught our eye.

The last concert that we should have gone to was, of course, Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour, also at The O2 in London. We were too excited for words at the prospect, and then completely shattered when the awful events of June last year unfolded. For a while, we didn’t feel like we wanted to go to see anyone in concert at all. Having seen the subsequent film of the same name, we know that the concert would have been out of this world, and simply extraordinary. What a loss.

So, I still haven’t answered the question. I have had to rack my brains, because we saw two or three concerts very close together last spring and I’m not entirely sure which one was actually the last. But I believe the answer is that the last concert we went to was the magnificent, incomparable and truly legendary Tina Turner. Once again this was at the O2 (can you spot a pattern here?) and she was simply amazing. Ms Turner is no longer a spring chicken, but boy did she have energy to spare that night! And she knows how to put on a show too, with great choreography, costume changes and visual effects. We had a fantastic night, sung along to almost every song, and were able to cross another off of our Legends We Must See list!! Truly wonderful.

The O2 in Greenwich, London

It is only now that it has sunk in how long ago that was. We really do need to get out and see somebody else is concert very soon. There is nothing like the Live Music experience. I will have to get back to searching the listings again – there must be somebody out there who’s worth paying the price for!!

As always with Random Monday, I would be fascinated to hear your answers too. Leave me a comment and tell me who was your last concert experience! Have a good week everyone!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Random Monday #1

OK, so this is the first of what may be an occasional series of posts called Random Monday. It is occasional because it couldn’t really be random otherwise, could it?! :-) But the randomness doesn’t stop there. Oh no. The random in the title refers to a random question that will be plucked from the ether and which I will then answer for myself. If you would like to give your own answers then please do so in the Comments. Oh, by the way, I’m doing it on a Monday because “random” and “Monday” share 5 of their 6 letters! Sorry, just a random thought :-)

So, anyway, the first Random Monday question is:

Where were you this time last week?

I like this question, not because of the answer, which I suspect we will all find out in a minute is very unspectacular, but because it is one of those questions that actually makes you think. Anything to get the grey matter bubbling!

So, my answer to this question is....right here on this same chair in our little yellow house in Wiltshire, and writing another blog post in fact! I would have loved to have said I was trekking up Kilimanjaro or something, but I guess honesty is the best policy with these questions. I did warn that my answer would be something less than stellar! If you have a more interesting answer, or even if you don’t, I would be intrigued to know what it is.

Look out for the next Random Monday, which will be appearing. .. umm... randomly sometime in the future!!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Two years, 1 day and counting.....

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is July 27th, and that will be exactly two years from the start of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The five years that have passed since the announcement that the games would be coming to London have flown by, and I have no doubt that the next two years will pass by even quicker.

We were talking about this last week to some friends, and one was saying how much she is dreading it. She is not a sports lover, but it isn’t the wall to wall sports coverage that she fears, nor is it the influx of all the teams, athletes and spectators into our already over-crowded little island, or even the mass of Olympic merchandise that you know will flood every shop in the country. No, what she is apprehensive about is the impression of our country that will be given at the Opening Ceremony! This is not a view that she holds alone, I have to say. If you were unlucky enough to have caught the brief London 2012 section of the Closing Ceremony in Beijing then you will be aware of how badly wrong something like that can go!! And it is quite a widely held feeling that this will only be magnified when it comes to the Opening Ceremony in two years time.

Of course, it is part of the British psyche to put ourselves down – we are World Class at it! LOL Hold on, was that me boasting the Brits are good at something?? No, couldn’t have been! :-) Anyway, Dori tells me from her own experience, that it was the same with Atlanta before the 1996 games, but that it all turned out great in the end. The London 2012 organizing committee have appointed Danny Boyle, who directed Slumdog Millionaire amongst other films, as the director of the opening ceremony, which does gives some cause for optimism. I am sure (ish!) that it will be “alright on the night”!

But, whatever happens at the opening ceremony, I am sure the Games themselves will be a great success, and that is what is important at the end of the day. I am very excitedly looking forward to what will be the biggest sporting occasion this country has witnessed in my lifetime. And with the English FA also bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 (decision to be announced in December) it could be quite a sporting decade for England! Two years, 1 day and counting.....

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Live Aid 1985 - The Cars - "Drive"

As I mentioned in my last post, this week saw the 25th anniversary of Live Aid. Watching the documentary about it, I was reminded of this piece of film. It is probably the most moving film I have ever seen, and still retains its power to this day. Watch it again, and remember that there is still too much suffering on this planet, and that we as a world should look after each other.

The world doesn't have to be like this.

Friday, 16 July 2010

A Quarter of a Century Ago....

As many of you will have seen, this week marked the 25th anniversary of the Live Aid concerts. 25 years! Can you believe that? Time really does fly. There was a documentary on BBC3 this week, which was actually made for the 20th anniversary, and that brought the memories flooding back. As somebody said in the documentary, Live Aid was one of those seminal moments in cultural history that everybody remembers, and knows where they were, what they were doing and how they were feeling at the time. It was a day never to be forgotten.

So, what was I doing on that day? Well, as it happens, it was always going to be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life even before Live Aid was first mooted. Every year at our school the Lower 6th form (ie 16 and 17 year olds) would do a charity challenge, and back in those days it usually involved pushing a vehicle of some description around the school grounds. I remember before our year there had been a milkfloat push, a Mini push, a boat on wheels,... all manner of different craft. So when it came to our turn we were a little stuck for ideas, and eventually landed on the idea of pushing an aeroplane! Now, obviously, pushing an actual plane around our school would have been more than a little problematic, so what we did was to adapt an old DAF car to look aeroplane-like! It had wings and everything.

The preparation for the charity challenge lasted the whole of the school year, and the event itself would always take place on the penultimate weekend of the year. So, we knew months ahead that our charity challenge – or marathon as it was colloquially known – would be taking place from Friday July 12th to Monday July 15th 1985. So imagine how excited and then gutted we all were when Live Aid was first announced. The greatest concert ever – but on one of the days that we were doing the marathon! Why didn’t Bob Geldof consult us first?!

So last minute arrangements had to be made to bring in somebody’s portable TV, and a host of radios. The 6th Form Marathon was organized so that teams of 5 or 6 students would push the “plane” around the grounds for an hour at a time, over the course of the 78 hour duration of the challenge. So, we had about 8 teams who worked in a rotating shift system. The challenge started at 9:30 on the Friday morning and went on to 3:30 on the Monday afternoon. When we weren’t actually pushing the plane, we would eat, sleep and hang out in the 6th Form common room and adjoining classrooms.

The portable TV, with its grossly poor reception, was set up in the lecture room so that as many people as possible could see the concert when they weren’t either running or sleeping. A small transistor radio was also fixed onto the plane so that those doing the running could also hear what was going on. So, contrary to most people of my generation, Live Aid Day wasn’t spent camped out in front of a TV, but in a much different way. But we all got to see some of the concert, and heard the great majority of it. Most people’s highlight of the Wembley concert was Queen’s amazing performance, and most of that I listened to whilst running around our school pushing a car disguised as a plane!! Our team were lucky enough to have our extended break from running (each team had one) on the Saturday evening, and I was able to go home and see the end of the Wembley concert there.

So, yes I do remember exactly what I was doing, where I was and how I was feeling when Live Aid occurred!! I have never been so sore or tired in my life than I was after we had finished on the Monday afternoon. But, they are memories that I hold and will treasure for the rest of my life. We may not have been quite on the level of Live Aid, but we did our own small bit for a local charity and raised a few thousand pounds for a Special School, which caters for students with learning difficulties, physical disabilities or behavioural problems. And we all have an extra story to tell when the subject of Live Aid comes around! :-)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday Snaps 11 - Lanzarote

So, today is World Cup Final day. The Netherlands will meet Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg to battle it out to become World Champions. I hope that it will be a good match to finish off the tournament.

But this is a Sunday Snaps post (the first since January would you believe?!), so what pictures can I share with you today? I have never been to Holland, or to the Spanish mainland, but we have been to Lanzarote, which is one of the Canary Islands and belongs to Spain. So today here are some of the sights of Lanzarote, taken while we were honeymooning there :-)

The first two pictures are of Timanfaya National Park and show the volacanic landscape of the island. It is almost lunar in some places.

This next photo is of the marina at Puerto Calero. We took a day trip there, and even had a voyage out on a Yellow Submarine!

The next snap was taken at “Rancho Texas”, a park that evokes the old Wild West, and which houses many animals and birds. We watched a Birds of Prey show there, but some of the birds got a little too close for comfort!!

The last pic was taken from our hotel room, showing a passing cruise ship. Lanzarote lies just 79 miles off the coast of Africa, and is a popular drop off point for cruises.

Good luck to both Spain and the Netherlands today. If you are watching the match then I hope you enjoy it, but have a great Sunday whatever you are up to!

Thursday, 8 July 2010


I visited my Dad today. I haven’t seen him in a while, and to be honest, I didn’t see him today. We didn’t say anything; I just spent some time with him. It was peaceful and comforting. I didn’t stay long, but I wanted him to know that I love him and I miss him. It’s been three years now, and at times that feels like just a heartbeat ago. At other times it feels like a lifetime has passed since we were together.

Ironically, where my Dad now rests is just a stone’s throw (literally) from my childhood home, and where my Mum still lives. In fact, she can sit in her chair in the front room and still see my Dad – and who is visiting him. I know that she finds comfort in that, and so do I.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

(Mary Elizabeth Frye)

Miss you Dad. x

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Weekend at the Yellow House

I hope that everybody who celebrates it had a great 4th of July. Coming from two places, as we do, Dori and I get to celebrate the holidays from both places, which is great. We can celebrate Independence Day, as well as Bonfire Night, Memorial Day, St George’s Day, Thanksgiving and all the others. There is nothing like a good excuse for a celebration :-)

On Sunday we cooked burgers, corn on the cob and beans and bacon and had a great eat-out meal – although we actually had it indoors for one reason and another. As a Brit, I guess I shouldn’t really be joining in on 4th of July celebrations, but what the hey! It was a good day.

As we ate our celebration food, we also watched the men’s final at Wimbledon. Not unexpectedly, Britain’s Andy Murray failed to make it into the final and so it will be at least 73 years now between the last British finalist and the next! Both the men’s and women’s finals were a little one-sided and were decided in straight sets. But both were won by true champions of the game, and congratulations have to go to both of the deserved winners – Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. It has been a great Wimbledon fortnight this year, with many a cracking match – not least the longest tennis match ever. And there was not a single rain delay in the whole two weeks, which is a very rare occurrence indeed! The Wimbledon fortnight is my favourite two weeks of the year, as I have mentioned here before, and this year was no exception.

Of course, this year I also had the added distraction of the World Cup taking place simultaneously, over in South Africa. On more than one occasion I found myself watching the football on the TV, whilst having my other eye on the tennis on my laptop! It’s not easy – even less so when you are also tweeting about both events at the same time!! Who says that men can’t multi-task!

Talking of the World Cup, we are now at the semi-final stage having seen some shock results in the quarter-finals. What was looking like a Brazil-Argentina final has now totally been thrown out of the window after both teams were eliminated in the last round. The quarter-finals also saw the end of the last African team in the tournament, as Ghana were beaten by Uruguay in a penalty shoot-out. This now leaves Uruguay plus three European teams in the competition. Tonight sees Uruguay take on the Netherlands, and then tomorrow Germany will play against Spain. The winners will meet in the final, to be played on Sunday.

Other than the sport, it has been a relatively quiet time at the Yellow House. Dori is now just about recovered from the jet-lag and we are slipping back into our routines. It is good to be back together again :-)

We have a wedding reception to attend on Friday, so that may prove interesting as it is being held in a hotel that we have been trying to find an excuse to visit for a long while. LOL You may hear more about that on one of our blogs at the weekend!

I hope that you all have a good week.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Crunch Time

Today is a big sporting day. At Wimbledon it is men’s semi-finals day, and in South Africa we have the first quarter-final matches of the World Cup. My place on the sofa in front of the TV is already reserved!

Just like last year, Britain’s Andy Murray has made his way into the semi-final at Wimbledon, and that means that the nation and the press in particular are now getting very excited about the prospect of a British men’s champion for the first time since 1936. Although Roger Federer has now been knocked out, it still won’t be an easy task for Murray, as he has to play world number one Rafa Nadal today. Should he reach the final (a big if) he will be the first Briton to play in the men’s final since 1938. The nation would, no doubt, go into complete tennis fever !!

That fever will be heightened because there is no longer a distraction being caused by the England football team at the World Cup. They were beaten – well beaten – last weekend by Germany, and left the competition in ignominy. England has perhaps the greatest club competition in the Premier League, in which many world stars compete, but the national side have performed nowhere near those levels. In fact, so poor were they that there has even been a call for a Parliamentary inquiry into their abysmal showing! I have to say it is the worst performance I can ever remember from an England team at a World Cup finals, but that may be taking things a tad too far!

Anyway, the competition continues, and today sees Brazil take on the Netherlands in what could be the game of the tournament, and unfancied Uruguay play against the even more unfancied Ghana. It would be wonderful if Africa’s first ever World Cup were to see an African nation in the semi-finals, and they certainly stand a chance. Tomorrow will see Germany play Argentina – another clash of the titans – and Spain will play Paraguay. It should be a very exciting couple of days, and I am sure there will be much drama. The semi-finals take place on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and the final is on the following Sunday.

So, even with the inglorious showing of the England team, there is still plenty of sporting action to look forward to over the next 10 days. Now I have to go and claim that space on the sofa...

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Welcome Home

Dori is back home. Yay!

I drove up to Gatwick airport yesterday to collect her. As with the outward journey, it meant a ridiculously early start for me - before the birds had even begun to clear their throats! Gatwick is further away than Heathrow, about 40 or 50 miles more, and Dori’s plane was due to arrive at 7a.m., so it was a crack of dawn start to the day.

The weather here for the last week or so has been glorious. In fact I can’t remember such a long stretch of unbroken sunshine for a very long time. So, it was a pleasant ride up to the airport (if driving along the motorways here can ever be said to be pleasant!), with my iPod choosing the music as I went. The sun rose as an orange ball as I left home, but was very soon shining brightly as I sped along the motorway.

I arrived at Gatwick at nearly the exact time that Dori’s flight was due. We are both very used to that journey, having made it countless times when we were both flitting back and forth across the Atlantic before we got married. So I knew roughly how long it would take me, and I arrived at pretty much the time I anticipated. It was a little chaotic when I arrived at the terminal as they are currently making changes to the road layout there, and have moved the drop-off point to directly in front of the car park entrance. Cars were going in all directions! Anyway, I manoeuvred my way across one lane of cars, and slipped quickly into the car park, leaving the mayhem behind me.

Having parked up, I walked over to the terminal and began my wait for Dori. The plane landed just a couple of minutes later, and so I anticipated a further 45 minutes or so for her to deplane and go through immigration, baggage claim and customs. An hour and a half later I was getting a tad worried! Thankfully, Dori then appeared at the end of the corridor. Apparently it had taken forever to get through immigration because they only had 2 people working there trying to get 2 or 3 plane loads of people through! But all was well :-)

We said our hellos and then made our way back to the car, and onwards back to Wiltshire. Sometimes the journey back from Gatwick can seem like it is taking forever, and yesterday was one of those days. Having to travel around the M25 (the inspiration for Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell”) doesn’t help!! For those that don’t know, the M25 is a ring road that encircles London, and is always extremely busy; and sometimes, as yesterday, at a complete standstill. So, it took much longer to get back home than it had for me to get up to the airport.

But, get back we did, and Dori is now fast asleep upstairs as I write this, trying to catch up on her missed sleep, and recovering from the jetlag. She had a wonderful time back home in Georgia, and I am sure she will be blogging about it all for you very soon!

In other news, apparently the World Cup is still going on, but I forget who is doing well and who is doing so abysmally poorly!! :-/ Maybe I will remember before the next time!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A Sporting Time

So, I’m in Brit Boy sporting heaven right now :-) The World Cup has been going for 10 days already and is reaching the end of the group stage. This is where the fun really begins as every match is absolutely crucial.

England’s campaign so far has been abysmal, but long experience has shown me that they nearly always start big tournaments slowly and then improve as the competition progresses. They have drawn both of their opening games, and so have to win their third group match on Wednesday to go forward into the knock-out stages. Their poor performance so far has been a major item on all of the news shows here, quite often being the lead story! The country is certainly getting itself into a bit of a lather over their below-par showing. So, I am keeping everything crossed that the players will rediscover their form tomorrow and be able to beat Slovenia.

And, as well as the football still proceeding, yesterday saw the start of Wimbledon 2010. And what a start to the fortnight it was too! Six-time champion Roger Federer came extremely close to going out in the very first round. He lost the first two sets to Alejandro Falla, a Colombian ranked 60th in the world. But Federer isn’t the great champion he is just by accident. He drew on all of his reserves and experience to claw his way back into the match, and eventually ran out the winner, taking the fifth set 6-0.

That wasn’t the only near shock on the opening day either, with Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko both being taken to five sets to win their matches too. Djokovic’s match didn’t finish until 11pm local time, and was completed under Centre Court’s new roof that was installed last year. Late matches like this are a new thing for Wimbledon, having only been made possible by having the aforesaid roof put on the top of Centre Court.

I am sure that Dori was glad she wasn’t here yesterday as there was 12 hours of sport on the TV non-stop! And that is likely to continue for a while yet – as I said, Brit Boy sporting heaven!

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Yellow House Garden

As you may have seen in her last post, Dori is having a great time back in Georgia and has taken some wonderful photos of her surrounds. I love how green it is around there and I know that Dori has been enjoying some lovely walks along the local nature trail there.

Since Dori has been gone we have finally had some decent weather here, the first in a long while. It was so nice yesterday that I had to get out into the garden to enjoy it – these opportunities are far too rare! I thought that I would take a few pictures of my own to share with you all, showing some of the flowers and bushes here at the Yellow House.

I’m am far from being an expert in the identification of plants, so forgive me for not doing so here, The only ones that I do know in our garden are the roses, and we have a surprising variety of colours given that our garden is tiny. The first I will share with you is this lovely deep pink rose.

We also have a few lighter pink, and almost white, roses in the Yellow House garden.

And, of course, we couldn’t live in a Yellow House without some yellow roses to go with it!

I love the deep yellow colour of this rose, and the reddish tinges to it. We did have some lighter yellow roses, but those that have already bloomed have started to turn already, so I will have to wait to see if any more bloom to get some photos of them :-)

Other than the roses we also have other plants and bushes in the garden which will, by me at least, remain nameless! Here are a few...

If nothing else, these pictures prove that we do sometimes get nice, cloudless weather here in Wiltshire!! Let's hope there is plenty more to come.

Have a great weekend everyone!
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