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...
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