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.
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