Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old, and in with the new: Happy New Year and all that

So that was 2007.

Here's my personal highs and lows.

  • An early break in February at Center Parcs (Longleat) - terrific
  • Seeing my niece (and God daughter) get married in May - a great family wedding
  • Another great holiday in Majorca, in Puerto Pollensa
  • Playing for my cricket club (Dinas Powys CC) against an invitation Glamorgan XI as part of our 125th anniversary celebrations.
  • Seeing my (then) 12 year old son in his first proper senior cricket match take 4-13 with his legspin against Blaengarw
  • A brilliant family weekend break in early September in the Gower as part of the celebrations for my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary
  • Watching City put up a great performance against Liverpool at Anfield in the 4th round of the Carling Cup

  • Exacerbation of the arthritic problems with my knee, resulting in me being listed for an operation - if I was a horse they'd shoot me
  • Noticably deteriorating eyesight - need my glasses more and more
  • Haven't won the lottery (yet) - well not enough to retire on
  • Seeing Michael Chopra go to Sunderland for £5m
  • Watching Cardiff City underachieve after a great start to the 06/07 season.
  • Watching Cardiff City underachieve in the first half of the 07/08 season
  • The rainy summer
So there we go - I'm sure there are more in both categories, but that's what I can think of now.
Into 2008, and let's hope it's a good one for everyone.

Naturally I have a couple fo New Year resolutions

  • Lose weight (I've been saying that for about 8 years)
  • Take my good lady out more - never seem to have the time - always in front of the PC, playing cricket or skittles etc etc
  • Be more tolerant......well maybe two out of three!
Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Palmblogging

Us bloggers like to tip a wink in each other's direction now and then, and so it's only right to congratulate David over at Palmblogging on the first anniversary of the blog. The posts are mainly on or about Palm related stuff (as the name would imply), but bravely, almost all his posts are made on his Palm device (currently a Treo 680), which is no mean feat. Although I post to my site on my mobile devices, I must admit that most of them are done on the PC.
I drop by theblog most days, and always read any posts I've missed.
Happy birthday Palmblogging. Keep up the good work.

7pts from 9: Preston 1 - 2 City

I said (to myself and my son, and a couple of the lads down at Ninian Park) before the Christmas that I'd be satisfied with a return of 7 points out of the possible 12 on offer over the Christmas and New Year period.
Well, after today's great win away at Preston we've got those 7 with a game in hand - Plymouth at home on New Years Day, and we must be favourites to get all three there.
As usual, City didn't make it easy for themselves. Conceding inside the first 5 minutes, it took another Roger Johnson goal (how good is he!) to draw us level early in the second half, before Joe Ledley, one of City's most prized assets scored the winner. Those three points plus other results mean we're now 12th on goal difference, and only 5 points off Plymouth (who we play on Tuesday) in sixth spot. Looking better. Much better.
C'mon you Blooobirds!

Post Christmas anti-climax

I've hit that lull which comes after the hype, excitement and chaos that is a family Christmas but before the New Year celebration - although to be fair, our New Year is likley to be a quiet night in front of the telly watching Jools Holland's "Hootnanny".
So much for the 12 days of Christmas. Round these parts it generally appears to be business as usual apart from not being back in work yet. What we really need is about 4 foot of snow. That would make it seem more "Christmassy" for a bit longer - out sledging with the kids and building snowmen. Instead, the sky's blue, the sun's out and it's quite mild out.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

I'm not by nature a political person, although I keep a weather eye on things naturally. I'm just so glad that I live in a country where (by and large) politics are settled in a democratic way, and not by the gun and bomb.
The assasination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan yesterday is a stark reminder that we are in reality a long way from the notion of (what at least I think of as) a civilised world. Sad though it is, I think it was only a matter of time before someone tried again to assasinate her, and probably the odds were that eventually someone would succeed.
I can't imagine what it must be like to live in a society like that, and for that I thank my lucky stars.
I just wish the people of the world, especially in places where there is so much turmoil could recognise that and settle politics, disputes or whatever else needs settling in a more considered way.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So close: Watford 2 - 2 City

Well City travelled to Watford for their Boxing Day clash, and I have to admit I wasn't expecting them to get anything out of it. My first text told me that City had scored first through the superb (my view) Roger Johnson, a lead they held until after the break when the Hornets equalised. A third text tone suggested to me that Watford had taken the lead but no! Peter Whittingham had put us ahead again! I waited and waited for the final result text, and when it came it wasn't....ex City boy Jobi McAnuff had equalised with what must have been the last kick of the game. So a point, but it was more than I'd been expecting, and would have taken it before the start. But to only draw when you've been ahead goining into time added on is gutting.
Preston now on Staurday, and more points I hope. Again I'd take a draw with Plymouth visiting City on New Year's Day, but 3 points at Preston would be superb.
C'mon City!

Was that it?

Well I hope you all had a good one. We certainly did. Father Christmas was very kind to us all here. I got a shiny new 'puter with more RAM and GB than you can shake a fist at - well more than my "old" one anyway!
It's got Windows Vista on it, so a bit of a learning curve although first impressions are good, though loads of "security" type messages which are probably great for a novice but irritating for me - I'll no doubt find out how to turn them off later!
It came with a 20 inch widescreen monitor as well - that's nearly as big as my telly downstairs! I'm trying out now how to configure my home network (actually this one and my old one) together using wires rather than wireless as they're both in the same room and only about 6 feet apart, and I want them both to be able to access the internet independently via the Netgear router. Hmm...more googling methinks.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


We reached a watershed moment with our son today when he went off "into town" with his mates on their own for the first time.
Three of them, aged 12/13 were dropped off in Cardiff for a couple of hours, armed with a few quid and their mobiles to give us the call when they were ready to be picked up.

I'm sure there are some people out there whose kids have been going out and about on their own for a long time at a much earlier age than ours, but I don't hold with that. We don't mollycoddle him, (wrap him up in cotton wool, but neither do we let him do whatever he wants to. And nipping round the corner to see his mates isn't the same as spending several hours in a big (and today, very busy) city centre. Despite the fact a couple of them are actually quite big (my son now takes the same size shoes as me!) they're still children. there's no getting away from the fact that times have changed. When I was his age I used to disappear for the day to go fishing - quite often on my own, but that was 30+ years ago in a quiet and rural part of Lincolnshire, not in urban South Wales.

It was therefore a slightly nervous couple of hours, but of course they were fine, had a great time and now will probably do this regularly. More taxi servicing!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Festive Cheer: City 1 - 0 Sheffield Utd

The Christmas footy programme is often said to define a teams season. Well, we've started this one well. I've just got back from seeing the Bluebirds hammer the Blades 1-0. And it was a hammering, even though the 1-0 scoreline wouldn't suggest it. City could have been a goal down inside the first minute as the Blades missed a sitter, and could arguable have had a penalty later on the half, but City were looking as good as they've done for a long, long time. They passed the ball on the ground with pace, and Paul Parry in particular caused havoc down the right side.

Peter Whittingham who I think should have been starting long ago, oozes the class the McPhail should, and brings some composure, vision and occasional touches of brilliance to the side. It was one of those touches whilst running at the defence that slipped a pass through to the irresistible Parry who slid the ball under the keeper to make it 1-0. JFH then flashed one just wide about a minute later.

1-0 at half time, and thoughts were turning to dour defence for the next 45 minutes dropping deeper and deeper as usual.

But no - we kept pushing and as they tried harder for the equaliser, the left space at the back forCity to exploit, and how they never got a second I'll never know. Schmeicel didn't really have a save to make, although one last free kick flashed only just wide. Special mention too to Kevin "Naughts" McNaughton who had a great game, and Glen "The Loovenator" Loovens who's looking back to his best in central defence.

That's the first 3 points out of the 12 on offer over the holiday period. Next up, Watford away on Boxing Day. That'll be tough, but City can take the confidence from an excellent performance into that game.

Come on you Blooobirds.....!

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's a mad mad world...

Nearly there. It's been a looong slooow day at work as the great wind down (or is that wind up) comes ever closer. Frankly no-one wanted to be in work today, but if we'd have finished yesterady, or last week no-one would have wanted to be here either.

I'm just about to embark on my journey home, and have heard that the roads in and around Cardiff on which I need to drive home are gridlocked because the whole of South Wales apparently has a sudden urge to go to Asda / Marks & Spencer / Tesco Extra (delete as applicable).

Why though? It's not as if they didn't know Christmas was coming. In fact they've had 52 weeks to think about it, and now everyone needs to go shopping at 4pm on a Friday?

And it's even worse, because it'll be like this for the next 3 days, and we'll have the big day, and then all the shops will be open again and the sales start.

People are mad.

Me, I'm going to go home, do what my wife tells me to do, when she tells me (it's safer that way), enjoy Christmas Day & Boxing Day with the family and then put my feet up. Sales? I think not.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

5 more sleeps to Santa

OK I'm getting excited now. It's taken me a while to get the festive cheer going, but with just one more day in work to come, I'm getting in the spirit and looking forward to the big day.
Ho, ho, ho!

Flaws in the OS - Who's worse? Mac or Windows

Here's an interesting post over at the Daily Gadget, which is a very neat blog in it's own right. It looks at an article about serious flaws in the Mac and Windows OS's (Operating systems), comparing the two.
A real chance for the Mac v Windows debate to get heated (wot - it isn't already?).
You might be surprised at the results though.....Murray, you read this?
Thanks to sixpacktec for the image.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Memories of Mum

It's a poignant day today. It's 5 years to the day since Mum died. The picture of her here is her relaxing on one of our many holidays to Pembrokeshire in West Wales in the early 90's (that's the year not her age!).
We all miss her desperately of course, but she'd give us a good ear wigging if she thought we were moping around about it. I rang my Dad tonight, as I always do on this day, and vowed to raise a glass to her memory.
Here's to you Mum.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Darfur Crisis Appeal

I'm doing something a bit different this year regarding Christmas cards for work colleagues. Usually I send one to everyone - or at least every department in the building where I work. There's actually quite a lot of people, so that's a lot of cards - not that I mind, and I hope they've been appreciated in the past, but this year I decided I'm going to take a different tack and give a donation to charity in lieu of writing all the cards. I will wish everyone a happy Christmas anyway - probably via the dreaded email, and let them know what I've done.
There's hundreds of worthy causes, and choosing which one is difficult - I have given to several charities over the years and don't have any preferred one.
However, this time, my money is going to the Red Cross Darfur Crisis Appeal. This crisis has been well documented, but it's still unbelievable that such things should go on. I think we in what we like to think of as "first world countries" can often easily put the shutters up or ignore what's going on elsewhere, and very few of us ever really understand what it must be like to live in regions such as these.
I hope my donation makes a difference, however small. And getting back to Christmas cards, I hope those that get my email rather than a card this year, will understand that I think that this action is done in the spirit of traditional Christmas values.

Nice lunch!

We had an enjoyable day today. My wife's side of the family have a tradition of going out to lunch a weekend or two before Christmas. Today 16 of us went to the Manor Parc, a rather nice hotel on the outskirts of Cardiff
This is the second time we've been there in a couple of months, having recently attended a lunch for my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. We liked it so much, we came back today. No "traditional" or should that be "typical" turkey dinners on offer here, but a really nice 3 course meal for about £19 a head, and I have to say the food was brilliant. Service is also top class.
(Proprietor's - if you read this, I'd happily accept a free lunch for two for the plug!).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Smartphone update

I know I have a couple of regulars who like me are gadget minded, so I thought I'd provide an update on where I'm at with my smartphones. Dad, if your'e reading this you can skip this post (he's a luddite!).
Basically, I've been torn between my Palm Treo 680 and my most recent acquisition, the HTC S710 or "Vox" (pictured) ever since I got the Vox back in the late summer. I couldn't quite bring myself to ditch the Treo altogether in favour of the Windows Mobile device, and found myslef swapping between them on an almost daily basis. However, a couple of months ago I decided I had to make a choice once and for all, and decided to stick with the Vox. There are a few reasons for this, not all of which are necessarily good or rational ones!
  • It's smaller than the Treo
  • It holds a signal better than the Treo
  • It's battery is awesome compared to the Treo (2-3 days at least even with heavy use)
  • It can do most of the things I want, albeit often in a more convoluted way than the Treo
  • Palm support is waning, and Palm itself may disappear if it doesn't remove it's head from it's jacksy and start delivering
There are a couple of things that I frequently miss though
  • The touchscreen - a year or so ago, many WinMob sites were saying the touchscreen is dead, long live "true" smartphone devices with non-touchscreens. Now, what devices do people rave about? Iphone (touchscreen), HTC TyTyn II (touchscreen), HTC Touch/Dual (touchcsreen). Hmmm.. seems a bit two faced to me...
  • The hard keyboard. The Treo's keyboard is better than the Vox by a country mile
  • Palm OS - quicker than WM6 (on the Vox at least) and far more intuitive, although I agree it does look well past it's sell by date and in major need of a facelift.
I still haven't got rid of the Treo. It's sitting on my desk, charged up and ready as my backup. I have to say I'm getting used to the Vox, but it's been sheer perseverance rather than the joyous union I felt when I got my Treo. When I use it, it's atool and it feels like a tool. I don't experience the same sense of - fun - I guess, that I do whenever I pick up the Treo.
I think if I won the lottery I'd switch from the Vox, but what to? Do you know what? I think it might be an iphone. Or I might buy Palm out and get them to produce an updated smartphone worthy of the Palm name.

Derby woe: Bristol City 1 - 0 City

Just as we thought City had turned the corner, they go and lose, and to Bristol City, who after Swansea are probably the side we would hate losing to most.
I don't know many details yet, but clearly Steve Thompson's early sending off in the 15th minute (noted as "controversial" on the BBC web site), was a factor.
Luckily apart from Crystal Palace, sides around us also lost, so no terminal damage done, but to lose to the wurzels.......

Big matches over the Festive period then starting next Saturday with Sheffield United at home, then Watford away on Boxing Day (can't see us getting anything out of that one), Preston away on 29th (maybe a draw) and then Plymouth on New Years Day. I reckon if we get 7 points out of the 12 on offer we'll have done OK.
After that, it's the big one. Chasetown away in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. I have to admit, before the draw was made, I'd never heard of Chasetown. we haven't struggled against no-league opposition in the cup for a few years, so let's keep it that way please.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The NHS: aka Nasty Horrid Stuff

The NHS is a funny organisation. I should know. I worked for it for 19 years.
As regular readers may know, I'm on the waiting list for an op on my knee - well actually it's not my knee, but it's the knee problem that the operation will cure (allegedly) - strange I know.
I received a letter this week asking me if I still wanted the operation. What a daft question. "Actually no I don't want it thanks. Since I last saw you everything's miraculously cleared up and I can run up and down without any problems thank you very much!".
This is done under the guise of "waiting list validation", and I suppose it's to check you haven't run off and got the job done on private care (if you could afford it) and forgotten to tell them.
Still, I suppose it lets me know they haven't forgotten about me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lovely drive

My new (old) car hereafter known as the "Mondy" had it's first serious outing today as I had a meeting in Birmingham. I wasn't in a rush, and knew exactly where I was going, so didn't even need to break out my Treo's sat nav.
I pootled the 220 mile or so round trip so at legal speed, and I have to say I was very impressed. The car was quiet and smooth (bearing in mind it's a diesel which is a bit clunky until it warms up) and it was very comfortable, with more than enough oomph when it was needed (to avoid the inevitable idiots on the road - mostly a combination of men in hats, blondes and VW Polo/Volvo drivers - have you noticed?).
The Mondy is a whole step up from my previous trusty 1.6 Scenic in terms of power, comfort, and bells and whistles. I loved the Scenic, but was always aware of the noise levels when I was "cruising" at 70mph or thereabouts, whereas in the Mondeo thrumming along in 6th (yes 6th) gear at 70, you hardly feel like you're moving.
It was also great to see the mpg creeping up on a longish motorway journey - in my first week, having done about 350 miles, just about par, I'd averaged 21 mph and about 44.5 mpg. By the end of today that was up to an average mpg of over 48 - would have been much higher if I'd reset the counter just for today's trip. Working it out, at current mpg's I'd be able to squeeze well over 600 miles out of the 15.4 gallon tank.
Oh, and that front heated screen - what a boon - no more ice scraping for me!
Well pleased.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How many?

I've had a few people comment on posts (only a few!), and sometimes I think my sagely thoughts/views are disappearing unread into the ether. Frankly I don't care whether they're read or not, as it's actually quite therapeutic just waffling even if no-one's listening.

OK, actually I do care, and to that end I've signed up to Google Analytics, one of Google's many and increasing services (did you know they plan to take over the world by the way? That's for another post though).

So now I'll actually find out if anyone's reading this drivel. Hmm....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Life's a beach: Blackpool 0 - 1 City

Another 3 points for the Bluebirds as they win at Blackpool for the first time in years (39 to be precise). Big Stevie Thompson was the scorer, and we managed another clean sheet, although the brief report on the BBC suggests it wasn't all plain sailing with Blackpool hitting the bar late in the second half. Still, that should lift us to the heady heights of 15th. Not spectacular, but given how we were playing (and not winning) just over a week ago, I'd have bitten your hand off for 15th spot.
Just over halfway to 50 points and safety now - let's not get too carried away by thoughts of play off spots just yet.
C'mon you Bloooobirds!

And, just as good, Liverpool beat Marseille 4-0 away from home to secure a spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League. A good night.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kit's Well

Those of you that might have read this blog from it's early days will know that after our Mum died late in 2002, rather than erecting a bench or similar in her memory, we donated money to a project in Nepal that enables, amongst other things, wells to be dug in remote villages, allowing fresh water thereby dramatically improving sanitation and consequently health of the villagers.
My previous post on this explained more about this, but now we also have the GPS co-ordinates available and a photo - albeit at the moment a photo of a photo, and one taken on a mobile phone at that, so it's not the best picture.
The GPS coordinates are:
North: 27.33.825, East: 084.10.171 (I think)!
The well is in a village called Loukhari in Nepal, and if I can find it on Google Earth I'll let you know.

City 4 - Colchester 1: Turned the corner?

We couldn't go to the match yesterday, as we were visiting my sister. With our recent form, to be honest we weren't too bothered at missing this one, especially as it was absolutely heaving down and blowing a gale to boot. I received City's team sheets by text, and was encouraged to see McNuaghton in for Capaldi and Whittingham for Rae - presumably allowing Ledley to come into the centre of midfield - a more balanced team in my view. Checked my mobile at half time, and lo and behold City were 0-1 down, conceding a goal in the 45th minute despite what the stats suggested was a dominant performance in the first period. Looked like Jonesy might be on his way.
But then, a second half turn around that we could only have dreamt about as City stormed to a 4-1 victory with goals from Steve Thompson, Peter Whittingham, Jimmy Floyd and an o.g. from one of their lot.
Maybe it's us. Maybe we should stay away more often.
One game does not a season make, but it's a long time since we've won a game that emphatically - at least on paper. I wasn't there of course so can't be certain that it was emphatic, but early reports suggest so.
So, we're up to the heady heights of 17th in the table with a big 6 pointer coming up on Tuesday away to Blackpool who are one below us, but on goal difference only. Blackpool is always a tough place to go, and City traditionally haven't done well there, but let's hope yesterday's match gives them the confidence to go and play the way we know they can.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Skittles: DPAB march on

Our good form in Division 2 of the Penarth & District Skittles League continued last night as we put the Dinas Powys Legion side to the sword. In typically rumbustuos style, with Stockings leading the singing (or rather shouting), we ran out winners by 16 pins on a tough alley. Top scorer was Nightmare with 27 with Gilo on 26, whilst others including some of the big guns didn't overly trouble the scorers.
Champagne moment of the evening, Stockings' little canter in the near altogether aside, was Stabber leading the three cheers for the opposition and calling them the "Swanderers" instead of the DP Legion. For those of you that don't know, the Swanderers are the OTHER team from the pub we played last night, and his good intentions were met with a stony silence by the opposition (who are actually all great lads!)
As I'm sending this report by email from a train somewhere in Gloucestershire at 7.15 in the morning, there are no pics to accompany or links. Once I'm back from my trip to London though, I'll update our website ( with a full report.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas? We've only just had Easter!

I don't know where this year's gone. It's flown by. Doesn't seem that long since we were takingthe decorations down, and now it's nearly time to put them up again!
Are you one of those that just can't wait? The first "residential" Christmas lights I saw were on 26th November in a house not far from ours. Then on 1st December lights and trees started to spring up in houses all over the place. Now don't get me wrong, I like Christmas - I can even remember what it's all about - and despite what the marketeers would have us believe it's not about eating and drinking to excess and spending more than we can afford - but I baulk at putting up the decorations too early. However, neither am I one of those leave it to the last moment fellows, buying a knock down spindly tree on Christmas Eve (my kids would kill me!).
So, the exterior lights will probably be going up this weekend, and the tree the following weekend. But climate change has a lot to answer for. I was out in a t-shirt earlier on. Much as we know the season f goodwill is upon us (almost) it just doesn't feel like it. We need a good dose of cold, frosts, and dare I say it snow before it's really going to feel like Chrimbo. And no, my lights aren't like the picture....

Got a new motor!

Got my new car. Well, my "nearly new" car. As previously posted, I'm not into buying brand new motors.
This lovely shiny vehicle, is a late '06 model Ford Mondeo "Edge" 2.0 TDCi, in a very nice blue colour and I'm very pleased with it It's a step up from my previous, trusty Renault Scenic, giving me more comfort, power and a much better mpg return being a diesel.
I don't know if it's just the 4-5 years that's elapsed since I bought the Renault, or just that this version of the Mondeo is well equipped, but it has some great touches which I love. These include:
  • rain sensing wipers - yes, you switch them on to intermittent wipe and the car works out how much water is going on to the screen and adjusts the wipe speed accordingly - clever or what? No, I don't know how it works either.
  • auto headlights - set to auto, the lights come on automatically when the ambient light drops below a certain level. Handly for those who can't tell if it's dark - but then they shouldn't be behind the wheel anyway
  • heated front windscreen - Ford have been doing this for years granted, and I think most of their models and ranges now come with this as standard. I don't know why other manufacturers don't do this (maybe they do?)
Early days yet obviously, but I'm looking forward to driving this car. I've always liked Fords - had a few before, and it's nice to be back.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rubbish! City 0 - 2 Charlton

Timmy Mallet, erstwhile children's entertainer of some time ago, and this season's panto star at Porthcawl(?) was the half time entertainment at tonight's match. Need I say more? I shouldn't, the mood I'm in, but I will.
City were rubbish. No, utter rubbish. Not even that good.
I fear relegation.
If Dave Jones is still in a job by the weekend, I'll be surprised.
Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.

Monday, December 03, 2007

This is the age - of the train. Not

I'm off to the Smoke on Thursday for an overnighter, on a course. The course should be ok. Good chance to meet up with some colleagues, maybe learn a bit and who knows, even get an hour or two of shopping in on Oxford Street?
The problem is though, I'm going (as usual) by train. I hate trains. They're normally, late, overcrowded, and are definitely overpriced. A standard class ticket from Cardiff comes to about £150. I'm going to be traveling back on Friday evening, some time between 5pm and 6pm which must be just about the worst time to travel from London. If I'm lucky I'll get a seat. If I'm not, chances are it's a stand from Paddington until at least Swindon or Bristol. That's what your £150 gets you. And they're putting the prices up!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Tigerish Point: Hull 2 - 2 City

After their charter flight to Hull was diverted to Manchester and an emergency landing, City finally came away from the KC stadium with what seems to be a well earned point. Hull have been in good form lately, and were 1 up in 3 minutes, but Steve "The Tomahawk" Thompson equalised after 6 minutes. Kasper Schmeicel saved a penalty before Hull went ahead again just before the break. I was accepting defeat, when I got a late, late text which I thought was going to tell m that Hull had won, but which in fact said Roger Johnson had equalised for City in injury time. We don't get many late goals, so this one was very welcome indeed. I haven't seen a report, but seeing as how recent matches have gone, I'm guessing Jones threw Johnson on as an extra striker. I still reckon that he's one of the most consistent and committed players in the team. I'm certainly glad he was there today. The result still leaves us in 20th spot, but a win at home on Tuesday against Charlton could lift us to 15th, and we have a game in hand on most teams above us - that's the Blackpool game this month, and the seasiders are on place below us, so that'll be a big one..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Matthew Moment

Everyone I know that's important to me knows about this I think, including the person in question, so I'm happy to share this with you.

One night, late into my wife's first pregnancy with our first child, and some time after we'd agreed that if it was boy we'd call him Matthew, and if a girl we'd call her Bethan, I woke up, jabbed my wife from her sleep and said "I don't want to call him Matthew if he's a boy". I know not why to this day, I just had that "moment" when it just didn't seem right (apologies to anyone called Matthew who's reading this - no offence intended). Luckily, we had a close second choice, and when the little lad duly appeared, he was monickered "James" - and he's seemed quite happy with it through his 13 years to date.

Fortunately I didn't have that moment with our second, who was always Bethan, although ironically we had decided if it had been a boy it would have been Matthew but I didn't have any iffy moments the second time around.

Every now and again I get what I call my "Matthew moments" when an agreed and firm decision suddenly seems completely wrong. It's a funny feeling, and the challenge is deciding whether you stick to your guns, or go with the flow...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mondeo Man

I've been toying with the idea of replacing my Renault Scenic for while (since it's all been paid off!), and much as I like the versatility the Scenic brings, I'm finding it's proving thirstier than I'd like for the miles I do - I feel like I'm constantly filling up, and with a 1.6 engine, though willing, doesn't quite give the "oomph" and cruise comfort I'd like, especially on long journeys. I was looking for a diesel that would give me close to 50mpg (average), plenty of comfort, and a few bells and whistles.
I'm not worried by style particularly (too old to worry about that), and What Car recommend the Mondeo as the best used family car choice (I'm not buying new - depreciation on any new car is a killer, and frankly it amazes me that anyone can afford a family size new car if they're paying for it themselves anyway). Checked out plenty of reviews of the Mondeo, and it's close competitors (Vauxhall Vectra - too many duff reviews, Honda Accord - too pricey) and they were generally very positive. Good drive, good level of kit, cheap to run and service etc...
So a Mondeo it is. Looked around - plenty available of course given their fleet history, and I've found one. It's a 2.0 TDCi "Edge" in a lovely blue colour (so not standard repmobile silver - have you noticed how many silver cars there are on the road these days?). Just about a year old. Hope to pick it up next week.
This is it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Another clean sheet - another point

Only two days after beating Ipswich, City were playing again, away against the Foxes at the Walkers Stadium. Boosted by the arrival of new manager Ian "The Badger" Holloway (Google "Ian Holloway Badger" if you don't know what I'm on about), who's clearly barking, and a 27,000 crowd it was always going to be a tough ask. Both side looked like they'd played only 48 hours before. In what was a mainly scrappy match, whee the standard of ball retention and passing was, frankly awful from both sides, Dave Jones will probably be the happier of the two managers. The first half was entirely forgettable bar one stunning save from Kasper Schmeicel from about 2 ft. In the second half Leicester upped their game (City didn't) and Schmeicel was called on several times to make some outstanding saves. In addition, City rode their luck with a goal line clearance and one shot bounced back off the post and then Schmeicel's head to run away for a corner. I'm frankly relieved City got the draw. Two cleans sheets on the bounce. Have we turned the corner? Away at Hull on Saturday might give us a better idea. Blooobirds!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

City 1 - 0 Ipswich: A win at last!

At last 3 precious points bagged after walloping the Tractor Boys 1-0. And a clean sheet to boot! Today City showed some grit, determination, and an apparent ability to play football which has been sadly lacking in the last couple of months. The first half in particular was an entertaining affair with both sides trying to play football, a site rarely seen at NP these days where often 11 men behind the ball and a good hoof upfield is the preferred modus operandi (or was that England?).
City old boys Neil Alexander & Alan Lee received a decent welcome before the match, and Lee, now scoring for fun at Ipswich after a torrid time at NP, chipped Schmeicel and hit the post inside 20 seconds! What a difference there could have been if that went in.
As it was City settled and broke freely down the right, and it was one of these sharp forays that set Parry free to cut inside and hit a pile driver past the flailing Alexander into the top corner.
The second half became scrappier as City dropped deeper (sound familiar?), and Ipswich pushed, but they never really threatened apart from one scrambled clearance. Scintillating it wasn't, but 3 points is what counts, and with the next match looming as soon as Monday against Leicester (away), let's just home this is the corner we've been looking to turn.
C'mon you Blooobirds!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dismal, dismal England - but we won our skittles match!

England were given huge chance to rectify a poor Euro 2008 qualifying campaign tonight after Israel beat Russia at the weekend. But it was never going to be, and much as it saddens me to say it, they don't deserve to be going to the Euro's next summer. They were dreadful. Parks teams play better football than that. Even Cardiff City play better football than that. No seriously.
Steve McClaren must be must have been one of the worst international coaches in England's history - even Sven is better than him.
Time to take stock.
  • We have no automatic right to appear at major championships.
  • Maybe we did invent the game, but others are now playing it better than us
  • Other countries iften take mediocre players and gel them into a great team. We manage to take great (allegedly) players and turn them into a poor one
  • There is insufficient passion displayed by anyone in the england set-up
  • The FA must take some responsibility for the appointment of McLaren, the ludicrous state of the Wembley pitch and complacency
How good are England? here are the other teams that finished third in their groups:
  • Finland
  • Scotland
  • Norway
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Bulgaria
And three of those (including Scotland) finished with a better points tally than us.

Maybe this will do the England setup some good. Let's get a decent manager in, build a new team from the ground up and aim for World Cup qualification - if our undoubtedly reduced seeding will allow us to get there.

But, on the bright side, we won at skittles tonight. Our site will be updated in the next day or two with all the juicy details.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Organisation? What organisation?

Funny how some things strike you. I was beavering away at my desk this morning, content with my organisational skills, knowing smugly how my smartphome keeps me on top of things.....
...then I noticed my desk.
I have 8 post it notes within reach, as well as a desk full of papers and an A4 notebook. And that's without my PC!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I've had a Palmless week. I 've stuck to the Vox for the whole week - and do you know what? I'm almost getting used to it, and haven't wanted to go back to the Palm once. No, really. Well maybe once or twice.
Still, I've stuck at it, and to be really, really honest, there is actually little the Vox can't do that the Treo could. But I knew that. It's the interface (and touchscreen) I miss. I'm sticking with it though. It's a bit like giving up fags. The first two weeks are the hardest.

A funny old game

Commiserations to all you Scots after yesterday's game. Your boys gave it one hell of a go, and frankly were very unlucky over the whole campaign not to have qualified. A bit of fire and passion about the Scottish players that England could do well to have a look at.

Speaking of which - what a get out jail free card, as Israel beat Russia after England looked dead and buried out of it. All the "Eng-er-land" have to do now is secure a draw or better against Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday. Easy uh? I don't think so.

They're not there yet.....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mine's a half - and one for yourself!

I'd like this bloke as my mate!

Actually, it's an Australian man breaking the world record for carrying the most beer steins. Reinhard Wurz carried 20 one-litre steins 40 metres - a new Guinness record.
(courtesy of the BBC "Day in Pictures" web page)

Little things

Another gadget post, so it'll be ignored or "hurrumphed" by my father who thinks my obsession with small shiny things is unhealthy.

My HTC Vox (on which I'm typing this) has small rubber covers for the USB sync/charger port and micro SD card slot.

After about 3 weeks use the USB cover wouldn't stay closed (it was beginning to annoy the hell out of me anyway) so I cut it off. The micro SD card cover is going the same way although it's hardly ever opened, so that may have to go too.

I've seen similar stories on some other sites, so it's not just me.

My point is, if manufacturers design devices like this, why don't they test them rigourously for flaws like this that just irritate end users? I'd be happy to trial a shiny new gadget anytime!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I still can't choose between the Vox and Treo. If I think I'm going to definitely need access to a phone I'll take the Vox. If I want the better PDA capabilities I'll take the Treo.
All I know is I don't want to go back to two devices - a phone and a PDA, but this swapping around is ridiculous. I'm going to have to go with one or the other...

The Valley of Death

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, City go to Charlton and succumb 3-0 at their Valley ground. Jonesy dropped RF and started with JFH and the big Scot Steve "Tomahawk" Thompson. Didn't help. Looking good until 1st half injury time but then Charlton managed to bag 2 goals in stoppage time before the break. After that they were always chasing the game, and Charlton added a 3rd late on.
What started out as a season of hope and expectation has rapidly changed into one of despair. Outside the drop zone only on goal difference (and we haven't actually scored many!),
Patience is wearing thin.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More City woe: City 1 - 1 Palace

Dave Jones has a lot to answer for. Everyone keeps saying he's a good manager, and for almost a season and a half he looked it, but since the middle of last season City have been in a mess and he can't get them out of it, and the fans (and I suspect Chairman Ridsdale's) patience is wearing thin. A lot of reports of tonight's match will focus on the referee, one Mr Mason, and boy was he dreadful. No he wasn't even that good. He was shocking. No, worse than that he was wholly incompetent, and please bear in mind that I'm trying to be objective here.
Still, that shouldn't detract from City's failings. Far from taking confidence from last week's solid display at Anfield, they were inept. No pace up front (sorry RF & JFH), 3 out of 4 passes go backwards, there's no width apart from occasional foray's by Paul Parrry - and when he did whip the ball in there was no -one there to meet it.
The midfield is conspicuous by it's absence. Rae and McPhail just aren't cutting the mustard. Passes going astray. Actually, half the time, they're not even passes, just hoofs upfield. Thompson comes on for Fowler and within 10 seconds gets himself booked for booked. Really, really, depressing. And this for a side that's suposed to be good enough to be challenging for promotion. From the Conference maybe, and if they don't up their game soon, that's where they'll be headed. They upped their game in the last 5 minutes, but why leave it until then. Poor old Kasper Schmeicel must be wondering what he's let himself in for in his month's loan spell. Awful, awful, awful. I should have stayed at home and watched Liverpool thump Besiktas 8-0 with a cold beer in my hand.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

Bonfire night. No bonfire (garden's too small, but I am going to let off some picturesque explosives. Whizz bang!

Palm: Aaarghh!1 Why can't they just make a phone that works!

I've been going back and forth between my Treo 680 and my HTC Vox like a yo yo, but had recently decided the Treo is the better all round device for me. so for the last few days, it's been Treo all the way.
Tonight though, I couldn't pick up a call - pressed the green answer key when it came in but nothing happened.
So I tried a little experiment.
I rang my Treo from my landline (one in each hand). The landline failed to connect 3 times with a number unobtainable signal (even though the signal bars on the Treo were lit up like a Christmas tree. Then it connected and rang the Treo, but strangely even after about 20 seconds the Treo hadn't started to ring.
Next try it rang, but again the answer button failed to do anything.
Next go it connected and answered.
Can you make sense of it? I can't.
I love the Treo - it's by far the better all round device, but I just can't trust it as a phone.
Back to the Vox.....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Network Coverage

I use T-Mobile which I generally find is a good network (both in terms of coverage, customer support and price).
I do have one slight issue though. Where I live, the signal isn't great. On my Palm Treo (which admittedly doesn't pick signals up as well as other phones) the signal can vary between four and zero bars and that can be with the phone sitting on the desk and not moving! My son who's on a T-Mob PAYG has a Sony Ericsson T630 which suffers from the same varying reception, so it's not down to the Treo alone. The T-Mob website says coverage for my postcode area is good. Hmmmm....They've obviously not tried using a phone here.
Anyway, I sent a nice polite email to Customer Service asking if there was any plans to improve the coverage here: Here's their response. Not much help for me (tried all this many times - except replacing the SIM), but it might help someone else.

Thanks for your email, about your network coverage.

I'm sorry to know that you're unable to use the phone due to bad network and I can understand how concerned you must be about this.

I've checked the coverage in [postcode] and can tell you that there are no known problems in that area at the moment.

You may be able to strengthen your signal by following these steps:

1. While the phone is switched on, remove the battery. The phone will then switch off automatically.

2. After a few minutes, replace the battery.

3. Switch the phone on.

4. Your phone will now display T-Mobile and allow you to make calls.

You might also find you need to manually select the network and you can do this by following the steps below:

1. From your menu, highlight and select network selection.

2. Change from automatic to manual.

3. Your phone will now display searching and bring up a list of networks.

4. Highlight and select T-Mobile.

If you continue to have problems, please try your SIM card in another T-Mobile phone. This will indicate whether there is a fault with the SIM card or the phone itself. We can then give you information on having your phone repaired or we can order you a new SIM card. There's a £10 charge (including VAT) for a replacement SIM card.
Thanks again for emailing me, and I'm sure you'll be able to strengthen the network to use your phone.

If you've any further queries, please feel free to email me and I'll be glad to help you.

2nd November 2007 - a very nice day

It's my birthday! Yippee. another notch on the old staff of life. That's 48 notches altogether now. My daughter Bethan, who's 10, said today....."You're not old yet Dad. Don't worry, I'll tell you when you're old"! Thanks.
We've had a nice day today. It's half term, so we're off with the kids this week, and today we decided to go to the Cotswolds for the day. Packed up a picnic lunch and headed off down the motorway to Bourton on the Water. We've been before, some years ago, but that was in the summer. Bourton suffers from being incredibly picturesque and therefore is an absolute nightmare in the summer when you can't move for tourists. Today though was lovely. The weather was great and the autumn colours combined nicely with the Cotswold stone, as I hope my picture shows.
We paid a visit to Birdland in the village, where bizarrely you can see, in the middle of Gloucestershire, the only colony of King Penguins in the British Isles (I kid you not).
Stopped off at a Harvester on the way home for a birthday tea, and now just chilling out. No doubt I'll have a long cool beer later. Lovely.
Also, Happy Birthday to my Sister-in-Law Sue, who shares my birthday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New consumer Blackberry - the 8320

Saw this over at Palm-Mac (Murray always seems to be on the ball). It's Sammy from Palm Addicts giving the new Blackberry 8320 the once over in a short video. It looks like it could be a Palm killer (what Palm's not already dead?). Could this be the device (if and when it becomes available in the UK) to give me the things I dearly want from my Treo (decent signal reception, decent battery life) and things I don't want from Windows Mobile.....errr, that'll be Windows Mobile then.

Liverpool 2 - City 1: Blooobirds!

City gave as good as they got last night in the 4th round of the Carling Cup against Liverpool at Anfield. After a stuttering start to their league campaign, doom mongers were predicting the Bluebirds would come seriously unstuck against last years beaten Champions League finalists.
City though had other ideas. with almost 6,000 traveling support urging them on, and generally outsinging the home crowd, Dave Jones team were holding their own at half time with the score at 0-0.
Just after the break though, the Reds took the lead, with that well known Liverpool player Nabil El Zhar blasting home from 25 yards. Rather than capitulate, City stuck at their task and were rewarded when skipper Darren Purse nodded home Paul Parry's free kick to the delight of the ecstatic City faithful.
Sadly, our joy lasted about 46 seconds as Liverpool broke almost from the kick off and Steven Gerrard slotted home what proved to be the winner. Great game. RF had an outstanding ovation on his return to Anfield, and the City players and support did themselves proud.

The only blight on the day was the journey. Left at 1:30pm and didn't get to Anfield until 6pm, and coming home got into the car at 10.05pm and arrived home at 3:30am. The M6 was a nightmare both ways. On the way back, we were stuck in a huge jam, which eventually proved to be 2 miles of single lane with the other two lanes coned off with absolutely no-one, or nothing, being done in the coned off area. To have a major route like that at a what was a virtual standstill at 1:30am in the morning with no work actually happening is criminal.

Palace at home next Tuesday. C'mon you Blooobirds!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


You may have read (if you've been bored enough) that some of my bones are a little creaky - especially in the region of my left knee. I had an arthroscopy a couple of years ago (keyhole surgery where they snip loose bits and suck it all out through a tube) which helped a bit. Since then though, things have gone downhill, and this summer, probably made worse by me continuing to try and play cricket (note the use of the term "try"), which forced me back to the Dr. They referred me back to my orthopaedic surgeon who arranged a scan.
Had the news today. Apparently generally the knee is in pretty good health - apart from the "bad medical osteoarthritis" (so what's good about that then I say?). So, the plan is that they're suggesting I have a higher tibial osteotomy. A what? Read the link yet? Sounds a bit brutal to me.....God knows when it'll happen - don't know what the waiting list is like these days.
Still when I'm laid up in my knee brace, I'll have plenty of time to write in this blog!

Palm related blogs I enjoy reading

One of these has given me a mention, so I thought I'd reciprocate.
Palmblogging is run by David. It's a general blog with a Palm theme as he's an avid Palm user. Not too technical, but focuses on what he does with the device - real life stuff. A daily visit for me recently.

Another of my daily haunts is Palm-Mac, Murray's blog of all things Mac and mobile. He's got/had more devices than you can shake a stick at, and his view of them, and the world in particular is very entertaining to read (in my view). Maybe it's because his set up is similar to mine in that he's got a Treo 680 (amongst others) and had for a short while an HTC Vox, and uses T-Mob as his carrier. Not afraid to call a spade a spade if he doesn't agree with something, I'd recommend blog this to any mobile gadgeteer.

My 'Big Daddy' though, a site rather than a blog is Palm 247 run founded and run (mostly - with help for a few key others [Neil, Mike, Peter - take a bow] by Shaun McGill. The site has Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian options, but is really friendly, has several updates each day and is well worth adding to your favourites list if your a mobile device user.

Anfield here we come!

It's the big day tomorrow (Wednesday) when Cardiff take on the mighty Liverpool in the 4th round of the Carling Cup.
Let's not kid ourselves here, I don't expect City to win. What I do expect is for the lads to give it their best shot, and not go down like a pack of cards. You never know, though, cup competitions can be strange affairs. As the old cliche goes, a cup match is a one off, 11 v 11 on the day etc etc. Hmmm...
Now if RF was to score on his old hunting ground, that would be good.
Looking forward to this so much - I hope it doesn't let me down. We're going up with my mate who we sit next to in the Canton stand. He volunteered to drive (well done Andy). Our two boys will be well up for this too.
Going to be a long night though - especially if City take the Reds to extra time and penalties....LOL