Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Welcome to the 21st Century!

It's fair to say Tash and I live a fairly basic life, and have very traditional values on what constitutes entertainment. In fact I'm more likely to consider (and prefer) a quality food item as a treat, rather than the latest i-toy or celebrity branded garment.

Yet there always comes a time when change is needed, and with the PS2 having giving up the ghost we were left without a DVD player. The Sony Bravia bought in the summer is HD ready, and so it made sense for us to embrace Blu-ray technology. And then Team Tourismo 5 was released in November, having been delayed so many times. Now I've managed fine without a games console, I generally do more with my free time than bash buttons like some crazed 12 month old with their 'my first toolbox' .... but GT is my weakness.

Having researched everything a PS3 can offer us, Tash eventually agreed that it could be a purchase we could justify. And so, after Father Christmas failed me, we paid a visit to Comet (to make use of Tashas discount) and came home with a 320g PS3, Move starter pack, GT5, and a couple of Blu-rays.

We then had the most magical afternoon (once my excitement had calmed) with all three of us curled up on the sofa watching Toy Story 3 in all its Hi Def glory. Just what the Christmas break should be about!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Sunday, December 26, 2010


This year Tashas Dad played Santa, and surprised us all by dropping in on an early Christmas Day morn. Stories about the gas failing in their UK property led to him embarking on a last ditch Christmas Eve flight from Gib, which obviously left him unexpectedly in England for Christmas Day. It was great to have him join us, which meant we totalled 6 with Ammie and my Dad also joining us. Alfie had too much fun to sleep, and we had too much goose to move! And I'm pleased to say that my home made Christmas pudding was one of the stars of the show!

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family from Tash, Alfie and I! We hope you had a ball!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Monday, December 20, 2010


Front Page on todays Gibraltar Chronicle - Auntie Elsie! (she third one in on the front row)

I guess that really is proof that nothing eventful ever happens in Gib!

Only kidding, we're all dead proud of our Superstar relly! WELL DONE AUNTIE!

Just Five Days To Go!

Five days till Christmas. Cannot wait!

And just to be properly festive, on the weekend the snow started. And England stopped.

It fell fast and thick. Tash was out, but thankfully got back OK. Probably just in time because as the day went on it was clear the roads were a mess.

Each weekend I visit Ladbrokes and do their Goal Rush coupon. Basically you bet on games where you think both teams will score. I usually do one with 5 games, and one with 10. I had my bet all planned, and was waiting for Tash to get back to I could go to the bookies. Yet as time passed Radio5 were telling me of more and more games that were postponed! When you can't find 5 football games to bet on you know the weather's gotta be pretty bad!!

But Christmas is getting nearer and nearer and I'm getting ever more excited. Alfie discovered the Christmas tree the other day ... I cannot wait till Christmas Day when its surrounded with presents for him to climb over!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Well they say things come in 3's don't they!

Bugs (1)
Tash brought home some festive lurgy recently, and very kindly spread it through the household. I think even Colin the chincilla has caught it, cos he's just sleeping all day! I just hope we are all back to full health for Christmas - which I am hugely excited about! It's run us all down though and we've not really managed to do a lot, apart from some Christmas shopping when Tash's Mum visited and insisted on taking us all out!

Some of you may need to sit down before reading this, and yes I do have photographic proof. On Tuesday I collected my bug from the bodyshop! I'm looking forward to starting putting it all back together next year now.

Bugs (3)
And finally, when all cuddled up on the sofa and feeling sorry for ourselves something caught Alfie's eye on TV. Yep, The Love Bug was being shown and Alfie wanted to watch! Not happy to be on the sofa anymore, he wanted to sit in his own wheels to watch!

Friday, December 03, 2010

FIFA, What a joke!

I remember that night in Turin so clearly, when England were so strong against Germany and my Dad let me stay up late so I could watch extra time and penalties. It was the Semi-Finals of Italia '90, and the magic of the World Cup had hit me like a sledgehammer.

There simply isn't any bigger or better sporting occasion.

And so even with the English media doing its best to derail our bid to host the 2018 World Cup (congratulations Sunday Times & BBC/Panorama!) it was clear we had the strongest bid. My 10 hour journey on Tuesday night had allowed me to listen to lots of build-up and I was hopeful the schmoozing of Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham might have secured us enough votes.

Alfie will be 8 in 2018, and it will most likely be the first World Cup that he remembers. What Italia '90 was for me, 2018 could be for him ... how wonderful it would be if that was to be in England!

From 1pm yesterday I had radio5Live on, listening to all the build-up and waiting for an announcement to be made at 3pm. I was full of excitement and optimism. But as Sepp Blatter takes the stage to make his announcement it is clear from other rumours and reports that England hasn't been successful, and that Russia has most likely won the race to host 2018.

FIFA - what a farce! Clearly this decision was made many months ago, and what Blatter wants his monkeys usually provide. The voting process is done behind closed doors, and with rumours about the legitimacy of certain FIFA members in question its no wonder we didn't win. Whats even more of a scandalous decision was that 2022 was given to Qatar. A country who has never played in a World Cup. What a co-incidence that Russia and Qatar had the largest suitcases to offer FIFA!

I'm absolutely gutted that, not only for 2018 but also for 2022, Alfie won't get to see World Cup football being played. There was much talk that the Spain/Portugal bid was up there for 2018, and Australia was among the favourites for 2022. Either of those would have seen me take him abroad with huge excitement - watching the World Cup at the Nou Camp would be amazing! But Russia has so many problems (not least regarding fan safety), and I refuse to believe that a World Cup in Qatar - where all games are played in air-conditioned indoor venues - will capture the magic of the World Cup.

Now I can only hope that investigations are made into FIFA and the way they operate. England can't bid again until 2030, I'm just hoping Sepp Blatter has been pushed aside from his position of power by then!

Here's The Sun's comments;

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Ferrys, but actually no Planes)

So Tash and I were sat in the lounge and I received my regular email from moneysavingexpert telling me about a bargain day trip to France for £19 (incl 6 bottles of wine!) and Travelodge offering rooms for £19 a night. Bargain we thought, a day trip to France and we can spend the night before close to the port so remove any early morning shenanigans. "When's your next compressed day Tash?" Wednesday 1st December came the reply, "and I'm in London the day before so I can get the train straight down to the hotel in Margate."

This plan seemed too perfect to be true. And of course it was. Because it was the end of October when we booked this, the leaves had barely fallen from the trees and I hadn't even thought about things such as hot water bottles, thermals, or .... SNOW!

In truth I was really excited about the day. A nice family trip away and a chance to do some early Christmas shopping. Sure, it may have snowed for a few days before but roads seemed to be holding up well. This should all be OK.

So Tuesday November 30th rolls around. First things first, I have to run to see DaveRapid to sort out a MoT on Tasha's Fabia. No problem there, but it scuppered my chance of having a day in Margate with Alfie cos we didn't get home till nearly 1pm. "Thats OK" I thought, as long as we get on the road by 3pm we should be on the A2/M2 by 4pm and miss rush hour M25.

Back home, I throw everything together in double quick time and we're on the road by 2:30pm. A quick stop at Sainsburys sees us loaded with Euros and on our way. All is going well, and then I see signs saying progress is slow from J28 on the M25. I totally expected this, and when the overhead sign said 40 minute delay I was actually quite happy ... and so I joined the back of the queue shortly after 3:30pm.

At first all was good, it was very slow but we were moving. And then we stopped moving. And then the snow started. We sat through the remainder of Huw Stephens Radio1 show, and then Greg James' too. I even had to stop playing Angry Birds on my phone, figuring I might need to save the battery! Tash texts me to say she has been to Frankie & Benny's and I have Spaghetti Meatballs waiting for me ... I reply saying "I hope it makes for a good breakfast", only half in jest.

By now any hope of making good time to the hotel was well and truly out of the window, but I wasn't too despondent cos if I could get through the tunnel, I could listen to the footy for the remainder of the journey. The footy kicked off. West Ham had a goal disallowed. It didn't matter, they slammed home another four goals that were allowed and knocked Man Utd out of the Carling Cup! The footy finished. And I had barely moved! Then did traffic start moving, very stop start of course, and I realised that I was actually on the QE2 bridge! As soon as I got through the tolls it was complete standstill yet again.

Its now something like 9:30pm, I've been on the road for 7 hours already (so much for the 40 minute delay the information board had 'warned' me of!), and I'm just wanting to arrive at our hotel in Margate and see Tash so we can enjoy our day away. I felt like I'd mistakenly got caught up in some Christmas film, deperately trying to get to see family while the nations transport system fell to pieces around me.

By now its dark, temperatures are well below zero and because traffic isn't moving snow is settling on cars and the road. And I know that further afield ice will be developing. Alfie had been an angel through this, and I was grateful I had taken supplies for him ... and that Tash had left a large chocolate roll in the car!

Tony Livesey starts his Radio5Live show at 10pm, announcing "it's night like these this show was made for!". I've never really liked his show, I think it's because I love football so much I always want the football banter to continue ... but this time his show is very topical for me, so I figure I won't touch that dial, not just yet anyway. There are stories coming in about people being stuck for 2 or 3 hours, and I can't help but chuckle ... "if only you knew mate!".

Listening to weather and road reports every 15/20 minutes on his show I have a fair idea of whats going on, but I just want to get to the A2. But by now I am well aware that the M25 isn't too bad, largely due to the volume of traffic on it - its just not moving. The A2 won't have as much traffic, especially at this time of hour, and so who knows what that's going to be like!

I get a message from Tash every hour or so, she is trying to save her battery, and she doesn't want me to spend a night on the road with Aflie. There was nothing I could do though, Operation Stack was in progress so the hard shoulder was full of lorries and there was no way anyone could get to me.

We reach 10:30pm, now its been 8 hours. There are stories of people having trouble all over the UK, so I decide to turn on my phone and send a message to Tony Livesey's show.

"Left letchworth at 2:30, heading to Margate to meet my wife
at a hotel before a day trip to France tomo. Only just past
QE2 bridge! My poor 1 year old boy is with me too :(.
Thankfully he's asleep at the moment. Keefy on M25.

Knowing J2 would eventually appear, I managed to get across to the inside lane. I find myself presented with the local Dartford exit. I look on Google Maps which shows it runs down to Bluewater, and past it onto the A2.

Then the phone rings, its an unknown number. Turns out its one of the lasses on Tony Livesey's show! She kindly asks if everythings OK, and if they can speak to me on the show. I'm happy to do so, but Alfie is awake by now and I can't guarantee sound quality! He was angry, but it was really nice to speak to her, and it lifted my spirits somewhat.

Whatever it is in my mind that makes me stubborn must have snapped at that point - Alfie sounded proper p!ssed with life, and I happened to be sat next to this M25 exit. I decide enough is enough, we'll take the exit and find a hotel. Sadly it means if Radio5Live call back I won't be able to be on the Radio (my bluetooth was in the Benz), but I'm sure the show will be OK. Stopping will make Alfie happy (good), but means our day trip to France will never happen (bad). So I exit.

The local roads are bad, but not undriveable. There must be a hotel near Bluewater, right? Wrong! I tiptoe over roundabouts and past abandoned cars until I eventually find myself with the A2 in front of me! RESULT! Thoughts of stopping early go out the window ... after all what would Steve Martin have done if he was in position on that Thanksgiving eve?

Wondering what carnage I will find on the A2 I join to see a nearly empty road! Alfie has dropped off again, and I'm now on my desired road with no tailbacks. The weather is horrid, huge flurries keep coming and going, but there is just enough traffic for us all to keep moving fine. I was happy! Its madness the other way, lorries can't get up the hill and the police are about, but the sight of a gritter passing me gives me confidence I'll get to the hotel. I'm guessing road conditions will be better once the A2 becomes the M2, and the closer I get to the coast the snow must ease off.

Thankfully I was right, and after my GPS making hard work of directing me to the hotel I eventually arrived at just gone 12:30am. 120 Miles in 10 hours - an average of 12 miles an hour.
There was little opportunity to relax and prepare for the day away though, because Alfie was so happy to be out of the car, and I suspect his body was so messed up by the odd eating/sleeping experience, that he just wanted to be awake and jump around. At 4:30am Tash and I gave in, and left the hotel by 6am, just in case the local roads were bad.

The roads were good, and even with so little rest I felt pretty good. I was worried about our journey home, but for the time being we could enjoy our day away.

Or so I thought. We had a bad crossing, and lets just say Tasha's sea legs only just held out. As we passed the sea wall in Calais I really wasn't sure if she was going to make it! And she looked so chirpy as she gave Alfie his porridge!

Our time in the Cite Europe was brilliant when Alfie slept, which was for about 23 minutes - the rest of the time he cried. Wailed. Howled. He really wasn't happy. I think the journey down had taken its toll. And we still had to go back!

We left earlier than planned, and managed to board an earlier boat at around 5/6pm. Tash was happy that the return crossing was better, and even Alfie managed to cheer up a little when we found a small play area for him.

I was preying for some good roads, but once again was aware that if the worst came to the worst the Villa game would be on Radio5Live ... and we had supplies if the roads were horrendous!

After texts from Dad and Hen telling various stories about road conditions the A2/M2/A2, M25, A1 run home was pretty fine - and Alfie was out for the count! Roads were OK, and we didn't hit a single tailback - traffic volume was hugely down on the night before. Thats seems to be the transport authorities approach to winter motoring - don't expect us to keep traffic moving, instead sort it yourselves by not using your cars!

We were home by 8:30pm, Tash got Alfie down in his cot OK, and then Birmingham City rounded off my nightmare 36 hours by knocking us out of the Carling Cup.

Today I am doing nothing, just crossing my fingers England win the race to be host for the 2018 World Cup!