... well it IS that time of year - this IS mostly a football site so ... one has to suffer other stuff - or more to the point other stuff all the time. I could muse about transfers/players leaving this club and that club - but when it all boils down to it, most of it is hearsay/unconfirmed etc - even when the friendlies kick in, you might see a team of 11 - of which maybe only 4 or 5 actually start the season. Even that list of friendlies I've put up is subject to change ... Still - since my life-changing win on the horses last Thursday (!!) - been to work a few times, watched TV a bit, cleared out a "storage area" in our cellar (partly in an attempt to find out why the downstairs bathroom has gone a bit "smelly" - well it IS underground - we're part way to solving the problem; the rest of the solution will probably cost money though - aargh !!), cooked a few tasty meals (including slow-cooked lamb with a redcurrant gravy on Sunday), tidied up some of my shelves - which tend to get in a right royal mess !!! That's about it really ... Go on then - here's the left-overs from tonight's foodie offering ... creamy cod and haddock pie ...
OK ... during my tidy-up - found a few (OK a lot !) of footy programmes ... anyone out there fancy a copy of Wigan Athletic v Darlington - 28th April 1979 (Division 4) West Ham United v Shrewsbury Town - 26th April 1980 (Division 2) ... just a couple - there's LOADS more !!! .
... making the most of the weather after work yesterday ... a stroll down the canal. Having walked up and down this bit of canal for the best part of 30 years, I "attempted" to try and find some different angles on the same old stuff - see what you think ... Canal Stroll 19Jun13
Looks like the weather is going to break by the weekend - hey ho ... .
... found a bottle of this over the weekend - in Morrisons of Belper ...
A brew "created" by Bruce Dickinson himself - just down the road at Robinsons Brewery in Stockport !!! Find out more at the Iron Maiden Beer Website.
Busy weekend - finish work, drive down to Belper (Mother-in-Laws Birthday) - good afternoon/evening - then today home via Stafford to see parents (Fathers Day of course) plus sister and hubby. Another good afternoon of natter and catch-up. Home - cook tea (Pork in Cider) - a bit of this - and soon to relax - late start tomorrow - a welcome relief from two weeks of 0530hrs get-ups.
Football ?? Apart from that pre-season friendly list, pretty much forgotten - not unlike the England Under-21 fiasco in Israel (fortunate enough not to see ANY of it) ... although I "might" catch a bit of Confederation Cup later tonight ... even the "Non-League Paper" is down to 32 pages ... .
Sat 20Jul - Bacup & Rossendale Boro 1 MOSSLEY 1 Sat 20Jul - Barnoldswick Town 1 CURZON ASHTON 3 Sat 20Jul - Clitheroe 0 ASHTON UNITED 1 Sat 20Jul - Congleton Town 2 DROYLSDEN 2 Sat 20Jul - Glossop North End 1 HYDE FC 2 Sat 20Jul - STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 0 Gateshead 4 Tue 23Jul - MOSSLEY 1 Airbus UK 4 Tue 23Jul - Prescot Cables 2 DROYLSDEN 2 Tue 23Jul - Runcorn Linnets 1 CURZON ASHTON 3
Sat 27Jul - Abbey Hey 0 MOSSLEY3 Sat 27Jul - ASHTON UNITED 0 CURZON ASHTON 1 Sat 27Jul - STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 3 HYDE FC 6 (Ray Stanley Memorial Shield) Tue 30Jul - Brighouse Town 3 CURZON ASHTON 1 Tue 30Jul - MOSSLEY 4 Altrincham 2 Tue 30Jul - STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 2 Accrington Stanley 2 Sat 03Aug - CURZON ASHTON v Isle of Man (National Team) Sat 03Aug - DROYLSDEN v Romulus Sat 03Aug - MOSSLEY v ASHTON UNITED (Willow Wood HospiceCup) Sat03Aug - Nantwich Town v STALYBRIDGE CELTIC
Tue 06Aug - CURZON ASHTON v Blackburn Rovers Sat 10Aug - DROYLSDEN v Northwich Vics (Tony Downes Trophy) Sat 10Aug - MOSSLEY v Chorley Sat 10Aug - New Mills v ASHTON UNITED
Sat 17Aug - Football Conference and Evo-Stik League starts
... on the "Official State Visit" tour ... (N.B. this might be rather long ... but you can guarantee I'll be missing large chunks out !!). I have two great music heroes ... alphabetically speaking ... Steve Hillage and Todd Rundgren. For those under-age people, you'll need to go back to the 70s (Google will help of course !!). I look back with fondness to those days - Knebworth Festivals, Reading Festivals (i.e. well before Reading/Leeds was invented), gigs in London and Sheffield, even Liverpool (when Todd performed with Ringo Starr's All Star Band) - all in homage to those two musicians.
Time moved on ... starting with Steve Hillage - his 1976 album "L" was a classic in my humble opinion, his peak - and incidentally was produced by ... yep Todd Rundgren. Then came the anti-music backlash of punk rock - so Hillage promptly puts a track "1988 Aktivator" on his 1979 album "Open" - OK just the one track but ... The early 80s saw the "double" album "For To Next/And Not Or" - and we were starting to move away from the hippy/dippy music that I'd loved and grown up with ... we were heading down the ambient/trance route, which culminated in the formation of System 7. I gave it a go - yes I've got a System 7 album (OK CD !!), but it was one step beyond. OK, the 21st Century has seen him reprise some of his old material together with Gong, but that's just what it was - a reprise of old material. Todd Rundgren ... a man who has re-invented himself more times than ... an inventor - often on the same album (think "Wizard/A True Star" - a right 'eclectic' mix if I may say so !). Time moved on - Utopia arrived - and there was a move towards 'progressive' rock ("Todd Rundgen's Utopia" and "Another Live"). One year after the Steve Hillage production, Utopia released "Ra" - probably my all-time favourite album involving Todd ... and later that same year came another classic Rundgren production - "Bat out of Hell" by Meat Loaf (like the Hillage album, it was produced by Todd and featured members of Utopia). Time moved on ... Utopia albums and Todd solo albums - each one just that little bit different - but still very accessible. Then came the 90s - then came "No World Order" ... a radical movement towards dance/techno, heavily influenced by computers !!! Other "odd-balls" came and went - the bossa-nova inspired "With a Twist" for example. 2008 saw the "Arena" album - a throwback to rock - saw him in Manchester on that tour - and that was a cracking night. However ... it's time to move on to last night (09Jun13) at the Manchester Ritz - not a huge venue - it was probably 70% full downstairs (the upstairs balcony was shut). For my sins I had not got round to buying a copy of the new CD "State" so I was 'going in cold'. Looking around, I reckoned the average age of the audience was about ... me I guess. Within 15 minutes, I was confused - was I watching Todd Rundgren or was was watching a Todd Rundgren karaoke ?? Despite the attendance on stage of drummer Prairie Prince and Guitarist Jesse Gress (who is an excellent performer), it was more a question of Todd pressing buttons and singing along to a backing track. Digressing slightly, I believe there was a "computer glitch" at the Edinburgh gig a couple of nights ago which led to Gress "filling in" with a bit of "Lucky Guy" from "Hermit of Mink Hollow" (from 1978 !) - it's on Youtube somewhere. In fact I believe Todd only donned his guitar three times during the entire (90 minute - no support) gig - and on one of those occasions he started a solo, took the guitar off, and left Jesse Gress to finish it - weird or what ? We had many flashing lights (no epilepsy warning for us old gits on the ticket/in the venue - OK I jest), and the techno/dance theme continued - at times it was embarrassing watching some of the elderly people in the audience bouncing around to "Angry Bird" as if they'd aimed for the Parklife Concert in Heaton Park - and missed. I almost expected Bez to come bounding out on stage - but maybe it was more Prodigy than Madchester ... Guess my highlight track of the night was "Worldwide Epiphany" - although again I was unsure whether the heavy guitar riff was live or 'on tape'. Trawling the web a bit when I got home last night, there was talk of people "walking out" at certain concerts - I'm sure there were many purists (?) there last night as well, although I didn't see any about-turns for the exit. And for the purists I'm sure the encore was an abomination ... three classic tracks ("Can We Still Be Friends", "I Saw The Light" and "Hello It's Me" segued together with a techno/dance backing track. I've no problem with reworks of old classics (I've mentioned the bossa-nova album earlier) - and I've seen Bob Dylan "tweaking songs" live as well as on disc ("Budokan") - I was waiting for the cry of "JUDAS !" but it either didn't come ... or I didn't hear it. Hearing these three performed as they were was somewhat bizarre though.
Did I enjoy the gig ?? Hard to say - can I say I didn't dislike it - it certainly wasn't what I expected - but what did I expect ?? ... as I said somewhere further up, Todd is a guy who is continually evolving, re-inventing, trying new - and I'm sure he's sick to death of being asked to play stuff that's 30+ years old. I did come out of the gig (at 2145hrs - now that's early !) a lot more confused than when I went in though - although I did come out clutching a copy of the "State" CD for further perusal/'analysis'. I could say more I suppose ... but suffice to say, I await the next incarnation of Todd Rundgren with bated breath. There's a track on "No World Order" called "Time Stood Still" - it certainly doesn't for Todd Rundgren ! .
... the rest of the weekend - work not as easy a some days (I have been on 0530hrs get-ups all week as well) - but we got there in the end - home to make a load of lamb kebabs (for later) before toddling off to top end of Rochdale to mates' house for barbecue (they get the evening sun !!). We ate a shed load of food (and drank some alcohol too) and were still outside getting on for midnight. Sunday saw a drive down to the Vale of Edale, decamping at Hope for a bit of a walk - another glorious day - what with virtually a week of RM shorts plus Sunday = backs of legs suffering a bit (colour-wise). Just a few pix - virtually all that I took !! Vale of Edale 09Jun13
Home for about 1730hrs - a quick "creation" in the kitchen (Chicken, Chorizo potatoes and "stuff") before heading down to daughter's for the evening's entertainment ...
... which will be fully reviewed later tonight (I'm in the midst of tonight's tea creation - which involves "bulking up" last night's left-overs - and serving with pasta) ... Back soon ... .
An early "Fathers Day" pressie from my lovely daughter - she even drove me down there too - which allowed me a couple or three pints of beer (note to non-lager drinkers at the Manchester Ritz ... your only option is bottles of Old Speckled Hen ... at £4-40 each !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Going back to the first line ... it was different to say the least ... and in all fairness I'm saying no more tonight until I've sat down (for a bit longer) and analysed what I saw in my own way ...
(Plus I'm up early doors tomorrow - eek today - at 0530hrs ...) .
The eight-hour journey down was eventful for starters - our new sat-nav (£109 from Tesco.com ... less £70 of vouchers - ergo bargain !?!) seems to have an affinity with Paris. However I'm jumping the gun here - because on the Saturday there was an accident on the M25 - so said sat-nav took us through some busy bits of London (to save time apparently). Back on track - Sunday saw us driving through almost the middle of Paris - yikes !!! Ended up going through loads of tunnels (including "that Princess Diana One" - yes I've checked !) and another that seemed a bit "tight" - we had the roof box on - so I was driving and ducking at the same time. Got to campsite about 2030 - tent up no probs - still dry - but a bloody cold evening. Monday - dry again - did the supermarche shop and went for a bit of a walk to La Madeleine - a troglodyte village built into the rocks overlooking the Vezere river. Amazing stuff ... back to campsite - managed a barbecue - steak natch ... and then it started raining ...
... and basically it didn't stop raining until Friday. Campsite owners said "It's usually 25 degrees Celsius this time of year" ... but is wasn't. It was wet - and the evenings were bloody cold ! So - Tuesday - it was "museum time" - all good stuff - but not what we were expecting - a brief respite Tuesday afternoon was spent with a shortish walk. Then back to the tent - to find we'd been burgled ... not by any human beings, but by a fox, who'd managed to tip over the "cool box" and steal our food (spicy Merguez sausages, pork and parsley pate, bread - and also stick a few teeth marks in the vegetables, thus making them uneatable). Well hacked off ??? Oh yes ... however the campsite - although very quiet people-wise - did have a small bar/restaurant, and Giles managed to put together a wonderful meal of entrecote steak, chips and salad for us. We returned to the tent - by now it was chucking it down again, and continued all night and the following day - plus the camping lantern had packed up - despite new (expensive) batteries - aargh ! Wednesday - more museums (Le Thot and Lascaux II) due to weather - still amazing stuff, but ... a trip to the supermarche to replace food as well. We sat in the car park watching the rain pour down and Mrs Smiffy said "ENOUGH !!". On return to campsite we enquired as to the possibility of renting one of the (empty) mobile homes on the site - as in light, heat, electricity, comfort etc etc - "pas de probleme" was the reply - so we left the tent ...OK we could still hear the rain hammering down - but we had light, heat etc etc !!! Thursday - another troglodyte village - an amazing place (Le Roque de St Christophe) - also because of the layout we were under cover from the rain. Afternoon - we went to Sarlat - a medeaval city ... but camera stayed in car - as we did for a good while watching the rain on the windscreen whilst eating lunch. We ventured out eventually (avec waterproofs !) and sneaked in a posh tea/cake shop as well. Tea was cassoulet - I love that stuff !!
Friday ...and it started to clear ... so we grabbed the chance for a big walk - and then another supermarche visit to buy pressies etc (local produce ... foie gras , confit de canard and truffle sauce). Saturday - a long trip back up to the north of France - and naturally the weather was brill - stopped off at one the the "aires" - like service station - for lunch and admired the French ... picnic table but out came the tablecloth, bottles of wine and posh food (we had butties from our tupperware and a can of Orangina !). Another nightmare journey ... we decided to avoid Paris but ended up in the hell that is Rouen - some new roadworks that the sat-nav was unaware of ... you can guess the rest. Arrived at hotel - late (!!) but they too managed to sort us out some Steak Bordelaise with chips and salad. Sunday - back on Le Shuttle ... and lunch at Toddington Services - sat in the car !!! One helluva difference from 24 hours earlier (aren't Brit Service Stations mostly crap ? Can only think of one up in the Lake District (Tebay)that's remotely nice and not full of the usual cr*p - some of those French "aires" are just a few picnic tables and a loo - which is great if you're fully prepped !!! So ... that was our week off - not quite what we were hoping for ... and since our return to GB - and work - the weather's been wonderful (yes the Royal Mail shorts have been out this week !). Sod's Law I guess ... photo-wise, it was also a bit disappointing - I'm blaming the weather (!) - but a few from the week can be found at: Vezere Valley Holiday Pics
A few football stories have turned up in my absence ... but that's another post ... .
... must have worked it out by now - we've been away ... and it was a somewhat "eventful" week !!! Finished work last Saturday (as in 25th June !!) about 1400hrs - and headed straight for Folkestone, arriving several hours later. One night in a "Lenny Henry Hotel" before taking Le Shuttle on the Sunday morning to Calais (a new experience !) followed by an 8 hour drive down to the Vezere Valley in the Dordogne. It was a beautiful day weather-wise - shame we were in the car ... ... and then it all went slightly pear-shaped ... stay tuned ... .