Monday, 16 June 2008

Euro 2008 Pundits Lacking Width

I have to say I am enjoying Euro 2008 so far. The football has generally been attacking (Greece apart) and there have been some fantastic games with quite a few last minute winners. It is great coming home from work knowing that no matter how shite the normal TV schedule is, there will at least be a game on - until Sunday.

One thing I have noticed is the propensity for a growing number of pundits to use the phrase "by the way". Andy Townsend is the number one culprit. I lost count of the number of times he used this phrase during last nights 'analysis' of the Turkey v Czech Republic game. He will say things like (paraphrasing):

"Nihat still has a lot of work to do, and by the way - what a great finish"

"Petr Cech by the way is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and would catch that 99 times out of 100"

"Karel Bruckner, who is no mug, will be absolutely fuming by the way"

What is the point of saying this? Was Nihat's finish somehow incidental to the actual football match? It's one of these things that, once you notice it, really annoys you.

By the way Andy - you are a twat.

Monday, 9 June 2008

West Highland Way May 2008

I have recently returned from the well trodden 95 mile trek from Milngavie (north of Glasgow) to Fort William in the Highlands. Not being a particularly experienced walker, I set off with a certain amount of trepidation. Would my feet stand up to it? Will I tire after 10 miles? Have I packed my bag correctly? What is the terrain like? I did not know the answer to any of these questions but this was part of the attraction. The Day 1 walk from Milngavie to Balmaha on the banks of Loch Lomond was easy enough, although it took us the best part of 12 hours to reach our first campsite. On arriving I was to encounter our number one enemy throughout the duration of the trip - midges. These intensly irritating little beasts were, almost literally, a significant fly in the ointment. It is impossible to go 5 seconds without having to squat away a swarm of the buggers from your face/hair/legs/arms. Nightmare.

The 2nd day was tough. Our muscles had taken a pounding the previous day and we were feeling the effects badly. The scenery however improved dramatically, and the Loch gradually revealed itself in glorious sunshine. I was almost dead on my feet by the end of it, and was delighted to arrive at our campsite at Inversnaid 2/3 of the way up the Loch. A few drinks in a nearby hotel with a coach load of OAPs was very well deserved. The 3rd day saw us continue up the east bank of Loch Lomond - again in beating sunshine - and including a visit to Rob Roys cave. Out came the frisbee on a number of occasions, before we left the Loch behind and began the 2nd part of our journey through the rugged Munro country. We battled our way to the village of Tyndrum, whereupon we set up camp in a Wigwam and headed straight for the legendary Paddy's Bar.

Weather was on our side for most of our journey with only one afternoon on the 4th day requiring the doning of our waterproofs. After a relatively short day of 14 miles we decided to 'splash' out on a slap up meal at the Bridge of Orchy hotel. We followed this by treating ourselves to a night on the single malt and engaged in some drunken banter with a group of Americans, also on the WHW. Come the morning, and after a now routine sweep of the midges, we set off for Kinlochleven, a daunting 21 miles away. Having negotiated a rather misty Rannoch Moor and the notorious 'Devils Staircase' against the backdrop of Glencoe, we soon found ourselves descending to our penultimate destination at the picturesque town of Kinlochleven - a mere 14 miles from Fort William. With the thought of only one more day in our unwashed underwear to go, spirits were high at this stage as we settled down for a night of darts, pool and Guiness.

I had imagined that I would get through the last day on adrenaline, but it was gruelling. My right ankle by this stage had developed an unbearably sharp pain and every step was a struggle. As we staggered up an old military road, the spectacular sight of the highest peak in the UK, Ben Nevis, gradually came into view. The end was in sight. However, we had not bargained for a seemingly endless series of winding forest trails. It was another 3 frustating and agonising hours before we gingerly shuffled over the finish line. Not quite the cigar chomping sprint finish I had envisaged!

Tired bodies, aching muscles and wandering minds were evident in us all. However, it was a memorable trip with a great bunch of lads and a privilege to experience the beauty of the 'real' Scotland - arguably unrivalled anywhere in the British Isles.

To see my full photo album of the trip, feel free to visit my Facebook page.

Day1 - Milngavie to Balmaha

Day 2 Balmaha to Inversnaid

Day 3 Inversnaid to Tyndrum

Day 4 Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy

Day 5 Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven

Day 6 Kinlochleven to Fort William

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Chelsea Still Managerless

With almost every coach in Europe ruling himself out of the vacant Chelsea post, I would like to put forward the perfect candidate...........