An early trophy for City :)

city for love
For City’s League Cup Final meeting with Sunderland, given that I couldn’t afford to go to Wembley, I watched in the pub with Roger Junior and Senior (Sunderland fans), Graham (Newcastle fan but Sunderland dad), Stef, Billy, Raji (Newcastle) and Mark (Bolton)

Friends together

When Sunderland went a goal up, (and the ecstatic celebrations by Roger & Roger settled πŸ˜‰ ) I remarked that they were going to be VERY, VERY nervous now and they were:

nervesscarf

At half time I prayed for a decent half time talk and maybe some changes – and clearly Pellegrini had his hairdryer on hand.

I celebrated Yaya’s (spectacular) goal by leaping up and spilling beer on my lucky Wembley flag – ooops! At 2-1 City, Roger & Roger were sitting back resigned, and it was ME that was nervous! Our third goal was harsh on poor Sunderland who had played well and didn’t deserve that scoreline really. However, City turned on the class after the break and there was not much they could do to stop us.

From everything I’ve heard from those who were at the game, City and Sunderland fans were friendly and respectful of each other before and after the match which is always good to see πŸ™‚ In the pub, although a few other Sunderland fans had come in after us, they quickly cleared off at full time – however, our group stayed on and Paul joined us once he finished work (we ended up returning home 7.5 hours after we left πŸ™‚ )

afterkitty

So, an early trophy for City, a first for Pellegrini in his time here, and still in the running for another couple (theoretically, three, but I think we’ll be out of the Champs League on Wednesday when we play the return fixture against Barca) I’d be happy with this one, pleased as punch with another, and highly surprised (but delighted) with a third.

city no history

MCFC’s short highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Sunderland fan blog article

Playing games

Since I’m struggling to blog properly these days, I have decided to just go with it for now and post as and when the mood/time allows which quite possibly means short posts with just a snapshot of what I’m up to.

Just to reassure you, I am still (of course) watching and attending City matches (every game) and I’m still playing darts every week. I just seem to have lost my mojo to blog about them but hopefully I’ll manage short snippets again in future.

However, I’ve discovered a new (somewhat addictive) way to destress at the end of the day – Microsoft’s Xbox Solitaire games pack that came with my new laptop (I got a new one on the NHS home computer scheme so I have a small amount of money deducted from my salary to pay for it.) I can lose myself in the rhythm of the cards – whilst hopefully fighting off Alzheimers at the same time πŸ˜€

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12 City games in 6 weeks

Between all the Christmas preparations at home, a hectic period at work, and rather a lot of football fixtures in the last 6 weeks, I have got further behind with my blog than ever before. So to summarise City’s games in this time:

1. City 4 – 2 Viktoria Plzen (UCL)
Watched on TV. An enjoyable match, a nice win, but still our defence worries me. Happily, however, we’re now through to the knock-out stages for the first time πŸ™‚
MCFC 90-Second highlights here

2. City 3 – 0 Swansea
Watched on TV. Brilliant end-to-end game and a great team performance from City. Pleased for Nasri getting a couple of goals as he’s been outstanding this season. Just a shame he couldn’t convert Dzeko’s unselfish pass in to a hat trick.
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

3. West Brom 2 – 3 City
Followed Twitter updates so can’t comment much. A valuable away win.
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

4. Southampton 1 – 1 City
Listened to on BBC Radio Manchester. Southampton have been getting some great results and we were not at our best at all. The home team should have had 3 points, but I’ll take a lucky point on the road.
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

5. Bayern MΓΌnchen 2 – 3 City (UCL)
Watched on TV. Amazing game! Although no-one really felt we’d top the group, we came within a whisker (Pellegrini’s maths aside πŸ˜‰ ) and ensured that other teams in the competition will be wary of us. I don’t expect us to get passed the next game – two at the outside, but each year we’ve been in the competition we’ve learned and grown and that’s good enough for me. As it turned out, the draw put us up against Barca! WHAT a mouthwatering fixture IF we play at our best.
MCFC highlights here

6. City 6 – 3 Arsenal
Attended live. This was unbelievable and I still couldn’t quite believe it even after the whistle went. I did laugh at City fans singing “Are you Tottenham in disguise?” πŸ˜€ That said, it wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests and it was an end-to-end game.
MCFC Short highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

7. Leicester City 1 – 3 City (League Cup)
Watched on TV. A pretty comfortable win this one, and nice to see Dzeko scoring a couple. This put us through to the semi finals against West Ham; the other being Sunderland and ManUre. I’m not as convinced as some seem that we’ll be in the final so will take it one game at a time.
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

8. Fulham 2 – 4 City
Watched on TV. I did feel for Kompany scoring an own goal to equalise for Fulham but it was very bizarre! At times we looked very comfortable, but at others it was all a bit clueless, and mainly at the back. That said, a nice result and 3 points away from home.
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

9. City 2 – 1 Liverpool
Attended live. I was nervous about this one and as it turned out, they gave us a hard game at home and were the best opponents to come here this season. It was a thrilling game and well worth all the extra driving over Christmas πŸ™‚
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

10. City 1 – 0 Crystal Palace
Attended live – with mum πŸ™‚ It seemed a pretty dull game at the time but the TV highlights make it look much better! It was really great to use a friend’s seats at pitch level, near the halfway line just a few rows back so we could sit together, but I did miss my usual view as I get a good overview of the whole field of play. Palace did well to stifle our game and they looked dangerous a couple of times so were slightly unlucky to lose, but then again, had done well to stop us scoring again too.
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

11. Swansea 2 – 3 City
Watched 80 minutes on TV before going out for the afternoon for our usual feast and fun at a friend’s. It had been 1-3 when I left which was somewhat flattering to us I felt, and I had a feeling Swansea were good for another goal. I was just glad it wasn’t more!
MCFC 60-Second highlights here / MCFC Extended highlights here

12. Blackburn 1 – 1 City (FA Cup)
I watched this one on TV and felt relieved to get the draw in the end. Towards the end of the first half I felt our quality began to tell despite a good performance from the home team, but we proceeded, after scoring, to do what we often do – huff and puff with no real chance of making the house fall down. A fair result and I fancy our chances in the replay, being at home. There’s much whinging about now having an extra fixture to play but I can’t be doing with that moan. Firstly because the club had arranged a meaningless friendly in the UAE for that week, so can’t be bothered by an extra game. Secondly because, as I have always said, if you’re serious about competing in all competitions, and if you have the funds at your disposal, you make sure you have enough players to allow for rotation. The extra money you earn from progress in each competition should be sent on making your squad deep enough. The only clubs that can get away with this excuse of too many games are those “smaller” ones who have unexpectedly progressed in a competition – and even then, it’s up to them to decide their priorities. So, in short – there’s nothing to moan about so sit back and enjoy the ride!
MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here / MCFC’s Extended highlights here

Happy New Year 2014

The year has flown by but on the whole it’s been a positive one, moving slowly in the right direction as I mentioned at Christmas.

Happy 2014 to all the people that keep me going. You! My friends and family. May this New Year be all that you hope it will be. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last couple of years, it’s that life is full of uncertainties so you have to go grab it by the horns and make it (whatever it may be) happen!

Counting our blessings at Christmas

Well time has run away with me and here I am on Christmas Eve reflecting on a year of huge change for us.

Last Christmas we had no idea where we’d be living at this time, or even if we’d have a roof over our heads at all. We had no security, no money, no idea what the future might hold and it was very, very scary. We were living one day at a time and barely hanging in there.

Gradually, we’ve taken little steps forward and now we are living in a house that’s plenty large enough for us all to remain together as a family unit, complete with cats, and we are very lucky to have such a lovely landlady. By pooling our resources, and working hard we’ve managed to just about make ends meet. Billy was working part-time at first but now has a full-time job which he is enjoying getting his teeth into. Nel was unemployed but is now very settled into an NHS admin apprenticeship and is very much part of the team at work, valued for herself – and spoiled to bits by everyone in the department! Raji was doing a job that didn’t really challenge him enough but is now in a role which suits him well and pays more. I have spent the year working as much overtime as possible, with just one week off in July, but this has kept our heads above water and I do enjoy my work and feel a part of the team. Stephen still works at the pub which he enjoys but the hours aren’t sufficient to support him, unfortunately. So we’ve had small but positive changes since last Christmas – little steps;right direction.

This has led to me really feeling the true spirit of Christmas and I am fully in the mood to count my blessings.

I have my family all together and getting on with life by helping each other through. I have a nice home. I have absolutely wonderful friends and family who have supported us though this tricky year. I have the things that really matter.

I’ve cut down a lot on Christmas presents – and even cards – as have many people in this financial climate. I’ve made many presents myself and have enjoyed doing so and put a lot of TLC into them. Those presents I have bought were carefully chosen and I’ve made use of special offers, discounts and loyalty schemes, but I am pleased with what I’ve bought. People won’t have umpteen things, just one or two presents that I hope will really please them. It’s all so much more special and meaningful for me this year and I hope the recipients feel it too.

On the other side of the coin,I feel lucky to have such lovely, kind, caring colleagues who are also good friends. I’ve already received lovely messages in cards and presents from unexpected quarters. I’ve enjoyed sharing Christmas cheer with people who work very intensely all year and feel privileged to get on so well with people of all roles within the hospital. But more than this, these people have supported me through bad times and shared good ones every day so what little I’ve done for them at this time of year to put a smile on their faces has been very enjoyable to do.

At home, I have two children of whom I am proud and whom I am happy to call friends as well as family. I am lucky to have my wonderful mum who, as you know, is a huge part of my life and gives me so much by way of support, love and fun. She doesn’t live with us but is nonetheless part of this family unit and I don’t know what I’d have done without her. Raji, of course, does live with us and enriches our household; I must admit I can’t imagine him not being with us now. We get on really well and he is more a brother and friend than “just” an in-law. As for Billy and I, we’ve actually managed to spend some time together here and there and now that he’s settled in to his job and life has calmed down a bit, he’s more like the man with whom I fell in love. Dare I hope we can pause to enjoy each other for a while?

As you may know, our darts team is made up of very good friends and they too have seen us through this year. I love my Friday nights playing darts in their company. In good times and bad, we can just relax and be ourselves with them, and they with us. I miss them if I don’t see them one week and I don’t get bored with their company if we get together for other things (such as watching football in the pub and generally leading each other astray πŸ˜‰ ) Their easy company and solid friendship has kept us going at times when we’ve really needed propping up.

I also have my beloved City to keep me entertained and through my football I have many friends who enrich my life. I have my City friends, some of whom I meet up with at games, some I only see occasionally. I have friends who are fans of other football clubs, some of whom I know well, some I’ve only met once or twice. Football brings me closer to my brother when we exchange match day texts as the geographical distance between us and busy lives make it all too easy to lose touch otherwise. All of these people make me feel a part of something, a sense of belonging and offer humour and opinion to entertain me. Many of them do more and have generously given me help, advice, support, access to match tickets and are dear friends. (You know who you are.)

So as I sit here counting my blessings and looking forward to a family Christmas and New Year with friends, I would just like to thank each and every one of you who has helped make this year bearable and kept us going. THANK YOU! I wish you a Christmas time full of your own blessings, with love, laughter and light and I hope that 2014 will be all that you hope it will be.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all my wonderful family and friends.

Christmas shopping day

I took a very rare day off work (the first since July in fact, discounting the August bank holiday) on the first Monday of December so that I could do my Christmas shopping. I wouldn’t have picked that date myself as it WAS a little early, but there wasn’t any other day I could take, so I just went with it. As it turned out, I was actually feeling quite Christmassy so rather enjoyed myself.

After everyone else had left for work, I got myself ready and then walked along to the shops. I’d decided against going into Newcastle or the Metrocentre for the occasion as Raji had my car for work and I really didn’t fancy faffing with buses or trains, being limited to a timetable, carrying bags all day and paying far too much for the privilege. After the first shop – in which I bought presents for a couple of people, I felt I deserved a treat, so went in to the newly opened branch of my favourite coffee shop:

Christmassy coffee

A few more shops and several more presents later, I decided to take my morning’s loot back home and freshen up before going to meet Billy for lunch ( a very early Anniversary treat) We had a very enjoyable meal in Wetherspoons and though we’d had soft drinks with it, I rather fancied one of the liqueur coffees and went for the Disaronno one – which was very nice. (I drink my coffee black so any of the flavours would have worked – can’t imagine them with milk in though. Yeugh!)

Boozy coffee

After that, it was back to the shops and I managed to pretty much finish all the present shopping. It was so nice to have the chance to go in to the smaller shops and browse in leisurely fashion. There are so many little unique things to be found and really no need to suffer the stress of going further afield. To be fair, I have also made a lot of presents this year and again, those I have bought have not been extravagant. Still, there’s a satisfying little pile of presents on the bedroom floor waiting to be wrapped πŸ™‚

Over the course of this last week, I’ve iced the cakes, made a few more presents, and even put up the decorations. I’m STILL feeling Christmassy so am making the most of it and enjoying it. (I did consider trying to quell it until nearer the day, but then thought that it could be gone in a flash and I’d have denied myself the fun.)

I quite enjoyed playing with the decorations – being in a new house means finding new places to put things so it was fun starting from scratch. When I’d done, it looked quite cosy in the living room so I lit a fire and Billy and I sat down together to enjoy the ambience. I even wrote a couple of cards – whilst sipping a glass of wine to reward myself πŸ™‚

Cosy for Christmas

Shopping, giggles then 6 of the best for City

Last weekend I finally got back down to see mum and go to my match after a very long gap. I loved the drive down on Friday night which gave me a chance to relax with mum and then have all day Saturday together.

We visited Broughton, a retail park just over the Welsh border which I really like and we spent the morning doing a bit of Christmas shopping and browsing. One of the shops we visited sold a variety of homewares and gifts and after looking at ornaments, kitchen ware, bathroom stuff, hot water bottles and so on, we were in another aisle and I had to stop to work out what we were looking at. Hot water bottle covers maybe? Eventually, my poor muddled brain eventually worked out what the candy stripe knitted object which had caught my attention actually was….. a knitted dog jacket! Well I started giggling and pointed it out to mum. Who also got the giggles and soon we were in hysterics, complete with snorting, which drew attention from other shoppers – who promptly gave us a wide berth πŸ˜€

Hot water bottle cover? πŸ˜€

Mum did buy something in that shop so while she queued to pay, I carried on browsing. But the image of the little doggy jacket popped into my head again and I was back to giggling and snorting – and drawing bemused glances πŸ˜€

We decided a bit of a sit down and a food break was in order after a while so we had lunch in the pub across the road. Although it was quite busy, the service was friendly and efficient, we enjoyed our rest and the food was vhot, fresh and filling.

The last shop to visit was Tesco for the main shopping and a few Christmassy bits, but we were both quite tired, there were too many people (who showed no awareness of others around them πŸ™ ) and all the kids in there were very noisy. We got what we needed but were very glad to escape once we were done.

It was wonderful to get home, shut the door on everyone and just relax over a dinner of braised steak, accompanied by a bottle of wine – and another bout of giggles thinking about the knitted doggy jackets πŸ˜€

Next morning we were a bit short of time so we set to and I packed my things, gathered more wood from mum’s pile of tree cuttings in the garden and loaded the car. Mum, meanwhile, packed me a picnic and then cooked us a full English breakfast. What a treat, and how delicious! πŸ™‚ Soon it was time to say goodbye and head off to Manchester for the match….

I arrived in time to pick up some Christmas bits and a new woolly hat to replace my old one which was missing, and then went on up to my seat and greeted my season ticket neighbours. I noted that the Spurs support was a decent turnout for a Sunday lunch time a distance away at this (expensive) time of year. I thought this would be a tight game as our defence is ropey and Spurs have some pace – probably one goal in it and I just hoped it would go our way. City’s new fangled gimic before kick off these days is to have various people singing Blue Moon. This week’s singer was Jason Manford who asked us all to “be upstanding for the National anthem” πŸ˜€ He’s actually not a bad singer.

People were still milling about finding their seats shortly after the whistle had blown and then all of a sudden, the ball was in the back of the net! No! That was never a goal this early (13 secs)? It looked alright to us but…. Well, we looked at the ref. Looked at the lino. Looked at the goal again. Looked at the players. Realised it WAS a goal (and what a goal!) and it stood. And celebrated belatedly πŸ˜€

Well the rest of the game was surreal – 6 lovely goals and none in reply! At 5-0 I think I’d decided that was likely to be it, but Navas’ run and goal was cherry on the cake πŸ™‚ Beautiful! (So, to summarise, that was Navas for the 1st & 6th goals, a harsh own goal for the 2nd, Aguero twice then Negredo for the 5th.) Not only does one not expect to keep scoring so many goals, but to beat Spurs by such a margin – well, let’s just say that there will be very few, if any, who put money on that! (And if they did, they deserve every penny of their winnings!))

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

I had a lovely drive home to round off my thoroughly enjoyable weekend which had been overdue but worth the wait.

Our annual night out (Cricket dinner 2013)

Where does the time go? On 15th November, it was once again time for Billy’s cricket dinner at Langley Castle.
(See previous year’s posts: 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007. )

This also happened to be Stephen’s birthday so I checked with him first that he didn’t want to do something en famille for the occasion. I was unsurprised when he said not! πŸ˜‰ We hadn’t know what to get him as a present so took a bit of a chance and bought him DFDS ferry vouchers for a trip to Amsterdam as this was something he fancied doing. Mum had done the research and she also bought him ferry vouchers, and she has offered her travel agency experience when it comes to booking. Happily he was really pleased with them and is now enjoying planning a trip. πŸ™‚

Still being a smaller clothing size means I don’t have many clothes that fit (it’s now been a year since my bizarre, unexplained weight loss, yet I can’t quite accept that I won’t go back to my normal size and be able to wear my old clothes again.) I had an inexpensive green dress I could wear though it wasn’t really quite dressy enough, but teamed with an evening shrug and some high heels, it did the job. Nel let me use her green eye-shadow and my friend Helen loaned me her beautiful green shell necklace, earrings and bracelets – thanks girls πŸ™‚ The menfolk scrubbed up rather nicely and submitted to a photo before we left. (I reckoned my heels made me the same height as them for once, but they said not…)

Thorn between two roses

We met with everyone at the cricket club ready for the coach taking us to the castle with the usual sweepstake on the length of the guest speaker’s after dinner speech πŸ™‚ The venue was as beautiful as ever and the meal superb. (Sun-blushed tomato & basil soup topped with a parmesan straw; Roast loin of succulent pork, apple & pancetta stuffing, fondant potato and seasonal vegetables; Baileys cheesecake, caramel ice-cream and chocolate sauce; coffee and mints.)

As usual I couldn’t quite manage all my main course so Billy finished it off for me. However, he didn’t return the favour with the divine dessert, despite the fact that he doesn’t like cheesecake! πŸ˜‰ It really was a gorgeous meal, the company excellent and the speeches amusing. There were lots of prize winners who were enthusiastically congratulated, and we even won 1st prize in the raffle! (A lovely wicker hamper full of food and drink goodies, which we’re going to save for Christmas πŸ™‚ )

Chairman Webby playing host with the most photo WP_000285_zpsafa7d401.jpg Speaker Foxy making us laugh photo WP_000286-Copy_zps07f6bb3e.jpg Beautiful venue photo WP_000288_zpsf638467d.jpg Can't beat dinner in a castle photo WP_000289_zps1833c73c.jpg Prize winners and their prizes photo WP_000292_zpsed76667f.jpg Getting restless now photo WP_000294_zps536d0fc7.jpg

The coach came to take us back to Hexham at around midnight, Raji and I then coming home, with Billy joining a few others in the pub until the wee small hours. It had been a wonderful evening and worthy of being our annual night out πŸ™‚

Billy

All in green

Together

Bonfire night then back-to-back in the pub

As I mentioned in my last post, the huge event that is Hexham’s bonfire fell on the same date as a City match but one of our friends had asked us, when we first got this house, if she could come round for hotdogs after the fireworks as it sits right next to the park. Ironically, she then couldn’t make it after all but we decided to have an open house for our friends anyway. I did a load of hot dogs and a big pot of homemade leek and potato soup, got some wine and beer and lit a nice big fire in the living room. We had a great night with our friends, with an old Queen tribute concert playing on the TV as background (Lots of dead artists featured, causing much hilarity (you had to be there!) πŸ˜€ ) We also sampled my chili sherry which was surprisingly good. A really good night with really good friends πŸ™‚

Can you have too much of a good thing? Not yet, it seems, as we kept company with these same friends last Sunday in a repeat-but-one-better of the day I was led astray πŸ˜‰ I worked my socks off at home on the Saturday to earn myself a day off, though I did quickly make the Christmas cakes Sunday morning and left them to cook in the Rayburn for the day. We met up in Studio Sports Bar and spent the entire day there, watching all 3 of the day’s football matches back-to-back. HOW decadent!

First up was Spurs 0 – 1 Newcastle and we expected a home win. However, in what was actually an entertaining game, Newcastle defended resolutely and Krull made world class ave after world class save! (Easily MotM by a mile.) The bar offers a free shot for every Newcastle goal when showing live matches so we all had a shot to celebrate πŸ™‚ Billy, Graham, Paul, Steph and bar staff were Newcastle fans, I wanted Newcastle to win, but Roger wanted them to lose so this added to the fun.

Next was Roger’s team versus mineSunderland 1 – 0 City and again, Roger was the only one wanting a home win. This is City’s bogey team/bogey ground so I was resigned to losing. In fact it looked like an extension of the previous game in which one team defended resolutely. The home goal was down to appalling defending on our part and City annoyed me by trying to walk the ball in the net every time. Also, players were often hoofing the ball to our lone front man – Aguero, who had no chance of winning the ball against the tall defenders. That said, we created chances and between deflections, good defending and an excellent keeper, we were held at bay.

MCFC’s 60-Second Highlights here
MCFC’s Extended Highlights here

Roger and I were still friends at the end, of course and in fact were the only ones in there proudly sporting our colours! I also got a lovely family photo of him with Steph and Marc πŸ™‚

Sunderland v City

Lovely family

We were all supporting the away team in the final gameManUre 1 – 0 Arsenal I should have known that I’d jinx it! πŸ˜‰ Again, a game that continued from the last with Arsenal playing the role of City!

What a fantastic day though – I don’t think I’ve ever watched 3 games in a row like that as I never have the time! I must be getting old though as I’m starting to take opportunities when they arise and I work hard enough that I feel I should enjoy some R&R when offered the chance. Billy went home straight away at the end of the last match as he wanted to watch his NFL team (Greenbay Packers) but I stayed with Paul and Graham and Paul saw me home later. I’d had 4 bottles of Stella all day,(match day special offer) plus the (weak) shot earlier so was mellow but not drunk. Then Shaun decided he’d clean out the pumps and left the drained off beer in glasses on the bar for any who wanted them so I got to sample them. (I did only have about 1/4 of a pint though, honest!)

Drinks all round!

This was my kind of relaxing day – plenty of football with good friends. I loved it πŸ™‚