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 😉 ) 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 🙂 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 🙂 )

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

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 😉 ) 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 🙂

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 🙂

Cosy for Christmas

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! 😉 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. 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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! 😉 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 🙂 )

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 🙂

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!) 😀 ) We also sampled my chili sherry which was surprisingly good. A really good night with really good friends 🙂

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 😉 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 🙂 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 🙂

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! 😉 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 🙂

A week of City – ridiculous to sublime

Newcastle 0- 2 City (AET)(Capital One Cup)

Billy and I both had tickets for this clash between our clubs but were both working so were catching the bus in straight after work as the train would be too tight time-wise. However, really we wanted the train back as it was quicker and the time suited more, so we decided on bus in, train home (costing more, of course!) We made a contingency plan in the unlikely event it went to extra time/penalties as neither of us would be willing to miss the end if that were the case. This would mean we’d have to get the last bus back which stops EVERYWHERE and takes an hour and a half to do the 20 minute journey from Newcastle to home – making it a late night for a school night! We rushed in, had a sausage roll from Greggs on the bus for our tea and made it to the pub for a quick drink before the game, meeting up with my City friends there.

I left Billy there as I had to climb up all those stairs to level 7 – good job I did as stewards also searched every away fan before letting us through the turnstiles. My bag was searched and I had to wait for a female steward to pat me down – annoying having to wait and I wouldn’t have minded a bloke doing it as it was just quick and I was wearing 3 layers plus a coat so it was hardly intimate. Sniffer dogs were also on duty though one moron did manage to get a flare through somehow. 🙁

We were right in the corner next to the weird plastic wall

The game was dire! It was so poor (from a City perspective) that the away fans had to make our own entertainment and were comically asking each other if they should get themselves kicked out and watch the rest of the match in the pub where they’s at least have a pint to help them through 😉

At the end of normal time, I couldn’t believe it was still 0-0 and Newcastle should have won it in that time I felt. However they didn’t, so last bus it was! To a man, every City fan’s face reflected the same thought: “Oh God! Not another half hour of this rubbish to watch!” There was a Newcastle steward near us who started off with a poker face, but as the match went on and singing became more creative, he first smiled, then grinned and by the end was laughing openly. (Particular ones that amused him were “Costel for England” and “We’ll play ’til half ten….” 😀 )

The football did improve when we brought Silva on and Newcastle shifted their midfield a bit leaving him room. Pantilimon made a good save or two but over all this could have been anybody’s game – it just happened to be ours in the end. City fans were pleased of course, but there was no massive celebration, knowing as we did that it was a poor game and a slightly lucky result.

It had been fun seeing my friends though and we went back to the pub for a quick drink whilst waiting for the bus so we got to enjoy a post-match chat for a bit. We managed to stay awake on the way home despite the length of the journey and though it hadn’t been an exciting night, it had certainly been pleasant enough. City were in the pot for the next round – and subsequently drew Leicester away.

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
NUFC report here

City 7 – 0 Norwich (Premier League)

As many people know, I have a big soft spot for Norwich and I love their away supporters who come for a good time and a laugh and to support their team (as opposed to barracking the opposition) This was also the game that naturally fell at the right amount of time since my last match and hence my last visit to see mum. So this was the game I was planning to attend. However, I then found out that the Hexham bonfire night was the same date and we had a friend who had asked to come round for hotdogs after the fireworks so I changed my plans and let a friend use my ticket – arranging instead to go to the Spurs game at the end of the month. WHAT a game to miss! 🙁

I watched on TV and couldn’t believe what I was seeing 🙂 Whilst I enjoyed so many City goals immensely, and we DID play well (despite this not getting much acknowledgement by the tv commentators and pundits!) I did know that Norwich were also poor. I have chatted with Norwich supporting friends who have not been happy with the tactics or performances this season. This game was surely another nail in Hughton’s coffin? Naturally, I was not surprised to have City friends confirm that the away fans stayed and supported their team right to the end (unlike another set of fans we all know and hate….;) ) Costel kept a clean sheet though to be fair, he wasn’t really put to the test. That said, I’m perfectly happy with him in goal and with the idea of giving both our brilliant keepers game time and rest periods. The media, as ever, are getting their knickers in a twist about nothing in my opinion. Anyway, nice goal difference for us after this game 🙂

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

City 5 – 2 CSKA Moscow(Champions League)

Another mid week game; another one watched on the box. I have to confess I didn’t expect such good football or such a great result from us! I was pleased for Negredo (AKA “The Beast”) getting a well deserved hat trick too. I thoroughly enjoyed it though the two goals we conceded were very poor; we were brilliant going forwards and dreadful defending. Still, that put us through to the knock out stages of the Champions League for the first time, and though I don’t envisage us proceeding beyond a round, two at the outside, it IS good to see that we are making progress each successive year and learning that little bit more each time.

City fans’ answer to the racism of the last time the teams met was to sing Yaya songs loudly and proudly. Nice touch fellow Blues 🙂

MCFC’s highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

Winning at home

Well we’ve now had a couple of weeks of the household chore regime and I’d say it is thus far of mixed success. Generally a move in the right direction though and mainly a matter of getting into a firm routine with what needs to be done and when. Billy and Raji have undertaken the shopping fairly successfully and will obviously take a little while to find the way that works best for them, but I’d say this has been a successful change. Billy hasn’t got the hang of the washing yet (pardon the pun!) but again, time should remedy that – I hope, ‘cos I’m hanging on to some stuff knowing I won’t see it for weeks if I put it in the basket 😉 He hasn’t quite mastered ensuring a load goes in every single night plus an extra most weekends, so we haven’t yet had an empty laundry basket. He also tends to forget to get it in and sorted at night so we’ve had some that’s dew-damp when the next lot needs to take its place. But he’s getting better as the days are going by and Rome wasn’t built in a day, so that’s fine. Raji did some of the ironing last weekend but had a bit of a shock at how long it takes so didn’t manage it all – as I said previously, I don’t think other people realised how time consuming these jobs are and thus the reason why I didn’t have time for anything except chores. Raji’s been very keen to do washing up at weekends and he’s helped everyone as and when needed so he’s definitely bought in to the idea of sharing the workload. Stephen and Nel still have a way to go and are not getting their jobs done regularly so they need to work out their routine and stick to it. Also, so far, neither Nel or Billy has braved the Rayburn but that’s something that I am happy to wait until we get a chance for me to show them the ropes.

And so I was able to leave for my weekend away hoping that I wouldn’t come home to my usual mountain of chores with which to catch up…

First up was football and I was SO excited to finally be going to a live game again 🙂 I loved seeing people I hadn’t seen all summer – and even bumped in to an old friend from Maine Road whom I haven’t seen for years so that was great. Alas, the football wasn’t so great! City 2 – 0 Hull was the most dire affair, and HOW we won I have no idea! I had to keep reminding myself what league I was supposed to be watching! The day out and occasion was far better than the “entertainment” it has to be said. The atmosphere was also very poor and Hull fans were singing alone most of the time. I didn’t particularly like some of their chants but I did laugh when they went one further than the old stand rivalry of Maine Road with the furthest side of the away section sang “We’re the left side, we’re the left side, we’re the left side of City” and the right side reciprocated 😀
MCFC 60-Second highlights here
MCFC Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

After an enjoyable afternoon I drove to mum’s to join her and Nel. Nel had travelled down by train on the Wednesday before and the plan was for me to stay the night then bring her home on Sunday with me after having a lovely time doing the Chester ghost walk and visiting Chester Zoo with Granny 🙂 For a rarity, Mum’s football team were on TV so I had the rare pleasure of a double header of football 🙂 Whislt Nel escaped upsatirs, we watched Palace 3 v 1 Sunderland and what a game! That was more like it! Palace played beautiful one touch passing football and although Sunderland rallied in the second half (at 1-1 it looked like it could be anyone’s game) Palace stepped it up a notch again and thoroughly deserved their win. Brilliant stuff – especially after the lacklustre game I’d watched earlier. After the match we all shared Dominos pizza to make a near perfect day: A double whammy of football, lots of cuddles with friends, pizza for tea and time with my mum and my daughter 🙂

After a wicked roast dinner on Sunday, Nel and I headed home and had a very pleasant drive – though she did try and disown me every time I shared grins and waves with Liverpool fans returning from their win against ManUre 😀 (In fact every football result in which I had an interest, (City, Palace, Newcastle, Norwich, Liverpool and QPR) went the way I wanted. Unheard of!)

All in all, a good weekend I’d say 🙂

A change is as good as a rest

After getting increasingly frustrated with the way everything in our house was being left to me or not getting done, I finally got very angry when yet again there were arguments over the washing up. So I called a family meeting after working out I was doing over 15 hours a week of chores on top of working compared to 1-2 hours a week for everyone else and deciding I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.

The household jobs have now been divided up differently with me doing the washing up so that it gets done every day, twice a day with cat bowls included and all the sides washed down. The daily task of laundry is now Billy’s job as this is fairly time consuming each day and I don’t have time to do both. Billy and Raji have taken on the weekly shopping as they’re happy to do it in the evening and will have the car. In fact this led to Billy expanding this to most jobs having another person assigned to share or act as back-up which I thought was a brilliant idea 🙂

Raji is my back-up/buddy for washing up and ironing which means that when I go away one weekend or so a month, these jobs will still get done instead of a backlog waiting for me to catch up over the next week. He’s also been helping Billy out with the washing this weekend so suspect he may end up buddying on this too. I think it works well for Raji to buddy as he has long working days thanks to the long journey. I will continue to do cooking but Billy and Nel have both expressed a wish to do some of it so this means I should get some weekends where I don’t have to spend hours cooking, and when I’m away, they will be able to ensure there are meals for the coming week. The other jobs have all been shared out according to who wanted to do them and who was best suited, all with a buddy/partner as back-up.

It wasn’t just the doing of all the chores that needed dividing up, but the mental taking over of them so that everyone now takes on the responsibility for ensuring their jobs get done. It won’t be perfect initially as everyone gets used to the tasks and what’s involved, but that’s fine, as long as everyone is fully on board with taking their responsibilities to heart and learning as they go.

This first weekend of it, whilst admittedly a bank holiday, I’ve had time to do some of the extra little things I haven’t had a chance to do before such as pottering outside in the garden and sorting out my room a bit more. Billy and I managed a tip to the trip to clear some of the bulky stuff from the garden and Raji got the grass cut which was brilliant as it was so overdue for a cut.

We’ve had one week of the new scheme and already I think there is a new appreciation for how time consuming the household tasks are, and how much thought and planning is required. Also how jobs still need to be fitted in before and after you go out of an evening or day at the weekend, and with time they’ll find out how relentless it all is with the same things needing to be done week in, week out. Hopefully this is the start of better team-working generally and more equal leisure time for us all. It certainly will stand everyone in good stead to know how to manage a household – something none of them have really taken on board before.

Our new plan will either bring us closer as a family or fall by the wayside and divide us, but naturally I hope it’s the former as I think we all stand to gain considerably. Watch this space….

Season opener: City 4 – 0 Newcastle

At last! Football’s back! Not only were City at home, but it was also the family derby to kick off the season.

And then came bloody TV and changed the game to Monday night! I hate Monday night football! And this meant that now neither Billy nor I could go to one of our most eagerly anticipated games of the season. NOT happy! 🙁 Even less so once it was arranged that this match would be dedicated to the memory of Bert Trautmann, City Legend in the strictest sense, and truly inspiring gent to boot.

I got it into my head that since I couldn’t be there, I’d like to watch the match in the pub instead, even if it meant I’d be the only one in a City shirt amidst all the Toon ones. Having brilliant friends, my idea became a reality and so I watched in Studio Sportsbar with Billy, Paul, Roger, Roger, Steph, Graham and Shaun. Shaun had even (at Paul’s behest) found some Espresso Smirnoff which I have been wanting to try. I tried it both on its own and with lemonade – it works better alone which is absolutely lovely and would make a gorgeous after dinner drink 🙂 (Thanks Shaun and Paul 🙂 )

The screen at Studio is nice and big and clear so I could enjoy every bit of the match and was soon lost in the magic of a flowing ball, skilful feet and the general beauty of the game. The two Roger’s being Sunderland fans were naturally siding with me and the rest were watching with resignation and little hope. Alas for them, their fears were borne out.

City 4 – 0 Newcastle: City’s starting lineup for looked exciting and they lived up to this, despite not actually having to step up from 2nd gear. It wasn’t a top performance from my boys, but it was plenty good enough against a team that didn’t really look like having much desire or opportunity to score. Krul made 5 top class saves, we should certainly have had 2 of the 3 penalty claims (I didn’t feel Yaya had complete control of the ball for his so wasn’t a penalty in my view) and then we had a goal incorrectly ruled offside so this scoreline could easily have been 10 – 0. I didn’t care, I was happy with 3 points, a clean sheet and lots of attacking football. Naturally I did cheer our goals but I did restrain myself a lot to keep it down from usual 😛 Nobody could argue Stephen Taylor’s red card – what a stupid thing to do! The only worry for me from City’s point of view was that in reaching for a ball, Kompany hurt himself and had to go off – he’s now out for a month and he was a big loss last season when not playing 🙁 Dzeko looked reborn which I think is likely to be the new playing style (using wingers) suiting him nicely. It was ruefully amusing that the poor bloke did everything BUT score – it was just one of those nights for him – but hopefully on another occasion he’ll get the goals his play deserved. (Goals then: Silva 6 mins after lovely build up play by Dzeko; Aguero 22 mins after a beautiful backheel pass from Dzeko; Yaya 50 mins with a sublime free kick (which the wall ducked!) and Nasri 75 mins all on his own.)

There’s a lovely long season ahead so I can’t and won’t get too carried away, but it’s wonderful to have the beautiful game back and I was happy with what I saw of Pellegrini, his style of play and the new boys’ contributions. Top of the league after the first round of games 🙂

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here
NUFC.com report – well worth a read for a Toon persepctive

Laughing and late nights.

Stephen always shares funny videos etc with me and lifts me with a few minutes’ conversation every day, but I think he made an extra effort since my little meltdown and it’s been much appreciated. First he sat one evening and watched his “Rise of the Dark Knight” DVD with me and I thoroughly enjoyed both the film and his company. He has also shared some funny videos with me this week including – An American coach in London (football related) Running Man (football related) Substitute teacher – and then others by the same comedian.

I then had three late nights this week. THREE! I can usually only manage one, but I have to say that I really enjoyed all of these and felt they did me the world of good.

On Monday I had Helen, Nic and Sarah round for tea straight from work. I’d set the table and cleared the kitchen before I went to work and even picked some flowers from the garden to put on the table. I warned them that I had no idea what state the house would be in when we arrived home, though I knew Nel and Billy had both planned to do their bit during the day. I was pleasantly surprised to find a spotless house with everything in its place. Wonderful 🙂 Billy had even taken the loaf out of the bread making machine for me and it was sitting cooling on the side, greeting us with its heavenly aroma. As I’d prepared the food the day before, we relaxed with a mojito in the garden for a while then ate our quiche, homemade coleslaw, salad, and aforementioned bread accompanied with a glass or two of wine. For afters we had strawberries, whipped cream and homemade shortbread and then we went and sat outside again until quite late. It was really lovely and relaxing and must do it again before too long.

My second late night was on Wednesday which was Billy’s birthday. We met up with some friends at Wetherspoons before going on to the Coach later and had a very enjoyable night. I didn’t really want to go home but with work in mind, reluctantly tore myself away about 10.30/11pm and Billy walked me home before going back out to finish his night. It was great and I only wish we could do it slightly more often. I think Billy had a good birthday anyway, which was the object of the exercise; I certainly enjoyed it!

On Friday we were back out for our summer darts mini-league. We’d decided not to simply sit back and not touch a dart all summer so Senior had come up with the idea of all 8 members of our team having a little competition ourselves. Each week we’ve been playing each other in 3-leg games and we each played everyone else twice. For fun, Paul worked out the odds of each of us winning the league and though I can’t remember the exact odds for everyone, he was pretty much spot on with Senior running away with it. I was 28/1 and was actually quite pleased with my performances. Could have won a few more maybe, but equally I could have lost more. I was pleased with a 2-dart finish to check out on 91 this week 🙂 Only Graham beat me 3-0 twice. Senior did so once. I’ve won two games 3-0 and most of my games have been 2-1 regardless of whether I won or lost. I’ve played all my games now, as have most of us, but Mark just has a couple to play which will affect the final positions for us all. Not only has the extra playing time done my darts good I think – I’ve been regularly hitting treble 20 – but I’ve also enjoyed seeing the gang each week and relaxing in to the weekend with my favourite people.

Despite being a bit tired, I really enjoyed my week and felt it perked me up emotionally and mentally 🙂