Last weekend I visited mum for the first time in 6-weeks – a long overdue visit indeed! I planned to go down on Friday night after work and after Raji’s birthday tea and birthday cake (I made coffee and walnut cake as this was what his mum used to make for birthdays.) I did have slight pause however, as the weather sites gave an amber warning of flooding in mum’s area, with yellow warning through the Lakes area, but in the end I decided to set off and see how I got on, turning back if I felt it necessary. The drive through the “yellow warning” area was pretty difficult with strong winds, torrential rain and in some areas, flooding – but nothing I haven’t driven through before so I just slowed down, took it easy, and came through it. When I got to the “amber warning” zone the sun shone, there was no rain, and the roads were dry! So I arrived safely at mum’s. πŸ™‚

We did get some things done but the rain returned and we couldn’t sort out the garage as hoped so that’s still to do another day. We used our time constructively still, and we had our usual fun and laughs of course. We also enjoyed watched the Spain v France Euro2012 quarter final. It was a comfortable win for Spain and an enjoyable match to watch as we finished our dinner time wine πŸ™‚

I drove back in sunshine on dry roads – until I got 20 mins away from home when a monsoon hit! I did make it home in time to watch the England v Italy quarter-final though I could have done with it being settled in the 90+ instead of going to extra time and penalties! Italy deserved their win, it has to be said, and given the fact that I don’t think England has any world class players really we did better than expected in this competition. I did correctly predict who would score their penalties and who wouldn’t too. Finally I crawled off to bed to get my much needed sleep before the working week began again.

On the plus side, petrol has got slightly cheaper and was only Β£129.9 at mum’s so my weekend trip cost me less than expected and I invited Billy out for a very cheap tea after work on Tuesday. (He was playing cricket Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday according to the calendar so it was probably the only time I would see my husband all week!) However, Monday’s game was rained off and changed to Tuesday instead! πŸ™

Ironically Wednesday’s game was also a washout but we’d decided to have our date Thursday anyway so stuck to that, and watched the Spain v Portugal semi-final which was pretty much what you’d expect from a derby – both sides scared to lose so a cagey affair. This game also went to extra time and penalties but I couldn’t manage another late night so left them too it. In the morning I was utterly convinced I’d see a smug-faced Ronaldo all over the net, but to my delight Portugal had been beaten πŸ˜€ I don’t mind too much who wins now; I just didn’t want smug-face winning πŸ˜‰

On Thursday I worked hard all day and was looking forward to my date with Billy in the evening. We get so little quality time together and eating on our way home from work is one of the best ways for us to get it, and a rare treat these days. At 3pm a storm hit – a storm of biblical proportions, with the sky going black and torrential rain bouncing off the pavement and crashing back to form mini rivers. Staff all round the hospital were checking on whether they were likely to get home with floods affecting the roads and trains and people made appropriate arrangements to stay with colleagues/friends/family or even in the hospital, and others waited it out until much later in the evening before going home. There were a lot of sirens whizzing past and clearly the storm had caused considerable chaos.

Photos courtesy of Roger:
Hexham high street flood
Hexham flood
Flood in Hexham

Happily, by the time I finished the sun was out again and I met Billy as planned ready to relax for the evening with dinner then watching the football. We decided to go to the Heart which has been recently taken over by a lovely couple who are rebuilding its reputation as a good food pub. We received a friendly welcome and after debating which of the delicious options on the menu to choose went for the beef stottie with gravy – with some chips as a side order. All the food is freshly cooked to order so we sipped our drinks while we waited and were just starting to unwind nicely when Raji phoned Billy. He was stuck in Prudhoe after the floods! I was very surprised he’d even tried to come home as I assumed he’d have stayed over with a colleague. Billy spent most of our meal trying to find out what the situation was with trains, buses, roads etc. In between, the food was amazing – a generously filled stottie with melt-in-the-mouth beef, a little boat of gravy, 2 roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pudding – plus our home-made chips too! Gorgeous! We even gave in to temptation and had a home-made dessert each (raspberry cheesecake with Chantilly cream for me and warm sticky toffee pudding with ice-cream for Billy) Divine – 10/10! πŸ™‚

Throughout all of this, phone calls were going back and forth between Billy and Raji – he had walked to the next stop on the train route to find no trains there either and proceeded on to the next, hoping for a bus if not a train (obviously I’d had a drink so couldn’t drive, and as far as I knew the roads were impassable anyway.) To cut a very long story short, there were none and he ended up getting a taxi from there, arriving home at 10pm – thankfully just as I was going to bed so at least I could finally relax knowing he was home safely.

We did watch the Germany v Italy semi-final but unfortunately with only half an eye as we were both trying to find out how to get Raji home. Italy dominated the game and fully deserved to win – the two goals from Balotelli were outstanding! (Nothing was stopping that second from going in!) Now I don’t know whether to want Mario or Merlin to win the final – guess I’ll just be a neutral and enjoy it πŸ™‚

All in all then, this week was rather a washout – summer? What summer? πŸ™

Chronicle flood news
BBC flood news
ITV flood news

South West to South East and back to North East

After leaving Dorset we drove along the coast road to Sussex where we were spending the night in Eastbourne as I’d been keen to take this little detour so that I could see my brother having not seen him since Easter last year. (He doesn’t have visa or inoculations to travel north of the Watford gap πŸ˜‰ )

We’d booked in to the Bay Tree Guest House and had received an e-mail explaining that a parking permit would be given to us for on-street parking and that if there was no available parking outside we could drop off our bags and the proprietors would help us find somewhere nearby. We drove round a couple of times and couldn’t see anywhere so Billy got out, returning with both our hosts – one helped to take in the bags and the other hopped in the car and took me to a nearby road where we found a parking spot. Phew! Without his help I’d have been panicking as I love driving but hate parking. We’d been given a lovely room on the top floor and it was spacious, thoughtfully equipped and very welcoming. We only stopped long enough for the loo before walking the couple of hundred yards to the prom.

The plan had been to have the afternoon in Eastbourne on our own but having left so late, I was a little frustrated to only have an hour. However, I didn’t want to waste that hour so we went to Fusicardi’s Eastbourne’s best ice-cream shop which has been there for years and had an ice-cream walking along the sea front. (If you pay attention, you’ll know that ice-cream doesn’t agree with me so I don’t eat it – only for Fusciardi’s will I willingly suffer the tummy ache that comes after πŸ˜‰ ) Then it was time to go and freshen up to go to Rick and Mel’s.

The road to Uckfield hasn’t changed much apart from the big spaghetti roundabout at Polegate so I enjoyed a nostalgic drive and we were soon at Rick’s. Rick and I chatted about City for a bit and I gave him his birthday present and match programme, and a couple of bits from mum that she’d asked us to bring down. Mel cooked us a gorgeous roast dinner followed by apple strudel and we then relaxed and caught up on everyone’s news. Jay had joined us for a bit and naturally Billy and I made a fuss of the beautiful big pussycats who had grown into themselves since I last saw them.

In the background was the Champions League Final between Bayern MΓΌnchen and Chelsea and though it looked like MΓΌnchen were having most of the play, it was still 0-0 when we left. This was at 9pm as I was pretty tired having done a bit of driving and knowing I had a full day of driving next day, so we tore ourselves away reluctantly. We’d had a really good evening and I was so pleased we’d taken a detour to Sussex. On the drive back to Eastbourne Billy looked at his phone and said “Bloody hell, it’s 1-1 now!” Once again we had to have help to find somewhere to park but at long last we were in our room and I could relax for the night. We put on the TV and caught some of the football’s extra time and then the penalties. Even as the penalties started it looked like MΓΌnchen would probably win, but up stepped Drogba and much as I don’t like him, I had to admire his very coolly taken penalty which sealed the win for them. Well done Chelsea.

We both took a while to get to sleep but once we did we slept well and after a gorgeous, freshly cooked breakfast, we packed and then went for a final walk along the seafront. After visiting the souvenir shops for little gifts to take home, we stopped for a coffee on the beach at one of the beach cafΓ©s so I had a little longer to admire the sea and breathe in the sea air. Then it was a quick stop at the B&B to check out and thank our lovely hosts once more for looking after us so well, and then we were off. (We’d definitely recommend this guest house and I shall certainly see if they have any vacancies next time I’m in the area.)

I expected it to take a good 8 hours to drive home assuming roads were clear, though I was anticipating lots of traffic with it being a Sunday. However after a brief stop for petrol (because it was Β£1.33 a litre compared to Β£1.38 at home and considerably more at motorway services!) and another to buy a picnic lunch and use the loo at Tesco, we had a trouble free drive and made good time. Since we had the means and the time (having expected neither) we even stopped at Tebay services for a hot dinner which was a nice treat.

We were home by 8.30pm and after greeting everyone – people and cats alike – I unpacked the essentials, sifted through the important post and then collapsed into bed πŸ™‚ Our trip had been tiring in some ways but a complete mental break from routine which was just what we needed. It was also a rare chance to see our families in the south and enjoy their company so all in all a lovely holiday.

Premier League Champions the hard way! City 3 – 2 QPR

I had been getting more and more excited about the final game of the season the nearer it got and by Saturday, couldn’t wait! The media hype about it was unbelievable though I didn’t like the way they pretty much assumed we’d win – I’ve been a City fan too long and know my club! After the Newcastle match, many of us said that we could just see us losing at home to relegation threatened QPR!

Billy was going to his last game of the season too – away to Everton – so we planned that I’d take him down to Manchester nice and early and he’d join his friends there to catch the final train together. We therefore left early – 6.30 am – but since we were looking forward to our respective days we were quite happy. We had a very easy drive down and were at the Etihad stadium by 10.30! I walked round to Asda with Billy as he wanted to buy a couple of bits before going to the station and then I went in to the City store. This is normally so busy on a match day that it’s impossible to look, but at this time it was empty enough that I could wander leisurely and choose a birthday present for my brother – and I succumbed to a new set of darts flights for myself too πŸ™‚

After a picnic lunch in the car, I went to the pub and met Don – who was very lucky to be alive, much less be at the match, having suffered a nasty head injury – and also saw Phil, Blither and a couple of other friends πŸ™‚ We were all a buzz, enjoying beers/soft drinks in the sunshine and pretty much an even mix of hopefulness and dread – with only a few confident of success. The nerves were already tuning up nicely.

Not wanting to miss a thing, I was in my seat early and I don’t know if it was good or bad when the game finally got underway – all our hopes would be dashed or fulfilled within a couple of hours! SWP and Ned got warmly welcomed by the home fans, but predictably (and deservedly after his comments on leaving us) Barton got booed roundly. I hoped that QPR would survive for Ned and SWP’s sakes, but of course, wanted it to be by virtue of Bolton losing rather than QPR winning today!

I can’t tell you the game pass-by-pass (and I usually don’t anyway, I let you read the match reports for that) but I can tell you about the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster! As the first half went on, it looked like a stalemate; though we had the possession and forward movement it seemed no-one wanted to shoot,trying instead to tippy-tappy the ball in, and since QPR were defending in numbers we couldn’t break through. The mood was starting to get a bit tense. About 5 minutes from the half time whistle Zaba scored to send us wild with relief (and delight that it was him as he’s such a modest but solid player) so we could smile at half time, especially as ManUre were 0-1 up in their match away to Sunderland (to no-one’s surprise) At this point, we were top of the league, equal on points but 8 goals ahead.

Feeling more relaxed, though far from blasΓ©, after the break we couldn’t believe it when Lescott erred letting QPR equalise! 1-1 was not good enough and handed the title to ManUre. We were a bit worried but hopefully there was enough time to retake the lead. We then had a major incident when Barton and Tevez clashed and Barton was given a straight red card (to the delight of City fans) What happened next though is what really lets this nasty little man down so badly: he deliberately and calculatingly kicked Aguero from behind (apropos of nothing!) and then tried to head-butt Kompany along with refusing to leave the field! (He went on to say later on Twitter that he hadn’t lost his head, and that it was a plan hoping to take a City player with him!)

Eventually the game resumed but I have to say that since QPR were defending so strongly, their lack of a player wasn’t particularly discernible in the main. Things went on much as before and we really were starting to wonder where our next goal might come from. At this point, QPR still needed to win as Bolton were ahead of Stoke and so both sets of fans were nervous. Then the unthinkable happened – QPR scored! We were trailing 1-2 in our final home game of a season in which we hadn’t been beaten at home by anyone! We were stunned. We went quiet for a spell, until we rallied and got behind the team once more. We tried and tried, but the keeper made some great saves and we couldn’t get past him to score.

We despaired and I had my head in my hands getting used to the idea that typical City had chucked it away. I really should know by now not to expect anything less and yet for a while I’d let the mood carry me in to belief that we could actually win this thing. πŸ™ The despair was not quite so much for this though – I know my club after-all – but it was just so bloody galling to hand the title, gift-wrapped to THEM! Conversely QPR fans soon had more to cheer about when they heard that Stoke had equalised, meaning Bolton were relegated and QPR safe. A couple of times during this spell of despair, the PA system aired requests for fans not invade the pitch at full time – greeted by a unanimously derisive “F Off!” from the home fans – on some of the TV footage I could clearly hear that too!

Full time loomed alarmingly close and still we trailed – it wasn’t going to be possible to score twice in what little time remained. Thanks to Barton, there were 5 minutes added time, but still, as things stood ManUre were Champions having finished their game 0-1 victors. (We were pleased they hadn’t clocked up a huge goal difference still, but it was now a moot point.) A few City fans started to leave – absolutely incredible! As you know, I hate this at the best of times, but to not stay and applaud the team’s efforts after a season of the most amazing talent and entertainment we’ve witnessed since the 1960’s is unforgivable. The rest of us got behind the team and screamed them on – more in hope than expectation.

And then, in the most crazy few minutes of football since 1999 and our Gillingham play-off game with its legendary extra-time goals, City proved once again that there’s no way quite like the hard way! Dzeko finally got the ball in the back of the net and the stadium roared encouragement. I will never know quite how it happened, but somehow we got our miracle and Aguero made himself a City hero when he got the winner! We went absolutely crazy and the next several moments are a bit of a blur of screaming, cuddling, jumping, laughing – and a little crying. (I found out much later that the QPR fans had also cheered our goal and were celebrating with us πŸ™‚ )

Despite earlier requests for fans to remain in their seats, there was a full scale pitch invasion and actually the club handled it well I thought. There was no heavy handed stewarding or policing, though the remainder of us were booing them and telling them to get off the pitch, but once some of the madness settled a bit, the PA announcer asked them to return to their seats otherwise the Champions Trophy couldn’t be presented and eventually order was restored. The stadium remained filled (ha ha to those who left early!) for the presentation and celebrations which followed – which seem surreal. After 44 years we had finally gone and won the league again – 44 years of disaster, near-misses, and derision, survived mainly with the help of wry (sometimes gallows) humour and unwavering loyalty. Not only this but we’d snatched it out of the grasping paws (in Fergie time!) of ManUre who thought they’d won it themselves but found out they hadn’t courtesy of Sunderland fans politely pointing it out πŸ˜‰ And finally, we had grabbed a victory from the very hungry jaws of defeat, testing our nerves to the max before dispensing the ecstasy πŸ˜€ Only City!

City has a gift for taking you from despair to delight in mere moments and this really was one hell of a trip! As with last year’s FA Cup win, I did have a brief tear wishing dad was here to see it though I’d like to think he and all those other Blues who’d gone before were watching in from afar. I stayed until the very end singing, clapping, and cheering ( as did many of the QPR fans who received their own applause from us in recognition) and I almost didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want it to be the end of the season, and yet it had been SUCH a season that I probably need a break – and my poor nerves certainly could do with it. I lingered another moment or two wondering if I could afford next year’s season ticket, whether I’d be back for more, whether my seat would still be MY seat, as it has been since we first came to this stadium. It was too unbearable to think that it may not be so I pushed it to the back of my mind and focussed on the unbelievable fact that my beloved Blues were Premier League Champions πŸ™‚

The party atmosphere remained as fans left the ground and I knew I wouldn’t be getting away any time soon! I sat in the car and exchanged texts and messages with family and friends. I had congratulations from fans of various other clubs – Newcastle, Leeds, Palace, Norwich, West Ham, Sunderland… and even one ManUre! When I eventually got to mum’s, I parked the car and then ran in yelling (actually, croaking a bit now) “Wooohooo!” and was met by Billy who had beaten me back by half an hour. (Sadly, Newcastle had lost though over all he was happy with their season if not this match.) Mum, who had watched the game on TV and gone through all the emotions with the rest of us, had champagne on ice – in dad’s regimental ice bucket – and even had a City card for the occasion for me. (Told you she’s the best!) After eating, we even sat and watched the game again though it was much more comfortable viewing this time round πŸ˜‰

The next morning I woke up with no voice at all! Not even a croak. I had to whisper. For 2 days. My voice did gradually improve, though it’d go again first and last thing, and as I type this 2 weeks later, it still isn’t quite back. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m stuck with a croaky voice for ever…… it’d be worth it though πŸ™‚ I need the summer to recover now – as someone on Twitter commented – it’s a good job City only do this every 44 years πŸ˜‰

There are so very many fantastic reports, videos and comments about this game, but here are a few to start you off, and of course I have dotted some in with the actual post above:

MCFC’s 60-second highlights.
MCFC’s extended highlights.
Kippax Blue’s photos.
Manchester bus tour with trophy.
Aguero’s goal and what it meant to fans
A round-up of some videos of commentary on this match
QPR fans at the game – jump to 2 minutes then 4 minutes 10 if you don’t want to watch it all.
Dual screen – the last 5 minutes – loved the Sunderland fans doing the Poznan πŸ˜€

St George’s Day 2012

This year for our St George’s Day celebrations, mum came to stay with us and have them here so that Billy, Raji and the kids could join in to suit – we’ve been saying for a couple of years that we need a bit of help with the boozing side of things since we’re pretty light-weight πŸ˜‰

First order of the day, after exchanging cards, little gifts and greetings, was to collect our rose button-holes from Dillies – and they did a fantastic job for us, even supplying pins with red beads at the heads making them absolutely perfect πŸ™‚ We then wandered up in to town and had a coffee whilst admiring the roses (and my nails!)

Billy was working just the morning, Raji had plans for the day, and the kids were sleeping, so we pleased ourselves for the morning before returning home for lunch, popping back in to Dillies on the way, where we sampled an exquisite wine called Apricot Velvet Mmmmm (think we’ll be buying some of that in the near future!) We’d planned to visit the Old Gaol in the afternoon, only it doesn’t open on Mondays πŸ™ So we decided that The House of Correction looked interesting – only you have to arrange a visit in advance πŸ™ This wasn’t looking great and the weather was pretty grim too (what a contrast to last year!) so we were running out of ideas. I had wondered whether mum might fancy The Roman Army Museum on Hadrian’s Wall, and when Billy came home he gave us the push we needed and that was where we (Billy, Mum, Nel and I) went. It was very much the kind of thing dad would have loved and he always had a special interest in the Romans so it was an appropriate activity for the day. It had changed a bit from last time I was there and the new 3D film was excellent – it really brought history to life and gave a wonderful bird’s eye view of along the length of the wall. After a cuppa in the tea shop, we drove back along the Military Road so as to continue the sense of history and to admire the views – an excellent idea of Billy’s.

After freshening up, Billy took mum, Nel and I up to town where we met Paul and the men showed us girls how to place a bet – something Nel and I had never done before, and Mum had not done herself before. We had thought to bet on a horse in the day’s races at Hexham, but were too late for that, but there was racing at Windsor which was apt as dad had been stationed there. Mum and Nel bet on a horse each but I decided I preferred to stick with something I know and bet on football instead – Leicester v West Ham. For the grand total of Β£1 I bet on it being a draw at half time with a 1-0 win for the Hammers at full time. My half time bet won me Β£2.25 so I won on my first attempt πŸ™‚ (Mum and Nel’s horses didn’t come in sadly, and mum’s football bet on Leicester v West Ham finishing 1-1 didn’t either.) The five of us then went to The Coach for the first drink of the day and toasted St George, King Harry et al, plus absent friends and any other relevant toast-worthy things/people we could think of. It was really nice of Paul to join us and much appreciated. Raji came in just before we left to meet up with Stephen and have a meal at Wetherspoons.

(If this doesn’t load, right click the blank area and click “reload”)

After a very enjoyable meal, Stephen disappeared to meet a friend and the rest of us went to the Globe for a couple of drinks, and then on to the cricket club for a couple more. Nel got pleasantly tipsy and very loquacious and all in all it was a perfect end to a day that dad would have enjoyed very much. πŸ™‚

Happy St. George’s Day πŸ™‚

They’ve destroyed Aunty Sport!

As you may know (if you ever click links in my blog posts to neutral match reports) I use the BBC Sports website for these as they are REASONABLY disinterested whereas many other sites’ reports are not. I have also always used the Beeb for all my sports news and visited several times a day to get a good overview of what’s happening across the football world, the Prem, and other domestic leagues.

However, they’ve gone and tried to fix something that ain’t broke and utterly ruined the site. So much so that I can’t use it any more as a) I can’t stand all the hideous yellow and white space and b) I can’t see at a glance and it takes to many clicks to find anything specific. πŸ™ You can read here what the specific changes are. Have a look at all the negative responses they’ve had to it – even from professional web designers! Sadly I doubt they’ll have the courage to admit their mistake and go back to what the people liked. (I’d be interested in their before-and-after viewing statistics once the novelty has worn off.)

I have looked around and thus far I have been unable to come up with anything remotely near as good as the OLD Aunty Sports site was and am very unhappy about it. I think I am going to have to link to MCFC’s reports in the future – and to be fair they do report fairly and professionally, but obviously they have a Blue bias which is why I’ve chosen neutral ones before.

RIP Aunty Sport πŸ™

City 3 – 2 Spurs

Being unable to afford the petrol again, a friend used my season ticket and I watched this crucial match on TV πŸ™ Spurs, as last year, are one of our main rivals and it was vital that we won this game – but by no means likely to be easy. I’d had a bit of pre-match stress getting my ticket safely delivered to my friend but finally, just after kick off, this was sorted out and I tried to relax a bit.

The first half was pretty much as you might expect – very cagey with both teams being more concerned NOT to concede or lose. Though few in number, the chances that were created were by Dzeko and Aguero, but it was 0-0 at half time.

After the break, the game finally got going and WHAT a 2nd half! After about 10 minutes, Nasri scored a stunning goal and then Lescott scrambled the ball into the net just a few minutes later. 2-0 and I dared to breathe again. However, almost straight away Savic slipped up and Defoe was through and scored to get Spurs’ tails up and they went on to score again – a brilliant goal by Bale just 5 minutes later. ARGH! It was edge-of-the-seat time – right to the end of the game!

Mario came on for Dzeko and towards the end of the game he had a shot which Parker blocked – as he went down, Mario appeared to aim a kick at his head. In real time I said to Billy that it looked bad. The ref was right next to the incident, however, and gave nothing. We then saw several replays in slow speed and depending on the angle, I wavered between thinking it was deliberate / accidental. Watching his feet it looked deliberate, but watching his head/face it appeared he had no idea Parker’s face was there. I could see a case for either interpretation and feel that only Mario will ever really know. I wouldn’t have argued against a red card had it been given, but it wasn’t.

We had a scare just into extra time when it looked like Defoe was certain to score unopposed, but somehow he missed! PHEW! Just as I was resigned with a hard fought point, Mario was brought down by King and earned a penalty – which he very coolly converted to make it 3-2 with almost the last kick of the game. Somehow, we’d pinched the 3 points and naturally I was delighted with this turn of events, but acknowledge that Spurs were somewhat unlucky and a draw the more fair result. This was a HUGE win – a 6-pointer and I won’t have been the only Blue breathing a huge sigh of relief. (What a game to have had to miss out on πŸ™ )

Sadly, what followed this was a media witch hunt regarding the Mario/Parker stamp. As I already said, had the ref given a red card it would have been a fair enough decision and I’d have respected that as such. But this was the media jumping on the Mario bandwagon and making sure it was replayed ad nauseum and ensuring the FA would bring a charge against Mario. Not only did this non-football pressure annoy me, but I also fail to see how the ref could possibly claim not to have seen the incident. City fans can’t help wondering just how it is that we and some of our players are being more scrutinised than others. After all, Rooney was (wrongly) reduced to a 1 match ban for a blatant kick in the Euros, Crouch has got away with an eye-gouge and even in this match, Parker escaped so much as booking for any of his fouls on our players. That said, I am STILL not defending Mario nor arguing the red card – just the manner in which it has come about. Either we use technology to make decisions or we don’t – and if we do, this should be under the control of the FA (who need to sort themselves out, make the rules, stick to them, and grow some backbone!) rather than the media and their thoroughly unprofessional biases.

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here.
MCFC’s extended highlights here.
Kippax Blue’s photos here.

My Top 11 of 2011

Well it’s been a horrible year in the main. Every time I think we’ve hit the bottom and can start clawing our way to better – or even simply more stable – times, new depths are revealed. However, in true Pollyanna style, I thought I’d see if I could find some good things from 2011 and here they are:

#11. Nel’s diagnosis This was huge! It gave us a reason for all her little idiosynchracies and an insight into how her mind works differently to other people’s. I wasn’t a bad mother for not being able to work her out, in fact I’d done well over the years to help her cope without either of us knowing just what the difficulties were. Full story here.

#10. Friends’ Wedding An unexpected invitation to be a part of a very special couple’s big day led to a feeling of extra closeness to two lovely people whom I had met through a football web forum – mum’s club, not even mine – and a wonderful trip to London. Football and the internet have brought me some deep and long-lasting friendships and this event brought home to me just how lucky I am to have friends like these. Full story here.

# 9. A very Sick Swan In a horrible year for me personally, City have had a blinding year and have helped give me something to smile about. There have been a lot of highs for my club, but this was one of the best simply for the pure brilliant surreal-ness of beating THEM on THEIR turf, by such a huge margin πŸ™‚ Full story here.

# 8. Being led astray We have a wonderful circle of friends and this night just summed up all that makes them so great. Even though a few were missing on this occasion, there have obviously been other times with different combinations of friends and all of them are special. Full story here.

# 7. An afternoon exploring with Billy For a married couple we really don’t get much quality time together so I really enjoyed this little interlude. Full story here.

# 6. My son becoming a man – I absolutely love spending time with Stephen, even doing mundane things such as on this occasion here and I was both relieved and proud when he got himself a job too (here .)

# 5. Nel’s 18th Family trips are a rarity these days so I really enjoyed this weekend for Nel’s birthday – everything just fell into place nicely and it was well worth Billy and I pooling our Christmas present cash to fund it. Full story here.

# 4. A new laptop You’ll probably remember this as it was so recent, but never having had a brand new computer before this was a big thing for me πŸ™‚ Full story here.

# 3. A Family Christening This was a high for a few reasons – having time with Billy, having a bit of a holiday, and seeing members of the family whom we love to see. Full story here.

# 2. St George’s Day in Eastbourne A fantastic mini summer holiday in a heat wave, family tradition and time with my wonderful mum plus seeing my brother. Full story here and here.

# 1. FA Cup final An absolutely brilliant day – the stuff of dreams, of the whole range of emotions, of pride, tears, joy, friends, loved ones and a sheer sense of being a part of it all. One of the best days in my life for all those reasons and more and it’ll take some beating. Full story here.

Boxing Day – have Kleenex, will travel.

Billy, Nel and I were visiting mum on Boxing Day and staying for one night – Raji and Stephen were working, sadly, so couldn’t join us. We planned to leave by 9am and I was up early as usual. I soon realised I had a coldgreat! πŸ™ I seemed to recall that the last one I’d had, I’d caught from Stephen and that he had then had it back again a few weeks later so I assumed this was phase 2 of the same bug for me too. Still, it wasn’t going to stop me seeing my Mummy, so I applied my sinus cream*, took more herbs and got out my box of Kleenex Balsam – the 3 things that help get me through a cold and without which I’d be thoroughly miserable.

We left at 9am as planned and had a really smooth drive down – the only difficulty being the very high winds in places causing me to fight to keep the car on course. We arrived in time for lunch – a proper Boxing Day lunch of home-made chips and cold meats, sausage rolls etc, accompanied by a very nice red wine πŸ™‚

In the afternoon Nel went for a nap, Billy fell asleep on the sofa and mum and relaxed with Gillette Soccer Saturday (on Monday πŸ˜‰ ) to get the football updates. Palace had played earlier so their result was final – sadly a loss to Southampton (away) but no more than mum expected really. Newcastle and City remained at 0-0 for so long that it was a good job we had other games to keep us entertained really πŸ˜‰ Finally Newcastle broke their deadlock and went on to win, but City were held to a 0-0 by West Brom. ManUre’s 5-0 win took them level on points with us but held to 2nd place by our goal difference – the second half of the season will be interesting indeed!

As the afternoon went on, I was sniffling more and my cold seemed to be developing apace. Nel reappeared and watched the TV programme mum had recorded for her – and Billy went upstairs for a nap. We nibbled for tea rather than having a proper meal but my appetite wasn’t great so this suited me nicely. After eating we watched some more TV and then I had to give in at 9pm as I was so very tired I could hardly think straight. So it was my turn to disappear, leaving Mum and Billy to watch Hercule Poirot and Nel to play on her laptop. Apparently Rocky appeared, cautiously, having avoided everyone since our arrival, and he tried to settle on mum’s lap but was wary of Billy (he doesn’t like men for some reason) – then as soon as Billy spoke, he was off!

I slept deeply, but woke every hour or so through the night, falling into a deep sleep again and in the morning my sinuses were very painful, my head ached, my glands felt solid, my throat scratched and my teeth tingled. Argh! In the absence of anti-inflammatory herbs (though I did have my regular mix of St John’s Wort, Echinacea and Withania with me and took my usual daily dose of that) I asked mum for a couple of aspirin and she even managed soluble ones πŸ™‚ When Nel was up, I suggested a mooch round the retail park as I really felt the need for some fresh air and they liked the sound of that. Billy declined to accompany us once he got up so we girls took ourselves off – me with Kleenex to hand as I was still sneezy and sniffly. The fresh air was wonderful and we commented that the weather was so mild that it was like a soft spring day in march rather than Christmas time. I couldn’t really get into the browsing but was happy to follow mum and Nel – I didn’t really feel with it but didn’t want to spoil it for them and I WAS enjoying the fresh air between shops.

When we got back, I was feeling quite hungry and we enjoyed stew and fresh baked baguettes before putting our things together for the drive home. I took some more aspirin before we left and as we said goodbye felt really bad that it had been a poor visit what with Nel and Billy sleeping half the time and me being ill. Mum said that nevertheless it had been lovely to see us and I’m glad we had come and enjoyed being able to see her, but wish we’d been more with it.

I don’t know how I drove home! I was on auto-pilot and it’s a good job I do that route so much. My sinuses were so painful and the low winter sun didn’t help matters at all. Billy had to have the tissue box to hand to pass me fresh ones, I had the sun visor down and my sunglasses on, but it was agony still. It was a good job we were travelling north as the southbound carriageway was gridlocked for miles and I would have struggled to cope with that in my state.

Once we arrived home, I left Billy to unload the car, I did the minimum necessary and collapsed in to bed, managed one episode of a TV series and some chocolates then went out like a light.

(* Sinus cream: comfrey base; hypericum infused oil; echinacea tincture; lobelia tincture; liquorice tincture; cramp bark tincture; peppermint oil; tea tree oil; chamomile oil. This soothes the inflammation, prevents secondary infection and opens the airways.)

City 2 – 0 Bayern MΓΌnchen

After my dismal experience for the Villareal game, City arranged for me to come to the Bayern MΓΌnchen match and having learned from the last time, I set off 3 hours before kick off (a one hour trip!) this time. Happily this worked as it still took me 2 hours to get there but I then had an hour to get in and find my seat. This went smoothly and my seat turned out to be on level 2 in the padded seating area. (Not something for which I’d be willing to pay each match, but quite nice on a cold night πŸ™‚ ) Once again the away fans were up on level 3 (in my seat! πŸ˜‰ ) though this time there were a few more of them and they made quite a noise – accompanied by drums.

Bayern MΓΌnchen had changed their team from when they beat us at their place, understandable since they’d already qualified as top of the group and could afford to rest some players. This gave us a chance – though we also needed Villareal to at least draw with Napoli and this seemed extremely unlikely – so regardless of what happened for us on the night, we were likely to be out of the Champions League. This notwithstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the night and was pleased to be there.

City looked bright and determined from the start of the game though couldn’t make the breakthrough. We had a goal disallowed for a foul before finally scoring – Silva before HT and Yaya after πŸ™‚ We were also keeping an eye on things in Italy and every time someone nearby spoke to family/friends at home to find out what was happening, everyone around was unashamedly listening in πŸ˜€ Miraculously, at half time Villareal were holding Napoli to a goalless draw and saw a glimmer of hope, if not expectation. Still, City were doing their job which was pleasing. At half time we were shown the first half highlights of ALL the champions League games on the big screens – the entire stadium roared in delight as the Basel goal was shown πŸ˜‰ and sighed with relief at the Napoli near misses. Sadly, news filtered through, during the second half, that Villareal had gone a goal down and it all went a bit quiet. Moreso when Napoli got a second. Still, it was what we’d expected and City were new to Champions League football – and 10 points wasn’t a bad haul for a first attempt. I was still proud of my team and glad to have been there to cheer them on.

Of more concern to me during the match, was the presence of the away fans above. Firstly, because they were spitting and I was hit a couple of times and though my neighbour complained to a steward, nothing was done. Secondly, and very alarmingly – the whole 3rd tier (made of concrete) was bouncing – literally dipping down a considerable amount and then springing back up – when the away fans were jumping up and down. I was pretty nervous about that and was rather twitchy until my neighbour (an interesting chap who seemed to take a shine to me and said he’d look out for me again) told me that it would have been built to cope with it and that this much movement was fine. I prayed he was right – I wouldn’t like to sit there again now I know though. (Maybe I should worry about sitting up in the 3rd tier and what happens when we do the Poznan, but out of sight = out of mind and I can’t SEE the concrete bouncing from up there! πŸ˜‰ )

I made my way back to the car happily enough – and the news that ManUre had been beaten and were out of the Champions League too was icing on the cake as I walked past City Square πŸ˜€ (We expected to go out – they didn’t, and in their arrogance would actually have been expecting to get to the semis if not the final!)

It was midnight when I fell in to bed, but it was all very worth it. πŸ™‚

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

City 5 – 1 Norwich

At long last, I had a live game again and had a relaxed drive down, looking forward to seeing my boys πŸ™‚ I was also hoping to meet up with some of my Norwich friends. If I’d had no family influence and had picked a football club to support of my accord as an adult, Norwich would have been the one (thanks largely to admiring Green’s skills when he was their keeper and then getting to know more about the team, the club and the fans.) It used to be that when City played their derby at OT, I went a few times to Norwich and watched the match in the pub with my friends there and then went on to Carrow Road to watch the Canaries. (I have a 100% record of watching them win there, and I was there at Hucks’ last game on loan when all the fans sang “Delia, get your cheque book out” πŸ˜€ ) Anyway, I digress…..

In the end I didn’t get to see my friends, but I did meet up with the rest of the North East Blues and with Don, for a pre-match drink in City Square. It was a bit fresh and it got much colder as the day went on with icy rain and a stinging wind, but nevertheless I enjoyed the afternoon πŸ™‚ Much as I like Norwich, naturally I wanted MY City to win on this occasion.

For the first half hour or so of the match, we huffed and puffed but couldn’t break down Norwich who were getting every man behind the ball (which was a reasonable tactic I felt, though they did try to play when they had possession) At last, we scored though thanks to Aguero who had missed a few chances, but then somehow found a way through the congested area so that it was 1-0 at half time. Goals then followed by Nasri (an amazing free kick that stopped everyone in their tracks) and Yaya (MotM) with a lovely shot. Norwich then got a consolation and to be fair, I couldn’t begrudge them it as they had played with a lot of effort (though they never really looked dangerous). We got a couple more after that – Balotelli‘s casual not-even-going-to-call-it-a-tap-in got him noticed again and then AJ finished off with a fine shot. Brilliant stuff – five goals, five scorers! (Prompting chants of “Who put the ball in the Norwich net? Half our * team did” as with the 1-6 at OT)

Norwich fans were excellent! (The best visiting fans by far, for a long time.)They filled both tiers of the away stand and got behind their team, singing throughout. Moreover, they were singing in support of their own team rather than singing anti-opposition songs (a soapbox of mine as you know πŸ˜‰ ) To top it off, they happily engaged in witty on the spot chants (a dying art, sadly) City have recently started singing “We’ll score when we want….we’re Man City, we’ll score when we want” and the Norwich fans, who were loud and proud, baited home fans with “We’ll sing on our own….we’re Norwich City, we’ll sing on our own” which was hilarious πŸ˜€ When they got their consolation goal, they sang our version substituting their own name πŸ™‚ They also did the Poznan. Absolutely top fans enjoying a good day out regardless of the score – I love it πŸ™‚

So a good win, a good day, some good banter and for me, a good example of what football should be πŸ™‚

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

%d bloggers like this: