City 1 – 0 Swansea

This match was a tea-time kick off and it felt odd to be able to do things at home and not leave until lunchtime. After scraping snow off the car in the morning, it had thawed by the time I set off and I had an easy drive down – though the low winter sun was a bit of a pain. No sun in summer, bright, clear sunshine in winter at just the right height to blind drivers :S

It was good to be back and it wasn’t quite as cold as I’d expected it to be, but it was a dire first half, taking 38 mins until we had a shot at goal!It looked like we’d carried on from Ajax game, looking slow, passes going astray and seeming to be second to every 50/50 ball. There was a nasty looking injury to Michu and Hart immediately went to his assistance and called on the physios. Thankfully after some treatment he was able to carry on playing. I hate to see players injured badly, regardless of their club, but little did I know there was more to come...

The second half was better, though we certainly were not on fire, apart from Tevez who chased every ball at both ends of the pitch, and his goal was a relief. Sadly, there was an injury to Swans keeper,Vorm, when Tevez scored and it looked like a thigh/groin strain. He received treatment but after a long stoppage was stretchered off to applause from the whole stadium. About 20 minutes later it was Micah that was in trouble – he suddenly pulled up and looked to be in a bad way. He too was stretchered off to applause from whole stadium but it was awful that two men were hurt and needed to be treated.

The long breaks for treatment meant this game broke records and became the longest ever Prem game when we had 12 added minutes at the end. It was about right too – I’d expected at least 10. It seemed about the only thing the officials got right – they’d been dreadful throughout. Balls judged to be out when they were in, in when they were out and lots of strange little decisions, though none major. Just enough to get themselves noticed!

By contrast, the Swansea fans were excellent and sang throughout, mainly getting behind their own team. It was nice to hear different songs to the usual generic *insert team here* type songs, which I do hate. Even though I had to content myself with watching this fixture last season on TV, the fans obviously impressed me then too.

So this wasn’t a great game, not the best performance and yet we managed to get the goal, the points and a clean sheet (Hart made a couple of great saves during the game too.) I felt reasonably satisfied as I walked to the car to drive to mums for the night πŸ™‚

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

Liverpool 2 – 2 City

Sunday finally arrived – the day Billy and I were going to Mum’s for a week to house/cat sit whilst she was on holiday herself. We finally left 40 minutes late (who perpetuated the myth that women keep men waiting? It’s definitely the other way around in my experience!) We left in lovely sunshine and warmth, stopped for a picnic lunch, then drove through a monsoon just south of the Lakes, and arrived to warmth and sunshine – good old British weather!

After settling in and catching up with mum (who wasn’t leaving until the next day) we all sat and watched the match together πŸ™‚ It was fast paced and entertaining from the off and to start with it looked like it could be anyone’s game but gradually it began to look like Liverpool were getting on top. By the time Skrtel scored about an hour in, it had looked like coming for a while and we feared the worst from the game. At half time, I’d have happily taken a point.

We stopped at the break to have our braised steak dinner which mum had cooked, and then resumed after the meal courtesy of Sky+ (having sent a text to my brother and friends to say that we weren’t watching live this half so there’d be no texts from me.)

What a second half! Poor Billy had mum and I groaning, screaming and cheering in stereo! We still looked up against it, but then a home team error gifted Yaya a chance – and he took it! Phew! 1-1. Then the referee decided Liverpool should have a free kick – when they shouldn’t – and Suarez scored a fabulous goal from it to put them ahead again just minutes after our equaliser. πŸ™ I was resigned to defeat (did we really expect anything else at this ground, with our poor record here?) but then inexplicably, around 10 minutes from time, Skrtel made a huge error and gifted Tevez a goal to put us level again πŸ™‚ After that we just had to hang on. Somehow, we did and we got a hard fought (and rather lucky) point which I was happy to take.

City didn’t have a great game but they did show spirit and resilience – something you need in this league. We have to expect every game to be tough and we have to rise to the challenge. All in all, a satisfying result which will do nicely.

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here

Washout!

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.

North West to South West

On Monday morning (minus voice!) I had breakfast with mum before waking Billy, and soon we were on our way south with a picnic from mum sufficient to feed 5 (thanks mum πŸ™‚ ) We were having a few days away which we hadn’t done since this time last year and which we hadn’t done as just the two of us since 2009 – though the destination was the same as that of those two trips. For this visit we were staying with Judy and Gerry but seeing Helen and Mike on a couple of days too. We had a surprisingly smooth drive down with no hold ups, and saw a few City fans on the way – who smiled, chatted or beeped horns – and a couple of ManUre ones – one gave a half-smile and the other actually talked a while and was very pleasant and congratulatory.

We arrived early evening, were warmly welcomed and then our lovely hosts started the way they continued all week and fed us a hearty meal – in fact we spent the whole visit eating extremely well (back to the gym for me on our return! πŸ˜‰ ) Even breakfasts were big meals with Gerry’s delicious porridge and toasted home-made bread with Judy’s home-made marmalade, and one morning it was pleasant enough for us to sit at the top of the garden with it – lovely πŸ™‚ Another morning we had bacon, pancakes and maple syrup – which shouldn’t go yet was divine. Judy’s evening meals included a fantastic Hungarian chicken dish which was so good I had to copy the recipe to try at home, and every evening (and for the Billy, Gerry and Mike, often the afternoon too! πŸ˜‰ ) there was plenty of alcohol too. We were thoroughly spoiled!

We had days out including a day with Helen and Mike in Salisbury, a day sight-seeing by car with Judy and Gerry exploring the area around Maiden Castle and following the route of the many burial mounds along the peak, Durlston Castle, and Hardy’s Monument, and of course we went to Poole Harbour too. There were one or two pub lunches along the way of course, including an excellent one at Wool which we’d highly recommend. The weather wasn’t overly warm, but all in all we were lucky as it was mainly dry and not too cold.

On the Wednesday we went to Helen and Mike’s for the day to help them clearing their garden and and new extension as Mike was having an op on the Friday which would render him unable to do anything for a few weeks (a fourth op to repair his leg after a rugby injury) The extension was to be the new kitchen and various people, including Gerry, had managed to get most of the units and appliances installed but there was a bit to be done to make it ready for use and Mike was keen for this to be done before his op so that he wouldn’t have to worry about it. We worked hard all morning, not stopping for lunch until fairly late (another pub lunch) and then finishing up in the evening in time for us all, including Aaron and Joe who had joined us during the course of the day, to have a curry for dinner courtesy of the takeaway along the road. Somewhere along the way I managed to get stung by some spurge which was a new (slightly painful) experience but the finished results were very pleasing and although Billy and I felt we hadn’t done much in the grand scheme of things, we had been pleased to help a little and to be there to see everything ready by the deadline set. It also felt like we were providing a little moral support and distraction for Mike who was not looking forward to his op – which went very well indeed and he was allowed home Friday evening πŸ™‚

On our last evening, we were taken out for dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant which Gerry and Judy like. Helen was looking after Mike who’d just got home, and we’d seen Aaron off on his rugby tour weekend earlier, but Joe and his girlfriend joined us. The food was divine and Billy and I both ate 3 courses which is rare for us; even anything-as-long-as-it’s-pizza Joe cleared his (non pizza) plates and polished off some leftovers for good measure πŸ˜€ Not only did Billy eat a dessert which is unusual, but he chose apple crumble which I would never ever have chosen for him. Largely because for the 8+ years we’ve been together he’s always said he doesn’t like crumble! Live this one down? Never! πŸ˜€

It seemed to soon be Saturday, the day we were leaving, though we ended up not getting away until pretty late by the time we’d had a good breakfast and then popped round to see Helen and Mike on our way. Mike was downstairs on the sofa and though well dosed with pain killers was looking very well in himself which was great. We’d enjoyed our stay with our excellent hosts who are such lovely, lovely people, and it was great to catch up with all the family news and see everyone again (even if they did have some fun at my croaky voice πŸ˜‰ )

A quick visit to my second garden.

After the match, I drove to mum’s where I was greeted with a vodka & lemonade with ice and a slice πŸ™‚ What could be better after a typical City roller coaster ride?

On the Sunday morning we went to B&Q as I wanted to buy mum a shrub for her garden as an Easter present in lieu of chocolate since she has been doing very well with losing weight and I didn’t want to spoil it. I liked the idea of a graden plant being long lasting and in keeping with the season of new life. She chose a Euphorbia efanthia in the end and we planted it when we got back. We were both rather pleased with it and we ended up pottering about a little in the garden whilst dinner cooked. It was chilly but the sun was shining and it felt very springy, and mum had been doing quite a lot of plant-tidying after winter so it was nice to enjoy her efforts. I like mum’s garden and I enjoy the novelty of a garden rather than a yard, even though I’m quite happy with my yard. Just as mum’s house is my seocnd home, her garden is my second garden πŸ˜‰

Mum has started buying a fruit, veg or salad bag from a local scheme in her area (Β£3 each) and knowing I was visiting at the weekend, I’d asked her to get one for me too. She went one better and bought one of each variety and we split the contents between us so we had 10 minutes’ fun dividing the spoils πŸ™‚ I came home with a swede, a leek, 4 carrots, 2 green apples, a kiwi fruit, and a bunch of spring onions. (Not worth a separate blog entry but I used the veg to cook roast Mediterranean vegetables the following weekend, adding a few cherry tomatoes, a pepper and some potatoes. Delicious!)

After dinner I drove home but it was a rather anxious drive until I reached the first services (about an hour away) because the petrol station in Chester was out of petrol and I knew I didn’t have enough to get me home. I tried to stay calm, reasoning that the motorway services would surely have stocks because people travel long distances, but as I got nearer I was trying to calculate whether I could make it to the next services if necessary – I wasn’t quite sure. Happily I didn’t need to and got my petrol but at the criminally high price of Β£1.489 a litre! (It had been Β£1.439 at home and had the garage in Chester had any, it was Β£1.379!) After this though, I could relax and enjoy my drive in the sunshine πŸ™‚

Mum’s birthday weekend.

Last weekend it was mum’s birthday so Nel and I went down for the weekend and I was really looking forward to it having not seen mum since our Boxing Day trip when I was poorly. We left at 4.30pm on the Friday so that we could have the full day on Saturday before returning Sunday afternoon. Nel wanted to sleep downstairs on the fold-out camp bed this time as a picture had jumped off mum’s bedroom wall last time and spooked Nel so much she didn’t fancy sleeping in there again.

The next morning, mum had woken up early and made herself a cup of tea to drink in bed so when I poked my head round her door to sing “Happy Birthday” she told me she’d put the coffee machine on for me and I was welcome to pour a cup and join her. So I did and Rocky was hilarious! He had been sitting on the floor at mum’s side of the bed and then he walked round to mine and glared up at me. I laughed at him and we wondered what was the matter as he’d been doing the same to mum. We decided that maybe he didn’t like me getting sitting in his mummy’s bed, and he carried on glaring which just made us giggle. When we got up, we crept downstairs and made our breakfast – mum had her usual porridge and I had my usual bacon bagel. I walked in to the living room with my food to be greeted by Rocky sitting in the middle of the floor – evidently waiting for me, or rather, for his bits of bacon which I always save him for when I’ve finished eating. Aha! THAT was why he’d been glaring at us! After he’d had his bacon, he disappeared contentedly without a backward glance πŸ˜€

Once Nel was awake enough to join us, mum opened her cards and presents and she had lots of lovely ones from friends, family and colleagues – ex-colleagues now since she has finally managed to retire at the end of January πŸ™‚

Nel had taken a beautiful picture of Rocky at Christmas and she’d printed and framed it as a birthday present, and we’d given her a voucher for a manicure now that she is a lady of leisure as she recently expressed a wish to have a professional manicure sometime.

When we were showered and dressed we went out to the shops and though I’d said I would be happy to take her next day, mum insisted she’d just as soon do her grocery shopping today and get it done, even if it was her birthday. We did, however, have a quick look in a couple of other shops and a drink and sweet treat in Costa as well πŸ™‚ On the way home, we dropped off Nel at her friend’s house for the afternoon and we had a cooked dinner before going out to the match – though we were,at this point, still debating whether we should go as it had apparently snowed heavily in Manchester (but it was just rain/sleet in Chester.) Eventually, by the end of a yummy dinner of braised steak, we decided we’d go, but be prepared to turn back if we felt it necessary. Happily, we made it OK and I’ve blogged separately about the match.

I’d had to concentrate on the drive home – 8″ snow in Manchester gradually became slushy snow then deep surface water on the roads back to Chester. However we’d had a fantastic afternoon and after picking up Nel on the way, had a nice celebratory drink before bed time.

On Sunday morning mum and I repeated our cuppa-in-bed-before-breakfast and this time Rocky was happy to curl up with us and patiently wait for his bacon πŸ™‚ After looking at all mum’s lovely retirement cards and presents, we went out to get the new hoover we’d seen the day before but had wanted to read reviews on before buying. We then had a gorgeous dinner of roast lamb before Nel and I took our leave and headed home. I had missed mum having been used to seeing her a bit more often than the time between these visits and I think all three of us enjoyed our weekend just being girls together. πŸ™‚

The drive home was mainly through pea-soup fog and we generally had to just follow the lights in front of us – happily on motorways that’s not such a difficult thing – although there were still one or two idiots who didn’t feel they needed fog lights on -and in some cases, ANY lights! We got back around 6pm and Billy returned from his match about an hour and a half later, bringing takeaway for everyone after winning his bet on both the score and first scorerthanks Newcastle and thanks Mr Ba πŸ™‚

City 3 – 0 Fulham

Now what better birthday treat could one offer her newly retired mum but to drag her out into the snow to watch an evening football match? πŸ˜‰ As mum and I left Chester (adding an extra half an hour to my usual overly cautious travel time – i.e we left 2.5 hours instead of 2 hours, before kick off!) it was just very wet but as we reached the outskirts of Manchester we started to see some light snow on the ground. As we got into Manchester itself the snow was thicker but not troublesome and though the car park at the stadium was covered in a few inches of snow, I had no trouble parking in my usual spot. Although I was slightly concerned about getting out afterwards, we decided there would be people around of whom to ask help if we needed so we were happy to relax and enjoy the evening. (It was a 5.30pm KO) After togging ourselves up like the Michelin man to keep warm, we went and had a cup of tea in City Square before going in to our seats. (We were using friends’ tickets and were sitting in the same great seats as I’d used when I’d brought my friend back in October.)

It wasn’t actually as cold inside the ground as we’d thought, though we were glad we’d dressed warmly (I was even trying out the heated insoles I had been given at Christmas and they were brilliant. I’d definitely use them again as my feet were saved from being lumps of ice.)

When the match started, the pitch was clear of any snow, though there was a small pile at the ends where ground staff had cleared it. The game started brightly and we couldn’t believe it when very early on we were awarded a penalty – I said to mum that I wasn’t convinced but as it was at the other end I wasn’t entirely sure of what had happened and therefore if it was merited. Aguero converted it and we were 1-0 up πŸ™‚ Less than half an hour later, we were 2-0 up after an o.g and only just after that, we had a penalty shout turned down – we felt it was far more of a penalty than the one awarded earlier from where we stood and catching up on reports later, it seems we were right. Although it seemed that Micah was bombing forward less (maybe to stay and offer support to Savic?) we still had more chances with Dzeko, Aguero and Silva looking good despite the cold. 2-0 at half time which was good enough for us πŸ™‚

In the second half the snow REALLY came down! It was a blizzard and as the markings on the pitch became more and more covered over we wondered if the ref might call the match off πŸ™ Happily this didn’t happen and our fantastic grounds staff rose to the challenge and picked their times well to nip on and shovel snow off the lines – to the cheers and encouragement of the crowd who were enjoying the fun of a game in the snow. (It was all rather magical it has to be said, and certainly added to the occasion.) The game continued to be played at a decent pace and surprisingly the players of both teams slipped very little on the snowy pitch – though their poor legs did look a bit red πŸ˜‰ The ref appeared to be regretting the penalty he had given us earlier as he was giving every single decision to Fulham – I am starting to get fed up of playing 12 men every game now. Micah started to make some decent runs forward in this half though the only goal of the half came from Aguero who thoroughly earned his MOtM award. 3-0 after 90 minutes but we knew there would be a fair bit of added time after the stoppages to clear the pitch of snow – 5 minutes! This prompted cheerful chants of “We want to go home…we want to go ho-ome… it’s F*ing freezing…we want to go home..” πŸ˜€ However, after the added time it remained 3-0 and it was a great win for us, a fun afternoon (and mum has now done the Poznan πŸ™‚ ) and we were delighted we’d come.

Quite a few fans hadn’t made it and given the weather this was understandable, but the media apparently made much of it claiming City fans are not interested! Unbelievable – the game was a sell out but the weather prevented many from coming. I despair of the intelligence of the media at times. As for me – my last live game had been two months ago so I was just so pleased to be there again as I’d missed it badly. Watching on TV or the net is just not the same at all.

We had to meet someone briefly afterwards to get my season ticket back from the person who’d had use of it and then we walked back to the car, admiring the solidly frozen canal as walked over the bridge.

Thankfully the snow in the car park was all fresh, powdery stuff and we had no trouble brushing it off the car and away from the wheels and after a picnic and hot drink waiting for traffic to clear, we got away without a hitch.

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.)