Thursday, August 26, 2010

You are my Brentford, my only Brentford...

Considering the 2010/11 season is almost three weeks old I haven't blogged much about Brentford. Truth be told there hasn't been much to shout about. An opening day defeat at Carlisle was followed a week later by Walsall at GP and yep, another defeat.

In between those two games we did manage edge past Cheltenham in the League, OK, Carling Cup. We'd not beaten them in five previous attempts so it was good to finally beat the relative newcomers to the Football League.

Last weekend we took a good point away from Swindon Town's County Ground. We lost 3-1 home and away to them last season so it was a decent point and our League campaign is up and running.

We drew Hull City in the second round of the Carling Cup, and as you can tell, I was really looking forward to them coming down to Griffin Park!  The reason for my total lack of enthusiasm for a game against a team newly relegated from the Premiership was (and still is) because for the 1990's and first half of the 20th century, Brentford were a better team than them and it's hard to get away from that way of thinking.

I still find it hard, as do most Bees fans I reckon, to think of Fulham, Stoke and particularly Wigan as established Premiership teams.  Recent Brentford history shows we've been better than all of them but have never grabbed the opportunities when they've presented themselves.  A terrible play-off record, including Wembley (loads of quality in that 1997 Crewe team) and Millennium Stadium (shit that Brentford team was good) defeats, have poured cold water over promotion hopes at regular intervals and led to the dismantling of many a team well equipped to play in the second tier.  Relegation to the basement in May 2007 (although it was on the cards months before the dreaded final day of the season) hit the club hard but there is renewed optimism around the club since bouncing back from our two season stint in League Two in May 2009.

A great ninth place finish in League One last season has led to major investment in the playing squad over the summer and we appear to be in a position to have a real go at promotion over the next two or three seasons.  Of course, with investment comes expectation and the GPG was awash with negativity following our two defeats.  The point at Swindon has helped to ally some fears and this is where (eventually) Hull City come in.

On Tuesday we had a great result.  A 2-1 win (Bees view, Hull view) and a place in the third round for the first time since 1991.  All of a sudden the negativity has been replaced with a renewed confidence that we have what it takes to push on into (at least) the top six.  Oh the fragile and fickle mind of a football fan, what a world we inhabit!

Fingers crossed we get a decent draw, a winnable home or top Prem team away will do.  Most fans will echo this list of teams that we want to draw and those we want to avoid.  Any takers for Wigan away?  It's bound to be them now isn't it!?! 

Saturday sees Rochdale, bloody hell even they've got executive boxes, in TW8.  They are in the third tier for the first time since the 1973/74 season, 36 long long years ago, having finished last season in the final automatic promotion spot from League Two.  So far they've drawn two and lost one in the league so they've had a better start than us!  They've also won on their last two trips to GP so I'll be heading to GP a little nervous but expecting a win.

Three points on Saturday and we'll be cooking on gas.  YOU REDS!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two in 24 Hours!

You wait a week for a blog update and then two come along in 24 hours!

The foxes are at it again and Sarah's just piped up to say that they are quicker than me, charming!  She's gone downstairs now to flood the bathroom again!

We've just watched another episode of Minder!  I've got the V+ box set to record the series so we have a seemingly never ending supply of episodes to watch.

Today's episode, Back in Good Old England, was the twelfth from the third series (not season!) according to the great  More often than not Minder episodes are a who's who of British TV.  Today's episode featured Norman Beaton who is better known as Desmond from the classic late '80s early '90s comedy Desmond's, check out on-demand episodes on SeeSaw, and Pete Postlethwaite the great stalwart of British film and television.

My Spanish classes finished at the end of the school term so I'm loving having Wednesday nights free.  Finishing work at half five and getting home before six is a rare luxury and one I could get used to :)  It's just gone 22:00 and it feels like I've been at home for ages.

IMG_2627Talking (well, writing if we're splitting hairs) of Wednesdays, Sarah's brother is a helicopter engineer in the RAF and last Wednesday we went down to RAF Odiham for their annual family day.  I've not got much interest in things military but it was a really good day.  Sarah's parents came down from Bury so we all had a good look around the base, watched planes and helicopters buzzing around and then watched a gig put on by men and women stationed at the base.  Sarah's brother was in the second band and having been taught to play by their dad, the old boy was chuffed ;)

Oooh, just seen that Nick Clegg was in the the Bush today to launch the coalition's vision for social mobility.  Shame he chose Shepherd's Bush Village hall as the venue because the Tory council want to close and flog the building!  It's always good to see MPs getting some stick and by the sounds of it this was a pretty feisty photo call for the deputy Prime Minister.  More details here.

IMG_2679Sorry, where was I. Oh yeah, last Wednesday.  After the gig we all went for a meal in a local country pub which always gets me thinking.  As much as I love London, there is something special about going to a country pub for a few (too many) beers and some top notch grub.  This place didn't disappoint but did leave me and Sarah with a dash for the last train from Hook and a ride on the 295 from Clapham Junction back to W12.

A night on the beers certainly wasn't the best way to prepare for the 2010 edition of the Superstars Decathlon!

Last Thursday and Friday saw 16, erm, 'athletes' compete in the third decathlon at Battersea Park Arena.  I was pretty confident of a decent showing after somehow landing second place last year but this time round I was well below par.  My day two performance wasn't helped by the evil mozzie bites I received on the first day, my left leg took on an elephant-like appearance, but it was my disastrous showing in a couple of less the less traditional events that helped seal my mediocrity.

IMG_2700The final event for the previous two years was a dance off in Clapham Junctions so called 'Premier Nightspot' Wessex House, don't be fooled, it's shit!

This year however we had karaoke to add one final insult to the injury!  It wasn't a case of just getting on the mike and singing a song of choice, oh no, that would be too easy!  We were each given an artist and song with strict instructions that appearance was just as important as vocal performance.

I drew Pink and her song Get the Party Started which as it turned out was an OK draw although not as cushy as Sarah who was given Franz Ferdinand.

We all got changed at the arena and then headed to find some taxis, not an easy task for 16 people dressed in various levels of drag and in the end we hopped on the bus!  Sorry to all the poor commuters on the number 44, still, we must have livened up an otherwise dull journey.

Now for the moment I know you've all been waiting as Pink.

Not a great resemblance but nature didn't really offer me much of a chance this time round!  For more of the same have a look at this Picasa album.

Right, I reckon it's time to say goodbye after that photo!

Time to watch game two of the Giants' three game road trip in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lifelong Learning

Thought I'd get in a quick post tonight while I wait for Sarah to get in from work.

She's busy writing the critical analysis component of her final APC submission and is entering the final furlong of the graduate scheme she's been on since September 2008.

It's been so far so good because she's already passed the Postgraduate Diploma in Real Estate that she went to South bank Uni once a week to study and received welcome pay rise.  Fingers crossed there will be more to come come the end of October.

I've often thought that I'd like to get back into education.  I'm going to keep on with the Spanish and sign up again for another year in September, but sometimes I wonder if I should jack in the job and do a GIS masters.  Birkbeck Uni offer a part-time course which is an option but I don't know if I'd be able to handle working and then having to study in the evening.  It's hard enough trying to motivate myself to do a few pages Spanish homework and I've got a verb drill book that I haven't opened in 18 months!!

Then there is the cost.  Sarah's course has been paid for by her work as part of the graduate scheme she's on, are there employers out there that would pay for a 32 year old to go back to Uni for two years?  Maybe there are and I've just not been looking hard enough, it's tough to find the motivation after 10 years at the same company!

Anyway, enough of all that.  We've started to look for somewhere head off to for our winter long weekend away.  At the moment Prague looks to be the favourite and we might even be able to drag my best mate Dan and his wife along with us.

ca0 445

Last year we went to Montreal and we've been to Iceland and Cologne in previous years.  Sarah did have an eye on New York but I seem to have been able to fend off that idea ;)

I like to make it to one new country a year and I've not been to the Czech Republic before so Prague will tick off another country.  Saying that we did fly into and out of Geneva when we went skiing but I don't think I can really count a couple of hours in an airport as 'doing' Switzerland!

If we do book the trip with Dan and Jen Prague it's bound to be a great weekend away.  When they come down to London or we head up their way we always have decent weekends.  Beers, wine and good food are always top of the agenda and now that there's a Jamie's Italian in Westfield we can even have a rivalry with their nearest branch in Oxford!

On the subject of Westfield I've just seen an item on BBC London about the possibility of courts opening up in empty premises in said shopping centre and others around the country.  Is it a coincidence that this has been proposed the day Brentford's #1 blogger rocks up there with his accomplice, Robin Hood, in tow?  Rob from the rich and give to the poor wasn't it?!?

Only joking lads ;)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's All Kicking Off Again

For the 72 teams of the Football League, the football season kicked-off last Saturday. The tarts in the Premiership start their season this weekend.

For the second season in a row Brentford started with an away game at Brunton Park.  Sadly there was no repeat of last season's 3-1 win with the Bees going down 2-0 in a dismal performance.

 Tonight attention has turned to the League Cup and we're playing at GP against Cheltenham Town.  It's 2-1 at the moment and I'm listening to the Bees World commentary.  It's been pretty crap since half time with the Robins having got a goal back and seemingly bossing the play.  After such a dominant first half performance it's looks like were going to be holding on for the last quarter of an hour!

After England's piss-poor showing at the World Cup (there's even a crap friendly tomorrow night!) and the inevitable slating of the apparent 'cream' of English football it's great to have the Bees back playing week in week out.  Last season we finished 9th, a great showing in our first season back in League One after a couple in the basement, and this season we look well equipped to make a decent push for the play-offs.  Not that Bees fans will be looking forward to that, we've got a dismal record in the end of season lottery!

It's Walsall at GP on Saturday and I can't wait to get back amongst the usual faces.  There's even a new Bees fan, Paul and Lynda had a baby boy just over a month ago and he's already looking good in his Brentford romper suit :)

My last blog post was about the Brits at the European Athletics in Barcelona.  Turned out to be a very good championships with plenty of great British performances :)  Mo Farah did the 5,000m 10,000m double, super Jess won her heptathlon gold (although it was closer than a lot of people expected), Andy Turner took gold in the 110m high hurdles and Phillips Idowu won long jump gold.  We even managed to dominate a couple of events with two British 1-2's.  Chris Thompson took silver behind Mo in the 10,000m with Dai Greene and Rhys Williams taking the top two podium places in the 400m hurdles.

To many people's surprise, Sarah said he didn't even deserve to be in the final, Mark Lewis-Francis took silver in the 100m and there were plenty of other good performances which the BBC have done a good job of summing up here and in Tom Fordyce's blog here.  The two 4x100m relay disasters didn't happen, right ;)

IMG_0139Last week myself and Sarah were in Rhodes for leisurely weeks holiday so she missed the final two days of competition.  The V+ box came to the rescue again and she was straight into the living room to watch the recorded coverage as soon as we got back to the flat on Sunday at 06:45!  If this isn't the behaviour of a total athletics geek I don't know what is!  I had a few hours kip like any normal person would!

The temperature was around 40°C for the whole week so we didn't do much during the day.  We had a self catering apartment in the chilled out and very well run Cosmos Maris complex close to Lardos Beach so stayed around there during the day and then headed out for dinner in the evening.

Lardos was the nearest town, about a 25 minute walk away, so we went there most nights.  We did have a night in Pefkos and also one in Lindos but Lardos was much more convenient and a lot better value.

We finally ventured out last Friday (ooooh, just realised this Friday is Friday 13th!!), to the large waterpark near Faliraki ;)  I'd not been to one since a school trip to the Ard├Ęche in my second year at St. Mark's and I wasn't all that keen to go.  To tell the truth I was a bit nervous.

After a gentle introduction on a few of the tamest slides we started to move on to the more daunting attractions.  I actually think we went on the worst ride quite early in the day.

The 'Sting Ray' has a really steep drop-in which only becomes apparent once you've sat down on the ring and given yourself the heave-ho on the railings and by that time it's way too late anyway.  I've found this on YouTube:

It probably doesn't do the drop-in justice but it is pretty scary the first time.

I'd also never been on the steep slides before but after a bit of persuasion from Sarah I took the plunge.

From left to right are the Turbo Slide, Kamikaze and Free-fall.  Your brain tells you that Free-fall is the worst because it is a steep, straight drop but I thought the Turbo Slide was the worst.

After going  over two humps in quick succession you end up airborne for a split second before going into a tight curve.

The Kamikaze has just one hump which again sends you airborne for a short while but you're soon down the steep part of the slide and heading horizontally to the plunge pool at the bottom.

Although it doesn't look it, the Free-fall slide is the easiest ride.  Like the Sring-Ray it's the view from the top that is daunting and after that it's just straight down to the horizontal final few metres.

My advice, don't look down...

If you've made it this far you'll no doubt be glad to hear that Brentford held on to their 2-1 lead to book their first appearance in the second round of the League Cup for three seasons.

Here's hoping for a decent draw when it's made.