Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Not-snack of the month - American breakfast selection box part 2

On to the second half of the selection box of American cereals that Cathy bought me.

Next on the menu were Golden Grahams.

These were delicious. They are crunchy and have a sweet taste that's like burnt brown sugar (but burnt in a good way).

I was interspersing the packets of Cheerios with other cereal and had reached the last variant of them. I had high hopes that Honey Nut Cheerios were going to be a bit special.

But they were a bit disappointing. I couldn't really taste any honey or nuts. They tasted like Cheerios.

Leaving the disappointment of Cheerios behind I went for the bright red packet of Lucky Charms as my penultimate choice of cereal.

Lucky Charms are basically misshapen Cheerios with foam mallow bits in that have a surprising texture and a 'snap' to them when they are chewed. The foam mallows are very sweet and have some flavour to them, although it is hard to tell because the sweetness is overpowering.

My final packet of cereal was Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

These are basically the same as Golden Grahams, but dusted in cinnamon. As I like cinnamon flavoured things, they were a real hit!

So, what's the verdict. This was a great box to munch through and picking a cereal every day was quite fun. I wasn't planning to rank the cereals when I started out, but it seems like the natural thing to do.  I would probably rank them as follows:

1 - Cinnamon Toast Crunch

2 - Cocoa Puffs

3 - Lucky Charms

4 - Golden Grahams

5 - Trix (if only for the novelty value)

Joint 6th - the various Cheerios

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Not-snack of the month - American breakfast selection box part 1

Cathy surprised me with a selection box of American cereals and I have been munching through them. I thought I would share the enjoyment with the world.

Oh what delights await inside?

I am posting the cereal in order of consumption. I started with Trix.

Here's a picture of the fruity shapes. It's some kind of corn puff cereal. It tasted like slightly off "Fruit flavoured" sweets where they invent fruit names like "purpleberry". I have to admit it felt like I was eating something that wasn't food. 

I played it safe with the next pack.

Cheerios are Cheerios, when all is said and done. These were covered in a super-sweet very fine white dust. 

Cocoa Puffs were my next choice. All I knew about them was that people apparently go cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

Consistency-wise, they are another puffed corn cereal. They had a nice crunch to them and were mildly chocolatey. So far, this cereal was the one I would be most likely to eat again.

I decided to eat the most boring-looking cereal out of the selection box next. 

Cheerios are Cheerios and these didn't have any of the super-sweet white dust to make them more interesting.

That was me halfway through the box. I will blog the rest in Part 2 tomorrow!

Monday, July 19, 2021

A footballing visit to the Valleys

Back-to-back weekend football action for me after so many months away. I had planned to watch Grange Albion play Grange Allstars in the FAW Trophy. I'd already planned my blog title for this - El Grangeico! However, the Allstars couldn't muster a team so my footballing compadre, Tom, and I had to choose somewhere else. 

I floated the idea of another Barry Town friendly, but Tom said he would prefer a competitive match. So we looked at the other Trophy games on offer and settled on Aberdare Town versus The Butcher's Arms.

Just a few seasons ago Aberdare were competing at the top end of the Welsh League, but they have sunk a few levels recently and now play in the same league as Grange Albion, the South Wales Alliance Premier Division. Their opponents, The Butcher's Arms, were from Mountain Ash, 2 miles down the Cynon Valley, and recently were winners of the Aberdare League Division One. 

The ground is neatly kept, with turnstiles on the road leading down to the back of the stand along the side of the clubhouse. They produce a programme, which had a lot of content and was only £1.

In the clubhouse is a photo of Alf Sherwood, who came from Aberdare and played for Aberaman Athletic, one of the forerunner clubs of the present-day Aberdare Town before signing for Cardiff City. There was also one of the 41 caps he earned for Wales. I love history like this on the walls of clubhouses. 

The main stand (seen here from across the pitch) is a decent size and offers a great view due to its height above the playing area.

We settled into our seats ready for kick off. Tom humoured me with a selfie. 

From the stand you can also see the back of the dug outs. I was struck by how much the visitor's dug out seemed to have been kicked to bits. 

Aberdare had most of the early running, forcing chances and hitting the bar.

It was blazing hot and soon the players were taking a much-needed rehydration break.

Then, The Butcher's Arms caught a break, with the ball falling to one of their strikers as he drove into the penalty area and he blasted home to give the visitors a shock lead. The team in the eyecatching pink kits then had a little purple patch with two more good chances before Aberdare steadied themselves. However, Town still trailed 0-1 at the half time break.

(Half time was when I went down pitchside to get a photo back of the main stand. It was painfully hot down there. I also got a chance to talk to one of the Aberdare coaches, Daley, who is a Barry fan I've got to know in the last couple of years. He had been running the line on the far side of the pitch in the full heat of the sun and he looked like he was about to melt.)

The second half kicked off and Aberdare forced an equaliser, another shot lashed in from almost the same place where The Butcher's Arms had scored. Aberdare continued to push and were denied a winner for a debateable offside call after the ball took a deflection and ended up squirming past the goalkeeper.

It might have been because of the heat, but the game dragged a bit as the half wore on. Tom and I were kept amused by the lads behind us discussing the relative merits of Greggs and Tesco suasage rolls. (Greggs were "too crispy" apparently.) We also laughed about one of the silliest yellow cards I've ever seen when one of the Aberdare subs was ordered off the pitch because his socks were infringing the rules. 

Speaking of subs, it was only when I was reading the programme before the game that I realised I knew one of the squad. I've known Sam for a long time and I was delighted when he got onto the pitch towards the end of the second half. Here he is surrounded by defenders. This picture really showcases the opponents bright shirts. 

However, Aberdare were unable to get a winner. At 90 minutes the game went stright to a penalty shoot-out, which was taken at the end where both goals were scored. The keepers trudged down to that end.

Meanwhile their team-mates waited nervously on the halfway line. 

Aberdare had crashed out of the Welsh Cup First Qualifying Round on penalties the week before. Surely, history wouldn't repeat itself? Well, their first taker missed. Their second taker missed as well, but got a reprieve because the goalie moved before making the save, so he got to retake it and scored.

Meanwhile The Butcher's Arms takers were putting them away with aplomb. Sam scored his, which I was pleased about. Then the visitors missed their fourth penalty. This would tie everything up. 

The fourth Aberdare taker stepped up and blazed the ball over the bar. The next kicker made no such mistake, ripping it into the net and winning the shoot-out for The Butcher's Arms 4-2.

I don't know if this is the biggest scalp in The Butcher's Arms history, although I suspect it was. Certainly it was a bitter one to take for the home side. At least they have the league to look forward to and having seen a few South Wales Alliance games recently I suspect they have a very good chance of success this year. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Back to football after 16 months away

On Saturday I went to my first football match since March 2020. The pandemic nixed a lot of my plans for going to football matches, and last season was the first season since before 1992-93 (when my personal records begin) where I attended zero games. (I blogged about that a couple of months ago.)

But, at last, attending football is an option again. Barry Town had arranged a friendly with Bristol Manor Farm who play in the Southern League. My friend Tom acted as my guide and we drove across the bridge to Bristol to watch the game.

I don't think I have ever been this excited about a pre-season friendly. 

The Creek, where Bristol Manor Farm play, is an adorable little non-league ground that has all the magical charm that typifies lower level football in the UK. We had a very warm welcome from the local supporters, many of whom were impressed with the noise generated from the bit of the ground colonised by the Barry fans.

Sadly, we didn't see their number one fan, who dresses as a scarecrow and shouts "Farmy Army". He was apparently staying away for health reasons. 

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed seeing people who I hadn't seen for well over a year and finding out how they were doing. 

The clouds looked a bit forbidding for most of the game, but we didn't have any rain.

There is a railway embankment behind those dug outs in the picture, and we saw a couple of trains zip along. Sadly I wasn't quick enough to get a picture. 

I did however take a picture of this mark on the pitch, which could be a faerie ring. I was waiting to see if the fey folk would carry off any of the players who stood in it, but none of them did.

You do get close to the action at grounds like these. 

The pitch also had a definite slope aspect to it, but not just in one direction. At the lower end the pitch seemed to slope in different directions towards the corners. Barry were unable to make any use of kicking downhill in the first half and it was 0-0 at half time.

However, even though they were kicking up the slope in the second half, Barry scored a late goal to win the game 1-0. At the end, the team went over to the "Barry end" to thank the fans for their support. 

So, I was a very happy football fan as we drove home back over the bridge. It was a brilliant way to start a new season of matchgoing, and I hope this season I will be able to see a lot of games! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Holiday on Pen Llyn - fourth and final post

This is just a final round up post of things from our holiday on the Lleyn Peninsular. We had deliberately timed it to be away during the European Championships, because I like holidays where we do stuff during the day then go home and watch football in the evenings. It worked well with mealtimes.

We took my European Championships wallchart with us!

I filled it in studiously. The asterisks are games we watched. The day Switzerland got a last gasp equaliser against France then beat them on penalties was an exciting day.

In Criccieth we saw one of the installations by the Football Association of Wales honouring members of the Wales squad.

But away from football we enjoyed the beaches...

...and scenic cliff walks.

And we followed instructions and didn't fall headlong into the sea.

We visited Nant Gwerthyn, which is closely linked to the revival of the Welsh language in the mid-20th century.

Siaradais i Gymraeg yn siopia a bwytau. Prynias i llyfr yna yn siop llyfrau Gymraeg yn Pwllheli. (I spoke Welsh in shops and cafes. I bought this book in the Welsh bookshop in Pwllheli.)

The book is 'Wales on Stamps of the World', and, yes, it's in Welsh. I found I understood more of it than I expected. It has inspired me to consider a new philately project.

In Porthmadog we called into the Purple Moose Brewery shop. Cathy found a friend who matched her hair!

The village we stayed in had a field with horses in. Something tells me this horse knows he's a good-looking horse.

We also had a pair of seagulls who clearly had learned to beg for food from people staying in the cottage. They were quite happy to walk up to the patio doors and peck for attention.

And if you tried to ignore them, they would seek a bit of height to try and eyeball you again.

But we are resistant to the charms of seagulls, even though these seemed slightly less obnoxious, and a good deal cleaner, than Cardiff's sky-rats. We ignored them and eventually they gave up and flew off.

Our week seemed to be over very quickly, which is the sign of a good holiday!