Sunday, April 28, 2024

Uncovering cute messages of yore

This weekend we started stripping wallpaper in our upstairs bathroom. It's wallpaper we stuck on nineteen years ago. Under one chunk was a message that I think I wrote on the bare wall using a paint tester pot after Cathy had gone to bed one night.

In case you can't read that it says 

Aw, soppy and adorable. 

I had forgotten that message. I don't think I wrote it expecting ever to see it again once we had covered it up with wallpaper. And yet there it was, sitting unread all that time. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Snack of the Month - Air Nuts!

Savoury snack this month. Another random find in the supermarket that I thought would be interesting to review. 

And what are air nuts? There's an explanation on the back of the packet. Nuts, flour and air, basically. 

Only 111 calories per bag! It's not hard to achieve such a low number of calories when there are literally only EIGHT air nuts in a bag. There's plenty of flavour dust as well. 

These look a bit like meteors.

Consistency-wise they are crunchy like breakfast cereal or savoury cookies. The "hot" chili flavour was very mild. 

Overall, they were nice but the stingy amount in the bag would put me off buying them regularly. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Facing a childhood fear in the Moomin Shop

I had a trip to London last week and it included a brief visit to the Moomin Shop. In among the delightful toys I encountered a literary character that scared me hugely when I read the Moomin books as a kid. 

The entrance has loads of Moomin artwork.

And the shelves inside were laden with delightful toys. 

And some lovely books

At the bottom of the bookshelves is a basket of Grokes. Now the Groke wasn't the character that scared me (when I read Moominland Midwinter). If anything it made me sad. The Groke was always cold and just wanted to be warm, which is why it was drawn to bonfires and would sit on them - which put them out. 

(Years ago I did a 'Which Moomin character are you?' quiz and apparently I am a Groke.)

No, the characters that terrified me were...

... the Hattifatteners. 

I was talking to my Mum about them later and realised the Hattifatteners were the first characters that scared me. I'd read the Narnia books and wasn't particularly scared by the White Witch and I can't remember ever being scared of any other book characters.

But the Hattifatteners were creepy and weird. They were quiet and could give electric shocks. They had their own mysterious purposes and seemed dangerous somehow, because they were indifferent about harming other creatures. 

I had a faint 'brrr' shudder of revulsion when I saw the cuddly Hattifattener. I wasn't expecting that reaction. Some childhood scars stay tender. 

And, yes, I bought a Groke. I could just about squeeze it into my case

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Another "fantasy" game? Are you ready to rumble (slam)!

It was my birthday this week and this arrived through the post courtesy of my man, Connor. It looks like it could be a lot of fun...

The two wrestling teams in the box are humans, halflings and an ogre versus orcs, goblins and a troll. 

There's some gluing and painting to do before I have a team ready for smackdowns!

There are lots of other teams and players available for the game. I had a gift voucher that I could redeem at Firestorm Games left over from Christmas (courtesy of my sister, Sarah) so I walked round and picked up The Furry Fury!

The first team I had for the reboots of Blood Bowl were the giant rats. Seems like I'm following a pattern!

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

When it went down in Abertillery

At the end of last month Cathy and I went to a gig in Abertillery. It was in the Metropole Theatre, an historic venue dating back well over a century. It even had Charlie Chaplin perform there back in the early years of the twentieth century. 

There's a series of information boards charting the history of the building in the corridor by the conveniences. I was waiting there and this reproduced newspaper clipping caught my eye. It was in a section about how the Metropole was built as the town's Market Hall was no longer considered a suitable venue for public events, following scenes like this:

I have so many questions... who was Dr Price? In what way was he "eccentric"? What was he lecturing about? Why did it result in the "unwashed" reacting violently? 

But hey, the "hooting" and object throwing helped drive forward plans to build a theatre so maybe it worked out for the best. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Football recap of the month - March 2024

Getting into the business end of the season now. I had two football-free weekends at the start of the month but made up for it in the latter weeks, setting a new record for the month of March with a total of six games. 

Game 46: Pontypridd United 1-1 Barry Town

Bit of deja vu for this game as I went to the same fixture in phase 1 of the Cymru Premier season. Managed a very rare photo of a goal going in - in this case, Barry's equaliser.

Game 47: Cymru C 1-0 England C

My friend Steve drove us to Stebonheath Park in Llanelli for this C level international. This pitched the best Welsh players in the Cymru Premier against an England team selected from the National League. Cymru's goal was an excellent free kick. Former Barry goalie Kelland Absalom pulled off a world class save in added time at the end of the game to ensure Cymru won. 

Game 48: Taff's Well 1-2 Caerau Ely

My second game in a week with Steve, under the Friday night lights at Rhiw Dar. Entertainment was provided by a contingent of Finns who had watched Finland play Cymru the night before. They were good-natured and boisterous and worth the entry fee alone. It was the tenth time I've seen Caerau Ely and I got a badge when I checked in on Futbology. 

Game 49: Cardiff Draconians 2-2 Pontyclun

It was a brisk, sunny Saturday once the hail stopped! Pontyclun took the lead, then the Dracs scored twice and then Pontyclun equalised. One of those games that either side could have won, and neither did. 

Game 50: Barry Town 0-0 Penybont

My first nil-nil of 2024, but a draw that felt more like a win after Barry had two men sent off in the second half. I would charitably describe the referee as out of his depth. 

Game 51: Caldicot Town 0-1 Risca United

Caldicot hit the post twice and had a goal ruled out for offside. Risca took home the points despite being second best for most of the game. My friend Ben was playing for Caldicot, and his dad, uncle, two brothers and two year old nephew were all in the stand watching him as well so it was lovely to catch up with them. 

Ben makes his point

Monday, April 01, 2024

Miles and memories - happenings in March

A dragon for St David's Day! 

Cathy and I covered lots of miles in March. I had a couple of days off work because we had an appointment at the specialist clinic in Cambridge (we have been heading over there annually for about six years now, pandemics notwithstanding). This year we decided to go via Shrewsbury and see Mum on Mother's Day weekend. I went to church with her (and most of the rest of the family) on Mother's Day and got to say hello to lots of old friends. 

Our Mother's Day dinner plans were thrown awry by the restaurant phoning up to tell us they were having a software problem so they couldn't process any food orders or payments. So we ended up with a stack of takeaway pizzas instead. In a weird way, it was a nice reflection of how resilient we are as a family that we can adapt to a situation and still have fun.

Mentioning resilience makes me think of how we have adjusted as a family following the loss of my dad. This March marked the fifth anniversary of his sudden death. I found myself thinking of him quite a bit. I went to a Wales 'C' International football match on the day itself - I think he would have liked that. 

On the Monday after Mother's Day we set out to Cambridge. We had a trouble-free journey and after checking in at our hotel we went for a little trip to Newmarket. It's a horsey place with lots of horsey businesses and also a cracking toy shop!

After our hospital appointment on the Tuesday we headed home to Cardiff. We stopped in Oxford and saw our friend Ella on the way. 

We got home about midnight. The next morning I was on the 7.23am train to London for an all day meeting. I was also incubating a cold. Gotta admit, I wasn't at my best in that meeting. 

Before I came home I met up with my baseball buddy Gawain in an American sports-themed restaurant under Waterloo Station, in a warren of railway arches covered in graffiti. 

Selfie on the way to Waterloo

Meeting up had seemed like a great idea when we made the plan. By the time I got there though I was beyond exhausted. However, Gawain is very good company and we had a great two hours chatting before I had to get the train home.

All that excitement was just in five days. The rest of the month has been a bit of a blur. I made it to my first Keep Grangetown Tidy litter-pick of the year. Fiona who organises it took a picture as proof.

I also made my first foray to the cinema in 2024, watching Dune Part 2 (which I blogged about here). And we went to our first gig of the year - to see Tony Wright at the Metropole Theatre in Abertillery. It was on Easter Sunday, so we took him some Easter eggs, which Cathy presented to him afterwards.

We even had time this month for some ice creams in Victoria Park with the Wootten family. Spring is here. Summer is coming!