Monday, 18 March 2013

Size matters!

Hi friends,

So it seems that the issue of length has caused somewhat of a debate amongst some of my readers. Whilst some agree with my mum that it can verge on the long side others suggested that last week's entry was a tad short. I guess I will never get it right, but so long as you know I will always try to keep it fresh and entertaining and if it is a super special long edition I will warn you to settle in for the night with a cup of hot chocolate. So, without further ado here is an offering of moderate length. Please enjoy it, pass it on and comment to your heart's content.

After last week's motivational pump up session I decided to give additional priority to a film on my Love Film rental list - Undefeated. This is a real life documentary about a high school American Football team and the people involved in it. From a coach who gives up his life to volunteer for the team to a superstar in the making and from a troubled youth looking to turn his life around to a young man who impresses those around him so much that one kindly millionaire decides to pay for his tuition this film is full of feel good moments. I sat watching this documentary in amazement because so many of the stories that modern American Football films have made us believe and fictional actually happen to real people. What makes this film even more enjoyable is that there is no corny crescendo where someone catches the game winning touchdown in the dying seconds, but instead you are left rooting for real people to make something from their lives and really appreciating the efforts of the coaching staff and the impact they have had on so many young men's lives over the seasons. A really interesting watch with a heart-warming message and well worth a view if you see it anywhere.

Friday night delight
After a generally pants week at work I was overjoyed to be asked for a curry and a drink with some friends from work. Having now moved offices to South Shields I have a plethora of curry houses on my doorstep and we opted for Tandoori International. I had heard good things about this place and it really did not let me down. Not only was the food great but it was amazing value for money. They do various 3 course deals for either £7, £8 or £9 where you can choose from a wide array of starters and mains they get either a coffee or ice cream for pud. Simply put it was amazing and I would most certainly recommend it to others!

After the curry we headed off to the Alum House, a real ale pub on the banks of the Tyne. I have been here before and love the place. It is always relaxed and they have some great ales on tap. The atmosphere is busy, but you can hear yourself think and there is always somewhere to perch even though it is a small place. I am especially looking forward to the Summer months when the beer garden will come into its own. I can see the hours being wiled away after a stressful day of work here looking out to the river. Unfortunately I was driving so could only enjoy a half and enjoy the company. It was a fun night filled with disturbing stories of wearing sunglasses on body parts which don't usually see the sun, the trials and tribulations of using a toilet in a bungalow with poor drainage and what drinking Guinness can do to your insides! Thanks Andy Marsh (@billquaymag) for continuing to tell stories of shock and awe!

From initially thinking I would just stay out for a meal and then go home because I was driving I found myself staying out until after 11. Sometimes those nights are the best! In all honesty as the night developed anywhere seemed more of an attractive option than going home to a lonely, cold flat...brr!

After a morning of shopping in Grainger Market for my week's food (I love Grainger Market and it will get its own blog one day) I headed off to meet Justin and Leigh who had just spent £50 on posting wedding invites. These weddings are expensive things! We had intended to head to Pitcher and Piano on the Quayside to enjoy the view and reclaim my free pint offer, but it is being renovated so we had to change our plans and headed off to Ouseburn. What a cracking idea that turned out to be!

After enjoying a cheeky pint of thirst-quenching and glorious fruity Weston's Perry and a baked potato at The Cluny we explored the delights of Ouseburn Farm. Now I love any animals and am a proud frequent visitor of Pets' Corner in Jesmond Dene, but Ouseburn Farm has really stepped its game up. We fed the goats, stared at a sleepy pig, petted the mini-horses and laughed at a rabbit called Dirk. The highlight of the visit was the glee on Justin's face after he helped the tortoise that had managed to get itself stuck on a ridge in its enclosure..silly thing!

The curse of Will
After that we headed off to our friend Will's new house to watch England try and capture the elusive Grand Slam. It was always going to be a tough game against a resurgent Wales team, but England made them look good with handling errors galore and were eventually brushed aside with ease. What happened to the team that beat the All Blacks with such vigour and confidence? Here's hoping this is a lesson learnt and we can recapture some momentum in the future tests.

To heal our woes and raise our spirits we thought we would watch a bit of ice hockey. There were some early face offs so that meant acceptable viewing hours in the UK for once. First we switched to my team, the mighty New York Rangers. We were playing the Pittsburgh Penguins who were on a roll of 8 straight wins going in to the game and we were holding them to a tight 1-0 game. That was until we tuned in! Within 1 minute my boys were 3-0 down we thought it best to change channel to avoid further disappointment. So, we switched to a friends team, the Colorado Avalanche. They proceeded to go 4-0 down very quickly. It was only after we switched off did they manage to make the score more respectable but ultimately losing 6-4.

I don't think there is any other way to say it but Will's new house is well and truly cursed and I will never watch my Rangers play there again to avoid jinxing them further! Sorry Will. I will however watch rival teams play in the hope I curse them instead (it's worth a try surely)!

On your bike
With the Summer fast approaching its about time I got back out into the wilderness and started taking in the brave new world we live in. Hopefully the sun will just catch up and make this an pleasurable experience! Anyway, I thought what better way to do this than fix up my trusty bike and start riding. Having spent an hour or so lubing myself up with bike grease trying to fix a faulty break I finally realised that the cable itself had rusted and needed replacing. So I stuffed my bike in the back of the car (it was a tight fit) and off to the repair shop I went. A painless couple of hours later I was back on the road with two working brakes and a big grin on my face.

What better way to celebrate the return of my bike than to ride my bike to hockey training on Sunday. A good idea I hear you say and yes I would tend to agree, but I must have looked a real sight riding along with my hockey stick in jousting position going over the Tyne Bridge. As you probably have guessed by now I have very little shame, so will be doing the same again next week and revelling in the funny looks I will no doubt get. I will get a picture for next week's issue, but for now you will just have to do with this one of me dressed as a tiger supporting Ed to get to the top of Mont Ventoux last year!

In the future I have much more 'normal' plans of riding out to the coast to enjoy a coffee on the beach one day, so watch this space...

The Road To The Nationals
This week I have been told about another imminent ball hockey tournament and this time it is the biggy...the nationals! That means team from all over the country playing games of 5 vs 5 on a big court to take home the trophy and ultimate bragging rights for the year. I am super excited about it and hopefully, we can go one step further than we did at the Fantastic Fours (see previous blogs), make the final and win the cup.

The tournament will be played in Sheffield at Queens Road Rink at a date yet to be determined, but likely May. Queens Road was formerly an ice rink and so has the same proportions and is a big step up from the size of the leisure centres we usually playing in as part of the Northern Conference games. In preparation for this I have set out on an epic quest to regain my fitness and work myself harder than I ever have for a hockey tournament. I don't want to let myself or my team down so will be going hard and then probably going home to curl up in a ball! So a schedule of cardio enhancing runs and rides and muscle burning crunches and press ups awaits. Wish me luck!

Whilst I am at it I sincerely encourage you to check out my superstar linemate James 'Leafy' Dixon's blog about his involvement in Team GB's upcoming trip to compete in the Ball Hockey World Championships. I have added his blog link on the right so you can always find it with one simple click. They boy done good and he deserves success for all the effort he is putting in. If you fancy giving him some encouragement he is also on Twitter @dixon10

Have You Heard What Hagg's Heard?
This edition of Have You Heard goes back to the old style of having no specific theme. This is mainly because I can't think of one to tie together some of the funny things I have seen and heard this week.

There is one story in particular I want to share with you. The sister of my lovely girlfriend has become an unwilling celebrity in what can only be described as a hilarious breach of her rights! After being stopped by a photographer of the local paper she was asked if she would have her picture taken for "stock" photos. Now my experience of a stock photo is a photo that gets put into a leaflet when an image is required to fill space. Clearly, my understanding of stock photographs is somewhat skewed because she has become the face of an advertising campaign appearing on buses and advertising hoardings around the local area. What makes this worse is she has not been offered a single penny for her modelling talents! The scandal of it all and the shock when she discovered what had happened just makes me smile.

Quotes of the week

  • "I had to use the spatula" - Andy's grim account of emergency toilet utensils
  • "Shucks I done helped that turtle good, hic!" said in yokel accent - Leigh and myself teasing Justin about his heroics
  • "A-Deep friiieeeed" - me describing how you can make most things taste better

Peas and Love

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