Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Winning - Better get used to it!

Hello everyone,

Welcome back. This week I have tales of winning awards to compliment my tales of hockey. Not only that, but I will bringing you part 3 of my amazing West Coast holiday plans and topping all that off with some foody delights. You know it makes sense so keep on reading!

Status Update
I don't usually talk about work, but this week I will make an exception to the rule. This week was the annual staff party and company awards at work. Every year 5 awards are given to congratulate the individuals or teams that exemplify the values of the company and have generally done something great over the past 12 months. Alongside that it is generally a melee of drunken colleagues enjoying each others' company and blowing off steam from the humdrum of day-to-day life. This year there was definitely a lot of drinking, but not from me because I was driving so got to watch as people lost their inhibitions and dance the night away. I may have also joined in because I have very little shame and love to bust a move!

Anyway, back to the big news. This year my team and I were up for an award because we had been nominated for our continued good work to modernise the way in which sheltered housing is marketed in the borough and ultimately reduce the number of empty properties on our books. This year we have managed to do just that and have received high praise from colleagues across the company, but have not received any critical acclaim for our efforts. Last year we were nominated for a similar award, but fell just short of the post so I wasn't 100% sure we would win. All I knew is that we sure as hell deserve it for the blood, sweat and tears we give up every day! Anyway as the envelope was slowly prised open by the guest presenter my heart was in my mouth. I felt a hush come over the usually rowdy team and I began to wonder if the other contenders would have pulled on enough heart strings to beat us and I would have to put on my gracious loser face. Well there was no need for that because we won! To hear our team called out as the winners was unbelievable. It is always great to be recognised for the hard work everyone puts in even if it is a certificate and a handshake, but it is just nice to feel appreciated. So, congrats to everyone working in the Housing Plus team and I hope the good news just keeps on coming.

Haggy's Hols
A couple of posts ago I told you about how after a whistle-stop tour of LA we would be taking in the sights of Las Vegas. Our fun doesn't stop there, if anything it will only have just begun! We have an authentic road trip ahead of us as we make our way gradually towards the city of San Francisco. I won't jump ahead of myself though and this edition I bring to you our next steps of our tour - Yosemite National Park.
We will be staying in a lodge at the bottom of the mountains in a town called Oakhurst. I found a cool looking place for a very reasonable price called Queen's Inn By The River which has individual suites and it's very own wine bar. Admittedly, we will be travelling there in a drop top car, but can you forgive me?! I mean if you are going to do something you may as well do it properly hadn't you? Plus, if I am driving through a desert to get to Yosemite I may as well catch some rays hadn't I? After taking in the wonders of the man-made world it may well be a welcome reprieve to travel to a place of natural beauty to experience the peace and quiet of the mountains. We are only there for a day, but I plan on making the most of it by waking Vic up early and driving up the hillside to take in the views and rent some bikes or go for a walk. Either way we will be taking a cracking little picnic to chow down on and spend a relaxing day amongst the trees and meadows before heading back down the hill as the sunsets. I hear that is how the locals do it so figure I may as well join in. And after a long day like that I believe a steak is in order and a bit of website searching suggests that there may be a couple of restaurants happy to provide me with that!
After Yosemite we plan to drive on to Napa, but I will save that for another issue because you can't just skip over Napa especially with what we have in store!

Food Glorious Food
This week I have been eating a lot of chorizo. It literally can be used in anything from salads to roast chicken dishes, but I thought I would share with you one of my faves - Chorizo and Bean Chilli. It is quick and easy to make so well worth a try. Initially I found the recipe on the Good Food website and it used chickpeas, but being the thrifter I am I changed that for cheaper butter beans and to be honest I prefer the creamier taste of them in this dish. So, feel free to change the beans for different sorts but remember that they bring different flavours and textures.
Ingredients (serves one)
50g chorizo sliced
Half a can of kidney beans
Half a can of butter beans
Half a can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon of hot chilli powder

Before you start get some rice on because it takes about the same time to cook as this meal does to prepare.
1. Fry off the chorizo until it is starting to give off some of its oil
2. Add the beans and fry for a couple of minutes
3. Pour in the tomatoes and reduce the heat
4. Add the chilli powder and season
5. Simmer 5-10 minutes
6. Serve with fluffy rice and enjoy!

Hagg's Hockey Corner
The Northern Ball Hockey Conference continues and the Comets continue to reign supreme. Going into this week's game it was possible that we could clinch the title. This was reliant on other fixtures going our way and obviously us winning our own fixture, which was Newcastle Wildcats. In a game where we dominated from start to finish the Comets came out 12-1 winners. It was a game that had it all from goals to fights, but unfortunately no shutout for our hard-working goalie Taz. Goals and assists came from all over the team and confidence is evident every time we hit the court and the score could have easily been more if the referees hadn't disallowed goals that ripped holes in the net! On a personal level I also bagged a hat-trick and I am feeling great on a line again with Justin and Leafy.
Unfortunately, Dekstars Supernovas were beaten 9-0 by Northumbria Sharks so we are not yet champions. It does however set us up for an epic clash this week against the Sharks themselves. If we don't lose we claim top spot, but if they win they have an outside chance of claiming the title on goal difference. We are not going to let that happen, so watch out Sharks the Comets are coming!

A quick comment on the NHL. A few weeks ago I brought to you some of my fears about being a New York Rangers fan. Turns out I didn't need to be so worried because as they regular season came to a close my boys came good and won 9 of their final 13 games to be one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs securing a 6th place seeding in the East. To those non-hockey loving people out there that won't make much sense but it doesn't need to. All you need to know is that the ice hockey season is about to get feisty because it's playoffs time. That means teams going against each other in epic 7 game series to win the highest prize in ice hockey, Lord Stanley's Cup (with strong connections to it's creation in the UK).
First up for Rangers is the Washington Capitals who unfortunately are on a hot streak of their own. It is going to be a very tough series and a replay of a series from last year which Rangers won 4-3. I am concerned about the speed and skill of the Capitals, but Henrik Lundqvist is performing wonders in goal and finally the forward lines are clicking so fingers crossed we can best the Capitals and go on to have a long and successful playoff challenge. Lets go Rangers!

Have You Heard What Haggy's Heard?
Story of the week - I don't usually get political in my blog (mainly because I don't want to bore any of you) but with local elections approaching and a by election in South Shields coming up I can't help it. However, I won't be commenting on local issues but instead on a story about a Gloucestershire election candidate. John Sullivan of UKIP has claimed that exercise prevents you being gay and congratulated the Russians for banning Pride events. I have played hockey with enough gay guys to know this is not the case. Now I accept that people may be favourable of UKIP's immigration policies, but in a country that says it promotes tolerance of others I can't understand how someone can be so damning and downright ignorant of others can even be considered to represent our society. If you live in Gloucestershire and read this I implore you to go out and vote on election day and ensure a tolerant and intelligent candidate gets elected instead. To read the initial story click here

Song of the week - There are two tracks I am excited about this week so it is not just song of the week, but songs of the week. First up is a track that is totally mainstream but signals a return to form for the classic dance duo Daft Punk. Teaming up with Pharrell Williams to bring you a catchy track that is made for the summer as long as it is not overplayed and you are not bored of it by then!
Next up is a track from another electronic artist by the name of Pretty Lights. I use a music app called Jango to get my hit of tunes when out and about that takes one artist you like and creates a radio station just for you, what's more it's totally free and has no adverts!!! Riding back from hockey training on Sunday this track came on and just reminded me of beach chill out sessions. Definitely going to be on my summer playlist for many years to come. Ladies and gentleman, Pretty Lights - Finally Moving.

Quote of the week - "A relationship isn't a relationship until you've wafted the quilt" Classic workplace banter from Elaine! She knows her onions.

TV of the week - This week's TV isn't TV per se. Instead it is a regular YouTube program from the Canadian YouTube sensations by the name of Epic Meal Time. The concept of the show is that a group of guys who love bacon and beer make big big BIG meals and consume them on a weekly basis. I have got to say their older stuff is better, but their gluttony does make me laugh. Check out their channel by searching for Epic Meal Time, but to whet your appetite here is one of their videos.

Film of the week - This week's film of the week goes to a sci-fi classic, The Fifth Element. I remember watching this film and instantaneously loving the combination of action and aliens. Not only that, but it filled with tension and comedic moments to keep you entertained throughout. I do seem to recall this film being fairly violent at times so I was amazed to see this film being shown at midday on a Sunday following a morning of hockey. I loved that I wasn't having to keep myself awake late at night to enjoy this classic, but I can't imagine many parents were totally pleased to see their children watching Bruce Willis mixing it up with a load of Mangalores in a shoot-out. Ah well to the future and thank you Channel 5 for being brave with your TV scheduling!


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