Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The best laid plans of mice and men

Hi friends,

Welcome back. It's been an interesting week this week and I hope you enjoy hearing about goings on from my perspective. This week I have tried to put across my opinion on some fairly hard-hitting stuff, but also tried to keep it fun as always. It's pretty much a one off, but let me know what you think.

Status Update
Best laid plans
This week has been all about making plans that one day might come into fruition. Well maybe not making a plan, but trying to create an environment where when an opportunity for change presents itself I am ready to react so as not to let life pass me by. There are a couple of things I hope to be able to do over the next few weeks/months that will help me on various levels: financially, socially and at work. Doing this has involved a couple of extremely late night telephone calls. Quite why the calls had to take place at that hour eludes me though. I have also been knee deep in researching the housing market and looking critically at my own abilities.
Unfortunately at this time I need to remain very mysterious about what I have been up to, but all being well you will know about it in the coming weeks/months. I mean you can probably guess one of the changes  I am looking to make, but the other will likely come right out of the blue to most. I am mindful to not put all my eggs in one basket at this stage though because as they say the best laid plans oft go awry. All I can say is it is going to have to take a certain element of luck and timing to be able to achieve what I would like to happen.

Man flu
I don't quite know what has happened, but I have been flanked by a serious bout of man flu. On Friday morning I felt a bit groggy and I just put it down to sleep deprivation or even a mild dose of hayfever, but as the weekend approached I began to feel worse. I am like a walking medicine advert with a tickly cough, headaches and stuffy nose. Bank Holidays are meant to be spent enjoying yourself and making the most of an additional day off with friends and loved ones. Instead, I have spent it lying in bed switching between hours of restless sleep and eating my body weight in porridge (I count 3 mega bowls today alone). Knowing my luck I will wake up for work feeling fine and dandy, but this weekend has been a bit of write off unfortunately. Never mind!

Haggy's hols
The countdown to my summer holiday extravaganza is on. It is now less than 5 weeks until we climb aboard our Virgin Atlantic flight and set a course for L.A. It seems like like this week I have done a lot of finalising of activities for our stay. This week I have booked our Napa Valley bike tour and explored helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon. It is all falling nicely into place and I am almost all spent up. Now it is the small matter of raiding my savings to find some gambling money!
Amongst some of my friends I am getting a bit of a reputation for being able to find a deal. I don't quite know why really though. I like to make sure I am getting value for money and so am registered to a couple of deal sites and not the ones like Groupon who do a good job of harassing you with rubbish deals. Instead I like those that actually give you stuff you want. TravelzooMoney Saving Expert and Secret Escapes are just a few of my top choices if you were interested. This week I came across a deal that could not be passed up on Travelzoo's U.S. version. Las Vegas is known for its buffet meals and I could not resist buying passes to the Cravings Buffet at The Mirage hotel for $39. I have since researched it more and I am very pleased with the purchase as the buffet is renowned for its sushi, dim sum and crabs legs. I plan on only eating one meal that day and eating until I am fit to burst and washing it all down with the promise of unlimited wine and beer. Excited does not sum it up!

Food Glorious Food
With asparagus coming into season it has unofficially become asparagus week in my house. That means I am going to be dealing with green odd smelling wee all week yes, but it will only have been because I have chowed down on some seriously tasty Springtime meals. In particular I am looking forward to a Smoked Trout and Asparagus Nicoise. Nice and easy to make, but using my favourite type of fish I can only imagine this is going to rock my socks. I mean come on trout, eggs, potatoes and asparagus what could be better?! Find the recipe and such over on the BBC Good Food page here
I know I have told you about Epic Meal Time before, but I saw this week's episode and thought it was quite relevant to my blog. Last week I brought you my thoughts of next-gen consoles, this week I bring you a next-gen console made of cake. You know it makes sense!

Haggy's Hockey Corner
Ice, Ice, Baby
This week saw something very special happen in the hockey world of Adam Hagg - I got back on the ice! After a hiatus of over 3 years I have been persuaded to join up with some of my Ball Hockey crew and put our skills to the test on the ice. I had initially asked about when I first came to Newcastle, but was totally put off by training times and more so by Whitley Bay ice rink and its declining standards. Three years down the line something has been awoken inside me and I was yearning to get back on the cold stuff. Our goalie and a couple of other guys have been playing with the Nomads for a little while and have suggested it would be a good idea if we came down to make numbers up and have some fun. It didn't take much persuasion, just finding the funds and dusting off my kit, and as they say the rest is history.
Like I say it has been years since I have been on the ice so I was a little bit apprehensive if I would be able to skate let alone combine skating and stick handling. Not to mention that I have lost my jock strap so my sensitive areas felt incredibly exposed. The good news was it all came flooding back (and I didn't get hit in the nuts); I was soon gliding about the rink taking away passing lanes in defence, giving killer breakouts passes and generally enjoying myself. Apparently ice skating is more like riding a bike than they may out! Either that or skating since the age of 10 (or something like that) had drilled it into my subconscious. Anywho, I am really looking forward to getting back in to the swing of things and finding my form again. Hopefully in due course I can get registered with the Nomads and play some recreational games for them.

Whitley Bay continues to disappoint as an ice rink. How it is actually called an ice rink I will never know because the surface is more like a dusting of frost on a cold Winter's morning. Yeah, they have made improvements to the benches and you no longer have to leap the boards to get of the ice because doors have been installed, but the ice really lets the place down. Not only is the surface uneven, but along the left wing boards the ice just stops and you can see a pile of sawdust and concrete. All I have to say is I will be avoiding that wing to reduce and chance of potential injury! If there is anyone in the North East that has come into a wedge of money please invest in Whitley Bay or build a new ice rink, pretty please!
I hope that playing more ice will have a positive impact on my abilities in the Ball Hockey world too. Ball Hockey is too often a bit scrappy and I find that when the game settles into a real rhythm it is difficult to start a breakout or play a style of play that allows us to transition from defence to attack quickly. Ice hockey is all about being able to this with skill and confidence; there may be some who disagree with this though because they play different systems like the neutral zone trap bore-a-thon. Ice hockey training will make this kind of play second nature again and mean that I know when to force the pace and when not to. By the sounds of it my entire line from Ball Hockey are planning to play ice hockey in the coming season too so it will be more time together to work on plays and develop a psychic link with each other.I hope that by training on a larger rink will also boost my fitness and awareness for the kinds of rinks we play on in national tournaments.
My only potential concern about playing ice hockey is that I will once again fall in love with the pace and intensity of the sport and will fall into the trap my brother and other non-Ball Hockey players often throw my way and start to draw real comparisons between Ball Hockey and Ice Hockey. Doing so may have a serious impact on my enjoyment of Ball Hockey because it is a bit slower and as I say a bit more frenetic at times. I am very conscious that whilst both sports have similarities they are in actuality very different and I will try to remain mindful of this as I continue to play both. To any team mates reading this feel free to give me a kick if I start looking like I am not enjoying it. But, as Natasha Bedingfield once said, be gentle because I bruise easily!!!

Run Haggy Run
Back on the streets
With the Great North Run a few months away I don't quite need to start into full training mode just yet and so have been trying to remind myself about controlling my pace and breathing during runs this week. On Saturday morning I met up with 3 friends to enjoy a light jog through Jesmond Dene and Armstrong Park. The weather was great and it was nice to be out the house and getting the legs going. It was nowhere near full pace, but a great loosener that reminded me I am capable of running mid-range distances. We ended up doing about 5 miles with a nice hill sprint in the middle. It felt like I was in a genuine running club and it was great. I hope that the guys continue to want to do it because it would be great to make it a regular training session and hopefully we will all benefit from it by pushing each other that little bit more as the weeks go on.
This week I plan on upping my mileage a bit and getting out there or in the gym 3 or 4 times. I am not going to let this man flu ruin things for me! Hardcore!

Fundraising Page
In other news I have set up my fundraising page. I will be tweaking it over the weeks to come to make it jazzier and so on, but if you want to have a look at the page in its infancy head on over to www.justgiving.com/runhaggyrun for a sneaky peek. It even has a couple of pictures of me dressed as a lion and tiger for some previous runs.

Shout out to my brother
This week my brother ran the Manchester 10k race. I know a lot of other people did it too and well done to all those that completed it, but I just want to say a specific well done Patch! Coming back from a broken leg a couple of years ago was never going to be easy, but he has done it and continues to not look back. He trains hard and makes me feel guilty for my lack of commitment to training almost each and every day. He just ran a PB for 45.04 and raised money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis along the way. So congratulations to you brother you have done us all proud, especially Leah.
Keep on running Patch!

Have You Heard What Haggy's Heard
Band of Brothers
A bank holiday weekend of man flu has not ruined my life. In fact it has done me a favour and all those hours indoors allowed me to rediscover some of the hidden gems of my DVD collection. In particular Band of Brothers.

The Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced 11 hour drama retells the lives and in some cases deaths of the U.S. 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment and more specifically "Easy" company. Following the trials and tribulations of a group of soldiers it tells the tale of some of the company's greatest victories and focuses on the friendships forged during the times in the trenches. Rammed full of stars and incredible actors and priding itself on its historical accuracy it is not surprising that you get lost in the drama. From the start of episode one to the end of episode ten it is a gripping, emotionally enthralling and action packed programme. More than anything you never get the sense that the writers, directors or producers are trying to create an American propaganda film, instead it is a real depiction that honours all those that fought in World War II.
If you haven't seen it you should because quite literally you are missing out. It is cheap in pretty much any DVD shop or online retailer and an essential to any collection.

Fellow bloggers
After last week's post I got some very kind words of a Uni friend Kerry. It made me feel great to know that people actually read what I write and even enjoy it! Thanks Kerry! Anyway it got me thinking, what if I could create that same feeling for other bloggers that I know. So, I want to introduce you to some of the active bloggers I know and tell you a bit about what they do so you go and check them out and give them some encouraging feedback.

  • Josh aka The Warrior is a man who loves his music. He writes a blog about his musical escapades and uses big words too! In all seriousness it is a good read and may just open your eyes to a whole new world of music. Check his blog out at http://eurghiamthewarrior.wordpress.com/
  • Leigh is a fellow foodie. Cooking up a storm on a regular basis Leigh is an amazing cook whose blog is full of tips, techniques and most of all pictures! Being Canadian she is also prone to making amazing treats like S'Mores or even Oreo stuffed cookies (I am being serious)! Check her blog out at http://onthebrightsideoftheroad.blogspot.co.uk/
  • James aka Leafy is my fellow North East Dekstar player and due to represent Team GB in the Ball Hockey World Championships next week. He has been blogging in the run up to the worlds and has promised to continue to blog throughout. Read all about it and encourage him as he goes at http://thegeordiegeek.wordpress.com/
  •  Paul Lynch takes very cool pictures and is far more dedicated to blogging than most people I know because he blogs every single day. Each day is accompanied by a new picture and well worth a look for some great pictures of the North East. Check him out at http://lynchography.blogspot.co.uk/

Political Rant
This week Drummer Lee Rigby was tragically murdered in Woolwich. First and foremost my thoughts are with his friends and family at this time. It cannot be easy for them to have dealt with the news and even more so with it being reported in the news everyday since.

I don't quite understand how a cruel, murderous act suddenly became a reason to scapegoat a peaceful religious community and encourage the kind of short-sighted thinking that has given rise to the BNP and EDL. I have several Muslim friends (wow that sounds very patronising of me) and to see them feel the need to defend their religion on social media just strikes me as wrong. Why have people been so quick to judge an entire community because of the actions of a few?

I think the media have a lot to answer for too. Yes they report the news, but they choose which stories get the headlines and the nature of this story justifies it, but you don't hear other religions being ostracised in the media when a believer commits a heinous act do you. I seem to recall the Anders Brevik fall out was more about mental stability than his far right associations let alone an entire movement. The media sensationalise everything and yes they do this to sell papers, but they have a certain amount of responsibility because they shape so much of people's political beliefs. I think at times this is often seems to be forgotten.

Here in the UK people are happy to emigrate to warmer climes in their later years or go in search of work in foreign countries, but are increasingly intolerant of people coming to the UK to look for work and contribute to society. It seems like it is a case of do as I say not as I do at times. Immigration is often seen by many as the root cause of many social problems we face in modern society. To me, it is not. Yes, we need to be mindful of levels of immigration and closely manage it so as not to create problems of overcrowding or unemployment and this in itself is a political and statistical tightrope at times, but it does not mean that we should just shut the gates to the world. Too often people are quick to judge everyone by the acts of one individual and make knee-jerk actions that can have a lasting impact on the communities we live in. I actually think the reaction here would be to find and imprison the offenders, but also increase education and awareness in our communities so that people would know that these extremists act independently of the wider Muslim community. I strongly believe that we should be encourage tolerance and community cohesion at this time rather than fuelling divisive rhetoric. This may be naive of me, but I don't think I am alone in this thought if only our voices were the ones being heard rather than those of the BNP and the EDL and to a lesser extent UKIP and conversely those of extremist religious groups. Instead let's start a clear and visible dialogue between those capable of tolerance, caring for others and understanding. The less we hear of and ill-informed and downright idiotic videos like the one below the better.

I know I have just acted hypocritically in writing this, but I am worried about the way society is headed and it seems that division is the word of the moment rather than cohesion. If you decide that you disagree with my point of view that is up to you, but at no stage does it ever become tolerable to use violence, aggression or words of hate to make a point.

Rant over.

Fake Psy at Cannes
On a lighter note I was told about a funny story this week. Now I am sure you all know the YouTube sensation by the name of Psy and his modern day crowd pleasers Gangnam Style and Gentleman. If you don't crawl out from under your rock because this guy has become a global superstar overnight!

It is his global celebrity that amazes me about this story because whilst Psy was in Shanghai performing his infamous tracks an impersonator by the name of Denis Carre was living the highlife purely because he bore some resemblance to the 'musician'. Appearing on the red carpet, crashing parties and talking to the media fake Psy really had everyone going. That was until the real Psy picked up on it and made a joke of it on Twitter. Fair play to Denis Carre because it is an audacious stunt that worked, but more fool anyone who believed it because the resemblance is not all that; he just wears the same clothes! Read the full story here
If this guy can get away with it I may start trying to crash parties dressed as Matt Dawson!

And finally...it's music time. This week is a nod to towards the musicians of yesteryear as Bruno Mars serves up a track filled with old school style and a catchy hook. It got me through a long journey to Aberdeen over Christmas and is a guaranteed sing-along track from now on. Enjoy Bruno Mars - Treasure.

See you next week friends, love.

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