After years of planning and 4 years of waiting since the last final, the Rugby World Cup is almost upon us. Twenty teams will battle it out to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy at Twickenham on the 31st October. With realistically 7 in with a chance of winning. (New Zealand, England, Australia, Ireland, Wales, France & South Africa)
Due to the vagaries of the rankings system and the fact that the groups were drawn 2+ years ago England, Wales & Australia have been drawn together (along with Fiji who are also ranked in the top 10 in the world- with only Uruguay deemed to be an easier match) in Pool A – only 2 will go though to the quarter finals so one of my “7” will not get out of the group.
I will of course be fully behind Ireland’s bid to actually perform in a World Cup – they have never made it past the quarter finals. A relatively easy start against Canada then Romania & Italy will hopefully leave the final game against France to decide the group winners. Winning this group should mean avoiding New Zealand until the Final.
Ireland have never beaten New Zealand so the final would be the time to do it.
Of course that means getting past France – who are not in great form have had lots of disruption in the build up to the tournament – and played poorly in the last couple of seasons – so probably will perform magnificently and make it all the way to the final.
I have been fortunate enough to get some match tickets via my rugby club (Chipstead RFC) and will be going along to Ireland V Romania, Ireland V Italy and New Zealand V Namibia. As ever I fully expect the British public to embrace these major sporting events as they have in the past (Olympics Tour de France etc etc)
With my rugby coaches hat on I also fully expect that there will be an increase in the numbers of kids who want to take up rugby – especially if England do well. Rugby clubs across the country have been gearing themselves up to meet the increased demands that are expected. More Coaches More pitch space and most importantly more of those lovely volunteers who make the Teas Coffees and Bacon rolls.
So I will be very happy for England to Win their group Win the Quarter final and then go out to a wonderful Irish display in the semi final who go on to finally beat New Zealand in the final – ( at which point I will probably wake up and realise that I have been dreaming again)
Of all the various competitive reality shows that are on our TV screens the only one that I have any time for is The Great British Bake Off.
Although most of the application process is kept confidential it does seem that the final 12 at least have some level of skill when it comes to baking – unlike a lot of the other “talent” shows when I suspect that some of the hopefuls put into the auditions, are done so purely for the entertainment value of their failures.
So I watched with anticipation on Wednesday night and wasn’t disappointed – Mel and Sue bring the right amount of comedic value and empathy (In equal amounts) to the programme and it is wonderful television to see the terror on the bakers faces as they wait for Paul & Mary to cast judgement over their creations
Inevitably watching the programme makes me want to pull out the Kitchen Aid eggs & flour and start baking – although to be honest the only thing the family feel that I am capable of making to a sufficient standard is Meringues and Muffins
So that’s Wednesday evenings sorted out for the next couple of months after the first episode I have yet to decide who I want to win and who probably will win (never the same person) – but it will be fun finding out -and I may even attempt some of the bakes- especially the savoury ones.
Its 6 Nations time again – in my opinion the best annual Rugby tournament in the world.
England Ireland Scotland Wales France & Italy battling it our to be crowned Northern Hemisphere champions – desperate to avoid the Wooden Spoon and in this years tournament especially setting down a marker prior to the Autumn World Cup.
The 6 Nations (or 5 Nations or even 4 nations) started in 1883 with Ireland England Scotland & Wales (England won the first tournament) France joined up officially in 1910 with Italy the 6th part of the jigsaw joining in 2000.
Sell out crowds – great anthems – never being sure just who will win – makes this one of the best sporting spectacles of the year. (Especially when the boys in green win)
This years feast of Rugby started last Friday night in Cardiff – Wales V England the Millennium Stadium full to capacity – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau belted out by 70000 Welsh Choristers
Great start by Wales – great fightback by England to take the victory – although the main talking point after the game was not so much the Rugby but rather what happened to Wales winger George North
George took a heavy hit to the head twice in the game – appeared to be knocked out but still carried on and played the entire game – He had a concussion assessment after the first knock but the Wales coaches and medical staff didn’t appear to see the second incident despite it being very obvious to all watching at home.
Concussion is very much the buzzword in contact sport at the minute and management protocols have been implemented in these sports.
The protocols do not seem to have been followed on Friday night – George North should not have been allowed to play on – luckily he does not appear to have suffered any further damage – but it can take several weeks for the symptoms of concussion to manifest.
As someone who coaches junior rugby (14 year olds at the minute) If any of my boys get a knock on the head they immediately get taken off the pitch and I will not let them play again that day – and if there are any signs of concussion then its a minimum of 23 days before they can return to play. Did the fact that George North is one of the best wingers in the world influence matters – or was it just missed on the night.
(Photo By Jacqui Lott)
I have had several kids over the last few months present during an eye examination with focusing issues double vision and headaches and often it can be traced back to a knock to the head during a game of rugby.
What anyone involved in any contact sport must remember is that the most important thing is the safety of the players – that has to take priority no matter what effect it may have on the result of the game.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I am skiing mad –
I will do a daily check on the snow-forecast.com as well as checking the webcams on whatever resort I plan to visit
(I am well aware that weather conditions can change very quickly in the mountains but I still like to start checking the webcams in December – even if I am not skiing until Easter)
I pour over the piste maps especially if it is a new resort
I read the reviews on the web and generally become totally obsessed for a period of months.
This year it will be a trip to Praz-de-lys in Haute -Savoie in France a fantastic little know resort with a nice variety of both on and off piste skiing and less than 30 mins drive to both the Porte Du Soleil and Le Grand Massif
My Ski obsession took hold before Christmas when passing the local bookshop and I saw a copy of Powder – The Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet by Patrick Thorne in the window.
It looked interesting so I bought it to put in the practice waiting area – It has been the most popular book we have ever had – I suspect that most people pick it up for the same reason I did – just how many of those greatest ski runs have I done
It is a really well written book with wonderful photography and illustrations and captures the excitement of skiing in some of the most beautiful locations on earth.
My obsession may even lead me to blog again about skiing before the season is over.
(and for any of you interested – I have done 7 of the 50 runs)
No its not about that book or the film adaptation
It is almost a year since we re branded eyelines with shop refit – new logos – new website and new colours , and we feel that it has been a very successful change.
What has been very evident over the last year – and prior to that – is just how many businesses and shops are now using grey in their colour schemes or as a colour for a shop-front. Maybe John Major was correct about Grey
eyelines have two different shades of grey in our logo and a third as our main shopfront colour.
Walking around Sevenoaks yesterday I could see that a lot of other companies have had a similar idea – maybe not 50 shades but certainly a lot of them: samples below
(Thanks to Hanna @ Ditto my colour guru for lending me the Pantone Cards)
And as for grEy or grAy it depends on what side of the Atlantic you hail from and that is irrelevant for the book as the Grey in the book is of course a Surname.
I love the Saturday market in Sevenoaks – set up just across the street from the practice it provides the perfect opportunity to indulge in some delicious treats for lunch as well as giving a different look and feel to the town on a Saturday.
Billy Westley aided by Sons Richard and James have been providing the people of Sevenoaks with their fruit and veg for years and years – Billy will always have a great selection of produce as well as some great banter and if you time it just right he will cut you a slice of ripe Mango or Watermelon or whatever may be in season.
John runs the Cheese and olive stand that has grown in size and scope over the last few years originally just a few variety’s of olives you can now get a full selection of cheeses meats dried fruits and nuts.
Johns Cheese & Olive Facebook page
Mick is the bread and pastry guy. Lots of options of Artisan breads as well as Sausage rolls pasties Samosas and delicious sweet pies and cakes.
Mccarthys Country Store
There is also a Fresh flowers and plants stall which all brings a wonderful burst of colour to the high street even on the dullest of days.
My personal favourite for lunch is Roast Onion Bread (from Mick) filled with Jalapeño Cheese (From John) Tomatoes (From Billy) grilled in the panini maker with pimento stuffed olives and cheese filled peppers on the side – the only problem is we are often too busy on a Saturday to enjoy it properly
As a keen gardener early summer is probably my favourite time of the year
Normally I have had enough time after the rugby season has finished to have done a lot of the dirty jobs in the garden – clearing the paths – weeding the beds – edging the lawns- planting the vegetables leaving some time for simple maintenance and enjoyment.
I love being in my own garden but I really enjoy getting out to other gardens and there are lots in the Sevenoaks area that are worth a visit:
Knole Park – Riverhill Himalayan Gardens– Hever Castle – Penshurst Place
But my favourite 3 gardens to visit are:
Emmetts Garden in Ide Hill
Titsey Place in Oxted
and my number one is the RHS Gardens at Wisley
I can spend hours and hours wandering around Wisley marveling at the displays, the flowerbeds, the show gardens getting inspiration. I always come away from these gardens – normally lighter in the pocket having made purchases in the plant centre- full of great ideas that I will start to implement as soon as I get home.
Usually when I do get home I realise that the scale of my inspiration is far beyond my capabilities – the size of my garden and most importantly the fact that I do not have a full time team of gardeners and under-gardeners who will carry out the plans.
It is wonderful to visit these gardens to marvel at the work that has gone into them and to get inspiration that on a much smaller scale can be put into your own garden .
There is something very special about nurturing a plant from a cutting or from seed and seeing it grow and thrive and producing a wonderful display of flowers or fresh produce that you can pick and eat straight away (My Peas and Carrots never seem to get near a saucepan they are always eaten fresh from the pods or the soil). Sustenance for all the senses If I could just find a way to keep the bindweed at bay it would be perfect .