danieldwilliam: (Curly Wurly)
The weekend was moderately successful. The main business, the seventh birthday of the Captain and associated ceremonials passed off well.

My mum has arrived to help out with getting the holiday let house in good shape. She's a great gardener so she's giving the garden a good once over. She's also doing bit of DIY and generally being on hand to keep tradesmen focused. She also has a job to do exploring the village and surrounds and making friends with the locals.

My daughter came up from university for the weekend arriving on Friday.

I got home from a week of being successfully audited by internal audit fo find my family waiting for me and all well and in good spirits.

Family takeaway from the nice Thai takeaway with mum and dad, MLW, BB and the Captain. All very nice until my dad picked a fight with my mum about the need for more populism in the NHS and I called him a Faragist. (There being in my view a very important distinction between popular engagement and populist engagement.)

Saturday, no early morning football due to the Captain's foot injury. Mum and MLW made an early morning run to B&Q. Then the Rugby. A mass expedition of MLW, the Captain and I, the Captain's Good Friend and his dad, an old school friend of mine, her husband and their rugby mad son to Murrayfield to watch Scotland (still in contention for second) play Italy (still in contention for their first win of the tournament). Sadly for both teams neither was to be. In not great conditions for precision rugby Scotland ran in four tries for a 29-0 victory. This somewhat flattered us as the Italian kicker missed three straightforward kicks at goal and then gave up prompting a ten minute passage of Italy kicking for the corner and having their driving maul not work. So of Scotland's kicking out of hand was of questionable quality and value and the crowd got a bit bored, frustrated and restless. I'm not saying the crowd were unhappy but if not exactly disgruntled they were very far from gruntled. They cheered up after a well attended Mexican wave and the bonus point-winning fourth try. I'm told the game looked better on TV than from the North stand.

Fairwell Vern Cotter, but not I hope adieu to Scotland's more attacking, higher quality style of play.

The Captain had a small nap in the backseat of the car on the way home. He'd been very excited about his birthday, often waking during the night for a visit to our bed and was very, very tired. Happy but tired.

I introduced mum to rugby with the second half of the Wales - France match. Explaining the last 20 minutes put me on my metal but I think I managed to convey some of the game and she picked up on the potential moral hazard of the French doctor. As little as can be said about the England - Ireland game the better. Sadly, the chips did not fall where they needed to for Scotland to finish second, or even third and we ended the Six Nations with a muted 4th. I'd have taken that at the begining of the tournament. We must rue the missed opportunity for a fourth try against England.

Sunday arrived. Early. The Captain's party was at 10am in a massive softplay dome. It's the old Leith water park, now converted in to a muti-story climbing frame. It's definately the best in Edinburgh. He and his friends had a grand time. The event was well run by the venue staff and MLW. Everyone had a lovely time. My son has the sweatiest head in his class.

Home for presents, of which there were many. The quality of toys and co is definately higher than it was ten or twenty years ago. The main big present is a PlayStation 4 with Lego Dimensions. I have no idea what to do. Nor does the Captain. It took me hardly any time to set it up but a while for the controllers to charge up. A short play, then out for tea, then home for some more epic Lego adventuring.

All in all in a fine weekend.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I have been to the USA. Specifically to Columbus, Ohio on a week long business trip.

It was fine. The necessary business was taken care of as much as it could be. Columubus is a nice town. It's about twice as big as Edinburgh, flat and a little dull but perfectly pleasant. I would not hurry to go there on holiday but if I had to spend a week or two somewhere for work on expeneses there are worse places (Runcorn I am looking at you, but not a starting a fight way).

There are easy flights from Edinburgh to Columbus. The direct service from Edinburgh to Newark and the many connections from Newark make travellilng to the USA from Edinburgh pretty straightforward. I could have done without the 4 hour layover in Newark airport. Long enough to be thoroughly bored not quite long enough to go to New York for a coffee. I read a lot of science fiction.

Security and immigration was very straightforward despite the heightened attention on these matters. It took no longer than usual to pass muster.

There is ample decent beer in Columbus. Truly we live in a golden age of beer. I found that the local bar sold Newcastle Brown (I did not order any, I don't like the stuff). I prefered the Hawaiian lager (I'm very well thank you and thank you for asking.) The pick of the bunch was World of Beer in the university district which has about 40 beers on tap. I had three and watched the sunset from beside the firepit in the beer garden.

My hotel was near the Ohio State University campus. The OSU "Buckeye's" stadium is huge. 110,000 capacity. Took me half an hour to walk round. Quite handsome looking, modelled on the Flavian Amphitheatre and the Parthenon.

I also found a Spurs supporters bar. I was in there with a colleague. He's buying the beer. I'm looking round. Spot a Spurs scarf. Then another, then a third. There's a wall of them. Several flags. Collect drink from the barman.

"Why do you have so many Tottenham scarves?"

*sigh*

"We're a Spurs bar?"

"Really!?! That's nice."

"Not really, I'm a Gooner."

aside to my colleague "When you're a Gooner working behind the bar in a Spurs pub it's time to reconsider your life choices."

Anyway, nice beer.

Home on Friday morning. Spent the day napping and hanging out with The Captain and one of the Cousin Uncles. There was judo.

Then beers and dinner with visitors who had come to see N and her companions. Illegal Jacks had haggis quesades and beer. That is all you need to know.

Saturday involved a trip to Murrayfield to watch a surprisingly good Scotland win handsomely in the end over a less than convincing Wales. 29-13 if I recall correctly. The usual high seats in North 4. Grand views but b'gad make sure you've been to the loo and the bar (in that order) before you take your seat.

(I watched the England Italy game on Sunday. I'm not laughing honestly. Not even a little bit.)

I am not now predicting a win against England but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. In any event, it's nice to be three games in and still in the hunt for the Six Nations and the Triple Crown. Uncle Vern we shall miss you up in North 4.

Saturday night involved a trip to my local craft beer pub, Cloisters, where the Cousin Uncle secured a table. Yes, a table in Cloisters on a Six Nations match day. Yes, I was surprised too. He even got enough seats for everyone. Admittedly he juggled a pint of beer on top of the table and that didn't end well for the beer but sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. We then dined splendedly in a Greek restaurant next door. The backlava was particularly delicious.

The evening was rounded off with a dram of my new, duty free, Ron Zapaca solero rum. Lovely.

Sunday, lunch with dad and the aformentioned rugby in the afternoon.

In the morning the major business of the weekend, the Captain's first competative rugby match. He and I took the bus to Dalkeith to play a round robin mini tournament for Bororoughmuir against Dalkeith and Falkirk. He had a grand time and scored four tries including one rather fierce one diving over the line. He was playing at about 80% for the first few games and then got injured. Several kids fell over each other and one of them bashed his teeth of the Captain's leg. He was in tears but once the shock had worn off he was on fire. Four consecutive tags in one passage of play, left wing, right wing, left wing, right wing with no one else involved set the tone for the next half of the morning. He might turn out to be rather good at the game. A well received sausage roll and a lift to Grandad's for lunch rounded off the morning's sport.

I was delighted to spend the morning with him and very pleased to see him play so well.

All in all a good weeked after a decent trip away. I'm a little tired. I shall look forward to an early night tonight.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

The now traditional weekender post.

This weekend was the Captain's sixth birthday. That occupied most of the run time.

On Friday night I was pretty tired after work and going to the gym. I watched the last episode of How I Met Your Mother and had an early night.

Saturday, MLW was singing all day. The Captain and I went to football in the park then by bus to Rugbytots.

I'd usually take the bike but after the gym I find I can't carry the Captain that far on the bike. I worrly slightly that I'm losing exercise but I expect as my cardio-vascular fitness improves the bike on the Saturday will start to work again. However, there is a more fundamental problem. The Captain is now pretty much too large to go in the bike seat but can't quite manage the cycle to Rugby on his own. Fortunately the bus service to RugbyTots works well with the timetable. I'll miss the ride.

Rugby was good. The Captain suffered slightly from his reputation as a competitive bruiser. He tripped and landed heavily on a pal of his who was sliding in to score a try. The coach didn't see the trip and gave the Captain a reminder about being gentle. The Captain responded to it well I thought. He'd usually protest his innocence but he shrugged it off this time.

Home via the shops to get some lunch and an early birthday present.

Saturday afternoon - the Captain and I watched the rugby on TV / played with his iPad / built his new lego.

The Wales - Italy game was too much of a blow out to be enjoyable.

The Scotland - Ireland game was strange. Some questionable refereeing. I thought he'd attempted to make a point about fluency and quick ball so eagerly he'd unbalanced the game. Sexton's attempt to fake significant injury in order to have Dunbar sent off was frankly unforgivable. I now fully endorse any and all attempts to physically contain him by any team in all circumstances - including any New Zealand vs Lions games. It was not a classic Scotland performance. We usually lose by a) getting stuck in mid-field and losing to the sole try of the match, b) having a few interception tries or a blatant refereeing error go against us or c) forget how to do any two of the basics of rugby but this time we managed to lose through our own over aggression and ill-discipline. This is what it's like to be French.

England - France - by then I largely didn't care but I enjoyed watching the rugby with MLW and a curry. France are too unfit to win a game let alone the Six Nations.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with Scotland's performance. Some good periods of game management and far, far fewer errors. I'm not sure it's a Six Nations winning team but it is a better team then we've had for a decade.

The Captain had a friend arrive for a sleep over on Saturday night. They did not go to sleep until 10.15. Such is the way of these things.

Sunday was the big day. Up early for some lego fun. The party was at 10 in a trampolining venue south of Edinburgh. The party went well. The kids enjoyed it. The Hurricaine Simulator was a surprise hit. The parents of the children in his class are pleasant. All good and all done by lunch time.

Home with his friend to open presents then an early birthday tea at a Chinese buffet. I got to read the bedtime story - Chapter 18 of Danny the Champion of the World.

A bit of Sunday evening television - catching up with George and Arthur, a dramatisation of the involement of Arthur Conan Doyle in the George Edalji case which lead to the establishment of the Criminal Court of Appeal.

danieldwilliam: (nice)

A lovely weekend.

(Dot balls boys, string 'em together.)

On Friday I was tired. I'd have my first session with my new personal trainer and was feeling the burn. My legs felt they ought to belong to someone else. Someone less lucky and with higher pain thresholds than me. Also I've had a slight cold. I had an early night. It was nice.

On Saturday the Captain and I went to football. I had a good chat with some of the other parents. Dogs are not popular. Tindr is baflling. Being assaulted in the park after dark is a worry. The Captain and I then proceeded to a friend's dance birthday party. I had a good chat with the parents (friends from NCT). The Captain danced. There was cake.

MLW returned from her dress rehearsal. We had tea together and she went off to sing. I read the Captain some of Danny, the Champion of the World. We are both really enjoying that.

I watched How I Met Your Mother.

On Sunday we went all three to the rugby to see Scotland play France. We made up a party with a friend of MLW's, an old school friend of mine, her husband and her 9 year old son, (he was good value, two of my step-brothers. I was expecting to see F3F4 but I think he was elsewhere.

It was a very pleasant warm day. Rare to be at Murrayfield and not cold. Rarer still to see Scotland win, against France, and look like they meant it. I mean, they didn't win by a flukey interception try scored against the run of play. They got ahead, stayed ahead, managed the clock and the game and won with room to spare. The win puts Scotland third in the table with the chance to finish second in the unlikely event that Italy beat Wales. Stranger things have happened.

The atmosphere in the ground was great. There was even cheerful singing at the end when it became apparant that Scotland had the game won. We were sitting near the French band. They have been practising. The Captain sang away and blew the Horn of Rightousness with gusto.

There has been some suggestion that it is disapppointing that Scotland's win over France means that England wins the Six Nations. I'm having none of that. I'd rather Scotland finished as high up the table as we can. Sure, I'd rather Wales won the Six Nations and not England but I'd rather Scotland finished third or second instead of last and questions of the overall winner are secondary to that. We should not be, even in jest, even in sport, enablers of anti-England but in all things strive to be the best we can. If that means that England also do well, well so be it.

After the game - to the pub for few pints with the Spare Siblings. Well, to the basement cocktail bar in the West End. For a pint. Good chat. Nice to hang out with the boys. Home in time for dinner with MLW. Fell asleep watching Icelandic crime drama and got sent to bed.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I've had a rather lovely weekend. MLW was away for some it so the Captain and I had some time together.

On Friday MLW and I watched the Wales vs France rugby match. It wasn't a classic but, as Wales are my second favourite Northern Hemisphere team it was good to see them win.

I also managed to slip in a quick call with my mum who is freshly returned from volunteering at Care4Calais. At first I was a bit worried about her. Her voice sounded slurred but once she told me that I'd just woken her up from a nap I relaxed. She sounded tired. I think she's had a rewarding and productive time of it but, as expected, hard work.

MLW left on Saturday morning to visit her aged mother. The Captain and got a lift to Rugbytots with Grandad and Harvey the dog. Harvey loves the Captain. The Captain loves Harvey. Rugbytots went well. Just the one sin-binning for the Captain after he became involved in an over vigorous tagging. The usual tag rugby game was played 8 on 8 and across the width of the long axis of the sports hall. The coach had an emphasis on running straight and passing in to space which the Captain picked up on. Several times I saw him eye up the state of play and then shift himself across in to space. Space was theme of the weekend.

I fancied making a lamb tagine for dinner on Sunday for MLW and I. Grandad dropped us off by the butcher but we'd just missed him. However Co-op had everything we needed, expect dried apricots. The Captain was on good form, pulling along the basket and picking up some hotdogs for his own lunch. He and I had a good conversation about saffron. My claim that is was the most expensive foodstuff in the world was greeted with sceptisim and demand to know how much all the other things we had bought cost. Price per gram is a concept that will have to wait for another day I think.

Grandad took himself off to return Harvey to my brother and then pick up my step-mum to begin their journey to Australia to see my family out there.


We got home just in time for the Scotland vs Italy game. I'd pre-warned the Captain that I would be watching this on the big television and charged up his iPad. He watched the first twenty minutes. We talked about passing in to space. Then he tucked himself up with Beettleborg.

A good game. Some excellent individual efforts from Laidlaw, Seymour, WP Nel and Hogg. Good team effort and some good game management to ensure the win and to score the final try to make the win emphatic. We've been here before, with a Scotland team that promises much, doesn't quite deliver, had a good game and then continues to not deliver but this felt a bit more focused than usual and based on a whole team performance rather than just a few flashes of invidual good play.

The Captain continued to watch Beetleborgs whilst I watched the England vs Ireland game. My two least favourite teams. Unfortunately the hoped for low scoring draw didn't materialise and the wrong team won and the mathematical possibility of Scotland winning the Six Nations disappeared. Hey ho.

Sunday was a cracking day. The Captain had a lie in until 7.30 (compared to his usual 5.30) and then I got to got to go back to bed until 9.00. He was to have a play date with his best nursery friend in the morning but his friend was poorly so it was postponed until the afternoon. The Captain and I walked down to the shops to buy a toy and some apricots (which, according to the Captain, is mostly what Waitrose is all about, he's been there before and I should prepare myself for disapppointment, in case they didn't have any as mostly that's what people buy there.) We stopped to look at the crocuses and discuss bees and saffron. He spent his pocket money on some goodies. I got some dried apricots (and a lecture about how I shouldn't buy a large packet if I was planning on making my tummy smaller.)

It was a lovely day for a walk. Bright, cold, clear and dry. We walked down the hil and took the bus home.

I dropped the Captain off at his friend's and then returned to make tagine. It was very nice but I'd added one half a teaspoon of harissa paste too much and it was a little spicey. Delcious but perhaps a little hot.

MLW returned mid-afternoon. The Captain likewise. He and I made a large train track in the Train Track Room and then had a bath together.

I slipped in the now traditional few episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I'm now up to Season 5 Episode 10 - so more than halfway through.

Not an epic weekend but a very nice one.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Three things make a post and a welcome break from some dull balance sheet analytics.

The Rugby.

MLW, the Captain and I to Newcastle Saturday last to see Scotland play Samoa in the last game of the group stages of the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby is the family sport and we've been following the world cup pretty closely. I haven't seen all of the matches but I know who's played who and what the result was. Those of you kind enough to pay any attention to me on Facebook will have experienced my bafflement at the orang utan and my dismay at the quality and the partiality of the ITV commentary team.

But that is by the by - most of family go to Newcastle's St James' Park to watch the game. Scotland, the favourites, need to win to ensure they qualify for the quarter-finals. Samoa need to win to have any chance of third place and automatic qualification for the next world cup in Japan in 2019.

We travelled by train. A train so filled with Scotland supporters that it felt like the bar at Teucthars. So many Scotland tops, past and preseent it felt like a montage of Murrayfield Past, Present and Yet to Come. Not a seat unbooked on the train. We left at 11.00, arrived at 12.25, in time for a short walk to China Town for an all you can eat buffet at Lau's (a well made recommendation of f3f4 of this parish - both digitally and IRL).

This is not the first rugby match in Newcastle I've been to. I am a Falcons' fan of many decades standing. (FAAALC-ons. Who's Gus?) but it was my first trip inside St James - which is a magnificent stadium. The main stand is tall, highly raked and has a fabulous clear roof, making it both snug and a cauldron of atmosphere. With a capacity of about 50,000 and I'd estimate 30,000 travelling support it felt more like home match than many games at Murrayfield i've been too.

The game was tense. Samoa were clearly trying to pack a whole World Cups worth of skills and tries in to the first half. They scored. We scored. They scored again. So did we. Not since the cavalry revolution of the 5th Century AD has offence proven so dominant over defence. MLW, who had a several pints of beer, was swearing at the Scotland defence, the Samoan backs, the match officials, people in the crowd, me like a Valkyrie who had stubbed her toe, once again, on the corner of the door. In one of the highest scoring matches of the World Cup Scotland and Samoa traded scores with Scotland just doing enough to keep in touch during the first half.

During the second half Scotland had gathered their wits and sussed out a way of playing the Samoan team who had arrived rather than the earlier Samoan team who had lost to South Africa and Japan. This didn't stop them kicking to the corner a few times. This is a practise of which I disapprove, ranking it with incest and English country dancing. The score crept upwards with Scotland gradually gaining a slight advantage, Towards the end of the game I thought they'd won it when Laidlaw scored a try to take Scotland 10 points ahead with five minutes to go. Then I thougt they'd lost it when Samoa immediately hit back with a try of their own. A draw would be uncomfortable.

Scotland hold on for the win.

We then headed to the fanzone to hang out, get some food, watch a bit of the Australia vs Wales game and ride on the dodgems. We stayed a little too long and had to run for our train home catching it with only a minute to spare.

Home by 7.30 we watched the rest of Strictly and then to bed after an emotionally tense day at the World Cup.

The New Flat of My Father

*singing* Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

My dad has bought a flat. It is on the same park as my flat and about an eight minute walk door to door. Ground floor, main door He becomes the owner on Friday but as a courtesy the vendor has let him have the keys early. So on Sunday MLW, the Captain and I went round to help him do some thinking and planning. The flat is very recently refurbished so needs almost nothing doing to it but the furniture needs planning out.

Gloriously, the flat has a small private courtyard on the south side of the buillding. I've been recruited to do some garden design. I'm thinking fruit trees and birds and comfy sofas. I shall look forward to sitting out there on sunny afternoons in the years to come.

It's nice to have the old boy in the same suburb. I think, with three of his grandchildren in Australia, and one not living with her dad he might as well be as close as possible to one of them. The Captain will be able to walk down to see his grandad on his own within a year or so.

I help him move in a load of furniture this weekend and he'll move in properly over the coming weeks before giving up the rental flat soon.

Iron Sky.

I watched Iron Sky - the movie about Nazis on the Moon. It had it's moments but perhaps the kindest thing that could be said about it is that it is better fantasy movie about cartoon Nazis than Inglorious Bastards by Quentin Tarantino.

I'm glad to have seen it but mostly so I can now divide my life in to a period in which I may be tempted to watch Iron Sky (now, blessedly the past,) and a period in which I will not be tempted to watch Iron Sky (the future).
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Here follows a brief report on my weekend.

Thursday – parents’ evening at the Captain’s nursery. He is performing will with some areas for development.  We took home the nursery mascot, Mickey Monkey, for the weekend. So we laid on lots of entertainments for him. Mainly so we could complete the Mickey Monkey diary and keep up with all the other parents.

Friday – went for “a beer” with an old uni mate of mine. “A beer” turned into “many beers” and then became “too many beers and a whisky”. I actually lost count by about one or two.  This is rare for me. Usually, I’m the person in the group reaching for another round when everyone else has given up.

Some nice beer in Cloisters. Billabong Aussie Pale Ale made in Wales. Why not?  Went for Thai in Bruntsfield. More beer in Bennets in Tollcross.  Home.

Saturday morning, perhaps a little off the pace. See above.

Took the Captain to Rugbytots.  He was joining in lots until one of the smaller boys made friends with MLW. At which point the Captain decided he needed to be coached by MLW.

Saturday afternoon we went to the Big Rugby with my dad, my youngest brother, my dad’s best mate.  Arrived very early to a) get a parking space b) avoid the scrum when getting in.  Really enjoyed the match. Very close. We actually played well. Frankly, we were robbed.

The Captain got a bit bored near the end of the second half and wanted to go home. He cheered up when, at half time, I bought him a packet of sweets and a lace from the vintage sweet shop in the ground.  Very happy then.

Saturday night involved a curry out with dad, dad’s mate and my brother. Very nice curry restaurant in Newington called Patakas.  Very nice food, bit upmarket. Mackintosh vibe to the décor. Definitely the nicest and best posh curry restaurant within walking distance of my house.

On Sunday, my dad’s mate took us to Jamie’s Italian.  MLW and the Captain had a birthday party for one of the Captain’s friends. They went to Pizza Express instead. So in the end it was just me joining dad, my dad’s girlfriend, dad’s mate and his niece (who works there).  Lovely food, superb service, delicious digestif Tuaca – mmh the scent of vanilla and lemons.

Basically we spent the weekend eating delicious food and watching rugby.

When I picked the Captain up from nursery on Tuesday I found out he’d been running his own RugbyTots session during their PE lesson that afternoon. Showing people who to kick the ball from a tee. Wish he’d been teaching the current Scotland team.
danieldwilliam: (Default)
I am faced with a moral dilemma.  Next weekend the Six Nations comes to an end for this season. Scotland are unexpectedly in third place, behind Wales and an unbeaten England.  Wales and England play each other. The winner wins the Six Nations (1).

Scotland are away to France who look very, very beatable.

My dilemma is this. From the current situation there are two things I would like. I’d like Scotland to finish as far up the table as they can, which is second. I’d like no one to win a Grand Slam, especially the current England team who I think are mediocre. It’s been an exciting tournament but it hasn’t seen any great skills or much greatness in team spirit. I’d rather keep Grand Slams for something special. If England win a Grand Slam this season it just sends the message that you can turn up, be a bit less rubbish than everyone else and

However, the two are mutually exclusive. For Scotland to finish second, England must beat Wales.

I can’t decide if narrow sporting patriotism takes precedence over the wider state of the game and just deserts for excellence or mediocrity.

(1) It’s slightly more complicated than, England have the better points difference so a narrow win by Wales still sees England win.

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