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Showing posts from August, 2013

Teenage kicks

My betting activity on the horses this season has been so frugal as to be insignificant. Consequently the returns have been meagre too. But getting out-punted by my two teenage daughters and their friend at Newmarket recently was still hard to swallow. I seemed to drift away from the gee-gees about the time that Royal Ascot wrapped up this Summer. I’ve traditionally been an advocate for and disciple of the winter jumps. In years past I had often struggled to maintain a consistent interest in the mediocre fare outside the big flat festivals. More recently, I’ve shaken off such cherry-picking and become much more indiscriminate. Indeed my flat stats bear favourable comparison with their national hunt brothers. …Though there’s no call to hang out the bunting. That I’ve been distracted by other ‘stuff’ is no real defence. It wouldn’t happen in the jumps season. Never too late, last week’s Ebor meeting jolted me into action. Telescope’s win so full of promise in the Great

Ashes retained

The first day of an Ashes Test Match always provides a certain sharp thrill. Even in a dead series. We all know there is really no such thing. There is always so much to play for. Bruv and I picked our way over cool bags and round splayed feet to our seats at The Oval full of keen anticipation. And sausage sandwich.  A welcome cafĂ© on Kennington Lane, just off the main drag to the ground (and so quieter than expected), had provided a splendid breakfast and coffee to fuel our build up banter in a sun-filled courtyard. Filling up nicely Now we awaited the toss. My ideal scenario was England to bat and zip along at a fraction under 4-an-over with a classy century from Root and later in the day a buccaneering 50 from Jonny Bairstow. This was optimistic in the extreme. For a start, Australia won the toss and chose to bat. And for a finish, Bairstow was dropped in favour of debutant Lancastrian spinner, Simon Kerrigan. Chris Woakes from Warwickshire also came in as a ba

Travelogue: Zuheros to Berkhamsted

A change of pace. Not that life had been so speed-spiked as to induce nosebleeds in La Vinuela. Quite the contrary. But the stay at the Los Castillarejos rural apartments immediately induced a sense of inertia and indolence. That had always been the intention for the last three days of our Iberian sojourn. Our host, Poalino offered us the most effusive welcome of our trip and couldn’t do enough to ensure our stay would be exactly what we wanted. He provided taxi numbers, restaurant recommendations and a demonstration of every implement and gadget in the apartment. All with barely a word of English. With its back to the Subbetican mountains and at an altitude of 1200 feet, the accommodation gave a near 280-degree vista over buff hills cloaked in a green-grey camouflage of olive groves, with the silhouette of more rugged upland on the horizon.   The panorama setting on my camera took a serious pummelling. Sometimes it’s the simple things that strike the

Travelogue: La Vinuela

On checking out of the Hotel Ayre (pronounced aye-ree, I discovered from a chuckling taxi driver, speeding us northwards at impossible speeds through skinny alleyways) I became convinced that the hotel manageress had the hots for me. Understandable of course. Overly smiley eyes catching mine unnecessarily and keen attention to my needs. Classic signs. I’d noticed these traits on checking in and had been trying to convince Mrs A about her designs throughout our stay. We planned to leave Cordoba by mid-afternoon after a second rendezvous with Daughter No 1’s Spanish exchange counterpart, Ana and her Mum. This involved spreading out under cedar trees, revising our Spanglish of the previous evening and eating ice cream. The Hotel Manageress came out to the pool bar regularly and I was disgusted to see that she had a furtive smile, wave and wink for nearly every cluster of sun-lounging guests. Tart. Driving to Vinuela took just under two hours through much more undulating

Travelogue: Berkhamsted to Cordoba

I can't remember seeing daughter no 2 so excited for a long time. At least since Christmas. She insisted on daughter no 1 sleeping in her room so that they could talk all night. We're off on holiday. That's all. But great to see such enthusiasm all the same. Her list of holiday items to pack has been ready for some time. Flip flops and nail varnish featured heavily. She piled up those and the rest of her holiday clobber in double quick time before offering her packing services to daughter no 1. The latter has done well on the travelling front this year and has only recently returned from a music tour to the Netherlands and Germany. Daughter no 2 helpfully attempted to repeat the list-trick to speedy things along. Instead, her sister just lay face down on the floor moaning that "Gawd I hate packing". The taxi pulled up outside John The Greek's house, two doors down under a sky leaking warm, fat, heavy drops of rain. I was already soaked by the t