Friday, 29 December 2006

One hump or two?

Today I tried camel's milk. It had an unusual, somewhat chalky taste but is apparently full of exciting vitamins and minerals (exciting if you are a camel, I suppose). Anyway, here is the new poster boy for the global ad campaign:

No, I'm not making it up:
(See, it's not all G'n'Ts in the pool, there's some serious research going on out here :)

Thursday, 28 December 2006

4-0 :(

Australia win the Fourth Test inside 3 days allegedly by stealing our bowling plans. Not that it would have mattered, given the abject batting performance. Biggest Barmy Army cheers of the day were apparently for tailender Monty Panesar cracking both Lee and Warne through midwicket for four and also the announcement that he had won the 2006 Beard Of The Year award:

But another hugely disappointing England performance. Why not bring the team home early and save us the misery of a whitewash? Gah.

England, 1st innings: 159 all out (74.2 overs)
Australia, 1st innings: 419 all out (108.3 overs)
England, 2nd innings: 161 all out (65.5 overs)

Australia beat England by an innings and 99 runs

FreyjaTube is 1 too (free)

As well as flooding the interweb with pictures of our offspring, we have also been uploading (to the ubiquitous YouTube) some short videos of her variously gurgling/rolling/crawling/shouting over the last year. These will prove invaluable when embarrassing her in front of future potential suitors but for now will serve as an excellent way for those family and friends in far-flung places (Dubai, Toronto, Sydney, Watford...) to keep up with the bumptious bundle of busy that is Freyja Sallie Lightly :)

Here is the latest one - apologies in advance for the out-of-tune singing:

And here are the rest, unless I have done something particularly dumb:


Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Til hamingju með afmælið Freyja

One year successfully completed!

As you may imagine, there will be much cake and champagne later today and almost certainly photos as well.

So far, "F1":

(That's a little in-joke for Mr Andronov who is holding the fort at work and may need some cheering up. Or may already be in the pub. Cheers, Alex!)

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Photo shopped

Just some random signage from the local supermarket in Dubai.

Firstly, I have no idea what this means (I may go back and check though):

Next, one for the apostrophe police. Although thinking about it perhaps it was indicating the price of a singular item. But it seemed rather a dramatic banner for that. You'd need hundreds of them; the ceiling would look like a re-enactment of the American Civil War. And it didn't actually have the price on it so it would be just showing you where to find the price of an item (perhaps on the item itself). Maybe there ought to be a 'd' on the end and a little man sitting with some weighing scales and a pricing machine. Then it would definitely be one for the apostrophe police. Anyway, it's a moot point as it was pointing at a pile of metal sieves:

However, if you want to buy spices, you've come to the right place, this section was fantastic:

Can you imagine that in the Tesco Metro in Bromley at closing time? It'd be aromatic bedlam...

Monday, 25 December 2006


... are you doing on the internet on Christmas Day? Get back to the sherry!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here is Freyja opening her first ever Christmas stocking:

Just time for a quick mention of Arsenal's impressive 6-2 win over Blackburn Rovers yesterday before I'm back on sprout duty. So joy to the world, peace on earth and pass the port.

Word to the tree :)

Thursday, 21 December 2006

funny old game

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC (Carling Cup, December 19)
3 deg C, postponed due to fog

SwimmingPool v Adrian (Larking About Cup, December 19)
26 deg C, mine's a G'n'T

Sorry. In a desperate last-ditch attempt to try to reduce the smug factor, I should point out that it has been the wettest December here for at least ten years. Flash floods and everything. Still, the weather has since reverted to type and it looks like we shall be having our traditional (er, BBQ-smoked...) turkey Christmas dinner under a sun dappled gazebo in the back garden.

So, if I don't get to post again, may I take this opportunity to wish all/both my readers a very Merry Christmas for 2006. Have a really good one. And let's make 2007 the Year Of The Comment*

* I'm sure there's some gag in there about Halley and waiting 76 years for things but I'm off duty now :)

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Sum pikchaz

Managed to wrest control of the camera back from Harry(!) so here are the latest snaps of Freyja enjoying her holiday in Dubai:

Freyja in Dubai II: This Time It's The Beach

(I have also sorted out the wrapping on the bullet points in the previous posts which will no doubt please those of you of a CSS bent :)

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Dubai buy buy

Having just returned from a small (ahem) shopping trip (to Mall of the Emirates, since you ask), it has reaffirmed for me the reason why I have always loved coming here to Dubai. It is simply a very, very nice place. Whilst that adjective may seem a little weak, it seems to be the correct one to describe a place where every surface/pavement is spotless, every shop assistant or waiter/ess or security guard is unfailingly polite* and everybody seems genuinely pleased to be of service (and not in that awfully false management-have-been-on-a-course-and-have-instructed-that-we-must-now-smile-and-say-Have-A-Nice-Day way).

I'm fairly sure that this is much to do with the fact that many (OK, most) of the people here are from other countries and are doing much better than they would at home (there is no personal taxation, for example). There is also a clear (if unspoken) tier system in which the Emiratis are 'top dog' and everyone else accepts their place in the pecking order lower down. So I imagine most people look at what they have, think back to what it was like at home, realise they are really rather lucky indeed and try their hardest to be as good as they can be in their chosen occupation (from Head of the Dubai Ports Authority down to the boy who makes the chapatis in the backstreet takeaway). If you get the sack, you have no job and if you have no job, you have no sponsorship and if you have no sponsor, you have to go home.

Anyway, we had a lovely day out and what made it even better was that the UAE dirham is linked to the (weak) US dollar - I guess it's to do with the oil but I shall endeavour to find out before I return - so we are getting 7 to the pound instead of 6. Which makes everything ~15% cheaper than it was last time.

We're going to need a bigger suitcase :)

* except in Prada**, they were still terribly haughty in there, although I think they were probably Russians who were flown in specially

** it wasn't me who wanted to go in there, by the way...

Monday, 18 December 2006

They think it's all over...

...and it is. Australia have won the Third Test by 206 runs and with it take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five match series. England held onto The Ashes for a meagre 463 days from that glorious afternoon at The Oval back in September 2005.

Despite the brave and patient rearguard action from Pietersen (60*) and - at last - Flintoff (51) after an excellent 116 from young Alastair Cook earlier in the innings, it was too little too late after the Aussies amassed a huge total and left England two days to bat out and save the game.

The questions will start to be asked:
  • Why did we leave out Monty Panesar, clearly our most potent spinner in the last ten years (and one the Aussies had never faced)?
  • Why were Giles and Jones selected when the former hadn't played for a year and the latter has been erratic with the bat, his supposed advantage over Chris Read (who must be spitting feathers)?
  • Where was the Flintoff of old with the bat (although to be fair, he bowled his heart out with a dodgy ankle)?
  • How can someone as dour as Collingwood score 200 in one match and then look like a rabbit in the headlights the next?
  • Why did it take Harmison ten days of cricket to wake up?
  • Is Anderson really better than Jon Lewis? Stuart Broad? Me, for that matter?
I accept that it makes a huge difference playing at home, with the glorious English summer and the entire country behind you, (and, importantly, not distracted by any European or World Cup football in 2005). It's hard for us to get excited when the matches are in the middle of the night AND only on Sky (although hats off to the Brighton boys for combining the cricket with a massive party one Friday night; I can only imagine Aggers MC-ing about the seagulls over some rinsing hardcore drum 'n' bass...) At the end of the day (Brian) the Australians were hurt badly by the loss last time (it had been 16 years since they last experienced it) and they simply wanted it more. Ponting was ruthless as both captain and batsman, averaging an astonishing 105 and marshalling his troops brilliantly. He may look like a little rat-faced George W. Bush-a-like but you have to doff your cap, slightly. They didn't drop as many catches and they piled on the pressure when England started to look shaky, which they did at at least one point in every match, especially the disgraceful collapse in Adelaide.

So what can we take from this?
  • Cook looks like a fine prospect, needs temperament, will come with experience (he is only 21)
  • Strauss should be captain, full stop, must make hundreds not thirties
  • Bell is a good player, have to leave him in, even if Vaughan returns, but...
  • Collingwood has a great average on this tour but is fighting for the place with Bell (and I guess, Key) - admittedly his astonishing fielding may get him the nod at times
  • KP has been patchy this time but is sheer class, prefers a target to chase rather than having to bat out a day (though that is part of Test Match cricket, Kev mate...)
  • Flintoff does not need the captaincy on top of being the main strike bowler and an attacking batsman - politely relieve him and let him be magnificent again
  • Jones has blown it, Read is surely in - he owns a bat too, you know :)
  • Panesar must start every test - when did the Aussies ever drop Warne after looking at the pitch and deciding it wouldn't take spin?
  • Giles is now the second spinner to the mighty Panesar, as and when required
  • Anderson? Mahmood? Forget it, surely Stuart Broad is the way forward, young & fiery (as he proved in the Twenty20 final)
  • Hoggard continues to surprise, getting wickets through sheer grit, must stay but really should be second change to...
  • Harmison can turn it on, but once in six innings is poor for a bowler of his apparent quality, needs work and fast
Other than that, there are two more to play - this is the time to let the team pick itself and shy away from Fletcher's favourites. We must attack and try to salvage some pride and if we lose 5-0, who cares? The Ashes are lost and England is in mourning (once it wakes up)

[cue much weeping into skinny camel latte]

Airport food++

I was pleasantly surprised to find, as I waited for my flight to Dubai to rejoin Solveig & Freyja at the in-laws, that there is now a Chez Gerard at Heathrow Terminal 3! You can stuff your BAA McDonalds Happy Frequent Flyer Airmiles Meal (with free plastic Boeing 747), I had the 8oz rump steak (medium rare) with pommes-frites and sauce bernaise* along with a rather good glass of Cotes du Rhone.

* Just as well, as Virgin in their wisdom eventually fed us at 11.30pm, three hours into a 7 hour night flight. Eh? Not sure you've thought that one through, Mr Branson...

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Ashes to ashes (slight return)

Australia have annihilated England in their second innings with three players getting a hundred as they turned on the accelerators and declared on 527-5, a lead of 556. Adam Gilchrist hit the second-fastest ton of all time, in just 57 balls (just behind Viv Richards record set in 1986, also against England). So England were sent in to bat in the fading light and immediately lost Strauss, out to yet another dodgey Koertzen call (that's three now, somebody check his passport). So 19-1 at the close and still two days left to bat out for the draw (or if like me you are the eternal optimist, England require just 538 more runs to win off a minimum of 180 overs, at a shade under 3 an over :)

And while all this was happening, I went for a fantastic Indian buffet at the Dubai Marina *burp*. Sorry.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Third Test

Having collapsed shockingly to defeat on the final day in the Second Test at Adelaide, England need to get out there in Perth tonight and bowl Australia out. Twice. A win would put retaining the Ashes back into the realms of reality (just); a draw would make it difficult but still not impossible.

But defeat in Perth would mean the Ashes were relinquished (3-0 with 2 to play) a mere 26 days after setting out to retain them. And that would be worse than awful. Anyway, I shall be donning one of these for tonight's proceedings (play starts at 0230 GMT). I suggest you do likewise:

Soaking in the hoi-sin of your lies

Following on from the success of the Eddie Izzard clip, I have spent many an hour deciding which is my favourite Bill Bailey song. So here it is:

And if that wasn't enough, a little YouTubing unearthed "Is It Bill Bailey?" from BBC2, way back in 1998:

"Beef and mushroom? Don't be daft woman, you're allergic."

Monday, 11 December 2006

Cannon & Balls

I was lucky enough to attend the Square Mile Sports Awards recently which was, and this may surprise you, a somewhat boozy affair. Arbuthnot sponsored a table, took along some brokers & traders and a very good time was had by all. The winner of Sportsman Of The Year was ... [checks hastily scrawled notes] ... Darren Clarke, for his heroics at the Ryder Cup, but what puzzles me is the reminder I put in my phone (after possibly the eleventy-third bottle of Veuve Clicquot), which simply said:

"You can't fire a cannon from a canoe"

It has something to do with Martin Bayfield and Clare Balding. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Friday, 8 December 2006

There is some corner of a foreign field...

Splendid coffee table book of photographs of non-league football matches from around the world:

European Fields

Some of the pitches are surrounded by breathtaking scenery, others just a dirt pitch in the middle of a slum, but the people's game still remains the same. No overpaid whining crybabies here, thank you very much...

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

business plan++

Enough said :)

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Scarf, ace*

Visit Savile Rogue for your 100% cashmere football scarf, available in all 92 English league club colours and one or two of Johnny Foreigners as well. Lovely.

* And that is my favourite post title of 2006, even more than 'Big Brother Is Watching You Watching Big Brother' way back in February...

Monday, 4 December 2006


OK, so I may be sooooo last year with this but I've just discovered Red Vs Blue, a video comic series based loosely on the FPS video game, 'Halo'*

Currently ploughing my way through Season 1 (of 5) but here is a sample from Episode 2 - I rather enjoyed the bit near the end where they're trying to name the Jeep:

* yeah, yeah, I know it's a (32-)bit** geeky...

** and so was that, Lightly...

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Wembley Way

Today we took Freyja to see the new Wembley stadium. And here it is:

"Where?", I hear you ask? OK, try zooming in a bit:

Still not got it? OK, how about 400%?

(Come on, that's not bad from the Horniman Gardens in SE23...)

Saturday, 2 December 2006

An exchange

Fade in to lounge of urban flat, possibly South London.
A married couple are on the sofa watching 'Coast' on BBC2.

Her: "Where's that narrator's accent from?"

Him: "He sounds Scottish. Is it Ewan MacGregor?"

Her: "No, he's got long hair."

Him: "..."

Friday, 1 December 2006

That's betterer

Second Test: Adelaide, Day 2 of 5

England 551-6 dec.
(Collingwood 206, Pietersen 158, Bell 60)

Australia 28-1
(Langer 4)

Blimey. Now if only Mr. Flintoff would dispose of that dreadful Elizabeth Duke chain...