Monthly Archives: December 2013

Saints pull the plug on Bath

Saturday saw my first visit to Franklin’s Gardens to watch Northampton Saints play Bath in the Aviva Rugby Union Premiership. I was treated to use of the Travis Perkins Box for the day and took some customers and colleagues along for a truly amazing day. The weather was perfect for the Sold Out match with a clear, bright, sunny day providing the pleasant backdrop for the near 13,000 crowd. Northampton Saints and Bath were 2nd and 3rd heading into this game, with the possibility of taking top spot depending on Saracens result.

Part of the day involved a tour around the stadium which was pretty exciting. We got to walk around the ground and have a look in the players tunnel as well as the Home Changing Rooms. We were not allowed into the visitors changing rooms because apparently there were private confidential game plans on show! Either way this didn’t spoil the opportunity to look at parts of the ground many people could only dream of doing. There is a plaque on the wall by the Home changing room which lists by caps, the most capped players at the club in Saints history. This dates back to 1895 which is where all the records that weren’t destroyed by a fire are available to. There are some pretty impressive capped players with over 400 caps. I was also really grateful to get a photo taken by Pisi’s shirt, he is one of my favorite Saints players!

As we looked around the bars and the trophy room we were also shown a wall which had all the photos of players past and present who have been capped by their respective country. This is when I discovered that Gregor Townsend who is my favourite Scottish player, used to play for Saints! A little bit of trivia as I like to educate my blogs followers, Franklin’s Gardens is the only English Rugby Ground to have a War Memorial Situation within it. I think this photo shows it off nicely.

The food in the box was spot on and the drinks were flowing. Everybody was in great spirits ahead of the promising match that awaited us. Now I’m not one with great knowledge of Rugby Union, but Saints found themselves 0-13 behind after 10 minutes and staring into the possibility of being left behind. Bath were reduced to 14 men and in that time, 2 tries for Saints saw them take a lead that they never relinquished. The game saw Saints score six tries in total and claim a 43-25 win which was full of entertainment.

There was one final twist as I discovered that I’d be presenting the Travis Perkins man of the match award to Christian Daly at the end of the game. There was also an opportunity to shake hands with North who played well and get right close to the team huddle at the end of the game. There will be a better photo to follow but this one shows me on the pitch. One funny moment is when I turned up to the box we were in during the game from the pitch, to see all the guys waving and chanting my name, awesome effort guys!

A truly amazing day that I won’t forget. I’m converted, Northampton Saints is certainly my team!


A Festive Message

Thank you to those who have taken the time to read my Blog this year. Some of you may have seen my constant plugs on Twitter or Facebook. Some of you may have seen my page featured as I tried my hardest to gain visitors. If that still doesn’t include you, then maybe just maybe you stumbled upon it by complete accident. Either way it doesn’t matter one little bit how you found my blog, the important thing to me is that you did.

I’ve been writing on here for just under 5 months and am quite honestly enjoying it beyond my expectations. I’m one of those people who frankly enjoys writing. It gives me a sense of pride and joy to think somebody else is reading something that I’ve written. A blog is quite a personal thing, yet not in the same sense as a diary, I think you all get what I’m saying.

So as we head into the Christmas Break, I’d like to wish all of my followers (49 so far) and readers a very very peaceful and enjoyable festive break. It has become very obvious to me these last few days that it’s imperative to let those around you know how important they are to you. I lost a very good friend of mine last week and I’d like to think he knew exactly how much he meant to me.

Of course it’s a time to eat, drink and be merry whilst keeping warm, however it’s also essential to think about those not so fortunate that are in our lives. This isn’t a generic statement, it’s a fact. To those out there that have touched my life so far who are facing more challenges than most, I’m thinking of you.

So what now? Let’s just stay safe, follow Santa on Google maps and enjoy this wonderful time of the year. I’ll be looking forward to what the last few days of 2013 bring to me and the excitement that next year promises.

Happy Christmas to you all.


A Winter Walk in Towcester

Today we went on a lovely 6 mile walk around Towcester in Northamptonshire. The weather was extremely pleasant to start with before the wind and grey clouds arrived. Fortunately for us this was towards the end of our walk.

I had the urge to share some photos with my followers showing off some of the lovely views we have in our home town. I would love to hear some of your comments and if you have some photos please show them to me.

These are some of the amazing views we saw today so enjoy! I have also experimented with some Black & White photography.

1. Red Berries against a backdrop of trees.

2. Sunshine creeping across an open sky.

3. A Sheepish following.

4. A disused Railway Bridge.

5. A Ford on a country lane.

The last photo was a rather pleasant place to soak up the moment and have a cup or two of our lovely hot mulled rum. It’s been a really nice way to spend a Saturday.


Facebook Funnies

I’m not going to use this post as a window to vent my frustrations at Facebook. I like most of the original members still vaguely remember the days when all you’d get on your wall was a post from your friends. Now all you get is a wall swamped with adverts, reposts, promotions and maybe just maybe a status update from a friend.

It’s safe to say Facebook has changed, it’s now a money making machine on the stock market. My biggest gripe is that one of your best friends could announce the biggest life changing status update and you miss it if you’ve not checked your wall for a few hours. Anyway I’m going off subject, this post is actually aimed at some of the funniest things I’ve seen recently on Facebook.

Amongst the usual array of garbage and ridiculous posts asking you to like photos for publicity, I’ve actually been impressed with some of things I’ve seen on my wall. Right here goes…

1. Being a Leeds United fan is challenging enough. Seeing one of your biggest rivals suffer at unknown levels makes it less painful when things go wrong. Manchester United have had a torrid year so far and after various home defeats this made me chuckle. Seeing David Moyes and his record signing Fellaini pictured as police catching drivers speeding is genius. The link between 3 points for speeding and away wins for teams at Old Trafford is clever. Love this one!

2. This one starts all cute and warm . There’s nothing kinder than handing a friend or stranger an umbrella when the weather isn’t nice. I love the wicked twist at the end, nobody likes spiders! This is my wicked humor summed up perfectly.

3. I knew the media could paint a picture in many different ways. This shows how easy it is to be mislead. Never again will I watch the news on TV and be 100% certain that what I’m seeing is completely accurate.

And Finally……..

4. A Christmas post that I couldn’t help but smile at and think that I want a reindeer cat! I am not usually won over by these types of post, this one is the exception! Christmas summed up perfectly. I think all cats want to be a Reindeer.

I’d love to hear about your sightings online on Facebook.


A Winter Garden

For those of you who have been following my blog these last 4 months, you will have gathered by now my love of spending time in the garden. It is something that I’ve certainly inherited from my Mum and I’m fortunate that the people I’ve grown up along including my fiancée have and are supportive of this love of mine.

It’s the time of year sadly, where there is very little left to do, well in my garden anyway. I spent last week tidying out the raised beds and removing all the seedlings that have sprouted from seeds that had fallen into them from the bird feeders. One thing I would say, sparrows are incredibly noisy and messy little things, it’s a shame that they more than make up for this with their amazing characteristics and cheeky little faces. It’s at this point I would like to ask my followers, are you finding your bird feeders are being emptied almost daily? It’s happening in my garden and I’ve started alternating the days I refill it.

With colder nights and shorter days the once colourful roses and snap dragons are replaced with fleece covered beds and pots. It can be quite a depressing sight at this time of year, however it’s great to do the more practical jobs that are easily overseen in the Spring and Summer.

One of our major issues is the Ivy which has grown along the side of our house. Ivy is painfully attractive and looks lovely, the grim reality is the damage it does to brickwork and wooden window frames. A couple of months ago I tried something and it’s only now the benefits are visible. It was so high that I couldn’t reach it with a ladder so I cut along the highest clear part I could reach with some garden clippers. It was a straight cut along the ivy which in some parts was very thick. It was because of this that I think the ivy retained so much water and nutrients in this section.

As you can see from the photo above it’s finally started to die back from the area that was causing me so much trouble. It is funny now as stray bits of ivy continue to fall away, but it’s far safer than trying to remove live ivy from a dangerous height on ladders. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has had similar issues with hard to reach troublesome ivy.

So what else is there to do in the garden in December? Well I think the array of leaves have stopped accruing on the path so they can be raked up and put in our green garden waste bin. Secondly I think it’s a great opportunity to remove all weeds and look after the winter wildlife that visit your garden. Thirdly I think it’s important to check which plants need protection from the frost and get your fleeces in place!

It may have slowed down out there but it’s still a place of activity as the colder months approach us.


Spaghetti Bolognese

It has been a while since I’ve written about cooking, so what better opportunity than now. Tonight I tried out my home made version of the traditional dish Spaghetti Bolognese. Surprisingly this is the first time I’ve cooked this dish of mine in a very long time. I would be interested to hear back from anyone with their ways of making this.

To make my version I use the following ingredients:-

400g Lean Mince Meat
400g Chopped Tomatoes
1 Large Onion
1/2 Small tin of Kidney Beans
3 Squeezes of Tomato Purée
175ml Red Australian Wine
3-4 Large Bay Leafs
2 Pinches of Thyme
Generous Serving of Olive Oil
Large handful of Spaghetti

To start I heat up the Olive Oil in a large Sauce Pan and add the Mince Meat. Breaking up the Mince Meat in the pan so it cooks evenly, I will leave this to cook until it turns brown and the juices fully evaporate. This takes around ten minutes with the hob on setting 3.

I then add the Red Wine to the Mince Meat and again leave this to simmer until the Red Wine is fully absorbed. At this point I add the chopped onions and allow the juices from the onions to soak into the Mince Meat, leaving the hob at Level 3.

I will then add three squeezes of Tomato Purée to the Mince Meat and Onions and stir in. This is followed by the Tin of Chopped Tomatoes and I’ll bring the dish to the boil for five minutes. The saucepan is covered with the lid during this part.

After 5 minutes I turn the hob back down to simmer on Level 3 and add 3-4 large dried Bay Leafs and 2 pinches of Dried Thyme. This is left to simmer for 15-20 minutes. The Bay Leafs are removed before serving because all of the flavour has left them.

I will get the Spaghetti on and give it 10 minutes as the sauce is simmering. Pop the bowls in the oven to warm them up, drain the spaghetti and serve.

I always grate some cheese and sprinkle it over the top and serve with The remaining Red Wine. Perfection!

I hope you enjoy this and let me know how it works for you.