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Friday 11th September 2015 – WHAT A NIGHTMARE!


There I was on my travels last night and who should come breezing in but Nerina. She’d left me two months ago but now she had discovered that she was pregnant and so wanted to come back. No wonder that I awoke all cold and sweating!

I’d been elsewhere on my travels too. I’d been quite friendly with a group of girls and every time I went around to see them their mother used to shout at me “and wipe your feet!” and this went on for ages. But then one day they announced that they were selling up and going to have to find somewhere else to live, and so I answered that there were some nice big houses by Pebble Brook School, in Buchan Grove in fact (which of course, is nowhere near Pebble Brook School but anything is possible when I’m voyaging during the night)

That latter bit does in fact have some significance for anyone who can remember events of 40 years ago, but if you weren’t around just then, then you missed out on events of earth-shattering importance.

All of the foregoing might lead you to suppose that I had a really good night’s sleep, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I just couldn’t drop off, for a start. I was awake for hours, and then I had another bad, uncomfortable night where I kept on waking up.

But eventually there I was, with a coffee. But not a shower. It’s another pay-shower and I don’t have any quarters. But it does go to show just what good value the Goose Point Campground at Alburgh was.

Talking of campgrounds, I can’t stay here two further nights either.It’s Homecoming Week here at the High School (hence all of the sports) and there’s quite a few inter-school competitions this weekend. The campground is therefore full but they’ve squeezed me in elsewhere for tonight and then I have to move on. Not that it’s a big deal because I could be quite comfortable here if I had decent accommodation.

north beach burlington vermont usaAnd talking of things being decent, after I’d bought my butty for this afternoon I went down to the beach to eat it.

First time that I’ve been down here and it certainly is a nice place to be. I’ve not seen a beach quite like this except when I was on my travels at the start of Spring last year when I went down to western France for a week.

north beach burlington vermont usaIn fact this whole area reminds me very much of western France, which is probably what attracted many of the early settlers here. Because this area was first settled by mainly French settlers from Nouvelle France.

In fact, if you look in the telephone directory, you’ll see loads and loads of French surnames. I was sitting behind someone called Gagnon and they announced the name “Tremblay” for one of the players on the hockey team last night.

north beach burlington vermont usaBut just a word of warning if you fancy coming down here visiting in a school bus or something – there’s a 9-foot height limit under the abandoned railway so you’ll need to leave the bus miles away and walk down.

As for me, no trouble with Strider. That’s another reason for having a Ford Ranger. he fits anywhere that a small family car will go. And so I was able to sit and eat my butties in peace and enjoy the nice weather. Summer was back today.

After lunch I went up to Home Depot and had a plank of cheap OSB cut for the floor of Strider. I’ve had it cut to 40″ by 6’and I’ve now encountered another problem. And that is that with his boot liner, he’s not even 6 feet long and that means that

  1. I have to cut down the wood further (good job that I have a saw
  2. My camp bed won’t fit in the back of it

And so I can see that I’m going to have to make a bed to fit it. But then, I was half-prepared for this anyway – hence the circular saw.

Back at the High School, I armed myself with a press permit (Radio Anglais has a lot to be said for it) and so I was authorised to take photos of tonight’s football matches

football refereeing girls soccer match burlington high school seahorses colchester vermont usaWe started off with the girls against Colchester High School, and the first thing that you’ll notice is the refereeing.They don’t have one referee and two linesman but two referees (possibly one from each school) and the pitch seems to be divided up by an invisible diagonal line, with each referee administrating on “his” side of the line.

This was how the hockey was refereed too last night but I just thought that that was usual. School hockey refereeing has probably come a long way since Joyce Grenfell refereed a hockey match at St Trinians.

The Seahorses scored just as I was entering the ground (I was late). Their n°10, whose play was very reminiscent of Les “the Truck” Davies at Bangor City in the Welsh Premier League, chased after a long ball forward (I would have given her offside by a foot, but never mind) despite being well-marked by her limpet-like defender.

And as the keeper came out for the loose ball, the n°10 kept bustling forward, shrugging off a few tough challenges, got her head to the ball and nodded it over the keeper’s outstretched arms into the net.

A proper “English Centre-Forward” of the type that followers of the English Premier League haven’t seen in years.

girls soccer match burlington high school seahorses colchester vermont usaBut the Seahorses couldn’t keep it up. They were, unfortunately, possessed of a “Pionsat” central defence, and anyone who has been a regular reader of this rubbish will know what I mean by that. They don’t seem to be able to clear the ball, dither about and are indecisive when the ball should be kicked upfield, into touch, or anywhere else for that matter, and this led to their downfall.

The central defence, from a fairly inocuous position, hang on to the ball too long instead of clearing it, and of course they eventually lose possession. And the result of that is, as we all were expecting the moment that the n°6 didn’t kick it upfield as soon as she had the ball, was inevitable.

It goes from bad to worse too. One lesson that I’ve always tried to drill into my young strikers in Pionsat’s 2nd XI is that no matter how hopeless a cause looks, you always follow the ball in. At this level, anything can happen, and young Florian has scored a few goals doing just that.

girls soccer match burlington high school seahorses colchester vermont usaHere, a superb shot is well-saved by the Seahorse keeper but she can only push it onto the bar.

The Colchester n°5, playing inside-right and who was easily the best player on the field (and I told her so after the match – her name is Rachel apparently) was following up the shot and with the Seahorse defence being slow to react, she got her head to the ball and that was the winner.

girls soccer match burlington high school seahorses colchester vermont usaIt nearly wasn’t though. The Seahorses kept on going forward, without much luck, but here one of the girls has a shot from the diagonal corner of the penalty area, beats the keeper but hits the post and rebounds back into play.

There’s not another Seahorse close enough to capitalise on the loose ball, and this just goes to show the benefits of following in rather than standing around watching.

girls soccer match burlington high school seahorses colchester vermont usaMost exciting moment of the match was after about 15 minutes of the second half.

The Seahorses won a free kick and it was a beautiful strike right around the end of the wall. But the Colchester keeper produced an equally beautiful diving save to push the ball out for a corner.

But you’ll notice the two Seahorses on the right – quick enough off the mark that time, but strangely, no-one running in on the left.

But the result was the right one – Colchester always looked more dangerous going forward and were more organised in defence, choosing the simple but much more effective option of clearing the ball at every opportunity.

And I’ll tell you something else for nothing too – I’ve seen a bigger bunch of girls playing football in the English Premier League too than I saw out here tonight. This kind of match is the kind that would send shivers down the spine of any woman’s football team in any other country.

As for the boys’ match against Middlebury, this really was a game of two halves. Or two keepers, in fact, as Middlebury changed keeper at half time. And this is something that is amazing me – the substitutions.

We had rolling substitutions, which you expect at this level, but not at the speed that they were doing it. Every couple of minutes there was a substitution, and at one stage they made a substitution just 20 seconds after having made a previous one. Not only does it break up the game, how on earth do you build a balanced, confident and cohesive team with all of this going on?

middlebury tigers goalkeeper dives bravely at the feet of burlington high school seahorses attacker vermont usaThis was just like last night’s match – pretty much one-way traffic, but this time all flowing towards the Middlebury goal and the keeper had to show some real heroics to keep the ball out of the net.

This here is not the only example of him bravely diving at the feet of a Seahorse attacker. He did it a couple of times, and it’s just as well because his defence was just a little shaky and were rather short on skill compared to the Seahorses

burlington high school seahorses hit bar middlebury high school tigers vermont usaHere’s one that the keeper didn’t get to, but no matter. The ball, played in by the Seahorses n°14, who was the best player on the field in this match, hits the top of the bar and goes out of play.

But the Tigers (as the Middlebury team is called) defenders need to be much closer in on the attackers to stop them having these shots on goal. Giving them half a yard of space is inviting trouble.

And so as you might expect, with all of this dominance and one-way traffic, Middlebury break away upfield, the first time that they have kept possession in the opponents’ half, and take the lead.

A goal out of absolutely nothing and so unexpected that I wasn’t ready, but a 40-yard hooker right over the diving keeper’s despairing wave (he might have got his fingers to it) and dropping neatly in the top right-hand corner of the net. Absolutely inch-perfect.

Of course, I have no photo of it, but by pure coincidence, there was a goal scored in the Welsh Premier League a few weeks ago that was a stunning carbon-copy of this goal. Check out Neil Mitchell’s goal for Newtown (Y Drenewydd) in this clip.

burlington high school seahorses equalise middlebury high school tigers football match vermont usaBut with just 6 seconds to go (nice big digital displays here) Burlington finally find their way past the keeper.

A diagonal ball in from the right wing finds a player totally unmarked in the centre of the goalmouth – absolutely shocking defending, this – and he doesn’t have any problems whatever finding the back of the net. Nothing the keeper could do about this.

And so at half time, we have the goalkeeping change. And this is where the roof falls in on Middlebury because up to now, the keeper has been a one-man show on his team.

burlington high school seahorses take the lead middlebury high school tigers vermont usaAfter just 55 minutes of the match there’s another diagonal ball out across the penalty area to the right-hand corner and the keeper rushes off his line, even though there are two defenders out there.

Now I know that he’s not going to reach it in time, but anyway he’s out there, and it’s an easy matter for the attacker to sidestep him and slot the ball into the empty net.

But never mind that – just look at the two Seahorse attackers there. Where’s the defence?

And it goes from bad to worse. From the kick-off the Tigers lose possession and a punt upfield from the Seahorses, again to thet right-hand corner of the are produces a weak shot to the keeper, who has stayed on his line correctly this time, and the ball goes right through his hands into the net.

burlington high school seahorses attacker middlebury high school tigers goalkeeper brilliant save vermont usaBut let’s not criticise the keeper. Here he is, in a one-on-one with a Seahorse attacker, doing the right thing by coming out just far enough to block the sight of the goal, forcing the Seahorse attacker into a shot, and then spreading himself wide enough to get something on the shot and push it wide.

That was an excellent save, and credit where credit is due.

So the Seahorses made hard work of what should have been a comfortable win, because the Tigers defence was dreadful and had it not been for the heroics by the Tigers keeper in the first half, this could have been an embarrassing result. You can’t play with a central defence of Lord Lucan and Martin Bormann and get away with it.

Saturday 26th October 2013 – I REMEMBER …

… back to 2004 when I was ill and thinking that I ought to develop a new interest, that the subject of footy first came up. Brussels is ideally situated for being a Northern European footy fan and I do remember thinking that as Belgium and France are rather boring in that respect, I ought to cast my net a little further afield.

Dutch football fans are well-known for their passion and ardour and as the town of Breda is easy to get to from here on public transport (change trains at Antwerpen), then NAC came onto the radar. However, times changed, and things changed, and I changed, and that was that. Nevertheless, it was always something that turned around in the back of my mind.

Dutch football has some very interestingly-named teams such as Willem III, Heracles and Top Oss, but pride of place has to go to the enigmatically-named Go Ahead Eagles. Any team with a name like that deserves to be supported. And so imagine my surprise this morning when, over a cup of coffee, I glanced at the footy fixtures and found that the Eagles were playing away this evening – at NAC Breda!

So early this afternoon after lunch I leapt into Caliburn and shot off up the motorway as far as Weerde (I really ought to live in a town with a name like that – second only to the town of Silly of course) when I realised that I didn’t have my passport (I seem to be making a habit of this).

Back on my way to Antwerpen I encountered a Carrefour at Mechelen so I was even able to do a pile of shopping, and after that, with Golden Earring playing on Caliburn’s music centre in honour of my Going Dutch, I eventually arrived at the ground.

stadion rat verlegh NAC Breda netherlands eredivisieNice and modern, which many purists (including Yours Truly) will think is a pity, but with plenty of space around it and plenty of parking too which makes a pleasant change.

Buying a ticket for an Eredivisie match is not easy. You need to have a Dutch FA clubcard to but a ticket for the match. if you don’t have one, which of course I don’t, you need to produce a national identity card, which I don’t have either, or else produce a passport, which I did have, so it was a good job that I remembered to go back and fetch it. But just €15 (that’s £12) for a ticket is an absolute bargain to watch a 1st-tier match in a keenly-fought domestic league.

Next stop was to buy some food. I left Caliburn (who has never been to the Netherlands before, by the way, so there’s a first) at the Stadion Rat Verlegh (a delightful name) and went on foot to the centre, and I’m glad that I did because I stumbled once more upon something quite exciting that I would otherwise have missed.

fokker 100 scrapyard breda netherlandsThis is a Fokker 100 of the late 1980s or early 1990s and what it is doing here as an advert for a scrapyard I really have no idea. This isn’t the first one that we have seen either, for those of you with very long memories will recall the Andover that sat on top of a scrapyard at Ettiley Heath, at the back of Sandbach, for a while. But anyway, here it is and here it sits, and here it will probably stay until the price of scrap aluminium rises again.

It did rather remind me of that delightful story about the old World War I pilot reliving one of his battles during a live television interview.
“There I was, at 8,000 feet, all on my own, and suddenly these five German Fokkers appeared out of a cloud, right in front of me”
“I should mention, for the benefit of our younger viewers” said the interviewer “that a Fokker is a type of German aeroplane”
“Thats right!” ejaculated our hero. “These Fokkers were Albatroses”

historic building medieval centre breda netherlandsSo I eventually made it into town, following my nose which was quite interested in the smell of chips that it was detecting.

This brought me to a little square just on the edge of the old medieval centre and here was a beautiful historic building. I’ve absolutely no idea what it might be although it looks like an ersatz town hall or school building of the late 19th Century when the Dutch ran out of inspiration. However, I could be completely wrong about this and nothing would surprise me.

Here I was distracted as two pizza delivery motorcyclists burst out of an alleyway and headed off in different directions. That gave me a clue and so I headed into the alleyway and found myself at the back of a takeaway pizza lace. My takeaway Vegetarian with my own vegan cheese (I always come prepared) was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.

public urinal Breda NetherlandsOn the way back to the stadium in the dark, wishing that I had come here much earlier to properly explore the town, I encountered this object, right outside the football ground as you,might expect one such object to be. Whatever its proper name might be, I was told that the locals refer to it as the p155 house, and for very good reason too as you can see.

In fact I made very good use of it. I must stop drinking all of this flavoured water while I’m driving. It’s doing me no good at all, I tell you that. I’m not sure how I would have coped had I not found this artefact. It’s certainly a novel way to spend 1.2 centimes.

Mind you, it’s a bit disconcerting having to resort to something like this in front of a crowd of about 17,000 people trying to get into the Stadion Rat Verlegh. I mean, I didn’t want to give them all an inferiority complex.

stadion rat verlegh nac breda go ahead eagles deventer netherlands eredivisie 26 october 2013But that’s enough of me talking rubbish. Let’s concentrate on the football.

Tyhe quality was rather … errr … less than I was expecting for an Eredivisie match. NAC were, well, about average I suppose but Go Ahead Eagles were thoroughly awful and how they were in one place higher than the home side before the kick-off I really do not know. They had a central defence pairing of Lord Lucan and Martin Bormann and for the second quarter of the game they were quite simply torn to shreds. Its no exaggeration to say that 4-0 at half-time, all the goals coming in that 20-odd minute spell, was something of an understatement.

stadion rat verlegh nac breda go ahead eagles deventer netherlands eredivisie 26 october 2013It will also come as no surprise to anyone reading this that the second half was a totally different game. Naive followers of the sport would expect the second half to begin with the Eagles having their heads buried in their boots and a bouyant bunch of Breda boyos bouncing out to run up a cricket score (mind you, 4-0 IS a cricket score when England are batting).

But no, Breda had gone right off the boil and were content to play exhibition football for a while, passing the ball around amongst themselves instead of going for the jugular.

This of course gave the Eagles some kind of respite and a couple of times they snatched the ball away and went racing off down the ptch to give the Breda defence some VERY ANXIOUS moments indeed. I remember thinking that if the Eagles scored twice (which they could so easily have done), there would have been an almighty panic in the Breda side and anything could happen.

stadion rat verlegh nac breda go ahead eagles deventer netherlands eredivisie 26 october 2013However the Breda defence stood firm and with just two or three minutes to go, they managed to pot a fifth goal to calm what was clearly becoming a jittery Breda performance. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a side winning 4-0 look so nervous.

But I really don’t know why teams like this do this kind of thing. 4-0 up and looking good, and then going on the defensive for 45 minutes. They should have carried on with the allout attack, been 6-0 up after the hour, and then gone on to bury this team, instead of giving them a few easy chances to get back into the game. Really bad planning, this, and I would have kicked the players all around the stadium. A tight mid-table finish means that goal difference is all important when it comes to doling out the prize money at the end of the season and whenever you are given the opportunity, which doesn’t arrive very often for clubs like this, you should be going for the throat;

And on that note, I went home. Another one of my … errr … goals in life accomplished.

Sunday 22nd May 2011 – My Postilion has been struck by lightning

Well, actually my Livebox has been hit by lightning and until I can get a new one sent to me I have no internet connection and so I can’t keep my blog up-to-date “Hooray” … ed. And so how come I’m on the internet now? Actually, I’m at Liz and Terry’s making very kind use of their internet here.

Today, after working on the topic for our radio programmes next week (we will be talking about the Post Office) I went to the plant fair at St Gervais. This is where people sell their surplus garden plants to those whose crops have been wiped out by intemperate weather, and I now have some peppers, chilis, tomatoes, oregano, all kinds of stuff like that. There was even some natural soap for deep-cleaning the skin (I’ll need that when I finally start on the old cars that I have to restore) and some natural soap for dealing with stains on clothing.

fc psh fc pionsat st hilaire cellule puy de dome ligue football league franceAfter that I went to Cellule, near Davayat to watch Pionsat’s 1st XI get soundly spanked. After that, we watched a football match and FC Pionsat St Hilaire’s 1st XI were beaten 5-2.

But then again, playing with a back four of Lord Lucan, Martin Bormann and a couple of Easter Island statues it was hardly surprising. They were employing what I call the “Lego defence” – they all go to pieces in the box.

And now we have been rehearsing our radio programme for Tuesday – the morning it’s Radio Tartasse and in the afternoon it’s Radio Arverne.

Anyway, Liz wants her computer back and so I have to go. I don’t know when it might be that I’ll be on line again, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.