Monday, February 19, 2007

Reunited and its Feels So Good
Four years ago, the characters you see above (pictured in 2003) embarked on a brief yet awe-inspiring tour of English football, seeing 5 matches in 11 days. Yesterday they were reunited in London as they began an anniversary tour that this time will span two weeks and 7 matches.

Fulham FC 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
We began the trip with a 5th Round FA Cup match at Fulham's Craven Cottage between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur. The match left us with little to speak about as Tottenham ran away with the match and took the spoils with a 4-0 victory. It was a treat for us to see Fulham FC, they are the team in English football's top flight with the most American Internationals (3: Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey) and we got to the match early enough to see them train and 2 (McBride and Dempsey) played a part in the match. Robert even got the attention of Clint "Duece" Dempsey prior to the match and got a smile and a thumbs up from the newest of the American players to play in the Premiership. The match itself had goals but was a bit of a letdown, Fulham looked unorganized and and lacked width and the clinical finishing by Tottenham put the game beyond reach early in the second half. Our adventure continues this week with a full week of travel and big matches:

Feb. 20: Swansea City FC vs. Scunthorpe United
Feb. 22: Newcastle United vs. Zulte Waregem (UEFA Cup)
Feb. 24: Liverpool FC vs. Sheffield United FC
Feb. 25: Wigan FC vs. Newcastle United
Feb. 28: Blackburn Rovers vs. Arsenal FC (FA Cup)
Mar. 3: Fulham FC vs. Aston Villa FC

Friday, February 16, 2007

Highlights: Veszprem and Budapest, Hungary

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snooker: Welsh Open
It will surprise no one that Robert likes snooker, the sport not really played at all in the United States but played most everywhere else (remind you of soccer?) is holding one of its big tournaments right here in Wales and he couldn't resist. An hours train away in Newport, Wales is the home of this weeks Welsh Open snooker tournament, and Robert spent his Thursday there seeing some of the world's best players.
The first match was between one of snooker's most talented players, 3-times World Champion Ronnie "The Rocket" O'Sullivan and Mark Selby. O'Sullivan ran away with the match 5 frames to 1 and showed off the skills that have made him one of snooker's all-time greats and the favorite for the tournament. The second match was between current World Champion Graeme Dott and 6-time World Champion and 6-time UK Champion Steve Davis OBE. Davis is the game's greatest ambassador and at 48 years old is the tour's oldest and most accomplished player. The match was officiated by Michaela Tabb, who will become the first female referee to take charge of a snooker ranking tournament when she referee's the Welsh Open Final on Sunday. Davis won the match 5-3.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Great Week in Hungary
We've returned from an epic week in beautiful Hungary. A week of excellent food and warm people ended far too soon. We spent the week in Veszprem while Angie worked in nearby Petfurdo by day and we ate all together at night. By all together I mean, us and our most gracious hosts. We ate traditional Hungarian cuisine all week: goulash, goose liver (libamaj or foie gras), pike perch and other delicious dishes. Every meal started with a drink/shot of palinka, a type of brandy made from fruit, and ended with a desert wine called Tokaij or another shot of palinka. Best week of food ever, not to mention that Hungarian wine is some of the finest we've ever tasted. Robert had a look around Vezsprem during the week and took a bus to nearby Lake Balaton one afternoon. It must be said that Robert had a difficult time with the language, even the Super Bowl was in Hungarian, but while coping with a different language in a foreign country isn't surprising, even the simplest of tasks can be a little frustrating.
The history of Hungary is so rich that we don't even want to begin to tell the story as not to diminish it in any way, but we can say that the story of the monarchy of Hungary began in Veszprem and ended in Budapest where we spent a long weekend together. Budapest is a big and beautiful city that is grand in every way. The city is split in two by the Danube River with Buda on one side and Pest on the other. We had a few days to see it all and although we saw a good deal of the city, we left wanting to return and see more. We did have the rare opportunity to see what is reputed to be the single-most comprehensive collection of the works of Vincent van Gogh at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and it was certainly a treat.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Good Quest
A good friend and mentor of mine, Janet Loeffler, once told me that everyone needs a good quest. And while I organize things from our recent trip to Hungary, take a look at the second posting of my most recent and extremely enjoyable quest, the cliff walks and coastal pathways of the Gower Peninsula. When the sun shines here in Wales it is a great opportunity to take to the coast and continue on my personal quest of walking the entire coastline of the Gower. Thus far, I've had two full days of hiking and I've covered between 16 and 18 miles. The breathtaking scenery is something I will always remember and I hope that it comes through as brilliantly in the photography.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Highlights: Cliff Walk/Coastal Pathway, South-Southwest Gower

Archway, Pobbles Beach

Rock Formation, Pennard Pill

Three Cliffs Bay

Trail to Oxwich Bay

Oxwich Bay

Trail to Oxwich Point

Oxwich Bay from Oxwich Point

Trail to Port-Eynon

Port-Eynon Bay/Sedgers Bank

Gower Surfers, Overton

Overton Mere

Port Eynon Point

Overton Mere

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Epic Story of the Washer/Dryer Combo
Its been a quiet week here but for one thing, another chapter in the long and tragic story of the washer/dryer combo is being written. The story began when we got here to Swansea and washed our first load of laundry. Its a combo machine, so when it finishes washing it starts drying. What they didn't tell us is that the machine doesn't dry what it washes, you must first remove half the load first!? We let the machine dry what it washed and what we presumed to be the heating element burned out and left the kitchen and the clothes smelling like burning rubber. We reported the problem and the heating element was problem, lesson learned. Since then the washer/dryer has been wheeled out of our flat 3 times, with heating elements and internal thermometers replaced. The consequences of such repairs have been various clothing items shrinking, losing color and heavy wear. Our latest problem was a near fire, smoke and everything. Now we have a pile of dirty clothes and nothing with which to wash it. If the laundrette weren't more than a mile away, we'd have a little less to complain about. But as it stands we're forced to wait.