Monday, March 26, 2007

Back to the States
We've been in the UK for over 100 days now and have rarely suffered from home-sickness. But this week we're going 'home' to Houston, and the timing is about right (we couldn't resist posting a photo of our home that we do miss quite a lot). Robert's sister Katherine is getting married on the 31st and we're both in the wedding. It will be a good opportunity for us to check on the pets, check on the house, check on our tax returns, visit friends and spend time with Robert's family. We fly in late on Wednesday to take part in the festivities beginning on Friday. The wedding is Saturday evening and we head back 'home' to Swansea on Sunday.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Walking the Brecon Beacons: Ystradfellte
With our time here in the UK winding down, we decided to call time on our tours of football stadia and spend our weekends looking around the area surrounding us here in Swansea. Robert's walks of the Gower Peninsula are well documented and his personal quest of walking the the entire coastal pathway is coming to an end after over 30 miles of walking, but we have never been to the Brecon Beacons National Park. Situated less than an hours drive Northeast of Swansea, the 500 square miles of the Brecon Beacons is full of natural beauty, and Ystradfellte in particular is home to amazing cascading waterfalls. The scenery we were able to see was well worth the 6 mile walk, we're already planning our next journey.

Sgwd Isaf Clun-gwyn (Lower Falls of the White Meadow)

Video of Isaf Clun-Gwyn

Sgwd Clun-gwyn (Upper Falls of the White Meadow)

Inside the mouth of Port yr Ogof Cave

Thursday, March 22, 2007

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

Pathway to Overton Cliff

Waves Crash on Long Hole Cliff

Waves Break Trailside

Common Cliff

Trail Past Foxhole Slade

View of The Knave from Horse Cliff

Trail Guide

Pathway to Deborah's Hole

On to Red Chamber

Twist in the Trail Near Red Chamber

View of Thurba, Red Chamber, The Knave and
Horse Cliff from Tears Point

View of Causeway and Worms Head from Tears Point

Devil's Bridge and Blow Hole from Inner Head, Worms Head

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Highlights: St. Patrick's Day Holiday

Birthday Pint at Guinness Brewery

St. James' Gate, Guinness Brewery

Fusilier's Arch, St. Stephen's Green

View of Lake and O'Connell Bridge, St. Stephen's Green

Front Arch, Trinity College

Parliament Square, Trinity College

Ha'Penny Bridge, River Liffey

All Smiles on St. Patrick's Day

Amongst the Crowds on O'Connell Street

Dublin's Youth Enjoy the Parade

No Room Left as the Parade Begins

Snow and Sleet Fall Outside Villa Park

Liverpool's Fabio Aurelio Takes a Corner Kick

Monday, March 19, 2007

Good Craic in Dublin
The long weekend in Dublin is behind us. This great city showcased its passion for beer, St. Patrick's Day and sport and we had a great time. The week began with a tour of the Guinness brewery on Robert's birthday, and to no ones surprise a pint of Guinness makes a great brunch.
The remainder of the day and the following day were spent exploring the city (and landmarks like the Dublin Spire, pictured above) by foot and by bus tour. We went to Trinity College Library to take a look at The Book of Kells, described by some as the peak of Western calligraphy and illumination, and left very impressed with its detail and beauty. We also took a nice walk in St. Stephen's Green before turning in prior the St. Patrick's Day festivities the next day. St. Patrick's Day began with a trip to the city center and jockeying for position along the parade route. We and 500,000 of our closest friends took to the streets and cheered on all of the parade participants until our butts fell asleep from sitting on sidewalk railings. Then it was on to the pub to watch Ireland's 6 Nations (rugby) match away to Italy. Italy fell to the Irish 24-51 and the city was alight with anticipation of the France vs. Scotland match which, if the result came out right, would see the Irish claim the 6 Nations Championship. It wasn't to be and the French dominated the Scottish to win the title on points differential. The rest of the afternoon was spent in Malahide, a quaint seaside village North of Dublin, were we had Robert's birthday dinner two nights before. A short night's rest was had before we left Dublin early Sunday morning for Birmingham and Liverpool's visit to Aston Villa.

Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool FC
We arrived in Birmingham shortly before kickoff and were battered with a combination of sleet and snow for a few minutes before the sun decided to come out. But the sun never came into our section of the stadium and we spent most of the match just trying to stay warm. If the play was any better perhaps that could have given us warmth, but quality football never came and were bored by a dull draw before returning home to Swansea. But we were, however, treated to a very impressive individual performance by Aston Villa striker John Carew, who kept Liverpool on their toes and kept Villa in the match.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

St. Patrick's Day in Dublin
In Angie's travels no place is more beloved or oft spoken of than Dublin, Ireland. And since we're so near to the Emerald Isle and Robert's birthday is so conveniently situated on March 15th, we've decided to take the pilgrimage to Dublin to celebrate his birthday and stay over for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations on the 17th. Guinness for everyone! We leave Wednesday and fly back on Sunday, not to Swansea but to Birmingham, where Aston Villa FC play host to Liverpool at Villa Park to round off an ideal holiday. Brilliant!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Picnic at Three Cliffs and Pennard Castle
With our first travel-free weekend in a while we decided to take advantage of the spring-like weather on Saturday and have a picnic on the Gower. We chose Three Cliffs since Angie hadn't been there before and also because it has a nice hike; we needed to earn our brunch. We took along all of our brunch favorites: baguette with brie and prosciutto, bagels and lox, prosecco and profiteroles. We sat perched on the edge of Pennard Castle overlooking Pennard Pill and Three Cliffs Bay enjoying the beautiful view and tasty food.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My 2p About Shevchenko
As you may have read in the early postings on Offside: A Football Chronicle I have taken a swipe at Chelsea and their distortion of the English football and world football transfer markets. Ukrainian center forward Andriy Shevchenko is one of the latest examples of Chelsea spending. And at between
£30m-£54 I'll say he was more appropriately priced than a £21m Shaun Wright-Phillips, however, he has not shown the form that earned him that price tag or his 2004 European Footballer of the Year honor.
His time as Chelsea FC has been blighted by poor form and constant allusions to his close relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abromovich and his strained relationship with his manager Jose Mourinho. So, to no ones surprise he recently became tangled in the middle of a feud between Abramovich and Mourinho and has been forced into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This is what life at Chelsea FC can become, and lost in the drama of a medium-sized club with big club and world-beating aspirations is the poor displays of team football and the great players that seem to shed their talents for a shot at glory. Look no further than the once incredible talent of the aforementioned Wright-Phillips as an example. Now that Andriy Shevchenko is slowly becoming a part of the tragic script of the soap opera that is Chelsea FC, it is, in my opinion, a perfect opportunity for a real football team with a real history and genuine reputation to step in and save him from this terrible fate. Queue the 18-time English league and 5-time European champions Liverpool.
Liverpool Football Club is a team on the verge of greatness and lack that one piece of the puzzle to take them to the top. With the exception of its front line, Liverpool are a complete team with strong depth just waiting for that cutting edge that Shevchenko could provide. Historically Liverpool have never spent the money that could lure a player like Shevchenko to Anfield but the attitude at LFC has changed, and the arrival of the recent financial takeover by US businessmen George Gillet and Tom Hicks could put and end to the club's 17 year spell without a Premiership title. More money for transfers and a new 60,000 capacity stadium await supporters on Merseyside and Shevchenko could be just the type of player to bring the glory years back to Liverpool.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Highlights: Anniversary Tour

Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula

Jeffray Hydrating, Practicing for the Mumbles Mile

The Reverend and his Newcastle Brown Ale

Solano penalty saved by Wigan's John Filan, JJB Stadium

Amen Corner, near St. Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle

Castle Keep, Newcastle

The Tyne Bridge

Millennium Bridge on the Tyne

Taking in a View of the Tyne from the Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge, Tyne River

The Jeff's enjoying a laugh in Newcastle

Player's View of Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales

Fuller's Brewery, Chiswick, London

Fox & Hounds in Chiswick, London, adjacent to Fuller's Brewery

Stevenage Road Stand, Craven Cottage, Fulham FC, 1905