Saturday, 29 November 2008

My Niece is a Double Gold Medal Winner!!

The IV Commonwealth 10-pin Bowling Championships are taking place in Belfast.

Team England, which includes my 22-year old niece Joanne Allsebrook (known to all as JoJo - see pic) are doing extremely well.
Team England consists of JoJo, Zara Glover, Paul Moor and Darren Cundy. JoJo and Zara won the Women's Doubles and the team has won the Team event. Paul & Darren took Silver in the Men's Doubles and Zara finished top of the "All Events" table.

(JoJo and Zara)

The final event is now underway. In the "Masters", the top 12 bowlers in the male and female competition battle it out for the title. After 6 games (halfway through) Jo is leading the Women's table with Zara in 2nd place and in the Mens Masters, Paul Moor is top of the table and Darren Cundy is 3rd.

Six more games then the top three in each table play for the overall title.

Good Luck Guys!

Update Sunday - Jo finished third in the Masters and adds a Bronze Medal to her two Golds.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Sorry I haven't posted since 22nd.... it's been a long week.

I'm back home now (arrived at Manny airport Thursday around 10 a.m.) and slowly getting over the jet lag. Tried to post a couple of times this week from various hotel rooms but failed miserably so please accept apologies for the length of this note - there's some catching up to do!

Anyway - after a nice weekend in Fremont Ohio, - (pic - Ohio Sunset Saturday night)

I drove to Grand Rapids Michigan on Sunday afternoon 23rd Nov. Uneventful journey on a lovely day as the pic below illustrates. Think it's the I-96 but I'm not 100% sure.

Had a relaxing evening at the Radisson Hotel and prepared for my meeting the next morning. They had predicted snow but I did not expect what greeted me as I arrived at the customers premises on Monday morning!

And that was only the start! After a meeting and lunch, I headed for Bellfontaine Ohio. Around 4 inches of snow had settled in Grand Rapids but the weather conditions got better as I went further south. It still took me close on 6.1/2 hours to do what should be a 4.1/2 hour drive but I got there eventually.

Tuesday meeting at Belle Center Air Tools was, as always, very relaxed and friendly. These people are some the nicest I have met on my travels and the visit always feels like a "family" visit. Not surprising I guess when you consider this is a small family owned business. We discussed what we needed to, had lunch then I went back to my hotel. Julie & Jay (and their 8-month old daughter Jalie) joined me for a very nice dinner and at around 8 pm, I drove back to my hotel for a good nights rest before heading for home Wednesday.

I set off around 9:30 a.m. to drive to Pittsburgh where I'd catch a flight to Newark, NJ and then to Manchester. The drive went smoothly enough but Ohio and Pennsylvania had contrasting weather - fine and sunny in Ohio but snowy and grey in Pittsburgh.

Anyway - on arrival at the airport where I was to leave the rental car, I had a moan about the sat-nav unit they had rented me. It was worse than useless because it wouldn't charge whilst in the car and turned itself off at random intervals! Not a great help when it's supposed to be helping you find places.

I checked in at Continental Airlines and was offered earlier flights! Only $50 to change it and it meant I'd get to Manchester at 7:30 Thursday morning instead of 10 a.m.! I should have known - after the events of the trip so far......

We got on the plane to take us to Newark NJ and pushed back from the gate. After about 20 minutes of not moving the pilot announced a technical problem meant we had to go back to the gate and everyone had to get off!!

Of course - that blew my connection to the earlier Newark NJ flight so I ended up coming home on the flights I'd originally booked, having paid an extra $50 for the privilege!

Popped into the office for a couple of hours this morning (it was stocktaking time so I didn't hang around!) and now you're pretty much up-to-date!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Told you it was cold...

Picture shows icicle which formed underneath the rental car.....

....and that was around noon today (Saturday) and after I'd been driving it! Now that's cold!!

Greetings from Fremont Ohio, USA

Made it to the weekend.... Yesterday, I woke in Montreal and met with my client. After lunch, flew from Montreal to Cleveland Ohio where I'd pick up a rental car and drive an hour or so to here.

It was a difficult drive up here from Cleveland where they have 6 inches of snow! As we were approaching the airport, the pilot announced that we were in a holding pattern because they needed to clear the ice and snow off the runway before us and several others could land!!!!
By the time we'd landed, I'd got my bag and caught the bus to the outskirts of the airport to the rental car place, it was gone 9 pm.

Eventually, after a lot of faffing with the sat nav (the guy at the rental desk couldn't get it to recognise this address.) I got on my way. (I had directions from Google so it wasn't hypercritical.)

Anyway, I made my way outside to the car and after clearing several inches of snow off it (seriously, it was at least 5 inches deep on top of the car and still coming!) I found he'd fixed me up with a Toyota RAV4 with 4 wheel drive. That will help you he said - 4 wheel drive will stop you slipping and sliding off the road. "Great" I thought.

So - me and a lot of others crawled at walking pace across compacted snow from the car park to the highway, then 20 miles an hour max through the slush and ice on the I-480 (like the M1 - 3 lanes each direction). Fortunately, the road was pretty well lit - although I couldn't see the lane markings properly - so it was OK if I took it steady. Max 35 to 40 mph was the deal!

I was driving straight into the wind and the snow was still pretty heavy for the next 20 miles or so. Then about 30 miles from here, the snow stopped and the roads were mostly clear and dry. There was a light dusting on the car park here but not much at all.

There's no restaurant here but there are eating places across the street. I couldn't be bothered to see if any of them were still open so I got a packet of chocolate chip cookies from a vending machine and a bottle of coke. I had a very full breakfast and lunch was a big smoked meat sandwich and chips so I wasn't particularly hungry.

It's now Saturday morning - I've just had a light "continental" Breakfast (Juice, Danish, bit of fruit, coffee) and the sun is beaming down. It's still cold but I'm going to explore the area in a bit to see what Fremont has to offer. More reports and (hopefully) pics follow!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Told you it was snowing....

View from my hotel room window - Toronto - 20th November - 7:30 a.m.

It's Snowing....

Toronto - Wednesday evening (Thursday morning UK time.) - just got back from dinner with a customer and it's snowing. Locals tell me it isn't going to be much - forecasts range from 2cm to 5cm (1" to 2" approx in old money) so that's alright then!

I have to go to Montreal tomorrow afternoon - just love taking off from a snow bound airport... everybody needs a little excitement in their life I guess.

If the snow is on the ground in the morning, I'll post a picture for you all - I am not going outside now cos it's dark and minus 5 C - I'll take some pictures from my room window in the morning.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A Travellers Woes....

Monday, got out of bed at 5 a.m. I'd stayed overnight at Bewleys Hotel Manchester airport - nice room .. see pic.... this meant the Duchess did not have to drive me to Manchester airport at some ungodly hour on Monday morning. (Cos I'm a considerate sort of bloke me you know!)

Then flew Manchester to Amsterdam to Toronto and, 20 hours later, arrived in Sudbury Ontario where it was minus 2 Celsius and there were snow flurries.

Met by my old Sheffield mate (he's also my customer in Sudbury) and had a burger and chips - manna from heaven after eating airline food all day! Then it was back to the hotel to unpack and try to get some kip. When I opened the bag I found it had been ransacked at some security check or other. My gear was all over the place and 4 diaries and pens I was carrying had gone.

Anyway - can't prove who did it - three flights and two airlines involved - but it made me swear just a little.

Did the business in Sudbury and headed back for Toronto - from where I am creating this post. Whilst waiting for the plane, I watched a terrific sunset at Sudbury airport - see the pic which was taken through a scruffy window and does not do it justice!

Then found on arrival at Toronto airport that I'd lost my cell phone so it's been another great day! Managed to call the Duchess from a pay phone - 20 to midnight UK time - but fortunately, she was still up after going to watch Belper v Stocksbridge - and she contacted Orange who have "cancelled" the phone. I have to call them when I get back to sort out what to do next. I sincerely hope that the bloke who said "Things can only get better" knew what he was talking about! I have another week and a bit of travel so there is time for things to improve I suppose!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Off on my travels....

Tomorrow (Sunday) I set off on a tour of customers in Canada and the USA. I'm back in the UK on Nov 27th and back from jet lag etc probably a couple of days later!

I'm taking my Canon Powershot camera and the laptop as usual and I'll post from "the road" at every opportunity.

See Yer Later!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Belper Reserves 2 - 0 Mickleover, Derbyshire Divisional Cup

Had a look at the Belper reserves the other night (Tuesday). they were at home to Mickleover RBL in a Derbyshire Divisional Cup Tie.

It was freezing cold but we quite enjoyed the game and Belper won it to progress to the next round.

I'm not good at "Under floodlight" photography so the pics I have are, essentially, rubbish but I had a play with the video camera and managed to "get" Belper's 2nd goal..... click here...

The goal is way better than the camera work by the way!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Belper 1-1 Goole Town... Then the lights went out - Saturday 8th November 2008

Well, to be truthful, the problem was that some of them never came on!. After 70 minutes, the ref decided that the game could not continue. I think he realised that Belper looked likely to score and it was better to abandon it at 1 - 1 rather than with one team leading and 10 mins left!

Mind you - it WAS pretty dark by the time he said "Enough!" as the above shot (taken after 75 mins) shows. (1600 ISO with 1/125th shutter).
Anyway the debate in the bar afterwards centred on whether Ben Walker's suspension had been served and if the three yellow cards picked up by Belper players still stand? (Ant Wilson's spectaular "overhead kick" goal will certainly be wiped from the record!) Who knows? We shall have to wait and see!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Things that make you go ... GRRRRR!!!!

After a hard week - a rant on a Friday gets it all off your chest..... 2 stories that made me growl this week.........

"Abandon the Red Poppy and wear a White one!"
Christians should think about wearing white poppies to mark Remembrance Day, rather than red ones, a religious think tank has advocated.
The group, called Ekklesia, believes the traditional red variety of poppy is "politically correct" - and less Christian than white ones.

It says the red poppy implies redemption can come through war, whereas a white poppy would suggest redemption through Christian belief.
The red poppy has been worn on lapels since after the end of World War One to honour those who died in battle.
The flower was chosen because it flourished in the fields of Flanders where millions of soldiers perished in trench warfare.

What a load of old Poppy!

and whilst we're at it.....

Poppy appeal loses money due to 'bureaucracy gone mad'
POPPY Appeal organisers say they are losing £700 a day because their stall has been forced to move from its normal spot due to 'red tape'.
The stand, manned by the Newark and Royal British Legion, has been on the corner of the Market Place beside the bank and the Town Hall in Newark for 50 years. This year the highways department at Notts County Council realised the pitch is on an area designated as highways.
Officials insisted those who run the stall must have a licence. Now the poppy stand has been moved to the centre of the Market Place where organisers claim a lot of people have been unable to find it.

Poppy Appeal organiser Geoffrey Meakin said: "No one for the county council has told us why we have been moved. They say we are an obstruction, which is not true.''
Legion member Chris Green said: "The effect is a loss of £700 a day because our supporters cannot find the stand.

A county council spokesman said: "For safety reasons it was important that the previous practice of placing charity stalls in front of the bank should cease as it is important that emergency and other access is maintained."

(Poppys have been sold on the site for 50 years but now some jumped up jobsworth says "Stop it.! It's dangerous!!")

What a load of old Poppy!.
An illustration in two stories of how political correctness and health and safety constraints have got totally out of proportion!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Belper Town 4 - 1 Leek Town

Another good home win for the Nailers on a damp and misty night at Christchurch Meadow.

As usual, pictures were provided by "Snapper" Harrison and you can see them here:-

A strange game in many ways, not helped by a poor display from the referee who gave some very puzzling decisions (for both sides.)

Still, it's 3 more points and we progress up the league. "Onwards & Upwards" as my mate Joe says!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

It's Almost Over.... Thank Goodness!

The race is almost run but I heard on Breakfast TV this morning that between them, the two candidates have spent around US$ 700 million in 20 months on the campaign trail.

I find that slightly obscene. There are needy and deserving organisations in the USA, (as there are in the UK) who have to beg and grovel to get any sort of funding and who could achieve some real good with just one tenth of that sort of cash.

Modern Politics I guess but it's still wrong!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Autumn in my Garden...

I've been playing with my camera!

I like the pictures - what do YOU think?