Trains

Like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, I love trains. Have done since I was a kid. I used to travel between Salisbury and Southampton on a regular basis, from quite a young age, and became fascinated with everything to do with the railway. A little later, a group of friends at school were heavily into trains and trainspotting. IMG_0918For a time I really got into all of that, and would happily travel around the area searching for rare and unusual trains to spot. It didn’t last long, a couple of years at most, because then I found my true calling… HOCKEY! Having been introduced to hockey at club level, nothing else compared. So it was that my love of trains was consigned to a little cupboard right at the back of my mind, a little forgotten but always still there. Living close to the railway, IMG_0940I can sometimes tell when something special comes through the station. The occasional steam train, the odd speciality, is given away by their particular sound. It’s not often that I travel by train, because in general I only ever travel with my wife and kids, making the train a more expensive option than the car. But there really is nothing like travelling by train. I love it.
This week has been half term, so of course I get to look after my kids even more than in a regular week, which just thinking about it, doesn’t seem possible. With my wife having a rare day off on Tuesday, which was an absolutely gorgeous day (a little cold in the morning, but no coats, just jumpers in the afternoon), we wandered, nice and early (as is our way) down to the lovely town of Swanage in Dorset.
As well as the fantastic beach (which we had a lovely walk along with the tide as far out as I can ever remember seeing it, in the afternoon) the fabulous shops, the great parks, the one thing I love doing while I’m there, much like some of the characters in my books (they do exactly the same thing) is visit the renowned steam railway. IMG_0920What a great adventure. You wouldn’t think it was possible to get so much satisfaction from an hour on a train (up to Norden Park and Ride and back, past Corfe Castle). But I did. The steam locomotive, the carriages, leaning out of the window to take some pictures… all took me back to my youth. It was wonderful and I’m sure if allowed, or time and money were no object, I would be very happy to just go up and down the line, never coming off for weeks at a time. Perhaps instead of a retirement home in my future, a retirement carriage on that railway should be what I hold out for. Anyhow, if you’re anywhere near, I can thoroughly recommend Swanage as a day out or more. Even if the sun’s not shining, there’s still plenty to do. A lovely day was had by the Cude family, with the children singing their usual hymn when it was time to go. “DAD! Do we really have to go? Can’t we stay just a little longer?”
Until next time. TOOT TOOT!

Trying Time

Sorry…….it’s been a while. Life, for whatever reason, seems to constantly get in the way.
Christmas has been and gone. While we had, for the most part, a great Christmas day, it was marred by my elder daughter feeling very ill in the evening with her IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension). We very nearly called the hospital, but in the end, didn’t.

A Rare Day Out At Hengistbury Watching The Sun Rise

A Rare Day Out At Hengistbury Watching The Sun Rise

The following day (Boxing Day) we were all as a family supposed to be going up to Burton to see my mother-in-law, but because of how unwell my eldest was, we decided it would be best for her to stay here with me, while my wife and my youngest journeyed north.
Looking back, it was a good call, as my eldest became very ill later on Boxing Day, which culminated in us having to go to the hospital, eventually staying over into the next day.

Things were not going well. To top off the taxi ride to the hospital, the uncomfortable fold down bed, the continual worry and the lack of sleep, I was at the time struggling with two broken ribs, picked up in a hockey match on 20th December. I should point out that I’m a stupid man, who is seriously too old to continue to chase the stupid ball around with his stick on the pitch, however much I enjoy doing so. My ribs have pretty much healed now, but I have yet to rejoin my team mates and take to the pitch. Soon!
We managed to struggle through the trip to the hospital but I’m not really sure how, and made it to the appointment with the neurologist two days later.

My darling daughter had the dosage of her medicine increased, with a view to seeing if that would make any difference. It hasn’t. Gradually, from sometime around September, she’s been getting worse. The state of her one overall headache, which she had had for a year and a half now, has gone up, with December being a particularly bad month. The headaches have started to wake her up in the night because the pain’s been so bad, and she’s been so rough she’s had to have days off school, on top of the fact that the best she can do at the moment is four half days anyway. Our next appointment with the neurologist is this coming Monday, and as far as I’m aware a change of medication is imminent. I find it difficult to know what to think. On one hand, a change is good because something HAS to be done. Day in, day out I watch her struggle, sometimes from the moment she gets up, sometimes much later on in the day. She does try to hide it, but as someone who spends the most time with her, I would say I’m pretty good as spotting when she does. It breaks my heart to see her constantly in so much pain, that and the fact that she gets down when she can’t go to school and see her friends. She deserves to be a normal child, doing normal things…spending time with her friends at and outside of school. But it’s difficult with everything that she’s going through. As parents we try our best to support her and let her do the things she wants. But it simply isn’t always possible, leading to frustration on both her, and our part.
The bad part in the change in medication is that as far as I’m aware, it’s just one step closer to her having to have a shunt fitted into her head.

Unexpected Arrival Of Snow In Early Febuary

Unexpected Arrival Of Snow In Early Febuary

Nobody wants that, not the neurologists, us her parents, or indeed her. The further down this road we go though, the closer the spectre of that treatment gets. I hope with all my heart it can be avoided. Some of the IIH forums that we belong to very often show other children with shunts, normally having issues, and I suppose because it’s a forum, then you’ll mainly see the bad things and it all scares the living daylights out of me. Many doctors have already told us that most children go on to live a normal and fulfilling life with a shunt fitted, but I find it very hard to believe that. Other doctors have told us a very different story. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t constantly play on my mind.
January came and went, with various bugs ravishing members of the Cude household. My lovely younger daughter was hit by something and became very ill for a week, involving trips to the hospital and doctors. In fact, three hospital trips in 24 hours, which if I’m not mistaken, is something of a record for us. This all happened in a week where they were doing particularly wonderful stuff at school and she was devastated that she couldn’t go in. It always makes me incredibly proud that both my children love to go to school and work so hard when they are there. I think they probably get that from their gorgeous mother.
As for me, well I’ve been working hard in the small moments I can find to do just that. My third book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’ is just being edited, I’m trying to sort out the cover for it and I’ve started writing the fourth book, the title of which has already been decided but I’m not going to reveal it, not just yet, anyway.

My Second Book. Now Available in Paperback

My Second Book. Now Available in Paperback

I have to say, of all the parts that go into putting a book together, the editing is the part I hate the most. When I finish writing a book I’m always so excited and a little relieved, but then the thought of editing it always brings me down. I know how necessary it is, and for the most part I’m a perfectionist, like most other writers I suppose, wanting my work to be perfect, without a single grammatical error. It’s amazing how, since I’ve been doing all of this, I’ll read either a new book or something from my collection, and find spelling mistakes in mainstream book titles by very famous authors. I find it mindboggling. And I’m not just talking one or two mistakes either. I won’t mention the authors but if I did, rest assured you’d know them. It makes me wonder how such a thing is even possible. Surely they and the publishers have a host of different people proof read their work before publication…….they simply must do. So how do these errors slip through the net? I’d love to know. And do they change the mistakes once they’re pointed out, in say later revisions of the books? I find it fascinating. How dull am I? Don’t answer that, it was rhetorical.
Anyhow, that’s where I’m at. Editing as fast as I can, trying to sort out the latest cover, while writing the fourth instalment when time allows, all the time looking after two fabulous children and one wonderful wife. If time could somehow find a way of wrapping itself around me and allow me a little more of it to do the things I love, writing, hockey, etc, that would just be super duper. So if you’re listening time……….you know what to do.
Until next time.

Exciting Times

I apologise for not having posted for a while, but things have been more than a little hectic with one thing and another, and that’s without the added Christmas factor. The last couple of weeks have been one carol concert after another, as well as a million other school things to remember. Don’t get me wrong……..it’s great, I absolutely love this time of year, but two children, at two different schools…….just so many things go on. It’s mindboggling. IMG_0064In between the buying of presents, meeting up with friends, my birthday and all of the school stuff, something really quite exciting happened. It was only a little thing really, but it sent shivers down my spine when it happened. Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Chilling Revelation (my second book) arrived through the post in paperback form. What’s so extraordinary about that? Well, it’s only been available as an ebook since its release in March, so to see a physical copy was really rather nice. It all stems from the fact that the publisher of my first book, Authors Online, went unexpectedly out of business nearly two months ago, owing money not just to me, but to many hundreds, if not thousands, of other authors. It has been incredibly time consuming to sort out, and in some respects that is still ongoing. So there was all of that to be sorted out, which thanks to my wonderful wife, it now is. The stunning looking new paperback of Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat From The Past can now be bought from Amazon and the second book should hopefully be available within the next few weeks in that format. Given that all I’ve been trying to do for the last two or three months is finish writing the third book, Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy, all of this has been a very unwelcome interruption. But I am getting there. I’m about to start looking at the second edit (I hate editing………it drives me nuts) and I would hope that I’m no further away than a few months from it being ready to be published. This one has been extremely hard work given everything my family has gone through in the last year, with my elder daughter continuing to be very unwell, and only attending her new school sporadically. With Christmas on top of all of that, things at the moment feel very difficult and most certainly not like Christmas at all. Despite having got everyone’s Christmas present, we haven’t been out anywhere on a Christmas shopping trip at all this year. With everything that’s been going on, mainly my daughter’s illness, it just hasn’t been possible. Normally a nice trip out to Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, or my particular favourite at this time of year, Bath, are usually the places we can be found visiting, with a view to Christmas shopping. But no. 114It all feels very wrong indeed. At the start of the month we managed a walk along the beach at Bournemouth for about two hours, the kids hunting to see who could find the best shells, after which quite accidentally we stumbled across a wonderful ice rink that had been set up in the Winter Gardens there. Despite the long walk, and having played a high tempo game of hockey the previous day, we conceded to the children’s request and all four of us went skating. It was brilliant! I can thoroughly recommend it if you’re nearby. But that is the only thing remotely Christmas-like we’ve done all December, and even with all the decorations and the tree up, to me, it still doesn’t feel like Christmas. On the positive front, at least we’re not stuck in hospital like we were this time last year.

Anyhow, enough waffling from me. Thank you all for reading, and I hope you get everything you want for Christmas, have a wonderful time, and have a fantastic New Year.

Men’s Hockey 4 XI Report – 29th November 2014

Salisbury 4’s     2:1    Basingstoke Vikings

On a dank, miserable and foggy evening Salisbury made hard work of this win against 10 man Basingstoke. However after the last two disappointing losses a win is a win and takes them above todays opponents into 4th place just behind Bournemouth on goal difference.

Despite positional and personnel changes Salisbury started the brighter of the two sides and they achieved a number of insertions into the away sides “D”. Basingstoke however were set up to defend and it was close to the 20 minute mark before James Palmer forced a goal from a fairly narrow angle on the left. Salisbury also gained a small number of short corners but the procedure was not firing correctly.

The second half saw the mist cover parts of the pitch reducing visibility to less than the length of the playing area. Salisbury picked up somewhat and their youngsters performed much better in mid-field than in previous weeks. Henry Smith, Phil Alison, Akram Ghauri and James Wade used their youthful speed and endurance much better but the home side failed to penetrate their opponents “D” as they should have with the man advantage. Eventually the second goal came from a short corner: two shots were saved by the Basingstoke keeper before David Hillier stuck a hard shot that left him no chance of a third.

The away team continued their pressing and in spite of the inspired defensive work of Paul Cude and others and with Salisbury continuing to give the ball away needlessly they managed to score in the last 10 minutes. This lead to a nerve tingling finale which Salisbury managed to survive.

MoM: Paul Cude

DoD: Phil Alison

Umpire: Tim Orchard & Alastair Barrett

Team: Matt Salmon, Andy Manders, Paul Cude, Mark Briggs, James Palmer, Howard Smith, Henry Smith, David Hillier, Jim Nicholson, Alan Garrett, Phil Alison, James Wade, Akram Ghauri, Andy Scrase.

Life and Writing

I haven’t posted anything for some time… sorry, but LIFE seems to have somehow gotten in the way. Having just finished a ten day bout of flu, I have just been prescribed a course of antibiotics because I have sinusitis. GREAT! Before that, it was desperately needed work on the house, a family funeral, as well as all the normal things: looking after one sick child; taking her to school, infrequently; getting the other child to school; swimming lessons; choir, as well as trying to keep the house tidy and keep up with my social media duties.

A Great Day Out on Halloween! Twenty Degrees At 9am

A Great Day Out on Halloween! Twenty Degrees At 9am

On top of all that, the publisher of my books ceased to trade, owing money to not only me, but to thousands of other authors. The time spent trying to sort out the books, get them republished etc, has been a nightmare, taking up a massive amount of time for me and my wife, who has been nothing short of fantastic in dealing with everything. All in all, hectic doesn’t begin to describe things.
There has been one positive note. Currently I’m just reading through the first draft of my third book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’. Although I’m still some way off publishing it (the editing always seems to take ages), just to have the first draft feels like such an achievement, given everything that’s gone on in our lives over the last year. We’ve spent so much time in hospital and looking after my sick daughter, it’s taken all my spare time to get as far as I have, and although it means more work still, I can’t wait until it’s ready to be released.
In some ways, this third book is already very different from the first two. Of course, I still have dreams about the story, (how it progresses, little pieces to add in, tiny details that seem important, etc.) but the way in which I’ve written it is very different. My first book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past’ was written totally in the order that it appears. For whatever reason, I could only write it chapter by chapter, in the exact same order that it is published. At times I would get writer’s block, and be stuck until I could move past it. But before I’d even started to write that first book, I always knew the ending, in the most exact detail. At no point, however, did I think of writing that ending, even when I’d got stuck and couldn’t push through the to the next part of the book. I don’t know what other writers do but, for me, this was how the book had to be written.

Sea Shell Hunting During Half-Term

Sea Shell Hunting During Half-Term

For the second book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, things were a little different. Again, I knew the storyline in quite a lot of detail, but when I got stuck, which I did on occasion, I found it very easy to just skip ahead and write another chapter, saving it until I reached the point that it was required. This seemed to work well for me and I would say I wasted very little time, if any at all, fitting in all the separate chapters and then allowing myself to focus on whatever it was that was phasing me.
Finishing the second book, and moving onto the third, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’, I felt a new approach was needed, purely because there was so much going on in the series, all of which I needed to fit in. So before I’d even written a word, I sat down and spent some time planning out exactly what would happen. I’ve never done that before, because I’ve always known the story in my head, well… the really important parts, with the smaller details coming out of my writing and filling in the gaps as I moved along. But having planned out each and every chapter, I started to write it in a different way. I didn’t start at the start, if that makes sense. I picked the chapters that I’d already seen in my mind, and started writing them, storing them all up to be put together later. And this was the way it progressed, lots and lots of individual chapters, all having to be put together at the end. Is it a more successful process than the other ways? I have no idea. It seemed as taxing as the others, but maybe a little quicker. I suppose I’ll have some idea after I’ve read through the first draft. I’d love to know how other writers put their books together. Perhaps there’s a more efficient way, or perhaps each to their own. I do wonder if they have a writing break after they’ve finished a book. Although I know what happens in the follow up, it seems I could do with rest from writing for a while. I’ve always aimed for a thousand words a day, most of the time achieving more, and on some days, considerably more, but those days are rare and far between. I also know that I should still be trying to write a thousand words a day on the fourth book, but with the editing, LIFE, and everything else getting in the way, I’m finding the writing really tough. Perhaps a break for a few weeks will revitalise me, in the end, doing me loads of good. Who knows? Any advice welcome.

Salisbury Men’s Hockey 4 XI Report – 8th November 2014

Aldershot & Farnham 4’s    2:1     Salisbury 4’s

Salisbury had to endure the long drive to Aldershot through a deluge of Biblical proportions on Saturday for this league match against the bottom side.  However it all came undone with the unavailability/loss of four experienced mid-fielders from the previous game.

Salisbury’s youngsters tried to fill this gap but were sometimes muscled out of possession in dangerous positions. However the defence played well and Barrett in goal did not see an excessive amount of action. Salisbury at times reverted to “old fashioned” grass hockey with attempts at 60 yard passes, most of which were easily cut out by a well ordered defence. Aldershot went ahead from their second short corner with a strong well placed shot inside the right hand post.

The away side did not create much up front during the first half with the exception of a ball from the right which Garrett pulled just wide of the post and Henry Smith scoring the equaliser. On the right hand side of the pitch Hillier nearly overran the ball over the goal line but just managed to one handedly pull the ball back for Henry Smith to fire into the bottom left corner of the goal. Flashes of skill emanated from Fred Bond and Chris Pearl but all too often there was no final ball.

The second half saw both sides intensify their work rate but overall it was a scrappy game. Salisbury throughout the match gave the ball away far too much with poor passes straight to the Aldershot team or by trying to beat too many players in isolation. Despite the magnificent efforts of Cude and Alison in particular Aldershot took the lead 18 minutes into the second half when Salisbury were found wanting. Barrett saved well form a hard shot but only managed to push the ball to one of the home side’s younger players who reacted first and was able to slide the ball home from a narrow angle from the right of the goal. Henry Smith up front was given too many long balls to chase and despite increasingly frantic efforts from Salisbury they could not find the rhythm nor composure to draw level and a second loss in this seasons league campaign was endured.

MoM: Philip Alison

DoD: David Hillier

Umpire: Howard smith, Alan Garrett

Team: Alastair Barrett, Andy Manders, James Palmer, Paul Cude, David Hillier, Jim Nicholson, Alan Garrett, Chris Pearl, Philip Alison, Fred Bond, Henry Lloyd, Henry Smith, Howard Smith

Salisbury Men’s Hockey 4 XI Report – 1st November 2014

Salisbury 4’s     6:0     City of Portsmouth 4’s

Portsmouth only had 10 players available for this match (school half term) and this weakness was exploited from the off by a motivated Salisbury side. Despite lending Portsmouth one of their squad for the second half the home sides dominance was shown in that Salmon in goal only touched the ball once in the entire game and that was to give the ball to a defender for a 16 yard hit!! 

The score line should in fact have been a great deal worse for the away side but for some very fine goalkeeping by Portsmouth’s goalie and poor finishing by a raft of Salisbury players: worst amongst them (on his own admission) was Man of the Match and non-scorer Palmer.

On their second short corner Jon Craig’s shot made a resounding thump as it found the back board. At the next the keeper saved from both Craig and S. Ghauri before Garrett volleyed into the net. Despite numerous other attempts on the Portsmouth goal the half time score remained 2:0.

Young Chris Pearl played for the away side for the second half and was one of their two best players but the efforts of Portsmouth in the first half showed in the latter quarter when Salisbury rattled in another 4 goals from Jamie Short, Jim Nicholson, Phil Pepper and Akram Ghauri. It was of special importance for Akram was it was his first goal for the men’s side.

Strong performances from Phil Pepper, on his debut game, plus a goal, and also from Paul Cude, as usual,  whose many interceptions in mid-field prevented Portsmouth from entering the home side’s “D” and set up numerous attacks. In defence Neil Twentymans first game this season was solid and was supported by Manders and Scrase at the back.

Jamie Short who is only able to play the odd game each season showed a big improvement in his game and contributed greatly with young legs and skill in mid-filed. The unfortunate Will Smith again had muscle problems and withdrew whilst DoD Andy Scrase on his first game of the season showed Roy Hodgson what he is missing in the England football squad!

Three wins from four is a good start to the season but bigger challenges are to be faced but this result and performance was a good fillip to the squad. Salisbury are currently second equal in the league with two other teams all on 9 points.

MoM: James Palmer

DoD: Andy Scrase

Umpire: Andrew Buckingham

Team: Matt Salmon, Andy Manders, Paul Cude, Neil Twentyman, James Palmer, Jim Nicholson, Alan Garrett, Chris Pearl, Akram Ghauri, Saboor Ghauri, Phil Pepper, Jon Craig, Will Smith, Jamie Short

I Dream of Writing………and Have Writing Dreams.

Dragons, hockey, adventure, mayhem, twists and turns…………….all the things I seem to dream about. I go to bed tired, and at some point find myself caught up in the plot of the series of books I’m trying to write. New Cover All 3 Characters Cut Out copy croppedWhether it’s something tiny and detailed that the entire storyline hinges on, an overall feature or direction that the plot should take, homing in on a particular character trait, trying to answer a question about dragons or the world that they live in that I’m stuck on in the waking (well, who really knows!) part of my life.

All of these things……………I wouldn’t say torment me, because if I had the time to knit them together, I’d be on about my fourth or fifth book which would be great, but they do persist in throwing themselves at me night after night. I don’t seem to sleep badly, it just seems like something that goes on inside my tiny brain, while my body is resting.

So with this in mind, does anyone, again suffer isn’t really the right word, because a lot of the time it’s a blessing, but does anyone else go through the same sort of thing? My wife says she rarely dreams, or if she does, rarely remembers. For me, it’s either there the instant I wake up, or later that morning little snippets will tickle my consciousness, until I finally put them all together and remember exactly what it was I’d dreamed about/discovered/solved. It would seem that I’ve been able to remember most of my dreams for many years now, and most of the time they seem to be of some use. As someone who likes to tinker with computers (either building them physically, adding new software, or just generally fixing glitches or problems), I have in the past, quite often found myself puzzled by something I can’t fix, or frustrated about not knowing what to do next. When this happens, nearly all of the time I will wake up with an idea about how to fix said problem, or a few ideas about other things/options to try. This doesn’t just apply to computers; it might be something around the house……..how to create more space, something to do with the garden…….or even some other part of my life, such as friendships, hockey or work.

Now that I’ve written this down, it does seem a little ‘odd’, but everything I’ve said is true, and just seems normal to me. It does at the moment seem to focus heavily on the writing, maybe because I’m trying desperately hard to finish my third book, which is already longer than the second (which was about 216,000 words), and my best guess would say needs at least another 30,000 words to finish it. Perhaps the dreams are focused on this because some of my writing is done later on in the evening. It’s hard to find the time to write…..my children (one of whom is really quite ill), my wife, job, housework, cooking, etc………even the dreaded social media, all have to come before the writing…….so that’s the thing that nearly always loses out. I wish it didn’t, and I dearly wish I could get up in the morning and write all day, but that just simply isn’t possible. But these dreams keep on and on and on……….in a good way.

It’s almost as if there’s a story inside my head fighting to get out and be told. I do my best, but at the rate I’m going…………….it’s going to be in there for a very long time………………….HELP!!!!!!

First and/or Best Piece of Sports Equipment

I can remember playing hockey at school (see ‘Introduction’ post) and using either totally plastic sticks….horrible, or ropey old wooden sticks with the torn cloth grips hanging off the bare wood. I didn’t know any better at the time, but the sticks were rubbish. I started playing around Easter time, and for my birthday in December I asked for, and got, my own hockey stick. I can still remember it now. I chose it from the sports shop myself; it was the first stick I owned and it carried me through to playing club level hockey. It was a wooden Sondico stick with a yellowish leather grip. I remember how fantastic it felt when I picked it up in the shop. It was a wonderful stick, with just one flaw, and almost certainly by now, you’ve guessed what it was…….the grip! While superb looking and great in the dry, as soon as it got wet, I might as well have been trying to play hockey with a slippery old eel, fresh from the sea. The number of times I lost grip of that stick while trying to hit the ball must have gone well in to treble figures…..nevertheless, I treasured it dearly, that is until I moved on….in terms of hockey sticks anyway.

The most amazing hockey stick I ever owned was a DFV 36″ platinum stick. It cost a small fortune and was nothing short of PERFECT!

Two of my DFV sticks!

Two of my DFV sticks!

The weight, the balance, the give, the size of the head…all just fantastic! Often I’d show team mates, etc and anyone who picked it up always said exactly the same thing……..that it was the best stick they’d ever seen or held. After that one I had another DFV, only this time a 38″ blue diamond. It suited me better, but it wasn’t as good as the platinum. I would often swap between the two, sometimes during games….depending on how I felt or how the game was going. Sadly both sticks were lost one day when I got injured during a game and had to be taken to hospital. My team mates, on picking me up from the hospital assured me that my sticks and kit had been picked up by the rest of the team, but disappointingly nobody knew where the sticks went, and try as I did, I never managed to find them again. That platinum stick was priceless in my mind, and I still think of it as an old friend.

Recently, although I couldn’t afford it, I went shopping for a new stick. I haven’t had a new one in probably ten years, and it certainly felt like that when I was trying all of the new sticks in the shop. Given that I did try nearly all of them, at first narrowing it down to four, then three, then two, and then oh boy did the problems start. Nothing changes. 003And it must be the same for most hockey players, I’m sure. Go into a shop with one-hundred sticks, try ninety-nine and know that they’re not for you, and then the instant you pick up number one-hundred BOOOOMMM!!! You know it’s the one. The weight, the feel…….everything about it is right. On this occasion, it was hard to choose between the two sticks I’d narrowed it down to. The cheaper one was the first stick I’d picked up on entering the shop. And it felt great. I kept going back to it and trying it out. It was a Kookaburra stick I think. The second, (a Dita stick) the one I choose, was just love at first touch, despite it being an inch and a half longer than the stick I’d been using. The weight (very light) was perfect, there was a slight curve in the shaft, it was just made for me. After lots of consideration, mainly because of the price, I had to have that one. And given how it performs in training and in a match, I couldn’t be happier.

So, why don’t you see if you can top all of that……over to you now.

 

Festivals Part 6

There’s another Basingstoke festival memory that sticks in my mind. One of the regular Salisbury male players (let’s call him…….’Air’) was a big hit with the opposite sex (well, at least that’s how he always viewed it…….mostly through rose tinted beer goggles). Anyhow, this particular Basingstoke festival, we had a mixture of experienced players and, because we were short, some of the ladies’ junior players came to join us on the Sunday, as I, being captain and one of the two junior coaches at the time (see pic below), could think of no other way to make up the numbers. Anyway, said juniors all arrived and we played one game………all was going well.

After the game, the whole team adjourned to the bar, all sitting together around the same large table. After a few minutes it became clear that one of the team had gone missing. Yes that’s right………’Air’!

New Sarum ladies juniors with me helping fantastic coach Brian Hiscock

New Sarum ladies juniors with me helping fantastic coach Brian Hiscock

After a swift look around he was spotted, as far away from us as he could possibly get….at the end of the bar, casually chatting up a young girl from another team, who had, through no doubt copious amounts of alcohol, spent the entire night in ‘Air’s’ tent (you fill in the missing pieces!).

Well, ‘Air’ was doing his very best to hide himself from the team, knowing full well  the kind of stick he’d get if we caught him in the act of trying to impress a member of the opposite sex, when there were serious hockey discussions (well……….you know what I mean) going on. At this point, I should probably mention that there was a glass partition separating the viewing area where we were sat, from the bar area where he was preening. As a team we did our best to catch his eye (you know, with lots of hand actions and miming), but although he did notice what we were all doing he, to his credit, managed to totally ignore us……..no mean feat I assure you.

Being ignored just made us more determined……..determined to humiliate him in front of the girl he was trying so hard to impress. Now while I will reveal a few things in these blogs…….. I won’t always admit that it was me that either carried things out, or thought up the dastardly ideas in the first place. However, this most definitely WAS my idea. One of the juniors, about fifteen at the time and a great hockey player (Hi Dime Bar!) had brought along her nine year old sister (also a fab hockey player), and their parents had left both girls with us while they had gone off for a walk. I knew my plan was a good one, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to persuade the youngest of the two sisters to play along…….on this, the whole thing hinged. I outlined my plan to the team, which was more cunning than any Baldrick and a group of foxes could have come up with.

By now, the bar had begun to fill up with players from teams just finishing their matches. After explaining the plan, our young cohort steadfastly refused to co-operate despite the whole team and her elder sister urging her on. It took us all about ten minutes to change her mind, while all the time worrying about ‘Air’ finishing his mission, and coming back and joining us. We needn’t have worried as he was in full ‘shark’ mode and nothing short of a team full of topless volleyball players could have tempted him away. With our youngster fully briefed on what she had to do, we opened the glass door separating the team from the bar, gave her the thumbs up and sent her on her way, with our smiling faces firmly pressed against the glass. If Romeo had looked over, he might have had some idea of the ‘ticking time bomb’ that was heading in his direction……but of course his mind was on other things.

Time seemed to stand still as the nine year old messenger approached ‘Air’. The whole team pressed up against the glass, held its breath at the same time, knowing full well what was to come. The young hockey player played her part to perfection. We all watched as she wandered up to ‘Air’, held up her outstretched arm in his direction, palm up and said the immortal words…………”DDAAAAAADDDDD! Can I have  fifty pence for a packet of crisps please?” We all burst into a bout of raucous laughter on seeing the expression on his face, and more importantly, the expression on the young girl’s face.

Romeo (sorry, I mean ‘Air’) playfully dismissed our little time bomb, brushing it all off as a playful joke to his love interest, all the time shaking his fist in our direction from behind his back. Our fully fledged young hockey player returned to a round of applause, fresh soft drink and sweets I seem to remember, shortly followed by the maiden magnet himself (sorry……. I mean ‘Air’). His young lady couldn’t have excused herself  any faster after our little jape, if he’d announced he was a disease ridden psychopath, with nothing more than a thimble for a trumpet between his legs. As a team, we applauded what can only be described as some of our best work!

 

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