Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ben meets Diego

A friend told us the Villareal team were staying at the ghastly Hesperia Tower hotel ahead of the game so we took Ben down to get some autographs. And despite the best efforts of the officious and rather nasty security staff there, he met Diego and got his signature. Given his weak performance in the game it was the best thing Diego did all day ...

The hotel is extraordinary. Yes it looks truly luxurious and its restaurant has just won a Michelin star, but you wonder what guests who have booked when they arrive and find themselves wedged between a motorway, one of Spain's biggest housing estates and Barcelona's biggest hospital. The local shopping is not the elegant boutiques of Passeig de Gracia but an electronic superstore. It's handy for the airport but so is everywhere in Barcelona. Most odd...

A magic moment

There are few moments truly magic in football - so much is overrated -but there was one such moment last night at the Camp Nou.

It was a comfortable enough game, Barca beating Villareal 3-0 as we got up to leave a few minutes ahead of the rush. We paused as Barca had one last attack. Xavi crossed; Ronaldinho, back to goal on the penalty spot, chested the ball, swivelled around and launched the ball with an overhead kick that flew into the net. It was an astonishing goal. At that second everyone in the ground - players and spectators - realised that they had seen something truly special. Ronaldinho wheeled away in utter joy, stripped off his shirt (for which he was duly booked) and was mobbed by his team mates. Ben and I went mad and Ben said he felt completely energised. the crowed waved their white handkerchiefs, as they do here. Very, very special.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Such a nice young chap

Craig Bellamy, Liverpool footballer: from the BBC

Premiership footballer Craig Bellamy grabbed a woman by the throat after
they bumped into each other at a Cardiff nightclub, a court has heard.

A witness says in court:

'I began to walk through the gap and Craig Bellamy was walking in the other
direction and he bumped into me. He was quite aggressive, he was just swaggering
around," she said.

"I turned around and said to him: 'Excuse me why couldn't you wait in
that gap there?'"

She said Mr Bellamy swore at her, saying she was too
fat to get around and called her a "slag".

Nick Clarke

The death from cancer of Nick Clarke, one of the BBC's greatest radio news journalists is truly awful. He was just 58.

He was sans pareil as a radio news presenter with a fantastic radio voice, living proof that for serious journalism it is an unbeatable medium. He started his career on BBC local TVnews in the North West which is where I grew up. And a wonderfully nice man by all accounts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bad luck Barca

First they lose Eto'o out for six months
Then their captain's father dies in a horrific work accident
Then the peerless Messi is injured; three months out
And Saviola is out for six weeks.

Oh yes and Edmilson, Xavi and Belleti injured as well...

andd two crucial champions league games to come ...

Big news

After a prolonged period of humming and hahing, we have decided to stay a while longer in Barcelona. Not sure just how long but a while.

We have also been very busy moving into a new flat which we secured through a stroke of good fortune. It’s very big, with a large terrace, and in one of Barcelona’s poshest areas, really far too grand for the likes of us. But it overlooks a gorgeous park and is very close to the centre of town and has the city’s most renowned chocolatier (and that is saying something) round the corner.

For those who saw the old flat, it’s much bigger, brighter and lighter. Most importantly (ha! – Sarah) it is very close to the Camp Nou where Barca play. You can see a few pix here

Other changes include Rebecca moving to the British school where she is vvv happy despite having to make an early start to get the school bus. Ben remains at St Peters but is trying out for a local football team and now has Sky Plus to play with. Both speak ludicrously good Spanish while their parents struggle along

However Sarah’s heroic endeavours to purchase of a flat full of furniture from Ikea deserve unlimited praise - think Brent Cross with better weather but the monumental task of saying: ‘But your website said you definitely had the Splaark bookcase in white with 50 cm shelves in stock ’ in a second language.

So, come visit, whether it’s for beach, mountains, football, culture, eating or drinking. Just not all at the same weekend …. Contact details below.

Address: C Josep Bertrand 13 1-1, Barcelona 08021
Phone: 003493 201 6209 but 0207 078 7659 is our internet phone which will probably cost you less.
Richard: or 0034 697912769
Sarah: or 0034 697912766
Rebecca: or 0034 697912767

Only in Scotland

7.15 am in the business lounge at Glasgow airport, a man helps himself to a breakfast of a marshmallow teacake and a glass of red wine. Truly a breakfast of champions

It's raining coke, hallelujah!

From Spain's 20 Minutos:

A plane flying in from Ghana, which had already made a stopover in Amsterdam, had to make an emergency landing at Barcelona’s El Prat airport during the early hours of this morning when a passenger started vomiting because one of the ‘cocaine balls’ he was carrying in his stomach burst. In total, he vomited four of the 101 balls he was carrying.

The incident occurred at around 4.15am. The passenger, a 37-year-old Ghanaian, was later transferred to Barcelona’s Hospital de Bellvitge where he was operated on.

In total, surgeons managed to remove 97 of the cocaine balls from his stomach and intestines. When measured, the 101 balls weighed 1.798 kilos.

Monday, November 06, 2006

How depressing

Having to buy reading glasses. At my age. It's that or totally give up on the A-Z ...