Thursday, 31 May 2007

Mirador Del Atlantico

Hullo there, a couple of weeks ago we went on Holiday to Gran Canaria. This is the first of a series of blogs about the trip, and is about our experiences of the hotel.

Playa de Amadores is approximately 10 minutes drive from the resort town of Puerto Rico. The transfer to our hotel seemed to take forever and ever, as we seemed to stop at about 10 hotels before reaching our hotel. We arrived on the island at about 20 past 8 in the evening, but did not get to the Mirador Del Atlantico Aparthotel until about 10 to 11. When we arrived the place seemed to be deserted. We were hungry, tired (my partner had medicine to take) and nowhere was open for a late night bite to eat.
First impressions were not good. Our room had no Air conditioning, our beds were lumpy (the mattress comprised of 2 mattresses, a thick hard one and a thin soft one on top), and had poor quality sheets. I think we would have had a better sleep had these two deficiencies not conspired to make it more difficult to get to sleep which then make it difficult for us to get up!

The pool bar was ok, however as is the case on “Mainland” Europe, some things are bizarrely more expensive than at home. A small Pepsi Lite cost not that much less than a pint of the local Lager, a brew called Tropical (which was rather nice). We were also annoyed at the hotel closing the restraint and having a pool-side barbeque… 3 times in a week! (once would have been an event, and would have been nicer…)

One of the really good things about the hotel though was the entertainment, provided by Becky & Leanne, the best hotel entertainment that I certainly have come across. On the Tuesday night they had “top” hypnotist Peter the Great (pronounced Pe-Toor!). We were talking to this couple, just generally making chit chat, talking about hypnotists, and feigning ignorance of Pink Floyd (steam coming out of girlfriend’s ears at this ignorance I might add!) when Pe-Tor! started the lapdancing skit. He had 3 ladies, who were to imagine that they were hunky guys, and they were to give a lapdance to as many girls as they could find. He also had 3 guys, who were three gorgeous ladies. They too were to give as many lapdances as possible, this time to as many blokes.

I mention this one because I looked round at this point and saw this large guy running towards me, at which point I thought “Oh ”, and I got a lapdance. Sadly no pictorial record of this exists, thanks to my girlfriend rolling about the floor at this point. However, the guy’s wife captured some of it for posterity! (oh boy, memories indeed!!) One of the last set-pieces of the night was when the participants had been semi-taken out of their state, Pe-Tor! played snatches of music which sent them back to their state. Samba music stated them dancing, while the music to James Bond made them think they were spies. One girl came up to my girlfriend, looked mean and pointed her fingers (which were in the shape of a gun) in her face – she looked genuinely fierce!

On the Thursday night, there was a Parrot show, which featured performing parrots (pictured), while on the Sunday night we were treated to an excellent Flamenco show. My Girlfriend was a little disappointed they didn’t do “Carmen”, but it was still an excellent show.

There was, most nights Bingo & Karaoke too, my Girlfriend did 2 songs on the Thursday and finished off Sunday night with a rendition of “Big Spender”! She was superb, as always.

See you next time!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

First Thoughts on the 52nd European Cup Final

Hi there, as you may have gathered, I have some writers block regarding my blogs on our holidays. Regardless to say, hopefully, these should be appearing soon.

I used to be a big fan of the Radio 5 Live commentator Alan Green. Not that I am not anymore, just I am not so keen. That and more and more, I hear him say something that I just don’t get. For example, during the European Cup Final tonight (no, im not going to call it the bloody Champions League Final), I heard him say that the Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez had got his tactics wrong. If he did, and I don’t think that he put a foot wrong all night apart from taking off Mascherano, he has one man to blame for his sides defeat, one Pippo Inzaghi.

Liverpool did not do anything wrong during this match, however you cannot account for the goal poacher, the player who’s skill is to be in the right place at the right time. Green was also incredibly churlish about Inzaghi, by not crediting him with the first goal, “He didn’t know anything about it”. Well, sorry but I think he did. He wouldn’t have gone there if he thought there was no chance of a deflection, or more likely a spilled shot. It was always this sort of half chance that would decide the game, the sort of chances that the Inzaghi mold of striker usually thrives on. Inzaghi kind of reminds me of Ally McCoist, though I don’t remember McCoist being constantly caught offside or throwing his hands in the air.

Until Inzaghi’s first goal, Liverpool were dominating more and more of the game. They would have gone on to score the crucial first goal probably in the early stages of the second half. Instead Milan won, the second goal was equally crucial in that it sealed the game and was the best football of the mach from Milan. The 2 goals showed that being at the right place at the right time will get you anything.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

20 Years Ago

Congratulations to the mighty Buds in staying up in the SPL for next season, but more importantly congratulations for beating the curse of Blair. All this in the week of the 20th anniversary of our Scottish Cup win against Dundee United. I personally don’t remember much of the match, it was a tense nervy affair, with Dundee United perhaps beginning to suffer from tiredness after their mammoth season (their last game of the season was the 2nd leg of their UEFA Cup Final against IFK Gothenburg, which they would draw thus losing the tie 2-1 on aggregate).

It was a poor final, but my Dad, perhaps trying to wind me up, described it as one of the worst games of Football he had ever seen. Dunno what you guys out there in the blogosphere think but my three worst games are the 1990 World Cup final, the 1991 European Cup Final and the 9 in a row Old Firm game (?) in March 1997. Let me know what you think.
See you next time.

But Before I Talk About My Holidays

Before I write about my week in Gran Canaria, a sort of curate’s egg of a blog to tie some things up.

It was the Scottish Elections just before I left, with the SNP becoming the largest party in Holyrood, winning 1 more seat than New Labour. This has been enough to see Alec Salmond elected yesterday as First Minister. In the Local Council elections, the SNP & New Labour each won 17 seats each, the SNP have since gone on to form a coalition with the Lib Dems in Renfrewshire.

The result in Renfrewshire is a welcome one, New Labour in Renfrewshire had run out of ideas and clearly didn’t know how to regenerate Paisley town centre. They had also taken to having a “Nanny knows best” attitude, particularly to home-owners. I hope that this will change.

The Holyrood election results were historic, and that’s not a reference to the length of time it took some people to work out how to vote. As the campaign closed, New Labour and the SNP indulged in a “my list of celebrity/business backers is more than your list” type spat. I am still annoyed that there was no mention of how to remedy the chronic poverty problem we have in this country. Still, who cares when we are told that the Scotland manager and his backroom staff all back the union. Hey, you never know, that celebrity endorsement from B A Robertson could just have swung it.

I think the right party won. The party that had the more positive message, the more positive campaign, was the party which won the most seats. New Labour lost, partly because there were too many chefs (Gordon Brown, John McTernan and “wee Dougie” Alexander all sidelining Jack McConnell) which gave the impression of a mixed up message. Also the campaign itself was way too negative, there was no explanation of where New Labour got the figure of £5000 (An SNP led executive apparently would cost every family £5000, according to New Labour propaganda). In the end the scare tactics failed.

What happens next, I don’t know. New Labour had their chance, they had 8 years in power (plus the 2 pre-devolution years) in Scotland, and as I have described in other posts some things have changed for the better, but some things have changed for the worst. Just before I was eligible to vote, I thought that I would be a natural Labour supporter. Since then, I have remained a socialist while New Labour has cast aside the values which made it care for the normal working person. I just hope that the choices made 2 weeks ago are the right ones.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Just Back

Hi there.

Just a quick posting to say sorry i haven't been in touch. I have just returned from spending a week in Playa De Amadores in Gran Canaria, well i haven't just retuned but as I arrived home at 3am this morning you get my drift.

Once i get everything sorted, and once i catch up with a few things, i will begin posting pictures, stories and my thoughts on the holiday.

Adios for now!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

May 1st 1997

Hi there, a couple of weeks a go I wrote about the first election night I remember staying up for. 10 years ago was the first general election I voted in, and it saw a historic change in government for the first time in 18 years.

Since the 1992 election, the Conservatives went through a period where what can go wrong for them, would go wrong for them, starting with Black Wednesday, and continuing through the Back to Basics crisis. Labour had elected Scottish MP John Smith as its leader when Kinnock resigned, and spent this period quietly refashioning the party, installing a One Member One Vote mechanism to key conference votes. His leadership was more a steady as she goes kind of a leadership.

After Smiths death in May 1994, Tony Blair was elected as the new Labour leader. His reforms of party protocols were more dramatic & revolutionary. He campaigned for and won the dropping of Clause IV, and changed the name of the party from Labour to New Labour. His party also became more pro-business. It was against this background that on 17th March 1997, John Major announced that the General election would take place on May 1st.

To be honest I don’t really remember too much about the campaign itself, or much of polling day. I remember the Tories were pretty much doomed from the start, and that was before the election leaflets about Europe or the Neil Hamilton skirmish.

On the day itself, as I said I don’t really remember much. Scotland had lost 2-1 to Sweden in a World Cup qualifier the night before, so I was still digesting that. I went to vote at about 7:30 in the evening, got back and waited for the BBC results programme. I there was an Election Special of Have I Got News For You on that night, which strangely for an election night started before the polls closed (Satirical programmes like Have I Got News For You and Spitting Image used to start straight after the polls closed so that there is no undue influence over voters. This is also why exit polls are not announced until this time.).

I should confess at this point, I didn’t vote New Labour at this election, & I haven’t voted for them since. I felt that they were a bit too business friendly and were beginning to ignore the natural core Labour constituency. Instead I voted Lib Dem, mainly because they were honest about their tax plans.

So 9:55pm and the election results programmes start, within 5 minutes both the BBC & ITV election programmes were predicting a Blair landslide, a big landslide. The first couple of results kind of bore this out even thought they were safe Labour seats, the majorities increased substantially. Then New Labour started winning Conservative seats. Then the cabinet ministers started to fall (10 in all). From around midnight to about 3am, it was all a bit of a blur, and was very dramatic. I do remember the graphics that Jon Snow deployed, there was one which showed the conservative majorities as blocks, and they were being blitzed. Another graphic was one showing Conservative leaders and the respective landslide defeats that they suffered, this was shown by them having some sort of sand substance tipped on to them. At around 3:15am on the morning of the 2nd, New Labour won its 331st seat, confirming New Labour as the next government.

Time to go to bed, ah yes but I would have missed the Portillo moment. I think the most amazing thing about Portillo losing his seat is how dignified he was about losing, compared to say David Mellor who ranted and raved at James Goldsmith (the Referendum Party candidate).

It is amazing to think about how we enjoyed the ousting of a discredited and disliked administration, and of how much hope we all had for the future, even those of us who thought that we would have some more of the same. But you know what, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

See you next time.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

St Mirren 0 Dunfermline 1

Dunfermline threw themselves a relegation lifeline with a deserved victory at St Mirren Park. Tam McManus (left) scored the only goal of the game after 58 minutes, when he collected Scott Muirhead's deflected shot to fire home from close range. The capacity crowd of 10,251 were treated to plenty of endeavour, but little in the way of skilful play by either side.

Hi there, I was going to blog about the 10th anniversary since New Labour came to power today, and my memories of that famous election night, but I will do that one tomorrow. Instead its my take on the biggest game at Love Street, since the 2-1 win over Dundee which won promotion for ourselves. And as you can tell from the blurb at the top, it didn’t go the way of the (less than) mighty buds.

St Mirren pretty much lost the game in midfield, the Dunfermline middle men muscled the midfield of Brittain, Brady & Murray out of it from midway through the first half onwards. In the second half, while the St Mirren midfield went missing, the St Mirren defence started bombarding the Dunfermline defence with long balls.

Dunfermline soaked up this bombardment, and used the gift of continued possession to launch several quick counter attacks, the goal, and McManus’ two other chances came from these attacks.
While it is disappointing that once again we revert to these tactics when we lose a grip on games, I am not entirely sure if the manager is at fault here. However, I do think that he could have changed the pattern of the attacks, playing 2 small quick mobile strikers (Kean & brining on Corcoran) against the tall Dunfermline defence rather than persist with the little and large partnership of Sutton & Kean (Kean kept on coming back to midfield, that is how poor our midfield were).

We are still a point ahead of Dunfermline, but they have the momentum and crucially, the psychological advantage. Our next game is on Saturday at Tanadice (against Dundee United), while Dunfermline do not play again until next Monday (against Motherwell). I have a feeling that we will see how good Gus McPerson really is over the next 3 games.

See you next time…