Category Archives: Sports

Able seamen

A while back I was amazed to see that a landlocked country such as Switzerland could win the elite world sailing race. Alinghi, a Swiss boat won the Americas Cup and I figured if they could do it, then Ireland, an island nation, should have no problems winning the thing.

I threw down the gauntlet then and challenged them with an Irish boat called Dinghi, fitted out with a jacuzzi, shag pile carpets and plenty of cup holders. It seems they’ve taken up the challenge:

America’s Cup postponed over row

The story claims it’s all about politics and race regulations but I have the insider track. Alinghi are not allowed the shag carpets and they’re throwing a tantrum. We have them on the ropes already!

Now all I need to do is plumb in the jacuzzi and get a crew on board and we’ll show the Swiss how to win a yacht race! 

Assume the position

I’m very lucky with my sleeping patterns. Lucky, due to the fact that I could sleep all day, every day without problem. I’m a sleeping machine and like to think of it as a quasi-sport. But recently I’ve been struggling with an aspect to “my game”. Here are the key areas for a good nights sleep:

  1. Endurance: Vital to stay in the bed as long as possible to maximise the relaxation and delay the inevitable waking up and having to face the world. Bladder pressure, starvation, dehydration or alarm clocks should not affect your performance in the early morning. Focus and sheer bloody-mindedness is key.
  2. Speed: It’s critical, in my opinion, that precious time rolling around and trying to get to sleep should be avoided at all costs. You should be “in the zone” as you get into the pyjamas (silk leopard print is optional) and the minute your head touches the pillow you should be out like a light. Anything more than that is a waste. Of course, six Guinness right before bed helps with this aspect.
  3. Technique: Once my forte, my technique has been letting me down of late. Position and duvet anchoring are the secrets to success in this competitive arena. Comfort is paramount to a successful campaign in the bed and key to this is warmth. I prefer to lie on my side which allows me to wrap an edge of the duvet under my side and keep it in place. Positioning is also of great importance. I tend to lie on my side so I can curl up a little and avoid the cavernous snoring that usually happens when I roll onto my back.

But I haven’t been positioning myself properly over the last few weeks and so my “art” is suffering. I’ve taken to rolling onto my back and placing one or sometimes both arms above my head. I seem to find this comforting until I need to turn and I have lost all the power in my arms. What follows is a brief bout of panic, acute confusion and the fuzzy realisation that I am a muppet and I’m now stranded in this position without any way of righting myself.

If I’ve just put one arm up, the other good arm can pull it back down. If the two arms are up I generally have to roll from one side to other to get one to flop down and once it’s recovered I can rescue the other. I don’t want to frighten the Golden Shrimp but I may have to get wrist restraints installed in the bed!

How steep is 28%?

Ex-hill-erating! See what I did there? Oh never mind!

I experienced what I was told was one of the steepest roads in Europe at the weekend. The 28% gradient mentioned on the signpost means nothing until you’re going down it in a bus load of people with a trailer full of luggage behind it. Think of it as a slow and not so steady rollercoaster through carved rock walls with forests and waterfalls all around!

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The road in all it’s glory! Breathtaking in every sense of the word!

 

For our alpine walk at the weekend we stayed in a tiny place called Griesalp at the top of this daunting slope. There’s a hut/hostel there that was a fantastic place to stay. We got up early on the Saturday to be greeted by dense fog and so had a lazy morning sitting in the common room and waiting for the weather to clear.

Around midday we set off and had a great day in the mountains. Saturday evening was spent drinking beer by the fire and playing poker and a memory game we found on a shelf. Needless to say I lost the memory game after my third beer. I still there was foul play going on but wasn’t bothered enough to find out!

Sunday was a clear and warm day so we set off early and walked for three hours up to a glacier and a very isolated mountain hut where we stopped for lunch. We then made it back down for a quick beer before getting back on the bus to negotiate the 28% slope again! Such a beautiful place and we’ve made promises to go back next year.

I want to try driving that rollercoaster!

Alpine bound

Yes indeedy! Eva’s brother and his girlfriend have arrived for a few days and so we decided to take a road trip down south and have a weekend of hiking. I’ve packed the horn (the Alpine variety of course) and all other essentials and we’ll be off around six this evening.

We’ve planned to stay in a mountain hut close to Kandersteg and see what routes take our fancy. The weather forecast looks favourable and it’s good to be getting some time in the mountains before the weather turns for the winter. We’re a bit disappointed this year with how little time we’ve spent in the Alps. We’ve been walking a few times in Jura close to Basel, but the two to three hours to get to the Alps have put day trips out of reach. So if you’re going to go it has to be for a weekend and they seem to be always in short supply!

So we’ve made more promises to get more trips in next year and this weekend is a good excuse to scout out some new areas for us. Of course the skiing season is quickly creeping up on us and I hope we’ll get a good season this year and a few trips to the piste. I have to fine tune my back flips!

Heavy heart

Words don’t describe the disappointment from the weekend. I came away from the game full of vitriol for O’Sullivan and Co., but reading the various reports and articles today I realise that I’m not as angry. I think having been there and seen the effort the team put into it, it’s tough not to sympathise and offer up excuses. It didn’t work out for us this time, let’s leave it behind, make a few changes and focus on next years fixtures. What else is there left to do?

And it had started off so well! We arrived in Paris late on Thursday night and spent Friday doing the touristy things and watched the England v. Tonga game in the hotel. Saturday was more of the same and watched the Wales v. Fiji through the window of a bar from their terrace across the Seine from Notre Dame. The Fiji win gave me hope that the impossible was possible and things boded well for our game. Sunday, the tension mounted.

We went for the first pint around lunch time, then had the second while watching the first half of France v. Georgia in a pub off the Champs Elysee. Wary of the time we left before half time and made our way, along with most of Ireland to the metro. We got on the first train to arrive to the roars of “heave” and “touch, pause, engage”! This train was not for the faint hearted, the claustrophobic or the Argentinians!

The atmosphere for the ten or so stations was fantastic. We belted out a few verses of “The Fields of Athenry”, “Ireland’s call”, “Only four tries for us Argentina” and someone even gave “Chattanooga Choo Choo” a go but was quickly shouted down! We emerged into a sea of green composed of leprauchauns, giant inflatable hammers and novelty wigs and hats. The French were even out in support wearing green and brandishing baguettes with “Come on Ireland” printed on the side. How could anything go wrong?

We took our seats, high up the stands behind what was the try line Ireland were defending in the first half. A quick scan of the stadium revealed a majority of Irish supporters and the team got a hearty welcome onto the pitch for the warm up. We belted out Ireland’s call when the time arrived, like our lives depended on it and five minutes into the game I’d convinced myself we were going to do it. What followed, as you probably all saw was nothing close to what this Irish team, on paper, is capable of.

The tries from O’Driscoll and Murphy gave us brief causes for a bit of roaring and shouting but overall our energy was taken up with shouting at the ref, the inability of our lads to take the ball into contact, the indecision of our backline and the stoic foolish tactic of kicking up field but not chasing down. Eighty minutes later, with a result we expected but didn’t welcome we ran the gauntlet of the Paris underground once more back to the safety of the hotel and 400 grammes of perfectly cooked medium steak. The highlight of the day really.

ps. When I regain the will and motivation I’ll post pictures from the match. But that could take some time.

Derby council XV

In honour of the game this afternoon I thought I’d treat you to the one and only M0nty Python’s take on rugby. Sheer genius.

Checklist

  • Clean underwear
  • Toothbrush
  • Can of lynx deodorant
  • French phrasebook
  • “101 funny Spanish/Argentinian insults” book
  • Official Irish World Cup Rugby Jersey
  • Rather large Guinness Novelty Hat
  • Tickets for the Ireland v. Argentina Rugby world cup game
  • Hip flask
  • Passport
  • Euros
  • BOD’s autobiography for the train
  • Camera
  • Singing voice
  • Strong belief we can win by four tries and more than seven points

Right, I’m off. Bring on the Argentinians.