Back From Me Jollies

I admit, I was intending on keeping the blog up to date while I was away, but I’ve been either too skint, tired or pissed to bother for most of the week. We went to Pas De La Casa in Andorra and I’m writing this on the last night when I should be packing with the intention of posting it when I get back on Sunday.

The start wasn’t great with the flight being delayed by an hor or so which meant I had to get some kind folks back home to text me the result of our game at Old Trafford (0-0). No worries, though. Late arrival at the hotel meant we had about 30 mins to make a brief unpack and head for the “initiation” meeting where they try to sell you stuff.

We came out on top, though. As ever on holiday I wore my Toon top (all weel, in fact). The first bar we went into was Milwaukee’s and the first thing we saw was a mad, bald Geordie working one of the bars. We paid for our first drinks (about 3 quid a pint) and nothing else for the rest of the night. Thank you Mintoe!

Snowboarding started the next day. We both had afternoon lessons as the beginners were in the morning. I ended up in the “shit, but not shit enough to be a beginner” class with a rather nice Moroccan guy called Pascalle who was incredibly patient with a rather mixed bunch. The only bad point of the week, boarding wise, was one lass who broke her arm in a fall. At least she made it most of the way through the week unlike the last person I went with who ended up with her arm in plaster as a result of a fall on the first day.

The week ended with the group reduced from about 12 at the start to 6 on the final day. A certificate and a few drinks rounded things off nicely. Especially when we didn’t realise it was happy hour and ended up drinking twice as much as anticipated. Cue Pascalle wondering how on earth I wasn’t cold sat outside in a t-shirt at -5 degrees Celcius…

Other thoughts and events of the week:

Skiers are all bastards. OK, maybe not all of them. But they seem to be the ones who cause all the problems. According to Sharon’s snowboard-hating ski instructor, 70% of all accidents on the slopes involve boarders. Yes. That’s because 70% of the incidents involve some arsehole skier wiping them out.

I’ve only been boarding twice (and never been skiing), but every single time I’ve been wiped out (with the exception of while in beginner classes with other boarders) it’s been a skier who’s been to blame.

Biscuit-taker of the week was on the first day. A young girl – about 10 years old – was knocked flying by a skier. Her first ever time on the slopes and she ended up with a full leg cast. The cowardly shit that did it just sped off down the hill without stopping to see if she was alright.

And while I’m bashing, let’s have a word about the foreigners. I expect to be flamed mercilessly for this as I’m going to generalise something rotten but frankly I don’t care. Yesterday, I spotted a woman skier lose her footing on a red slope and go down clutching her leg. Snowboard still stuck to my feet, I bunny-hopped about 15 yards back uphil to retrieve here poles and make sure she was alright, which thankfully she was. “Thanks,” she said,”A German wouldn’t have bothered coming to help.”

Again on Saturday, we ended up going down a very nasty red (which wasn’t signposted – had we known, we’d have taken the alternate and very well hidden blue). It was heavy going, especially for the people ahead of us, one of whom got more or less stuck on one side. This meant Sharon couldn’t get past her as she needed to “swoop” from side to side to keep her speed down.

Somehow, she managed to get past, but slipped and landed on her side. Now Sharon can’t get back up again, especially on a slope as steep as that one was, withouth removing a ski and putting it back on again. Thing is, when she undid the ski it slid out of reach. A passing French skier slowed down, looked at her… then continued down the slope. Bastard.

Next step – undo the second. Unfortunately, the force of doing this made Sharon lose what grip she had on the slope. By this stage, I was about 3/4 of the way back up to her – a hell of a climb considering how knackered we were and the altitude. I looked up in time to see a red and black bejacketted missile sliding towards me on its back giggling like a schoolchild who’d just heard her first “willy” joke.

Amazingly, she missed me by about three feet and was brought to a gentle rest about fifty metres further down by a nice English family who’d stayed around to make sure we were both OK. I managed to reach one ski and was trying to work out how to get across to the second when another skiier appeared. French. Ignored me. Bastard.

I did manage to get the second one and slid down on my back at a vast rate of knots with the skis waving in the air. The same family made sure I was OK before leaving us.

So to date – England 7 (big family), France and Germany 0.

Typically, the weather’s not been the best this week with only a light dash of snow one night. As a result, many of the slopes have been icy and difficult to traverse for a novice like myself. Teatime on Saturday night… and there’s a blizzard outside. In the last 90 minutes or so, more than an inch has fallen. Ah well.

Welcome to Wales – We Take Cheques

Another one. I don’t believe this. I’m not going to Wales again. Two trips, three speeding tickets. This one on the A449. If anyone can tell me where the damn camera is (I sure as hell didn’t see one), I’d be most grateful. I think they’ve just got a guy at the side of the road who stands there and notes random car numbers down for a laugh.

There certainly aren’t any signs on that road warning of cameras – if there were, I’d not have been speeding. Which kind of tells you that the camera can’t be there to reduce accidents. Nice to know I’m funding the next policeman’s ball. If they’d have asked I’d have given a donation.

Interesting fact – there are approximately 4000 speed cameras in the UK. The number of those on the most “dangerous” 50 roads, those which suffer the greatest number of accidents? Six.

Sorry, I’m all for putting them up around schools and so on. Anyone doing more than the limit in an area where kids could be walking and playing deserves to have their license taken off them with immediate effect. But on a relatively quiet, two-lane, straight A-road in the middle of nowhere with no serious accident record? *Ker-ching*

And as for that muppet who’s running the police in North Wales… good grief. “Accidentally drifting over the speed limit is tantamount to accidentally drifting a knife into someone.” What?! No it isn’t! Check out the crime figures since this Road Nazi took over as well. OK, so they’re prosecuting motorists left, right and centre. Very profitable. But they’ve posted the worst ever prosecution record for theft, robbery and so forth in decades.

Am I alone in thinking that doing 80 in a 70 zone is a little more forgiveable than battering Granny Miggins over the head with a hammer so I can make off with her pension book? Or smashing into the Smith’s house and nicking all their kids’ Christmas presents?

North Wales Police – reality check, please. No, I wasn’t nabbed by North Wales. I got done by the jobsworths in Gwent (again). It just pisses me off.

NUFC 1 – 0 Leeds United

Quite brief, this one, as I’ve got a ton of work to do. Basically – first half we should have been 4-0 up against 10 men. Shearer’s 4th minute goal was the first of several easy chances we made. Dyer should have had two and Shearer another one. Robinson was incredibly lucky not to be sent off for taking Dyer’s legs out from under him while outside the box – and as last man.

At least the referee was consistantly awful and not in the least biased. Comedy turn of the evening, though, was James Milner. For someone who has been compared to Rooney in a “future of English football” type of way, the kid had all the skill of a duck wearing wellies. Paired up well with Aussie tub of lard Viduka, who kept opening his mouth every time a decision didn’t go his way – seemingly in the hope someone would shove another pie in it. Biggest crying shame was to see David Batty subbed due to a slight injury. May he get well soon!

A certain Mr Gascoigne was guest of honour at half time, and unsurprisingly got a huge round of applause.

Someone lit some kind of fire up Leeds’ backsides during the break, because in the second half they were a much stronger team. Still not strong enough to get the goal they needed. We still had the lion’s share of the possession and clung onto the three points, our closest chance to seal it being a Speed header that whacked off the post/crossbar join.

Despite looking a very poor side in the first half, full credit to the Leeds fans who raised the roof pretty much for the entire 90 minutes of play and stayed right to the bitter end. Not for them the quick sprint off to the car after 75 like the ManUre bunch the other year when we won 4-3 (I mean… how could you leave a match like that before the whistle?!)

Nice to see a decent display by wor lads though. At last.

Blinking Flip! The Cost!

OK, total list of things pinched from my car. And yes, it’s a bizarre bloody list seeing as they left the stereo and CDs.

Two packs of mints, one bag of Starburst (half eaten), one road atlas, one NUFC scarf, one NUFC goalie shirt, 3 x plastic dangly things from back window, several pens & pencils, 1 x rag they were wrapped in, old pair prescription sunglasses, one pair normal sunglasses, little book with car care instructions in, one teeny teddy bear Sharon bought me. I mean, WTF?!

Total monetary value – roughly £75. And the bulk of that are the prescription sunglasses that obviously are of no use to anyone but me (or someone with coincidentally the same poor eyesight).

I’m most pissed off at the bear (that was a gift) and the NUFC stuff off the parcel shelf. Not like I’d not notice one of them walking round wearing that.

But the other belter is the garage fees. They obviously know they’re onto a winner with thefts as everyone claims on the insurance. Roughly £105 for retrieving the car. £80 for specialist lifting equipment (as they had no keys). £80 for the skids or something, presumably also to do with the lift. £35 Man Ex (whetever the hell that is). £60 for 5 days’ storage (not that I had an option). 3% credit card surcharge. Total… £405 and change. Feck.

Oh, and then there’s the new tyre. They had to put the spare on as one of mine had been punctured. If you ask me it looks like a knife went in it. Certainly a big enough hole.

And £1.50 for the car wash to get all the fingerprint dust off.

Then I got a quote for replacement keys and so on… £125 for a new key. Yes. A key. £65 to recode the existing remaining key and car so the old one won’t unlock the car remotely, or start it if they get in. Complete change of locks… £600.

Lesson learned: thank your lucky stars if you can get a job with a company car. They’re too damn expensive even if you do get them back after they’re nicked.

2nd lesson learned: If someone bumps you from behind and obviously has done sod all damage, get out the car with a shotgun. You know. Just in case.