Category Archives: hockey

Hockey, Darts, Coombe Hill and The Grand Union Canal

Sunday morning stroll around Coombe Hill

Hockey Coaching

A disappointing turnout on Monday evening with about 10 people coming along – I’m hoping the numbers aren’t a reflection of what we are doing and more about half term / general apathy.

We built on the previous week by introducing more dynamic basics routines, receiving the ball on the move and passing on the move, we also re-introduced the cone gate for them to focus on too. We then moved onto some aerials training which had been requested by one of the younger participants. Aerials is something I’ve never been able to do properly and would never dare to try it in a game. To be fair they all did the exercise of throwing the aerial top D then shooting pretty well. No goalie though and still a lot of shots missed. Paul then introduced a couple of great exercises, firstly 3 v 1 in a box and passing to each player on a cone, trying to intercept and then a 3 v 2 exercise, introducing basic defending skills, line to goal concept and of course shooting. We then finished with a small game. I’m still enjoying it immensely and building the exercises up over the weeks and working as a team with Paul is very enjoyable and I think working well. Watching the down time though, it is still all about shooting from the top of the D, some things will never ever change, only the very odd person practising their skills or close control etc.

Darts

Simon, part of the triples I was ‘helping’

Martin Whatsapp’d me last week, he was desperate for a player for the triples knockout competition. I had no idea what that was, and my memories of the last time I played in the World Cup Football period last year was one of barely being able to hit the board. I used to be ok (20+ years ago) but agreed to come along to the General Arms in Chesham to help out under The Crown Pub team branding! The strategy for me was to ‘hit the board’ aiming bottom left for maximum possible points. It seemed to work as we won the first match, I even hit a double 16 to checkout one game. We should have won the second match, but unfortunately we were knocked out. Drinking lime and soda probably didn’t help my cause either. The pub itself was quite nice with plenty of TV’s showing the night’s football action. The other darts players were friendly too.

Cycle along the Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal near Watford / Croxley Green

On Saturday afternoon in between taxi trips, I popped out on the hybrid to do a short cycle ride along the Grand Union Canal. I rather fancied a sausage sandwich at Cafe @ loch 81 too which doesn’t close until 5.30. I pootled down past the Dumb Bell and and picked up the canal by The Coy Carp pub as usual. I quickly arrived at the cafe so thought i’d carry on a bit longer before indulging in the sausage sandwich, eventually turning around somewhere around Watford. I just love the tranquility by the canal and the quaint views of a bygone era. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to the cafe at 3.45, they’d stopped serving hot food – 15 minutes earlier would have been fine. So a cake and cup of tea had to suffice.

Coombe Hill Family Walk

Coombe Hill panoramic (Jamie must have moved!)

I’d wanted to pop over to the highest point in the Chilterns for some time now, particularly with Rebecca. It was a glorious day and we eventually managed to get the whole family (begrudgingly) out of the house and over to the National Trust car park by Coombe Hill. I have to say, it hold spectacular views over Aylesbury and the surround areas (including Chequers). It was a delightful short walk with everyone and we all caught up on what’s been happening, made me so pleased and was the best time spent with family in ages.

Web Work Week

The highlight of the week was a trip to Milton Keynes for the SME Bucks MK small business awards where I had entered Cater For You into the Fastest Growing Business category. I was delighted to be a guest of the AJH Cables team who were also there in the Best Entrepreneur category. Apart for that, it has been head down getting through a huge amount of web work including ongoing work on the Fastbreak site which is now getting to alpha stages, J&J and preparing images for the new Cater For You web site. We should be signing off the final designs for that and look forward to the next stage of front end development.

Rickmansworth Golf

So I finally managed to get a round of golf in. It was a glorious day on Friday, so after a lunch time meeting in Chesham I managed to get to Rickmansworth and dash round in the glorious sunshine. A bit of a rush so we didn’t play terribly well, but was nice to feel the warm sun on my skin.

Dumb Bell

Finally, on Sunday Sarah and I walked Molly up to the Dumb Bell pub to watch Crystal Palace on TV and have a quiet drink. We bumped into Banner and had a delightful few hours catching up and giggling away. We also had one of their burgers, it was delicious too.

In the Dumb Bell with Molly, Banner and B

Next week is a very busy work week and I’m hoping I can finally shift my cough / cold combination – still fine to work and function, just really annoying.

Le Manoir Meal, Hockey and Wine Tasting

The first half of the week was quiet down in Eastbourne again but made up for it at the end of the week and I took one of my more amusing photos for a while.

Hockey Coaching and Watching

Before popping to Eastbourne, I resumed by hockey coaching career with Paul on Monday evening, trying to build on the previous weeks work with more basics of moving the ball, attacking and defending exercises with a game at the end. After watching a few of the player’s games recently, learning to pass the ball quickly, accurately, picking it up whilst moving, not letting it bounce of the stick straight to the opponent and knowing what to do with it all needed work! One of the first exercises was right back to basics and exaggerating the sticking of the left elbow out and up in front to teach them to dribble in front of them rather than besides their feet. Also worked on left hand strength with a game of killer in the D just using the left hand.

I also ended up watching a couple of sessions with Jamie playing – Bucks training on Friday and ACHC U14s match on Sunday. Some of the principles applied to them as well, but there was an awful lot of ball watching going on, lack of structure and watching the line to goal which was interesting. I think what makes a great player is not just the technical ability and confidence to execute a move, but the ability to read a game before it happens, where the ball is going to be moved and hence what position to stand in ready for the play to unfold. Friday was also good as I caught up with an old friend Matt from Aylesbury Hockey Club who I’ve toured occasionally with a few times over the last 20 + years.

Web Work

Plastic Gin Glasses – with reflections!

Undertook plenty of work again this week for the usual clients. I was having particular fun trying to migrate a lot of data to a new WooCommerce web site into my local staging Desktopserver web site. I popped in to see Ian at J&J Air Systems again this week too – we are continuing to make good progress on visitor numbers for their site. We still have a huge amount of work to do though, but it is exciting.

I only popped into Cater For You for a few hours this week, but took a number of photos for a combination of new products and new photos for the new web site. I put up a couple of photos for a brand new plastic gin glasses section, but think i’ll have to re-do them as the reflection of the camera and lightpod is so bad.

Birthday Celebrations

Wine tasting

We spent the weekend celebrating Sarah’s birthday. First off was a trip to Oxfordshire and a meal at the Le Manoir. As you can see from the photos, Sarah was looking absolutely beautiful, I’m very lucky. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t wander round the gardens, but the whole afternoon was a fabulous experience. The knowledge of the serving team, the reception, the quality of the food was all exceptional and incredibly friendly, a special afternoon for us.

Afterwards we had a small family gathering to celebrate with a glass or two and a slice of cake. Saturday was the main day though as Sarah had organised a fabulous wine tasting event. The event host was very knowledgeable and introduced us to three white then three red wines, introducing us to how to test the alcohol levels (legs), acidity and which region of the world the grape would come from. It was unilaterally declared that I was a cheap date as I couldn’t tell what was what due to my taste buds!

Special mention to Stratton Bakery too who did Sarah’s absolutely fabulous birthday cake, something very special indeed with after eight mints all round it.

Exercise

My foot was still painful, but I did do a few dog walks with Molly and also tried a cycle ride. Particularly exciting was that I was allocated a place in the Prudential ride 100 ballot so need to get back up to speed on my bike. I’m afraid Saturday was a bit of a disaster as I completely ran out of energy and then got cramp in my calf in pouring rain, so had to phone Sarah to pick me up after 25 miles. It is almost half a year since I did the London to Brighton I guess, but this will be almost twice as long as that. The Isle of Wight I think was over 70 miles, but that was very hilly too. Need to get my head down to get fit again though. I’m also considering doing a duathalon if I can get my foot back running without pain again.

Particularly amusing when walking Molly was seeing a lorry driving from the HS2 site at the back of us – completely dominating Chesham Lane. Also is a dump of garden waste on Shire Lane again and a few photos of the development starting at Newland Park. Whilst I was cycling I saw what I thought was a hilarious photo of a horse hanging out of The Swan pub in Swan Bottom.

Still no golf…

Client Visits, London and Hockey Coaching

Hockey Coaching

So I started the week with another session of hockey coaching with Paul. Again, I really enjoyed it and came away with a beaming smile. The session was tighter than the previous week and we tested the attendees with some extended basics and finishing with a game. I’m now almost certain that it is genetically impossible for anyone over 40 to cleanly reverse stick the ball whilst being second nature to the youngsters. Another common shout from me in the session was elbow out to exaggerate the dribbling to the top D. Unfortunately, i’m not able to attend the next two sessions as I’ll be down in Eastbourne with my parents. The club is very lucky (hard work by various voluneers) to have such a talented group of youngsters coming through the club and also the older generation still keen to learn and progress whilst giving support to the younger members.

Web Work

The first half of the week was all about Cater For You and J & J Air Systems. Cater For You is still knee deep in a new Magento platform’d web site design and we were presented with the drafts for the responsive site. If we can increase the lowly mobile responsive rate then that’ll pay for the project itself. I’m also sorting out images which can and cannot be used for the project. We still have a swathe of images not touched for 15 years and are too small or not suitable and we’ll need to re-take hundreds of photos. It has also prompted me to look more closely at dead stock / slow moving and whether we want to take them across to the new web site.

New VOIP phone system at Cater For You

We have also invested in a brand new VOIP telephone system. The team were complaining that the old analogue lines were quiet and with the increased number of phone calls and size of team they couldn’t hear customers very well. Delighted to hear that this system has fully resolved that and they can hear clearly. Only downer was the people who installed it did no training for the team which was a bit odd.

The end of the week saw me based at CSE and then Trading Depot, both companies I’ve been working for since the early 2000’s in various guises. The latter has released a podcast featuring me as the guinea pig for the first edition – the following ones do sound a lot more exciting – maybe download my one if you have insomnia? Really enjoy going there as there is always so much going on and first time I’ve seen them since the Christmas do – my Dad dancing seemed to amuse them….

If you do want to hear my voice and a 1 hour summary of how my career has progressed over the last 30 years or so, give it a listen. You can download the podcast from here or click below.

London with Becca

Banana Cake – Cater For You recipe

Rebecca had her braces fitted this week so we had made some nice soft banana cake for her to eat earlier in the week. She then asked that we do something together on Saturday, so obviously I jumped at the chance for a bit of time with her. We popped into London once I’d dropped Jamie and his bike off at a friends and headed straight for Oxford Street with the aim of being at Canary Wharf at darkness for the Winter Lights exhibition / show.

Whilst I cannot stand shopping, I do enjoy it with Rebecca and she milled around the various clothes shops buying the odd thing. What was interesting to me though was how busy say Top Shop, John Lewis, H &M were then went into my favourite, Debenhams and it was really dead. They are having a tough time with sales at the moment and teetering on the edge of administration, I wondered about buying some shares, but if their store has no footfall on Oxford Street they really are in big trouble. Obviously there isn’t a big segment in the market for middle aged men who don’t go shopping!

Winter Lights at Canary Wharf

A quick search of what there was to do this weekend in London showed that this was the main attraction. When we arrived in a packed train, Canary Wharf was busy, though not unbearably. Surprisingly, it is the first time I’ve been there, despite the fact many of my friends have worked there of the years. It was quite an eye opener for us with the skyscrapers reaching into the starry sky. A cold evening, we trundled around a few of the sights, where eventually we picked up a map, and realised it was a lot bigger than we had thought! After seeing about half of the displays and stopping for some fries, we decided to pootle back home and defrost in the tube. Well worth going to though and we eventually arrived back home shortly before 10pm.

Batchworth Lake Walk to Cafe @ Lock 81

As I was spending half the week away in Eastbourne, I thought it would be nice to spend the morning with Sarah and Molly. I have previously mentioned on social media and my cycling blog posts that I love the Grand Union Canal by Rickmansworth and in particular the beautiful Cafe at Lock 81, so we parked up at the Aquadrome (currently free parking but soon to be paid for) and walked around Bathworth Lake and down the Canal to the Cafe. It was a crisp sunny morning, so a warm cup of tea and their fabulous bacon sandwiches were just the ticket.

Before driving down to Eastbourne, Jamie and I popped to the hockey club to mess around and practice whilst also having half an eye on B who was playing in the ladies Over 45’s game. Unfortunately they lost heavily to a very good Canterbury side who were a pleasure to watch.

As well as the dog walk, this week I went for the usual 10k run over to Chorleywood and back with Molly, couple of treadmill workouts and most importantly no golf.

Run with Molly – by the Dumb Bell field

Thai Food and Golf Get Togethers

Yet another flat out week personally and work wise. After the huge meals on Sunday, a couple of days of famine were in order, so some reheated soup from the freezer – these soups in fact which we froze in their plastic containers. I also tried to step up the activity and did a few runs to try and burn a few calories off. Oddly, i decided to do a lot of skipping on Monday evening, i’m not sure how much, but maybe 7/800 or so and my calves for most of the week were really aching. Obviously need to do that exercise a lot more.

Chiltern Forest Golf Club with Marc from AJH Cables – stunning views across Aylesbury Vale

Chiltern Forest Golf

On Tuesday I caught up with Marc from AJH Cables at Chiltern Forest. He is focusing heavily on developing his export cable market and he had some really interesting customer stories that he has made great headway with. He is literally selling to every single part of the world and developing his huge range of contacts. He has also specified a brand new cablehttps://ajhcables.com to be manufactured called Rawflex which is a reeling cable which he has also registered the name for. I’m running his web site through a few SEO tools such as Screaming Frog and SEM Rush to see how he can improve his site with some easy wins.

I do enjoy playing at Chiltern Forest, though it is tough – we started on hole 10 and these first 9 holes were a struggle and I marked my card with a shocking 57 but much like last week at Berkhamsted I turned it around with a 43 on the next 9 including a birdie (first in a while). As well as Marc’s company, the food was good and reasonable afterwards (skipped the soup and had ham egg and chips). The views are simply stunning on that course overlooking Aylesbury vale.

Wednesday evening was spent in Amersham town centre to catch up with Wardy who is back in the UK and Cremo kindly organised a few people for a meal at a Thai place called Tom Yum’s – first time I’d been there. It was fairly good, but the company was excellent and we finished off at The Beech House where the beers kept coming thick and fast! I’ve had too many beers this December so Jan – March 2019 will have to be a much more modest affair. Wardy seemed on good form and very fit and healthy with all his trail running he is doing. I was a bit upset to see Martin is suffering post knee op with sciatica and more.

Tom Yum & Beech House Amersham

I think there were also solid plans laid down for a golf tour in 2019 – this subject keeps coming up but nothing concrete planned yet. The last one was for Cash’s stag do in Porto almost three years ago now, but I think we will either go back to Portugal where a friend has a family villa or La Cala in Spain. The latter is preferred by my golf buddy who is currently laid up in ITU with Guillen Barre – something for him to focus his recovery on for mid next year hopefully. Very pleased to see a huge improvement with him this week when I popped in on Friday.

Queen’s Head Chesham

On Thursday evening Sarah and I popped over to the Queen’s Head in Chesham to do the quiz and have another Thai meal (two in two nights!!). Great fun with our friends there, an awful lot of giggling and laughter, but we didn’t win the quiz this time (Alvin and the Chipmunks, say no more). I was driving this time though giving my liver some recovery time and enjoying Sarah’s new car. Speaking of car’s, don’t panic everyone, but my trusty old Jazz passed its MOT again on Monday, so the filthy car will be my transport for yet another year… much to the children’s disgust.

The weekend carried on where the work week left off with a night out on Saturday evening and Sunday evening. The former was a delightful evening at the Tomlinsons to celebrate the last birthday of December (just the 5) which is Sarah’s Mum.

ACHC Fancy Dress Mixed Hockey

Sunday was a particularly special day as Olivia had organised for the resurrection of the Christmas fancy dress mixed games. I always looked forward to these every year when we could make them (normally on Boxing days) with various shenanigans happening and often ending up at Winkers. This was the first at the new club almost two years after we first started playing there. I think we ended up with roughly 18 a side and it was a joy playing with Jamie and Sarah. Rebecca was going to play too which I’d looked forward to all week but she had no mouth guard or shin pads and no point taking the risk. The game was good fun and great to see juniors with parents and many other members all playing a sensible, semi competitive game of fun hockey.

It was also my first game since the Over 40’s and I thought my achilles was fully repaired (I’d done a 10k trail run fine on Saturday with Molly), but alas, I felt it niggle half way through the second half and this morning it is lumpy again – rather upsetting as loved being back on the pitch. Will have to stick to my original target of next season in the 5’s with Jamie eligible for Saturday adult games.

Sunday evening was fairly impromptu with a quiet pint with Paul up the Dumb Bell. Bumped into my old friend Banner and we carried on until we were the last in the pub as usual. Rebecca has been after a part time job too and might have sorted that out for her. A great way to round off the blog week.

Dumb Bell Pub

Quiet Sunday evening drink sorting Rebecca’s job prospects

In between all that I did also do a mountain of work for Cater For You and various web clients. I’m trying to generate a lot of content and promote various sites to improve back links and domain authority. It seems to be working already as C4U has gone up in ranking and domain authority.

I’m looking forward to a quieter start to 2019! Merry Christmas to you all, have a good safe one and see you on the other side.

More Parties, Work Week and Running

Crow Link Coastline

Crow Link Coastline Low Tide

I was wondering when I thought about re-starting this blog whether I would have enough material to do a ‘weekly’ blog post summarising what i’d been up to.  The first two weeks have been busy!

This week started with a trip down to Eastbourne so I could ferry the parents to and from a couple of hospital appointments (to carry on a theme for last week!).  A tough time ahead for them unfortunately.  On the flip side, it meant that I was able to do a lot of work in peace and quiet and managed to crack on with some more J & J Air Systems CompAir and Bambi Air Compressor updates and of course Cater For You.

Whilst I was there, I also managed a couple of runs from their Friston base with the Downs and stunning countryside literally on their doorstep.  My Achilles recuperation is coming along well, I still have a bit of pain in the left one but it is definitely getting there.  Unfortunately, i’m still a long way from playing hockey which I miss dreadfully.  It is now almost two years since the right achilles went (tendinitis) with only a few months of fitness before the left one went in the Over 40’s final.  I’m targeting a return next season when Jamie is eligible to play and pootling around in the 5th XI with him and possibly the odd Over 40’s game this season if we are short (think that will be too soon though). I have been asked to try my hand at umpiring, but I’ve always been appalling when I’ve tried previously.

JJ Air Systems

JJ Air Systems Champion Air Compressors Photography

Once I returned on Wednesday afternoon, it was back to normal and a hectic work schedule.  Thursday was a catch up with J & J to plan some more developments and a quick pop into Cater For You to catch up on the comings and goings.  I’ve a backlog of about 20 products I have to put up on the site ASAP which i’d promised Jason (our fab purchasing manager) I would put on-line the previous week. Fortunately none of the products are Christmas products.  We also had the latest designs for our new site which is an evolution of the current web site but looking absolutely fabulous.  The timings seem to have slipped already which is a bit of a worry as we have the toughest development / integration bit still to come.  I’m still really pissed off about OGL / ProfitPlus API not being developed ready for our project, despite it almost being ready when they demo’d it at the start of September.  Then again, we cannot integrate our new VOIP phone system and they took many months to sort out MyHermes after disputing it was a major carrier! Anyway….

On Friday I had a series of meetings / catch ups with clients which I always enjoy, though you don’t actually manage to do any work! I started the day badly by going out in the rain for a short run and somehow managed to hit a lamp post with my shoulder – I was wearing hi vis so not sure how that happened… (idiot)… First up was the Community Centre where I was too early and hadn’t actually said I was going so went off to CSE where there was a chat about how to finish off their new CSE UK web site.  This has been in progress for way too long and this was to try and get it over the line and operating as was originally intended.  Good to be back at CSE as they have a great Marketing chap working there now meaning I’ve not had to do any work there for many months.  I started working with John in 2001 and he is also my C4U business partner – I thoroughly enjoy working with him.  He also bought me fish and chips for lunch, what’s not to like!

After CSE / Wooburn Green, I popped over to Fastbreak Sports in Chesham where they were having an email order confirmation problem. Turns out it was an issue from me moving one of their domains over to my new hosting company 20i from Fasthosts.  This is proving an immense project trying to migrate over 200 domains and hosting and I’ve not started on the trickier ones yet.  20i has been a revelation of customer service and also price point – I guess things might change as they get larger (I hope not).  Once Fastbreak was sorted, I caught up with someone else in Chesham to talk about moving forward with a brand new business – I’ve registered http://www.tradekitchensuk.com/ and will put some holding information up for them soon to get it propagating.

Once these series of meetings had finished, it was a quick change and off out to the Cater For You Christmas dinner at Taplow House Hotel.  The team has worked tremendously hard again this year, and I know they were all looking forward to being there.  We had partners along again this year and we numbered a total of 28 people, a record.  We’ve added three more people to the team in the last year. The meal was very good, the venue was very impressive, though I didn’t get to mingle as much as I could of done.  My impromptu speech in the bar at Midnight could have been a lot better too!  I did particularly enjoy catching up with a lot of the team, a highlight was with Sue and Partner Steve.  I’ve been working with Sue since 1992, she is an inspiration to me and just a brilliant person as well as pure silk on the phone when chatting to our customers.

Philips Wood Trail Running

Philips Wood Trail Running with Molly

Peppers from the Greenhouse

Peppers from the Greenhouse

Saturday morning was a late start, but I did take Molly out for a 10k jaunt over to Chorleywood and back.  Like my parents, we are very lucky being so close to the stunning Chiltern’s countryside though HS2 is re-starting in earnest at the back of us.  The run was a bit muddy as they’ve been doing tree work in Philips Wood but Molly and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  There are also some sheep on the way which Molly enjoys seeing, fortunately they are well fenced in to keep Molly out. I also attended to the greenhouse where absurdly I still have peppers and chillis growing.  I was hoping to have it all cleaned and empty by now ready for the start of a new growing season in February.

Saturday evening was a night out I was particularly looking forward to, a few beers with some old Robertswood Dad’s to catch up on a few months. Just very chilled and relaxing in the Merlins Cave Chalfont St Giles.  I think that is my favourite pub at the moment.  Such a shame they’ve closed my old second home the Waggon and Horses in Chalfont St Peter, but it had gone downhill in recent times with some poor landlords and Greene King just wanting to cash in on the property value rather than manage it properly.  The Dumb Bell has had some investment into it over the last year, but I just don’t seem to have the urge to pop in there as much.

Sunday didn’t stop either.  When I finally got out of bed after watching some dispiriting politics programmes about Brexit, I got to work on the garden and clearing up the leaves.  The oak tree has finally shed its last leaf and so I could get to work.  I managed to fill our green bin and four recycling bins with leaves before having to just push them to the edges ready for when the composting has started and the next empty green bin.  I need to do a lot more work on the garden and hope to put a bird friendly new hedge in down one side as soon as spring starts springing.

Next off we’d been invited to Milton’s Cottage for John Milton’s 410th birthday party.  I have been working on their web site on and off since around 2002 through Sarah’s Dad who was Chairman of the Trustees for many years from the 80’s to the 2000’s (I think).  We happened to randomly bump into a few hockey faces too but it was particularly heart warming listening to fond stories of what Philip did for the cottage over many years.  The current trustees though are a world away from that era and have done an astonishing job to secure the future for generations to come.

To round off the week, the road had a festive get together at one of the houses who were overwhelmingly generous with their hospitality.  It is great getting together with everyone, we are very lucky having such a close community in the road and though we were late it was fun catching up with everyone.

I always thought I was fairly busy, and another week recounting what I’ve been up to kind of confirms that!  The week coming up is no different.

England Hockey Masters Final (T3) 2018

I’ve been playing hockey on and off since 1996, mostly off due to my useless body which continually gets injured.  Two years ago after a summer 1’s game at OMT we were laughing about how the youngsters were all flying past us and wouldn’t it be a good idea to (re)start the ACHC men’s Over 40’s team.  So a germ of an idea snowballed into reality and somehow I was Captain and using my (and the teams) extensive list of contacts, we set about creating a squad and entered the England Hockey Over 40’s national competition.

ACHC O40’s September 2016 vs Old C’s

After dredging through my contacts and getting back in touch with a heap of people I hadn’t spoken to for many years, we gathered a fearless group of players, some who hadn’t played for many years and had a friendly against Marlow Hockey Club who helped us out tremendously. The first game and real thing came against Old Cranleighan hockey club.  We were fortunate in that game and the old competitive spirit came back into everyone and we won on flicks, though this meant we stayed in Tier 2 and not drop into Tier 3 which would have been more suitable for this newly assembled group of friends.  We lost to Marlow in an absolute humdinger on a hot day 6-5, but we had all re-formed and the banter was non stop – something that I think is missing from many current Saturday teams with many players not going back to the bar and mixing, or just sitting on their phones – maybe i’m just getting old!

So roll on the 2017-18 season and I was still the Captain of the team despite being long term sidelined again, this time with an achilles problem. This time we lost our first game of the campaign against previous Tier 2 winners and runners up Henley.  With only 11 players we started slowly and the game was over by the end of the first half at 5-0.  We drew the second half 1-1.   So the third tier beckoned.

The next couple of fixtures we squeaked through against West Herts b team and Luton (won on flicks though we did dominate the game) and a very stressful re-arrangement due to snow.  The game against Broxbourne was interesting as it was half term – my goodness it was tough to get a team out, but I turned up some unexpected gems who hadn’t picked up a stick for quite some time. Trick even turned up from Cambridge to help us out.  Somehow, we battered them 7-2, our only comfortable win of the cup run.

So the quarter finals arrived against Petersfield, and snow threatened to intervene again, what a nightmare.  The squad came out on the Saturday and cleared the entire pitch of snow – though typically it would probably have cleared with warmer weather – but the team bonded even closer.  From this point, I said that the team would not change unless there was unavailability or injured – we had the same squad of 16 players for the last three games, which was really tough on a couple of players who were back from injury or illness – including this season’s captain Paul who would probably have made the difference in the final.

The semi finals saw us turn up at Witham, a club where one of my hockey touring colleagues was chairman for a while and have a great hockey pedigree.  We got hammered 5-1, with a couple of their players dominating the game.  Our best players Richie and John commented at half time that they weren’t able to get near them but they battled on and on.  Whilst we drowned our sorrows in the bar afterwards, their Captain told us that the team was an amalgamation from other teams (as some of our previous oppo was) and it turns out, England Hockey adjudged that they shouldn’t have been playing in Tier 3 as they were regularly playing at too high a level.

So completely unexpectedly, we were through to the final and rather disappointingly, they had moved the date and venue to Birmingham University – superb facilities but we were rather hoping it would be at the Olympic Park!  Despite the date change, every one of the 16 players made themselves available and the club vintage team were so generous and sorted out a coach to take most of the players and spectators – spectators who would have to buy a ticket to watch us play!!!

This would be the greatest day of my hockey career (only the CSP 1st XI being promoted can compete) and I woke up feeling rough / temperature (probably stress!) and highly dubious about my other achilles lasting the game. Paul was still on standby, should I be unselfish and get him playing instead of me – unfortunately, I decided to play myself and had the honour and privilege of leading the squad out onto the pitch and various team announcements.  We were playing Holcombe, a club who are right at the top of the hockey family tree, a fact that I think got into our heads for the start of the game.

By half time, we were 3-0 down and at one point it looked like a drubbing was on the cards.  Then we realised that we could play, we were fit and nerves seemed to disappear and we eventually clawed our way back to 3-2 with all the chances going our way. I still maintain another 10 minutes and we’d have won!

Even though we didn’t make it, I’ve never been so proud to be a Captain and be part of that squad of players on that day – I was bursting with pride with what we created over those two seasons.  The coach home was just as good, clearing off three mini barrels of beer from the Rebellion brewery and just as many bottles of lager.  Twenty five people went for a curry in Amersham – what a day (and night). Unfortunately, my other achilles went half way through the game and I could hardly run and has again put me out of hockey for the foreseeable (the physio did say forever, but I want to play with Jamie next season).

So in summary, we had seven games, lost three, drew one and won only three (fourth on flicks) and despite hardly playing, it was one of the best season’s of hockey of my life, something I will treasure forever.

Below are a few photos from the day:

Spring is Springing – 3 points

Spring is Springing
Came home from Trading Depot on Thursday evening, and spring was definitely in the air – the rest of the Watts family were having a bar-b-q!!!! As you can see a disposable bar-b-q was burning brightly with chicken kebabs next to the garden rockery and the beautiful Cherry Blossom on the tree at the bottom of the garden – it really is stunning at the moment.

On Friday night I went down to the Waggon and Horses for a quick drink with John where we had a very productive board meeting – made some exciting decisions for Cater For You.
Saturday morning, my missing screws were sent by IKEA for my final CD rack – and I’m delighted to say I just had enough space for all my CD’s. So my study / working environment is just about complete with good desk and PC and all my music surrounding me – superb – just like Cross Lanes was.
Saturday afternoon I went and played another away game (seems to be all away games this year) at the beach in Slough – Herschel School against South Bucks – and we only went and bloody won it – the first points of the year in a game of hockey I’ve been involved in. We took a team photo which I’ll load up to the hitsports site later this week if I get a chance (though doubt it completely and utterly overloaded with work this week).
Saturday night I went along for Mark’s 30th birthday party in the Village Hall – after a couple wandered back down to the White Hart and then sloped off for a quick chicken kebab for the walk home – haven’t had a kebab for years and years – it was horrible!!
Sunday we decided on the spur of the moment to go to Eastbourne and see the rest of the Watts family – R & J wanted to see Grandma and Grandpa Watts and also go to the beach. They had (and I) a fabulous time. Some great photos of them on the beach with their cousins (see below. Sarah (sister) also had a look at my feet as I was hobbling a bit on Sunday and her official podiatrist diagnosis was the achilles are swollen. So came away with a few exercises to stretch the back of my legs. Just one more game though – away to Henley next week.
Rebecca and Mummy searching for Shells


The finished article with sea defences

Very enjoyable weekend

Watsy playing hockeyWhat a rather splendid weekend. Managed to polish off a load of work on Friday night, then had a lovely time with R & J on Saturday morning – we built some robots – which we’d been reading Harry and the Dinosaurs build – so that was rather pleasing. The 1’s were short so I lumbered up to Wokingham – I don’t think I’ve played there before as I didn’t recognise it – a newly laid pitch apparently – very good it was too. We won 4-1 which was rather good – good fun chasing defenders down with Warren too – I was playing up front for the first time in about 18 months. Here’s a glorious action photo of me probably missing the ball.

In the evening I did some more work then we went to Chalfont swimming pool for the first time. It was great – got there at 11, nice and empty the water was warm, the air was cold and they had loads of swimming play objects all round the pool – which R & J loved diving after – their swimming is coming along nicely at the moment.

Sunday afternoon after our Roast Chicken we had an afternoon clearing up the garden – a very large bonfire in the veg patch and cleared some chopped down shrub / small tree branches off the decking – ready to move the greenhouse on to it. I’m sure I’ve spent way too much time the last few years trying to sort the bloody greenhouse – I’m going to have to get a few mates round to help me move it onto there too and remove the existing water feature.

Two Parties, The Beach all in all excellent

I had an excellent weekend last weekend. I played snooker with martin and charlie on the friday night – and I won which was even better. Then straight down to Eastbourne on Saturday morning for Harry’s birthday party at 11 – not so great I think i was caught with a mobile camera on the A23 just past Gatwick.

The party was great and we stayed there until Sunday lunchtime – we also went to the beach which R & J love doing – though it was bitingly cold.

Eastbourne Beach

Then back for Eve’s party on Sunday afternoon – they were pretty tired by the end of that though as can be seen here where they are content to look after Anna. It wasn’t the best nights sleep ever though either.

Eve's Party

The week has flown by – i’ve been covering Cater For You this week – its been enjoyable though getting back involved in the day to day business again – and its so much busier than this time last year. But i’ve been balancing that with my other work as well – did over 12 hours yesterday. The largest amount of work I can talk about is I’ve almost completed a brand new section on CK Tools on the CSE Buy online web site. I think that’ll be a rather good seller – i fancy some of the kit myself!

Still feel ok today – but next week i guess i’ll be paying!!

I’ve had loads of web site enquiries recently as well which has been a bit odd – they tend to come in flurrys though.

Playing hockey again this weekend – though not particularly looking forward to it – High Wycombe – and i’ve a hacking cough still – had it for three weeks. Might also be playing on the Sunday as well…. maybe.

Champagne Breakfast, Hockey and leaves

A wonderful weekend was had by all – except Sarah and I are feeling a bit grotty with a heavy cold.

Friday night we were pleased to just get there I think – I felt not exactly on the money on the Friday afernoon with my head. Saturday we played hockey – I turned up in the 2’s this week – though started as sub and didn’t get as long as i’d have wanted – but not exactly surprising – got to give starts to the regular players. I won’t be playing next weekend as Sarah is in Wallingford – and then in Plymouth for a cup game all day Sunday – from 7-7 I guess.

Anyway, decided to surprise her with a champagne breakfast this morning – smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and a small bottle of bubbly – Rebecca and Jamie also enjoyed the meal – not drink obviously!

Champagne Breakfast

After that I spent about four hours clearing away the leaves from the lower bit of the garden – a bit laborious really but in the fresh air and doing a bit of exercise which was nice.

Another really busy week coming up again – wondering whether my feet will touch the ground as usual!