Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cricket Tour

I'm going on cricket tour next weekend. 16 reprobates unleashed on Torquay.

There are a few "rules" for the tour that I thought I'd share with you.

1. Everyone must have a "karaoke song". At random times during the tour someone might pipe up (for example) "Statto, Statto give us a song", at which point I'm obliged to start crooning. It could be at breakfast, on the pitch, in the pub - who knows. Problem is, I hate karaoke, and I'm not a good singer.

2. Saturday night evening wear rule is that trousers can not be blue (jeans included), black, greay, brown or any combination thereof that is deemed to be "normal". OK, off to the charity shops for that one I think.

3. Everyone must carry a glove with them at all times. There will be an hourly "glove check". It doesn't matter what sort of glove, you just have to have one.

Obviously, failure to comply with one or any of these rules at any time will result in a hefty fine or forfeit (probably related to alcohol).

I'll update you after then weekend, when I might be skint, have been hugely embarrased or be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stalemate: Sheffield Utd 0-0 City

In a close encounter City got a point in a gaoless draw at Brammall Lane.

We normally have a decent match against the Blades, and there are normally goals, but not today. Both defences were allegedly outstanding, and I suppose not conceding is a bonos.

Elsewhere, great news for local derby-ites, as City, already down to play Swansea for the first time in ages this season in the League, have drawn our arch rivals away in the next round of the Carling Cup. Should be a taster for things to come. Let's hope it's the football, and not the hooligans that make the headlines.

C'mon City, down the Jacks!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Treo Pro - again

I know I'm going on about the Treo Pro a bit - but it is rather exciting I think.

Anyway, the Treonauts site has got some rather gushing reviews of the device here and here.

I suppose you might expect a Palm focused site to be positive about a Palm device - even one runing Windows "Moble", and this doesn't disappoint. However, I think this is fine, because the reviewer makes a point to note that he's not used to WM, and therefore the positive reviews he gives this device coming from a Palm OS focus is actually quite refreshing.

It looks like this device will be quite expensive unlocked in the UK. Clove are advertising it at £368 inclusive of VAT, so it's not soemthing you're going to purchase on a whim.

My HTC S710's got a day and a bit left on e-bay, but it's stuttering at the £90 mark, so I'm not going to make enough to justify being able to get a Treo Pro, ot that I ever thought it would. But it'll be gadget money in the bank I hope.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Talking of phones...

As regular readers will know, I'm pretty happy with my Palm Centro, although I also fancy a go with an iPhone.

The emergence of the Treo Pro excites me too, despite it being a Windows Mobile (or as our cousins from over the water insist on pronouncing it "Windows Moble". One other device that has caught my eye recently though is the Samsung Omnia. This looks like a cool device and is well specced. I saw one of it's cousins in operation recently - I'm not sure which model, might have been the Tocco (F480) and the interface looked absolutely gorgeous. As per my previous post though, it's prolonged use which determines how good a device is. Might be one to keep an eye on.

Merry go round

Murray over at Palm-Mac, one of my daily visited blogs is having a bit of phone trouble.

He's always liked his gadgets, and a while back decided that the iPhone was the way forward. And for a few months it was. However, like most gadget warriors, there's always something around the corner. To be fair to him, he does say the iPhone is still his preferred device, but over the last few weeks he's also managed to get through an HTC Touch Pro, a Nokia E71, and has now taken delivery of a Nokia E66.

It'll be interesting to see how he gets on with the '66 - his first impressions are favourable, but they were with the '71 and that lasted all of a few days!

The problem that ordinary mortals like me & Murray (no offence mate) have is bigger players/websites (PDA 247, PalmAddicts for example) who get sent more kit to test than you can shake a stick at. We generally have to buy up front (messing around in a shop isn't real life testing), so if we do and we don't like it, we can't just send it back.

He also has his eyes, I know, on the new Treo Pro, and the hands on reviews of this will be starting to come out soon. Will he resist? Who knows?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The road to Wembley - again: City 2-1 MK Dons

Here we go again. We're on the road to Wembley again (at least in the Carling Cup, as we negotiated our 2nd round tie at home to the might MK Dons.

I couldn't go as I had a cricket committee meeting to attend, but caught the end of the match on the radio. Ross McCormack got the opener from the spot (again) and Peter Whittingham lashed home a spectacular free kick to make it 2-0. In true City fashion though, we can't keep a clean sheet and let one in to make it 2-1 at the final whistle.

More worryingly though, we lost a couple of players to injury, including Riccy Scimeca who's only just back in the side after missing virtually the whole of last season through injury. He was stretchered off, so that's a worry and we also lost defender Tony Capaldi & Darcy Blake to injuries.

Still, the 3rd round beckons...

Internet problems

I've got internet problems again. A few months ago I posted my tribulations
on a similar subject which eventually appeared to correct itself.

Now similar problems. Can't connect, or if I can it's only to Google.
Everything seems slow. Have virus checked everything but no probs.

Appeared to start having problems after I downloaded and tried installing a
version of "Smartdraw" a CAD program. I cancelled the install part way
through because it was taking an age to install.
Have re-booted the router, the PC, done a restore flshed the firmware on my
router and still no joy.

My money's on bloody Pipex again.


It's working again, although I have to say it's running very slowly...seemed to start working again after I flashed my router with the latest firmware upgrade, although that might be coincidence - it has been working fine for months without a hiccough. I think I'll still blame Pipex.

Sent with SnapperMail

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vox Posted on e-bay

That's done then. The HTC S710 (Vox) has been listed on e-bay. Much as I hate to sell it, it's been sitting in my drawer for months, and realistically I'm not going to use it again in anger - after a brief couple of months pushing my Palm Treo 680 to the wings, it got usurped by the the Palm Centro, which to my mind is a far superior device in general.

So it's on. I sit back and await humungous bids. Well maybe not. It is after all, in a fast moving technological world well over a year since it first came to the market. Could be a bargain for someone.....if they meet the reserve!

We woz robbed: City 2 - 2 Norwich

City could only manage a draw against the Canaries after being 2-0 up with less than 15 minutes to go.

In truth, the score should have been 2-1 by then anyway. Norwich missed a penalty (I mean completely missed - not saved) in the 8th minutes soon after Ross McCormack had given the Bluebirds the lead after a great through ball by Jay Bothroyd. Then City themselves were denied a penalty early in the second half by the appalling referee (stand up and take a bow Mr Anthony Taylor of Greater Manchester) who truly had a game to forget.

Norwich's first goal came courtesy of a hopeful volley through a mass of players in City's penalty area that fell to one of two players in yellow, clearly standing in an offside position. In fact they were so far offside everyone stopped, except Lupoli who prodded the ball home. Everyone waited for the flag and whistle, but it didn't come, and that gave Norwich enough of a kick to press on in search of the equaliser that came from a low header after City 'keeper Heaton lost his footing.

Poor though the refereeing was, and offside though Norwich's first goal was, City had taken their foot off the gas. Dave Jones also made three strange substitutions, taking 2 goal McCormack off immediately after he scored the penalty, Bothroyd off for Thompson and Kennedy off for Comminges, when in fact City looked comfortable.

2 points lost rather than one gained methinks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mini Mouse

Don't you just love it when something just goes according to plan?

I'm getting on great with my EEE notebook, but I have to admit that I'm not as adept with a trackpad as I am with a mouse.

So, I order up this mini sized retractable cord optical mouse (that's a mouthful) off Amazon for the princely sum of £1.55 plus a couple of quid postage. Yes that's right. The item was one pound and fifty five pence! The postage was more than the item (!) but having a mouse delivered to your door for about three quid all in is still a bargain.

It arrived inside 2 days.

I opened the package, plugged it in, fired up the EEE and off I went. Worked first time, not even a hint of a message about new hardware, drivers or anything else. Superb!

It's tiny though too - it's about a quarter the size of a bog standard mouse and it's still got room for a scroll wheel!

Bolt of lightning

Yes I know the headline's almost certainly been done elsewhere, but bear with me.

I had to suppress a snort of derision today when reading (on the BBC Website I think) about Jacques Rogge one of the Olympics head honcho's (actually he's the IOC President) who is apparently not impressed with Usain Bolt and his cockiness and showmanship after breezing to 100m and 200m gold medals, both in new world record times I might add, saying he's got no respect for his fellow competitors.

Well frankly Mr Rogge, my take on it is this.

Anyone who can not only run the 100m and 200m very fast....very, very fast in fact, shattering the existing world records in both events, and be so, so far ahead of the rest of the field in both events that he's got time to sit down halfway through a race, read a Who's Who to find out who Jacques Rogge actually is and still have time to finish ahead of everyone else can do what he damn well likes.

Cocky he might be, but he can afford to be, because he is, by a country mile (or 2oom anyway) the best in the world.

Eddie Johnson for City

The Bluebirds are at it again. Leaked rumours that an "international" class striker is almost ready to sign. Lots of wondering who it might be, and then when we find it it's another one no-one's ever heard of.

Well, that might be a little unfair. Even I'd heard of Eddie Johnson. Oh no, sorry that was "Eddie the Eagle"!

Turns out our Eddie, if indeed he is to be ours (we don't have a great reputation for announcing signings who actually get to Cardiff), plays for Fulham, and is a USA international.

More details of him, his background and so on here.

Time to move on

I think I'm going to flog my HTC S710 (Vox) on ebay. I've had it just under a year (eons compared to some smartphone users who change their phones weekly or monthly - are you watching Murray and Shaun?).

I used it in anger only for about 4 months though before I got my Centro. Since then (February) it's been in the drawer. I get it out once in a blue moon, charge it, fiddle with it and then put it back in the drawer.

It's OK. But it's just not got it over the Centro. I'm not sure if it's the Win Mob, or it's something to do with the hardware design or both.

Anyway, there's no point in it gathering dust when I could sell it, bank the cash and put it towards, oooh, I don't know... maybe a Treo Pro or iphone.....

I'll probably get round to it over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Palm Treo Pro - Official!

The Treo Pro is now available (not yet in the UK, although there seems to be a suggestion that it will eventually be available on Vodafone and O2 - no good for us T-Mob users!!) so all the rumours are now official. Check out the Palm site for this beauty. It's WM rather than Palm, but it still looks tempting......

Found this rather cheesy video on YouTube of some Palm VP's (Vice President's) talking about the new Treo Pro. All the usual fluff in here, but a couple of interesting comments that might slip by un-noticed.

Apparently the Treo Pro has been designed for and is aimed at the "heavy business or international user" who has "different needs and expectations to our (note "our") typical user".

Maybe what they really mean, is "we're not going to do anything for our typical Palm user", or put another way, if you're waiting for a new Palm OS, don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gabor who?

I hope Dave Jones knows what he's doing - I don't.

Earlier today the BBC website was reporting that Cardiff City were about to complete the signing of a centre back replacement for Glenn Loovens who's signed for Celtic.

Tonight I find out that the replacement is that well known Hungarina international Gabor Gyepes currently playing for the galacticos that are the Cobblers (that's their nickname, not their ability) - yes, Northampton Town.

Hmmm... and it turns out he was and international - once. "I'd like to play for Hungary again" says the BBC report. Oh, and he's suffered a knee injury in the past.

Maybe he'll do the business. He's certainly a big lad at 6'3" (or 6'4" depending on which website you read).

How do you say "C'mon City" in Hungarian?

Well, seeing as you've asked, it's "Jön -ra Város!"


I'm a long time user of Microsoft Outlook on my home PC, currently at Outlook 2002 (I know, I know). However, Vista's not keen on 2002 and keeps telling me to upgrade and I'm fed up to the back teeth of losing/duplicating calendar items when syncing my Centro to this PC. I also sync my work PC which runs OL 2003 and I don't think it likes syncing two different OL calendar versions.

So, I've decided to give Goosync a shot. This application allows me to sync my Centro Calendar to Google Calendar. My thought processes go, that if I then sync my Centro only with my work PC and Goosync I should (fingers crossed) stop some of the problems I've been having, and I'll have my calendar available all the time on my Centro and any other internet enabled PC. So, I downloaded and installed the limited version that allows only syncing of Calendar, and synced and everything looks tickety boo.

I have to admit I'm slightly nervous of trusting personal information to a 3rd party server, although clearly the number of people doing this these days suggests it can't be all that bad. I'll see how I get on, but Google Calendar certainly looks OK, though I accept it doesn't have quite the same degree of functionality as Outlook. However, for home use it's probably fine.


A couple of observations about the sporting fest currently taking place in China:

  1. It's great that GB are doing so well in the medals table. Whatever you think about the Olympics (and more of that to follow), you can't begrudge the fact that these athletes are the best of the best, and have sacrificed a lot (you try training, competing, etc as much as they do and tell me it's easy), and it's brilliant to see them achieve the pinnacle of their sport.
  2. I've found it fascinating listening to the athlete and coach interviews, when they talk about "being the best", shaving a bit more off a time, going the extra little bit - we could all learn some lessons in commitment from their attitudes.
  3. But what about the subjectivity from some sports? Synchronised swimming had a pasting on the radio tonight from come commentators, and rightly so i my opinion. Pretty it might be with the swimmers in their diamante costumes, but where's the "higher, faster, longer, stronger" element. They (as these commentators observed) swim about a bit, twiddle their legs, and then someone completely different thinks how much they should score. How can you tell one leg twiddle from another? Same goes for many of the gymnastic sports, diving etc - in diving apparently, it's how you enter the water that counts - not how many twiddles you've done, so why do they bother with the twiddles?
  4. And then, finally, there's the bit about balancing or equating sport with the "spirit" of the games. Most of these athletes are full time. We pay for them out of our taxes/National Lottery. Fine and dandy it may be to win an Olympic medal (or even compete at a games), but many of them don't have and have never had a proper job. I was listening to one of our triatheletes on the radio on the way home who gave up a medical degree to further his athletic career. To be fair he admits it's "not a job", but he gets sponsorship, kit, and what is in effect a "salary" to do this. That's without the international footballers competing in the Olympic Football - sure they might not be being paid (directly) for the games themselves, but at the wages they command I'd be apoplectic if they did. And Rara Nadal etc, and a whole host of others.... I'm not sure how I square this up in my mind with the image of the spirit of the games. I know things have to change. Maybe I'm just getting old.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Treo Pro

At first the rumours were just rumours. But then it became apparent that there might be a little bit more to this than just a wheeze or hearsay as more and more sites started reporting it. Palm look like they're bringing out a new phone, and although it looks like being a Windows Mobile job, there are some fascinating specs (fascinating not groundbreaking - unless it's on a Palm).

A quick Google will bring you no end of hits, but one of the best reports I've found is on WMExperts where you can find loads of pictures and some specs listed. As a taster, how about this...

  • 400Mhz CPU , but allegedly a snappy response
  • 256MB ROM, 128MB RAM! (Other reports show “In use: 43.96mb, Free 57.72mb”)
  • 320*320 screen
  • GPS !!!!
  • Full Tri-band 3G, Quad-band GSM
  • 2 Megapixel camera - much better - still not bleeding edge but better
  • microUSB connector - at last!!!!
  • 3.5mm Earphone connector - at last!!!
  • 1500mah battery - this should knock the old Treo battery life issues on the head
I'll be watching this with interest...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back in the old routine...

A semblance of normality and routine has returned to Chez Statto this weekend.

Our summer holiday to Greece is over, and and a fading memory (how can anywhere really be that hot & sunny?).

The family wedding has come and gone.

Our week without the kids was nice - we had forgotten how wonderful it is just to say, "let's go out and have a drink/something to eat/to the pictures" without the kids - though we wouldn't be without them for the world and it was great to go and pick them up from my sister's yesterday. They've had a brilliant time camping/caravanning, and though the weather has largely been atrocious for them, they've still managed horse-riding, surfing, canoeing, swimming in the sea, jumping off cliffs into deep water, slobbing about, playing with their cousins/other assorted friends and so on.

So today, there are no specific events on the horizon for a three week period or so. In some ways that's nice - I like a certain degree of predictability in my life. I'd like to think I'm spontaneous, but I'm probably not.

But there are still things to look forward to later this year.

My daughter starts high school in September, I'm going on a short cricket tour with the club (probably in a non-playing capacity). I am actually down to play a game on Bank Holiday Monday (a charity match) which could well be my swansong - interesting to see if the knee holds up - (don't tell my physio/consultant!).

We're also off to the Gower for a w/e in October with some other family, and before you know it, it'll be half term and we've got a week off with the kids then.

At new year, we're going up to Yorkshire with about 30 friends/family.

So there's a lot still to come this year. In the meantime, I need s few days of dry weather (ha ha) to get out in the garden and do some work out there. It's a disaster area at the moment.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dinas Powys CC secure promotion. Now Champions?

Both 1st and 2nd XI's from my cricket club Dinas Powys secured promotion from their respective divisions today without a ball being bowled. Despite the awful weather of late, our perfomances in the early part of the season have been sufficiently strong to keep us at the top of the table. It would have been nice to go up playing cricket, but you can't beat the weather.

Now we hope the weather turns for the better so the Championship can be decised on the field. Up the Dinas!

City leave it late again: Doncaster 1 - 1 City

Last week it took an injury time winner from Roger Johnson for City to take 3 points in their opener against Southampton. This week it was an 88th minute strike from City new boy Ross McCormack to rescue a point at newly promoted Doncaster Rovers.

It's a new era for City, as Glenn Loovens has gone off to Celtic, but our new striker at least has got off the mark and I suppose 4 points from the first two games when everyone is still a bit match rusty can't be too bad. We need to start asserting the authority we showed in pre-season though if we're going to have a realistic chance of play off places - we don't want to be playing catch up by September.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

More phone lust (not me)...

You've got to feel for us Palm owners/diehards.
It seems barely a week (or even a day) goes by without a new latest, greatest smartphone from HTC, Apple, Nokia, Samsung et al - indeed Nokia have brought out about 30 new phones in the last month. Well, not they haven't but they have brought out a few new ones lately, including the E66 which is getting Murray at Palm-Mac and Shaun at PDA 24/7 all excited.

I can't say it does much for me. Nokia phones are undoubtedly great phones with a good pedigree, but frankly I think they're all a bit dull (of course that's entirely a personal opinion). I certainly wouldn't at this point in time want to swap my Centro, HTC Vox or any other smartphone (inc. the iPhone - which I don't have, and don't anyone start arguing it's "smartphone" credentials) for a Nokia E66.

Frankly, one of the problems with HTC and Nokia particularly is all their devices are starting to look alike, a problem long ago levelled at Palm and the Treo range. Now there's nothing per se wrong with that, but it does make everything samey and frankly are they really any better than a previous iteration of largely the same innards for 90% of the population who just want a phone that can take pictures and maybe keep a few contacts/play a bit of music on?

Murray makes a very interesting and astute observation (as usual), which is that many of these reviews saying how wonderful the latest device is, come from people who get given 30 devices a week to review, so the actual time they spend on any individual device is pretty short.

What would be much better, is to get a few long term "road tests" going. See if all the glitz and enthusiasm is still there after 3 months daily use (I'd volunteer for that by the way if anyone's listening and wants to send some shiny devices my way!). That might stop us people in the ordinary world rolling our eyes every week or so when we here or see the term " my opinion this is the best device since last Thursday", swiftly followed by, "...I've since found out it doesn't make the tea".

Loovens for Celtic?

Well it was always going to happen sooner or later, and probably sooner. Reports from the BBC Sport website indicate that one of Cardiff City's best players, Dutchman Glenn Loovens is going to join Celtic.

So far it's reporting only that he has "permission to speak" to the Scottish Premier League outfit, but if the offer is half decent he'll be off. Shame, he's undoubtedly a huge talent, one of the best centre backs in the Championship and it probably means we'll have Darren Purse back in the starting line up, so look out for plenty of red cards, penalties against us and a return to the long ball game.

My daughter will be devastated too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Iphone lock-in

The more I think about it, the more I think it's pants that you can only get an Iphone on O2.

If the device was being offered on T-Mobile I'd snap it up, and even if it were unlocked and therefore considerably more expensive I'd at least be thinking about it. But you can't. It's O2 or nothing. So I sit and wait and moan.

Murray over at Palm-Mac frequently berates device developers who tie in their device to a specific contract (think Palm and Vodafone). I can't understand why companies do this - there must be some sound business principle in there I guess.

And what happens to all the Iphone 2G models? I can't honestly believe that they just miraculously got "used up" just before the release of the 3G version. Why can't you find them available as clearance offers. The same goes for any older generation device/white good I suppose - the manufacturer's want you to buy the latest version so they withdraw the old stuff from stock/circulation. Seems mad to me. One, there must be piles of "old" goods lying around the world, and two, using an older device might actually prompt someone to upgrade to the newer version.

City Stuff

City beat AFC Bournemouth in the 1st round of the Carling Cup last night with 2 goals from Paul Parry. Dave Jones fielded a decent side, presumably because he wants to get his players up to competitive match fitness asap.

[Breaking News: Having triumphed over the Cherries, City will entertain the might MK Dons in round 2. That'll be one to look forward to...]

In other news, rumours, nay confirmation that City have received bids (note the plural) for Glen Loovens our highly rated Dutch centre back. Word has it that Rangers (again) and Celtic are amongst the pack, but whether anyone's yet come close to the alleged £3m asking price isn't clear. What does appear to be clear is that he's yet to sign a new contract despite having been offered one. I'd be sorry to see him go (as would my daughter who's not into football but loves Loovens - she's 11) - I reckon he's one of the best central defenders in the Championship, but that as they say is football and sooner or later they all go.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I've taken loads of photos lately. I mean shedloads. First we had two weeks holiday in Zakynthos, and then a family wedding at the weekend. Probably 400-500 photos in all in 3 weeks, plus well over an hour of video.

Even once I've deleted all the crud, there'll still be a lot of stuff left. Currently I stick all these files on an internal hard drive on one of our two PC's and - madly, the one I use least, which means whenever I want to access them I have to either use that older PC, or switch a second one on.

Either way it's a nuisance, and I'm also increasing nervous as that drive is now some years old and I don't back it up regularly....OK, hardly at all....err, I did once - honest.

The time has come I think to get an external HDD - there's loads about at reasonable prices - 500GB for 50 quid sort of stuff, so there's no reason not to. The last thing I want is to lose almost 10G of photos plus all the video I've done over the years just because a drive fails, or I forget to back up.

And then you back up the back up - just in case, and so ad infinitum.

I'd ideally like a network storage drive so I can access it from either of my PC's, whichever is switched on, but they are a bit more expensive - and you need to know a bit about networks I'd guess. I wouldn't trust a manual to tell me how to do it.

Some stuff I upload to Flickr or Photobox, both superb sites in their own right, but it can be tedious uploading lots of large files to these sort of sites. How did we ever manage before broadband?

I use the rather excellent Picasa to view the photo's by the way.

Quick News

Had few problems recently with my favorite Palm RSS newsreader, "Quicknews" from Stand Alone.

For some reason it wouldn't display a feed from one of my favourite Blogs, "Palm-Mac" without hanging.

A quick Google suggested it was a problem with v 2.6/7 of Quicknews. Luckily v 2.8 is out, so a swift download and install later all is well and I can read Murray's updates without any problem. Strange how it was only that feed I had problems with.

Wedding Bells

We had a great family wedding at the weekend. My wife's niece Ruth got married. Reception was in a great hotel - the Swan in Streatley, Berkshire on the banks of the Thames. Chucked it down all day but it was a great day nevertheless.

Loads of photo's, slightly too much to drink and lot's of family. And the bride looked lovely too. Great.

Quiet week

It's quiet around the place this week. We've sent the kids to stay for a week with my sister and her crowd on their holiday in west Wales. They're loving it, sleeping in tents, surfing, staying up late - never mind the rain!

It means it's spookily quiet here though. Just me, Anne and the cat! Still, it's a chance to go out without worrying about finding babysitters!

The wonders of modern communication mean a regular text or phone call keeps us in touch. Still be glad to see them again on Saturday though.

Good start: City 2 - 1 Saints

So we're off and running with 3 points from our opening fixture against Southampton.
As I mentioned previously we couldn't go due to a family wedding (which was great), but kept in touch with my Centro.
Thommo opened the scoring but then we let them back in and it took a 91st minute goal from super Roj to seal the win. Still, 3 points is 3points. We will get better.
C'mon City!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Month without plastic

This is a fascinating blog over at the BBC website were a journalist is attempting to live for a month without using or buying anything plastic.

It is staggering just how much plastic we know utilise in our daily lives without thinking about it. We've been recycling for a few years now, mainly glass, cardboard cans and plastic, and I am always staggered by how much plastic especially I put out at the kerbside every fortnight.

This journalist though is trying to live completely plastic free for a month, and if you read this you'll find out just how hard she's finding it.

I think everyone should be made to read something like this - if we all tried a little bit harder, the world would be an environmentally better place. I might even think about assessing just how much plastic we use in our house over a month - for shock factor if nothing else!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Originally uploaded by statto1927

What a change. This picture was last Friday, with my son James somersaulting 10ft off a boat into 30ft of crystal clear water in 35 degree heat.

Today it's absolutely hammered down all day in Cardiff. I was out in the car at 10am and my headlights were on, and it hasn't improved all day.

And they wonder why people go abroad for their holidays....

More of our photos here


So the season's almost upon us. I returned from holiday to find my son James and my season tickets amongst the post waiting for us. Sadly though, we'll miss the season's curtain raiser against Southampton this Saturday as we have a family wedding to attend. I'll be keeping an eye on my texts though (sound off of course!)

Our search for a striker appears to be over as we completed the signing of Jay Bothroyd. Not a prolific scorer in his footballing journey so far, but I have seen him score a couple of crackers. Let's hope at 26 his best years are in front of him. He's certainly a good target man to at 6ft 3in (allegedly), so let's hope he does the business for us up front with Ross McCormack.

City have been unbeaten pre-season, against some decent teams too, so I'm hoping for a good crack this year. Play-off's a minimum.

Bitzaro Palace hotel, Zakynthos. July 21 to August 4 2008

The Bitzaro Palace Hotel (BPH) is literally only a 10 min bus ride from the airport, and situated at the end of a short road off the main Kalamaki "strip" - ancient and traditional Greece Kalamaki isn't with the strip boasting numerous bars, restaurants, karaoke nightly and big screen football and inevitable "tat" shops. There's also a few car hire/moped/quad bike rental places. A couple of the restaurants looked pretty good and were always busy - usually a good sign.

However, you're 5-10 min walk away from all this at the BPH, stuck away at the end of a road adjacent to two other hotels, the Roseland and the BPH's bigger and brasher sister the Bitzaro Grand.

At 90 odd rooms the BPH isn't that big. All the staff are friendly, especially barman Panos who was a great bloke. Rooms are (thankfully) air conditioned (it was mid high 30's when were there). The 2/3 bed rooms are functional. Ours had a TV with a couple of English channels including Sky News, though we hardly turned it on – we weren’t there for the telly. We also had a kettle and coffee and a fridge at no extra cost. The bath though was tiny - a real knees under the chin job. The room was cleaned daily.

The mini golf course mentioned in the hotel blurb has seen better days and wasn't actually in use and the pool table was tucked away in a corner with a tear in the cloth, but was in otherwise working order until the day before our last day when the last usable cue lost it’s tip.

The pool though was great. Possibly boasting the deepest "deep end" we've seen in a holiday hotel at almost 9.5 ft at one point, it shallowed to about 4ft at the other end. There was also a very small toddlers pool. There was also a small children's play area with swings and a climbing frame.

This isn't generally a hotel for families who can't make their own entertainment - apart from what I've mentioned, that's it though occasionally a girl appeared to run a killer pool or boules sessions (and mainly it was kids who were the takers). Evening entertainment was similarly random and low key. A quiz one night and bingo another with often only 6-8 people taking part, although one night the bingo prize did get up to 50 euros!

Generally there was no rush for sunbeds we've seen elsewhere on our travels, although it did get much busier during our second week, but rarely were their more than about half a dozen people in the pool - and then it was mostly our kids! In fact we often wondered where all the other guests went all day so quiet was the place, especially the first week.

We stayed half board. Breakfasts were a combination of continental (bread, cheese, ham, fruit and cakes) and what passes for a full English - you must remember this isn't Britain though. The extra strong filter coffee from the machine gave a great kick start each morning. Dinner was four courses (if you wanted or could manage it!) - soup followed by a wide salad selection, a choice of two to four mains and a choice of fresh fruit, ice cream or jelly for pudding. The quality of the food was very good, but be warned – we onkly saw chips on the menu twice and there’s no chicken nuggets etc. here for kids (or less discerning adults).

At lunchtimes though the bar served a wide variety of snacks from toasties to burgers and pizzas (and chicken nuggets and chips) from about 4 Euros upwards. Beer on tap was €3 a pint or the same for a bottle of Amstel, Mythos etc. Soft drinks also were priced at €3 a pop (sic) which is a little pricey.

The beach was a good 10 minute walk down a road past rubbish bins (which nysteriouly disappeared after a few days never to return) and a couple of very small "mini-markets" selling snacks, drinks, various other produce and beach gear and UK papers (though not until the afternoon). The beach itself is narrow and sandy and you have to go nearer the water edge to avoid the loggerhead turtle nest sites which are well marked and this "rule" is well patrolled by an army of volunteers. Because of the turtles you're also not allowed on the beach after dusk. The water is shallow, shelving only slightly and is sandy as far out as you can swim. Very clear for snorkelling but frankly there’s not much to see!

Because of the proximity to the airport you can hear, even see planes taking off and landing, but to be fair we didn't find it intrusive because there aren't that many and it was fun watching planes coming in low over the beach to land. All the literature says there are no night flights (because of the turtles). In practice, this means no flights between 11pm and 5am – but as I said, we didn’t find it an issue.

We hired a car for a couple of days and if you've never been to Greece/Zakynthos before it's worth pointing out a couple of things.

  • Roads are narrow
  • Roads surfaces are generally appalling
  • The white lines on the road are faded but few people actually take any notice of them anyway
  • The main tourist areas are crowded with (mainly) young tourists on mopeds and quad bikes
  • Locals are wont to overtake even if there's something coming the other way
  • Signposts are often difficult to see and interpret (in the sense of which direction they are saying)

Having said all that we thoroughly enjoyed our time out in the car as it enables us to see the whole island at our own leisure. Well worth it.

Best Bits

  • Seeing loggerhead turtles in their natural environment
  • Keri Bay
  • Seeing the famous "Smuggler's Cove" (from the viewpoint, though not for those afraid of heights)
  • The weather
  • The Bitzaro Palace
  • The views from the hills

Worst Bits

  • Laganas (all of it)
  • Kalamki Strip
  • The roads
  • The more "popular" beaches that were overcrowded (not our sort of thing though it may be yours)

Google Maps - My Location

Sitting in a Kwik Fit outlet in Barry, South Wales whilst getting 2 new tyres put on my car, I was fiddling around with Google Maps to pass the time.

I clicked on the "My Location" feature which I'd used successfully before. Today however it insists that I'm in Hamilton, New Zealand. Cleared and reset GM and got the same result. Odd. I'm sure I'm in Barry, UK!

Monday, August 04, 2008

We're back

Got back from Zakynthos this afternoon - busy unpacking, checking mail, emails, garden etc etc, so a lot of catching up to do. Posts coming soon........