Mysterious Creature Found

This is a picture of a mysterious creature that was washed up on Tenby’s South Beach in Pembrokeshire over the weekend!

Mystery Creature

Any guesses as to what this could be are more than welcome.

“I have never seen a creature like it,” said Ryan Calvert who sent the photo to The Western Telegraph.

“It was neither fish nor whale. It looked like a horse with claws but seemed to have been skinned.”

This was also reported on Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk and has created a little mystery: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-21590887

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The Italian Job, The Big Bastareaud and Sundays Clash of the Celts – Can only be the Six Nations 2013 Round 3 Preview

Current 6 Nations Standings

After 2 bruising rounds of 6 nations action and a well earned week off the competition returns for round three this weekend with some enthralling match ups:

Italy v Wales (2.30pm) Stadio Olimpico

Both sides are equal following a win a piece against the misfiring French. Wales will be under no illusions that this will be a tough day at the office and (following their victory in Paris) one they will be expected to win. A glance back at their clashes in Rome over the course of the 6 nations (over the years) is a stark reminder of just how close the clashes have been.
Wales have won and lost in Rome with the latter results coming via a dominant Italian pack and rock solid set piece. That said it may be the style of rugby that Italy choose among the backs (this time) that could have the greatest bearing. Against France at home the Italians played with flair, kept the ball alive, offloaded and attacked with intent. If they open the game up then it could prove to be a very different clash in Rome on Saturday as this will also suit Wales.
Rob Howley has kept faith with the starting 15 that delivered victory in Paris whereas Italy are likely to be without their Captain Marvel in Parrisse (check Spelling) which could prove to be decisive in this contest. I’m predicting Wales by 5 points and another nail biter.

England v France (5.30pm) Twickenham

England have brought in Manu Tuilagi to combat Frances big Bastareaud, (should be some clash) making two other changes from the side that triumphed in the Dublin monsoon. France in the other hand have made seven changes in a bid to revitalise their fortunes.
Its hard to look past England winning in this match and even though the red rose faithful will be discussing which France will turn up on Saturday it dosent look like Les Bleus have anything to bring to the table, no flair, no va va voom.
Yes they have power but so do England who also have the ability to control the game through their impressive half backs. The media and the pundits will build this up to be a classic claiming France have nothing to lose, and will come and play with freedom and really take the game to England. Unless they completely change from the side that played the first 2 rounds its England by 12 points for me.

Scotland v Ireland (2.30pm) Murrayfield

This should be some game and to be honest it’s hard to gauge where both sides are at the moment. Scotland had a tough time in the opening round and came 2nd best to the English forwards but then completely hammered the Italians. Irelands opening round win against Wales had them in a strong position (even though they only played for 43 mins) however a loss at home to England and the resulting injuries could prove a body blow to their campaign. Coaches and players alike laud about the all important momentum and the force appears to be with Scotland as will home advantage. This looks the tightest to call and something tells me it will be the Scots by 3 points.

After 2 weeks were back to the action and I for one can’t wait to see how it all unfolds, 3 cracking games to look forward to and as to how it all unfolds, well that’s anyone’s guess!

Gethin Jenkins to Return to The Blues

Jenkins in action for Wales

Cardiff Blues have re-signed prop Gethin Jenkins from Toulon in a deal which sees the British Lion cutting his French deal short by a year. Jenkins will remain with the French based outfit until the end of the season and will then rejoin his former club.

In all honesty, the lack of game time since Jenkins headed to France has rendered the Welsh International a shadow of his former self. Only the loyalty of the Welsh management has saved him from being replaced as a starter by Paul James who should probably have been given a shot at a starting berth by now!

The move (of Jenkins) will buck the recent trend of Welsh stars plying their trade over the channel and Welsh fans will hope this is the first of many.

Six Nations 2013 – Round 2 Review

Round 2 – The second round of the 6 nations proved to be a bruising spectacle and the Scotland v Italy clash aside, one lacking in tries, flair and creativity but no less compelling as a result.

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Scotland 34 V Italy 10 – the pre match talk surrounded the Italians victory over France and whether they could make it two wins on the bounce in Edinburgh. The short answer to that question was ‘No’ as the Scottish defence hammered early Italian advances and the home side began to take a stranglehold on both territory and possession. The Scots also added some vital flair into the mix (which proved a rare commodity in the 2nd round). With excellent handling skills, running angles and support play, causing no end of problems for the Azzuri rearguard, early pressure finally told as Tim Visser crossed the whitewash. The Italians weren’t able to live with the scraps of possession and lack of go forward and aside from a moment of magic from Sergio Parisse setting up a consolation score for Zanni, there was little to celebrate.

France 6 V Wales 16 – This encounter at the Stade De France proved to be as compelling as it was nervous, and just as close as predicted. Both sides set their stall out that the match was to be head on, physical and unrelenting in the cold Paris evening. The pitch did little to add to what was a pragmatic contest (cutting up under the forwards at scrumtime), leaving the resulting penalties as something of a lottery from referee George Clancy.

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France enjoyed the early pressure and territory making ground and threatening the welsh line on a number of occasions. Some huge pressure and composure from the men in red prevented any such advances and rendered the clash at 6 points apiece right up until the 71 minute.
That was, of course, until a deft chip and a kind bounce saw George North touchdown in the corner much to the delight of interim coach Rob Howley. The try was majestically converted by Lee Halfpenny, who, fast forward 4 minutes, was again going through his pre-kick routine to kill the game off.
In this match the commentators talked of neither side wanting to lose rather than one side wanting to win. ‘THAT’ bounce of the ball and the two kicks that followed saw the pendulum of pressure swing away from Rob Howley and firmly towards Philippe Saint-Andre. Wales are back in the hunt and will have restored invaluable confidence, France however, face a daunting mission to HQ in a fortnight.

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Ireland 6 V England 12 – All of the players lining up for their respective anthems must have had one thought on their minds in the dire Dublin conditions – this is going to be a nightmare – and for the players it was, but not the spectators. Both sides employ an in-your-face, physical, rush defence and with a slippery ball this was to prove a match the purists need not have tuned-in to watch.

That said I found it to be an enthralling game and early injuries to Simon (Giggsy) Zebo and Sexton sapped some of the Irish momentum and gave that 1% extra to England that proved to be critical. In an exchange of pressure, territory, handling errors and possession, England dug slightly deeper than Ireland when James Haskell was sin binned and ground out the match by four converted penalties to two. Ireland are far from out of the competition but the defeat will hurt both physically and mentally. England are now the only side left with grand slam ambitions and (unlike Wales and Ireland) will hope France don’t come to London to play for the first time in the competition.

All in all the second round dished up a brutal slice of physical ‘win at all costs and win it ugly’ rugby. It wasn’t pretty, and thankfully, nor was it predictable and I for one loved every muddy minute.

The Benicassim Music Festival – A Guide to the Benicassim Music Festival (FIB) Spain

A Guide to the Benicassim Festival Spain

Main Stage Benicassim

Main Stage Benicassim

This blog is intended as a guide for the frustrated British festival goers out there, those who have been to The Readings, The V’s, the Glasto’s and come back wishing that the festivals they know and love could be served without the huge side order of good old British Weather.
This was a predicament I found myself to face after two sodden back to back festivals prompted the need for an alternative option. A festival with the music I love minus the mud, the rain, the damp depressing gunmetal grey skies and the mud, did I mention the mud?
Well I was in luck, as it turned out there were a wide range of festivals out there for the rain battered tent owners out there: Sziget http://www.sziget.hu/festival_english, Hungary, Sonisphere (Europe Wide) http://www.sonispherefestivals.com, EuroSonic Holland http://www.festival.eurosonic-noorderslag.nl/ etc.

It was following this search that I spoke to a few friends who had visited a festival in a Spanish town called Benicassim. There was nothing but praise for a festival apparently blessed with the great and the good in terms of established and emerging musical talent and also sunshine.

FIB

The name Benicassim meant nothing to me and following a quick Google search (other search engines are available) I found pictures of a sun drenched festival on the eastern coast of Spain between Alicante and Barcelona. The images portrayed a fantastic looking event graced with the acts we all love and I think the decision to give Benicassim more than a passing search on Google was already made.

The next step came over a few beers with my mate Chris (a fellow 30 something and music lover) where we decided to do Benicassim http://www.fiberfib.com 2011. Within a day or two the festival tickets had been booked and we were arranging flights, accommodation and car hire for the two of us and the wives.

Over the weeks and months that followed the line up for the festival started to unravel with The Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Primal Scream, Elbow to name but a few. The musical programme starts on the Thursday and goes right through to the early hours of Monday morning, the first bands are on at half 6 in the evening, the main headliners finish around 2am and the festival finishes at about 6am. In fact we had to catch an early flight on the Monday morning and drove past the festival at 6ish and it was still going on, needless to say that moment depressed the shit out of us.

Tickets for the festival are around the 150 mark which includes 4 days and nights of music and 1 whole week of camping. For a few extra Euros (roughly £75/80) you can camp at the Villa Camp http://www.benifest.co.uk which boasts better facilities and live music.

Sun, Sand And Sound

Sun, Sand And Sound

Travelling to the Festival

Generally people fly to Alicante, Barcelona or Valencia (good luck with the latter as flights sell out fast). There are special buses put on for the festival in all of the above airports with details on the main FIB Website.

Or you can forego the camping and stay at one of the many hotels and apartments in and around the town, you will get anything from 1-5 star, either in town or a few miles away. In 2011 we stayed in an apartment in Oropesa which was absolutely stunning with its own pool. It proved to be a couple of miles away from the festival but there are a boat load of buses and Taxi’s to ferry you around with both running well into the wee small hours.

Festival Time

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Needless to say that the festival is massive and totally consumes the town, the bars and restaurants are buzzing in the day, the beach (also massive) transforms itself into a huge sandy bed for the late, late night revelers and a great place to chill and tan up. The sea also offers a nice cooling off option as its boiling there in the summer (clearly).
Whether you’re going to camp or glamp, one thing is for sure, this is a fantastic way to do a festival, waking up to spend the day in the sunshine and then spend the night listening to top drawer music, repeating for the four days and nights until done.
Needless to say I was hooked after my first FIB experience and after going again in 2012 have just booked tickets for this year (2013).

More To Come

I will follow this blog up with a more in depth look at the festival itself (2012) and will also be previewing the acts booked so far this year. You all know the big names (Killers, Queens of the Stone Age etc) and what they are about so my focus will be on the lesser known acts. Were planning a longer trip this year and will also be travelling around Spain a bit, in addition to reviewing the festival and the bands that play. Bring it On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gatland Coming Under Fire For England Comment

Gatland tells Lancaster the joke about the Englishman Irishman and Welshman

Gatland tells Lancaster the joke about the Englishman Irishman and Welshman

Above is tomorrow’s Western Mail back page, is Gatland getting himself in hot water already?Or will this be the first of many little jibes the media love to press?

Either way can’t wait for the squad to be announced, but not before the millions of British selectors out there debate their first 15 of course.

All or Nothing – The day we got the better of the Bookies at the Races

The sun setting at Chester Races

The sun setting at Chester Races

The Weekend

On an autumnal Saturday afternoon myself and a group of friends descended on Chester to attend the races set within the beautiful city steeped with history and stunning Victorian/Medieval buildings.
We were in town for the weekend celebrating (or commiserating) the passing of our friend Pete from the world of bachelorhood. Myself, Pete and more than half of the group are from South Wales, we grew up in a relatively poor area, which has provided us with a priceless grounding and an appreciation of the simpler things in life – so although the sums described may be meager to many but to us it was a small fortune.

Jealousy is a great motivator

Upon entering the racecourse, 4 of the boys quickly decided to bet £10 each per race and asked if I wanted in on the action. I pondered (for as long as they would let me) and eventually decided I would be better off gambling alone at a meager £5 per race with the intention of quitting if I could get ahead.

3 races later and the same gang of 4 were collecting their winnings for the 3rd race in a row, the latter of which had seen 2 of the group betting on the same (winning) horse and racking their, now considerable takings, up a notch. In stark contrast I and two of my friends (Leighton and Johnny) had lost on every race betting randomly and alone.
To buck the losing trend the three of us decided to join forces and bet £10 each on one Horse and split the winnings, if there were any, between us. I would like to add that at this stage of proceedings we had been drinking Chester Cider for a few hours and our decision making powers had become far less restricted and risk averse.

Bank Bonus

The three of us gathered by the nearest bookie (Glyn Jones) and beamed at the number 3 horse aptly named Bank Bonus – with starting odds of 6/1 – a win would do us the world of good and result in us breaking even.
The race started and as the pack passed us we delivered the courtesy screams of encouragement as Bank Bonus stormed over the line to redeem our day out and end the losing streak in the blink of an eye.
We gleefully collected the winning sum of £180 and started joking about betting the whole lot on one horse in the final race. In a flash the listings of the Horses for the final race appeared at the bookies stand, at 6/1 in the middle of the names stood the number 5 horse, called All or Nothing. We looked at each other and after some goading from the other groups decided to flip a coin, heads and we would put ten pounds each on, tails and we would pocket our Bank Bonus stake and let 150 ride on All or Nothing.

The coin shattered our drunken nerves by landing on Tails much to the cheers of the group. We couldn’t back out, not now, and sent a volunteer to bet 15 times the size of our most recent stake, which was double the token £5 we promised (ourselves) would be the biggest bet we laid on.

All or Nothing

The butterflies in the pit of my stomach roused as the big screen and tannoy exploded into life – the horses were read out one by one with roars accompanying the names, but none louder than from our section when All or Nothing was called.
Excitement rang around our huddled group as the Horses made their way to the gate and in a flash the race was underway. Our horse lay a strong fourth and as the front 6 broke away All or Nothing cut into the lead and held it right up until the home straight, as two horses flanked and painfully drew level. At that point a little voice inside me shouted ‘Noooooooooooooo’.
As soon as the front three were level, All Or Nothing picked up his head and started to pull his nose in front as the thundering noise of the galloping horses passing us like a whirlwind carried through by the bellowing of the crowd. He was pulling away – he was going to win!
‘And its All or Nothing by a length’ the announcer shouted as our group especially the ‘high rollers club’ Me, Johnny and Leighton bounce up and down with in rapturous celebration. Three of the most useless gamblers in the history of the world, who would never put more than a couple of Pounds on any bet, had somehow managed to will just shy of £1000 at the races.
Being swept up in the emotion and excitement of the sport of kings is something neither of us will forget, not least the look on the bookies face when we waltzed up to collect our £900 worth of winnings then headed into Chester to celebrate into the wee small hours. Of course singing The Small Faces All or Nothing song a few times for good measure did little harm in adding to the festivities.

The magic betting slip

The magic betting slip

I have since invested the winnings in a long sought after I Pad and have been planning for quite some time to set up a blog and here I am. Looking forward to 2013 there is so much to write about and share.
I would like to close in thanking you for taking the time to read my latest blog and I hope you enjoyed.