Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What to Watch

I have been looking at which major sports in the UK present the best value for money based on the length of the event and general entertainment. This is for matches at national level apart from Golf, Tennis and F1. Sadly, I have not (yet) attended all of these events but I have a general idea of all of them. Finding average ticket prices is tricky, too, because there is a huge variation, so some of these are approximations.

So let’s start with the most popular sport – Football.
Average ticket price (across all national leagues): £34
Length of event: 2 hours
There is sometimes half time entertainment and of course many people like to buy a drink or a pie. On the whole it can be an exciting event, as long as you’re not sat next to someone disgustingly rude.
Rating: 7/10

Rugby Union
Average ticket price: £35
Length of event: 2 hours
Considering there’s only 80 minutes of play I’d have though Rugby Union might have been cheaper than football, but it seems not, at least currently. Again this can be a good event, but perhaps more of a one off.
Rating: 6/10

Rugby League
Average ticket price: £16
Length of event: 2 hours
Noticeably cheaper, probably because it is less popular than Union, and if you can get past the many rules, generally good value for money.
Rating: 8/10

Tennis (Wimbledon)
Average ticket price: £20 (ground admission) / £100 (centre court) – this very much depends which day you go.
Length of event: Well it’s up to you when you leave, matches last anywhere from an hour to three, or even more.
As a day out this is probably on many people’s wish list (if you like tennis), and a gripping match on centre court would be well worth the money, and for the chance to wander around and watch some of the smaller matches the ground admission fee seems fair to me.
Rating: 8/10

Golf (the Open)
Average ticket price: £20-£60 (depending on which day you go)
Length of event: All day
As with Wimbledon this could be a top day out, although not the most frenetic or dynamic of sports there is the chance to see some impressive skill. However, to me it still makes more sense to watch on TV, where you can see more.
Rating: 6/10

Cricket (Twenty20)
Average ticket price: £18
Length of event: 3 hours
An event that has been ramped up a lot by teams in the past few years, with lots of excitement on and off the pitch. This is a fast paced, exciting form of the old game and on a summer’s evening can be great fun for everyone.
Rating: 10/10

Cricket (50over and Championship)
Average ticket price: £15
Length of event: 6+ hours
Although it may not be appealing to many, the length of a traditional cricket match makes it excellent value for money. There’s less razzmatazz than shorter sporting events but tension is built and often leads to dramatic moments and conclusions.
Rating: 9/10

Ice Hockey
Average ticket price: £16
Length of event: 2.5 hours
With fast action on the ice, the music, the dancers, interval entertainment and possibility of a punch-up any moment, Ice Hockey is a great all round package. Enjoyed but a huge variety of people this is a fantastic event with a lively atmosphere and plenty of fun, and excellent value for money.
Rating: 10/10

Formula 1
Average ticket price: £250
Length of event: 2+ hours
Now this might be a fun day out, and on race day there’s plenty of tension, and there’s the after race party, but compared to what you can see on TV (where the cameras can pick up all the action) and for that price, this does not seem like good value to me!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cheers America

I've just passed 2000 views from the USA! Thank you America!

Please remember that you, your wealth, your power and your president have an impact far beyond your borders, so make sure you vote wisely this year!


Friday, 15 January 2016

Oscar Time: best young actresses

It's awards season in the movie world and excitement is building now for the Oscars with the release of the nominations yesterday.
Saoirse Ronan
     I was particularly pleased with the Leading Actress nominations, which included Brie Larsson (who I hope will win the award) for Room, and a second nomination for Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn. Still called by some a 'newcomer' or an 'unknown' Saoirse has for a long time been a superb actress in my opinion. Her first academy award nomination was for best supporting actress in Atonement, nine years ago, when she was just 13. Since then she has also put in great performances in films such as Hanna, The Lovely Bones, The Way Back and The Grand Budapest Hotel. She also has two Golden Globes nominations and three BAFTA nominations and it surely can't be long until she finally wins one.

Thinking about Saoirse made me consider other excellent, young, female performers from recent years. From the list I drew up only two have yet won a top award, and only one has received an Oscar.

Anna Paquin: The Piano, Fly Away Home, X-Men - Anna has won one Golden Globe and the only Oscar she has been nominated for - a Best Supporting Award for her role in The Piano, aged 11.

Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan: An Education, Never Let Me Go, Drive, The Great Gatsby - Carey has one Oscar and one Golden Globe nomination for An Education, however she won the BAFTA of Best Leading Actress, for the same film.

Abigail Breslin: Little Miss Sunshine, Definitely Maybe, My Sister's Keeper - Abigail was nominated at the age of 10 for Little Miss Sunshine by both the Oscars and the BAFTAs, but didn't win either.

Mia Wasikowska: Defiance, Alice in Wonderland, Tracks - Mia is yet to even receive a nomination for any of the top awards.
Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley: The Descendants, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars - Shailene was nominated by the Golden Globes for her role in The Descendants and also by the BAFTAs for the Rising Star award last year, but didn't win.

Keisha Castle-Hughes: Whale Rider, The Nativity Story - Keisha is certainly the least known actress on this list, but did receive an Oscar nomination for Whale Rider aged 14.

Maybe their lack of awards suggests I'm not watching the best movies, but I don't think so. Hopefully all of these actresses, and more, will continue to put on great performances that will see them honoured with awards in years to come.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


The night the star appeared they knew it was a sign. They gazed at it in wonder and whispered to each other of the royal birth it announced. They went to their King and showed him with many charts and ancient texts that the new baby would become a King of particular importance, maybe even the greatest King of all.
               It was decided, they must go at once, all the astrologers, as emissaries, and with them the King would send members of the royal court, mighty warriors, magicians and an abundance of servants to cater and care for this magnificent party. They must also, the King announced take three gifts for the royal baby. They must be special and meaningful presents, fit for someone so important. The King sent away his wise men to consider what gifts should be sent.
“We must take something expensive, jewels maybe?”
               “Gold, gold for a King.”
               “Yes, you’re right. Gold will distinguish him as a ruler and someone to be trusted.”
               “Trusted? How so?”
               “Well, people will always be envious of someone who purchases gold from their earnings, and someone who wins gold will always be the subject of doubt. But if respected men, like ourselves, present a gift of gold, the receiver will gain respect and trust too. People the world over will know that we believe this is a King to be listened to.”
               “I agree, and we all accept gold will be the first gift, but what else shall we give him?”
               “How about a ring, to be his seal?”
               “The gold already tells everyone he is a King, but we know he will be much more than just a King. His realm will reach far beyond borders. He will be a spiritual leader too.”
               “A Priest, you mean.”
               “Of sorts, yes.”
               “What do you give to a Priest, though? They are not in the habit of collecting things.”
               “Incense. We are giving gifts that will show everyone who this child is and who he will be. A gift of Frankincense, say, will display his righteousness and priestly status.”

After this the wise men became stuck. Nothing else they suggested seemed fit as a gift for such a child. Several days passed with no brilliant idea coming to any of them. Instead they passed the time reading old scrolls, writings from a forgotten era, searching for clues about the new King. Then, one morning, one of the men called them together in excitement.
               “I know what the third gift should be. Last night I had a revelation; not just a dream, it was more vivid than anything I have experienced before. I can still see it clearly now. This new King is going to die, possibly before his reign even begins, but his death will be of even more importance than his life. I don’t fully understand what this means but I feel we should announce this in the same way we are announcing his role as King and Priest.”
               The others looked at him in bewilderment. “So what gift are you suggesting?”

Friday, 1 January 2016

Danny's Resolution

There are two things you need to know about Danny. Firstly, he was a pessimist and he knew it. Nothing ever went right for him, or so it seemed. Secondly, he never made New Year’s resolutions, because what was the point? Sooner or later he’d mess up or fail to keep his promise and then he’d feel bad. Besides, he didn’t need to go on a diet, he didn’t smoke and so couldn’t give it up, and he’d already achieved things he wanted to do like get out of his overdraft and learn how to cook.
               So, as you can imagine, it was big surprise to Danny when, late one December, he felt convicted to begin a list of things he wanted to see change in the New Year. He couldn’t even really say where the idea came from, except that it didn’t feel like making a resolution but more to do with challenging himself emotionally.
               Look with hope, was the first thing he wrote on a blank piece of paper he found in his desk. Again, he didn’t really know what that meant either, but he knew he wanted to be more positive about the future. He almost followed it with Don’t watch the news, seeing as that was probably the quickest way to feeling depressed these days, but then he realised that that itself was a negative sentiment, so he changed it to Find uplifting stories.
               The next one came easily. Trust yourself. He realised that this sounded like something you’d see on one of those posters with an eagle in flight and a sunset in the background, but immediately he admonished himself for being snide and told himself it didn’t matter what connotations it had as long as it meant something to him. As Danny considered the phrase Trust yourself, he was confused because it seemed to him that he trusted himself more than anyone else (other people were always unreliable – no, don’t be negative; maybe Trust other people, should be the next one) but then, he supposed, he didn’t really consider himself capable of many things, mostly only the things he’d done before and succeeded at. So he agreed to challenge himself in this way too.
               Finally, just after he got in to bed on New Year’s Eve, he added No pressure, seriously. You’re not performing if no one is watching. Then he stuck the piece of paper on the wall next to his bed and rolled over with a smile on his face.