Don’t you just love summer, not only for the sunshine and we are having more than our usually share this year, but summer sport, to me anyway, is so special.

Now I have to confess that I am a rugby man and I have to say that I have spent my fair share of time wrapped up standing on touchlines, long after I gave up playing. But, on really cold days you sometimes wonder what you are doing there, the clubhouse afterward makes up for it though!

Well this summer has been a good one for sport, we had the world cup, although very little to cheer at from an England pint of view. Cricket is another of my long time favourites, lazy days on the boundary, quaffing a pint and hearing the crack of leather on willow. Again we have not had a lot to shout about, but the cricket has been good.

The Royal Liverpool club at Hoylake was the host to this year’s open and what an open it was too. Our own, or should I sat Northern Ireland’s own Rory McIlroy landed the old Claret Jug with a very impressive four rounds of golf, he is sure to be destined for great things and remember is only 25 years old. His dad will be mighty pleased as well. Ten years ago he placed a £40 bet at 50 to 1 that his son Rory would be open champion before he was 26 years old, did it dad, with a year to spare! He earned himself a nice little £975,000 for his four days work, plus some juicy sponsorship deals I imagine.

Yes don’t you just love the sport in summer, let us hope that we begin to do a bit better at the cricket though!

So it’s all over as far as the World Cup is concerned and the Tour de France has left our shores for its long weary march around France to a conclusion in Paris on Sunday 27th July. Wimbledon was graced with some lovely weather and a final which will go down as one out of many that can be described as the best.

This brings me onto the scenes of the Royal Box and one celebrity that the cameras managed to capture and show on our screen numerous times, Victoria Beckham. Never once did we see her wince, grimace or attempt to show any emotion or smile. Even when Federer fought his way back, taking the match to a fifth set to rapturous cheers from the crowded centre court and outside on the “hill”.

Showing not the least tiny piece of passion, she sat through the close on four hours of gripping tennis, simply pouting, in complete contrast to her husband David and the Duchess of Cambridge who smiled, showed emotion and delight at the match.

As someone commented “her life is one big selfie and come hell or high water she is not going to change, even her stance is described as the “Vogue” pose, pelvis jutting out and her hand on hip”. I can just imagine her doing that in a fire drill or at the scene of an accident.

I think that it is a pity really, as when she has been caught unawares with the kids, she has a lovely sweet smile.

I suppose we have all seen countdown at some time, the channel 4 game show that at one time featured Carol Vorderman who could do mathematics in her head in the same easy way as Desperate Dan could eat cow pies!

Well it seems that she is going to venture on an entirely different sort of challenge, flying around the world solo in a light aircraft. Ms Vorderman is now a fully-fledged pilot having obtained her private pilot’s licence only seven months ago, but has logged 200 hours of flight time. However she has one more hurdle to cross before she embarks on this monumental journey, she has to get a further addition to her licence which will allow her to fly in cloud it is called an IMC or Instrument Meteorological Conditions flying on instruments alone. This part of her licence she is apparently due to take shortly.

Now although she will be flying the aircraft alone, she will have company in the form of a boyfriend, former Red Arrows pilot Graham Duff, who will be following on behind her, so I have to say with that sort of back up I don’t think it comes much better!

Well it’s one heck of a long way around the world, around 29,000 miles so I understand and you really have to admire her for undertaking it, I have to confess that I am somewhat envious of her and wish that it was me, one problem I don’t have a pilot licence!

I have to say I have never thought a lot about the logistics of running a World tennis tournament like the Wimbledon Championship, but recently I have had the chance to get an insight into some of the preparations that are ongoing, this year and every year.

Pigeons are everywhere of course and they are scavengers, but the simply love seed and the grass seed at Wimbledon is apparently very tasty to them, so what can be done? Well they have a delightful Harris Hawk called Rufus that is employed all year round to fly around the grounds ensuring that the pigeons know it is dangerous for them, naturally they keep clear. The Harris Hawk is a pretty deadly weapon to pigeons and they only fly it during the tournament when the crowds are not there.

Grooming is important for both the men as well as the women players and a hairdresser is employed during the tournament to tend to the wishes of the player and importantly and I shall look out for this, all the ball girls that form the guard of honour at the closing of the tournament have French braids when they meet a member of the Royal party.

You cannot play tennis without balls and around 50, 000 are used during the tournament, all of them exactly the same. In case you may wonder what happens to the balls used during a match, an average of 30, they are sold off to the public for a fiver for a couple of cans, not bad as they cost about the same for one can in the shops. So will Andy Murray repeat his success of last year, I’ll be watching will you?

Now I know it’s not going to happen, not in a million years, but if we all ditched the school run the savings to parents would be eye watering. I have been reading that the average saving to parents who take part in the daily commute to school a couple of times a day would be a nice little sum of £642 a year, taken overall, it amounts to around £2billion!

Now I cycled to school and so did my kids so why is it that the modern parent seems to insist that the offspring are driven in comfort there and back each day? These figures were brought to my attention by an organisation called Sustrans, which is a British charity that is working on projects to encourage people to walk, cycle, and use public transport to give people the choice of “travelling in ways that benefit their health and the environment. I have to agree with the comment that was made by Claire Francis their head of campaigns who said: “There are massive financial and health benefits to both children and parents in choosing to cycle, scoot or walk to school, instead of drive.”

Personally I lay the blame at the door of certain newspapers that sensationalise every child that goes missing. Now I am fully aware that these are tragic and my heart goes out to them, but people now believe that their child is going to be snatched the very moment they walk or cycle to school. Not so, the statistics clearly show that you are more likely to win the National Lottery and that has odds of more than fourteen million to one.

Just a thought folks, what is your take on this?

Oh I am on my “high horse” now dear readers; I have just read about the proposals to increase fines on the favourite “milch cow” for successive governments, the dear old motorist. They are now talking about quadrupling fines for offences such as a £10,000 fine for speeding on the motorway. Well if they did try to and actually catch all the motorists exceeding the speed limit, it could clear the National Debt in a couple of weeks!

If you had travelled down any motorway in this country over the last few years as I have done on many occasions, drive at seventy miles an hour on the inside lane and you will be sandwiched neatly between two monster trucks. Moving into the centre lane and travelling at the legal limit and you will be flashed, hooted and gestured at. They really have to be joking don’t they?

Our motorways are amongst, if not, the safest in the world; just what are they hoping to gain from introducing draconian fines, not just on motorways, but a host of other “offences” also. I certainly do not in any way condone excessive speeding, but fines have to be proportionate to the offence and one has to question whether increasing the fines four-fold is proportionate, and it probably is not, or is it just another nice little earner?

motorway

Image: Bob McCaffery

 

For those ardent followers of my writings, you will recall that I told you about a new app that I had just downloaded to my iPhone called Send My Bag and until just recently I had not used it. I have of course used the company on a number of occasions, such as my trip to Malaga with my two “ankle biters” kids to the uninitiated. It was a total success for us and it took all the hassle out of the trip and we could use our normal budget airline without the fear of excess charges for baggage.

Well this time it is a “lads” getaway and four of us are going to the Costa del Sol for a golfing few days away. So using my iPhone SendMyBag app I was able to arrange for the four sets of golf clubs to be collected from the doors of my friends and myself and delivered to the hotel where we are going to stay for the time we are there. I have also arranged with the company for the bags to be collected when we finally have to return.

So we are nearly ready for the “off” and with my sticky little hands clutching the Eros, we will soon be on our way. Want to join me next time; don’t forget the iPhone app though?

golf

Image: Visit Abu Dhabi

 

I ride my bicycle a lot, never in town though, far too dangerous as far as I am concerned and I must confess hear and now that I do not wear the helmet that seems obligatory by many cyclists that I encounter on the road. I can hear you all now, you are a fool Likely you cry, but am I?

Well not according to an eminent neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who has said that in his opinion they are a complete waste of time. He rides a bike and has said that he never ever wears one, claiming that in countries where the helmet is a compulsory item, there has been no reduction in injuries involving cyclists at all.

The trend towards wearing helmets for cyclists really took off in 1989 when Tour de France winner Greg Lemond wore a Giro helmet in his successful ride in taking his second Tour success. In 1999 wearing of helmets became compulsory here in Britain during competition events.

I suppose that like everything there is always a series of tests that will prove and disprove whether they are safer, but I’ve certainly been thinking seriously about it and my conclusion is, well why take a chance, they may just help, who knows. So I may take a trip down to the bike shop and take a look. Do you wear a helmet; it would be interesting to hear from my readers.

 

Seventy long years have passed since an audacious plan was launched in an attempt to shorten the Second World War but many months by capturing a number of bridges and significantly the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem in Holland. This was a plan that was hatched by famous General Field Marshal Montgomery, the aim of which was to by-pass the heavily defended German Lines, which were referred to as the “Siegfried” line and enable Allied forces to descend quickly onto Berlin, the German capital.

Well I have to say it is very sad indeed that it proved to be a “Bridge Too Far” and although it was held heroically by British paratroopers for four days until they ran out of water as well as ammunition. Only the 2nd Parachute Battalion, under Lt Col John Frost, succeeded in reaching the road bridge. I find it very sad that it cost a lot of lives, British as well as the gallant Dutch who hid soldiers and many of these brave people paid with their own lives.

I suppose there can be still a few people that remember the action that took place, but we should all remember as the anniversaries of these events come around. As for Arnhem itself, it has been rebuilt and the Bridge has also been rebuilt and renamed John Frost Bridge in honour of not just the man who led the 2nd para, but all the people who gave their lives.

Arnhem bridge

As a member of the House of Lords, oh now come on Likely, you know that is not true so just get on with it. Sorry, I was trying to give the impression that I was terribly hurt that so few people turned out to vote in both the council and the European elections.

This year the turnout for the election to the European parliament was up on previous years, in fact it was the highest we have had, but even so it was only 43% which means that almost 6 out of every ten people eligible to vote did not bother. However I have to say that this was better than the last time when only just over 30% of us voted, was this the “Mr Farage” effect I wonder? I know that the district council election turnout which took place also shows a worse turn out than Europe, strange people us Brits are don’t you think, we live in a true democracy and I feel at times that we just don’t appreciate it.

I suppose when talking to people I get the impression “why bother” the council and European parliament has no powers anyway, and I feel that the latter has a ring of truth in it.  You see, unless I am mistaken, the European budget has not been signed off for years, but no one seems to care, perhaps it is time for the whole system to be overhauled, and the European parliament be given some teeth, but you know our councils do directly affect the way we live in our towns and cities after all.


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