Friday 28 September 2007

Laughing over my muesli

Fri 28 Sep

It was one of those mornings. Every page I turned in the Guardian sports section reminded me why it's so good to be a Gooner:

page 1

Sack me and you'll be sorry, says defiant Jol
Arsenal content: Seven Sisters Road

page 3

I don't deserve a game in a pub team admits Villa's £10m debutant Davies

Arsenal content: Alex Song

page 3

Ferguson fears £17m recruit is a year off pace

Arsenal content: Denilson

page 4
Russians pitch a stern defence of less-than-fantastic plastic

Arsenal content: this photo

page 4

Liverpool's plans for a new stadium in Stanley Park are still on the drawing board ( a couple of paras from the end)

Arsenal content: £200 million and counting

page 5

Blues vow to fight charges of losing control

Arsenal content: Fair Play League - or maybe just "ha-ha-ha"

page 12

Hail Roman, poker-faced lord of misrule
- includes a glorious throwaway line about "last week's sudden departure of the man from the land of the fortified whine"
Arsenal content: Peter Hill-Wood

Ooo 2

Ooo 2 b
Ooo 2 b a

Still laughing (smirking?) and it's time for cocoa. In fact it's nearly time for tomorrow's paper.

Lewes v Arsenal Reserves

Dripping Pan
Wed 26 Sep

4 0 to the Arsenal, so keeping up the good work - mostly the same (Academy) line-up beat Leicester 5 0 on Sunday. And it was just like watching the big boys - comfortable in possession, supporting the man with the ball, unexpected turns and movement, mix of short and long balls, willingness to shoot from anywhere, good covering in defence, all 4 goals resulting from classy combinations that split a well-organised defence.

Dunne in particular was impressive, organising the side from central midfield, Merida too - though he's all left foot, apart from one crack at goal with his right - and Barazite has that knack of disguising his moves and passes; Hoyte and Rodgers both eager to bring the ball out from the back. Mannone in goal was only called upon a couple of times, and Sczeczny also looked confident in the 15 minutes or so he came on for. Goals from someone (it was up the other end, couldn't see who - turns out to be Merida), Dunne, Fonte, and then in the second half against what looked like a stronger Lewes line-up, Thomas waltzed through the opposition several times over before planting the ball deliberately in the net - yes, we noticed.

Before the kick-off Liam Brady cut the ribbon on the new Ham Lane Stand, which looks as though it could hold, ooh, a hundred or so. Lewes have had a couple of good FA Cup runs in the last few years, and that's had a huge effect on the club - spectator accommodation, pitch quality, and some decent players for their level. They're currently top of the "Blue Square" Conference South - if they keep up there they'd get up into the Conference proper. Maybe in a year or two they could give our Under-18s a decent match . . .

The grub looked OK, and they have Harvey's at the bar - what more could you ask for?

Sunday 16 September 2007

It's not all sunshine & roses

Sun 16 Sep
Sierra de la Contraviesa

Very little sunshine, and no roses at all. La Contraviesa is the range between the Sierra Nevada and the coast, with rolling hillsides cut through by steep gullies, very sparsely populated, and with a succession of microclimates every couple of hundred metres or so. Today most of them seemed to involve mist.

I had decided to try to find Fregenite, purportedly the least populated village in Spain with 1 inhabitant - she'd been on Canal Sur (Andalusia TV) a couple of years ago, snowed in and cut off. The village has many ruined and abandoned buildings, but there now seem to be half a dozen renovated and inhabited houses, probably holiday homes, and a well-whitewashed church with a gratingly new pine door. There's also supposed to be a thousand year-old olive tree, but I didn't spot it.

A few km to the north and then west, there's a track up to the Contraviesa ridge. This must be at about 1500m; it was where the clouds took over, and is the most densely vegetated moorland I have come across in Spain, a stark contrast to the bare desert hillsides just around the corner. The only movement, apart from the occasional bird or beetle, were the clouds rolling up the valley. Silent, still and eerie.

The drive back down to the coast confirmed the old adage about never trusting what you see on a map - especially if you have 4 of them and they all say something different. If you try this trip, and you aren't in a 4-wheeler - don't go via Olías! The alternative routes may look longer but you stand more chance of getting back in one piece.

Coming down towards Castell de Ferro, and all along the coast to Motril, the plastic revolution hits you between the eyes, very hard - every square metre between the sea and the mountains is covered in it, feeding half of Europe and completely wrecking a gorgeous landscape in the process.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

A nice walk I have done recently

Tue 11 Sep

Yesterday afternoon in fact.

Encouraged by the generally overcast sky, I leafed through my Rutas y Senderos desde Salobreña book (who does Rutas play for, by the way?), and picked one I'd tried twice before without getting further than the thistles & brambles up the cliff 500m from the start. I set off at 4.30 - instead of a siesta, how about that? - & at the 3rd time of asking realised that the trick is, when the book says take the path to the left of the old olive tree, you have to take the path to the right, thus avoiding thistles, brambles, scrapes & scratches - well, most of them. I proceeded to apply this principle throughout the walk, & found paths where none seemed to exist - usually after a 20 min delay, typically walking down & up past a barking mad German Hund at least 5 times - he must have ended up with a sore throat!

Wonderful views of coast & mountains, & Salobreña from all sides, below & above, near & far. Lots of wild vegetation on cliffs & hillsides, lots of fruit trees with strange growths you couldn't put a name to, swallows still and a blackbird-sized black bird with a white bum - ?? Also a lot of trudge through very expensive urbanizaciones - you're obviously not supposed to be on foot in these places.

After 4 hours, just about to get back into Salobreña, and the narrow path indicated to the industrial estate on the edge of town just refused to materialise - a further half an hour wasted as a result - for the only time on this walk I had to accept defeat & retrace my steps to the previous junction. Eventually I flopped down in La Bodega for a tubo & the last 10 mins of Spain U21 4 Georgia 0 - no Gooners though - Mérida had played in the U17 World Cup final the night before, & Cesc plays with the big boys tomorrow night v. Latvia.

Legs nicely tired, feet too. I'll probably have my siesta tomorrow morning, end-on to my night's sleep . . .

[Pic: Playa del Caletón]