That's Not My Name

Posted on 23rd December 2008

Since Dan was born I've always called him DanDan. Just recently he asked Nicole, "Why does Daddy still call me DanDan?" Apparently now that he's all done grown up, he's not too happy with being called DanDan any more. So for from now it'll be Dan or Daniel :)

File Under: dandan / family
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Last Of The Teenage Idols

Posted on 6th June 2008

Last weekend we took DanDan to the Grassroots Football Live event at the NEC in Birmingham. When we initially found out about the event we thought it would involve some dedicated training for his team, Callowbrook Swifts. We did think it was a bit odd that adults were charged more than children if the event was aimed at them. It wasn't until we got there we discovered it was actually more like a trade fair. As a trade fair it wasn't bad, and we did end up getting the usual compliment of freebies. DanDan was miffed that he didn't get a Mars football, but then he was the only one to get a England beanie hat.

There were several training sessions that you could sign up for, so in the afternoon, we did sign the boys up for a training session with some of the Leicester City coaches, and another later with a FIFA coach, but they were quite short sessions. Still the lads did seem to enjoy the day overall.

Nicole and I are not football fans really, so although many of the names I knew, I was mostly unphased by them. Graham Taylor, Harry Redknapp and Steve McClaren were there, together with several reportedly well know players, including a guy called Billy Wingrove. Now I have nothing against Billy, but all I could think of while I watched him was, well okay he can do some clever tricks, but is he any good on the field and can he score goals? I'd never heard of him, so figured he probably wasn't the next golden boy for England, however, on returning home I discovered that he doesn't play for any club, all he can do is tricks. As entertainment that's fine, but if you expect your opponent to sit there waiting for you to show off to the crowd, then I think you'll soon discover how useless your trick skills are worth. As such I found the attention put on him was largely misplaced.

For me there was one point that did interest me. I spotted that Dario Gradi was going to be presenting a train session, so went along to catch some of it. He was using the Alex youth team to highlight tactics, and was exactly the sort of thing that I was expecting from these sessions. After the session I did something I wouldn't normally do. I went and asked for his autograph. A couple of young lads had already asked him, as he stood on the sidelines afterwards, so I thought I'd take the opportunity too. I had a short chat with him, mentioning that I used to live near Crewe, and he was in good humour as we talk about how the place had changed. Funnily enough I moved away from Crewe the year Dario started his mangerial career at Crewe Alex.

All in all, an interesting day, and perhaps for older lads it would have been more beneficial, particularly the tactics and ball control training sessions. I'm not sure we'd go again, but I do think it was good for DanDan. Perhaps next year, we'll let his Nanny and Grandad take him as they're much more interested in football than we are :)

File Under: callowbrook / crewe / dandan / football
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High Speed Dirt

Posted on 11th May 2008

Callowbrook Swifts had their last match today. Despite going ahead at 2-0 early in the match, they were drawing 3-3 at half time. But the heat took its toll and Hampton managed to score another 2 in the second half for a final score of 3-5. It could so easily have gone in Callowbrook's favour, as in one instance Dan led a great run down the left wing, crossing to Joel, who hit a lovely shot at goal, but hit the post and was caught by the goalkeeper. With several other attempts on goal, and a few corners, it wasn't a lack of trying on Callowbrook's part. It was a shame for Ross, as he did make several great saves, but Hampton got themselves into good positions and made it difficult for him to cover all angles.

There's a break for the summer now, although training still continues. There are also two new players starting with the team ready for the next season, so it'll be interesting to see how the team dynamics work with the new additions. Callowbrook, as they are at the moment, have come on leaps and bounds in the last 6 months, and they're still getting better. The previous two matches they won 4-2 and 4-0, so they've proved they can do it. 11 goals in the last 3 matches, not bad in anyone's book. I'm looking forward to the next season anyway :)

File Under: callowbrook / dandan / family / football
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Down In The Park

Posted on 6th April 2008

Ethne & DanDan

Ethne & DanDan

After waking up to snow, we took the kids round to the park to throw snowballs and build snowmen.

Snowball fight!

Snowball fight!

Up on the hill it looked like a few people were even venturing down the slope on sledges. Seeing as it's a steep hill, they obviously felt quite brave. Some kite flyers were also having a good day up there too.

Meanwhile, DanDan made a snow angel and four snowmen, while Nicole and Ethne made another. Ethne made us laugh by adding a bum to her snowman, although it looked more like a pronounced tail. Should have added long ears and called it a snow bunny :)

File Under: dandan / ethne / family / rubery / weather
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Spotlight Kid

Posted on 27th February 2008

Dan & Jack

Dan & Jack

Dan's match on Sunday was an interesting one. Playing against Marston Green, both teams had a ten-man strong team. However, in the warm up prior to the match, Ross took a bad knock on his leg, which meant that not only were Callowbrook Swifts down to nine men. Not only that we were down a goalkeeper. Dan stepped up and got to wear Number 1 for the whole match. He did himself proud too, as during the match he got to save a few goals. He's also got a good kick on him, and has done since he was about 3, and taking one particular drop kick, got the ball all the way over the halfway line and at the feet of his own players. A couple of touches between Sharpy and Joel and Callowbrook were 2-0 up.

We saw this score at halftime against Cadbury's earlier in the year, so it was only too easy to lose the match. Marston Green took on the challenge and pushed as much as they could. despite Dan, Jack and Zak getting in the way several times, unfortunately Marston scored first from a very good shot on goal. There was nothinhg Dan could have done to stop it. Callowbrook continued their attack on goal, but despite several shots, the ball never hit the back of the net. Marston got lucky following a shot on goal. Dan managed to save the initial shot, but let it get away from him. Had he have been quick enough and dive on top of the ball he may have stopped the follow up. The final score 2-2.

Man of the Match

Man of the Match

Dan did himself pround and earned himself Man Of The Match. He's been hoping to do well enough to win the trophy for the week, and now it sits in our front room for all to see ;)

I've really enjoyed taking the action shots during the matches, but it's a shame I get so wrapped up in the game though, as I've yet to catch any of the goals on film, or the saves. I'm going to have to get better at just taking shots any time the ball even thinks about going near the goal line.

I've managed to capture a few decent pictures of the players themselves, but I think I still need a lot of practice. I've been trying to see what works between the zoom and long shot, but the closeups without zoom seem to work best. Unfortunately that does mean I either have to continually run up and down the touchline or hope one of the teams manages to stick near the opponents goal area, preferably Callowbrook obviously. I'll just to see how well I do over the coming weeks.

File Under: callowbrook / dandan / football
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Two Tribes

Posted on 18th February 2008

DanDan playing for Callowbrook Swifts

DanDan playing for Callowbrook Swifts

This Sunday Callowbrook Swifts were playing Glade Rangers away. A couple of weeks ago we played their neighbours, Hampton Sports. For the first time since DanDan has been playing for the team, they had a full strength team of 10 men. Glade Rangers finally managed to make a full 7 man team, as we were thinking they might have to forfeit the game when only 5 players initially turned up. From the kick-off Callowbrook Swifts made their presence felt. Glade Rangers put up a galant fight all the way through the match, and never gave Callowbrook a chance to take it easy. However, a mid-week training session seemed to make a huge difference in the team play. Callowbrook were passing, making and finding space and generally taking on their opponents.

DanDan was sub for the first half, and came on for the second half. Sharpy had managed to take Callowbrook ahead, and nearly got a second, in the first half, and the constant pushing and driving kept the ball in the Glade half. The pitch was slightly sloped in our favour, and the early advantage could easily have been taken away by Glade, but they never quite managed the same level of pushing and dispite getting close to goal on a few occasions, Ross, Jack and Zak held their own. Jack taking the ball up the full length of the picth on several occasions. Soon into the second half Callowbrook got a corner. My previous hinting of DanDan standing in front of the goal, rather than standing back, paid off and ball fell more or less right at his feet. He just had to kick it, and he did. Right into the back of the net. His first goal for the team. Understandably I was delighted, although I was disappointed that the camera wasn't quick enough to capture the moment.

Callowbrook Swifts

Callowbrook Swifts

Both teams to their credit continued the relentless driving of the ball. It was the best match I've ever seen Callowbrook Swifts play and much better than several professional matches I've seen. Sharpy did himself proud with a second goal, supported by passes from DanDan and Charlie. All the team played brilliantly, although it was a shame that we saw a few casualties. Joel suffered towards the end of the first half and Cameron got a bad knock just after he came on for the second half. They all played better as a team this week, with much better passing and calling for the ball, so a 3-0 win was well deserved. We're at home to Marston Green next week, so fingers crossed we're on form again. Well played lads.

File Under: birmingham / callowbrook / dandan / football
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Surreal Madrid

Posted on 6th February 2008

DanDan looks to intercept

DanDan looks to intercept

DanDan is now a fully fledged member of the Callowbrook Swifts Juniors Football Club, playing in the 7s age group. He played his third match, his second full match, at the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He's getting really good these days, and although there are still plenty of improvements and confidence needed to get the best out of him, it's been really consuming to watch him and his team mates play. I don't think I've shouted so much at a football match in years! The whole team are great to watch and they have some stars in the making too.

They played against Hampton Sports on Sunday and put up a good fight. Zak and Jack held the defence well, to the point Zak unanimously earned himself man of the match, and the remainder of the team certainly got in the way, just not really making the most of their potential. One of Hampton's goals was very lucky to go in, as their man just happened to be on the far wing, as a throw-in on the other side got kicked further over, and then when he shot for goal, Zack, Jack and Ross just couldn't quite reach the ball to kick it away. For a Callowbrook corner, DanDan was standing too far back from the far post, and had he been level, the ball would have dropped at his feet with an open goal. Joel made several attempts at getting the ball in the goal, but was tackled down every time. In the end they lost 2-0, but it could so easily have been a 1-1 draw. The team are getting better, now they just need to get the goals.

It took a while to notice, but amusingly there was a Kane, a Jack and two Dan's on each team. Unsurprisingly, calling out to Dan caused some confusion, especially among the Hampton players. With our DanDan having problems with his ears, he never seemed to notice. As such one of the Callowbrook mums suggested we randomly shout Kane, Jack or Dan to put Hampton off ;)

At some point this year I really ought to revamp DanDan's website and start adding all the football matches and photos from the last few years on there. I've given the coach photos of DanDan's first two matches, so hopefully they use them when they update the Callowbrook Swifts site. In the mean time, some of the action shots from the last two matches from the first half of the season:

File Under: callowbrook / dandan / family / football
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Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll

Posted on 14th January 2008

I got hold of Lost Cities last week, and this weekend DanDan and I played a game of it. We would have played more, but he has still yet to finish his homework :)

It's a fairly simple game and as a consequence pretty quick to set up and play. Although the box specifies a minimum age of 10, I would have said those younger can grasp the gameplay without too much difficult. DanDan certain understood the concept of playing and taking the cards, and building up the expeditions from investment cards to numbered cards. He hadn't spotted that he quickly ran out of time building the expeditions beyond the 20 points needed, as he spent time trying to build up all 5 expeditions. I did the same to begin with, but in subsequent rounds concentrated on 3 at maximum. It made a big difference. DanDan said he really enhjoyed the game, and Nicole liked it simply because it meant he had to do maths to play the game.

For reference, should anyone need them, an English rules translation is available online. It's a shame that The Games Cabinet no longer runs, as that was a great source of reference for the English language versions of the rules. I note there are links to other language versions (mostly Portuguese) on Boardgame Geek, as well as some other interesting resources, but they seem to forget that some of us buy the German versions of the games as they can be cheaper.

File Under: dandan / family / games
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What I Go To School For

Posted on 6th July 2007

Following my adventures in Houston last week, Nicole mentioned to DanDan's teacher that I could show the class my photos. They have recently been doing a class project about space and specifically the Apollo 11 moon landing.

So today I went in to do a short 15 minute presentation. Nicole thought 5-10 minutes would be enough, but I think the kids would have happily talked for an hour :)

I picked out a few photos and talked about the rockets, capsules, moon landings, mission control, the mockups, the international space station, the space shuttle and the Saturn V rocket. As I knew they'd already done the class project, I prompted them for answers, which they really relished. I got asked whether there was an Apollo 24, how did the spacemen go to toilet, how did they have a shower, how the rocket got into space, how they got back to Earth among many many others. They also enjoyed telling me about all the things they'd learnt too. They knew the astronauts had to be strapped in when they went to sleep, and that they ate lots of dried food. Not sure if they quite understood that it was freeze-dried and rehydrated, plus they also got a bit confused with the idea of a monkey and a dog landing on the moon, but it was great to see they has such a fascination of the subject, including the girls too.

Mrs Clarke, their teacher, seemed to enjoy the presentation too and confessed that she even remembers watching the moon landing on television. I was only 4 :)

File Under: dandan / family / school / space
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All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit

Posted on 20th April 2007

DanDan has been going to The Strikes Soccer Accademy for the past year, and had some great football coaching. He already had the ability to drop-kick and aim the ball from as young as 3, so we knew he had a natural talent. Thanks to Neil his coach, and getting the chance to play with the older boys at school, he's come on leaps and bounds.

My only disappointment is that Strikes doesn't seem to be able to market themselves very well. At the moment there are only 4 boys being coached in the under 8s group, which DanDan is a part of. It's supported by Birmingham City FC, Walsall FC and Birmingham City Council, so I'm surprised that it hasn't had a lot more publicity. Having a smaller group to coach has meant that Neil has been able to give each boy much more dedicated coaching, which is good, but it does mean there isn't more of a challenge for DanDan.

There was talk of a marketing campaign earlier in the year, but I haven't seen any evidence of it. It would have been good to promote the football coaching to local schools, as there are several. Callowbrook Swifts seems to be the next step up for some, but they seem much more orientated to playing rather than training, and I think DanDan needs more of the training at the moment.

I was thinking the other day, if we did manage to nuture his talent and help him become a first team player with some (preferably local) club, I wonder whether he'd get labelled as "the next ...."? I hope not, he's DanDan. Our DanDan ;)

And for the youngsters among you, regards the title ... see here.

File Under: birmingham / coaching / dandan / football / strikes
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Welcome To The Monkey House

Posted on 14th April 2007

Why Grango? That and how do you pronounce it have been asked every so often. I'll answer the latter first. It's pronounced "Gran" as in 'granny' or 'Gran Turismo', and "go" as in "to go somewhere".

The initial question begins several years ago. When DanDan was 2, he started making references to something he called The Grango. We had no idea what he meant, but he kept trying to tell us about it. We eventually got the gist that he was trying to describe the monster in a few nightmares he'd had. It was an odd description and because he didn't know enough words at the time, he struggled to give any clues as to what the creature was. Then a while later we happen to watch a nature programme on the TV and he pointed out The Grango. It was an Orang-utan. I don't think he did a bad job trying to say what it was all things considered.

When it came round to sorting out a new domain name for some server space I wanted, it seemed an obvious choice. It turns out others had thought of the name for other reasons, but the .org domain was available. In time I'll probably give the domain to DanDan, but for now it's proved handy for my Open Source work.

Another obvious choice was the title for this piece. Remember Animal Magnet? No, well it seems all the comments for this clip all remember hearing being played most nights at Edwards No.8 in Brum :)

File Under: dandan / labyrinth / website
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I Go Swimming

Posted on 9th April 2007

We took DanDan and Ethne swimming on Saturday to Cocks Moor Woods Leisure Centre near Kings Heath. Unlike a traditional swimming pool, they have a wave machine and huge slide for older kids to slide down into a small deep pool.

It was a shame I couldn't film them as the pair of them were hilarious. DanDan wouldn't let go, despite Nicole teaching him how to doggy paddle. I also took him to the deep end so he couldn't touch the bottom, and got him to swim all the way back to the shallow end. Even though he kept saying "I can't do it" all the way, he still made it. I think was quite proud of himself afterwards.

Ethne on the other hand couldn't let go quick enough. She took great delight in telling everyone afterwards, "I floated, Ethne floated" :) I think she's going to be quite a natural swimmer.

File Under: dandan / ethne / family
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