The next step on my journey


Although I didn’t expect to learn much through doing my fibro awareness posts, I have. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in contact and chatted to other sufferers and it’s been a bit of an eye opener. It’s made to realise and come to terms with the fact that part of the reason I always feel so rushed, panicked and like nothing is getting done properly is because I’m trying to live a life which would be very busy without any illnesses, let alone someone with CFS and fibromyalgia. It’s not giving up to admit that and neither is tailoring my life so I’m not stuck in a cycle of depravation- always over-doing it, paying the costs and then being frustrated because I can never sustain a schedule.

Things have got to change. Part of that was actually writing down my “ideal” schedule- exactly what I would want to achieve everyday or every week- it was ridiculous so I’ve put some stuff on the backburner for now instead of trying to do everything at once. In honesty, that wasn’t enough, even after I cut out as much as possible, it was still obvious that I would still be doing too much. I had to make some tough decisions in reducing my work load in EVERY area of my life, including this blog. I have never been able to post as much as I always planned to on this blog and by rushing posts, I have sometimes compromised quality (if I’m honest)- re-reading some of my earlier posts made that obvious to me. I am, therefore, cutting back the features on this blog to what I think are the best parts and you may be seeing a few less posts on here but I promise to make them really good. I really hope my readership doesn’t go down as a result of these choices, I love each and every comment and subscription. It is a great moment in every bloggers life when someone signs up to be notified when a new post is published. It’s even greater to look back over the first year of blogging and realise how much more successful your blog is than you’d hoped and how it has grown.

Part of being a good blogger/writer is knowing what works and what doesn’t so I won’t be posting any more film reviews or sports time posts regularly, I will, however, be leaving the pages up so you can access old posts and I won’t completely close the door on the possibility of the occasional post in these areas.

And, I will be adding a new feature- inspiration of the month. Every month I will be choosing a person who inspires me and I’ll write a post on them and why they inspire me. If you know someone inspirational who deserves to be honoured then please contact me on the email address below- I am open to all submissions.

As you read in an earlier post, I launched my own small business this summer (eek!) called Pandora’s Box. In brief, Pandora’s Box grew out of the home-made posts on this blog. More and more I’ve realised my passion for vintage/retro items and remaking old things into new is something I want to share. Vintage shops and markets can be really expensive and so can handmade products so part of what I do is making sure all my products are really affordable, meaning that my products are cheap but I don’t make a huge profit but I’m ok with that for now. I love individual things but my flat is small and I can’t fit it all in so I’m happy to pass on vintage finds and home-made treats to happy customers. You can find out more about it and view items on the page here. I will post updates here on my blog for you to see and if there is anything which you love in a home-made post but for whatever reason don’t make yourself, you can request me to make it for you in the comments section on the post or on the Pandora’s Box page.

Related to this, as part of the Etsy community, I come across other great and very talented sellers- look out for posts for my favourite Etsy finds.

Most of all, I’d really like to take on guest posts, I welcome any and every proposal so whatever you feel you might want to put on screen and have published here, you can get in touch with me by email: kate.bennett@live.com

Thank you loyal readers,

Katie x

SPORTS TIME: Wales’s World Cup


Wales are going into the world cup with two wins out of three. Safe to say, this is a good result. It gives the team decent momentum before they head down south to face the physicality of South Africa, Samoa and Fiji. But what exactly can we take out of these warm ups? Where does Wales still need to improve? And what are they’re chances of success in New Zealand?

POSITIVES:

1) Some of Wales’s young players have really excelled over the last three weeks. The likes of North, Warburton are always improving and are showing that the 7 and 14 shirts are well and truly theirs. Also Preistland, Knoyle and Scott Williams have been particularly impressive. All of which have done a great job at breaking into the team and have really put their case forward to be part of the starting 15.

2) During their Poland camp, Wales have obviously been working on their fitness. This has really shown, particularly in the first two games against England. In the first game they were able to produce an impressive come back and in the second game their fitness was great.

DRAWBACKS/WEAKNESSES:

1) The set piece has been a horror show. the scrum was a big problem against England, however it did look stronger when Adam Jones returned against Argentina. Adam proved he’s one of the few players that Wales simply can’t replace. If there’s an injury to the ‘hair bear’ then Wales’s scrum is seriously going to struggle. The lineout almost needs no mention. It has been an obvious area of concern, for whatever reason. The coaching staff will have to take the next few weeks to sort out the problem because without a working lineout, South Africa particularly will be ruthless.

2) Injuries have caused Wales some problems. They will be without Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Gavin Henson and Morgan Stoddart for the duration of the tournament. With injury worries for Steven Jones and Ryan Jones. The plus side of this is that it has given others a chance to shine reflecting a strength in depth that Wales have lacked for sometime.

3) Finally we have to question whether Wales will go into the tournament with the mental toughness needed to really challenge the best teams in the world. It has been a problem over the last two years that Wales have lacked a clinical edge that has allowed them to finish off teams when they are on top. Consistency has also been a problem. Wales have been notorious for finishing well after a quiet 60 or 70 minutes or for only being able to sustain a high level of rugby for a limit part of the game. The way the held out against England in the second match suggests that some of these problems have been addressed, however, the Argentina game highlighted some persistent problems of consistency. At the end of the day, however, these were warm up matches. You have to expect Wales to play at an even higher level come September, which i fully expect them to do.

WALES’ WORLD CUP CHANCES

So far I have been reluctant to predict how well Wales will do in the World Cup. I am, however, ready to bite the bullet. I think their performance will hinge on the first game against South Africa. If they can win that and top their group then I can see them building up momentum that could take them all the way. I realise that to beat South Africa is a very big ask, but recent results and Wales’ current form tell us that it’s definitely a realistic goal.

I’m going to take this opportunity to wish Wales all the best. It’s a very young and exciting team who have the potential to reach outstanding heights. I for one cannot wait to see them in action on the world stage.

SPORT TIME: what the Olympics can do for even sport haters


It’s been a while since we’ve had a sport post but the riots over the last few days have made Britain re-evaluate its society and what kind of picture of London this shows the world. In this guest post Paul looks at what the Olympics can do not only for our economy and sportsmen but also what it means for us personally, not matter where you were born.

“I always turn to the sport pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures” -unknown

It’s been a week of turbulence and tragedy. The country has been left in shock from the rioting that has spread over the last five days. But, I’m not going to talk about that. I want to talk about something positive. I want to talk about the Olympic Games that’ll be taking place in Britain this time next year.

The Olympics isn't just for sport fans

The games have been a long time coming now. The expectation has been rising for years, and rightly so. This is a once in a generation event where the whole world will gather in the UK to see some of the most extraordinary people attempt the most amazing human accomplishments of strength, speed, endurance and skill.

As you can tell, I am very excited. I’m a massive sports fan; however, I’m absolutely convinced that the Olympics can appeal to everyone. I urge everybody to watch the opening ceremony, to see the pride on the faces of athletes representing their countries, whether they’re American or Nigerian or Russian or French or Tongan. I also urge you to attempt and watch some of the actual competition. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t imagine anything more inspirational than watching people from all walks of life push themselves to their very limits for an extra inch or for one less second. Whether you are athletic or not this is something you can’t help but admire.

The greatest thing about the games, however, is what it stands for. It isn’t just about people throwing sticks and running very fast. To me the Olympics is about peace, co-operation and equality. There are few things the whole world comes together for and the Olympics manages it every four years in the spirit of friendly competition. Competitors fight to beat each other, but when it’s all over you see them embrace each other as friends and are able to acknowledge the great performances by their competitors. It’s a spirit we should all come to respect and emulate.

Even after over a hundred years of the modern Olympic Games there is still so much that it can do to inspire the world.

Sport time: ITALY ALIVE BUT NOT KICKING


As I write this Italy are celebrating their greatest ever victory, a one point win against France. Nobody would have guessed such a result and welcome to the Azzuri for overcoming the odds. However, what must be at the back of the heads of Italian players and fans alike is what position would they be in if they had a decent goal kicker.

Micro Bergamasco has held the kicking duties for some time now, however, he is in no sense a natural, only the best option in a rotten bunch. Today, against France, he put in a fantastic effort with a good kicking record but this has not been the case for the last 3 games. Italy need a player who takes kicking duties week in, week out at club level if they’re ever going to progress into the team that they hope to be.

If you take a look back over the last 6 weeks, Italy lost narrowly to Ireland and to Wales as well as their thrashing of England. The games against the Irish and the Welsh could just have easily been Italain victories if they had just capitalised on their penalties. Of all the teams so far in this Six Nations, Italy has been given the most penalties. This alone tells us how much of a difference it would make if they have somebody more consistent keeping the score board ticking over for them.

In another universe we could be congratulating Italy today for being second in the Six Nations, however, in this one we are congratulating them for beating France; and what an achievement it is. This truly is a fantastic result for an Italian team that could, or maybe even should, have been talking about a championship victory.

Until next time,

Paul

Sport time: Some thoughts for the second Six Nations weekend


The second round of the Six Nations kicks of this coming Saturday with Ireland versus France at 3pm. Both teams are going into the game with one win under their belts, however, for Ireland it wouldn’t have felt like a win after their miserable performance against Italy. They’ll have to considerably up their game if they want to compete with the French, let alone sneak a victory. Ireland will be hoping their returning star Number 8, Jamie Heaslip, and home advantage will have a big impact and lift the team back to the standard that won them the Grand Slam back in 2009. France will be brimming with confidence and will expect an easier game than last week. Saying that, it would be foolish to underestimate the men in green. France will be looking for much of the same in attack and want to tighten up their defence which seemed like the smallest of chinks in their armour last weekend. I predict a comfortable French win.

The second match that day sees Wales travel up to Scotland for a 5pm start. In contrast to the first game, both these teams lost their opening match despite producing encouraging performances. Both have to win if they have any hope of competing for the Six Nations Crown. Wales have made three changes this week, moving Hook to Fly-half, Lee Byrne to Full-back and Ryan Jones gets a start at Number 8. They will be looking to spark some more creativity into their back line, and make sure their big backs get their hands on the ball so they can challenge Scotland’s defence (Jamie Roberts didn’t get his first touch of the ball until after 40 minutes of game time!) Scotland has kept the same starting line-up and will be looking to play the same kind of exciting rugby they did against France. My prediction is a Wales win. It’s going to be a very close game, and in truth any team could come out on top, however, I can’t but help being a classically optimistic Welsh-man.

Sunday sees England welcome Italy to Twickenham at 2.30pm. Unfortunately, I don’t see Italy putting up too much of a fight for this one. Italy did very well against Ireland, but showed that they are unable to control a game when they take the lead. England will know they’re in for a hard 50 minutes, but after that their backs will start to find gaps and Italy will slip away. My prediction for this game is obviously a England win.

Until next time,

Paul

Paul now has a blog all of his own. This post came from storiesinanutshell.wordpress.com

Sport time: First Weekend of the Six Nations


Chris Ashton celebrates his first try

The first weekend of the Six Nations is over and it certainly hasn’t disappointed. Two fast paced games, and one absolute nail bitter made for good viewing, and boy did the fans make some noise in the stadiums.

England vs Wales was a fantastic opener. The result was an English win, the first in eight years at the Millennium Stadium. It was a closely fought battle, England edging it at 26-19, however, England always looked like the better team. They dominated a Welsh scrum which was left limp without two of their Lions stars, Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones. England also came out on top in the backs with some very convincing performances from Toby Flood and Chris Ashton. Flood was instrumental in Ashton’s first try and, was very successful at bringing the big men around him into the game. He was deservedly named man of the match, and cemented his place at fly-half over Jonny Wilkinson. Wales showed some signs of what they could do; it never really felt like they were out of the game. Unfortunately, they failed to finish off the chances they created, which has been a massive problem for Wales for some time.

Italy put in a brave performance against a weakened Irish side, but once again failed at the final hurdle to get the victory, losing as they did 13-11. With a strong forward effort they managed to stay in the game right up to the end. They scored a try about four minutes from the end of the game giving them the lead, however, missing the conversion hurt them dearly. It meant that Ireland only needed a drop-goal or penalty to win. It was the experienced Ronan O’Gara who slotted over the last three points they needed and allowed Ireland to snatch victory away from the Italians.

Richie Gray powering through the French defence.

Defending Grand-Slam champions, France showed their class by brushing off a very strong looking Scottish side. After a quick opening try Scotland were left trailing for the rest of the match, which ended at 34-21. The French team looked very dangerous in attack, but showed some holes in defence that Scotland was able to capitalise on. Honourable mention, however, goes to Richie Gray, the young Scottish second row who was very impressive in both attack and defence.

Until next time,

Paul

Coming up: Paul will be posting some  pre-match thoughts later in the week

Sport time: Six Nations for beginners


The Six Nations, as the name suggests, is fought out between six countries: Italy, Wales, England, Scotland, France and Ireland. The completion began in 2000 when Italy joined. Previously, it was known as the Five Nations which was first competed in 1910.

There are 6 trophies to compete for within the tournament. The most important being the Six Nations Championships and the Grand Slam. The Six Nations Championship is won by the team with the highest points; they get 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. The Grand Slam is awarded if a team is able to win all five of their games. The other trophies of the competition can only by won by certain teams. The Triple Crown is competed for by Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. The winner is the team who can beat all three of the other teams involved. The Millennium cup is awarded to the victor of the Ireland versus England game and the Calcutta Cup is awarded to the winner of England versus Scotland. The newest inclusion is the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy which has been competed for between France and Italy since 2007.

The tournament will begin tomorrow (Friday) when England will play Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Coverage will be shown on BBC one from 7.30pm.

Mynd ymlaen Cymru