Just a quick technical note here. I have not loaded my latest images on my computer and have rather stupidly and unusually left my camera at home so there are no images for this entry but I do rather want to get up to date and I shall add them asap. Here is one of Tandragee skyscape just to take the bad look off the page. I love skyscapes and there may well be a feature about them here if I ever catch up with myself.
Saturday 30th came and I woke up ludicrously early again possibly due to the sun which was bright even at 0800 although when I went outside for my early morning smoke I noticed that there was a refreshing light breeze.
I prepared breakfast for Father and then took into a bit more writing which brings me to a matter I mentioned in the last entry. I really hope I do not jinx it but I am writing this on the 30th in the afternoon and I hope to get to the pub this evening which is where I can access wi-fi to post the last few days. That is my excuse for going to the pub and I am sticking to it. If this does happen I shall be in a state of grace that I do not remember ever having been in before in my various blogging guises and that is being up to date. If this does happen I shall feel very pleased with myself and not a little surprised. I’ll let you know how it goes.
My Father likes a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich for his lunch (must be Branston and I agree) and I am fond of one myself but it was the first meal of the day and problem was that I could hear my poor little frying pans sobbing quietly on the stove. Problem, what problem? Have you never heard of a fried cheese and pickle sandwich? I will fry just about anything which is such a feature of the cuisine of Ulster. I am still not sure what prompted the potato salad as a side but it was all very tasty. I did tell you I had odd tastes.
After the football cold turkey of the previous day, normal service was resumed and the tournament moved into the knockout stages so hopefully no more of these awful tactical games where effectively reserve teams were content to have a kickaround because the result didn’t matter or else a draw suited both teams. First up in the afternoon match was France vs. Argentina which looked like a good game on paper.
France made a lively start with Mbappe running the ageing Argentinian defence ragged. His pace is amazing and when he was clumsily fouled in the box on 11 minutes, Griezman duly converted the penalty. The teenager posed a serious threat every time he was in possession. Argentina were playing a system that obviously did not suit them and had offered little or nothing for 40 minutes and then di Maria scored an absolute gem from a long way out giving Lloris the French keeper no chance. They really did not deserve it but it woke the huge Argentine support up and they went in at half time on level terms.
Two minutes into the second period a Messi shot took a serious deflection off the Argentinian defender Mercado who had come forward and put the South Americans into a 2 – 1 lead. It was turning a bit naughty and there were some fairly robust challenges flying in.
If the di Maria goal in the first half had been glorious then it was at least matched in the 57th minute by a sublime long-range strike from the unlikely source of the French fullback Pavard, it was brilliant. To think that a year previously he had been playing in the second tier of German football makes it all the more remarkable.
We were now into the stages of extra time and the hated penalties so were they beckoning? Not if young Monsieur Mbappe had anything to do with it. Six minutes after the Pavard gem he scored a good goal to make it France 3 – Argentina 2. He wasn’t finished yet. Less than five minutes later in a move that had started with the French ‘keeper he slotted another very confidently past the Argentinian stopper who didn’t manage to stop it. France were really in the ascendency and Giroud was unlucky when he hit the side netting with an absolutely blistering effort. By then the Argentinian resistance was all but finished but never rule out that man Messi, for my money the best player on the planet, who headed a goal two minutes into injury time but it was merely a consolation and 4 – 3 probably flattered Argentina.
Don’t cry for me Argentina but rather cry for a team that was well past it’s best and clearly second best here.
I awoke after my “old man dozette” in time for the evening game which was billed by the media as Luis Suarez vs. Cristiano Ronaldo but was officially Uruguay vs. Portugal. It was going to have to go some to match the first fixture but the first goal wasn’t long coming, seven minutes to be precise, when a wicked cross hit Cavani in the face and went in. I am not sure how much he knew about it but they all count. It remained 1 – 0 until the break but it was looking like it was going to take something special to unlock a Uruguayan defence that was fairly uncompromising.
Portugal came out in the second half looking up for it as they had to be and on 54 minutes an excellent Pepe header form a set piece levelled the scores. Game on and the European side certainly looked in the mood after the goal but Uruguay were not to be denied and a great counterattack ended with a superb goal by Cavani. In the space of less than two full games in the knockout stages we had been treated to three goals that may well be in contention for goal of the tournament. It was certainly going to be some final half hour.
Despite some fairly frenzied Portuguese attacks in the dying minutes, including their ‘keeper making a nuisance of himself in the box, Uruguay held on for the win.
Apart from the fact that a couple of fancied sides were going home it also meant that arguably the two best players in the world viz. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would take no further part. I wonder who will emerge as the star striker now.
After these two excellent games it was time for a quick shower and off for Saturday night in the “Monty” as there is always music of some sort on and it is usually a great laugh. As I told you above I was going to use the internet and it would have been feasible as the place was not terribly full but I had indeed jinxed myself and am actually writing this the next morning.
The problem was the musician and I stress that he was a thoroughly charming guy called Kieron. He was doing a troubadour set (one man and a guitar plus backing tracks in this case) and I had been chatting to him as he was setting up as musicians do. Being on his own he asked if I would soundcheck him which I happily did and after that I thought it would just look damned rude to be sitting there bashing a laptop keyboard when he was playing.
As always it was a great night and I thoroughly enjoyed myself before heading home pretty late and straight to bed. My “state of grace” would have to wait for another day.
Again I would feel I have short-changed you with this entry so I shall pass swiftly on to the next one. Yes, I know I need to do something interesting soon so I may attempt spontaneous combustion tomorrow although that would probably put paid to the website fairly comprehensively so maybe I’ll not bother. Honestly, when I get this series of entries up to date, I shall move on to some trips that may actually be of interest to you.
It was a late awakening on Sunday 1st of July after a pretty late night in “the Monty” although I did not have a lot to drink. If you have read the previous entry you will know that I had intended to use the bar wi-fi to get myself into the unheard of position of being up to date with a blog but I jinxed it by writing about it beforehand so I shall not make that mistake again here.
I was so late in rising that my poor Father had to prepare his own breakfast but he has no problem doing that and I had a lazy Sunday morning watching TV and reading a bit until my appetite woke up which it normally does two or three hours after my body. The usual fry-up was accompanied by the equally usual image of same and I am beginning to worry about myself not to mention the poor reader who has probably been put off fried breakfasts for life.
The afternoon game in the World Cup was Spain vs. Russia and Spain were definitely favourites. Russia had amazed most people by how well they had performed in the group stage as even their most diehard fans had expected little from them before the competition started. I think I am right in saying that they were the second lowest ranked team in the competition.
Things did not start well with an own goal in the 11th minute putting Spain ahead. It was a bit of a case of the defender jetting his just desserts as the ball ricocheted off his heel when he was busily engaged dragging Sergio Ramos to the ground and not even looking at the ball. After that, Spain got into their rhythm and looked comfortable for a while but Russia played their way back into it towards the end of the half and were rewarded with a penalty for handball in the 39th minute which was emphatically slotted by Dzyuba past David de Gea.
It remained 1 – 1 until half-time and I am actually typing this up in real-time during the break. I am really on top of this blogging business now! The second half should be interesting so time for a quick smoke and make a cup of coffee.
The first 35 minutes of the second period were fairly cagey with little in the way of chances and it took until the 66th minute for David Silva to be replaced by Iniesta who had surprisingly been dropped to the subs bench. I say surprisingly as he is really a class act with so much experience of major finals. OK, he is getting on a bit but I would have started him. He almost justified his substitution on 84 minutes when he came very close in what was about the first real chance of the half.
The prospect of extra time was looming ever larger as the minutes ticked down and four minutes injury time were indicated but even that could not break the deadlock and so another half hour was called for. I did feel a bit sorry for the 38-year-old Russian player who was obviously feeling the pace. All the substitutions had been made so it would be the same 22 men who would continue.
The additional period was played in a torrential thunderstorm and at times it was hard to work out if the thunder or the vociferous Russian crowd were making more noise. In the second half the Spaniards threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the home side but just could not find a way through and so the dreaded penalties were called for. Cometh the hour, cometh the man as they say and in this case the man was the Russian ‘keeper who saved not one but two Spanish attempts to send his team through 4 – 3 on penalties and trigger the most exuberant celebrations amongst their supporters. Heaven help anyone trying to sleep in Moscow in the aftermath of that result.
This is really turning into a fascinating competition with Germany, Argentina, Portugal and now Spain all out. I wonder what odds you would have got on that happening before the tournament started.
After a lazy Sunday afternoon (I did that on purpose!) tea of re-heated pasties, beans and champ it was time to settle down for the evening game of Croatia vs. Denmark and wondering if it was going to be as exciting as the previous three. Well, what can I tell you?
The Danes were ahead in under a minute with a fairly scrappy goal theat went in off the ‘keepers glove and the commentators were discussing how Croatia might respond. They did not have to wait long as Croatia had equalised following some poor Danish defending. Two goals and there were not even five minutes on the clock. What a start.
After that slightly freakish start, the Croatians had more of the play and the better of what chances there were but it had settled down into a fairly tame affair and it remained 1 – 1 at the break.
The Danes started the livelier in the second period but again it petered out into a pretty boring affair and at full-time they were still even so we were due for the second extra time game of the day.
The extra time only produced a few half chances until midway through the second half when Croatia were awarded a clear penalty so step up the Croatian talisman Luka Modric knowing that if he scores they are almost certainly through but his fairly average penalty was well saved by Kaspar Schmeichel in the Danish goal. After that it was clearly going to go to penalties and it duly did.
Denmark went first and Christian Eriksen had his effort saved but Schmeichel kept them in it by saving the first Croatian effort. Modric converted his effort this time round and after three each it was 2 – 2 but then Subasic in the Croatian goal made a great save which Schmeichel immediately matched. It really was ‘keepers on top at this point and it continued with yet another save by Subasic. Croatia scored their final pen to move through to the quarter-final but they really don’t look good enough to go much further on this performance. They can play much better and will need to when they face Russia in the next round.
This day marked the start of the second half of the year and it set me thinking about my lifestyle. So far this year I have been away from my home for three and a half months of the six and will probably be here for a while longer. I was pondering the concept of home as I talk about “going home” to Northern Ireland and yet when I am here I speak of being “back at home” meaning London. I have now lived longer on the mainland than I did in Northern Ireland at 30 and 28 years respectively and I am not sure where I consider home any more. Factor in the amount of travelling and I think it now boils down to “wherever I lay my hat”.
As this entry has been a lot of food and footie, I’ll finish it up with another bit of Tandrageee information and this relates to the Church I walk past every time I walk into the town and again it is a salvage job from my Virtual Tourist days. It concerns the Parish Church of St. Mark’s, Ballymore which, due to its prominent position on top of the hill, you can see for miles around.
“Although I am not a Christian myself, this is my family’s Parish Church and my late Mother is buried in the churchyard here.
The history of the Church and it’s predecessor buildings is interesting and I am indebted to Kelson Kilpatrick, a family friend and local historian, who is an expert on all matters Tandrageee. I was fortunate enough to attend an illustrated talk by him about the village in the Church Hall last week, and fascinating it was.
Ballymore actually means “Big Town” which is a misnomer if ever there was and this is the townland where the village stands. For those not familiar with the concept, a townland is a geographical sub-division of a County which I believe is unique to Ireland.
I am not sure of the very early ecclesiastical history of the site but a Church was consecrated here in 1622 and was described as “a handsome Church 60 foot in length and 24 in breadth well furnished with seates, Communion Table, Capp, font and a good Bell”. Sounds lovely.
The Church, like so many others, was destroyed in the 1641 Rebellion and rebuilt after by Lord Grandison (who had built the original). There is a fairly gruesome story associated with the old Church, as reported in a journal of 1889, and I reproduce it here.
“The following is a copy of a Paper, sealed in a bottle, which was enclosed in a box in an old vault in the Parish Church, Tandragee:- “This box contains the bones of Henry St. John Esq., Lord of the manor of Ballymore, and of his daughter. He rebuilt the church of Tandragee and built this vault. He was murdered by a party of banditti, called Tories, at Drumlin Hill, near Knockbridge, on Tuesday the 9th day of September 1679, by being shot through the forehead, and was buried in this vault on Tuesday the 16th of the same month. By tradition of the old inhabitants of this parish, it appears that upon opening this vault for his interment, the body of his daughter who had died some time before, was found lying near the entrance and out of her coffin, having, it is supposed revived after being locked up here”. What an awful end, although not uncommon for the time.
By 1812, the Church was far too small to accommodate the needs of the parishioners and so it was torn down to be replaced by the basis of the fine building you see today. At the time it cost the princely sum of £2,200, and was extended in 1846 and 1889.
The most recent improvement to the Church is the installation of a magnificent new digital organ which was dedicated in September 2010.
The Church is presently flourishing under the Rectorship of the Rev. T.S. Forster, or Shane as he likes to be called. He is a delightful man and a great source of knowledge about the Church, should you ever meet him.
I am getting a little drowsy after my large tea and the warm day, even though it was not quite as warm as of late and with a pleasant breeze, so I shall sign off and head to bed for a read. Bed at 2217, what madness is this? There is probably more to come so stay tuned and spread the word.