Fishing Success at Last!

Four good-sized carp was my successful catch in a day’s fishing in Crawley. Having been to the same lake last year and caught absolutely nothing, it was a great relief to do better this time around. The four carp themselves were stunning fish, we took good care of them and cleaned any existing wounds from fish bites and the like. They were then released back into the lake just as soon as we had taken the customary photo.

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I must say that it will take more practice to be comfortable in handling the fish, certain types of Carp seemed particularly feisty and i was always conscious of balancing their safety with my desire to capture a nice posing photo before we put them back into the lake.

That day’s fishing was much busier than previously, with barely a moment passing where we could sit down and relax. There was constantly a catch on one of our rods, or something else that needed our attention.

It was a day that made me realised i could well enjoy this sport, with my new rod also coping well with each of the fish that i caught. Naturally, we celebrated our success with some good old fashioned street drinking, this time randomly in the backstreets around Clapham Junction.

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Ahoy there Sky Sports!

I have finally given in and gotten Sky Sports, even though i don’t have a TV plugged in for it. My groovy laptop can take Sky Player for now, and the amount that i’ll watch it on there warrants the £35 or so by itself. Watching matches streamed on dodgy sites (if i was to try that!) only works well sometimes, and to have the proper Sky coverage is always preferable. As much as i hate Murdoch, the twat, this service is good and as a sports fan is well worth the cash so i can’t grumble.

With my handy HDMI cable i can also play Sky on the main TV via the laptop.

When we get moved out to a proper flat with our own space then i can get the rest of the package and get a top TV to match with all that 1080 magic etc.

Football is Back!

I am truly excited that my weekends will soon be full once more of bad language, frustration and ultimately disappointment as the football season gets underway again. It doesn’t matter how old i get, and how many seasons i pass through, there is always an unrealistic expectation at the start of August every year. That is probably because i support Liverpool, which is a bit like supporting England except that the pain lasts for a whole year

Anyway, we’ve a new manager who might get the best out of the average fringe players and perhaps even play a more attacking brand of football, only time will tell. I’d be happy with a top-three place and a new set of owners come May 2011. Until we get the yank owners out of the club, there won’t be a new stadium or any success on the pitch.

Myfootballclub – I have become a Football Shareholder!!

Myfootballclub is an interesting scheme that i am going to sign up with today.

Basically, for those who don’t know about it, people from around the world have got together to buy and run a football club, with all important decisions made in a purely democratic fashion between the thousands of shareholders, through online votes.

The system seems to have worked surprisingly efficiently and decisions have already been made on things like the kit sponsor, team transfers, wage caps and TV coverage. It feels much like a real world Championship Manager, and so i am keen to be involved, for atleast one year. It is an interesting venture which i would like to follow closely, particularly when contrasting so much to the rich Premiership where things don’t really seem real, and fans now have very little input.

Others seem to feel the same, too, with membership reaching 33,000 or so from over a hundred countries across the world.

For my 35 pounds, it is worth a go, and perhaps, if successful, this myfootballclub project could trigger a new style of club management, but we’ll have to wait and see.

This weekend, apart from signing up for myfootballclub i shall continue to work on my painting shop and also go through a batch of DVDs that we purchased earlier. The paintball was unfortuantely cancelled due to lack of numbers. The weather is sunny today and although still cold, it is a little more positive around the city, with people skating and playing frisbee in the neaby park. We joined in with some Badminton, until Ruby lost the shuttlecock in a tree!

Chinese Grand Prix 2008, Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton wins Chinese F1 Grand Prix, Shanghai

We had a great time this weekend at the Shanghai F1 race track. I was delighted to see Lewis Hamilton win and take a large step towards winning the World Championship.

I went with several work colleagues to both the qualifying on Saturday and Race Day on Sunday. The qualifying was ok and a good way to work out our best way of reaching the stadium from central Shanghai, but it was not until Sunday that we experienced the exciting atmosphere of this sport. By then the stands were packed and the racing was both loud and competitive.

The Shanghai circuit is around a one hour coach journey from central Shanghai, and there were plenty of coaches put on for spectators, which we picked up from Hongkou Football Stadium. The race track itself was very modern and clean, though catering was pretty dis-organised with most stalls selling out of food about an hour before the race even started. Most locals were wearing souvenir Ferrari merchandise that was available around the ground, but i found seldom few for any other constructors.

I was pleased to see plenty of Chinese at the race, it wasn’t just foreigners at all, as the high prices could easily have put many off. Some stands were saved for local children too which was a nice idea.

Lewis Hamilton was very dominant all weekend from practice and qualifying, through to the race itself. My main gripe with the sport is the lack of overtaking and crashes that we witnessed in the two days. However the sheer noise and atmosphere was enough to make this trip well worth it, and an experience i hope to repeat in the UK one day.

Liverpool 2 – 1 Man United

Great !!!! Not much needed to be said here, really. The blog title speaks for itself. It was a good few years since we last beat United in the Premiership, so i was delighted with the result, and also a little surprised. I managed to get to Ningbo in time on saturday night to watch the whole game live in an Irish bar. Unfortunately my celebrations and excitement was a little bit too much for Ruby, who had to have an early night after falling asleep in the bar, haha.

The bar was full of a bizarre mix of americans, who mainly had no idea of what was going on, or why a small number of other drinkers were getting so animated, a few expats and some chinese who do understand football but don’t tend to mix it with alcohol. I expect this result will keep me in good spirits for several weeks yet  :-)

Big Bamboo, Shanghai Sports Bar

Big Bamboo, Shanghai Sports Bar was the destination for last night’s fun. I writing this as i put my head back together after a night of good old fashioned drinking.

Apparantly it is a British bar, but the interior seemed far more American style to me. We went there to enjoy some Premiership Football, plus play a little Pool and Foosball. It was Ruby’s chance to meet some of my work colleagues, and they warmed to her immediately.

The football itself was a bit of a non-starter really. Trying to explain to a chinese waitress that Bolton V West Bormich Albion is about as appealing as a Chilli in the eye just didn’t work and we only got fleeting coverage of EVerton V Portsmouth and the West Ham match. But football it still (just about) was, and the bar felt cosy.

Big Bamboo is probably the closest to my flat for western sports, so i expect i will be back soon. With pints of Tiger Beer at around 40 yuan each (£3.20), i cannot afford to go too often though. Budgeting in Shanghai is rather difficult, even after 2 months. Western pleasures are highly expensive, on any wage, but if i avoid them i cannot live on virtually nothing. We are starting to enjoy cooking together rather than ordering takeway and generally i can do lunches whilst Ruby knocks up a little Tofu Fish Soup for dinner.

I am pleased to see Ruby being comfortable with my friends and with western bar life. Indeed she seems to enjoy it as much as i do. She seems quite happy at the moment, and i have to plan some things for her birthday on the 9th. We’re starting to get a little competitive over our blogs too (geeks?!) and her’s is doing a little better than mine at the moment. She talks about chinese girly stuff, which seems quite popular. I pointed out that its because there’s alot more Chinese people to read hers :-P

I continue to work on our online painting shop website (http://www.oil-painting-shop.com) and am trying to improve its position on Google at the moment. This can take time, and is a very dull but necessary task. When that is done i can finish the site and hopefully start to sell some items. I hope to have everything in full progress by christmas which should be a busy time of year.

More Olympics, I might have to start supporting China!

There has been seldom little coverage of British athletes on Chinese state TV so far. I told Ruby that this was unfair, but to be honest it is probably because we haven’t looked like getting any medals. We lost to the damn French in the shooting for a bronze, and most other sports that have been shown on TV aren’t even things we play – Synchronised Diving? Rubbish! The only decent sports like Football, Ruby, Cricket, etc… either don’t have British teams, or don’t exist at the Olympics at all.

I say for London 2012 in order to get more medals we should bring in the following:

Darts
Rugby Sevens
Pie eating
Binge Drinking
Synchronised Morris Dancing

There must be some better ideas out there to, perhaps comment on them here and we can start a thread in time for the London Games…

I was hoping this weekend to maybe go somewhere interesting but i have instead mainly been in watching the sport on CCTV. China has taken quite a few golds, so Ruby is very happy but i am already starting to lose my interest. I popped to the electronics shop around the corner to buy a replacement power unit for my Wii which blew up yesterday and also get some music DVDs for about £1 each. I got some ideas for things to download as well such as House Season 1 High Definition (is it any good?) plus Glastonbury 2008 and Francesco’s Italy. If anyone has any recommendations for new UK programmes worth watching then let me know.

Start of the Olympics Fun

Everyone is obviously Olympics crazy here today as the Opening Ceremony kicked things off. Many events had actually already started last week, but for most people it is only now that things have properly begun.

Ruby and I watched on TV in a local restaurant and i found it interesting looking at their quizzical faces when some of the more obscure competing nations were unveiled. Many of the African nations seemed a mystery to them, but i think they got atleast an idea of where they were from by the loud shirts. I didn’t recognise anyone from the UK group but was just pleased we didn’t get booed. Most will be home in a couple of days i expect :-P

I expect to be in London for the next Olympics and will definitely get involved and see some of the events. I do doubt that the UK will manage to match the enthusiasm that the Chinese have shown in recent weeks, but i do believe we will put on a great event aswell. Euro 96 and the Commonwealth Games in Manchester were both great successes, and this should be too. I am hoping the extra flats made available by the regeneration will help me to find a home on my return :-)

This weekend we will also be working on our online painting shop which will be ready by the end of he month hopefully. We’re trying to bring in some extra cash to save for travelling and others fun things. She works in import/export, so can bring good expertise to out venture, while i can handle everything online. I bought the domain name www.oil-painting-shop.com which should bring in people through search engines. We shall visit Ningbo at the end of the month and try to buy a little stock to put on the website.

Next week we’re off to the island of Putuoshan for my birthday. This should be very relaxing and just what i need. It has seemed hard to relax anywhere in this busy country, but an island classed as a national park, and home to many budhists must be my best hope around Shanghai! It is only around 4 hours away by coach, which is relatively local. I am still also working out if i can manage trips to Morocco, Vietnam & UK in October, December & June respectively. Its difficult to plan too much as i have no idea how long i shall be in China for.

Last wednesday i went out with the landlord to improve our Chinese/ English skills. This was alot more fun than sitting in a boring classroom and we plan to make this a regular fixture every wednesday from now on. He prefers my accent to those of Americans, and rightly so! Last week we went to the location of the first meeting of the Communist Party which was great. I found it ironic that the whole area is filled with foreigners and foreign bars nowadays. But that sums up modern China, where Communism is not very apparant in everyday life.

Saturday night in Blarney Stone Irish pub, Shanghai

We spent saturday night in a traditional Irish pub, or atleast something reasonably near to it, and had a very amusing time. I managed to get a decent pint of Guinness in The Blarney Stone Irish Pub, 5 Dongping Lu. There was also the proper sing-a-long that one expects from such places, and there was a nice cosy feel to the place.

The atmostphere stepped up a notch upon the arrival of a group of foreigners clad head to foot in kilts. After closer inspection we decided they were Dutch, or something similar, and to see them singing traditional Irish songs was certainly bizarre, but quite entertaining. See the video below… You will be able to hear Ruby in the background who found it particularly funny and was clapping along with enthusiastic encouragement, despite not understanding a word that they were singing. For her to go somewhere with virtually no Chinese people was a little unusual but she enjoyed herself, and has taken a liking to Baileys now. We had a chat to an Irish expat for an hour or two and i got some advice from him on living in Shanghai. It seems his wife has long since given up accompanying him to such pubs and prefers to stay at home and laugh at him in the morning instead, once he has rolled in, in the early hours. His wife was actually from Chongching, but he was visiting Ningbo soon, so Ruby and I gave a little advice on where he could explore there.

I expect that we will return to the Blarney Stone again but maybe not so often as each pint of Guiness set me back over £4 which makes even London look cheap. Generally pints of lager here are about £2 in bars. For atmosphere alone it was a good decision to visit this pub. I hope the video gets across the fun that we were having.

Earlier that evening we visited Fuxing Lu, part of French Concession for some shopping and then relaxed in a bar called Shining, in Sinan Road. This bar was unfortunately very quiet at the time we went in so we left and headed for Dongping lu. It was early evening at the time, so perhaps this bar gets busier later. It had a nice feel to it with plenty of random pub type things in every free space. Perhaps it will be worth a visit again sometime. Close by we also saw a random funny dog, see pic, which i had to take a photo of. If anyone knows what type of dog this is, please let me know, as i would now love one myself!

I have finally got a mobile phone here and will temporarily post the number on this blog incase anyone wants to text. But obviously the Internet is fall of crazy people, so i wont keep it posted for too long.

On saturday morning Ruby and I finally found a reasonable swimming pool close to the flat. It was a little crowded with kids, but there was enough room to do atleast a few laps and get a break from the heat outside which at the moment is incredible. This pool is only about 80p per hour aswell which is great, plus there is a gym upstairs which is only 30p per visit, which is a bargain. These are only public facilities but good enough to consider. I checked out some pools and gyms at local 5-star hotels but they worked out at around £1,000 per year membership, which in comparison, seems ridiculous.

**** By the way, just a quick note to say thanks for every message that has been left on my blog so far. I love to receive them, and it is nice to know people are reading my nonsense!! ****

Next week should involve two nights out with the company plus at the weekend Ruby and I are hoping to try out a Chinese restaurant that was recommended strongly to us, plus perhaps visit Moller Villa and Xujiahui Cathedral. We are now to watch Mr Bean – The Movie, who Ruby believes looks quite like me :-P