Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Coaching the minis

ORFC Under 10s at Saracens

Last year saw me start to coach the under 10s rugby team at my club. Along with 3 other people we all take it in turns to coach and run sessions which works out well as I work shifts and cannot attend all of them.

As I type this my boys are playing in Romford and I am a work typing naughtily in a back office.

I wish I had done this earlier o be honest. Coaching the minis that is, not hiding away and typing in a cramped airless office.

Coaching the kids is such a fun, joyful and a privilege. They can be the funniest silly little buggers alive but also charmingly endearing ad profoundly honest.

Of course afte the festive break they were as mad as a box of frogs and full of e numbers as they went berserk on the pitch.

But when it comes to games last week something clicked.

They stopped bunching and started to use the overlap and play the ball out wide.

Then suddenly they passed inside; cut between two defenders and scored  a superb try. I was a proud man and stood in the mud smiling as they demolished Billericay.

We took them to Saracens v Zebre at the Allianz Park in the Heineken cup and at half time paraded them on the pitch.

Before the game they played some really well-drilled teams and held their own.
Some of the kids meet England's Chris Ashton
We were standing around between games and I was chatting to them and suddenly an Englad player would walk past. Therefore as they were too shy I managed to get tem all to pose for photos with the likes of Ashton, Borthwick and Jamie George.

The as soon as they came off the pitch they were in the long jump pit playing with the sand and being told off my security staff!

One of them said to me, "Ben, will you still be playing when I play in the men's team"?

This put a smile on my face and has made me feel resolutely that I will even if I am old and crippled; I will play at least a friendly when these young lads are bigger than me and hopefully wearing thr Ongar colours still.

Now that is an insentive to not give up on my playing days!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

London with a scarf

Winter arrives and you wrap up warm. You pull the collar of your coat together to keep out the chilly wind and you maybe wear an extra layer and thicker socks.

The last thing you do before you leave the house however is grab a scarf.

What wonderful things scarves are.  

All colours, patterns and textures. A scarf for eve occasion and always they can compliment whatever ensemble you have thrown on that day.

A scarf is essential for the wonderful thing of exploring London in the festive and winter period.

London, a wonderful city both day and night and all year round.

Although like a lady changes her fashions with the season. London does the same. In summer she blooms like a floral dress and in winter she sparkles like the make-up donned for a Christmas part.

Therefore the festive period up to just after New Year’s Eve is always good for a wander to see the lights and attraction and temporary big wheels and markets that pop up.

London suddenly has the unmistakable smell of roasting chestnuts and mulled wine wafting to your nostrils.

Especially if you walk down the Southbank or wander into Hyde Park to get lost in the kitsch glaring lights of the German winter wonderland equipped with ski chalets and randomly a festive ghost train!

Trafalgar Square has the giant Norwegian tree all lit up in blue lights which if viewed with Whitehall as a back drop looks stunning.

Then you can wander to see Covent Garden were a giant topiary reindeer was on display. Of course you went via Leicester Square and saw the mini funfair which is not as garish as winter wonderland but still at sigh when lit up looks better than it does in the day.
The main shopping streets of Regent, Oxford and Bond are all out on show and looking their best. People scurried around in the thick shopping crowds looking for last minute presents or after Christmas where they fought to get a bargain in the sales.
The Southbank however was a sight to behold. More traditional with a carousel and sweet shops. But what made me smile were the many types of mulled drinks on offer. From wine to cider to one with shots. Of course each was sampled and tasted rather nice.

Then New Year comes along and everything is taken down, transported away and put in storage.

London reverts to a grey skied vibrant city without her make up on.


In no way does this mean she is more boring. Of course not!

London still has so much to do and see but this in my opinion, mid -January is the best time to see her as the crowds are less hectic with sale shoppers.


London really is a great city to explore.

Just think; it is only another 11 months till the lights go back up again!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Too much cheer

Christmas is that time of year where you eat, drink and be merry. Or in my case drink far too much and ruin your meticulous fitness regime.

Fake -mas day at mine
Continuous days of drinking send you into a spiral and if it wasn't for the rugby bike ride out in the fresh air I would have gone a little stir crazy.

Now Christmas and New Years have come and gone and January is in full swing.

It feels like a long time ago when in fact it was only a couple of weeks that we were toasting festive cheer to one and all and consuming our bodyweight in pot and leftover turkey.

This year seemed to be even heavier than usual. It just so happened that everything that was planned were on consecutive days and nothing clashed.

In other words I was given a golden opportunity to enjoy myself and dink till I was singing.

On the 21st I held a fake-mas day at my house. 11 of my oldest friends crammed into my place where we put a garden patio table together with my dining table and made them bigger by laying planks of wood in the middle.

Fake-mas day at mine
The drinks flowed and the all played the game of hide my stuff or rearrange my ornaments and fiddle with my Budddhas.

It was the first time we had done all of that and everyone brought some item of food and drink with them. I did the meats while others provided the veg, deserts and starters. All in all it was successful but incredibly tiring. I seemed to be in and out of the kitchen all day.

When it came to finally go to bed I dropped onto the pillow and hit my head with a clunk.

Hidden in my pillow case were beer bottles. In fact beer, wine and spirit bottle were hidden all over the house ad it took me days to find them all.

The following day of Sunday 22nd December was the Ongar Rugby Club Christmas carols.

Basically we take over the Stag pub and sing from song sheets accompanied by a keyboard.

We sang festive numbers and rugby song. I even did a solo and while this was happening we drank the pub semi dry.

One of my mates then passed out so we decided to play human buakcroo with him. Somehow he didn’t wake up as a table, pot plants, guitar case and all sorts of jump was stacked up on him.

To make it even funnier he is a police officer and a certain daughter of one of our players drew phallic emblems all over him with pen!

The following day was a wine fest at my bootcamps xmas party held at a local manor house in the semi-permanent marquees erected outside.

Unfortunately it was one of the windiest days of the year and the marquee shook from side to side and rattled. The lighting rigs jiggled about and the singer on a rotating piano was drowned out.

Therefore we were all moved into the house after eating where we carried on devouring te all included wine that seemed to be bottomless.

I awoke the next day and it was Christmas Eve. Therefore that meant only one thing. The traditional Ongar pub time.

It’s the only time of the year certain people (myself included) all come back to Ongar and meet in the pub. It is like a reunion as we drink and be silly.

Christmas day was the usual and boxing day I detoxed!

The rugby xmas bike ride

The fun and games all stared again though on the 27th. Because this was the day of another festive rugby tradition. Namely the bikeride.

The rugby bike rides happen in summer and around xmas time. This years one saw us find a wheelchair in a barn ad go down a hill on it and cycle from High Ongar all the way to West Hanningfield via a number of pubs.

Finally we arrived back in Fryerning and had a good old sing song at the Viper.

You arrive back in High Ongar close to 1am full of booze a little wobbly o our bike and covered in mud from the cross country stretches. It is all worth it and is a true festive highlight.

The next days were spent relaxing as soon it would be New Years Eve and this year we were taking Brentwood by storm.

Dave Lewis find a wheelchair on the bike ride

A new year has arrived ad I must not drink as much. Thankfully the gym, crossfit and rugby will sort me out.

Messing about with Nana at xmas
2014 what have you in store for me?

Xmas eve

New Years Eve in Brentwood

Rugby carol singing gets a little messy

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Stupidly running with a broken hand

Sometimes I am bloody stupid.

I demonstrated that way back in November.

I do things I know wont help me or things that will jeopardize my falling apart body.
The trouble is I am a glutton for punishment and a silly fucker at times.

Therefore sometimes when I cut my nose off to spite my face I do silly things and sometimes, just sometimes it works out all right and I surprise myself.

Coming 32nd out of 746 runners in a seven mile muddy obstacle course race with a broken hand wrapped up in waterproof bags and tape was to me an achievement.

The Lactic Fallout at the Secret Nuclear Bunker in Kelvedon Hatch would not defeat me and even as a one armed bandit I wanted to best it.

The trouble is that even though I made it through relatively unscathed (a couple of knocks that made me scream) I want to know how fast I could have run and where would I have come if I would have been fully fit and not a walking wounded old man.

I have to push myself you see. Ii cannot say 'I am injured and have to sit out'. Well I can, as there is no way with my hand that I can play rugby at the moment and it makes typing this slow and laborious. Also it has affected my gym work and my workouts consists of legs, core, CV and more legs at the moment.

That urge to prove to yourself that I can do this one handed was overwhelming and also I didn't want to lose the money I paid for the race. So basically I was a stubborn bastard.

For years I have done adventures obstacle races and every time have given it my all but never have I come so far up the field.

I should be proud of the fact that I came in 32nd place with a broken hand. Not bad really. I finished in one hour seven minutes and four seconds. Only ten minutes behind the winner.

Instead I feel annoyed that I could have broken the top twenty, maybe even the top ten. Basically I will never be satisfied.
Jason and I before the mud

So  can run a race and one handed manage to climb over a cargo net or crawl one handed through thick gloop. I can just about manage to get over a wall one handed but had to admit one handed monkey bars was a rung too far, literally. But I cannot grip a steering wheel and drive or do my flies up without intense pain and hardship.

Its stupid really. I can run through mud, water and uneven fields but keep accidentally smashing cups of tea and coffee when I accidentally go to grab my mug with my gimpy hand.

Hurry up and heal. I miss lifting weights and being able to shower without taking of strapping. Oh and I hate this bloody brace thing that I have to wear for protection.

After the race. Jason came 111th.
The next run I do will be fully fit. But I doubt I will come as high as 32nd.

Should I have run this race? Probably not. The two knocks I got hurt today and make me think that I am an idiot. Rest is a good thing, but I cannot sit still. Especially when this is going on on my doorstep.

I am basically writing this because I am fed up with being injured and bored with not being able to do things I want to do.

Heal body, heal!