More Bits and Pieces

Lego and Star Wars

The Lego collection just gets larger. It is past the point of no return now anyway. The boy loves it and why not? It is still probably the best toy out there. His mum says things like “Stop buying him Lego he has too much”. Since when was there such a thing as too much Lego?

There are two sets of Lego characters vying for top spot in our house. The Marvel super-heroes and the Star Wars mob. Right now it seems Darth Vader and his pals are out in front. I seem to recall reading of how the Star Wars franchise more or less saved Lego from certain collapse. Not sure if it was really that bad but the introduction of the Star Wars models certainly was a tuning point for the plastic brick company.

Then of course Star Wars was bought out by Disney. Then they bought the Marvel franchise – another great Lego set seller. Lego also happen to do a great range of classic Disney (cartoon) sets. It got me thinking. I wonder how long it is before Disney just buy Lego. When you read about that just remember where you heard it first. Hardly insider trading though is it? Almost inevitable.

Visit from Mexico.

A couple of weeks ago Dani had a surprise visit from his Godparents (padrinos) Fersie and Andrés. They had flown over from Mexico for a quick trip to Europe taking in Madrid (as well as London and Paris). It was only a quick visit but Dani thought it was great. It just reminds me that we need to plan a visit to Mexico to see his family out there. He has baby cousins there none of us have met yet.

The (not so) Incredible Hulk.

Yet again the Kiss singer surprised me. I was reading something the other day when I heard Dani singing one of the more well known Kiss hits.

I was made for loving you baby. You were made for loving me.”

Then a sudden crash, bang, wallop. Then came the little voice.

“Paul Stanley just battered the Hulk.”
“What? How did that happen?”
“He was singing to him and when he relaxed he started changing back into Bruce Banner. Then he battered him”.

Classic child’s logic on how to beat the odds. The evidence was there for all to see. The Lego version of Paul Stanley had yet again punched above his weight. The Hulk toy was about 6 times bigger and far more menacing. But clearly that counts for nothing if your opponent has a wealth of daft rock songs in their armoury.

Spoke too soon…

When I wrote about how efficient Gatwick airport is I should have known better… It’s called tempting fate. The next time I flew from there I was delayed. I have to say however that it was the airline and not the airport. For some reason Easyjet seem to get it wrong all too often these days. I can’t quite understand why or how? They hardly ever depart on schedule and their airport based staff do not seem able to handle things very well. Of course I am really only talking about Madrid and Gatwick as these are my start and end points these days. Mind you they still have a long way to go though before I would choose Ryanair.


Update – This Crazy Game of Football

Weighing up the cost…

When the price of a ticket is at least €200 and none of the teams is one you support it is just not worth it.

Add to that the fact that out of two squads of players I only know of one player. A certain Carlos Tevez, who has played for several European football clubs and now plies his trade at Boca Juniors. And as it turned out he never even made the starting line-up! I do not follow football much these days, but it turns out that Dani’s auntie Natalia – who does follow it – also did not know any of the other players. In the end there were a couple of other players who came on as substitutes had played in Spain. I only half knew them.

We tried. We went to the stadium a few hours before the game and witnessed some of the build-up. The atmosphere would be tremendous. That was a certainty. Argentinian fans are equally famous for that. They were always going to create an atmosphere the likes of which the Bernabéu has (quite possibly) never seen.

Mega Clásico

They usually refer to this fixture El Super Clásico. – presumably the term El Clásico not being enough. That is for the league meetings between these two teams. This one however had been deemed far too important. La Copa Libertadores at stake. This one has been called El Mega Clásico!

Before we left the area we had a drink in a bar opposite the stadium. It was amazing to see fans of both teams drinking beer in the same place. I am sure that would never happen in Buenos Aires. I even heard a River fan wishing some Boca lads good luck.

We did buy Dani a souvenir scarf. He didn’t seem too concerned about the game. Thankfully he is still too young. All that will come later.

River Win, but so does Madrid

The final score was 3-1 to River. A decent game that was decided in extra time. It was a great victory for the club but there was another winner. Madrid had managed to pull this thing off. At relatively short notice. If there was a FIFA World Cup (mundial) to be held at short notice then Spain could just be the place to do it thanks to this effort. And who knows? The next World Cup is due to be in Qatar in 2022. A lot has been said about the chances of that not happening…. I wonder; do the power players in Spanish football know something we don’t?…

One more thing about the game. Dani correctly predicted the winners. He is bloody good at that. I need to start placing bets on his forecasts.

No Trouble. Yet.

Up to the game all was fine. If anything is going to happen it will be after the game when one side has lost. The other set of fans will be celebrating. That may be late into the night and early hours. As I left for the airport first thing this morning there was no news of trouble. Which has to be seen as a minor miracle.

It has been said that Argentinian football is like its politics. Chaotic. While the fans at last night’s match would have been surprised to share the stadium with the opposition supporters they would have also been confused at not being caged in. Mind you that is as much for the protection of the referees in Argentina as it is about hooliganism… An interesting weekend.

Football Fiasco

Attention all football fans.

Well; and non-football fans. Indeed, everyone!

Here is a tale so incredible I would not believe it myself if I hadn’t just witnessed the reality of the build-up.

Tomorrow (Sunday 9th December) we may go and watch the South American version of the European Champions League football cup final. The Copa Libertadores de América (Liberators Cup). We are not jumping on an aeroplane having just won the lottery.

No: The game will be played just down the road – from Dani’s school actually – in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid. We were there walking around outside of the stadium today and the South American fans were already in evidence.

Copa Libertadores

For the first time in the cup’s history the two biggest teams in Argentina (both in Buenos Aires in fact) Boca Juniors and River made the final. The final is played over two legs, one game at the stadium of each finalist. A few weeks ago, I watched the first game played at Boca Juniors stadium La Bonbonera. It was live on Spanish TV and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. Being effectively a local derby between teams whose fans quite literally hate each other there were no “away” fans allowed. The same was to be true in the return game a week later. However, the River fans had other ideas. With no Boca fans to attack the River hooligans decided to launch a full-scale assault on the Boca team bus. Several players were injured. Enough to cancel the game. A few weeks later, unable to rearrange the match, it has been moved to Madrid.

This is the South American football club cup final! Why couldn’t they find a suitable location in that continent you may wonder? Well; anywhere in Argentina would attract both sets of fans – and other club’s hooligans no doubt. Brazil? You must be joking. The Brazilian’s and Argentinians hate each other when it comes to football. There would surely be serious trouble. And so Real Madrid’s stadium was chosen to host the final. With the first leg ending in a draw this is now in a fact a one-off final.

Crazy Idea?

Who thought that was a good idea? Who thinks the weekend will pass without some violence? Myself and Dani’s mum have both been to football matches in the stadiums of Boca and River. We know how volatile it is.

Admittedly, most of the hooligans from both clubs will not be able to afford the trip to Spain for this football match. But there will several thousand supporters for sure. An estimated six thousand have flown in in the past two days. Come to think about it, who would deal with any violence on board the aeroplanes? Maybe they are travelling on separate aircraft? Crazy.

Like all South American countries Argentina is well represented in Spain. There are estimated to be more than72 thousand Argentinians living in Spain. You can bet the real number is higher. They are expecting 50 thousand fans in total at the game. Another figure worth a mention is the four thousand police that will be on duty in and around the stadium tomorrow.

Will we go? Will there be trouble? Update tomorrow….

Hats off to Gatwick

Airports can be Run Properly

Since I have been working in Kent my airport to Madrid has been Gatwick airport. I have travelled through so many airports that I hesitate to say it is a joy. But compared to my normal airports of choice (Liverpool or Manchester) I have to say that Gatwick airport is somewhat of a pleasant surprise. The horrible experience of getting through security at.  Manchester and the pathetic arrival at Liverpool mean that both of those airports easily kill that (almost) mythical “joy of travel”.

Gatwick is refreshingly different. They have an efficient security system and friendly, competent security staff. I am sure it can get quite hectic during summer months but the evidence I have seen first hand suggest that even then they will be able to cope.

I have been meaning to complement them for a while and finally this is it. This is how travelling via an airport should be. Well done Gatwick airport.

First Visit to see Santa

This weekend Dani visited his nana and also met up with Santa for the first time in the UK. We went with his little cousin. Stanley is now a chatty three-year-old and he made no attempt to hide his Christmas wish-list. Dani was first to sit down next to Santa Claus. When Santa asked what he wanted for Christmas Stanley dived straight in. “A Thomas train” he shouted.

Santa did his best not to get side-tracked and offered Dani a second chance. He thought for a short time and said, “A train. But not Thomas”. He thinks that Thomas the tank engine stuff is for babies now. How quickly he has moved on. It doesn’t seem five minutes since he was a Thomas nut himself.

Next visit to see his nana will be for Christmas. His first in the UK. He will enjoy it.

11oz Burger!

On a completely different subject…. I have just eaten an 11 ounce (oz) burger topped with pulled pork and cheese. So effectively a 12oz burger. That is three Burger King (?) quarter pounders! It was a struggle but I managed it.

Now I need to rest. This working away is quite hard sometimes…