Adam Bird

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Monday, 17 December 2007

Oliver's First Year

On Friday you will be celebrating your very first birthday, and Mummy and Daddy thought that it would be a really good idea to write and let you know all about your first year as we didn't think that you would remember much about it when you grew up!

You certainly have had an eventful first year! More weddings than a "Hello" magazine, exotic travels to the tropics, a visit to the hospital, a visit to the London to see where Princess Diana lived and more falls than your average circus clown.

Not only have you been here, there and everywhere, you even moved house when you were eleven months old! You used to live in a flat on the Overcliffe by the escalator at Asda, but Nanny and Bampy said that they didn't like there house anymore and wanted to move so they said we could live there instead!

Seeing you grow up over your first twelve months was really exciting for Mummy and Daddy and we would often tell each other stories of things that you have done. When you first cut a tooth, when you first said Da Da and when you finally got around to working out how to say Ma Ma!

One thing that Mummy and Daddy didn't like so much about your first twelve months was having to work and not seeing you as much as we would have liked to. It didn't matter too much to you as you were too busy having fun with Nanny and Auntie Marlene whom became your second and third Mummy's.

Nanny Pat, Auntie Carly, Nanny Carly and Auntie Nadine all helped look after you as well when Nanny and Auntie Marlene couldn't for whatever reason. You even spent a couple of day's in the course of the year with Mummy's friend from work!

Although you enjoyed singing at Mark and Nicola's wedding and being dressed up in a beautiful suit for Auntie Jessica's and Uncle James's it was your trip to Mexico where you had most fun. Swimming everyday in the big swimming pool, eating the sand from the beach and downing lemonade shots at the bar with Grandad Colin. You even got the chance to wear another beautiful new suit when Uncle John and Auntie Nadine got married.

As you got more mobile and learned to crawl about you discovered two new things. Eating and ignorance, both of which are probably genetic. Only the other night at Nanny Pat and Grandad Colin's house Mummy found you crawling up the stairs with cat food in your mouth! We also found, the first night in our new house you in the fireplace eating the coal out of the fake coal fire!

Whenever you got the chance to get up to mischief during your explorations and you knew when you were doing something naughty as either Mummy or I would be screaming "Oliver", you would turn around, smile cheekily at us and carry on doing what you were doing, particularly pulling our books and DVD's off the shelves into piles on the floor, or throwing eggs on the floor from the fridge.

You met lots of people during your first year and made lots of friends, Indigo your cousin was probably your best friend, even if her two older sisters Paris and Layla were bad influences. Daddy was not impressed when he received a picture message on his phone showing you dressed up as a fairy in a pink dress on a request from her Ladyship Layla.

Keeping track of your development and progress has been really hard work. Mummy has been keeping a special book with all your key dates, when you first spoke, smiled, grew a tooth and ate a biscuit, but the greatest record we have is our photo gallery. Each and everyday somebody would take a photo of you and Daddy would put in onto the website. Over the course of your first twelve months we managed to do this every day so that we now have a full photographic record of your first year.

Looking back on this, even now we cannot believe how much you have grown in such a small amount of time. Mummy and Daddy are so pleased that they decided to do this, and cannot thank the people who helped enough. I am sure when you are a little older, and over the embarrassment of it all that you will be able to thank those that helped.

We hope that you enjoyed your first birthday, and you can look back on your first year with fondness as Mummy and Daddy have being doing already!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I hadn't realised it had been so long, but my last blog was on the 21st November, when I wrote about preparations for the move. It now seems so long ago!

Having now been in the house for the past three weeks, we appear to be settled and overly familiar with our new(ish) surroundings.

The move, despite a microwave falling from the van and rolling halfway to Woodlands Park went without hitch. Such was the efficiency of the whole operation we were in the British Legion Club in Gillingham for 1.30 in time for a couple of very well earned pints.

By the time I had got home after the game, the boxes had all been unpacked, furniture placed and as a visitor you would never have known we had just moved in. All that remained was the discovery of Oliver eating the fake coal from the new fireplace which was also all around his face and newly washed pyjamas!

With the move coming so close to Christmas and Oliver's birthday plans we haven't really managed to find time for a house warming party. I am sure that come January, when everyone is a little poorer we will arrange something to pass the time.

As for the flat, it is still ours, and looking really rather bare. Stephanie hasn't quite managed to take a look at it whilst it has been empty and she probably won't, but I had to go back whilst I was off and fix a few things here and then ready for the new people to move in, which we hope will be at the beginning of January.

I do have some photos taken of the house before and after we moved in, similar to the ones I took when we moved into Pioneer Court, which I will put up at some point. I need to do them rather quickly, as there is so much stuff I need to add in the next few weeks!

Not only is Christmas and the New Year just around the corner but Oliver will be celebrating his very first birthday. I wanted to get him a Millennium Falcon builders kit from the Lego store, but Stephanie said he was too young, much to my dismay, but we still had loads of fun spending.

I love Toys r Us, and could probably spent £1,000's on myself, let alone Oliver. It is the same with hundreds of websites displaying "boys toys" and the like. We managed to restrain ourselves and brought a bundle of stuff which we then split randomly into birthday and Christmas gifts.

Oliver's birthday next week will also see the end of my "365 Year in the Life" project, which has been remarkably challenging. It has been a massive success and I am incredibly glad that I have done it. I will go into more details when it is finally over, but I really must thank everyone who has taken a photo and contributed so much to a unique and exciting addition to the site.

Before I sign off another rambling entry and haven't mentioned to you personally about our birthday plans for next week, we will be at Monkey Bizz on Sunday from 1pm, and will be having a tea party for Oliver on Friday from around 4pm. We will of course love to see you there and apologise sincerely if we have forgotten anyone we should have invited.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Back to the Future

It has been a while coming, but this weekend will see us finally moving home.

When we spoke about the possibility of moving back to my parents house back in May or June of this year it was something that came about out of the blue and caught Stephanie and I by surprise.

At first it seemed like a brilliant idea, and having talked it through we decided that it was the best and most logical way forward for us. More than anything, it was an opportunity we couldn't turn down.

We started the Tower Homes selling process just prior to going to Mexico, around the same time that Mum and Dad moved to their new home. Selling through Tower, although great if they can find you a buyer is a frustrating time if they can't, which unfortunately was the case for us.

From the end of September, beginning of October we have been working at the new house in order to get things ready for us when we finally get there. In converting Craig's old room into a nursery and adding some colour to to the walls in my parents old room, we have managed to add a little "Adam, Stephanie and Oliver" to the house, which will be a big psychological help when we finally move in.

In fact, I can probably say that by spending time at the new house, working on it and being there weekend after weekend has actually had an impact on me already. I do feel that I am working on my house, and it does feel like home already.

However, Stephanie, being with Oliver at the weekends whilst I have been working has not had this benefit, so for her it is still "Adams Mum and Dad's House", which, until we are in and settled over a period of time will continue to be so.

Even so, the opportunity for us right now is a great one as I have already mentioned. We will be able to settle some roots down, knowing that potentially we can be in the new house for the next twenty to thirty years. The flat, which we are gutted to be leaving was never a permanent dwelling for us, we always knew that we would be leaving at some point, but never knew when or for how long.

Oliver will now have a garden in which to play, and to learn the skills to fulfil his Oliveria Birdinho prophecy, as well as being more local to better primary schools, which ultimately us more important than anything else.

We have had great times at the flat, it was our first home together and Oliver was conceived and spent the first year of his life there. Sentimental feelings I know, but nevertheless, it will be hard to say goodbye, particularly for Stephanie who is slightly more nervous about the future than I am. However, I can look back at the good times I had growing up, and bring them back to the future with me as I go back to my childhood as an adult and build new memories for myself and my own family.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

My Footbal Club - My Arse

I am a Gillingham Fan, first and foremost. But I am a massive follower of football, and so take note of all the goings on around the footballing globe, from non-league to more recently MSL (and yes, because of Mr Beckham's influence).

I had therefore, obviously heard about the idea of a group of people putting a website together and coming up with the idea of getting enough "supporters" together to buy a club and run it.

Being a web thing, you would have thought that would have been right up my street being a bit of a geek (according to most). However, reading various articles around the footballing blogosphere, it became clearer in my own mind what a crazy idea this really was.

I shall not go into depth here, but you can read more from the horses mouth by visiting myfootballclub.co.uk

However crazy I thought the idea was, I was never for it, or particularly against it, as it was always in my mind that some random team would be the eventual guineas pigs and I could watch the ensuing chaos from afar.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read today that myfootballclub had brought a controlling share in Ebbsfleet United!

Having already in 2007 made one bizarre decision by changing their traditional name of 100 years from Gravesend and Northfleet to Ebbsfleet United (after an unfinished train station), today's news brings another chapter of change in an attempt to finally break into the football league.

Admittedly I am a fuddy duddy when it comes to football tradition, but still, I agree with change when change is due, the current team and management restructuring at Gillingham at the moment is refreshing and welcoming. But this idea is, in my eyes, unsavoury and unwelcome.

Ebbsfleet United will for the foreseeable future be spurred on by the publicity that this "innovation" will no doubt bring, but whether any success is gained from it we will always have to wait and see.

The longer that it takes for any success to materialise the quicker that the members of myfootballclub will lose interest. Without any interest of the 'supporters' what happens then? The true and traditional supporters of Ebbsfleet are then left with a shell of an experiment gone wrong.

Ebbsfleet and prior to that Gravesend and Northfleet have been a slowly progressive club, nothing was ever built in a day, and the model that Ebbsfleet had been working too had bit by bit made inroads, into what is their ultimate aim, league football for the first time at Stonebridge Road.

I hope that this isn't just a whim based around a fashionable internet fad and that there is some longeivity in the idea. Maybe Ebbsfleet United's goal in bringing League football will materialise quicker than the anticipated, but how far realistically can they go? Like Gillingham the fan base will be fickle and all the time that the Fleet are in ascendancey the attendance fiqures will grow, but just as soon as the momentum stops and the rot sets in, those people dissapear pretty quickly, as again will the interest of the myfootballclub members.

I was an occasional visitor to Stonebridge Road from time to time, as Ebbsfleet United are my local club, but I won't be going there again unless Gillingham have the misfortune to be playing them for whatever reason. I would rather visit a proper football club, like Dartford or Dover, whom have their own ambitions, but are willing to work hard and seek the rewards of their investments by traditional (and more honest) methods.

Kent football needs another club to be within the football league, it would be great for the county, but it doesn't need a club like Ebbsfleet United who appear to be motivated by greed, and "getting rich quick". I am not aiming anything at the supporters and they will support eleven players on the pitch whether they are in the Premier League or the Blue Square South. They have been there for long enough and that is exactly the reason why I hope that this idea has a relevancy of success, or if it is destined to fail, doesn't fail spectacularly.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Day in the life of a ten month old


Today me and my cousin Indigo went shopping with Nanny Tracey! Here is a photo of us!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

More Gillingham FC Classics

Another collection of Gillingham related YouTube Videos for you to enjoy!

Firstly, the season when we went from really, really rubbish to record breakingly good!


Then, a few years later, after the heartbreak of Manchester City, we finally did it - made it to the Championship!


Two years prior to being really, really bad, we were much worse. In fact, we nearly went out of the league full stop. Here is the match that saved us - which is the first time I have seen this, being in Spain at the time! I remember listening to the world service for the results - our lives before the web!


This was, my all time favourite Gillingham game prior to our playoff exploits! Was the whole reason I got my Harvey Lim online moniker!


Before my time the Sunderland playoff exploits, but again YouTube has helped fill some Gillingham related gaps! The Rainham End looks mental when the goals go in!


After all the highlight, why am I including last season? Well we actually scored some pretty good goals! Spot the best ones here!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The Apprentice

DIY in the Bird family, as a rule does not come naturally. I remember my Gramps decorating more than one room for us when were kids, if not it was his friend 'Simo'. Dad's philosophy was always to get somebody in, whilst my Mum would always go ahead and do it anyway as it was always too expensive to get someone in professionally.

When we painted the flat it was always a simple affair as the walls were brand new and so along with the ceilings and woodwork required no attention. All was required was for either Stephanie or I to paint! Painting is fairly simple as far as DIY goes, and we didn't come across too many problems.

I did attempt to put up some shelving prior to Oliver's room becoming the nursery and as a result drilled into possibly the only place in the whole flat that was undrillable due to some kryptonite, or equally Impenetrable material being placed behind the plasterboard.

Decorating the new house therefore is a somewhat higher level of DIY to my very limited comfort zone.

Our two projects we have set ourselves to complete prior to us moving in is to redecorate the new nursery and to recolour two walls in mine and Stephanie's new room.

The new house is actually far from new and is probably over 70 years old, so the nursery has had it's fair share of wear and tear. In my memory I can remember what the room looked like when we moved in, then when Gramps decorated it turning it into a pink palace for my sister, then again 10 years later into something fit for a stroppy teenager. Since Jessica moved out it became home to Craig, but pretty much remained the same the whole time he was there.

There are things I can do, and can do fairly efficiently, removing wallpaper is one! Taking down lightshades and curtain poles is the other! But once you have the bare shell of the room, making it look like a creation from Property Ladder or DIY SOS is not quite so simple.

Luckily I have been fed lots of advice from lots of different people, mainly from the two Wenham men whom have been around helping me whilst feeding me more information and tips than Handy Andy and Sarah Beeney combined.

Tips and information is great and massively appreciated, but when you have a fatally flawed DIY genetic disorder putting it into practice is another matter.

Last weekend I had a practical demonstration in the arts of: filling holes in walls, removing radiators, sanding woodwork, relocating the position of light fittings in ceilings, filling up holes in ceilings where light used to be, undercoating, preparing woodwork for glossing and a whole manner of other things!

I like to try and do the things that I have been shown, and have had two patient teachers who are happy to share the their tips! Although I do get frustrated when it doesn't quite look right or keeps going wrong. I don't like having to get people to do things for me as I feel guilty standing around watching, but as I was told over the weekend you only learn by trying!

Still, I have the smallest room of the house in which to practice and hone my new found skills before Stephanie allows me to be unleashed on the rest of the house!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Blast from the past!

It has been a long time since 24 season 6 finished, and I still haven't had the boxset yet, instead deciding to wait until Christmas.

However, on one of my recent web treks I come across the countdown for season 7 trailer, which will be released in a week's (from now) time!

Click here for the link!

What makes this link even more interesting is that it gives you a very sneak synopsis of series 7 - CTU disbanded, set in Washington and the biggest shock for Jack is the return of an old friend whom he thought was dead....

If it is who I am 99% certain it is, then season 7 cannot come quick enough!!!!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Carlisle 0 - Gillingham 4

Gillingham face a long trip north this Saturday as they head to Carlisle, where last season they fell to a 5-0 defeat.

It has not always been an unhappy hunting ground, as this video from the YouTube archives shows!
*Note, that the first goal, is a typical Gillingham effort, which is one of the main reasons Priestfield attracts such numbers on a bi-weekly basis.



If your reading this from Facebook, you can click here instead to watch this clip.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Egg Chasing the Beautiful Game

A lot of talk around the blogosphere over the past few days has been about Rugby vs Football and the merits of either/or.

Being a massive football fan and not that interested in Rugby you would have thought that I would have stuck my flag firmly onto the football side of the argument.

The English Rugby team deserve all the plaudits that they are getting at the moment and in doing so highlight everything that is good about Rugby and everything that is bad about football.

This video from YouTube sums it up perfectly.



Based on such overwhelming evidence us football fans can hardly disagree that there are some fundamental flaws with the current state of the game.

However, here is another video, courtesy of YouTube to remind us why we fell in love with the beautiful game in the first place.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Full Steam Ahead

I have been without an internet connection at home now for nearly a week, and it really feels as if I am missing something vital from my life - it is a really sad state of affairs, but what would we do without the internet on a permanent basis?

For those waiting for Oliver's Year in the Life photographs they will be uploaded just as soon as Sky deliver me my new router, which we are unlikely to be able to pick up until Saturday!

In the meantime I can still blog from work, which is a little bit of a relief seeing as the new house has started to take vital importance in our lives right now.

Having been empty now for six weeks, and with our holiday and other things cropping up we haven't been able to get as 'involved' as we would like. There has also been a little bit of breathing space required to let Tower Homes market the property and let them find us a buyer, which in all honesty has been a complete disaster.

Considering that three properties have been sold over the past few months at Pioneer Court, Tower Homes will have already mailed their clients with a marketing pack for those three properties, those clients who were interested at the time will have already visited one of the three, so by the time ours come along the market had already been saturated. Despite my fairly convincing arguments (in my opinion) Tower have been resolute and we have been required to hold off for the full 8 weeks until we placed the property on the market.

I waited six, as I wasn't waiting any longer for nothing, and in the week that it has been up for sale we have had two fairly promising viewers, so watch this space!

In the meantime, work started this weekend in preparing the new house ready for our arrival, and as a typical Bird, I have wanted to make sure that it is warm and comfortable for my young (which includes being surrounded by twigs and dried leaves).

As it is my Mum and Dad's old house (and the place I grew up) we have devised a coping mechanism that will hopefully prevent any strangeness when we finally get to move in. It is no longer 'Mum and Dad's old house', it is 'the New House', likewise Craig's old room is now the nursery and the spare room, is Oliver's new room etc.

With new names for everything, we have attempting to implement a few cosmetic changes which will hopefully add a little 'Adam, Stephanie and Oliver' and start the long process in making it our own.

We are going to knock down the wall in between the lounge and the dining room to create one big open space - did anyone see Mum's face just then???

Practically, we cannot make too many changes as a) we cannot seem to effect the houseprice too much as we don't own it yet, plus b) financially we want to save money in order to pay for solicitor fees etc when we finally do! So at the moment we are trying to think of cheap little ways in which we can make minor changes, and at the moment all that is involved is a little lick of paint here and there.

We are transforming Craig's old room, which as you know is now the nursery. This is where Oliver will be for now, and when he is ready to leave the cot we will have had his new room all decorated and he can have the big room, making the nursery available for.... another hatched egg we suppose!

I meant to take my camera around to the new house at the weekend just so I could take some before and after photos like I did with the flat, but I forgot, I am useless I know! But I will do and maybe one day when my internet connection is restored I can upload them! But we are in for a busy few months, and all being well we will be in the new house around about the first week of December whether we have found a buyer or not!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

October 1st - Bad Day For Driving

On October 1st 2006, a little (and slightly venomous) old lady reversed into the front of my car whilst coming out of her drive. Despite the fact that I had seen her coming and stopped to let her see me! Not particularly terrible in terms of damage or personal injury, but it was just so avoidable which makes it so damn annoying!

We are still awaiting the final outcome between the two insurance companies, so I probably cannot say too much, and I certain will refrain for expressing some of my more colorful views about this particular lady on the web!

However, fast forward exactly one year to October 1st 2007 and low and behold, Stephanie, sitting in traffic, hearing a horrible screeching of tyres whilst sitting in traffic on the Wainscott Bypass looks in her rear view mirror and sees a white van heading straight towards her.

Knowing that impact is imminent she braces herself and grabs hold of the steering wheel. The van swerves but still hits, quite hard, sending her forward into the car in front.

Luckily Stephanie remained unhurt, but our car had by all accounts seen better days! And so it proved, stuck in the outside lane unable to move and having to wait for a police removal vehicle in order to get off the road.

The person whom hit Steph was solely responsible, and again, I won't go into too much detail here, but the police have taken action and so all should be plain sailing as far as our insurance claim is concerned.

Even more fortunate for all concerned really is that Stephanie was on her way back from dropping Oliver off and not on her way there. She assured me that if the accident took place on the way to my mums she would have had no problems defying her whiplash injuries and firing a volley of expletives at the other person involved.

Despite the shock and visible discomfort of having fairly serious whiplash Stephanie is fine and well, and we had a conversation yesterday about how next year both of us, where possible will refrain from driving on October 1st.

Although it has to be said, since we have had our car (September 2005) we have had one piece of bad luck after another! Even prior to the venomous old lady from a year ago, we had the person who hit the rear of me whilst driving a stolen vehicle and apparently on the way back from some kind of robbery!

There was also the situation I found myself in when I woke up one morning, and saw that my car had been hit on the windscreen by some kind of jack, causing extensive damage to the windscreen and bonnet! Not even to mention the time when parked at the Knowle in Higham, a place which Stephanie and I thought was quite posh (as Higham goes), only for someone to smash the passenger window door in an attempt to nick Stephanies handbag from under the seat. They were very well rewarded for their efforts, and managed to make away with 12 pence and a blockbuster video card.

October 1st? Vauxhall Voodoo? Or just damn bad luck? Let's hope that's the last of it whatever it is!!!!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

La Época de Nuestras Vidas

Having been back from Mexico now for 10 days, posted Oliver's blog and three photo albums, I am still managing to find enthusiasm to write more words about our two week stay in Cozumel.

As I mentioned previously in Oliver's blog, we couldn't have wished for a better behaved baby, and as a result Steph and I were able to enjoy our holiday without stress or strain, really making the holiday what it was, along with the fantastic friends and family whom we travelled with!

We stayed at the Iberostar Cozumel, which is the best hotel I have ever stayed at on a package holiday. The vast hotel grounds and beautiful beach side setting gave it the 'paradise' ambiance that John and Nadine wanted for the perfect location for their perfect wedding.

However, one negative, certainly for us, but not for those who are not keen to explore was the hotels location geographically. Cozumel itself is a fairly small island, with one road that circumnavigates it, and would take you an hour by car to drive from beginning to end. As a result there is not a massive amount in terms of sites for tourists to see, and all are very worthwhile when you do.

For Stephanie and I, and for our mico-party (Pat, Colin, Carly, Joshua, Steve, Sue, Ken and Richard) we wanted to explore out and about and had a pre-trip itinerary of things that we wanted to do. Places such as Xcaret, Xel Ha, Chichen Itza are all located on the mainland and as a result required ferry trips over, which we anticipated beforehand. What was a surprise to us was that there are no coaches on the island and so we had to rely on taxi's for making our way around, particularly forward and back to the ferry port nearly every other day.

This wasn't at all tiresome and nobody complained about it as it was all hassle free, however it was something that by the end of the holiday had a cumulative effect on our spending budgets!

With that in mind, when asked about our hotel, it really is a amazing and I would recommend it again to anyone. However if you are a honeymooner or someone who is looking for a diving/water based holiday this hotel is extra suited to you. If you want to look around then book somewhere over on the mainland - purely to ease your travelling times.

Plenty of people in our group took advantage of the on site diving shop and came home with official PADI certificates and enjoyed amazing experiences under the sea with some of the world best coral reefs on the hotels doorstep, so there really was something for everyone.

With our excursions and days out, the two weeks in Mexico took me back to when I was a kid and rekindled some wonderful memories of holidays I had with my parents. Since I last went on holiday with them to Icmeler (Turkey), my holidays have invariably been for either a week or 10 days and consisted of staying in bed all day nursing hangovers before going back out for the night and getting hammered again!

When I was a kid I remember my holidays being lazy days around the pool, or the beach mixed in with days exploring and adventures climbing ancient monuments or hurtling down watershoots at breakneck speeds. Cozumel was exactly the same, although I was now in the role of mature grownup parent, but it was just as much fun! With Joshua and Bethany with us it was just as good watching the kids have a smile on their faces enjoying themselves then when it was me and Jessica all those years ago!

One thing that sticks in my mind, and a perfect example to emphasise the above point was Bethany jumping off the Cliff of Courage at Xel Ha. Richard and I wanted to visit the rope swing and the Cliff jumps so that we could notch up some man points and took Joshua and Bethany with us. The rope swing was suitable enough for kids Joshua and Bethany's age so we had some fun swinging into the water and swimming back to do it all over again. Joshua was a little frightened at first, but once we had sorted out the first swing and jump he was off again and again.

On our way to the Cliff Bethany said to me that she wanted to jump off it as well. I reminded her that she was very little and the Cliff was very big so she probably wouldn't want to do it, but I think some of Johns determination has rubbed off on her, as when we arrived at the top of the Cliff and looking down Bethany was standing next to me... white as a sheet.

I said to Bethany "It's high isn't it, why don't you go down there with Joshua and keep him company?", but she replied that she was "fine!". I tried to reassure her and remind her that she didn't have to and that nobody would mind if she didn't and that poor Joshua was getting lonely. Bethany, determined as she was did not budge! I started to worry and prepare for the fact that she was going to jump. Richard, whom had already leapt the 12m or so into the water below was waiting for the next person and treading water whilst watching for whoever would be next.

My last role of the dissuasion dice was to remind Bethany that she needed to jump as far out as possible to avoid any rocks, to keep her legs close to avoid losing her bikini and kick up as soon as she hits water. Despite this making Bethany slightly whiter she did not move an inch and in fact started to prepare herself to jump!

I threw her life jacket down to the still waiting Richard and moved out the way of Bethany. One quick look up at me, a hand pinching her nose and a quick prayer she was off!

As time slowed down and I watched her hurtling threw the air I managed to mutter a time lapsed "OH MY GOD", before she hit with a fairly impressive splash. Another three hours seemed to pass before she resurfaced and started swimming towards Richard.

Once she was safe and sound on land and making her way back towards me with a huge smile on her face in readiness for another leap. Each turn was not easy for me, wondering just what the hell John and Nadine were going to say when I told them that their daughter had been leaping from great heights in their absence!

All of the days out we had all had elements of enjoyment for the kids, just as it did for Jessica and me, something that I had missed in my previous few years holiday's that was rekindled and something that I hope will continue next time we are away with Oliver and the yet to be conceived Baby Bird mkII.

If it is the adventure and exploration of the days out that make a holiday it is the people you meet that add variety and something different. The Mexican people were warm, friendly and courteous, working hard day and night to ensure that our holiday was never short of entertainment. The staff at the Iberostar were to be found during the day arranging a full itinerary of activities from pool games, beach sports, recreational and sporting activities, dancing lessons and even Spanish classes!

The same people would then put on a two hour show in the evening that involved singing, dancing and audience participation games, which a few of our party were involved with. Even at the nightclub - open until 2am the Iberostar "Star Friend's" would be found letting their hair down and encouraging people to get up and dance along with them.

Pat (Stephanie's mum) had contrasting experiences of the nightly show, which in the main were very entertaining with the musical themes and entertaining dance shows. One night she was called up onto the stage and had to participate in the games that were arranged by the Star Friends and had to play a highly amusing game involving a couple of balloons and a series of quick fire sexual positions. Following that she had to play the female role in the final song of Dirty Dancing, including the iconic lift position at the end, which was made easier by three of the Star Friends lifting her onto her partners arms.

John tells me that he has the full performance on video, so I am hoping to get a copy for the website, or I may even post the YouTube link here, depending on it's whereabouts!

Her second experience was not quite so funny, with a fall during the Conga which meant a visit from the doctor, a couple of black eyes and the use of a wheelchair for the last two days of the holiday. Never one to let something like that effect her, Pat laughed along with the rest of us who said that Pat, when pushed along by Colin looked like the couple from Little Britain!

Despite all the stories that I could recount from Cozumel, we was there for a reason, and I have saved this for last as it is a suitable ending to this blog - and that is the wedding.

I wrote before we left that I was interested in how the wedding would go, whether or not being married on a beach would seem as if it was a 'real' wedding. I am happy to report that yes, it does, at no point at all did I not feel that I was anywhere other than a wedding ceremony!

Before the big day itself, which was on the first day of the second week, all the boys had been on a stag do to the main town in Cozumel and the girls had followed suit a couple of nights later. All the usual pre-wedding preparation had been made, mainly by John and Nadine, arrangements and meetings with the hotel staff so that they knew what was going to happen and when.

Nadine had beauty treatments, hairdo's and facials which resulted in a truly stunningly beautiful bride. All the things that one would do back home, but with the luxury of doing so in such wonderful weather and exotic location!

During the preceding few days John was hit by last minute nerves, which was a surprise to me, purely because he was getting married on a beach and for some bizarre reason I thought that only people who get married in church get nervous... strange rationale by me I know, not even sure where that idea came from to be honest!

The day itself came around quickly enough and it seemed rather strange at 4pm leaving the pool area from where we had spent most of the day to get ready for a wedding. Especially for Stephanie and Oliver whom had the same wedding outfits as they would have done if the wedding was back at home. I had a slightly adaptive outfit with linen trousers and sandals which I have been told was scruffy in the photographs since I have been back!

I went over to the beach and took a look before everybody got there for a photo opportunity. The arch from which John and Nadine would sign the wedding register was only a maximum of 2m away from the sea, which was calm and still adding another air of perfection to an already perfect setting.

The ceremony passed quickly, and was in Spanish with the aid of a translator, which for me wasn't much help, so my opinion of the ceremony is perhaps shaded, along with the fact that I had a restless Oliver sitting on my lap who was a distraction for the first and only time whilst we were away!

However, there is no mistaking the setting and the traditional values that were still evident, the bride, groom, bridesmaids, pageboys, best man and ushers all played their roles. Even the tears from the mothers were there and fighting it for all it was worth father!

As the photographs took place the sunset left the sky to transform into it's vast array of colours adding a dramatic backdrop to the occasion.

The sun disappeared very quickly, and so did the champagne that we all consumed leaving behind a romantic moonlight reflecting off of the sea. For sheer poetic ambiance and a dramatic stage in which to get married John and Nadine found the perfect place in which to become Husband and Wife.

Stephanie and I would obviously like to wish John and Nadine all the very best in their lives as husband and wife and would like to thank them for allowing us to be part of their very special occasion. We were all left with lots of cherished memories of our time in Cozumel, but the memories of their wedding day and the setting will be something that we will never forget.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Something different!

I saw this article on the SPAOTP football blog detailing the top 20 searches resulting in people visiting their site.

Having done a little research, here is the top 20 searches in which resulted in people finding this small part of the internet world!

1. adam bird
2. adambird
3. adambird.co.uk
4. www.adambird.co.uk
5. adam bird""
6. adam bird music
7. ebsfleet
8. first hatrick at the new wembley
9. adam bird football
10. adam's birds
11. adam+bird
12. charles w . chesnutt photos
13. diagram of wembley stadium
14. ebsfleet united fc
15. efe sodje and baby pictures
16. frannie collin legend
17. fueturventura
18. gillingham fc photos
19. how much does derek stillie united goalkeeper earn
20. is my unborn baby likely to be a boy or a girl

Monday, 17 September 2007

Ooooh Bambino

Mummy and Daddy wanted to say a big thank you for being such a good boy on your very first holiday! Daddy decided that he would write all about it so that you would be able to know exactly what you did and all of the things that you done.

For out very first family holiday Mummy, Daddy and you flew to Mexico along with Nanny Pat, Grandad Colin, Auntie Carly, and your cousin Joshua. We were going to Mexico especially to see Uncle John get married to Auntie Nadine, so lots of other people came along too, including Bethany, Sue, Steve, Ken and his son Richard and millions and millions of John and Nadine's friends.

Mummy and I were really worried about you and how you would handle spending ten hours on an aeroplane, but in the end we had nothing to worry about as you were a really good boy. We think that it must have all the excitement at flying for the very first time!

We were really lucky with the plane, as it wasn't full so there were plenty of seats around for you to sit down and watch the little tv in the seat in front, you were passed up and down sitting and playing on lots of peoples laps so that Mummy and I could have a rest!

One hiccup though Oliver, which may explain your headaches, or fear of flying in the future was your little tumble off the chair! We had just landed and both Mummy and I were hunting around for our bags when we heard a thump! We looked down and saw you on the floor under the chair in front! We are both really, really sorry!!!!

Despite you screaming briefly after your fall, we managed to alight into the heat of a hot Mexican afternoon, and I am sure that I saw a puzzled look on your face as if to say "Where the hell am I!".

Whilst seemingly waiting for what seemed eight hours to pass through Mexican customs we sat you on the terminal floor where you slid along the floor on your bottom, not really going anywhere! Two weeks later on the return home, we sat you down on the same floor and nearly had to run a mile to fetch you back, such was the amazing spurt of development you went through whilst we were away!

We really noticed your development having spent so much time with you in Mexico, where you learnt to "give me five", say "ta", pull yourself up onto EVERYTHING! You also made everybody laugh by pulling a bodybuilder pose and growling!

We stayed at the Iberostar Cozumel, which was a 30 minute transfer from the airport. We couldn't unpack fast enough and put you into your swimming shorts and see if you liked the pool. We had taken you swimming only once before, and you wasn't too keen on it. Too many children running around and splashing you in the eyes!

I carried you into the water, which at that time of the afternoon, was really, really warm! (I was really surprised at how hot it actually was!) As we went in, and your legs went into the water, you looked at me as if to say "hello, what are you doing?", but you must have quite liked it, as a big beaming smile came across your face, you lifted your hands in the air and brought them down into the water with an almighty splash! Recovering quickly from your own surprise you proceeded with a flurry of splashes which temporarily blinded me and made me choke whilst I was laughing so much!

The pool became your favourite place over the holiday, not only as a place to cool down from the intense heat, but as a playground, and a place to hangout with your homies at the bar!

That's right, the bar! If you was to have one lingering memory of Mexico, I am sure that it would be of that bar. As it was a swim up bar, the seats were under water, and it was just the right height for you to stand on one of the seats and hold on whilst the barmen went about their work. The bar itself was made of shiny blue stones, which you liked to play with and smack with your hands. If Mummy or I were looking for you and you wasn't in your pushchair asleep under an umbrella you were at the bar!

I am not too sure of the exact details of this story, and I personally blame Grandad, but over the course of the two weeks, whilst at the bar, you were at the bar with a shot glass. A little lime green one with "Senor Frogs" emblazoned on the side.

Now most of the time, you were drinking Sprite, although when I say drinking I meant missing your mouth altogether and spilling it all down yourself and into the pool! You were also seen quite happily doing the same with strawberry slush puppy and unfounded rumours of beer and tequila!

As I mentioned earlier, we were really amazed with your development over the course of the two weeks, and it was your crawling and moving around that caused us the most grief. We took with us a foldable tent, which we thought you could play in day after day. After two days it became worthless as five minutes after putting you inside you kept crawling right back out again!

When we were in our room, and we put you on the floor, you would crawl outside and onto the balcony, which caused us much panic. Being on the first floor, we thought that you may discover the steps and have a tumble or worse.

Even on the big double bed you caused us minor stresses by threatening to swan dive off the side. At one point you very nearly did until Mummy caught you and scratched your face in the process. You were left with a small crescent like graze on the side of your face for most of the holiday!

Although temporarily disfigured it didn't stop the locals from falling in love with you! To say that you were a hit with the ladies is an understatement!!! When Mummy and I went to swim with the Dolphins, and were in the shop collecting our photographs (we will take you one day, but you were watching with Nanny and Grandad as you were too small!), we took you with us to see them, and all the Mexican ladies who worked in the shop came over cooing "Oooh Bambino" and stroking you and doing the usual raspberry thing that people tend to do to babies!

One lady even took you off of us and gave you a big cuddle. At one point I thought she was going to run out the shop with you! Instead she placed you in with the Dolphin teddy bears, probably hoping that you would spoil one and make us pay for it!

On one of our trips out we visited a Mayan village, which was a very humbling and eye opening experience. Seeing so many young children with very little in terms of possessions and necessities that we take for granted such as running water and electricity was something Mummy and I will always remember.

As the footpaths were bumpy and strewn with rubble it was difficult for us to use your pushchair, so Mummy went around with the tour guide taking photographs, whilst you and I stayed back on the main road. Some of the mothers of the Mayan children, themselves carrying babies around your age came over to meet you. It isn't often (I imagine) that they have opportunities to meet blonde haired, blue eyed babies like you and so you became a little bit of a novelty to them. We had a couple of photographs together with them, but it became difficult due to you trying to pull a young Mayan babies hair, so we had to try and apologise and head back to the refuge of the tour bus!

Not only did you become a favourite with the locals, but also closer to home by becoming pals with John and Nadine's friends. "Hitman" Hiten became, along with Grandad your drinking partner at the bar, Lucy, Laura and Rachel were your water mermaids carrying you in the pool and everybody else at one point or another were giving you high fives, and the usual raspberry thing that people do to babies.

I started off this blog by saying thank you for being such a good boy, and you really, really were! It allowed us to fill our days with a range of varied trips and excursions, which all went so well.

As well as the trip to Chankanaab to swim with the dolphins and the Mayan Village which was part of the trip to Coba (ancient Mayan ruins), we also visited Xel Ha. The two trips to Coba and Xel Ha were over on the mainland, so we had two return ferry trips to Playa del Carmen, which you enjoyed both times. Although we were told that Coba was wheelchair (and pushchair) accessible, it proved to be otherwise.

As I mentioned above about the roads at the Mayan village,Coba itself was not much better. To get from site to site we employed the use of a taxi, which was basically a bespoke bicycle which had two seats welded to the front. You sat on our laps and had a great time as we were carried from site to site. With the wind in your hair giving you some much needed breeze and respite from the heat. We were originaly not going to book this trip as we were worried about the heat being too much, but apart from a few grumbles about being cooped up in your pushchair you was fine and enjoyed the day as much as the rest of us (although not Mummy as she was a bit too hot and bothered!).

Mummy and I's favourite trip with you was to Xel Ha, where you joined us on a trip down the lazy river. Despite a little disorganisation with the storage of all of our stuff and your pushchair, we made it to the river, with all three of us kitted out in life-jackets, including a very cute baby one just for you. I also had a snorkel, mask and flippers which proved to come in very handy.

Our transport down the lazy river was to be a dual inflatable ring, suitable enough for Mummy and I to sit in whilst carrying you on either of our laps. With the early start and ferry trip tiring you out the lazy nature of the river was just the tonic you needed in which to fall asleep! Luckily enough you managed to stay awake long enough for us to have our photograph taken from the riverbank, which is still Mummy and I's favourite holiday picture!

One thing we didn't realise was just how long this 'lazy' river was! With you asleep in the hot morning sun we thought it would be a good idea to get out pretty sharpish, so I had to use my flippers to swim us back to the nearest exit - 140 miles away! I couldn't get off the ring just in case I caused the ring to topple over and in the process dunk you and mummy in the cold water! So I had to half lay on the ring and half lay in the water and use my flippers to get us back. Despite many comments on my 'flipping' technique, I managed to get us back, you out and in the safe sanctuary of your pushchair before you got burnt!

The rest of the day passed without too much drama, and you enjoyed more water activity later on that afternoon with Mummy and Auntie Carly, whilst I went off tombstoning with Bethany, Joshua and Richard!

If your days in Mexico were varied and spent having so much fun, your nights were a little less active. By the time that Mummy and I were ready to go out and meet Nanny, Grandad and the others for dinner and post dinner show, you were already fast asleep!

If, on the rare occasion that you weren't already asleep, you would join us at the dinner table in the high chair and munch upon, or play with a bread roll. We would then put you in your pushchair, take a short stroll around the complex ready for you to drift off asleep. Whilst we watched the show you would be parked in an aisle underneath a mosquito net far, far away in the land of nod!

You have been a very lucky boy to have been to such an amazing place so early in your life, but the biggest shame is that you are unlikely to remember much about it at all. We hope that one day you may read this and get a better idea of your first holiday abroad!

Mummy and I spoke about our holidays when we were children and I was 13 before I went abroad and on an aeroplane for the first time, so I have some really good memories of my experience. Mummy was a little younger and cannot remember too much. But she can hardly remember her name sometimes, so I wouldn't worry about that too much!

We hope that in the future we are able to take you on more holiday's that this time you will remember and maybe you can write your memories here for us all to read!

So so very very sleepy...

Last year Stephanie and I went to Fuerteventura for a week and I managed to write the longest blog in the world.

I don't think that I will make the same mistake this year and instead will write some smaller ones retrospectively.

The nine hour overnight flight from Mexico has hit the three of us for six! Poor Oliver has not made things any easier for either of us by waking up at midnight and wanting to play for two and a half hours! Despite our impassioned pleas we were unable to convice him otherwise, and so had to spend the time blowing raspberries and allsorts - rather halfheartedly it must be said!

Now writing this at 3pm feels like midnight and that I really ought to go to bed. With so many photos to add and some stories to tell, it will probably be a little while until I feel a little less tired! The last time I was affected by jetlag was on my return from Las Vegas. I was in bed everynight for a week by 9pm, but doubt whether I will be able to afford that luxury this time around!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

In for the Long Haul

Some girls have dreams of big white weddings, whilst some dream of big weddings in pink. Others have different dreams, of sun, of sea and a romantic union on a white sanded beach.

2007, year of the wedding sees Stephanie, Oliver and I attend our third wedding of the year, a completion of catalogue of weddings that will see all three girls having their dreams fulfilled.

After Nicola's wonderful white wedding and my sister's amazing pink parade we are packing our suitcases and leaving for Mexico on a two week trip to paradise where we will witness Steph's brother John and his fiance Nadine become husband and wife.

John and Nadine, long time partners are two peas in a pod. Both have a love for the exotic and are both sporty inclined. Enter John and Nadine's house and you will be sat petrified in the corner as two lizardy/iguanary creature type things sit looking at you licking their chops in anticipation of perhaps eating you for lunch or chewing upon a limb as a snack.

John with his rugby and beer swilling chums engaging in macho rivalries at who is most "man" whilst Nadine is no soft spot and can be equally as competitive and is probably the fittest (in terms of athletic build) person I know!

It came as no surprise then that the two of them, with their love for travel and John's passion for diving chose Mexico as the place in which to get married. Indeed, choosing Cozumel over Cancun, with it's more Mexican feel and less commericalised appeal matches their outlook on appreciating another countries culture whilst ensuring that that everyone still has unlimited access to accepted treats such as beer and vodka!

Organising a wedding is globally recognised as one of the most stressful experiences a person has to endure in a lifetime. So let's consider the following: The invitation of friends and family to a wedding abroad, finalising numbers, finding a location that matches the numbers, booking and paying for those xx amount of people, a force 5 hurricane hitting the location the week before you go!

Hurricane Dean's arrival last week sent shivers of panic to all of us going next week, but for John and Nadine it must have just increased the stress levels by about 500%! Luckily for them, and the Cozumel islanders, the hurricane avoided the main tourist areas, and hit the coast of Mexico a couple of hundred mile south of where we are going. Obviously our prayers are with those people affected, and hope that normal life resumes as soon as possible.

Being part of Facebook, and assigning a Facebook group to all of us who are going next week meant that we could all share news and updates with everyone and collectively share a sigh of relief when John found out the good news last night that the hotel will be resuming business as usual on Friday!

Whether it be fate, luck or a combination of both, last nights news was met with joyous scenes akin to that of an England try at Twickenham (I am going for as many rugby metaphors as possible to try and fit in with John and his mates ready for next week!)

It also meant that we could all get very very very excited all over again!

I have never been to a wedding abroad, but I too would love to get married on a beach so I am very interested in seeing how this goes. I am particularly looking forward to finding out whether or not the ceremony feels like a "real" wedding, in that when you go to a church, your quite aware, that with the vicar and the choir and all that goes with a church wedding that two people are getting married. Having seen countless movies and TV shows where people are married in similar circumstances you are always shown the vows and the I do's so your only giving a condensed version of events.

However, the ceremony itself is going to be spectacular! Starting around 5.30pm, the temperature will be slightly warmer, and the sun will be setting as it all gets underway. With the white sands, and turquoise sea can you picture a more perfect setting?

The wedding obviously is the key focus for those two weeks, but it is also a chance for Steph and I to have two weeks quality time with Oliver. There will be around 50 or so of John and Nadines friends and family, so we won't be short of baby sitters if we want to have some quality time together! With Stephanie and I working and Stephanie having to work most Saturday's, Sunday's are our only real days when we can relax, have fun and do things as a family.

Having Oliver with us on a trip of this scale has meant a whole new experience when it comes to preparation. Last year and in years gone by my holiday preparations would be "Doh! Going on holiday next week!", shoot to Bluewater, spend £xxxxx.xx pounds on Speedo's and suncream before bunging it all in a suitcase and finding a creased up mess at the other end.

With Oliver, it is a WHOLE new story! Sun cream, tents, parasols, food, nappies, dummies, bodysuits, wedding suits, sleeping suits, shorts, t-shirts, mosquito nets, toys, food, the list is endless! Stephanie, to her upmost credit has been on the ball straight away and has been preparing for the last nine months, but it means that their is no room in our luggage allowance for any of our stuff! It does therefore answer our post holiday question in why in our holiday photos Stephanie and I are wearing the same thing, every night and every day for the 14 days we were away!

With so many people going, and three of them enjoying birthday's whilst we are away it gives Stephanie and I an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy a laugh with those we already know. As I mentioned above, with John and his friends being ultra competitive it will be interesting to see the final "man points" table. I have probably accepted my place on the bottom, but doesn't mean I am not going to have fun trying... and most probably embarrassing myself in the process!

One thing is for certain - it is going to be an amazing two weeks, and a hell of a huge blog on my return!

One final note, before we head off to the land of Tequila and Corona, is a thank you note.

To Pat and to Colin, without which Stephanie, Oliver and I probably wouldn't have been able to enjoy the next two weeks together as a family, and join the celebrations. It goes without saying how grateful all three of us are, and we thank you with the bottom of our hearts.

Related Links:
Iberostar Cozumel
Cozumel Insider
Chichén Itzá
Xel-Ha
Tulum
This is Cozumel
Xcaret

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Part Rent/Part Buy 2 Bedroom Flat For Sale

Stephanie and I are delighted to officially announce that we are selling up and moving!

For those who don't know, we have very fortunately been offered the opportunity to buy my Mum and Dad's house, whom themselves are moving on to pastures new.

As a result of this domestic upheaval, our flat for the past three years (nearly) is now up for sale.

Our current property is part of a Part Rent/Part buy scheme, whereby we own part of our property whilst the other part is owned by a housing agency. We then pay a rent amount on the outstanding share.

This scheme proved invaluable to Stephanie and I, as it gave us an affordable step onto the housing ladder, one which again we are entirely grateful for. Both Stephanie and I highly recommend this method of entering the housing market and are glad to be able to offer someone else a route to the aforementioned housing ladder.


Pioneer Court

Property Details:
- Lounge
- Kitchen - fitted with beech effect wall and base units and cooker, spaces for fridge freezer and washing machine.
- 2 bedrooms, one with a fitted cupboard
- Bathroom/W.C fitted with white suite
- Cloakroom, and laundry cupboard

Location:
- 5 minute walk to Train Station
- Close to local schools
- Close to Gravesend Town Centre

Other facilities include:
- Gas fired Central Heating (not tested)
- Double Glazing
- Allocated parking space
- Communal Garden
- Wood effect laminate flooring throughout
- All rooms decorated except for lounge

Due to our agreement with Tower Homes, the property has been valued at £155,000 and as a result we are unable to be flexible in our asking price!

With the part buy/part rent initiative in place, the minimum purchase amount is 50% (£77,500), with an additional amount of £217.66 per month being paid in rent. There is also an additional service charge (as in the norm with flats). The only criteria that is asked of an applicant by Tower Homes is that you earn £26,350 (single income) or 30,050 (joint income).

For further information on part buy/part rent please visited the Tower Homes website.

If anyone reading this is interested in viewing the flat with a view to maybe buying it from us, please email me at adamdbird@gmail.com to make necessary arrangements.

Stephanie and I have loved living together at Pioneer Court and we would really love to sell to another young couple who want to start a life together. Who knows maybe another Oliver will be conceived at number 1 Pioneer Court!

We are both looking forward to the next part of our lives together back at Cross Lane East. It is certainly going to be a weird one for me to start off with, living back at my parents, sleeping in my Mum and Dad's old room, Oliver growing up in my old room as well!

However, it is a brilliant move for all three of us, Oliver will have more room and more importantly a garden in which to hone his Oliveria Birdinho footballing skills! Whats more, we now have opportunity to grow some roots for the next 10 years or so, grow as a family and find some settled financial footings in our lives. Maybe we will even be able to get married!

There is one negative side to all of this - our dodgy neighbours! We will be in very close proximity to Will and Olivia, Sarah and Jamie, and Shirley and Terry (Stuart's mum and Dad). We will certainly not have to worry about borrowing a cup of sugar!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

And Now Your Gonna Believe Us!

They say a week is a long time in football, but 94 days (at time of writing) since Gillinghams last league game has felt like an eternity.

Every other year we have England's hype and failure to tide us over, but this year has been dull, absolutely nothing to keep us football fans remotely occupied. OK there was the Copa America, but the competition is so badly organised and matches repeated it hardly becomes watchable.

In those 94 days we have seen some wholesale changes at the Gills, with Danny Spiller, Matty Jarvis, Michael Flynn, Frannie Collin, Brent Sancho, Danny Jackman, Leon Johnson, Luke Howell, Clint Easton and Ben Chorley all leaving the club.

With so many player departures, including arguably our two best players (Jarvis and Flynn), I was slightly concerned that we would be struggling to field a starting XI this season, let alone a competitive one!

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally came out and said that failure this season would not be an option and that the club would be signing 15 new players, each game next season will be treated like a cup final!

So far, Mr Scally has been true to his word with the club signing 9 new players, with hints, rumours and speculation that a few more are still to join. Starting at the back, which was clear to everyone last season that major surgery was needed saw Simon Royce and Derek Stillie both join the club,. Stillie being remembered as the opposition goal keeper on the day Gillingham beat Wigan at Wembley to reach the Championship for the very first time.

In defence, Craig Armstrong rejoins the club from Cheltenham after his successful loan spell earlier on in his career, along with Simon King from Barnet, who Gillingham actually paid a fee for - the first time I can remember a fee being paid for a transfer for some time! Finally, Efe Sodje, the flamboyant, bandanna wearing centre-half joined us on a free transfer from Southend United.

In midfield, we are joined by Barry Cogan, who came on as a substitute for Milwall against Manchester United in the FA Cup final a couple of years ago and Aaron Brown, whom I am glad to say doesn't look anything like Steph's sister's former boyfriend who goes by the same name! However, the real star signing of the pre-season so far is that of Northern Ireland international Steve Lomas, whom has played Premiership football for Manchester City and West Ham, and in the Championship for QPR last year. He is a real solid professional, whom looked the part last week in a friendly match against Colchester United. I have real hopes for him next season, and I think he is the player we have been looking for in terms of bridging the gap in between midfield and defence, which was so clearly missing last season.

Last but not least, a new striker making up the magic nine, with Delroy Facey signing on the dotted line, a player it seems who can score goals at this level, indeed scored 12 goals last season in a relegated side (Rotherham United), and counts Bolton Wanderers as one of his former clubs.

With such upheaval on the pitch, changes have also been made to the coaching team, with all time legend and Mark and Nicola's best friend Iffy Onuora becoming 1st team coach teaming up with Ronnie Jepson, to make up which is arguably Gillingham's most qualified management team, with both men having the highest Uefa qualification at their disposal. Also joining the back room team is Scott Fitzgerald who joins as Youth Team boss, and Jim Stannard, another Gills legend becoming part time goalkeeper coach.

The clean sweep approach has been needed for some time and so far I am very happy with how it has come about and the players Ronnie has signed. A few more players will be the cherry on top, particularly cover in midfield and upfront and my optimism level will shoot off the radar! David Graham is rumoured to be signing (ed: 08/08/07 has now signed!), and if we can rehabilitate Adebayo Akinfenwa and get him to repay the favour by signing a contract we will have two great acquisitions to the forward line, on par with any in our league.

All football fans are gripped with pre-season optimism and I am no different. I am keeping those thoughts to myself for now, and am trying to put my best pundit hat on here, hence my following prediction.

With the signings that we have made we should be a lot better equipped this time around for a sustained challenge, but I can see us missing out - just, but having a lot better (and successful) go next year.

Patience throughout August and early September is crucial, as the team is brand new, and needs to time to gel. Having said that, back in 1995 when Paul Scally appeared seemingly from a puff of smoke, appointed Tony Pulis who signed a whole new team, only weeks before the season started won each of the first four games, and only the fifth was a lucky 1-0 defeat to Colchester United on our patch (Which I blame my mum for because inexplicably she came to the game and we lost... so rule #1, never take your Gills hating mother to football).

Whatever happens, thousands of people will end up delirious come May, and thousands will end up in tears, but most will just be thinking if only.... but will the Gills be singing? Here's hoping!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A Day to Remember!

Wow! What a day Jessica and James's wedding turned out to be! I knew that it was going to be a great day, but I never realised just how good it was going to be!

First off, I owe my sister an apology.

From her description of things, I had visions of Jessica and James's wedding being a dodgy version of Peter Andre and Jordan's! I will hold my hands firmly up in the air and say how wrong I was! The reality is, that all the things I raised my (rather excessive) eyebrows at all turned out to be really nice touches! For example love heart sweeties on all the tables, which added an air of romance to the proceedings (if there wasn't enough already)! Passing "I love you" messages and "email me" to the girl on the next table made pulling for single fellas a little bit easier!

It must actually be said, the wedding very well nearly never happened! Jessica met Stephanie at the flat and together they walked into town to have their hair done. When they came back, Jessica pulled away right into the path of an oncoming car! If it had been 10 seconds later, impact would have unavoidable!

If that little near miss was slightly hairy, the next automobile catastrophe ended up being simply embarrassing. Driving to the church with your Father, ready to marry the man of your dreams, in a pink Cadillac is a picture straight out of a fairytale. However, the clutch going and being stranded at the top of a fairly major hill on a busy roundabout is a brides worse nightmare!

Us Bird's can take more of a step back than a broken clutch to rustle our feathers and so it proved as Jessica and Dad arrived at the church in the bridesmaid's car which had gone back to rescue them both.

It was at this very point, when I saw Jessica in her dress for the very first time I had the answer to the question I posed last time around when I said

"Weddings are emotional occasions, at least if you are a woman, I have never really understood why myself, but I think I am going to find out at Jessica and James's wedding!"
Seeing my sister in her dress, a smile a mile wide and looking, I must say absolutely beautiful brought a lump to my throat. A huge sense of pride and a realisation that yes, my little sister was getting married and that she wasn't really my little sister anymore. She was a fine young women who was about to embark on the greatest day of her life.

Women are emotional at weddings, but so are the men, and so it proved time after time throughout the course of the day. My last wedding (before Nicola and Mark's) was years ago and so I was writing on a childhood memory. The reality is, and Nicola and Mark's wedding was proof as well, that marriage is not just a piece of paper. It is far from it. Marriage is the joining of people into a commitment of a life long relationship and a bond that binds not just the Brides with the Grooms, but one family to another. It is a time where raw and honest feelings are displayed and spoken about at the alter and in after dinner speeches. People are remembered and everyone takes a glance backward as well as looking long into the future.

Every wedding is different, and Jessica and James's wedding was no exception. The church service, was for some people a completely new experience. King's Church Medway, is not a 'normal' church, in the sense that you don't walk into a cavernous room, with high ceilings and an organ playing solemnly in the background. You walk into to be greeted by big colourful banners draped from the ceiling and the word's "Jesus Christ is Lord" across the back wall. An overhead projector with the song words displayed as a band plays live music in 'worship' to Jesus.

It may not have been everyone's "thing", but what was important that it was Jessica and James's. Sharing their day with family and friends, celebrating in the way that they believe is right. Being married by Jessica's uncle, being prayed for by people who personally know them, and joined in the congregation by many members of the church the whole ceremony had a very unique and a very personal stamp upon it, which was for me truly amazing and gave it something extra special.

Running around, doing Usher duties, coping with Stephanie having a "turn" and booking into the hotel room left me a little bit flustered (and very sweaty) and took me a little while to relax and chill out at the reception. Once we had sat down for our meal I had finally settled down and was decidedly peckish! Out came our starters, which was a salmonly/seafoody thing, which I thought "great, cos Steph don't like Salmon!" So I ate mine, then Stephs, which was accompanied by a bread roll, and seeing as Oliver was at the table and cannot eat bread rolls I had his too. Being greedy is not a particular pleasant vice, and I was soon in receipt of my comeuppance. I was unaware that we were not having a 3 course meal, but 4! So after our salmony/seafoody thing we were brought out bowls of soup! So by the time the main course arrived, I was unable to move and my very tight wedding suit was ready to burst!

I have already spoken about the emotional impact weddings have on people and the after dinner speeches were a key part of this, but they were also a great laugh and 'Lovey', James's best man did a great job in combining the two perfectly. As I said last week to Stuart and Gareth, who also did an equally fine job - it is one of the hardest jobs a bloke ever has the privilege to do, and Lovey's speech was delivered so well. A mention must go to my nan here, when asked if she enjoyed the speeches she said "oh, yes they were great, I couldn't hear a thing, I laughed and clapped when everyone else did, but couldn't hear a word!"

It is at this point things start to get hazy! A few glasses of wine, a couple of glasses of champagne, topped up with lager and JD and Coke! I had the sense to drop my camera back to the room before I lost it, but throughout the course of the night I had various conversations with people, most of which I cannot remember! If anyone is reading this and had a conversation with me that consisted of me talking a load of random nonsense I do apologise!

I do remember LOTS of people dancing, and Jessica murdering number after number on the Karaoke! I nearly ended up making a further arse of myself with an Oasis track along with Will, but for some very fortunate reason we never got a chance to sing!

I would like to end this blog entry by wishing Jessica and James all the very best in their new lives together, and would like to thank everybody coming and making the day what it was. Many thanks must also go to my mum and dad, along with James's mum for all the hard work they put in with the arrangements and everything else that comes with arranging a wedding.

Monday, 16 July 2007

A Tale of Two Brides

Steadily creeping up on us, and here before we know it are the two 'weddings of the year'. The first one, this Saturday, will see our good friends Mark and Nicola become Mr and Mrs Pattision, followed by Jessica and James the following week.

Mark and Nicola having been together for nearly as long as Stephanie and I have, and it is going to be a real pleasure watching them become husband and wife. I said it about Will and Olivia when they got engaged and it applies too with Mark and Nicola, some things are pre-destined and meant to be.

For Jessica, she will be marrying James, her true knight in shining armour, who came along when she least expected it and has become a model husband in waiting and a father the girls can be proud to call Daddy.

Mark and Nicola's wedding will offer Stephanie and I the first opportunity to see first hand one couple in our circle of friends get married, and over the next 18 months will be joined in holy matrimony by Mr and Mrs Buckby and Mr and Mrs Wickens. We have all pretty much, since school grown up with each other, and various landmarks in our lives have been done in or around each other, which is hardly a case of follow my leader, but a group of peers growing up, growing old and doing the things that every other 20 something couple or group of friends are also doing.

Not only will Mark and Nicola see the first couple out of our circle get married, it will also see the first best man's speech, or in this case the best men's speech as responsibilities are going to be shared by Gareth and Stuart. I am sure that they must be nervous as hell about giving a speech in front of so many people, but luckily for both of them they are not on their own and if anything does (not that it will!) go wrong they blame the other one!

The wedding day is obviously all about the women but I am glad that Mark has stamped a little of his influence over proceedings with the reception at Gillingham Football Club! I am looking forward to hopefully grabbing a five minute wander onto the Rainham End and warm my seat up ready for the new season! Mark has suggested that we see if he, Reaso and I can have a photo of the three of us perched on our seats, which will be awesome if it happens, and will be slightly strange all suited and booted!

Stephanie, Oliver and I would obviously love to take this opportunity to wish Mark, and Nicola the very best of luck for their big day, and their future together.

Having not been to a wedding since I was about 14, it is ironic that I would end up going to two weddings on consecutive Saturday's! Only one week after Mark and Nicola tie the knot, my baby sister will become Mrs Shovelar, and fulfil her dreams of a beautiful pink wedding.

Weddings are emotional occasions, at least if you are a woman, I have never really understood why myself, but I think I am going to find out at Jessica and James's wedding! Seeing your little sister getting married by your uncle in a church packed full of people with strong religious vibes even if you are not that religious yourself promises to be quite an event. Not only that your girlfriend is going to be dressed to the nines in a bridesmaid outfit looking every inch the part!

Jessica, without doubt knows how she wants her wedding to be and everything has been arranged to her specification - pink! Cars, cakes, balloons, dresses, table cloths and tiara's are all a variation on pink! It promises to be a colourful extravaganza with no stone unturned!

Jessica and James's wedding promises to be a real wedding to remember, and I am really looking forward to all the family getting together. I cannot remember an occasion where all of Mum's side of the family and all of Dad's side of the family have been in the same place! Good job that we all get on!

It goes without saying therefore that Stephanie, Oliver and I would love to wish Jessica and James the very best in your future lives together as Mr and Mrs Shovelar. I am really proud of my little sister ,who had turned into a fine young woman and an amazing mum. It is also going to be a great pleasure officially welcoming James into the family and having him as a "bruvver from another muvver"... or something like that!

Monday, 9 July 2007

"Never in a million years"

After last weeks story about new footballing sensation Oliveria Birdinho, certain rumours have been flying around linking Oliveria with Arsenal FC.

These rumours allegedly pertaining from both Grandma's whom claim to be Arsenal fans and are constantly attempting dirty tactics in an effort to wind up the male contingent of the Bird Family, in particular Oliveria's father Adam.

Oliveria said (if he could) "to link me with Arsenal is a disgrace, I love my grandmothers dearly, they look after me, feed me, change me, but to suggest I would don the red shirts of Arsenal is nothing short of blasphemy".

In an attempt to silence his mother, and mother in law and protect Oliveria's integrity, Adam today is releasing a computer generated image along with the following statement "please take a look at this picture, download it, print it and put it in your purse, because it is the first and last time Oliveria will ever appear in an Arsenal shirt!".

Image: Never in a million years

Oliveria's grandfather David was unavailable for comment, but is understood to be equally disgusted with these rumours.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Oliveria Birdinho

At only six months old, footballing sensation Oliveria Birdinho has already turned out scintillating performances for three major football clubs.

Oliveria, making his league debut for Gillingham (pictured below) at only four months old would have said, (if he could) "playing for Gillingham is something special, I am a third generation Gillingham fan and both my father and grandfather burst into tears when I walked out at Priestfield for the first time".


Image: Oliveria Birdinho making his Gillingham debut

After several barnstorming performances in Gillingham colours, it wasn't long before Oliveria was catching the eye of bigger clubs. Oliveria said, (if he could) "Swapping the Gills for Barcelona was a wrench, it tore my heart in two. My uncle Reaso is still not talking to me, but my agents, Buckby and Williamson engineered the move and the opportunity was too good to turn down".


Image: Oliveria warming up on the bench wearing Barcelona colours

Oliveria found the going tough in the Catalan sunshine and explained to us (if he could) why the move went sour "My mum is really white, and she cannot look at the sun without getting sunburnt, I had a similar problem, having only fairly new skin being six months old, the heat became too much to bare, plus I was going through so much milk it drove my mum and dad potty".

With Barcelona spending £16 million on Thierry Henry as Oliveria's replacement Oliviera was free to join Liverpool, a move which helped bridge some gaps with his Dad and Grandfather, Oliver explained (if he could) "As I mentioned earlier, leaving Gillingham so early in my career was a poke in the eye with a hot stick to both my Dad and Grampy, so when approached by Liverpool chief scout Gary Routledge a close friend of my Dad it seemed like the best logical move as Liverpool are both my Dad and Gramps's second team, plus the thought of playing alongside Stephen Gerrard was too good to turn down".


Image: Oliveria making his debut in Liverpool colours

Oliveria, yet to make his England debut, although England boss Marcus Pattishire has already assured him of a place in the side Oliveria explained (if he could) what wearing the 3 lions would mean to him "Mr Pattishire has already said the shirt is mine if I want it, but I am slightly too small for it. I am hoping that I have a growth spurt soon because wearing the same national shirt is the highest honour there is in football".

Whatever Oliveria Birdinho does in his football career, it promises to be long and varied. The first six months have been colourful and Oliveria's father Adam has been filled with pride "seeing Oliveria in his football kits has been amazing, and I am hoping that as he grows older he will love the beautiful game as much as I do. It won't be too hard for him to make a better player than I am, as unfortunately I have two left feet!".

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