The Last Day

Yesterday’s climax to several of Europe’s top football leagues was every bit as exciting as any neutral could ever have hoped for. Of course, no-one is completely neutral in these matters: I can’t recall any game where I actually didn’t care at all about who was going to win. After all, we all have our little foibles and favourites and many reasons whey we hate the dirty, scab bastards from Nottingham.

And you can spin it any way you want, but Bill Shankly was right: winning is everything. And thus I know readers who will be happy and readers who won’t be happy this morning.

For me, looking across England, Spain and Italy last night (the leagues I watch) and the bits that I was mildly invested in, I got two out of three at the top (one having been decided long ago), and one of out three at the bottom (from yesterday).
Not great, but still better than the one that I was really invested in, which didn’t happen at all.

So now we are about to enter a period of quiet evenings in front of the family instead of the football. Of having to learn and talk about cricket (wut?!?) to distract ourselves, or face up to the crushing reality of South Africa’s economic predicament (I’ll take the cricket, please). Of betting on the likes of FCs Honka and Petrzalka, instead of the Blades and Real Madrid. Of blissfully early nights and lower stress levels.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. Bring on the 30th July.

A great day marred by football

Up properly early – lobbed some bacon in some baps for the car – and off to De Mond Nature Reserve up along the coast. Away so early that the sun wasn’t up and the owls were still hunting from the poles along the Suiderstrand road.

Deliciously cool and with some lovely light, I was actually a bit disappointed with some of the photos I got. Seemed like they should have been better, but I wasn’t on my A-game today. Still, loads to see on our 6km walk, including three new birds for me. I’m no prolific birder, but I’ve seen a lot in the Western Cape, so three new species in a single morning is pretty good going.

And then, after yesterday’s Secretary Birds, a Denham’s Bustard (var Stanleyi) (obviously, down here!!) on the way home. Nice, albeit at a bit of a distance.

The early start permitted a phat afternoon nap, which was duly accepted, and while the playoff semi-final first leg didn’t go too well, the fire is lit, the braai is on the go and with loadshedding at 8, we’re hunkering down for an evening of atmosphere, brandy and battery-powered LED lighting.

It’s been a (generally) good day.

Day 700 – Double Overshadow

It’s Day 700 of South Africa’s “lockdown” (we’re not locked down at all), but upon waking this morning, that landmark (such as it is) was obviously overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine overnight. It’s an odd thing for them to have done, because they repeatedly assured us that they weren’t going to invade Ukraine, but actually, all along, it seems that they were.
Almost like it wasn’t the full truth that we were getting from Vlad and his team.

Like I say… weird. I mean, who knew?

Some scary scenes this morning in Ukraine, and it’s only going to get uglier once the initial aerial onslaught has been completed and the ground-based operation begins.

Thankfully, this is a case of double overshadow though, as I also woke to the memory of Ben Davies scoring a 92nd minute winner in the crunch game against Blackburn Rovers at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane last night. After suffering the slings and arrows of a red card and then a penalty against us soon after, it was an unlikely victory, but one that I’m more than happy to take. So some small mercies (well, one) as the sun rises over Cape Town this morning. Although while this one is probably less likely to influence global foreign policy and the potential imminent outbreak of World War 3, it was a pretty amazing evening.

And so the march continues onto Millwall (and Kiev) this weekend.