Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Monday 30 March 2009
  Outdoors A weekend outside and how nice it was too. Saturday walking the disused Railway Trail from Shelly Bay in Hamilton Parish down to the Flatts Inlet walking past the ruins of old shipbuilding chimneys where some of Bermuda's Clippers were made in the 19th century. And then past the Bermuda Railway Museum museum, tiny and privately owned and unfortunately not open.

The walk took us along the North Shore coastline and the most startling thing was the huge amount of Portuguese Man o' War lying on the beaches. They are known to swarm in their thousands and the warmer waters followed by the recent strong north-easterly winds had washed these deceptively innocuous bag like creatures given their paralysing sting, up on to the sand. I prodded one with my trainer and then I was off.

The Bermuda Railway Trail is deserving of a lot more attention and I will get back to it soon.

Yesterday the sun was blazing in the afternoon and with friends we headed out in the other direction, west from our house to the Parish of Somerset, and across the smallest drawbridge in the world to two beautiful spots.

Fort Scaur (the link does it no justice at all) was part of a ring of fortifications constructed in the 19th century, during a period of troubled relations between Britain and the United States and has been beautifully restored with subterranean passages, but the best bit is on top of the hill as the panoramic views were stunning.

Then just a mile up the road was just one of the tiniest and prettiest little chapels I have even seen. Part of a blissfully peaceful 43-acre tract of land known as the Heydon Trust, the chapel dates back to before 1620 and is still fully active. With lovely gardens and bluebird nest boxes strategically situated, I could have sat there for hours. The great outdoors. 
  Anyone for cricket? I don't think I've ever written about cricket before on here, but I'm going to try to keep up with the goings on in South Africa at the 2011 ICC World Cup Qualifiers, which start on April 1st. Bermuda are one of twelve nations taking part, the others are Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Oman, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, the Netherlands, UAE, Denmark and Afghanistan, whom perhaps surprisingly are rapidly climbing the world rankings.

Four teams will qualify for the 2011 World Cup due to take place in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, although one feels these venues are far from set in stone. In a complicated arrangement of matches there is much to play for in South Africa, not only World Cup qualification but One-day status and ICC funding and Bermuda begin behind Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Kenya as favourites. Cricket dominates the sports pages here and under ex-West Indian test player Gus Logie, the island is hopeful of seeing a repeat World Cup adventure in two years time.

Bermuda open with a game against the UAE at Potchefstroom University on Wednesday. The Bermudian squad is a mixture of youth and experience and does includes the larger than life 20+ stones Dwayne Leverock, who I am told lives above the curry house in Hamilton! Those samosas are bloody good though. More as the competition develops. 
Sunday 29 March 2009
  There is only one JJ There are just some players that you never forget because, you know, they'll always be 'one of ours.' Charlie MacDonald for example, who unfortunately got injured yesterday in the top of the table clash against the Gills. He's still banging them in though and we will of course find his level next season.

Then there is Shaun Bartlett, an old neighbour of mine in Kent, who talked about Charlton recently and has just left Bloemfontein Celtic. The player we loved to hate Radostin Kishishev, who collected his 85th Bulgarian cap yesterday and made one of the goals against Rep of Ireland. Moaning about Kish eh, blimey those were the days weren't they?

And of course JJ, who scored 14 goals for us in his first Premiership season. He moved to Malmo and scored goals for fun there but is now back in Scotland with Hibernian. He hasn't hit the net for Hibs yet, but he did yesterday for Finland at the Millennium Stadium, much to the chagrin of one Craig Bellamy. A good loser he is not.

Bellamy said afterwards: "Johansson scored but I don't know how. I don't think he is a good enough player to score." The fact is no one likes Craig Bellamy, and it is easy to see why. 
Friday 27 March 2009
  Breakdown I'm trying to avoid the hat trick tomorrow. Last weekend my other half's scooter broke down. The petrol station had their diesel and unleaded mixed up apparently. "Oh it happens all the time." Was that an apology, if it was I missed it.

And silly bollocks had to push the Vespa all 8 km home up and down hills and along narrow windy roads. Took me two hours and it rained. Hang on.... Just looked up the weight on the Vespa website. 225 lbs. Blimey, at least Charlton didn't lose.

And the weekend before that the car wouldn't start. The battery was flat. Bloody new car 6 months old. Although as someone said to me, I might have bought it 6 months ago, but seriously when did it come of the production line in Japan? Fortunately one of the boys in the office came to the rescue.

So tomorrow, I am hoping for a nice easy day, no trauma, no Charlton defeat is guaranteed and perhaps a nice stroll along the beach as the weather has picked up after hitting some record low temperatures this week
Thursday 26 March 2009
  Bermuda Shorts The first I suspect of many Bermuda Shorts - wry and sardonic tales of living on a rock in the Atlantic Ocean.

Historically Bermuda's Police and Fire Service was made up of British ex-pats but over time Bermudians have been totally employed in these sectors. Catching my beady eye recently was an article stating that the Bermuda Fire Service was on a recruitment drive, all good news in this economy one would think.

There were 16 positions available and over 150 people applied. However only 10 were offered jobs because remarkably 30 failed urine and hair sample tests for marijuana and other drugs, and up to 60 were unable to pass rudimentary literacy and numeracy tests. Others were instantly turned away because of obesity and other health issues.

Let's hope I never have a cat caught in the tree. 
Sunday 22 March 2009
  Love affair continues As other Addick Bloggers at home and abroad have said recently, writing about Charlton has become more and more laborious. My love for the club I have supported since I was 8-years old has never receded. Maybe after 25+ years with a season ticket, moving overseas has helped prolong our love affair. If I'd still been living in London I have no doubt I would still have a season ticket but our weekly trysts would be becoming harder and harder to bear.

I will be home for Easter, which accounts for three games; Birmingham at home, Coventry away and Blackpool at home. When I planned this trip back to coincide with the school holidays I was prepared to go to all three games to help support our relegation fight, a few weeks on and it now seems certain I will bear witness to Charlton's 4th relegation in my lifetime.

They say that distance makes the heart grows fonder, but it has been frustrating being 'out of it' although CAFC TV for all it's imperfections has made our tragic downfall sadly more real. Nonetheless I truly take my hat off to those that still make Charlton their life and have followed the Addicks home and away this season. It must have been depressing, infuriating and expensive.

Chicago Addick living in Bermuda will not walk away or take a hiatus, like others have and some will, although in my case fortunately (for me anyway) this blog has always been about other things in my life and not just consumed by the Addicks.

I think after the dust has settles many questions are still left unanswered, recently I have read some angry debates about the fans role in the future of the club, whether it be via the medium of the Fans Forum, a revitalised Supporters Club, the internet or a return to a paper fanzine. What is clear is that good things have only happened to our club when we've been organised, together and resourceful. The board, the players, The Valley is nothing without us, let us try to do everything, however little, to make our love for the club sparkle again.

As an 8-year old I entered into this pact with my eyes wide open, as only a child can. For all these years my relationship with Charlton survives on memories of good times past and hopes ahead. Nothing has changed. Come on you reds. 
  Charlton 0 Preston North End 0 The lowest "official" Valley crowd since we beat Crewe 1-0 on 15th January 2000 bore witness to a dour end of season workout from both Charlton and Preston yesterday. As has been said before until Parky picks a team that can wheedle out some enthusiasm from the dwindling Valley faithful, then the season is continue to loiter like a bad smell.

However much I love ZZ, there is no point in playing him, nor Agent Butterballs or Ward or Kandol if there is no chance in us signing them. And as for Darren Ambrose, well I'll leave it for those that were there yesterday to comment in the box below.

Parkinson is caught in a dilemma though, does he play his 'strongest team' and attempt to improve his diabolical record or does he forget about results and plan for next season? The board need to show us some direction. Back Parky, accept the inevitable and let us all engage in the blueprint for Division 3 or get rid of him and start afresh.

Pick of the reports: Blackheath Addicted
Thursday 19 March 2009
  If you know your history Oh a week I've had. Monday I was out with my Bermudian Addick Therapist, who after a couple of lager shandies was waxing lyrically about community and togetherness and resurrection. If one ever doubts the impact the history of our club has on newish fans then I would thoroughly recommend a night out with LookOut from Charlton Life. He's right of course, moans and groans about the exertions of loan players or 'Agents' Hudson or Butterfield etc should be put into the overall context of what supporting our club is all about.

Tuesday I met a couple of old London mates, both here separately on business. Both good lads and Rangers and Forest fans respectively. A night of catching up, swapping tales, telling tales and the odd cold lager. I got home much later than anticipated, and quite trollied. You know when you're in trouble when sleepy-other-half wakes to see you pulling your trousers over your ankles and she enquires into why you're going to work early. Whoops!

And then tonight I have to, in a minute, get ready for a cocktail party that requires wearing a wig. I did have my play off final red and white one somewhere but I can't find it, so I had to sort that out this afternoon. A wig party, I ask you. How ridiculous. 
Monday 16 March 2009
  What rules and regulations? Has anyone worked out why Izale McLeod can't play for us again this season? On the basis that clubs can loan players willy nilly it seems incredible that we can't play one of our own players, whom I am damn sure we are still paying a semblence of a weekly wage.

The loan rules are so ridiculous that if I had a Mr 20% and a video clip of my keepy-up record when I was 12, then I'd probably get a move. Seriously why do Millwall hold his registration and what are these regulations? Dean Windass has the same problem at Hull City I notice.

McLeod scored a goal every other game at MK Dons, he's actually their "all time leading goalscorer." From what I've seen of him in the flesh, he's quick but generally lacks any direction. Huh ditto a lot of the players that have featured these past couple of seasons. To be fair, he's hardly had a run has he?

All I remember was Rob(ert) Lee saying to me when we splashed out over a £1m on him, was that when they were both at Derby he was possibly the worst professional footballer he had ever seen. And Robert remember played with Steve Dowman and Laurie Madden! 
  Tom Moore's Tavern We attended a friends 40th on Saturday, and a fantastic night it was too, at a little restaurant I had heard much about, but never been. Tom Moore's Tavern is Bermuda's oldest restaurant, originally built in 1652 as a private home. In 1804 the Irish poet Thomas Moore visited and stayed for a year and wrote some of his most famous verses.

In one he referred to a calabash tree that still stands near the tavern apparently, I didn't go out to look. Tom Moore's started serving food in 1900 and it is said that Prince Charles lunched here in 1970. The current owners are Italian, although there is only a small hint of their provenance on the menu, but Bologna-born Bruno Fiocca was a fabulous host.

Set amongst cedar trees and tucked up the end of a narrow drive Tom Moore's was excellent, and a perfect place for a celebration and also to appreciate Bermuda's history. The quality of the food easily distinguished itself amongst the island's rather mediocre restaurants. 
Saturday 14 March 2009
  Wolves 2 Charlton 1 "That Chris Iwelumo left for a nominal fee, about £400,000, I believe, hurts because we have needed a striker like him who can score scruffy goals." - Parky.

Doc, please give me something to put me out of my misery. I tried to watch the Everton v Stoke game on the box today and ignore the goings on at Molineux but that lasted all of 10 minutes and I succumbed to CAFCTV. The bloke with the lisp was better, we were better, but we still lost. Doc, anything will do.

ZZ underlined his class with a super goal and according to lispy "we were weally quite good." But we still lost.

It was no surprise that Chris Iwelumo scored his first goal for 17 games, Rob Elliott made a great penalty save before we then let in a scrappy winner towards to the end.

Parky said after that "he hates getting beat." So do I but that's the 22nd time this season so I'm getting quite used to it.

In the Black Country: Addicks Diary; Doctor Kish
  Queen shrinks Went to the ATM this morning, it always make me laugh when the machine only spews out $50 and $100 bills. It must be the only country in the world that gives you a hundred note and nothing else. Anyway this morning I got my first new Bermuda $50 note.

There has, is the islands want, been some dispute over the new money which has been released to coincide with the 400th anniversery of the settlement of the island and the Bermuda Monetary Authority's (BMA) 40th anniversary.

The first change in the design of the countries currency was supposed to happen at the beginning of the year but the BMA forget to tell the banks and the notes were too big for the ATM cash machines, so we had to wait while the banks recalibrated it's machines and sorters.

It is the first change to the design since the government introduced the Bermudian dollar in 1970 and so the first of a $1 million worth of new notes were released this week.

"The notes incorporate a distinct Bermudian look with the use of bold colours, as well as local scenes, flora and fauna, in addition to including some of the most up-to-date anti-counterfeiting technology." (more)

There has been quite a problem on the island with counterfeits but the new notes have a see-through feature, larger serial numbers, and a see-through optik, the first of its kind I read to be used in the western hemisphere, which forms a map of Bermuda when held up to the light.

The biggest or should I say smallest thing to note is the Queen's head. It's tiny (click on photo for larger image). From being the main image it has been relegated to the bottom left hand corner of the notes and on the $50 she is pretty much hidden by a Longtail bird. This decision, which I assume was retified by the Governor, Sir Richard Gozney, comes on the back of the Bermudian government doing away with the Queen's Birthday holiday in 2009. The undercurrent of independence rumbles on. 
Friday 13 March 2009
  What you talking about Willis? Back to my old haunting ground for this little snippet of news. The Sears Tower, the tallest building in the western hemisphere at 1,450 feet and the 4th tallest in the world is to have a new name. Yesterday Willis Group, a London headquarted insurance broker announced they will move all of their Chicago operations into 3 floors from 18-20 of the 110 floor building at the end of July and as part of the deal the investment group that owns the building threw in the naming rights for free. So the iconic Sears Tower will become the Willis Tower.

Sears at the time when the building was completed in 1973 was the biggest retailer in the world, it's now kind of a shabby C&A for those that have not frequented one, and the company moved out to the suburbs in 1993, but they kept the naming rights to what until 1998 was the tallest building in the world.

The Sears Tower has lost a lot of big tenants in the past few years, most recently Ernst & Young who occupied space three times larger than Willis will. The building has as far as I can make out, never been full, certainly it was a bit of a white elephant as far as Sears were concerned in the 80's and recently 18% of 4.5m sq ft building was vacant, although better than it was post 9/11.

The thing that interests me is how the locals will take to it. Chicagoans are not known for their ability to accept change, particularly to their history. I used to work in the 88-storey Aon Center across the Loop from the Willis Tower and for the first couple of years I was in Chicago, people and cab drivers in particular still referred to it as the Amoco Building, which it hadn't been since 1998 when BP bought Amoco.

Ask a baseball fan where the White Sox play and he will tell you Comiskey, and not U.S. Cellular Field and Macys still has all kind of problems with name recognition of their huge flagship store downtown. For generations of Chicagoans that store will always be Marshall Fields. I note that a petition had already started in protest at the building's renaming.

The Sears Tower is known the world over and seeing it's black peaks as you land at O'Hare or as one drives into the city watching it magically appear on the horizon lording it over the cities skyline is a wonderful thrill. I read a little while ago the owners were thinking of painting it silver. I would love that.... the Silver Sears? Oh what are you talking about Willis? 
Thursday 12 March 2009
  Bermuda Stone There is a mythical expression here amongst ex-pats known as the 'Bermuda Stone.' Simply the amount of weight you put on once you've lived here for 6 months or so. And I am not proud to say that I have found it.... around my waist.

I have put on a stone in weight since last July, this despite not knowlingly eating less healthily or doing less active sport (I actually do more) and drinking probably the same amount as I did in Chicago (still too much granted).

I actually think that it is down to my daily routine just being very, very different. I used to walk everywhere in Chicago including the three and a half mile round trip to and from work and I used to regularly bike short trips. I would walk everywhere from the office and home. Not now, I don't walk anywhere of any distance nor do we use our bikes, even though we always promise that we will every weekend. Decisively we now own a car, and didn't in Chicago.

Bermuda is not a walking place, take a look around and you will realise. The roads are narrow, and hilly, the locals compete with the French for the world's worst drivers and apart from in Hamilton there aren't any pavements.

There is the unpaved old Railway Trail which stretches the whole of the island, and which I've actually only driven over. Naughty, although I am considering partaking in the End to End, a walk from one end of Bermuda to the other, all 21.1 miles of it on May 2nd, which takes in large parts of the Railway Trail.

It is baffling that recently I've been taking extra care with my cholesterol levels, and yet I have still packed so much weight on. I hate diets, never been a lard arse but I have to do something, otherwise it'll be moving from the 'Bermuda Stone' to the boulder next! 
Wednesday 11 March 2009
  Reading 2 Charlton 2 I got caught speeding today. 35mph in a 22mph (the fastest you can drive on the island). This afternoon I had to pop out in the car and from the corner of my eye on what is about the only bit of dual carrageway on the island, I drove by two women hid under a bush with a speed gun and then around the corner I was met by a string of smug looking policemen. Smug copper gave me an appearance in court in May to get a fine.

I was so pissed off I got back to the office just before kick off and laid a couple of quid on Charlton to win at 10/1. I never bet on the Addicks, but I thought I was due some luck. Oh well, maybe I'll try Cheltenham tomorrow.

From the CAFCTV commentary it sounded a decent performance, that is now three good away results on the trot, shame about the last two must-win home games, eh?

No sign of any youngsters but eye witnesses say ZZ was a class above, guess we knew that, and Racon and Bailey both played well. Their penalty looked dodgy on Sky Sports and certainly the CAFCTV commentator thought we should have had one just after when Bailey was upended. As an aside, did anyone else think this commentator was a vast improvement on what we've had previously?

It was good to see us fight back, and credit to the players for that. Incredibly that is 4 points and 6 goals against probably the best team in the division. Steve Coppell said afterwards that it is "the promotion that no one wants," well the same could be said for relegation as again teams above us rallied.

Norwich won their first game in eight and are only a point behind Barnsley with a better goal difference, but the Tykes took a fine drew at St Andrews. Southampton were held to a draw at home by Derby, and Blackpool draw at Bramall Lane. Watford won again, at home to Forest and only they and Plymouth lost in the bottom nine!

At the game: Addicks Diary; Doctor Kish
Tuesday 10 March 2009
  When you say younger players, which one's exactly? "There is a case for one or two younger players who are close to getting a chance but I haven't had a chance to think about my team yet for Tuesday."

So, who does Parky mean?

We already have a 23-year old in goal, he could replace him with Randolph, who is a year younger but despite our candid camera defending Charlton fan Elliott appears to be the fan's favourite number one. The enigma that is Kelly Youga is also 23, and two years older than the less flamboyant but more consistent Grant Basey. Then at right back we have the disenchanted and so called bad egg Yassin Moutaouakil. Honestly give me Moots over Agent Butterfingers any day of the blimmin' week.

It's hard to imagine that Parky refers to Jack Clark or Aswad Thomas when he talks about younger players. Clark has just signed a pro-contract and Thomas hardly set the world alight at Lewes, who prop up the Conference, which I reckon will end up being Thomas' place of employment next season.

Harry Arter is at Welling on loan, made Charlton famous because of his Uncle Scott, he too will probably depart at season-end, then there is Josh Wright, who is out of favour with Parky after a row. Perhaps Parky was thinking of Jonjo, who he'd just dropped or maybe it's time for young holding midfielder Rashid Yussuff. It would make sense to me at least to play Toks over ZZ, Ambrose, Holland and Soares. Alex Stavrineau is in the same boat as Clark, but the youth captain could be bench ready.

Scott Wagstaff has kind of been forgotten, he looked lightweight when I've seen him and I think maybe Div 3 is still beyond him, but if he's going to stay, then I'd rather watch him than Soares, although I think Sam should start tonight.

And finally upfront, more rough diamonds than younger players Fleetwood and Dickson to both start up front would at least stir some kind of anticipation from those that make the sombre journey to Reading tonight. 
Monday 9 March 2009
  So good they named it twice On previous trips to New York I would habitually compare everything to Chicago and mostly, nope always it came up second. This may explain why my most recent visit was probably my most favourite.

Work stuff was very positive, I had a great night with my Addick therapist, I saw some old friends and Julia Roberts (honestly, really), I ate well, which is of course always important and moreover I managed to stay awake throughout the whole 3-hour opera!

We arrived in the freezing cold snow (the photo is of Bryant Park right) but with each day the city got warmer, as did my feelings for it. We strolled the Upper West and East Sides for the first time and Central Park, alive with runners and cyclists, almost came close yesterday to a summer's day in Lincoln Park.

We found a wonderful place for brunch by the way on the Upper East Side called Barney Greengrass. The best, and only sturgeon and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and onion I have ever tasted. And I became addicted to Le Pain Quotidien (there is a load in London).

Il Trovatore at the magnificent Met was, well long, but it was good, especially the Anvil Chorus. No sign of a recession here as the place was packed to the rafters, 4,000 in both Friday and Saturday.

Oh and I know you've only read this far to find out about my dalliance with Julia Roberts. In the time it took to wonder what a host of photographers were doing standing outside The Ritz out walked Julia Roberts as if on a cloud, she stood for a minute whilst about 20 rat-looking paparazzi took her picture and I scrambled for my camera phone (it didn't come out) and then she got into a waiting car.

Jools as I now call her was very beautiful and takes her place in my top 3 alongside NBC's Amy Robach who I watched through the Today studio windows the next day. A voyeur and a fan of the Big Apple, who would have thought it?
Previous visits: Sept 2006, Oct 2006, Sept 2007.
Sunday 8 March 2009
  Charlton 2 Watford 3 It wasn’t the hope that killed us, it was the dynamic duo of Alan Pardew and Phil Parkinson, the latter now in many fans’ eyes more culpable than the former. Certainly Parkinson has garnered fewer points than Pardew in the same period. Perhaps he is more affable; some say "more Charlton," although I’m forgetting what that means. What he is though is a qualified disaster.

I was one of those that held him partly responsible for went on before, but was willing to give him a chance, I even ascribed to the fact that he had put together his own team and it had an embryo of a brighter future. Blimey I was born in the morning but it wasn’t yesterday morning.

After four months of Parkinson’s reign, what exactly do we have to look forward to? A few youngsters, some crap, some overpaid, some disenchanted, a number of loan players and just one or two to admire that will be out the door as soon as you can say "football agent."

Six must-win points were an absolute must this last week but we got a fat round zero. We didn’t come close, we didn’t even lose in style, and that is my final point, a point that has become all to clear to us Addicks. Our team is so short on ideas, skill, aptitude and pride that the club is forcing people away. I know people who would mortgage their kids to get to an away game, who would rather buy a season ticket than go on holiday, these lifelong Addicks are on the verge of walking away.

I don’t happen to care if we are shit, but one needs something to cling onto. Whether it’s playing the game the way it is meant to be played, or having heroes, however limited they are, that are prepared to wear the famous red shirt with as much pride as I do.

The future is dark, and Parkinson is the prince of it. If we are to have any hope, he has to go.

Melancholic Addicks: Blackheath Addicted; Drinking During the Game; From The Hill To The Valley; Kings Hill Addick; Charlton Athletic Online; All in a Day
Thursday 5 March 2009
  Therapy in New York A bit of a head this morning, but the world that Chicago Addick lives in is a better place after a session with my therapist and fellow sufferer New York Addick in a bar under his office (he made me walk 3 blocks in the freezing cold, can you believe that?) on 54th Street.

It was a night of outpouring grief and beer and was as engrossing and fun as always. In fact don't tell NYA, but I had such a good time I went back to the bar after he'd left and had another pint of 1664, not sensible but hey it was a fun bar and my exorcising was not yet complete. NYA insisted he stopped at 6 pints and went home to two screaming Junior Reds. I wonder if he walked up Madison?

Today I have to go into our New York office and knowing them as I do, pints will be on the agenda for later. Lucky I've been practicising. 
Tuesday 3 March 2009
  Charlton 1 Doncaster 2 - It's over Not had a good day. But for most things in my life Charlton will always have this ability to change my mood but they didn't tonight..... they made it worse. It's over, we were effectively relegated tonight. I have tried my darnest to be positive these last couple of weeks, but I can't any more.

We are just not good enough, our forwards can't score, defensively we are inept and a three game unbeaten run of two draws and a win is in reality all we are capable off. Meanwhile everyone around us is fighting for their lives and producing results we are simply not good enough to achieve. 37 players have worn the shirt this season. I hope they are all feeling as sick as me. 
  Frozen Apple I leave these sunny shores for the freezing cold of New York first thing tomorrow, returning on Sunday night. My industrious other half has to go to the Big Apple for work, so I grabbed the chance to join her and leave the island again for some bright lights. I plan some work too, but will also throw in a fair amount of pleasure, like meeting a certain New York Addick for a light ale or two on Wednesday night.

As I hijacked the trip I asked my highbrow other half what she wanted to do on Saturday night. I suggested this place and I got the Opera! Verdi's Il Trovatore at The Met. Note to self: make sure I get enough sleep before Saturday. 
Monday 2 March 2009
  Pre-match nerves I'm finding it hard to write about the game tomorrow to be honest. Let's get it out there, I'm bloody nervous. Our little flicker of hope rests on this week being a positive one for us, ignoring what anyone else does, two results will give us real momentum. Anything else well it will almost certainly be over.

Graeme Murty returned to Reading today, he averaged about an injury a game but by all accounts was an indisputable influence on the pitch and in the dressing room, a place where a feeling of lost causes has been replaced by a touch of belief.

Quickly replacing Murty is Palarse defender Danny Butterfield, hopefully not another 'agent' but someone who the Nigels legimately liked and were surprised to see go. Known for his surging runs and crosses Butterfield has made 30 appearances this season alone, 90 in three seasons, and hopefully will also be a positive force on the pitch and at the training ground.

I'm not going to dwell on Moo2kil, because you are probably all bored of my fawning. I just hope the poor sod gets the opportunity somewhere else that his talent and potential deserves. 
Sunday 1 March 2009
  Miami Beach Looking down from the window of the airplane coming into Miami's International Airport, Miami Beach looks like someone has placed a line of dominoes along the coast of this 18 square-mile string like island only attached to the mainland by clogged up roads.

Miami Beach is famed for it's Art Deco, 800 buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 thus meaning that there are some beautifully restored buildings particularly along stretches of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue but equally there are many Art Deco buildings in a serious state of disrepair, which the economy is doing nothing to improve.

Once the northern part of Miami Beach was where all the rich and famous used to hang out but in the late 1980's a huge renaissance occured in South Beach incidentially not long after the crime series Miami Vice ran it's course and for a over a decade South Beach has been the colourful mecca for partying, fashion, museums, boutique hotels and long pristine beaches.

There is an incredible hotel scene in South Beach, each hotel trying to outdo the other in the trendiness stakes. Bar hopping from about 14th to 5th Street on Ocean Drive will open your eyes to a number of nice and perhaps unusual distractions, Many of the more famous hotels are situated on Collins Avenue a couple of blocks inland of the Atlantic. The Shore Club, Delano, the art stuffed The Sagamore and The National with it's famous 200ft outside pool are all worth a nose inside.

From the very bottom of Miami Beach you can walk from the popular surfers beach at South Pointe Park all the way along the boardwalk for about 8 miles. It is a cracking way to exercise and people watch.

The stroll up the Beach Boardwalk north past the famed Lummus Park allows you a chance to nose into all of the hotels behind gates and surly security guards. Some glamorous but many dilapliated. Three hotels that survived the credit crunch are the Gansevoort, sister to the one in New York and the renovated Morris Lapidus designed Fontainbleau, where I spent almost a week. The third is the W, which is nearly complete. The roof bar at the Gasenvoort is worth a visit, although it ain't cheap. For cheaper accomodation the South Beach Hotel did the trick for my mates and I, right opposite the Bass Museum of Art on 21st St.

The beach itself is popular and sandy and very wide. Many families and couples were out on the beach sat around the groovy lifeguard towers when I was there on two not very warm weekends. Collins Avenue runs parallel with the beach and it is here that the annual Miami International Boat Show was just getting started when I was there and some of boats on display were the richest baubles you'd ever seen. Whisper the word 'recession.'

On Washington Avenue we ducked into the Wolfsonian Museum, a collection of modern artifacts, like the one left, and the World Erotic Art Museum. I didn't get a close look at the Holocaust Memorial but the 42ft bronze sculpture depicting refugees clinging to a giant bronze arm that reaches out of the ground is hard to miss. In the 80's almost two-thirds of Miami Beach's population were Orthodox Jews and there are still many areas where the Latin influence disappears to a Judaism one.

Turn off Collins Avenue for two of my favourite streets. Lincoln Road is a miscellany of pedestrianised shopping and eating. Something for everyone tastes down here plus the recently restored Colony Theater and the Symphony Hall at the Lincoln Theater.

On Lincoln Road all the restaurants look enticing but hold your appetite until you reach The Van Dyke Cafe and the Hosteria Romana (right) was good too, but go hungry. For less glitz and more character a few blocks away on Collins is Española Way, which is a little piece of the Mediterranean.

One of my personal hobbies is staring, or should I say people watching and there is plenty of that in Miami Beach. From the fashionistas to the old ladies carrying their tiny dogs, the shiny Harleys and immaculate muscle cars, to the curious world of the large Jewish Orthodox population. It's arty, it's so cosmopolitan that you would have thought you'd left the USA, it's loud and proud. Just make sure you wear your sunglasses. 
About Me
After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.
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