The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for December, 2014

An ode to the Cheltenham Festival (10th – 13th March)

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When the Cheltenham Festival begins on March 10th the excitable crowd of 75,000 spectators in the Grandstand will honour an age old tradition as the tape is cut for the opening Supreme Novices Hurdle. The normal, gentle buzz of noise will become a throaty rumble which is so iconic it has acquired its own name – the Cheltenham Roar.

The Cheltenham area has a long association with racing; the first event called the “Cheltenham Gold Cup”, now the name of the festival’s most prestigious race, was run in July 1819. By 1860 there was an established National Hunt Meeting at Cheltenham – the first direct precursor to the modern festival. However it wasn’t until the current course was established at Prestbury Park, in 1904, that the “Cheltenham Festival” was officially established. After a hiatus it returned in 1911 whence it has continued from strength to strength – save for 2 extended pauses rudely imposed by our German cousins.

Part of The Festival’s magic is that the 2 courses at Prestury Park (the “old” and “new” courses), are particularly challenging and can wrongfoot even the most powerful thoroughbreds. The new course, in particular, has a downhill fence and a gruelling run in for steeplechasers; while hurdle races have the majority of their jumps early – with only two fences in the last 7 furlongs. This requires that champion horses are able to jump well but also keep pace in a long final leg.

In recent years animal rights protesters have begun focusing their attention on the big festivals – particularly Aintree and Cheltenham. The tough courses and large fields at marquee events leads to a higher risk of serious injury for both jockeys and riders. In fact Animal Aid claim that 4x as many horses have died at Cheltenham as on any other British racecourse since 2007. Although this could be a statistical fluke, but it is unfortunately true that in the last several years horses have been put down at each Festival. It can be quite a disturbing sight to see a writhing horse covered by vets and destroyed – but for the moment the racing community is averse to significant change. Last year jockey Ruby Walsh received death threats after downplaying the significance of horse fatalities, so it seems the public may not agree.

Nowadays, The Festival is run over 4 days; which this year are 10th-13th March. During that time Cheltenham plays host to a circus of owners, trainers, jockeys, press, paparazzi, bookies and, of course, over 250,000 raucous spectators determined to get the most from this spectacular event. Bookmakers will swarm the tote pool at Cheltenham – where slatted chalkboard are only just being replaced by digital screens. Although plenty of cash will change hands there, most of the £600m wagered over the 4 day event will be online or at high street shops.

For British bookmakers Coral, preparations for Cheltenham start months in advance. Every race featuring a potential contender is methodically examined for information which could affect pricing – a fractional mistake in offered odds could take millions from the bottom line. Like several other bookies they also sponsor one of Cheltenham’s premier races – The Coral Cup.

The Festival is firmly rooted in tradition – not surprising as members of the Royal Family are frequent visitors. The Queen, who owns a stable of racecourses, has fielded entries to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and members of the family including The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have made appearances in recent years.

We’ll also be treated to full page newspaper spreads after Cheltenham’s “Ladies Day” on March 11th. Racing takes a back seat to fashion as elaborate dresses and enormous (some might say ridiculous) hats take centre stage. However the day after, St. Patrick’s Day, has a completely different tone and becomes a raucous day long celebration of Ireland and the Irish!

The Cheltenham Festival is a peculiarly British event which soldiers on oblivious to changes in the social fibre or animal rights norms of the general population. Like it or loathe it, you’re bound to hear a lot more about Cheltenham as the big day approaches.

Another good festival away from Horse Racing is the Gŵyl Beaumaris Festival which is great way to spend a day in May. This year sees it celebrate its 30th anniversary.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by Ian Pope

December 31st, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Other Sport

Take Me Out Girls 2015 – Season Seven

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To watch Becky’s first cooking video of Boom Bangers & Wholegrain Mustard then click here.

So here I am once more. I have just collated all the profiles and photos for the flirty thirty as the seventh season of Take Me Out gets under way on Saturday night.

Like last year, I’ve got together the photos Fremantle Media have sent out along with the details and some random facts about the girls as sent out as part of the press pack. It is intended to be a light-hearted and whimsy look at the people that will be lighting up our screens for the next few weeks.

This year Laura Jackson will be joining Mark Wright as host of The Gossip and of course Paddy McGuinness is the master of ceremonies for the main event as per usual. The show has been responsible for three engagements, two weddings and one baby already and another is due in March, so it isn’t just entertainment, it has changed lives too. If I recall correctly Blind Date had two weddings in its entire run so TMO isn’t doing too bad for itself!

On communicating with the girls, in general most of them over the past few series have been fine with follows/tweets but prefer not to be contacted via Facebook. Most of them will have twitter accounts so feel free to search for them and tweet them, however I’d recommend not trying to get in touch via other social media platforms as in general they prefer them to be kept more private.

Adding people to Facebook when you don’t really know them can come across as a little bit weird and creepy, just trust me on that, I have been there and done it and yeah, not good. It can easily lead to awkwardness and regret and stuff so honestly folks, just don’t do it. I’m pretty laid back on this front but other people, less so and if I was a girl and on a show like Take Me Out, I suspect I’d be pretty weirded out lots of random guys I didn’t know adding me to Facebook so think folks, think.

Anyway, no-one cares about the preamble. You are here for photos and details. They are all provided below. You can click on the photos for a larger version. I hope you enjoy the light-hearted take on things and enjoy the show. I wrote it all up and WordPress decided to lose over two thirds of my text so I had to re-write most of it, I hope it is as interesting second time around because I was writing it whilst swearing at WordPress a lot.

So what time is it…?

Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Peanut Butter Jelly Time…

No wait, that’s not it.

What time is it?

It’s Chico time.

No, No, No. That isn’t it either.

Paddy, what time is it?

It’s time to bring on the girls…

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Flirty Thirty

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Abigail

Age: 19
Job: Administration Support Assistant
Location: Cardiff
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Seven Months
Random Fact: Her nickname is ‘Abs Cabs’ as she keeps dating guys who don’t drive and she has to drive them around. As an aside here, I don’t drive but don’t ever feel the need to get driven around. Yes I get the odd lift here n there but in general I just use the choo choo and walk everywhere I need to go. People should use public transport and walk more, they shouldn’t rely on people driving them around. Anyway…back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Reason why I think she’s great: She goes to a spin class and annoys others by her constant talking and cheering herself on. I’m sorry but I love the mental image I have of people cheering themselves on whilst working out. It is quite lovely.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by those who wear 1980s sneakers and don’t drive. What is the verdict on Nike Air Max 95s?

aimee-jayne-take-me-out-2015

Aimee-Jayne

Age: 29
Job: Transport & Logistics Co-Ordinator
Location: Bolton
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eighteen Months
Random Fact: She flushes public loos with her feet to avoid getting germs on her hands. Look I know public loos can be pretty grim at times but that seems like a lot of effort, doesn’t it?
Reason why I think she’s great: She has a soft spot for geeks. More people should. Am I clever enough to be classed as a geek? Answers on a postcard…
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man is a racing driver, how does she feel about a guy who doesn’t even drive…? Oh.

alison-take-me-out-2015

Alison

Age: 27
Job: Vintage Dress Maker
Location: Staffordshire
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Four Months
Random Fact: She knows all the words to most of the big 90s rap songs. I’d sing-song against her with Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise.
Reason why I think she’s great: Have a look at the dress in her photo that has been sent out. I mean come on, who wouldn’t instantly fall in love with someone who was wearing a dress that was a comic? Seriously awesome.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man runs his own business, well technically I do so I’m in the game folks, I’m in the freaking game *starts to hyperventilate* but wait, there is more, and this ideal guy also drives a Lamborghini. Bugger.

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Amy

Age: 34
Job: Nail Technician Student
Location: Blackpool
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: Her nickname is foghorn as she is loud and chatty
Reason why I think she’s great: She loves Am Dram. More people should enjoy the arts.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal first date would be something energetic and fun-packed like rock climbing. My idea of energetic is rolling over in bed to the cold side (ok that might be slightly facetious but still…)

Becky Take Me Out 2015

Becky

Age: 28
Job: Catering Student
Location: Sheffield
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She has a green belt in Karate.
Reason why I think she’s great: Three of the six notes sent out by the production company about Becky are about her love for food. I mean that is enough to like someone isn’t it, her obvious love of food? As an aside here, when I first scanned the press pack, I looked at her and I have seen her before somewhere, I have no idea where but the face rings a bell, weird.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She once ended up in A&E with a sprained ankle whilst doing a runner from a boring date. I can’t imagine what she’d do to herself in her desperation to get away from me on a date, I fear she’d do a lot more damage than that.

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Christina

Age: 26
Job: Personal Trainer
Location: Stevenage
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She was once a club 18-30 rep.
Reason why I think she’s great: She has been known to sack her clients who aren’t putting in the effort with regards to their personal training. I like this hardball attitude. I know she could whip me into shape (and not in the good way I thought about when I typed that sentence…)
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Because of that previous sentence. Oh and her ideal man should be manly and dressed well amongst other characteristics and I’m afraid they are two things that I am not.

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Claire

Age: 23
Job: Fairy/Murder Mystery Role Player
Location: Manchester
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eight Months
Random Fact: Her biggest fear is the tube and the idea of getting trapped in the doors.
Reason why I think she’s great: He nickname is ‘Two Teas Claire’ because she loves food so much that she used to have two teas, one at 4PM and one at 8PM. I could be fully on board with this Claire. I really could.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is looking for an older man, she’s 23, I’m 31…we are in play here folks, we are in play, *high fives the non existent crowd of people behind me* but wait, there is more, preferably a silver fox, ok I’ll just go to the mirror and check…bugger. What if I get silver hair glitter, will that do…?

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Daisy

Age: 23
Job: City Worker
Location: London Town
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She once thought the Lake District was in Essex *shakes head in despair*
Reason why I think she’s great: Her biggest passion is chocolate. Someone who knows where it is at!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her celebrity crush is Joey Essex. All Joey Essex and I share is our mix of chromosomes. She also wants a guy who can street dance well…

danielle-take-me-out-2015

Danielle

Age: 23
Job: Account Manager for a Bank
Location: Cheshire
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Four Months
Random Fact: She is obsessed by Legally Blonde and tries to model for life on the lead Elle Woods.
Reason why I think she’s great: She has a first class degree. Brains are sexy folks. Brains are fecking sexy.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would be a traditional guy, nice teeth, good clean-cut face and a well-fitting suit. O for 4 folks. I don’t even own a suit, let alone a well-fitting one. Also, me? Traditional? Yeah right…

dani-take-me-out-2015

Dani

Age: 26
Job: Events Recruitment Agent
Location: London Town
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Seven Months
Random Fact: She was crowned Miss Globe England in 2013
Reason why I think she’s great: Her dream man is the laid back surfer type. I can see that and think that shows good taste. Whenever I think of laid back surfer dudes I think of Brad Willis from Neighbours and Hayden Quinn from Masterchef Australia. If you don’t know the type Google them.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal date would be something outdoorsy, like rock-climbing or scuba diving, well scuba diving is fair but rock-climbing…*runs away screaming* – have you not seen that advert where the cheap guy buys the rubbish rope because he likes a bargain?

emily-take-me-out-2015

Emily

Age: 23
Job: Speech Therapy Assistant
Location: Guisborough
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Six Months
Random Fact: Her worst first date is scuba diving as the open and deep water would freak her out and she doesn’t want to cry on a first date. I’m taking bets on what her date will be on the Isle of Fernando’s should she get there…
Reason why I think she’s great: Degree in linguistics. I’ve said it before folks, brains are sexy.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would treat her like a Princess…I think many women want this and this might be a big fail in my love life endeavours. I need to learn how to treat people special.

farah-take-me-out-2015

Farah

Age: 26
Job: Sales & Marketing Executive
Location: London Town
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eighteen Months
Random Fact: Her love of pink and lipstick has earned her the nickname ‘Barbie’
Reason why I think she’s great: Her ideal date would be quad biking (ok) or swimming with dolphins (Yes, Yes, Yes – I love dolphins!)
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by bad teeth, bad skin and no sense of style. Well a few months back folks I had a date with someone who decided to write up a review of it for the world to see and here is what she wrote about my sense of style, ‘Mr M was in scruffy jeans, scruffy t-shirt and outrageous trainers. He did look like he had just rolled out of bed, chucked some clothes on and walked down the road.’ That is my style through the eyes of someone else. Would it shock you that a second date wasn’t pending…?

gabriella-take-me-out-2015

Gabriella

Age: 18
Job: Disney Princess
Location: Norfolk
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Months
Random Fact: She has four jobs, the aforementioned Disney Princess at Disneyland Paris, but also a gymnastics coach, a stilt walker and a dancer.
Reason why I think she’s great: She back-flipped a mile for charity. C’mon that is seriously amazing. Huge props.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal date would involve an element of danger, well how about me cooking a meal? With my culinary skills that is serious danger. No? Oh.

jade-take-me-out-2015

Jade

Age: 23
Job: Customer Service Advisor
Location: Grimsby
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She cannot tell her left from her right.
Reason why I think she’s great: She has a photographic memory and that is a very handy skill to have, although she uses it to remember any outfit that someone has worn before. With me you wouldn’t need a photographic memory for that, as explained a couple of profiles ago, my sense of style is shall we say, pretty basic to say the least.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would be good with their hands, have brown eyes and a Welsh accent. Well my tickling prowess has been commented on before but otherwise my hands are just hands, my eyes are blue and I speak with a broad southern accent.

janine-take-me-out-2015

Janine

Age: 30
Job: Site Secretary for a Constriction Company
Location: Kent
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: She has failed her driving test four times and has taken over 200 lessons.
Reason why I think she’s great: In her spare time she also works in Ann Summers. Need I say any more…?
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: I have no idea who her ideal date of Joe Manganiello is. Like no idea.

kat-take-me-out-2015

Kat

Age: 23
Job: Personal Assistant
Location: London Town
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: She has a (very) irrational fear of oblong and square plates and would prefer to not eat dinner than eat off of one and people say I’m weird…
Reason why I think she’s great: She is an aspiring film maker and makes short films in her spare time. I mean just how cool is that? Always get big thumbs up from me for creative people.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She wants a guy who is tall, tattooed and bearded. Well I did grow a beard not that long ago and I can assure you people of the internet, it was not a good look. Oh and I’m neither tall nor bearded. Woe.

kayleigh-take-me-out-2015

Kayleigh

Age: 23
Job: Ballet Teacher
Location: Dundee
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She used to be a cheerleader at Upton Park for West Ham.
Reason why I think she’s great: In her final year of uni she lived in a convent and the nuns would catch her and her friends sneaking out on CCTV. Those pesky nuns. I just like the idea of having to sneak past nuns.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Nothing obvious in her notes that have been sent out but she is very spontaneous and that is something I most certainly am not and whenever I am, it backfires spectacularly.

kelly-take-me-out-2015

Kelly

Age: 35
Job: Oil Company Account Manager
Location: Cheshire
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: Once Kelly’s friends dared her to kiss an old man in the pub so she did and his false teeth fell out in her mouth, that sounds proper grim although I bet she made that old guys evening! Why aren’t women ever dared to kiss me…
Reason why I think she’s great: Her ideal date is mud wrestling. Yep totally down with that. I mean totally (although I’d prefer jelly but still..)
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: In the notes sent out just like Kayleigh above, nothing stands out for this section. I will note here that she eats a pea sandwich every day, quirky doesn’t cover it but I like it.

kim-take-me-out-2015

Kim

Age: 20
Job: Education Studies Student
Location: North Wales
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: Her nickname is (unsurprisingly) Lil Kim based on the fact that she is 4ft11″
Reason why I think she’s great: Her celebrity crush is Dougie from McFly. I think that is a pretty good and normal crush. Some would say my crush on former PSU star volleyball middle hitter Katie Slay is a bit left field but Dougie from McFly in the context of this is pretty out there but I do like it.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man has a life plan. I had a life plan but then life got in the way and everything changed. Doh.

kirstie-take-me-out-2015

Kirstie

Age: 26
Job: Admin Assistant
Location: Belfast
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Three Years
Random Fact: She is afraid of many things (and not just actually meeting me, I often wonder what would happen if one of the girls ever bumped into me in the real world just how they would react, I mean I sit here in my mother’s basement – well that bit isn’t true, I actually live on my own with more bathrooms than people – but writing this does make me sound like a bit of a sad loser, which I am, but still, gotta keep up the appearance) but yeah, would they go, ‘oh my word, your blog is just so freaky you big freaky weirdo’ or would they say ‘your light-hearted whimsy tale of thirty women you’ve never met for a TV show was rather amusing and I of course don’t think of you as some freaky weirdo’ – I wonder if we’ll ever know? (deep down I suspect not and I fear the answer…) Anyway I have digressed quite spectacularly. She is afraid of the dark, the sea and any creature that is flying towards her.
Reason why I think she’s great: I love her logic of wanting an electrician because of her dislike of the dark, she thinks an electrician would be handy in a power cut. Logic people. Logic.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her celebrity crush is Tom Hardy due to his muscles, tattoos, lips and swagger. Well I technically have muscles (like we all do) and have lips (again like we all do) but I think I know what she means and alas 0% for me.

kirsty-s-take-me-out-2015

Kirsty S

Age: 26
Job: Horse Trainer
Location: Cheshire
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She owns twelve horses and two Dalmatians. Yes I did have to double check that to ensure I got that the right way around.
Reason why I think she’s great: Her ideal date could involve a banana boat. I would certainly do that.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man is strong-willed (yes), honest (yes) and confident (feck). Why oh why oh why do women not like awkward shy weirdos? I mean look at all we offer, awkwardness, shyness, acting weird, I mean who wouldn’t look for those characteristics in a potential beau? Oh I see, everyone. Dagnamnit.

lauren-take-me-out-2015

Lauren

Age: 19
Job: Sports Science Student
Location: Cardiff
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Never had a serious relationship (Oh Lauren, preaching to the choir, preaching to the choir…)
Random Fact: She is a very keen roller-blader but admits that she isn’t very good as yet.
Reason why I think she’s great: Her ideal date is something competitive because she likes the idea of a bit of rivalry and most importantly, she wants to win. Yes. This. I’ll tell you a story folks. Many moons ago I fancied this girl in the year below at uni. I once played her at Pool in the SU and all my mates told me I had to lose to let her win, that isn’t my style folks, that is so not my style. Instead I potted an extremely tricky black and won. That date wasn’t forthcoming although weirdly I did end up in her kitchen in the early hours of one morning talking abstract Journalism theories. That was abnormal.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is a chubby chaser, which sounds great as I have a bit of a belly on me (although less so than a year ago, lost two stone boys and girls, yes, props) but I don’t have the big curly hair nor the strong body frame that she desires. Sad times.

looci-take-me-out-2015

Looci

Age: 26
Job: Fire Breather and Circus Entertainer
Location: Leeds
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eleven Months
Random Fact: She cannot break the three date barrier, she never hears from guys after the third date. I kinda know what she’s going through. I can’t break the one date barrier. That is more or less the same, No…?
Reason why I think she’s great: Circus performer, fire breather, body burning, hand candle dancing, poi spinning, fire hooping, static trapeze, hoop, silks, rope…I mean come people, who couldn’t fall head over heels for this person? As an aside, every year I mentally try and guess who’ll get the most Google searches from the show and Looci is the red hot favourite at this juncture, red hot favourite.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by men who wear smart leather shoes still live at home and have facial hair, but wait, what is that? I wear trainers, I live alone and am clean shaven/stubble depending on how lazy I’m being. Her worst idea for a date would be being serenaded over a candlelit dinner. I once had a first date that was a dinner date and I’ll tell you this folks, never again. Nothing in her notes says that I would send her running for the hills so let me dream people, let me dream…

melanie-take-me-out-2015

Melanie

Age: 27
Job: Nurse
Location: Norfolk
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two and a half Years
Random Fact: She is afraid of the sea because she can’t swim. I love the sea and can’t swim. Heck I once went swimming in the sea even though I can’t swim. That was an erm…’interesting’ experience.
Reason why I think she’s great: She does animal impressions and her favourite is the dolphin. I freaking love dolphins!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would be fun and silly, family orientated and has to have ambition and drive. Well I’m dour, deadly serious, a loner, how am I selling myself here? Apparently not very well. I love the word dour, it doesn’t really fit me but in this context I’m going to stick with it for comedic effect.

natalie-take-me-out-2015

Natalie

Age: 28
Job: Department Store Worker
Location: Wokingham
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: Her celebrity crush is Gregg Wallace. If she wants a crush on a Masterchef judge she needs to Google George Calombaris. Now he is a man we could all have a crush on!
Reason why I think she’s great: She has a law degree people. As I’ve said before, brains = sexy.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by a guy who doesn’t like to go out. I was once nicknamed ‘hermit crab’ by someone, yeah I’m guessing I’ve turned her off already.

natasha-take-me-out-2015

Natasha

Age: 25
Job: Tennis Coach
Location: Essex
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: Her brother is James Argent from TOWIE. I have no idea who that is, that says a lot about me I suspect.
Reason why I think she’s great: She loves the smell of new tennis balls and that is not a double entendre nor a euphemism. The smell of new tennis balls are genuinely pretty darn awesome.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would be down to earth, kind-hearted, good looking and sporty. Well I’m sporty… (and I’d like to think kind-hearted but that is for others to decide)

risha-take-me-out-2015

Risha

Age: 24
Job: Mobile Hairdresser
Location: Sheffield
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: Her mum is so desperate to marry her off that she keeps giving out Risha’s phone number to guys.
Reason why I think she’s great: She talks, shouts and swears a lot in her sleep. Just how entertaining would that be? (Well until you were really trying to sleep but still..)
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal date starts with dinner, No, No, No, No, No. I’ve had one dinner date and never ever again (well probably never, I won’t close the door to it but it was bad). However her ideal date does end in a jacuzzi, that I am fully on board with.

shadz-take-me-out-2015

Shadz

Age: 31
Job: Fashion Designer
Location: London Town
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eighteen Months
Random Fact: She has partied with Pharrell Williams, Kelis, Timberland, Justin Timberlake and Evander Holyfield. Haven’t we all…? I once saw Sir Trevor Brooking on an escalator and saw Steve Claridge on the tube, how does that compare?
Reason why I think she’s great: She has her own fashion label called Mz Fits and that is pretty darn cool is it not? I know of the fashion label Mizfitz but that is a completely different type of clothing and probably not something I should know about. Ho hum…
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would be over 6ft and preferably be a plumber, electrician or personal trainer. I once fixed a boiler but apart from that I’ve got nothing.

sophie-take-me-out-2015

Sophie

The initial Press Pack had some inaccurate information for Sophie so the following has been amended.

Age: 24
Job: Marketing Assistant
Location: Surrey
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: Sophie lives in fear of being shat on by birds. It is a fine fear to have but I wouldn’t worry, it has happened to me twice, both bizarrely when on school grounds, maybe the birds were trying to tell me something (either that or seagulls hang around schools because lots of crumbs and discarded food to be had, either/or)
Reason why I think she’s great: Her pride and joy is her Border Collie Bella and any man who comes into her life would need to understand this. Well I’m a cat guy first and foremost but anyone who has real love for their pets gets the big thumbs up from me!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her biggest turn-off would be for a guy to turn up driving a bad car, notably a yellow Cinquinto. How would she feel about a guy driving an imaginary car…? Mentally I’m picturing a Fred Flintstone type vehicle at this point.

vanessa-take-me-out-2015

Vanessa

Age: 25
Job: Lampshade Designer
Location: London Town
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Four Years
Random Fact: Vanessa hates the gym but to keep her model physique in shape she loves to skip.
Reason why I think she’s great: Her guilty pleasure is Top Gear. That is cool. Certainly the cheap car challenges and the specials.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Vanessa is turned off by men who have bad teeth or who are too into themselves to pay her any attention. To once again quote from that date that I had a few months ago that a young lady reviewed publicly, ‘So we walked along the beach to the pub, spent a couple of hours there and walked back. In this whole time, I think I talked about myself for all of 5 minutes, with not many questions or interest aimed at me. True, when you are nervous, you can talk too much. But if you are getting to know someone, surely you want to hear what they have to say?’ – So maybe, just maybe I am too into myself (which I think is bollocks but still, this lady thought so) oh and my teeth, not perfect, not bad but certainly not perfect.

All photos are copyright Fremantle Media and are courtesy of ITV.

Take Me Out starts on Saturday 3 January on ITV1 at 8:30 PM.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

December 30th, 2014 at 4:24 am

Posted in Media,Random Stuff

Tagged with ,

On what men should wear on a first date…

without comments

Well people of the internet, it has been a while since I’ve written any dating advice and I mean in all seriousness, who wouldn’t want to read dating advice from a permanent (now 30+) resident of the single living? Well yes, I know, it doesn’t sound like I’m the type of person you’d go to in these situations but the theory, the theory I do well, it is just the practical I stink at.

A few months back I had a date and she wrote all about it and pretty much lambasted everything about me, from the fact I was too talkative, to the fact I had elderly neighbours, that I was, ‘so far away from Prince Charming’ and then on to the obvious fact that I was ugly. Some new ones in there for me (and one big whopper that is kinda par for the course and I’m still pissed off about the fact I have elderly neighbours is an issue to diss me, I mean come on…) but she also used a paragraph to disparage what I wore and that is what I’m going to address right now (he says whilst typing in PJ bottoms that have a giant hole where there really shouldn’t be a giant hole, this is why I’m single folks, well amongst many, many other reasons…)

Having read the review of our date, I shared the link with a few friends expecting to get resounding backing that I wasn’t as terrible as she described, alas the feedback was indeed mixed and the big bone of contention was my clothing. For those of you who knows me in real life, I’m not a shirt, tie, shoes or suit guy. I just don’t like them and feel stuffy in them. I’m lucky to have employment where I can dress how I see fit so this isn’t an issue in everyday life for me.

So when it comes to dates I have a couple of issues, even if I wanted to dress smartly, I don’t own any smart clothes, like none. I don’t have a suit, I may have a couple of shirts somewhere in the back of the wardrobe but I never wear them, I don’t own any formal trousers and whilst I do own a pair of shoes (£11) they are generally only used when I cba to do up the laces on my trainers and I’m only popping over the road to the local shop. Now all this is bad enough but here comes the whopper…I don’t even own a fecking coat. I own two university hoodies that I wear. Trust me in a date situation, when you are 31 and turning up in a hoodie, the likelihood of a second date has already decreased ten-fold (although in the interests of fairness, I have actually had two second dates on the back of a date where I was wearing a hoodie – amazing scenes!).

So word to the wise people of the internet – do not be stubborn like me if you actually want success on a date and potential second dates and so on.

They say, ‘dress to impress’ and in these scenarios they are right. As much as I hate the fact that clothing and first appearances are important, they indeed are. Now of course a first date going for a drink in a pub should induce different clothing to a first date at a restaurant, if you turn up to a pub all suited and booted then you’ll probably look a bit out of place (although taking off the tie and unbuttoning your collar will save you quick sharpish). Putting thought into what you wear will show your potential beau that you’ve thought about it and that you’ve put thought into it. If you show that you’ve put thought into these things then you’ll put thought into the relationship and so on, it is all a matter of bloody subconscious mind games.

If you turn up looking like you’ve just picked up the top thing off of your bedroom floor then again, not a good look. At this point I should throw in a caveat, some women would like to see a guy on a first date show off their personality, if they are a jeans and t-shirt guy then so be it, some though want to see a man make a special effort. My best advice here is to do one of two things, either try and work out the type of personality your date has before you go and roll with what she would be more impressed by/happiest seeing or do this instead, ask yourself, ‘what would Neil do?’ and do the exact opposite. In a 50/50 situation in a dating scenario, I’ll be wrong 90% of the time, which is statistically difficult to pull off but I’m special.

Also smell. Men are supposed to smell nice (well unless the woman prefers a ‘real man’ and they want him to smell that way) so aftershave, cologne, something that makes you pop when you greet them with a hug or that awkward kiss or that just general awkwardness. It won’t surprise any of you that know me that I own neither of these projects and never have, yet just another reason why I’m single. Smelling good though is surprisingly important. Not smelling bad is a prerequisite but smelling good is a huge tick in the box in your favour.

Time to recap this rambling tale of advice folks. Don’t turn up in ‘outrageous trainers’ because apparently that is a thing (oh my Nike Air Max 95s sunset limited edition I still love you and always will, despite what people say), don’t look like you’ve just picked whatever is top of the pile, maybe if you own an iron (I don’t) actually use it, wear something you feel comfortable in first and foremost but if you are going to a classy place and don’t feel comfortable in posh clothing then ask yourself, ‘why am I having a date here in the first place?’ Clearly in this situation you are trying to impress someone well back it up with your clothing numpty. If you are having a more relaxed drink/coffee date then the clothing rules are much less strict but still iron, no to the crazy trainers and smell good.

A good piece of advice is to get a female friend to take you out shopping and let her dress you up with three or four clothing choices for a variety of dates, something more formal and some more relaxed choices. They themselves have probably had many dates in their lives and they know a good and a bad first impression when they see one so this type of assistance is invaluable.

If you follow these rules then you’ll do better than me because I’m a stubborn prick that believes that my clothing choices and appearance shouldn’t dictate if someone likes me or not. The reality is of course completely different but what can I say? I’m a moron. Of course clothing and your appearance isn’t the be all and end all but you’d be surprised how much the first five minutes count for, after five minutes you could already be done no matter how witty or interesting you are so folks, follow my advice and don’t follow what I actually do. Following what I do in a dating setting is just stupid but read what I have written and take it to heart then you might not end up like me, sitting writing a blog post about dating whilst sitting in PJ bottoms that have a hole so big everything can flop out whilst looking at a desk with remnants of chocolate doughnuts spread out all over it (although the double chocolate doughnuts are so good…)

And with that I wish you good luck in your dating endeavours. I’m off to have the Neil special of pork, leek and mustard sausages in finger rolls with chilli sauce. I’m such a catch…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

December 23rd, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Dating

Tagged with

On UKIP MP Douglas Carswell’s ‘clever’ editing behaviour on twitter…

with 5 comments

So just a quickie but it sums up why I get pissed off at politicians and particularly UKIP.

Douglas Carswell tweeted the following earlier today (it got RT into my timeline)

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell's tweet

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell’s tweet

The article linked to was this one

The actual article linked

The actual article linked

When you click on the twitter button this is what actually comes up to RT

What it comes up with if you hit the Twitter button on the article

What it comes up with if you hit the Twitter button on the article

So Carswell changes it to state that a Cameron adviser confirms that the UK will join the UK whereas the actual story is that former deputy Michael Hestletine’s personal opinion is that the UK will join the Euro but not in the foreseeable future.

It is shit like this that pisses me off. He has changed the tone of the tweet and actually completely misidentified Hestletine as a Cameron adviser when in fact he is just giving his own opinion and isn’t an adviser to the PM but who wants the truth eh? UKIP make a living on spreading misinformation that the public believe and clearly Douglas Carswell quickly got the memo that you win votes by lies and not trusting the public with the facts and the truth.

Doesn’t it just make you want to vomit and yet no doubt he is busy slapping himself on the back for being so smart as to change a view words to change the tone of a story knowing that many people will believe it and won’t even bother clicking on the link to see the actual facts behind the story.

I despair and have vomit to clean up. Thanks Douglas!

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Written by neilmonnery

December 16th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

On the ending of The Newsroom…

without comments

Oh man. A show with so much promise, some first rate actors, some interesting characters and a star writer, how on Earth could it end so limply? I loved the first season, I enjoyed the second season in the main and even season three started off well but the final three episodes just sucked.

Let me start at the killing of Charlie Skinner at the end of episode five of this season, why Sorkin, why? I know you’ve explained why but once more I ask, why Sorkin, why? The Newsroom revolved around Skinner and the acting masterclass that Sam Waterston put on. I loved him in Law & Order and loved him just as much as the bourbon drinking head honcho at ACN. He didn’t need to die and the way he killed him was just so mundane and didn’t give him the gravitas that he deserved if he was to meet his demise.

So the final episode explored some of the back stories that put the cast together, we’ve seen this before from Sorkin. At the start of season two of The West Wing we saw a wonderful two-parter (In the Shadow of Two Gunmen) that showed how everyone came together. This time though it didn’t set up a season, it ended a shows run and it didn’t actually add too much to the storyline. We knew Sloane was into Don before (‘You never asked me’) and we knew Mac was dealing with issues from Afghanistan. We find out that Jim has had a bad long-distance (45 mins away by car) relationship before (thus setting up the Jim/Maggie ending) and we find out that Charlie is a true gent who wants to do the news right (er…we knew this already) and that Will cares about ratings and what people thought about him (again we knew that already) so is all seriousness for all the flashbacks we learnt that Jim has had a bad history in semi long-distance relationships. So worth it.

This brings me on to the most disgraceful part of the episode, the return of Neal (seriously dude, spell your name right, like all good Neil’s). Neal missed most of the season hiding out in Venezuela after refusing to give up a source ad what does he get after his near two months on the run? It gets announced at Charlie’s wake that his plane has landed and he gets a cool shot at the ACN Digital guys but he gets zero interaction with the rest of the crew. No pats on the back, no-one asking him how he was, nothing. Now I’m guessing this has to do with actor Dev Patel working on other projects so they just tried to shoehorn him into the episode but come on, film at least one scene where people welcome him back for fucks sake. As much as the fact he spells his name with an a instead of an i pisses me off, I loved Neal nearly as much as I loved Charlie. He reminded me of me, if only I was better looking, had better morals, was smarter…well he doesn’t remind me of me as such but his name is similar and I liked him, ok?

Mac is pregnant. Who cares? Mac gets promoted to be President of ACN without even being asked, like, for reals? Any scene with Leona is great as Jane Fonda is great. Seriously someone create a spin-off show that is just Leona and Charlie (assuming he can be resurrected from the dead) drink bourbon and bitch about the world and I’d be all over that. As would everyone who watched The Newsroom.

So we get to the finale of the most painful romance in TV history, Jim and Maggie. Jim (with whom I actually do identify in many ways despite not even being remotely close to my name) realised that he was in love with Maggie still, despite going out with Hallie (who was wonderful, if you were to possibly draw up my ‘ideal’ woman in terms of the type of person with whom I think I’d fall for then it would be Hallie, ambitious, smart, beautiful, quick-witted, sorry I’m just imagining the make-up sex with her after a fight, I’m sensing it would be amazing but I digress). So Jim and Hallie end after he is a dick (see, I told you I could relate to him) but in part it is because deep down he’s remembered his feelings for Maggie. She is seeing someone else too but he’s super smart and realises very quickly that she is hung up on Jim.

This tawdry love affair reaches a climax on a plane where they share an albeit beautiful kiss, the head stroke and smile on Maggie’s face seemed genuine and lovely. At times I can at least see romance even if I’m seemingly incapable of portraying it in real life. She finally had the one she wanted. Fast forward three days and after three nights of sex, Jim recommends her for a field producers position in DC, meaning they would have to be in a LDR (see the flashbacks did have a very small point after all) but having overcome the lazy blonde stereotype that she was in season one and after the abomination of what they did to her character in season two, she had blossomed into what we saw, a confident, smart, young woman. Hurrah. Yet here we are with her all nervous about Jim trying to ship her out of town. They end this mini-fight with her asking why he was so sure that this LDR would work when the others hadn’t and he walks away saying, ‘because I wasn’t in love with them’ – nice. A good line finally. Sadly we all know that in reality Jim would be too much of a prick for it to last and Maggie would find someone better suited in DC but we can all pretend, right? This wasn’t Josh and Donna from TWW, that love story needed no coercion, it was natural and the audience could see it and yearned for it, this was just meh.

To round this all off we of course get to Will and Mac. Mac is Will’s one. Will doesn’t care about ratings and doesn’t care about being liked deep down, that is all a mask, all he cares about is Mac and how she sees him. Mac and Will were together before but she cheated on him and he couldn’t forgive her at that point and went into years of depression that his one could do that to him. She is brought back by Charlie because he knows that the only way to turn both the show and Will around is to make him care once more and the only way to do that is to bring her in. Fair enough. It works as a storyline and we saw Will’s evolution into the character we all loved. Mac however never truly developed and her happiness came from being with Will and making him into the best person he could be. Sweet yes, but again shows how Sorkin struggles with writing female characters.

Look, don’t get me wrong, overall I enjoyed the show and Charlie and Leona were insanely good characters. Will was developed well and all three actors (Waterston, Fonda, Daniels) were first rate. Sadly though for an ensemble cast, the rest of the characters were never truly developed and this held back the show from becoming what it could have been, the acting was great but the writing concentrated too much on the holier-than-thou attitude of Sorkin towards the media (which may or may not be unfair depending on your take of the current media output that we are subjected to) but that air of arrogance held back the development of the other characters and forced relationships that didn’t sit well with the audience. It could’ve been special and when they were given six more episodes to end things then everything was set up for an epic climax, instead we got an average episode then summed up the missed chance once more that this show was.

The Newsroom 2012-2014. Loved, then liked, then watched. Sadly it won’t be terribly missed.

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Written by neilmonnery

December 15th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with

Anglia Engineering Solutions Ltd Spam Trojan Virus Warning

with 10 comments

This morning I received the e-mail below. Straight away I knew it was a virus of some sort but some googling has shown that by opening the file attached to the e-mail, it will attempt to download a binary trojan horse on to your computer. So if you get the following e-mail please delete straight away and do not open the attached file.

Dear ,

We are making a payment to you.

Please find attached a copy of our remittance advice, which will reach your bank account on 11/12/2014.

If you have any questions regarding the remittance please contact us using the details below.

Kind regards
Imelda Myers
Anglia Engineering Solutions Ltd
Tel: 01469 936919

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Written by neilmonnery

December 10th, 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with

How Green is your local council? All 352 councils are ranked

without comments

The website biggreen.co.uk today published the results from a national environmentally-conscious recycling and waste manage company who reviewed all the local recycling percentages from council to council across the United Kingdom. The results are based on the 2012-2013 financial year period.

Top of the list was Rochford Council, which is not a stones throw from where I am, however Southend itself was 87th on the list. I happen to think that Southend Council do a pretty good job in promoting recycling in the borough, I know it is cool to rag on local councils but my lot provide pink sacks for everything, collect the recycling all the time, recently they’ve provided food bins and yeah, they do a pretty decent job. Of course they could do more but a lot of it is now down to educating the public of what can and can’t be recycled.

One of the big surprises is the Green run council of Brighton & Hove was 327th with only 26.80% of all refuse being recycled, that is a shockingly low percentage for a council run by a party who has this on the forefront of their identity. That just doesn’t make much sense to me but I think the issues of that council have been well known for a while.

All councils can do better and the fact the difference between top and bottom is so stark shows that many councils do not take this issue seriously enough. It isn’t hard to recycle. Councils, certainly those nearer the bottom of the list, need to take a long hard look at themselves and get better.

So anyway here is the full list of councils along with how much refuse is recycled, reused or composted. So how did your council do…?

1 Rochford District Council 66.75%
2 South Oxfordshire District Council 65.32%
3 Vale of White Horse District Council 65.13%
4 Surrey Heath Borough Council 63.77%
5 Three Rivers District Council 61.96%
6 Stockport MBC 60.97%
7 Calderdale MBC 60.61%
8 Stratford-on-Avon District Council 60.28%
9 West Oxfordshire District Council 60.11%
10 Rutland County Council 59.83%
11 Oxfordshire County Council 59.79%
12 Epping Forest Borough Council 58.80%
13 Woking Borough Council 58.57%
14 Cotswold District Council 58.57%
15 North Somerset Council 58.43%
16 Lichfield District Council 57.84%
17 West Devon Borough Council 57.01%
18 Braintree District Council 56.86%
19 Harborough District Council 56.70%
20 Mole Valley District Council 56.69%
21 Suffolk Coastal District Council 56.66%
22 Warwick District Council 56.52%
23 Teignbridge District Council 56.38%
24 Cheshire West and Chester 56.10%
25 South Cambridgeshire District Council 55.97%
26 Huntingdonshire District Council 55.91%
27 Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council 55.55%
28 Uttlesford District Council 55.53%
29 Castle Point Borough Council 55.50%
30 Leicestershire County Council 55.46%
31 Cherwell District Council 54.85%
32 Devon County Council 54.82%
33 Bexley LB 54.30%
34 West Lindsey District Council 53.95%
35 Staffordshire Moorlands District Council 53.95%
36 East Riding of Yorkshire Council 53.91%
37 Cambridgeshire County Council 53.90%
38 South Hams District Council 53.85%
39 Cheshire East 53.78%
40 Staffordshire County Council 53.63%
41 East Lindsey District Council 53.57%
42 Milton Keynes Council 53.53%
43 Tewkesbury Borough Council 53.15%
44 East Staffordshire Borough Council 52.92%
45 Oadby and Wigston Borough Council 52.69%
46 Guildford Borough Council 52.51%
47 Horsham District Council 52.45%
48 Suffolk County Council 52.37%
49 Warwickshire County Council 52.34%
50 Stafford Borough Council 52.25%
51 Surrey County Council 52.13%
52 Essex County Council 52.05%
53 Ryedale District Council 51.97%
54 Cannock Chase Council 51.96%
55 Bradford City MDC (MBC) 51.85%
56 Basildon District Council 51.85%
57 Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council 51.73%
58 South Gloucestershire Council 51.42%
59 Lincolnshire County Council 51.35%
60 St Edmundsbury Borough Council 51.22%
61 Tamworth Borough Council 51.13%
62 Rushcliffe Borough Council 50.84%
63 North Kesteven District Council 50.79%
64 Central Bedfordshire 50.67%
65 Shropshire 50.60%
66 Waverley Borough Council 50.59%
67 Waveney District Council 50.46%
68 South Staffordshire Council 50.37%
69 Rugby Borough Council 50.35%
70 Dorset Waste Partnership 50.32%
71 Somerset County Council 50.31%
72 Elmbridge Borough Council 50.11%
73 West Berkshire District Council 50.06%
74 Blaby District Council 49.91%
75 Barnsley MBC 49.88%
76 Bournemouth Borough Council 49.72%
77 Daventry District Council 49.72%
78 Fenland District Council 49.45%
79 Bromley LB 49.07%
80 Brentwood Borough Council 49.05%
81 Wolverhampton MBC 48.99%
82 South Ribble Borough Council 48.88%
83 South Northamptonshire District Council 48.76%
84 Charnwood Borough Council 48.71%
85 Kingston-upon-Hull City Council 48.54%
86 Wigan MBC 48.52%
87 Southend-on-Sea Borough Council 48.42%
88 South Kesteven District Council 48.27%
89 Chorley Borough Council 48.14%
90 Gloucestershire County Council 48.07%
91 Peterborough City Council 48.01%
92 Sandwell MBC 47.95%
93 Trafford MBC 47.90%
94 Derbyshire Dales District Council 47.85%
95 Buckinghamshire County Council 47.61%
96 Lancashire County Council 47.58%
97 West Lancashire District Council 47.51%
98 Wyre Borough Council 47.47%
99 North Hertfordshire District Council 47.31%
100 Forest Heath District Council 47.01%
101 Maldon District Council 46.95%
102 Mid Devon District Council 46.85%
103 Dacorum Borough Council 46.84%
104 Forest of Dean District Council 46.71%
105 East Hertfordshire District Council 46.58%
106 North West Leicestershire District Council 46.55%
107 Harlow District Council 46.45%
108 Kettering Borough Council 46.33%
109 Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames 46.31%
110 Northamptonshire County Council 46.21%
111 Isle of Wight Council 46.21%
112 Chelmsford Borough Council 46.19%
113 East Northamptonshire Council 46.18%
114 Wiltshire 46.10%
115 East Devon District Council 46.05%
116 Epsom and Ewell Borough Council 46.03%
117 Richmond upon Thames LB 46.03%
118 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council 46.02%
119 York City Council 45.96%
120 Cumbria County Council 45.93%
121 Bath and North East Somerset Council 45.83%
122 Fylde Borough Council 45.83%
123 Shepway District Council 45.78%
124 Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council 45.70%
125 North Yorkshire County Council 45.68%
126 Hertfordshire County Council 45.55%
127 Reigate and Banstead Borough Council 45.51%
128 Derbyshire County Council 45.49%
129 Chiltern District Council 45.44%
130 Maidstone Borough Council 45.42%
131 Dover District Council 45.41%
132 Broadland District Council 45.41%
133 Derby City Council 45.39%
134 Bristol City Council 45.30%
135 Hambleton District Council 45.24%
136 Wychavon District Council 45.21%
137 Cheltenham Borough Council 45.20%
138 South Derbyshire District Council 45.20%
139 Taunton Deane Borough Council 45.08%
140 Sedgemoor District Council 45.03%
141 Rother District Council 45.00%
142 Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council 44.92%
143 Oxford City Council 44.83%
144 Corby Borough Council 44.77%
145 Harrow LB 44.75%
146 North East Derbyshire District Council 44.73%
147 Melton Borough Council 44.70%
148 Torbay Council 44.62%
149 Carlisle City Council 44.55%
150 Northampton Borough Council 44.34%
151 Swindon Borough Council 44.33%
152 Croydon LB 44.30%
153 North Devon District Council 44.24%
154 Eden District Council 44.21%
155 West Somerset District Council 44.08%
156 Lincoln City Council 44.08%
157 Norfolk County Council 43.98%
158 North Lincolnshire Council 43.93%
159 Solihull MBC 43.92%
160 Wealden District Council 43.90%
161 Welwyn Hatfield Council 43.82%
162 County Durham 43.56%
163 Worcestershire County Council 43.54%
164 Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council 43.42%
165 Craven District Council 43.38%
166 Runnymede Borough Council 43.33%
167 Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council 43.30%
168 Selby District Council 43.27%
169 Allerdale Borough Council 43.25%
170 Telford and Wrekin Council 43.16%
171 Hillingdon LB 43.04%
172 Bury MBC 43.03%
173 North Norfolk District Council 43.01%
174 High Peak Borough Council 42.98%
175 Torridge District Council 42.96%
176 Thurrock Council 42.96%
177 Tandridge District Council 42.96%
178 Warrington Borough Council 42.94%
179 South Somerset District Council 42.94%
180 Canterbury City Council 42.86%
181 Cambridge City Council 42.85%
182 Hartlepool Borough Council 42.79%
183 South Lakeland District Council 42.74%
184 Nottinghamshire County Council 42.69%
185 Spelthorne Borough Council 42.64%
186 West Sussex County Council 42.61%
187 Brent LB 42.50%
188 Greater Manchester WDA (MBC) 42.17%
189 St Albans City and District Council 41.63%
190 Richmondshire District Council 41.61%
191 Wellingborough Borough Council 41.57%
192 Rotherham MBC 41.47%
193 Bromsgrove District Council 41.47%
194 Leicester City Council 41.45%
195 Wokingham Council 41.31%
196 Broxtowe Borough Council 41.23%
197 Doncaster MBC 41.18%
198 Medway Borough Council 41.03%
199 Kent County Council 41.03%
200 Mid Suffolk District Council 40.97%
201 Mid Sussex District Council 40.96%
202 Bolsover District Council 40.95%
203 Scarborough Borough Council 40.89%
204 Mendip District Council 40.84%
205 Copeland Borough Council 40.84%
206 Lancaster City Council 40.81%
207 Ipswich Borough Council 40.77%
208 Ealing LB 40.57%
209 Hertsmere Borough Council 40.46%
210 Walsall MBC 40.45%
211 Chesterfield Borough Council 40.44%
212 Wirral MBC 40.43%
213 Colchester Borough Council 40.30%
214 Leeds City Council MBC 40.28%
215 Eastleigh Borough Council 40.23%
216 Poole Borough Council 40.18%
217 Northumberland 40.15%
218 West London Waste Authority 39.95%
219 Greenwich LB 39.94%
220 Erewash Borough Council 39.91%
221 Herefordshire Council 39.70%
222 Watford Borough Council 39.66%
223 Blackpool Borough Council 39.56%
224 Wakefield City MDC 39.54%
225 East Sussex County Council 39.20%
226 South Norfolk Council 39.17%
227 Bedford 39.12%
228 Wycombe District Council 39.07%
229 Sefton MBC 38.96%
230 Merton LB 38.86%
231 Enfield LB 38.81%
232 Hampshire County Council 38.68%
233 Bracknell Forest Borough Council 38.48%
234 Chichester District Council 38.47%
235 Gloucester City Council 37.95%
236 Hart District Council 37.95%
237 Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council 37.90%
238 Darlington Borough Council 37.78%
239 Aylesbury Vale District Council 37.78%
240 Halton Borough Council 37.36%
241 Worcester City Council 37.10%
242 Tameside MBC 37.04%
243 Norwich City Council 37.01%
244 Breckland Council 36.97%
245 Stevenage Borough Council 36.82%
246 Manchester City Council MBC 36.79%
247 Gateshead MBC 36.76%
248 Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council MBC 36.75%
249 Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council 36.70%
250 Fareham Borough Council 36.63%
251 Stoke-on-Trent City Council 36.63%
252 Ribble Valley Borough Council 36.59%
253 Arun District Council 36.57%
254 Sutton LB 36.53%
255 Gedling Borough Council 36.41%
256 City of London 36.41%
257 Coventry City Council 36.27%
258 Boston Borough Council 36.24%
259 Merseyside WDA (MBC) 36.22%
260 Reading Borough Council 36.09%
261 Mansfield District Council 36.08%
262 Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council 35.97%
263 Oldham MBC 35.96%
264 Pendle Borough Council 35.88%
265 Hyndburn Borough Council 35.77%
266 North Tyneside Council 35.58%
267 Winchester City Council 35.45%
268 Hounslow LB 35.05%
269 South Tyneside MBC 34.89%
270 Exeter City Council 34.85%
271 Dudley MBC 34.79%
272 Preston Borough Council 34.72%
273 Rossendale Borough Council 34.62%
274 Harrogate Borough Council 34.60%
275 Havering LB 34.60%
276 East Hampshire District Council 34.53%
277 Broxbourne Borough Council 34.26%
278 Worthing Borough Council 34.14%
279 Sunderland City Council 34.07%
280 Cornwall 33.88%
281 Ashfield District Council 33.85%
282 North Warwickshire Borough Council 33.69%
283 Luton Borough Council 33.61%
284 Test Valley Borough Council 33.56%
285 Rochdale MBC 33.37%
286 East Cambridgeshire District Council 33.37%
287 Adur District Council 33.25%
288 Barnet LB 33.03%
289 Plymouth City Council 32.85%
290 Eastbourne Borough Council 32.78%
291 Burnley Borough Council 32.68%
292 Kirklees MBC 32.57%
293 South Bucks District Council 32.43%
294 North East Lincolnshire Council 32.43%
295 Sevenoaks District Council 32.29%
296 Swale Borough Council 32.20%
297 Wyre Forest District Council 31.74%
298 North London Waste Authority 31.72%
299 Haringey LB 31.66%
300 Nottingham City Council 31.62%
301 Malvern Hills District Council 31.43%
302 Islington LB 31.43%
303 Knowsley MBC 30.91%
304 Camden LB 30.91%
305 Waltham Forest LB 30.79%
306 Bolton MBC 30.72%
307 Southwark LB 30.38%
308 Birmingham City Council 30.38%
309 Havant Borough Council 30.30%
310 South Holland District Council 30.06%
311 Slough Borough Council 29.93%
312 New Forest District Council 29.67%
313 Redbridge LB 29.44%
314 St Helens MBC 29.32%
315 Redditch Borough Council 29.26%
316 Salford City Council MBC 29.23%
317 Stroud District Council 28.92%
318 Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council 28.91%
319 Tendring District Council 28.69%
320 Amber Valley Borough Council 27.99%
321 Sheffield City Council 27.72%
322 Tower Hamlets LB 27.65%
323 East London Waste Authority 27.57%
324 Dartford Borough Council 27.01%
325 Barking and Dagenham LB 26.84%
326 Great Yarmouth Borough Council 26.84%
327 Brighton and Hove Council 26.80%
328 Thanet District Council 26.78%
329 Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea 26.44%
330 Crawley Borough Council 26.11%
331 Rushmoor Borough Council 25.78%
332 Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council 25.23%
333 Liverpool City Council 24.70%
334 Western Riverside Waste Authority 24.60%
335 Gravesham Borough Council 24.47%
336 Newark and Sherwood District Council 24.46%
337 Hackney LB 24.32%
338 Gosport Borough Council 24.14%
339 Southampton City Council 23.86%
340 Hastings Borough Council 23.68%
341 Wandsworth LB 23.45%
342 Portsmouth City Council 22.80%
343 Lambeth LB 22.76%
344 Hammersmith and Fulham LB 22.66%
345 Bassetlaw District Council 22.48%
346 Lewes District Council 22.32%
347 Westminster City Council 21.70%
348 Middlesbrough Borough Council 21.55%
349 Newham LB 21.04%
350 Lewisham LB 20.03%
351 Council of the Isles of Scilly 17.70%
352 Ashford Borough Council 11.88%

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

December 9th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with

On reminiscing about my school cricket days…

without comments

So last night I was in bed watching an episode of Bad Education, as you do, and the episode was about the school football team and it got me thinking about the three years I actually played for my school. In Year 6 at Meadowlands and then Years 7 & 8 at Oaklands before we moved to the Isle of Wight and I attended Carisbrooke High and there was no cricket team there, boo. Hampshire and England spinner Danny Briggs went to Carisbrooke, I wonder if they had actually formed a team by the time he got there, they still hadn’t by the time I left but they might have sorted themselves out in the years since.

I laid back in bed thinking about all the games I played and you’d be surprised just how good of a recollection I have. At Meadowlands Middle they had never had a team before but the team was made up of both Year 6 and Year 7 pupils. Our first game was away at Denmead and despite being the youngest player on the team I took the bowl for the first over as no-one else had the guts to (or maybe I was our best bowler, one of the two) and my first over was dot, dot, dot, 2, wicket, dot. That isn’t a bad way to start. The wicket was clean bowled middle stump. Something I’d get used to.

You see I wasn’t a pacey bowler and at best I was military medium, however I knew exactly what I was doing and could move it off the seam both ways at will. At that age those types of bowlers weren’t the norm, guys with control who could bowl wicket to wicket and everyone thought they could slog me to all parts and no-one ever could. I would take wickets bowled constantly throughout my time. I think I had one caught behind and maybe an LBW but everything else was bails clattering to the floor.

We would lose at Denmead comfortably and lose again at Purbrook Park before our only win at Barncroft. This game was on an INSET day so we went into school in the afternoon just for the game. We smashed them but the biggest story from that game personally is that I hit my only boundary of my school cricket career and it wasn’t a four, oh no, it was a six. You see I was (and would still be) and genuine #11 but I hit one six at Barncroft (it cleared the boundary by inches at best) and that was my best performance batting wise.

So on to secondary school and I tried out for the team and made it. Again unsurprisingly I made it solely based on my bowling talent. We actually had a pretty good team and in Year 7 you’d play a lot of the schools locally before being split into A and B leagues from Year 8 onwards and we would go on to play in the A league.

In the last practice before our first game (at home against Horndean) I was bowling superbly and our teacher said that I’d be in the team and would be part of our bowling quartet. Good times. However when it came down to it whilst I did make the team, I didn’t bowl. Crazy. This isn’t me being big headed but more to do with the fact that there was no point me ever being in the team unless I was bowling as I couldn’t bat and with my dodgy arm and leg, I was never a great fielder. Having said that though I did take a stunning catch in the cover against Crookhorn I think it was, a cover drive creamed off of the bowling of Baker and I stuck out my right mitt and plucked it out of the air when it was destined for the boundary with maybe only one or two bounces.

Anyway we won both those games and then we’d do enough in Year 7 to make the A league in Year 8 (we lost at Warblington but were unbeaten elsewhere). I’d play every game and after that opening game I would mostly bowl out my overs nice and economically. Our set up was very simple. 20/20 games and Bennett and Baker would bowl the first ten and Harding and myself would bowl the second ten.

In Year 8 we got given the opportunity to go to Portsmouth Grammar School for a friendly as we’d impressed in Year 7. We lost at Warblington badly (just like we had done in Year 7 – clearly our bogey team). We were skittled out for 58 or so and we couldn’t defend it. In this game I got to bowl one over and gave up three runs and was given the hook because I was giving up too many runs. I distinctly recall how pissed off I was about this as I was our most economical bowler that day and that game would lead to a change, they decided to bring up a Year 7 bowler to the team to replace me in the bowling attack, I still played but again didn’t bowl, like there was any point in that but still.

The previous week we’d had our best victory, we went to City Boys and tore them apart. Bennett got five wickets and they were so arrogant they weren’t even watching their team bat, instead they were practising in their Sports Hall and batters weren’t ready to come out and bat because we were taking wickets so frequently. Baker took one, Harding took two in two overs and I took two in 1.5 overs to end things as we limited them to just 56. We would squeak home in a game we should’ve romped home with four wickets to spare.

We played PGS away and I played didn’t bowl. Again not amused because mainly there was no point me being in the team if I wasn’t to bowl and you know what, I was one of the best bowlers in the team and my record backs them up. Across middle and secondary school I’d average a wicket every 11 balls and my economy rate would’ve been well below three. That is a fine record. Although of note on the PGS game was the tea we got, seriously good food. Also the person who was doing the scoring was doing it as a detention punishment, I found that amusing.

Anyway we played Horndean again in the cup in Year 8 and I didn’t play, I was off school that day and we put in our worst bowling performance of the season, giving up well over 100 runs in the 20 overs but coupled with our worst bowling performance was our best batting performance. Champkin, Moss and Connolly all scored highly and we’d go on to play St. John’s College in the semi-final. That day had been wet and we all suspected the game was postponed but we heard nothing so went to the minibus at the end of the school day and waited, and we waited, and we waited. Our teacher didn’t come so after 15-20 mins or so a couple of us went to find him, the game was somehow on and we got in the minibus and went down to St. John’s playing fields.

When we got there, we saw no minibus and thought again the game was off because we were seriously late, yet a few minutes later Mr Marron came back and said they were on their way and we went into the clubhouse and got changed. Again the Year 7 kid was in the side (Sutherland) so again I was in the team only to bat (lols) and field. It was the perfect wicket for me to bowl, it was wet and I bowled it wicket to wicket nibbling off the seams, I’d have torn through that team but I digress (can you tell it still bugs me?)

We batted first and scrambled to 80 odd, which wasn’t a great score but defendable. We bowled well and had them nine down going into the final over and they needed four to tie and five to win. A tie would mean they would qualify for the final as we were all out in our 20 overs (I was out first ball, stupidly batting at #10, the fact someone was deemed worse than me at batting is quite something but I missed a full, fast straight one and off stump disappeared behind me).

Baker would bowl the final over and it went one, one, dot, one, dot. So the final ball and they needed one to tie and two to win. Full pitched delivery, dug out but straight back to Baker, he had time to turn and run at the non striking end and take off the bails but instead he turned and threw at the stumps and missed and we had no-one backing up and they scrambled through for the tie and we went out based on having lost more wickets. Gutting.

My last game and we went out to a posh school having been so close. On a personal level too going out having not bowled was just as gutting. Still wait, what is this? I’d suit one once more? So yes, the cricket teachers/coaches of Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 were asked to select the best players for the Staff v Students match and Year 8 got two players and I was selected along with Baker. So I was deemed one of the best two players despite not being called upon to bowl in many matches, yeah that made sense.

The staff v students game was on the last Saturday of the school year and it was a 20/20 game but the rules were slightly different, every player bowled two overs (bar the wicketkeeper) so I came in and bowled my first over, neat and tidy and then came my second over – and this one would be my last ever in a competitive match. I started dot, dot, dot and with three balls left in my career I took a wicket, nick behind. In came the headmaster, now the rules of this game were that first ball you couldn’t be out, so you could come in and have a big slog for a ball, so first ball to him, I hit middle and off and everyone cheered but of course he wasn’t out due to that rule, I just turned and trudged back to my mark (not that I had a mark, I just arbitrarily decided where I would run in from on a ball-by-ball basis – I never had the pace to worry about no balls, I was always way behind the line). My final ball I chugged in and pitched one up, he dug it out but it went low and hard to mid on where Baker was fielding, it was tough, it was low, but it was catchable and he got both hands to it but couldn’t hold on. I was that close to ending my career with a hat-trick and the headmaster too. Damn.

Somehow I was inked in to come in and #8 in this game and I actually scratched around and scored eight off of about 15 balls and it was a relief when I got out as we were in a run chase and we needed someone better than me batting. We went on to lose by one run. Gutting. The game though was changed somewhat when the headmaster was given out LBW but said that he wasn’t out and refused to go, he’d go on to score 50 odd when he given out for something like ten.

So yeah, a blog that no-one will read and no-one will care about but it was fun to write. That win at City Boys will always stick out because we as a bowling unit tore them apart. I’ll always be miffed that I was underutilised as a bowler in the team and that game at St. John’s…we should’ve been in the final. It is weird that I can pretty much remember the whole team despite having maybe only spoken to one of them in the past ten years. I moved school and my cricketing days were in my rear-view mirror. I wonder how the guys did in subsequent seasons and whether Sutherland kept playing for both his year and our year. Also it scares me just how much of this all I can very clearly remember.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

December 5th, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Personal

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On the banning of certain sex acts in UK pornography…

with 3 comments

Oh boy. Where do I start? Some of you will no doubt have read the story in the Independent today where it lists the new sexual acts that are banned in UK pornography. If you haven’t then you’ll be interested to know the following acts are not allowed to be shot in porn shoots here in the UK any more:

Spanking
Caning
Aggressive whipping
Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)
Urolagnia (known as “water sports”)
Female ejaculation
Strangulation
Facesitting
Fisting

The theme here is clearly violence but what about consensual violence? No-one knows what goes on behind closed doors and the amount of people who enjoy consensual violence is far higher than most people imagine. Porn shoots will often have acts of domination and that often goes hand in hand with consensual acts of violence. The thing that is also clear though is this list seems to lean heavily towards acts from which women derive the most pleasure and the FemDom porn industry is going to be hurt substantially by this.

I have written before abut how we need to be more open as a society with our viewpoints towards sex and sexuality. Just because something isn’t someone’s cup of tea, they shouldn’t judge that others and we certainly shouldn’t be banning it and making it harder for people to explore their erotic desires.

This isn’t the time or place to talk openly about my views towards sex and sexuality but if you know me well then you’ll know that I’m pretty open and liberal sexually (despite my distinct lack of actual first hand knowledge). I think what happens between two (or more) consenting adults is all fair game and heck, life is hard enough without being judged for what we may or may not like in bed. I look at that list and I can only see one thing listed that I wouldn’t try (not including female ejaculation obviously, because you know, genetically I’d probably struggle with that). I can say that I have watched porn that includes all ten of the newly banned things on that list. I’m happy to admit that. Some of what I’ve watched has been extremely exciting and interesting and I’d watch more and I’d be involved in many of those scenarios, in both positions.

The problem is some people in grey suits have decided that because someone might enjoy watching people be spanked or being verbally abused or degraded that it is a ‘slippery slope’ to those people going out and committing crimes to fulfil their fantasies. I would love to see the evidence of this. I really would. Also banning it would surely drive some of these people to find new ways to get their rocks off so to speak? Pushing sexual things underground only goes to pushing a problem under the carpet, out of sight, out of mind and all that but here’s the thing – their isn’t a problem.

There is a beautiful comment on that story in the Independent, ‘As a hard working taxpayer I feel I have the right to unwind in the evening and watch a woman being strangled while she urinates with someone’s fist up her arse.

Who is in charge of this madness?

You’ve got to chuckle by he/she is right. I know people who like to be strangled. I know people who like to be strangled so much they lose control of their bladder. I know people who like being fisted. I know people who would like to watch such an encounter. Why shouldn’t the people who enjoy it not be able to be filmed and paid for such a shoot and why should people not be allowed to purchase said video? It is just an example of a government overstepping their remit and trying to impose their sense of moral judgement on those who might have more open morals. It isn’t governments place to tell us what is good and what is bad.

I believe strongly in individual freedom for people to live their lives how they see fit as long as they aren’t harming anyone else. If people want to sell and buy sex freely then so be it. I have long been for the legalisation of prostitution for people who freely want to sell and buy sex. The same is true of pornography. If the people involved are consenting and they are adults then who has the right to tell these people that they shouldn’t be allowed to do it? No-one.

Also what the hell is wrong with seeing a female ejaculate? I mean c’mon. What is wrong with facesitting? What is wrong with water sports? What is wrong with spanking? I could go on but you get the picture.

Yes you’ll see a tiny fraction of people watch violence towards women or men and become obsessed and want to find harder core stuff and eventually get to a place where they could go on to do something nasty in the real world with without consent. However you can’t legislate for the tiny minority. At some point you need to take a step back and allow humans to live their lives how they see fit as long as they don’t hurt others. This change to the 2003 Communications Act has gone beyond that and are treating humans as creatures that quite simply cannot be trusted.

It is moves like this that instead of protecting potential victims down the road actually does the opposite. If you starve a person of something they won’t just forget about it and move on, they’ll become more active in seeking what they want and if they can’t find it by their usual means of porn then they may take things into their own hands. So it falls down on two points. It hurts on the fact that government are legislating against adults having free will in the porn they wish to create or watch and it also will probably cause more issues down the road as fewer people will be open and will try to suppress their sexual desires until they explode.

Bravo government. Bravo.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

December 2nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

Looking at the rise of online activity in our lives…

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Every so often we collaborate with partners on articles and today is one of those occasions. Here is a piece about the modern day world and how the internet plays an important part in our lives. It kinda hits home. I hope you enjoy…

I’m not the most social of people, let’s get that one out of the way. While I enjoy the company of others, I’m most certainly not averse to my own company – and without the internet, I must admit, I might have gotten all to used to my own company.

It is my lifeline to friends, the framework for me to work closer to understanding exactly what I want in life, and the canvas on which this blog sits; it is an incredibly important part of my life, as it is with everyone’s, but why? What has changed since the internet came into being, in people, that made it so instrumentally important? I think it’s largely to do with sociability.

Studies such as the one linked above suggest that people are becoming, in some cases, less sociable as a result of the internet. I counter this, with the thought that maybe what it means to be sociable has changed. Let’s have a look at what the internet offers in these terms.

The obvious candidates for increased sociability are the Facebooks, WhatsApps and skypes of the world, that reach over oceans and country borders, giving voices to millions of people who might not have had it before. The reach is outstanding. But these we know about. What about other kinds of interactivity?

The ever-increasing, exponential popularity of online, interactive games is a particularly illuminating facet of this new-social phenomenon. With the arrival of online gaming sites such as www.casinosagafans.com, social consciousness makes a very deliberate move from the literal world to this internet world, taking part in a shared interactive experience and ultimately socially benefiting from it, without tangible communication! There is a community, and you are voicelessly interacting within that community, sharing experiences not with language or communication but by a sort of interweb-osmosis.

What I mean to say is that with the advent of the internet and this new kind of social interactivity, the way we go about sociability in the first place is fundamentally altered. In some cases dsciability is mapped closer to the act of watching a film in a cinema than the conversations before or after: shared experience without necessary communication! Of course, this is a small drop in a big ocean of ultra-tangible communication, and not the complete and utter truth – indeed the world would be a lot sadder if it was the absolute case. But the mistake made when discussing our relationship with the internet, beyond our extended communicative reach to friends and family around the world thanks to Skype and Facebook, is the assumption that we are becoming more lonely, more introverted. And it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by Ian Pope

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Others