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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

RAIN FAILS TO DAMPEN SPIRITS AT HAMPTON COURT

In Uncategorized on 3 July 2012 at 11:42

Following the wake of the Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court tends to be much more low key and relaxed event. This year press day was marred, like much of the summer (sic) by heavy showers that according to forecasters will continue throughout the week. However, this never tends to dampen the spirits of the designers, gardeners and exhibitors who, like their plants, are a hardy bunch that can always be counted on to do their best to make every show better than the last.

As usual the quirky gardens competed with the classical; the sublime with the ridiculous; but there is always something to delight everybody and there is never a shortage of things to admire. The Floral Marquee was a magnificent blaze of colour and this year over ninety nurseries and growers put on a stunning array of domestic and exotic plants and blooms.

Of the gardens, I particularly enjoyed The Discover Jordan Garden that took its inspiration from the lost city of Petra. Of the others, The Russian Museum Garden used a theme that was connected with St Petersburg (although I have to say, this was lost on me) and The Italian Job was a masterpiece in geometric design. There were a number of exceptional designs under the theme of ‘Low Cost High Impact Gardens’ that proved how a small space can be converted by anyone with a fairly restricted budget. Of these, among the superb examples I particularly enjoyed Live Outdoors that demonstrated what can be achieved with a budget of £13,000, although this is still wildly beyond the means of many.

The RHS Flower Shows throughout the country are always well worth a visit. I always marvel at the innovative way designers can plan, plant and create such beautiful creations on a temporary plot of land that remains for such a very short period and is then removed once the show is over. We cannot underestimate the talent of these people and it is pleasing to know that the British do this in such an auspicious way.

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show continues until 8 July so you there are just a few days to enjoy this amazing festival of colour. I suggest you brave the weather and take a good look for yourself.

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LESSONS FOR THE ENGLAND FOOTBALL TEAM

In Football, Sport on 3 July 2012 at 10:30

I am taking the liberty of publishing an excellent short article from my long friend Barrie Harding that, to me, sums up the problems Roy Hodgson has with the English national football team.

The European Championship once again showed just how far we have to go to be able to compete with the top sides. And right now we are going further back rather than forward.

Don’t believe anyone who says that English players cannot be technically improved. We are essentially the same people as other Europeans (including Spain and Italy) so why are they so much more comfortable on the ball. One word answer – attitude.

It’s the attitude of the fans first of all. The football was nicely played but do you think the average fan will be prepared to watch that slo-mo football every week?

The clubs clearly don’t believe so and persevere with the usual thud and blunder type of game that is more exciting to watch for the fans and relies more on strength than on skill. Gone are the days when we could overpower teams. They are all as fit if not fitter than us and even when not as physically strong – as with players like Iniesta and Xavi – they have so much skill they make players like Milner look like an elephant trying to swat a fly.

I’ve heard “experts” saying that we can be as good. Physically I’m sure that’s correct but unless we have a complete rethink of our whole attitude to the game nothing will change insofar as our international side is concerned. And if we did decided to change it won’t be the current squad or even any of those currently playing now at any age that will benefit.

Look at our school system and see how many schools actually encourage football or have the proper facilities or coaches. How many kids do you see kicking a ball around in a playground? When a kid does show some skill they get into a organized team – and who gets to the top of that team? Not the best but the biggest and strongest.

Kids develop physically at different times – some earlier than others and if they are interested in football they look better than the smaller kids because they can run faster and generally knock the other kids around to impress the coaches who, themselves, are indoctrinated in the same ways of developing athletes rather than players.

This isn’t new. It happened when I was young and playing football. My point is that we haven’t progressed from that same attitude we had back in the fifties and sixties.

So don’t hold your breath for an overhaul of the way we play. If we accept that as a given the next question is how do we make the most of the footballers we have and that means developing a style and tactics that fit.

Barrie Harding

PS I am reminded of a comment made many years ago that fits our basic football player. It concerned a player well known for being a strong powerful athlete with the nickname of “Horse”. When asked whether this player got that nickname because he was powerful and graceful as a racehorse his manager replied “no, it’s because he has the brains of a rocking horse and the close control of a clothes horse!”