We’re having a...

Would you like baby to be a boy or a girl?

Since we announced our pregnancy, this is the most common response, and I’ve been honest in my answer. If I were to choose, I’d love a little brother for our 2yo. But this is for exactly the same reasons that I wanted our first child to be a son. I think little boys are easier to deal with and are traditionally more tactile, more likely to bounce back (that’s what I hoped). Also being male, I felt it’d be easier for me to pass in knowledge from my experiences but I know Nikki wanted a girl for the same sort of reasons. But I appreciate that if we are to have a little girl, I’d be just as happy as she will offer different experiences to those with my son (pretty dresses for one as Nikki keeps telling me).

At the end of the day, so long as baby is safe and healthy, that’s the main thing and I’ll love them no matter what.

Gender Scan Time

Being the impatient sort of person she is, Nikki booked a gender scan to find out if we were going to be giving out 2 year old a little brother or sister. The scan was booked for 23rd October initially for early in the morning but it was moved to later in the day so we our family members could join us.

I was under strict warning that I wasn’t to be late arriving with the threat that Nikki would happily start the scan without me. So, like a good partner I arrived quarter of an hour before the scan and ahead of the rest of our party - I wasn’t going to miss this for the world. A few minutes later and everyone else pulled up in time for the 16:00 appointment.

Our 2 year old went to play whilst we sat and looked at the many baby name books on the table in the waiting area, as the expectant mother before us had difficulty getting baby to ‘show’ for them. Eventually it was our turn to be seen. With our 2 year old, my parents, Nikki’s parents and her sister there was quite a clan of us in the room.

The sonographer started the scan and immediately allayed my fears by saying she found the heartbeat. Within a minute or so, she said she had seen what she needed for the gender scan and she revealed we are going to have a little...


We are both ecstatic that we will have a little girl joining our tribe, due in April 2018.

Exciting News

We’ll travel back a few months to mid July. Nikki was complaining about feeling ill and run down, despite resting up for a few days she still wasn’t feeling right. A couple more days passed and on 30th July, Nikki came down stairs and waved a pregnancy test under my nose. I had a quick look at it, saw a single line and realised I had no idea what this meant (I assumed it was a positive result but I genuinely didn’t know if it was good news or not). After a few seconds of confusion on my part Nikki confirmed that she was pregnant and we were going to have a little brother or sister to our 2 year old.

I think it was safe to say Nikki was excited by the news, me, I as always was a bit more muted at the news. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thrilled by the news, however my mind started to consider possible outcomes and it left me worried about what we were going to do. Thoughts about where baby would sleep, would we be able to reuse our sons older clothes, how will our son react! All scary thoughts.

Nikki continued to feel ill, but at least she had a reason for it. Fast forward a few weeks and Nikki made an appointment at the doctors to investigate some abdominal pains she was experiencing, they recommended that she have a early pregnancy scan to make sure that everything was going ok. She asked me to come along, and being a good daddy I obliged. At the scan we found that baby had a heart beat and everything was progressing well. We were also were told that there were signs of a second sac, and that it was likely a second pregnancy that hadn’t continued. In truth this was a shock, but at the same we both felt blessed to have one healthy child on the way, and that it was difficult to feel sad about something we didn’t know existed (of course it’s sad but...)

We had a second scan a fortnight later (at week 8 of the pregnancy) to check that everything was progressing well. I’m glad to say it was. We got to see baby again, which was fantastic. I was amazed to find out that baby had grown from 4mm (tiny!) to 20mm in just 2 weeks. 4 weeks later, at the 12 Week scan baby had grown to 55mm, another massive jump in length. In all honesty I had forgotten how amazing the journey baby progresses along is. As with our first, each time we’ve been for a scan I’ve been so relieved that everything has gone ok.

I think Nikki is finally getting over her morning sickness, but she has started to get migraines in their place. I’m saying that she is worrying too much about the things she can’t control, so if you’re reading this Nikki - Chill, concentrate on getting baby here safely and everything will fall into place.

Next week we’re due to go for a gender scan. Again, in the spirit of honesty, I’d like another little boy. From a practical point of view, we’ve got lots of baby boy clothes in our house and we know several people that have boys too so clothing shouldn’t be an issue and the boys could share a room for longer, all practical things... and Nikki would have two mummies boys. However if it’s a little girl, everyone will be able to buy ‘pretty’ things and spoil her and we’ll have the complete family. I don’t really care what the gender scan reveals so long as baby is still developing healthily.

I’ll be back next week with another update, probably revealing whether we’re having a boy or girl.

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Fleetwood Town | League One | 21/10/2017

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Fleetwood Town | League One | 21/10/2017

Shrewsbury had returned to winning ways on Tuesday as they eased themselves to a 4-0 victory against Bristol Rovers. Paul Hurst named an unchanged team for the visit of Fleetwood Town, who came into the game off the back of two draws. Interestingly, both teams had managed to score in each of their games this season and both would be looking to extend this record.

The game was due to be played as a storm hit town, which would have an impact on the type of football played, it would be interesting to see which team adapted to the conditions best.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton (Payne 72), Nisiala, Sadler, Brown (Beckles 76); Whalley, Godfrey, Agogo, Rodman; Nolan; C Morris (John-Lewis 85)
Subs: MacGillivray, Beckles, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B Morris, Payne

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Pond, Cargill, Bell, Dempsey, Schwabl (Hunter 75), O'Neill (Grant 62), McAleny (Hiwula-Mayifuila 63), Cole
Subs: Neal, Hiwula-Mayifuila, Burns, Grant, Rodgers, Hunter, Sowerby

First Half
It quickly became apparent that Fleetwood had come to the Montgomery Waters Meadow, playing a defensive 5-3-2 and when the ball went out of play, you witnessed a team instructed to waste time, this was bourn out with the first booking of the game being issued for repeatedly taking too long to take a throw in.

The half ended with Juinor Brown having two efforts on goal. The first saw him come off the left wing finding some space to release a right footed drive at the goalkeeper. The second chance came from the left backs head as a corner was swung in, but the goalkeeper was equal to it.

Second Half
With the wind now working against Shrewsbury, a few supporters around me thought it might work against the team, but if anything Shrewsbury were more dominant after the break. However Fleetwood probably had the best opportunity to take the lead as a loose pass out from the back resulted in a quick two on one break. Fortunately, and probably deservedly given the negative tactics employed, the attacker with the ball slipped on the wet surface as he was bearing down on goal.

With the game heading towards full time, Shrewsbury won a corner. Shaun Whalley send the ball over for Nisiala to win a header and loop the ball towards goal, just over a defender on the post to send the supporters wild... the players reactions weren’t too bad either. This left only a few minutes added time to see out the game.

Final Thoughts
Against a team, obviously set up to frustrate Shrewsbury with the intentions of trying to get a draw, it felt very satisfying to nick a goal right at the death to win the game. With the goal coming in the 88th minute, there was no way Fleetwood come mount any pressure to try and force an equaliser.

Fleetwood never really looked like threatening Shrewsbury’s unbeaten record, it was whether Shrewsbury could force a winning goal.

The biggest concern amongst most supporters was the injury sustained by Juionr Brown just before he was substituted.

Man of the Match - Toto Nisiala
In a game that was hugely influenced by the stormy conditions, Toto was the defender we’ve come to love against Fleetwood. Quick across the ground to cover danger, strong in the tackle and dominant in the air. In the first half there was a perfect example of this as he raced back to make strong crunching tackles in quick succession, to really endear himself to the Salop faithful. His goal at the death to keep Shrewsbury at the top of the league was the cherry on the cake.

Shrewsbury Town 4 - 0 Bristol Rovers | League One | 17/10/2017

Shrewsbury Town 4 - 0 Bristol Rovers | League One | 17/10/2017

With two draws away from home, Shrewsbury were looking to get back to winning ways and at the very least continue the unbeaten start to the season. Bristol Rovers started the game having not drawn a game in the league. Something had to give, but I was hopeful that the town could get back to winning ways.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nisiala, Sadler, Brown; Whalley, Godfrey, Ogogo (B Morris 85), Rodman; Nolan (Gnahoua 81); C Morris (Payne 66)
Subs: MacGillivray, Beckles, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B Morris, Payne

Bristol Rovers: Slocombe, Partington, Lockyer, Sweeney, Bola, Sercombe, O Clarke, Lines (Sinclair 45), Gaffney (Leadbitter 57), Harrison, Nichols (Telford 72)
Subs: Leadbitter, Brown, Broadbent, Telford, Moore, Smith, Sinclair

First Half
The first attempt at goal fell the way of the Gas, with the ball sitting up nicely to be struck by the Rovers attacker but the ball looped forward going narrowly wide, just catching the frame behind the goal. It was Shrewsbury, however, who took the lead after a fast counterattack from a Rovers corner. Henderson came out to claim the ball before throwing the ball to Whalley, he made his way to the halfway line before releasing Alex Rodman. Rodman continued the charge towards goal and snuck a shot under the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 after 12 minutes.

A further 12 minutes in, Shrewsbury extended their lead with Carlton Morris heading in a second from a left wing cross. Morris had done well to peak away at the far post before hanging in the air to power home his header. In truth the keeper should have done better with trying to keep the header out, but he only seemed to help the ball over the line. On 29 minutes, a third goal was tapped in by Jon Nolan, sweeping in a cross from Morris.

Junior Brown wrapped up a sensational first half performance by nodding in a fourth goal, unmarked from a free kick, just before half time. Understandably the Rovers fans jeered as their players left the field at half time.

Second Half
It was Brown again who came closest to adding to Shrewsbury’s goal tally in the second half driving into the box before unleashing a left footed shot in to the keeper’s near post, but the goalie stood firm and kept the shot out. In truth, Shrewsbury were able to take their foot off the gas, an keep Bristol Rovers at bay without the need to push forwards... even if the better chances fell to Salop.

In the dying moments Bristol managed their first shot on target that drew ironic cheers from the remaining fans.

Final Thoughts
The first half performance was probably as good as I can remember in a long time. Each goal knocked a bit more wind out of the sails of Rovers. I had thought the visitors had looked a threat going forwards, but in truth they were always playing in front of the defence, with Godfrey and Agogo breaking up play more as the game wore on. With the game won in the first half, Salop were able to control the game and ensure that Bristol weren’t given a sniff of goal. It was probably the best professional performance I’ve seen in some time, so much so that Paul Hurst was afforded the opportunity to withdraw two of his key men and give them the chance to receive standing ovations.

Man of the Match - Abu Ogogo
The vast majority of players could easily have been considered for my MOTM, Ogogo stood out for me by continuing his efforts from the first half into the second, harassing the Rovers midfield and defence, not giving them a moment to consider there options. Alongside Agogo, Godfrey and Nolan helped pull the strings in midfield whilst Whalley provided a number of assists, Rodman and Carlton Morris worked their socks off and got a goal each. The back four looked strong and composed throughout the game. That leaves Dean Henderson who didn’t put a foot wrong, but he wasn’t called in to action that much. Such a strong team showing.

I also want to mention the fans as they produced a great atmosphere particularly in the first half. It was definitely the case that the players inspired the fans, who in turn spurred the players on. One of the best nights for the club in a long time! 

Being Me #1 | Memories Not Souvenirs

I’d thought I’d kick this series off with something that dawned on me whilst recently on holiday with my family.

It was as we walked around one of the many stores in Disneyland thinking about what we wanted to pick up to remember our trip by. It was there that I realised that, to me, memories are more important than trinkets from days out.

Although we did buy plenty of things from Disney, for our son mainly, but I decided that I only wanted to get some small things (a lanyard and pin badge or two), but the memories generated from our holiday will stay with me forever. I’m honest enough to admit that things weren’t perfect on our holiday, but actually that all probably contributed to the memories that we created. The longer than anticipated walk between landmarks in Paris, the backend of a storm hitting Disneyland and torrential weather on our journey south will all stay with me.

Five Favourite Friday... Halloween Costumes

I’m back with another Five Favourite Friday post (but not with the subject I’d anticipated) and with it being Friday the 13th I’m going through my favourite Halloween Costumes.
Although I never really ‘did’ Halloween growing up (too American for my liking), but there are Costumes that I think suit the celebration. In recent years Nikki has dragged me along to grownup Halloween parties and I’ve made (a poor) attempt at dressing up, first as a zombie patient and then a vampire, but there are much better options out there that will be included.

1) Puns
If you can get a costume that also raises a laugh you’re on to a winner in my book. Some of my favourites are: 
  • ‘Hairy’ Potter - An overly hairy person throwing their clay, an apron and additional hair can make this a quick costume that can be cobbled together at short notice. 
  • Cereal Killer - A simple costume where you affix cereal box covers to your clothes, then walk around with your weapon of choice, fake of course! 
  • French Kiss - stereotyping the French, by wearing a beret and striped shirts with black and white Kiss makeup.
  • Ginger Bread-man - Dress up as a baker and add a ginger wig, easy.

2) Creepy Clown
I think what makes them scary is the fact clowns exist and, extenuated by films like ‘It’ [1990 & 2017], there is something inherently creepy about clowns. It’s not difficult to see why some people have a phobia of them (Coulrophobia). A bit like my next favourite, I think you’ve got to throw yourself into being a creepy clown, otherwise you’re just not scary!

3) Zombie
A staple of Halloween costumes and relatively easy to pull off (some people naturally have an almost dead complexion). But as with most of these, the more preparation that you put into it, the better it will look in the end.

4) Werewolf
One of my favourite mythical monsters and quite an easy costume to make with a bit of additional fur here and there.

You can always hope that Halloween isn’t a full moon and you can just go in casual clothes and say you’ve not been affected by the moon’s rays!

5) Ghost - Victorian
Another costume that can be done quickly by doing with bits you may have lying around the house (a white sheet with eyeholes) or going full on with ghostly makeup and wearing mute clothes that make you look like your from the Victorian era.

I hope this inspires you, if you’ve got any favourite Halloween Costumes that you love let me know in the comments below.

Shrewsbury Town 3 - 0 West Bromwich Albion U21s | Checkatrade Trophy | 03/10/2017

Shrewsbury Town 3 - 0 West Bromwich Albion U21s | Checkatrade Trophy | 03/10/2017

On the back of fine league form and a last minute victory in the previous round of matches against Coventry City, Shrewsbury took on West Bromwich Albion’s under 21’s in the second match of the Checkatrade Trophy. Going into the match I was confident that Shrewsbury would manage to beat WBA U21’s, they have looked physical strong, well organised and confident. It could be argued that Shrewsbury would be the strongest side in the competition, being top of League One. However it was difficult to predict what sort of problem WBA U21s would pose.

Looking at the team sheets before the match, Shrewsbury had named a strong starting side with a bench full of first year professionals, the only name I recognised on the opposition team was Oliver Burke, bought in the summer for a rumoured £15m.

Shrewsbury: MacGillivray; Shelis, Beckles, Sadler, Riley; Gnahoua, B Morris, Adams, Dodds; Carlton Morris (Mwandwe 89), John-Lewis (Barnett 67)
Subs: Gregory, Hughes, Mwandwe, Barnett

West Brom U21s: Palmer, Burke (Pierce 62), Morton, McCourt, Melbourne, Soleman, Jameson, Bradley, Chambers, Brown (Azaz 73), White (Clayton-Phillips 67)
Subs: House, Pierce, Clayton-Phillips, Azaz, Rogers, m Harmon, Hall

First Half
As I had expected, Shrewsbury started the more dominant with a high pressing game, putting significant pressure on the WBA defence, gifting Salop possession in dangerous positions on the pitch. The first good opportunity fell to John-Lewis who collected a pass from Dodds 20 yards from goal and outmuscled a defender only to see his placed shot come back off the post.

Shrewsbury did take the lead shortly afterwards as John-Lewis poked home following Carlton Morris’ header towards goal was pushed away by the goalkeeper. As the half wore on John-Lewis had another opportunity to score, but after getting himself a yard of space, although on target his shot lacked any significant power.

Second Half
The second half followed the pattern set out in the first and Shrewsbury soon added a second goal, to lead 2-0. The impressive Joe Riley, playing at left back, provided his second assist of the night by crossing for Carlton Morris to flick goal-wards, catching the goalkeeper unawares.

It was soon 3-0 as Louis Dodds, collected the ball just outside the area and curled a low shot into the bottom corner of the net - very much giving the score line an appropriate feel. There were later chances for Joe Riley and others as the WBA players started to show signs of fatigue.

Final Thoughts
It was good to see a number of players get some game time, for some it was the first time I’d seen them play, but it was a convincing victory that Shrewsbury thoroughly deserved. I was disappointed with WBA, I expected that these teams would offer some threat, but they didn’t offer anything in attack. I had noted Burke’s name on the team sheet, and although he looked head and shoulders above the rest of the team, he still didn’t look anything special on that performance. Down to the results elsewhere it looks as though Shrewsbury have made it through to the next round, where I’m sure they’ll have no fear of anyone they have to play.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
Another good all round performance by the team, so it was difficult to single one player out. It was the first time I had seen Omar Beckles play since his move from Accrington Stanley, and he impressed winning most things that came his way, whilst looking accomplished with the ball at his feet. Arthur Gnahoua looks like he could be a fans favourite if he can displace either Shaun Whalley or Alex Rodman. Also, Christos Shelis making his debut after signing a 2 year deal looks like a good option for the future. But for me Carlton Morris probably edged it, he didn’t stop running, never gave the defence a moments peace on the ball and he got deserved a sly goal on the night.

2017 New Years Resolutions | October Update

I've been meaning to do an update on my progress on my resolutions for a really long time (probably back to April, but 'life' got in the way), but I'm finally getting round to considering my 15 resolutions that I wanted to achieve in 2017.
Blog Resolutions:
  • Outline what the Five Favourite Friday topic will be in post prior to that week - To date I've done well with this one to date, but as I mentioned in my general update post a few days ago, I'm giving some consideration as to how frequently I'm going to be posting the Five Favourite Friday in future.
  • My Week That Was posts will be issued on a Sunday night - Again, generally I'm managed to stick to this, but 'life' has sometimes stopped me from getting the Posts published. If I'm honest, I could probably have done better with this resolution so far.
  • I will do a weekly review of the Free App Of The Week on the Apple AppStore - I had all kinds of good intentions at the start of the year, but I know I haven't really made much progress with publishing weekly reviews of these apps, I'd argue that the first one I didn't review was because I literally had nothing to say on the app, this then gave me a reason not to do future ones. With the rollout of iOS11, there has been a change to the Appstore meaning that they are doing free app a day and I know I'm not currently disciplined enough to review them all and maintain quality.  I'll give some thought as to how I can bring this resolution back on track.
  • Refresh the design of my blog - Done! Glad I could actually say I've accomplished one of my resolutions. Thanks to Nikki, I've updated the design template, and made some other small adjustments that mean I can say I've done it.
  • Be consistent sharing posts on social media - Another resolution that I've been a bit slack on. I will improve - honest.
Gaming Resolutions:
  • Complete wave 50 of Horde on Gears Of War 4 - I did give this a good go at the start of the year, but I noticed that the number of people playing Horde online dropped significantly and it was difficult trying to keep a team together beyond wave 20. If I'm honest, I don't think I'll achieve this resolution this year.
  • Complete to 100% 4 Xbox games - I have made some progress towards this resolution, even if a couple of games that I wanted to 100% have added new achievements to them. I've decided that I plan to complete Terraria (98%), Minecraft (98%), Lego Marvel Avengers (96%) & Lego Marvel Superheroes (60%) and I still think that it's achievable by the end of the year. 
  • Try out the Games On Gold that I download - I made a good start with this but I haven't been able to fit much of this in recently. There are four months left and I intend to try the games that come out when they're available.
  • Complete all The Simpsons Tapped Out events - This is another resolution that I've done well with. There have been 13 events completed with another one in progress, and for the vast majority of them I've unlocked all of the rewards available as part of them.
  • Capture all the original Pokémon on Pokémon Go - I decided to tweak this resolution to be capture all the first generation Pokémon available to me in Pokémon Go. In recent weeks this is a resolution that I have been confident that it will be completed. I started the year with 90 of the available 151, (although 8 weren't available at this point) and after the recent events, with the legendaries being available to battle and one of the regional Pokémon coming to major European cities I'm now only one away from completing this resolution. Only Hitmonlee to go, then I'll be left with Tauorus, Farfetch'd, Mewtoo, and possibly Mew to complete Gen 1.
Personal Resolutions:
  • Lose 21 pounds by the end of the year - I was getting my weight down, but a number of factors impacted my ability to try and shift some my excess pounds, mainly moving office and not really having access to cheap healthy food.
  • Go out once a month with the intentions to do photography - I've not been out as much as I'd like, both to take photographs or otherwise, but I have enjoyed going out with my new camera to explore all the different settings on it.
  • Attend some events - Again, I've been to a number of events, The Photography Show, The Shropshire Kids Festival and The Good Food Show/Gardens World Live, the NFL match between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars but there are still more that I want to attend, in particular ComicCon.
  • Take better care of myself - On the whole, I'd say I have, but in recent weeks, perhaps I haven't, in part due to trying to time things right for our upcoming holiday. At the time of writing this, I need a haircut, but want to get it done before we leave next Friday, after that I should be good to continue with this resolution.
  • Watch more TV - I'm glad to say that I'm making progress on this resolution. I've watch much more TV, and I've really enjoyed catching up on 'Death In Paradise' and a few other programmes, mainly as a result of not playing on my console as much.
In truth, it looks like I'm going to miss a number of these resolutions, but I will achieve some of them which I should be proud of. Perhaps I've set myself too many targets this year, but I'll live and learn for next time!