2017 New Years Resolutions | End of Year Review

As we've reached the end of the year, it's time to look back on my 2017 New Years Resolutions, and I'm afraid it's not going to be pretty reading!

Blog Resolutions:
  • Outline what the Five Favourite Friday topic will be in post prior to that week - Up until the point that i changed the Five Favourite Friday posts to monthly, I'd been doing really well at including the upcoming topic in posts. So I'm going to claim a success on this resolution.
  • My Week That Was posts will be issued on a Sunday night - Looking back I think I did well getting my Week That Was posts out on time.  I did struggle when I was away not having time to pull together posts, so this was a bit of a mixed bag.
  • I will do a weekly review of the Free App Of The Week on the Apple AppStore - A big fat fail with this resolution, not helped by Apple changing how the AppStore worked half way through the year.
  • Refresh the design of my blog - I acheived this early in the year thanks to Nikki's help.
  • Be consistent sharing posts on social media - On my Facebook page and Twitter, I shared the majority of my blog posts but I wasn't as consistent in using Instagram, so I'll class this as another partial success.

Successes = 2
Partial = 2
Failures = 1

Gaming Resolutions:
  • Complete wave 50 of Horde on Gears Of War 4 - After about March, there were so few players playing Horde I gave up on this resolution quite early in the year.
  • Complete to 100% 4 Xbox games - Fail. I couldn't even manage get the one game i fully expected to reach 100% on. I'm hanging my head in shame as i type this out.
  • Try out the Games On Gold that I download - I wasn't committed to this resolution from day one, but I did have good intentions to at least try the games. I just didn't have the time to do this with everything else going on.
  • Complete all The Simpsons Tapped Out events - A success! Although there were times were it was close I did complete all the events.
  • Capture all the original Pokémon on Pokémon Go - Another resolution completed.  I thought I finally achieved this in October, and I've nearly caught all of the Gen 2 Pokemon available now too.
Successes = 2
Partial = 0
Failures = 3
Personal Resolutions:
  • Lose 21 pounds by the end of the year - Fail, although I didn't put any weight on so that's something i can celebrate!
  • Go out once a month with the intentions to do photography - Another fail. I just didn't find the time to get off my backside to take photos.
  • Attend some events - I attended the Good Food Summer Show and an NFL match with Nikki, while I also went to The Photography Show and another NFL match with my dad. While one event every quarter wasn't as many as I'd have liked to have attended, I really enjoyed each of them.
  • Take better care of myself - Mostly in 2017, I think I did, but going on holiday in September and in the run up to Christmas I could have done a bit more to look after myself.
  • Watch more TV - A bit of a success, as I watched more shows on Netflix and the occasional show as they were aired. However YouTube still formed the basis of our daily viewing schedule.
Successes = 2
Partial = 1
Failures = 2

So overall I'd say that I completed 6 out of 15 resolutions and been partially successful with another 3.  Whenever I'd considered how I was doing with my resolutions, I felt like i'd totally failed, so to be there or thereabouts for 9/15 feels good.

As we move into 2018, I've drawn up some new resolutions that are measurable in the anticipation that it will be more definitive as to whether I've been successful or not. You can read about them here.

Did you set yourself any resolutions? If so, let me know how you got on in the comments below.

What I Got For Christmas 2017...

When it comes to Christmas, I'm all about the giving of gifts to others but I appreciate that there might be some crazy people out there who are interested in what I got given for Christmas this year. So if you're interested, you find below a list of the presents I received from Nikki.

I’ve been very spoilt by Nikki this year and I probably don’t deserve half the presents I got, but I'll start off with my biggest present from Nikki and I was one she held back until late on Christmas Day. She managed to get hold of a Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) for me. Having released and missing out on the the Classic NES last year I really wanted to get my hands on the 2017 Classic SNES - mainly because I had owned the original back in the 1990’s.

After having to hand over my last penknife when we went to the Eiffel tower, I asked for a new Victorinox penknife (the only Swiss army knives in my opinion). Nikki bought me a Victorinox Huntsman Pen-Knife, which I love as it's got all the functions that a man (or any gender) could want. It turned out to be one of the most useful presents anyone received on Christmas Day with all the boxes that were sealed by tape, so top tip if you're unsure what to buy someone for Christmas, a penknife is a really practical gift.

I got intrigue by an excerpt of Jenson Button's autobiography Life To The Limit earlier in the year. I think it shocked Nikki that I wanted a book for Christmas that she just had to but it for me!

I bought myself a new camera last year but ever since it arrived, I have hated the strap on it - i've found it to be really abrasive on my neck (I'm a sensitive soul). But I’ve now got a
Manfrotto Pro Light camera strap for DSLR/CSC attached to my camera and it’s much more comfortable.

As mentioned in a previous post, I love the Lego series of games, so it might be obvious that I was hoping to get LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes 2, and Nikki didn't disappoint!

I also got a Pokemon Go Plus to help me with my daily grind in Pokemon Go.

2017 Christmas Film update

This is just a quick comment on the back of a post earlier in the month. At the start of Christmas I mentioned in this post reviewing The Polar Express [2004] that I wanted to watch four new Christmas films this year.  I had intended to watch:
  • The Polar Express [2004]
  • Elf [2003]
  • Scrooged [1988]
  • It's A Wonderful Life [1946]
I managed to watch the first two, but when I got some time to myself to watch the other two films I found that the streaming services we use had removed their Christmas films by that point (and i'm posting this on 28th December which tells you how quickly they were removed).

My 'The Polar Express' review is currently available, and I've almost finished my thoughts on 'Elf', but I'm going to replace the final two films with a combined review of Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse [2001] and Olaf's Frozen Adventure [2017] (I hope you don't mind too much).

My Christmas Story 2017

As the 24th December is Nikki’s sisters birthday and we stay over at Nikki’s parents, Christmas for our family officially starts very late on Christmas Eve. We prepared a plate for Santa and his reindeer, with a mince pie, carrot and a cup of lemonade (we don’t want Santa drink driving!) before taking our son up to bed. We had a nice chat with our son about what Santa was up to and where in the world he was delivering presents using the NORAD website. After he settled down, we set about getting everything sorted for the morning and then I watched Elf [2003] for the first time. Although I was tired, I struggled to get to sleep, not helped by the fact that my shoulder was hurting and I had a strange pain in my chest - which I'm attributing to stress or drinking too much cola, so I'm now off cola for the time being.

Being a big kid, I was super excited for Christmas Day and ended up waking quite early, earlier than the other Christmas-lovers in the house. My son beckoned his mummy saying he was cold, when Nikki asked him what he was saying, he replied with “Santa had took my mussies (muslin cloths)”. Nikki went on to ask him if Santa had left him a present, but he kept on repeating that Santa took his mussies, it was only when Nikki turned the light on that he saw the present at the end of his bed!

To help keep my sons focus we said we’d have breakfast in bed, to allow him to get straight into opening any presents Santa may have left for him. We got dressed and made our way downstairs. My son spotted the pile of presents left by the tree straight away, making a beeline to inspect them. The first thing he said about them was that the largest present was for granddad as it was the biggest (queue plenty of awing by the adults in the room). We spent the next hour exchanging gifts with one another and watched my son tear into his gifts. We saved the largest present until last, a wooden kitchen, which my son loved. As the paper was torn away, my son clocked what it was and he shouted “A kitchen, that's what I asked for!”, it was another lovey moment in his short life.

At about 10:00 we headed to my parents to have breakfast (biscuits, of course) and give them their presents. But before long we were heading back to Nikki’s parents to have lunch and see her Nan.

We had held some presents back for my son... because he was so spoilt this year... so after lunch it was back to ripping off wrapping paper. After everyone was done, Nikki gave our son one last present, with a letter from Santa which said it was for daddy. It was a surprise, I’ll explain more in another post, but it’s suffice to say I didn’t like Nikki for a good while after opening the present.

Everything settled down and so we headed back to my parents for dinner. It was a nice chilled out meal as we watched The Highway Rat [2017] followed by Wallace & Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit [2005] - both of which my son loved.

After a lovely day, we headed home for my son to go to bed and us to chillax watching YouTube, preparing for Boxing Day.

We started Boxing Day by watching Frozen [2013] for the umpteenth time this Christmas (my son loves Olaf, so it definitely wasn't the first time in forever...🎵) before getting on the road to see some relatives in Rhos-on-Sea. Our sat nav took us on the scenic route across country before we ended up on a road I recognised. We spent a few hours with my relatives (sneaking a bacon and egg butty), and then we got back on the road home.

Being prepared for Christmas really helped my stress levels this year (even if I did forget to wrap three presents for Nikki!) and it allowed me to really enjoy my Christmas. Being a parent has seen a shift in what my expectations are from Christmas, from looking forward to exchanging gifts to, now, seeing my sons reaction to his presents from Santa. I hope everyone reading this had a great Christmas too!


Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Portsmouth | League One | 23/12/2017


Against Blackpool last week, Shrewsbury Town kept the pressure on Wigan by winning 1-0 in a game where both teams for the most part cancelled each other out.

In an impressive run, Portsmouth travelled to Shrewsbury having won seven of their previous eight matches. Starting the day in seventh, I was expecting a tough match against Pompey.

Thirteen of Shrewsbury Towns eight wins in all competitions this season had been by one goal. Seven of Portsmouth's last nine wins have been by one goal. So I was expecting another tight game, likely to be settled by one goal.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; B Morris, Whalley , Nolan, Ogogo, Rodman (Godfrey 87); C Morris (Payne 75)
Subs: Riley, Godfrey, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, MacGillivray, Payne

Portsmouth : McGee, Thompson, Clarke, Burgess, Haunstrup, Close, Rose, Lowe (Hawkins 60) Evans, Kennedy (Bennett 60), Pitman (Chaplin 77)
Subs: Hawkins, Main, Donohue, Chaplin, Bennett, May, Bass

First Half
Shrewsbury Town started positively and could have been awarded a penalty as Carlton Morris got bundled to the ground as he went to pull the ball back when running behind the Portsmouth defence, but the referee gave a goal kick instead.

A few minutes later Jon Nolan had a shot from 25 yards, but it flew over the bar. It all stemmed from a short free-kick played between Nsiala and Bryn Morris who worked the ball to Nolan.

Shrewsbury continued to press for the opening goal and Alex Rodman had a great chance to score as he cut in from the left and unleashed a right footed shot, but a Portsmouth defender got his head to the ball to clear it.

Second Half
Shrewsbury stepped it up in the second half and had a great chance to take the lead as the referee awarded them a penalty when Carlton Morris broke free of the high defensive line Portsmouth were holding, only to be brought down by the goalkeeper as he tapped the ball past him. Shaun Whalley stepped up to take the penalty, but his shot lacked conviction and the goalkeeper made an easy save.

Portsmouth were present with a chance to punish the penalty miss as one of their attackers was brought down in the centre of the pitch, 25 yards from goal. The free kick was on target but Dean Henderson was equal to it and pushed the ball away.

Whalley made amends for his penalty miss shortly afterwards. Alex Rodman cross was cleared to Jon Nolan, his shot took a deflection and as the goalkeeper tried to deny Shrewsbury a corner, Whalley beat him to the ball and tucked away his eighth league goal of the season.

Shrewsbury got a deserved second after Abu Ogogo harried the defence, who lost the ball to Stefan Payne. He in turn charged down on goal and though the goalkeeper got a hand to his shot, it wasn’t enough to stop the striker from scoring.

Final Thoughts
After a few performances were manager Paul Hurst questioned the application of some players, this was a much improved performance especially in the second half. I had been concerned pre-match that Portsmouth would be a tough opponent, but Shrewsbury kept them at bay and created enough opportunities to record a deserved victory.

I was worried that the penalty miss would mean that Shrewsbury won’t be able to capitalise on their pressure, but they found the goals needed to beat Portsmouth.

Man of the Match - Carton Morris
Thankfully, it was back to business as usual with the whole team working together, meaning it’s difficult to single players out. That said, James Bolton, Abu Ogogo and Jon Nolan all shone, but I thought Carlton Morris set the example for the rest of the team. He ran selflessly upfront, chasing balls over the top, working hard to create chances for himself and the rest of the team. He seemed to have the pace to beat the central defenders and this running resulted in him winning a penalty for the team.

Five Favourite Friday... Christmas Foods

I wouldn’t be a good blogger if I didn’t get annoyed about things other people write or post on social media that don’t really matter. Anyway, I’ve seen a number of companies ranking Christmas Foods from ‘God Tier’ to ‘To The Landfill’. They’ve all got them wrong, so it has inspired me to post possibly the last Five Favourite Friday post of 2017, my favourite Christmas Foods.

1) Christmas Pudding
It’s only acceptable to have Christmas pud at Christmas but it’s one of my favourite things to eat (especially with cream or ice cream- yum!). I’m guessing the really enjoyment for me comes from when my parents would pour brandy over the pudding and set it alight.

2) Mince Pies
Another sweet treat for Christmas. Our office regularly judge the mince pies from different shops and will declare a winner.

3) Turkey
Turkey provides the meat for a traditional Christmas lunch, and it’s great in sandwiches with cranberry sauce and stuffing on Boxing Day.

4) ‘Pigs In Blankets’ (sausages wrapped in bacon)
I love these all year round, but it’s more acceptable on Christmas Day to have these as part of the meal. Pig wrapped in pig - yum!

5) Sprouts
It’s Christmas, so you’ve got to have sprouts whether you like them or not. Seen as a bit of a joke in our family, sprouts need to be put on to cook about 6 months before Christmas Day.

There we have it, my favourite Christmas foods, are there any you think should have displaced any of my choices (sprouts most probably)?

Christmas Treat | St Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury

I realise I’ve been a bit irregular on my posts recently, but I thought I’d share this with you guys as it might be of interest.

I was walking past St Mary’s Chuch in the centre of Shrewsbury and I noticed a beautiful Christmas tree just inside the doorway. Me being me, I thought I’d nip in and grab a quick cheeky photo of the tree.

What I hadn’t bargained for was that they lay just beyond the entrance. Inside was a projection of a kaleidoscoped stained glass image covering the entirety of the inside of the church. Regrettably I was busy doing the last of my Christmas shopping and I didn’t get chance to ask anyone about it when I popped in and I’m struggling to find out any information about whether it was a one-off event or if it’s something that’s being held through December - be sure if I find anything out, I’ll update this post.

I recorded a quick clip, but it doesn’t do it justice.

If you get opportunity, be sure to pop in and take it all in as it seemed like a beautiful piece of installation art in a fantastic church.

You can find out more information about St Mary’s Church here - https://www.visitshrewsbury.co.uk/shrewsbury-attractions/st-marys-church.html

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Blackpool | League One | 16/12/2017

A recent dip in results for Shrewsbury had seen them overtaken by Wigan at the top of League One, meaning they entered the game in second position. Similarly, Blackpool's form over the last six games almost matched that of their opponents, they started the game in 14th.

Looking at the team sheet for the two sides, there were a number of names that jumped out at me. Jimmy Ryan spent a season with Shrewsbury (I remember him as a very good footballer) and Nathan Delfouneso and Jay Spearing both played in the Premier League with Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; B Morris, Whalley , Nolan, Ogogo, Rodman (Payne 88); C Morris (John-Lewis 89)
Subs: Riley, Godfrey, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, MacGillivray, Payne

Blackpool: Allsop, Mellor, Robertson, Tilt, Daniel, Solomon-Otabor, Spearing, Ryan, (Gnanduillet 70), Longstaff (Philliskirk 70), Cooke, Delfouneso (Quigley 81)
Subs: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, D'Almeida, Gnanduillet, Philliskirk, Quigley

First Half
The first half started in an even manner, neither side getting any shots on target, but Shrewsbury had more possession in dangerous areas, assisted by Blackpool struggling to keep the ball and regularly found Shrewsbury players with passes in their own half. However, Blackpool almost took the lead from a free kick as Carlton Morris got his head to the cross, but it was directed towards his own goal, fortunately Henderson was alert to it and tipped the ball over his crossbar.

Shrewsbury's first opportunity fell to Jon Nolan after being found by Shaun Whalley. In the centre of the pitch, with space and no-one challenging him, he took aim but his shot flew over the bar.

Second Half
Shrewsbury took the lead through Jon Nolan. After neat interplay from a throw-in between Carlton Morris and Whalley, saw the ball passed to Nolan who drove at the Blackpool defence and struck left footed from 18 yards.

Blackpool's best chances both came from corners, both times the attackers had strong headers just wide of the goal.

Late on, some neat interplay starting near the Shrewsbury penalty area saw the ball end up with Jon Nolan again. This time out wide on the wing he struck a shot from 35 yards to which the goalkeeper did well to tip over the bar.

Final Thoughts
This was a typical near-Christmas match - the attendance was slightly lower than might have been expected otherwise, fans were a bit quieter and the weather probably impacted how the teams played.

Although there wasn't a huge amount of goal mouth action, I did enjoy how the match unfolded, both teams attacked and looked to get goals, but perhaps there was a lack of quality in the final third.

The referees didn't seem to endear themselves to either set of fans, with strange decisions and the referee getting in the way of passes of both sides and I'm sure the assistant referee took out a Blackpool attacker in the second half (not that I'm complaining). Also, Blackpool took every opportunity to waste time and gain yards at throw-ins, but when Shrewsbury took the lead they were being hurried by the officials at every breakdown.  As a fan this is infuriating, be consistent and don't penalise a team just because they are winning!

Man of the Match - Jon Nolan
I really like Jon Nolan as a player, he's got great ability and is a tough cookie (especially compared to some of the Blackpool players), taking tackles and jumping back up to snap into a challenge of his own.

He was the spark to Shrewsbury's play and he had the best opportunities to score, but his overall play was so important to the victory.

Film Night | The Polar Express [2004]

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.”


This Christmas I’ve decided that I want to watch at least 4 new Christmas films because last year when I typed up my Five Favourite Friday... Family Friendly Festive Films, I struggled to complete the list. I’d heard great things about The Polar Express, so I made this my first Christmas film of the year.

The story revolves around Hero Boy, a doubter, someone who is questioning the existence of Santa. On Christmas Eve his room starts to shake and gets lit up from something outside, The Polar Express. The train, which takes children that are need some encouragement to grow as people to the North Pole and see Santa Claus. Hero Boy meets a number of other children who he helps on the journey north.

I managed to sell watching the film to Nikki down to the fact Tom Hanks stars in the film, little did I know that he plays most of the roles, including Hero Boy, the conductor, Santa Claus (the list goes on), so you know what you’re going to get in terms of the voice acting. However some of the voices lacked conviction for the emotions I was expecting, perhaps that was just me though.

I enjoyed the style of the film, taking into account its 13 years old. I’d seen pictures of Tom Hanks in motion capture for the role so they could recreate his likeness in the film through CGI. It worked a treat, however I did have a bit of an issue with when the characters spoke, as it didn’t seem to line up with when their mouths moved, but I found it easy to ignore after a few minutes. As was the fashion in the early 2000’s there were scenes that felt included just for 3D experiences, which felt unnecessary and detracted from the story (skiing down the room of the carriages), and other bits that didn’t seem to make sense physically (sliding across the ice).

Despite the flaws I spotted in the film I did enjoy it, perhaps not enough to make it on to my favourites list and I probably won’t go out of my way to watch it again, but it helped me get in the Christmas spirit. The stories fun, animation strong and it kept my 2 year old hooked for an hour so that was a bonus!

‘The Polar Express’ [2004] - 3/5

Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Morecambe | FA Cup Round Two | 02/12/2017

The second round of the FA Cup brought Morecambe to the Montgomery Waters Meadow.

Losing the last two games in the league, the FA Cup offered a chance to get back to winning ways. Having beaten Aldershot 5-0 in the previous round, and playing a team struggling in a lower league, fans were confident of progressing to the third round where the top league teams get added to the draw.

I spoke to a Morecambe fan on the way into the ground and he said that their biggest threat was Kevin Ellison, someone who has been around the lower leagues for a number of seasons, but fortunately for Shrewsbury he picked up an injury in their last league game. The fan picked out that goalkeeper Barry Roche represented the biggest weakness with poor commandment of his penalty area, we were hoping that Shaun Whalley and Alex Rodman would be on top of their game and put plenty of crosses in for Stefan Payne to fight for.

Shrewsbury: MacGillivray; Bolton, Nsiala, Beckles, Sadler; B Morris, Whalley (C Morris 80), Nolan, Godfrey (Dodds 59), Rodman (Gnahoua 70); Payne
Subs: Gregory, Riley, C Morris, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, Adams

Morecambe: Roche, Brough (McGowan 45), Kenyon (Oliver 45), Old, Thompson, Fleming, Campbell (Lang 78), Wildig, Lund, Muller, McGurk
Subs: Nizic, McGowan, Winnard, Oliver, Osborne, Rose, Lang

First Half
The early signs were good for Shrewsbury with a number of chances being created, a glanced header by Nsiala from a corner and Stefan Payne dragged a shot just wide from a Jon Nolan pass. Shaun Whalley whipped in a cross 5 yards in front of the goal, but unfortunately no one had gambled to get on end of it. A few minutes later James Bolton slipped the ball to Whalley, who turned his defender inside out then crossing for Rodman to tap home from no distance, 1-0 to Shrewsbury.

Four minutes later, Shrewsbury were presented with a great opportunity for a second as Jon Nolan was played through, bearing down on goal with no one near him, he knocked the ball passed the goalkeeper who brought him down as he went passed. The referee awarded a penalty but didn’t see enough to send the goalkeeper off. Shaun Whalley slotted in the resulting penalty sending the keeper the wrong way. Justice was done and Shrewsbury led by two goals.

Second Half
The second half started with Alex Rodman cutting in from the left only to have a shot blocked, Morecambe broke quickly and the left winger tried a wild shot from 30 dragging it well wide.

There was a good chance for Payne to score after neat interplay with Dodds, but it wasn’t to be. Further good wing play by Whalley gave substitute Lois Dodds an opportunity but the keeper saved well to his left. Shortly after Morecambe had a good chance as they shot from 20 yards straight at MacGillivray. A trick and a flick saw Dodds’ header sail just over the bar.

Morecambe were given a great chance to pull a goal back as James Bolton lost his footing and presented a one on one chance to a Morecambe striker, thankfully MacGillivray stood up strong and saved the shot. Toto Nsiala has raced back and cleared the lines.

Final Thoughts
Ultimately it was the goals in the first half that won Shrewsbury the game. There wasn’t much between the two sides, but Salop edged it and booked a place in the third round. The team performance was better than that of the last game against Bradford, but gaps still appeared in the defence. Thankfully MacGillivray was equal to the few shots that were on target.

I was surprised that Morecambe were struggling in League 2, they looked comfortable on the ball, but a little susceptible to Whalley’s wing play.

Man of the Match - Shaun Whalley
Another good performance from Shaun Whalley who had the beating of the Morecambe defence all game long, he provided the assist for the first goal and confidently stroked home the penalty awarded for the foul on Jon Nolan.

Thankfully there were a few others that looked like they could have been considered for my Man Of The Match, Craig MacGillivray kept a good clean sheet, Jon Nolan ran the midfield and Bryn Morris broke up most of the play before it hit the defenders.

A special mention also goes out to Dean Henderson. The on loan goalkeeper wasn’t given permission to play, but he made an appearance amongst the Town faithful, collecting money for charity from fans after shaving his head in aid of Hope House. The reaction of the fans to his appearance was amazing to witness from the other side of the ground. Henderson led the fans through a full repertoire of songs, before they ended with ‘Hendo is proud Salopian’.