Build-A-Bear 'Pay Your Age' - The True Cost To Me

Today saw Build-A-Bear running a promotion that seemed too good to be true, pay your age for their stuffed toys.  I'd stumbled upon the offer after a friend shared the story on Facebook and thought we'd pop along, grab a couple of teddies for our children and go on our merry way.

Soon after walking into the Telford Shopping Centre shortly before 09:00, you could tell it wouldn't be a quick trip into the store as there was a queue the full length of the main part of the mall.  Whilst Nikki joined the back of the line, I went to confirm at the store our suspicions that all these people were waiting to take advantage of the offer. The store assistant explained that they were expecting that people joining the queue should get into the store in 3 hours. Unfortunately, I had to disappear off to work, but I thought I'd check in with Nikki regularly to come and join them for the purchasing of the bears.

By 12:30, I'd not heard anything so I took my lunch break, wandering across fully expecting them to have been around the store and having their own lunch - but no.  They were still in the queue and it would be another hour before they got into make their purchases.

This all got me thinking about whether we were actually getting a good deal through the promotion as it became apparent that our son wouldn't make it to his nursery session in the afternoon. By my calculations today cost us £55 for two bears that we didn't know we wanted until a couple of days ago!

Parking = £6
Nursery (not attended) = £28
Breakfast = £6
Drinks = £11
Build-A-Bear toys = £4

Total = £55

In the spirit of being fair and trying to be unbiased, I did save £7.50 on not buying a train ticket, so we sort of broken even.  If the event had happened on another day where my son wouldn't have been in nursery, we would have saved a considerable amount.

Given some of the media (and social media) coverage, I'm not sure that this promotion will be run again any time soon, however I thought I'd share with you my experiences.

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 Charlton Athletic | League One Playoff Second Leg | 13/05/2018

After a strong performance at the Valley, Shrewsbury took a slender 1-0 lead into the return leg of the playoffs against Charlton, after Jon Nolan scored a world class goal to give Salop the edge.

With Abu Ogogo still missing through injury, Bryn Morris retained his place in Shrewsbury’s team selection, which had a familiar feel to it, with the majority of the team having been included on the team sheet all season.

Charlton had come into the playoffs on a run of six victories in their last ten games under temporary manager Lee Bowyer. A number of players caught the eye in the first leg when Charlton attacked and on loan goalkeeper Ben Amos made a number of crucial saves. Sullay Kaikai returned to the Montgomery Waters Meadow having had 2 loan spells at Shrewsbury in the 2015/16 season scoring 12 goals.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Bolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; Whalley (Riley 90), B Morris, Godfrey, Nolan (John-Lewis 90+3), Rodman; C Morris (Payne 69)
Subs: MacGillivray, Riley, Lowe, John-Lewis, Jones, Eisa, Payne

Charlton Athletic: Amos, Dijksteel (Sarr 86), Bauer, Pearce, DaSilva, Forster-Caskey, Konsa, Aribo, Fosu-Henry (Kaikai 62), Magennis, Ajose (Mavididi 59)
Subs: Kashi, Kaikai, Reeves, Phillips, Mavididi, Sarr, Zyro

First Half
With the home crowd well and truly behind the team, Shrewsbury created the first chance of the match, with Alex Rodman controlling Carlton Morris’ cross at the second attempt before sneaking in a shot that the Charlton goalkeeper need to get a hand to tip it round the post.

Charlton were perhaps unfortunate to not get a penalty when one of their midfielders broke into the box and played a mid height cross in that struck Mat Sadler’s arm, but the referee waved away the appeals from the away team.

Most of the Shrewsbury attack were stemming from the left wing (in the shade as the baking sun shone down), and Carlton Morris played a delightful back healed pass into the run of Rodman, wrong footing the Charlton defence. Despite only having the goalkeeper to beat, Rodman’s shot from inside the six yard box was straight at the keeper who made the block.

Second Half
Shrewsbury got the goal the fans were craving early in the second half as Carlton Morris collected a pulled back cross from Shaun Whalley, taking a touch to set himself up before poking a left footed shot in at the near post.

Charlton presses for an equaliser on the night, but we’re generally kept at bay with one exception as a Charlton attacker stole in at the back post but failed to make a meaningful connection with the ball leaving Dean Henderson an easy save.

Shrewsbury had a great chance at the end to double their advantage but between Jon Nolan and Stefan Payne, they were unable to convert a two-on-two attack as the Charlton goalkeeper made a miraculous save to deny them.

Final Thoughts
Shrewsbury worked hard for their victories over the two legs, but in the end they deserved to go through to the playoff final at Wembley.

Charlton were restricted to half chances in this game, but never really had anything clear cut and didn’t replicate their attacking prowess that has been on display in the first leg. By contrast Shrewsbury could afford to soak up pressure and hit Charlton on the counterattack.

With that all said, there were times that I thought the pressure got to the players as simple passes went astray and neat moves broke down as players didn’t continue runs or that they weren’t on the same wave length. I’m hopeful that this can be addressed in the weeks leading up to the playoff final.

Man of the Match - Ben Godfrey
In another strong all round team performance, Ben Godfrey looked assured on the ball and ruthless in the tackle. His persistent tracking of midfielders was a big part of the reason why Charlton were restricted in their efforts on goal. I also thought he covered for Bryn Morris, who seemed to be sometimes lethargic compared to Godfrey’s high energy performance.

As with most games I’ve seen this season, I could justify a number of players being my man of the match with Nsiala and Sadler looking assured in the centre of defence, Whalley and Rodman working hard on the wings tracking back and looking threatening going forwards or Carlton Morris for not giving the Charlton defenders a moments peace. But once again Godfrey put in a performance for the team that exemplified the ethos Paul Hurst has instilled in his team this season.

Little Man’s 3rd Birthday!

Amazngly, our little man is three today and one thing I've noted is how difficult it is to find age appropriate presents. Whether it's birthday's or Christmas, I never seem to find any presents that I think would be suitable, I only ever seem to find either stacking cups or an advanced science kit!

Having struggled to decide on presents, for his birthday this year we've got him...

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet - link
This present has had me split. My son is great with technology and regularly spends time using our mobile phones to play games and do reading eggs, which is developing his reading, maths and co-ordination skills, also using the touch-pad mouse is helping him multitask - so it makes sense that he has his own device. But the flip side of this is that I'm concerned that he may end up spending too much time using IT rather than building on some of his other more creative pastimes. 
The good thing about the Kids Edition of the Fire is that it comes with a two year worry free guarantee, which means any accidental damage will be covered - no questions asked (that said he is generally very careful with his possessions). Time will whether this is a good present for him or not. 
Crayola Dual Sided Dry Erase Board - link
My son loves drawing pictures and will happily squirrel himself away to draw pictures of rockets (or our family). We've got him a Crayola dry wipe board which we can take it with us wherever we go and he can doodle to his hearts content.
That's not my... Zebra Colours - link
Having bought a number of other 'That's Not My...' books (Dinosaur, Elf, High Chart & Book, Taller & Shorter) previously for my son, I picked up the Zebra Colours version so we can use it to teach him to read.
Galts Water Magic ABC - link
He loves a similar product which features Thomas the Tank, so we've got him another one which we can use to help teach him how to write his alphabet. As they use only water, I love these kinds of books as you can re-use them once the water has dried/evaporated.
In previous years we've gone overboard with presents, but this year we've decided to go with quality over quantity. Hopefully he'll appreciate the presents we've got him, I'm sure he will as he has been in the past.

Baby Girls Arrival!

This is a short post announcing the arrival of our daughter on 31st March. Nikki & baby are both doing well and are hoping to be discharged from hospital on Monday (2nd April).

Our son is so proud and happy to be a big brother having waited so patiently for his sister to be 'fully cooked' (referencing a bun in the oven - so clever at only 2 years old!) as you can see in their first photo together.

I'm sure there will be plenty of posts coming out about how our lives have been changed with Baby Girls arrival. I'll be looking to post about my experiences of her birth in the coming weeks and Nikki has posted an announcement on her blog, you can read about it here.

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 0 AFC Wimbledon | League One | 24/03/2018


Shrewsbury had missed their chance to overtake Blackburn by playing out a 1-1 draw with Northampton in mid-week.  The game also saw club captain Abu Ogogo sent off for being caught up in a scrap with one of the Northampton players.

With Ogogo serving the first of a four game ban, he was replaced by Stefan Payne which in turn saw the formation tweak to be 4-4-2.

Wimbledon arrived at the Montgomery Waters Meadow flirting with the relegation positions of League One.

MacGillivray; Hendrie, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; Whalley (Thomas 80), B Morris, Nolan, Rodman; C Morris (John-Lewis 90+2); Payne (Lowe 89)
Subs: Rowley, Lowe, Thomas, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, Jones; Eisa

Wimbledon: Long; Fuller (Pigottat); Oshilaja; Nightingale; Meades; Francomb; Abou (Kaja 82); Barcham (Parrett 68); Trotter; Forrester; Taylor
Subs: Robinson; Parrett; Soares; Kaja; Kennedy; McDonnell; Pigott

First Half
Wimbledon had the first chance of the day, playing neat passes before the ball was laid on for a midfielder to strike the ball first time, but the shot lacked power and Craig MacGillivray was able to collect the ball at the second attempt.

MacGillivray launched the ball forwards and Carlton Morris nodded the ball on, which Stefan Payne to playing the ball to Alex Rodman. Rodman ran with the ball towards the centre of the field before unleashing a shot that the keeper could only parry. but Payne couldn't make the most of the rebound putting his effort wide.

Second Half
The second half started with Carlton Morris flicking Luke Hendrie's first time cross towards goal, although it was going wide, a defender was on hand to clear the ball.

Carlton Morris also had the next chance, glancing Rodman's cross narrowly wide as he went for subtly when power would have been the better option. Next to have an opportunity to score was Payne, but his header lacked power again and the ball fell comfortably to the goalkeeper.

Shrewsbury got the goal their second half performance deserved, as Luke Hendrie played his third cross in quick succession and the ball ricocheted off Carlton Morris to Payne who tucked the ball away first time.

Alex Rodman was the next to try his luck, picking up the ball after the breakdown of a corner and unleashing a powerful shot that the keeper pushed away, before the attack fizzled out.

Wimbledon had their first meaningful effort after a substitution.  The substitute picked the ball up and beat a man before playing a low cross through the box that their striker tried to back heal into the net, however MacGillivray was alert and on hand to stop the effort.

The only downside to the performance was that Bryn Morris picked up two quick yellow cards and was rightly sent off. The first was for breaking an attack up and taking one for the team, whilst the second was for a silly block right in front of the referee.

Final Thoughts
After an uneventful first half Shrewsbury sprung to life in the second, and it would have been a travesty if they hadn't won - the only downside was Morris' daft sending off.

Man of the Match - Toto Nsiala
I might have chosen a number of players that appeared, as the two Morris' (Bryn and Carlton) played really well and a few other also caught the eye, but I really thought that Toto Nsiala marshalled the Shrewsbury defence well that Wimbledon didn't have many chances of note.

In recent weeks Nsiala has looked more comfortable in League One and cut out the mistakes that arguably overshadowed his performances earlier in the season, which can only be a good thing for Shrewsbury Town.

Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Walsall | League One | 10/03/2018


After sealing their place in the Checkatrade Throphy, Shrewsbury welcomed a mid-table  (13th) Walsall to the Montgomery Waters Meadow.

Luke Hendrie had come in for Bryn Morris, pushing Ben Godfrey back into the holding midfield role, but otherwise a very familiar side took to the pitch. Walsall on the other hand only contained one player that I recognised, Erhun Oztumer, their playmaker that became in demand a few seasons back after a good season.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Hendrie, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; Godfrey; Whalley (Thomas 80), Ogogo, Nolan (John-Lewis 90), Rodman; C Morris (Payne 76)
Subs: MacGillivray, Lowe, Thomas, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B Morris, Payne

Walsall: Roberts, Devlin, Roberts, Guthrie, Leahy, Morris (Cuvelier 71), Chambers, Dobson, Ngoy (Shaibu 86), Oztumer, Bakayoko
Sub: Gillespie, Cuvelier, Kinsella, Shaibu, Flanagan, Fitzwater, Kouhyar

First Half
Shrewsbury started on the front foot and took the lead after 6 minutes. Jon Nolan attempted a one-two with Shaun Whalley, but he still got the ball back from the defenders interception. He darted into the box and teased a low cross to the back post, where Alex Rodman snuck in to steal the opening goal.

A few minutes later Carlton Morris struck the post with a half volley from Shaun Whalley's cross as Shrewsbury continued to dominate the game.

Walsall grew into the game as the half wore on, striking the post and making Dean Henderson make a couple of routine saves.

Second Half
Shrewsbury had the ball in the back of the net for the second time of the afternoon following Whalley’s corner, but the referee spotted an infringement as the ball was bundled passed the goalkeeper.

They did however get the second goal that the team performance deserved with Abu Ogogo stealing in at the near post to connect with Alex Rodman’s right wing cross.

Final Thoughts
The result reflected the match - Shrewsbury were always dominant and Walsall had few chances to score. After the first goal went in it looked like the Shrewsbury faithful would be rewarded with a big over their local rivals, however chance after chance were spurned and it did give Walsall some confidence to push forwards, but their attacks didn’t really threaten, but at 1-0 you are always wary of the opposition. Fortunately Abu Ogogo popped up with his second goal of the calendar year to make sure of the result.

As much as the team performed on the pitch, there should be a special mention to the Shrewsbury fans in the stands. They kept behind their team from the off and the three home stands managed to keep one chant going for over 10 minutes in the second half with even the corporate seats joining in! It really seemed as if everyone was pulling in the same direction after the home form had a bit of a wobble.

I’ve got to say I was quite disappointed in Walsall. As anticipated Oztumer stood out as their best player and all there best play came through him, but there wasn’t the usual fight from them that I’ve come to expect.

Man of the Match - Abu Ogogo
The team played well as a unit, generally controlling the game well, and every player doing their job which maked picking a man of the match difficult. In the end I selected Abu Ogogo who rounded off a strong performance with a fantastic finish putting the game to bed.

My Sunday Photo - Empty Playground

I'm trying to make sure I participate each week in #MySundayPhoto. My Sunday Photo is run by Photalife to showcase your favourite photos you have taken in the past week.

This week’s subject is the playground in Telford town park. I chose this photo for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is the contrast from my previous visit. I had been in the park on Saturday as part of the Pokémon Go Community Day and the park was heaving, with people staring at their phones and children running amok in this playground in particular. Fast forward two days, the weather had turned with the first signs of the ‘beast from the east’ and Storm Emma were in the air and the park was empty.

Normally I like to take bright photographs with lots of colour and light, but this photograph represents the bleakness of the day and weather. With hardly a soul in the park and the wind whipping round the open area it wasn’t the ideal time to be in the park.


My Sunday Photo - Greyfriars Bridge

I'm trying to make sure I participate each week in #MySundayPhoto. My Sunday Photo is run by Photalife to showcase your favourite photos you have taken in the past week.

However, being ill over the last couple of weeks I've not been able to get out to take any photographs but this week I've felt more human and we were able to get out and about this weekend. We were out feeding the ducks with my son, sheltering as much as we could from the bitter wind that was blowing when I spotted that the moon was out early (about 16:00) and it was well positioned above this pedestrian bridge for me to take a snap.

What I like about this photo is the contrast between the natural blue sky against the drab metal bridge and the way the photo is segmented into three by the top and bottom of the bridge.


Shrewsbury Town 0 - 1 Rotherham United | League One | 17/02/2018

Mid-week, Shrewsbury had returned to the summit of League One with victory over Fleetwood Town, but they return to the Montgomery Waters Meadow to face in-form Rotherham United. Rotherham arrived having won there last five games and were unbeaten in eleven.

Shrewsbury started the game with a very familiar line-up continuing the consistent team that has been selected for most of the season. Jon Taylor was the only recognisable name on the Rotherham team sheet, but he only made it on to the bench.

HendersonBolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles; Godfrey; Whalley, Ogogo, Nolan (Payne 68), Thomas (Rodman 84); C Morris (John-Lewis 74)

Subs: MacGillivray, Lowe, John-Lewis, B Morris, Hendrie, Rodman, Payne

Rotherham United: Rodák, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Wood, Ihiekwe, Forde (R Williams 63), Towell, Ball (Laveryat 75), Vaulks, Newell (Palmer 90+2), Smith
Sub: Palmer, Taylor, Price, Yates, R Williams, Cummings, Lavery

First Half
Rotherham's first attack stemmed from a long free kick up the pitch being recycled and flicked on to one of their players who drilled his low shot just wide. They then had two good chances in quick succession, again from a lofted pass out from the back along the left wing found a Rotherham player who jinked passed two Shrewsbury player before unleashing a shot that Dean Henderson clawed away, but only to another Rotherham player. He reacted to the chance, but failed to make any meaningful contact with the ball and Mat Sadler could easily clear the ball.

In a rare Shrewsbury attack, Carlton Morris flicked the ball on to Shaun Whalley who drove towards goal leaving the defence in his wake, as the Rotherham defence had been caught high up the pitch. The goalkeeper came off his line quickly and smothered Whalley's shot.

Rotherham kept on the pressure on and their next chance came from a corner.  As the ball came across, Henderson came to punch the ball but an attacker beat him to the ball and glance his header just wide.

They got the goal their play (probably) deserved on the next attack, again the ball was swung over from a corner as Shrewsbury cleared the ball it ended up back with the corner taker. His returned the ball into the box towards the far post, again Henderson came for the cross and failed to get to the ball, with at least two Shrewsbury players between his and the ball. A Rotherham player nodded the cross back into the six yard box and another was on hand to turn the ball home into the unprotected net, 0-1 to Rotherham.

Second Half
Shrewsbury had the first chance of the second half as Jon Nolan chested the ball forwards but a Rotherham defender headed the ball straight to Abu Ogogo. He pushed towards the centre of the box and unleashed a left footed shot, but it was comfortably saved by the Rotherham goalkeeper.

They also had the next chance, with a John-Lewis playing a pass into the box, which Omar Beckles (don't ask me why he was in the centre forward position) flicked the ball to Nathan Thomas, but his first time shot was blocked by the Rotherham goalie.

Final Thoughts
On the balance of play, Rotherham probably shaded the match and so could claim they deserved their victory. However, Shrewsbury were always in the tie and it could be argued had the better chances through Whalley and Thomas.

The game was in no ways a classic and the performance of the referee was integral to this. He picked up every slight knock and gave free kicks which played in to the match strategy of Rotherham, who made the most of the referee's generosity.  Every free kick they took would be a long ball into the box and then they would play for the second ball, playing off scraps. I would add that Shrewsbury looked panicked when clearing the ball and invariably the ball would be cleared to touch. This played into the second part of Rotherham's plan, which was to launch throw-ins into the box, just like the free kicks.

The Shrewsbury fans were in fine voice, getting behind the team, but there was a nervousness in the team which may have permeated from Henderson's rashness. On numerous occasions he came for crosses and got no where near them.  The team also seemed to be too engaged in playing head tennis rather than get the ball down and play on the deck, which all helped Rotherham's cause. Rotherham's game plan worked, but I can't help but feel with a bit more composure Shrewsbury could have countered Rotherham's play.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
At the end of the match I was struggling to pick my man of the match as no one stood out, in a bad way.  Earlier in the season I had plenty of players that were in the recognition, but today was forgettable for most of the team. It was probably between James Bolton, Abu Ogogo and Carlton Morris, but Morris possibly deserved it most as he worked hard and battled the Rotherham defenders for the scraps he was made to play off. He was also involved in creating the best chances when they came Shrewsbury's way.

I could critique each player, but it was a difficult match, against difficult opposition, made worse by a difficult referee.

Shrewsbury Town 1 - 2 Plymouth Argyle | League One | 10/02/2018

Shrewsbury came into the game on the back of two impressive away victories against Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers, but Plymouth were also on a good run losing just once in twelve games.

With Dean Henderson missing from the team through suspension, MacGillivray continued to deputise in a familiar looking team selection. Nathan Thomas made his home debut starting on the right wing.

Plymouth's team contained Anthony Sarcevic, would had played for Shrewsbury two seasons ago before being allowed to leave part way through his contract. Also in the Plymouth squad was ex-fan favourite at Town, Lionel Ainsworth who had a place on the substitutes bench.

MacGillivrayBolton, Nsiala, Sadler, Lowe; Godfrey (Payne 68); Thomas, Ogogo, Nolan, Rodman (Whalley 67); C Morris (John-Lewis 68)
Subs: Beckles, Whalley, John-Lewis, B Morris, Eisa, Rowley, Payne

Plymouth Argyle: Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox (Songo'o 69), Ness, Lameiras (Ainsworth 77), Taylor, Carey
Sub: Songo'o, Ainsworth, Church, Makasi, Grant, Taylor-Sinclair, Letheren

First Half
Shrewsbury took the lead after 6 minutes through Carlton Morris. Jon Nolan burst through the centre circle before playing the ball to Alex Rodman, who in turn slipped in Max Lowe on the left hand side of the penalty area. His first time cross got deflected into the path of Morris, who turned the ball home from about 4 yards.

This goal spurred Plymouth into life, a central free-kick was struck just wide of Craig MacGillivray's post, before the first contentious decision by the referee. Ex-Shrewsbury man Anthony Sarcevic got played into the box and appeared to tumble over the ball, however the referee saw a foul and awarded Plymouth a penalty. MacGillivray guessed which way the Plymouth man would put the ball correctly and saved the shot.

A few minutes later, a long ball by the Plymouth goalkeeper was flicked on and next thing you see is a Plymouth player running clear of the defence to slip the ball under MacGillivray to make it 1-1.

Second Half
Plymouth had grown into the game and were starting to dominate the match.  They took the lead but
 this wasn't without controversy. Plymouth took a quick corner, but the ball went straight out for what looked like a Shrewsbury throw in, but the referee told them to retake the corner, suggesting the ball was moving when taken. It should have been a thrown in to Shrewsbury, but instead Plymouth were able to swing in a corner which was flicked on at the near post before being bundled over the line at the near post.

Nathan Thomas almost restored parity from the kick off, with Rodman crossing from the left and Thomas meeting it with his head, but the Plymouth goalkeeper was equal to it before saving the rebound too.

Shrewsbury continued to look for an equaliser, but shots from Ogogo and Payne lacked conviction and the goalkeeper saved both comfortably.

Final Thoughts
Plymouth deserved their win, after conceding the early goal, they dominated the game, Shrewsbury struggled to get out of their own half and even a triple substitution and a change in formation didn't really affect how the game played out.

If I were bitter man, I'd say that the referee and his assistants had conspired to let Plymouth win, but in truth Plymouth out Shrewsbury'ed Shrewsbury and deserved their win. They looked to be a very physical side and won most 50:50 balls, their striker won most balls in the air which allowed them to build their attacks much further up the pitch than Shrewsbury and they pressed high up the pitch, not giving Shrewsbury players time on the ball.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
It was a game were there were few bright moments, but Morris was in the right place at the right time for his goal and looked to be full of running as per usual before making way as part of the triple substitution.

What I've Been Up To January 2018

Last year I paused my weekly updates post, but this year I'm looking to do a monthly round up of all the things that happen to me and what I get up to.

Each month I'll look back at where I've been, what I've been up to and what I've watched. On those days that not much has happened, I've removed the days.

January 2018

1st - On New Years Day we went for a walk around Attingham Park with Nikki's
3rd - I spent the day with my dad driving around south Shropshire, looking for inspiration for somewhere to take photographs.  Unfortunately, the weather was overcast and grim, so I hardly took any photos but I did play about with lighting my lunch, a BLT at The Happy Bap.
4th - After nearly a fortnight off, it was back to work but there was no easing back into it as I was asked to get things ready for a team event the following week.
5th - I watched 'Logan' [2017] for the first time.
6th - Like a child at Christmas, I was excited for what was to come and I couldn't sleep, so I watched 'Baby Driver' [2017] until the early hours.
7th - I went to the Montgomery Waters Meadow to watch Shrewsbury Town play West Ham United (0-0) in the third round of the FA Cup - My thoughts on the match can be read here.
9th - I drove up to Newcastle in preparation for a team meeting. The journey was good and we had a productive afternoon in a pre-meeting. I checked into my hotel (Caledonian Hotel in Jesmond) before talking some colleagues into joining me for a burger at Fat Hippo. I had deep fried gherkins (Lightly battered on a bed of shredded lettuce. With garlic mayo) followed by a Candy Man Burger (Double 4oz patties, topped with cheese, candied bacon and onion jam), all washed down by a Fat Hippo IPA. Whenever I go there I like to try a different burger, but I'll definitely go back for a Candy Man in the future. After dining, we retired back to the hotel bar, catching some of the Manchester City vs Bristol City match, and then going our separate ways to our rooms.
10th - An early start to get to the office for our team meeting before leaving at 15:30 and getting back on the road to return home.
12th - Back to Newcastle, this time for an interview. I'd been stressed about it, so I was glad when it was all over, but I forgot lots of things that I'd hoped to bring up. In all honesty, spending the day travelling for four and a half hours for an hours interview was hard and not something I plan to do again, but being away for one night was difficult enough and I didn't want to leave my son again for a second time in a week.
13th - Breakfast with my son at Palmer's of Shrewsbury whilst Nikki got her nails done, followed by a walk around the town park and some time in the playground. We visited Telford so Nikki could buy herself a Tamagotchi from Smyth's and then grabbed a McDonalds for lunch before heading home to watch films.
14th - Sunday lunch with Nikki's parents and then spent the afternoon watching Bournemouth vs Arsenal (2-1) & Liverpool vs Manchester City (4-3).
15th - Back to five-a-side for the first time in almost a month. I got two special goals which left me feeling good about myself. The first was my trademark shot off the wall, the second I dragged the ball back and back healed it past the goalkeeper.
17th - I finished early and made the most of it by starting to watch ‘Pulp Fiction’ [1994].
19th - Despite flagging somewhat before dinner, my son came to life afterwards as we spent time with my parents, auntie and uncle.
20th - Started the day by watching 'Olaf's Frozen Adventure' [2017], then 'Wreck It Ralph' [2012] before heading to the Montgomery Waters Meadow to watch Shrewsbury Town play Doncaster Rovers (2-2).
21st - We spent the day at home, watching films and just relaxing.
22nd - I started 'My #H2Only Challenge', the first day of 10 where I'll only be drinking water. With my son being very poorly, I skipped football as he just wanted to lie on my lap and fall asleep.
23rd - Having looked after him for the day, my son lovingly passed on a bug to me, which meant I missed the Shrewsbury Town match against Oldham Athletic in the EFL Throphy.
24th - The illness took it's toll on me and I spent the day in bed, sleeping for the vast majority of it.  This set the pattern for the next couple of days.
29th - Although still not well, I returned to work.

18 for 2018 | My Goals

2018 is in full flow now, and it's time to consider some goals that I want to achieve before 2019 arrives. There will be some similarities to my New Years Resolutions post as some of the goals are duplicates of resolutions.


I want to get to:
  • Reinvent ‘the week that was’ to be ‘What I've been Up To’ - One of the reason for starting to blog was to record what I'd been up to, but having put my 'week that was' posts on hold, I've missed them. So I'm going to do a monthly 'What I've Been Up To' post.
  • Be more active in the blogging community - Reading and commenting on Dad Blogs each week.
  • Create a media kit for my blog - since starting to blog, I've been meaning to create a media kit to be shared with anyone that may want to work with me.
  • Improve my consistency in sharing posts across all my social media - last year I got better at sharing on Facebook and Twitter, but I need to start using Instagram more.
  • Visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - I saw it on the television over Christmas and now I've got a need to visit. Luckily I've got some family that live nearby so it won't be a long journey just to get a photo by a sign, we'll pop by and see them too.
  • Get away for a city retreat as a four - We'll probably head to Bristol for the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail, but to get away for a night or two would be nice.
  • Have a family day out each month - particularly since our son was born, I've become developed itchy feet and I've wanted to get out more, so each month I want to have a family day out.
  • Support Nikki as she progresses through her pregnancy and as we both try to adjust to having two children in our lives - Although we've been through it all once before, we only had to concentrate on our son... this time round there will be two of them competing for our attention with very different needs.
  • Watch the top 10 movies listed on IMDBs top 250 movies list - I still haven't seen most of the top rated films, so I want to start by watching the top 10 films. The two biggest hurdles to over come will be sourcing the films and finding time to watch them.
  • Watch 'Avengers: Infinity War' [2018] in IMAX - Despite having an IMAX cinema just up the road, I've still not seen a film in IMAX, so I want to make 'Avengers: Infinity War' my first (you never forget your first...).
  • Get promoted at work - fairly self explanatory, but I'm at the stage of my career where I'm ready to progress.
  • Be more adventurous when visiting restaurants - I tend to stick to a handful of meals, but in 2018 I want to branch out.
Thank you to Kirsty from Life With Boys for tagging me in the '18 for 2018', you can read her goals here. As I'm a bit late getting round to publishing this I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you fancy giving it a go leave a link to your post in the comments below as I'd love to have a read!

My #H2Only Challenge - Day 5 Update

Wow, half way through my #H2Only Challenge and so far I’ve stuck to water only to drink, but that’s only half the story of my first five days.

Day one was strange as I’ve been pretty much addicted to either colas (pre-Christmas) and other fizzy drinks for a long time, so to drink only water just felt weird. That said, as it was the first day it was easy enough, on day two the ‘fun’ started.

My little boy had picked up a flu bug and so I spent the day at home looking after him. As the day wore on I could feel the bug taking hold of me and since then I’ve been as good as bed bound.

You may be asking what’s this got do with the H2Only challenge. Well I can’t swallow tablets and normally I take soluble paracetamol, etc, but it left me in a bit of a conundrum. Would taking soluble paracetamol be allowed as part of the challenge? Should I take them and just not mention them..? All thoughts that ran through my head. But to be true to myself and the challenge I resisted. What I really needed was to rest up and, you guessed it, drink plenty of water. 

What I hadn’t occurred to me was how only drink water would affect my overall consumption of liquid. I’ve realised that I’ve not been able to stomach drinking large quantities of just water. On a normal working day I can easily drink 5, 6, 7 pints of squash, but since starting this challenge, I struggled to finish a second pint of water. Doubled with the flu bug, I’ve felt really dehydrated which hasn’t helped how I’ve felt.

Even though I’ve spent most of the time curled up at home, temptation has been all around me but I’ve resisted (just about) so far. Halfway through and I’m positive I’ll make it to the end of this challenge only drinking water.

If you can sponsor me for this, please follow the link below and donate on my JustGiving page.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!


My #H2Only Challenge

"No tea. No coffee. No fizzy drinks. No wine. No beer. No orange juice. Just water for 10 tough days." - the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

The powers that be at work have challenged their employees to take part in a H2Only challenge from RNLI, in which they only drink water for 10 days. So that's no alcohol, coffee, tea, juices or soft drinks, just good 'ol H2O between 22 and 31 January.

The RNLI are fundraising for a new state-of-the-art Shannon-class lifeboat to be stationed at Wells-Next-The-Sea. The idea is that by cutting out all these different drinks, we then donate some (or all) of the money.

Straight off the bat, alcohol, tea and coffee will not be an issue for me as I rarely drink booze or tea. And coffee? Even the thought of drinking a sip of coffee makes my stomach churn. It's the soft drinks that will be difficult to give up. Having said that, I haven't had a drink of Coca Cola, Pepsi or other caffeinated soft drink since Christmas Eve (except for one glass at an event with work that someone had bought for me, not realising that I had given it up) so maybe it won't be all that hard?

So, for the next 10 days I will be drinking purely water. And that means no squash to give it flavour! And no flavoured water either. I have a JustGiving page which, if you should have a spare pound or two, I'd love if you could sponsor me to take part in the challenge - just click on the link below. Or, if it's easier, simply text 'BTIM83 £1' to 70070 to donate £1

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

You can follow my daily progress over on Twitter and I will post an update here at the end of the week as well as at the end of the challenge.

Do you think you could drink only water for 10 days? Do you think I can drink only water for 10 days? Leave me a comment and let me know!

My Sunday Photo - Setting Sun

I'm trying to make sure I participate each week in #MySundayPhoto. My Sunday Photo is run by Photalife to showcase your favourite photos you have taken in the past week.

My choice of photograph today is a shot of a sunset over the river Severn. The sunset looked majestic over the countryside, so again I grabbed the only camera to hand (my phone) and took the shot.

With this photo, I love the contrast between the burst of light from the sun and the dark countryside in the foreground. Then there’s the clouds, moody and grey, full of rain, but the sun is catching the underside, highlighting every edge.


Shrewsbury Town 2 - 2 Doncaster Rovers | League One | 20/01/2018


After three difficult games in the space of 10 days (West Ham United home and away in the FA Cup third round and Blackburn at Ewood Park), Shrewsbury returned to home to play Doncaster Rovers. Recent signings Max Lowe and Luke Hendrie both started the game and it was the first time I'd really seen them play.

Starting the game in mid-table, Doncaster visited the Montgomery Waters Meadow on a run of three games without a win. I was surprised by the Donny teamsheet as I only recognised the name of James Coppinger, a mainstay of Doncaster over the last 14 years.

Shrewsbury: Henderson; Hendrie (Payne 87), Nsiala, Sadler, Lowe; Godfrey, Whalley, Nolan, Ogogo, Rodman (for Beckles 72); C Morris
Subs: Riley, Godfrey, C Morris, John-Lewis, MacGillivray, Adams, Rodman

Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor, Blair, Butler (Baudry 11), Wright, Mason, Houghton (Ben Khemisat 70), Kongolo (Beestin 45), Coppinger, Whiteman, Rowe, Marquis
Subs: Baudry, Marosi, Mandeville, May, Garratt, Beestin, Ben Khemis

First Half
Morris free header from Whalley free-kick just over the bar after 8 minutes

Shrewsbury deservedly took the lead as Mat Sadler stabbed home from close range as the ball dropped to him from a corner. Nsiala had the first effort but this was cleared off the line, before Sadler calmly struck home.

A few minutes later Sadler had a great opportunity to double the lead, again from a corner, Nsiala header the ball back across goal and sat up to be volleyed right-footed by Sadler but the ball flew just over the crossbar. Perhaps if the ball fell on to his left foot, the ball would have nestled in the back of the net.

Second Half
Shrewsbury started the second half well and Toto Nsiala had his header clawed away by the Rovers goalkeeper.

Doncaster improved as the game went on and almost drew level when the ball broke nicely to a midfielder bursting forwards, he struck the ball sweetly, but the ball went just wide of the goal.

Max Lowe burst into the box from the left leaving two defenders in his wake, his cross was intercepted and the ball came back to him but his shot hit the side netting.

Shrewsbury doubled their lead in a similar fashion to the first goal. Shaun Whalley put in a corner to Nsiala, whose header found Carlton Morris, who poked home to make it 2-0.

Doncaster were growing into the game, perhaps it was the hectic schedule that Shrewsbury had endured over the past two weeks, but Rovers were pressing to get back into the match. They got their reward as Dean Henderson slipped on the goal-line as a corner came in and a Donny player rose highest in the six yard box to nod home and make it 2-1.

Doncaster almost drew level, but Henderson stood firm and tipped a powerful shot over the crossbar.

With the wind in their sales, Doncaster pushed to draw the game level and they managed it from the games most controversial moment. Doncaster put over a cross and Henderson caught the ball whilst moving backwards, and as he staggered in to the goal net the linesman ruled that the ball had crossed the line and a goal should be awarded.

A final chance fell to Doncaster late in the game similar to Morris' headed effort in the first half, by Shrewsbury fans were glad to see the ball land on the top on the netting.

Final Thoughts
If Shrewsbury had gone in at half time 3-0 up I don't think anyone could have complained, but with a slender 1-0 lead things were a little bit nervy. As eluded to above, Shrewsbury had faced a difficult fortnight in the run-up to this game and playing extra time in the FA Cup replay, and perhaps this is why they dropped deeper as the game went on.

It's a cliche, but this was a game where two points were dropped. For most of the season Dean Henderson has been a beacon of consistency, but he was culpable for both goals today, first with the slip and then carrying the ball over the line when he may have dealt with the cross in another way. But I think Town fans will forgive him as he has regularly produced world class saves to preserve victories and draws so far this season.

I'll also comment to say that I'd question the decision of Paul Hurst to tinker with the formation just before the second Doncaster goal, changing to three centre halves. Hopefully this was a blip and with the success we've had this season, I can accept one in the same way I'll still be backing Henderson in future matches.

Just for clarification, I was sat in line with goal when Henderson stepped back over his line, and my initial thoughts were that the ball went with him. At the time of writing this, I'm still waiting to see confirmation (either way) as to whether the goal was correct in being awarded.

Man of the Match - Carlton Morris
There were a number of players who caught the eye today, but it felt like a solid team performance and not a spectacular one. Nsiala caused problems from corners and got two assists, Lowe and Hendrie also looked good coming in on either fullback position. but Morris was my man of the match.

As Shrewsbury Town fans have come to expect, Morris worked the entire Doncaster backline by himself, dragging centre halves away to create space for the creative players like Rodman, Whalley and Nolan. I was pleased that he got a goal as I think his recent play has warranted one.

Jobs For The Boy

No, no, no... rest assured, this isn't a post about jobs that only men can do, it's all about the things that my 2YO son does and what career(s) he might forge based on my recent observations. Whilst he does play with typical toys that might suggest wanting to become a fireman, astronaut or footballer, I want to pick out the more obscure careers that he might be interested in.

We’ll start off with an easy one. For Christmas we bought him a little play kitchen and he loves making us all sorts of foods and won’t take no for an answer. Perhaps he’ll become a maître d' at a top restaurant, or perhaps a chef in a greasy spoon cafe.

He's recently got some jungle animal snap cards and last night, whilst playing a game with my mum (his nanny), he started shuffling the cards unprompted, so obviously he's practising to be a Croupier in Las Vegas.

One of his favourite things to play with (and has been since he was young) are plastic food bag clips, we call them 'nippers'.  In recent weeks he's started using them to shave anyone that's nearby with his nipper. Perhaps he's developing his skills to be a barber / hairdresser?

On Saturday morning, he opened his money box and was putting the coins into piles, resembling a certain Christmas character. Maybe, just maybe, he could be the next accountantbusiness man or entrepreneur like Ebenezer Scrooge, at least he could have a book written about him!

Earlier he started squeezing my arm, no reason why just being a toddler, but maybe it’s the beginnings of a career as a masseuse?

With all these ideas floating around my head, I've not even consider what the job market will look like in 20 years when he'll start looking, and who knows what it will be like in 60+ years when he retires!

I'm sure with Baby Girl on the way in a few months, I'll do a 'Jobs for the Girl' post when she's a similar age and look at if things have changed for my son.