Thursday, 12 July 2012

Peaks and Troughs

Highs & Lows of a holiday in 'the Euro Zone'

These holiday flings never last
Mrs Slush couldn’t concentrate on her latest ‘must read’ (and before you ask, no it wasn’t 50 Shades Of Grey or some other similarly styled “clit-lit” offering).  Apparently, my “restlessness” was affecting her concentration.  I’d been like this for the previous two hours.
It had even been noticed by the Slushettes who’d both commented – en route to bed – “Dad’s in a strange mood tonight isn’t he Mum?”
But then it was over.  I suddenly stopped feeling all anxious and instead sat motionless, unable to speak.  Prompting this “calm after the storm” was Italy substitute Alessandro Diamanti who stroked his penalty past Joe Hart to confirm another competition quarter-final exit for England.  I could at last relax.  Again.
Don’t get me wrong.  It was still that same gut-wrenching disappointment I'd first really felt when Maradona’s hand had done for us back in ’86 and that has been repeated too often since.  But this time something was different.  It may sound daft but this actually felt more like the beginning of something rather than the end.  “In Roy We Trust” perhaps?  I think so.
Home from home
I watched the final chapter of England’s Euro 2012 campaign from the comfort of Lodge 16 at Darwin Forest Country Park, near Matlock in the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District.  In the event, the coinciding of our Slush Family holiday with the quarters and semis from Poland and Ukraine proved a masterstroke.  For instead of having time to dwell on England's latest failure to compete with the best in international football, I was too busy having fun with the family (although I did manage to find time to watch the midweek semi-finals!).
Having arrived on the Saturday, our first stop-off on a week’s tour of the sights and sounds of the picturesque Peaks was Crich Tramway Village.  There, to my delight, I discovered it was “Rock ‘n’ Roll” weekend complete with a cruise past of Fifties cars and performing live bands.  Sadly we’d arrived a day too late to see the previous night’s headliners The Jets but I did catch the Sunday afternoon set from Rockin’ The Joint.  Ah, it took me back to those heady days of Hull’s Goodfellowship Inn in the early Eighties!  
Monday morning took us to the lovely little town of Bakewell for Market Day.  This included a first ever trip to a livestock auction and concluded with tea in The Peacock, mine being washed down by a glorious pint or two of Peak Ales "Summer Sovereign".
(Later Peak Ales to be enjoyed in bottles included "Chatsworth Gold" and "Bakewell Best Bitter" - both come highly recommended)

Chariot of Fire
Prior to this first real “taste” of the Peaks, we’d revisited the glorious gardens, the farm and adjoining adventure playground at Chatsworth; blessed - unusually for this summer – with pleasant sunshine.
The weather also behaved itself as we rode the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway from Wirksworth up to Ravenstor then back down to Duffield.  And it was of a positively Mediterranean variety the day we assigned to Alton Towers, while even the wet bits couldn't detract from an intersting tour of Caudwell's Mill!
We enjoyed drives to Buxton (which boasts "the highest elevation of any market town in the country") and dropped deep into Darley Dale, while regularly sweeping through Matlock (passing the neat Causeway Lane home of Matlock Town FC & Matlock CC) and its smaller neighbour, Matlock Bath – home to seemingly hundreds of motorbikes every Sunday and Wednesday? 
It was in Matlock Bath where we sat atop The Heights of Abraham and became part of the once-in-a-lifetime event that was the arrival there of the Olympic Torch by cable car.  It provided the perfect end to a near perfect week.
Reasons to be cheerful - parts 1 & 2
Arriving back on the Humber Riviera in time for the Euro's final allowed me to catch up on some of the post-England exit reaction in the media.  Some of it made me thankful I’d relied mainly on Ceefax for company throughout the past seven days!
Of course, the better hacks like the Telegraph’s Henry Winter offered his usual well-thought out advice on how England can learn from Spain's approach to international football to help them move forward under Hodgson.  In fairness, he wasn’t alone in this and while Rio Ferdinand chose the opportunity to bash the boss, Phil Neville offered a rather more upbeat appraisal of the National team on BBC 5Live's 'Sportsweek'. 
Unfortunately, I read and heard similar sentiments in the immediate wake of England's embarrassing World Cup exit at Bloemfontein two years ago…only for all interest to subside as soon as the Premier League resumed the following August.
Hopefully, this time will be different.  Certainly the new manager himself appears to have made an immediate favourable impression on both players and supporters – nobody could accuse the 2012 England of not playing for their boss.  The long-awaited opening of St George’s Park will also help, while the performance of some of the England age-group teams continues to offer hope (the U19s being the latest examples). 
Watching the defining stages of the Euro's aside, I just about succeeded in ensuring this summer would provide me with at least two weeks free of all football.  This was no mean achievement given that in addition to England and the arrival of Steve Bruce at the KC Stadium, there was the small matter of a management vacancy at my own club to occupy my thoughts...

1 comment:

Richard Lusmore ("Slush") said...
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