Hanging out with the England Team at Portugal’s Brazil World Cup Training Camp

I have touched on my family’s obsession with the Liverpool football team before.

So while our decision to holiday in Portugal at the time of the England training camp in the Algarve was *not* deliberate, once this happy accident was discovered everyone was BEYOND THRILLED and turned swiftly to the serious business of genuine stalking. Wannabe WAG style.

Shot of Steven Gerard on the putting green at Vale de Lobo golf club

Big cat safari sport sighting – England team world cup Brazil training camp golf break– Gerard and Milner

My parents made a strategically planned, regular morning beach walk to the training camp in Vale de Lobo, where they stood next to the heavily guarded perimeter fence and waited for signs of life. Nothing. Other people would have moved on and given up, but not us.

On ‘pure instinct’ – their next move was to head to the nearby Vale de Lobo Golf Club, following a vague, voodoo sense that the players might fancy a club sandwich and a put on the green.

And it was there that we had our Bridget Jones moment (you know, that scene when she ballses up outside the Old Bailey, but Mark Darcy saves her by hooking her up with an exclusive interview?).

We discovered that the England team players would regularly ‘lunch’ at the golf club. Discovering this, my Mother brazenly circumvented security to gain access to the ‘members bar’ and got a selfie with Phil Jagielker (or a ‘Facie’ as Dad calls it).

On the second day the members bar was now understandably barricaded. But we prevailed and hung out in reception where we spotted Frank Lampard in heavy conversation (and decided on completely no basis he was talking to his psychological coach).

Needing an appropriate ‘cover’, we headed for drinks outside where we saw James Milner chilling on the putting green. This was followed by….the big man himself Steven Gerard. It was like seeing a secret animal in the wild. Literally everyone around the golf club took a sharp intake of breath and purred.

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And THEN Stevie sat next to us at lunch FOR HALF AN HOUR. Naturally nobody spoke as we intently listened in on his conversation, which consisted of disappointment/pride at Liverpool’s latest run and er…his love of audio books.

Poor Stevie – he must have felt so awkward as we all silently stared at him and I took really obvious creepy photographs like the one above.

While I’m no hardcore football fan, I was star struck and shy, so I held back from taking loads of pap snaps in an effort to play it cool. Dad was the same and one of my biggest regrets now, in life, is not running onto the putting pitch while he made small talk about the world cup with Gerard to take a picture of them together.

Oh well we have the memories. Now bittersweet from Brazil. In fact – superstition held me back from writing this post until England had gone and er…gone out. At least this post reminds us they set out to do well.

 

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Easter: Football, family and Welsh lamb

So we traveled up to the North West for Easter and in this part of the world – as I’m sure is the case in many others – the season is all about family, football, chocolate and Welsh lamb.

Image of Easter place settings with rabits and chicks

I am always given the job of setting the table

Football is particularly in focus this year for my family as Liverpool Football Club have edged up the league, with the chance of winning for the first time in my living memory. In my family LFC is like blood. The sound of the male voice choir of football fans chanting – on radio and TV –  was the soundtrack to family weekends for years. Everything stopped for the match today. And even I, who can barely name significant players from the line-up and never catch a game,  paid attention (I think they call us glory supporters?).

Then family came over and lamb was on the menu. Jamie Oliver’s ‘Best Roast Leg of Lamb with garlic and rosemary with hassleback potatoes (the only way to do potatoes in my view). Only yesterday we were admiring all the lambs frolicking in the  hills (always amazes me how many sheep there actually are here in Wales). Bit awkward.

And afterwards was of course desert – a combination of chocolate puddings and Easter eggs so calorific it could have been on Renee Zellweger’s meal plan to put the weight on for Bridget Jones the movie (have always thought that sounded like an amazing work project). But we’ll deal with that and the rest of real life in the morning.

Until then, here are some beautiful reminders we are now into spring…..

Happy Easter x

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.

Cherry blossom is everywhere. So beautiful.