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Talking ’bout My Generation: 1998 World Cup England Team

The supporters

It dawned on me today that it’s been twenty years since World Cup ’98. Apart from the realization that I’m getting better at maths it brought back memories of what I consider to be the best match I’ve ever watched – the quarter finals where England took on Argentina and lost thus ending the dream of England taking home the cup. Everyone has their own opinion about what they consider to be the best match they’ve ever seen, and my choice where England got knocked out of the tournament might be considered a strange one – but boy where do I begin???

England captain Shearer, Beckham, Anderton and Scholes… Just some of the greats!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m hardly what you would call sports mad. I don’t know the first thing about football and if you need someone to tell you what the offside rule is, I better not be your phone -a-friend! But the England vs Argentina quarter final game was the very first time that I’d sat down with my family and watched an entire match. The first time I’d watched England play a major game. The first time I realized why it was called the beautiful game; the pride fans feel when they watch their country play, the glory, agony, ecstasy, and everything in between that every football fan experiences. It’s so much more than just kicking a ball around or taking home a trophy. It’s about sportsmanship, pride and honour – all this from someone who still doesn’t consider herself a football fan!

England goalkeeper, David Seaman

I don’t have a sporting bone in my body so I’ll probably never be a fully fledged fan like most of my family. But from that match on, I developed a new-found sense of respect for the game. I may not necessarily support anyone at club level but I’m most definitely an England supporter through and through.

I still remember my family gathering around the living room after dinner to watch the match. My brother was in his England shirt, and my mum who’s even less of a sports fan than me was pretty much jumping up and down with excitement. To this day, I still don’t know if I was watching a football match or a soap episode: team captain Alan Shearer elbowing opponents in the face with a smirk (come on Alan, you know you did!) Sol Campbell ‘s disallowed goal; Darren Anderton running around the pitch like his life depended on it even though  he looked as though he was going to drop. But most shocking of all was David Beckham’s red card after lashing out at Diego Simeone – an incident that many fans feel prevented Glenn Hoddles’ boys from progressing further in the tournament. David got a real thrashing in the press and  I still remember the next day’s headlines: “10 brave lions. 1 stupid boy.” Posh Spice pleaded with the nation to go easy on David, saying that he didn’t deserve to be the most hated man in England. I may be in the minority but I actually agree with her as I think David’s subsequent treatment was very unfair. But hey – that’s just my non-expert opinion!

Honestly, I had no idea football could be so dramatic! And that’s before we even get to that penalty shoot-out. I didn’t realize it at the time but I think most of the nation knew it was over when it went to penalties. Let’s face it – England don’t do too well when it comes to penalties. We would have to wait until 2018 for the ‘curse’ to be broken (thanks Pickford!) But I think I that’s why I loved this match so much – that passion from the England team. That energy, that hunger to win. And to be honest I don’t think I’ve seen it since.

Paul Ince’s disappointment at missing the penalty

What amazes me now is where the last  twenty years have gone – World Cup ’98 was only yesterday surely! Even though the names Vardy,  Kane, Alli, and Sterling are on everyone’s lips, for me I still keep thinking Shearer, Owen, Ince, and Seaman. My parents had Charlton, Moore, Best (yes, I know he’s Irish but he was still one of the top players back in the day!) and Stiles but for me the 1998 England squad plus Gazza – who never should have been excluded – are the players of my generation. Sadly I can’t get my head around the fact that all those players have now retired. Aside from the fact that I realize how many years have gone by, I also realize that I’m old!  But at least that Southgate is still hanging about! Who would have thought back in 1998 that we would see Gareth Southgate leading the future England squad into the semis – the first since 1990? In twenty years time, the kids of today will be looking at the 2018 England squad as the football legends of their generation the same way the 1998 squad are of mine.

The 1998 World Cup was won by the host nation, France. Football may not have come home that year but I know I was a different person by the end of that game. As a Brit now living in America, I still feel that sense of pride in my country and in my national football team. People often talk about which stars would feature in their ultimate band, but if we’re going to talk about the ultimate England squad, then it would be the 1998 line up without any changes. Although at the very least I would have Gaza’s as a sub! I hope the squad tomorrow play with the same passion, fire, and determination as ‘my’ team.

Glenn Hoddle, distraught after the game

Come on, England – you’re almost home!


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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Sport


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The Cookery Year: A Meal For All Seasons

When it comes to cookery books, most people can’t wait to get hold of Jamie Oliver’s or Nigella’s latest offering – and I’m no different. But there are no words to describe just how thrilled I was to have recently got my hands on a copy of The Cookery Year by Reader’s Digest. I’ve been hunting around for this iconic cook book for a long time, hoping to add it to my overwhelming collection of cookery books. For me, this little gem is the king of cook books – and an integral part of my childhood.

From the moment Reader’s Digest published The Cookery Year in the early seventies, it became the cook book no kitchen was complete without. It contained a month by month guide to seasonal produce plus recipes. My mother was the proud owner of a copy from the seventies, and being the strange child that I was, I used to spend hours poring over the pages. I must have been the only five year old who knew what a blini was! It was this book which got me interested in food and cooking at a young age all those years ago, and it introduced me to the delicious summer pudding; the delightful ouefs a la neige, and the flaming brilliant Crepes Suzettes!

But what I liked most about The Cookery Year were the beautifully illustrated opening pages listing information about different types of fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, fish and cheese, complete with instructions for preparation and cooking. I enjoyed looking the pictures and once I’d learnt to read, I was also able to find out when certain produce was available and preferable cooking methods though why a primary school-aged child needed to know such information, I’ll never know! Who’d have thought that The Cookery Year could be so educational? Furthermore whenever I played the Name Game, with friends, I was very rarely stuck when it came to the fruit and vegetable category – and I have The Cookery Year to thank for that!

Now my mother’s cook book – the same one I used to look through when I was a child – certainly looks as though it’s been through the wars. Battered and worn, with the cover and many of its pages missing, this book has been well and truly used! I remember Mum used to follow the recipes for some of the cakes that featured in this book and I did make something from The Cookery Year when I was about twelve – orange foam sauce which we served with spotted dick as we’d run out of the milk we needed to make the custard so this recipe saved the day!

Being reunited with this book is like being reunited with a missing piece of my childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with this cook book; flicking through the pages; feeling amazed at how much I’d remembered… I came across recipes and photos I instantly recognised. Grapefruit in brandy… scallops served in the shell… turbot with sweetcorn… salad elona… it was as though I was being transported back in time. I also came across dishes I hadn’t heard of in a long time which were extremely popular when I was growing up such as cock-a-leekie soup, melon and prawn basket, Steak Diane and peach melba. And oh my goodness, kidneys! A lot of kidneys were consumed in the seventies and eighties if these recipes are anything to go by. Maybe there are some changes in twenty-first century cooking for which we can be thankful!

The edition of The Cookery Year which I have found is from 2009 rather than from the 1970s and even though it’s done it’s best to adhere to the original format, there are differences. The hardback cover of the 1970s edition featured a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices, artistically arranged and photographed, while the 2009 edition has charming illustrations of fruit vegetables and fish emblazoned across its paperback cover. Some of the photographs inside the book are different to what I remember and some have been omitted altogether. Furthermore some recipes have also been removed such as the delightful ‘bunnies on the lawn’ that I always hoped my mum would make for my next birthday party.

Just as clothes go out of fashion, so does food and there are some dishes here which probably haven’t stood the test of time. I can’t see anyone serving up tomato ice as a starter or the delightfully named kidney scramble when they fancy a light snack. But there are still a huge number of classics such as chicken pie, tarte tatin, boef bourguignonne, and Lancashire hot pot as well as the famous summer pudding which outnumber the dishes which now seems outdated, so The Cookery Year is still a worthwhile buy. And in any case, any recipes that seem a bit dated can be adapted to modern tastes and to what is now available, or simply stick a ‘retro’ label on it and it will immediately be en vogue again!

It’s also amazing to see just how far we’ve come from the seventies in terms of food. Offal seems to be off the menu in a lot of households and restaurants, thank goodness. Chilli chocolate, salted caramel, pulled pork and many of today’s current food trends didn’t appear to exist then. In the seventies edition of The Cookery Year, peppers, avocados and courgettes were considered ‘less common vegetables’. Fast forward forty years and everyone’s fridge is full of them! And despite there surprisingly being lots of foreign influences, it’s missing a lot of the Thai, Japanese and South American flavours which are so popular today.


I really do think that every household could benefit from owning a copy of The Cookery Year. It really is a must-have book. Those who already have this cook book have said that they’ve never really needed another cookery book as this one has everything they need to develop their culinary skills. It’s perfect for beginners to cooking enthusiasts alike; serious homemakers to those setting up home for the first time; parents and children – I even saw a comment from a lady who said that her three year old daughter sits on the work top looking through the book while her mother cooks. Sounds very familiar! Another mother has said that she uses the opening chapters as a teaching aid about food for her children. There are also menu suggestions for special occasions like weddings, Christmas and dinner parties. To say this book is extremely useful is an understatement – it’s the cook’s bible!

I’m so glad that The Cookery Year is part of my life again. I honestly don’t know how I lived without it for so long. I love the format, the month by month guide, the menus, the advice, the recipes, the illustrations, the photographs – in short, EVERYTHING! However, I’m still going to keep my eye out for an original edition like my mum had. What can I say – I’m so old school!

So I’m going to leave you with the recipe  from The Cookery Year for the orange foam sauce I made many years ago with great success. It really is a delicious, versatile and – if a twelve year old can do it – easy to make sauce. It goes well with most pies, tarts, hot pudding and cakes and even Christmas pudding!




1 oz unsalted butter
1 orange (grated rind and juice of)
1 all-purpose flour
2 oz superfine sugar
1 egg
lemon juice


  • Cream the butter and grated orange rind and gradually beat in the flour mixed with sugar.
  • Separate the egg and beat the yolk into the butter & flour mixture.
  • Add the orange juice (made up to 5floz with water)
  • Don’t worry if the mixture curdles at this stage, it will become smooth again as it cooks.
  • Cook the sauce in a small heavy based saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and the flour is cooked through.
  • Add a little extra water if necessary to keep the sauce to a pouring consistency.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
  • Just before serving, beat the egg white until stiff and then fold it into the sauce and sharpen the sauce slightly with a little lemon juice.



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Bored Of Board Games? Never!

Christmas is about to descend on us very soon and for me nothing screams Christmas more than… board games! Or any sort of indoor games that can be played at the dining table actually. Why? Because until I reached my late teens, I was guaranteed at least one board game every Christmas. In fact one year I got nothing but board games – and some of them had been duplicated as well (that wasn’t a good year!) but my aunts and uncles knew I enjoyed playing such games with my siblings and it was the cause of many great bonding moments between me and my immediate family – and at times such as family gatherings, with my extended family too.


Kids today are still very much into games. But today’s games are often electrically-powered and need to be played via a screen of some kind while pressing a multitude of buttons. I’ve been told by those who consider themselves experts that it’s great fun. Maybe it is but I still prefer games that were ‘made in the days before electricity’ as my younger brother – and computer game addict- would say. Not only were those games thoroughly enjoyable but they had a social element which I feel that today’s games don’t have. Nothing beats having your family gathered around the table all shouting, screaming and laughing – and those are the ones who aren’t even playing!

Opening the box to a new board game was always an exciting moment. We loved checking out the board; looking the pieces; familiarising ourselves with the rules before trying it out for the first time. However, you can forget about the game being in a playable state a year later: most of the pieces would be missing and one of my younger siblings would have scribbled all over the board! Maybe that’s why we got so many of the same board games over the years…

So here’s a list of traditional games I have received, played and loved during Christmases past. Which reminds me, I really need to build up my board games collection again… even if I am the only one playing them!


Who hasn’t played a game of Snakes and Ladders? This was probably our most-received board game and let’s face it – you can’t go wrong with Snakes and Ladders! It might be simple enough in concept (roll the dice; make your move; drop down if you land on a snake; move up if you land on ladder) but it’s great fun and the game can continue for quite a long time.

My favourite version of this game which originated in India, is one that had a moral element to it. The design on the board focuses on children learning the moral consequences of their actions. The ladders represent good virtues such as hard work, generosity and kindness while the snakes represent vices like carelessness, extravagance and vanity. The top of the ladder or bottom of the snake show the consequences of such virtues or vices with the final square showing a child enjoying a reward. Not only is it fun but also educational (I personally feel there are a few people who could benefit from playing this!)


Another game we’ve played a million times and boredom (or boardom even) has still not set in! Like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo originated in India and is based on a game called Pachisi. Unlike Snakes and Ladders which can have an unlimited number of players, Ludo is game played between 2-4 people although we tended to divide the people who wanted to play into four teams rather than individual players.



Each player (or team) is assigned a different colour and is given four counters. The objective of the game is to move all four of your counters around the board before making it ‘home’. The first person to get all four of their counters around the board is the winner.

As I have three siblings, this was the perfect game for us – and sometimes Mum joined in too. In fact I’m sure it was Mum who taught us how to play. We always had great fun playing  Ludo – until all the pieces started to go missing one by one…


I probably played Guess Who? for the first time when I was about 7 – and I loved it. I think we must have received this game four times or more which is just as well considering we were forever losing the cards! A two-player game, you have to use your powers of deduction and memory, to find out who the mystery character on your opponent’s card is. You can ask questions only of the yes/no variety as part of the elimination process.

Guess Who? as I remember the game.

Guess Who? as I remember the game.

The game still exists but over the years it has undergone a bit of a revamp and characters now include pets as well as people. Furthermore you can also go online to download more characters. So glad that a new generation of players can still play Guess Who?



The Waddington’s murder-mystery themed board game known as Clue in North America was a huge hit in our household. We received two of these board games on two separate occasions and I remember around that time in the early 1990s, there was also a television series based on this popular board game, starring Jerry Hall as Miss Scarlett which we always used to watch. It was a very interesting and intriguing game which once again used powers of deduction and elimination.

The characters

The characters

The aim of the game is for six players to assume the identity of one of the game’s six colourfully named characters including Mrs. Peacock and Professor Plum and move around the board, representing the rooms of a mansion. They have to collect clues in order to deduce not only who murdered the victim, Dr. Black, but with which weapon and in what room.

The TV show

The TV show

Cluedo was great fun but if I’m honest we loved the show a little bit more because it had that much more drama!


A universal classic, who couldn’t love Scrabble? I was an avid bookworm who loved to write, create stories and learn new words, so my family knew that Scrabble was the game for me. Which explains why I received this board game many, many times. One year I received it three times, including the magnetic, travel version which I did use on a flight. Of course it was just as well that I was given so many sets of the same game as, you’ve guessed it, I kept losing the pieces!


The objective of the game is for players to score points by placing tiles, bearing a single letter, onto a game board which is divided into a grid of squares. The tiles must form words – which must be defined in a standard dictionary –  which must flow from left to right in rows or downwards in columns.

This was without a doubt one of my favourite games and one which brought out my competitive streak and I have to say I’ve very rarely been beaten – but put me against a Scrabble champion and it might be a different story!


We’ve received a compendium of games, again on more than one occasion. Anyone who thought of doing this was extremely clever because they were in fact buying us fifty games for the price of one! A compendium of games contained many well-loved, popular games including:

  • Chess
  • Ludo
  • Snakes and Ladders
  • Draughts
  • Backgammon
  • Bingo
  • Dominoes
  • Noughts and Crosses
  • Solitaire
  • Tiddlywinks
  • Four-In-A-Row
  • Card games…

… and more! We had hours of fun but to be honest probably played about five out of the fifty games!



“I’ll have a P, please Bob!”

Blockbusters. the ITV quiz show. Image from

Blockbusters. the ITV quiz show. Image from

Based on the well-known ITV quiz show hosted by the legendary Bob Holness, I was given the board game version of Blockbusters one Christmas. I had – and still have – a head for trivia so it was a great gift idea for me. I used to watch the long-running quiz show with my granddad and knew how the game worked in which contestants had to complete a line across a board of hexagons after successfully answering questions. I actually opened the box expecting to find an electric board with flashing lights (I was just a kid!) so naturally I was a bit disappointed that there was just a regular board with plastic pieces used to for a line.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t a game that my siblings – or anyone else for that matter – wanted to play (probably too intellectual for them!) So I had to settle for answering the questions on the cards provided by myself!



This game was a massive hit with my family, my dad in particular. Any Connect Four game we played was destined to be extremely loud and would go on for hours. We often got this game out at family parties and most people were only too willing to have a go.


It’s a two-player game and the aim of the game is for each player to drop a disc into a vertically suspended grid and the first person to complete a row of four discs was the winner. Simple concept but huge amounts of fun – and noise!



This was a game my sister received one year which I was pleased about because I’d always wanted to play Dream Phone. It was similar to Guess Who? in that you had to use deduction and the process of elimination to figure out who the secret admirer is using clues obtained from the phone’s handset.


The game looked great when it was being advertised on television and being a real girly-girl, it seemed perfect for me. But when I finally got to play it, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. I think it might have been more enjoyable had I been slightly younger and into make-believe – or slightly older and into boys! Though I’d still recommend Dream Phone as a great game to bring out girly get-togethers, sleepovers etc.


I must have been really young when I received Perfection (the game sadly not the quality!) because I only vaguely remember playing this. The game consists of different shaped pieces which have to be pushed down into the correctly shaped holes on the board before the time limit runs out. When time runs out, the board springs up, causing many, if not all, of the pieces to fly out.


I was a right slow coach as a kid which might explain why I remember pieces flying everywhere!


Many of these games are still available having been revamped and given a new look for the twenty-first century. Even though an old fuddy-duddy like me wishes that they had left the original intact (it was fine as it was!) I’m glad that they are still around for a new generation of kids to experience. If only they’d leave that Wii alone!



Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Toys and Games


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