A Love Story: The NFL and I…

Blog, Sports Writing, Uncategorized

Since first developing an interest in the NFL, it has evolved into an incredibly strong passion and love for American Football. It didn’t really take long to become hooked, either, and I doubt I’ll ever look back.

Strangely enough, I was introduced to the game by playing EA Sports’ Madden on my PlayStation 4. Obviously, I had already experienced the Super Bowl and clips of ‘Hardest Tackles in the NFL’ on the internet, but Madden was where I really got into it.

Madden seems to be a game that is often slated online by other Football fans, for various reasons; inaccurate player stats, gameplay and so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the other football too – soccer – and am a seasoned FIFA player, so I fully appreciate the issues people can have with EA games. However, I genuinely believe that I picked up the rules, tactics and player positions far quicker by ‘playing’ than I would have by watching. It’s just how I learn best, being pretty ‘kinaesthetic’.

Getting into American Football also allowed me to re-kindle my affiliation with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom I adopted as ‘my team’ on the back of a family holiday to Florida, many years ago. I remember, at the age of nine, coming home to the U.K. with a Bucs baseball cap and Mike Alstott jersey.

Of course, being a typical British sports fan, I am extremely passionate about my Buccaneers now. Also, being a typical Liverpool Football Club supporter, I’m extremely positive about our chances this coming season; a new coach, a talented quarterback going into his second season, and a much strengthened defense – what’s not to be excited about?

Jameis Winston

The Pre-Season starts tomorrow night, with Tampa Bay kicking off at midnight on Friday, and my NFL Game Pass subscription has been renewed, ready for the long awaited return of this beautiful sport. I really cannot wait; it’s just like being a kid on Christmas Eve.

The problem is, I don’t know many people who share my excitement. Most are looking forward to the Premier League starting, which I am too, but it’s not the same. American Football is growing over here though. We have amateur leagues, and I even have a ‘local team’ – Chester Romans – who play in the British American Football League’s NFC 2 West division.

On the occasions I’ve watched Chester, it has made me wish I had discovered my enthusiasm for it all far earlier, as I would love to have enjoyed being involved with Football out on the field, rather than being just a fan of the game. Sadly, I fear the age of twenty-six is a little late in the day to be starting out as a ‘rookie’.

On a slightly more ‘prolific’ scale, the NFL hosts the International Series, in which a handful of NFL fixtures take place on British soil. I imagine many American fans of the teams who lose a ‘home’ fixture to the UK get a bit hacked off, however looking at the bigger picture, it is a fantastic way to grow awareness of the sport they love on a global scale (and make the NFL a load of money in the process).

NFL at Wembley

With all of this happening on my doorstep, it’s evident that I’m not such a rare breed after all, which is a pretty good feeling.

If you haven’t given American Football a second thought, have the common misconception that it’s ‘just Rugby with helmets’, or even just don’t think you’ll understand what’s going on, I implore you to give it a try. You won’t regret it.


Nationality is More Than Just a Birthplace

Blog, Sports Writing

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you can’t possibly have missed the coverage of Euro 2016, and with this, you should be well aware of the colossal – and thoroughly deserved – success of the Welsh national team.

Of course, whilst Wales have reaped the rewards of genuine passion and team spirit – along with some fantastic football – during their quest for glory, the same level of success hasn’t been enjoyed by others, perhaps most notably their neighbours, England.

Without shying away from the fact their players have underachieved in yet another major championship, the England side has been left suffering the same old backlash that follows the unnecessary levels of expectation from the media, the fans, and everyone in between, every time a World Cup or European Championship comes around.

However, the one big difference this time around is the ‘humiliation’ of being outdone by the once-lowly Wales.

England Football

This has been followed by a foul bitterness from some English supporters; a desperate search for some kind of logical explanation, as to just how Wales of all countries could achieve more than the footballing-giant that is England. In this search, there have been plenty of conclusions reached; the ‘Gareth Bale is your only player’ claim, the targeting of the likes of Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart, and finally, the utter cluelessness of their newly-resigned manager, Roy Hodgson. But nothing about England not being as good a team as they think they are.

But now, it seems, they have found solace in the centre of their arrogance; Wales would be nothing without their ‘English players’. Brilliant.

It would be silly and untrue to claim that the English-born players within the Wales squad are not important. Ashley Williams, the captain, is arguably the heart of the team; the strong central figure in and amongst the flair and class of the likes of ‘proper’ Welshmen Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Joe Allen. Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes have worked tirelessly in attack, and they’ve even pitched in with some crucial goals.

There are a total of nine English-born players within the Welsh squad. But that doesn’t necessarily make them English, and only English.

Robson-Kanu & Bale

There is far more to an individual’s nationality than the location of the hospital you were born in. Nationality is, by definition, the belonging to a nation either by birth or naturalisation. There are other kinds of nationalism, away from plain old ethnic-nationalism, such as civic and cultural.

In terms of sport, there are different ways to represent a country – and adopt that nationality – other than your place of birth, such as citizenship.

If you’ve been watching Wimbledon, you may have been supporting the Women’s British Number One, Johanna Konta. Until becoming a British citizen in 2012, Konta represented Australia, her country of origin.

In the current England cricket team, two of the eleven 2015-16 ‘central contract’ holders are not English-born, and in addition, a couple more were awarded incremental contracts. Plus, it is hard to forget the long list of foreign-born yet influential England cricketers over the years, with the most notable in recent times being the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss, who were both raised in South Africa.

Kevin Pietersen & Andrew Strauss

Looking back at the Wales football team, as another example, it is possible to represent a nation based on heritage; a parent, or grandparent being born in said country. It makes perfect sense. Let’s say, for example, that you are born in England, to a Welsh father and German mother. Surely there is a part of you that is both Welsh and German, as well as English?

Of course being born in England makes these players ‘English’ to an extent, but let’s not allow our ignorance to leave us pigeon-holing every single individual to a single nationality, thus disregarding every other aspect of their existence other than a choice they simply did not make.

Ashley Williams was born in Wolverhampton, however he has lived and played his club football in Wales for the best part of a decade. His children are Welsh, and Williams has said himself that he feels Welsh, has Welsh blood and will probably continue to live in the country once his playing days are over.

Ashley Williams

This is a man who epitomises what it means to be proud of his country; when he puts on that red shirt, sings along to the national anthem with immense pride, and gives every ounce of effort he possibly can for the team and the dragon on his chest.

That is the true meaning of nationality. That is what it means to be Welsh.

UK Election 2015: A None Vote is the Wrong Vote


Election 2015

Tomorrow is another huge day for British politics, and for the country as a whole. After five years, the 2015 general election is almost here, and local candidates far and wide, along with their volunteering supporters, have been knocking on your front doors, posting flyers through the letter box, and generally trying to get their face, name and party seen and heard as much as is humanly possible, in attempt to convince you that their party is the best option – rumour has it, the Green Party have even hired Snoop Dogg as entertainment for their next annual conference – and win your vote on 6th May, essentially assisting their party leaders through the doors of Number Ten.

The chances are that by now you either know who will have your vote, or you still haven’t got a clue.

If neither of the above match the position you find yourself in, I’m willing to bet that you ‘can’t be arsed’ voting, are taking a stand against democracy in general, or have been too busy trying to get to the next blasted level on Candy Crush for the last six months to even realise that David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s ‘Lib Con’ coalition has come to the end of its five year tenure.

35% of registered voters chose not to in the 2010 General Election

35% of those registered to vote, chose not to in the 2010 General Election

If you’re anywhere near the latter trio, that’s absolutely your decision, but you’d do well to remember that choice the next time you complain about the country you call home, and I urge you to reconsider, and have your say on the country’s next journey, regardless of it being late in the day to make a decision on who gets your ‘X’ tomorrow.

I’m currently pulled over on the outskirts of the ‘haven’t a clue’ region, and feel both relief and concern at the probability of many being equally undecided.

Do I stick with the same option as I’ve always gone with or not? Do I put my faith in the party that offer so much, yet fail to convince me that they’ll be able to come through with the goods once their leader has unpacked in Downing Street? Oh, wait, that’s every party. The point is though, that I’ve only ever voted Labour. This year, it’s difficult to be sure that this is the route to go down.

Which party will get your vote?

Which party will get your vote?

In all honesty, a lot of their policies sound great; ‘rescuing’ the NHS – Ed Miliband’s Batman to David Cameron’s Penguin being a hilarious vision – is a great point to focus on, however there is additional spending on the health service – admittedly several other areas too – being promised by every wo/man and their dog. This is probably down to the fact the NHS is a hot topic at some point during everybody’s day to day lives, whether it be the waiting times in A&E, the infuriating struggle to even get through to local surgeries to get an appointment, or those bloody inconsiderate ambulances’ wailing sirens forcing everybody to pull over, after you’ve been hard at work in the office all day and just want to get home in time for the soaps. The parties realise this, and that is why they feed promises to the masses.

It has to be of some concern to those usually voting for Labour, that the SNP could end up pulling the strings above Miliband, which causes me to wonder whether Aardman Animations have found a new direction, venturing away from Plasticine characters.

All jokes aside, this does beg the question, ‘a vote for Labour, is a vote for whom?’ As conflicting interests within Parliament is inevitable, given that there are MPs from multiple parties, constituencies and so on, in the room, but conflicting interests within the same leadership?

I suppose that was always going to be an issue in 2010, too, given the non-majority result forced two parties to become ‘one’. Something that is hard to deny, is that Cameron hasn’t done that badly with regards to the economy, which he’s seemed infatuated with telling us, and as reports suggest. Progress can only be aided by him having far more time on his hands since the re-branding of Lurpak’s advertising campaign.

It’s hard to say Cameron and Clegg have done alright, as the latter has seemingly served as little more than a strap-on in a five-year-long Conservative orgy. That statement in no way implies that he’s had any physical contact with any under-age rent boys, and this is an area I’ll leave well alone, given that it’s a rather touchy subject, and this is an unbiased piece.

Whatever your interests, from the economy to immigration, if you have a spare few minutes, I’d recommend visiting ‘Vote For Policies’ and going through the different categories, depending on where you feel your priorities lie. Once you’ve selected these, you’ll be shown the anonymous policies of the parties in your area, and you’ll select which ‘fit the bill’ in your eyes, before the most suitable party is calculated based on your answers.

I’d say that completing a little ‘quiz’ like this is the most sensible and logical resolution to the ‘who do I vote for?’ dilemma. You may be surprised at how much of a ‘bigot’ you turn out to be, or your original suspicions could possibly be confirmed that you do in fact have the underlying urge to go and live in the forest, ‘hugging trees’ and loving the planet. However, fear not, compadre, this isn’t a legally binding vote; you can change your mind on Election Day.

(from left): David Cameron - Conservatives, Ed Miliband - Labour, Nick Clegg - Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage - UKIP, Natalie Bennett - Green Party

The Party Leaders (from left): David Cameron – Conservatives, Ed Miliband – Labour, Nick Clegg – Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage – UKIP, Natalie Bennett – Green Party

Not that I’d recommend it, as it could possibly make your decision harder, but you could decide between your local candidates purely based on which of the party leaders you like the best. Or in some cases, who you think seems less of a smug bell-end, which is understandable, if you’ve ever watched a Parliament debate. At times, in the heat of a Labour vs Conservative face off, it’d be more constructive for the Wealdstone Raider to shout ‘you’ve got no plans!’ in response to everything anybody says. Perhaps we need to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G return, so he can explain the meaning of ‘restecp’ to them.

However you make your choice, whoever your choice is, make sure it means something, and use your right to vote on Thursday, otherwise, you essentially lose your right to complain for the next five years.

Can Liverpool FC Rejoin Europe’s Elite?

Blog, Sports Writing

The question on everyone’s lips, well perhaps predominantly the ‘red’ half of Merseyside, is ‘will we get a Champions League place?’

I will would absolutely love it when if this was the achievement of the 2013/14 Premier League season, but at the same time, I am a realist. It won’t be easy.

Before any presumptions are wrongly made, this isn’t because I think Joe Allen is useless, or Sir Alex Ferguson is controlling English football’s Illuminati. It is purely based on the lack of depth in the squad.

Liverpool Football Club has never failed to convince me – going in to any game that they’ve participated in since I began supporting them – that they can win it. I don’t think anyone can seriously believe that they will 100% not obtain something from a game. They still have that ‘winning’ aura.

Can Brendan Rodgers lead the reds into Europe next year?

Can Brendan Rodgers lead the reds into Europe next year?

If I go onto Facebook on a Saturday evening and Liverpool have lost, and Manchester United have won (they will do this again eventually), the United supporters’ posts are never to do with the fact that they’ve picked up three points; they’re more interested in the fact Liverpool have dropped three. When the fan base of one of, if not the only club in the country worthy of comparing their glorious history to that of Liverpool’s, you know that people on the outside are still very much ‘bothered’ by how they get on.

I think a subject widely open for debate, is Brendan Rodgers’ inbound transfer activity. I have no qualms with any of the movement occurring in the opposite direction, apart from sending Fabio Borini out on loan. But even the doubts about that move aren’t based on a strong belief in the Italian’s talent. It’s because, as we are now seeing, we simply don’t have enough quality to come in when a first choice player is sidelined.

Patience is something that Liverpool’s supporters have been asked for, and it is still yet to see just how much the likes of Tiago Ilori and Luis Alberto can offer in the future, but at the age of twenty-six, Iago Aspas should probably have been at the required level by this stage of his career. That said, without offering him much playing time, it’s difficult to say whether or not he is or not.

Daniel Sturridge has undoubtedly been the most consistent performer so far this season, regardless of Luis Suarez’s late arrival into the mix. When I saw the report that Sturridge would be out for up to eight weeks, my immediate vision was that we would gradually slip down the table in a fiasco of wasted chances and leaky goals.

We then proceeded to put in disappointing performance against a battling Hull City side, losing 3-1. This can’t purely be based on half of the ‘SAS’ being missing, however. It’s becoming clear that despite this Summer’s attempt at bolstering the defensive options, there is still something not working at the back. Of course, Jose Enrique’s absence until February is a blow, though it has to be said that youngster Jon Flanagan has looked promising at left back.

Referring to these transfers, I was particularly pleased at the signing of Kolo Toure, and remain intrigued by what Mamadou Sakho will offer.

In the loan business, Victor Moses certainly has promise and could well be a key member of the squad; however I’m unconvinced by Aly Cissokho thus far.

Simon Mignolet has been fantastic so far this season, and I genuinely feel that his performances are not complimented nearly enough by the figure of four clean sheets in fifteen matches. This deal was definitely the buy of the transfer window for Rodgers.

In midfield, Henderson has improved a lot from last season, and has warranted his selection. As ever, skipper Steven Gerrard has remained an integral part of the squad, but he could now be out for up to six weeks. Another disappointing factor is that Lucas appears to be struggling to find the form he enjoyed prior to the lengthy absences he’s suffered through injury.

Captain and Midfield Maestro Steven Gerrard faces being sidelined for up to 8 weeks after suffering a Hamstring injury. Credit: Getty Images

Steven Gerrard suffered a Hamstring injury against West Ham. Credit: Getty Images

Our attacking options, in my opinion, are definitely where we struggle.

Luis Suarez is incredible. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of him as a human being, as a footballer, it would simply be moronic to deny that he is one of the best players in the world at the moment. As mentioned, Daniel Sturridge has also proven himself as a more than able goal scorer. It just has to be hoped that he can limit the time he is injured, an issue that has seemed to affect his career until now.

Besides the SAS, young Philippe Coutinho looks set to become a hugely inspirational member of the side, but is yet to pose much of a threat when it comes to goals. Raheem Sterling is still very young, and whilst he offers incredible pace, his final product needs polishing. This could, and should, improve in time.

At full strength, we have seen that Liverpool have more than enough firepower to threaten anybody, but the current injury to Daniel Sturridge has highlighted that there is nobody who is yet able to step into the side and continue where he has left off.

This could have been where Borini would finally prove himself as a Liverpool striker, but as he is on loan, Aspas has failed to impress and Luis Alberto not having chance to do much at all, there is an awful lot of pressure on Luis Suarez. Rodgers has said that the team ‘can’t rely’ on the Uruguayan, but if Aspas and Alberto aren’t going to start, what option do the side have?

Liverpool need assistance for Luis Suarez in front of goal.

Liverpool need assistance for Luis Suarez in front of goal.

January will be an interesting transfer window, and I cannot wait to see if and who Rodgers brings in, and ships out. It’ll also be a very interesting period on the pitch, as we see if Liverpool can take their (until now) strong start in the first half of the season over into 2014. I believe they can, but they will have to earn it.


(Some) People on the Internet

Grinding My Gears

Some of you will know that I was on television earlier this week, having worked as an undercover reporter for the BBC programme, Panorama.

In this role, I actually gained employment at another company, purely for the purposes of my BBC job. Just to get those who didn’t see or read about the documentary, the focus was on the working conditions of said employer.

Whilst I’m very proud of the fact that I managed to get a gig like the one I refer to, so early in my career, that isn’t the topic I wish to address; the internet is.

I had been advised against it, and even had the common sense to realise I probably shouldn’t, but I just couldn’t help myself when it came to having a crafty glance at the ‘comments’ sections beneath the news reports covering the story.

Some reported questionably on the topic, even down to portraying me as an employee who had contacted the BBC, and admittedly, people’s opinions are always going to be affected by what they have read before sharing their thought’s, and how what they have read is written.

That doesn’t take away from the sheer ignorance some people suffer from. I’m sure every single person who has had their face in the public eye (albeit on varying scales) would learn a lot that they didn’t know about themselves with just a quick scouring of themselves over Google.

Did you know that I’d never worked a day in my life before? That I just sit behind a desk all day, and that’s all I’ve done since I was at school? That I’ve been given everything I have, and I’ve never had to earn anything? No? Me neither. This is because none of it is true.

I feel for these poor people, who must have been misled when researching my life. I feel duty-bound to help them out with this.

Firstly, whilst I haven’t worked 24 hours straight (a day) in my life, I had jobs prior to the work I undertook for the programme. Some have involved being sat down, occasionally at a desk, but the majority of positions have been manual. I even spent half of my time in a warehouse when I had an administration role.

I am not, and have not, been ‘given’ everything I have. My first job was at the age of 13, admittedly just as a paperboy, but I have never been too far away from employment ever since. Even whilst I was studying at university ‘living it up (another pearl of information I found online)’, I was working.

Now, I understand people think differently and people have varying levels of intelligence, but what cannot be respected, is the opinion of somebody who knows so little about a subject, or person in this case. This is about all I’m going to indirectly write towards those in question, as becoming personal would be hypocritical.

This piece may even look like I’m ‘whinging’ – another interesting description of me, none the less – but I am not. My initial attitude to the comments was an acceptance that there are always going to be presumptuous and ill-informed people who make themselves look silly, whilst hiding behind a computer screen. This was soon followed by a slightly agitated mood, brought on by the increasing urge that I felt to respond.

It was at this stage that I took note of the advice given to me, and stopped reading, as it was actually quite boring to read after a while.

Finally, I felt amused. I find it hilarious that people were actually so bothered by something that doesn’t even directly affect them, that they felt it worthwhile, and possibly in some cases even necessary, to offer their input to the world.

So thank you for the laughs.

* I’d also like to offer my gratitude to those who were positive about the story. *

A Family Christmas (Poem)



As it is that time of year again, I felt like sharing a little piece of poetry I (yes, really) produced for my Creative Writing poetry portfolio during my second year of University studies. Enjoy…



A Family Christmas


Christmas to children means wishing for gifts,

But to the parents it brings extra shifts.

With little time for a ‘Hello Honey’,

They are back to work to earn more money.


Christmas to children brings hope for snow,

But do parents want it? I don’t think so!

Icy roads are really quite unpleasant;

The things we do to buy loved ones presents.


Christmas to children means playing with toys,

But parents get headaches with all the noise.

Dinner though, may give the adults some cheer,

Before falling asleep after a beer.


Christmas to children is full of magic,

But for the parents, it can be tragic.



Thanks to boblea for the image.

© All creative written content on this page is copyright of Adam Littler. 2012

Review – The Red Lion, Northop. 19th October 2012.


This evening was my third meal in recent memory, at the Red Lion pub in Northop, Flintshire.

I’m not a regular guest at the establishment, but that has good reason, due to the first experience being a poor one, which delayed a return prior to the much better second one. Interestingly, I was perfectly happy with everything in that next visit.

I must remember that these earlier visits are both insignificant, as I am basing my shared opinion on the last visit I have made to the pub.

Presumably due to our reasonably early ‘tea-time’ arrival of 16.30, the place was practically empty. This normally leads to both a promising quality and speed of service. It didn’t.

In fairness, we weren’t exactly waiting an eternity to have our orders taken or to have dishes delivered to the table. The quality of service, however, was rather sub-standard.

Post-drink serving, I opted for fish and chips, with a portion of ‘normal’ peas, as opposed to the mushy kind, which were featured in the sparse menu. As it is a pub as opposed to a multi-Michelin starred restaurant, I’d accepted the lack of variety, and the fact it was very much going to be a basic menu – the lack of vegetable-based or even ‘healthy’ meals was a little disappointing, though.

For my 2 year-old son we ‘mutually’ decided on chicken nuggets with baked beans and the same home-made chips my girlfriend, Emma, and I had included in our main courses; she ordered curry with a half and half mix of rice and chips.

Like similar venues, the Red Lion has a deal on all week to entice custom; a 2 courses for 2 people for £12 offer is very reasonable, and perhaps goes some way to explaining the bog-standard variety, or lack of.

Deciding on starters rather than desserts, Emma had garlic mushrooms, and I had the soup of the day. This serving riled me a little. The carrot and coriander soup was perfectly edible, but I tend to anticipate a warm bread roll on the side, as opposed to a slice of bread, of which the texture suggested could have been left on out on the kitchen side for far longer than the duration of preparing the starter.

Another thing that was disappointing at this stage, was the fact that we had kindly requested that the child’s meal arrived with the starters. It didn’t. We were then abruptly informed that it would ‘be coming when it’s ready’. In fairness, maybe the member of staff was ill-informed and didn’t realise that we had specifically asked for it to come prior to the stage we so rudely enquired about it’s whereabouts.

Eventually it arrived, not long before the other main courses. One thing that certainly wasn’t disappointing was the portion sizes, most notably the child’s meal. For £3.95 he did receive more than enough to satisfy his appetite. Unfortunately, some ketchup was obviously too much to ask for, as it took staring at and providing unimpressed looks towards the waitress for 10 minutes to remind her that she’d promised to ‘just go and get some.’

As for the food, it was absolutely fine. One thing I do like about the Red Lion is that the food does help maintain a ‘village pub’ feel, as it generally appears to be fresh produce.

The sheer conflict in different areas of the dining experience make it almost impossible to provide a generalised rating, so breaking it into factors is the most accurate method:

Service: On the whole, this was really quite poor. There was generally ‘service with a smile’, but the lack of quality of doing the job was disappointing to say the least.

Price: As mentioned before, this is very reasonable. The bill came to around £20 for a couple of 2-course meals, a child’s main and drinks.

Food: Fine. Portion sizes were great, food was appetising enough. Cold, plain bread being served on the side of soup is a bit pathetic, though.

Overall: I would recommend eating there, because you do get value for money on the table, and service another day may well be at least satisfactory.

Address: The Red Lion, 3 High Street, Northop, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6BQ

Tel: 01352 840 808

Review: Skepta – Make Peace Not War


After releasing a number of free tracks in the last couple of months, the self-proclaimed King of Grime has dropped the second single from his forthcoming fourth studio album, The Honeymoon.

When I saw the title, I had half-expected to hear a deep tune, complete with meaningful lyrics, possibly inspired by last August’s London riots and the like. But this was a huge misconception. Instead, Make Peace Not War is an upbeat, and kind of cheesy ‘Hip-Pop’ type track, full of self-praising lyricism from the Tottenham emcee.  The song does receive a bonus point for the sampling of C+C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) in the instrumental, though.

Whilst Skepta discusses important subjects such as fashion, jewellery and his now affluent lifestyle, there is no mention of warfare or the suffering of others. Despite this, the lyricism features Skepta’s usual wit, with lines such as ‘these other guys just ain’t got the stamina, me? I rock ‘n’ roll like Noel Gallagher’ standing out.

The visuals for Make Peace Not War have also been released, and are quite entertaining, with cameos from T4 and Radio 1 presenter Matt Edmondson and 1Xtra DJ Mista Jam, amongst other friends from the business.

On the whole, the track isn’t actually that bad. It is obviously another attempt to follow up his biggest hit, Rescue Me, which peaked at number 14 in the UK chart back in 2010, and has the potential to do so. It should also be popular in the clubs – but what it won’t do is satisfy fans of grime music. However, he has often claimed to try and balance the more commercial sound that is required to be successful in the mainstream, whilst not forgetting the genre that gave him his popularity, and his recent free tracks seemed to target his more ‘underground’ fan base.

How well his new album charts upon release will probably be the defining point in his musical career, as he will certainly be looking to advance on last year’s Doin’ It Again, which hit 19 in the album’s chart. But in the meantime, the Honeymoon may be over for this single.

Check out the video for Make Peace Not War here.

Release Date: 29th April 2012

Talented Flintshire Singer Through To Competition’s Regional Finals

General News

Local singer Tammy Turner has earned a place in the regional finals of a national singing competition, after impressing judges at a recent audition.

Former Mold Alun High School pupil Tammy, 20, successfully made it through the Liverpool audition of this year’s UK Open Mic competition on 21st August, and will now compete again on 6th November, for the opportunity to sing at the Grand Final at London’s o2 arena.

Her rendition of ‘Killing Me Softly’ was performed in front of a panel of six judges and four fellow competitors, as performers were invited to the stage in groups of five. Recalling her audition, Tammy said: ‘My performance went well! I always think I can do better though.’

Despite being pleased with her performance, she did have a worrying moment during the event: ‘The judges stopped me singing after the chorus, I didn’t even get to the verse which did make me quite nervous as I couldn’t determine whether it was a good reaction or bad reaction!’

Her main musical influences are the sounds of Motown and Northern Soul, and she has a list of artists she aspires to, stating that Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Joss Stone, Alicia Keys and Amy Winehouse are all idols to her.

The regional finals will be filmed for Sky TV as well as a live audience and judging panel which could include the likes of BBC Radio 1 DJ Ras Kwame and former boy band member Dane Bowers.

Despite the added pressure of the live show, Tammy is confident it won’t affect her performance, stating: ‘I always get really nervous before performing, but once I start singing the nerves soon disappear.’

The UK Open Mic website describes the music competition as the largest in Britain, which allows singers, songwriters and rappers to perform and hopefully get signed to a record label. 
Auditions are held across the UK, with performers competing to win a recording contract and up to £30,000 investment.

As well as performing in November, competitors are also expected to compile a portfolio containing evidence of self-promotion from the lead up to their performance in the competition. Gigging in the local area is an important part of this, and Tammy aims to perform all over the Flintshire, Wrexham and Chester areas.

Amongst previous winners of the competition is talented young singer Birdy. The 15 year old, whose impressive cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love was made record of the week on Radio 1, before it peaked at number 17 in the UK singles chart, won the competition in 2008 at the age of 12.

For further information on UK Open Mic, please visit the official website: www.openmicuk.co.uk

For gigs and news from Tammy Turner, please visit her Facebook page: ‘Tammy Turner UKopenmic’.

Product Review – KEEN footwear – Infant Coronado Shoe


American shoe manufacturers KEEN were founded in 2003 by Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst. They produce a wide range of footwear, from sandals to casual shoes. Their range is available to men, women and children.

The first pair of shoes created by KEEN were in fact a sandal which also designed to protect the toes of those wearing them, featuring a black bumper which covered the front of the sandal.

This black bumper is also included in the design of the product I am reviewing – the child’s Coronado  shoe.

My son is like every other 16 month old infant. He runs around, trips and bumps into things on numerous occasions throughout his daily routine. So as you can imagine, the black bumper featured on the Coronado shoes is a bonus on top of the stylish design.

The Coronado shoes are produced using ‘vulcanised eco-friendly construction’, which means my son has a pair of longer lasting and hard wearing pair of shoes, which were also made causing minimal damage to the environment.

Whilst I’m in no position to comment on whether or not my son’s little pair of shoes have played a big role in speeding up global warming or not, I can say that there is no signs of wear and tear after a few weeks. The canvas upper seems very easy to clean anyway.

The Coronado shoes do look quite bulky, but aren’t in fact overly heavy. However, they seem to have successfully corrected my son’s occasional habit of walking on his toes

The sizes available in the infant section range from 3 to 6 (in UK sizes). There are also a number of colours to suit boys and girls, such as blue, pink and olive. Olive was my selection, as I, being the fashion guru that I am, felt the colour would be the most versatile with different outfits.

My son is unable to comment on the comfort and fitting of the shoes, but KEEN claim the fit is ‘true to size’, so this hasn’t seemed to be an issue. The EVA footbed included in the design of the shoes also allows me to presume that they are fairly comfortable to wear.

As for the price, Nature Shop‘s £24.95 isn’t really too hefty when looking at other brands and producers of good quality footwear. After all, it is extremely important for us to take care of our feet, especially our children’s.

To view the Coronado or the rest of KEEN’s infant range  – click here