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NOV 2010

Cuba Cuba The Next Biggest Band

To Come Out of Wales

Family Football Is Cardiff City Stadium safe?

Dubai Guide

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57’ MINI Cooper Convertible, 1 lady owner, 29k miles, silver, FSH, manual, ABS, power roof. £11,700

57’ CITROEN GRAND C4 PICASSO 2.0TD, Artic Silver, 50k miles, 1 owner, FSH, ABS. £19k new! £8,700

57’ MAZDA RX-8 1.3 4DR COUPE, black, 1 owner, only 21k miles, FSH, EW,EM. £8,995

57’ PEUGEOT 107 URBAN 1.0L 5Dr hatchback, 38k miles, 1 owner, FSH, citrus yellow, MOT. £5,900

57’ MERCEDES A150 SE Classic, cosmos black, 1 owner, only 10k miles, FSH, £8,995

57’ CHEVROLET LACETTI SE 1.4 5Dr hatchback, only 11k miles, 1 owner, silver, FSH, PAS, AC,MOT. Lovely! £4,700

57’ FIAT PANDA1.1 ACTIVE, beige, 1 owner, manual, FSH,13k miles, FSH, PAS, ABS, isofix. £4,700

07’ VAUXHALL VECTRA 1.8SRi, black, 5dr, 38k,1 owner, FSH, PAS, air con. £6,450

07’ CITROEN C4 1.6SX, red,30k, petrol, auto, 1 Owner, FSH,PAS,Cruise, ABS, Isofix etc. £5,500

07’ VAUXHALL ASTRA 1.6 CLUB, auto,1 owner, 19k, Blue, FSH, AC, ABS, CD, EW. £5,900

53’ AUDI TT 1.8T QUATTRO, black, Leather, EW, PAS, ABS, 4WD, Alloy Wheels. £7,295

51’ MINI COOPER 1.6, British Racing Green, 76k miles, leather, EW, EM, T & T £4,700

Part Exchange welcome - 6 Month Warranty as standard - Finance available Come and enjoy a refreshing car buying experience from the friendly car people Opening times: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm Sat & Sun 9am - 4pm Sir Ivor’s Road, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood, NP12 2JH t: 0845 2301937

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Hello

What’s Inside On Yer’ Bike

Bonfires, Guy Fawkes and fireworks... it’s November!

Test Drive

Welcome to the November’s magazine and I hope you’re enjoying our monthly publication.

The Rant

This edition should be an interesting read once again as we try our best to make sure there’s a little something for everyone each month. I recently got to take out the 550bhp monster they call the Bentley Continental GT Coupe for a test drive (it’s a tough job being editor) for our monthly Test Drive feature.

Fitness Film Review 0845 230 1937 Sir Ivors Rd, Pontllanfraith, NP12 2JH

Football Focus

This month’s mag also features more from our resident ranter, Charles Sinclair, some top tips from our professional bodybuilder and seven times former Mr Wales, Aleks Georgijev and a mouth watering recipe from Granny Moi to name but a few reasons why you won’t be able to put it down.

Easy and effective advertising to over 20,000 consumers in the South Wales valleys

I would also like to thank each and every one of the 337 people who emailed us last month to say how good they thought the magazine was. It is nice to feel loved hey.

Editor: Ross Porter Designer: Oli Salisbury

It will soon be time for that fat man in the red suit to descend upon us all. It’ll also soon be time for us to choose the winner of this year’s coveted prize of Reader’s Lives photo of the year, so get a wiggle on and send in some daft photos of yourself or your mates holding our magazine to win a fab prize. Send them to readers@myvalleysmagazine.co.uk Enough of my waffle for this month. Enjoy the magazine and enjoy the month of November and if you’re lighting fireworks then be careful! Regards,

Cuba Cuba

www.integritycars.co.uk

Contributors: Paul Corkery, Claire Louise, Aleks Georgijev, Charles Sinclair

Travel Dear Claire What’s On Reader’s Lives

Past Issues SEPT 2010

Tel: 0845 230 1937 advertise@myvalleysmagazine.co.uk www.myvalleysmagazine.co.uk

Ryder Cup Hole-in-One Guide Inside

New Season

Predictions for the upcoming football season

While every care has been taken to ensure that the data contained in this publication is accurate, neither the publisher or its editorial contributors can accept, and hereby disclaim, any liability to any party for loss or damage caused by errors or omissions resulting from negligence, accident or any cause. MyValleys Magazine does not officially endorse any advertising materials included within this publication. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system in any form without the prior permission of the publisher.

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On Yer’ Bike!

Mountain Biking at Coed Trallwm Clean your helmet, lube you chain and get on yer’bike! There are three XC trails spread throughout the forest and they are graded with colours: BLUE TRAIL

RED TRAIL

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DISTANCE: 4km CLIMB: 95m

DISTANCE: 5km CLIMB: 140m

DISTANCE: 5km CLIMB: 155m

A gentle start, winding through the woods over a little bridge before dropping down through the gears to ride up past the cottages. At the top, the timber road ends and you continue on a single track descent. Care is needed at fox’s den,a dark narrow section and at a tricky stream crossing at the bottom of a clearfell. Here you go left 300m then right 300m on farm tracks. Then, just before you link to the black trail climb, there is an escape single track back down to the cafe.

The main ascent starts 800m from the cafe up the county road towards Abergwesyn. This 2km. track crosses the descending singletrack - watch out - taking you to the top of Bryn Mawr, where the trails from Llanwrtyd Wells join Coed Trallwm. Go round to the right where the track levels off, then drop right on to a fast single track left-handed traverse, switchback bend on to a right handed traverse before snaking down through the trees across your previous ascent. Continue till you dive off left for a tricky ride through ‘five springs’. Then pick your way down to the county road again with the cafe in front of you.

The toughest trail with spectacular views at the top. It leads off the blue trail with a 1km climb up a forest road. Turn hard right at the cross roads 250m turn left onto singletrack. Check out the view from the summit before bracing yourself for a technical descent through the woods. There is some doubletrack too and a tight turn at the bottom of a schuss, so be warned. The last section twists and turns its way past the Giant Oak Tree down to the Visitor Centre car park. Watch out for cars!

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Bentley Continental GT

Test Drive

This month we spend time with the 6.0 twin-turbo supercar When the opportunity to test drive the Bentley Continental GT 6.0W12 Coupe was presented to me on a solid silver tray, carried by the trusted Jeeves the Butler, then one was as excited as one could possibly be with one’s clothes on. It’s posh, costs lots of dosh but oh my gosh it’s splendid. Once I had stopped stroking the poshest chromed up key fob, which weighed as much as a small bag of sugar, I sat for five minutes just looking at the curves and lines of this truly stunning bit of kit. Now I have been a petrolhead since I was old enough to stick posters of Thomas Magnum’s Ferrari 348 GTB up on my bedroom wall, and I have also been fortunate to drive some serious motors over the years, from the likes of Porsche, Mercedes, Jaguar and BMW. They were all quick, they all put a smile on my face, however, nothing quite compares to the Bentley. With more horses under the bonnet than at a Sunday meeting at Chepstow Races and with more grunt than a regiment of grunty things, it really does go like the clappers when you dare to stab your right foot on the throttle pedal. It’s 6.0L twin turbo-charged W12 powerhouse delivers the most impressive 552bhp in the smoothest of manners that you’d expect from what could be

argued as the best car manufacturer in the world. It’s shape will make ladies drool and grown men cry with envy when it glides past like a growling supermodel in a thong. The shape of this piece of engineering genius works so well and looks even better when on the move. When I eventually picked my jaw up off the floor and having walked around the car for the seventeenth time, I decided to get in and take her for the test drive. Not wanting to extract the urine from the kind people at Integrity Cars who kindly loaned me the car for the test drive, I thought I’d just nip to Mid Wales and back in order to get an honest opinion of how she performs! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving a hundred or so miles North up the A470 on a crisp sunny morning, then you can imagine the Cheshire Cat grin that adorned my face as I tested the Bentley’s four wheel drive handling on bends that

would even have a the Stig in brown trousers.

It’s posh, costs lots of dosh, but oh my gosh it’s splendid! The interior consists of more leather than you’ll find at a fetish party and the cockpit oozes style that is worthy of 007 status. Throughout my time in the car I couldn’t resist gazing down at the rather eye-catching Bentley logo on the centre of the steering wheel and feeling a rather warm sensation of poshness each time. Although the polished wood trim is also impressive, my favourite little style touch is the Breitling clock that sits in the dashboard so gracefully. How posh is that? You can just tell that everything on the inside of the car has been


handcrafted by real craftsmen it really does feel like you’re in a hundred grand motor. The Continental GT is a proper four seater, although a broad transmission tunnel runs down the centre of the cabin. The bullseye chromed ventilation outlets and the organ stop controls are quite funky for what some may consider the ‘old school’ of car makers, but don’t get the impression that this interior is a quaint retro pastiche. A touch screen LCD display on the centre console controls the air conditioning, satellite

navigation, computer information and entertainment systems, whilst many of the minor controls can be operated without removing hands from the steering wheel. It’s this blend of old and new that’s particularly fascinating. Craftsmanship techniques have been similarly updated. For instance, wood panelling is dramatically curved in a way that was once impossible. Despite the sleek and sexy shape of the car, the headroom is acceptable even to those at the extremes of the morphological scale.

TECH SPEC ENGINE 6.0 W12 552 BHP @ 6,100 PERFORMANCE 0-60 4.6sec 198mph FUEL STATS 11mpg Urban 18mpg Extra Urban

The car handled like an absolute dream on my little jolly to Mid Wales, however, I did have to keep a close eye on the speedometer as doing 80mph felt more like 40mph. The child in me couldn’t resist keeping the window open each and every time I had the chance to give her the guns off a roundabout or out of a bend. The deep, throaty note that omitted from the huge oval tailpipes sounded just beautiful. The sound system in the car was probably top notch, in line with everything else on this truly stunning supercar, however, with an exhaust note like it had I am afraid I didn’t even switch it on despite my 260 mile round trip. The car that was used for the test drive was a 2006 model and was for sale at www.integritycars.co.uk

PRICE NEW £123,800

It really does feel like you’re in a hundred grand motor

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Opening Pandora’s Box

The Rant

If ever there was a modern metaphor for the opening of Pandora’s Box then the invention of the internet by Sir Tim Berners Lee in CERN back in 1989/1990 surely has to be it. In Greek mythology, Pandora is said to have unleashed all the evil of the world by opening the chest, although in these modern times the object better suited to such matters would of course have to be Mr Gates’ geek-boxes. No-one could have begun to imagine quite how universal a presence in all of our lives the internet would quickly become, stemming from the embryonic aim of sharing information between scientists. The current beast is a complex mixture of legitimate industry, information in all it’s guises, recreation, and unfortunately, negative applications as well. These arise from the ability of clever, corrupt people, with the requisite skills to poach information from the rivers of data flowing round the system. We all have our cyber-game-keepers with which to keep the unwanted at bay (Norton, Kaspersky, etc) but the viruses sent to disrupt and steal our data still get through. It’s a very large stream of data and the infallible policing of it is all but impossible. The internet relies upon it’s central theme of sharing info, and as we all wilfully share this information, it sadly attracts the attention of those exploiting the human mistakes in cyber-security. Freedom is marvellous, and as a concept so is freedom of information. It is also terrifyingly open to

exploitation - ” Knowledge is power “ stated Wolfie Smith.

Charles Sinclair

China is so aware of this that it constantly battles with Google regarding what it’s currently obedient population have access to. The Taleban apply the same logic by burning schools and preventing their women the access to learning they rightfully want and expect in a modern world.

every good application and timesaving device the internet has spawned, there are an equal number of problems.

As the internet becomes ever more universal, these rogue phishermen will bait their hooks with ever more sophisticated lures These absolute rulers always claim they are best suited to judge what is safe and suitable for their own citizens. I would never advocate state applied censorship, but the internet is such an uncontrollable entity that I sometimes wonder if these autocratic controllers have a point: China is difficult enough to control even with an inherently obedient populace imagine the civil unrest it’s capable of should the 1 billion-headed-dragon start downloading human rights web-pages! Whilst the internet provides the good with all manner of useful, constructive, usable detail. It also provides all of the same information to those who would use the information for personal gain and even to damage others. For each and

We see fraud arising from the leaking of personal data. We see the music industry battered by file-sharing; people essentially shoplifting without the trip to HMV. The advent of social networking sites for adults and children has seen various levels of bullying, harassment, stalking, and worst of all, grooming. These problems didn’t, and couldn’t wreck lives at the levels they do now had the internet not erupted into glorious free-life. People are fallible, and even highly educated folk get ripped off on a daily basis via phishing scams stealing their banking details. The fact is that most people are still good at heart and yet don’t act with sufficient caution to stay ahead of the internet sharks. Most of us are but minnows in the cyber-stream, hoping that as we shoal along we won’t get nabbed by the predators. Our only protection beyond our anti-viral software is our strength in numbers. Statistically we are still unlikely to be hooked, but, as the internet becomes ever more universal, more and more rogue phishermen will bait their hooks with ever more sophisticated lures to catch us out. I’ve a feeling that it’ll get to a point where fraud and misuse of the internet will be the only thing that eventually stops the exponential increase in the information flowing around the world’s ether. People will become afraid of the wonderful tool the internet is. You’ve been warned.


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Stop Those Excuses! Which one do you use? Is it the “I’m too old now” or “I haven’t got time”, or is it the “I haven’t got the energy”, or even the evergreen “I’m going to, I just want to lose a bit of weight first!” Classic! Maybe you’ve used them all - I hear them all the time. I even get these, “I used to train but I got so big I couldn’t get cloths to fit.” Really? Or “My wife thought that I was getting too muscley so I stopped” and now you carry your belly around in a wheelbarrow! OK enough of that. STOP MAKING EXCUSES! Either admit to being too lazy or be happy with whom you are (nothing wrong with that). If getting fit is something you want, then just do it! It will be the best thing you ever do, provided you are committed. Now that last bit is important. Just like everything else in life a little rule applies to any fitness regime: “You only get out, what you put in.” Anyway heres my attempt to demolish a couple of these cop-outs: 1. You’re never too old. I’ve seen pensioners come into my gym, and within two months change

completely. And I don’t just mean physically, their whole attitude and demeanour improves. 2. I haven’t got time. Because I have to rush home from work, watch all the soaps, drink a bottle of Merlot, and complain about the news. Please!

The first step of any adventure is often the most difficult - crossing the threshold of a gymnasium can be particularly traumatic for some. I promise you, it’s painless and you will never look back

Fitness

Aleks Georgijev and seem to need less sleep. Clients in the gym often commented that when they have had to take time off training they become much more tired and lethargic. 4. Why lose weight before you come to the gym? Surely that is one of the reasons you may be going there for. The first step of any adventure is often the most difficult - crossing the threshold of a gymnasium can be particularly traumatic for some. I promise you, it’s painless and you will never look back. Now it’s down to you. You must decide how important becoming who you want to be is to you. Come on, it’s not that difficult a decision really! I’ll see you in the gym.

3. I haven’t got the energy. Well you will have! I know it sounds crazy but undertaking some form of regular physical exercise invigorates and vitalises you. You feel more energetic

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Film Review

Red Based on the cult DC Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis & Cully Hamner, Red is and Explosive action - comedy staring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker. After having traded in his past as a black-ops CIA agent, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is now enjoying the everyday, normal life of an average joe. Thinking that he has left all of the action and

danger behind him, Frank finds himself having fallen in love with the beautiful Sarah Ross (MaryLouise Parker) and is looking forward to the future.

the lives they thought they had left behind. Cautious though they are, their loyalty for Frank wins and they form once again for one last mission.

However, when his new life is threatened, and the woman he loves put in harms way, Frank is forced to get his old team back together. Once the CIA’s top agents, Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) are now all happily enjoying their retirement and are reluctant to go back to

As they embark on a crosscountry mission to uncover the identity of their attackers, they stumble across one of the biggest government conspiracies and cover-ups of American history, but will they succeed in saving their own lives and returning to the normality that they have all come to enjoy.

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Cuba Cuba We catch up Lewys, Danny, Sion, Morgan, and Mike from

Up Close

up-and-coming Welsh band, Cuba Cuba. When did you first form as a band? Lewys: Me and Morgan are brothers, Danny was my friend at school. Morgan: Yeah, me and Lewys began playing music as did our next door neighbour Sion and it all came together from there. Danny: We were are school mates apart from Mike, we nicked him from a local metal band. Sometimes you can tell! Growing up in South Wales what sort of bands influenced you? Lewys: Welsh bands such as Funeral for a Friend and Lostprophets were an obvious influence. Even though we don’t take direct musical influence from them these days, they always used to influence what we wanted to do when we were older because they’re great bands. How has your individual music tastes changed since you started playing music? Lewys: Drastically! Before I started playing music all I listened to were bands like Blink 182. Now I listen to everything from hip-hop to metal. Morgan: I also grew up to American punk rock such as The Offspring, NOFX and Blink 182. I think we’ve all started listening to more under-theradar stuff and we’ve found a lot of underated bands in the UK. Having said that I’m getting into some oldschool jazz/rock like John Lee Hooker.

Danny: Since we started together, we have had to be much more diverse and willing to try things we might not have initially liked the sound of. So I’d say I’ve started listening to a lot more mainstream pop, instead of snubbing it completely like I used to! Lewys: Still, I am weirdly excited about the Blink 182 reunion! How does your personal music taste affect the music you create with the band? Lewys: Drums-wise I’m always influenced by Bloc Party or Justice, so I bring dancable beats in. This always makes for an interesting mix alongside the melodic guitars. Morgan: When it all comes together it’s a mix of everything we like and enjoy. I think we have found our sound whilst creating our debut album which we’ve just finished. Danny: I’d say that the I bring a slightly weirder vibe! I find it very hard to make normal music and listen to quite a lot of electronic music, so I’d say I brought a lot of that element into our music. South Wales has a huge electrodance scene - do you see any overlap with this and traditionally guitar-driven music? Danny: I definitely do! Just because people like guitars doesn’t mean they don’t like to dance. Apparently the remix of our single got played in Pulse Cardiff not so long ago. How’s

that for overlap hahaha! Would you say that growing up in South Wales has been a help or hindrance in getting mainstream coverage? Danny: Erm it’s hard to say. However, the ratio of bands that make it out of South Wales is outstanding. Lewys: We’ve had some good backing from Bethan Elfyn which is a start. Maybe London bands are favoured more with other radio DJs, but that’s only because of the type of music they make. The Welsh music scene is evolving a lot these days, so if it is a hindrance, I can’t see it being for long. Morgan: We have no complaints on where we’ve come from. We’ve always believed that if we write good enough songs and be patient, the rest will come naturally. We can only achieve what we all put into the band. There is a big mainstream craving for electro-pop at the moment with bands like Delphic and Two Door Cinema Club cashing in - where do you see the mainstream trends going in the next year or so? Lewys: I see more and more people combining the laptop with live performance. Everyone’s competing to sound most like their own record live, so laptops are introduced. I predict that then in a few years people will want to go back to being raw, stripped from the electro and


We’d definitely recommend him to anyone. Danny: Yeah, he’s a genius. Even goes hiking to look for photo ops and stuff. What’s the ultimate dream with Cuba Cuba? Lewys: As long as it’s fun and we all enjoy the music then it’s a dream. That’s not to say we’re not ambitious though, with the album we hope to push the dream further. We’re in a position now where if we make good enough songs then we could do well.

back to guitars. I don’t mind either way. Morgan: We love bands like Delphic and Two Door Cinema Club. Their music is the backing track to 90% of adverts right now too! People always write off guitar driven music but it will never die out. It’ll come back in a year or so. Who is your current label and how did that come about? Lewys: Our label is called Walnut Tree records. Our friends from the band Tiger Please got signed to them and we saw how much effort the label’s front figure, Tom, was putting in. He’s so passionate about getting bands he loves rather than a band that will make him wealthy. That is something rare in this day and age, we admired that so when we got approached it was a no brainer. Morgan: Tom’s a great guy and WTR is a great label.

So, the new single and album what came about so you could release this and are you happy with the final product? Morgan: The single came out at the end of May, and then we went into the studio to record the rest of the album. It’s actually being mixed right now in London. We’re beyond excited. Can’t wait! Lewys: With the album, we’ve had so much time to properly explore our sound and, yeah, I’m really happy with the outcome. The album wont be out for a few months, but we already had the first single done so our label was keen to get that out. Danny: The single was just a good song that we wanted people to hear as soon as possible. I’ve got a stupid amount of faith in Trystan [Ivemy] for mixing the album, I love everything he’s done so far. It sounded quality before it’d even been mixed, so I can’t wait for the finished product! Tell me about your photoshoot for Home Is The Fire - where was it shot and who set it up? Lewys: Our label set it up, its with this company GOlrg. Two very passionate and talented guys who took us to a secret location in mid-Wales. They even sorted out a horse! Morgan: This is by far the best photoshoot we’ve ever done. We did it with Jon James and he’s incredible!

Morgan: We’d love to be able to make a living out of what we do, but more importantly we just want people to hear our music. It’s the same old story - we want to feel appreciated! Danny: Well, the ultimate dream is to own a house in Beverly Hills with a Hollywood babe (any one, I’m not fussy). Megan Fox would be nice if anyone has her number - but let’s not run before we can walk! Tell me a funny story from touring with the band Lewys: Recently we played in Bournemouth and all went out after the show. We kindly got offered a place to stay which all accepted apart from Danny who wanted to stay out longer even though it was 4am. He told us that he had another place to stay. We got a phone call at like 6am from Danny saying he was lost on some beach and had been kicked out of a house. It took us a while to find him, and he’s different since that night. Something happened. Morgan: There are too many. Our tours are just filled with laughter. Last night, we played Camden and got some food beforehand. Danny ordered some fish gumbo thing with king prawns in it. We were all talking and then looked over at him having just eaten the king prawns whole with the shell, brains, and eyes attached! His response was “Isn’t this how you’re meant to eat them?” Classic moment. Danny: There are far, far, too many stories to even remember properly!


How Safe Is It To Watch Football?? For many years Cardiff City football club has been tarred with a terrible reputation for football hooliganism, and the very mention of the club always brought a bad reaction from other fans from other clubs. Cardiff City meant trouble and many fans even refused to travel to Cardiff to watch their teams for fear of getting attacked or getting into some sort of bother. Ninian Park was seen as a hostile arena to watch football. During the last ten years, measures have been taken to improve the situation and great strides have been made thanks to the efforts of the police, the club, and most importantly the fans themselves. There was evidence during the last few years at Ninian Park that the tide was turning against the trouble makers as more and more families were attending games, but the new stadium has been the real difference

and now the club can boast over 5,000 family season ticket holders.

Over a third of the games at the Cardiff City stadium are now completely “police free“ matches, controlled solely by club stewards Another statistic that might surprise a few people is the fact that over a third of the games at the Cardiff City stadium are now completely “police free“ matches, controlled solely by club stewards. Against Coventry City away in October this year there was again no police presence at the Ricoh stadium for the visit of the travelling army of 1,300 Cardiff fans - that’s the first time in over thirty years that a Cardiff away game as been completely police free. There was not a hint of any problems on the night. There are still unsavoury incidents reported during the season and just

Football Focus Paul Corkrey recently two Liverpool fans were stabbed in Napoli. But these incidents are rare these days and generally football is becoming far more family orientated. There is still much tension at derby matches, especially the high profile events like Cardiff City vs Swansea, but the police are on top of it and the CCTV cameras cover everywhere. Add that to the fear of banning orders and things have greatly improved. Special deals to attract families to stadiums have also helped, and there are many more women attending games than I can ever remember. Both factor in the creation of safer environments to watch football. Everything has changed at Cardiff, the facilities are first class and long gone are the days of the uncovered outside toilets - huge concourses and clean, plentiful rest areas have totally transformed the match day experience. So yes, watching football is safer these days and that is evidenced by the large attendances at Cardiff City stadium for football matches - nearly 23,000 average a game. But no one will rest on their laurels, there is always room for improvement but if you want to take your children to the football, be assured they will enjoy it and be perfectly safe.

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incredible heat, you know that you are truly abroad. With not a chav, nor a ‘Nags Head’ serving full English breakfasts in sight, I looked forward to the week ahead. My family and I had booked to stay at the much talked about and highly rated Atlantis Hotel on The Palm development in Dubai. The hotel lies at the end of the palm development which is actually 2km out to sea and it is a truly stunning feat of

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architecture. Once we had survived the kamikaze taxi driver's attempt to scare the living daylights out of us, the hotel took our breath away once we arrived in one-piece from the airport transfer. Feeling like proper VIP's greeted by a small army of smartly dressed concierge at the hotel entrance and having our bags whisked away to our room on posh luggage trolleys, we checked-in to what can only be

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described as a reception area which beckons the word "Wow." With it's main feature a beautifully coloured 40ft hand blown glass structure, combined with the amazing giant fish pillars, both my wife and I had to pinch ourselves to make sure we were not imagining it all. The basic rooms are called ‘Deluxe Rooms’ and deluxe they truly are! Equipped and furnished to a high standard and with a bed that you just won't want to get out of, it makes a perfect haven form those seeking a good rest from the hustle and bustle of the UK. The Atlantis Palm Hotel sells itself as a family hotel and to be fair, it caters for children very well. The swimming pools on offer are the ‘Zero Entry Pool’ and ‘The Royal Pool’, with the latter being more geared for adults. One of the major highlights for our children was the visit to the huge Aquaventure Waterpark that is situated in the grounds of the hotel, with residents gaining free admission as many times as they like. The waterpark is a fantastic day out and features some really great water rides for both children and adults. I must admit to bottling out of the ‘Leap Of Faith’ slide which stands at over 150ft high and looks as if you are dropping vertically at the start. One for the wife I think!

places in the past and having eaten some wonderful food at such establishments, I must say that I have never experienced as much choice of gastronomical delights as during my stay here. The hotel has more restaurants than you can shake a stick at (including the famously-expensive NOBU restaurant) and we found ourselves heading for the buffetstyle, family orientated eateries during our one week stay.

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There are Lifeguards everywhere you look and they are attentively carrying out their duties throughout the day. Comforting to know when you have children in the water.

If you're staying without siblings, or if you take advantage of the baby sitting service at the hotel, I highly recommend a nightie visit to the hotel's Nassimi Beach bar. With chilled-out funky tunes being churned out by the resident sound system, four-poster beach cabanas, comfy sofas and bean bags, and a view of the bright lights of downtown Dubai across the sea, you get an eclectic mix of ambience that feels like a cross between a Full Moon Party in Goa and afternoon tea on Brighton beach.

Having been fortunate enough to have stayed at some impressive

If you're a beer swilling monster on holiday, then either be prepared to

take a second mortgage out or to rob a bank before you fly out as alcohol is expensive - don't be surprised to pay £7 for a small tin of Grolsch from the minibar. Personally, it doesn't bother me as I went the whole week only having one beer. Just as well really as the laws are strict in Dubai and drunken behaviour is simply not tolerated! Shopping is fantastic with The Mall of The Emirates having everything covered and it even has an indoor Ski Centre if you fancy prancing around on real snow whilst it's 36 degrees outside! Dubai also features what is apparently the largest shopping mall in the world, The Dubai Mall, which just means even more shops for us guys to stand outside holding bags. It makes the Trafford Centre in Manchester look like a doll’s house! A visit to the old part of town is also a must if you can brave the taxi ride once more; the motorway contains 6 lanes and resembles the old cartoon Whacky Racers. If driving skill were chocolate, then the taxi drivers would not be able to fill a Smartie between them. Their idea of keeping distance is maintaining the thickness of a Rizla paper between each vehicle, and it's a free-for-all when it comes to overtaking on the roads. They only introduced traffic lights 20 years ago apparently...perhaps they'll introduce a driving test next! Madness. Despite the crazy driving, Dubai is a bizarrely wonderful city, and The Atlantis Palm Hotel is a truly fine place to stay. So give it a go in 2011.

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Dear Claire...

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Dear Claire, I am worried that my sister may be taking drugs. She has become very withdrawn and spends a lot of time with her mates as opposed to with me anymore. We have always been best friends. I am 17 and she is 19 and we have always been the best of friends until she met this boy who I think is also taking drugs. She is out with her boyfriend and his mates until all sorts of times and her eyes often look very red when she comes in. Her clothes also smells of smoke when she’s been out and when I ask her if she has started smoking or taking drugs, she just shouts at me and we end up arguing. I am worried for my sister, so what can I do? Samantha. Samantha, the first thing I would do is to mention it to your parents as I am sure they will be equally as concerned as you are, and rightfully so. You may have been best of friends growing up, however, it is only natural for you and your sisters group of friends to extend at the age you are. The problem is that drugs are so common in some circles these days and at some point the chances are that she will come into contact with a situation whereby they are present amongst her group of

friends. Drugs are bad news and a conversation really needs to be had between you, your sister, and your parents to discuss them. This needs to be done in a diplomatic way as the last thing you or your parents will want to do is to create more problems for the relationship with your sister. I really hope it works out for you all. Good luck. Claire x Dear Claire, I got drunk last week and ended up in bed with my best friend’s boyfriend after a night out in my local pub. I now feel so guilty as I know how much in love they are and if she finds out, then I am worried that she’ll never speak to me again. The trouble is that we had amazing sex and now I really want to do it again with him. Help! Sarah Sarah, firstly, you obviously don’t value your friendship. Secondly, the fact that you want to do it again with him spells trouble to me. You need to be honest with your friend and tell her what happened and face the consequences. How many other girls has he done this with behind your friend’s back and how many more will do it with in the future?

It’s your decision, however, you’ll have to live with the guilt whenever you see your friend if you don’t say anything. What goes around, comes around as the old saying goes. Claire x

Dear Claire, my boyfriend can’t stop playing his X-Box 360 and think that he’s getting addicted to it. He have stopped going out with his mates and he even prefers to stay in at the weekend as opposed to taking me out to the pub like we always used to do. What can I do? Chelsea. Chelsea, it sounds like he needs a serious talking to! Tell him how you feel and explain that there is a real world out there as opposed to living in cyber-world as that’s what it sounds like he’s doing. Unless your boyfriend is 13 years old (and if he is, then he shouldn’t be going to the pub anyway) I personally think it’s a bit odd that a grown man wants to stay in and play these games. You could always dangle the carrot and tell him if he’s a good boy, then Father Christmas may bring him a skateboard for Christmas! Claire x

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Oh...What’s Occurring Rudry Traditional Bonfire Night. Time: 1700. Venue: Rudry Parish Hall. Traditional bonfire night event, fireworks, BBQ, mulled wine and lots more. For further details please telephone Helen Lewis on 02920 882091

NOV

05

12

Caerphilly Fireworks Display. Time: 1900. Venue: Caerphilly Castle. Charity fireworks display in aid of local charities. For further details please telephone Ken Williams on 02920 888777

NOV

06

Meditation Weekend. Time: 1000. Venue: Mindfulness and Well Being Centre. Donal Creedon has completed 12 years of closed retreat and teaches in a warm and engaging style. For further details please telephone Lorraine Harris on 029 2086 0054

NOV

07

Caerphilly Farmers Market. Time: 0930. Venue: Twyn Car Park, Caerphilly. A farmers market selling a range of different local produce including cheese, cakes, woodcraft, bread, preserves, plants, honey, eggs & meats. For further details please telephone Mike Pett on 01656 658963

NOV

NOV

11 13

Caerphilly Business Forum Awards. Time: 1930. Venue: Bryn. The highlight of the local business calendar, when the winners of the 2010 Caerphilly Business Forum Awards are announced in front of an audience of 250 guests. The awards recognise and celebrate all that is best in business in the County Borough. Black tie. Host by Jason Mohammad. For further details please telephone Jo Braham on 01443 866215

NOV

Little Shop of Horrors. Time: 1900. Venue: Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School. Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School is putting on the Broadway hit. Tickets are £5 or £3.50 for concessions contact the school for tickets. For further details please telephone Nick Powell on 01495 232815

NOV

NOV

23 25

Christmas Fayre. Time: 1700. Venue: Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni. Everybody welcome. £1 at the door. If stall required, contact Sian Walsh. For further details please telephone Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni on 01443 875227

NOV

24

What’s On

Queen Tribute Act. Time: 1900. Venue: Maes Manor Hotel, Blackwood. A four course dinner followed by the show and our resident DJ. Please contact reception to book your seats. For more information on the menu and our other entertainment please see our website www.maesmanor.com. For further details please telephone Maes Manor Hotel on 01495 220011

NOV

26

Trees in Winter. Time: 1000. Venue: Penallta Rugby Club. Why not pop in to Parc Penallta Education Centre and learn to identify trees in winter? We will start indoors learning about what features to look out for before venturing into the Parc to put your knowledge to the test! Meet: The Education Centre, Parc Penallta. For further details please telephone Country & Landscape Service on 01495 235219

NOV

27

Tea Dance. Time: 1400. Venue: Birthdir Community Centre. £1.50 entry (includes a cup of tea and a biscuit) All ages and abilities welcome - socialise and learn to sequence dance. For further details please telephone Stacy Price on 01443 878092

NOV

30

(Please note: The dates and times of events could change at any time. Please contact the venue directly for confirmation.)

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MyValleys Magazine - November 2010