David Moyes, Frank O’Farrell and Cardiff City

David Moyes was fired as Manchester United manager today. The only surprise was that he lasted as long as he did. What are the chances that he follows in Frank O’Farrell’s footsteps and becomes Cardiff City manager?

Frank O’Farrell, like Moyes, took on mission impossible by following a legend as Man United boss – Matt Busby. He lasted longer than Moyes at Old Trafford, but also inherited a team that was in rapid decline from days of glory. He has described how Busby’s presence at United utterly overshadowed his unhappy time as manager. Moyes found Sir Alex Ferguson far more supportive, but Fergie’s extraordinary legacy of success would have been a formidable burden for anyone who took his place.

O’Farrell went on to become Cardiff City manager the season after losing his job at United. It was a big step down, as the Bluebirds were struggling at the foot of the old second division. He got the job at City days after Jimmy Scoular was fired after Cardiff lost the very first game I ever went to see: at home to West Bromwich Albion on 3 November 1973. (That grim game was the perfect introduction to life as a Cardiff City fan in the 1970s and 80s. My Latin teacher said there was an easy way to remember what nihil meant: it was the number of goals City was likely to score.)

Man United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seemed totally out of his depth as a premier league manager since succeeding the popular Malky Mackay last December. Cardiff could do worse than to offer Moyes the chance to rebuild his reputation in Wales. For all their troubles this season, City are in better health than in November 1973 when O’Farrell was appointed. And Moyes remains a decent manager, as he showed at Everton.

Hodgemoor Wood’s Polish past

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Memorial to the Polish village in Hodgemoor Wood, Chalfont St Giles

Hodgemoor Wood is one of my favourite local spots. I love cycling through the woods, near Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, as I’ve blogged before. Today I took five year old Owen up there for an Easter Monday walk – and to my surprise came across this memorial. I was amazed to learn that some 600 former Polish soldiers and their families lived in a camp here for many years after the second world war.

The families had stayed in Britain after 1945 to avoid returning to their Soviet-occupied homeland. The camp closed in 1962, but there’s still a thriving Polish community in the area, including one of Britain’s most successful Polish centres at Raans Road, Amersham.

As Owen and I walked on from the memorial, we found outlines on the ground of one of the many buildings, which included a church, a shop, post office and hall.

You can read more about the camp at the website about the UK’s Polish resettlement camps.

Today, Hodgemoor Wood has returned to nature.

Hodgemoor Wood today

Hodgemoor Wood today

Snowy Hodgemoor Wood, February 2012

Snowy Hodgemoor Wood, February 2012

Samsung Galaxy S5 camera: first impressions

Once, we bought phones to make phone calls. Years ago, that’s all a phone did. But in the era of the smartphone, we’re just as likely to judge a handset by its abilities as a camera. So I was keen to find out how the Samsung Galaxy S5‘s snapper performed.

Galaxy S5 shot of Richmond, Surrey

Galaxy S5 shot of Richmond, Surrey

First impressions are good, at least outdoors. I got the chance to test the camera at the seaside at Penarth, Wales and Richmond, Surrey, last week. The sun was shining, and the Galaxy S5 captured the colours beautifully.

Richmond, Surrey, captured with an iPhone

Richmond, Surrey, captured with an iPhone

But, as you can see here, my 2012 iPhone 5 was just as capable at capturing the sunny scene. And it’s arguably easier to use as a camera, with its smaller size and physical button (the volume up button) to release the shutter. Finally, the iPhone camera is quicker to open from the lock screen, which may make all the difference between capturing a moment and cursing at missing it.

I did find the S5 better at switching between video and still shooting modes. After all this time, I still struggle to cope with the iPhone’s slider to choose between the two – and find selecting flash on, off and auto modes even worse. The S5 is much more logical, once you remember that clicking the video camera button starts filming, rather than just switching mode.

Where the S5 really wins is when you view photos and videos on that beautiful large screen. It makes such a difference.

Its weakness? Taking photos indoors and in poor light. It’s a weakness it shares with my iPhone 5. It’s too soon to ditch a real camera, although Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone has the advantage of being the camera you always have with you, unlike a bulky SLR. I was glad I had it with me when the Thames was at high tide in Richmond last week (below).

Richmond high tide, seen on Samsung Galaxy S5

Richmond high tide, seen on Samsung Galaxy S5

How to take Samsung Galaxy S5 screenshot, and other tips

I’ve just joined the Android revolution. My new work phone is the new Samsung Galaxy S5 – and I love it. But having been an iPhone user for five years, I’ve had to learn afresh how to do things that had become second nature in iOS, such as taking a screenshot. Here’s the answer to that question, and the other main lessons I’ve learned in my first week with Android.

Taking Samsung Galaxy S5 screenshot

Taking Samsung Galaxy S5 screenshot

The easiest way to take a screen shot on the Galaxy S5 is to (literally) swipe the screen with the side of your hand, as if you were wiping it.

Taking screenshot on Samsung S5 with button combination

Taking screenshot on Samsung S5 with button combination

The other option is to hold the home and power buttons. This is like the way you take a screenshot on an iPhone, but it takes longer to take the shot – wait until you hear the shutter noise before releasing the buttons.

My other top Samsung Galaxy S5 tips

Silence is golden…

I loved my S5 from the moment I turned it on. But it’s a noisy neighbour. It whistles and pings at you the whole time. After a few days of saying sorry to family and colleagues, I needed to silence it.

Silencing the Samsung Galaxy S5

Silencing the Samsung Galaxy S5

Here’s how to do it. After unlocking the phone, pull down the notifications bar from the top of the screen. Click the Sounds icon and turn it to vibrate (as shown) or mute. You can also go into settings and untick various options, such as Touch sounds and Screen lock sounds (shown) and Notifications.

Keyboard choice

I liked the Galaxy S5 keyboard at first – it was good to have the numbers and letters visible at the same time. But after a few days, I was getting frustrated by failing to find the full stop. (Bottom right, if you’re wondering.) The beauty of Android is you have a choice.

Swiftkey keyboard

Swiftkey keyboard

The SwiftKey Android keyboard is the best I’ve tried so far. It’s easy to use and predicts what you’re about to type very effectively.

Kill My Magazine

When I first got my iPad in 2010, I liked Flipboard, the app that aggregated content from various news sites. But before long I stopped looking at it. Samsung’s My Magazine is a version of Flipboard that takes up a screen of the S5. If you’re not going to use it, you can get rid of it. (The same goes for Galaxy Gifts and the pedometer.) Touch and hold the icon, and drag it to the ‘remove’ dustbin at the top of the screen.

Kill S Voice

The Galaxy S5 comes with two voice control services, Samsung’s own S Voice and Google Now. S Voice is, as you’d expect, deeply integrated in the S5 but you may want to make the phone a bit quicker by disabling it. Double clicking the phone’s home button activates S Voice, and when you press the home button the phone waits for a second press in case you want to use voice control. Disable S Voice by unlicking Open via the home key if you’re not using it regularly.

Give it the finger

Galaxy S5 fingerprint with PayPal

Galaxy S5 fingerprint with PayPal

The Galaxy S5 takes fingerprint authentication to a new level. Unlike the iPhone 5S, the S5 lets you use fingerprint authentication to do more: for example, to use your finger to shop and pay with PayPal. I found it easy to use, especially after I had stored different fingerprint angles, such as swiping from the side. Think about which fingers and thumbs you’ll find most convenient and comfortable to use on the phone when you’re out and about – and store these digits. It may take you a day or two to get used to the fingerprint technique: you need to swipe down over the trail and the home button.

Why I love my Galaxy S5 and Android

I’ve fallen in love with my Galaxy S5 over the last seven days. It’s so much nicer than the S2 I used briefly in 2012 after using it for a major media event. The combination of native Android and Samsung’s TouchWiz is much cleaner, especially if you’re moving from Apple’s iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. I was ready for a new type of device after almost four years with a barely changed iPhone and iPad interface. And the freedom that Android allows is a bit like leaving home for the first time: you realise that you can decide.

Some reviewers have criticised the S5 for feeling cheap because of its plastic back. They compare it unfavourably with the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8. They’re all great phones but I love the S5′s bigger screen. After living with the iPhone 4 since 2010, I didn’t think the slightly larger screen of the iPhone 5 was an upgrade. Maybe it just shows how unreasonable we are to expect each new generation phone to be a leap forward.

One thing I do miss with the Android phone is Photostream. I love seeing a photo I take on the iPhone appearing almost instantly on my Mac and iPad. I’ve not yet seen any real alternative, given that Dropbox doesn’t work well on my Mac.

Android KitKat

Android KitKat

Easter is a time associated with chocolate. What better time to get to grips with the latest version of Android, KitKat

 

 

Solving Daily Telegraph iPad app problems

Daily Telegraph iPad app

Daily Telegraph iPad app

I love reading newspapers on my iPad. I get them delivered to my tablet without having to go to the letterbox, never mind the newsagent. I can catch up on the news wherever I am in the world, as long as I’m online. The Daily Telegraph iPad app is one of my favourites, as it’s one of the most elegant apps.

But it’s not the most reliable. It rarely if ever downloads automatically, unlike the Guardian and Sunday Times. And recently it has stopped downloading at all: it sticks at 8% downloaded.

Time to use the app equivalent of turning a pesky computer on and off again: I deleted the app completely and downloaded it afresh. This is where I ran into difficulties. It asked me to enter my details as a subscriber. I chose ‘digital subscriber’. But it didn’t recognise me. I tried again. And again. Still no joy. It kept asking me to buy a subscription, which I already had.

At this point I called the 0800 number. A helpful man told me I needed to take a different route: click on the cogwheel on the bottom left of the app screen. Click subscriptions, then choose restore purchases. Enter Apple ID password – and you’ll not be asked to buy a new subscription.

Restore purchases

Choose restore purchases

This solved the 8% hitch. It still doesn’t download automatically though…

In praise of Penarth Pier Pavilion

Penarth Pier and Pavilion

Penarth Pier and Pavilion

Today was a glorious spring day in Penarth, near Cardiff. The newly restored pier pavilion looked magnificent, and we had a family outing to the lovely cafe at the pavilion.

Morning tea at the pavilion

Morning tea at the pavilion

I wrote three years ago about the lottery win that made possible the pavilion’s rebirth. Mum and Dad live on the seafront, and we have loved waking up to the view of the pier in all weathers and seasons. But this piece of 1930s art deco seaside architecture had fallen on hard times. A tatty bar at the end of the building closed years ago, leaving just memories and dreams of what might be. Today, we saw how successfully those dreams had been fulfilled. We loved our tea in the sunshine – and would have indulged ourselves with the delicious looking breakfasts and wraps had we not been going to Penarth Yacht Club for lunch!

Beach cycle

Beach cycle

Finally, I loved the sight of the cyclist enjoying a shingly Sunday ride.

End of the story for Richmond’s Lion & Unicorn bookshop

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The saddest chapter

Is there a sadder high street sight than an abandoned book shop?

When Karen brought Owen to see me at work in Richmond, Surrey, last week I suggested they visit the wonderful Lion & Unicorn children’s bookshop. (I bought my very first books for Owen there: books to read in the bath.) I was shocked when Karen reported that the shop had closed down.

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Memories that began at the Lion & Unicorn, Richmond

The Lion & Unicorn had been a Richmond institution for over 35 years. Roald Dahl opened it in 1977, and countless famous authors visited over the years. But soaring rents and the rise of online book selling put it out of business, owner Jenny Morris explained to the Daily Telegraph. It joins a sad list of wonderful independent bookshops that have lost the fight for life, including the famous Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth, once run by AA Milne’s son Christopher Robin and his wife Lesley. 

The fact I hadn’t noticed the Lion & Unicorn had closed says a lot – about me. I have always loved books, but didn’t shop there enough. We live over 25 miles from Richmond, so Owen and I tend to go to Waterstone’s shop in Amersham. (We recently chose my childhood favourite, The Secret Garden, with his World Book Day token.) And I wonder if selling just children’s books was another factor in the Lion & Unicorn’s demise. When we go to a bookshop, Owen will look at the children’s titles while I look at my favourites as well. 

Richmond still has two excellent bookshops: a big Waterstone’s and The Open Book

Books and book stores create life-long memories. As a child and teenager I loved Lears in Cardiff. And I still remember visiting George’s in Bristol as an 11 year old in 1975. I bought so many cherished books in those stores: every Famous Five and Secret Seven title, along with Malcolm Saville’s marvellous Lone Pine series, set in the Wales/England borderlands, Sussex and Devon. 

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George’s bookshop, Bristol. Childhood memories