Local sporting news from Somerset

Imogen, aged 9, competed in her school's long distance race for her year and the year above her. She finished sixth overall and second within her own year. She was the fastest girl out of both the years. A couple of days later she took part in the Somerset Primary Schools long distance race with about 60 competiitors and finished tenth and was the first girl to cross the finishing line.

Flora, aged 7, is the youngest pupil in her year and took part in her year's cross country race at school. She finished sixth and was the second fastest girl. (The fastest girl was Harriet Fox who is a second cousin of Jim and Emma's children, I think).

This year Arthur is playing in the B team of the Somerest under 14 hockey squad.

Edward should be competing soon in his school cross country race which he has previously won, but is off games, recovering from in growing toenail operations. However 'Fur Elise' is sounding beautiful from the piano at the moment, which Edward is playing (with his fingers).

very good to know that Imo, Flora and Arthur don't get their sporting genes from me.

Posted by: rob | January 30, 2009 at 12:07 PM


I’m having a lovely week with Ruth, Trev, Mum and Dad at the Yeti. The first day it was sunny but the snow was a bit scrapey. It has been very cold here but it hadn’t snowed for 3 weeks. After lunch Grandpa tripped on the third stair from the bottom out of the restaurant. I was right behind him and could do nothing. He executed a beautiful 180 degree turn and landed neatly on his back laughing and demanding to be picked up. Philippe and I raised him to his feet and he was none the worse for wear. The photo shows Dad, Mum, Philippe minutes later.

The next day it snowed hard and the weather was pretty foul. I was with Trevor coming down the Saulire on that ghastly shoulder. I lost him and my hat in the blizzard conditions. My head froze and I had to stop, hold my head and nearly cry several times. Luckily Trevor didn’t see this shameful behaviour. He boarded merrily down to the bottom and came back up to meet me for our lunch rendezvous at the half way station. As usual Mum and Dad are funding excellent lunches.

Yesterday  was better. There had been a good snowfall during the night and my children insisted that we get up early to get the best of the snow. We got half way up the Saulire (Saulire 2 was closed) and skied Georges Mauduit. Then we went towards Mont Vallon. At the bottom of the Mont Vallon at 11.25 we got a message from Philippe to meet us for lunch in La Soucoupe  in Courchevelle at 1. We decided that we still had time to do Mont Vallon and get to La Soucoupe in time. We made it with 5 minutes to spare and had a delicious lunch. I skied with Granny and Grandpa in the afternoon – very relaxing.

Today was even better. More snow in the night and sunny weather today. And this evening it’s snowing again. Yum yum.

Click Read more for more pictures and commentd

Post from Jim

Archie, marvellous description of the field-game this morning on the blog.  Am REALLY excited about it.  Well done so far!  LoL Jim
All, sadly Emma and I heard from Nico/Christa last night that Herbert died yesterday afternoon.  We have told Mum and Dad, who incidentally said skiing is going very well though cold.  LoL Jim/Emma xo

Granny’s Birthday Celebration

Hello Keelings and distant cousins and friends,

Here is probably the most informative and accurate field game update I will ever give on the 8 brothers blog. So if you have any questions to do with the great event, it is likely that I am now about to answer them.

To the players (or if you are interested) -

Firstly I will say a word about the squad. This includes the following people: George, Simon, Jim, Paul, Trev, Tom, Colin Hely-Hutchinson, other Trev Keeling, Tom Palmer, Sam Palmer, Harry Keeling, C.Gardiner Hill, N.Hely-Hutchinson, Ted Keeling, Fred Keeling and myself.

We will play in plain white and all the players will need shin pads, long sports socks and football boots. Although I will be able to help kit people out with stuff lying around the place here at school it is obviously much easier if people can bring their own kit. There is a sports shop called ‘Eton Sports’ on the highstreet perhaps five or ten minutes walk from the playing fields, and the heart of Eton, where all these things can be bought.

There will be changing rooms and showers at the pavilion nearby where everyone can base camp. Or alternatively my housemaster has kindly said that we may use his house to pitch camp and prepare for the game. It is just before half term and many boys will have already gone home, so the place will be reasonably free for this sort of thing.

To everyone -          

I am sure you all have the dates and vital details of the day tattooed into your memories but I will go over them again just in case. It is on the February 14th at 11am. It will be played on Agars playing fields where you can drive right up to the edge of the pitch. I would suggest that supporters aim to get there comfortably in time as, I assure you, it will be reasonably busy and there will be a fair bit of battling to get a decent place for your car (with supporters and players from other teams, of course.)

But I would like to insist that the players pay no attention to this 11am kick off time and instead arrive as early as 9am. I am sure that as you are reading this you cannot help thinking how ridiculous this sounds but this timing is really absolutely essential. Because we will need ALL 15 PLAYERS for at the very least an hour and a half so that our extremely talented but, alas, inexperienced field game team can learn how to play this game. It will require all 15 players to be present and if the entire team can get all kitted out and everything in half an hour I will be very impressed.

Players absolutely must pretend that they have to get there for a 9am kick off. If we do not prepare properly for only a short while for the game, the whole match will be a bit of a shambles, less fun, and will also slightly embarrass the keeling name, which, of course cannot happen.
Also, I should say that for people who want to take the train, there are two options for you. You can get a train to Slough and from there get a five minute taxi into Eton.

Alternatively, you can get a train to Windsor & Eton Riverside and from there you can cross the bridge that the station is just adjacent to and then take a very pleasant walk for about 20 minutes up the high street to Agars playing fields.

After the game, Granny and Grandpa have completely booked the restaurant The House on the Bridge (on the bridge I mentioned just earlier) and the food is amazing and it’s going to be the best lunch ever ever. Incidentally, Granny and Grandpa are staying at the hotel The Christopher Wren which is about 20 yards from this bridge I keep going on about.

The rules –

The Field Game is often branded over complicated and confusing and while this is slightly true, in my opinion, only a basic understanding of the main rules are really required to be able to play it to a reasonably enjoyable and successful level.
The field game is played with a size 4 football. (In the premier league they play with size 5.) It is played at your feet, similarly to football, and no player in the team is allowed to use his hands to control the ball during play.
The object of the game is to score the most points. This can be done either by scoring a goal (three points) and the other is scoring a rouge (five points plus conversion). Scoring a goal is done by putting the ball between the posts. A rouge is, when compared to football, winning a corner. It is done by getting the ball off the opposition’s field of play, via an opposition player. And there are a number of methods of doing this, mainly going along the line. This means that you go along the line. You get the ball up the opposition’s end of the pitch and the attacker shuffles along the line trying to win a rouge (or a corner) off the defender who comes to meet him.
The team consists of 11 players.  There are 2 shorts and a long. These players are defenders who are good at long, accurate kicking. Then there is a fly around whom the attacking game is essentially centred around. The fly is usually a quick, strong player who is good at dribbling. Then there are 7 bully players. These are the workers of the team, they should be strong, good at lots of jogging and, if possible good at dribbling.

The shorts and long are the only players on the pitch who are allowed to pass the ball to other players. The shorts and long will usually boot the ball up far into the opposition’s half which the bully players are then required to follow (or occasionally the shorts will play a neat, clever pass just into the path of the bully). What will often happen in field game is that the shorts and long of each team will be continually firing the ball into the other’s half in an attempt to gain the upper hand and build momentum. While, as often does happen, this passing back and forth between the shorts and long occurs the bully players of each team, meanwhile, have to run up and down the pitch, in a very tight group, chasing the ball, seemingly pointlessly, but actually abiding by some fairly complicated offside rules. These offside rules are the ‘main rules’ I mentioned in the first paragraph of this rules section. If, as an inexperienced player, you can grasp the offside rules, there is a very good chance you can play the game successfully and really enjoy it.

The TWO offside rules are known as sneaking and cornering. Sneaking is essentially the same as the offside rule in football (which you can look up if you do not know it thank you very much) but instead of being behind the last man when the ball is played to you, instead you must be behind the last man when the ball goes over your head as the ball is played over. Cornering is an offside rule that works perpendicular to sneaking. You are cornering when you play the ball and you are either too far to the left or the right of the bully. This rule is more vague and basically as a bully player you must just make sure that you stay in tight, narrow group. Except when you are dribbling, of course.
If this makes no sense, maybe try reading this again. Because it’s not a bad summary of the rules. But if you have gained just one solitary scrap of knowledge from this epic summary of the rules and feel thoroughly unenlightenend, don't panic, I would not expect anyone to really grasp it just from reading. It's the bit of practise we will have before the game that will really count. If you have gained one solitary scrap of knowledge then you have made me a little bit happy.

And finally…

Although I know how useful the internet and the keeling blog and email and everything are at getting these kinds of messages across, I know that there are also bound to be members of the Keeling empire whose ears (or eyes) this message will not reach. And so, please make this event your gossip until its all over because I hate the idea of leaving people out, or worse people forgetting all about it. But don’t worry I have told Granny and Grandpa. I am almost certain they will turn up.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year (it’s not too late to still be saying that, is it?) and I look forward to seeing you on February 14th.
Love Archie.

archie rules as captain love it!!!
Posted by: fred | January 18, 2009 at 07:58 PM

It sounds so extraordinary that I may as a distant cousin at least once removed and with no previous interest in any kind of football have to come along...if that's alright?
Alex Palmer
Posted by: Alex Crockatt | January 16, 2009 at 06:15 PM

Amazing captaining Archie - and the team hasn't even met on the pitch yet.
Good luck Dad.
Posted by: ruth | January 16, 2009 at 02:04 PM

oh gosh
Posted by: George | January 16, 2009 at 01:14 PM

Top stuff Arch.
Everyone please take Arch's plea for us to turn up early seriously. Every minute we get to practise before the game, the more enjoyable the game will be by far.
Florat Keeli!
Posted by: Harry | January 16, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Brilliant work Archie. Three early cheers for our captain!
Posted by: Tom | January 16, 2009 at 09:33 AM

Germans and Germany

Recently Edward asked me what Germany was like. I wrote him my answer and asked him if he thought it was worthy of 8brothersing. He agreed, so here it is ...

Dear Edward

Thank you for your letter. In it you asked me if I was in Germany and, if so, what it was like. I do live in Berlin, which is the capital city of Germany. I can tell you what that’s like and it will give you some idea about the rest of Germany. But, rather like London is unlike the rest of Britain, Berlin is unlike the rest of Germany. So what I say about Berlin is not always applicable to Germany.

The first thing is that I only intended to stay in Berlin for one year. It is now almost two years since I arrived, I find the place and the people very congenial and I see no reason to make a permanent return
Berlin New Year
to London or England yet. The streets and pavements are wide. The traffic is usually fairly light. The public transport system is efficient and reliable. For example, underground trains run all night at weekends at 20 minute intervals. On New Year’s eve they were running at three minute intervals  because of the excitement. On that night every Berliner seems to put on their own fireworks display. I was lucky enough to be at a party in a 24th floor flat with a large balcony. The whole horizon was lit with fireworks. There were people letting off fireworks in the street below us and they were exploding in front of our eyes. I found some fireworks in the flat and a German man showed me how to hand launch them from a champagne bottle, which we did. (Do not try this at home!) Can you imagine more fun?

It is very cold at the moment, -10c. Berlin is prettily covered with 5cm of dusty snow. It’s usually like that for about a month every winter. In the summer it’s usually hotter than England and they have lots of huge lakes around Berlin where people go to swim, play, boat and sunbathe. Berlin is flat. With the
Wannsee Beach, Berlin
wide roads and massive bike lanes, it’s great for bicycling. There are also parks and playgrounds on about every corner. So there are children running about and playing very safely everywhere. It’s a startling contrast to England, especially London, where the poor children seem to be locked away all the time. It’s not so bad for you, Edward, because you live in the country and your Mum and Dad are confident people. But it is for a lot of children in England.

The best thing about Berlin is the people. Even though I don’t yet speak German very well, I find them friendly and tolerant. One of the best things about them is their directness. When you make an arrangement with one of them, they stick to it. If they don’t want to talk to you, they tell you. They don’t waste your time or their own time. Their tolerance extends up to the highest political levels. I recently heard a German politician say that it was important that they go on being tolerant and spread their tolerant message to the rest of the world.

Obviously the Germans and Germany are not perfect. Nowhere is. They still have some racism, some prejudice, their food is pretty dull (apart from the very good sausages) and there are other bad things. They struggle against the racism and prejudice - but they’re not too bothered about the food.

I think that, nowadays, they’re doing better than most and have lot’s that the Brits, and the rest of of the world, could learn from.

Love George


Next Monday the 12th, I am coming to London and taking reposession of my beautiful flat in St Marys Mansions. (Inland revenue: Please note.) As a result I will be in the awkward position of having a 2nd home in Germany, because London will be my main residence (Inland revenue: Please note again.) If any of you have spare stuff such as cooking utensils, double duvets, pillows, double duvet covers, pillow cases, a Vista compatible printer/ scanner, I can relieve you of them. If I can minimize my trip to John Lewis it would be dead handy. Fortunately, I'm sorted for furniture (beds, tables, sofas, chairs, cocktail shaker etc).

In addition, if any of you want to rent a room or two in my lovely London flat, or know somebody nice who wants to, there would be a place. For family I would do a cheaper rate, otherwise £700 per month.

After that, on Friday evening, Ruth, Trevor and I take the Eurostar to Moutières en route pour Meribel. Wooo hoooo!