Well I arrived in Gloucester about half 2 which was a full half hour shorter than the Tomtom told me it would be. Roads were alright, there was a fire short of Sheffield in the central reservation which was pretty cool, driving through white smoke, couldn't see rubbish! But I had Scar Symmetry on the stereo blasting out for the whole journey so by the time I got here my ears were ringing and my throat was parched through all the singing along and fingers aching through tapping the steering wheel.
I got the hotel and presented a voucher I'd been told to print off by the confirmation email for my complimentary internet coverage which I assumed gave me free internet for the duration of my stay. When I showed reception they told me they'd never heard of it and the woman at the desk kept going into the back room to talk to somebody. Anyway, she told me the offer was a free 30 minutes but it was still £12 per day which would mean £48 to cover this stay. I said it was ridiculous and that I was here reporting for a website on the snooker and thinking I'd settle for £30 she came back and gave me free vouchers so I don't have to pay a penny.
Anyway, to the meat. I arrived at SWSA and it really stands out from a distance. When you get inside it's awesome. There's a reception area and a pool table out front, lots of vending machines, a shop and the lovely Janie gave me a guided tour of the premises which are pretty breath taking it has to be said. The main arena is superb, I don't know how many it holds but it is a purpose built snooker arena with commentary booth and I bet it's an awesome atmosphere to play in.
The players lounge is very swish, there's a bar and there's rooms everywhere you look with Star tables. Janie took me back down and I met Mark who joined us to look at the downstairs tables (my name on the door, playing table 2 tonight - unreal!) and we went and watched his Hannah play Jak Jones and on the other tables were some juniors who looked pretty bloody good and the fella from Poland who is mentioned somewhere around here as being sponsored by SWSA.
So I arranged to have a practice and got a 4pm slot. The first thing I did when I saw the table was to have a crack at some rail pots. Wow is all I can say! You have to be sooooo accurate it's not funny. The number of times the ball rattles in the jaws with a little popping trill sound is unreal! I did get a few in but I know I won't be taking any unneccesary risks later on when I play.
The middle bags weren't as bad as I was expecting to be honest. I mean they are definitely tough, no getting away from that but they are not impossible. Once again you have to be very accurate but pinks from spots shouldn't be a problem for example.
Monique got her guided tour and she came and spotted the balls for me. I was playing alright up till then, had a 40 break in the first proper little frame but as soon as she started spotting I felt the heat and the pressure and was missing all over the place. And then a couple more people came in and started watching and I was the only person playing and I went to the proverbial rubbish. So how I'll cope later on isn't looking great from that angle!
Anyway, must dash, need to freshen up and get ready and then head on back down. Looking forward to it! Hopefully I can pot some balls!