Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ballarat pop in

With plans to travel around my home country for the Summer, I thought that a pop in to home while I could between tests was in my best interests. An antidote to my homesickness, a chance to catch up with Mum and the girls, and to get some things sorted. A few home cooked meals and my washing done was a bonus!!

Arriving into Avalon from Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon, I was greeted by two of my sisters, decked out in party hats and streamers...dorks! I don't think I gave them the reaction that all their planning had been aiming for....but it was the domestic shed terminal!!

Was great to see Miss Jessie and Miss Katie, and they picked me up, drove me home to Ballarat, and then we went straight to the pub! Now we are talking! We were the first patrons at The Bended Elbow, and also the last to leave. A great day in the beer garden catching up on stories and general family gossip. Andrea also popped in for a cheeky (non-alcoholic) drink, to catch up - and I got to see the baby bump at last!!

Not too much has changed here at home, except for the drought. The girls too me past the iconic Lake Wendouree on the way to the pub...which is not more. Dried up, it would be possible to walk over the lake rather than around it now. Very sad to see. Very scary.

Yesterday I had a psychometric test for a potential job for after we win The Ashes, and then a much craved roast dinner at home with Mum. Today I have sorted out bits and pieces, and about about to pack for the next leg of the Summer of Tash. Dinner at Thai Fusion here in Ballarat, before getting to Avalon again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Victory at the 'Gabba

Shaking our heads at the uninforced follow-on decision, we came away from the 'Gabba with the win eventually...with no day off for us!

The Barmy Army were all together for play on Day 5, and in full, loud, unstopping form. 'It's gonna rain in a minute' and then the rendition of 'Singing in the Rain' with umbrellas aloft, they were very funny. Showing that they just wanted to sing (rather than whatever it is that security measures are preventing), they stood and clapped and cheered for the whole days play. Warney gives them plenty of material, with 'Where's your missus gone?' and 'Warney, send a text', and then their chant of 'Your so old it's unbelievable'...they were entertaining, and well behaved!

A final jug of beer at the Brisbane German Club across the road from the 'Gabba, we moved on to The Pineapple Hotel for several beers, with the girls on tour. Bea, Remy, Lizby, Kathleen and Reggie, James, myself and Dave were up for a big afternoon. The power, and thus the options at the Pineapple, blacked out, and the crew relocated to The Chalk Hotel, where the Barmy Army was congregated and still singing. A long session here allowed us to see the 1-nil victory result off in style.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Day One of the Ashes

I have arrived on home turf, and was picked up at the airport by Dave in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday. Bless! He's a good lad! He took me around to get a bit of a feel for Brisbane, and see the city from the hills.

Charles arrived the next day, after Remy and a misguided trip to the airport, and it felt like the old clan was together again for the cricket!

Day One of the Ashes - so much anticipation, so much hype - worth every minute! We awoke early (how can you not when it's bright out at 4.30am!!??), got ready, and got a lift into the 'Gabba. We found our seats, and got pumped with the ground full of nervous energy. The anthem was sung, and the toss was won...

A ridiculous wide to start the match, and it was game on! Day One saw Ricky bat a sterling innings, minus four in the end, and a great start by the Aussies.

Security is tight here at the ground. No backpacks, no trumpets, no fun, no full strength there much we can do anymore!!?? The Barmy Army are silenced at every's not right!

Meanwhile, the Aussies are in cracking form...not that I saw much for half the game yesterday after a hangover from hell. Coming good again at Tea, and one of the most exciting sessions of cricket! All good.

Today we watched the too old McGrath show that his still has it....and a cheeky stop over at the pub across the road at Lunch and Tea has tonight flying!

It's the Ashes!!! Poised for a great day tomorrow. The real question at the moment is - what are we going to do on Monday? The Beach? Sounds good!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One Way Ticket to BrisVegas

My mini cab took me from Wimbledon to Heathrow in no time, and just as well, as I needed to sort out excess baggage issues. Looks like my big bag will get home before I will!

I am hanging out in the amazing Singapore Changi Airport at the moment, after an uneventful flight from London. Three movies, several beverages, and a finished book later, I arrived here for my six hour glimpse at Monday the 20th of November!

This airport is HUGE! An great place to be stuck in for any number of hours. I have just had a swim and a shower, a luxury considering I am mid long haul flight. The pool is on the rooftop, will planes taking off overhead, and storm clouds rolling in. Was quite surreal.

I am really looking forward to coming home, which I am surprised about. I feel very ready to be home, in Ballarat and Melbourne.

Back to real football, where people don't spit on the street, where you have your bags packed for you at the supermarket, and people don't stop dead after stepping off an escalator or lift or off the train, oblivious to anyone around them! It's the little things that matter, and the longer I have been away from home, the more I feel like I appreciate it!

First stop, though, is Brisbane for the First Test. Let the Summer Of Tash begin!

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Host Of Farewells

This week I have had a whole load of farewell catch ups with mates here in London, to say goodbye in UK drinking style.

Wednesday night I met Jess at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, along The Mall near Buckingham Palace, to see Candy. An Aussie film with Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish, it was an Aussie take on the spiral of herion addition. Hrad going, but very good. Tiny intimate cinema in a grand building. We then tubed across town to meet Andrew and John for a pint at the Marlborough Head. A pub decked out in Addam's Family decor, with the loos through a door cut into bookshelves. It was goodbye to the Wilson's, for now. It's been fun living in the same city as them, even if for just a short time.

Thursday night I met Niny, Hilary, Chantal, and Scott for tapas and sangria in Clapham, where many HCML stories were told. I was reminded of all the crappy desks I have been sat at during my time at work, my black eye, and our many laughs during our pod silliness. The social side of work has been awesome, with a bnch of people in similar life situations as me, and thus, ready and willing for trips and nights out at the drop of a hat! Further drinks at The Fine Line made sure I was feeling a little seedy for my last day of work!

Friday I finalised all the dramas on my cases, and handed them all over - such a relief!

Drinks after work were at All Bar One in Clapham, with a large group from work. Many pints later, and I said goodbyes to Beate and Heather here. Train back to Wimbledon, and the remaining crew of Nathan, Fletcher, Scott, Kylie and Caitlin, headed to Bar Sia. This turned into a rather large evening, in the club downstairs which is a former swimming pool! Very strange!

After a decent hangover yesterday, and a struggle to meet the trying-to-get-up-while-it's-still-light with the darkness coming so early now here in London! I eventually made it over to Putney to meet Laura, Blake and Scott for some medicinal pints, dinner, and more goodbyes.

Now, I am all packed, and my taxi to Heathrow is just 45 minutes away from collecting me...and it's goodbye old London town.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Friendly Football?

Just when you think the game of soccer could not be any more wimpy, they also play "Friendly"s! Now when the real footy play games for exhibition or practice, it usually ends in brawls or pitch invasions....but last night I went along to the Australia verses Ghana match for none of that!

Nathan, Kylie and I headed over to Shepherd's Bush, and the QPR ground after work yesterday, to a swarm of Aussie fans. It felt like we were walking into a suburban ground in Melbourne, with the strong ocka accents everywhere - with the exception that everyone was wearing the same colours. The Socceroos jersey was everywhere!

Sitting in the cold stadium, in the Aussie half of the ground, we listened to the band in the Ghana side of the stadium play all night, while the action got under way - kick off....(I was thinking bounce down, but no!). The first half carried on, with our man Aloisi scoring the first goal of the evening at the 25 minute mark.

The stadium was out of beer at half time, which was very un-Australian, and the temperature dropped another few numbers. A reported fumble and clash at the other end of the ground ended in a Ghana score, and the match was a draw.

After watching quite a few soccer matches now, it's not as boring as it used to be for me. But still, bring on season 2007 for the AFL! Looking forward to good football matches at the MCG again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Monopoly Finale

On Saturday, I attempted to meet Jess at St Paul's to see one of the many touristy things here in London that I still haven't seen. Not really paying enough attention to the Rememberance Day and the Lord Mayor's Show Day information, I arrived at Bank tube station to chaos, delays on the tube, and the two minutes silence - was a little weird! Then a pararde kicked off with all the Queen's men... The St Paul's plan was abandoned after realising I was on the wrong side of the parade, and Jess reporting minimal entry to the cathedral.

Instead, Jess and I headed to the first stop of the second half of the Monopoly Pub Crawl, which was the plan for the day! A farewell London adventure for me, and the last chance to finish the crawl that I had been part of back in March.

The first stop for the recommencement of this crawl was Whitehall on the board, and thus The Lord Moon Of The Mall, where our first half pint was drunk, and a hearty pub meal of bangers and mash was consumed.

Charles joined us at the Northumberland Avenue stop, at the Sherlock Holmes, for a half pint of the Sherlock Holmes brew. A walk in the cold London air, and a short tube ride later, another pint was had at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for the Fleet Street stop.

Andrew, Kristy and Scott joined us at this stop, for the walk over to The Strand and The Wellington pub. Here we were joined by Nat, who wins the award for the most travelled to join the crawl, after flying in from Copenhagen (she's mad! we love it!).

Finding the Marquess of Anglesey was easier this time than the very first time I completed this leg, before we got to The Chandos near Trafalgar Square, and The Moon Under Water for the Leicester Square stop, where we were joined by Laura.

The Comedy for Coventy Street, with the half pints still coming, and a food and half pint stop at The Captain's Cabin for Regent Street on the board. A glimpse of the Xmas lights here showed that they were the same as last year - lame! No pub found at the location outlined in the instructions for Vine Street, and the posh looking establishments and their burly bouncers were none too keen on letting us half pint in there!

A wander along Carnaby Street before O'Neills for Marlborough Street, and a half pint upstairs in The Duke of York as the closest pub to Bond Street.

Our finale was the Oxford Street pub, which was quintessential English pub, The Woodstock, after another peek at last year's Xmas lights repeat! A Winter Pimm's, and then another full pint for good measure, the crawl was done!

Feeling suprisingly well on Sunday morning, I met with Jess and Nat for brunch of the much anticipated eggs benedict at the Glow Lounge. A chance to say goodbye for now to Nat, who has been a great provider of floor space, crazy travel ideas, a great travel companion, and someone who is up for anything, during my time in the UK. Love your work, Miss Nat!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kevin and the Moon

The full moon was shining above the Old Vic as I walked over to meet Caitlin for our dose of theatre and Kevin Spacey last night.

A Moon For The Misbegotten is set on a little farm in Connecticut where Josie, played brilliantly by Eva Best, remains on the family farm with her drunkard father. The set is decked out to look out in the middle of nowhere, and hot, and Josie is working hard throughout the show.

The play is about love and matchmaking, and in the end, the scheming of a father for his daughter. Josie and her father were such strong performances, the dynamic between them was so good. Kevin was a strong presence as a lost and troubled drunk, much in love with Josie...with some ranting and highly emotional scenes.

Bit of a strange match, with Spacey playing a character perhaps younger than his good self! Nevertheless, a night out with Kevin is always good, and I really enjoyed! Thanks for arranging, perhaps my last play in London for now, Caitlin!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Irish Rules

After trekking up to Norwich on Friday, and showing a trainee how not to do our job (!!), I rushed out to Gatwick to board my flight to Dublin. Greeted at the airport by Liz and Cathal, it was so good to see them again, before I head back home this month.

A few pints at The Beach House in Greystones that night, and a catch up with the lads from Greystones. The following morning, Liz and I took the DART into Dublin, and wondered around for a bit. We stopped in at the National Museum of Ireland for coffee, before heading to Mulligan's. Stopping here for the best Guinness in Dublin, the old man pub feel was alive and well.

We then headed over to the Porterhouse in Temple Bar, for a range of different beers, and an Irish Stew. Following this, and walk through the cold streets of Dublin to a bar called Here in gaelic, and to meet Cathal and a lads for the night. A celebration for Cathal's birthday, the night became a fun and crazy night out - as they all are in Ireland!! We finished the night at Whelan's, before we were all kicked out.

The next morning we awoke in Greystones, and worked on getting into Dublin for the match. Arriving just before quarter time, and just after all the biff action apparently, we got settled for the Australia verse Ireland battle for the International Rules, at Croke Park. The game quickly became Australia's, with the Ireland players seeming intimidated by the pace and bustle of the Aussie team. More agro from the crowd, given the recent history of these clashes,

After the match, we headed to Mulligan's again for more Guinness, and to defrost. Cathal disappered at one stage, and we had started to wonder where he had gotten to, only to see him reappear into the pub, having gone to the chipper and got me a battered sausage! Bless! One of the nicest things anyone has done for me!! It was so good! Hee hee.

I had had no luck in tracking Anne down in Dublin, who has recently moved there, Cathal spotted another of many Hawthorn shirts walking into the pub, late in the evening...and it was Anne! Was so cool to meet up with her, and talk footy and work and all things moving to the other side of the world.

Liz and Cathal walked me to the bus to get out to the airport, and say our goodbyes. Who knows where and when we will see each other now! Meeting a mate from work at the airport, and proceeding to the bar, and then the bar services on the flight back....was a large weekend, in true Irish style!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Farewell to Miss Charlotte

Miss Charlotte leaves London today, to go home to New Zealand for the Summer, after a stop for run in NYC. Charlotte and I, along with Laura, Beate, Heather, Emy and Debbie, started in the same group at HCML, and she and I have worked and played and travelled (and lived for a bit!) together for the last year and a month.

On Monday night, a group of us met for dim sum at New World in Chinatown, in honour of Miss Charlotte. Last night I met up with her, and her sister Sophie and Mike, for an English pub meal around Covent Garden. We finished off Charlotte's last night in London with one of her favourite things to do - crossing the Waterloo Bridge at night. (Bloody freezing, but the veiw of the city is awesome!)

The hardest thing about travelling around and meeting new people, is that we all go home, or move on, eventually. Whilst staying in touch in the age of email is all good, still... I am going to miss Miss Charlotte! But it does mean I have people to visit all over the world, anytime!

Good luck in the marathon, Miss Charlotte, and I hope to see you soon!
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