Thursday, January 31, 2008

Adelaide’s Australia Day Test Match

Having been convinced to travel over to Adelaide for the last test of the Summer, I ditched work at the earliest possible moment and made my way to my flight. Simon picked me up from the airport, and we ended up having dinner down at Glenelg.

Into town on Saturday morning to claim our spot on the Clem Hill with the rest of the traveling Waving The Flag group, Australia Day and India’s Independence Day were both marked at the start of play.

That evening, as the day’s play was ending, news reached us about the announcement of the retirement of Gilly. The traveling party convened at Bomber and Wizden’s apartment for a Chardy Party, which was filled with reminiscence of Gilchrist’s and the well-traveled cricket groups’ matches.

A disappointing end to the test, with a draw agreed upon at the end of the match. Punter stating that the test series had ‘obviously been played in the best spirit’ made the conclusion to a tumultuous series, where threats of boycott and suspension caused more debate about cricket than I have seen for some time, all that much more a non-event. But great to be there for Gilly's last innings. Many drinks after play at the Rosemont…and a missed flight back to Melbourne the next morning…! Oops!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Australian Open

Monday and Tuesday, we went to the tennis, as per our usual family tradition of Day 1 and 2. Awesome! Leilah came along for Day 1, and was so excited to be going for the first time.

Blue courts this year, but still the action packed days. Back to back big matches, the Open is such a treat! Centre Court tickets, Mum had managed to get us seats in the shade, 7 and 6 rows from the front, quite close to the player’s box. Very impressive.

Day 1 we watched ‘newly-naturalised’ Aussie Gajdosova take on S Williams (our one and only women’s match!), before heading our to watch the last 3 sets of a 5 set match between Robredo and Zverev – which was some great tennis! Heading back into Centre Court, we watched Tsonga beat British hopeful Andy Murray, again in some great tennis. And topped our day with some Carlos no-so-Destroyer Moya bow out too easily.

Backing up for Day 2, Melissa Mum and I met in our seats in Centre Court, and watched impressive Djokovic take on B Becker. Melissa and I then watched two sets of the man verses giant match of Nalbandian and little Aussie Smeets, before working out way in to watch a disappointing Guccione. Oh! After seeing the A-Rod on a practice court – wow! The Aussie fans were out in force on Day 2, with their colours, fully dressed up, and their chants.

A shade break inside Centre Court to watch Lleyton Hewitt, before returning to Margeret Court Arena for some patient waiting for a seat to watch Luczak play Zabaleta. Luczak did very well, and advanced to the next round, keeping the Aussie hope alive.

Another patient wait to gain a seat in Court 2 to watch Marat Safin, as the sun was going down. Marat was a little underdone, and out of match fitness, but managed to win, much to the delight of the packed stadium. Melissa and I then worked our way in to seats at the twilight match between Greek Economidis and last year’s Open runner up, Chilean Gonzalez.

Sitting down, the atmosphere was awesome. Melissa and I talked about how lucky we are to live in such a multi-cultural city, where a match like this can attract clusters of Chilean fans, dressed in their colours and waving their flags. Chanting, singing and dancing, cheering their compatriot on. And then to also have a bay of blue and white dressed Greek fans, also flag waving, standing, clapping, cheering, supporting their player. This is what tennis is all about.

But this then turned ugly, with no antecedent that we could see. There developed a strong presence of security, and then police officer around the Greek group, which soon developed into a shoving match between police and the Greek fans. Pepper spray was used, of which we could see from the other end of the court, and the police proceeded to cart of most of the Greek fans. The ugliness and the injustice of it swept an angry feeling across the court, where play had stopped because of the commotion. A blatant racial over reaction, that spoilt a great atmosphere, and a great match between two passionate nationalities.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Season at Sarsaparilla

In an attempt to recapture the kind of spontaneity of our life in London, Miss Leilah and I decided while we were wandering around the city on Saturday that we would check if there was a show or a play we could go and see that night – just like old London town! The Season at Sarsaparilla fit the bill, playing at the Playhouse at the Arts Centre that night.

The stage was a full brick veneer house which, as the audience, we could see inside through the windows, but also through screens on the side of the stage and the aid of cameras inside. All very nosy neighbours looking in, and very voyeuristic and Big Brother.

The play, by Patrick White, was about three households within a neighbourhood. All thee households used this house on set, and were often playing their parts parallel and oblivious of each other – very clever.

Set in an Aussie suburban neighbourhood, the premise was surrounding knowing what’s going on in other people’s lives, and the sticky-beakying mentality of that environment. But also about the average Aussie suburban existence, the wear of everyday life, and the interactions with each other.

Quite good, although I think the set and the use of the house impressed us the most! After the play, we walked across the Yarra, admiring beautiful nighttime Melbourne.

Leilah, Dom and Jasmin, and Emy

On Saturday morning, Miss…oh! Now Mrs Leilah arrived from Sydney for the weekend, and to come to the tennis with me. We got to catch up over the weekend, having not seen her since her wedding in November. Caught up with gossip, and news, honeymoon and newly married life talk, and remembering London.

On Sunday, I ventured over to Studley Park Boathouse, to meet up with Dom and Jason, and their new little accessory (as they call her!), Jasmin Trixie. So little, and so cute, little Jazzy T was a joy for a cuddle. Good to see the new parents basking in their new adventure, and catching up with family and friends, on their quick trip home from Shanghi.

That night, Leilah and I caught up with Miss Emy at The Retreat. Drinks, and more catching up about our London days.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year’s Eve in Melbourne

I managed to catch up with Renee on New Year’s Eve, for a few beers, on her annual trip home from the UK. I met up with her, and we were joined by Narelle, for a great catch up for the three of us.

For then evening though, Simon and I caught the tram over to St Kilda – a very packed and sweaty tram! The hottest NYE ever, this year was sweltering, and whilst the trams were free, they certainly spared no expense with anything extravagant such as air conditioning!!

We met Nicole just outside The Espy, where we ventured in and scoped out the stages for the night. Pizza in the Espy Kitchen to tide us over for the evening, we eventually made our way to the Gershwin Room in the lower section of The Espy, for Architecture In Helsinki. They did a very quick count down into 2008, before launching into their set.

All their great hits, like Hold Music and Heart It Races, It’5!, Wishbone and Do The Whirlwind, were delivered with maximum energy and fun, despite the sweaty atmosphere.

Happy New Year! 2008 promises to be great!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Boxing Day Test

The real event for me around this time of year is the Boxing Day Test, although people do get a little testy if I call the day before Boxing Day Test Eve too many times! Jessie and I caught the early train from Ballarat to Melbourne on Boxing Day, and I headed to the cricket.

Thanks to the Lees family, I had the Ladies ticket, and the privilege to walking into the members stand each day for free. I joined the Waving The Flag crew just after the first over, for some concentrated cricket viewing, and general banter.

Popping over to the members for a full strength beer or two at lunch with Ash, and then back to the sun baked public section with the Flaggers, before the silly session till the end of play, and we headed off in search of a venue with sangria. Drinks at The Corner, then we found Mexicana Rose along Swan Street, before moving down that street to The Swan, for a very large night.

The next session of cricket I saw was not the first nor the second session of Day 2, but I did make it in eventually, for another beer with Ash, and a session of play with Melissa and Clinton and Steve. Joining the Flagger gang for drinks at Transport that evening, I certainly didn’t last long out and about!

Day 3 attendance was much better, however I stayed out of the sun after catching too much on Day 1. Love sitting at the MCG with not a care in the world except where the little red ball is, when to put sun screen on again, and where the next beer is coming from. That night we walked in to Bridie O’Reilly’s for drinks, before an Indian dinner at Navaskar in Queen Street, and more drinks at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow, for a full lap of the city!

The final day of the test, on Day 4, was another day in the shade for me, making an effort to focus on every ball. A convincing win, marking 15 Aussie wins on the trot. I watched the end from the third tier of the members stand, just about the sight screen, after several hangover curing beers in the Balcony area bar. Again, the gang headed to Bridie O’Reilly’s for post win drinks, of which I joined them for a few, before heading to Melissa’s for her balmy backyard birthday gathering.

I met Simon and Sparrow in the city for breakfast the next morning, before Simon and I headed out to Shane and Heidi’s, for a Sunday session BBQ gathering. Bumbles, Lizby, Matty J, and Bernie were there, for a session where we were all a little under the weather following a rather large test match for us all!
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