Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I returned home to Melbourne after my big 5 week trip on Sunday night, and returned back to work on Monday morning. I had walked to work, thinking that the cramp in my leg needed to be walked out, after all that sitting on planes...hmmmm.

The leg cramp in my left calf, which actually started in London when I was out and about, was consistant on Monday, and the calf was actually quite tight. After chatting with Jo and Stacey at work, I was convinced to go and get it checked, just to be on the safe side.

And lucky I did! The Travel Doctor fit me in, and suggested that the cramping was most likely muscularskeletal, and that walking more would be best. But I insisted on a referral for an ultrasound anyway, based on Jo's earlier assessment. I finally managed to get the ultrasound done yesterday afternoon, and alarmed the Radiologist, who found two segments of clot, one just below my left knee and one just above - which is about 15cm!

Consulted by the Doctor on staff in Radiology, I was urged to go to Accident and Emergency to start treatment. I went off to the Epworth, being told they would see me the fastest, and thinking that my travel insurance would cover all. Not true about the insurance! But the Epworth was great!

Creating quite a flutter in A&E, getting lots of attention from doctors, nurses and students alike for the novelty of a DVT. Diagnosis confirmed, and treatment discussed, I was taken off for a QR scan of my lungs, where a tiny pulmonary embolism (PE) has been spotted. This means that a bit of the clot in my leg has broken off, and travelled to my lungs, which is pretty serious. Doubles the length of treatment now going forward, and also means I am quite lucky to have been checked out when I did.

So treatment is now to thin my blood, with twice daily injections, and the beginning of taking Wafarin - which I will have to take for 6 months. This means I am an in-patient, but luckily am being treated through the 'Hospital in the Home' program, which means I am at home, and have nurses and the doctor come and visit me for treatment and monitoring every day. All good, to be in my own bed, and not on a ward.

Discussions and theories about why this has happened, and why now and not other times I've traveled, and there is not really definative answers. This trip had a couple of days where I flew, waited around in an airport, flew again, waited around in an airport, and flew again, which may have contributed. The long haul flights home were definately a major factor, but it does seem that the clot was there in London. I am just very very lucky!!

So essentially on house arrest until my blood levels, and Warfarin levels are effective, which means no work, and that I cannot go to the gig I have tickets for on Thursday (which I was really looking forward to!), nor to the footy on Friday night (which I was hanging out for!!). Home alone, reading and watching TV I guess!

Oh, and the Wafarin means that I cannot drink until Xmas! My trip of a life time that will keep on giving!! Lucky that I had the greatest time!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Old London Town

A seven hour flight from Bridgetown to London Gatwick had me back in my old home of a couple of years back now, albeit in a jetlagged state. The train from Gatwick into Victoria included a little shudder as it passed East Croydon, I arrived into Victoria with ease. Everything about arriving back to the UK was easy on Wednesday, with my old Oyster card for the tube working, limited crowds at that hour on transport, and my pre-existing knowledge of where to go, led me to meet Charlotte and rest out the morning at her flat in Notting Hill.

I headed across town to Camden to meet up with Charles for lunch at The Prince Albert, for a three course treat, before meeting Miss Charlotte and Alison at the flat once they had finished work, for dinner at Nyonya for old times sake. Laksa....mmmmmm!

Yesterday I met up with Renee in Fulham for lunch at The Chancery and a catch up with her and her Pommy accent in the sunny beer garden, before spending some quality shopping time in old favorites like Primark and then Oxford Street.

Last night I caught up with Chantal, Nat, Jess and Andrew, Dave, Charles, Charlotte and Alison for many many Pimms and Lemonade at The Champion, across the road from Hyde Park.

Today I have finally completed some classic London tourist sights which I did not visit when I lived here! I made my way into town and walked through Westminister Abbey, with the audio of Jeremy Irons taking me past the corination chair, the varios resting points of royals and literary names, and pointing out the grand and breathtaking ceilings in this majestic church.

I then met Jess for lunch at Pret, before we made our way to join a Yeoman Warder tour of the Tower of London. Having had my interest in Henry VIII spiked following the reading of The Other Bolyen Girl, I was keen to see the executioner's block and be taken through the times of treason, torture and scandal. Walking, and then travelling on the slow moving people mover, past the crown jewels, being each set of sparkly bits per monarch, Jess and I also took in the Torture Tower and Beauchamp Tower, with it's graffiti.

An attempt at visiting St Paul's Cathedral upper elements was thwarted by time, and thus, I may never see the much talking about whispering chamber! A Pimm's on the Queen Mary as another token of old times, my big trip is coming to an end - with just the task of packing and getting to the airport in the morning the last bits left!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Last one of the Waving The Flag group to arrive into Barbados for the tour dinner, I had made my way to South Gap Hotel just in time. Rejoining Jessie and Heath, and Melissa, Hemant had also arrived for the test from Australia. Dinner and cocktails to introduce the new Flaggers to the group, and to acquiant ourselves with the local rum.

Day 1 saw the Flaggy Green presentation, and Sparrow announcing that actually my Flagger number is 398 rather than the number he had stated before, and rest of the Reid clan were presented with their caps. The West Indies won the toss, however elected to field, and thus the Aussie started the batting.

That night was the trivia night across the road at The Ship Inn, where the team Three Many Reids came last (!!), before I called it a night with the start of a week long bout of Barbados Belly.

Chick Pink Day on Day 2, saw Heath donn a pink dress of Melissa's much to the delight of the bus in the morning, and even captured the attention of the commentators on the broadcast! That night after the days play we had a few drinks at the Legends Bar with former West Indian cricketers. Back to the hotel and a quick change of clothes, we then climbed into a packed taxi and went down to Oistins - for seafood and the market. This area was teaming with people, music, dancing, and seafood smells.

Day 3 was spent in the Party Stand, which was actually the most disappointing party stand of tour, with limited range of alcohol, and a members fee inforced for access to the pool. My stomach bug kicked in big time this day, and the heat did not help, and thus I missed out on getting my moneys worth! A huge time was had by the Reid clan (plus Hemant and Rick), who stumbled back to the hotel as the last group of the day. A mexican dinner at Cafe Sol along The Gap, before the rest of the gang headed out for more drinks.

A solid day of cricket the next day, the Barbados group of Flaggers having a ball, we headed to the Carib Beach Bar for the evenings festivities, before an exciting day of criket of Day 5, with moments when it looked like Australia may well be rattled and certainly challenged for the result. Ricky pulled through in the end, not quite as early as we had hoped, but soon enough to allow for a swim in the ocean around at Dovers Beach, just along The Gap from the hotel.

That night, the Aussies having won the series 2-0, our tour final dinner was rowdy and silly. We later headed out to Harbourlights, for all you can drink, with dancing in the sand under the moonlight. A great, and very long night!

A sad farewell for me to Jessie and Heath the next morning, who start their own world adventures from here, I left to go to the airport for more flying, leaving the Carribean and the trip of a lifetime behind me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Australia, DeCameron and Mikey

Another day of driving, heading along the coast initially and then finding autovisto with limited trouble this time, we made a detour with the idea of having lunch at a town called Central Australia...but found nothing but the opportunity for a couple of silly photos with the town sign.

Despite being on the autovisto, we arrived into Havana over on the east side, which was where we were planning to go once we got back. We stopped at the Castillo de la Real Fuerza and walked through the old fort, and up the lighthouse, after a funny visit with the lads in the harbour control tower - they told us that they don't get to use the Aussie flag much to greet ships coming into Havana port! A great view of Havana, old and new and developing, from this side.

Sadly, in a moment too focused on icecream, I lost my camera and all my shots for the trip thus far here at the was hot, and we needed icecream!! El stupito!

Getting back to Home Sweet Norma, we had a nap, and then scoured our three different guide books for somewhere for dinner...somewhere we felt like eating. We had been warned that you don't go to Cuba for the food! A place listing all the delights we had been dreaming of, and sounding way too good to be true was read out, and then trek to Vedado was made for this mirage-sounding place to eat.

Driving into the area of the listed restaurant, and then past the street, our hopes started to fade. A loop back had a food sign spotto-ed and then the name DeCameron was read....could it be! We parked and walked to the nondescript door, from which a head poked out of the window within the door, and confirmed we were in the right place. Decked out in music deco, Jessie commented 'there is even salt and pepper on the table'! Needless to say, we enjoyed this meal very much!

The next day we returned the car, and then made a cigar purchase after many offers. In no other country I have I ever been taken into so many people's living rooms, which was on offer whenever you answered someone who approached selling cladistine cigars. Very funny exchanges and language interpretations, these visits were, and a little glimps into the locals real lives.

We visited El Capitolio, and it's large dome hovering over the diamond of measurement for Cuba, and also the congress like rooms (modeled on Washington DC). Following this, we walked down park like Pasoe Dr Marti, to enter the Museo de la Revolucion. Here a seemingly endless array of photos, documents, and random clothing articles take you through milestones and propaganda relating to the revolution and coming to power of Fidel Castro.

Having rested out an hour long downpour on the steps of Museo de la Revolucion, we commenced a pub crawl along O'Reilly, starting with mojitos and pina colados, and cigar, at a local but touristy place, with the band playing. Moving on from there a young lad was touting in front of the next empty, very local bar, and we entered heading for our next drink. This stopped ended up being our night of Cuba, with mingling with the locals, signing the wall, dancing, and super strong mojitos. Mikey, our host, was a very liberal dispenser of the rum he had behind his bar, and also played DJ by running across the street to turn the bar's music system up. Before long Heath was getting bar tending lessons, and we were all feeling our local mojitos.

Stumbling out of Mikey's in all sorts, we eventually found Dominica for a meal along the same street, to mark the last night of Cuba for the 4 of us.

Having one last day in Havana by myself, I took in much of the streetscapes again and wandered about. I found the old lady Lynn recommended I track down for a photo, and took things easy for the day before another day of flying.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trinidad de Cuba

We picked up our hire car and headed off out of Havana, for a roadtrip. Jessie in the back feeling the effects of a dodgy meal, and Melissa figuring out how to drive on the wrong side of the road. Heath and I were studying the maps, ready for a 5 hour trip down to Santa Clara.

Hours later, we figured out that we had completed a round trip down to Cuba's Las Vegas and back, and then had been around the loop and back trying to get on the road to get us to where we wanted to go. Like driving the Western Ring Road and back, trying to choose the right turn off to Ballarat, with absolutely no signs and nothing to distinguish the autovisto from any other turn off. Just when we were about to give up, and the level of frustration in the car was high, we took a second turn and a soldier on the road confirmed we were on autovisto. I think we could have all kissed him! He was nonplussed when we slowed up to him again and confirmed we were heading in the direction of Santa Clara.

The four lane highway, once we were finally on it, was a breeze, passing trucks loaded with people, and so many people walking along the road, looking for a ride. We stopped at a roadside servo for food, and our ever pressing obsession with el bano (clean? lady on the door demanding money? how much did you pay? did she give you paper? door close? flush??), before following actual signs to Santa Clara.

Santa Clara is the final resting place of Che Guevara, and the site of the battle of the Revolution. Arriving fairly late here in the day, we had limited time to see the main sights. A lad on a bike offered to take us around, him riding in front and showing us the way - and thank goodness he did! The Plaza de la Revolucion Ernesto Guevara and the Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado were on either side of this town in the middle of Cuba.

Our man Renald got us to the mausoleum with just 5 minutes to spare, and I am glad we made it. The reverence of being inside the resting place of those who had fallen for Cuba's revolution was very well done, and felt meaningful. Back out into the blazing sun to admire the bronze statue, we then jumped back into the car and Renald took us through the tiny one way labyrinth streets of Santa Clara to the four train carriages of Barista's troops left from the battle with Che and his men, now a musuem - which was actually closed when we got there.

Renald took us out to the road heading to Trinidad, his little legs having peddled his and our way around Santa Clara, for a few dollars.

Santa Clara to Trinidad was a road through the Escambray mountains - climbs and dips, with drops to valleys on our right and speeding trucks coming in the other direction. A stressful, and beautiful drive through, of which Heath did with ease! We made it to Trinidad in time, before dark. Here we believe we were scammed into staying at a casa particular that was not where were had planned to, which was actually going to be Nelson from Havana's contact. After our long day of travel and stress, we were taken along to Maria's house by another lad on a bike, assuring us that he knew Nelson. Tired and over it all, we were led, checked in, and then taken to the other side of town for dinner to 'the best place in Trinidad'. Grumpy and feeling scammed, the overpriced deal and the chicken-lobster-shrimp did nothing to impress us!

A new day, and well rested, we were served breakfast at Maria's, and then started wandering the gorgeous streets of Trinidad. A Heritage listed town, the balconied colonial houses and cobbled streets were amazing. We walked through, chatting to the locals, and taking in Plaza Mayor and the church, and then seeing the view from one of the highest points in town - from mountains to sea, rooftops and streetscapes.

After a few beers to wait out a heaft downpour, we grabbed the car and headed to Playa Ancon, for some beach time. Blue blue water, white sand....and pina colada's brought to you in the ocean - why would you want to be anywhere else!

That night we sought out a dinner that wasn't chicken-lobster-shrimp, despite much hassling by touts, and then took in the salsa of the gathering on the steps near Plaza Mayor with mojitos. Deciding that the grand stand style gathering of tourists did not need to see that white girls can't salsa, we soon headed back to our casa for the night.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

La Habana

A cooked breakfast at Norma's for the 4 our us started our day of walking around this city. We happened upon Museo de Chocolate, and marvelled at what 1 CUC could get us as for samples, as we walked through the streets of Old Havana and it's balconied old colonial buildings. The colours, smells and friendly people on the streets, I could tell right away I would love this place!

We walked down to meet Ennedy, a tour guide the others had found the day before, stationed with her horse and carriage, in the Church of San Francisco plaza, and started a tour of the sights of the city. Our first stop was the Two Brothers Bar for a mojito (of course!), before we passed the beautiful train station, and made our way to the Plaza de la Revolucion. Taking in the Che wall, and the Memorial Jose Marti, Ennedy then took us through Chinatown, and then past Parque Central and Capitplio.

Ennedy was great, telling us much of the landmarks and history of her city, and also answering any and every question we had. We learn of the rationing system, and also what Casto and his government provides for his people, such as education, health system, covers rent and all utilities, and provides an allowance. Not much, leading to the basic lives of Cubans, the other disadvantage that was highlighted was their inability to travel.

We walked though the market, and took in more of the streetscapes, before getting a Coco Taxi over to Coppelia for ice cream. We changed casa particulars, and thus took a nap back at Nelson's, before heading out for a meter long beer and the Cuban fare of pork, shrimp and lobster, sitting in Plaza Vieja with a band playing.

Three Flights And Five Countries Later

An early start for me following the test match, Earl, the Waving the Flag bus driver for Antigua and board member of Antiguan cricket - plus adjudicator of the man of the match award - drove me out to the airport for my day of flying. After checking into my Liat flight, I wandered across the road to take in the lush green sight of the former Antigua cricket ground, and walk through The Sticky Wicket, the West Indies Hall of Fame.

Boarding my two hour flight to Santa Domingo, after one of the best breakfasts I had had for a long time in the Banana cafe in the airport, I started reading Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries, which gave me background on the iconic man, and also reinforce a lust for South America travel.

Arriving in the Dominican Republic, and gaining a new stamp in my passport for a three hour stay given my airline change, I chatted to my flirty and cute Customs offical who informed me that I didn't have enough time to go into the city and back. time!

Another flight, and this time to Panana City. Flying into this Central American city after another 2 hour flight on Copa Airlines this time, I took in the view of the spread of buildings from just over the wing. A busy and bustling airport, and just enough time to walk from one end to the other to grab my flight to my destination, Havana, Cuba.

Getting into Havana after another 2 hour flight, it was late and dark. I managed to change money into the Cuban Peso Convertable, and then source a taxi into town. I followed the directions to our casa particular, which are private homes registered as accommodation options, only to find, through much language difficulties, that I wasn't staying there! Luckily the home owner walked me through the streets of Havana to Norma's casa particular, where I was staying.

Eventually I made it across town to meet up with Melissa, Jessica and Heath, who had been waiting for some time at Hotel National, our original meeting place. They had had time to sample many of the hotel's experiences, and were giggly and hot when I got there! A mojito to toast our week ahead, when made it back to Norma's.

Drawn Antigua Test

Day 3 of this second test saw another Flagger venture into the party stand - called Chickie's Party Stand in Antigua, with a permanent pool and open bar. Upon arrival we staked out an area until the limited shade - where we sheltered under from the rain! After walking a lap around the ground in search of breakfast, I settled in to watch the super soaker at work and await the bar to open.

Drinks soon flowed, and with nothing to watch in the middle, the day soon got messy! Sitting with feet dangling in the pool, rum and punch or vodka and juice in hand, who would want to be anywhere else! Great day for the party stand, with apparently 35 overs bowled in the end of the day...not that I saw much of that! I think I had a nap after going hard early!

Piling into the bus, a rowdy group, we drove across the island to experience Shirley Heights. Sadly we arrived after sundown, however Dr Mike and I had a burger overlooking the lights of English Harbour, and some much needed sustenance! Soon enough there was dancing to the reggae sounds of the band - and had a ball!

The next day the strange rumours that Stuart McGill had announced his retirement were confirmed, and one wonders whether his move to our part of the resort for his accommodation away from the team was a beginnings of the end. A full days play for Day 4, and some captaincy by Clarke in the last session saw a faster over rate, and some handy wickets from the man himself.

A dip in the Jolly Habour sea during sunset was my priority when getting back to the resort after play, so as not to miss out. Gorgeous white sand, warm sparking blue ocean....I dipped in clothes and all.

Day 5 arrived with an inevitable draw, or Aussie miracle, on the cards. A slow days play, with a finish marked by a shaking of hands with still 5 overs to bowl. A disappointing end, and send off for McGill.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cricket in the Land of Sea and Sun

Flying from Jamaica to Antigua on Thursday was a day of flying and transfers, but I was greeted at the airport by Sparrow, and taken straight to the Waving The Flaghotel, the Jolly Harbour Resort. Rejoining the group for the pre-test dinner, I welcomed a new beer and new rum for the evening.

Day One brought the long journey out to the Sir Viv Richards Stadium, built especially for the World Cup last year, and so it's massive and literally in the middle of nowhere. Rain met us as we walked through the gates, and found our posse in the Soutyh Stand. A short delay to the start of play, just long enough for us to dry off, before Australia won the toss, and proceeded to deliver a very very slow days cricket! The one highlight being Ricky Ponting reaching the 10,000 run mark in his career, and a century from Simon Katich.

Drinks, dinner and a trivia night at the B-Hive bar within our resort was the evenings activities, and amazingly I was part of the winning team, collecting prizes and the cash pool.

Rain again today delayed play on and off, however today was a much better days cricket! A great tonn by Michael Clarke, and then some captaincy and two quick wickets by the same returnee to the team, had Chick Pink Day all happening.

Tonight I am all dressed up and ready for some fun....again here at the resort. I suspect that I will see just the two destinations of Antigua! Praying for a 4 day test! Go Aussies!
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