Thursday, September 29, 2011

Footy Finals '11

The Hawks finished third this year, giving us the second chance in the first week of the finals, and some confidence that maybe we could repeat the feat of 2008. Losing just 4 matches over the main season, despite some season-ending player injuries to unsettle the team make up, we had played some good football.

Our first match, a Qualifying final, had us meet Geelong at the MCG, on the Friday night. Driving down to Melbourne, dropping the car in North Melbourne, and then tramming into the city, I met Jessie and Heath, Jenny and Lizette, at Riverland, for a nerve-settling beer.

Taking our seats in the rain, in the cheersquad bay of the Southern Stand, we stood with nerves for the anthem. I love how we line up, linked, for this ritual - a legacy of Shane Crawford.

The first quarter had us up, with Rioli and Franklin converting, however Geelong completely overran us in the Second, dominating and developing a commanding lead. Our younger kids, especially the first year players, seemed like deer in the headlights for the rest of the onslaught for the second half. A 31 point loss, and a sickening knee hyper extension injury for Buddy.

Losing in the first week had us meet Sydney in the Semi Final, another Friday night match, with the focus of the selection talk all about whether Franklin would play. Play he did, and kicking 4 goals, he played his natural game after a tentative few minutes in the opening quarter. A dominating win from the Hawks, we got to lap it up from the ground level of the Ponsford Stand. Josh Gibson's defensive work was a sensation, and the 36 point win had our finals hopes still alive, and a date for the Preliminary Final week.

Grabbing our tickets again the following Monday morning, as Hawthorn Members, we were set to do it all again for another week, with another Friday night match. The same ritual, Jessie and Heath, Melissa and I met Mum at our seats on the ground level of the Southern Stand, closer to the fence this week.

This was such a great game. All week the talk was about Buddy Franklin and his 'gastro', but our team lined up as selected, and it was game on. A pretty even match for the first half, our Hawks played so well against the well-oiled machine that was the Magpies outfit this year. Leading by 8 points at half time, we came straight out of the blocks for the 3rd quarter, pulling out to a 17 point buffer at the change.

The last quarter is still a blur to me, with Collingwood catching us in a barrage of goals, and then the lead changed another two times, before the time ran out. 3 points! So many missed opportunities. So close! Really devastating.

We drowned our sorrows after the match at Cabinet, before calling it over for our Finals, and our footy season for 2011, with heavy hearts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Mary Tour

On Wednesday night a group of us went along to a gig at The Bended Elbow, for Sparkadia's Mary Tour. Although a disappointing crowd for a uni night in Ballarat, AB himself talked about being a trail-blazer to this venue for gigs. Could be...

I waited for Mary to get to Ballarat, and then we met Katie, Michelle, and Michelle at Thai Fusion for dinner. A few wines got us started, and the always great food here made sure we were set for the night. Kay joined us as we were wrapping up, and we walked down Lydiard Street to the venue.

First up were The Trouble with Templeton, before the Canadian group Imaginary Cities impressed. This 6 piece band, with a female lead vocalist, played some catchy indie pop tunes, and engaged with the small audience - including passing a beer to a guy who got up and danced.

Opening with The Great Impression, Alex Burnett started out the Sparkadia set, and worked his way through a mix of his first and sophomore albums.

Tracks like China, Talking Like I'm Falling Down Stairs, Hurt Me, Fingerprints and the tour title Mary, featured from the awesome album released this year. Many of these gained the sing-a-long response they deserved, regardless of the smaller crowd size. The older songs were also sharp, with Too Much To Do early, Animals, and then ending the encore with Jealousy. Great set.

Given the small venue, we had a chance to chat to Alex after the show, and grabbed photos with him. Katie was working on an idea that he could write a song about Katrina, given he already has one now called Mary....ha. We also gave him breakfast recommendations for the next morning in Ballarat. Ha. Too many wines!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clexane Jabs

I have amazingly developed the skill of giving myself an injection for flying, without much fuss at all. I am surprised at myself, really, because whilst I don't have the most heightened fear of needles, I am sure I have the usual level of anxiety when there is the prospect of a skin prick with either fluids coming out, or being injected. Thus, I can, and do, do it without much drama. The lengths I will go to for my travel bug!

Each time I am preparing to head off on a long haul flight, I seem to invariably get a client with a horror DVT and/or PE story. This time, just before my Sri Lanka trip, I had a client who had big DVTs like mine, went on warfarin for the six months, cos of the presence of PEs. Then after all the tests like I had, and the all clear in terms of blood factors, he went off the warfarin. He says he got another DVT very soon after, and thus, is now a lifer. Yuck.

These stories are everywhere, seemingly to pop up everyday as a reminder. AFL player Daniel Wells is the latest, and of course the comeback to tennis of Serena Williams this year.

Each jab usually leaves a little red mark for a few days on my belly, and sometimes a bruise. This time, after my jab when I landed in Sri Lanka, I ended up with a massive, apple-sized dark bruise patch - which I can only imagine was because I had the injection after landing, riding the 4 hours in the bus down to Galle, and quite a few Araraks! Clearly the blood thinning properties of the clexane and the alcohol worked overtime at the injection site!

I had tried to get pre-existing travel insurance for this trip too, and was advised that because I had no blood factors, that my incidence of DVT does not qualify as pre-existing. Would be an interesting test, they agreed, if I did get another one, but technically my status was not a determinate of experiencing another.

Putting the thigh-high pressure stocking on, in humid climates, is always a challenge too, pre-flight. This time on the way back I managed to do it in the back of a taxi on the way to the airport. Anything not to get another clot, and to avoid the need to take warfarin for life!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Galle to Colombo

Having Day 5 off following the Aussie test win, meant that I had one more half day on Unawatuna beach before I needed to make my way to the airport and home.  Just a cheeky week in Sri Lanka, working in with lack of leave and uni, this trip was oh so easy.  And a perfect little escape from real life.

I had breakfast with Ken and Al, and then after a swim with Lisby, I wandered down to the beach and the Happy Banana with Fi, Dave, and Michael.  Joining Belinda, Jess, Laura, Wendy and Sam for a couple of cocktails, and lunch, soaking in the sun was perfect, before saying goodbye to the crew and heading off.

Catching the public bus from the top of the road from the Unawatuna Beach Resort, with a final goodbye to Fi and Dave, I travelled into Galle to figure out how to get to Colombo for my 1.10am flight that night.  Now I had thought that the train along the coast would have been the best way to travel, and having remembered my last train travel in Sri Lanka, I was keen for a repeat - but alas, track works for 6 months, commencing just 2 days beforehand, meant I needed to rethink.

I asked at the Railway Station for the town where the tracks would be functional again down the line, and after being accosted by a local trying to find a deal for me and my travels, and a cut for him I'm sure, I simply joined the line for the local bus and grabbed a seat.  Easy, and a whole 66Rs!  Although, once the bus pulled out of the station, it stopped a couple of times to fill all the spaces, and was soon filled as much as a bus can be filled with people!  Jammers!

The bus followed the train tracks for the most part, so this was almost as good.  The best part of the trip was that as the people thinned, jumping off at various towns along the way, I started to glimpse the ocean from the other side of the bus.  And then the sun started to set into the water, which was just gorgeous!  This was exactly what I was wanting out of this trip. 

I jumped off at Aluthgam, as advised, and found the Railway Station, only to find the last train had been an hour and a half ago.  Oh well!  I did catch some overs of a local cricket game going on next to the Station, as I took a backpack break.

Back to the main road, I hailed another local bus, and for another 60Rs, was on my way to Colombo.  Having not done this sort of solo, local and ride-by-the-seat-of-your-pants travel for such a long time, I was buoyed by the fact that I could do it, by myself, again.  So excited that I am not too old and cranky for it, and it has fueled that travel bug just a little more!

Getting into Colombo in the dark, I then got a tuk tuk to the Galle Face Hotel, for a cocktail and a light dinner.  Sitting there coated in the dust and sweat of the public bus, I was sure I stuck out over looking the ocean, but I was loving it.  I then did a quick change in the loo, ready for my flights, and made my way to the airport for my flights home.

Landing in Singapore, I checked out the Butterfly Garden, and the fish ponds of Terminal 3, being a massive sensory overload.  Getting to Melbourne on Monday night, and having Jessie pick me up, I was all set to attend my first day on Semester 2 of uni the next day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cricket in Galle

Day 1 of the Galle test between Sri Lanka and Australia saw the Waving The Flag crew don their crazy and colourful (and not all good looking) tour issued Bent Benani shirts for the day of cricket.

Grabbing a tuk tuk from Unawatuna to the ground, Laura, Spreads and I soon joined the group in the stand, for a colourful section of loud shirts. With the covers on the ground due to the light showers around, we waited out the short rain delay, before being amazed at the efficiency and number of the ground staff guiding off the sheets protecting the pitch and outfield. After the Aussie cricket team presented the Baggy Green to the two test debutants on the crowd, Luke then issued the Flaggy Green to the new Flaggers on tour.

Sitting in the stand, sweltering under the tin roof and the humidity, once the game started it was hard to focus on the play! To the left of us was the hustle and bustle of the Galle traffic in front of the ground and bus station, directly in front beyond the ground was the ocean, with waves crashing, and then to the left was the gorgeous old Dutch Fort.

Good starts by Ponting and Hussey, we saw the Aussies post in the first innings, before Sri Lanka come out to commence their innings, only to take the bad light call without a ball bowled, ending the days play. Back to Unawatuna, we had another night of cocktails on the beach, after a swim in the Resort pool with cocktails.

With all the Sheilas in pink for Day 2, I watched debutants Copeland and Lyon take their first wickets, both in their first overs, in the stand with the Flag, before retreating to the other side of the crowd to sit with the girls, and Dave and Dillo and the lads, where it was cooler, with a breeze.

With the beer so very cheap, there was some distinct lack of concentration on the match, however we did mark Lyon's 5 wicket haul in his debut innings. Kylie, Garry, Jai and Taj joined us for the last session, which turned into a silly session indeed! Belinda, Jess, Laura and I joined them after play ended for dinner within the Fort. The Indian food was great, and the boys loved having dinner out with the Sheilas.

Getting into Galle for Day 3, and as it was raining, I decided to explore the Fort for the morning. I walked around the cricket ground, and through the gate in the wall, to wander through the little village inside. Through streets of houses and cafes and shops, I reached the sea edge on the other side, and climbed to the top on the wall and walked along, taking in the sea and city view. Getting to the back of the Fort again, I joined a mini-Flag crew there, as we took in the covered ground below.

With news that the pitch was to be inspected shortly, and then with the umpire decision for play to resume, I sat atop the Fort wall with Fi and Dave, and watched the first session until the innings break. From this position, it was even harder to concentrate on every ball, with so much busy life happening below us on the roads around the ground, and out in the bay to our right. This was exactly why I wanted to come to Galle!

In usual tour form, I was hungover for the days play on Day 4, and missed the end of the match! Oops! Aussies win by 127 runs. I recovered in time for the night's celebrations, this being our new Captain's first victory away from home, and first offical Captain's match. Mirrors of our tour when Ponting acheived his first series win in 2004.

Getting To Galle

Once the Galle test was confirmed for the Australian tour of Sri Lanka, I was set to go, to visit the city I had missed in 2004 and to check out one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. So, after telling my clients I was merely out of the office for the week, and seeing the Hawks win another comfortable Home and Away match, Mum drove me to the airport on the last Sunday of August for my flight.

After my DVT-preventing celexane shot, the 6 hour flight, and 3 movies, I landed in Singapore and transferred terminals to meet the rest of the crew on the next flight. Having successfully managed to twist the arm of Belinda to come on this tour, Jess and Lisby, and Laura also booked, and so I met them all for a drink at the airport before our flight to Colombo. We were joined by Sandra and Chris, in a little West Indies 2008 reunion.

Arriving at Colombo airport, and resisting the temptation of a duty free washing machine purchase, we all collected our bags, and were then greeted in Arrivals by a pretty excited Luke. He loaded us into our mini-bus to take us down to Galle, and provided an esky with beers, Ararack and mixers, which accompanied the 12 of us for the 4 hours driving in the wee hours.

Waking in the morning to the buffet breakfast with the beach as our backdrop at the Unawatuna Beach Resort, we caught up with many familiar faces from the Waving The Flag group.

Taking in the sun and humidity, the girls and I took a walk along the Unawatuna beach. Reminding ourselves that this is a region most hit by the tsunami at the end of 2004, we noticed many rebuilt sites, the buildings that have not been repaired, the ongoing development, and that many of the beach bars and businesses have been reestablished right where they had been previously. Reaching the Buddhist temple at the end of the beach, we then walked back and parked up at the Happy Banana bar for the afternoon for cocktails, a swim, and an awesome seafood lunch.

The next day was much the same - beach, cocktails and lunch at The Lucky Tuna bar, sun, after a minor hangover for me. Being Night Zero of the Test Match, the Flag's dinner started with a Sinhalese cultural show, with dancing and fire, before a seafood BBQ buffet.

The girls and I again ventured down the beach, with Fi and Dave, to catch up with Dillo and Dave at the Bongo Spice Chilli Cafe. Perfect relaxing start to my week away!
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