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Published: December 28th 2006
Saturday 23rd December
We made an extremely early start and were at the airport by 5am, although several delays awaited us. Eventually we were on our way and had an uneventful flight to Melbourne, albeit with a slightly bumpy landing. After spending what seemed like hours queuing through passport control and customs, we caught the skybus into the city. As our train out to Hamilton, in western Victoria, was not until the evening, we had a couple of hours to cruise up to Federation Square along Flinders Street and also explore the new discount shopping centre above Southern Cross Station. This is a new addition from my previous visit to Melbourne, but otherwise the city is pretty much the same - dominated by skyscrapers in the CBD and with its famous trams criss-crossing all the streets.
We caught our train/bus at 6pm and after another 4 hours on the road arrived at Hamilton, where we were picked up by my friend Anthea - with whose family we had generously been offered to spend the festive period. Or so we thought - it wasn't long before we were mucking in on the farm along with everyone else to pull our
Well, we had been expecting warmer weather to greet our arrival into Australia, but despite temperatures hitting 35 degrees earlier in the week, we got ourselves well wrapped up for the day, with drizzle and wind cutting things to about 14 degrees...although we couldn't complain too much as our drive across Victoria had brought home just how much of a drought they're having here. The huge grass paddocks are all a crispy brown in colour, which apparently is more of a February occurance.
As well as the seasonal differences, it felt very much unlike Christmas Eve as we were out on the farm putting droppers onto the new fences that have just been installed. This wasn't too hard though and with plenty of good natured banter flying about between Ants, her brother Tom and their friend Fordy, we had soon covered plenty of ground. After some ripper aussie tucker for dinner, the five of us headed back into Hamilton for some drinks and both Simon and I were enjoying a few beers seeing as we'd deprived ourselves somewhat in NZ. Santa even paid the bar a visit and Ants was given a rather
Tom, Fordy and Simon
fetching beanie hat, which she decided to pass onto me.
Thankfully work was not on the agenda for today, at least not for us sensible folk who decided to shirk it (i.e. not Tom and Fordy) and the day was given up entirely to eating, drinking and relaxing in front of the fire - yes that's right, we had a roaring log fire going despite it supposedly being summer. In northern Victoria and Tasmania they even had a white Christmas! There were also obviously a few presents, and Simon gave me some gorgeous beads and earrings. I got him a bizzarely shaped golf ball, which believe it or not was what he asked for (it's some NZ creation called golf cross which involves hitting a minature rugby ball into goals, hence 'goalf').
There was more work to be done this morning, but after further serious pommie bashing to herald the start of the Boxing Day Test and yet another delicious meal, we bid farewell to the Lyons family and made our way back into Hamilton. Here we stopped off with Robyn Finch (nee Vickery) for a cuppa and catch up prior to
At the MCG
In my new beanie!
catching our return transport to Melbourne. We checked in to our hostel, which is one of the no doubt many encampments of the Barmy Army and watched a bit of a pirated Casino Royale before bed. We weren't too impressed with the minature kitchen in our hostel, nor the fact that we had a fruitcake alcoholic tramp sharing our dorm!
We have both been highly anticipating our day at the MCG and got up early to prepare, before joining the throngs of people all heading towards the famous grounds. We were both a bit concerned about picking up our tickets seeing as Ants had to buy them for us, but that passed off without a hitch and we were seated shortly after 10.30, only missing one or two overs. Those of you that follow the cricket will know that a highly entertaining morning session followed, with the Aussies 5-87 or thereabouts before lunch. We were sitting quite high up on the third tier, but next to a couple of Aussie lads with whom we could banter and a good view down over the Barmy Army. Unfortunately the morning excitement stagnated in the afternoon when Hadyn and Symonds settled into a massively damaging partnership and everyone was feeling despondent - despite being cold we were glad we stayed to see Mahmood pick up several more wickets before the close of play.
We were nicely seated before the first ball today and it wasn't long before we polished off the Aussie tail and went in to bat, both of us feeling the trepidation that things could either go well or not depending on how the top order went about their business. The Barmy Army was in fine voice throughout the day and giving renditions including "Everywhere we go..." and "You are the convicts". Unfortunately we couldn't enjoy things quite as much as we wanted: a) because as could have been predicted, our batsman started to fall like dominoes and b) we had a dim-witted Aussie girl sitting behind us who knew bugger all about cricket but decided to entertain us by squawking her opinions at every opportunity. Some of her more amusing lines included "we're too high up, I can't tell which ones are the bowlers" and "why do the pommies have those red and white flags when that's not their flag?". We felt karma had come into play when she returned from the toilets complaining that some old dude on the way back farted in her face in the stairwell!
Predictably or not, the day and the Test were over at 6pm and we returned to the hostel trying not to be too despondent and having enjoyed seeing the legendary Warney in action, along with Mcgrath and the other Aussies who may not play another Ashes series.
It's been a rather strange Christmas to say the least, but thanks for all your messages and a MERRY CHRISTMAS back to you!
Tot: 1.515s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 15; qc: 65; dbt: 0.0334s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb