Monday, December 27, 2010

Xmas and Cricket

Xmas Eve afternoon was spent wandering down to the beach with Jennifer Parsonage. We decided to walk across the end of Albert Park and then down to St Kilda Harbour. There was a fantastic view over the lake in the park towards the Skyscrapers in down-town Melbourne.

Once we reached the Harbour, we saw lots of people enjoying the late afternoon sunshine by sunbathing and swimming in the sea. It didn’t feel much like Xmas as we are so used to being cold and wrapped up against the snow!! There was a big clue to what time of year it is though – most people on the beach were wearing Santa hats!! They were everywhere and actually made us feel a bit more Christmassy!!

After a walk along the beach we came across Luna Park – an old style amusement park, just behind the beach. It really is quite an old fashioned place, with new and old rides next door to each other, but it is mainly for little kids, so after a walk around, we headed back up St Kilda Road and went our own ways to home.

When I got back to the Hotel I tried to go online and discovered that my internet wasn’t working. After a hectic half hour trying to get a new cable and then checking other rooms for internet access, I was move into a different room down the corridor.

After settling in and having a shower I headed back out and met up with Liv and Jennifer Parsonage for a Xmas eve meal. They had decided on Nepalese food and we met up in a Gurkha restaurant on Chapel Street. We actually sat on the floor as we ate and the food was great. After eating we moved further down the road to a cool bar where we sat for a couple of hours enjoying the drinks and meeting up and chatting to some locals and some travellers from Yorkshire too.

It was a really nice night and just after midnight we all sent text messages to our friends and family,. Wishing them Happy Xmas. After a couple more drinks we heard off Donna, Andrea and Lisa had been to midnight mass in Sydney and were now heading out for a few drinks themselves.

We left the pub just after 2m and headed home to bed.

This morning I had a nice lie in again and gave my mum and dad a Xmas day phone call just after 11am local time and midnight UK time. Then I took a walk back down towards Jennifer Parsonage's house. I was surprised to see that the trams were running and that they were free as its Xmas day!! The best bit was that the first tram I saw was a no.6 which stopped right outside the house!

We had a nice after noon in the back garden eating sausages and burgers from the barbecue and drinking cold white wine. The food was cooked by Paul, Angus and one of their mates who lives locally. The three blokes are all from UK and have come out here to work.

After eating we decided to go down to the beach, so we grabbed an esky, filled it with wine and beer and jumped on a tram as it passed the house. It wasn’t even a tram stop -we just jumped in front of it as it went by and the driver was kind enough to stop!!

Once we hit the beach we continued to drink and chat. It wasn’t the best weather, but it was warm and the sea and drinks were cool, so it was a great way to spend Xmas day. Two of the lads went and joined in a game of cricket with a group of locals and I stayed on the beach with Jennifer Parsonage and Liv. They both lay down to sunbathe and relax, so I went for a wander and to find the nearest toilet. On the way back I met a German girl called Anna who was sitting alone writing her journal. I offered her a glass of wine and then spent the next hour or so whiling the afternoon away. When Liv and Jennifer Parsonage left to go to a party later on, I stayed at the beach and chatted a bit more with Anna until it started to get chilly. I wanted to make sure I was able to get up early tomorrow for the cricket so after leaving Anna on the tram home, I went to my hotel room and had an early night.

I was up early this morning – It is boxing day and one of the days that I had been looking forward to since I left UK. It is the boxing day test at the MCG and after I walked across the city I arrived at the ground in lovely sunlight at about 10am.

The ground itself is incredible – It holds 98000 people and the atmosphere inside is amazing. It is almost a modern day version of the Colosseum in Rome.

I took my seat and chatted with a few of the people around me, until play started at 10.30. The morning flew by as England took a few wickets and Australia struggled. After an extra long lunch due to a rain delay, Australia collapsed for 98 all out and the barmy army around me were going absolutely mad. It was such a good day, in a great atmosphere and it got better and better as England batted well and ended the day with a big lead and no wickets down. The only down side was that my phone battery died mid afternoon and so I couldn’t take any photos as the teams came off – I will remember to take my spare phone battery tomorrow! After a walk home and charging my phone for a while I decided to take a walk down to St Kilda, just to get out and savour the nice boxing day evening. St Kilda was completely different than it was on Xmas day, The sea which was calm and clear on Xmas day was whipped up by the wind and was a wild beast tonight. I sat in a quiet bar and had a beer while watching the sea and the world pass me by! Then I decided to head home and have a reasonably early night.

In the morning I was up and out again by 9.30 in order to reach the MCG and day 2 of the 4th test. The weather this morning was still windy and drizzly, but the cricket started on time and the weather improved as the day went on. There was a lot more banter today between the two sets of supporters and it was all taken really well by both sides, with the insults being thrown both ways, but with lots of smiles and laughter too, It was a really good 2nd day with England batting really well and the Aussies getting really frustrated. There were 65000 people in the ground and they all seemed to enjoy it.

I arranged an evening out with Jennifer Parsonage and we met up on a tram into town at about 7pm. We headed to the Eureka Skydeck, which is a viewing platform over the city at just over 300m high. The lift on the way up took just 38 seconds and your ears popped as it got higher.

The views up there were fabulous and you could look all over the city, from the coast to the city centre and all the sporting arenas and gardens and parks too. We stayed up there for over an hour enjoying a beer and watching as the sun set over the ocean, then we descended in the lift again and went to a pub just over the Yarra river, where we had a bit of dinner before heading home again in the tram. It was only a short night out but well worth the time spent getting up to the skydeck. It is definitely something worth seeing if you are ever in Melbourne.

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