Friday, December 29, 2006

All you can eat buffet for about three quid

SO England have blown another Test match - this time within three days - and I can't hide my disappointment at the way we failed to compete. We didn't do much right in this match, choosing to bat under leaden skies with drizzle in the air and then being skittled out for 159. When we then had Australia in trouble at 88 for 5 we let them off the hook with that bully Hayden scoring 150 and Andrew Simmonds (who is an Englishman, by most accounts) hitting his first Test ton. By the end of the Aussie innings they were 260 ahead - no thanks to some diabolical umpiring by South African Rudi Kurtzen, who seemed to have rigor mortis in his dismissal finger until the Aussies bowled. When England had their chance to bat again they just fell apart. Well, it's been a long tour, I guess, for the players as much as their long-suffering supporters.
We five Testers are finding it hard to put a brave face on it. The new arrivals are quite happy to sing and celebrate in adversity, but they haven't had to suffer the capitulation at Brisbane, that awful fifth day in Adelaide, and the surrender of the Ashes at the WACA. They're just on a winter holiday.
Because of the defeat we have now got an extra two days in Melbourne, which is ok but I'm now just keen to move on to Sydney.
Still, the memory of Yoda on Boxing Day will live with me forever and I must admit that my support was missing from the ground on the second morning of the Test, on the basis I woke at about 10 in the morning still lying on the sofa and decided to get to bed rather than watch what was inevitably going to be another good day for Australia.
That night involved just a few beers in the hotel bar and an early night, but last night was another heavy session, what with the Turf Bar putting on a karaoke which the Barmy Army took over - Billy the trumpeter arrived on stage to huge cheers and there is a really weird public school type chap who keeps singing Living Doll in the style of the pub singer. It involves talking jibberish like "Snurdy gurd snur gurda snurdy gurda... Pietersen" Every line finishing with an England players name rather than the words Living Doll. The rest is incomprehensible.
A lot of the guys who have been present at the other Tests seem to have materialised here, particularly Chardonay, the 50-odd GP who has dyed his hair red and seems to say that every Test match will be his last and that he must head home to England. I'm sure he will be here until the death.
The Designer has met up with his friend Tim and presented him with a signed Barmy Army shirt for his birthday. During the previous Tests we had managed to get hold of Darren Gough, Gladstone Small, Mike Gatting and Phil Tufnell just wandering around outside the grounds. They were all happy to sign the prezzie and Tim is suitably delighted with it.
I said goodbye to my new friends Scott and Holly yesterday. They now live in Melbourne with their three kids but Holly had bought Scott three days of Test match tickets for his birthday. They loved the whole Barmy Army situation and were very complimentary to me for making them feel part of the group. I feel another holiday in Australia coming on soon.
Holly was pretty much in her element last night after a few vodka and red bulls, trying to put off the Aussie pool players with moves that would make a lap dancer blush. She's certainly not shy, possibly down to her upbringing with a Geordie dad and a Scouser mum. Scott, for his part, is a huge Arsenal supporter and they both watched every game in the Gunners unbeaten season a couple of years back. Poor things.
We also let Bedford Malc and his girlfriend Sian use our washing machine in the apartment. Poor Malc was very envious of the luxurious surroundings, particularly as he was hoping for a similar all-singing, all-dancing apartment once Sian joined him out here.
Today has just been a quiet one, sunbathing on the roof terrace, but I did spend a short time at the Melbourne Bar and Bistro where you get an All You Can Eat buffet with a mouthwatering selection of Asian foods. Yum!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

xmas barbecue

I THINK I am going to spend the rest of my life dressed as Yoda, the grand master from Star Wars. What a pulling tool! If I could charge for every picture taken with me at the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne I would be a very rich man.
Xmas Day began in all-too British conditions. We strolled down to the Barmy Army barbecue and no sooner had we bought our beer tokens than the heavens opened and everyone got a good soaking. Within minutes the site chosen for this festive event resembled an open-air rock concert in Britain in late September. Rivers of water formed as we all huddled together under small parasoles designed to keep off the sun.There were well over a thousand Brits gathered in little groups throughout the site and the Aussie TV camera crews loved the chance to focus in on our misery.
But it couldn't dampen Barmy spirits for long and soon Billy the trumpeter stood in the middle of the site blasting out The Great Escape, We are the Army and Convict Colony before his now familiar rendition of God Save Your Gracious Queen. Then it was Jimmy's turn. When Jimmy steps up to sing Billy introduces him with a quick blast of Jim'll Fix it. By mid afternoon everyone was in full song.
One drawback of Christmas in Oz was trying to get phone calls back to England. I spent a good three hours having to deal with crossed lines involving about 10 different people all trying to speak to "Andy, Roger, Jean, Peter etc etc". Finally I got through to the Fat Kid just about the time she and the Vin Man were sitting down to have their Christmas lunch.
After that it was an evening drinking beers and the odd Black Sambuca (whose silly idea was that?) in the Turf Bar. It was a pretty rowdy occasion but good fun. The Designer's pal Tim and his girlfriend Josie turned up, while Watford Pete was accompanied by a mate from England, John, who is sleeping on his sofa. Never mind the fact the sofa is half the size of John and Pete has a massive double bed to himself.

Boxing Day and we all got into our fancy dress to walk to the cricket. I had to walk alongside Chewbacca who, despite all fears that he was going to boil alive, was delighted to see the cloudy skies and the rain that delayed the start of the game for half an hour.
Walking through town there were loads of shoppers stunned to see this disparate bunch of Barmy Brits walking amongst them. Olly, a Taunton lad who now lives in Oxford, was brilliantly decked out as the Grinch and managed to hide my light saber somewhere on his person so that we could get it into the ground.
Chewy (Hull boy Greg) was definitely the star of the show, but Yoda came a pretty close second, and when we stood together to signal four runs we were picked up on camera and made the local paper, The Herald Sun. We were also saluted by Trumpeter Billy, who played an impromptu version of the Star Wars theme.
I have just purchased a couple of copies of the local paper to show the folks back home.
Leaving the ground early I headed straight for the Turf Bar to watch the remainder of the cricket and met ex-pat Brits Holly and Scott, who were delighted to see some British faces. When Chewy turned up too, we started a good rip-roaring sing song. I was nearly as popular as Jimmy!
Greg and I didn't want the evening to end, though I was now getting steadily inebriated and the light saber was becoming not just a baton with which to conduct the orchestra but a pretty lethal weapon, too.
We went on to PJ O'Brien's where we stayed until 3am and I finally crawled back to the hotel. A wonderful day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A mixed kebab plate

THE last couple of days have been pretty quiet on the lead-up to Christmas. A lot of the shops were closed in Melbourne yesterday but I did manage to find a restaurant open just around the corner from our hotel, where I had a mixed kebab plate including Chicken, Lamb and Shish. Had a pretty lazy day after that, though last night the Designer and I went down to the Turf Bar a couple of hundred yards down the road and managed to beat off allcomers, including Watford Pete and Scouse Grant, at pool. We also claimed "The Ashes" 2-0 when we wiped the floor with a pair of cocky Aussies.
Then we went back to the hotel where around 10 of us watched the football and played cards in Olly and Greg's room a couple of floors below.
This morning we got up to watch Watford Pete play cricket for the Barmy Army. It's not the warmest of temperatures in Melbourne and by 5 this afternoon I was freezing. Mind you, it certainly didn't seem like summer watching a cricket match in T shirt and shorts.
Pete, meanwhile, had enough after fielding for about 15 minutes and sneaked off the pitch without anyone noticing, choosing instead to drink a couple of beers before sneaking off back to the hotel. I reckon he was a bit miffed because no one asked him to bowl.
There are loads of Brits invading Melbourne at the moment and Christmas Eve night is likely to be chaos, not to mention tomorrow's Xmas Day barbecue. Should be fun though.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The most pretentious restaurant in Oz

BOXING DAY at the Melbourne Test will be a sight to behold. Most of us Five Testers have ordered our fancy dress and are ready to suffer for our art.
For my part I'll be dressed as Yoda from Star Wars, which may sound a trial in itself but I will not be anywhere near as uncomfortable as my mate Hull Greg, who is about 6ft 5ins and will be accompanying me as Chewbacca in full, 100 percent brown fur suit. He looks incredible in it, but is going to be rather warm I fear.
The idea to go in fancy dress started with Watford Pete. The deaf lad has ignored our pleas NOT to go as the Pink Panther (all cricket lovers know there already is a pink panther, and he is expected to attend the same Test with his pal Sylvester the Cat).
The Designer has opted to go in full Lederhosen, mistaking the name Australia for Austria, while the twins from Blackburn and Scouse Grant are going as the Three Amigos and Leanne, girlfriend of one of the twins, will be rigged out in full Flamenco outfit. Also there is Ollie from Taunton, whose hopes of going as Shrek were crushed but settled for the Grinch instead.
We have all spent a fortune in the local fancy dress shop but I am sure it will be worth it and hopefully we can grab our 15 minutes of fame on TV.
Last night we all had a meal together at the Mill. Pretentious? I had my suspicions when it advertised live Jazz but to be honest the food came in small portions yet cost over the odds, and the menu was extremely minimalist. I made do with eating up everyones leftovers as my plate of assorted meats contained about 10 slices of two meats and a load of uneccessary garnish, green and tasteless.
At least I am back into the swing of the tour after my illness. On Thursday night I had a great time, joining up with Bedford Mal and meeting a few others, first in the Turf Bar where the manager generously provided all the Barmy regulars with a free pint, and later at PJ O'Briens where Christmas-partying Aussies mixed with Army followers.
Here I met Fay, pal of my mate Ben from Chippenham. Fay is a huge Swindon Town fan and also likes a dance so we did a bit of an Irish jig together, at once stage circumnavigating the entire pub. Fay is here with her boyfriend for her birthday on Christmas Eve, she will be 26, and is not doing things by halves. Ben cruelly took a video of her later in the night where she bore a passing resemblance to a rag doll. Apparently Ben and her boyfriend had to virtually carry her back to the hotel.
Yesterday was spent at St Kildare's beach where we played cricket, dived in and out of the sea, and sat outside a bar swatting away the millions of annoying flies bugging us. Ozzy, the big Brummie from Halesowen, managed to find time to help a Swiss miss in trouble. She couldn't speak much English but the chivalrous Oz offered to show her round, much to the amused consternation of his mates.
The trams here are fantastic, but we have yet to work out how to pay and have been therefore travelling for free around Melbourne. Naughty boys but we will just plead English as a defence if caught.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

grilled fish, chicken salad and loads of imodium

PERTH has sold out of Imodium - and I'm not the only one who has been buying it by the job lot. The reason this blog hasn't been updated for days is that I have been feeling what the Aussies term "Crook". I'm not sure whether it is gastro-entiritis, flu, some awful disease spread by those dammed mossies or even the bed bugs the local pharmacist suggested might have been taking chunks out of my skin.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I'm glad to be out of Western Australia and into the more civilised environs of Melbourne.
The last few days of the Waca test match are a bit of a blur. I headed back to the hotel early on the Saturday evening because of the stifling humidity at the ground, therefore conveniently missing Adam Gilchrist's sensational second-fastest Test century in history. I did manage to watch it from the hotel bar, however, and there was a round of applause from the Aussies grouped around the TV when he brought up his milestone.
We went out for a very nice, extremely cheap Indonesian meal later but whereas the Designer, Watford Pete and Bedford Malc went off to a quaint little club called The Shed to watch Liverpool on the telly, I suddenly felt wiped out and went back for a lie down.
I hardly moved for the next day and a half. I had to watch England's brave attempt to save the Test from my hotel room with an appalling migraine, bad stomach and soaring temperature.
The next day, though I felt little better, I persuaded myself I should support England in their final attempt to save the Ashes. Rather than walk to the ground with the others, I hopped aboard an air-conditioned CAT, the free bus service that operates in Perth, and travelled to the ground in comparative luxury.
The first hour went ok, but just after the drinks break I suddenly felt awful, sweating buckets and coming over dizzy. I struggled down the steps from my seat in the stands and wobbled around the corner, praying I wouldn't collapse.
Thankfully, I had spotted a St John's Ambulance Station nearby. They helped me inside, got me to lie down, administered oxygen and checked my pulse and blood pressure. These volunteer first-aiders are worth their weight in gold and I cannot thank them enough. Within 15 minutes I was feeling much better so they took me to a chill-out room where I sat and watched England's last rites with a large majority of the Perth police department. Obviously they were being underused a. Because hardly any Aussies turned up to celebrate the regaining of the Ashes and, b. Because contrary to the belief of the Aussie press before the tour, the Barmy Army have been impeccably behaved.
At lunch, with one wicket left standing, I felt well enough to head back to the hotel. With a 5am pick up for the flight to Melbourne the following day I just had a very basic meal of grilled fish in the hotel bar, missing out on the Barmy Army's farewell party to Perth.

Billy, the trumpeter, didn't, however. As we were checking out of the hotel he was just returning from a night at The Shed. He was hanging. Hadn't packed yet, but was on the same flight as us. Later he could be spotted snoringly loudly in the departure lounge as we waited for our flight. Poor old Billy. Because he is now such an icon the Army DEMAND he attend every function - and the same goes for Jimmy. They must have brilliant consitutions - better than mine, any how.

Melbourne and suddenly we are living in the lap of luxury. A superb apartment in a brilliant hotel complex with a swimming pool, sauna and gym. We have our own washing machine, cooker, dishwasher, toaster, kettle and spin dryer. I think we're going to really like it here.
Last night we went out for a quiet meal at the Spaghetti Tree, a small Italian restaurant, but I stuck to a warm chicken salad while the other guys went for the Carbonaras, Bolognaises and Raviolis. As one who can't stand salad yet loves to indulge in the other delights of Italian cuisine I felt pretty sick, I can tell you. But I'm not up for taking risks yet. I want to be fit for christmas.

Just down the road from us is the Turf Bar, one of the Barmy Army Headquarters. A very nice bar, all the five-Testers met their last night and we had a few drinks and a laugh watching the joke that is the Asia Cup draw. It was funny in an excrutiating way, a bit like watching the Eurovision song contest.

Standing out on the balcony of the apartment it suddenly hits home to you how hot the Bush fires must be. There is a smoke ceiling covering this big city at the moment and you can smell the fires in the air, even though they are some way away from us.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dodgy curry

YESTERDAY lunchtime we spent having a few pints with the hells angels of Perth - highly amusing. The Carlton Hotel is a small distance from the ground and has become Barmy Army headquarters on match day. And to say it's a bit dubious is a real understatement.
The heavily-tatooed guys at the door looked ready for trouble if it kicked off. And at some stage some larily Brit tried to start a fight.
In steps Guy, 6ft 4ins, long goaty beard and drinking something highly questionable out of a brown paper bag. To be fair all the guy did was split the warring factions, then went back to his chosen refreshment.
Highly impressed, we got talking to him and a couple of his mates. Then Fred turned up. Fred was about as old as Australia, grizzly beard and even grizzlier face. He had just a few words to his vocabulary. In fact, he reminded me of Father Jack, the booze-addled priest out of Father Ted.
He seemed to think we were "Terrorists", having mistaken the word Poms for Bombs, and constantly told anyone who would try and engage him in conversation to "F*** off". We did, however, manage to get him to sing a rendition of God Save the Queen.
This all took place at about 2pm and when I passed the pub five hours later following an exciting first day's Test action in which Monty performed brilliantly (why hasn't he played before) some of the same geezers were still outside, drinking merrily away. I'm not saying they were heavily inebriated, but Guy had already asked the Designer his name four times during the lunch time session.
Last night we made the hour-long hike back to the hotel and then went out for a quiet Vietnamese meal. It was an unmitigated disaster.
The designer's meal didn't turn up and my experience with special fried rice and vegetable curry is unfit for print. This morning I've had a couple of hours out of the heat to try to settle my stomach.
England are hanging in on the cricket front, but it isn't looking as rosey as it did yesterday.

There was a Gasheads convention at the cricket yesterday. I wore my Rovers top and some bloke who now lives in Perth turned up in his, too, having spotted me from the stands. After having a chat we spotted a third person wearing the famous blue and white quarters and by the late afternoon there were six of us discussing the merits of my favourite club. No wonder they don't get anyone turning up at the Memorial Ground these days - we're all out here. In fact Gerry, who lives in Sydney, has been writing for the Gas website for 15 years from over here. Nice work if you can get it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A meat and curry pie

WE had dramas on Monday night. During the day myself, the Designer, Watford Pete, Scouse Gerry and the AnaestheologistMalc took a train to Cottesloe Beach. It was a beautiful setting.
We larked around in the sea for a while, then the Designer went and bought a beach cricket set so we had a 10 minute game, ending up absolutely shattered trying to run around in the heat across extremely soft sand. We needed a beer after that.
Lunch was an enjoyable Taster plate which contained crab balls, prawns, salami, dipping sauce and a host of other delights, then it was back on the train to the hotel.
That was when the bug struck the Designer. While I was baking hot, realising that perhaps the wind at Cottesloe had managed to disguise the strength of the Sun too much and starting to resemble a lobster, the Designer was shivering, climbing into bed with all the covers on and complaining of feeling terrible.
I went to reception and a helpful member of staff called Nancy explained that she had first-aid training and could take a look. She said the Designer's pulse was too high and so was his temperature. After explaining he had a stopover in Thailand on the way to Oz, the fears increased. Could it be malaria?
Having organised a fishing trip for early the next morning, though, he was adamant he didn't want to spend the night in hospital. Thankfully by around midnight he was sat up in bed, watching TV and insisting he felt much better.

SLEPT in yesterday, then had a couple of drinks with Malc in the Brass Monkey, a pretty good bar with a cocktail lounge (Bloody Mary's to die for) and any beer you care to name. We had a couple of Krony's and it was just like Boozy Tuesday back on WoS, but without the Prince of Darkness.
Then I jumped on board a train to Hillary harbour to meet the Designer off the fishing boat and visit the Aquarium. It was excellent, walking through a long tunnel and watching Nurse sharks, giant rays and peculiar looking fish passing around and above us.
On returning I went off to the Legends cricket game at the WACA. There were 15,000 fans there to see the likes of Mike Gatting, Robin Smith, Dennis Lillee and Merv Hughes perform in a 20/20 game. And at last England won something, thanks mainly to a brilliant innings by Graham Thorpe (why's he not still playing for England?)
Followed that with a trip to the Shag where I again bumped into Malc. He was steaming, having been on a River cruise with some of the Barmy boys who had just arrived after DRIVING all the way from Adelaide.
Later I hooked up with the Three Brummies, great lads that I met for the first time. We got a taxi back to the hotel.
It was then I realised I had only eaten a meat and curry pie all day. Unfortunately all the restaurants are shut here by 10. I toyed with the idea of a Domino Pizza, but in the end tiredness took over. A good day, all in all.

Monday, December 11, 2006

medium rump steak in pepper sauce

WE took a train to Freemantle yesterday for what is commonly known in Perth as the Sunday Sesh. This is where the locals go out for the day and slowly get bladdered in the sunshine.
Some of the boys mistakenly thought it was a trip to the beach and brought along towels, cossies etc. Others of us who had read the guidebooks were a bit wiser.
It was a real eye opener. The Little Creatures is Perth's equivalent of the Cardiff Brewery Quarter apart from the fact that it is one massive bar with huge chrome vats of beer. You get your drink poured straight from the vats.
Inside it was amazing to see around 30 Santa Clauses drinking away. This was their way of making money for charity. No walking 25km here, just stand in the pub, sing a couple of carols and collect the cash.
After Little Creatures we moved on to the Ship and Anchor for another couple of bevvies, returning quietly inebriated on the 4.30 train. An enjoyable day out.

The Designer and I have both been struggling. I've had a dodgy stomach and he woke up today with full-blown flu. I just had a quiet night in the hotel in the evening, enjoying a steak with Scouser Gerry. The Designer, meanwhile, got up at 2 to watch the Chelsea-Arsenal game, only to find that all the boozers were shut. How very dare they!?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A very HOT plate

THE travel bug has really got me. The bastard's got me on the ankles, the legs and, most uncomfortably, on the arse. I've been applying the insect repellent every day but it seems the Perth Mozzies are a strong breed.
The first two days in Perth we've spent getting our bearings and drinking regularly on the river terrace at the Lucky Shag. Yesterday, we spotted that a jetboat leaves from the jetty just below it so, under pressure from the designer but not sure whether it was a good idea or not, we paid our 40 Aussie dollars for a spin around the bay.
Did I say spin? My God, it was like spending 20 minutes in a tumble driver. The driver, who smiled when I suggest he must be a sadist, put his 600hp jet-propelled boat through a number of manouevres around the Swan river that left us thoroughly soaked and all shook up. Having said that it was absolutely exhilarating, better than any fairground ride at Alton Towers.
Getting our feet back on dry land I needed a pint. Bedford Malcolm was there partaking of a cheeky glass of wine so I spent the afternoon with him discussing all manner of things, including the many jelly fish floating around in the water just below the Shag.
A Shag, by the way, is a kind of seagull, I have discovered. At least, that's the only Shag I've seen so far.

It's hilarious standing outside in the "beer garden" of the Shag while the Australians enjoy their Christmas Parties in nigh-on 80 degree heat, dressed in santa claus hats and reindeer antlers. All the shops are decorated in snow, yet I bet they've never once had a white christmas.
Heard about the Tornados in Wales and London - the only problem out here is the massive bush fires that are causing real trouble.
The Aussies are still being extra loud but I had to laugh yesterday as the Designer and I crossed the railway bridge. A bloke behind started shouting "Baldy" at the top of his voice. Eventually, though I tried desperately to resist, I turned around. He took off his sun glasses, peered at me, and realised he had the wrong person. "Sorry, mate," he said rather sheepishly as he trudged off with his girlfriend. Unfortunately, the other people around me found it all pretty amusing which, I guess, I did to. Wish it had happened to someone else though.
That might have hurt my pride, but last night a snooker ball hurt me somewhere else. One of the Five-Testers, as I will call the 20 or so of us doing the lot from now on, was playing pool in the Shag and managed to chip the ball off the table right into my private parts. I had been blissfully unaware of the impending danger as I chatted away with some of the other guys, beer in hand.

I also managed to smoke out an entire Vietnamese restaurant last night. I ordered the Mongolian Lamb with chilli and onion (on hot plate), and when the waiter delivered it to our table the hot plate was empty. In his other hand, however, he had a bowl of Lamb, chilli, onion and sauce which he plonked onto the sizzling platter. Cue a mountainous amount of smoke covering about six tables in the vicinity and sending many, including the unfortunate Designer, into coughing fits. I did feel slightly embarrassed.

There are some great bars in Northbridge, the area of Perth where our hotel resides. I think, rather than spending hours at the Shag, we may well spend a few more days closer to home. Live Bands, the scene is really kicking. A bit like the Yard. Not.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

kangeroo steaks, crocodile and Baramoundi fillet

YESTERDAY we moved to Perth after a disastrous final day of the second Test in Adelaide in which England managed to undermine all their good work of the previous four days by throwing away the game. The Aussie crowing reached record proportions. Never mind.
To drown our sorrows it was time for a night out and I had booked a table at the Strathmore Hotel for a farewell meal to Adelaide. And what a pleasant surprise.
Sitting in the upstairs restaurant myself, Watford Pete, the Kitchen Designer and Stormin' Norman, a 50-something Belfast-born, Buckinghamshire-based laugh-a-minute cricket lover, suddenly found that we had to cook the meal ourselves! For once this blog's title is actually accurate.
I plumped for the Aussie fare - Kangaroo steaks, crocodile and the popular local fish Baramoundi - while the others all chose the steak option. It was hilarious for Stormin', who had only told me the day before that he had never cooked a meal in his life.
The food turns up on a thick piece of stone, possibly slate, which has spent hours heating in the oven. First you have to sear the meat on the stone and keep turning it. Then you cut slices off and continue to cook how you want it. Watford Pete, the deaf lad, looked totally bemused by the whole thing but once he got the gist he really enjoyed himself cooking his well-done rump. Mind you, he made a bit of a mistake with what he thought was a mustard sauce but was actually a big bowl of English mustard. Cue a grab for the water, steam eminating from his ears as he realised his big mistake.
All in all, a great experience.
We then opted to drown our sorrows in the bar below and eventually managed to talk Watford into a trip to PJs for one last hurrah. The previous evening I had been there with Stormin' who, not used to the power of VB, had to be poured into a taxi at the end of the night. He was still carrying a hangover when we went for our meal.
It was a good night apart from the fact that Watford, who had already been showing signs of being worse for wear (he wanted us to go to the Melbourne Test dressed as either the Telly Tubbies or a Pantomime cow!) then preceded to knock back two pints of Guinness in the time it took us to take the froth off our cold ones.
When I returned from the bar a little later he was looking terribly sheepish. Next moment the bouncer was ushering him out of the door. He had managed to throw up on the ciggy machine. Poor Pete. He had to get up at the crack of dawn next morning for a two-day trip to Ayers Rock. He's ok, though.
Said goodbye to a few mates we had met during our stay in Adelaide on the basis they were returning to the UK. Paul from Cardiff and his dad were on the way home and it was nice to see his old man out with him in a bar where the local band were playing a really good cover-version set of things like Black Sabbath's Paranoid and Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall.
I eventually stumbled back at just gone 3 whereas the Kitchen Designer ended up going back to the Holiday Inn with some mates. He came across a large number of the Aussie team in the bar, absolutely trolleyed (and who can blame them?)
Ponting was off his face, Mike Hussey was singing and Adam Gilchrist was still in his whites. He fell off his stall laughing when one of the Kitchen Designer's crew started singing "We're gonna win 3-2!"

Barmy Army Travel is starting to do exactly what it says on the tin. Some of the organisational c cock-ups have been outright barmy. Still, I imagine it is the first thing they have taken on of this nature and I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Yesterday started with a call to the room at 10.20. "Are you checking out today, sir?" was the question as I looked at the clock through bleary eyes.
"Well, you should have done so 20 minutes ago."
So much for the note slipped under our door which said we had until 12 to pack and check out.
Then when we arrived in Perth they managed to drop us off at the wrong hotel. It was The Seasons rather than the All Seasons and we had to call the bus back and lump all our cases back on board. Not a pleasant job for the Kitchen Designer, who managed to whack his head on the roof of the luggage compartment and felt dizzy from then on.
Eventally we arrived but the Designer and I were stunned when we saw our room - no window and no smoking! It was claustrophic. Good for the Designer, though. He went back and complained and they shifted us to a smoking room with a window for one night. We'll have to move again today.

Last night we had a beer with "Jimmy", the iconic choir master of the Barmy Army. Everywhere we go Jimmy has to done his George Cross hat and his white George Cross shirt as the TV crews gather to speak to him. He is more of a celebrity than every England player bar, perhaps, Freddie Flintoff.
Mind you, the Designer and I also got our share of the limelight yesterday with Aussie station ABC interviewing us for their news bulletins. They wanted to speak to miserable Englanders at the airport, but we didn't give them the satisfaction, being very upbeat and positive (not that I felt it, mind. I think we'll lose 5-0).
What a nice bloke Jimmy is, though. His real name is Vic and he is a carpenter and joiner by profession. His hat is sponsored, which provides him with beer money, and he also has a little Welsh flag on his chest given to him by another Barmy boy.
As we sat in the bar we were joined by another famous Army member - the trumpeter who has been hitting the news worldwide. The Aussie sat at the next table couldn't believe it. He rushed off to his room, returning with his camera and a copy of an article on the Army in Zoo magazine, which Jimmy had to sign. I took a picture of the two Barmy "celebs" with their new Aussie friend and he was delighted.

Ended up in a bar called "The Lucky Shag" last night. Didn't get lucky, though. Still, it was a beautiful setting, out on a verandah looking out over The Swan river. Simply stunning. I think, once we've settled in, I will like Perth.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Aussie 100 per cent beef burger

STANDING in the bar at the Cathedral yesterday I got chatting to a bloke called Paul who is out here with his 80-year-old dad. Turns out he's from Rhwbina in Cardiff and works for Lloyds Bank. He also knows my former account manager Nicola so we immediately had something in common.
He goes home after the Adelaide Test and, as a Cardiff City fan, he is eager to get home quickly - apparently they haven't scored a goal since he came away!
He said he has never bought the WoS but will be getting one as soon as he gets home, so by my reckoning that means I am doing valuable work for the newspaper and should be paid for my exploits.
Also met Mark, who runs a pub in Anglesey and sports a Travis Bickle haircut. Nice bloke, but gets a hell of a lot of stick from his Mrs every time he bangs the advertising boards or shouts his support of the England team. They are like George and Mildred, and it is all highly amusing.
Went to PJs last night where I met up again with Harry. The boy might not be a journalist yet but I am sure he will do well. he is king of the blaggers and almost talked his way onto the England coach yesterday. He also reckons he met one of Freddie Flintoff's mates who gave him the England captain's mobile, home and Aussie mobile numbers! We'll see if they work.
Harry also told me he had been on the Getty Images website and there are about five pics of me singing my heart out with the Barmy Army. Think I'll take a look after this entry.
This is our last day in Adelaide, then it is on to Perth tomorrow lunchtime. That will be like a holiday within a holiday, with no cricket to watch for six or seven days. Enough time to get some whale watching done hopefully and to catch up on the laundry.
Yesterday I didn't eat much, but had a nice 100 per cent beefburger at the ground. Tonight, though, I've booked into a restaurant where the steaks look wonderful. Hopefully we will be celebrating an England win, but I won't hold my breath.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Malay seafood noodles

THE bad news is that I have lost my St George Cross flag. The good news was that that it cost me 10 dollars (about 3 pounds) on our departure from Brisbane. Typical me, left it in a pub and couldn't be arsed to go back and get it. Never mind.
I had painted the flag with our names in permanent black marker - Rips and Glen - so that I could see it from the hill, and my Dad told me last night that he had actually seen a flag among the Barmy Army masses with that on it, but didn't realise it was me. Some of the Aussies actually think it means Rest In Peace, Glen McGrath, and by his bowling out here I can understand why.
The Kitchen Designer and I have finally got a hold on Adelaide after spending a Saturday night here watching the Arsenal v Tottenham game in a crowded sports bar. We've decided that it's actually the Blackpool of Australia, albeit with good weather.
Having said that it has been pretty cool over the last couple of days and when the wind gets up it can actually be quite cold.
We went to see the Adelaide Utd v Melbourne Victory game on Friday night so that we could get a glimpse of the 43-year-old former-World Cup winning Brazilian Romario. The game was a sell out, not brilliant, but the atmosphere was terrific. We sat right near the Melbourne fans, who were letting off firecrackers and chanting throughout the game. They had travelled around 13,000 km to see the game as their team are top of the league. Soccer is certainly taking off since the Aussies did so well in the World Cup.
On a bad note, I think they are about to encounter football-style hooliganism. There was no segregation at the ground and everyone was allowed to drink alcohol. In front of us two Aussie-Poles from Melbourne were getting on everyone's nerves and some Greek-looking bloke built like a Brick Outhouse was ready to thump them both before a steward stepped in.
On the hill, the Aussies are terrible in their attempt to bait the good-humoured Barmy Army. I am also encountering a bad current of racism, which may be down to naivety or perhaps just their prime minister's immigration policy. It's not nice.
Still, I have met some very good Aussies too, including Ryan and Craig, who we had a drink with in the Cathedral Inn at lunch yesterday. They followed their football team to Germany and were good company.
Meanwhile, we have finally got a foothold in the Ashes, thanks to Colly's brilliant double ton yesterday.
Oh yeah, by the way, I had Malay seafood noodles for my supper. Not brilliant.
I did see a bloke in the restaurant with a brilliant Sopranos Bada Bing T-shirt though. I'm going to search for one when I get back.