Match day came around once again and my nerves were in full flow! The not knowing for definite if I had a ticket for the match combined with the actual nerves for the big match itself was making my tummie rumble something chronic. I had a catch up call with Fliss on how the day was going to work and what we have been up to and checking in that all of my group are ok. Thankfully she confirmed that we definitely both had match tickets for this evening – one less thing to be nervous of! She also said that we are two tickets short for the final test and that as Vic wanted us both there I needed to go out and find two.
Cue MASS panic.
Down I went to concierge to find out where the Australian equivalent of Ticketmster office was so that I could go down and buy two on the credit card. They also looked up for me that there were some available but that they were single tickets and couldn’t see from the online booking system where they were, as in how far away from each other. I found out where it was and, in Challenge Anneka mode, off I went searching the streets of Melbourne for the office. Well it wasn’t where they had told me but I went into the theatre where I had been told it was to find out where the office really was, they pointed me in the direction of the office that is located on the edge of China Town which shut at two.
Now most of you already know I don’t do running as a rule. But if it was a case of getting a ticket for the final test or not, running it was going to have to be! So I ran, and I mean RAN (like running for my life ran), across town to make sure that I got there before anyone else got the tickets and the place closed for the rest of the weekend. I was possibly the actual colour of the Lions shirt by the time that I reached the shop and dripping with sweat & gasping for breath. On further looking it transpired that the two single platinum tickets that they had were not only one behind the other but they were also both on the aisle. Could not be more perfect if we had tried. Done. Bought. I confessed my undying love to the elderly gentleman behind the counter who did look somewhat bemused with my admittance. Tickets in hand I gently strolled back to the hotel, taking in some very big breaths to try and recover from the over exertion of the trip to buy the tickets! Happy to have the tickets not only in my pocket but also confirmed for the final test. Once back at the hotel I had to have a lie down to try and recover and get my heart rate back down to something resembling a normal rate!
Pre match hospitality was in a venue space in the Docklands area which was pretty much bang next to the Ethiad Stadium. It was rather a random place and not the easiest to find – I was very glad that Fliss had given me a few directions as to where it was once we got off the bus as it was not easily labelled! We had an open bar for 2 hours before the match and some sensational nibbles including individual portions of fish & chips. As Sophie & I had fed up with pasta pre match I was not really wanting much to drink. I got very edgy as I didn’t have my ticket in my hand still whilst we were in the Black Sail Bar until very late. The obligatory photo of it was of course taken and posted on Facebook!
Having played ‘heavy’ on the door for the majority of the evening it was lovely to be able to mingle for a little for the last hour or so before the match. Shared the joyous news that I had in my hand the ticket and if I recall was to be seen stroking it and kissing it at one point! There’s always one!! Lovely to see some of those that have been further afield and to catch up with the couple that I was sat next to at the welcome dinner on the first Friday night in Brisbane, which now seems months ago.
We headed on over to the Ethiad Stadium, a short walk along the dockside and the masses swelled as we got closer with the atmosphere booming and becoming more intense the closer that we got. It was amazing. There were loads of people handing out #seaofred try signs and red face paint – a brilliant idea I have to say. But I’m not sure that it will quite top my face painting efforts in South Africa?! We managed to pick up a few of the Australian bright yellow hats that were being handed out in a hope of stopping the Stadium being the sea of red again! The chants coming in had me in stitches – #you’reonlywearingyellow’cosit’sfree. We purchased the desired programmes and made the trek up to our seats stopping off at the facilities first – the ladies I never had to queue for in the stadium, but the men’s were absurd!!
In my seat I just soaked it all up again. Looked at the sea of red, took in how little effect the yellow hats seem to be having. Pinched myself that I was actually here, that this is all very, VERY real and savoured the moment. I still, even though I am in the middle of it, can not believe that this is all happening to me. That I am actually doing this, it’s all still very much like I am in a dream and that I am going to wake up every moment to Geri nuzzling into my neck as my early morning wake up call like she does.
Then the photos for the mementoes started.
I was sat next to Soph for the match which was fabulous. I was so nervous in anticipation about what was about to happen on the pitch in front of us, just in the bottom of my tummie I could feel this horrible notion that we weren’t actually going to be able to do it. I could see it being like so many of the Bath disappointments that I have seen over the years. When on paper we should be able to, but when it comes down to it – nope. Just wasn’t pulling together.
Sadly come the end of the match that was exactly what happened. We were unsuccessful & theres a stadium full of Australians that were over joyed. Man, was I thankful that I had actually run out this morning to go and buy the two extra Sydney tickets. There was no way that there would be any left now!
My group were all present, correct and waiting for the nod that the taxi was here, we had no stragglers or anything and I had them all on the bus and singing songs whilst we sorted out what the others were all going to be doing. All a job well done on the organisation front, lets just hope those on the field can be as well organised for the final test, hey!!
Funnily enough this was the most popular of the tours for those wanting to book on with me. In total there were 10 of us that headed out of town and into the scenic Yarra Valley for a spot of wine tasting for the day. We had 3 Australians on the bus as well who were quite quiet initially but warmed up throughout the day as the tasting went on!
It did feel somewhat wrong to be starting a wine tasting tour at ten in the morning?! We tasted 12 different wines, but I was a little bemused that we weren’t shown how to taste the full flavour and so on. We were just given a bit in the bottom of the glass told what the grape was each time & carried on. I think at the first vineyard, Oakridge, we tasted a total of 12 different wines – 6 white & 6 red. I tasted them all, of course, but was not drinking all of the tasters of the reds.
Loosened up on we pressed to the delicious cheese shop from the dairy farm in the valley, little samples of goats cheese which, were I staying longer, I’d have purchased the full piece of. It was simply delicious, so creamy and fresh tasting.
Our second vineyard of the day was Coombe Farm where again we tasted around five or six of the red as well as the whites.
The lady telling us the details of all of the wines was a wonderful character and full of great humour. I clicked part way through that Lord Vesty is one of the other syndicate members in a couple of the horses that Dad has had an interest in over recent years. His daughter as well, of course I was at junior school with – Flora, but hardly remember her to be honest. Small world and all that! She reminded us of all the horrendous bush fires of 2009 and showed us where the fires came up to on their property, many of the vineyards in the surrounding area were badly damaged but thankfully the wind changed JUST as the fires had come up to the edge of the property the winds changed and blew it in a totally different direction. It was not far from here that the picture of the fireman giving the koala some water was taken.
We headed on to where we were going to be dining (the Rochford Winery). No buffet here, instead we were treated to a delicious choice of main meals of which I chose a slow cooked beef off the choices. First though we had another wine tasting session. This would have, in my view, been far better placed AFTER we had eaten as we were all feeling rather topped up on the old vino already! Kay & I for one were incredibly giggly at nothing much in particular & she couldn’t stop at one point!
The lady giving us the wine tasting session was teaching us the way of doing it and helping us through the whole process a lot more than previous vineyards. Smelling it, swirling it, swooshing it spitting it which as I am sure you can possibly gather had us in stitches even more!
Our last stop was the Australian version of Moët & Chandon (the name escapes me at present & my guide book is not currently to hand) After a full glass of wine at lunchtime I was feeling pretty full of wine and so decided to be sensible and not actually taste all of the different ones here and only tried the first sparkling before passing quietly and nipping outside to soak up the sunshine and the views.
On the way home we stopped in on a chocolate shop and partook in a few samples, but managed to refrain from buying any to take home! The views were still stunning of all the vineyards out in rows, ok wrong time if year to see them growing but you could imagine the scene in summer time and how very different but yet even more beautiful the scenery would be.
Caught up with James, who I first met out in South America back in 2001, on Sunday morning before we headed to the airport. We walked down Southbank and went on the citycat before having a coffee & a bite to eat at a little place in Teneriffe before he & Michael dropped me back at the hotel.
Managed to get everyone checked in & through security no problem, thankfully! Noticed that Kev had been on his wifi moments before & so messaged as I was sure that they said that they were flying down to Melbourne that afternoon too. Yup they were in the airport so legged it down to where they were as we were slightly delayed boarding, caught up with them & what they had been up to – amused to say it wasn’t hard to spot Kev as he too was in his Bath Shirt!
Spent the first couple of days in Melbourne being quite lazy in regards to sightseeing. I had a good read through who was going where post Melbourne as I was starting to get myself VERY confused. After popping to the Visitor Centre in Federation Square and researching what we could do and so on, I went ahead and booked the tours that I had been talking about with others in the group. I managed to pop into a couple of sports shops to see what the prices of the Lions tops where & if they had any other merchandise that we didn’t have in the UK – OMG the strip is $120 as are all the other official strips, that’s absurd. I couldn’t find much other merchandise that we didn’t have in the UK. I found a fleecy blanket and a stubbie holder which I got.
Spent the afternoon sorting out the transfers and bits & getting my head around the next week or so! I also did more research on the possibilities in Cairns for my group as there are several expressing an interest in some of those similar to things I’d like to do. Just found out timings and so on & if there was space on the days that some wanted. I washed some of my clothes in the sink – not paying laundry in the hotel for my socks & undies?!!
Match day came round again & prepared for the colder weather it was the most beautiful day & of course, in the shirt rather sticky!! We had prematch hospitality in Transport Bar, literally bang smack in the middle of Federation Square & we had a private are for our group once again & once again sharing it with the Trevor Brennan Group. I enjoyed being a ‘heavy’ on the door banning people without bands! With it starting from 3pm & make your own way there, we had them all turning up in dribs & drabs to the bar but you could tell as the kick off came closer & closer by the sheer volume of red shirts all around!
Originally Sophie wasn’t going up he going to the match as one of her group wanted an extra ticket for their son & so it would be hers that she would have given up. In the end tho it was decided that she should be with her group & I was without a ticket. My tummie went. I know it’s not a test match & ours were never guaranteed, but I just so wanted to be there. Thankfully it was all in hand, I had a ticket I just wouldn’t be sitting with our group. No bother, I had a ticket – sitting on my own did not bother me!! I ended up behind the posts around 8 rows back, surrounded pretty much by Rebels fans which of course meant I’d just have to shout more!!
The Lions chant in the stadium was phenomenal and of course we nilled them! A couple of very sloppy passes from our backs I must say, thankfully Faz’s kicking was right on target though! Zebo was also being chanted at one stage too, it must be such an amazing feeling for the players hearing that – both as a team & individually!
Headed back to the bar post match having managed to cram onto a tram & narrowly avoided getting stuck in the middle of some harsh words in the carriage. As I went to order a drink as I got there, who should be standing next to me but Lou! & they had not even got my texts telling them where I was! As there was no post match hospitality it was a free for all so I introduced them to some if the group & caught up with them for the evening – a total added bonus!