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Who’s coat is that jacket?

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.

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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!

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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!

Catching up with Kev & Lou in Transport Bar post match

Catching up with Kev & Lou in Transport Bar post match

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Match day – First Test

Match day finally arrived & after discussion last night, I was going to put the suggestion forward of anyone coming with myself & one of my couples to visit Lone Pine Koala Park after everyone had collected their match tickets from me in the lobby. I managed to round up a group of 9 of us in total to share a cab up there including Sophie as well. Having read & realised that you can cuddle a koala & hand feed the kangaroos & wallabies I was as hyper as anything like a kid in a candy shop!! This greatly amused everyone I think, and they certainly seemed to feed off my enthusiasm!!

I was taken for a fool by some of them that told me that there was a bird in one of the cages that sounds like it was saying ‘Emma’ – fell for it hook line & bloody sinker. The buggers had got one of the keepers who was cleaning in one of the bird pens & was hiding behind a bush to say ‘Emma’ just as I walked past. I could see that I was never going to live this one down as I sucked it up (I thought it was like a parrot that repeated what people said – hence my excitement & utter gullibility, in my defence!!)

Seeing the koalas for the first time was phenomenal. Really, honestly, breathtaking. I was in utter heaven. They are SO cute its absurd & some of the positions that they sit in is ridiculous?!! It can’t be comfy – surely!!! They sleep for 18-20 hours a day so I guess if we were visiting them in a Zoo there would only be a couple of them but here there were over 100. The sanctuary started off with 2 in 1927 and has grown and grown ever since. With the retirement home, kindergarten and variety of other areas where the koalas were we managed to see loads of them. It is sad that we were at the wrong time of year for the joeys to be climbing on the backs of their mums, but hey – you can’t have everything! Instantly boosted to my favourite animal EVER. I really had to stop myself from buying a $35 large stuffed toy of one!!

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Of course I HAD to have my photo taken with one as did a few of the others. I had to move my hair out of the way before I could do any cuddling as it would need to see where he could hold on to. I cuddled Matt after being shown how to put my hands and that I was not to bring them up & that he would just sit there. I had the professional photo taken as well as loads on the iPhone & the camera so I’m most definitely not short of images!! I might have gone a little OTT with them, but hey!!

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We moved on from here to go & feed the kangaroos & wallabies which was again just fabulous. We had the most beautiful day for it I have to say! Having purchased the food we were keen to hand feed them but as most were in the rest area we were not allowed in to there were only a few that were interested in being fed outside of the area. We tried regardless! And posed for multiple photos!! I hardly got many of the kangaroos to eat anything that I put out in front of them so wandered off a little & found a female sitting quietly in the shade without loads of people around her and so I went down to see if she was at all interested in the nibbles – got a wonderful photo of her as I lay down feeding her! Their fur is so soft it’s amazing, I could have stroked her all day!

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Thankfully my group were all on time ready to get the bus to the pre-match entertainment that we were sharing with the Trevor Brennen Group as we will be for all pre & post match entertainment. Thankfully I did ask everyone to check their tickets, as in that they had them & for the right match?!! ‘Shit!!’ As one of mine disappeared back up to his room to get it! Driving the short trip through town was fab, seeing all the bars bursting at the seams with Lions fans as far as the eye could see & not so many Wallabies in sight though. Nearly every pub had a group in full song which we could hear from the inside of the coach! We were the first of our group to get to the bar & finding the function room was a little tricky but managed to locate the wrist bands that everyone needed to be wearing & led the group inside through a very busy bar.

I was buzzing, I had all the hairs on my arms standing on end & seriously couldn’t stand still – which was good as we were meant to be floating around the room checking everyone was ok in our group & generally mixing – networking almost! The beers were flowing for everyone & thankfully they were in sort of just over half pint glasses so no one seemed too inebriated, thankfully. I was getting really itchy feet as Sophie had been given her ticket but I hadn’t & I was DESPERATE to hold it in my hands & soak it all up pinch myself that this was actually really happening!! It was my golden ticket & once it was in my pocket I had the BIGGEST Cheshire grin on my face & had to pinch myself on a couple of occasions to check it was all happening (as well as running to the loo to take a picture of it to tweet & put on Facebook – the excitement was almost too much!) As one of the last out the bar to ensure everyone was out I could almost hardly walk, let alone talk with the sheer excitement.

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Walking in the stadium & up the stairs to the level where our seats were, I heard an Irish voice that I recognised – only the couple that I met in the Royal Oak a couple of weeks ago?! Not really a small world I guess but still, quite amusing!

Walking to my seat was amazing, taking in the pockets of red everywhere all over the stadium & trying to see how much of an impact the yellow colonial style hats were having – very little to be honest! I was on my own as such in that I had none of the VU group next to me but Fliss & Sophie were in front (Sophie’s first ever match of international rugby??!!! – what a way to start!!) I was buzzing & fidgety & everything you’d expect that comes with both nerves & excitement!! I was trying to be cautious of the amount that I was shouting, we all know what I can be like at times! Thankfully I was also able to refrain from screaming abuse of any form at either the re for the wallabies only encouraging words were uttered from my lips (took a lot not to I have to say, there were a couple of very close calls). Come the second half though I realised that I actually must have been shouting quite a bit as my throat was quite sore & I was sounding rather husky!

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The match was tense, we seemed to be all over them statistically at half time but yet only a few points ahead – it didn’t seem right? The match ended with our hearts in our mouths as a final penalty was given away in the last couple of mins. We have A LOT to thank Kurtley Beale for – slipping when kicking the penalty causing him to spectacularly missing thus leaving us with the win!! The screaming & jumping around & the run back to the bar, it was all exhausting! I was trying to get on the phone to send pictures FTC out on social media sources as well as whatsapp – little success as the battery was dying on everything! I did it when I finally got back to my room. Conscious that we had a reasonably early check out of 10am & I hadn’t packed or got my head sorted as to timings for transit day at all.

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What a day tho?!!! Cuddled a Koala, hand fed a Kangaroo & my favourite – stuffed a Wallaby!!

First few days in Brisbane

Well I’m in Australia!!! Feels very weird, which I guess I can really only put down to jet lag but then it is also shock I think. After all I’ve been through, reality is starting to settle that I am actually out here?!! Just feeling kind of all out of sorts. Got REALLY sleepy during the day yesterday & had a kip this morning/afternoon but still feeling a sort of spaced out I guess. Seem to be in a total daze at the moment. Do hope it jogs on pronto.

Met up with others to run through the tour together, how things were going to be working and so on and all seems fine. Got sorted with a portable wi-Fi device which is blooming handy, as well as an Australian mobile which takes me HOURS to text on as I try to work out how to use it!!

We are staying in an apartment, kind of like a serviced apartment block here in Brisbane & I’m sharing with Sophie who is looking after another VU group. We have a room each & share kitchen & living area. It’s on the 30th floor and we are in the City area if the town. Not really done any sightseeing at all yet. Was going to do some today but the weather is pretty rubbish, raining but not too cold. The idea on getting a water hopper up & down the river to see a bit if the city in this weather did not really appeal when weather for next 2 days is bright sun & nearer 20 degrees!

I spent my evening at the airport last night, as you’d expect to be honest with my role! Welcomed in two sets of people but 3 different flights – was there for at least a couple of hours!! Some of ‘my’ group and some that were heading to the same hotel as Fliss & I jumped in the last transit back to my hotel as there was thankfully room for me. Everyone seems lovely – all in high spirits but shattered! Spotted rather an odd sight at the airport – you can kind if see in the photo below, arriving off a plane headed to Wellington that had been diverted was this guy who was wearing a t-shirt, shorts & gum boots??!!! Now that’s a random choice of attire for a flight if ever I saw one!

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We have the most amazing breakfast place where Sophie & I have had the same thing every morning so far!!

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Feeling mighty full after that! I have managed to get the avo stuck up my nose on both occasions so far though – attractive!!

Friday I was all ready to go out exploring but it was cold and damp and so I opted for an extra kip after breakfast & had a late lunch with Fliss & Sophie after Fliss had dropped the tickets off for me to hand out to my group for all the matches that they would be going to in the morning -good to get them handed out & make them no longer our responsibility!!

Turns out we were sat next to George North in the little place that we had lunch in – knew I blooming recognised him & he kept turning round after the bloke who he was with, assume his Dad, commented a couple of times as I was wearing my Bath shirt (obv!!). What with that & the Sky boys all in the hotel too – Barnsey, Wallace, Greenwood, Quinnell & Alex Payne it was true to say that we were in the hub of the action!

Friday night was the welcome dinner = dress time!! We met before in the Pig & Whistle which was heaving, unsurprisingly & full of red shirts. The location was Cha Cha Char and the food was divine! We had David Campese there too as well as, later on, a couple of other retired Wallabies. It was lovely meeting some more of the group, even though I was sat on a table with only 2 of my group having been moved last min. Great company and a real giggle! They were also quite keen to go out to the Koala Park in the morning which I was planning to do on my own, they suggested seeing if anyone else wanted to join us and so suggested asking around at ticket collection in the morning. Easy enough to do!! Afterwards we headed up to the Bavarian Beer place above the restaurant where we had one more drink before we headed home, I was starting to get pretty excited about a cuddling a koala but mainly the first test the following day!

Post meal drinks at Cha Cha Char

Post meal drinks at Cha Cha Char

The news today gets better though – I’ve definitely got a ticket for the match tomorrow night, James is feeling better, been in touch with Kev & Lou & Timmy & Sue & hopefully catching up with them perhaps tomorrow or Sunday morning before we fly down to Melbourne. All go!!

The lo-o-o-o-o-n-g trip over

After a fairly late night (all things considered) having decided that my toe nails needed painting just as I was about to crash, I woke earlier than the alarm. Excitement brewing! Looking at my bags I am not actually sure that I’ve packed enough – looks like I’m off for a week not 3?!

At check in I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief, having failed to have weighed my bag one final time, I managed to come in at 19.7kg – the stupidly light allowance is 20kg for travelling this distance with a possible 4 seasons to pack for!

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With my stomach rumbling something chronic with a mixture of both excitement and nerves, we headed to get some food after passing through security. I’m fine with flying but the mere idea of being sat on a plane for just shy if 13 hours, followed by a seven hour flight was not a pleasant thought. I never sleep on planes, no seriously – NEVER, & as per usual I couldn’t select a meal to cover my allergies so I knew damn well all the food would be riddled with peppers & shell fish or just look mighty unappetising!

Of course we were boarding during the match (National Shane Williams Day – as confirmed by the Dai Lama on twitter) with about half of Wales on our flight, primarily all in made up tour t-shirts with their dodgy given nicknames on the reverse, it was hardly surprising that huddles could be seen as we approached the gate – groups of people all crowding round iPads to try and catch as much of the match as feasibly possible before being called to board. We boarded at 0-5 to the Brumbies.

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The plane was MASSIVE & as I was advised by Helen’s Dad the night prior – it would be very spacious. It was indeed, with a window seat just behind the wing and clearly right over where the wheels came up I was sat next to a couple who were flying home to Perth. They were very nice, didn’t smell, weren’t obese &, most importantly – didn’t have screaming kids. All obvious nightmares averted!

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After fiddling around for a whole getting myself sorted & comfortable I settled in to the journey and looked at the film options that I had for the flight. I’d looked on the Singapore Air website prior & not seen too many that I actually wanted to watch, thankfully there was a far wider choice & so I was a happy girl – movie marathon and a half ahead!! I think in total in the first flight I managed 6 – let’s see, Identity Thief, Life of Pi, Parental Guidance, Quartet hang on that’s only 4? Oh no I give it a year too – ok 5, all in a row!! I make that pretty bloody good going!!

As predicted the food was pepper infested but having the food earlier at the airport I was not really too bothered.

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Don’t worry, I didn’t take a photo of every meal I ate!! The non-slip try was a bonus, as was the proper knife and fork – larger than the one that we had breakfast with at Heathrow?!! Didn’t even try sleeping on this flight though as the timings were all a bit screwed. We arrived in Singapore at like 8 in the morning, it was already 28 degrees – SWEAT CENTRAL! Man am I glad I had the foresight to pack a change of top & undies in my hand luggage!!

We had a 2 1/2 hr stop over only in the airport which by the time we had wondered around to stretch our legs, visited the Butterfly Garden (no, really!) checked out the price of a massage & sat in a wifi area to touch base with home to let everyone know that leg 1 was done safe & sound and of course checking in on the rugby score. Thinking back that’s possibly not entirely true, there was a GOD ALMIGHTY bang about 5 mins before we landed which sounded like the wheel beneath is had fallen off or something – pretty bloody alarming! Then as we came in to land it felt smooth until we actually touched down which was more than a bit jolty – kind of like he’d forgotten to actually land it in time even tho he was bringing it down smoothly?!) we sat by the Koi Pond too – there I was spotting all the greenery everywhere, living walls & a shed load of large leaved green plants in the smoking area to take away the pollutants!

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The onward leg was on a smaller plane & I was stuck in the middle, thankfully there was a spare seat next to me as the man on my right decided to sit with his legs a kimbo – not exactly very comfortable to sit next to! I decided to watch The Fall which I had downloaded the series of from iPlayer and as it was a 7 hour or so flight I managed to watch all of it, infuriating ending I must say, but I guess that it opens it up for a second series? The food was riddled with peppers once again & so all I managed was cheese & biscuits & 3 Ferrero Roche on the flight – very filling!! Thankfully it seemed to pass quite quickly though & I think I must have slept for an hour as when I woke with a start I felt suddenly hanging!

Coming through immigration was not too much of an issue & although my bag was last of our small group to come off the carousel, I thankfully was not waiting too long. Coming through customs I was in a line to be sniffed by the dog with all of my stuff – scary as, even if the pooch was only a black lab! Transit to the hotel was only about 30 min after dropping others at the 5* accommodation & I made it up the 30 floors to my apartment which I was sharing with Sophie, another tour co-ordinater. Very swish I have to say. I jumped straight in the shower pretty much & hit the sack hoping that sleep would happen after a brief chat with Sophie (who I hasten to add I’d never actually met before then!) Must remember to check in the morning if the water does go down the plug hole the other way as totally forgot this evening!

This time next week & all that jazz x2

The mid week match saw me back in the pub again across the road form work. This time though I had a partner in crime as Steve (from Roman Candles) joined me in the Lamb and Lion taking a break from what sounded like a hectic day in the shop. We partook in breakfast whilst watching the match. It was more than one sided to say the least but a very surreal feeling to thing that in a weeks time I would be on a plane slowly making my way out there!!

Classic - stolen off twitter

Classic – stolen off twitter

Felatau spotted just before he ran on - spot the tags still on his shirt!!

Felatau spotted just before he ran on – spot the tags still on his shirt!!

Tom Croft, Simon Zebo - replacement to Tommy B who he is sat next to (he had to have a plate put into his broken hand)

Tom Croft, Simon Zebo – replacement to Tommy B who he is sat next to (he had to have a plate put into his broken hand)

Our view of the big screen in the Lamb & Lion - why do people choose to sit UNDER the big screen??

Our view of the big screen in the Lamb & Lion – why do people choose to sit UNDER the big screen??

Stuart Hogg, Jamie Robert & BOD post match

Stuart Hogg, Jamie Robert & BOD post match

The remainder of the week was of course spent trying to remember all the things that I would be likely to forget and regret once I was on the plane! I attempted packing, realising that it was only a restriction of 20kg I was very strict with what made it into the bag! If I haven’t got enough warm clothes – I’ll just have to buy a jumper or two out there!

My first attempt of pacing - well the bare essentials right?!

My first attempt of pacing – well the bare essentials right?!

POC ready for a team meal

POC ready for a team meal

Adam ready for team meal (I really do worry about the choice of attire!!)

Adam ready for team meal (I really do worry about the choice of attire!!)

Manu ready for a team dinner

Manu ready for a team dinner

Mike Phillips, Manu, Croft, Parling & Youngs on top of the Harbour Bridge - I want to do this when I am there!

Mike Phillips, Manu, Croft, Parling & Youngs on top of the Harbour Bridge – I want to do this when I am there!

Tommy B showing off his sown up hand (he had a metal plate inserted into it)

Tommy B showing off his sown up hand (he had a metal plate inserted into it)

Watched the last Saturday match before the tests in the Royal Oak again. Thought the plan was a few drinks and a spot of lunch after & was really looking forward to it, sadly it didn’t happen. I felt really bad for telling Mum and Dad that they couldn’t come over and see me before I went as they really wanted to, as I had made other plans – which never materialised. Story of my life! Guess I should have arranged to see them regardless, you would have thought I’d have learnt by now – history repeats itself yet again!! I had tingles throughout the majority of the match as departure day comes closer & closer.

Zebo & Halfpenny after Saturday's match

Zebo & Halfpenny after Saturday’s match

Faz & Kearney post match

Faz & Kearney post match

Spent the majority of the rest of the weekend curled up with my furballs and doing the last min packing and hoping that I actually have all hat I need. Sleep on Saturday night was pretty sporadic and I have a feeling that it will be the same again this evening and certainly tomorrow night!

Stuart Barnes uses word of the day loo roll again

The first of the Saturday matches against the Reds spent in the Royal Oak, with friends needing to be in work to cover an audit taking place over the weekend it was only going to be a quiet one. Several others in the pub as always & a couple who fly out on Tuesday who were, like me, trying to work out how many clothes the crowd were wearing so as to work out how many warm clothes we need! Didn’t manage to be very successful in working it out as it was also raining.

Stuart Barnes had, once again, clearly been using a word of the day loo roll as this week he managed, somehow, to squeeze in impresario – not quite sure how it fitted in?!!

Love the Sky Sports as for the Lions which I’d only really taken in today, I can’t find a clip of it on YouTube at the moment which is really annoying me but will add it at a later date if I can find it

The table saver in the Royal Oak for the Reds match

The table saver in the Royal Oak for the Reds match

The coin toss before the match with Warberton & Quade Cooper

The coin toss before the match with Warberton & Quade Cooper

The non-playing members of the squad making the way for the boys to come out

The non-playing members of the squad making the way for the boys to come out

Poor Tommy B - how did I manage to miss him breaking his hand during the match :O(

Poor Tommy B – how did I manage to miss him breaking his hand during the match :O(

Two weeks and I’ll be in the very same city that the match was played in today – even if I don’t actually make it into the stadium :o)

First MidWeek match

I am pretty darned sure that there are not that many bosses out there that are as accommodating as mine.

I checked with the pub across the road, that I can see from the window that my desk is against, that they would indeed be showing the first of the midweek matches in the hope that I would not have to travel far to see it and be able to nip back tot he office after it in a flash. I think I was quite a sight to behold to the group of 6 or so construction workers as I arrived a little later that kick off after trying to complete something in the office first. I pulled out not only my phone but also my iPad mini so that I could get my work emails in there whilst watching. I did get a few looks from them when shouting the usual ‘ave ‘im at the screen and of course cheering for the tries as well as the penalties and conversions.

My fellow watching crew left at half time however and I was left, still catching work emails on the iPad as well as tweeting from my phone, all alone in my area of the pub. Sadly that didn’t last long and several pensioners joined me not least the couple below

Company in the second half

Company in the second half

They really were quite bemused by me and the fact that it possibly looked like I was staring right at them and shouting, but they did come in and CHOSE to sit right under the screen, there were plenty of other tables around. I had the following snippet of conversation with them:

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I need very little to need me to enthusiastically support louder and that was coming for a while!! Safe to say I gave them a BEAMING smile when I left!!

Nicked several images off twitter & Instagram from the players post match which are below:

Manu & BOD share the love and appreciation of talent (Manu posted this)

Manu & BOD share the love and appreciation of talent (Manu posted this)


Manu & BOD sharing the love & appreciation of talent - BOD posted this - BLESS!!

Manu & BOD sharing the love & appreciation of talent – BOD posted this – BLESS!!


The lovely Tommy B and Rory Best post match

The lovely Tommy B and Rory Best post match


Vunipola & Faz sharing a moment on pitch

Vunipola & Faz sharing a moment on pitch


The Youngs brothers - quite an achievement to be in the same England Team, but Lions too?!

The Youngs brothers – quite an achievement to be in the same England Team, but Lions too?!

And so it begins – Lions 2013

The story behind how I have managed to end up travelling to Australia for the Lions Tour does, in reality, sound almost too unreal. I was booked & initial deposit paid to travel out having been saving since I returned from South Africa. For reasons I’m not going to go into, I had to pull out. I needed the stupidly large sum of money that I’d been building up for other sudden pressing needs. I had to pull out of going, I had no choice. Devastated did not even come close to how I felt. Having built up to it for so long, the realisation I was not going on top of everything else that I was struggling to cope with was almost too much.

Fast forward to the beginning of May and a random throwaway reply to a post on twitter and I am now officially back on and booked on a flight out to Australia on the 18th of June. Now the tickets are not definite, but to be honest the mere fact that I am actually going to Australia is enough. (But then ref RWC2007 final, we all know damned well that’s not strictly true!) Getting into the matches would be a DREAM. Thanks to a glowing reference from my awesome boss and the quick response to the post on twitter, I am now officially going as a tour co-ordinatior for VU Ltd. I have managed somehow convince Victor & Fliss that I’d be IDEAL for the job! I hope I didn’t come across as too desperate when I was being ‘interviewed’?! All in the past now though, I must have said the right sort of things as I’M GOING!!

The excitement has been building over recent weeks & sharing with friends who live overseas has been great. It transpires that the flight home in July is the same as friends who I initially met through ERE (now ComeOnMyLovers) back in the day (Tim & Sue Parsons) who are now based in Singapore and have baby Jenson with them too. Of course Phil, former neighbour, has been in communication. Now living in Hong Kong with his wife Laura, he has greatly enjoyed sharing his photos of meeting some of the Barbarians squad (what IS with those hats?!!)

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as well as some photos from before the match today with a photo of his local out there which was heaving & some of the boys arriving at the stadium.

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I in return shared my view for the match!! Having to take the car in for its MOT I combined with a trip back to my parents and so watched the match there, on my own as they went out to lunch for The Derby with some friends. This time in 3 weeks I will (hopefully) be watching the first test in Brisbane!! Quite a scary thought really!

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Some of the current Lions related adverts from here & Australia as well as an unofficial Lions song from the guys at RockStar Rugby.

Final Test Day

The breakfast looked amazing and I tried so hard to eat some but my stomach was still having a party to which the rest of my body was not invited and the mouthful of croissant that I tried was quite enough so it told me.  I was of course donned in the Bath face tattoo, Lions colours and the wig, the flag and for the first part of the morning I was also wearing the Bath Tubs Shirt as I had promised Robbinhio (is that how you spell it?) from ERE that I would wear it on the last match day.  Ok I never worse it into the stadium but even if I had he would not have seen it was it was cold and so I was wrapped up.

We were taken to Soweto by bus for our big bar which today was Gulliver’s only as we had sorted out various things with Soweto Rugby Club and so everything for the pre-match entertainment was going to be there.  It was a long way from the hotel to put it mildly.  Driving into Soweto was heart warming as the streets were all full of people waving ferociously at the passing buses, namely small children. We arrived at a large gated area which turned out to be the rugby club.  The grass was all brown and there was the pitch and then the massive marquee which was brilliantly equipped inside for us all with food and drink outlets and a stage on which there was entertainment at times.  Its weird hey, in the 2,500 I saw not one of the Bath lot but then in the masses the previous week I saw each and every one!  The portaloos here were way better than the Rec – I nearly took photos of them they were that impressive, you also have ladies that were going in after each person to clean them down to ensure that they stayed in a good condition.  The thing is you wouldn’t be able to find people willing to do that.

I wandered over to the Gulliver’s Barbarians match with some of the others.  There were loads of us that were going but somehow no one seemed to follow on behind us.  Ah well, I still wanted to watch and, frankly, if anyone wanted to find me all that they had to do was to look for the wig!  See there were benefits to wearing it separate to looking like an arse! The others went of to get more drink but I stayed put after being asked to do a small report for Super Sport – their Sky Sports I guess. Well I as going to be picked on at some point really – I was asking for it rather! I milled around as I kind of lost the others and really could not be bothered spending most of my time looking for them and so I went up to quite near the stage where a bumped into FatBoySlim (the guys from Dubai – not Boyzone though) who were also taking photos of the dancers on stage.  The men all seemed to do a couple of random moves and it was like a competition to see who could land on the floor with the loudest bump. Really quite odd.

There was a movement back towards the buses and so I joined in the snake.  The open way was so small that it was a bit of a bottle neck to get out and taking quite some time I was with none of the Pink Leopards but I could hear them all right – ‘BEASTIALITYS BEST BOYS’ I didn’t half giggle – particularly as I was standing next to Cooch as they started! Finding the coach took me a little while as all of the Gulliver’s coaches were all parked in the same place.  Once back on the coach we all started moving off and I put face paints on John and Amanda at least some of them were getting into the spirit with me!

Getting into the ground was no problem compared to last week to put it mildly. I had my cans of soft drink take off me which I was quite annoyed about as I later found out that others had managed to get beer in. We stood soaking up the atmosphere for a little while.  Some Bok had a sign up that said F%£k the Queen, Our blood is green.  It was very interesting watching the majority of the other South African supporters’ reactions to the sign.  They were getting way more incensed than we Brits were.  I could not see a programme seller anywhere which was really annoying as I was not happy with the idea of going home without one.

I made a move to the seats with Val and Alan who I was sat next to.  There was NO BLOODY WAY that I was going to miss the pre-match entertainment on the pitch this time for anything or anyone. It was chilly in our seats to put it mildly.  I was glad that I had a windbreaker in the bottom of my bag as that did help keep me warmish.  Our seats were up the top-level this time and the sight of the mass of red shirts around the ground was far more impressive than in Pretoria I have to say.  I have a feeling that there was only a small selection of us over where we were as looking down to the left there looked to be a sea of green rather than broken up with the red tops of the Lions. Just to our right was the Sky box, you could clearly see Simon, Dewi, Will and the others.  I took some photos of them and we chanted Dewi, Dewi give us a wave – which he dually did!  I couldn’t stop giggling to myself as I have the picture of Jimmer shining his head on the TV with the duster and the Pledge from earlier in the year!!  I was sat near to Simon again and big Keith and then the rest of the guys were all down in front.  We had some obnoxious Bokka shite standing in the aisle for the first part of the match and Peter (of Fatboy Slim fame!) asked him if he could move or something to that effect.  The Bokka guy pulled out his VIP pass and abruptly told him that he had it which means that he can go anywhere and sit anywhere that he wants in the stadium.  How absurd was that? If there was a fire we would have all been screwed!

I was glad that we had made the effort to get there in time for the pre-match stuff.  Apparently it was exactly the same as the week before which Alan oh so sweetly pointed out to me several times, knowing full well I had not made it for the start of the last match – the shit! The anthems were awesome and I made sure that I recorded both of them on the camera.

The match was totally different to last week.  We were not so amongst the Lions supporters and I guess being more out in the open the atmosphere I don’t think was as electric.  I guess also the series had been won and we were looking to win for honours sake.  We needed a 2-1 loss and not a 3-0.  The Bokka supporter who stayed on the stairs for most of the match was an aggressive shite and nearly every time that we got the ball or were making progress up would go his middle finger-pointing to us whilst he continued to watch the play.  He was the only sort of hostile supporter that we really ran into.  The match itself was pretty violent and the fights on the pitch were frequent and namely started by them I have to say. We ended up in winning though which I have to say was a huge relief.  The trip out (rugby wise) was not all in vain – thank god!

We were all quite quiet I have to say on the trip home.  The reality that it was now all over really and the others were all heading home tomorrow and I was moving on without any of them was all sinking in.  I still had two parts of my holiday to look forward to though, firstly Juliet and Uncle Ant and then staying with Lauren.  I thought the whole thing would go really quickly – being only 12 days on tour but, to be fair it really did not speed by at a rate of knots

I packed and got ready to meet the others that I was going for supper with in the bar.  It was bloody lovely to be asked if I wanted to join people for a change than falling into gate crashing or organising it myself!  We went to a sort of burger place in the square and had a delicious steak supper.  We concocted the Pink Leopard cocktail – vodka, cherry liquor and lemonade.  It tastes rather like a refresher bar but do-able!!

I am not really all that good at final goodbyes and so come the end of the evening after we had gone on for one more drink and I had had a Milo to try and keep warm I decided that I would give more than my contribution to the drinks bill and walk away.  I could feel my eyes welling up already at the thought of saying goodbye. The only way to have done it and not look like a mahooisve tit.  I got back to my room in one piece and decided to write a little note to everyone that I had not seen that evening for Simon to read out on the bus the following day and slipped it under Sue and Clinton’s door the following morning on my way out.  I don’t know if it ever got read out but I felt more at ease for not seeing everyone the night before to say goodbye personally.

I went to sleep a little bundle of excitement.  Despite one part coming to an end I was spending the next few days relaxing with my Aunt and Uncle – I could not wait.  I had not seen Uncle Ant since 2002 I don’t reckon.  I have officially toured out!

The Last Supper

I felt like crap this morning. Lack of sleep and the anticipation of yet another bloody flight with my poor glands that were now swelling every flight day. I should have stayed on the double G & Ts the night before, I swear a hangover would have been easier to deal with! Certainly less painful!

The airport at Neilspruit was all thatched and like one of the safari lodges. The weirdest thing about it was that you could go and sit outside and enjoy the sunshine while you waited for your flight – which most of us did. I however sat in the shade and shivered as the heat of the sun and the brightness were clearly going to give me a headache. I found some random version of Red Bull that was vial in a hope that it would kick start me into gear. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and have a cuddle from Mummy. Anyone would think I was 13 not 30!! I HATE being ill. Word had spread that I was one of the last to go to bed and that I was joining Boyzone in a ‘new song’. Doesn’t take long for word to get round hey! I love the fact that people sounded surprised that I was the last to bed the previous night. Mum would have been so proud/relieved – if only I had actually slept the week before the trip and I’d have been a fricking night owl. I’m getting old!!

The hotel in Jo’burg was miles away from the airport and so it was nice to get to see a bit of the city from driving through in the security of a bus! I remember Dad once telling me that it was a tiny city when he first flew in there and that it has grown as a city at such a rapid rate. I felt that I saw evidence of that in the fact that there did not seem to be any similar sorts of areas of architecture. Everything seemed mismatched and random.

The area that we were staying in was Melrose and it is a richer area of the city and thus in some ways ‘safer’. The hotel was unreal. SO smart, so not us! The lifts were awesome, one had only tiny wee lights on the ceiling and black walls – like what I imagine the inside of the tardis to be on first entering. The other was multicoloured lights but it too felt like a spaceship! I’m not sure you area meant to rate hotels on their lifts, but if you did – this was tops!! It was very boutique style and there were flowers everywhere made out of tin cans – very African. Every little last detail had been thought of. In the room my bed was HUGE – I would have to swap pillows every hour if I was going to sleep on them all! There was a DVD player in the room with surround sound and a choice of 6 movies. The safe was behind a painting and the bath – OMG! For starters it had two rubber ducks on it! But it was massive and surrounded by a curtain so privacy could be given – clearly not needed for me. There was a separate walk in shower which was massive and a separate loo with the all important phone in. The tea and coffee selection was dead posh and they even had hot chocolate and yummie biscuits. Everywhere you looked there was something else to look at. There was a card on the bed welcoming me personally as a guest – I guess everyone’s had one of these, but still – I was very impressed.

I got out the laptop ready to update the blog. Bugger. It turned on but then the screen just went black as if it had been turned off. Was not going to worry about it – can do nothing. So I ran the biggest bath ever instead and then realised that you can actually watch tv whilst in the bath!!! I did several laps of the tub and freshened up ready for the evening – our last night all together and Gullivers had a restaurant booked across the square for us all and it was all paid for apart fromt he drinks – bonus!!. But first a celebration event of the tour held in the auditorium.

This was the opportunity to cheer each individual and point out memorable parts of the tour for them, falling down a flight of stairs pissed, Robben Mountain, are we nearly there yet?, spotting Kangaroos, temporarily loosing passport, loosing the band for the Big Bar in ½ hour of being given it and basically spending most of the time drunk. I must remember to try and get the list off of John at some point as that would be quite good for the scrap book. We all had an Amarula as our name was called out and then last but by no means least, was Simon’s turn. We had got him a Lions ball that we had all signed a Bokka Shirt as a present from us all. I think he was quite touched. He wore the shirt out the following night.

We then all headed across to Moyo which literally faced the hotel. We had no choice in the menu and so I was bit miffed when the joyous waft of ruddy peppers greeted me when the food was placed on the table. None the less it was a good evening with much entertainment provided by the staff (and guests) and of course we gave many a rendition of some of our repertoire of songs, clearly though the tamer ones. There was a band on too, the voices sounded very familiar and on reading back at the hotel in the guide book I read that they often have well known bands on at night playing for the guests. Janette and Sarah tried to get me to go and dance – not on your nelly. I don’t think that the two left feet funky chicken really goes down all that well when dancing to African Music. Most of us had our faces painted which, of course, I started as was first to be asked. I look like a rabbit in head lights in the photo that was taken so I will need to Dr that a little!

I departed early before I started falling asleep and I could already feel my stomach churning from the food that I had tasted before declining a full portion. At least it was the last night hey. I really had done rather well not to be ill with it in the Kruger. I took a moment on my balcony soaking up the noise from Moyo before I shut out the night and headed to bed. I instantly recognised the song that they were singing as one off of my Mundo Afrika Album but can’t remember the singer’s name. Happy memories!

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