Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Cricket report

We came to Australia and New Zealand for lots of reasons....we've been to Oz before and loved it, we have interesting family connections here..... And we like to combine travelling with the occasional cricket match. So, alongside the successful retention of the Ashes this last summer, the England cricket team set off for another Aussie tour last November. We decided to time our trip to take in a one day match in Perth and 2 x 20/20 matches, one in Hobart and one on Melbourne.

All the hype was that England would retain the Ashes easily, having beaten the Aussies in England 3-  0 in the summer. A whitewash was anticipated.

Well, it happened, only the Aussies beat England 5-0. We were disastrous....they slaughtered us.....we deserved to lose ! So by the time we joined what was left of the rabble gaggle Barmy army, there had been no joy for England.

Mitchell Johnson's bowling was incredible.....and our batsmen never really got started....and then Graham Swan went home, and the rest of our bowlers ...well, just, never found their form.

Oh well, that's the way it goes. The Ashes were lost.

We went to the WACA expecting defeat......and determined to enjoy the occasion, the atmosphere, the company, ( we went with friends) and the beautiful Perth sunshine.

Amazingly... We won. Out of all 12 matches played during the tour, it was England's only victory.....but we were there. The Aussies surrounding us in the crowd didn't mind us beating them at all... They felt sorry for us ! Most conversations we had with fans took the view that it's all swings and roundabouts and it just happened to be the Aussies turn to win this year. Banter was friendly, and as we have always found, both sides appreciated good play, no matter which side was involved. 

Stuart Broad, however, took some serious flak from the Aussie crowds. After he failed " to walk" when he was out at a key point in a match last summer, he has become to butt of Aussie "sledging". Stuart Broad seemed to relish the chants and boos that went around the ground whenever he bowled, fielded or batted. The chants were pretty  damning at Perth, but less crude at the 20/20 matches where a more family  orientated crowd  attended.  At Perth, " Broady is a wanker" could be heard very clearly and very loudly every time he was the focus of attention.

We arrived at the beautiful Hobart ground, right next to the beach, hoping for great things... And we saw great things. The England women's team played to a much smaller crowd than the men.... But won their match and retained the Ashes. Needless to say it did not make as much news as a men's victory would have done. 

Both the women's team, and the men, were staying at the same hotel as us in Hobart. It was a little disturbing to get out of the lift on one occasion to meet some of our incredibly tall England male team. The hotel staff said they loved having the teams staying, and they were all lovely ! I guess the days of Freddy Flintoff's antics are over.

The men's 20/20 was good fun.... Dancers, clowns, trampolinists, kids wearing KFC buckets on their heads and lots of people  enjoying themselves as they watched a close match.....which we lost again, despite Ravi Bopara's best efforts. 

Hobarts ground is beautiful, right next to the beach....and with a capacity of 13,500..... A little different from our final cricket experience.

The MCG in Melbourne holds 100,000, and there were 60,000 at the 20/20 match we attended.
The ground is spectacular, the crowd was huge, and the cricket was awful. It was a completely one sided match and England just looked as if they couldnt wait to leave the pitch. We found out that they actually flew out of Australia and headed back to the UK straight after the  match, not even waiting for the next day.

A model of the MCG, in the brilliant sport museum that is part of the ground
My Melbourne photos are still awaiting this is all II can manage today ! wise, not good.....experience wise......fabulous. We sat with some great Aussie fans.... One lad I sat next to in Hobart made me laugh when he said to me
" Stuart Broad may be able to run... But he can't walk. "

I suppose my indifference to them winning or losing ( I suppose, honestly, I do prefer them to win), means I am not a real fan...... I just enjoy the chess like aspects of the match.....not so apparent in the 20/20 format, and I love the crowds.

I am  sure we will continue to combine travelling with cricket... It helps us make decisions about where to go. Mark is talking about the West Indies next year..... I think I could cope with that .

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Roots and branches

Our trip to Australia and New Zealand is nearly over. I have failed to blog as I have travelled along, not because of technical problems with I pads, photo transfers and fragile Internet connections ( although all have featured ), but because we have been too busy doing things. We all know that living gets in the way of blogging sometimes, and I feel that we have done so much living in the last few weeks, I will be forgiven by the blogging gods for not doing much reading, commenting or writing. I am looking forward to catching up with what everyone has been up to, when I get back to England at the end of this week.

I have called this post 'roots and branches ' thinking I would post some photos of the incredible trees I have fallen in love with , both here in NZ and in Australia. However, I have decided that post can wait until I get home and really go through all the photos. It is the family roots and branches that I want to waffle on about a little here.

In Melbourne I met up with one cousin and his brilliant wife ( J and N ). I met them the last time I was here. We visited them this time at a coast side cabin they had rented for a couple of weeks, then we visited a gorgeous winery with them.... And honestly, I thought I was back in the Languedoc..... The scenery of the wine region outside Melbourne was very French.

J and N, such kind and generous people...... Wonderful to spend time with them again.

I then met a second cousin ( Linda ) for the first time. We found each other through family history research..... Just as I had found J. J and I actually share a grandfather ( the bigamist)..... Linda's grandfather was my grandfather's youngest brother. He went to Australia in WW1 and married and settled there in 1920.
( technical issues mean I haven't been able to transfer a photo of my gorgeous.....and she is really gorgeous, cousin Linda here ! )

Linda and I hit it off immediately..... I know our friendship is just going to develop further in the coming months. She shared information about her parents and grandparents with me, including a stunning WW1 diary kept by her grandfather, my great uncle, as his ship was involved in the sinking of the Emden during the battles at sea during the war.

Then, after a wonderful family filled stay in Melbourne ( I also met up with 2 of my NZ cousin's daughters while I was in the city), we arrived in Wellington, where I completed the set, meeting Bill, J's brother.... With whom I also share a grandfather.

This is Bill and I with his eldest daughter Claire,

Bill has lived in various parts of NZ, and generously shared his time with us, helping us decide where we wanted to go while we were here. He currently works as a guide at Te Papa, the amazing museum in Wellington, and we had a wonderful personal tour. 

Bill and Mark at Te Papa

I could go on and on about these wonderful people that I can now count as part of my family. I am so happy to have found them.

The trip has been amazing.........and I am sure I will be blogging about various aspects of it in the next few months......but having these branches of my family, with shared, but spread roots, has enriched my life, not just this holiday .

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Two heads in Tasmania

Posts from this trip are not going to be in any proper order....... I am still struggling with the technology a little. My miraculous card reader that was supposed to enable me to load photos onto my 1st generation I pad ( no camera ), has suddenly stopped working. So photos up to the end of the Tasmania leg of the trip can be posted.....but Melbourne and New Zealand will have to wait until I get back home. Oh well, I try hard not to get stressed by things over which I have no control !

So..... We left Perth on Australia Day......the day when Australia celebrates the arrival of the first fleet. Aboriginals call it Invasion Day. The press was full of debate about whether Australia day is a good thing or not. A compromise being suggested is that a celebration for all Australians about being Australian could be held on another day...... Thus not celebrating the taking of land from the first peoples. It has certainly added an interesting aspect to our trip to see this being debated. It hasn't been too hard to work out which newspapers are the ones we would never buy back home, and which we would trust !

We were delighted to see this kookaburra at such close the Botanical gardens in Perth, on our walk to the open air cinema, on our last night in Perth.

Mark, relaxing on a bean bag, designed for easy viewing of the film at the open air cinema. 

On arrival in Tasmania, with tons of dirty washing, we were looking forward to using a washing machine we knew would be in our previously booked apartment in Hobart. We then discovered we had booked a hotel room  in an apartment hotel...... So, no washing machine. Mark asked if we could access one somewhere in the building, and 2 minutes later we were upgraded to a beautiful apartment, with views of Mt Wellington......and a washing machine !

Hobart Harbour

Hobart is lovely. Some of the older buildings are great......with ornate iron work, and beautiful Victorian facades. ( Must remember that the term Victorian, over here, means someone from The state of Victoria, I got very confused when a trivia question on the cricket scoreboard in Melbourne asked who was the First Victorian cricketer to score a century in a 20/20 match......hmmmm, I thought, surely they weren't playing 20/20 before 1901. I thought it had been invented just a few years ago. )

View from Hobart's Botanical gardens

The Best bit of our Tassy stay was probably the boat trip we took around the Tasmanian Peninsular. The scenery was incredible...rock formations I could only imagine, demonstrating the movement of the rocks and water over millions of years. We saw albatross.......dozens of them. They are so graceful, except when they land and try to take looks impossible. So, sensibly, they spend most of their lives in the air......apparently staying on the wing for the first 3 years of their life....they sleep whilst flying, they hardly flap a wing. They took my breathe away. I made no attempt to take photos of them....I was much too busy watching them.

We saw dolphins, who were clearly playing with the boat. They were right next to the boat, closer than I have ever seen them on previous " dolphin watching" trips. As the boat was so small, we really were at their level. We also saw huge colonies of male seals......huge brutes, basking on the rocks, building up their fat layers, to be the biggest and most attractive to the females who were apparently basking somewhere else.....waiting for the fat boys to arrive.

I will return to this trip again, but before I sign off today, I just want to mention having 2 heads. 

There is a wonderful art gallery in Tasmania, called MONA........containing the largest privately held modern art collection in the southern hemisphere. In the information leaflet about the stunning gallery ( architecturally, content and setting....all stunning) it says Tasmanian citizens can have free entry on proof that they are from Tassy...... Showing they have 2 heads. Apparently this is an Aussie joke.... People from Tassy have 2 heads. 

Approaching MONA by boat ( called the MONA Roma )

There were 2 English heads that could not have enjoyed being in Tasmania more. Why we thought 4 days was enough, I cannot imagine.