Friday, 8 July 2011

Who cares about the day of rapture? This time I survived an earthquake!

BLOGGERS! What’s up?

It’s been a while but you can put that down to my now relatively normal existence – booo!

The missions I had set myself in my last post were to find a place to live and a footy team to play for, both of which I have now achieved; but before we get onto that let’s recap on the past few weeks.

Whilst I was still residing at Natalie’s place she introduced me to a family institution – the St Andrew’s Market.

Intriguing, interesting and entertaining would be 3 words that I would use to describe this place. Essentially it is a hippy market - organic veg, gluton free cakes, hemp made clothing etc, but best of all are the people that attend.

Nat’s family meet there every Saturday afternoon to do their shopping and then once that is done they all sit down and have a cup of tea along with Pierre, a French national, and Ian, some old dude who essentially is an adopted member of the family, and everyone has a good old natter about this and that.

I was pleased that on my market debut I was able to bring some deep philosophical chat to the table:
Is it possible to go for a poo without doing a wee at the same time?

Have a think about it people. My firm stance is that it is not possible and having canvassed a lot of opinion on this subject and I’m happy with my conclusion.
Surprisingly, this sparked off a big debate around the afternoon tea table and endeared me to the family!

Being a hippy market there is also live music belting out and this is where I was introduced to Desire. He changed his name by deed-poll so that is actually his name.
Desire cannot be described, you need to see him in action to fully appreciate him. Whilst the band plays, Desire will stand there taking in the energy of the music before launching into a very expressive form of dance – a mix of Mr Soft (from the softmint commercials) and an eagle swooping in for the kill. An odd combination if ever there was one.
Once he has finished with his dancing he then moves onto the guitar and launches into some deep and dark lyrics about demons and devils.

I went to the market 3 times over the period that I lived with Nat, and Desire was in this form on every occasion – sometimes even when sporting purple jeans which I can’t say I have ever seen before, and once even playing a xylophone!
There is not enough xylophone playing in this world!
Another reason to go to this market is that Ross Noble (quality UK comedian) lives around the corner and attends regularly. This market definitely suits his personality but unfortunately for me I did not get to see him.

During this period of time I also started my new job. There is not too much to say on this subject is there? Work is work.
All I will say is that the company seems to be a good one to work for, my colleagues are nice, the work is easy and they are paying me a very, very good salary, so I cannot complain.
I have to keep reminding myself that this is a means to an end. I am skint so I have no choice but to work, therefore, I may as well earn as much cash as I can over the length of my 6 month contract, save as much as I can, and then continue with the travels (which I am missing incredibly)

Through my job I have also been on a course to learn about some Management Information system that I will need to use and become a relative expert in.
Do not worry I am not going to talk about the course, it was painful enough for me whilst I was there without thinking about it again; instead I am just going to mention the tutor.
He was a legend! A proper English toff who made anti-American jokes which only I laughed at and would guffaw, yes, guffaw, at his own little ditties and anecdotes.
They just don’t make English people like this any more – why not?
The most incredible thing about him though was his hair.
Being a toff, he had to have the standard floppy side parting / quiff. If you stood looking at him head on he looked like any other toff which his thick side parted fringe with short back and sides of blonde locks, but as soon as he put his head down it was all gone, and I mean all gone. Apart from the fringe and sides he was completely bald, it was just plain bizarre. I have never seen anything like it and I couldn’t stop staring, especially at the odd Bobby Charlton comb over strands.
And do you know what the dominant thought was that kept creeping into my head?
How come he is completely bald all over, but with regards to his fringe he is not receding as much as I am!!! It doesn’t make sense.

So what else have I been up to?

I went to a Lego exhibition which was pretty cool, although there were not enough exhibits in my opinion.
I have been to see Mark Seymour live in concert – no idea who he was but apparently he is a famous Aussie singer from the 80’s and it was yet another excuse to go out with the girls and get drunk.
I went to the Royal Australian Ballet last week with Arancha. Yes, yes, gay I know, and during the first 20mins I could not stop yawning. But after that, once I had got into it, it was ok actually.
One funny thing was this old dear who was sat next to me. She was on the edge of her seat throughout the performance, clapping her hands and getting really into it. At the end she donned her real fur coat (not something that I am a fan of) and exclaimed how it had been a real pleasure to share this time with us. She then reached over to Arancha and told her she is a real princess and would be a princess forever. I think the real reason for this is that she wanted to feel Arancha’s fur coat to see if it was real like hers. Considering it looks like a dead badger that has been run over by a truck I could’ve told her that it wasn’t real (Sorry AJ!)

There has also been the standard Friday and Saturday night out on the town exploring the different areas that Melbourne has to offer.
I also got confirmation of my Olympic Games tickets. Can’t say that I am overly impressed. I am going to 5 football matches, including the Women’s final and I am taking Pa Lambert to 2 of them, which will be good.
But apart from that the only other event that I am going to is the Handball final. What is handball you may ask? I am asking that question as well because I was convinced that I applied for the Basketball final!!!
So that is my Olympic programme – pretty standard really. Still, I will be in London for the full event to soak up all of the atmosphere before then hopefully sodding off again on more world adventures.

One bonus of starting my job when I did was that I was just in time to take advantage of a public holiday. It was for the Queen’s Birthday weekend; yes, there is a bank holiday here for our dear Liz’s birthday.
That weekend happened to coincide nicely with the opening of the Australian ski season, combine that with the fact that the weather was really cold and it was the best snow to an opening weekend in 11 years meant that there was only one thing that I was going to do.
I went with Arancha and we got up super early on the Saturday morning to drive from Melbourne to Mount Buller.
I love the fact that I live by the sea (and can see it from the bottom of the road of my new apartment) but within a 3.5 hour drive I am in the mountains and on the ski slopes.
Skiing was awesome. Arancha is a quality snowboarder and gets to the mountains about 5 times a year (the advantage of being a teacher at a school where they do a lot of ski trips and they pay you to go)
This was only my 11th day on the snow but I wasn’t going to let that hold me back. The girls had told me that there was no way that I would be able to keep up with Arancha because she is so good, and she bloody was, but being very competitive coupled with a low centre of gravity, I wanted to put that to the test.
I didn’t consistently beat her down the runs, but there were a few occasions where I did. In order to achieve this I had to be suicidal. Whereas Arancha glided down the slopes ever so gracefully, I had my skis pointed downhill, legs going all over the place and just let rip. After a couple of big falls I did get the fear for a while and I had to have a little word in my own earhole to stop being a big girl and get on with it – there was English pride at stake here!
On one of my suicidal downhill runs I must’ve looked out of control because the next thing I saw was one of the ski patrol guys waving both arms and yelling for me to ‘calm down’ as I flew past. I soon saw the reason why as there was a group of medics around a skier who had taken a bad fall and was having an IV line attached to him. Ooops.
As it was opening weekend the town was in a celebratory mood as well and there was live music and free mulled wine for everyone. It was a really fun atmosphere.

The plan was to ski on the Saturday, stay over, and then return to Melbourne on the Sunday to attend a house party. However, plans are there to be broken aren’t they?
We got up on the Sunday and decided to get back on the slopes.
This day was probably more fun because we decided to film each other attacking the slopes. One would ski / board halfway down and then film the other. There is one clip of each of us stacking it but unfortunately I didn’t press the right button to film the moment when Arancha tried to spray me with her board and ended up taking me out.
We eventually left the slopes at 2:30pm and got back to Melbourne in time to get drunk at the houseparty until the early hours.

The bank holiday Monday was to be my moving day!

I got the flat that I wanted in St Kilda, so on the Monday I moved. Being a traveller with just a backpack and couple of other bags it was all pretty straight forward.
I love living in St Kilda. The area is perfect for me; vibrant, lots of backpackers, lots of drunks, lots of characters, lots of bars, clubs and restaurants, it is by the sea, we have a beach, there is lots of open green spaces, lots of palm trees and it is also the red light district of Melbourne! Oh, and best of all, there are resident penguins, although I am yet to see them.
My flat mate is really nice as well. She is a 28yr old Queenslander who likes to party hard at the weekend and has a jet-ski in the garage. I need to get onto that bad boy in the summer.

My flat is located just off one of the main streets and as I mentioned earlier, I can see the bay from the bottom of my road.
I am also only a 20min tram ride from the City, or a 35 min run away. I have been running into work about 3 times per week and my route takes me past the bay and then through Albert Park, along the side of huge lake that takes 10mins to run the entire length of, and I am actually running along the track of the Australian Grand Prix course.
It is great.

As I stated at the top of this post I have also found myself a footy team. Sports teams in Oz put their counterparts in England to shame.
My team has 4 men’s teams and a ladies team. We train twice per week and there is a great turn out at every session meaning that we can do some proper training.
On one particular Tuesday we could train due to a waterlogged pitch so the club paid for us all to go to a local gym and attend a spin class. At home we would just have the night off.
After the Thursday training session we all get dinner from the club and on match days we have club wear to turn up in.
My team is fairly international, English, Irish, Scot, Dutch, Kiwi, Aus, Portuguese and Greek, and all of the lads are sound.
I have made pretty good mates with a lad from Grimsby and we had a good night out with the other lads a couple of weeks ago. So I finally have some lad mates to go out with, rather than just the girls (which hasn’t been a problem)

For my first game I was expecting to be a sub, but 10mins before the game I was told that I would be playing the full 90mins because of an injury. It was my first game in over a year and I played in centre midfield – knackered!

I have played 3 games so far and I have done ok.
So far I have given a goal away, scored one and hit the bar with a full on left footed volley from 16 yards out. I caught it so flush that when it hit the bar it ended up further out than where I struck it from – gutted.
There is a rumour that some guys in my league are getting up to $250 per game to play! I was offered a trial with a team that pays you to play but I had already joined this team by then. Oh well, I like the atmosphere of this club so I am staying.

And so to the earthquake!
I was sat at my work desk on Tuesday and all of a sudden I literally felt the earth move. Honestly, my first thought was ‘is this an earthquake?’, and then I told myself to stop being a div. The obvious reason for this shaking was that there was a fat person walking along the office floor, which would actually happen in my old workplace in London. So I actually looked around to see who it was, but there was nobody there.
I thought nothing more of it until 2 hours later when the news broke on the internet that yes, there was an earthquake, a mighty 4.4 on the richtor scale. I have to admit that I am happy it was a weak one – my desk is situated 16 floors up!
It was cool to say that I have been in an earthquake though and was aware of it (sort of)

So that is that. Quite boring eh?
Coming up in the near future:

1)2 do’s to attend tomorrow. A friend is having leaving drinks in the north of the city before she travels Europe, and from there I am back to St Kilda to go and see this crazy homo glam rock band that my flatmate is friends with. Their stage show is supposed to be brilliant. Afterwards they are having a party at some house with a roof terrace that overlooks Albert Park, so it should be a sweet gaff
2)I am going to Tasmania in 2 weeks time for the weekend to visit my uncle John. He owns an ice cream factory over there and I really hope my fantasy of it being an ice cream version of Willy Wonker’s Chocolate Factory with little Tassie umpa-lumpa workers is not shattered.
I was thinking about when was the last time that I saw him and I reckon it is about 10 years ago, so this will be a sort of reunion for us. I am looking forward to it a lot.
3)The weekend after Tassie I am going skiing again with 4 other people
4)Rachael is moving into my place this weekend for the week before she leaves for New Zealand. It will be nice to hang out with her before she departs considering we first met on a hot train in India back in November. It has been quite an adventure with her so far, and letting her live with me is a perfect mates favours for when I visit her in California!

That’s all I have to update you all on.
Hope everyone is well back in good old Blighty.