After 10 nights at the Jackaroo hostel in Sydney, I was sooooo ready to move on. But, not before one final fling on the cross which culminated in this rather random facebook status – Just watched Spurs complete a 9 point Christmas full house. The downside? It’s now 5am and I have to check out in 5 hours! The famous ‘night before’ trick strikes again. Highlights include the Tottenham win, Matteo from Italy always on the phone to Mama, a stack from Pie Face (steak pie, gravy, mash potato and mushy peas at 4am, wow!) and a girl from England called Panda. Really? Night.
The ‘stack’ from Pie Face deserves a posthumous mention. It was a taste sensation!!! England needs Pie Face in its’ life.
Iain had put me in touch with his old ’panel beating’ boss, Cindy, in Cronulla who kindly invited me to stay. It seemed the perfect opportunity for a detox after the madness of Kings Cross. I was packing my stuff ready to leave Jackaroo the next morning when I realised I hadn’t confirmed to Cindy when I would be arriving! Luckily she is a very cool lady. I text her pretty late on 1st January saying I was hoping to arrive 2nd January! The text she sent back could not have been any nicer “That’s cool with me. I was getting worried about u, just let me know were u r and we can meet up or I will pick u up somewhere”.
Cindy met me at Cronulla train station next day and we went for some breakfast. It was cool to meet up having heard all about her from Iain. The flat is just a short walk from the station, and when I tell you it was on the beach then take it literally. Iain and Rozz were fortunate enough to call this place home for 6 months whilst they were here in 2005 and I was cruising Europe in my Camper.
Cindy was an amazing hostess with the mostess and made me feel at home instantly. So much so, I fell asleep after we’d chatted for a while on the balcony! This became quite a habit in the relaxed surroundings of Chez Cindy and soon earned me the nickname of ‘Noddie’ – how endearing? Haha! But hey, it was great recovery from Christmas and New Year.
Cindy cooked for me the whole time I was there and even did some washing, truly spoiled! The first evening she cooked some steak and prawns on the BBQ – proper Aussie! The prawns were amazing – another first for me. That night it was really nice just to chill and watch some news and a couple of films. Oh, and hear some of the tales of the time Iain (or Tangles as she liked to call him!) worked for her.
I slept in until midday, something I really can’t remember having done for years. I’ve had some nice lay-ins but not actually slept until the afternoon! I got up and went to have some breakfast on the balcony. This is a pretty mundane thing to blog about, but when I turned the key in the door to go out I snapped it!! After everything Cindy had done for me so far, I felt so bad! Iain and Rozz were still in town and we’d planned to meet up that afternoon. They arrived at the flat and I quickly employed Iain and his dexterous hands to try and remove the chunk of key that remained inside the lock. I had visions of huge bills from the locksmith running through my head, but Iain saved the day! I picked up the spare key and had a new one made that afternoon – total cost $3, phew! I fessed up to Cindy when she got home, and she told me off for messing about getting a new key!!
I had planned a surf that afternoon with Iain, but the weather decided otherwise so we grabbed a beer instead before meeting up with Rozz for lunch. Next day was slightly better and we at least managed to get in the water but it was still pretty blown out. My pop-up is getting MUCH better though, especially after some pointers from the pros during the surfari.
I was heading off the next morning so, as a way of showing some gratitude, I bought dinner for me and Cindy that night. Even THAT was pretty hard to get her to accept but in the end I won! I’d love to show you a picture of her, but she was not playing so you just need to use your imagination (or ask Iain!). (Dinner was fish n chips by the way, yummy!)
Next morning, bright and early, Darren picked me up along with Luke (faaamily) and Scott (friend and neighbour) and we headed off to the Sydney Cricket Ground to see the third day of the fifth and final test of The Ashes. I’ve never been to a cricket match before, and what a way to break that duck! I was expecting some pretty boring moments at some point through out the day seeing as we got there before 10am and were not likely to leave until around 6pm. But, the day flew by! The weather was awesome, and England were smashing the Aussies all over the ground.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to go and the Barmy Army really got the atmosphere going. It was as much as the Aussie fans could do to just laugh along with/at the English, they really need to sort their banter out! They truly have ’only got one song!’.
Bearing in mind I was half way around the world, it was cool to meet up with a few familiar faces at the match – two of them VERY familiar. First of all, I bumped in to Matt who served in the Armed Forces with Garry, my brother-in-law (incidentally, not long before I left England I dj’d at his Wife’s 30th party!). Sometime in the afternoon after sinking a few more ‘low alcohol’ VB beers (damn Aussie drinking laws) I met up with Bingo and Tommo, two of my Volkswagen geek brigade!
Most people had some form of pink about their person (granted, not as much as Bingo and Tommo had!) as this day of The Ashes is known as ‘pink day’ and is a charity fund raiser for the McGrath Cancer Foundation (www.mcgrathfoundation.com.au). Jane McGrath was the English wife of Aussie cricketer Glenn McGrath. Sadly, she died in 2008 from complications following treatment for breast cancer. She started the foundation in 2007 and Glenn has carried it on in her memory. Everybody gets involved right down to the players, the sponsors and even the stumps!
We gave the Aussies one ‘helluva’ beating that day and finished on 488/7, with The Ashes pretty much in the bag. It was a truly historic match, as well as Series. The score was the highest England have ever achieved in Australia. We also witnessed a test match first worldwide as it was the first time in history that the 6th, 7th and 8th wicket partnerships all made 100! And the cherry on this particular statistic pie is the fact that it was 24 years ago when England last won The Ashes on Australian soil – sweet! Maybe they should sponsor me to come back for the next one? 😉
We headed back to Palmer Palace and ordered a takeaway to celebrate, with a few more renditions of ‘the Mitchell Johnson chant’ thrown in for good measure!
The next morning I woke up at 7am to watch Spurs play live against Everton. They really have it sweet in the rest of the World when it comes to Premier League football. Pretty much EVERY game is available, you just choose which one you want to watch. Rip off Britain! Unfortunately, this was vintage Spurs. On a high after an awesome Christmas period, only to come crashing down to earth with a 2-1 reverse to Everton. Damn those toffees!
I cheered up with a Skype session with my nephew William on his birthday, followed by a day on Cronulla beach with Darren and his family.
I stayed a couple of nights with Darren and Nicola, again being looked after so fantastically that I was beginning to wonder if I would ever survive hostel life again! But, I obviously couldn’t stay forever so I got on to Greyhound buses and booked the first stage of my journey up the east coast; destination Newcastle.
I tried to book in to a cool looking little hostel near Lake McQuarie but, seeing as it was cool AND little, they had no room at such short notice. I made a note of a couple of hostels in Newcastle and headed into Sydney to catch the bus. Darren dropped me at the train station and, for now, I was riding solo again.