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Michael’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 03 Feb 2007

Location: Southampton, UK


I've been busy since I last updated you all with the goings on in Southampton, so I'll have a crack at catching up on some of the highlights - and lowlights - of the last couple weeks.

Firstly, we'll start in recent times, and kick things off Australia Day.  Firstly, I didn't get a day off work, so that part of the 'Holiday' sucked, and it was damn near freezing, so also very un-Australian. I didn't see a BBQ at all during the day, and didn't eat, steak, lamb, sausages, let alone manage a "shrimp on the barbie".  Unpatriotic?  Maybe, but more than likely just the situation I was in made no allowances for me to celebrate the day the way I would at home. 

My initial intentions were to travel to London after work Friday and try and celebrate the evening with more than just a handful of Aussie's.  There I probably would have managed a BBQ dinner - in fact it would have almost been a certainty.  But alas, the Southampton Titans needed me, and I decided to camp out at the Southampton Walkie and try and recruit as many Aussies, and other revelers, to play in the football team (but more on the progress of the team later). 
Having worn my Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi, t-shirt to work on Friday, and brought in my Boonie and Botham dolls to piss off the English cricket fans at work, I set about work whilst listening to the Jet and Wolfmother album for a little bit more Australiana.  I clocked up my 5 hours and headed out the door, straight to the Walkie for a much deserved Aussie beer.  In fact, when I arrived, I set myself a goal immediately - one of every Aussie drink in the place.  It was still 330 pm, and I had time on my side.  I polished off three of the 7 different bottled beers, then headed home, new Fosters straw hat that I 'won' in hand, to cook some dinner and have a bit of a snooze.
Arriving back at the pub at 8pm, I was met by a couple of the guys on the Southampton Titans team (the name of the new AFL team in Southampton) and set about having a good Australia Day, among more English than Aussies, but we'd have to make do.  With a temporary tattoo on my cheek, I continued the drinking challenge, and after a Fosters Ice, Fosters Twist, Coldie, Crownie, VB, & Toohey's New, I settled in for the £1.50 Toohey's Extra Dry, and managed to convert a few others to the tastes of the T.E.D.
Slowly, I was celebrating Australia Day more like I would have at home, and started my 'recruiting campaign'.  I had hoped for more Aussies to be in attendance, but I was stuck trying to recruit English players - and Germans, Spanish and Latvians!  It wasn't long before I continued on with the bar, and ordered a pint of Fosters, and then moved to perhaps MOST and LEAST Aussie drink in the place - The Snakebite.  As Aussie as it gets, but with nothing Australian in it - Strongbow Cider, Carlsberg and Blackcurrent cordial.  And you can't stop at 1. 
The night moved along nicely, Aussie classics played through the system from Barnsey, Silverchair, Waltzing Matilda to a huge rendition of 'You're The Voice', and the snakies continued going down smoothly.  They also played newer stuff including Jet and Wolfmother.  And upon constant badgering from me, we finally got some Rolf with a stirring rendition of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" - plenty of blank looks on the faces of the English!
The night moved toward closing time, and I found myself thinking I'd finished my challenge after polishing off a Bundy and Coke.  Never been a huge fan, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Then I realised the error in my judgment - I hadn't even started on the wines!  Uh-oh!  Hahahahaha - bad move.  Next think I'm holding a full glass of Jacob's Creek Chardy, wondering how I was gonna finish it off.  Walking through the dance floor, with less than half a glass left, I convince some classy chicks swigging Rose out of the bottle to top me up.  That was the last one I managed to cross off my list, not stomaching the idea of the Shiraz!  But it wasn't the end of the night for me.
As the DJ starts spinning the final track - "Do You come from the Land Down Under" - I headed to the DJ booth, confiscated the microphone, and as the instrumental came on, let out one monster yell for Aussie Aussie Aussie to the chorus of people yelling back Oi Oi Oi.  Lucky, for a minute I thought I might forget the words!
The lights came on and I started to say my goodbyes to the bar staff and Lyall (the manager) and he tells me to stick around for a beer or two - hey, why not?  Well, a beer or two at 2 am, turned into who knows how many, and I finally left at 345 am, declining the offer to crash in one of the spare full time bar staff beds upstairs.  The thought of waking up in the morning and finding that my only way home was THROUGH a pub didn't sit to well with me!  In any case, much of Saturday was spent in bed sleeping - or in my bed on the internet.  But I can't have been too bad because I managed a pretty solid hour long gym session at 7 pm.  Didn't last long after that though!

Southampton Titans
Well, the football club is coming along nicely now. We have officially registered with the league ARUK. On Monday the fixture will come out, with the league being defined by 3 divisions, and each division having 5 teams, and we'll know when the season starts and how long it will go for. We have also managed to score ourselves a home ground, with a couple of change rooms on the premises, and a grounds keeper that will be marking the lines for us too! The place is controlled by the city council so we cut out the middle man and save a few pounds with any luck. The next thing to figure out is to where to find the funding for all of this! Having done just a pretty quick budget, it looks like we are gonna need to start sourcing some more sponsorship. Also, the amount of stuff involved in starting up a football club is tough – as I am now sure that it is for any sporting club. But first on the list happens to be getting the 'interim committee' set up and then holding an AGM to present our Club Charter (which also has to be composed) so that we can be granted non-profit organization status, get a bank account in the organizations name and start moving forward – quickly too I hope!

Damn it got cold there for a while! Not last week – but the week before that was horrendous. I liken it to drinking the largest size Slurpee available (really quickly) and getting yourself a killer ice cream headache. And that happened every time you stepped outside. It was freezing cold. If I could have worn a balaclava to work I would have! At 630am every day, it was ridiculously cold. And by the time I left work it was freezing again. I had t-shirt, shirt, jumper, jacket, and was wearing two pairs of socks. Thankfully, there wasn't a whole lot of of rain whilst the weather was ridiculous. There were days where it struggled to reach above zero degrees, and the nights were certainly below freezing. Every morning it was actually nice to wake up, as I'd jump up to the window and check for snow – Nada. Well, nothing in Southampton anyway. Wednesday afternoon I did come home to find my email inbox full of Londoners having sent photos of London covered in white powdery stuff in the morning – not the least of which included BBQ's covered in snow! At least the sun has been shining of late, and the world of slate gray has been on hold for a little while. Current temperatures are around 10-13 degrees during the day, still getting cold at night, and thankfully there haven't been any ferry cancellations in the last couple of weeks.

Superbowl Sunday/Monday
So, onto Sunday, and my plans to devote myself to watching the Bears play in the Superbowl. The game kicks off at 11pm here, and the coverage finishes off at around 330am. Thankfully, I have managed to negotiate Monday morning off work. Don't know exactly where I will be to watch the game with Lyall saying that he'll be playing the game at the Walkie, but Sunday also happens to be student night at the Walkie. That means DJ's and no audio coverage of the game probably. In any case it is also on free to air TV in the UK, so I can always have a few Miller's at home and watch the game – but would rather be around a few other fans of the game. This week also saw the announcement that Miami and New York Giants will be playing their Round 8 NFL clash at Wembley in London. Will be having to look forward to getting tickets to that game on October 28th.

Aussies in Southampton
So, the choices I had to make in order to watch the Superbowl. Believe it or not, Wolfmother are playing at the Guild Hall (same place I saw De La Soul) on the same night as the Superbowl. What a bummer – luckily for me, by the time I found out about the concert, it had sold out. How in the world it sold out I don't know, there aren't that many Aussie in this town, and not too many English know of Wolfmother yet. So, by the time I managed to find some second hand tickets, the guy wanted double face value so I told him to stick it.... Besides, the Bears are playing.

But as part of the Wolfmother investigation at Guild Hall, I managed to find out that Jason Donavon is also playing a concert at the Guild Hall in March. I don't think that one has sold out just yet though. Hahaha. And what's more, the old Neighbor's co-star, Craig McLaughlin, is the star of the current play showing at the Mayflower Theater in Southampton – White Christmas. Maybe Kylie will be doing a Guild Hall show before long? Doubt it.

Well, the job is getting interesting. I did some ridiculous hours the last week or so, including a monster day that didn't see me get home till after 10am, not so much fun after I leave for work at 630am. The project is moving along nicely, and is moving into the next stage. My line manager is holiday the next couple of weeks, so we will see what happens.

Anyway, that has to be about it for now.... oh, except that last night I finally made my way to the casino (one of three) in Southampton. That place drained me out quickly. More interesting though, the place must have had all of 30 poker machines, 5 roulette tables, 3 blackjack tables and a couple of 3 card poker tables. All that was open was 3 roulette tables, 2 black jack and one three card poker. Roulette and Black Jack managed to drain me out of 50 pounds pretty quickly, but I did add a new chip to the collection!

So, will talk to you guys soon.