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Michael’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 15 Apr 2007

Location: Southampton, England

MapHere's the weekly round up...

Well, last weekend was Easter, and I managed to get through the entire weekend without an easter egg, and the only chocolate I had was sharing some chocolate covered almonds with Kristy in London on Monday.

Sunday I ran through the usual drill of football training in the afternoon, and the weather was so nice that I managed to actually get marginaly sun burnt! Think my skin officially thinks it is English, and is allergic to the sun. At least I am slowly getting some color back, even if there is a bit of red/pink there! Training went well for our last weekend session before the practice matches this weekend. Sunday avo was pretty quiet as I was up at the crack of dawn to head to London on Monday.

Monday morning I was in London around 930am (it was taking a lot longer than normal due to train track works on the Easter weekend) and headed to Hyde Park to try and catch up with Spen's parents. Having failed in that front, I truned around and headed south to Richmond to catch up with Kristy and finally meet her friend Jeanette. Kristy headed back to Oz on Thursday so I made a last trip into London to catch up with her before she headed home, having not had a chance to catch up since Shernell's headin home party.

So I spent the morning getting dragged around different cosmetics shops and a couple of clothing shops before we headed down for a wander along the Thames that flows through Richmond. Next Kristy and I headed to Hammersmith to catch up with one of her old housemates, John, for lunch and then Kristy and I headed back to Richmond for a quiet drink on the Thames before saying goodbye. Richmond is really a nice looking area, and has a bunch of pubs (Pitcher and Piano, Slug and Lettuce etc.) along the river selling drinks in plastic glasses you can leave the pub and sit on the gardens over looking the river or sit on the river wall if you like. Anyway, afte a drink, said bye to Kristy and headed home. Sorry I didn't get a chance to chat to you Thursday Kristy, and best of luck with the job interview in Melbourne on Friday... kick some ass!

Short week at work, but mid week training at football started and we managed a Tuesday and Thursday session, with a new face down there as well. The week itself was pretty quiet, aside from finding myself at the Walkie after training for way too long on Tuesday and Thursday night. Not only that, you say silly stuff like "I'm only working a half day tomorrow, I'll come to the pub after work and help you sand the 30-something tables you have in the beer garden and re-stain them". STUPID. Anyway, spent Friday evening working the belt sander and getting paint all over the place re-furbing the tables in the beer garden. There were a few beers in it for me, so that kept me happy.

Saturday, and finally we get to see where we are as a team. Two practice matches in Reading, one against our hosts and the other against Bournemouth. The team all arrived at the Walkie at 10 am for a cook up put on by master Chef Tom and Robbie at the pub, and a couple of the guys even knocked back a Guiness for strength before we left. I stuck to the Red Bull. So four cars in convoy headed to Reading, and we made the most of the sun for the day, getting there 90 minutes before our first game.

So, with our cheap t-shirts on, we took the field, with 4 of the 9 players having NEVER played the game before. It was a bizare and frustrating experience, but we know where we have to improve - Fitness and Speed were the killers.

In the first game against Bournemouth, I managed to kick the teams first ever score - even if it was a behind. In fact, I had a few of those. In the first game we didn't have a single set shot at goal. Didn't have a lot in the second game againt Reading either.

Anyway, Benny the Queenslander kicked the teams first goal (and only goal) in the first game. But the surprising thing was, in both games we had more scoring shots than the opposition at half time! The first game we kicked 1-8 (against 3-5), and the second was a more respectable 4-2 (against 5-0), of which I opened the scoring for the game with a beautifully roved snap playing front and centre. Goal of the day had to go to ring in Pietro who had never played before. Spanish or Italian, or French, wherever he was from, he clearly had a soccer background when from 10 meters out he threw the most beautiful bicycle kick I have ever seen to watch the ball sail through the goals. First kick ever was a goal, all be it a very unorthodox one.

In both games we got run over in the second half. Against Bournemouth we had scoring shots in the second half, just couldn't kick goals - a couple of touched on the line decisions were particluarly dubious - and against Reading their class showed through as they almost shut us out kicking 7-6 to 1-0. But with a smaller ground being used for the competitive games, the fitness and speed will not be such telling factors as there will be less space to move, and the advantage of the quick talls that play for Bournemouth will not be so pronounced.

Anyway, after the two games (which admittedly we were disadvantaged to have to sit for 90 minutes waiting for the middle game to finish between our games) we sat down with players from both teams and had a couple of well earned cold beers before heading back to Southampton. Only problem being that with some players leaving early, we were left with 7 seats for 8 players. I found myself, as coach, sitting on the floor in the back of a work panel van that had the walls covered in thinners... Man was I having head spins after an hour in there!

Anyway, Saturday night Nat suggest a BBQ on the front porch so I was all for it. We got out the disposable BBQ, and cooked up some snags and a steak and it was actually pretty good. The weather is getting nicer and it was great to be able to sit outside and do that sort of thing. Tom joined us, not actually eating any of it, and as more people came home, they also joined us outside, with Dan coming back from dinner with Meg and Chris and our newest housemate Pete coming home from work to join us out front. Good food, a couple drinks and good company, made for a good night.

Sunday (today) Nat and I made a decision (after some indecision) to head out to Royal Victoria Country Park which is on the Southampton Waterway and has a nice sized park. We clearly wern't the only ones with the idea as there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people out and about in the sun. Everywhere you went there was a threat of getting hit by a stray tennis ball from a cricket match, a soccer ball from little kids seeing how far they could kick, a stray dog, kid on bike, or just a young kid wondering off exploring and being not much more than a tripping hazard. But it was a nice area - I seem to be saying that a lot each time I get introudced to a new part of Southampton! Thanks Nat...

Anyway, headed into Hamble for a quick drink before heading home via the supermarket to grab some Burrito mix to stave off the Mexican craving I've had for a while now. Spent a very lazy Sunday evening nursing the corkie that I got in yesterday's game and not doing a whole lot else.

Leave for Prague on Wednesday, so stay tuned for some more travel stories coming thick and fast this week! More pics of the last week up tomorrow probably!

Happy travels!