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Michael’s Travel Diary

Monday, 21 May 2007

Location: Southampton, England

MapYes... the rumours are true. I have fled to Tibet and am becomming a monk. As such, luxuries like internet and toilet paper have been removed from me, however I am more comfortable with becomming bald. By even writing to let you know I am okay, I risk my very existnace in this so easy to rupture fabric that we call life.... peace.... this will be my last entry, as I enter solitude for 7 years.... peace out.... hahaha

Okay, so the lack of Internet has meant a couple main things for people that read this page. Firstly, I still haven't had a chance to put the pictures up from Prague, and secondly, I haven't written a word since I returned from the trip. For me it means other things like trying to run a football club without the Internet, getting fined for not paying credit card bills at home on time and not being able to research and book up coming travels.

Anyway, enough of that, onto what has happened since I returned from Prague. Rather than spill 3 weeks of detailed info, I'll try and keep it 'relatively' brief.

Well, starting from the day I got back, I was introduced to the miracle of banoffee pie. A pie like dessert that mixes the tastes of banana and toffee into one. More impressive though, was that Nat and I managed to both eat our entire mains, and when I suggested we share a pie, Nat wasn't going to hear about it and made sure that we ordered one each. She clearly new how good it tasted and made sure we got one each – great choice.

The first week back was a busy one for Southampton. There were 15 cruise ships through the port during the week, 5 just on the weekend, but most impressive of them all was the 160 tonne displacement Liberty of the Seas – by far one of the biggest ships in the world. To add to all of the fanfare, there was a 10 minute fireworks display over the harbor for three straight nights, Sunday to Tuesday. For once there was actually something different to see on the way to and from work each day sitting on the Red Jet ferry.

The following weekend, on the Friday night, Nat, Cari her mother and I headed to Zen on High Street, about the only Japanese restaurant in Southampton – at least as far as I am aware. The food was pretty good, actually, damn tasty, but I went away still wanting more... much like Tapas which I have found is Spanish for little food big price, I am starting to believe Sushi is Japanese for the same. Anyway, pretty quiet night after the feed, and only one Saki at dinner as the following morning was the first game of football for the Southampton Titans.

After the cook up at the Walkabout for breakfast, the team pushed off for Bournemouth in convoy. Having been handed our asses in the practice match against Bournemouth, we were ready for a better performance this time around. We came out hard, and held the lead at 6-0 and 12-6, but that was the last time we led the game. At three quarter time we were within range, and the first two goals of the last quarter made it a 3 goal game. Unfortunately Bournemouth ran away with the game at that point and kicked the last 5 goals to win by 47 points. I managed to snag 4 goals (out of our 13) and was voted best player on our team for round 1.... yay! That night of course was a late night at the Walkie with the team and I headed home around 230am.

Next morning up early to do the official AFL umpiring course in Bournemouth again. This time I had to get there by train. Five hours later, with killer hang over, and I was officially allowed to umpire our leagues AFL games. Pity no one else from the club wanted to do it as I would have preferred not to have done it, but someone had to.

Umm, I think this was the day that Stef moved back into my room... yeah. He started work the next day, so was crashing in my room until he sorted himself out a place to stay – which ended up being the room that Nat vacated. Lazy Sunday night....

Tuesday Nat moved out and I took the day off work to help her out. Plenty of car loads and a truck load later, and the apartment that Nat and Cari moved into was looking more and more like a home. Safe to say that I was pretty jealous of the place. It is awesome, only a couple years old, and fully decked out with modern appliances, has a back patio area (with a new BBQ courtesy of myself) and a monster modern kitchen. Christened the BBQ on the first night, had a few beers and some South African sausage (dryvors? Dunno if it is the right word, or any idea how to spell it!). Jumped in a cab to head home around midnight... my second home is 11.50 quid in a taxi from my first home!

Friday the 4th of May was the official summer launch of the beer garden at the Walkabout, and the Titans hosted the BBQ out the back. Between the BBQ and raffle (signed Southampton Saints soccer ball and Hampshire Cricket jersey) we made 210 pounds which was helpful to the club – in paying me off for my loans! It was a great (and long) night with me getting there straight after my half day Friday at work and not leaving till after close again... The trip home was a bit different as I was pulled over for drunk riding... Saying I was on holiday for a week and heading back to Melbourne, as well as arguing that riding in the same lane as oncoming traffic meant that I could see cars coming, kept me away from a fine. I was advised to get a light for my bike and stick to the footpath on the way home though!

The next morning, on very little sleep – and an associated hang over – I headed to Sussex to umpire the matches on the Titans bye weekend. Thankfully I only had to umpire the first match, and it was a pretty free flowing one sided affair. Not too many tough decisions and nothing that would change the outcome of the game. I stuck around for the second game to watch Brighton (who we played the week after) play Bournemouth and it was a corker of a goal, decided by 4 points with Brighton having chance to win with a kick after the siren. It didn't make the journey and Bournemouth sat atop the table 2-0.

After 12 hours riding trains, and at the footy ground I finally made it home around 8pm and had a very quiet Saturday night. Sunday after a very disappointing footy training (4 people showed including myself), being the day before a bank holiday, was spent at the Walkie... I notice a pattern. Aside from it being absolutely packed (it is spankin student Sundays) and full of strippers (FYEO is closed Sunday) there isn't much to report. Pretty kosher night. My public holiday Monday was spent running around purchasing items to make our goal posts that we required for the home game that the Titans were hosting the following weekend, and a visit to the ground to check out the condition.

Last week was pretty miserable – it rained almost all week. And given how hard the ground was, it was pretty welcome rain. Not much to mention from last week, as the focus was almost entirely on hosting the footy matches at the weekend. Thankfully, the rain held off on the Saturday and we only had the wind to contend with. The Titans had their first ever win, beating Brighton 114 to 94, and moved to 1-1 for the season. For the full match report (can you guess who wrote it?), see the club website:

Saturday night was spent at the Walkie, keeping our sponsors happy, and it was a relatively quiet night we Mannsy and myself being the last from the team to leave at 1030pm – I had a cracking head ache that I couldn't shake. Sunday was spent pretty much doing nothing, as the rain that was supposed to ruin the game Saturday showed up in full force on Sunday.

That brings me to this week – not much going on till I found out that Cari got the job that she had gone for at Net Jet. So, after footy training (again in the rain) on the Tuesday night, I headed home had a quick shower and headed out to celebrate. Now, if you ever go celebrate anything with Cari and Nat, be prepared for a big night. I told myself I'd be home by 11pm, and Stef said he wasn't coming out because he knew I wouldn't be home till 1am. Well, we were both wrong.

I headed out at 830 to Lizard Lounge and had a few beers with Ewan and Simon, while the girls were sucking down Mojitos. After the Lizard Lounge closed (at 11pm) we headed to Orange Rooms. I knew I was supposed to be going to bed, but it had been so long since I'd been to Orange Rooms, and it was a 2 minute walk away, I figured I'd stay for a drink. A couple drinks later, and they're kicking us out at 1215am. Home time.... We headed to the main road of the area, London Road, to get cabs, and the alley way comes out right next to Tusk (strip club) and Junk (nightclub). Home time???? Not so soon.

The girls march into Tusk and the next thing the five of us are downstairs and there are a couple bottles of Champagne being bought and poured. For some reason (I think for helping her move house a couple weeks earlier??) Nat buys me a lap dance. That's cool and all, but when you're the only one in a group of five to get a dance it's a bit weird... but thanks all the same ;-)

We pack up from there just before 2am, and Ewan makes the smart decision to head home... the rest of us head into Junk to dance away till 3am. Why? Who knows... well, the girls were celebrating, that's why they went. Why did I go? No idea, but at least I made the smart decision that if I was going to be tired at work the next day (got 3.5 hours sleep) I'd do it without a hangover and started drinking water from midnight to try and keep myself semi fresh for work the next day. Anyway, left Junk jest before 3 to get a cab before everyone filtered out and formed a taxi queue. Somehow woke up at 630am, despite setting my alarm for 7am (a 30 minute sleep in) and headed into work on time. Made it through most of the day okay, but left at 4pm, about 45 minutes early just cos I couldn't be assed sticking around any longer!

The weekend was much the same, and the phrases 'burning the candle at both ends' and the more concerning 'live by the sword, die by the sword' have been bandied about in recent days.

Friday evening around 630, I wandered to Cowherds with Stroudy from the footy club, to have a couple beers. Well, unlike me to do anything by halves, we only stuck around for one. But we pushed off to Chambers, for a couple, and watch some soccer crap, before continuing to Varsity on the opposite side of the street. Finally that place shut around midnight, for reasons I am not entirely sure, and we headed into Junk (never been in 8 months, then twice in 4 nights) to dance the morning away. Place closed at 3, I piled Stroudy into a cab (that's twice now, 3rd would happen the following night) and walked home. Next morning I was woken at 620 am to head to football... that report is a different story (centered around trying to get Stroudy up for the game) and will be on the team website soon... but we won 157-14... who needs sleep?

Saturday night was a typical post masacre football victory drink up at our sponsors with a bit of cheering and yelling. Good fun, and most of the guys stuck around pretty late hitting the dance floor. Shut at 2pm, and Lyall, Stroudy, Joel (our new ex. Dandy Stingrays player) and myself along with a couple of the bar girls headed to FYEO for a couple more drinks. With Stroudy struggling to keep his eyes open, Lyall bought him a lap dance which I don't even know he got... anyway, left there after a couple drinks and headed home... about 430.

Woke up Sunday morning around 930, then 10, then 1030 as I discussed by text what time I was heading around to Nat & Cari (N&C's from now on...) for a BBQ. Eventually made it round the a bit after noon and fired up the BBQ for chicken, saussage and prawns... Nice. Sat outside, and for the first time all weekend wasn't really drinking! (Insert liver breathing sigh of relief). A bit of music, a couple of beers (trust me, that's not really drinking given the last week) and some badminton, and before i knew it, aside from feeling tired all day, it was 830pm. Taxi home, and he went the long was costing me almost £13... will have to sort out what way is the quickest (cheapest), cos I have no idea yet!

So that brings us up to today...

Hope you are all well, and those in Melbourne are enjoying the rain still! Love you and miss you all...