Australian trip report no. 10 – the Sydney Hammers

Sydney Hammers in action

Having attended all West Ham’s matches home and away this season (with the exception of Burnley midweek away in the Carling Cup) prior to flying to Australia, I was getting slight withdrawal symptoms and had been looking forward to watching the Swansea game in the company of the Sydney Hammers who meet up at the Royal Exhibition Hotel near Central Station.  Robin had attended regularly during his stay in Australia and commented in his farewell post on Facebook.

“Firstly I’d like to thank the Sydney Hammers and Jack Kennedy (top Aussie) for making me feel at home when I first got here and made being away from West Ham bearable.”

I was delighted to meet Jack, and really pleased to learn that he had featured in the West Ham match day programme for the Swansea match. Continue reading

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Australian Trip report no. 9 – head out on the high road

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

robin and rebeca

Robin with Rebeca

For the first of our major excursions on Thursday 30th, the destination was described to me by Robin as “Port Stephens“.  It became apparent from the driving directions that I was asked to print that we were initially heading for a very specific part of Port Stephens, (which boasts 26 beaches) known as Nelson’s Bay, which Robin had previously visited on a coach trip with his girlfriend Rebeca Tabosa. Continue reading

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2014 Australian trip report no. 8 – leaving the City

The Philpottmobile for the next few days.

The Philpottmobile for the next few days.

To ensure that the remainder of Robin’s stay in Australia was as enjoyable as possible we met up on Tuesday 28th and headed for Hertz in William Street.  After negotiations we hired a Hyundai Elantra through to Saturday afternoon.  Both of us were entitled to drive (Robin’s birthday the previous day helpfully meant that we avoided a young driver surcharge) but it was clear who was intending to be spend the majority of the time behind the wheel.  Robin eased himself into the driver’s seat and was clearly in his element.  To be honest, Robin is a better driver than I am: unfortunately, he is only too well aware of this fact. Continue reading

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2014 Australian trip report no. 7 – anniversaries

Australian flagAustralians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia Fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia Fair! Continue reading

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2014 Australian trip report no. 6 – Visitors

philip glassI first came across the music of Philip Glass when his opera Akhnaten was performed by ENO at the London Coliseum in 1985, and have been a devotee ever since (I even listened to the prelude to Act 1 of Akhnaten on the way to my wedding).  Here was a modern classical composer whose music was actually a pleasure to listen to. Continue reading

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2014 Australian trip report no. 5 – Friends reunited

P1040769As I mentioned in an earlier instalment I knew at the outset of this trip precisely two people living in Australia, one of whom was at the time on holiday in New Zealand.  This individual was Jackie Whyte, who was my Secretary at Ernst & Young between October 2001 and November 2002 and who had remained a good friend and theatre-going companion afterwards until she moved to Australia five years ago with her partner New Zealander Dean Glasgow.  Jackie lives in Melbourne, so this required a degree of planning.  I had originally been planning to fly down on Wednesday 22nd, but this was rescheduled for Thursday 23rd when Jackie and Dean had an offer for their dream house accepted and needed to deal with certain formalities such as the payment of a deposit on the Wednesday. Continue reading

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2014 Australian trip report No. 4 – a night at the opera


The second planned highlight of the tour (if one can loosely describe England’s performance in the one day International as a highlight) was my visit to the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday 21st to see La Boheme.  However, the weather had by now started to turn – there had been threats of rain on Sunday – not that this would have helped England who were always well behind under the Duckworth-Lewis method – and forecasts of rain through to next Monday.  While an end to the heatwave is certainly welcome, rain had not really come into my calculations or into the selection of clothes that I packed. Continue reading

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