April 24, 2008

Cricket, curries and Craig's new Lymington love...

It's been way too long since our last post (nine days, in fact), but you see dear readers, we've been flat out! There's been sleeping-in to be done, old episodes of Friends to be watched and curries to be eaten... Yep, it's a hard-knock life down (or is that up?) here in Lymington!

Lymington (for all those who seem to have problems remembering it, think lamington with a 'y') is a yachting town in South England — population: 14,000 — and will be our home for the next 19 weeks while Craig fulfills his stint as the overseas 'professional' for Lymington Cricket Club. Read more about the town here.

We arrived last Tuesday and quickly set up shop at our new abode — staying with the Hunts (the cricket captain's parents, their 21-year-old daughter and their cat Hollie). We have our own room, kitted out with new furniture and our own TV and DVD player (which clearly have been getting way-too-much use), and Mr and Mrs H have been been extremely generous and welcoming.

It hasn't been all fun and games though. Craig toughed it out on Tuesday, completing his first full day of work in three weeks, cricket coaching in primary schools. A couple of the kids didn't quite believe he was Australian though, one because he didn't say, 'G'day, I'm Auustraaalian mate,' and the other because he couldn't believe Australians spoke English!

Craig also had his first New Forest-cricket experience on the weekend, which he described as 'interesting', which was the most complimentary word he could come up with considering the wicket was greener than Al Gore, wetter than an episode of You Can't Do That on Television, and there were horses (yes, horses!) on the field!

Overshadowing all of this, has been the plight of the Punto...

Punts, as I (Lisa) affectionately call it, is Craig's 1996 Fiat Punto, and our wheels for the next four months. The relationship started off well, we first met Punts on Thorpy's (a former Lymington player who owns a used-car dealership) lot in nearby Southampton, Craig instantly fell in love with his small, but endearingly-dodgy, new ride, and we were soon cruising the horse-and-donkey-filled roads (more about that later) of England. Less than 24 hours later, Craig and Punts had their first falling out when a warning light came up on the dashboard, Punts lost some serious power and did the car equivalent of 'letting one off' (er, in other words, it stunk).

Of course Craig was thrown into his usual unnecessary panic — 'Great, we're not going to have a car', 'What if we can't go trippin' [road tripping]?' — and Punts was only driven for essential trips to and from cricket training for the next two days. After two-and-a-bit days of non-stop worrying, we drove Punts back to Thorpy's (scary trip, that one), where we were immediately given the keys to a 1995 Ford Fiesta Sapphire (top of the line!). The relationship with the Fiesta didn't even get to first base — we weren't even with her long enough to give her an extremely-original nickname — as three hours later we received a phone call from Thorpy to say Punts was fixed and back in the game!

Once he was reunited with Punts, Craig was back on top of the world! We are now free to go trippin', and are planning on christening Punts with a trip to Bath in the very near future...

To be continued...

April 15, 2008

Livin' la vida London

Seven days, £530 pounds (yikes!), three trips to Oxford Street, five Topshop/Topman purchases, one packet of Nurse Day/Night Cold and Flu Tablets, one Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, 15 pints, 36 photos, seven times getting caught in the rain, one girl wearing sheer stockings as pants (OK, her dress had creeped up under her jacket but for a while we thought she was serious), one celeb sighting, three coughing fits on the Tube, 28 bowls of Cornflakes and one dodgy Kevin Costner DVD.

It's hard to believe our week in London is over already, actually, it's still hard to believe we're in London! It's been busy, expensive, overwhelming at times and - despite many hours acclimatising to freezing conditions in the OK! office - cold... your typical London experience!

We've been shopping, hunted down the major tourist sights, checked out some art and taken some dorky tourist pics (see post below), but our favourite part has been wandering aimlessly through the streets, checking out the awesome buildings, the gazillion-and-one Pret stores that have taken over the city and soaking up the London atmosphere.

Our week was spent staying with my friend Scott (who I worked with at the now-defunct Fresh and Star magazines - may they RIP) and his hubby Karl in their two-bedroom Queen's Park flat - their hospitality and Scott's gourmet cooking were amazing!

Each day we'd roll out of bed, eat a bowl of Cornflakes (two for Craig) and head up to Queen's Park Underground station. From the moment we bought our Oyster cards (these babies set us back £24 each and got us everywhere we needed to over the week) at Heathrow station, we fell in love with the entire
London transport system - seriously Sydney, get with the program already. Here are some of the places we managed to see during the way-too-short week:

Oxford Street: Sooo many people cramming themselves into boiling shops - never have I worked up such a sweat shopping! The rumours are true, Topshop is amazing - if only I was in the market for shorter-than-short denim cutoffs and summer dresses (where did all the winter clothes go? It's only 10 degrees outside!).

Piccadilly Circus: While roaming around the surrounding areas, we stumbled upon a vintage magazine shop and spent quite a while rummaging through the old magazines and old-school celeb memorabilia (a David Hasselhoff keyring anyone?).

Tower of London and London Bridge: We didn't make it inside the Tower (save that for another day) but it was still pretty cool having a geezer from the outside.

St Paul's Cathedral: We didn't intentionally visit the church where Diana and Charles were married, but it's so friggin' huge we just stumbled across it!

Tate Modern: Most of the whacky art went completely over our heads (er, sculptures of dwarfs, and splashes of paint?) but we persevered and ended up seeing some pretty cool things.

Trafalgar Square: We spent quite a while watching the world go by here, that is until it rained on us for the third time that day and we ran for cover.

London's been great, we can't wait to come back and live here for a while and get to experience all the things this diverse city has to offer.

But for now, it's time to say goodbye to London and hello Lymington!

April 11, 2008

April 10, 2008

Once upon a time...

And so the story finally begins...

After waving goodbye to our parents at Sydney airport, Craig and I officially began our journey. My planned title for this post was 'The flight from hell', but it turned out luck was on our side. With the plane half empty, we managed to get two seats each for the first leg, making our economy flight seem oh-so business. After lying back watching movies like Juno, Atonement and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (um, for the record, that was Craig), and eating some sort of chicken meal that wasn't half bad, we landed in Hong Kong for our 90-minute stopover.

For the 13-hour leg to London, we were back in our pre-assigned cattle-class seats. Surprisingly, we slept for the majority of this leg, and before we knew it, our 24-hour journey was over. Now it was time for the next journey 'from hell', through English Immigration...

'Allow at least two hours to get through' read all the forums, while Craig reminisced of the three-hour line-up he endured when he was in the UK for a cricket tour back in 2001. We had psyched ourselves up, we were mentally prepared for both the line-up and grilling we would receive from the Immigration officer (we had documents galore), and there may have even been Eye of the Tiger playing in the background. This is how it all went down:

No line, walked straight up to the desk and the conversation went exactly like this...
'What are you here for?'
'A working holiday.'
'How long do you intend to stay for?'
'Two years.'
'Do you know how long you are allowed to work for?'
'Twelve months.'
'Where are you staying?'
'With a friend.'

And that was it! Our passports were stamped and away we went, no questions about our travel plans or proof of funds... I'd like to take this opportunity to say to the butch bitch at the Flight Centre at the Edgecliff Centre, the one who rudely told me there is no way I could get in without a return ticket so I'd just have to buy a return and forfeit it (despite everything I had read to the contrary), 'SUCK ON THAT!'

Our bags eventually made there way around the carousel, and we lugged our two backpacks and a suitcase onto the London Tube.

To be continued...