June 28, 2008


WARNING: EPIC POST AHEAD. The following post may contain excessive sentences. Readers are advised to proceed with patience, endurance and a snack of their choice.

We did it! From Henman Hill to Centre Court, we lived out our Wimbledon dream. Here's how it all went down...

Getting in line

On Wednesday June 25, 2008, we packed up all our gear (tents, sleeping bags, camera, clothes etc), jumped in Punts and, with printed internet directions in hand, headed towards the hallowed All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London.

A speedy trip up the M3 and a quick stop at KFC later, we found ourselves driving up Wimbledon Park Road, right past the The Championship grounds ('Oh my God, there it is!') and through to nearby Southfields. We quickly parked our car at some random guy's house (we'd organised it over the internet) and started marching briskly toward 'The Queue'.

There are three ways to secure tickets to Wimbledon — 1. You work for, with, or know someone who works for, or with, a corporate organisation involved with The Championships. 2. You enter the public ballot which closes in December of the previous year. 3. You queue. With options one and two out of the running, we were left with no choice but to join thousands of other punters in the painfully-long queue.

When I say thousands, I mean thousands. Queuing for tickets is a sport in itself, and if you want to be one of the true winners and secure a seat on Centre Court, you have to tough it out and queue overnight.

So there we were, it was around 3pm and we were marching straight towards a yellow-vest-wearing steward. Keen to secure our place as quickly as possible, we were directed towards the camping field. We got our tent up quick smart (well, as the pictures show, Craig got it up quick smart), and then we were faced with the problem of, 'Now what?'.

There was 14 hours until our 5.30am wake-up call and there wasn't much to do except sit and watch other people come and set up their tents, which was surprisingly entertaining. About an hour had passed when the moment we had been waiting for came around — we were given our Queue Cards.

Each person in the queue receives a numbered Queue Card, which secures their position in the queue. At this point the Card is everything. It can make the difference between what court you get on, how good your seats are, it gives you the right to push in front of anyone with a higher number than you at any point of the queuing process, and if you lose your card you lose your spot. Like I said, it's everything.

We waited with bated breath as a yellow-vest-wearing, Queue-Card-holding steward made his way along the line of tents. Cards 0065 and 0066 were placed in our hands, and with 500 tickets available for both Centre and Number One Court, it meant that we were guaranteed a choice of any court we wanted, and great seats to boot! If our Cheshire-Cat grins were anything to go by, you'd have thought we'd won the lottery!

After we had finished staring lovingly at our cards and taking photos of ourselvess with them, we settled in for our first ever night in our £20 Argos tent. We had a pizza delivered to our tent, which we ate as we eagerly listened to the official Wimbledon radio station, waiting for the next day's Order of Play.

Elation quickly turned to frustration when the Order of Play was announced, as we were now faced with an impossible decision. On Centre Court it was Venus Williams v Anne Keothavong, Andy Murray v Xavier Malisse and Andy Roddick v Janko Tipsarevic, while on Number One Court, it was Rafael Nadal v Ernests Gulbis, Maria Sharapova v Alla Kudryavtseva and Chris Eaton v Dmitry Tursunov.

Trying to decide between the prestige of Centre Court and the awesomeness of Nadal and Sharapova proved to be an impossible decision. Back and forwards we went, discussing the pros and cons of each court. While I was keen to make a decision and stick with it, Craig was keen to maintain his title as the King of Indecisiveness (seriously, you should see him trying to choose a parking spot!), and kept asking for 'five more minutes'.

Those five minutes ended up being 10 hours. It wasn't until we had spent a long, cold night in the tent, packed up our gear, spent about two hours in line and a steward was standing in front of us with coloured wristbands asking which court we wanted that Craig quickly blurted out, 'Court One'. Finally, a decision was made! Nadal and Sharapova, here we come!

Day One

Staying up into the wee hours watching Channel Nine and turning up to work tired is an Aussie tradition over the Wimbledon fortnight, so to actually be there, in the middle of day, is actually quite surreal.

After being in various Queue stages over 19-and-a-half hours, we were finally let loose into the grounds at 10.30am. While people with Ground Passes nearly knocked each other over trying to get seats on their chosen outside court for a 12 noon start, the elite (that'd be those with Centre and Number One Court tickets. In other words, us) were able to check out the grounds at a more leisurely pace — perusing the food and drink options (the traditional strawberries and cream alongside the heart-attack-inducing fried food options), trekking to the top of the way-smaller-than-it-looks-on-TV Henman Hill, and taking photos of all things Wimbledon.

Show court matches start at 1am, so at 12.45 Craig got himself a beer, I got myself a Pimms (at £6 for a half pint, it ended up being my only one of the tournament), we slathered on some extra sunscreen and we took our seats on Number One Court.

Now, I don't mean any old nosebleed seats. Get this: We were opposite the umpire, three rows back from the court! We were so close Maria Sharapova's blonde ponytail was in danger of flicking us in the face. Have I mentioned our seats were awesome yet?

First up was the number-two-ranked, headband-sporting Rafael Nadal. The Rafa fans were out in force, their faces painted with Spanish flags. One such fan was two rows in front of us and was yelling out encouragement in Spanish, the only problem was, she was a ginge from Wales that basically stalks him around the world — yes, Wimbledon brings out all sorts, from the high-society snobs ('Jolly good') to the drunken Aussies ('Oi, oi, oi').

Nadal cleaned up Gulbis in four sets (much to the ginge Welsh chick's delight) and it was time tennis's resident glamour girl, Maria Sharapova, to take to the court. Sporting her controversial 'tuxedo' get-up, complete with designer handbag and diamond Tiffany earrings, you can't deny Sharapova is quite the stunner (it comes as no surprise that of the billion photos Craig took over the two days, a large portion of them are of the leggy Russian).

Perhaps if Maria concentrated more on her tennis and less on her appearance (meeoow), she may not have been beaten in straight sets by Alla Kudryavtseva. It seemed that no matter how hard the world number two grunted, the 154-ranked player was just too good on the day.

With Chris Eaton (who?) on court next, we did something naughty but necessary. We decided to skip seeing the 661-ranked Englishman get beaten and go set up our tent in The Queue for the next day's play. Nothing naughty about that, right? No, the naughty bit comes when we get our Queue Cards (0259 and 0260) and then bolt back to the tennis (you technically aren't supposed to leave the campsite, but they really can't police it). We spent the rest of the evening watching the Williams sisters in doubles, and the end of Daniela Hantuchova's match, before walking back to our tent, jumping straight into our sleeping bags, and settling in for a good night's sleep. Or so we'd hoped...

Remember those drunken Aussies I mentioned earlier? Well we had the queen of them in the tent next to us. She'd taken herself off to the pub and stumbled back at about 2am, before loudly telling the people in her tent the entire story of the night over and over, before announcing to anyone within earshot that she was an Aussie, before proceeding to vomit next to our tent. Yep, she's sure doing the country proud.

Day Two

The next morning played out pretty much the same as the previous one. We were woken early, put our tents away and lined up for hours on end. The only difference was our court decision wasn't anywhere near as agonising. While we would have loved to watch Aussie Lleyton Hewitt on Court One, there was no way we could pass on the chance of watching the great Roger Federer carve up on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

Our fluoro orange wristbands were in place, our tickets had been bought and stashed safely in our bags, we had filled up on the most revolting burgers we'd ever tasted — Wimbledon people, if you are reading this: Seriously, the food sucks. We're happy to pay through-the-roof prices for food (it's kinda expected), but please make it edible — and we had taken our seats (a mere five rows back this time) on Wimbledon Centre Court.

Of course it wouldn't be a true Wimbledon experience without a rain delay (so many times I'd stay up to watch, only to be met with Ken Sutcliffe and a bunch of covered-up courts), and ours was no exception. We got to watch the ground staff run on the court, cover it, uncover it, then cover it again, all in the space of an hour.

Finally, the sun started shining a Roger Federer stepped out onto the court. Being able to watch the five-time Wimbledon champ clean up Marc Gicquel in straight sets was truly a pinch-ourselves moment. You know how some people have lists of things they want to do before they die? Well if I could actually be arsed to put one together, going to Wimbledon would be one of the top things on my list. And there we were, five rows back, cheering on a true tennis legend. C'mon people, you know you're jealous! Go on, admit it...

Next up was Serena Williams v Amelie Mauresmo. First up, Serena is one massive unit, her legs are like tree trunks! Secondly, I have always been a bit of a closet Mauresmo fan (pun intended) so I was quite looking forward to this match. The first set was brilliant, some great rallies, shots with flair and a close score (Serena won in a tie-break). By the second, Mauresmo was struggling with an injury and Serena ended up winning easily, which is a shame, 'cause I'm kinda bored with the Williams sisters dominating this event. Yawn!

The last match of the day, and for us at Wimbledon, was Mario Ancic v David Ferrer. The Welsh ginge was back in force to support Spaniard Ferrer, while not knowing a whole lot about either player, I opted to support Ancic. The match proved to be the most exciting one we saw. There were some awesome shots, and both players had to dig deep. With the light fading quickly, we were worried they would postpone the game due to bad light, but they soldiered on. The crowd was pumped, making for a great atmosphere. The drama went on until 9.30pm went Ancic finally secured victory in the fourth.

We soaked it all in as the crowd cheered Ancic off the court. This was it, our Wimbledon dream was over! We were happy, sad and downright buggered as we said our final goodbyes to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Queuing was tough work (it was cold and the ground was as hard as Centre Court), and the two days had cost us a small fortune (we spent over $AUD400 in tickets alone). So was it worth it?

Hell yes.

June 23, 2008

Cricket update

Considering cricket is the main only reason we are currently livin' it English style in Lymington, we thought it was high time we posted an entry about how Craig's season is going.

While I have been playing the WAG game with impeccable precision — spending my days shopping, making media appearances and turning up to games in Dior sunglasses and toting Chanel handbags. Oh wait, that's Victoria Beckham. Silly me. Craig has become somewhat of a local cricket legend, hogging newspaper column inches and taking hat-tricks like they're going out of style!

With Lymington CC currently sitting pretty in second place on the table, it's safe to say the first half of the season has been an all-round success for the player known as Dish. Not only has Craig taken the first two hat-tricks of his career (one being on his 25th birthday, not a bad present!), he's also the top wicket taker in the league, with a whopping 21 wickets, and is placed 12th on the league's batting table with 183 runs after seven games.

With 10 games to go, there's still a whole lotta benchsitting to be done by me, and plenty more wickets to be taken and runs to be scored. Will Craig be able to maintain his form and help Lymington get promoted to the Gold League?

Watch this space...

June 20, 2008

Coming soon...

Cricket update

Find out how much cricket butt Craig has been kicking.

Camping out for Wimbledon tickets

We're taking our £20 Argos tent and braving the elements, all in the quest for centre-court tickets.

A day in the life of... Craig

Follow Dish around for the day.*

*Only if Lisa can twist his arm into writing a post.

June 18, 2008

State of Origin, Lymington style!

While State of Origin in Sydney usually involves either a) cramming onto public transport and making our way to ANZ Stadium (formerly Telstra Stadium), or b) eating take-away pizza from Sapori on the couch. This year, our experience has been a little, er, different.

Our first dilemma, where to watch it? While we have Sky TV where we are staying at the moment, we don't have Setanta, the subscription sports channel which shows stuff like rugby league, union and AFL. After ringing around numerous pubs in Lymington, trying to find one that was open at 11am and subscribed to Setanta, we finally hit the jackpot with the Borough Arms.

So there we were, sitting in an empty pub at 11am, drinking beer and cider and eating sausage rolls, watching the all-too-familiar Channel Nine coverage of this year's series. With no-one but the barmaid in sight, cheering and shouting was kept to a minimum. A few people straggled in towards full-time. One punter tried telling us all about how his friend goes for the Bulldogs, we feigned minimal interest until he left us alone.

Two-and-a-half pints and a crushing Queensland victory later, we were out the door. There was little time to celebrate, with Craig getting changed in the pub carpark and quickly making his way to Our Lady and St Joseph Primary School for an afternoon of bratty kids.

There was no media coverage, no watercooler talk and not a single guernsey in sight. Just a couple of Aussies in an empty English pub.

June 12, 2008

Bath time!

The events of May 29, 2008

Creaking, squeaking, farting, snoring and sleeptalking... ah, there's nothing like waking up in a hostel!

It was light, I had no watch/clock/mobile to tell the time and I had convinced myself that it was about 9am and we were gonna miss breakfast. I clumsily climbed off my top bunk, complete with pilling sheets and a musty smell, and sat on Craig's bottom bunk. 'What's the time?' I asked. '6.15,' replied Craig after sleepily checking his mobile. Ah crap. Not wanting to waste the energy and motivation I had used to get out of bed — trust me, it takes a lot of willpower to make yourself have a shower in a hostel, especially when the showers are three floors down — I decided I would have a shower, get dressed and do my hair/make-up before climbing back in bed for a couple of hours. Then, when the time came to get up, I'd be ready and raring to go — genius!

After trekking down to the shower cubicles, taking a shower and hiking back up to our room, I entered our room keypad combination, looking forward to getting back into bed, pilling sheets and all! C-6-7-8-9-Y... oops, musta entered it in wrong. C-6-7-8-9-Y... grr, stupid combination! I put down my towel, toiletries and pyjamas and gave it a real good crack, C-6-7-8-9-Y... still nothing! After trying about 10 more times, I sat on the stairs, cold and frustrated. I immediately tried to blame Craig for my predicament. 'Geez, Craig! You know I went to the shower, you should be listening out for me instead of ignorantly laying there in your warm bed listening to someone try over and over to get in the door!' At the end of my very-short tether, I went to reception, but it was closed. Frustrated, I stomped back up the stairs. Then, as I approached the door to try the combination again, I realised — this wasn't our door, we were the next floor up! I had been trying to get in the wrong door! Jessica Simpson, eat your heart out!

Our plan of attack for the day was to get up early(ish) and hit up the Roman Baths first thing. So after our free 'continental' breakfast at the hostel, which consisted of toast with a choice of jam and peanut butter, cornflakes and cordial, we walked around the corner to the Baths. It wasn't open yet, so we went to the adjacent gift shop to pick up a Bath magnet (we're collecting magnets from every town/city we go to), before joining the small queue of tourists hankering to get in to Bath's main attraction.

Knocking over the Baths first thing proved to be the call of the century (props to Craig), we missed the all the crowds (the line-up was huge at around midday), meaning we managed to get photos minus random tourists wandering around in the background, and got to enjoy checking it out without too many annoying people getting in our way. So, with our informative-yet-boring audio guides in hand, we spent a good hour and a half moseying around the ancient sight. It was pretty amazing how well-preserved the sight is, considering it is over 1500 years old, and while we hated some of the tacky touristy things they have put in, like projections of 'ancient Romans' bathing on the walls, we both agreed it was £20 ($AUD41) well spent.

The sun was shining when we stepped out of the Baths, so we decided to walk to the other side of town to the Royal Crescent, a block of 30 terrace houses which are arranged in a semi-circular shape, and look out over the Royal Victoria Park. It was cool, it was old (built between 1767 and 1774), but there's only so much time you can spend looking at some houses, so we decided to randomly walk around the rest of the cobblestone-filled city. And walk we did, meandering through the ancient streets, stopping by the river and stopping off for a 'hotdog' (they use sausages, not frankfurts in hotdogs here).

We decided to enjoy our hotdog on a bench in the square between Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. While we were chowing down, a weird guy came and stood in the middle of the square, put down his hat, whipped out a recorder, and started belting out some tunes. Craig being the newspaper addict he is, decided to go and hunt for a tabloid (an excuse to get away from Recorder Guy, I reckon), leaving me sitting in the nice, warm sun, watching children play, families eat ice-cream and tourist take photos, all with Recorder Guy providing background music.

Craig was gone for ages, so long I had bothered to reach in my bag, find my phone and start dialling his number. Just as I was about hit 'call', I saw him coming towards me. 'I finally found KFC and Topshop!' he said beaming. While Craig does enjoy the odd piece of fried chicken and has bought a few things from Topman since we have been here, he's excitement was due to the fact that KFC and Topshop were his main memories from his trip to Bath seven years ago (erm, he was only 18 at the time), and it had been bugging him that we hadn't come across them yet.

As Craig read the Daily Mail, Recorder Guy continued to play, he had been playing for about half an hour now and not one single person had thrown any cash his way. I was beginning to feel sorry for him, not sorry enough to give him any of my hard-earned backpacking money, but sorry nonetheless. Eventually, he shut up shop, only to be replaced by a guitar player two seconds later. Guitar Guy was no better than Recorder Guy, so we decided to give up our prime bench-seat position and start our next search: The quest for the movie cinemas.

We searched high, we searched low, long and hard (I spose we could of asked someone, but that would have been easy), and eventually we saw it, the blue neon lights represented the pot at the end of our rainbow. Odeon, they read. Sex and the City: The Movie here we come!

'Can I have two tickets to Sex and the City at 9.30 please?'
'Sorry, it's sold out.'
'OK, how about the 7.30 one?'
'We've only got seats in the front row.'
'What about the 6.15?'
'Sure, where would you like to sit.'
'As far back and as close to the middle as possible, please.'

Once we'd secured our tickets to the most-anticipated movie of the year, we realised that our hotdog lunch just wasn't cutting it. We were starving, so we hit up Sainbury's supermarket for a cheap snack. I chose a big choc-chip cookie, which I must say was divine, and Craig chose a mini pasta snack. We ate our treats in the park across the road before deciding to head back to our hostel for some internet time — it'd been over 24 hours since we'd been on Facebook!

It was on our way back, right out the front of Subway, that my day took a turn for the worse. Worse than being 'locked out' of our room, and worse than the musical stylings of Recorder Guy. Craig tried to convince me it was lucky, but I was not impressed... I got shat on! My jacket, which was already covered in dried-up mud from the Cheese Rolling incident, was now covered in a healthy serving of pigeon poo!

After some Facebook, Hotmail and a few episodes of Two and a Half Men in the TV room, we went on our next hunting mission for the day: The quest for Doritos Chilli Heatwaves. No trip to the movies is complete for Craig without a packet of chips, and his latest obsession was a must-have. Off to Waitrose we went, heading straight for the chip aisle. In front of us there were Doritos Tasty Cheese, Doritos Sweet Chilli and and Doritos Original, but no Chilli Heatwaves! We stood there for a few minutes, staring, hoping that if we stared long and hard enough, a packet of Chilli Heatwaves would magically appear. But it was not meant to be, Craig would have to make do with a packet of Walkers Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations.

After eating some fried chicken and chips in the park (very healthy this backpacking thing), it was time to take our seats in the back row of the 6.15pm session of Sex and the City: The Movie at the Odeon movie cinemas in Bath. After the painfully-long previews, the lights dimmed and there they were — Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda, back together again! There were lots of laugh, some sobs from a girl in the row in front of us, a few sneaky tears from myself and a whole lotta wardrobe envy!
Lisa: 4/5
Craig: 3.5/5

We walked back to the hostel in the rain (hopefully it washed away any bird poo I'd missed) and were entertained on the way by a massive domestic in the street (she kicked him out of the car, they yelled at each other a lot, she drove off, then came round the block and picked him up again. It was gold). Back at the hostel we were met with two girls conducting a bible study in our room, after a few minutes of, 'Read this bit, isn't it awesome?', we decided to head to the TV room. 'Those girls are lesbians,' whispered Craig when we walked out of the room. 'As if, they're Christian!' I rolled my eyes. What is it with guys and lesbians?

In the TV room we were met with even more freaks and geeks. The Canadian guy from our room (we know he's Canadian because of the Maple leaf he, like most Canadians, had sewn to his backpack. OK, we get it, you're NOT American!) was playing a game of spoons up the back with some Americans. He was drunk, loud, obnoxious, and despite his own opinion, not funny. There was also the English guy who had been going around trying to subtly recruit 'volunteers' to go from festival to festival setting up temporary accommodation.

The next morning we got up, packed up all our stuff and went to grab some breakfast before driving back to Lymo. The Bible bashers were there, with their eerily similar outfits and hairstyles. As I was buttering my toast I noticed one of the girls gently caressing the other's back. 'They're totally lesbians!' I whispered to Craig on the way to reception. 'Yeah, told ya so!' said Craig.