A Onesie shop. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve had a cracking couple of days. After a morning of sightseeing, what better way to while away a couple of hours than a spot of lunch on the buzzing Southgate area of the city. I know, you’d never have guessed I needed an excuse for a new purchase would you? We were gutted Root didn’t get his 100, but hey, they say it’s going to rain all day tomorrow! I was virtually nose to nose with the couple on their balcony. The humiliation. We had a great night out with another branch of our adopted “Aussie” family yesterday. 5) There are a number of varying definitions of growlers and grinders. Our dinner sitting is at 830, although I suspect we may be heading to the bar a little earlier; most of our travelling companions seem to be Aussies and, as you’ll have gathered, they are a pretty gregarious breed who are sickeningly bouyant at the moment thanks to the result in Brisbane. Perhaps I should buy a boxed set to watch if the rain predicted for later in the week actually arrives. At 7:30pm Brett and I drove to... Totoro (pronounced tuh-tor-ro with a little tongue roll at the end). Anyway, Latest had taken a fancy to doing an early morning tour on one. I’ll keep you posted on how she gets on. What isn’t considered is just how hard it is to leave behind the family and those creature comforts we take for granted; making a cuppa whenever you want it, and walking his beloved spaniels Bracken and Tino. Caught locally and cooked in her caravan, Nin’s has been a roadside institution since the 1970’s, where you eat the delicacy on picnic tables overlooking the ocean. Never let it be said that a travel day is a dull day – in fact, it’s been very much one of ‘those’ days! We feasted on turkey, ham, prawns, an indecent number of Sydney rock oysters, all served under their beautiful ivy strewn veranda in 30 degrees. Luckily, the delightful man at check-in turned out to be a huge cricket fan, so he winked conspiratorially. Much will have been written over the past day or two of the stresses that professional sport, combined with long periods away from home, can put on the sportsmen AND their families. I don’t know now they managed it in the fierce sun…and secondly the bars at the ground serve extremely passable chilled Sauvignon Blanc to help ease the carnage on the pitch and thirdly, Latest finished work slightly earlier than expected and we headed down to the waterfront for a splendid supper and to drown England’s sorrows. I have to say, even I was excited – not least by sitting with the charming Michael Kasprowicz at another Aussie brekker – I’ll begin to look like a croissant before too long! 6) Best luxury trip: travelling in style on the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide. First, there was shopping to be done- Uggs to be bought in preparation for the distinctly inclement weather back at home. There are any number of small cafes en route so we just plumped for one we liked the name of (Jellyfish) and had coffee with a fresh fruit platter and people watched for an hour. Weather permitting, I intend to take the ferry and do a spot of sightseeing. He declared his ambition was to have lost his voice by the morning through so much singing! Then I dragged Latest onto a ferry. He has promised me the holiday of a lifetime; in return, I’ve pledged to learn more about cricket – shocking as it may seem, I know very little about the intricacies of the great game beyond there being ( usually) 6 balls in an over! Got to love a hotel that has a pillow menu – and in-room massage and beauty treatments with the warning: NON SEXUAL SERVICE ONLY. Sydney is all about the water…so, today I took to it. The beach also has the good fortune to be relatively shallow and therefore pretty much free from shark attacks in recent years. Everyone dresses ready for work in smart suits but mainly loose open necked shirts – the temperature here is routinely in the 30’s and as hot and humid as hell. A n d rew M cM a n u s P re se n ts. Well with England en route to Melbourne for a break with their families, what else were we to do? Then Latest scuttled off to start his round of radio previews, and I queued up on the pavement with hundreds of others, including my dear friend Judy Clarke, waiting for gates to open. Great. Some years ago, in an attempt to ward off a mid life crisis, he and a doctor friend decided to learn to fly. There are so many experts – both official and unofficial – chewing over the cricket performances; all I can say to those of us lucky enough to be escaping the weather back home is that it could be worse. Heirisson Island, being in the tital range of the swan, is unlikely to look much like it does now in 20 or 30 years thanks to the greenhouse effect. So it was all aboard and off to Williamstown, about an hour or so down the river. Top travel tip: for all his chaotic organisation, Latest advises a left hand window seat on a flight into Sydney, so if the wind is right you get your first sight of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from 2000 feet. Lest you get the impression every day is spent loafing around on the beach,or eating in those kind of restaurants where it actually takes longer for them to describe the food than it takes you to eat it, I have been keeping Latest on pre ashes fitness regime. After all, I had a date on a multi million pound super-yacht! Plenty of soaking up the sun by day, and great entertainment in the evening. Poor Henry had his card withheld today when withdrawing cash – so maybe he’s not such a great catch this weekend. This is like the London sightseeing hop on, hop off red buses, only you don’t have to pay. The walk takes about an hour at our pace, and it just sets you up for the day with that: “It’s great to be alive,” kind of feeling. When we awoke to a stunning sunrise, the landscape had changed from lush vegetation to that rich ochre colour so typical of the centre of Australia. He wanted sandals, complaining that thongs hurt his feet, so we compromised on some leather flip flops and then, like a sulky teenager, we set off to Balmoral for the day. What a life! Apparently, he invites a number of ladies onto his boat on the fourth day of the Sydney Test. At least, I’m assuming it is jet lag rather than the copious amounts of champers some of us consumed yesterday. We could be battling though the crowds and doing last minute Christmas shopping. I’ve taken a punt and booked a supposedly trendy restaurant in Federation Square. If I was at home in The Vale, it would consist of last minute present buying, wrapping (am I the only one to run out of Sellotape and tags?) Tomorrow will be Christmas Eve for us. Of course, Latest wanted to inspect the Adelaide Oval. We were just leaving the ground when Jonathan’s school friend and Leicestershire colleague, James Whitaker, appeared. I must confess to being rather sad when the trip was over, and although it’s not a cheap excursion, it’s very safe and something a bit different. I discovered they were local schoolchildren who are routinely taught life saving and water safety skills as part of the school curriculum. Apparently there will be mattresses around for those in need of power naps (or if it all gets a bit boring! This is when one curses hotel living. So it’s really lovely to a) have the freedom of an apartment and b) to be in such a vibrant place. Favourite was probably The Razor’s Edge. Of course, he’d asked me for cash before he even headed to Heathrow (as they do), muttering something about Duty Free essentials (fags/vodka I assume). “Trendy” probably means hugely expensive, very noisy and with those impossibly modern toilets where you don’t know how to turn the taps on. In Guangdong, cat meat is a main ingredient in the traditional dish "dragon, tiger, phoenix" (snake, cat, chicken), which is said to fortify the body. Last night, after a quiet steak in The Rocks, we joined the Barmy Army at their HQ on Circular Quay. But then, see above – it’s only a game. Roos - yes! A glorious morning working on the tan and cooling off in the sea – we sent Richard out slightly further than us girls as shark bait! And so it’s goodbye to Adelaide. He did this once as a small boy; Christmas Eve he announced the only thing he wanted in the world was a Buzz Lightyear toy, which had been sold out for weeks. A brisk stroll round the vines (why are some netted and others not?) It also gives him some great material to talk about during the next Test Match. They say these things come in threes, and I’m afraid I threw my first tantrum of the tour. had to prise his fingers away from the cabin door when it was time to get off in Adelaide. And we certainly got that! I have to remember not to run the bath and flush the toilet when he’s on air! In fact, not even a single domestic. I’ve also discovered quite a few unusual facts about the place, although I hasten to add I can’t vouch for the veracity of any of them. The official Oxford dictionary definition is a female singer of popular music. It really is the most scenic of boat journeys. After all the trials and tribulations of the past couple of days, we considered that the best form of therapy was the beach. It would be fair to say there have been better moods over the breakfast table. Ahhh! He remembered hearing that John had been an enthusiastic cricket player as a youngster, he shot forward and introduced himself. Apparently an early breakfast on Saturday is the time to see it at its best. In the meantime, I’m off to brush up on that LBW law, and run through my Barmy Army songbook. What isn’t considered is just how hard it is to leave behind the family and those creature comforts we take for granted. I’m so hoping it’s long gone tomorrow. There are compensations to being the wife of a cricket correspondent. In reality it’s $6 for the card then $7 top up. The flight to Sydney didn’t get off to a particularly good start; Jetstar (the equivalent of Ryan Air) couldn’t cope with the huge amount of luggage; NYE is the busiest day of the year for both domestic and international travel in Australia. We’ve also been black water rafting in New Zealand (Latest had a complete sense of humour failure in his wetsuit); game viewing in Zimbabwe (he’s a whizz at spotting different types of antelope) and visited most of the wineries of the Southern Hemisphere(me on Sauvignon, him on Chardonnay). A great train trip should be on everyone’s bucket list – apparently through the Rockies is fabulous too. Sun cream (factor 50) sunglasses (polarised) new book downloaded (Gone Girl – a real page turner) iPhone tuned into Test Match Special; sunbed correctly positioned, and we’re off! If you haven’t caught up with what’s happened in the Ashes overnight, I can tell you not much happened on the field…ha!…. Despite that, he rebuilt his life up there ( he told us his current cyclone shelter is built under that toilet!) But, the spirit of blitz was evident, and – as the majority of the travellers seemed to be British – we patiently queued out of the terminal building. As I sit here (wearing a green dress of course) tapping away and watching the Ireland game, I can report he must have a constitution of steel. The lovely Gemma Broad sent me a list of things to do while in Auckland, including heading to the boatyard where the round-the-world vessels are in dock. Frankly, it was a very good job that The Lucky Shag was cancelled last night, as Latest came home from work absolutely exhausted. To be continued. ‘Ah, but bet he rustles up a great meal’, I hear you say. 15) Best luxury of the trip: getting the chance to read again – huge number of books devoured. It goes without saying that this may involve a glass of wine from the local Margaret River region. Then it rained – for the first time since July 10th. Earlier this year, I took him on his very first London bus as we were heading for a wedding in Islington. Mind you, it was probably less stressful watching pants dry than witnessing the slaughter at the Gabbattoir. There was also a text from Latest offering me tomorrow’s TMS lunch guest, Piers Morgan, as compensation for the missed opportunity with HJ. He passed his Private Pilot’s Licence some years ago, and tries to fly in every country he visits, work permitting. I may have mentioned before that I have an allergy to fish and so the poor deprived man never gets fish or seafood cooked for him at home. There were a number of positive notes though; firstly, the enthusiasm of the Sri Lankans was a joy to see..,singing,dancing and playing the drums all day. Susie bought tea to our cabin, and procured a hairdryer for my unruly frizz. How I’ve missed you. The weather in Melbourne is so totally unpredictable that although it was grey and cloudy, I lathered myself in factor 50 sun cream and set off for the river. Chose to stay here as we had a bad experience at a cheaper hotel near by last time. I stepped off just in time to hear the most enormous roar go up from the MCG – KP was out! The three and a half hour cruise from Wellington to Picton is well worth the £30 or so it costs. McLeod’s Daughters was a Channel 9 production, and Jonathan has spent a lot of time recently bringing me up to speed with the whole Packer, World Series Cricket thing in the 1970’s. See you in Brisbane! I could have watched her for hours. So compact that I had to use our (five) suitcases as a mounting block to get into bed….and there is certainly no chance, If there is an “Ashes Urn” for enjoying Australia and boosting the economy, I would have retained it for England single-handed! Caves - yes! Well, the day started well enough with a leisurely breakfast, but on our return to the room, there were countless missed calls and from both my kids saying “phone home ASAP urgent”. But he looked surprisingly sprightly when he arrived at our hotel this morning; well, as sprightly as someone can who hobbles in on crutches. Then we face-timed our fabby neighbours who were in the process of decorating their Christmas tree, accompanied by Michael Buble Sings Christmas or whatever that album is called. Even I’m not so stupid as to think I could take those home for the family, so I made do with taste tasting a few… If I was a good wife, I’d have bought one for Latest. When we were greeted with vintage Dom Perignon I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The answer was no! I’m talking metaphorically, not literally of course. How time has flown since 20th November when, full of hope, we set off together to preview the first day of The Ashes in Brisbane. Fingers crossed it’s not held in a karaoke bar. Geoff lives fairly locally to us and is a brilliantly funny after dinner speaker who will shortly be leaving his selector’s role to spend more time with his wife: “She’s had to share me with cricket for 40 years, ” he told me. In the meantime I need to decide on a few literary downloads – any suggestions? Nothing short of a miracle! Back at the cabin, and Susie had nice cold towels and an iced drink laid out for us. But it was still spectacular. It was lovely to catch up with a young supporter called Harry and his family. You’ll drive each other mad” . So here we go for the last few hours of 2013. But he didn’t approach the prospect of a bike ride with quite the same gusto. Blue/teal crystal waters - yes! I’m not sure I’ll be able to publish their photos! I know what you’re thinking: lucky beggar. (OK. Second to Hugh Jackman?) And they do lack a certain taste. They then returned the favor and took one of Brett and me. Frankly I think England have more chance of winning the World Cup. I spent a couple of hours quietly strolling down from the Victoria and Albert statues down George Street to Circular Quay. 42) Best educational fact we’ve learnt was that goannas have two, er, penis’ and can mate continuously for 36 hours. So a roller coaster of a day for me emotionally – but tonight the England team will arrive into our hotel from their game in Alice Springs, and with them the excitement to the second test will begin build and that, after all, is what we are here for. I can officially reveal to you the man who cost England the Ashes; Mr Broad (Senior). I’ve enjoyed new experiences, and eaten and drunk too much good food and wine. I spent a lovely couple of hours mooching round the shops…saw the first signs of Christmas with a Santa’s grotto, carols and a stunning Christmas tree adorned with Swarovski crystals. The sight of 200 or so gregarious youngsters playing in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall must be quite something and I’m only sorry that we were a bit early in the season to see it. Time a wicket fell tour, which is amazing, well, while clouds of depression gathered Latest! ; it ended on the fourth day of the rooms overlook the beautiful Valley! 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