Hello our hungry readers back in England and various other places around the world….now 8 months in and no sign of my delusions of grandeur fading.
Yes, it has been a moment or two since we last penned our thoughts on paper…or whatever the equivalent is in the electronic age. Well the lack of an ever changing location, that of Steph and Gordon's living room, and the settling into working life…well for one of us at least…has proved less conducive to blog worthy news and rather than send out sub standard material we thought we might wait for some sign of divine inspiration to prompt us. Well that has arrived in the form of Luke Alexander Meloy, newly born son of our friends Alex and Al (yes they have named their own son after themselves) and the imminent naming of me as Godfather. I must add to this that at no point have they mentioned that this would be the case, or that L A Meloy would even be christened, but it's not the first time I've used this blog to put ideas into the minds of the wider public and if enough people believe it and repeat it, it will soon become gospel.
So what have been up to on the old colony? Well, you pretty much realise that everything over in OZ is dangerous. The Australians have a canny knack of ignoring the inherent dangers crawling, swimming and skulking around and just getting on with life. Take the recent bout of shark attacks off the coast of Sydney that have resulted in a good few hands and legs now residing in the stomach of some of Jaw's relations. Now the demographic most at risk to these mutants is the shaggy haired surfer. While my recent exploits on the board have been tempered with healthy dose of looking over my shoulder looking for a fin and repeated glances at the shoreline to try and spy Roy Schneider running down the beach screaming 'get out of the water!', the rest of the surf fraternity, despite shark alarms (and sadly they don't play the Jaws theme for this) and various graphic news reports, insist on staying out in search of the perfect wave even with the light diminishing. It's an admirable quality, yet strikes of insanity somewhat. Fortunately we both currently posses a full quota of limbs and some would say that our real luck has been to have emerged unscathed from a far more precarious scenario, 'a visit from the In Laws'.
The Aussies are a resilient bunch, as demonstrated by their stoic response to the horrific bush fires in Victoria. What they lack in tact (note the casting director who told me I could 'even pass for being Indian'…which begs the question as to what he thought I was), they generally make up for in friendliness. I have to say that this friendliness sometimes appears to cross the line into harassment. Take our jaunt down the Mornington Peninsula to Sorento the other day and the 'over' friendly café owner who slyly slipped a slap on my bottom in as he showed us to our table. If that was perhaps some sort of a misunderstanding on my part, we were left in no doubt when he came over to our table, stood behind me and massaged my shoulders. To top the whole harrowing incident off with an unerring symmetry, he then slapped my derriere on the way out…all this in front of his 'wife'!
Life in Sydney though is fantastic. It is unlike any city I have ever been to. Surrounded by water, with sandy beaches and sea within a stone's throw from the CBD, it is the archetypal dream that most Brits who emigrate desire. So it's no surprise that the vast majority migrate towards Bondi or, our current home, Manly. Manly is but a mere 30 minute ferry ride from the centre of Sydney and it's a trip I never grow tired of. Arriving into Circular Quay you have the Harbour Bridge to your right and the Opera House to your left and not a journey has gone by without the strange realisation that, 'Oh my God, I'm in Sydney and over the other side of the world'. It's something about seeing these two iconic structures that somehow makes the whole thing seem so real. The funny thing is that Melbourne, where we have spent a significant time recently because of Kirsty's job, is probably a much better city. It is better designed, has better shops, better restaurants and a better entertainment scene, but if you are going to live 12,000 miles away from all that you know, then at least live by the sea and something that is significantly different from Teddington.
I love Sydney's out door life and not just because you can wear Speedos without irony; in Manly a jog along the front of the beach is a group activity, with the number of people out walking, jogging and generally exercising. I am particularly impressed with the super breed of 40-60 year olds that are absurdly fit and healthy. As a 29 year old supposedly at their physical peak, it's a humbling experience to be passed on your swim and jog by a 55 year old in his Speedos. Sport has played an important role in our life in Oz thus far, what with me playing for Manly Rugby Club and habitually getting swung around the head by massive islanders with my post Central America/South America physique….note to self; not the best preparation for returning to playing after 18 months. Sadly I am beginning to feel my age, with the aches and pains taking increasingly longer to recover from, and all my team mates a good 7- 10 years younger than me. What seemed impossible has now become a reality. Yes, I am one of the old men of the team. And so my descent into a midlife crisis has begun…more on that to come in future editions as we approach my 30th Birthday on the 10th August. Fortunately we can still get out and watch other more talented people play such games, and recent weeks have seen us take in Super 14 Rugby at the Olympic Stadium and Rugby League. Aussie Rules was ticked off on a recent trip to the MCG in Melbourne. A more spectacular sport it is hard to find and these hard men make Rugby players look like a bunch of….well Drama Teachers. Any sport where it is a skill to run up the back of your opponent and catch the ball is probably best just watched from a safe distance, but I'm all over a sport where you can wear a wife beater and tight shorts without looking decidedly camp or like you live in a trailer park.
A few weekends ago we made our way to the mosh pit that was Centennial Park for the V Fest. A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all, dancing along to 'The Killers', 'Razorlight' and 'Snow Patrol', but more excitingly 'Madness' complete with Suggs on tremendous form, and even more brilliantly, the one and only 'Vanilla Ice' singing 'Ice Ice Baby'. The strange thing is he was actually pretty good and the festival really didn't get going until he had performed. We've seen it all now; Machu Picchu and Robert Van Winkle...the sublime to the ridiculous. Whether it was quite as spectacular as the 2 random Scottish girls who wagered us that our wedding day was probably not quite as great as this festival, or indeed warned us that the birth of our first child would not be half as exciting is still open for debate, but it was one hell of a day.
Easter heralded another Melbourne weekend for us and a trek down the Great Ocean Road that runs along the coast from Melbourne to Adelaide, taking you precariously close to a plummet into the sea and through some decidedly English looking countryside. The views are stunning and the marvel that is the 12 Apostles is truly a sight to behold. Arriving at sunset, we joined just about every other Indian not in India at the moment to gaze upon the setting sun over the Apostles. Honest to God I haven't seen this many brown people since being in Hounslow on a Saturday afternoon. At this particular sight Hindi appears to be the first language.
What more? Well this week marked my Australian TV Drama debut. Yes blink and you miss it, but I was there making up the numbers on the highest rated Australian TV show 'Underbelly', a story about the notorious Melbourne and Sydney crime scene. I am eagerly awaiting the phone call from the producers of Home and Away. Added to this our appearance on Australian News earlier in the trip - check out: http://www.livenews.com.au/Articles/2009/02/12/Free_hugs_on_offer_for_Valentines_singles and the New Zealand News over New Year, we are becoming the right celebrity couple…or Rav-Sty as our publicist Suzie back in England has coined. Rav-Sty have also just returned from a seafood cooking course at the Sydney Fish Markets courtesy of a Wedding gift from Steph and Gordon (you'd think putting up with us was enough of a gift) and we are now experts at cleaning squid, butterflying Garfish and pan frying King Fish. Be prepared to be dazzled by these culinary delights on our return to Blighty…it's just a shame we won't be able to afford any of the ingredients
So what's next? Well after my shock omission from the British and Irish Lions Squad for the South Africa Tour it appears the High Veldt is off the menu, but we are but a mere 5 weeks away from beginning our journey through South East Asia for 2 and half months…doesn't a year go quickly. In that time we hope to squeeze in as much as possible in the form of Canberra and Cairns, and some visit to various friends dotted around the place. The Red Centre might be off the itinerary for this trip. Once again the realisation that this country is just so big, may prevent us from making it all the way to the big rock. Do we miss home? Well we miss friends and family round the corner, and quirky little things that you only get at home, but to be honest every time we walk along the beach you do have to keep reminding yourself that at some point in our lives we will look back whilst sitting in our rocking chairs and say 'do you remember when we lived by the sea?'. So excuse us for not missing home too much. However, we do need to mark one other significant event, that has since occurred whilst I have been collating this over the last few weeks; the birth of Emily Harriet Craven to Sarah and Marcus. I'm gonna put an early pitch in for Godfather for this one also, just to increase my chances of someone being stupid. In fact, by the time you have read this there will probably be another little person that has popped out, so feel free to throw my name out for that one also.
Until next time.