Lofty's blog

The Truth the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

It had always been my wish to be able to afford to watch England play cricket around the world when I retired. Luckily my wish has come true so I'd like to share some of my experiences which haven't been reported elsewhere.

My first overseas test was at Sydney in 2003 which England won so that was a good start. This turned out to be my last holiday from work as I was fortunate to be made redundant on my return. Happy days indeed. Four years to official retirement and more happy days.

Meanwhile I stumbled upon a person from the north, through a mutual friend, who had similar interests, in particular cricket. For the moment we'll forget about the other interests which are not mutual. Anyway, we got talking and discovered he'd already taken time off work for the odd tour. Eventually I was invited to go on my first full tour to New Zealand. The person concerned was soon to be identified as Midnight. I joined him and Tremers, whom I'd never met before, at a boozer in Mount Eden in Auckland. Not knowing what to expect, the experience of touring with others you hardly knew was something that wetted my appetite for future adventures. Obviously there were ups and downs, particularly concerning driving standards, but overall it didn't put me off.

Individual accommodation requirements differ immensely so compromise is needed on all sides. I have to admit that I like my creature comforts so when we got to Whakatane for our boat trip to White Island it was a real eye opener to be faced with back packer type accommodation. I had my own room but apart from a bed there was nothing else. I'm not very good in the morning which almost caught me out on this occasion as I could have missed the boat. We'd booked some accommodation in advance but when we were on the road that was not the case. Finding a motel unit to suit the three of us was not easy at times. Experience of Peroa have been well documented so no need for a repeat here. The last resort of sleeping in the car has never been needed. Lesson for the future, book in advance, but please no more backpackers. Thankfully that has been avoided ever since.

Another tip would be to avoid sharing sleeping accommodation. Of course that will depend upon budget. Past experience of sharing has resulted in many instances of blame and counter blame for loss of sleep sometimes within the same night. During the sharing days ear plugs became compulsory otherwise I needed copious amounts of alcohol to send me to sleep only to be woken by a vibrating room. The worst experience was during our notorious motor home trip across the Nullarbor Plain on our way to Perth. Whilst Tremers and I enjoyed the golf and the overall experience the other member of the party was not so. As you can imagine the sleeping quarters were not spacious which resulted in the use of ear plugs and the eventual walkout. Guess who took to alternative accommodation on site or down the road?? Tremers and I had a pleasant nights sleep and helped ourselves to breakfast in the morning. Then completed the Nullarbor golf links without one participant who, if I'm not mistaken, had gone off to find medical attention again. All lessons have now been learnt so separate rooms are the norm.

On occasions we've not stayed in the same establishment or one of us has gone off to do our own thing. Now, I have to admit that I'm not a great lover of mobile phones and until I started doing these overseas trips I had never used one and had no knowledge of text messaging. So I had to learn and have to admit that I was given help in that direction. However, a certain Midnight expects you to be instantly available when required!!! As a mobile is not normally part of my anatomy when at home, it is difficult to remember to charge it up let alone take it with me or even switch it on. No problem for me but not the same for others. I'd like to think that I've improved since my cricket club at home gave me a phone so that they could contact me at all times. Hasn't worked but so be it!!

In addition to the cricket we have always ensured that we see as much as we can of the country we are visiting. That involves hiring cars or using public transport. Of course that is easy in New Zealand where we have covered probably 90%. This can't be said in Australia or South Africa but areas can still be covered. Where cars are required we have to have an automatic because a certain person has a useless left leg. Otherwise he can't drive, which is probably the case anyway. So I have to learn to keep my left leg out of the way as it continues to look for a pedal. When I get home the leg has gone to sleep with inevitable results. I love driving and consider that I'm always in control. The cars we hire need to be revved to get the best, if that's at all possible, out of them which leads to a bit of aggression at times when steepish inclines are encountered. That's a challenge which can be overcome on the quiet roads of New Zealand where a racing line can be achieved through the bends subject to sufficient visibility. Always safety first. Fuel saving not required. This has been subject to criticism without foundation. In fact the most recent incident which was beyond my control involved a young kangaroo on a mountain track which we should never have been on. Navigator insisting that there would be mainly tarmac which was not the case. The said kangaroo was not murdered as reported but hopped away unscathed. So far, apart from braking issues and dislike of the N1, it's been relatively plain sailing but we've got a ten day trip with 5/O to encounter so who knows what we have in store. Unfortunately an incident has just occurred which I'd better report be fore the tell-tale gets to work!! The car had a high speed confrontation with one of the many potholes in this area resulting in a very flat tyre. Cue guffawing from Five O and midnight as I proceeded to change the wheel. Thanks to it should be replaced tomorrow. Meanwhile there's an 80kph speed limit with the spare. South Africa has been a brilliant holiday. We've driven many miles, witnessing contrasting vistas and staying in interesting places, some better than others. Although apprehensive at first, I'm glad I did it.

Places of interest have to be chosen carefully as I've mentioned earlier they don't necessarily match. So I've been to many transport museums on my own. But my lack of interest in films, fiction and such like haven't gone down very well at times and been mentioned in dispatches on more than one occasion. I'd never heard of a Hobbit for instance and all that goes with it. Do I care. Not at all. Got dragged to Hobbit Town, whatever it was, but sat in the cafe rather than pay a fortune for a tour. Why would I want to do that??? It's good to be independent at times.

Hopefully this will not be considered a 'character assassination' as it is not intended go be. Our travels have always been enjoyable but inevitably agreement can't always be achieved. But I'm sure that there will be future adventures to be had, health permitting. Thanks to all the friends I've made, particularly those in the Addis, who make these trips all the more worth while.


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