This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Down under revisited - Pt 6


As was becoming the norm, we had pre-booked a couple of nights accommodation

to get us started. The taxi (no expense spared - for once!) deposited us at
the door of a Best Western in Hindley Street. Hindley St is Adelaide's
central entertainment strip with a plethora of bars, clubs, fast food
joints, strip joints and hotels and B & B's of all shapes, sizes and star
ratings.
 
The Best Western, if I recall correctly was the equivalent of about thirty
five quid a night and whilst hardly the Ritz was still too expensive for our
meagre budget - particularly considering the cost of the aforementioned
taxi! We were to be here for ten days or so having dumped our gear in the
room we set off to find something cheaper.
 
Our search took us literally just down the road to the Plaza Hotel. You
would have to cut stars in half to give it a rating but they done us a deal
for our remaining time in Adelaide forking out the equivalent of about
fifteen quid a night, room only.
 
Two days later we hauled our bags down Hindley St and grabbed our keys from
the reception. It had clearly seen better days and now accommodated a lot of
long term residents but was certainly once a grand place to stay. The rooms
were arranged around a courtyard in which grew a massive palm tree. Our
accommodation actually comprised of a large double bedroom, a sitting room
with another bed and a massive bathroom. For the money it was a bargain. I
had a quick Google whilst typing this and someone has spent a serious amount
of money as it has been done up and now looks very nice indeed.
 
There was a few days to kill before the start of the cricket. We took the
opportunity to check out the Adelaide Oval, where the test match would be in
a couple of days time and recalled our conversation with the skipper of the
boat up in Cairns. The Oval was indeed a beautiful ground. Two covered
stands, an open seating area and, roughly at either end grass banks
separated from the playing area by a quaint white fence. An old fashioned
manual scoreboard completed the idyllic picture postcard scene.
Adelaide is not quite on the coast, but Glenelg is and the best way to get
there was an old fashioned tram running through the suburbs. A pleasant ride
of half an hour or so, unless you happened to be sitting above the brake
compressor, then it was still pleasant, just deafening!
 
The Australian Formula One Grand Prix, now in Melbourne used to be in
Adelaide. It was a street circuit and, having stumbled upon it by accident,
we took the chance to walk the length of the circuit. Near the start line
could be seen the hand prints of many of the F1 drivers of the day,
including the late, great Ayrton Senna. Interestingly, 1995 was the last
year of the Adelaide Grand Prix. Traditionally one of the last races of the
season, Melbourne became one of the first and is also a street circuit.
Finally though, the day of the start of the cricket had arrived. The fourth
test between England & Australia. Oz led the series 2-0 (with the one draw
in Sydney) to no ones surprise and if the pundits were to be believed it
would soon be 3-0. The England team had suffered a number of injuries and a
number of the best players were out. The local rags christened the team 'The
Bare Bones Eleven' - no one game them a chance. It was Australia day too, a
public holiday and a big crowd was expected.
 
The first day was for the most part pretty dull cricket wise. England went
into bat but the scoring was slow, however Australia did not take many
wickets. The heavy grey sky did little to lift anyone's spirits. It was
after the afternoon 'tea' interval when things started to get interesting
however. Not on the field, that was still as dull as ditchwater. I'm talking
about the weather. From apparently nowhere, the wind suddenly got up, the
heavens opened and soon everyone was drenched. We ran for cover and were
buffeted by hurricane strength winds. Trees were being blown over, signs
ripped from street corners. We learnt later that aircraft had overturned at
the airport. By the time we back to the hotel we were wet through, windswept
and bloody freezing. The storm soon passed though and within an hour or so
the sun was out. They even resumed play but we didn't bother to go back -
food was the only thing on our minds.
 
As mentioned before it was Australia Day. The Aussies love any excuse to set
off a few fireworks and this was one of them, so with seemingly the rest of
Adelaide we set off to the park after dinner to watch them. I have to say,
it was stunning - strategically placed loudspeakers throughout the park
pumped out a classical accompaniment which the fireworks exploded in perfect
time to. Very clever and very effective.
 
The next morning was still grey but with the promise from the permatanned
Persil toothed weatherman on Channel Nine of sun later we packed the sun
cream in our bag and made to set off for the ground.
 
Something else that was ever present in our 'day bag' was a video camera
kindly loaned to us by Trev's sister. It was a VHSC format and quiet compact
for the day although would be considered unwieldy by today's standards. We
had already used it a fair bit and was one of the reasons I don't have many
photos of this trip - that and running a roll of film through the camera
twice!
 
Although it was good to be able to record memories to tape, I did spend
rather a lot of time looking through a black and white viewfinder rather
than the various scenes in front of us and for that reason I now just take a
small point and shoot camera whenever we go away. The video camera did
however capture one of those moments that could have easily made it on to
one of the home movies shows on TV like You've Been Framed (and made me a
few quid as well) as I shall now explain.
 
Up the road from us was a much much grander hotel, complete with doormen in
long coats (Christ they must have been hot) and parked outside was a coach.
Both of the teams were staying at the hotel, and the coach was waiting to
transport the England players to the ground. The players soon started to
leave the hotel to board the coach so I reached for the camera and started
filming.
 
In between our hotel and the one the cricketers were staying at was a sex
shop and massage parlour. Although it was early the shop was already open
for business; an A-board on the pavement giving a rundown of the delights to
be found inside. From the angle I was standing it looked as if the team were
coming and going from the sex shop. The captured footage looked superb and I
always regret not sending it in to see if they would show it. Sadly, the
footage no longer remains. A while back I transferred everything to DVD,
ironically to preserve it and I foolishly binned the tapes. I pulled the
DVD out when I started this blog in the hope of putting some of the footage
online but the DVD wouldn't play at all, so it seems those memories are
lost, at least electronically.
 
Anyway, back to the cricket. Day two continued much the same as day one, the
weather was better though and the sun cream was certainly required. It could
have been a lot worse, lying in the sun, the occasional smack of willow on
leather and the periodic sortie to the bar for some liquid refreshment.
We'd heard, on our of our weekly phone calls home - no mobiles for us then,
just a phone box and a pocket full of dollar coins - that Trevor's cousins
from the midlands were also here. During the lunch interval Trev located
them on the far side of the ground and we agreed to meet up for a beer or
two. Hmm.
 
The next day we were fine, well, no worse than usual anyway, however the
cousins were clearly not as used to the amber fluid as us. There was no sign
of them at the ground and in fact it was only on the last day that they both
appeared again.
 
Day three (or four, I can't remember, look up Wisden if you are interested)
brought a tentative century from one of the old guard brought in to make up
the numbers - namely Mike Gatting, it was to be his last test match century
and even the Aussies applauded appreciatively if a little grudgingly.
 
Finally, the last day was upon us and it was still evenly balanced. England
had a few wickets remaining of their innings, then the Aussies would go into
bat and try get the required number of runs to win the match - and the
series. Phil de Freitas was in bat and early on took a blow in the groin
which left him writing on the pitch in agony. This seemed to galvanise him
and the team though. The next over he threw the bat at the ball and hit the
boundary with every delivery, at least one even went over the stand and he
knocked up twenty something in just six balls.
 
England may have declared their innings, or Australia bowled them out, I
can't remember exactly but soon after lunch, the Aussies went into bat. The
required total was realistically out of their reach. The real question was
whether England could bowl them out in the time left available and win the
match.
 
Devon Malcolm was England's main strike bowler and needed to be on form if
England were gonna get a result, and Christ, he was. The Aussie wickets fell
with joyful regularity - it was fabulous to watch. It seemed in no time at
all that the Aussies were eight wickets down and only two more were needed
for an England victory but their resolve stiffened and it looked as if a
draw was on the cards. The Aussies in the crowd that had left early were
being replaced as the gates were opened for free admission after tea.
Eventually, the ninth wicket fell and we knew were only moments away from a
historic victory once the last incoming batsmen was on strike and facing
'Big Dev'.
 
"Malcolm trudges back to his mark, turns and begins his run up. McIntyre
looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights as he prepares to face Malcolm.
Malcolm reaches the crease and bowls, that's lBW surely, but will the Umpire
give it? Yes, Yes, England have, against all the odds, and all the
predictions won this incredible test match!"
 
The radio commentary said it all really. Beating Australia in their own
backyard. Brilliant.

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