Yes it has been a long time, over two months I believe after seeing how far id actually got in my last email! We have been here for 4 months now; it seems like just the other day we were spooning on the floor of Johnny boys study come laundry cupboard. To kick things off we will look at the more serious aspects of life!!
We are still living in Beckton, although weare content here would still like to move closer to town, mainly because it takes an hour to get home on our night bus after a night out, but the good news is old Boris (the mayor of London) has given us a new night bus route which will hopefully cut our journey time in half, and possibly make a slightly intoxicated trip to bed less draining!!!
Work for me is going ok, but I think the travel (4 hours a day) has now broken my spirit and now I'm looking 4 something closer to home and town. We will see. I have also got a rugby coaching job which starts in September, only part time, but it should be interesting. Mikehas now also got a job, which is good.
Now onto the more interesting stuff! I’m sure ill probably leave some things out, but will try put as much in as possible and keep it entertaining as I know my writing gets slightly boring at times!
The Circle Line Party!
As of the 1st of June it was illegal to drink alcohol on the public transport in London (yes, u were allowed to before). This was another step by the new mayor old Boris. One Problem, 1stJune was a Sunday which means 31 may the last day of legal alcohol consumption wasa Saturday, not too well thought through. But what this ban created was one ofthe GREATEST parties I have ever been to!!!
Every year or so there is a party on the Circle line on the London underground (and u guessed it, it goes in a circle).The party was a protest/celebration of the ban. As mike and I are known to fancy dress every now and again we decided we would go as the crazy Scots from Braveheart, kilts and blue body paint! Please note: Plenty of thought went into this, and after days of thinking we decided crazy Scots:
We missioned around our newfound fancydress shopping spot, basically the Plaza in London!! We bought our body paintand kilt material at one pound a metre!!! Bargain city!!!
We started off at Gels (our crazy Greekbuddy, think of beavis and butthead, maybe a little brighter though) birthday braai. Having a few drinks it was time to get dressed, or rather undressed!!! Basically the outfit consisted of a piece of tartan looking material folded around the waist held up with a belt and a few safety pins. Then we painted half our bodies and the opposite sides of our faces blue etc, we managed to convince a couple more party goers into the attire so we had our army ready to fight for our FREEEEEEDOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Above, Gel, Mike and I, with some guys dressed as beer bottles, with the train in the background)
We eventually found our way to a circle line station and got to the platform and it was jam packed!!! If u have ever experienced London tubes at rush hour u will have some idea of what I’m talking about, but worse/better!!! Imagine the people as water in a dam. Every time a train will pull in, people would go crazy; cheering for the train, then people inside and out would be banging on the trains making such a massive noise!! The doors would open and people would literally flow in and out, you just had to go with the current of people. Incredible!!! The whole line had to be closed down due to over crowding, so the night was cut short, but it was one of the greatest experiences of my life, 20 000 people partying together without any trouble bar a few incidents for the common cause!!!
Next up on the agenda we have our cricketing experience which has now lasted a month! We managed to make every test match and follow the guys around the country to see their first series win in ages which was special.
1st Test at Lords.
As you all should know, that is the main reason I am in the land of the pale.
This could be a bit long, but I’m writing it, which is a lot harder than reading it J
Day 1 at lords started with mike and I trekking across London to our new home for 5 days, the Cumberland Hotel. This was not without incident though; I lost my wallet on the tube ride on the way! Not agreat start!! We (mike and I) met the other winners, Brendan and Jonathan(Pretty Boy), from P.E. and Andrew and Debbie from C.T. We also were reunited with Richard Dunn (DUNNERS), the tour organiser. Rob Fleming (Mr Rob), the tour Sponsor. And finally but not to be forgotten, Neil Johnson, yes the ex Zim captain and our Cricket expert. (Below, the Winners of Fanatical Fan, From left to right, Neil Johnson, me, Richard "DUNNERS" Dunn, Mike, Andrew, Debbie, Brendan, Jonathan "Pretty Boy", and in front, Mr Rob Fleming)
We had great seats, right next to the media centre and conveniently above a sign board of Johnson, so “in case he had too much to drink, he could find his seat again”, this sign board came in very handy for the rest of us as Johnson could either be found at the bar or under his sign saying “Hi, I’m Neil Johnson, look that’s me on the poster!” Very useful, especially when we had a cricket question, please note, the singular of question, yes ONE! That’s all we had!! Haha! We met a few promo girls and one promo guy along the way, Becky and Jo, the Toureg Girls, who let us abuse their car, especially in the rain. Then we had Leon from Vodafone, he was one of our staples of cricket viewing, along with Lords and the Cumberland Hotel. Everytime bar the oval we went past lords, and the Cumberland and every time we saw Vodafone Leon who had free biscuits, sweets and free international calls back home. And Mikes new found love Betfair Bailey, who I ended up working for at The Oval.
Watching cricket in England is a strange thing compared with back home, as we are used to sweating our balls off getting severely sunburnt on weird parts of our bodies like the tops of our feet and cheering, and throwing the odd bit of abuse towards the opposition. Here, you pack your fleece jacket, your raincoat, brollie and sun cream, because it will be beautiful, then pour with rain then be fine again.
Day 1 ended with dinner with Shaun Pollock and our little surprise hampers, which included all sorts, including a Test shirt and the official team Tracksuit. Oh Yes!!!
Polly is such a good oke, and we just spoke about normal things, he said he could get us tickets to the test in Birmingham, little did he think we would take up his offer three weeks later.
Friday and Saturday of the cricket just went on, as you may remember we weren’t doing too well, so all the poms loved abusing us! Little did they know!!!!! We also had a tour of the Media Centre(the big space ship looking thing) our guide was Neil Manthorpe, mainly he commentates of SABC or Radio, but it was pretty interesting.
Saturday was a good day for old Johnson or should I call him young? He didn’t even make his seat; he didn’t make it further than 20 metres from a table he found on our way in. Yes, he didn’t even manage to watch one ball live, his reasoning, “Nah, its day 3 of the match, you gotta go huge, day 3 is always big”
Sunday Johnno was feeling the effects of a heavy day 3, so he was a lot less active, the cricket slowly started to look upfor us too, we ended the day with dinner at Planet Hollywood, Amanda, Mr Rob's wife’s favourite restaurant, we organised a little Spur-style birthday sing-song for Johnson, saying he was 40, which he is not. Good times!
Monday was day 5, and here you cannot buy tickets for the last day of a test until it happens, so off we went all 8 of us to get tickets and a RECEIPT! Yes this was crucial for our friend old Dunners, who by now I think was at his wits end with the constant abuse given to him by Mike and I. To paint you a picture, as you can imagine everybody at Lords is extremely proper and posh as it is “The home of Cricket.” Dunners isn’t the easiest chap to understand at the best of times, but especially when he wants something and can’t be bothered anymore. Imagine a drunk South African Homer Simpson, asking for a receipt,
“Aaaah ja, hi , ya I need a Receipt”
“I beg your pardon sir?”
“Need a Receipt, 8 tickets”
“Oh, a receipt sir?”
“With pleasure, who can I make it out to?”
“Ah, uh, Rishard Dunn”
“Actually maak it out to SAB Miller”
It probably will sound funnier, but useyour imagination kids!!!
We watched our beloved Proteas save the test match and Uncle Rob had one more little surprise, how about a Castle in the change room with the players! Sure, what a pleasure! (Please note the above pic!)
We walked into the hallowed members pavilion and into the change room, mike was encouraged to put the mankini on,and as you probably know it doesn’t take much encouragement, so there we had it, the national cricket team at the home of cricket with some dude running around semi to completely naked! Brilliant. After that we got to see Neil Johnson’s worth, when we snuck into the long room, we listened as Johnson tookover telling us how all the members just stand and applaud and wish you luck as you walk through them, going out to bat, no barricades, nothing. This gave me Goosebumps listening to a player that had done it before. Amazing!!!
That night we met up with some of the players for a drink and that was some what of and end to an amazing experience! Well as the prize went.
Second Test, Headingley, Leeds.
We were told, for connoisseurs of fancydress such as ourselves, so we made a plan. Andre Nel said he could give us tickets as we found out that all the players get three free ones anyway. Beckythe one Toureg promo girl from Lords, a student at Leeds university offered us accommodation, which we gratefully accepted. (Below is our New Best Friend, Becky)
We booked our bus, ₤20 return, what a pleasure!!! Our bus Ride took us past Lords. Leeds is not a place I’d go on holiday to, but we were there for cricket and id definitely go back for that! That place is the Mecca of fancy dress, EVERY sort of fancy dress you can possibly think of was there! Absolutely incredible, from Amy Whinehouse’s, super heroes, baywatch, Wheres Wally, Smurfs, and the winners of the fancydress competition, the Mr T’s, for the younger of our readers, this was a character from a TV Show called the A-team. These guys even shaved themselves Mohawks. The East stand is where it all happens, similar to our beloved wanderers, but they have way more fun, they all bring inflatable beach balls so every 5 minutes there will be a ball bouncing around the crowd, they also have these balloons that they blow up and attempt to get them as close to the pitch as possible.
These poms also have a random, but very funny thing they do, they build massive snakes from all the beer cups that are finished with during the day, this is illegal in the stands for who knows what reason. Maybe because as one guy stands up and his “beer-snake” gets cheered, the rest of the crowd chuck their empty cups in his vicinity, these are gathered up by fellow snakebuilders and the snake grows bigger. As this is illegal, the GREEN TEAM (ourversion of Lodge, but they have some pretty girls instead of these trashy ex bouncers etc) step in, to kill the snake, to chants of “Get a real job, get areal job”, as you are aware snakes are not the easiest animals to catch, and neither are the beer-snakes, once a GREEN TEAM member heads for the snake, it slithers away over the crowd, growing every second it is loose, until it is finally caught or dropped to loud jeers from the nutty poms.
We were obviously wearing our now iconic maids kit, and it soon became apparent to the English that we were not on their side, and as we were doing so well in the test, we were the subject of much abuse which ended up in bottle-throwing, so we got outta there. We were joined in Leeds by our now token black buddy Welcome, who we knew from back home mainly Jolly Roger. (Below, Welcome in the Iconic Maids kit)
We went out with our host Becky and her buddies who were also cricket fans, Vonna short for Yvonne and Alice. The girls faded, but Welcome had a little Geordie (from Newcastle like me dud), we ended up at a dodgy club called Mint, but we will leave it at that!
On Sunday we were a lot more civil and sat with the posh people again to avoid the shenanigans of the previous day. We of course saw Leon our Vodafone man who had his steady supply of biscuits and mints. We then caught our return bus back on Sunday evening and there was a real small world story. A girl asked me if our bus was the one to london, she noticed my South African Accent and asked where I was from, we got chatting and I found out she was from Saints, Small world!
There was a week ends break between the Test so I was back to the Spit braais, which still keep us going.
Test 3, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
We had not really considered going to this test as we had no tickets or accommodation, that was until we decided to give Polly a call on the Thursday, Day 1 of the test. He said he would get us tickets for the Saturday, so we booked our bus tickets once again, this time,no accommodation, but that’s part of the adventure, right? We had contacted Polly again and he said the tickets were waiting for us. Four hours later we arrived, hunted for our tickets, trying to find the right collection point,which we did, it was the last of our options, but when we did, there were no tickets there. Very embarrassing. The security guard called on his radio to ask whether tickets should be there, while we were getting dirty looks from various others waiting for tickets. 5 minutes later, a little runner came with our tickets proclaiming
“Sir, these are the tickets for Mr Sharman and Mr Hobson from Mr Pollock” which prompted us to be all high and mighty and impressed our fellow ticket collectors. Once again Leon from Vodafone was on hand to give us our staple breakfast of biscuits and sweets. We were seated in the members' stand which was extremely posh, but empty as not many of the players had guests. We watched one of the greatest days test cricket ever though, England looked like they could win until Smith scored a hundred helped on by Boucher to win the series. It was awesome being there and we were part of the 200 people or so who were still in the ground when they players walked off the field.
We checked into a Formula 1 style hotel and then headed out for a few drinks in Birmingham, probably a place I would go back to.
Test 4, The Oval.
Now as per, we had no tickets for this match until the last minute, but got off Dale Steyn, through his girlfriend who became known as the P.A. back in Birmingham.
Mike was away for work in Newquay, scouting hot babes for his PR stuff, shame!!!! I got a job being a Betfair mascot with Betfair Bailey. These mascot costumes were so bloody hot, I reckon I lost 5 kilos of fluid that day, but got paid for it, and got to see a tiny bit of the crickey! (Yes, I look like the Liquorice Allsorts man)
Sunday I took Julian, one of our housemates as Mike was still at his PR thing. He did eventually make it, but didn’t see any cricket as the day was washed out. Pity.
All in all we made every Test match and had some incredible experiences from the cricket, so thanks to my life partner,Mike, for winning the competition, taking me as his plus-one, and Castle Lager who provided a once in a lifetime experience.
So the cricket is over and this letter is coming to an end which I’m sure most of you who have managed to get this far are quite looking forward to.
A few more things though, generally theweek ends are spent spit-braaiing or partying with the Kiwis, they are led byStruan , the madman, Mike met on Contiki 4 years back. We have had some crazy times with him, he is sadly leaving next week, so we will be partying hard this weekend for one final time. (In the picture below Struan is on the far left not the right, but you will be forgiven if you were confused)
On the romantic front, I have met a Slovakian girl who is pretty fun, so we will see how that progresses, if it does progress at all!
Monday was a bank holiday here, i.e. a public holiday, and the Notting Hill Carnival was on, similar to Rio, it was chaos, the streets are just packed with people, something I’m glad I have done, but probably not something I’d do again.
P.S. If you are reading this, give yourself a pat on the back for getting through this epic novel.
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