A Travellerspoint blog

October 2013

AFL Grand Final Weekend

19 °C

The excitement that ripples through all of Melbourne for AFL Grand Final weekend is undeniably infectious and you'd have to have your head in the sand for all of the weeks leading up to it not to notice that its a big deal in these parts.

The two teams that would be taking the field to battle it out would be locals to Melbourne Hawthorn and Western Australian based team Fremantle, simply nicknamed Freo. The event is such a big deal that thousands of supporters from Fremantle flew or coached it over for the weekend to bask in the potiential glory. It meant that Melbourne changed its colours to purple as Freo supporters flooded the streets and bars. It reminded me of when the British Lions came to town and flooded the Southbank bars.

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Amongst the Freo supporters coming to Melbourne we also had the pleasure of meeting Broomy's brother, Mike, his brother-in-law MJ and their mates Dan and Jeff. They would be staying with us from Wednesday and the AFL final was on the Sunday so you can imagine how big of a weekend it is as these guys were out for most of it!

As much as I love a good sporting event it was highly unlikely that we would be able to get a ticket to join these guys and so we reverted to what most of Australia does on this day....have a Bar-b!!!

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We put a word out for people to join us and enjoy the bar-b whilst watching the game on TV, and so our new friends Andy, Noreen and Phil came over. We watched the pre-game build up as the meat was cooking and Andy tried out our new camping chairs that are like thrones which we would be using for our roadtrip to Perth.

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We could almost hear the anticipation of the fans in the distance from our balcony.

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The colours of Freo and Hawthorn littered the stadium on the screen.

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And we tucked in to our food and drinks...Sunday sport doesn't get better than this.

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Phil even made a chocolate cake which was delicious!!

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It was a ripper of a game and at one point in the third quarter Freo looked like they might claw back the deficit that had left them chasing Hawthorn, but it was the Hawks that came through as deserved champions capping of a great season for them.

I can't say that I have got into footy as much as I thought I might, and maybe if I stayed longer in Australia and followed It more I would get more involved in the knowing the players and the ups and downs. That being said, I loved the excitement that the Aussies whip up when a sporting occasion comes round and to have experienced it whilst living here was a cool thing to say you have witnessed.

On a side note, quite out of the blue I was allowed to have a go at lifting The Cup at my work because Bupa sponsor the winners Hawthorn. So I kind of got a chance to feel really part of it, even though I was routing for Freo.

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After the game it was only a matter of time before all the food and beer would win and colapsing on the couch would be inevitable, but not before I got the chance to witness another special event.

One of my good friends Liam 'Lion' Sturt married Janine over that weekend and through the wonders of technology Sarah and I were able to be there using Apple's FaceTime and it worked a treat. Congratulations to you both , you looked so happy together and Sarah and I wish you many happy years together.

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Liam had asked me to send him some head shots of Sarah and I and I thought it was to photoshop us in on a group photo but to my surprise it was something better..

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My mate Reefa perhaps showed he was missing me a bit too much ...

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Look forward to actually being there for the next big event guys.

Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 03:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Lock your knees! Lock your knees!

Bikram Yoga

Several times a week I join 30 people crammed into a swelteringly hot room, trying to pull and stretch our bodies whilst sweating bucket loads and at the same time trying not to pass out! Why would anyone want to subject themselves to this, I hear you ask? This exactly what I was thinking after only 10 mins of my first Bikram yoga class...but now I'm hooked!

Bikram yoga is a Hatha yoga practice made up of 26 postures that are carried out over 90 mins in a room heated to 40 degrees! When Dan and I went to our first class we naively thought that the heat wouldnt make that much difference. After all we had first tried out yoga in Bali when it was about 35 degrees so whats a few extra degrees gonna do! ALOT is the answer. Within minutes of starting the class you are already sweating from every pore and feeling the affects of the heat.

As a beginner your aim is to stay in the room for the full class and not leave, however much you might want to. I have been known to faint on cramped hot trains and a few times in class have experienced that same type of feeling and needed to take a break sitting on my mat. The more I go to Bikram though the more I am learning that it is as much about the discipline of the mind to as it is about the ability of your body. I often find once I am in the pose I feel fine but it is the standing in between when I feel weird and here is when I am learning to focus rather than succumbing to that feeling. It also helps if you breathe and keep your feet and legs tight together when standing too!

The bikram script took some getting used too. The teacher stands at the front leading the class by speaking instructions at a rapid pace. In each class the same words and phrases are used, such as "touch your exactly head to your exactly knee", "there should be no space like a japanese ham sandwich", "like a T in terrific and not a broken umbrella". This annoyed me to begin with but now it becomes a bit of a mantra and helps you to switch off and go into the poses, the teachers mind directing the students body.

After an initial intro of 10 days doing bikram we decided we were missing the moves and style of class that you get in other yoga...but when we went to another studio and got back into doing Vinyasa we actually realised we missed Bikram!

Its not a cheap hobby to have so when I found another studio closer to my work I was able to use their intro offer to get some discounts to continue on. I've been going to bikram for a couple of months now and have noticed a big change in my flexibility and can already get further into postures that I could hardly do in the beginning. No class is easy, sometimes you re in a good place but other times it can be a real challenge, but as long as you try you get benefit.

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I highly recommend the Hot Bikram Studio in Fitzroy which is run by Michael and Susan. Its a really friendly studio and the teachers are happy to offer additional advice and tips on getting into the postures other than the script. The teachers join the classes to practice as well when they are not teaching...so practicing what they preach. They also highlight how everyone is doing their own practice, have their own bodies which allow them to do poses differently. Everyone is welcome and the class is full of varying ages, sizes and abilities but as everyone is so focused on what they are doing you don't feel self conscious and so its a great unjudging space to be in.

I really hope I can keep this up when go back to the UK. Its a great way to wind down after work, makes me consciously drink more water, helps me sleep better and seems to be having an affect on the waistline (although this could also be due to not having any battenburg cake for over a year!!)

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Definitely try it!

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 14:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The lock of love...

Our 7 year anniversary was coming up and we thought it would be fun to join the other Melbourne romantics and add our own love lock to one of the bridges over the Yarra, to symbolise our relationship and also to leave part of us behind in this great city we have come to love and call home.

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When we arrived in Melbourne and there were only a couple of padlocks happily swaying in the breeze, now there are hundreds of them! I believe that the love lock craze started in Europe, and now it seems to have gone global. The couple write their names or initials on the lock, attach it to the bridge and seal their love forever by throwing the key into the water. I decided to keep the keys with us, having one each as a memory.

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I walk over this bridge everyday on the way home from work and each time there seems to be more and more locks on the bridge. First you see just one... then maybe a group of 3...then 15... before you get to the fast filling middle sections of the bridge. There is always someone taking photos off them and it makes me smile to wonder if anyone has taken pictures of ours.

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What's great is knowing that behind each lock there is a couple with their own amazing story, if only locks could speak... I'm sure there would be plenty of material for a movie or two.

I wonder if our lock will still be here in another 7 years time...

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 14:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mooncake Festival

Glancing through the paper I spotted that there was going to be a firework display over the Yarra River outside the Crown Casino as the highlight of their week long Mooncake Festival celebrations.

The Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn festival, happens on 15th day of 8th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar (mid autumn) when the moon is at its roundest and brightest, hence the names. It comes from the tradition of the Chinese Emperor who used to make sacrifices to the moon in autumn as they recognised that the change of the moon had affect on the change of the seasons and a good harvest. It is also said that the Mooncake Festival relates to the Ming Revolution where revolutionaries managed to smuggle notes hidden in Mooncakes to organise an uprising which took place on 15th day of the 8th month to overthrow the Mongolian rulers during the Yuan dynasty.

Not only were there going to be fireworks but as with tradition there would be Chinese Lion dancers too. Feeling nostalgic about our trip to China we rallied a group together to take in the festivities and there was of course only one place in Southbank to meet up before we found our spot...

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....by the bagpipe playing Cookie Monster!

You gotta love this guy. The dressed up musicians are an iconic part of Melbourne and as you walk around the city you can spot the likes of Mario and Elmo playing music to passersby. The bass playing bunny is probably the most famous now after his recent appearance on Australia's Got Talent!

We joined the crowds overlooking the river and waited under strings of Chinese Lanterns for the fireworks to begin...

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BOOM!!!

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It was a spectacular display, much more than we had anticipated and the reflections off the water and the city skyline added to the mesmerising effect.

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It was hard to fight back the urge to shout out Happy New Year once it was finished...actually I don't think we did!

Once the fireworks were over we eagerly looked out for the lion dancers which were going to come down the river walk. Unfortunately we weren't quick enough and we found ourselves at the back of the crowd who were all jostling for space behind the lion dancers who led them like a procession down the river. Try as we might we couldn't even see the dancers so we gave up and headed inside Crown to see what else was going on.

This was the best choice as we managed to catch a drumming display and we see lion dancing too!

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So what is a mooncake?

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They are a type of pastry cake which is considered a delicacy in China, with a dense filling inside which can come in a variety of flavours. They have chinese symbols on top which normally represent harmony and longevity. It is custom to present moon cakes to relatives and friends to wish them a long and happy life.

Going back to the Ming revolution theory it is also thought that secret messages could have been coded into the top of the Mooncakes that when cut in the right way and placed together with other Mooncakes reveals a message. Then instead of the message needing to self destruct you just eat it! Genius.

Despite feeling like we should try one they were quite expensive so we didn't. I imagine they are probably like some of the other filled buns we have had during our travels.

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Another lovely eve in Melbourne

Sxx

Posted by doyledan 05:09 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Archers at the ready!!

With most of our plans for doing stuff in the future, I was a little bit sick of not having much on over the weekend so I started to look on Group On to see if I could find some deals, and low and behold I spotted one. I had never dabbled with Archery before and the offer was so good only $19 bucks for a 2 hour lesson for both of us it seemed too good to miss.

On the morning of our booking we headed down Moorrabin Archery centre to find out if all those hours watching Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings would pay off. It was only 45 mins out of town and we had a fantastic day with the sun beaming.

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As we looked around the club we got to see the equipment we would be using and also the targets we would be shooting at. We had to wait for the other people to turn up and so we basked in the sunshine.

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Before we started our lesson we got a chance to see some of the regulars square up and take aim. It was quite nice to see a mixture of people and ages and even some youngsters.

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Check out this accuracy from some of the pros

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This little girl was pretty good too.

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It became obvious that a lot of people had taken advantage of the cheap cost to the lesson as there was about 40 people in the group when we stood for our first lesson about all the different types of bows that have been used in the past and that are used today for practice and in the Olympics.

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The type of bow that is used by archers today for competition is Recurve bow which is also the exclusive bow of the Olympics. The name derives from the side profile of the bow. With these bows you would use aluminium made arrows rather than wooden.

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There is also a longbow which is rarely used today accept by well trained archers who compete in specific events or chose to hunt. Its archery in it's simplest and most original form. A wooden, one-piece bow, a string, wooden arrows with feather fletchings.

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There is also the Compound bow which is not too different to the recurve, except for pulleys that aid in efficiency and adjustable limbs. It is a modern bow that was developed in the USA in the late 60's, primarily as a hunting bow. The adjustable pulleys allow for far greater accuracy. We saw some of these with spirit levels and telescopic lenses on them, some high tec kit.

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We would be using a type of compound bow called a Genesis bow which is good for beginners. After the history lesson we got kitted up with wrist guards, selected our bow and arrows and made our way to the practice area where we all lined up.

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As there were many of us it was quite cramp but we managed to find a spot at the end together and fortunately we ended up being next to the assistant who was a bubbly old chap called Frank and was good at explaining how to position yourself.

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A lot of the technique is built around the way you hold your stance and the slight angling of your arm or hand can change the direction that you shoot quite considerably.

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When the whistle was blown to signal everyone was allowed to draw, safety is paramount on the field, we let loose!
It didn't take long after some tutoring from the old chap that both Sarah and I were getting pretty close to the centre target.

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The moment Sarah hit Gold!!

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There was a lot of talking in between the 5 arrows we were allowed to draw per tern which was a bit of a drag. However the instructor did explain important aspects of the etiquette around archery. It was also during this time we were given extra tips from Frank about relaxing our shoulders and like a Jedi trusting in the force!

On our next few goes we started to feel like Olympic pro's....well almost.

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It was a nice way to spend the morning and I wouldn't mind given archery another go in the future. It is quite therapeutic in a way as you feel quite satisfied with getting the draw right and hitting the target it is also quite physically challenging as well.

Afterwards we headed off to St Kilda for brunch and tucked into what can only be described as bliss!

Smoked salmon and eggs in burger form!

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Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 01:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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