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  AUSSIE FANATICS? THEY'RE NO BARMY ARMY
Posted by Scrooge
Tuesday, 19th December 10:45

Well, the Ashes are over - bit disappointing really after all the hype and expectation. The third test match was at Perth, and we had the dubious honour of sitting with the 'Aussie Fanatics' every day of the test, as they were the only tickets we could get our hands on. If you read the Fanatics website, you would think they are a group of a hard core fans set to rival the Barmy Army - brought together so they could out-sing the Poms and cheer the Aussies on to victory.

The reality was slightly different. Firstly, they couldn't actually sell all their tickets, so the Fanatics stand actually had more English in than Australian for 2 of the 4 days. Secondly, Aussies can't sing. Not blessed with the football terrace culture that we've all grown up with, they have literally no idea how to make the kind of noise that the English fans always create.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly - the Aussie sense of humour when it comes to 'banter' is really bad. Their attempts to respond to the classic English songs such as "you all live in a convict colony" and "God save your gracious queen" were laughably bad.

And one final criticism of the Aussie fans (this isn't sour grapes, honest). Day 5 of the test match, on which the Aussies were 95% certain they were going to win the Ashes - none of them turned up. Tickets were on sale at the ground for just $30 (about 12 quid), and yet only about 7,000 Australian fans made the effort to turn up to witness their triumph. Compare that to the last day at The Oval, when thousands of English fans queued up from the early hours, and still missed out on getting tickets.

Hopefully the Aussie fans will be slightly better in Melbourne and Sydney, where we're assured they are all sport-mad and passionate about their cricket. 100,000 people should be there on Boxing Day - with that many voices surely they can muster a song or two. Surely???

P.S. No decent internet access, so am writing this from the airport - hance lack of pictures. Tour Diary picture special to follow as soon as we get a decent apartment that has net access!




SCROOGE Vs SAMSON!
Posted by Scrooge
Thursday, 14th December 22:00

We'd seen the publicity shots for deep sea fishing off the west coast of Perth, but none of us believed your everyday fishing amateur could catch something THAT big. That was until my rod very nearly snapped in half when I caught a 30kg Samson Fish - named after the biblical character because it's one of the strongest fish in the ocean.

I was understandably proud of the catch (see photo) until I found this was just a nipper - the record for a Samson caught off Perth is 52kgs! I think if one that size had bitten, it would have been me who came off worst...

We all really enjoyed the day fishing, despite the 5.30a.m. departure to catch the boat. Given that none of us had ever been fishing before, it was a pretty good effort and we brought home enough fish for at least a couple of barbies. Unfortunately we're such amateurs nobody had a clue how to prepare a whole raw fish for eating... so the catch ended up in the bin!

And it's fair to say we had a better day than the other 3 members of the barmy army who joined our boat. They had been out drinking until the early hours, and spent the whole day looking very green and trying to sleep, doing no fishing at all between them. That's $165 well spent!




SPECIAL REPORT: POTTER'S SUPER SUNDAY
Posted by Potter
Wednesday, 13th December 22:00

The guide book called it legendary, the locals said it was a day not to miss....the sunday Cottesloe drinking session had arrived, could it live up to it's reputation?

With the OBH only having around 20 people in it on Saturday night, the Shrimpers were wondering how Sunday was going to be busy, I mean who goes all day drinking on a Sunday?! Eight Shrimpers set up camp in the front terrace of the Cottesloe Beach House (CBH) at 11am, the sun was out and the views and sounds of the sea were not to be missed. The beer consumption was a steady pace and the locals were slowly descending upon the bar.

To our absolute amazement, by 3pm the pub was full to capacity, including the beer garden at the back, a queue of around 100 people had formed and it was already 'one in, one out', and people were dancing away to the tunes the DJ was banging out, it was like England at midnight on a Saturday, not a Sunday afternoon! Scrooge upped the pace around 6pm as the first of many sambukas came into play! It seems bouncers are very strict in Perth with the ladies they let in, unless you're a ten out of ten stunner...you can't come in... I've never seen a pub full of so much talent in my life! By 9pm, the queue to get in the pub was still over 100 deep and the shrimpers decided it was time to move on. After a visit to the bottle shop for more alcohol, we stayed on the beach until around midnight when over twelve hours of drinking had its toll and we rolled back to the appartment!

The super Sunday session had been better than predicted and I strongly recommend anyone who visits Perth to give it a go!

The morning after and all shrimpers were proud owners of hangovers, however Scrooge, Potter and Rod Hull decided to brave it out and caught a ferry over to Rottnest Island for the day. First port of call was the 45 minute glass bottom boat trip, where the amazing views of shipwrecks and fish could be seen. The sea was very choppy and was too much for young Potter's stomach, so a quick dash upstairs was made and in true Potter fashion....threw up!!!

The island was an amazing experience and another place I strongly recommend to go, hop on the bay hopper bus and visit all the beaches, where the water is so clear you have to be there to really beleive it, my only regret is that we did not have more time there. The day was finished off nicely, with a trip to the mussell bar in Fremantle upon our return, where a mixture of fish, mussells and chips was enjoyed by all, with a beautiful young waitress making the experience that little bit more special! This was then washed down with a superb caramel blast from the local ice cream shop to cap off an amazing couple of days in Perth!

Are we missing england?! Not a chance!




THE GREAT RANDOM ROAD TRIPS

Posted by Scrooge
Saturday, 9th December 10:15


The least said about the cricket, the better - so to take our minds off England throwing away the second test, we've done some exploring over the last few days.

We've quickly worked out that the best way to explore Australia is to throw away the guide book, hire a car, and keep driving until you find something interesting. It doesn't usually take long!

Our last day in Adelaide started with a trip to the Adelaide Hills, where we could see the whole city from the top of Mount Lofty (750m above sea level). The hills were also the surprising home of Cleland Wildlife Park, where we could mingle with proper Aussie critters - koala, kangaroos, wallabies etc. The place was much better than Steve Irwin's zoo - it was so out of the way that it was fairly empty of people. And the animals actually run around wild, so it feels more like a natural environment than a zoo.

After coming down from the hills, we chose to drive down the coast from Adelaide. Potter had recently joined us, and was getting annoyed that he'd gone 5 days without seeing the sea, so we did a 'beach crawl' down the coast. It still seems surreal that you can get literally hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline with barely a person on them - a completely different world from England. Not sure I can go back to the typical British beach where you have to fight for a spot on the sand as soon as it gets above 20 degrees!

The next day we flew to leg 3 of the Australia tour - Perth, in Western Australia. We have a week off the cricket, so are staying in Cottesloe just down the coast from Perth. The apartment is about a minute's walk from the beach, and you can hear the sea from my bedroom window!

There are now 6 of us here in Perth, and we spent our first night sat on the beach watching the sunset with a few beers. Could get used to spending my evenings doing that - beats the pub.

We then had our first Western Australia random road trip, and followed the same plan as our Adelaide journey - follow the road up the coast and see what we find. We found yet more beaches, a picturesque harbour, an estate of VERY expensive looking houses right on the seafront, and an aquarium that was home to sharks, stingrays, turtles, etc.

Possibly the pick of the finds though was a National Park just in from the coast. The Park was home to wild kangaroos and various other critters - so a completely different experience from the zoos we had been to. We had to actually stay quite still to avoid sending the roos hopping in the other direction, but got some quality photos of a family of them living in the park.

The photos from the trips will be on the site soon - but unfortunately internet access is harder to come by here in Perth so I can't upload them at the moment. Hopefully I'll find somewhere when we move to the city next week.

Lots planned over the next few days, then it's back to the cricket for the third test starting next Thursday (14th). It's about time the cricket started living up to the rest of the trip!




HAVE YOU SPOTTED THE FLAG YET?
Posted by Scrooge
Monday, 4th December 19:45

Four days into the cricket and it looks as if the match is going to end in a draw - but an enjoyable few days anyway and thankfully a much improved English performance. Although technically a sell out we've had the choice of watching the game from a few places in the beautiful Adelaide Oval ground. Our actual tickets have been in what we affectionately call the "Cold Stand", where no matter what the temperature a wind blows through and results in you sitting there shivering. So instead we've spent most of our time either standing on the hill with the rest of the Barmy Army, or sitting on the grass at the opposite end on those occassions when we've been too tired to stand all day!

The Shrimps flag has made it's debut Ashes appearance. After not getting it into the Police State of Brisbane (can a flag be an offensive weapon?!), they've been more relaxed in Adelaide so we got it on full display. A great bit of spotting from one fellow Shrimper - see pic for a Sky Sports shot with the flag in the background. Top advertising!




ADELAIDE... ALL HEAT AND NO SUN
Posted by Scrooge
Friday, 1st December 02:30

We're two days into the Adelaide leg of the tour, and there's not much to report... mainly because the place is too hot to do anything. It's been mid thirties since we touched down on Tuesday, which has been perfect weather for doing, well sod-all really.

We did finally get round to a bit of sightseeing, and jumped on the tram down to Glenelg beach, which has been recommended by everyone as "the" beach place to see in South Australia. Unfortunately as we got there the sun decided to do a disappearing act, and we were left in a cloudy, rainy seaside resort reminiscent of Bournemouth.

Fortunately we stuck it out, and suffered the poor turn of weather in a nearby bar. Several drinks later, we were treated to a couple of hours of sunshine and a spectacular sunset. We even managed a saunter down the pier, and it's amazing how a bit of sunshine can turn Bournemouth into real Australia!




THE FIRST 3 DAYS WERE A WARM-UP
Posted by Scrooge
Sunday, 26th November 21:30

It was day 4 at the cricket today, and finally things got interesting. Firstly on the pitch - where we finally produced some decent cricket. But more importantly off the pitch, where at last the atmosphere was what you would expect from an England tour of Australia. The first three days can only be described as 'finding our feet', as the England fans dispersed throughout the ground and added little to the atmosphere. Today, helped by the batting of Collingwood & Pietersen, we found the confidence to congregate in the same section and make the kind of noise that the Aussies come to expect.

I've lost count of the number of Aussies I've met who are interested in the 'Barmy Army' and have asked why we've been so quiet for 3 days. While the police, the stewards, and Cricket Australia seem intent on treating us like English football hooligans, every Aussie cricket fan I've met has been genuinely appreciative of the passion, humour and spirit that England fans bring to a series like the Ashes.

The party continued after the cricket in The Chalk Bar just up the road from stadium, and the walk back into town was made more interesting by finding an unlocked door into The Gabba. That gave us the chance to sneak in and take some photos in a completely empty, floodlit stadium (see pic - Gregs, Hibbits and Bob from left to right) which was pretty impressive.

At the start of Day 3 we were convinced the game would be over by Sunday lunch-time and we'd have to find something else to do on Monday. But now we have the prospect of a fifth day at the test match, continuing the party... and even if we lose the test (which is still very likely) we have a lot to look forward to from the next match in Adelaide.




AT LEAST THE SUN WAS OUT...
Posted by Scrooge
Friday, 24th November 08:30

Day One at The Gabba wasn't quite what we hoped for in a cricketing sense, but it was still a great day and a great experience to be there at the first day of The Ashes. The first pleasant surprise was the number of England fans there - I reckon about 20% of the total crowd (so pushing 8,000 English in the stadium). We were very spread out because of the ticket buying chaos - but there was still a real buzz round the ground and good Pommie Vs Aussie banter.

Also there was no sign of any trouble, despite the concerns of Cricket Australia that the English are only here to run riot. The weather was beautiful, and continued the trend of it getting warmer every day that we've been in Brisbane. Luckily, our seats were near the back so we had shade for most of the day... until after tea when the sun was right on us and it was bloody boiling!

The beer was flowing well, but the prices pushed me one step closer to that second mortgage - $5.50, or just over two quid - for half a pint!. If it wasn't for the over-the-top stewarding and ridiculous ground safety rules (no bags allowed in!!), I'd find a way of smuggling my own beer in. Maybe I'll try my luck in the next test...




"NO PONCEY FOOD ON THE BARBY!"
Posted by Scrooge
Wednesday, 22nd November 10:30

Just meat and shrimps! Last night was the first barby of the tour, and as you would expect it involved copious amounts of food and beer. The owner of the apartment walked past and commented "A beer and a barby... you'll be applying for residency next!". And to be honest that sounds quite tempting right now after a beautiful few days in Brisbane.

We decided to get a hire car so we could see some of the surrounding area, and had a right result courtesy of the Hertz website. They let us have their premium luxury car, which was a huge black Australian Ford of some sort with more leg-room than a limo - for the sum of $150 (about 60 quid) for two days! The woman in the office was surprised somewhat when she saw our online order - "that car is normally $130 a day!"

Having the car meant we could journey up to Noosa, the millionaire's playground just north of Brisbane. A quick look in an estate agent's window confirmed the beach-side properties were going for somewhere in the region of $6 million each. Maybe one day...

While we had the car, we also managed a visit to Australia Zoo - former home of Aussie 'legend' Steve Irwin (see pic). I expected to see all manner of strange Aussie critters, but apart from the crocodile show and the many, many kangaroos there wasn't a huge amount to see there. We saw almost as much wildlife on our earlier trip up a small mountain north of Brisbane - when we stumbled into what I've since been informed is an Australian Bearded Dragon!

On the cricket front, we're now just a day away from the first test and the place is starting to buzz with excitement. We're shocked by the number of pubs that have England flags and "welcome Barmy Army" signs up... obviously they've wasted no time in cashing in on the English love of sitting in a pub. If the opposite ever happened in England, I can't see Australian flags staying up behind the bar for long - but I suppose that sums up the difference between the Poms and the Aussies!




OUR FIRST GUEST WRITER: MR BECKHAM'S TOUR DIARY

Posted by Simon Benham
Wednesday, 22nd November 10:30

G'day Shrimpers!

I am in Melbourne at the mo, I've been in Oz about 5 months now (since June, i lose count!?) travelling with my missus (Sam - no shrimper nickname im afraid!).

We landed in Cairns after two 3 day stopovers in Bangkok and Singapore - two great cities but very different!

We bought a campervan and decided to do the old fashioned ozzie road trip! We drove from Cairns to Brisbane then on to Sydney. On the way we did white water rafting which was awesome, swam with dolphins, sand toboganning, had a run in with some ozzie pikies and drove a lot!!

We lived and worked in Sydney for 6 weeks, which is an amazing city. The harbour is amazing and whenever we went there we were just in awe of the fact we were casually strolling around with the harbour bridge one side, opera house the other!

We eventually left Sydney and flew the 5 1/2 hours to Perth to live with Sam's cousin, a great bloke who put us up for next to nothing! We went on another road trip up the coast, saw some amazing scenery, a lot of outback and some famous landmarks on the way. We then returned to Perth, visited Freo a few times which I'd definitely recommend for a day or two at the weekend! I did some carpet fitting to earn some extra cash and we just kinda lazed in the sun for a couple weeks!

We've recently flown to Melbourne and love it! It's a great city, better than Sydney in many ways but without the famous landmarks! There's loads to do in Melbourne and the surrounding area in Victoria (e.g. the Great Ocean Road). We're now looking for a place to live until new year when we go back to Sydney.

That's my diary, couldn't tell ya everything - I'd be here all day!

Places not to miss...
Sydney
Melbourne
Byron Bay
Surfers Paradise
Moreton Island (Brisbane)
Fremantle or Freo




IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CRICKET
Posted by Scrooge
Sunday, 19th November 10:15

"It's all about the cricket" was our response to the 1,001 Aussies who took the piss out of our performance in the rugby last night. On the plus side, what a stadium! If only they built English football grounds like the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Awesome atmospehere, great views from prety much anywhere and two massive screens showing anything you missed from the live action. Fortunately, we're here for something other than the Rugby, so the verbal we were getting from the Aussies doesn't yet matter. If they are still gloating in a week's time then we have definite cause for concern...

We're liking Brisbane from what we've seen so far. The city centre has been buzzing ever since we got here, even in those pubs that haven't decided to cash in by putting England flags up everywhere. We had to laugh in the 'Pig and Whistle', where the Aussie bar staff were forced to wear 'Freddie Flintoff's Barmy Army' t-shirts - I hope they got paid very well for that as it must have hurt. We also found a restaurant that served me the best Surf and Turf I've ever had - a 14oz rump steak together with a Moreton Bay Bug (some kind of lobster-like creature).

Yesterday (Sat) was also the day for meeting random Shrimpers - as we finally met up with Gregs and Woody what seems like years after setting up the site.

And I supposed I should briefly mention Friday night, a quality night in the main casino in Brisbane - although I am trying to forget exactly how much I spent in there. I managed 4 hours at a poker table without bankrupting myself which isn't bad going, and the highlight was taking $200 off the old Chinese Master sat at my table as I luckily hit a flush. The funniest part was the old Chinese guy moving seats immediately afterwards, because the one he was sat in when he lost to me was cursed!




WE'VE MADE IT TO OZ!
Posted by Scrooge
Thursday, 16th November 15:30

After four long years of preparation & planning, we are finally here in Australia for the Ashes Tour. We can remember the moment the last time the cricket team were out here, and we were sat in a pub in England watching the highlights of the final test. "In four years time, we should go" was the initial comment - and from that moment on we've been building up to this trip.

Before we head out into town to explore Brisbane (currently sunny, low 20's, but surprisingly windy), there was one vitally important thing I had to do. Unpack the Shrimps flag. This 15 foot by 9 foot monster will be coming round the grounds with us, and I thought it was only right for it to go on display in our lovely apartment here in Brisbane. Make sure you keep a look-out for the flag if you're watching any of The Ashes - it should be just in front of several drunk, sun-burned England fans having the time of their lives...

I didn't get a chance to do a final post from Hong Kong, so I should just share my top 3 moments of our final day in that marvellous city;

3. Meeting another friendly Aussie in a pub, and getting an invite to go and play golf with him in Brisbane (I've never played golf in my life, but feel this is as good a place as any to make my debut)

2. Walking past the Hong Kong Central Bank offices, the tallest building in the city, and tentatively asking security if we could go up to the top. They welcomed us in and sent us up to the visitor centre on the 55th floor (not quite the top, but pretty bloody high) - yet more amazing views of a uniquely beautiful city.

1. Getting talked into buying a flaming cocktail by the over-friendly barmaids in one bar - the cocktail was in 3 parts and was drunk through a straw while the barmaid set light to it. It was only that familiar evil after-taste which revealed one of the ingredients was absinthe. As is usually the case when I drink absinthe, I didn't get to bed until half 6 the following morning...!




HONG KONG HANGOVERS
Posted by Scrooge
Tuesday, 14th November 17:00

After a fantastic Sunday night out, day 2 of the tour was predictably a little quieter, and a great chance to see some of the sights. No famous cricketers spotted this time, but we did see pretty much the rest of Hong Kong via a trip up to 'The Peak' - a viewing spot where you get some incredible views.

Day 2 was also notable for the discovery of addictive Hong Kong shopping... a trip to Wan Chai resulted in some serious credit card abuse. The new digital camera is about a quarter of the size of the last one, and the new laptop makes Shrimping from overseas a great deal easier.

On a different note, the messages have been coming in from fellow Shrimpers touching down in Oz. The reports sound promising - warm weather, and a substantial gathering of England fans already. Come Thursday morning we'll be with them - early reports from Brisbane to follow soon!




JET LAG... WE LAUGH IN YOUR FACE
Posted by Scrooge
Monday, 13th November 13:00


The tour is underway! And although we have limited photographic evidence (digital camera breaks on first day of holiday shocker), we've already been mingling with celebrity cricketers. It may have taken me a while to believe him, but it was a great spot by Bob to notice we were in the same Hong Kong bar as Darren Gough, Dominic Cork, Glen Chappell, Stuart Law and most of the rest of the Lancashire squad (see pic for Chappell, and Corky's back). A brief chat with Goughy confirmed the 2 things I needed to know - firstly, he's going to the Ashes (Brisbane and Adelaide only though) and secondly, he was absolutely hammered. Good lad.

That was of course one bar of many, as we made the most of our first night of the tour by checking out Hong Kong's famous drinking district, Lan Kwai Fong. So famous in fact, that people (locals and tourists) were queuing up to have their photo taken by the street sign. We had a great seat by the window in the bar behind, which means several hundred people now have a glorious photo of them by a landmark street sign, with me and Bob raising our beers and waving in the background.

As the roadsign was so popular, I took a pic of Bob...


A FEW IMPORTANT LESSONS

Our first 24 hours on holiday have already taught me a few things...

1) Don't take your English phone with you when you go drinking. The habitual drunken phone calls, messages and internet action cost me 25 quid on day 1 of the trip!

2) Aussie birds are great. We may be in Hong Kong, but we've already met one very friendly, very helpful Aussie who has given us a list of things to do in Brisbane. And when that list includes "go to this bar, tell them you know Sophie and you'll get free drinks", you know you're on to a good thing!

3) Jet Lag can be beaten. A combination of staying awake for 24 hours, a cheeky afternoon nap and of course "drinking through it" meant we adjusted nicely to the 8 hour time difference.

4) You'll never be short of a Big Mac in Hong Kong. Quite literally, a McDonalds on every corner.

5) Gadgets breaking on day one of the holiday is no bad thing. I now have a great excuse to go and buy a digital camera from one of HK's famous gadget shops. I may buy a laptop while I'm at it...


Scrooge (left), Bob (right) and Big Gav (centre), the random Aussie multi-millionaire we were drinking with



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