Cricket and catch ups
Our cricket watching in England didn't get off to a great start. We got up early in Calais to catch the ferry, and arrived to rain in Dover. Unfortunately it didn't get any better in Canterbury. We were met with two days of relentless heavy rain. On Monday we had planned to get about 3 weeks worth of laundry done, but after driving for half an hour to the laundromat realised it was a bank holiday and that laundry wasn't going to happen. We met up with Mike in the afternoon and had coffee then dinner out. The following day wasn't any better, and we didn't bother going to the ground. We found a closer laundromat that was open, and spent about 2 hours there sorting the laundry out. At the laundromat, the owner was washing bags of laundry from NZ cricket, so as we did our own washing we watched some other guy wash, dry and fold Michael's. We decided we were in the wrong careers, being a sportsperson has definite advantages.
Even in the rain, Canterbury is a cool old town, with awesome old buildings and more pubs and restaurants than people it seems. We ate lots of delicious food there, but the highlight had to be the pulled pork and salad, which we ate for lunch two days running. On the Tuesday night, we were getting a little cabin fever so went to the movies. On the way out, we came across a middle aged guy passed out in a pedestrian subway. There was an empty bottle of wine beside him, but he was un-rousable and also had hospital dressings on his forehead and chin. Everybody was just walking past him, so we stopped and called the ambulance. Turns out he is a local drunk, who cut himself deliberately last time he was in hospital and the doctors were trying to sober him up. But the night was freezing and we didn't know any of that. We're not sure what the ambos decided to do with him in the end, but we were regretting our decision to help when we were 5 minutes late getting to our park for the night and were locked out.
Wednesday was a gorgeous day, and we watched Mikes play a 50 over game against a really unenthusiastic Kent team. NZ A easily won the game, although Mikes went out early. One Kent guy didn't even bother to come out and bat. The local supporters we were talking to were disgusted with their side's effort.
On Thursday, we headed to Bristol. We had to pick up our suitcases from Mikes flat, and the van needed a good clean before we showed it to people. We stayed with Mikes' flatmates, who had even put new sheets on his bed and tidied the flat! Since Mike is now a famous cricketer he gets a massive baggage allowance going home, so we left him with a huge suitcase of stuff to bring back to NZ for us. Hopefully our Moccocan 'goods' don't give him any grief in customs.
On Friday, we drove to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see Janet and Bernard, an old couple we helped about 2 years ago after an accident on the East Coast. They live on a farm in the country, where they grow crops but their big love is horses. The family is heavily involved in the local pony club scene, and they also run a livery business. Their son Richard handles most of the livery business, and also coaches riders. They have an amazing set up, with show jumping area, a dressage arena and even a cross country course over the paddocks! Janet and Bernard took us for a big drive around the Cotswalds with them, to Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-on-the-Marsh and Bledington (great names!). Janet is a great cook, we ate lots of delicious food at their house. The next day, Janet took us into Stratford and saw lots of Shakespeare related buildings - his birthplace, his girlfriend Anne Hathaway's house and the theatre in town. We also toured two estate houses which are now run by the National Trust. Janet's daughter had season passes, so we borrowed their tickets and had a look around.
That night, we drove to Sutton, and left the van near Kate McNeill's flat. We stayed in her room, as she was in Greece on holiday, and chatted to her music star flatmates. On Sunday morning, we were ready for another game day! We caught an early train into London for a days cricket at the Oval. Jo and Scottie Kingan joined us for most of the day, and it was a perfect day for sitting in the stand in the sun. Mikes' teammates from Bristol had made the trip down and were sitting right behind us. As the day went on, they became more and more rowdy. Poor old Mikes took a power of sledging - I'm glad he didn't invite his enemies, his own teammates were pretty ruthless! Some of the great calls included: "he's got a water melon for a head" (to the tune of he's got the whole world in his hands), "I can't see the scoreboard because Mikes head is in the way"; "I'm not sure what is bigger Mikes head or the old gas frame" (see picture below); "WOM" (waste of money); "As close as WOM has got to a bird all season" (after chasing some pigeons off the pitch); "More runs than he's got for us all season" (after Mikes got off the mark with a single). Some great English banter, Aunty Bernie was not impressed. Dougie wasn't playing which was a shame.
Bernie, Jamie and James arrived in the late afternoon to watch with us. NZ looked to be in a great position - they rolled Surrey for just on 100, then were batting well. Mikes made a solid 18 but got given LBW about an over after James and Jaime arrived, the curse lives on. That night, all the cousins went out to dinner. It was awesome to see everyone together again, had been a long time, and I think it was the first time Dougie had properly met James and Andrew. The cricket boys taxied back to their hotel while the rest of us wandered back to the train station together to catch the tube like commoners.
On Monday night we stayed at Jo and Toby's and were contacted by a guy wanting to see the van. He lived miles away from London so wanted to see the van in Bath, and desperate to sell the thing by now, we agreed to meet him there. The forecast for the Oval wasn't great, so Andrew decided he would take a hit for the team and show this guy the van (he assured us he was very keen) while Lisa met Bernie at the Oval. So Lisa spent the day chatting to Bernadette, drinking cups of tea and watching the rain fall until about 4.30 when the rain cleared enough for play. And Andrew spent the whole day travelling. It took him about 4 hours to get to Bath, then the guy spent an hour going over it with a fine tooth comb, only to say he didn't want to buy it. So he then drove the van to Scott's place near Stonehenge, where we were able to store the van during our upcoming trip to Greece, and caught the longest train in the world back to London via Bournemouth. 14 hours after leaving Jo and Toby's in the morning he arrived back, exhausted and starving. Not a great day all round.
Tuesday morning, the sun was shining and we headed back to see day 3 of the cricket. The sun was shining, but NZ were just too slow getting the last couple of batsmen out, and didn't have time to chase the runs down. We had to leave before all the Surrey players were out because we had planned to catch up with Andrew's relations Steve and Sarah Holden, and their two children Lily and Freddie. We had a great time with them, playing with the kids and a delicious meal of Turkish. They seem to be thriving in London, and Freddie was pretty excited about starting school that week.
Wednesday was a pretty relaxing day in London. We wandered down to check out some markets, met a very hung over Michael for lunch, and then went into town to meet Mikes and Jaime for dinner at a Mexican place.
We've had a great week being able to catch up with family and friends. The cricket has been a bit frustrating with the terrible weather, but it has been great to catch up with everyone. Bring on Greece on Thursday!