Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bob Goes Down Under - 26th June to 14th July 2008


The following is the story of my trip to Australia in the Summer to see Thomas and Kath.

It is a story of self discovery for me and was a real eye opener in terms of what life is all about and what I want and need for myself.

I wrote this blog in a couple of notepads as I went along so what you are reading is exactly how I felt at the time and is written very much 'in the moment'.

It was a trip of a lifetime for me and I tried to squeeze in as much as I could when I was there and with 10 flights in 18 days and many 18 hour days it was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. In many of the pictures I look completely knackered and that is because I was, but I would not have changed a moment of it.

I have split it into daily blogs as too much happened to document in one entry.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

Day 1 - 26th June

After a few months of working very hard doing lots of overtime shifts and two months of constant nighshifts to finance my trip to Oz and my other holidays, it was time to head down under.

I had came off of a nightshift, had a few hours sleep and then went to see my Mum's paintings that are on display in the library. Then bought a few bits and pieces that I would require for the trip.

I spent the evening getting organised and it was well after 1am before my head hit the pillow and I lapsed into a coma.

At 4.45, I was dragged kicking and screaming out of the land of nod by my alarm, phone alarm and house phone all ringing at the same time. I turned off both of the alarms and answered the alarm call from BT and grunted a thankyou to the poor sod on the other end of the line who had the unenviable job of waking up grumpy bastards like me!

I ate breakfast, showered and then called a taxi take me to the airport.

The driver was a nice fella and when I told him where I was off to, he revealed that he loved Aussie Rules Football and that he followed Hawthorn. He was delighted when I revealed to him that I was going straight to a Hawthorn game as soon as I stepped off the plane in Melbourne! I promised him that I would give them my support and told him that Thomas was a fan too.

When I arrived at BA check-in, I immediately sensed that there was a problem when the girl behind the desk asked if I was staff and she looked perplexed when I informed her that I was not.

She spoke to one of her colleagues and then told me that the flight had been overbooked. 'I have a flight to catch to Melbourne from Heathrow at 1230, so what does that mean exactly?' I asked with a sinking feeling in my stomach. She disappeared for 5 minutes and when she returned she assured me that all was well and I would be able to board my flight.

Thank God, I thought. Dodged a bullet there! She then asked me for my visa. 'Pardon?' said I. 'You do have a visa, don't you?' she asked as the sinking feeling returned. I sheepishly told her that I did not.

What a fanny I am! I have been so busy lately that I had completely forgot to get one organised.

I called Thomas and after he agreed that I was indeed a fanny, he reassured me that I could buy a visa at the BA desk.

The girl behind the desk returned to help me and thank God that because of her professionalism ten minutes later I had purchased a visa and was now good to go.

The flight to Heathrow was uneventful and I arrived at the infamous Terminal 5 with several hours to kill before my next flight. A couple of coffees in Costa later and it was time to board my Quantas flight.

I ended up sitting beside a lovely Mother and Daughter who were returning to Melbourne after a 2 month trip round Europe. Nice people but they had as much trouble understanding my accent as I had understanding theirs so after a cuple of hours of speaking much slower than I am used to, I decided to watch a movie and a couple of episodes of the Simpsons from the in-flight entertainment menu.

The Quantas flight attendants did a great job of looking after us with frequent food and wine and I spent my time reading and listening to music.

Eleven hours and 6, 000 miles later I arrived in Hong kong.

Day 1 and the first part of my journey was over....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Snowboarding with Ryan and East Kilbride Half Marathon 21st and 22nd June 2008

I had promised Ryan a couple of months ago that we would go to the Ski centre at Bellahouston Park and he could teach me how to snowboard.

As you are all very much aware I am currently the best skier in the world, bar none, but I have been 'keen' to try snowboarding for a while now and Ryan was more than happy to have the opportunity to laugh at his old man.

He came over at lunchtime on Saturday and after we had eaten some lunch, we headed up to Bellahouston.

The centre was almost deserted, probably due to the crappy weather, which was good for us.

After deciding that I was 'goofy' and telling a small white lie to the man issuing the snowboard, "yes, I have snowboarded before, but I am still at beginner level". We headed outside and Ryan showed me how to fasten the bindings and gave me a brief tutorial on the art of 'boarding.

I managed to pick it up quite easily, despite falling over on numerous occassions with Ryan giving helpful hints in between laughing at me.

We moved onto the bigger slope, with Ryan continuing to snowboard effortlessly, while I had all the grace of a new-born fowl.

However, after a few runs down the big slope, I kind of got into it and as I have learned at skiing, sometimes you just need to go for it, which I did as you can see from the video clip below...

However, pride comes before a fall and my God, did I hurt my pride.

I started at the top again and decided just to let rip on the way down. It was going great until I reached the bottom and went over a bump. I flew into the air and just could not correct my posture and landed square on my ass. I heard a 'crack' as I landed and lay groaning for several minutes, knowing that I had done some damage.

I told Ryan that my snowboarding fun was finished for the day and hobbled into the clubhouse to ease my injured derierre into a soft seat.

We got changed back into our civvies and headed home.

When I got home, a look in the mirror revealed the damage that I had managed to do to myself.

Those of you who don't want to see a pcture of my bruised ass, please stop reading now.

You have been warned...

We ordered some chinese food and I booked tickets to go to the cinema that night to see The Happening. The food arrived just in time to watch Doctor Who then we watched the footie before heading over to the showcase just after 9.00.

The film was pretty good and it was cool just to spend time with my boy and eat popcorn while watching a good flick.

We were back at my flat just before midnight and had a good laugh watching Ace Ventura before I bailed out just after one o'clock and left him to watch the end of the film, but I advised him to go to bed soon as we had an early start the next day.

The alarm went off at 7.45 the next morning and after dragging sleeping beauty out of his pit we got ready and had some breakfast before Jim and Stewart picked us up.

Stewart and Jim were running the 10k and I was participating in the half marathon with Jim hoping to run it in under 50 minutes, Stewart was hopefull of a 42 minute run and I was remaining ever optomistic for the 'holy grail' of under 1 hour and 45 minutes for the half marathon.

I am in really good shape just now, but eating a chinese meal, large popcorn, large pepsi and staying up late before a big run is not recommended, so I was not going to bust a gut on this one.

We arrived with 5 minutes to spare and I told Ryan where to meet us at the end of the race, and that the other two would be finished an hour before me, then we headed off to begin the run.

Not a bad crowd had turned out, with most taking part in the 10k rather than the half marathon. However, it is not a patch on the Glasgow Half Marathon, which unfortunately I wont make this year as I will be cycling in Switzerland.

I managed to keep up with Stewart for the first couple of miles before he disappeared into the distance when I stopped for a water break. Flagged a bit around 5 to 7 miles as I trudged round the soulless town that is East Kilbride but a nice lycra clad bum of cute blonde made me refocus and I ran with her for a few miles at a fare old pace.

By the time I got to 10 miles I realised that I was making good progress. Dare I dream the impossible dream that I would break the 1 hour 45 and set a new personal best? One thing was for sure. My sore ass was feeling it as every step hurt just a little bit more.

Nevertheless, I romped home in a new pesonal best time of 1 hour, 41 minutes and 10 seconds!!! A full seven minutes off my previous best time, so I am chuffed to bits.

Stewart was a bit disheartened with his run being a minute outside his target time and Jim had a respectable time too. Ryan just looked totally unimpressed with our efforts!

So that is you up to date for now on what I have been up to.

I am off to Australia tomorrow to stay with Kath for a three week holiday of skiing, surfing, sky diving, binge drinking etc.

Expect a blog entry to end all blog entries for that one!

See you on the other side...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Men's Health 10k and Lunch - 15th June 2008

The second 10k run of the year was a bit more organised than the previous one at Greenock a few weeks ago. This was the Men's Health 10k run at Bellahouston Park and I would be running alongside Jim, Stewart and a few others from BMF.

Belinda, Claire and Margaret turned up to offer support, however they were probably there since they were at a loose end as the running club had been cancelled due to the event

We all met up, completely missed the warm up, posed for a picture and did the obligatory wait in the queue for the bogging portaloo and made it to the start line with seconds to spare.

The run itself was one that I had run before with BMF through Bellahouston and then snaking through Pollock Park before we returned to the finish line at Bellahouston.

I finished first out of our lot in a respectable 45 minutes and 17 seconds, hotly pursued by Jim and Stewart and followed by the others shortly afterwards.

We collected our medals and goody bags and munched on our Tunnock's Caramel Wafers as we chatted about the race, before heading for home. We were meeting up a few hours later for lunch as organised by Stewart.

The venue was Blas in the West End, right opposite Kelvingrove Museum. An excellent choice as the food was superb.
Also, the West End festival was on today which made for plenty of noise and spectacle as we finished off our food. As you can see from the pictures below.

Next week. The East Kilbride Half Marathon....

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Hello, Blog fans!

Just thought that I would give you all a quick update on what I have been up to and what is up and coming.

Concentrated on me recently for a change and I am enjoying living life to the max just now, however even I must admit that I am doing a bit too much of everything. There just are not enough hours in the day and work continues to interfere with my social life!

I have made a couple of new friends over the last few months. Got pretty close with Susie and that's cool. No romance, just good friends. She's a kind of female version of me. God help her!

May was very, very busy with a month of nightshifts, two weeks anual leave of which I worked several shifts in HDU, ward 23 and theatre recovery, lots of BMF classes and spending time with my friends.

I postponed my planned cycle from John O'Groats to Land's End until next year so that I could do lots of bank shifts and earn some money. I'm kind of kicking the arse out of things this year by having four holidays abroad, but I deserve it.

June is just manic!

Ten nightshifts, 2 dayshifts, 8 driving lessons, 10k run on Sunday and East Kilbride Half Marathon next Sunday, I moved to my new flat last weekend which I am totally chuffed with, and of course the biggy - Im off to Australia in a couple of weeks!

I really can't begin to say just how much I am looking forward to going down under to see Thomas and Kath.

Here is my itinerary so far...

Friday 27th June - Arrive in Melbourne at 1930 and go straight to the AFL: Hawthorn vs. West Coast.
Saturday 28th June - Drive to Grampians
Sunday 29th June - Drive to Princeton / Twelve Apostles
Monday 30th June - Great Ocean Road To Torquay. Surfing at Apollo Bay / Bell's Beach. Skydive in Torquay.Drive Home
Tuesday 1st July - TBA
Wednesday 2nd July - TBA
Thursday 3rd July - TBA
Friday 4th July - Fly to Sydney (arrive at 1015). Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb (1545)
Saturday 5th July - Australian JBO
Sunday 6th July - Australin JBO
Fly back to Melbourne (2145)
Monday 7th July - TBA
Tuesday 8th July - TBA
Wednesday 9th July - TBA
Thursday 10th July - Yarra Valley Wine Tour
Friday 11th July - Skiing in Hotham
Saturday 12th July - Skiing in Hotham
Sunday 13th July - Fly home (2250)

Also, there is the cycle trip in Switzerland in September and then the JBO to Spain in October and next year's skiing trip is currently being organised by Del. A week in a chalet with my friends, it's going to be good!

Life is pretty good just now and I am fortunate to be doing all the things that I am.

You will like this, it made me laugh.

All of you who think I am a total geek, then please check out the link below. I have been Top Trumped by another Star Trek Fan Bob!!!