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Friday, 15 August 2014

B-Double Boarder

What a whirlwind couple of weeks! I've been on a Wine Tour, to see a musical, taken my life in my hands on the slopes, taken 5 flights (in the space of 2 days), been out for birthday drinks, played hockey and looked at apartments to move into as well as the usual work and catching up with friends.

A friend Emer and her friend Etain came over from Ireland to visit Emer's sister Rita, so I met up with them to go on a Wine Tour. Something I'd never done before and was interested in seeing what it would be like. After paying $115 it marked the definitive end to my "Dry July" (which to be honest was looking more like "Dry-with-the-occasional-shower July"!) and so I got up at 6:30am from my mate's to go home and get ready to go. Just as I was about to head out the door I re-read the text and realised that I was almost 2 hours early... 2 hours seems like about 12 hours when it's a Saturday morning and you could be in bed asleep!

I headed into rainy Melbourne city at my own leisure and had a Gluten Free muffin and hot chocolate as I'd started my attempt of a GF Diet/regime that week. There were about 12 of us for the Wine Tour - all of whom were friends with Rita. It was a lovely group; all Irish barring the token Canadian and English boys. It was great to see Emer and we chatted in the bus on the way to the three different wineries. One poor girl was severely hungover and had the shakes from the beginning. Possibly the worst place you could be when you're feeling the effects from the drink the night before. 23 (mostly taster) wines later (again, there's my number 23...); we came back to the city and I went home to get ready for Una's birthday drinks and they continued on.

I quickly got showered and changed when I got home and ran down to Toorak Road to meet Lara. I sat on the side of a "Giant" shop window in my get-up; fake tan, hair curled, makeup on and in a dress. Couple with this that I was wearing flip-flops, holding my sky-scraper heels in one hand and a wine bottle (more on this later) in the other, I was slightly tarnishing the dolled-up look. Only slightly.
The last time I went out with Lara we ended up waiting on the same road, sitting outside the petrol station on the pavement, for Emma. We joked about how we were meant to be in this state at the end of the night and not at the beginning.

Lara turns up and is sitting beside me on the shop windowsill. She starts to roll a cigarette and I am chatting away about how it's BYO tonight and how I had learned from last year and put vodka and Diet Coke in a red wine bottle with a screw-top. I fail to think that a dark brown fizzy drink coming out of a red wine bottle will look weird. I've never claimed to be classy, right?! At least it was kind of clever, I thought! I'm getting her to smell the inside of the bottle when I look up and see a friend rolling by in his car, window down and shaking his head slowly in disgust at the sight of the two less-than-classy creatures in front of him. No words were said; he just cruised on by giving me that look of "disappointment" a Dad gives his child that hurts way more than any slap your Mother gives you with the wooden spoon!
Una's birthday started in an Asian restaurant in Brunswick and moved onto "The Night Cat" afterwards. A complete meat-market where the majority male clientele felt like they had the right to do a bit of Traveller-Grabbing, but a fun night nonetheless; ending at 6am and in Revellers - of course!

Next day was our hockey match and then straight into the city for me to meet Emer, Rita and Etain again. I quickly showered in the Club House and threw on some makeup before getting the tram into Melbourne. I am only 30 seconds off the tram waiting at the tram stop on Bourke Street when a complete stranger comes up and says "I'm sorry, but I saw you get off the tram and I think you're beautiful, so I've come over to introduce myself". I look around to see who he's talking to and then, after I realise he's clearly either blind or mentally deranged and talking to me, I look around for the group of friends who are bound to be looking and laughing. Nope; no friends or camera crew - but clearly deranged. He stood there asking me questions for about 10 mins before eventually shaking my hand and saying "Nice to meet you" and walking off!! Pity this guy wasn't rich and gorgeous!! After he went an old, fat, toothless man then started walking in my direction, but my "don't even THINK about it" look made sure that he didn't think that this was some sort of service that I offered at the tram stop!

The girls turned up and we went to have dinner in "Cookie" restaurant, which was lovely. We went from there to see "Les Miserables" and I was blown away from the talent and the goose-bumps that the voices of the actors gave me. What a beautiful night with a difference and we quickly said goodbye as we froze our asses off at the corner waiting on taxis.

One day at work, when I'm having a particularly stressful day, I head out for a walk at lunch and come back an hour later with a snowboard, bindings and boots. As you do.
Now I just need to learn how to use it...??!
That weekend a group of us headed up to Mt Buller on the Saturday for the day. Two cars meet at 5am and head off to the snow for the day. Una is driving her car and we make a short stop in Mansfield to pick up her boyfriend. Well that was the plan til his phone was off and she didn't have the address of the place where he was staying. Let me say now, there are a lot of hostels, lodges, hotels and general accommodation in Mansfield. Anna, Una and I put our Detective hats and start ringing round all the places we can find in Google asking if they had a large group of recruitment peeps stay at their place. The opening liners started at "Good Morning, my name is Una, how are you? I was wondering if you could help me; I'm looking for a friend of mine who is staying in Mansfield and his phone is off. We don't know the address, so were wondering if perhaps he's staying at your establishment? A group of about 20 people from Hays Recruitment..." blah blah blah and answering the mountain of questions that came after it. In the end we were like "Hi, looking for a group of 20 non-Asians from Hays Recruitment". No luck anywhere in Mansfield. We finally ended up going to the Tourist Information Office to see about more accommodation and the possibility of him getting a bus to Mt. Buller if it came to it & he called Una. Just in time :) We find out where he is and put the address into Google Maps. Our luck is in when we see it's only 2 mins down the road... that is until we turn up outside a farm house down a dirty alley and rethink about our selection of address within Google. A slight readjustment and we're on the road to find him; 20 mins outside of the search and rescue site area we were looking at.

We pick a very hungover Bertie up and head off to the slopes. When we get there, the guys without their own gear need to rent the stuff, so we wait for them as they line up. We then get Clara to get the lift passes and promptly lose her 5 mins later. Tempers are getting frayed as we try set up another search party for her, only to find her back in the queue 20 mins later. At least it's giving me some material for my blog :)

Eventually we hit the slopes (literally for some of us!) around 11am and the newbies (Clara, Ciara and Lara) and I head to the baby/Green slope and the rest head off up the mountain in their competitive nature.
45 mins later and already covered in bruises from other people taking me out from behind, Ciara classically took myself and another skiier out, who ended up kicking me in the face and looked as though he got concussion from the spectacular face-plant he did in front of the crowds gathered in the Chair Lift queue. After this, and for the safety of the general public on the mountain, the three girls head off for a 2 hour lesson and I head off on my own for the hour before meeting the other pros for lunch. At 1:55pm I see that the 2pm lunch meeting place has been changed to another place, so I head off trying to find it. I'm sent all over the mountain looking for the damn place and in zero visibility up this mountain, I'm left carrying my board (for fear of boarding into an abyss) and wandering up and down slopes for AN HOUR AND A HALF. To say I was less-than-impressed was an understatement. I most definitely was the definition of "hangry", and even a "Pretty board for a pretty girl" comment from another boarder guy only managed to make me smile through gritted teeth. At 3:30pm I find the place and get 10 mins to wolf down soup and a hot chocolate and then we're off out again.

Anna and Una go ahead of a very hesitant me, who is less than comfortable with the slopes I'm on and the height I'm at. In my eyes, I thought snowboarding was going up a chair-lift (which in itself scares the crap out of me!) and then boarding down to the bottom and repeating. The fear of having to get on a chair lift, in front of loads of people, with one foot strapped to the board and the other free, on slippery snow and with zero skills is quite overwhelming! And it doesn't end there - the fear comes again when it's time to get off. You have to slide off the Chair, snow-board down the slope with one leg attached while wrestling with others to get off the chair and not collide in a heap; all the while trying to stay upright. Others make it look so easy gliding off into the distance, where I'm left making unintentional snow-angels on the ground or eating the snow from someone else's boot!

I didn't realise that, when boarding, you're actually to go down various different slopes that don't reach the bottom, but come to another chair-lift which brings you to another area of the mountain and EVENTUALLY you manage to reach the bottom. The slopes were mostly blue (with a touch of Black which sent me flying on my ass and made ME Black and Blue!), but I wasn't enjoying it at all - I am too much of a scaredy-cat to be doing things like this when I'm not good enough or comfortable. I was literally looking at it as a means of getting to the bottom of the mountain without killing myself or anyone else. After falling on the Black part of the slope and getting a dead leg, I was finding it more and more difficult to stop myself from falling; which was then hurting me more and making me more tired. In the end Anna and I were the last ones on the Chair Lift and the mountain was closing and it was getting dark. I had one more slope to go down but I couldn't do it, so I asked a guy going by on a skidoo to give me a lift to the bottom. He said he'd come back for me in 2 mins, so I told Anna to go ahead and I waited for the guy. And I waited. And waited.

20 mins later it's getting darker and I'm still up the mountain on my own standing on one leg holding my board when a guy on Ski Patrol comes along and asks if I'm OK. I explain that I'm waiting for a lift (as you do up a mountain in the dark) and he says he'll wait with me. "Rob" (we're quickly BFFs in the following 15 mins that I'm waiting) eventually radios for help and a stern looking female turns up to bring me down the mountain on her skidoo. Once I'm dropped off, I limp around the corner to meet up with the rest of them where Una gives out to me telling me that I'd "better get better by tomorrow or Oke and Jessie (hockey coaches) would kill her". After a few drinks and some photos we head down the mountain and get home at midnight; falling into bed wrecked. Next time I go I'll be sticking to the bottom of the mountain til I'm able to do the basics before I decide to tackle what seemed like Mt Everest to me! I'm clearly not that Aussie yet - although not true according to a little foreign old lady who then told me that I looked so Aussie despite coming from Ireland; whilst also congratulating me on the level of English that I seemed to speak so well too! It's only taken me 32 years...

A work trip to NSW quickly followed the snow trip, so I was up at 4am on the Monday (bed at midnight) and 4:30am the Tuesday also (bed at 1am); 5 flights and lots of driving and not much sleep left me almost delirious for the next couple of days. A few of us headed to Newcastle, Narrabri and Moree for a bit of an educational crop/assets tour. I decided to go for a walk for an hour when the other two were in a meeting in Newcastle, but I quickly retreated to the car after 30 mins of beeping, shouting and one guy hanging out of a work van for the laugh with his mates. Clearly females were in short supply around here if this was the way they were at 9am on a Monday morning!

As a side note - how cool is this art work? Graffiti on the side of a building in Newcastle!

Onto Narrabri where we went to see the work grain facilities. I decided to get a closer look on how the grain is tipped into the back of a truck and outturned from the site. I ask the truckie if I can get into his B-Double truck that was on site so that he could run me round the site from the outloader to the weigh-bridge. Clearly making his day, he agreed. Opening the door of the truck I then noticed that I had a problem - there were no steps or obvious way of getting from the ground into the apparent 10-foot-high cab. The truckie was telling me to use the "ladder", which I was failing to see. I couldn't imagine how this fat, hairy, gappy-toothed older guy had managed to get into his seat and I was struggling to get my foot onto the only thing that I could see that was in any way like a step - and this was about my shoulder height. I looked like some sort of monkey handing from a branch for it's life, legs swinging trying to grip onto something to help me climb. The driver shakes his head and says "hang on there and I'll help ya".

That was all I needed.
There was no way on this earth that this dude was getting his hands on my ass to push me into the truck! In some sort of super-human strength I pull myself into the cab using just the handle on the side of the truck and I'm in. I don't think he's ever seen anyone move so fast as he was still sitting open-mouthed with his hand on the inside door handle when I was upright and bouncing on the passenger seat. Again we were BFFs by the time he ran me around to the weigh-bridge; telling me about his doctor appointment later (TMI - not sure I wanted to know this) and showing me photos on his phone of other trucks that he was driving and sleeping in. He was outside my door within seconds of stopping the truck and showing me the "ladder" (two spiked bits of steel about 3 foot away from the door) as I was trying to quickly shimmy out of the truck without hitting him in the face with my ass. Funny - he didn't seem to mind... As I said; BFFs.

Moving onto Moree I was going to go around the site there in the same fashion, but the weigh-bridge women wouldn't let me. There were only five truckies in the yard and there was "no way in hell" they were going to let me get in with any of the ones that were there. A bit harsh I thought at first, but after seeing number one who looked like a serial killer and number two who was clearly after relapsing into his heroine addiction again, I didn't argue. I needed to live a bit longer; if only to improve my snow-boarding...

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