The January Blues didn't have time to hit before January was over, despite the lack of sunshine!
Getting back to Melbourne was a traumatic experience, with a manic dash for the connection at Doha (only for the plane to be delayed an hour) and then having a screaming child to one side of me and a man with Tourette's on the other. And I don't mean that he was a bit twitching; he had full blown Tourette's. When I say I had bruises on the sides of my legs the next morning - I had to see which side they were on to tell whether the three-year-old or the forty-year-old had given them to me! I am quite a patient person, but when I was found stuck between the above for fourteen hours, my patience grew very thin very quickly and I began to appreciate what makes murderers do what they do. I ended up standing at the end of the plane on a number of occasions, just to allow myself some breathing space so I wouldn't scream at the man who was consistently shouting obscenities or slap the kid who was refusing to stop kicking me. I was never so happy for a plane to land when it did. Beyond exhausted and rushing to get out on time for Tilly who was collecting me, I proceeded to stand at the conveyor belt and wait for my bags. And I stood, and waited, and stood and waited. I tell the baggage desk that my bags aren't there and they tell me wait longer. An hour later I'm still waiting at the belt and no sign of my bags. I tell them that they're STILL not out and the lady has a look at her screen and asks me to confirm that I went through Manchester. "No...", I tell her "I went Dublin - Paris - Doha - Melbourne", but it didn't appear that my bags took the same route. So, I eventually get out of the airport 2 hours after landing where poor Tilly has been going in circles waiting for me to come out. My bed has never been so comfortable!
My bags turned up three days later after having a mini-holiday of their own God knows where!
I had a day off before going back to work, so I just went back to Pilates, sorted out my food and got myself ready for work. It was 11am the next day and as I walked down Chapel St, it was as though I had never been away.
I arranged to go to the Australian Open Tennis with Em, so we took in The Crocket Club Food Market beforehand. My first time at the Tennis, I brought my camera and GoPro, although both weren't allowed in (as the lens was over 300mm and no GoPros were allowed). Some quick thinking by Em and we got them in smuggled in a blanket. A quick selfie whilst inside and we burst out laughing when we saw our faces on the Big Screen within The Rod Laver Arena! We went to see Rafa Nadal play Tim Smyczek. 6 hours of tennis later, the Men's Game had only just finished and most people left the arena before the Women's had even started. I felt so sorry for them having to wait around for so long and then only start their game at midnight! Great experience though! I was up for the underdog Smyczek, but Nadal got him in the end.
Kate (friend of Una's who was couch-surfing in ours), Maire, Cathy and I went to watch North Korea v Saudi Arabia in The Asia Cup in the AAMI Stadium as Maire had received some free tickets with work. We only figured out it was North Korea at about half-time! The standard of football left a lot to be desired, but it was a good night out and Kate was more than delighted with her flag and the random Arabic chants that she knew from living in The UAE!
Preseason Hockey Training has started, so I tried to get my lazy #fitfatchick self to that on the Saturday mornings as I had to work late most evenings and so I was unable to go on the Tuesday nights. We had great fun and didn't have to worry about the sun as Melbourne's summer seemed to have come and gone in the time that I had been in Ireland. We celebrated Clara's birthday in "Is it Cafe" after training one day where I caught up on all the goss and realised how much I missed the girls! Orlaith, Kate's friend, had quit her job in Sydney and was "in hiding" in Melbourne for a while as she had told them that she had to go home to Ireland! She was couch-surfing in ours too and the activity in the house made it a great place to stay in! Maire was still staying in mine, so we had 8 in the house at one stage! Orlaith didn't want to be tagged in anything in FB or Instagram as she claimed she was "on the run". How funny was it when we were at Boot Camp one evening and they wanted to take a photo and put it up on their site. Spot Orlaith...she's the one literally hiding behind one of the girls' heads!
One evening, on my way home from work, I had to get the 78 tram down Chapel to Carlisle Street and then the 16 down to Barkley as I had an appointment. I was sitting on the tram chatting to Kiwi on my headphones/handsfree when I noticed this "lady" causing a bit of a stir on the tram. She was clearly off her face on something, but she was staring at people and talking under her breath. I sneakily took a photo of her for my mates as part of our "Tram Freak" update; since there's always one unusual specimen to keep you entertained. Anyway, I exit the tram and have to wait on Carlisle Street for about 5 minutes for the 16 to arrive. What luck that the "lady" had also exited with her father, and they were waiting at the bench, about 10m from where I was standing. Continuing to talk to Kiwi, I was looking the other way when he asked me what all the shouting in the background was about. I had drowned her out as she had been shouting the past 20 minutes, but when I turned around I could see that she was, in fact, shouting at me! She was shouting and spitting at me, asking me "what the f*&k are you looking at you blonde c*&t" and other pleasantries. I ignored her and told Kiwi that I thought she was talking to me. Next thing she's off her bench and over at me with a wine bottle in her hand, threatening to bottle me! She threw her hand to swing when another man stepped in and told her to leave it out, just as the 16 tram turned up. I go for the tram and she runs after me! I jump on the tram and manage to squeeze in the other side of the steps, with the man who had stopped her from smashing me over the head with a bottle standing in between her and I. Here she started on him, calling him everything under the sun and screaming at the top of her lungs that he was dead once she told her "Bikey mates". She proceeded to scream and threaten, raise the bottle of plonk to his face and shout for another 10 minutes before he got off. At this point about half the tram were filming her and her obscenities. She then starts up again before another unassuming old man who was sitting beside her pipes up "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! LET THE PEOPLE HAVE A QUIET JOURNEY HOME!". She was in such shock that she did just that and everyone else went about uploading their videos.
I head up to Townsville for Izzy's first birthday and spend the long weekend with Bhany, Luke and her. We have a lovely time, a pool party and a nice relaxing weekend with some sun - finally!! Izzy gets spoilt and is getting so big now every time I see her! I ordered a Boost juice and she drank pretty much all of mine! We spend the weekend going to the Dog Beach, doing some shopping, cleaning the house, going out for dinner, Izzy's Pool Party, and Australia Day Pool Party, going for walks etc. I love going up and having nothing to do but relax. I get confused with Bhany by Luke's mate who then confesses to "thinking I'm hot", which I point out; therefore means he fancies Bhany! I love how his girlfriend was the one who made the confession about it to Luke though!
Neilee comes home when I'm in Townsville, so I get to see him after Australia Day when I go home to Melbourne. My claims of "we're never doing this again" seem to have jinxed
the distance relationship aspect, when I'm asked to go to Singapore for 2 months only 4 weeks later. I had been planning a surprise 35th birthday party for him for the past month, gathering photos together and getting everyone who couldn't make the party to make a video of themselves for him. It was hard work trying to organise the people at home in Liverpool to make videos for him and send them to me when he was still there with them! Eventually they all came through and I booked the upstairs in The Imperial on Chapel St (http://imperialsouthyarra.com/), one of our most regular haunts, sent out the Facebook invitation and we were on our way. Trying not to say anything on a number of occasions I was struggling to keep my mouth shut. His mate Wildy kindly ruined the surprise of the Ed Sheeran tickets that I had bought him on the way to go bowling one day, so I was determined to keep the party a surprise.
I flew Bhany down for the weekend and treated her to her hair and makeup. We get glammed up and she hides out in mine as I go to dinner with him and try to stall until I get the "go ahead" from Bhany and Una as to when I can come. I delay by getting a dessert that I didn't want and by just keeping him talking. The later it got the more I could see that he didn't feel like going out and was going to suggest going home, so I steam ahead in the rain with my heels and holding my umbrella. He is surprised and didn't suspect a thing apparently, so it all goes to plan. Until the venue gets a hold of things...
So, this is my chance to give my official review of the night. I gave you enough chances to fix things, The Imperial, but you didn't, so this is my review and I hope that everyone reads it.
To what used to be my favourite venue on Chapel St,
I cannot describe my disappointment of the lack of service you provided to me on the night that I had planned with you. From my side I had done everything you requested me to; pay the $500 deposit, order the food in advance, inspect the room, bring the laptop and photo/video stream into the venue the day before for testing, provide numbers of guests etc. The idea was then that I wouldn't have anything to do or any worries on the night as it would have been taken care of. However, 30 mins before I turn up I have my sister texting me telling me that you don't have the connection on the computer, so you can't actually play the photos. The saga is fixed so I turn up and then half an hour later have you turn the photos over to show the Australia Football game on TV without asking me. Following on from this, when I ask for the videos to be played you are unable to do so, and the music is cut for 20 minutes as you have members of staff mess with the equipment in an effort to rectify the situation. I am beyond upset at this stage, after 3 weeks of planning amounts to nothing but an awkwardly silent function room. I tell you to leave it and continue with the music for the party and you find a solution some hours later when there is no way I can gather people to watch the videos. You didn't inform me of the fact that the bar upstairs was cash only, and so my guests had to go downstairs to buy their drinks; which was also not put against the bar tab of $1000 that I still had outstanding on the bar. At the end of the night you still had the cheek to ask me to pay the last $300 to make up the tab, and even though there was apparently no EFPOS machine to deal with card transactions throughout the night, one magically appeared when it came time for me to process the payment? Your staff member had taken my SD card home with him, so I couldn't take the photos and videos home. Finally, I had provided jars and sweets for the table at the door. I cleaned up the area and put all of the sweets in the jars, leaving them in a box and putting them in the corner of the staffing area for collection the next day, as they were too heavy for me to take home. Imagine my delight upon returning the next day only to find that your staff had opened the box and the jars and helped themselves to the contents, which were now scattered about the room!
To say I was disappointed with your "services" is an understatement. To say I felt robbed of the money I paid you is too light a term. I provided you with feedback 2 days after the event and still had to chase a response from you on this another 4 days later!! I know that you won't view this as important, that you won't be in the slightest impacted without my business or even notice that you ruined my night, but I hope that someone else reading this and thinking about using your venue will think again and spread the word; showing you how important it is to keep your customers happy, how you are only as big as your clientele and how the impact of social media works. A quick apology and quick thinking on the night would have solved everything, but if only one person doesn't book with you in the future from this, then that's $3,500 damage and money talks.
Social Media Bitch.
I guess it's just as well that I gave up drinking this year...!