Four Rugby Games and a Funeral

Or something like that. Thought it was about time I had a bit of a roundup of the last few weeks, more or less coinciding with the All Black’s Grand Slam tour.

For the weekend that NZ was playing Wales, I went down to Cambridge, to visit Paul and Kate. I had been meaning to go their for some time, and especially now that they are moving, it seemed opportune. Cambridge is a nice place, even if you can’t walk on the grass. Not my usual cup of tea to go and listen to the Kings’ College choir on Sunday morning, but something different, and distinctive for there. A most impressive church, amazing attention to detail. Probably the most interesting thing that happened there was seeing Mike, Corin and James – 3 guys I probably haven’t seen for 5 years. Not planned, or expected, just happened that we all ended up in the same town at the same time. Pretty cool.

Following weekend, it was off to Dublin. I was going to try and get tickets to the game, but when the north terraces had a fire, resulting in 7,500 people unable to get into the game, touts went up in price quickly. Around €250 at midday, apparently later getting up to €600. I suppose if you’d been one of the Kiwis who had ticket problems at Cardiff, then couldn’t get into Lansdowne Road, you would have been feeling a bit tetchy. I ended up watching the game at a pub in Temple Bar, with some other New Zealanders, including some who had tickets for the north terrace. Lots of fun, Dublin is a pretty good place. Beautiful weather, but very cold. I was surprised at how many Kiwis were there – at some bars later in the evening, probably half the people were wearing black. I guess I didn’t realise just how many New Zealanders are in this part of the world, and are prepared to follow the All Blacks around. The other thing I didn’t realise about Dublin, was just how popular a place it is for groups of women (of various ages) to get together, get custom T-shirts with crude slogans written on them, drink a lot of cheap bubbly, and make fools of themselves. There seemed to be many hens nights, 21sts, etc going on. The next day, as I was walking around, I saw a lot of posters stuck up, offering a reward for the finder of an engagement ring. I guess if you’re having a big hen’s night out in Dublin, it might be best to leave the expensive engagement ring at home…

I stayed in town the following weekend, as I had been planning on doing a small job at work on the Saturday morning. That got cancelled a bit too close to the weekend to make other plans, so I just kicked around town. Watched the NZ/England game at the Globe, with a huge number of Kiwis, and about 3 Englishmen. Unfortunately the Old Firm were playing just beforehand, so the place was absolutely packed. I’m not sure if I wanted to watch Celtic/Rangers that I would head out to a pub with Antipodean flags in the window though. But anyway, fabulous game, huge amount of tension, but the right result in the end. Ended up having a really nice night with a few friends, just sitting around, having a few drinks, people playing the guitar. Really nice, in that unplanned, do whatever, take it easy kind of way.

Then at last the rugby roadshow came to Scotland. I donned a kilt and a Scotland jersey, and went with Craig, also in Scotland jersey and kilt. Loads of fun. Women wanted their photo taken with the lovely wee Scotsmen. And then at half time, I pulled off the Scotland jersey to real the black jersey underneath. There were a few that didn’t understand, but plenty that did. A good day out really, complemented by watching NZ thrash Australia in the league. Only problem was that I’ve had a throat infection for a few days, and that, combined with a bit of shouting on Saturday, meant I ended up losing my voice. It’s still pretty weak today, hopefully by tomorrow it will be getting better. Frustrating, more than anything.

And finally, the funeral. While in Dublin, I received word that my grandmother had passed away. Nina Barton was a good woman, who did a lot for many other people. I’ve mentioned elsewhere how one of my fondest memories of her and my Granddad was how you could turn up at their place at any time, and they would always take you in, feed you up, chat about whatever was on your mind, and just generally make you feel right at home. I decided not to return to NZ for the funeral, which was not the easiest of decisions, but I think/hope I have made the right one.

3 more months working and then I’ll be off traveling again! The weather has been pretty cold for a few weeks (as low as minus 7), and it shows no signs of improving soon – it may not get into double digits for weeks. I’ve just got to keep March in mind I guess – back to NZ for a month, followed by 2.5 months around Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey. Time to get back to reading my guidebooks.

Hope everyone is well out there.