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The old country and similar stories

Yeah, I know, it has been a while. Anyway, most of the reason for the absence has been that I have been on holidays back home in the old country. Besides that, I have been busy; both there and here. While I won't go into the minutiae of what happened, I will tell bits and pieces. I will skip the "we met this person then and that person then". We caught up with lots of people, but not all the people we wanted to.

The trip over was fine. We flew Emirates and they haven't yet made it onto the boycott list. I like the Video on Demand system. I watched the Simpsons Movie and the Transformers Movie before using the latest Michael Moore as a natural sedative. While I am prepared to accept that the US system leaves something to be desired, anyone who sees no problems with either the NHS or the French system isn't really looking. I also read 100 pages or so of Richard's thesis and made comments.

The first order of business was stuff related to Rev's wedding. The wedding was lovely - one of the best I have been to where I wasn't the groom. The speech was good. The groom's speech was excellent. Rev had half the guests crying and the other half throwing up from a saccharine overdose. It was a beautiful speech. I actually gave two speeches: the best man's speech and a speech explaining Chanukkah (including traditions such as eating doughnuts, lighting candles and, if someone gets married on chanukkah, giving money to his brother!) while my beautiful assistant lit the candles. I had to fill in for a bit because the candles were right under the fan so Rebecca had a bit of trouble keeping them lit. I was under instructions not to show up the groom's speech - I wasn't even allowed to use poetry (or bad rhymes - my equivalent) - as it turned out, I needn't have worried. It was a busy night for me as, as the best man, I took care of the thousand little things that cropped up on the night; things that the happy couple both wouldn't have noticed and so probably wouldn't have appreciated how much I did. But it was worth it to see them both looking so happy.

During the night, I said to Bec, "This is the foetus' first wedding."

"Second," she said. "He went to Jo and Shane's wedding in August"

"Yeah," I replied. "But he was too young to remember that!

I gave a presentation at Melbourne Uni. In the lead-up, Malcolm said we'd be lucky to get about 6 people at this time of year. We got substantially more than that, and I was pleased with the turnout. The talk was well received and there were lots of questions. I only did 2 work-type things this trip; the other was at the Baker Institute.

I popped into Melbourne training one morning and had a chat to (multiple premiership winning Sandringham coach and now Melbourne development coach) Mark Williams about coaching. He was very nice and gave me a lot of very useful suggestions and advice about coaching, which I hope to apply this year for the Welsh side.

We popped up to Ballarat for a couple of days. I must be the only person on this planet who goes into a chocolate factory and comes out, not with chocolate but with a coconut! It was a good trip, although it was saddening to see our old garden - it was even worse than last year. Except my wormwood, which I planted out the front and was still going strong. Absinthe makes the heart grow stronger.

Next stop, Christmasy things: roast turkey. I never quite understood how copious amounts of non-kosher food such as ham or shellfish celebrates the birth of a Jewish kid, but anyway.

After all that, Boxing Day was spent at the cricket with Dad and Keith. We went to the Member's Dining Room breakfast, which was very entertaining - hosted by Darren Berry and with Brad Hodge and Rodney Hogg as speakers. The day's cricket and the match were good. Australia scored about 330 runs. I thought it was a good score. The commentators gave the day to India, saying they had restricted Australia to a low score. India barely made 330 in their 2 innings to be comprehensively thrashed. I had a good day though.

We then went down to Sorrento for a few days. Lindel came down for a day and had her All Summer in a Day: Snot block, ice creams, fish and chips and swim in the beach. It was nice to have good, grilled fish and chips. I had lots of ice creams as there is a good gelati place. One day, I went out on the rescue boats with Dad as they practiced organisation for the upcoming 49ers world championships. One night we had dinner with Mum and Dad and Bec's parents at the Couta Boat club over looking the bay. Nice food and a good view.

And that was about it for the trip. If it seems like it went quickly, that's because it did. And that's without me talking about all the people I caught up with or all the administrative tasks I did.

We flew out on the 41 degree New Years Eve. We had a 5-4-3-2-1-yay! over South Australia and again over Western Australia. The seats were tiny and uncomfortable and I spent 15 hours with my knees jammed into the seat in front. I don't think I'd fly an Emirates A340 again by choice. Bec and I had an our and a half at Dubai, so we went to the gym, did an hours' workout and showered before getting onto the flight. Which then took a couple of hours to leave beacuse of computer problems. We eventually got into Manchester a couple of hours late and into Swansea a couple of hours late.

Next morning and back into work. The holiday is over. It's life Jim, but just as we know it.

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