Australia & New Zealand Tour 2017/18

Winter is coming

I am responsible for the booking at our overnight stay in Oamaru. A 'Historic Area Apartment' which no doubt will come complete with historic appliances and furniture. I can sense that Lofty is ready to pounce if this apartment isn't up to scratch, so it is with some trepidation I sit in the passenger seat while an unusually jovial Lofty does the driving.


On arrival at our apartment, it is huge and right in the centre of the old town. A brilliant location. Furthermore, there is a washing machine and powder, so I can do my pile of washing for free. As I load up the washer, Lofty starts to take the piss.


"A woman's housework is never done, eh? I'm going out for a look round. You will never get it dry!"


The washer has only been on for five minutes when Lofty comes steaming back into the apartment like a scalded cat. He is covered from head to foot in seagull $hit.


"Look what's happened! A f*cking seagull has shat all over me! My shirts ruined!"





At this point, I hope you will understand it is hard for me to keep a straight face.


I asked Lofty if I could take a photo of this priceless moment for the Addis website.


Unsurprisingly, I was told to "f*ck off!"


"Well, I'm sure the seagull didn't do it on purpose." I offered, by way of consolation.


"It bloody did!" He replied. "Its just the sort of thing those f*ckers do!"


One more guano-encrusted polo shirt for the dark wash, then. I hope I can get it dry!


Oamaru is a must-see for any British visitors to South Island. Its future is firmly rooted in its past, with a magnificent display of whitestone colonial buildings its centrepiece in the Victorian quarter. We sure knew how to build, back in the day. The Union flag, not the New Zealand flag, still flies over Oamaru.


Lofty visited the Steampunk exhibition. He wasn't impressed.


"That's the biggest pile of shit I've seen in ages." He said.


Well, at least since the seagull incident a couple of hours ago!


Things improved for Lofty when he located a small motor museum, and I had a walk round town admiring the wonderful architecture. We did our own thing for food later. Lofty dined at a local pub - I bet he ordered braised seagull in brown windsor sauce - whereas I wanted a couple of days off the beer, so I walked over a mile each way for my favourite indulgence food - KFC. On arrival:


"I'm sorry my dear, there's a sixteen minute wait for the original chicken."


"No worries love, I'll take a seat. The wait is sixteen days where I live!"





On the way back there is a distinct chill in the air. In fact, it is bloody freezing.


Winter is coming. Thankfully, our car travels now only take us north to hopefully warmer climes, but God only knows what we might expect when we turn south again for the final time in April, and fly down to Christchurch for the second Test.


As if to support the 'winter is coming' theory, we travel up from Oamaru to Christchurch in pouring rain, arriving mid - afternoon. Our motel is well situated on the corner of Hagley Park, so we should be able to attain speedy erections in the morning with our collapsible chairs.


First, however there is a dinner date with Bob and Posh Margaret at Arjee Bhajee. A very pleasant affair with a couple of drinks in Wilson's followed by the obligatory curry and wine. An early night beckons as we shall need to be at Hagley Park as the gates open.


Outside the entrance gate at 9.10am and Bob, Margaret, Richard and Steve are already in the queue. By the time there is any movement the line has grown considerably, and when we finally rush up the bank to pitch our chairs behind the bowlers arm, the queue outside has doubled on itself and is increasing rapidly. Reminiscent of Old Trafford 2005, believe it or not. There is a real sense of occasion - this is a big game, the sun is shining, and a lovely atmosphere pervades the Hagley Oval. The game is a sell-out.


Bank space is at a premium, and we see about fifty Howzat Travellers who have arrived late plodding around, looking forlornly to find spaces for their deckchairs. They are each carrying their own chair (reluctantly, I would guess) and some wear a despairing look, similar to crucifiction victims who have been asked to carry their own crosses.


Given the amounts they have paid for this short tour, perhaps I shouldn't be too harsh on them. I gather most will have shelled out in the region of £5-6k for the five one-dayers.





Apparently, the Howzat bus containing the chairs got lost on the way to the ground and delayed their entry.


They finally arrive on a spot low down at the opposite side of the ground and try to bunch together. All the best spots were taken an hour ago. I am glad that I am not employed as a complaints handler by Howzat after this affair.


As the top of the bank where we are sat becomes increasingly congested, Lofty becomes more and more exasperated and bad tempered with anyone trying to squeeze through our phalanx of chairs, culminating in an outright refusal of passage to a burly looking Kiwi supporter, whose own chairs are perched precariously in front of us.


The Kiwi chap does not take kindly to Lofty's harsh words, and in this case, a refusal definitely does offend. I close my eyes, whisper a silent prayer and prepare for the conflagration.


"Hey, its about time you went home isn't it fella!" he muttered loudly as he reappeared in front of us after finding an alternative route.


Probably a correct analysis for both of us, actually.





Chairs are shuffled into position on the top edge of the bank behind us, and we engage with a father and son called Gary and Andrew. Gary came to NZ many years ago from Liverpool - a wise decision - and supports Everton. His son Andrew is born and raised Kiwi, but supports Manchester United. There must have been some great family inquests about that one! A lovely pair of lads and the only sour moment comes when Worcester Mick hands round a bag of Everton mints, and Gary tries to steal the lot. You can take the lad out of Liverpool........!


Only joking guys - hope you enjoy the Addis Newsletter in due course.


England win the toss and insert the Kiwis in bowler friendly conditions. We sense that this is one of those games where 'win the toss, win the match' is the maxim, and sure enough in no time New Zealand are 93-6 and in tatters.


England's bowling and fielding is clinical, and two superb catches by Hales and Bairstow are probably the highlight.


There is a small recovery from Nicholls and Santner, but New Zealand only reach 223 all out and surely this will not be enough.


Bairstow continues where he left off in Dunedin with a 58 ball ton and after that, despite a couple of hiccups, the victory and series win are a formality. Credit also to Hales who wins the award for best supporting batsman, and to Stokes for finishing the game in style with a six.


England took only 32.4 overs to knock the runs off. One of our better days, then.


Straight to Wilson's for a celebratory beer and we meet up with Deco from the Barmy Army.





He is wearing Mark Wood's shirt, and carrying a signed pair of his cricket boots which hardly look to have been worn. The destination for the boots is anyone's guess.


The pub is full of New Zealand fans wearing their traditional orange catching shirts, but there is only friendly banter. To a man they are all pleased to meet us, enquire how we are enjoying our trip, and express admiration for the England team performance today.


This is in stark contrast to the abuse we might have expected had we ventured into a local alehouse in Australia after a home match and series defeat.


In a nutshell, just one of the factors that makes New Zealand such a great tour.


I'm having a well earned break for the next couple of weeks but will be back on line once the Test matches commence.


Regards


Midnight





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