Lots of bridges, Durham, Newcastle and a sport called FootGolf

It was time to leave Germany, my flight was later in the afternoon and I also found a picture of our previous Prime Minister upsidedown just as I was leaving the hostel.

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And as I was waiting for the train to the airport with a snack that I mistakenly thought was some kind of hot dog, I was excited to be back home again with a cup of tea and some more family time.

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I chilled in this little area of the airport, and got the second and last currywurst of the trip. I ended up talking to a lovely scottish couple from Edinburgh, they even offered me a pint as they went to the bar which was lovely. I politely declined but remained chatting to them until the flight.

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The flight was delayed, the captain however was apologetic and honest about the delay. I cannot remember exactly what it was but it was human error and some break up of communication that caused it. But we took off and in no time back in a cloudy Edinburgh.

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I love the bridges you can see from my window as we were approaching, three can be seen over the Firth of Fourth. The Fourth Bridge, Fourth Road Bridge and newly built Queensferry Crossing (furthest away in the shot below) can be seen in my shot. The one underneath is by a photographer I have linked at the bottom of the post. I have mentioned these bridges a couple of times in my blog as they were used in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. One of Rockstars HQ’s is in Edinburgh. More info on these impressive structures can be read here.

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And to a bridge a little closer to home. Newcastle has seven bridges over the River Tyne, linking Newcastle (left in shot below) to Gateshead (right). They have a great history of their own, the main bridge below- the Tyne Bridge- built by a local company that went on to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Interestingly I have just learned that the bridge was desinged by the same company as the Fourth Road Bridge. The white one behind it is the Gateshead Millenium Bridge, it tilts to let boats through. The Swing Bridge in front of the Tyne Bridge, you guessed it, swings 90 degrees to allow boats to pass. The bridge I was on is the High Level Bridge, a Grade I listed structure. I was on a train at the very top, below it is a road. The dual purpose bridge is an impressive size and length, opened in 1849.

This site linked here gives an insight to each and a ranking, in their opinion, of the best to worst. It would be great to know what your favourite is!

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The weekend after my trip was a great one spent at home with my mum. I also met with friends to play a game I have never played before.

Footgolf.

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Mixing football (soccer) and golf, it was pretty fun despite being a little windy. I haven’t played football in at least two years, and it was obvious.

I wasn’t the one to put the ball in the water however. Not in this shot at least.

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Using the lifebelt wasn’t a wise decision but it was a logical one. We kept hold of it and even if the rope cut, one of us would have taken one for the team.

It didn’t work, we put the lifebelt back and got another ball.

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Despite being fun and something different, I couldn’t help to notice the holes were very similar, apart from maybe a couple. I think incorporating a more mini-golf style would have added more fun to it and kept it from seeming a little repetitive.

Anyways I got back home, very briefly, and got some energy back by getting my mum to open the chocolates I bought for her in Berlin. They were good.

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And one thing I love about being home is the scenery around us. All rural and with the odd hot air-balloon over head. By cropping the house and lines out of the shot it reminded me just how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

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I could never do a balloon ride, as amazing as it must be. The thought of being so high up in nothing but a basket terrifies me.

And not long after this me and the lads went for a couple of drinks in Durham. We went into a pub with a ‘no phones and laptops zone’ which I guess was refreshing so no shots form there. And sadly I couldn’t stay too long as I agreed to meet some friends back in Newcastle that evening. But as it is only a ten minute train ride between the two cities I left the pub, took a quick drunken selfie underneath Durham Castle and Cathedral and boarded the train.

 

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Hogwarts scenes were filmed above me! Also a good distraction from my grey hairs coming through…

I arrived in Newcastle, and had to take the shot below for a friend in Melbourne. Tup Tup (a nightclub in the city’s Diamond Strip) was well known in Australia because of the show Geordie Shore. I’ll be honest I have had a couple of fun night’s in there, and used to check in one of the cast regularly as I worked in a hotel nearby.

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It is also right next to Newcastle Castle.

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We headed to a bar underneath the Tyne Bridge that wasn’t open when I left for Sydney back in 2017. By The River Brew Co. reminded me of Eat Street in Brisbane. Eat Street was a street-food festival using shipping containers as a venue. By The River Brew Co. does the same thing, with a micro brewery and a street food market next to it. We watched the sun set and I had a taste of what was on offer.

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I just love the Quayside. This section however was all empty before hand, a ship used to be docked here called the Tuxedo Princess, used as a nightclub with a revolving floor. It was nothing but weeds last time I walked by and now, a great venue.

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I would recommend it if in Newcastle, and I will visit again on another trip to the city.

But it was time for me to get the train to London, I don’t know if I have told you this, but I had a Skype interview for a hotel in Central London whilst I was in Melbourne, and as soon as I landed in London I was offered the job. I said my goodbyes and prepared for the three hour journey to the capital.

It wasn’t as emotional as it was moving to Sydney, as I am only three hours south. Trains can be expensive (as is London!) but I hope to make regular journeys back up north.

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‘Mind’. This segue’s into my next shot from Durham, as I was walking up the steps to Durham Station I noticed these were placed on the railings.

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It is a sad reminder that many lives are lost on railways, often suicide. Traumatic for those that witness it but even more tragic for those that feel they need to end their lives. Similar to cards placed on bridges, I feel these messages are important not just for those considering doing this, but for the rest of us that need reminding that it is a real issue that we need to address.

I waited for my train, I made the journey from Bishop Auckland to Darlington, Darlington to Kings Cross.

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My next post will be from London. And I already have lots of shots to share with you and so many places to see. I have a few ideas as to how I want to involve you in my travels and I am excited for this chapter.

Thank you for reading, I will see you soon from London!

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Firth of Fourth Bridge Photo by Zhanhui Li on Unsplash


 

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I went to my first AFL game

This has been on my Melbourne bucket list for as long as I have known I was moving to Melbourne. Even in Brisbane many people told me it is a must when I am down in Victoria, visiting the 100,000 seater Melbourne Cricket Ground for an Aussie Rules Football game.

The MCG, Australia’s Wembley for my British readers. Australia’s Madison Square Garden, I think? I don’t know, you will have to tell me what your biggest or most beloved stadiums are in your home country so I have a place to watch some great sports if I make it to your corner of the world. Don’t be biased though. Sports fans never are anyway… 😉

This was a very quick ride from where I was in the city, we all met in a bar called Stomping Ground, appropriately named as we bought a can for the road and discreetly yet very elegantly drank them on route to Australia’s biggest and most famous stadium.

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The bar was in Collingwood, as this was the team we were watching play against Melbourne. Interestingly enough for those not too familiar with the sport, the majority of the AFL teams are based in Melbourne. Ten of the 18 are in the state of Victoria, and nine in Melbourne’s metropolitan area.

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Apparently this says 11… which ones are no longer?

As you can see above, Collingwood sport black and white colours. For me this was an easy team to cheer on.

Or so I thought. Black and white stripes with the nickname ‘the magpies’? Just like Newcastle, the city I lived in back in England. Easy choice!!

However it seems people that aren’t Collingwood fans, well, like to tell me not to be a Collingwood fan. Apparently it is a bogan/chav/redneck team, as are their fans. I mean in the stadium everyone including my Melbourne friend seemed to be pretty nice people, is this a myth? I guess I will let the locals decide…

 

The Big Freeze at the ‘G’

Melbourne vs Collingwood is an annual game held on the Queens Birthday. On this day an event called the ‘The Big Freeze’ takes place before the game. This is a fun charity event with the aim of raising awareness for Motor Neurone Disease, a condition former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher suffers from and now aims to raise funds fighting for a cure.

On the charity website, fightmnd.org.au it states about the event that:

‘Each year, a group of ‘A-List’ celebrities take the icy plunge sliding into the Big Freeze pool all in the name of raising critical funds to help fine a treatment and cure for MND.’

As you can see below, the celebrities ride down a slide on a sled and into the ice water, often in fancy dress. I noticed people started to clap the intro to ‘We Will Rock You’, and with that out came Freddie Mercury himself. Freddie was always at home in a stadium.

 

And the plunge…

It was a glorious day for football. Well, I say glorious, it didn’t rain. And the Melbourne skyline looked fantastic from here with the Eureka Tower dominating as always.

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Now for the game itself. It is a sport that always looked rather funny to me, as does Gaelic football, with the variety of things going on whilst the players run. Sometimes bouncing it, something punching it, sometimes kicking it. Sometimes kicking each other. Once I understood the rules a little better it was much more fun to follow and appreciate.

I was under the impression that this game evolved from Gaelic Football, but after some quick research it turns out this may be a myth. Historians consider that the game Marn Grook that was played by Aboriginals in Australia possibly has more of a connection. One reason is due to one of the founders of AFL- Tom Wills- having watched the game being played.

Here is a picture of Tom Wills, believed to have been taken on a very early Nokia.

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The basic rules are this. Six points are awarded if the ball is kicked in the middle goal. one point if it is kicked between the outer posts. The games lasts four 20-minute quarters and starts with a ruck. In the event of a crocodile, any player is considered ‘fair game’ and the team suffering the loss can substitute another player on without penalty. This is when you see the referee do this.

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The ball up is an interesting start to the game. As the umpire throws the ball off the ground, the players then try to take possession as it is bounced into the air. A bit like a basketball tip off really, but with what resembles a mild kids temper tantrum. The throw-ins are equally unique too. As the ball goes out the opposition team does not get to throw it back in, instead one of the umpires throws it over his head, wedding bouquet style. The difference is the guys actually run to grab it first.

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The ball is passed between players via a handball, in which the ball is punched with a clenched fist from the other hand. This is the only hand pass allowed. Players can also kick the ball to opponents, and can ‘mark’ the ball by catching a pass that has been kicked over 15 meters without being touched or bouncing (I think). A mark gives the receiving player a free kick without the threat of a tackle. Players running with the ball have to bounce it every 15 meters. This and the kicking rule got me thinking how umpires (or anyone really) can tell what exactly 15 meters is on the field in such a fast game. I mean, does anyone really have the ability without computers to determine what was a 14, 15 or 16 meter pass or sprint? It seems pretty hard to do. I asked my friend and he replied with ‘they don’t’. Fair enough.

But knowing these rules made the game more fun to watch. Like any sport actually investing a few minutes to getting to know the rules means we can relate to the cheers and geers from the fans, and can actually join in. It was a great atmosphere and I would certainly do it again.

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I would recommend to anyone reading to go to a local sports game, even if you aren’t a sports fan. It is a great way to embrace the local culture, meet some of the cities most passionate people and try some of the local junk food, which is more than often delicious with a beer. It might not make sense at first, but think of it like trying new foods. You don’t know what it is or what to expect, but regardless of the outcome it is another memory to look back on. And I am certainly glad I had this one.

 


 

Pssst, if you want to see the pro-shot of the glorious ‘Freddie’ slide, here it is…

 

fightmnd.org.au/

 


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

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Cheers!

Sam

 

I felt like an Australian yesterday

Yesterday was a very fun day. With each and every day that passes down under I feel more and more like a local. I went to my first AFL game here in Melbourne and it was a great experience. This was the view from the impressive MCG stadium at sunset. 


I will blog about this experience more in depth tomorrow as its my day off and I have a few photos to share. But the team I went to see won and I’m pleased I got to enjoy the experience, which is a must when in Melbourne. 

I’ll see you all soon with an update!

Sam

Finding a reason to get up at 5.30am

Yesterday morning I went to a local 24/7 pub to watch England play the USA. It was a friendly, but a rather special one as it was the last time Wayne Rooney will play for England. It is funny how a 5.30am start sounds so horrible, until it is for something we actually want to do. For me, it was watching my country play live in London.

It was pretty empty, it is an outside pub in the high street without walls but sheltered by a roof. There were some early birds, a couple of people in suits having their morning coffee as well as two guys in high visibility jackets preparing for a hard days work. I would have looked rather out of place there in my causal clothes if it wasn’t for the TV I was staring at for 90 minutes.

England won the game 3-0.

There is something I love about being awake early, when it is my choice. I love the silence as I walk through the streets, the low hum of traffic as cars slowly start to hit the roads but in small numbers, the endless space not taken up by the masses at rush hour. Upon heading back home after the game, the city really came back to life. What fascinated me was that I was heading to central station but because I was already in Brisbane’s CBD, everyone was spilling out of central station. This meant that when I was walking towards it, 99% of people were walking by and very little were walking in my direction. It was pretty interesting and a reminder of how our society- and species in general- has been programmed to do things in very similar ways. Set our alarms for the same wake up, catch the same train, drink the same coffee and see each other on the same work break. I am sure by 5.30pm the lines of people were travelling in the opposite direction.

Sometimes, things become so much easier to do when we aren’t forced to do them. 5.30am starts for example. Life gets easier the more freedom we gain, and our aim should be to gain as much freedom in this life as possible

 


Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,

Sam

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How to deal with your team being knocked out of the World Cup, national pride and ignoring online trolls

So at 1am Eastern Australian time, the final game of the 2018 World Cup was played and France won the competition. Congratulations France, a very good team and hardly a shock result. This didn’t make me look forward to my 77th day of farmwork today as I work with a French girl that I knew would be more than happy to boast about it. I also work with her friend, a Belgian girl that beat England to third place the day before. The French girl was more upset she wasn’t at home celebrating with her fellow Frenchmen and women.

I’m honestly happier with our performance at this World Cup more than anything. This was the joint-best performance by England in a World Cup on foreign soil, we ended our penalty shootout curse and made it to the final four. 

Also, football helps inspire me to do as well as I can in my personal life. It is times like these that make me realise that I cannot solely rely on others for bragging rights, if I want to achieve I have to put my own effort in. The England players, as well as the players from all 32 teams, are representing a nation but also being the best they can be, making the most of their own lives. Losing helps remind me that we have to be the best we can be and probably have to rely on ourselves if we want to be successful and victorious as individuals regardless of the paths we choose to go down. 

But back to the recent tournament. The majority of England thinks that the team did very well and are happy with that. But that doesn’t prevent many people making their voices heard on YouTube videos and England’s social media sites. 

‘No one cares’

‘Without the trophy though’

‘At least something came back…’

‘You were lucky to get that far’

There are some very bitter people in the world. It takes effort to be negative online- first, I have to search the page I want to be negative on. That is unless I have already followed the page and get regular updates, which confuses me as to why someone would ‘like’ something or someone in the first place if they prefer to insult. Secondly, I have to hit ‘add comment’, type away and spread a little poison. This procedure takes a little time, enough time to make me think ‘Do I really want to spend my time doing this?!’. 

Admittedly I have been a little salty on occasions in my life, and I have been drawn in to respond to people too. Now I refrain from such comments altogether, instead I prefer to let them inspire a new post on my blog. It’s healthier and more productive.

I understand some of the hate, some people get their kicks from negativity for a number of reasons. Some are bitter they may have been knocked out by England, as I’m sure many England fans are and have been in the past. Every country is prone to this. Some see England as a big footballing nation (despite many England fans being more than willing to disagree due to our bad World Cup and Euro record) and take great pride in seeing Iceland knock us out in 2016 and Croatia this time round in the semi finals. 

In my opinion, we were much more humble during this tournament than many would think. Yes we chanted ‘it’s coming home!’ endlessly throughout each stage, a song we have sang since its release 22 years ago to no avail. If you haven’t heard it or seen the video, take a look. It’s pretty catchy:

It is a song we sing with great optimism and a little humour. If you asked many people in recent decades if they truly felt it was coming home as they belt the lyrics out in chorus, it would seem apparent that we know we aren’t the greatest football nation to grace this earth. If we are great at something, it is laughing at ourselves. It is a shame British humour doesn’t always seem so apparent outside of the border. 

But with this in mind, how many other nations have anthems that actually envision the glory seen by the eight teams that have won the competition in its 88 years of existence? I’m sure a few. Can you imagine any teams chant being humble? 

‘La la la la… we may potentially win with a good performance… La la la’. 

Not in a million years! 

Sport is about competition, and having the belief in winning surely helps it become reality. It doesn’t bother me that nations convince themselves they will be victorious. It’s a football game, not a world war. But then again, I guess I am being over dramatic. It’s only a few comments after all. But it does seem to be aimed towards the more dominant teams in world football. If Iceland’s fans shouted at the top of their lungs how great they are, it is seen as cute. National pride. If it’s a more dominant nation, it is arrogance. I guess that comes with it, everyone roots for the underdog. 

But that is what many of us think we are. Underdogs! We never expected to get as far as we did, the hope of winning something that we haven’t won since ’66 has us dreaming but not expecting. We are in that weird place between seeing ourselves as underdogs (not to the same degree as smaller footballing nations of course) and being seen overseas as an overly optimistic country that thinks it is a favourite, when really it is an underdog. 

Gary Lineker, former England player and now TV presenter for Match of the Day for the BBC, tweeted a great response to the accusations of England being ‘arrogant’ with the song:


See…

Just having a laugh, guys…
Just another laugh, he didn’t really buy a trophy cabinet. I don’t think…
 

So these are my thoughts on this. Maybe I’m being too bitter myself, it’s only football banter after all and boy did I love seeing our European and South American football rivals leave the competition early. But I wouldn’t bother searching their national teams Instagram to talk shit. If we spent as much time being creative as so many people do being negative, we would all be winners.

What do you think? Do you feel certain nations of the world are seen as arrogant whilst other nations get away with it? How does your country compare and was it in this years World Cup? 

As always, I would love to hear your opinion and personal perspective wherever you are.

See you soon, Euro 2020!

Super Bowl 52: Will I ever learn?

I enjoy getting caught up in major sporting events. The current problem with watching american football for me is the timezone. I wanted to watch the Superbowl yesterday, unfortunately I couldn’t as it was on around midday here in Sydney, smack bang in the middle of my shift. Instead I watched these highlights later on.

Midday on a Monday didn’t stop many Sydneysiders gathering in bars and casinos to watch the game on the televisions that tuned in around the city. I am sure many American tourists were able to watch the game and enjoy a beer in the sun… It was a pretty friendly timezone for those that were without work commitments.

But a confession. There are a few things I still don’t get about the sport, things that I have been too lazy to actually research and has been the only thing that has held me back from getting really into the game. I am ashamed of this.

There are a few questions that stand out for me. I am sure I have plenty more however an understanding of these will be enough for me to actually watch a game with a greater enjoyment to confusion ratio.

1. Those yellow flags thrown on the field from time to time, what offences are they acknowledging?

2. The knee down in the end zone after a punt. I’m not sure of this one either.

3. A fumble. How does a fumble differentiate from an incomplete pass? Does a player have to simply touch the ball for it to be classed as a fumble? Do two hands need to be on the football before it’s loose? Does the football have to avoid touching the floor?

4. At 6.47 in the highlight video, after analyzing the replays to determine if it is a touchdown the referee states ‘The receiver possesses the football and becomes a runner’. Does becoming a ‘runner’ change the play? Are runners restricted to certain limitations or have to adhere to differing rules?

So much to learn, so little time.

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I could Google the answers to these, but that would be boring. With the majority of my audience being American, it would be silly to not make a post of it and speak the community. Much more fun.

Did you watch it wherever you are in the world?

And last question… was it a good thing that the Eagles beat the Patriots?

 

Featured Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash