The notable feature at the start of the week was attending my first Darwin College Students Association General Meeting. I attended to ensure that the cricket club would get funding for next season, and the meeting needed a quorum of 70(!) students to approve motions including the budget. The meeting was run in a really formalised and structured manner, which kind of resembled a House of Commons debate, with motions and people speaking to or against a given motion. It began uncontroversially, with unanimous support for a few motions put forward by the Executive Committee for the general operation of business. But the meeting quickly devolved into a deep and somewhat divisive debate on whether the college should change the signs on the toilets from “male” and “female” to “cubicles and urinals” and “cubicles only”. The discussion lasted almost 90 minutes, with a few outspoken individuals arguing instead that it should be “male/non-binary” and “female/non-binary” which kind of missed the point. I kept exchanging glances with Julia who agreed with me that the discussion was going nowhere. Then someone pointed out that the student committee didn’t actually have the power to change the signs, and it needed to be brought up at the college level. Frustrated, it eventually made it to a vote, passing overwhelmingly, with only a few dissenters. After several hours of sitting and waiting, the budget for all the clubs and societies eventually passed.
The Wednesday before leaving to go to Australia, I had a special trip planned. I had arranged with someone that I knew through the Cambridge Real Tennis club to be an MCC member to visit Lord’s Cricket Ground. Jacqueline decided to come along too, and we would go to a concert in the evening. So after a little work in the morning and the early morning tennis practice, we headed to the train station and boarded a train to London Liverpool Street. Everything was going fine until, at Stansted Mountfitchet, our train pulled to a halt and the driver came onto the PA and announced that he had lost power to the train, and there was likely a fault with the overhead wires. We waited for an hour without moving, the driver continuing to be apologetic as he waited for the maintenance crews to find the fault. But we were running out of time to get to Lord’s. It eventually came to a point where we figured that there was no way we could get there in time, so we had to order an Uber to take us into town. Fortunately, we were near Stansted Airport, so it didn’t take too long before one arrived.
Our driver was very nice and took us all the way to the cricket ground, but we were over 25 minutes late. I raced inside to get changed and met Joe, who had been hitting around with one of the other MCC members. Lord’s Cricket Ground has a real tennis court in the building directly behind the main pavilion, and is set aside for use of MCC members. Consequentially, the off-court facilities were some of the nicest I’ve seen, with the option for an ice bath in the change room, and a television that would play coverage of the cricket outside in there as well. They had a nice lounge area with a real tennis themed carpet. We only managed to get one set in, and I found the court incredibly dimly lit, but played somewhat similarly to the court in Cambridge.
After the match, Joe took us in to see the Long Room at Lord’s, one of the most famous rooms in the world of cricket, with fantastic views out onto the hallowed turf. We then walked around the ground having a look at the views, including out to the Nursery ground and looking up at the media centre. We went by the gift shop, before farewelling Joe and heading off towards Covent Garden for some Christmas shopping. Jacqueline went to find food, and I raced off to hit up some speciality shops in Seven Dials, before meeting Jacqueline at her restaurant.
After food, we walked across the Hungerford Bridges to the Southbank Centre. Jacqueline had booked tickets to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who were performing a series of modern classical music for string quartet and chamber orchestra. The notable feature of the performance was when fourteen trumpeters lined the choir stalls to play the intro and conclusion to one of the pieces. Day done, we headed back to Cambridge for my last night before heading home.
On Thursday evening, I headed out to Stansted for a week-and-a-bit long trip to Australia, namely for Josh and Raquel’s wedding. Now that Emirates flies direct from Stansted, it makes it more convenient than flying from Heathrow. However, the one flight a day from Stansted only has a good connection with the one flight a day from Adelaide on the return leg. So I had opted to spend a day in Melbourne instead of a day in Dubai.
Consequently, I had a relatively quick layover in Dubai, where I grabbed some food and headed onwards. A few movies and a scratch of sleep later, I had landed in Melbourne. I could have taken the Skybus into the centre of Melbourne, but the Skybus is expensive, so I opted instead for an alternate route on the public busses. Rather than the extensive advertising and multiple bus stands at the front of the terminal, the public bus stop is a non descript bay at the far end of the new multi-storey car park. Nonetheless, I found it, and went to Broadmeadows where I caught a train to the centre of Melbourne. I changed trains and got out at Jolimont, were I immediately found a bakery to get some food for both breakfast and lunch, before wandering down to the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club. I had booked three hours of tennis in Melbourne, across both of their two real tennis courts, and I met their pro who showed me into their facilities. Over the next four hours, I played three matches, winning one, losing one and drawing one. I even got a few tips and pointers from one of their pros, who came on court with me to rally for a while. Melbourne does have a great facility and I hope to return in the near future.
Tennis over, I caught the train back to Broadmeadows and the bus to the airport. It was strangely quiet, but I found my flight across to Adelaide, where I met up with Mum who had come to pick me up, and we drove home and I was able to catch up with everyone once again.
Despite the jet lag, Mum, Dad and I headed out the next day to pick up Nana and head to the beach. It was one of the warmest days of my visit, well over thirty degrees, and I wanted to make the most of it. We drove down to Henley beach, with a car full of four of us and a dog. Dad took Nana for a walk along the Esplanade in her wheelchair, whereas Mum and I took the scooters and the dog. Initially, the dog was happy to pull me and the scooter along, but she eventually got tired and I had to push myself. We made it all the way to Grange before turning around and heading back to a cafe for some coffee with Nana. Afterwards, I went down onto the sand with the dog and played around in the water a bit, before heading back for the car and a long drive home. That evening, Dad took me around to the neighbours place to play around on the tractor and help him set up the neighbour’s new cattle yards. They were portable yards, but we were setting them up in a permanent fashion. They were also the yards that Dad had modelled his own on, so the shapes and structures in the yard were strangely familiar. We finished and got it into a decent shape, but Dad would want to readjust them later on.