Sunday, March 2, 2014

Autumn Update

Inspirational words on the pavement in Port Melbourne

It's been over a month since I posted last, and an explanation is, I think, required. Simply put, I've been working like a dog and have been too tired to write this blog. My 9-5 job (more like 8-8 at the moment) as a chess coach has been extended to some managerial duties and has seen me putting in long hours. As well as that I've started playing chess again, and have tried to put some work into that. All told, these factors have pushed this blog to the side for the past month. Well, I see some light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm hoping to be able to update this blog a bit more regularly (though I've said this before).

Firstly, I will explain to the chess playing readers that this post will have nothing to do with chess. I am planning to blog about my feelings and experiences of coming back to chess after a year off, but this probably won't be until Tuesday. No, this is a post about things non-chess that interest me. It won't be in any order. Rather, I'll just allow my murky mind to wander over things which have come up in the last month. A couple of weeks ago, after the excessive heat of late January and early February, Caroline and I headed down to Port Melbourne to see the Queen Mary 2. It really is a magnificent sight, even from the outside. Compared to other ships that dock in Melbourne, it is absolutely huge. I've never been on the ship, but I saw a great blog post which shows the interior pretty well.

Queen Mary 2 dwarfing Port Melbourne
Queen Mary 2

The QM2, originally from Southampton changed its registry to Hamilton, Bermuda to allow on-board weddings.
I must admit that my work involves perspiration rather than inspiration. For inspiration I look at life around me. My life in Melbourne is great, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to travel to new places. Next week, for example, I'll be off to Hong Kong for a week (more about that soon), and Caroline and I are already planning trips in the future. Meanwhile, I start work at 8 am Tuesday to Friday, and a bonus is travelling to work and seeing the sunrise balloon trips over the city.

Low flying balloon dominating the Kew skyline

I saw this one landing, probably in the grounds of Xavier College in Hawthorn
To be honest, it doesn't take much to brighten my day. I love reading, though I was saying only earlier today that I find it hard to read non fictional subjects, probably because I read so much technical, historical and biographical works on chess. But I am an avid fiction reader, and always have a novel with me. There are times during the week that I just have to drop into a cafe and spend half an hour getting lost in a novel while drinking a long black coffee.

It is easy to take for granted just how good life is for us in Melbourne. I arrived here 9 years and 1 day ago, and to some extent it still feels like a holiday. That doesn't mean I'm not settled, or that I want to return to the UK. No, this is my home, but the move, the emigration, was an amazing, inspirational boost to my life. Today Caroline and I spent the early part of the day with our great friends Nick and Zoe. Nick had recently been back to England sadly because of the death of his father. The huge distance from here to our relatives is the only down side of living in Melbourne and the advent of the internet social networks and communications has been a godsend to many expats far from their place of birth. Both Caroline and I, and Nick and Zoe have plans to visit the UK next year. Nick's recent trip was a necessary one that most expats dread, and I was happy to see him in good spirits today. In fact, he brought back some interesting mementos from his father, including an original membership book of the "Ancient Order of Froth Blowers". The AOFB was a charitable organsation from the 1920's and 1930's which I'd never heard of before. After reading about the AOFB, it seems that it was a decent sized thing in the late 1920's, and it even made it into a poem by John Betjeman:

I started a rag in Putney at our Frothblower's Branch down there;
We got in a damn'd old lorry and drove to Trafalgar Square;
And we each had a couple of toy balloons and made the hell of a din,
And I saw a bobby at Parson's Green who looked like running us in.

Somehow it seems fitting that something which displays such British qualities as charity, humour and drinking should appeal to the popular Poet Laureate. Anyway, thanks to Nick, here's the opening page of the booklet that members of the AOFB received.

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