An early morning call is arranged for 6.30 am to have breakfast for 7.00 in anticipation that the buses will be on time for 7.30. We meet the boys and Lucy Jones, who has been staying with her cousins, at 8.00am. Everyone has had a great time-some fantastic. Rhys Baker, who was a little down the day before, said the evening had gone ‘really well and it would be good to do it again’. Fraser from Glasgow comments that Ethan Harris and Ben Brown are a credit to the school. Ehsan and Rhys Baker are a little “crook” and we may have to get them to see the doctor when we get to Sydney. We shall assess them after the flight (post entry note-both are fully recovered now).
I receive the following message Kevin Culliver- ‘Very good congrats-text from the billet Dad for Steffan, Sam and Callum. Good experience all around’.
Then I receive the following email from David Bilston-McGillen who billeted Aled Simons and Jack Soproniuk.
On behalf of our family (Tracey, Henry and Ben), we just wanted to pass on to you how much we enjoyed spending time with Aled and Jack over the last two nights.
They are two very fine you men who are a credit to themselves, their families and their school. Their positive, polite and thoughtful engagement with us was outstanding and we learnt a lot about them, their home and their lives in Gowerton. Hopefully they took away some positive experiences from being with us in our home.
Please feel to pass our comments on to their parents. Their parents should be proud of these two fine young Welshmen, they are a credit to them.
Good luck to you and your touring party for the balance of your time in Australia. May the rugby be of as a finer quality that Henry got experience and I got to watch on Monday night – with better weather hopefully!!
I hope the boys are injury free and get further positive life experiences in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
As we said to Aled and Jack this morning, there is always a bed for them and their families if they ever pass through Melbourne again.
We arrive at Melbourne airport at 9.30, offload the cases and head for Terminal 3 and our Virgin Airlines flight VA837. As we are waiting to check in, Clive Callaway, who had hosted Tom Ham and Lloyd Dudley-Jones, approaches me-oh dear!
How could I think he was going to say anything negative?.
“What a fantastic pair of young men, a credit to themselves and their school. It has been a pleasure to look after them”. I thank him sincerely for his kind words and looking after our lads so well.
I noticed that as he walks away, he takes his earplugs out!!!
The girls’ bus arrives a little later. They look a little tired but are full smiles and stories of their experiences. Somehow, all the kit bags have ended up on their bus (nothing to do with Mr. Thomas!) and as I greet them, they are struggling to get both their bags and our kit bags to the terminal. It is clearly a struggle and they are tired. Remarkably, not one remark or grumble from the pupils-they just get on with it and I help the best I can. I am really proud of them and their mental toughness.
We check in but discover that problems at Sydney airport means that our flight is delayed for 80 minutes. We are now to take off at 12.20 pm. We arrange to meet at 1130 so that we can go through security and check in by mid day.
We go through security to Gate 2-it appears that there is another delay. We take off at 13.15 pm. The flight time is 1 hour and 5 minutes (which is a lot better than the 10 hour journey available by coach)-although Miss Smitham, a very nervous flier said,
” I’ll take the coach.”
Soft drinks and biscuits are served on the flight.
We approach Sydney with strong crosswinds and this makes the landing more than bumpy (to say the least). I look out of the window (to take in the sights for those unwilling to take their heads out of their hands) which reveals stunning scenery. The captain informs us that the temperature is 18 degrees on the ground. It is blustery but should feel warm. Mr Thomas’ choice of leg wear is finally appropriate and shorts are now worn by most.
We collect our cases and our agent on the ground Seb Van Der Vliet meets us in arrivals and directs us to our coaches. Seb used to lecture in Swansea College before emigrating to Australia 15 years ago. He had played football with Mr. Lockett when they were in college (which was obviously some time ago)-his wife’s parents live within walking distance of my home in Penllergaer-it’s a small world.
We travel to the Menzies hotel and arrive around 4pm. The Menzies is an old and traditional hotel in the heart of the CBD but with excellent facilities and fabulous decor. Bedrooms are large, there’s a pool, gym, sauna and large meeting and reception areas.
The group has time to relax and many visit the pool and spa.
We meet at 6pm. We take the short walk down in to the famous Circular Quay area around the harbour and give the group a chance to wander around and get something to eat. We are to meet back at 10pm. However, many have had enough by 9pm and make their way back to the hotel earlier.
In the hotel we meet at 10.15pm and impose a strict curfew of 11pm. Some have been abusing the times allowed and we confirm that we will be around to check they are in their rooms on time.
We arrange an early morning call for 8am (a lie in in my eyes but not in the eyes of the students) with everyone in breakfast between 8.30am and 9am, and then plan a meeting for 10am before we head off for Jet Boating with our third matches in the afternoon.
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