Note to self: When working on public holidays, check roster start time before leaving home, or preferably, before getting out of bed! Turns out that I'm starting at 12.31 today, not 10.19 as I'd thought! Thankfully I discovered my mistake before I reached Bellarine Highway so coming home again was not inconvenient, though the hundreds of cyclists riding in a charity bike ride down Wallington Rd were a bit of a hazard.
Therefore, true to my resolution, I'm using this windfall of spare time to launch into the blog for 2012 with my random reflections and recollections, highlights and memorable moments, some important, some not.
The two Biggest Highlights of 2011 are pretty self-evident.
In June I celebrated my 50th birthday and was joined by a number of friends and family from around the country, and to my complete surprise, by my friend Josh and his little girl Eleanor all the way from New York, and in an equally surprising postscript, my dear friends Sally and Warren and son Callum. Other guests included Mum, Dad, Vicki, Alan, The Heir, Spike, Alex, Collo, Birchy, Steve, Chris, and Cam who joined us at the MCG for the footy. It was a weekend of fun, family, friends and footy and easily the best birthday I've ever had, I felt blessed and privileged to share it with so many wonderful people.
Highlight Two: Geelong winning the premiership and going to the Grand Final with Sport Boy and good mate Scott Darlow. I loved being back in Victoria for a whole football season for the first time since I was 12 years old and Sport Boy and I went to every game together in what was a brilliant and exciting season for the Cats.
On a similar note, I loved being back in Victoria and having easy access to big events, both sporting and cultural. During 2011 SB and I went to the Boxing Day Test, the Australian Open Tennis, several A League games, The golf to see Tiger Woods, and the Socceroos play Croatia. Mrs Holt Press and I went to the Klimt exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria and spent other days in Melbourne with its array of cafes, galleries and interesting shops.
2011 Moment of Envy: When my mate Cam went to visit our mutual friends the Sparrows in Afghanistan. I have known Phil for about 20 years and have had the privilege of sharing in some special and important moments with him and his wife Julie and family. I promised him when we had the last Breakfast Club in late 2010 that I would come and visit them in Kabul. There was no date specified, just a commitment to visit when I can. I was jealous then when I heard that Cam was going to spend a week with them in Kabul in November. I confess I don't have any burning desire to go to Afghanistan, its not high on any one's list of desirable places to visit, but as a gesture of empathy and love for my friends I would very much like to go. It may still take a while but it is a definite goal that I am working towards. Phil and Julie are community development workers and you can read of the many difficulties and challenges they regularly face on Phil's blog. It's not easy reading, but nor is it easy living.
The Breakfast Club- Me, Broady, Phil & Hugh
Best Book read 2011: Life of Pi, picked up from a pile of stuff at an op shop bin, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2002 and a very interesting book about a shipwrecked Indian boy who shares his lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker!
Runner-Up, Sacked Coach, by Stan Alves, former Footballer, coach and now ABC commentator.
This touches on my latest hobby:Collecting Sports Books and in particular Football Books. I've haunted and hunted op shops, garage sales and swap meets and have amassed a substantial library of books and biographies, mostly at bargain basement prices. Part of the motivation for this is to help me research the genre so that I can finally complete the book I started writing a couple of years ago.
This in turn leads neatly to my :
Favourite Achievement of 2011, having a story published in the 2011 Footy Almanac.
Below is a part of a previous blog post concerning the Footy Almanac:
I went up to Northcote for the release of the 2011 Footy Almanac, edited by John Harms and Paul Daffey. I am an avid fan of The Footy Almanac but my interest was personal this year: One of my pieces was published in this year's edition, a match report for the round 11 game between the Cats and the Bulldogs. My first piece of published writing! Woohoo! Get your copy at a good bookstore or via the FA website. I met several other footy writers at the event which in turn stoked the fires under my modest writing ambitions.
Best Score of 2011: A big pile of old Bus Stop signs that were replaced all around Geelong when the new timetables came into effect. With the bosses' permission I claimed them and have been selling them on ebay throughout the year.
Biggest Changes of 2011:
After a period of unhappiness and dissatisfaction at his new school we (mainly Mrs HP) decided to home school Sport Boy. Initially on a trial basis during 4th term, we are now weighing up options for his education in 2012. In general the home-schooling went well and I played my part by taking him on a couple of excursions on my days off, to the Immigration Museum and the RAAF Museum at Pt Cook. I also arranged for him to meet and interview Col Hutchinson whose two claims to fame are that he is the official AFL Statistician and go-to-man on the history of Aussie Rules, and that he is the most loyal football fan in the country, my assertion not his, based on the fact that he has not missed a Geelong game, anywhere in Australia, since mid 1963!!!! Nearly 50 continuous year's of perfect attendance, some 1200 successive games!!! He was an exceptionally nice bloke to boot and we spent 2 1/2 hours with him at Diver Dan's shed in Barwon Heads.
Biggest change #2: Adjusting to shift work. Anyone who knows me well knows I am a night person and early mornings and I don't get along. However, necessity has changed me and I now regularly start work between 5-6AM when I'm on early shifts, which in turn requires getting up around 4.30 as it takes me half an hour to get to work. Much to my surprise, and no doubt everyone else's, I have managed this change of habit and lifestyle quite well, although I confess that I still prefer the late shift! Not-with-standing that, I have come to see the benefits of starting early and subsequently finishing early, leaving the rest of the day free, especially as Victoris is an enlightened state and uses daylight saving in Summer.
Sunride at Deakin Uni, on the #14
Best Movie 2011: The King's Speech, a superb period drama starring Geoffery Rush and Colin Firth.
Worst Movie 2011: Jack Goes Boating. Dreadful, avoid at all costs.
Best Trip 2011: A Tie:
#1The recent road trip to Sydney with Favourite Daughter, Sport Boy and Nathan to see the huge "Out Post" Street Art exhibition on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. We had a fantastic time and the exhibition was brilliant. See photos on previous post.
#2 My trip back to Perth in October for Bruce and Paula's Wedding when I also had the chance to catch up with a number of mates and go to the CFFL Winner's Dinner and collect my premiership trophy!
Honourable mentions: Visiting Pop in Gympie mid year and taking the train to Adelaide to visit Vicki a couple of times.
Worst Moment of 2011: Being punched in the mouth by a thug at the bus stop in Moorabool St