It's been a while since I last posted here, because I have been dashing about from pillar to post, or from Ipswich to Adelaide, teaching sword stuff to the koala bears, kiwis, and even the occasional possum.
I arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday November 6th, after a pretty quick tramp across the globe. I flew direct from London to Perth, passing over places like Mumbai, as seen here:
16 hours is a long time to spend in a plane, but as much of it was night time in Melbourne, I spent the first few hours asleep. I had ‘dinner' in Heathrow at 10am local time, 9pm Melbourne time, and settled in to ‘bed', with my surgical mask, noise-cancelling headphones, eyemask, and really good neck pillow. I woke up horrid early by Australian clocks, but every little helps. The plane change in Perth was easy as pie, especially as it was the same flight, same plane (so if we had been late, then our connection would also be late, so there's no chance of missing it).
At Melbourne the kind Scott Nimmo delivered me to Jeremy Bornstein's house, and we drank some amazing Armanac before much needed bed. I hung out with Jeremy and Leslie the next day, and Friday morning, before heading off to Geelong to teach a longsword class for Scott on the Friday evening.
Scott's wife Michelle delivered me to Gindi Wauchope's salle (“The Melbourne Salle”) on Saturday morning in good time for my full-day Fiore seminar, which was well attended, and good fun. That evening in the pub I made the shocking discovery that they sell glow-in-the-dark cockrings in pub toilets in this fine country. Really, whatever next? I expressed my surprise to the students present, and lo and behold, guess what I now have in my case for the trip home?
The following day we covered I.33, which I haven't taught for a while, but it seemed to go down well. It was Remembrance Sunday, so I paused the class for a minute's silence at 11am. I do this every time I'm teaching on that day, which is actually most years. Every time I do it, somebody with a military connection thanks me, and somebody asks what that was all about.
Monday I spent chatting and drinking tea with Eva Corona, giving Gindi a private lesson, watching some of Jeremy's aikido class, and back in the pub with these reprobates:
I flew to Adelaide on the Tuesday, and was met by Mark Holgate, who runs a school there. I taught a private lesson to Ben, who asked the ‘horses or ducks' question in my AMA a few months ago, and a rapier class that evening to Mark's students. They train in a church right round the corner from, I kid you not, ‘The Windsor Adult Store'. I love Australia. I meant to get a selfie there but we didn't get round to it. Next time.
The next morning Mark took his daughter and I to Manato Safari Park. It was fabulous, with chimps, giraffes, tasmanian devils, wallabees, emus, lions, cheetahs, even nyala.
There was even time for a much-needed nap before class that evening, longsword this time. We got home from the pub about 11.15pm, and I was up at 3.45 to catch the plane back to Melbourne on route to Wellington. My napping habits and my plane-sleeping skills served me well, so I wasn't a complete basket case when I arrived on Stephen and Tamara's alpaca farm. It's birthing season down here, so this little treasure was less than a day old when we met:
Bede Dwyer was also staying, and Stephen and Tamara have more than a passing interest in Middle Eastern and Asian weapons and archery, which made dinner an education. Here are Stephen and Bede at the table:
Don't worry, we didn't use the antiques for cutting the cheese. Really not.
The next day Stephen drove Bede and I to the event that catalysed this trip: the New Zealand Sword Symposium. There I met up with many old friends, including Richard Cullinan, over from Sydney, Eric Myers, over from California, and a host of New Zealand residents. My classes were well received, and on the Monday I got to have a go with thumb-ring archery (I'm usually a three-finger longbow style archer).
“You won't need a bracer” they said.
Which would have been true if I'd ever done it before and my technique was perfect. But.
The following day we passed by Weta Workshops on the way to the airport. Eric had a few extra days in NZ, but I was heading off to Sydney, and had just enough time to take a snap with the trolls:
I'm writing this in Paul Wagner's house, having done a couple of classes here (rapier on Tuesday, dagger on Thursday). I spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning catching up with an old friend from Helsinki days, Jen Rowland and her adorable infants. She took me to Cockatoo Island to look at the really old historical stuff (some of it dates back nearly two hundred whole years!!)
Yesterday Paul drove me out to the Blue Mountains, where we went to an amazing hat shop (I had mislaid my trusty travel hat). The Hattery in Katoomba is an amazing shop, with assistants that actually know and care about hats. I bought two: a Barmah summer hat in the Australian style (at literally half the price you pay in Europe), and this gorgeous beast, an Akubra Adventurer, here shown with the famous Three Sisters in the background. Sorry about the model, he was the best we could get at short notice:
Which brings me about up to date: I'm teaching a class on half-sword plays from Fiore this afternoon, going to a birthday party this evening (the lovely Alonya, who took me scuba diving last time I was here), and teaching a Vadi seminar tomorrow before flying home on Monday.
It's been a wonderful trip, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing my wife and children after three weeks away.