Australia was never really on the list when I set off. I’ve gone off-piste.
It was only when Mat told me he was getting hitched as I was pedalling through Europe I started putting some thought into it.
I could only base my thoughts on Australian life on Neighbours and Home & Away, so when I pushed a fully loaded airport trolley out into cold drizzle, especially after being forewarned about forty degrees plus weather by Mat, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d got on the wrong flight and wound up back in the UK.
I had a couple of days pre-wedding to meet all Mat’s family, who fortunately let me stay on the couch of their holiday home. I can’t really stress how grateful I am to Mat’s family to be honest; they’re a proper lovely bunch, they took me in, looked after me, offered me tea and coffee at a rate only comparable to my Nana, and they had a familiar Grimsby accent, which is something you never realise you’d miss.
Mat and Lan’s wedding was a lovely do on a sunny day, with vows under a big old tree and a party in a barn to boot. They managed set the bar pretty high as far as weddings go. There was even a possum that pissed on Mat’s uncle from the rafters.
Most importantly though, I managed to leave a decent impression on a lovely lassie called Amy. I didn’t even have to crack out my Richard Richard ’Smashing blouse’ line. At the time of writing she still hasn’t figured out I’m an idiot, or maybe she has, and doesn’t care? Who knows.
Post-wedding, Mat Ward and I rented a car and went on a honeymoon down the Great Ocean Road to see what made it so great.
Back in Melbourne, after a few weeks of sheer panic, I managed to get myself a job at a large format printers. It’s a ridiculously expensive city in all honesty, and it seems to slip it’s hand into your arse pocket and help itself to your cash at every opportunity. I won’t lie; there was a moment I thought of just upping sticks and leaving.
I’m glad I didn’t though. I moved into a house down a road not dissimilar to Ramsey Street, with a landlord who reminded me of Errol from 15 Storeys High, in some kind of weird sitcom crossover. I got used to working life again. I put in a lot of commuter miles on The Tangerine Dream and figured out I absolutely hate full-kit commuters on their flash carbon bikes. Pompous dicks.
Plus Amy turned out to be lovelier than I thought, and more important than I’d anticipated, so the initial three months turned into six months before it was time to go cycle South Korea and Japan.
I think I’ll be back soon though.