Monday, June 12, 2006

The World Cup begins, and England goes football mad

I've been waiting months for this, and over the weekend the first matches of the 2006 World Cup Finals got underway in various locations within the host nation Germany. This tournament is especially interesting, not only because we're living in football mad England while it is on, but also because for the first time since the 70's, Australia has made the finals and will be doing battle in a Pool Group conprising Brazil, Japan, and Croatia.

With commentators building up the chances of the superstar-filled English squad, the whole country has gone mad! - there are England St George flags everywhere (tying between one and six of them onto the roof of your car or delivery van seems to be the way to go!), and constant banter between all of the different nationalities in the office - it is an amazing buzz.. on Friday before the first match, almost the whole floor in the office was vacated by 4pm as everyone dashed off to the pub to see the opening match, which was the first of several matches on that night - having everyone out and about makes for a fantastic atmosphere all around the capital.. Football fan or not, it is great to be a part of.

The first England match was played on Saturday afternoon, and it coincided with a long-planned pub crawl and Housewarming party around Karen & Andy's town of St Albans north of London, followed by a BBQ in the backyard of their new house. While the English didn't exactly impress on the pitch, the fans made up for it with every pub being rammed full, and everyone seemingly owning either a white Home strip, or a red Away shirt to show their colours. The pub crawl that followed around their beautiful town and the BBQ out the back of Karen & Andy's ended up being a very late affair with a similar messy result to Andy's other backyard events (some photos from the pub crawl are here).

Sunday came and still we had beautiful summer weather - Dan organised an impromptue BBQ on our roof, and a group of our friends came over for a kebab cook-up using our new skewers we'd purchased from the Istanbul Grand Bazaar last week (see the photos here). The day ended with a late night and me and Carly sitting on the couch on the roof until the early hours of Monday, watching the blinking lights of the planes criss-crossing London, trying to plan out how we're going to make the most of the rest of our time in London.

You just can't beat the summer weekends here.

-shane

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