Bathgate, Boxing, Bombay.
This visit took place between the 13th -26th Nov 10.
It was a follow up to last years India trip. Like last years trip, it was undertaken for work purposes but became so much more.
I only realised at the time of arranging this trip, it clashed with the biggest British boxing event for 20 years.
And I just happened to have tickets for it.
A bit of a dilemma, I initially thought. But easily resolved!
I took a lot away from the last trip to India, so I wanted to make the most of this one too.
With it being two weeks there was a weekend in there too. That was welcome, because both weeks promised to be busy. Both were working weeks and contained a full schedule with the exception of the first Friday, which I’d taken as a holiday.
Initially, the plan had been to attend the wedding of one of my work colleagues, but sadly the wedding was postponed. Still, the plan was to use all the existing travel arrangements and fit in as many different experiences as possible.
If last year was anything to go by, I was in for another trip of a lifetime, with probably more than one or two surprises along the way.
Saturday 13th Nov
As it turned out, the most sociable start time of the entire two weeks.
I boarded the 0835 train from Bathgate, on the way to Manchester.
There were a few tears from the girls at the recently refurbished station.
Three songs in on the mp3 player (Buble, Hold on, I know I’ll get pelters for this one) and I’m filling up myself.
Before I’d even reached Livingston and my mind was jumping with lots of thoughts about the next two weeks.
The train was late into Haymarket station, but I caught the connection ok.
Kylar Stern kept me company on the next leg. He’s an interesting character.
Virgin Trains were very comfortable and the quiet car was just that. Well, until we got to Durham, when the worlds population of students jumped on.
Onward to the next connecting train at Preston where some more tunes followed.
Typically, and even with about 4Gb of random music to chose from, Oasis’s Live Forever plays just as I hit the outskirts of Manchester. Nice!
All in all, it was a very pleasant journey down. It’s the first time in a while I’ve travelled down the country by train, and a far cry from some of the more memorable journeys I’ve taken on British Rail. The least said about them, the better, I think. Well OK, maybe just one small one.
I wonder how many people remember the infamous train journey from Aberdeen to Milton Keynes for a wedding. It was on that journey, I first embraced my wife…I put it down to the train juddering, and she still has none of it.
I was duly met by Mr Osborne at Piccadilly station. I managed a very quick hello to Mrs O, (who was off for a spot of shopping in Manchester) before we headed back to Urban Road to chill out a little before the evenings events.
After I had checked in for the next mornings flights we watched Man Utd draw with Aston Villa (just).
Then we had some Fight Night Round 4 action on the PS3.
Now, I probably shouldn’t comment too much on Oz’s PS3 pseudonym “Urban Fox”.
It may appear that it combines the name of his street and one of his favourite carnivores, but I also held dear the belief that it had much to do with his ability to scoff whatever he got his paws on.
It seems though, that like both David Haye and Audley Harrison, the Urban Fox had been in training for the weekend.
Looking absolutely nothing like someone who’d over indulged recently, it became quickly apparent that one particular part of his anatomy had been seriously active of late. His thumbs…
I’m not a big gamer these days but I always make sure I hold my own on the boxing games.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the case on this occasion. I had Harrison, I had Haye, man, if he’d have let me I’d have taken that solid gold version of Rocky. The result would have no doubt been the same though.
I was well and truly knocked royally, right out. Every time. Well done Mr Fox of Urbania, you know how much it pains me to say that.
Enjoy your moment, I’ll be back.
Once the Armadale Tiger had been beaten into temporary retirement, we got changed and headed off to meet Robbie G for a pre fight drink at Little B, one of the local pubs. It was here that I realised my Kodak Playsport camera battery had failed to charge the previous night (yes I did plug it in…just not properly it seems)
So, no HD footage of the MEN crowd or atmosphere for me.. Shame.
Tram into Manchester followed by a meal at Taps restaurant (nice concept, pour your own…except I’m rubbish at that.)
We had a table with Amstel and Timmermans Strawberry beer. Nice. The food wasn’t too shabby either. We all had steak, no surprises there.
Then, it was off to the MEN for the main event…the WBA heavyweight championship of the world between David Haye and Audley Harrison. The first time in 20 years a fight of this like has been held in the UK.
Good fight on the under card followed by 2 rounds of drab pitter patter in the main event. Round 3 saw David Haye unleash the power and Harrison was blown away as expected.
I think I speak for all three of us when I say, it wasn’t the best fight I’ve ever seen (far from it actually), but still, it was well worth every penny.
We decided against the aftershow party, (for a number of reasons) so had a few after fight drinks in Sam’s chop house before heading over to ROOM. Back to bed for about 0130-2ish. What a great night.
Sunday 14th Nov
I think I had mentioned to Karen that my flight from Manchester was some crazy time like 0500. I was actually kidding but failed to give her the right time. So, it was my own fault that her text woke me up at 0445. Yikes.
My alarm followed at 0500 but by then I was wide (ok slight exaggeration) awake.
After a quick check to make sure I had everything packed for my flight it was off in the taxi at 0530. (subsequently I realised I hadn’t everything. All my ties were left in the suit carrier I decided to leave behind.)
Into Manchester airport for 6 and no issues en route to catching flight to Heathrow.
Departed and arrived on time. How grateful I am for that now, didn’t quite register that early on that morning.
I met up with Stuart Bailey at Heathrow. Stu is one the guys that does ‘the real work’ in the team. He was accompanying me on the visit to India.
It was going to be his job to ensure the guys in the offshore team got a proper handover of everything we had for them. And to ensure they didn’t have to sit and listen to me “all” the time.
We proceeded to Heathrow’s terminal 5, dropped our bags off and headed for very welcome bacon roll. One of us also felt obliged to have a very swift single Jack Daniels and coke because…..well just because, I guess. It wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me to divulge which one of us that was.
We boarded the flight at 1000 and Stu’s final text before turning off the phone was to let his wife Vicki know that Club World is the “Dogs danglies.”
It does beat economy hands down…just ask Ken Adair about that. (sorry Ken, couldn’t resist)
A pleasant enough flight, I had a little sleep, a film called Inception (Leo DiCap in a film about dreams, very good, I thought, right up my freaky alley) and the complimentary champers hit the spot.
Monday 15th Nov
Arrive Mumbai, 0030 local time. That’s 5.5 hours ahead of the UK.
“Just expect the unexpected” and “Keep an open mind” I tell Stu.
We meet our driver Yusef amidst the chaos that is Mumbai arrivals.
As we exit the terminal building the humidity hits us square in the face. It almost takes your breath away and this is after midnight. “Phew”.
There are a sea of those boards with folks name’s on but eventually we see him. To my surprise his board says Mr G Richardson, Mr S Bailey +4.
“Oh No” I think,” who else is cadging a lift”.
“Wait here, I’ll get car” says Yusuf then he vanishes and Stu and I are left standing in the middle of a sea of illegal taxi drivers trying to pick up our bags or persuade us into their jalopy’s.
We’re accosted by some dude who wants to know where were from and
“Please, give me some pound coins”
Yusuf pitches up 20 minutes later, and not a minute too soon.
Pound coins still in pocket, we jump into the Toyota Innova and immediately feel the benefit of the AC.
Yusuf asks where the other 4 guys are but I assure him that must be the guys in my team, who may well be accompanying us on some of our travels. He seems placated by that.
We’re off to the hotel.
As the car pulls off……beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.
Ahhh, car horns, how could I forget the car horns.
“Stu, you’d better get used to that sound”
We arrive at the Taj Lands End really pretty late. As we pull up at the front door Stu says
“Wowee”… followed by brief pause…followed by “F**k me”.
I think he’s shocked at how nice this place is.
We get checked in and take a very quick wander round. I unpack, speak to Karen and let her know we’ve arrived safely. I drop the guys in the team a quick email before getting into my massive bed.
Lights out 0434. Sleep.