Thursday 10th January

My what a difference a day can make to the weather in England....
Whilst the group awoke to a crisp morning yesterday with clear skies, today the landscape was shrouded in fog, with the only consistent element being that it was still very very cold :-).

The first stop for today was the local town of Lichfield. Of particular interest was the enormous cathedral that dominated the skyline. The group continue to be amazed as to how buildings of this size, nature and intricacy were built without the aid of modern building tools such as cranes and hydrologic jacks. The group then explored the surrounding cobble stone streets that make up the town.

From here the group moved onto the centre of Birmingham to the famous Bullring shopping centre (purported to be one of the top three shopping centres in England) and the world famous Rags Markets. Whilst some explored the markets and participated in retail therapy others chose to try one of Jamie Oliver's latest restaurants.

From there it was on to the much anticipated inaugural State Of Origin ( Mate against Mate & State Against State) ten pin bowling tournament. The top three performances noted during this tournament were;
1 - Manager Jillian's "Barney Rubble Running On Ice" impersonation.
2 - Coach Dion bowling on lane 16 managing to knock down pins on lane 15 instead.
3 - Riley Moller (desperately in search of a strike) after only knocking down 9 pins, turning here back on the lane a split second before the tenth pin then fell over thus missing her only strike for the tournament.

The overall winner was Callan from the Northern Territory. As this is a Territory rather than a state NSW are claiming him as one of their own as he flew out from Sydney for this trip :-).

From here it was out to our last match on English soil against our Litchfield hosts.

Girls 0 - 2 Loss
In temperatures fast approaching zero and blanketed in fog, the girls started brightly with some well structured attacks down the right hand side, unsettling the opposition defence by not letting them settle. The damp air ensured that the turf was slippery which resulted in a number of turnovers due to loose ball carries which kept the defence busy. As the game wore on the damp air, muscle strains and hockey ball hits contributed to the rapidly dwindling number on the bench. Oblivious to this the girls kept pressing forward and battling on in an attempt to break the deadlock. However unfortunately fatigue due to ending up playing one short took its toll with the opposition scoring two late goals to run out victorious.

Boys 3 - 3 Draw
Similar to the girls, the boys game was blanketed by fog and played in temperatures around zero. The boys were initially forced to defend quite vigorously as the weight of possession allowed the opposition to take control. However gradually as the time in possession evened up the boys started to take control, with slick ball movement and tough hard tackling down back creating turnovers. As the game wore on similar to the girls the weather conditions contributed greatly to the rapidly dwindling bench. Despite this the boys battled on hard and took the lead with a couple of minutes left. However unfortunately as new waves of fog rolled in the opposition equalised within the last two minutes of the game.

Tomorrow sees the group head to Old Trafford for a tour of Manchester United's stadium before heading onto Hull to board the overnight ferry to Rotterdam.