"Move yer bloomin' arse!," said Eliza Doolittle

Trip Start Dec 18, 2011
Trip End Sep 15, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chris and I joined a group of his colleagues for a fund-raising day for cystic fibrosis at the horse races in nearby Newcastle on a recent Saturday. Thinking Eliza Doolittle, I was eager to attend my first horse races. A chartered bus picked everyone up and drove us to the coast. We learned from Mick, who owns a portion of a racing horse stabled at Tamworth, that the races at Newcastle had been cancelled that morning due to the heavy rains that fell Friday afternoon and night. The horses race on grass, not dirt, and obviously it would be a hazard to the horses to be racing on wet grass. Because the event was a big fund-raiser for the cystic fibrosis foundation, and a catered luncheon had been planned, we continued to the track. It poured buckets when we arrived--luckily Chris had thought to grab umbrellas before we left the house.
We ate a four-course meal inside a pavilion with about 200 other people, and the main event was gambling on the horse races that were taking place all over Australia. Before this day, I had no idea that gambling on the horses was such a popular event. Of the people in our group, about half knew what they were doing and were regulars at betting on the horses. The rest, being engineers and accountants, each had their own analytical system for their once-a-decade day at the horse races.
There was a silent auction with items donated for the fund-raiser, and I bid on two activities--a visit to the Hunter Wetlands and a visit to the Central Coast Reptile Park. I won the bidding for the wetlands park. It's in Newcastle and seems to be a popular outing for families.
I had planned to bet on a horse or two had the races been live and I could have seen the horses in the flesh, but because all the action took place on television screens, I wasn't interested in participating. However, near the end of the day, a group of women who had been enjoying themselves heartily asked me to join them in a "syndicate" where we pooled our money and each pitched in $10 on a horse called Girls Go Racing. The odds before the race began were pretty good; for Girls Go Racing, the bookmakers set it at 5 to 1, and Earnest, the best in the race, was at 4.5 to 1. The worst in the race, Lautrec, was at 48 to 1. So, the chances of earning the money back seemed reasonable. However, little did I know that the odds change in the final moments before the race, and by starting time the odds for Girls Go Racing were up to 6.9 to 1, and some of the other horses had moved ahead with better odds. The bookmakers know their horses, and Girls Go Racing finished fifth--no payout. That's what I get for gambling!
The boys had a fun day, however. Andy and Liam each spent the day with a new friend. Andy's friend is finishing the soccer season, so Andy went with his family to watch the game. They went out for meat pies for lunch after the game. Andy has discovered that he shares the Australian taste for meat pies--the better ones have chunks of meat cooked inside a pastry crust. The cheaper ones have ground beef.
Liam's friend has a trampoline and a big backyard, so they played all day. When we picked him up, he also had eaten pies for dinner. It seems like we have discovered the fall-back meal for families in this area.
So, we didn't get to see the horse races, and I didn't get to cheer like Eliza Doolittle. But I did meet several of Chris's colleagues and visited with them. It's amazing how many have been to Colorado to ski! Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Durango--probably half the people I spoke with had vacationed in Colorado.

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Cami Bair on

In England, those meat pies are called Cornish pasties.... & yes, Andy, they're AWEFULLY good! Thanks for the update! Love, Cami

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