THE RULES DON’T APPLY TO US

The first draft of this post began with a count of the number of NRL players currently accused of assaulting women. But the number kept increasing and then I literally lost track. It is heartbreaking.

To be clear, from this point on, I refer to these incidents in general. No one specific. I have no interest in muddying the issue by quibbling over the facts of individual cases. The fact is, violence happens.

There really are no words to express the heartache and the horror.

It is frightening, appalling, and as violence always is, utterly unacceptable.

And it needs to be said, this is not a football issue. Torn up contracts, missed training sessions and stalled careers all pale in comparison to the actual, human cost paid by victims of violence and abuse.

Unfortunately, allegations of violence against women by football players are nothing new and over time there has been much conjecture as to the root of the issue.

(Setting aside the inalienable truth that in every case, the individual inflicting the violence is at fault, without excuse and one hundred percent personally responsible for his actions. I’m not here to offer excuses.)

Some argue that rugby league is simply a microcosm of society, and that violence against women is present in society, therefore, it is present in rugby league. Add to this, the fact that rugby league is lousy with males of a certain age, and some even make the argument that if there is an over-representation of violence, it’s down to some pretty skewed demographics.

But, whilst rugby league is one of the few industries laden with men between the ages of 18 and 35, it is also one of the few industries that address the issue of violence against women head-on.

In recent times, players have actually be made to attend training (during their paid working hours) where in a variety of creative and engaging ways, they are taught in no uncertain terms, that violence against women is never okay.

Sure, most professional workplaces have anti-discrimination and bullying training, but these are a bunch of blokes who are annually reminded specifically that violence, or any kind of abuse against women, is not acceptable.

Let me just say that again: it is someone’s job to sit down with groups of fully functioning adult human beings, and make sure they understand that it is wrong to hurt women.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but if it goes any way to helping protect at-risk women then I’m glad that this type of training exists.

Further, the existence of this training is the reason I don’t buy the whole, ‘it happens in the world so it happens in rugby league’ argument. This is a group of men who are privileged by education, when others are not. There is never any excuse, but it is particularly true here.

So why does it continue to happen then?

There may never be an answer to that question, but I have some thoughts.

(A constant stream of them, actually. Every damn day. Such is the extent of my sadness on the issue. The following is just one train of them.)

If there is one resounding frustration I have with rugby league, and professional sport in general, it’s that footballers and football clubs seem to abide by a different set of rules to the rest of us.

There are examples everywhere, some advantageous, some detrimental, some innocuous and some really, bloody serious.

For example, at times Hoff has regaled me with stories of ‘jokes’ in his workplace that honestly could be deleted scenes from Mean Girls. When pushed, he admits that in some ways, these pranks could perhaps be misconstrued as workplace bullying. No Hoff, no perhaps about it. These pranks are textbook examples of workplace bullying and in the real world people have been disciplined and sacked over much, much less.

“Yeah, but that’s just footy, it’s different,” he says. For the forty-five-thousandth time.

Footballers don’t line up to get into nightclubs. Footballers don’t get sick leave, parental leave or public holidays. Footballers get to jump medical queues. Footballers are customarily encouraged (or not discouraged) to go out and drink to excess in a celebration of a job well done. In some cases, footballers don’t have to pay for their education. Or their shoes. Or their clothes. Or their cars. Footballers are subject to physical and mental working conditions that in any other workplace would be considered unsafe at best, harassment at worst.

The point is, in a variety of ways, rugby league – particularly the playing group – has long been a space that only teeters on the cusp of professionalism and as a result, the normal rules – workplace, societal and otherwise – don’t always apply.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve challenged Hoff on a long-held custom of rugby league, that to the uninitiated seems ludicrous, and he’s responded: “it’s a bit different for us.” Which is just a nicer way of saying, “the rules don’t apply to us, we’re special.”

I am constantly comparing Hoff’s working environment to the experience I’ve had in a variety of non-football workplaces and time and time again I get the same response: “it’s apples and oranges.”

But should it be? For me, this constant, underlying message that professional sport is an island is highly problematic. Hey you with the professional rugby league career – you are not like everyone else, you are special, you are above the rules.

And perhaps, over time, this relentless elevation of footballers above others, this constant operation within a space that proudly compares to no other, communicates a subconscious message about obedience that in some outposts then becomes dangerously twisted: I know the rules, but they don’t apply to me.

This might be a long bow to draw. But to be fair, nothing else is working. Not education. Not punishment. Not that thing where you simply rely on people to do the right thing and then get on with your life. So something has to change.

Because when you consider this culture of nonconformity, within an industry that is fundamentally built on aggression, filled with young men whose needs are daily elevated above everyone around them, and where women are never – ever – seen as peers, then perhaps we start to get a sense of some of the factors that contribute to a much larger issue.

There is no easy fix here. This idolisation of sportspeople and pedestalling of their achievements is deeply ingrained not only in the industry itself but also in society’s obsession with it. This is not going to change any time soon.

But given the diabolical consequences that are being faced by women everywhere, both involved in the industry and beyond, it would be great to see NRL clubs backing up their anti-violence training with some changes to approach and therefore to the subconscious messaging. Step up the professionalism. Stamp out the larrikin culture. Put women in positions of power. Align your behavioural policies with those of the rest of corporate Australia. Simply put, send the message – the rules absolutely apply to you too.

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BARBED-WIRE HEAD TATTOO

One day, post-grocery shop, safe in the knowledge that my free-range chicken breasts were tucked into a freezer bag and presumably salmonella-proof, I veered off my usual path back to the car and instead went to get a coffee.

The young woman who served me was lovely (as most Melbournian baristas are – they know they are doing God’s work). But more interestingly, she had a big tattoo of barbed wire across the middle of her forehead.

Now as a general rule, I love tattoos. Not that I have any. I love looking at other people’s tattoos. I love asking people what they mean, and I generally do feel that they make people seem 87% more cool. Which I assume, at least in some small part, is the point.

But this particular tattoo threw me for a loop. Partly because it would absolutely not have been appropriate to ask her what it meant, partly because it was a spectacularly bold choice of subject matter and placement, and partly because she had a very sweet face. Even though she had multiple tattoos on and around her facial region, the whole effect for me was still akin to a ragdoll kitten wearing knuckle-dusters.

But there was something else about it that gnawed away at me, well after my skinny cappuccino was gone. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I thought about that classic anti-tattoo argument (frequently made by my own parents): it’s all well and good for now but what’s it going to look like when she’s eighty?

Droopier, probably. But surely a person who is ballsy enough to commit to a barbed-wire facial tattoo cares not for the ongoing elasticity of said barbed-wire facial tattoo?

And it was during this train of thought that it hit me: she actually may not care what it will look like when she is eighty. She may not even assume she is even going to make it to eighty. Simply put, in the unending boredom of unpacking my groceries, I hypothesised that she probably got the barbed-wire head tattoo because that’s what she wanted to do in that moment and she had very little regard for how she may or may not feel about it in 25+ years time.

The whole thing was a very timely revelation.

This took place a couple of months ago when Hoff (significant other) was in full swing of winding up a 16-year professional rugby league career. It was then and continues to be a huge transition for our family, and a time of serious contemplation of our future.

We were both struggling for what seemed like different reasons but actually turned out to be almost exactly the same.

Hoff was struggling because he wanted to make absolutely sure that he was done, in the emotional sense of the word. As he had been told many times, “you’re a long time retired.” He wanted to know that he’d done enough of the thing that he’d been sublimely happy doing for the last 16 years, and the thing that he’d dreamed of doing since he was five. He was terrified of waking up in the weeks, months or years following retirement and of being overwhelmed by the urge to go back and have another go, with absolutely no recourse to do so.

Meanwhile, I was struggling with the concept of ‘enough’ for a completely different reason.

The thing to understand here is that for many professional athletes, Hoff included, playing retirement represents an inevitable drop in income as well.

So for my relentlessly practical mind, the question was, have we done enough, financially? Have we done enough to set ourselves up and to see us through the minefield of this start-over, and still achieve the financial goals we have for our family?

As uncool as it is for someone of my level of privilege to admit, these kinds of anxieties plagued me no-end once Ryan actually decided to retire from playing. It was so finite. We finally had an answer to that omnipresent question, when is it all going to end? And the answer was, now. There is no more scrambling for that last contract; it was back to a square one of sorts.

And the odd flow-on effect of this realisation was that I seemed to lose all ability to make future-related decisions. Everything felt so unknown. What would life be like post-footy? What am I doing buying a coffee? I can have instant at home! Also why did I buy free-range chicken breasts!? Screw the chickens, I want my kids to go to private school! And so on.

Obviously, the decisions to be made were mildly more life altering than random chicken welfare but the effect remained the same – I had become completely hamstrung in making decisions in my day-to-day life because of my oppressive fear of making the wrong decision and screwing up our future. I had absolutely no regard for what I wanted to do in the present, or what might be best for our family right now. Or for the chickens. I like to think I’m not the only one who has ever faced a period of life-transition and been impacted this way. The future can be a universally troubling subject, whatever your circumstances.

But the day I crossed paths with barbed-wire head tattoo lady and it very nearly changed my life. Well, that and some very useful counseling, if I’m being honest.

Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t completely thrown caution to the wind. I’m aware there’s a balance between living for the moment and planning for the future. If I weren’t, I’d be putting Scotch in my smoothie every morning and cancelling my gym membership with very happy abandon.

But still, every time I find myself catastrophizing the flow-on effect of my day-to-day, routine decisions, I think of tattoo woman. And I think if she can tattoo barbed wire on her present –day head with happy disregard for her elderly forehead, then I can make the decision that is best for the right now too. And I must say, I am much happier for it. Also chickens of the world rejoice.

A TALE OF TWO HEADLINES

I love the rugby league media at this time of year. Like your local Westfield setting up their Chrissy decorations on 1 November, you can set your watch by the stories that are bound to pop up.

“Such and such player returns to training in career-best fitness.”

“Some other player spends off-season doing something beneficial for society, hooray for them.”

“Some other player still spends off-season doing something of the utmost detriment to society, tut, tut.”

“Every second club vows to put players through the MOST DIABOLICAL VOMIT-INDUCING PRE-SEASON EVER IN THE QUEST FOR ON-FIELD GREATNESS.”

Cool, cool, sure they are.

In an ever-evolving world it’s so nice that some things never change. It’s the print media equivalent of your dad’s Sunday roast.

That said, I was struck by two side-by-side headlines on the Daily Telegraph website this week:

Eels rebuild begins in the bush” and “Bulldogs hire woman to look after players, WAGs.

The Eels headline is your bog-standard ‘clubs going to the ends of the Earth’ (or in this case, Armidale) to gain that elusive edge over their opponents.

Evidently, the Parramatta roster spent six days in country New South Wales docking livestock (of their pay? What does that even mean?), fencing, lifting weights, meditating, doing yoga and generally doing rugby league’s version of a corporate love-in. Without the apricot danishes and filter coffee at morning tea.

You’ve got to give Parramatta points for creativity and the variety of activities. Whether these points will translate to actual on-field points remains to be seen, but best of luck to them.

The second, Bulldogs headline was a little more interesting.

On the one hand, “Bulldogs hire woman to look after players, WAGs” is very much in the mold of rugby league journalism. I cannot for the life of me work out why the new recruit’s gender was deemed relevant enough to take up valuable headline real estate but this is nothing new.

Headline semantics aside, the content of this article was intriguing. If you missed it, the Bulldogs have hired a Player Engagement Coordinator, whose job will be to look after the welfare of players and their families including match-day support and housing assistance, for example.

Well, what a bloody great move this is. As a long-time proponent of better welfare support for the families of players and staff involved in professional rugby league, I have long believed that this type of role, and an associated framework, should be a critical part of any club. NRL-funded, maybe even.

Now, I know this is a controversial stance. Mainstream media coverage of so-called WAGs going back to Posh Spice and her posse at the 2006 soccer World Cup has done no favours to the stereotype of what it means to be involved in professional sport.

Combine this with our universal tendency to curate images of the best version of our lives on social media and it would be easy to assume that players and their families live a charmed and glamorous life.

And in some cases, I guess that’s true. Hell, even I’ve had the occasional sneak-peek of this life myself.

But I’m acutely aware that this life, even flashes of it, is only available to the select few. In most cases, it’s just bloody hard work.

It’s regular upheaval of your family to move interstate and overseas, not to mention the personal career disruption that comes with that. It’s the expectation that your weekends will be built around attendance at football games and support of your significant other, even when you’d rather spend it playing board-games and watching DVDs with your kids. It’s the stress and anxiety at said football games, of having to sit there week after week, year after year, watching your boyfriend, then husband, then the father of your children, put himself in harms way, tackle after tackle, all for the sake of entertainment. It’s the away games, the tours, the representative camps and pre-season love-ins, all spent completely alone, or single parenting, all in the name of on-field success.

And it’s this last point that got me thinking about these two headlines and their relevance to one another.

In one case, you’ve got the Eels, treading that tried and tested path of taking the players away, isolating them from their families and day-to-day lives, in an effort to solidify their commitment to each other and improve their on-field performance.

I have always been frustrated by these exercises because as someone who has been routinely left behind, it ultimately makes you feel like a distraction. Like your partner absolutely has to go away because they couldn’t possibly perform in optimum condition if he has to come home to you and your kids every night. It’s a wildly demoralising feeling, especially when there seems to be so many unavoidable opportunities throughout the season for players and staff to spend time together and bond away from their families.

But it’s not a new approach and I’m certainly not taking a stab at the Eels for trying it. I’d hazard a guess that almost every NRL club will undertake a similar exercise between now and the beginning of the 2019 season, the Bulldogs included maybe.

But what the Bulldogs are also doing, in my view, goes some way to counter-balancing this tendency that clubs have to overlook the needs of the player with regards to their role in their family. They are sending a powerful message that I believe says: We recognise the inherent expectation that families actively support their players and football staff and we would like to do something to mitigate the stress caused by this expectation.

Or… maybe the whole thing is just a knee-jerk reaction to the Mad Monday bar nudity debacle and I’ve completely romanticised it because my brain is a bit broken from years of said stress and expectation. Who knows? It’s a coin toss.

Interestingly though, the final line of the Bulldogs article says, “Anecdotally, players who have a content personal and family life are more likely to perform better on the field.”

And isn’t that just food for thought?

It’s almost a though when you recognise that a player is a person who has commitments outside of winning football games, like a family, an education, or a civic duty, that it increases his self-worth. It’s almost as though it sends the message that you are worth something other than your ability to win football games and your total value to the world is not contingent on your on-field success. It’s almost as though this inherent self-worth helps to relieve the stress of week-to-week perfection and creates a more relaxed headspace from which to perform. It’s almost as though players that are allowed to have time with their families and space from rugby league are refreshed from the exercise. It’s almost as though when we stop treating players as though they have no responsibilities in this world other than to score the try or make the tackle, that we create better people who are not so pre-disposed to general dirt-baggery.

Huh. Who knew?

JACKETS: BOTH THE WHISKEY AND LITERAL KIND

Here’s the thing about football: I’ve never…. really…. got it. If you’ve ever read any of my previous blogs you’ll know that I’ve spent a good portion of my typed words talking about football, specifically, rugby league, so this may come as some surprise. Permit me to explain.

I am not an athlete. I have never been interested in playing sport. I avoided it at all costs. And I have always found the experience of not being athletic to be an alienating one, which I assume is not uncommon. It could be why so many people gravitate to sport as spectators. Those who can’t do….watch?

As I kid I bonded with my dad over a love of the Melbourne Demons (Aussie Rules, for those requiring translation). But looking back, I think my love of that experience was more about time with my family. My cousins were all Dees supporters too and I have some really fond memories watching games together. Aside from that, (and one particularly striking nude photo of Stephen Tingay in the Herald Sun circa 2000), I don’t have many of memories of the specifics. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about an appreciation of the sport itself.

stephen tingay
Lived on my bedroom wall until exposure from the sun over many years faded it away.

Fast forward to 2003 when I meet Hoff, who was a rugby league player and had never dreamt of being anything else. The only one more surprised than me that I have ended up married to a professional athlete would probably be childhood me. Or maybe my mum.

In those early days, I was well and truly a rugby league convert. I went to every game, I devoured every news story and I made a concerted effort to understand the sport and all its nuances.

But, as Hoff and I grew more and more serious, my relationship with sport became more and more problematic. Rugby league, went from being “that thing we do on the weekends”, to “that thing that controls our lives, determines where we live, what we do most days and our livelihood”. Sixteen years of being involved at a personal level is enough to give anyone a slightly different viewpoint, I think, particularly for someone like me who never really understood it in the first place.

All that said, I had an absolute ball at Monday Night Football in Green Bay. Go figure.

packers

We went to Green Bay with the sole purpose of attending a Green Bay Packers home game. It was a bucket list item for Hoff and far be it from me to stand in the way of lifelong dreams.

We kicked off the experience with a tailgate event, which started a couple of hours before the game. It was incredible. So many people, so much food, so many drinks and not a shot measurer in sight. Eek.

Honestly, these people know how to do football. There were people everywhere and such a joyous vibe about the place, that it was hard not to be excited (even though I could only name one player on the whole team and even then only when I was standing behind Hoff wearing his jersey with said name on it.)

Tailgate

The attire was a site to behold too. Cheese wedge hats (which had me lamenting the finite space in my suitcase), green and yellow pinstripe suits and so many Packers jerseys that I was beginning to think they were compulsory town uniform. From the minute we got up that morning we barely saw a person – working in a professional capacity or not – who was not wearing one.

IMG_3514 copy
Hoff insisted on wearing his as soon as he purchased it at 10 o’clock in the morning

And holy hell was it cold. We’d been keeping an eye on the weather in the lead up to our trip and feeling grateful that it wasn’t looking too bad, then the day after we arrived a cold front blew through the mid-west and knocked about fifteen degrees Celsius off the mercury overnight. We’ve been cold ever since. Green Bay was absolutely no exception. I was so cold that I purchased a lovely pair of gloves, which I think really bring out the colour in my eyes.

gloves

I also chose to combat the cold by donning my ‘whiskey jacket’, which actually proved to be pretty effective (thank goodness for Americans and their generous pours). Also, thank goodness for the 80,000-odd other people who attended this game. It made for a cozy walk to the stadium and a good amount of body heat once we were there.

(I was less excited about the number of people at the game when I went to the loo at one point and genuinely got lost on my way back to my seat. Dammit, Hoffman, if there’s one sports-related thing you’re supposed to be good at after 16 years of professional fandom then stadium navigation should really be it.)

It was a good game too, I’m told. I can read a scoreboard and so obviously I know that the Packers won, but that’s about the sum total of my understanding of how it all went down. You get to yell ‘First Down’ every now and again, which has something to do with yards gained, but as I’m not exactly sure what a yard is either that doesn’t really help me much. Metric all the way, baby.

So even though I am a bit of a sportaphobe, I’ll always be grateful for having had this once in a lifetime experience. Not only was it all kinds of fun, I got to forget all my hang-ups about sport and just be a fan. (Coldest, least knowledgeable fan ever, but a fan just the same).

HOLIDAY MODE

holidayroooooooaaaaadddd
Holiday moooooooooooode, holiday moooooooooode. (National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983)

The other night I had a dream about our upcoming holiday, as I often do in anticipation of events of note.

In my dream we arrived in St Louis, our first stop. I immediately changed into my gym gear, found a gym, and signed up for a Body Pump class. I went to load my bar with weights and had the horrible realisation that I don’t know my usual weights in pounds and ounces, only in kilograms, so I didn’t know which weights to put on my bar and I held the entire class up and the whole thing turned into a literal nightmare. It was the sad stay-at-home mum’s equivalent to the ol’ ‘turning up to school naked’ dream.

Wild, right?

On the whole, I am a creature of habit. I plan everything. I have a weekly planner on our fridge and a three-month projection on the inside of our pantry door. I meal plan, I budget, I calorie count and I have separate colour-coordinated filing systems for both my kids’ Lego and Duplo. And under no circumstances do I ever “play it by ear” or “see how I feel”. I don’t need my feelings to tell me what to do. I have my diary for that.

lego

When we lived in Auckland, our rental property had a blackboard painted on the entirety of one of the kitchen walls and it quickly evolved to become the blueprint to our week-to-week lives. The kids stuff, my stuff, Ryan’s hours, what we were having for dinner, my to do list and Hoff’s to do list. (Which I wrote. Didn’t work, btw.)

I cannot count the number of times friends and the odd tradesperson commented on it. Once, we had a TV show come and do a bit on Hoff and one of the sound guys actually took a photo of it to show his wife. He also said, “Wow! My wife hates it when I get McDonalds on the way home. If I knew I was coming home to lamb shanks then I wouldn’t need to do it anymore!” Chuck your own damn lamb shanks in the slow cooker before you leave buddy, was what I should have said. But I was so chuffed at the compliment that I just blushed and posed for a photo next to the blackboard instead.

Blackboard

The point is, I’m generally wound pretty tight. Like the springs you used to see on trampolines before kids got all precious and whiney about ‘safety’ and ‘not getting their young skin savaged by hot steel’. Pfft.

And because I am so uptight, it takes generally takes me a few days to wind down into holiday mode. I’m particularly concerned in this instance because the kids aren’t with us and I’m worried that come 5pm I’ll be forcing Hoff to sit down and watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, followed by dinner at 6pm and bed no later than 7pm. Because that’s the rules, you guys.

Luckily for Hoff, this holiday we are preparing with a bit of a transition period. We’ve come up to the beautiful Sunshine Coast because this is where we will be depositing our children while we are away. So we are dutifully spending five days here, winding ourselves down and fully preparing to be in Holiday Mode, so we can hit the ground running walking at a leisurely pace when we get to St Louis.

MUDJIMBA
Mudjimba Beach

Honestly, if you can’t relax here, there is no hope for you. There’s sand, there’s sun and there’s sea, which you can hear from the house.

There are an endless amount of wholesome things for the kids to do in the great outdoors so you feel like you’re winning parenting every day.

There’s a coffee shop down the road across from the beach and if there’s a bit of a wait it’s fine because the morning post-surf crowd is filled with so many achingly beautiful people it’s almost comical. You just spend the wait wondering where on earth they all came from and why do they congregate in this particular place?

So this is where we find ourselves. We did all our packing in Melbourne so I really only have one goal for this part of our trip, and it’s the same goal I set myself every time I come up here: spot 3 children who don’t have blonde hair. Haven’t managed it in the twelve-odd years I’ve been coming up here but I really think this trip is the one.

FOUR SLEEPS TO GO!!

PS For those of you sending well wishes on Hoff’s retirement from the NRL, thank you. Today we went to the beach and the kids dug some holes. Hoff accidentally slipped into one and my heart jumped into my throat because I thought he’d rolled his ankle. Then I realised our livelihood no longer relies on him having fully-functional ankles and it was THE BEST. Eventually I remembered to stop laughing and check if he was okay. He was. I heart retirement.

FOOTYMOON

In three weeks from today, Hoff and I are going on a Footymoon.

A Footymoon is like a honeymoon, but it’s what you get to do when your husband finally retires from playing professional rugby league after 16 long seasons.

And like our actual honeymoon, it is taking place without the presence of our (albeit delightful) children. More on that later.

I am beyond excited for Hoff’s retirement. His playing career has been a journey of incredible highs and devastating lows, the former well outnumbering the latter, thank goodness.

At best, footy has given us lifelong friends, a source of immense pride and the chance to experience some incredible achievements up close and personal.

At worst, it has infiltrated and controlled our lives in a way that I’ve always found difficult to describe, suffice to say it can be a bit like that picture that the haunted kid draws in Stranger Things:

Stranger things for FOOTYMOON
© Haunted kid from Stranger Things, Netflix, 2016.

So, as a celebration of Ryan’s stellar career, and a reward for surviving the scary-monster-tree-like bits with our sanity and marriage intact, we’re off to the US for two weeks.

It’s a jam-packed itinerary: St Louis – Chicago – Green Bay – Memphis – Nashville – Louisville. It’s so full in part because we couldn’t decide which parts of the US we wanted to see this time. It’s also a little bit because we want to keep busy to assuage any guilt we might feel about leaving our children behind.

We’re leaving them with Hoff’s parents who henceforth shall be known as Grandmother Teresa and Saint Grandfy (the patron saint of parental sanity) and they’ll be absolutely fine. Hoff and I have been hashtag blessed with two incredibly resilient children who have never hugged a leg in tearful farewells in their lives. In fact, if any tears are shed or legs are hugged at the airport it’ll probably be me.

Probably not though, to be fair. I’m pretty bloody excited for this trip.

As has been the case with our previous travels, the schedule is a beautiful balance of both our favourite things: music, sport, theatre, comedy, food, drink and finding clichéd American situations and inserting ourselves in them whilst surreptitiously taking photos to post on Instagram.

So please feel free to follow along on our travels. We’re really excited to share them with you. Plus it’s been five and a half years since Hoff and I have had to be alone together for this long so please like, comment and involve yourselves. Just in case we run out of things to talk about.