I set off for Melbourne on “the red eye” getting in at 9am local time to take part in the down town rush hour which felt a little like being back in London without the nasty weather. Melbourne put on the sunshine and was a balmy 19 degrees C, which for winter, is perfectly acceptable let me tell you.
The taxi took me straight to my hotel, which was a series of small but lovely apartments where I left my luggage and went off to my first appointment. I met Geoff in a burbs café just off Albert Park and close to the water.
Geoff MacDonald is a great guy who I had never met before and it quite by chance that I was here about to have brunch with him. His name was passed on to me by a friend as someone I should hook up with whilst I was over, so I did. So let me tell you about Geoff.
His card says he is “an ideas architect” and part of the Thought Leaders community. We talked books and of course social media stuff, but what got me most about him, was his easy going spirit and friendliness towards someone he had never met before, and indeed didn’t even know existed on the planet until 48 hours earlier still. He even bought my brunch, thanks, I owe you back Geoff!
After my last appointment of the day, I had a little time spare and even though I was pooped with the time difference, I asked the taxi to take me shopping. Not quite sure where he dropped me but there were no shops. I walked what seemed like miles, and as I still couldn’t find the shops, gave up and wandered lost and pooped into “207 Nicks Bar”.
The gent behind the bar smiled at my jaded face as I stated I didn’t know where I was or if this was even a bar of a coffee shop. “I get you something cold” was all he said with an old mans smile that radiated warm and kindness. I climbed onto a bar stool and looked around the little place. It was like something out of Italy just after the war plus a coffee machine. Empty bottles of Chianti dangled from the ceiling, the lunch time café tables now deserted, the couple in the window drinking espresso and the solitary man drinking red wine from a bottle with a cork in it.
The tall glass of granita he handed to me was superb, cold lemon, just enough sugar and crushed ice. When I had obviously recovered a bit, he showed me a photograph of his time in Christchurch just a few months earlier and the time he was evacuated from his hotel the night of the earthquake. The picture was of some people that lived just out of town that had taken him and his wife home with them to escape the mayhem so they could carry on their holiday with a bit of normality. Being Italian, the picture was of a meal he had cooked for the lovely people that had opened their home to him in his hour of need.
That night was shower, room service and bed. I slept like an angel.
I woke with the intention of going for a run, but decided to lie in for a while and read whilst I had the chance. My presentation at Wiley was not until 12.30, so I took it easy. I showered and went off in search of a Melbourne breakfast which I found at a great café called “Lime”.
Bacon and eggs with gluten free toast, a pot of Earl Grey and people watching. So many people cycle to work in Melbourne with plenty of designated cycle lanes to make use of, which is great to see. People of all shapes and sizes, road bikes, mountain bikes and shopping bikes galore, everyone it seemed, was at it.
The phone rang. Could my presentation be brought forward as another speaker was fogged in at Canberra? I gathered my lazy thoughts and headed off to get ready for my mission, the reason for my visit. Present my book a the Wiley sales conference so that the team knew what it was about and why should they sell it to the retailers.
I have to say, I was treated like royalty. The whole team have been superb and absolutely flawless in the whole book process, I just can’t speak highly enough of them.
One person that stood out was a young man called Darwin. After my presentation, lunch was served and as I can’t eat gluten, I didn’t even bother looking what was on offer. Darwin slipped up to me, handed me a plate of beautiful sandwiches, and said “gluten free for you”. How did he know? Twitter! He has been following me. I give his cheek a quick peck with thanks and watched him blush. Details like that are what make that team so cool to work with.
The rest of the team are just the same, attention to detail and great to work with. Thanks team!
Checking it at the airport to fly home, I was unable to take the bottle of wine I had been given with me as it was over 100mls. What to do with it, drink it now? I decided against that idea with the travel ahead of me so I swapped it with the check-in lady for a better seat and priority luggage! I will remember that trick on my next journey.
My 48 hours in Melbourne have been a delight, hard work and a great experience. It is nearly 40 years since I was last in Melbourne as a small child, I won’t leave it another 40 until I return.