Sunday, March 15, 2009

A team meeting in Mildura (about time)

Well, after several trips to Adelaide to attend team meetings, although well-fed and watered (?) whilst there, the 9hr return drive for the Mildura girl (that’s me) was wearing thin. My team-mates kindly offered to make the trip to Dura for our final team meeting.

This wasn’t just any old team meeting; it was a chance to finalise last minute trip details and kick up our heels (some may say bond) as a team, which we sure did!

I planned an itinerary quite a few months back, which the team seemed to like the sound of. As the time drew nearer I realised I’d better ask the people I’d nominated to host individual team members for the night whether they were up for that and check other arrangements I had made without asking.

One of my hosts was in India, so that was one person ‘bedless’. Another host had a last minute change of plans and so there was another one. I did a bed count at my place and realised (as the kids were away for the weekend), that we could all fit. My manager at work, Bill, had offered to host Margaret but in the end it was cosier if we all stayed at mine – but thanks anyway Bill.

So Margaret got my bed (age before beauty they say), Tim got my son’s, I got my daughter’s and Corey probably did best of all with his own self-contained bungalow pad outside.

Scott brought his lovely wife Amy, so I gave them some privacy at a friend’s house (who was in Melbourne for the weekend). They found the spare key in the chook shed and made like home. Very comfy, thanks J (can’t use her full name otherwise she’ll have to change her spare key hiding spot). I am so thankful Scott brought his lovely wife Amy, who was the best designated driver and photographer I’ve seen! Much appreciated.

Now onto what we did. The Adelaideans arrived late (I couldn’t say anything as at least they’d found their way here and my track record wasn’t flawless). Lunch was almost ready on arrival, which wasn’t bad considering I’d been going flat strap cleaning the house up until I got the ‘We’re in Merbein (15 mins away)’ phone call.

Light beers were cracked all ‘round. Light they were coz we had a presentation to do later in the day so had to be at our best (and also coz that’s all I had in the fridge, leftover from months ago).

Over lunch, which was chicken breast poached in white wine, sage and home-made chicken stock, accompanied by chat potatoes, with a pumpkin, spinach, fetta and toasted almond salad, a green salad, beautiful fresh cooked Ciabatta bread from Stefano’s bakery and wine, we talked.

We had so much to talk about that Margaret was left at the table finishing her 2nd (3rd?) helping while we were madly scrambling around getting dressed into something ‘smart’ for our presentation. We had both irons and ironing boards in operation (I was very impressed to see the boys right onto that one) whilst poor Tim was dealing with my hotch-potch of under-prepared slides for my part of our presentation.

We arrived at my place of work (who I thank for letting me use the conference room on a Saturday) fashionably late, but I just blamed the Adelaideans. After chatting for a while, we launched into our presentation.

Margaret started fine, followed by self-proclaimed ‘Museum Geek’ Tim and then Scott (whose presentation was almost as skint as mine). I was next and due to my ‘hotch-potch’ of slides given to Tim at the last minute, didn’t know which was coming next so found myself making stuff up as I went along. Unusual? To make things even worse for me, I was followed by Corey, who apart from taking up almost the entire allotted presentation time on his own, was (along with the Tim) the most prepared and also the funniest of the lot.

After taking 3-4 times the alloted time for our presentation (Margaret and Corey the worst offenders), it was over to our ‘critical friends’ in the audience, who were fantastic in their feedback. Our thanks to Jeremy, Noeleen (and Chinese exchange student whose name eludes me just right at this minute), Sharyn, Kevin, and Bill for your comments and encouragement.

After that, we all did a quick change into our casual clothes and headed to Trentham Estate for wine and cheese, a debrief of our presentation and the continuation of our team meeting.

supposed to happen! Corey hadn’t been listening to the host’s instructions to take a change of clothes and also refused to wear some spares that I offered, so we had to go back interstate to make him comfortable. Going back interstate took 5 mins as Mildura is on the border of NSW and Vic, but that sounded good so I’ll leave it in.

Wine and cheese on the banks of the Murray River was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and surprisingly, we got a lot done at part 2 of our meeting.

We popped home where we all coordinated showers and making ourselves beautiful very well indeed. We headed out for drinks at the Mildura Brewery, where, like the good host I am, I forgot to let everyone know there was a beer tasting platter. The comment was made halfway through the first beer, that it would be good if they had a sample of each beer. “Oh yeah, they have one of those. Probably should’ve told you that,” was my response.

A highlight of our time at the Brewery was me nearly having a heart attack by my daughter running up and throwing her arms around me in mid-conversation. She was with her Dad and grandma who was visiting and they were out picking up some dinner too. Was a lovely surprise!

We dragged ourselves away so as to not upset Joseph at the Pizza CafĂ© by being late to our booking. I’d done pretty well there, by forgetting to book for Amy, but an extra seat was quickly found and all was well. The best pizzas in town were thrown down the hatchet and rinsed with more of the Brewery’s beer. But we saw no sharks. The best bit was that a great meal with drinks only cost us $20 each! Nice.

After our meal we headed down to check out a very funkily renovated pub called the Sandbar. Scott and Amy dropped Margaret home but true to their word, came back to join us. The night was full of good conversation, with the highlight being Corey’s choice of drinking glassware.

We headed off home, taking in some of Mildura’s delights on our way, and all woke up to a big breakfast of eggs and bacon. Except Scott and Amy, who missed out and found their own in town.

I played tour guide again and took the team to Woodsie’s Gem Shop which I admit, is one of my favourite places to go. We first went into the cave and the school teacher in Margaret was working overtime, so she gave the owners a few pointers on how to make the display more enjoyable for those with a chemistry background (!!??).

We tackled the maze and can I just say right upfront, that I was first out. Although, I wished I had my kids with me coz it would’ve taken me a quarter of the time. Corey copied me and so came out just behind me, even though he tried to trip me over in the last hundred metres. The others underwent a fantastic team-building exercise, with each refusing to go to the ‘give up’ gate when clearly they were losers. I reckon Margaret was the instigator of this, but they tell me they kept one person in the centre and sent others out in different directions! Funny, but I still won. And no, I don’t subscribe to the ‘home advantage’ theory; I was the best on the day.

After a coffee and a look around the jewellery at Woodsie’s, I took us all on a wild goose chase. I thought I was showing Scott (the real estate agent) some nice Mildura houses, but since he was in another car, he tells me he didn’t see any coz he didn’t know he was supposed to be looking!

We went to the Old Mildura Homestead and I gave a very swift history lesson on the irrigation colony developed by the Chaffey brothers. We also took in the beach at Apex Park, admiring the river and right on cue, the P.S. Melbourne majestically steamed right on past us. We then headed home to my house to do official photos for the brochure. Before that we had to agree on uniforms from copious samples, which was a miracle, but happened.

My backyard was scouted for good back-drops and some suitable ones were found. However, it was my lovely neighbour (who doesn’t know this coz he wasn’t home) who lent us his lovely big tree for the group shot. Thanks Chris.

Everyone then packed up and we headed to the Art Vault (gallery) which was very interesting and then picked up some lunch and the Adelaideans headed off on their long journey home. I meanwhile, leisurely took in a movie and walked home where I read the paper, did a spot of gardening, etc.

So that was our weekend in Dura! With or without a remote team member, a weekend like this is a must-do for any GSE team as the way we are as a team now is fantastic. It was a great time together.

That brings me to the end. Tim, when you suggested I have a go at posting something on our blog, did you expect it to be a thesis? Oops, about that.


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