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When the 'Estimated Flight Time' on the small LCD panel in front of me reads '13 hours' and I see the Sydney Harbour Bridge through the small window on my right-hand side, there are two things to be sure of in my experience...

For one, I am homeward bound, and while that's a good feeling, alas, it's all uphill from there.

The second thing I can be sure of is that I'm going to spend a lower limit of 45 minutes walking up and down the airport with Freebird, who for some incomprehensible reason refuses to remember where she parks her car at OR Tambo.

Honestly, it's not the worst thing in the world as I haven't seen her for four weeks, so I don't mind ogling from behind while she scurries about ahead of me like a deer trapped in headlights. I tell myself that I will make up the lost time on the road with some Sarel van der Merwe-like driving, seeing as though I really, really want to unpack my luggage.

Enter Francois Venter (whose girlfriend couldn't make it in time for the pick-up of her precious cargo) who, despite my uninviting countenance, has the audacity to ask me for a lift. At this point in time I strongly consider bludgeoning him to death with my carry-on bag, but just like Robert Downey Jr, I too would prefer not to mess up my karma, and I oblige.

Francois is dropped off in the street, and does well not to be knocked over as I wheelspin away.

I arrive at my humble abode, only to find that Freebird forgot to recharge the electricity meter, and as a result the place reeks of rotten cheese.

I keep a cool head, I use my cellphone to get a prepaid token, I throw out the cheese, and in the flashest of flashes, I unpack...

We had a bye this past weekend, which meant that we were off for the entire week, so I spent the first part of it getting the Machine to function properly again. Freebird celebrated her birthday while I was away, and I promised to take her away for the weekend – just the two of us. My initial plan was to head towards die Drakensberg, but my most recent spending-binge on tour forced me to look at other cheaper bergs, so we ended up going to die Magaliesberg.

Freebird knows what she wants in a vacation spot – a place with a spa, lots of possibilities as far as hiking and other activities are concerned, a trampoline, international cuisine, a mini-golf course, a diving board, canopy tours, a local micro-brewery, but most importantly – tennis courts. This basically shortens the list to about two options in the southern hemisphere. At the very least, it always promises to be a fruitful time.

It was a great getaway, apart from one little glitch. Freebird and I have this arrangement where she teaches me how to play tennis and in return I show her how to play guitar. The problem – Freebird is a tennis ace, so to speak, and at the very least an intense competitor. I don't mind actually – it helps keep me fit during the times that we're on leave – but the only way for me to actually make some points is by implementing what I like to call the power-serve. The result – I'm probably the only guy that picks up a loss even when he has bye, and I'm also the guy who rocks up after an off-week with a sore shoulder.

It didn't stop me from putting in the hard work on Monday though. We're better than the six points we brought back with us from overseas, and no one knows this more than we do. That being said, it's behind us, and for the next 10 games we're staying right here in SA, and we've got some work to do.

You can either have results or excuses, not both. We're back at Loftus this weekend against the Cheetahs, and we'll be chasing the former.

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