Christmas 2000

The travelogue continues

All the pictures except the Mooball cows are thumbnails linked to larger versions

See also Moree 2000 (the last mother & daughter Moree roadtrip) and The Car (a pictorial tribute to our 1980 Corolla)

I returned from New Year's Eve in Sydney and got on with the usual swimming and web stuff, anxiously waiting for my osteopath to return from the weeks and weeks of holiday that he so flagrantly takes over Christmas. (Three weeks, actually, and a well-earned break, but it's always a nervous time for me.) The computer that connects Dac and me to the Internet crashed and I couldn't fix it, so I had to relearn how to dial up, with a little help from my friends.

Thumbnail: Dinner for 50th, SydneyDac returned from Christmas in Adelaide where it had been extremely hot, and then my travelogue for 2000 begins. I set off for Sydney with Helen, for Fiona and Ricky's housewarming and Amy's christening. Dad and Eva were down and Fiona, in the midst of everything else she had to do, organised a family celebration for my 50th birthday. The night before the christening, we had a lovely meal out together.

The day of the christening dawned bright and sunny. Helen and I got out of the way in the morning and had a scary swim at Leichhardt Municipal Pool, where the swimming club had exclusive access to the olympic pool, and everyone else was floundering about in the diving pool. No lines, and no bottom.


Thumbnail: Christening, outsideThumbnail: Amy's christening robeThe christening was at 10.30am at the church where Fiona and Ricky were married. It was part of a normal Sunday service and lasted for more than two hours! The church seems to have gone a bit holyrollerish since last we were there. Hymns written by members of the congregation were put up on an overhead projector and accompanied by the resident pop group. A rel who shall remain nameless said she refused to contribute to the collection plate on the grounds that she didn't get to sing any proper hymns.


Thumbnail: In the church at Amy's christeningAmy was angelic throughout, sitting with her parents or with Uncle Peter, and looking round at everything that was going on. She has always struck me as a child who's taking notes. Afterwards there was the housewarming party, in Fiona and Ricky's garden. Amy, whose morning sleep had been truncated and who was by now very tired, was determined not to sleep. It was terrific to catch up with family members Bev, Grahame, and Aunty Joan, down from Newcastle, and Robyn and Wallace.

The next big event was the JAnnieQ, over the Australia Day weekend, with interstate guests and nostalgia for the good old days "before the Internet ruined LTUAE".

Thumbnail: Plate made by FionaOn my actual 50th birthday, Steve D (conclusively demonstrating what a Ledge he is!) took Dac and Helen and me out to the Charcoal Grill, absolutely our favourite restaurant. It's an old-fashioned steak house where they serve you those spuds in aluminium foil, and vast steaks, and red wine, and side dishes of wonderful mushrooms. On the right is another excellent present I received.

Thumbnail: Dinner for 50th, CanberraOn the weekend after my birthday, Fiona, Ricky, Ricky's mother Rose, and Amy came down and stayed at Manuka for the weekend. I think it was the first time they'd been away with Amy, and she didn't much care for the long trip. It was good to see her; at this stage she was pulling herself up on the furniture and rushing about. We had another lovely dinner (Italian this time) with friends.

In March, I finally fulfilled my New Year's Resolution of several years and consulted a financial adviser. My original adviser left the workforce in 1991, at which stage my tiny little rollovers weren't doing much, so he told me I needed to talk to someone about them. It took me four years to get around to it, and then I didn't understand the advice. "It's OK, I'll set it all out in a letter," said the adviser, and I never heard from him again. That was five years ago. This time around, it's not going much better, I have to say.

In April, Helen began a series of concerts with the Canberra Bach Ensemble, including a solo performance of the virtuosic Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen. They were rippers of concerts, and she was wonderful. I don't care if you reckon that's maternal bias: it isn't, and she was.

Between concert attendances, I went to Sydney to mind Fiona and Amy while Ricky was in London. Much good I'd be, I hear you say, but I felt my presence was justified when there was a big storm and a blackout - company is a good idea in those situations!

Thumbnail: H at MoreeThumbnail: H in Qld dancingImmediately after the Easter concert, Helen and I set off for Moree and Bilinga, where we had the usual excellent time.

Cowbirds near Mooball


Thumbnail: Amy with teethWe came home via Sydney to visit the niecelet, and that's when we heard the news that Ricky was about to be transferred to London, starting work over there in late June. They had about six weeks left in their beautiful house which they'd just got the way they wanted it, and they would be away for two to three years.


Thumbnail: Amy cutting the birthday cakeThumbnail: ThomsonsI headed off to Sydney again in June for Amy's first birthday. It was a family party, and Dad and Eva came down. Fiona and Amy were suffering from dreadful colds. Amy had just learned to walk, and was landing unpredictably on her bottom; she was a poor little thing, with her cold, and so much going on around her. She didn't want to associate with anyone but her mum.

I got to see my sister one last time before her departure, when she flew down to Canberra for a day to collect some papers from the British High Commission. We breakfasted at Gus's in Civic with Helen, and lunched at Kingston with Jo, and it was like the Old Days. Fiona left Australia on 27 June.

Thumbnail: Farewell picAmy didn't like the flight much, so they've been disinclined to pop back for the visits they're entitled to. And I've racked my brain for ways of getting over to see them, but (despite extensive study of modes of travel, including cargo ships) I don't see how it can be done. If I went on a plane, I'd have to sit with my arms held up all the way, and the cramped seating would ensure that I couldn't do anything (including walk) by the time I arrived. Fortunately Fiona has been terrific about keeping in touch. She rings every week, we have the odd email exchange, and she and Ricky send videos regularly, which I share with Dad and Eva.

In the second half of 2000, there were visits from Judy Huston (who's writing a biography of Sue Baldwin), Phil and his family (now three children), and LTUAErs Kim Heitman and Mike and Judy Handlinger. The Handlingers had been to the Olympic Games and then north to the Daintree Rainforest. They parked their campervan in my driveway for a couple of nights and we had a lovely dinner at the Sukothai, which other Canberra LTUAErs should be sorry they missed, the pikers!

Helen threw herself into the organising of concerts in the second half of 2000. I helped her with the website for the f concert, and subsequently provided refreshments ("snarks") for her inaugural solo recital on 27 August at the Girls' Grammar Chapel. It was a very impressive debut. With the gradual improvement in her health, she'd started to talk about finally having a serious crack at a singing career, and spent some time in Melbourne checking things out. (There's more early music going on in Melbourne than anywhere else in Australia.) I was pretty devastated when she told me that she was going to have to move there.

August was a busy time for me because we moved the WEL Australia website yet again. It had grown too big for the shared space provided by CASE, so WEL opened its own account with CASE's webhost. Various changes arose from the move, and then I was involved in setting up a secure credit card payment area, and developing and testing what seemed like a million forms (online and snailmailable) for all the State WELs. This was the point in the year when I really started to overdo things.

Thumbnail: Fathers' DayIn September I ventured forth, on one of those cheap flights, to visit D&E for Dad's birthday and for Fathers' Day. Sitting at Canberra airport listening to announcements about the lateness of my flight, I gazed out at a tiny little plane, feeling grateful I wasn't going to be expected to go in it. Then another tiny little plane pulled up beside it - and my flight was called. It was a 16-seater, and if I'd known in advance, I'd never have bought a ticket! Not the ideal vehicle for a large person, let alone a white-knuckle flyer. Nor was the requirement, in Sydney, to run up and down stairs and out across the airport to another terminal particularly welcome. Nevertheless I arrived safely in Brisbane and spent a very pleasant couple of days with Dad and Eva.

The trip home was quite trying: I had a couple of hours to wait in Sydney, and spent them at an outdoor cafe near the terminal, watching chairs and tree branches hurtling by in the galeforce wind. Inside in the waiting room, the television news was trumpeting the crash of a plane just like the one I was about to board. I had a word to one of the pilots as we walked (or rather were blown) across the tarmac and he assured me that they dealt with weather like this all the time. He suggested I take the very first seat in the plane because it didn't have a window and I wouldn't have to look out. This worked well until we reached Canberra, whereupon I had a very good view, out the pilots' window, of the ground coming up to meet us!

September to Christmas is a bit of a blur. Helen's birthday, at the Charcoal Grill with Steve D. Two sad losses - Frank Gattinger, and cousin Grahame Lawson. Heaps of web work. Heaps of functions, including an all-day seminar on community access to IT, a cause close to my heart. The organisers were brilliant about accommodating my physical problems, but ... then I spent 2.5 days attending the WEL National Conference. I'd never been to one, it was right here in Canberra, am I part of the organisation or not? The trouble is that I never know how much harm has been done till afterwards. This letter is appearing closer to Christmas 2001 than Christmas 2000 because I'm still not over the exertions of late 2000 - every time I start to recover, there's another emergency or trip, or emergency trip. I'm sure you can wait till next year to hear about that!

Thumbnail: ChristmasWe had our usual lovely Christmas with Brian and Annabel, except that Helen was in the throes of moving house. She left Canberra on 28 December. Despite the fact that it was really the start of the new millenium, I can't remember New Year's Eve at all - I probably did what I usually do, and stood on the front steps to hear the car horns honking at midnight.

All the best for what's left of 2001!



Vale Andy Sales, Mrs Lavka, Auntie Myrnie, John Alexander, Eric, Frank Gattinger, Grahame Lawson

Thumbnail: Frederick Part of our lives for many years - Frederick and Charlie Thumbnail: Charlie

Page created 22 December 2001; last updated 26 December 2007