EPISODE 5 – SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS
With Christmas 93 in sight Christine’s mother passed away in a sad but timely manner; she had become progressively more and more confused. With not inconsiderable heart searching Christine decided that her proper place was with those who needed her and that the long journey home to the funeral would serve little practical purpose other than the calming of the conscience.
A Decade of Bliss
On honeymoon in November 1983 the
serendipity that has characterised our marriage caused us to happen on a
restaurant in Montmartre,
The Third Christmas -1993
By now we were getting used to
having a combination of hot weather and the plastic Christmas tree, so the
weather decided to shake our complacency. We set off from
So it was, but that night the good weather broke and the rain bucketed down. Mildura is a town on the River Murray, artificially created to harvest the crops produced by an immense irrigation project using the river water. It is well known for being hot and sunny, even in Winter. The town was laid out by the American engineer who masterminded the project, and it showed: the town was flat and boring without a recognisable focus, just like Los Angeles. The eponymous Chaffey house which the engineer had built for himself was a well-preserved monument to the days of servants and gracious living, but on the whole we were glad to head off along the Murray towards Adelaide.
We passed through more boring river
towns such as Renmark. On entry into
Boxing day was the coolest on record in the area, falling to a chilly 17°C.
And so to
Meningie in the Coorong was our next
port of call; the Coorong is a lonely, wild area, all sand dunes, salt flats
and seabirds. This was also near where the “mighty
The last camp in
So, we had a pleasant break from the daily grind and extended our acquaintance with Oz a little more in a westerly direction, but what a pity the weather wasn’t better!
Once again we were reminded of how important is good health; poor Christine had become pale, wan and easily tired - it turned out to be chronic anaemia; the symptoms were treated with a number of iron injections, the cause was treated by a quick D&C and hysteroscopy. The latter indicated a need for further treatment, which was postponed until after ....
Absent Friends Arrive after Trans-World Trek
Nick and Lesley Pinnock came over
for three weeks, thereby becoming the first Poms to pay their own fare since
the £10 assisted passage finished. They landed at
My birthday was pleasant; we went to “PJs”, the little Malaysian restaurant in Glen Waverley, which plays the incongruous but pleasant modern jazz musak that I like; Christine had organised Jim & Ulla Waddell in addition to the Pinnocks, so it made a little party for my 55th. Which sounds much older than I feel - I kept thinking that my mother died at 55 and how she must have felt having her life abbreviated so peremptorily.
Nick & Lesley left sharing some
of my opinions of Oz - the space, the friendliness of the natives - and there
were a number of moist eyes and lumps in throats when they left to get in their
747/400 aluminium tube. The weather during their stay was typically Quixotic;
while here there was a definite touch of autumn in the air, but a promising
touch of warm sun on the day of their departure blossomed into almost a
fortnight of continuously hot Indian Summer brought about by the north wind.
Stepson finds Other Half
The news of the century arrived; John announced that he had found himself a soul mate and that they are to wed this October. Plans were thus laid for a rapid visit; seeing the boy properly married off and stopping off in Singapoops on the way back to add some pleasure to the 48 hours in an aluminium tube.
.... was the name of Christine’s second decoke Op; she bounced quickly back from it in what has become a typical fashion and profited from a continuing course of iron injections, the only lingering problems being a bruised botty and a new fascination with magnets and the Steelworkers Gazette
For Easter Jamie the Jayco headed for Creswick, a forgotten gold town which enjoyed a boom period until its alluvial gold ran out. A population of over 60,000 had dwindled to just over 2,000. It had the faded appeal of a seaside town out of season and was handy for the nearby towns of Ballarat, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.
Gates glum, Jobs jubilant!
The more computer literate of readers may have noticed subtle clues to the change of platform on which this deathless prose has been factored. Yes, you were right, this was produced on my very own computer! With the prime excuse being the indoctrination of Peter in the true course of computing as decreed in the Gospel according to Steve Jobs, I was tempted by an Apple Macintosh and StyleWriter, complete with yer actual built-in CD-ROM. A WordPerfect/Lotus/Filemaker Pro software bundle was included in a trivial “run-out” price matching that of a Sinclair ZX81, due to discounting for the introduction of the LC575 68040-based model and the Power-PC family. So I have definitely eschewed the exciting prospect of the C:\ winking at me, or else clogging up my RAM with megabytes of Windows which only manage to produce a poor copy of the GUI that Apple had way back in the days of the Lisa. With my 500Mb of Grolier’s MultiMedia Encyclopaedia, whoops Encyclopedia (it’s American!) I can watch Quicktime movie clips of Moon landings and other glorious American achievements and look up more mundane things such as the difference between all spice, five spice and mixed spice (Spice girls weren’t invented then! – Ed).
The commonality with the office machines means that typing out excuses for missed milestones can now be done in the comfort of my lounge. I can also listen to Stevie Nicks on an audio CD with cans connected to the stereo output, thereby drowning out the sound of imported Pommy programmes such as Farty Towels (Flowery Tarts?) being watched by She Who Must Be Obeyed while I’m writing fatuous chronicles of Oz.
I’m gratified that Peter has become instantly computer-literate, while CBAG is still scared of mice and hasn’t yet dared to approach it. A trip to the software shop to get a proper, educational program (Maths Blaster Plus) also produced (in compensation) a fascinating multi-dimensional game called “Myst”. This kept daddy quiet for weeks!
What’s Brown and comes Steaming out of
No, not the Isle of Wight Ferry, but Jamie the Jayco after a weekend on Phillip Island at a small, friendly campsite on the beach at Cowes. One of the few sites we’ve visited more than once, this one is separated from any houses and a good sandy beach by a strip of luxuriant coastal banksia. Peter likes playing in the pleasantly hot swimming pool and the place has a relaxed and benign rural atmosphere while still within walking distance of shops and restaurants.
She loves you, Yea, Yea, Yea.
A mid-May camping weekend with the Jayco Owners’ Club was held at Yea which is
a small town about 1.5 hours north of
Caught in the Internet
I treated the new computer to a V.32 bis modem, enabling me to “surf the global information superhighway” (blurt!) at 14.4 Kbps. More importantly, as well as being to communicate with other four-eyed antisocial computer nerds, I can send faxes directly from the computer; this enables me to discuss the latest depradations caused by the incumbent tenant of Holt Drive without having to wait for the next morning at work.
The mid-winter escape this year was
to Bali; a very pleasant break, marred only by a delayed start due to one of the
service vehicles attempting to modify the shape of our scheduled aircraft’s
engine cowling while it was parked on the apron. A bit of impromptu panel beating failed
to work and we were eventually shipped to
On our return
Sueboots becomes a Gillis again
A letter from “Susanne Gillis” in
Colchester awaited our return, revealing that she was no longer in
The Maldon Millennium
The thousandth anniversary of the
Battle of Maldon didn’t go unnoticed in
Up the (Falls) Creek again
Our annual trip to the snow started with a little unpleasant rain, but the weather soon cleared to give us five lovely days of warm spring sunshine with the main climatic hazard being sunburn. This time there was ample snow, including enough to ski back to the village at day’s end. We stayed in the Pretty Valley Hotel, our room overlooked a pretty valley where the snow-capped Mount Bogong and the High Plains wore pink blusher at sunrise and sunset. The three square meals a day were gratefully consumed, we ate like pigs and lost weight. A new experience was the heated open-air swimming pool and jacuzzis, lovely at the end of the day when every muscle ached - as long as all the bare bits were in the water and not in the freezing air! Like all well bred English ladies Christine fell in love with her ski instructor as usual, but fortunately I managed to drag her back to Schloss Waverley while it was still only a platonic schoolgirl crush!
Three Years Without Remission
anniversary of our arrival in Oz passed unnoticed while we were in the