Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Christmas Newsletter 2021

 I usually write our Christmas Newsletter much earlier than this

 but as our Christmas cards should be arriving soon (well, depending on the post...) 

I thought I better get on with it... 

And in fact last year I was only three days earlier!

Covid restrictions have flavoured the year but it has not all been 'doom and gloom' as my Mum would have said!! 

In February we will have been in Australia for 2 years - and so far, getting on for 40% of the time we have been in strict lockdown. Much of the rest has been under Covid restrictions. Opportunities to meet up with family and friends here in Victoria have been few and far between; inter-state and overseas non-existent. The last time we went on a plane was when we flew here.

We are fortunate however to have had various stretches of normality throughout the year and we obviously have tried to make the most of them. Now it feels like we are getting back to some kind of normal, although it's not over yet...

We are almost ready for Christmas - although as I write this, Sophie and Kevin are wrapping. I have been pretty late (making and) sending out Christmas cards. The post has been so unreliable I didn't think it would really matter! 

We will be meeting up with all the family on Christmas Day but not necessarily all at the same time!

Last year we had everyone here for a Christmas dinner as lockdown had ended and in fact we then had several months with eased restrictions.

This meant that Sophie, Kevin and I could go for a trip to the Grampians in January - we also saw some of the Silo Art -

and then to the Australian Open in February- we plan to watch some of this year's Open too in January.

We have managed several trips over to East Gippsland to see Matty and the girls - This was in March.

We spent much of the earlier part of the year travelling around looking at where we might buy a house. In the end we decided to buy a block and build - more of this later. Around April time we discovered the Australian Botanic Garden just South of Cranbourne.

 Alongside this we found a block that we decided to buy. In the meantime we continue to live here in the rental in Patterson Lakes with the lovely view:

We have managed to see quite a lot of shows and exhibitions: the Travelling Wilbury's, Harry Potter, an exhibition of impressionist paintings, a Doll's House exhibition, Van Gogh's Lume.

We have enjoyed picnics and days out - a memorable trip was to go whale watching!

In May, Aiden was 21 - we were lucky enough  to celebrate his birthday in a restaurant but within days we were into lockdown. 
(Sophie, Lizzie and Tom all spent a second birthday in lockdown!)

Aiden and Tom

During lockdown Kevin and I had to find projects. Kevin renovated a sailing dinghy amongst other things and of course I had my Crafting. I have participated in virtual retreats and Zoom craft and chat meetings - and Zoom crafty sessions with Sophie.

We were so pleased when lockdown eased again! Finally we could take part in events that had been postponed - in particular Sophie and I did a Champainting session at Melbourne Aquarium - drinking champagne and painting a jelly fish.

Dan and Lizzie's baby was born on August 1st. None of the rest of us could see Ollie for ages - but now it is quite a regular occurrence.

Work began on our house in November. We keep going over to watch progress and we're very excited to see the wall frames up this week. Of course the next stage will not be for a while because of the Christmas holidays.

Once again we have decorated the house for Christmas - boats on the canals each night take trips to see the lights. We hope to get the canoes out soon to go and have a look.


And this is this year's decoration using junk...

So, here's wishing you a very happy Christmas and let's hope 2022 is a better year!

The girls arrived and now I have a picture of Jas and Isa in the same spot!

 love Sue and Kevin xx

P.S. Most of my Facebook posts have been memories as it seems that we have fewer new stories to tell. But these memories do remind us of lovely occasions spent with Mum and Dad - it is now over a year since each of them left us...the orchid that Matty and family sent us at the time of Mum's funeral has amazed us with its reflowering!

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Christmas Newsletter 2020

 It has taken me rather a while to bring myself to make a start on writing this newsletter,

 but as our Christmas cards should be arriving soon (well, depending on the post...) 

I thought I better get on with it... 

But what a year!!

 Rather a lot of doom and gloom as my Mum would have said but let's start with a happy picture... Sophie, me and Kevin in Santa's hats. Sophie bought these so that she and her Dad could wear them in a ukulele sing-a-long recording. 

At the end of last year's newsletter I wrote that we were looking forward to a lovely family Christmas. And that's what we had - Christmas Eve at Mum and Dad's:

It was lovely that Tomi's Mum had been able to come over from Nigeria...

 Christmas Day at our house, by which time Liz and Pete had arrived...

 Then a Boxing Day outing followed by a festive meal at Andrew and Kathryn's... Sophie had come back from Australia for Christmas - maybe she was finding it rather cold back in the UK!

I don't know what Tomi's Mum thought of the weather!!

We enjoyed several outings while Sophie was back - including a trip to York.

But the holiday came to an end and Sophie went back to Melbourne, somewhat concerned as to how the terrible bushfires were affecting Australia. She found Melbourne was OK and not even as smoky as expected, but over in East Gippsland it was a different story. Nikki and the girls evacuated for a couple of days at one stage, while Matty stayed to protect the house...

In the middle of January the Golden Oldies got together for Aunty Kath's Birthday:

And then a couple of weeks later at Holly Avenue - this is a lovely picture of me and my brother at this event...

Round about this time our worldly goods yet again hit the high seas - on their way to Melbourne... We had planned to move back to Australia in early 2020 and now the time had come.

We began having farewell 'catch-up's - Lynn, Colin, my cousin Janet...

my cousin Caroline and John...

I went down to Bicester to have a crafty farewell with my friends down has been lovely to catch up with these friends on Zoom over the last few months
 (even if I do have to get up early!)

But the hardest thing was saying bye to my closest nieces...

My brother and sister and all their families...

Little did I know this would be the last time I saw my Mum and Dad....


We moved to Melbourne on February 23rd. Fortunately our house sale went through and completed at the last minute. And as it turned out it was lucky we managed to fly out when we did. Any later and we might not have been able to travel putting our visas at risk.

 We moved in with Sophie - for what we thought would be a short time - until we found somewhere to live and our shipping arrived.

The first thing we did was meet up with Dan and Lizzie, Tom and Clare, Aiden and Anna - nearly all our family.

We planned a holiday for Easter when perhaps we could all get together including Matt, Nikki, Jasmine and Isabell.


But Covid 19 happened. 

After just a few weeks of normality, by the end of March we were into the first lockdown.
This meant that Sophie was suddenly teaching from home and we were hit by the first lot of restrictions. This meant that lots of admin things following our move had to be put on hold. House hunting was difficult...
But shortages didn't really affect us as Sophie had stocked up before we arrived.

We could still go for a walk but we couldn't meet up with people - and no masks yet.
Our Australian Drivers Licences came - and our Senior Citizens and rail cards - but we couldn't really use them...

We spent our time watching television marathons (how many episodes of the Mentalist?), on the phone or computer, baking, crafting and, in my case, learning how to use my new Cricut machine.
This was an early Birthday present - so many Birthdays have been held on Zoom!

However by May some of the restrictions had been lifted and we could enjoy a small celebration for Aiden's 20th Birthday!

And we moved into our rental property in Patterson Lakes. 
Our shipping arrived and we gradually got it furnished with this and items from auctions and freecycle!

Towards the end of June, Matt, Nikki Jasmine and Isabell managed to come over from East Gippsland for a short stay, so at last we had seen all our family.

 Back in the UK, Mum received a belated 71st Wedding Anniversary card from the Queen. The Palace had just started sending them out again having called a halt previously because of Covid.

But by this time Dad was in hospital. The carers had called 911 after they had difficulty getting him to stand to be able to go to bed. The paramedics sent him into hospital where he was diagnosed with Covid. Fortunately Liz had just arrived so she could go with him in the ambulance and Andrew met them at the entrance. But after that there were no visitors. Liz, Andrew and Mum had to get tested. Mum tested positive and so then Liz and she were both self-isolating for a fortnight. Fortunately both Mum and Dad recovered from the virus and none of the rest of the family caught it, and Dad moved into a nursing home. Mum went down to Devon for a week as Dad still couldn't have visitors.

We in Melbourne went into our second lockdown, the second week in July. This meant stricter restrictions including the wearing of masks. So I started making lots... Kevin kept himself busy making stuff too...

Towards the end of July Dad was allowed visitors - but his health had deteriorated badly and sadly on August 4th he passed away. Covid restrictions meant that he had a small funeral but it was webcast so we could watch it from here in Australia.

Then almost 9 weeks later Mum too passed away. She spent a few days in hospital and we thought she would come home. But the virus had weakened her and in the end her body could not take it. The whole family were devastated. How many times in those 3 months did I wish I could get on a plane? Again Covid restrictions meant a small funeral - but this time no 'wake' either. So each person attending the funeral was given an afternoon tea box and a small bottle of Prosecco to take home. We again watched the webcast here in Australia...

And here in Melbourne we continued to cope with the Covid restrictions... Kevin renovated a canoe and cultivated the little veggie plot... and I carried on crafting...

Gradually the restrictions eased such that we could travel - so we spent a week over in Paynesville. Sophie came for a long weekend and we saw Matt, Nikki and the girls again:

Then on December 13th Kevin was 70 - and we could have the family around for a barbecue!

And now Christmas approaches and we are putting up the decorations... including several crafty makes from Kevin!

And in fact Santa just called (on the Lakes behind our house)

So.. here's wishing you a very happy Christmas and let's hope 2021 is a better year!

love Sue and Kevin xx