Monday, December 16, 2013

Xmas letter 2013

Can’t believe but here we are again – another year and 2013 was a huge year of transition for us. We began in the UK but not for long as it was the start of our move back to Australia. It began “interestingly” when Nor (Stuey’s mum) broke her hip just after Xmas 2012. She had one dodgy hip before the accident, but Sods Law dictated that she broke the good one! So January involved a lot of miles seeing mum and helping her recover. Ah the UK motorway network in winter…..we wont miss it one bit!
Stuey fled the UK first in late Jan with Nicky following a few weeks later. She finished her work at Manchester Kids Hospital and since then has had a ‘portfolio career’ to coin the business school jargon. It’s the first time she has not had a sole significant job/title and she is adjusting well. She works two days a week in private paediatric practice in Melbourne City and Geelong, a regional centre about an hour away. After years of rejecting Stuey and the accountant’s suggestions to flee the public sector and go to the “dark side” of dentistry, she is really quite enjoying it. So are Stuey and the accountant! She does what she is best at – treating kids. Someone else looks after all the business “stuff”. Perfect! Another two days of her week have been in a research position at the MCRI, the research arm of the Royal Children’s Hospital. Towards the end of the year she landed the title Director of Cleft, so she has a posh title and all the associated hassle once more!

Stuey has had his busiest year ever as a muso. It all started with a three month contract with the Tasmanian Symphony, a big chunk of work with MSO (including playing to the film Lord of the Rings – The Twin Towers and the Orcs almost killed him) and lots of Orchestra Victoria work, including Prokofiev’s wonderfully quirky ballet Cinderella with the Australian Ballet and last but by no means least Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle. A little like Nicky’s writing style Wagner could be summed up with the phrase, “why use 10 words when 37 will do fine?!” It’s huge and challenging but wonderful.

Towards the end of the year our chamber group had a rebirth and a new name - The concert almost killed us both as there were lots notes for Stuey and Nicky had to do “rhythm”!
Nicky reached her half century this year. Only 50 more years until her letter from the Queen or more likely from a King. We celebrated with around 50 friends in the Great Northern Hotel in Carlton North. It’s a bit of a regular for us on Tuesday as its steak nite – the place is packed with punters chomping down great steaks for $15.
Albury and Wodonga are now officially frequent flyers. They returned to Oz and had to suffer they ignominy of quarantine for a month. Stuey had to do the “parental visits” as Nicky couldn’t bear to see them locked up in a concrete cell….which was actually fine, but way below they lifestyle they have become accustomed to ie the run of a massive Georgian terrace in Clifton. They now have passports and three microchips each – just don’t ask how much, it brings Stuey and the accountant close to tears.

The UK housing market was as flat as a tack when we left so we have not sold our wonderful house in Clifton. We have been lucky to have great tenants; first Scot and Lisa from Seattle and now Nicola and Michael. Our good friend Michelle has been in our ‘basement’ for the past 2 years but has recently moved out to live with the new love of her life! So we are now getting to know, Jack.  We plan to popping the house back on the market in March 2014 as there are encouraging rumours of green shoots appearing in the UK economy. Glory Be! We became nomads this year - by early March 2013 we had spent the night in over a dozen places across the globe. We are currently renting a town house in O’Shanassy Street, North Melbourne, our 2nd rental place in Melbourne this year! O’Shanassy St was going well until the entire ceiling fell onto the floor of the main bedroom in December. Luckily we were not in it at the time, but Nicky was confident she would have been OK, as it would have hit Stuart (and his belly) first!

Our beach house continues to be a mental health haven and even Albury and Wodonga have enjoyed a few weeks vacation down by the beach to help them in their transition. We have been engaged in some rennovations as the weather has seen the outside weatherboards deteriorate over the 10 years that we’ve own it. Nic has been busy pruning, mulching and planting in the garden – as always a great distraction to the business of life. We have also managed to take Kammermusik to Cape and relaunch Classical Cape, our regular chamber music concerts in the local village hall.

So now we send you all our love and good wishes for 2014 – we apologise if we have not been really good at staying in touch. People keep saying that they’ve not seen much of us recently – to which we respond ‘don’t worry we’ve not seem much of us either!’ We hope that 2014 will be alittle calmer and look forward to chatting and seeing as many of you as possible.

Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a safe, healthy and jolly 2014

Nicky and Stuey

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fitzgerald maintenance Sept 2013

Bob the builder continues his good work.

Timber houses need maintenance. Its been a really wet winter in 2013 and some of the woodwork has copped a beating. So its time to get up there, repaint what can be salvaged and remove/replace the rest. A spell of good weather lead to the following jobs:-
  • prep, paint and pointing the roof gables over the kitchen and bunk room
  • lots of prep and repainting
  • sparkie in to change a transformer
  • antennae man to extend and replace the TV aerial, to hopefully pick up a signal over the Empire State Building being built next door, which is right in line with the TV signal
  • high pressure water jetted the outside of the house - it looks great, but there is more painting to be done!
Tad came to help on Saturday 7th Sept:-

The scaffold was up and down like a brides nightie. All in all it was a good weeks work, and a good workout for Stuey ahead of Cinderella then Wagners Ring!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Nicky meets Elvis

Its true - Elvis is alive....and kicking!! While at supper with Adam and Gerry, Nic had a "moment" with Elvis, who is very cute.

Cats getting used to life back in Australia

After all the trauma of the move back to Oz, the cats are finally settling in. Woodie is very keen on his scratching post, as the photos clearly shows. He hated the one in Bristol, wouldn't touch it, but loves this one. That was until he had a little accident, fell off, got caught in the dangling catnip mouse and got into all sorts of strife. When Nicky went to help he bit her!! At the ripe old age of 50 she had to have her first antibiotics. Bloody mongrel!!

The newly reupholstered sofas are a big hit!
The most popular spot at Cape was the blanket on the pair of dining chairs. We never cease to be amazed at the places the cats chose to sleep.

Big Ro's 40th

Big Rohan is 40. You heard it here first. He is a bit sensitive about this, so I will say it again - BIG RO IS 40!!!

We celebrated in the only right and proper way - we good food, wine and company. Roger cooked up a storm with his metrosexual little Japanese BBQ, which joking aside was just awesome. Stuey and Rog are shot in a beautiful foursome, along with French champers and Giaconda Chardy. Yum.

Chateuneuf-de-pape, great steaks on the was all fantastic.

And we had 3 additional guests, who also clearly like steaks on the BBQ. We were aware we had local possums, as the neighbours have lots of netting covering plants and trees. Also Nickys pot rosemary lasted less than 24 hours. So it wasn't much of a surprise where the BBQ was "cleaned" by some little helpers!!


Cape wildlife in winter

As well as working on the house over winter, we managed to get out and about and see some wildlife and stuff.

There were angry skies and seas, as the photo of Kilcunda shows.

On one of our trips to Venus Bay we saw a young Grey Goshawk, see above. It allowed us to get quite close. It was by the boat ramp, a favourite spot for raptors, as theres lots of fish and stuff to tuck into. Beautiful bird.
And the roos were out, of course. We have been in Australia on and off for 18 years and the thrill of seeing roos in the wild hasn't worn off. I don't think it will. The shot above is taken from the road to the boat ramp, but we can get closer to them a bit further towards stage 5..

Winter visitors to Fitzgerald

The first visitors to Cape were the cats, fresh from "prison", aka quarantine in Spotswood. They were not happy about going in the travel box again, carried all the way to cape, but soon settled in. They are shown here trying out the nice new upholstery on the big sofas.

John and Mimi came down for a wet weekend, pictured here on a trip out to Kilcunda. Its was a wild time, lots of rain, with big seas and stormy skies, as the picture shows.

Roy, Kalina and Cleo came down for another weekend, which was fun.

And Matt, Pip and Elsa went down for the MSO week off in August, after the marathon 3x Stravinsky program in a week. We all needed a break after that. To say it was wet would be an understatement - the garden flooded and it ran thro the garage to the drive at the front. No damage was done, but its a good job the house is up higher on stumps. The whole of Cape was waterlogged, and its on sand, which is quite remarkable.

Fitzgerald - maintenance work

Bob (the builder) has got a new toy - a chainsaw. Nicky has been rattling on for ages about trimming the Lilly Pilly, so Bob had to get the manly overalls on and go buy a new manly toy. The tree survived, Bob has all his fingers but it almost killed him!

Its 8 yrs since the big reno, so time for some maintenance work, more serious work that we normally do. We have had the floors revarnished, sofas reupholstered, new leather sofa in the TV room (thanks Lawrie Jacks), revarnished the internal windows, replaced weatherboards, sanded and reundercoated paint bubbles and had a serious go at the garden, as shown above.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cats out of "prison", but no thanks.....yet

The move back to Australia has not been without its glitches and stressful moments, for all four of us. The cats have had their share of angst, but today was release day from the quarantine centre at Spotswood as shown by the picture taken below in the car park:-


Nic then took them down to Cape Paterson. Its a long story, but we don't want them weeing on the carpet in the rental house we are about to vacate, as we will lose out bond and the little buggers will cost us even more money!! And were they happy in, no. They either spent their time cowering and hiding...

...or moaning about not being able to escape...
But you never know, there might be light at the end of the tunnel...


Monday, May 27, 2013

Maintenance work at Cape Paterson

Fitzgerald is having an overhaul!

Its 8 since years since the major renovation, and it was time to remove some soft weatherboards. The SW corner, see above, cops the worst of the weather, and the boards showed that. A few more were removed in the Nth elevation, but the biggest problem there was a rotten joist under the deck, as show below with Tad doing his best.

We had to take most of the deck up to remove the offending timber. Tad had plans to send Stuey under the boards, but he feined bass players back pain to get out of that horrible job.

And while filling and painting weatherboards where the old part of the house hits the new garage, Stuey found two new residents...

...a mum and jnr brushtailed possums living in the garage gutter! The auzzies think of these as pests and would probably try get rid of them. We think they are cute. But now know where the olives and apples went!!

Were are on Nth Melbourne, the cats are in prison!

Dear blog readers (ie Liz!), sorry for the delay in getting a post to the blog, but its been a bit busy.

We moved back to Australia in Jan (Stuart) and Feb (Nicky) 2013. We have been in a flat in North Melbourne but negotiations are under way to move in to a 2 bedroomed town house, also in Nth Melb, in late June.

Nicky will be 50 in mid June and we have plans to celebrate her 1/2 century.

But the rest of the blog will cover the poor cats, who are in "prison" thro no fault of their own. We moved them to the UK, now back to Australia. They have 3 chips in their ears, passports and are mightily sick of international travel. And the bank manager is not happy either, as this has cost us a fortune.

When we moved to the UK in 2010 the cats didn't have to suffer quarantine - unfortunately they have to go thro it for a month in Spotswood, by the Westgate Bridge. They are in a concrete cell with an inside and outside portion, as shown by Albury peering towards the outside bit above.

Nicky had to deal with the UK stuff, dropping off the cats, putting up with Woody shitting in his box on the way to Taunton, nice one. So Stuey has had to do the parental visits to Quarantine in Spotswood. And they have made him suffer. All the other cats in next door cells are keep to see Stuey, and more importantly all the cat treats he takes with him, but not these two. But a tin of tuna can turn even the shittiest cats!!

They are out soon, on 5th June., then they go to Cape Paterson for a month, before moving to our new O'Shannessy St flat in late June.