Sunday, November 23, 2014

Xmas Letter 2014

Having just checked the blog we are shocked to see that our last entry was Xmas Day 2013. This just about sums up our 2014 – too busy by half! Life is good with us in Australia and, as always, we’re busy so there is nothing new there.

In some ways we are still in transition between the UK and Australia. We’re very happy to be back in Australia, but it would be great if we could buy a home to live in. Nic is “drip-feeding” our stuff back to Australia in her suitcases when she visits the old country. This year she has managed to ‘secrete’ some wine, a decanter and a painting back, all unharmed!  However our inability to sell the house in Bristol means we are still renting in North Melbourne.
Nic continues to work flat out in her numerous jobs. In addition to the private practice, she is also theoretically runs the Cleft Service and still has her research position but she has since added a few more roles to the list. Australia clearly isn’t big enough as she now has an appointment with Plymouth University which is handy for her trips to the UK and in particular for catching up with Ian and Liz. She is also doing more freelance work including quite abit of mentoring and is currently undertaking a Graduate Diploma in coaching … her spare time! 

If 2013 was Stuey’s busiest year ever on the bass it has has been eclipsed by 2014. Most of the work was with Orchestra Victoria (the Opera Australia and Australian Ballet band) and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. In the space of two weeks with the Tassie ony Stuey hit some interesting milestones. Kurt Weill’s 2nd symphony was on the program and he was one of only a handful in the band to have played it before. In Stuey’s case 36 years earlier! Now those really are the words of an old dog! But shortly before that he performed Mozart 40 for the very first time – it’s amazing how it’s not come up before now.

One of the more fun gigs was the tour of Australia and with Andrea Bocelli, and more importantly his co-star Delta Goodrem. The Auzzie readers will know of Delta much more than the Poms but she is just lovely as the photo with two chuffed bass players (both Stuarts) shows. Bocelli is remarkable. Don’t let anyone tell you he cannot sing – he can. And he is a nice bloke too. One for the memoirs

…..and it also gave Stuart a paid trip to NZ and the chance to see his brother John plus Terri and the boys Will and Joe. Much fun was had, especially with Star Wars lego!

Our chamber music group Kammermusik went from strength to strength. We performed five concerts this year, including a world premier of Stuey’s, somewhat tongue in cheek, reduction of a full opera into a 30 min piece for small string group. This time poor Tosca got the treatment. But the punters loved it! And another notable chamber concert was with the Firebrid Trio, performing the Vaughan Williams quintet in June.

The low point of our year was the passing away of our much beloved cat, Albury. There comes a time when we have to move and she was very much at that stage. We were incredibly lucky to have our dear friends Gerry and Adam pop round to “do the deed”. Gerry is a vet and was able to put her to sleep at home, which is surely that best way to do it. Stuey stayed there as Nicky couldn’t bear to witness it – we timed it for the day she was off playing a concert with a community orchestra. Appropriately she was playing Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony, the Pathetique. For those of you unfamiliar with this piece, he wrote at just before committing suicide and it’s full of pathos and grief. How apt! But Wodonga is alive and well. We thought he might be thrilled to be alone, and rule the roost, but he seems to be missing his sister.

We enjoyed having some Poms over to visit in the past 12 months. First the Vineys descended for Xmas. Our little town house was very full as Jason, Debbo, Frankie and Sonny moved in. It was an action packed schedule including a trip to Cape Paterson, Sovereign Hill and the highlight, the Boxing Day test at the MCG. Stuey’s Dad, Gra popped over in Jan. The photo shows the boys in Hobart, about to have a steak at the famous Ball and Chain. We wonder how tall the milkman was in Manchester 50-odd years ago!!

We plan to come over to the UK together in July next and hope to catch up with many of you. It will be our 25th wedding anniversary and yes, Nic does deserve a medal!! (NB Stuart did not authorize that last bit!)

In the meantime we wish you a jolly Xmas that’s not too hot (in Australia) nor too cold (in the UK) and a healthy, prosperous 2015.

Much love N & S xxx



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Xmas Day 2013


Xmas Day was at Ruthy, Richo and Katies house in Edgewater, Maribyrnong. It was a full house with 13 of use present - Rich, Ruth, Katie of course, Mary (Richs mum), Margaret (Ruths mum) and John, Phil (Richs bro), Debbo, Jason, Frankie, Sonny and the two of us. Oh, and the two guinie pigs, Sophie and Rose, of course. Activities started around midday and rocked on until 9pm or so.

Cocktails - we started with alcoholic cocktails for the adults and fruity ones for the kids

Appetizer - our chemistry lecturer (aka Richo, who is getting into Heston Blumenthal and all his toys) prepared prawns on a bed of mango and cucumber salsa with garlic "foam", which was not as foamy as the chef would have liked but it tasted pretty awesome all the same.

We ate outside on the deck as it was a pleasant warm day, in the mid 20s.

Entrée - Richo again was the chef for Duck Three Ways. We had breast with port caviar (created with a pipette, as shown by the clown on the video), soufflé with truffle and Amiens pate. Yum indeed.

Exercise break - as most of the team left to walk around the lake, to make space for more food and sober up a little. We stayed in the house, had a clean up and prepped the main course...

Main course - BBQ butterflied legs of lamb with roasted veggies, by us! Not very traditional, but wonderful all the same.

Dessert - Ruthys lemon tart

Afters - mince pies, cranberry and chocolate cake or cheese.

Boxing Day Test 2013

Our first Boxing Day Test was in 1995 - the infamous test where Murali was no-balled for throwing. Stuey was so lagered up at the time he didn't even notice! We moved to Sydney to live before the test in 96 then returned to Melbourne in 99, where we went to every Boxing Day until left for the UK in mid 2010. We then missed 3 more until this year, so we have only missed 4 in 15 years, and unfortunately one of those was the last time England won the Ashes in Australia....

....which clearly didn't happen in 2013!! Awful, but that didn't detract from a wonderful day out with Debbo, Jason, Frankie, Sonny, Geoff, Abi and Olly. As the photo above shows, we were in the VERY top row of the Great Southern stand.

In the lunch break we walked around to the Members side of the ground and met up with Ruthy and Richo et al, who like us were still recovering from the feast on Xmas Day. We also met Steve, see below:-

And an amazing thing happened. We were all in the new England kits and a Graham from OPSM, one of the promo tents you can see behind us approach Stuey and asked if he would like to take part in a competition in the tea break. He didn't explain too much, except Stuey would be in the pitch watching some old Ashes appeals and he had to be the umpire and decide if they were out or not. The sponsor was OPSM, an optician.....eyesight....being the umpire....get it???

Anyway, Stuey expected to be on the pitch with a number of other contestants....not so, just Stuey!!

So to the decisions - the first was clearly not out, down the leg side. The second, as shown above was given out by umpire Stuey with the big glove. And the last decision was also given out, all correct which meant Stuey won a $50 voucher, a pair of Ray-Bans and a new iPad mini!! Woo Hoo!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Vineys at Cape Paterson

The Viney clan descended on Sat 14th Dec and to help with jet lag we took the dudes down to Cape Paterson.

It turned into a bit of an Auzzie wildlife safari. First we wend to the mouth of the Powlet River to check out the roos, as shown on the video above. We then went onto Wilsons Prom and were treated to emus, wallabies, an echidna and lots of birds including a crimson rosella and black cockatoo.

On the way back from Wilsons Prom, Jason was keen to see a Koala. He spotted one in a tree as we drove past, which earned him the nickname Crocodile Viney, due to his bush skills.

We played beach cricket and did some boogie boarding in the sea.