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



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