Sunday, December 3, 2017

Xmas 2017

Yet another year rolls by and at the time of writing this England have just been thrashed in the first Ashes test at the Gabba. We have been here long enough to have witnessed that a few times. However we remain confident of clawing our way to series win!

2017 been a great year for us, if a little busy – so what’s new hey?! The biggest news is that we’ve finally moved back into Parkville. We were very happy in Gatehouse St for 11 years, sold it in 2010 to move to the UK and it’s taken eight years to return but we’re back! Australia is preoccupied with housing – the recent property boom has been crazy, resulting a very high prices, to the point that the youth of today fear they will never be able to buy where they would like to live.

Our new place is very similar to Gatehouse St and it has been amusing to see the reaction of our UK visitors and those Auzzie friends who visited us Bristol who comment on the fact that all our properties end up looking the same; with our furniture and general messiness.

Wodonga is delighted to return to Parkville. He actually dealt with the smell of doggy urine that greeted us on arrival much better than did his ‘human staff’!. Our first 48 hours were spent ripping up ‘wet’ carpets. Nice. As to Woody, well he is now 17 and going well for his age though losing some of the sharpness he once had. Bit like us really.

Our first renovation job was to turn the ‘shed’ in the back yard into a small hotel style bedroom plus bathroom. It’s on AirBNB (see and proving to be very popular with university academics, visiting medics as well as student looking to leave home for a night of passion close to Melbourne Uni. 2018 will see further, much less exciting but no less necessary, building projects such as installation of new plumbing and maybe a couple of new toilets!! Another sign of aging perhaps.

Nicky has even more jobs than this time last year. She made two trips to the UK to work at Plymouth Uni and to see family and friends. She is still Director of Cleft Services at the Children’s, as well as holding a research fellow position at the MCRI. And if that wasn’t enough she is now an accredited executive coach! A skill which she seems to feel the need to practice regularly on Stuart – much to his irritation!

The more shocking news is that Stuart is officially employed – shock and indeed horror! After only 2 years and 9 months he finally became principal double bass with Orchestra Victoria. Watch up for his memoirs – it will all be in there! The job started in July and has been busy and interesting since then. In November he took part in the inaugural Melbourne Conservatorium of Music bass day involving 200 participants – can you imagine? Unfortunately for Nic, she didn’t have to imagine, she had to suffer it!!!

Our chamber group, the one Stuart likes to call ‘Kammermusik’ but the rest of us still call ‘Parkville Ensemble’ has done a couple of concerts this year including participating in the first Melbourne Warehouse Music Festival (

We have slipped into a quiet holiday pattern in recent years which had us popping back to far North Queensland (Port Douglas) in June. It’s cold and wintery in Melbourne at that time of year, but beautiful at the top end, so is very popular. We went on another great birding day with local guru Del Richards which allowed Stuart to indulge in his obsessive nerdy birdy photography ( ). We are now approaching our next holiday back to Fitzgerald, our lovely beach house in Gippsland in December. It’s a crazy time of year where everyone wants you to finish bits of work, or catch up socially. So we bugger off to the beach just before Xmas.

And 2017 was a great year for visitors. We have a new large house with spare rooms so do come ‘down under’ and visit. First were Mo and Steve who left the UK and Ireland for some sun over Xmas. Xmas Day itself was stinking hot, well over 30, we were camped indoors, except for a few crazy Brits sunbaking outside. Poor Steve had to suffer lots of jokes about large spiders, then came face to face with one in his bedroom! Next came Niamh and Arthur, who created their own new visitor while in Australia with baby Felix arriving in September.

Caitie Gardner turned up for a few weeks in the middle of the year. We had never met Caitie before but not only was she charming but she was also very good a making beds thanks to her experience as a ‘chalet chick’! We caught up again with her in Port Douglas just before she left to return to the UK.

Long time friends, Mike and Catherine Aldren finally made it down under for a huge trip that included Darwin, Port Douglas then the cold of Melbourne before taking the interesting inland road to Sydney. This is a photo of Nicky with M and C on the beach at Port Douglas taking on an iPhone on a moving bike!

Deanie and Pete returned to Oz to attend Katharine Plows and David’s wedding in October. It was a wonderful day and great to spend quality time with the Plows family once more. D & P had another amazing trip which included the Singapore Grand Prix. Pete was quite restrained and only took around 10,000 photos!

Our ‘frenants’ (aka friends who have been tenants), Lisa and Scott, continue to work their way around the world by returning to Oz a second time. We first met them in Bristol in 2012 when they rented Canynge Road from us. They then turned up in Australia in 2015 only to return again this year via some time in Spain. They are now relocated to London – which made us wonder if they are really trying to avoid the US President – which is not only understandable but also turns out to be true!

And as we approach December we are looking forward to more Canynge Road reunions with the Melville-Thomas clan (from No 4) staying for a few days followed by Bob and Liz (from No 2) over Xmas which course will be accompanied by the obligatory trip to the Boxing Day Ashes test at the MCG.

In the meantime, we both wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year period. Please stay safe, well and in touch.  N&S (and of course Woody!!).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cape Paterson sunset 9/1/2017

Cape Paterson is beautiful. Many people don't know this, so its our little secret! Let them all go to Inverloch and we can keep this little corner to ourselves!
Stuey nipped down to do a rental handover, just in time or sunset at the Eco Village, now called The Cape, at the West end CapeP, just where the sun dips into the ocean.
The roos were out en masse...
The sunset was stunning...

And so too was the moonscape...


Sunday, January 1, 2017

New year at Yandoit

In what is becoming a bit of a tradition we spent New Year's Eve in Yandoit, at the most amazing property owned by Gordy and Jodie (aka Farmer JH). As you can see, fun was had by all...

Nicky and Mo have finally worked out how to get on. By ignoring one another and looking at long billed corellas on the Loddon River in Newstead!

As temperatures soared to 30+, the akubras and fly nets got a workout.

Team shot by the BBQ on New Years eve.

Over a short 24 hour period, Mo, Steve, Mirella, Jonnie, Stuart and Nicky - ate, drank and talked! Thanks to Steve and Mirella who each provided a course of smoked salmon, dill and crème fraiche on pancakes/pikelets! Thanks guys! Lamb rack done on the BBQ completed the savouries to be followed by Mo's amazing Chocolate soufflé.

Mimi - in true form went out hard and fast but faded rapidly towards midnight and indeed DID NOT see the New Year in conscious! Probably due to too much ENGLISH champagne, er sparking wine.

Steve survived the heat - of both the sun and the BBQ. His skin was slightly less translucent by the start of 2017 than it had been on his arrival in Aus. 

Nicky speaking of her admiration for her husband. Again!

The boys did us proud on the BBQ - and unlike last year there was no total fire ban so things went well. we hope you all had a as nice a day as we did - thanks again to Jodie and Gordie for letting us enjoy their place. A great way to see the NY in.