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2023

The year I turned 80
My end of year letter

 

As explained in my email my letter was too big to email.  So here it is.  And while you are here - check out my blog to see what I mostly do to amuse myself.  Just click on BLOG in the menu and have a browse.  

24 jun 80.jpeg

The year that was

From Rosemary’s perspective

 

Of course David is a vital part of the year but, being a different person he may well have highlighted different things, so these are the things that signified something to me - along with a whole lot of pictures - more pictures than words I think.  Besides I did a few things he didn’t.

An overview

 

Our days of international travel are over I think.  Not that we don’t want to see France, Italy and England again.  Or any other unvisited spot in the world, not to mention visiting our far flung friends.  No - it’s the getting there which is daunting.  However I did renew my passport, so maybe there is still a small seed of hope deep down.  Not any time soon anyway.  

l to r  back row - Abby (16), Cruz (13), Bryn (50), Dom (48)  

front row - Max (8), David (82), Baden (16), Rosemary (80), Zoe (14)

So it was a year at home with only one night away to celebrate my 80th birthday - down the Mornington Peninsula - more or less at its tip where the ocean meets the bay, at the RACV resort.  An hour and a half  away but suburbs all the way.  Melbourne is huge - in size.  We had a gorgeous room with a view over the bay and the inevitable golf course - I think our room might be the one on the bottom layer at the end.  We went for a walk along the ocean front and past the lighthouse, but the main event was really a sumptuous meal in their restaurant.  High class food, warm, friendly and super efficient service.  It couldn’t have been better.  Not Venice, which I jokingly suggested as a potential venue, and pretty close to home, but a world class tourist destination none-the-less.  A very memorable visit.

Excursions

However, there were excursions.  Not many, but a few.  So I scoured my photos of the year to remind me.  Here is what I found:  In March, a trip into the city for a friend’s 80th birthday - a surprise organised by his wife and sons.  No pictures of the event but a photo of some rather wonderful street art.  Melbourne is famous for it.  Also in March a lunch at winery in the Yarra Valley,  which is right on our doorstep.  There are so many wonderful venues to choose from.  This one is typical.

In June I met up with my niece and her toddler son to visit the Impressionist exhibition, put on at Lume - an immersive digital experience which is quite different, a really good introduction to art with a capital A and a different way of looking at it if you are familiar.  Followed by a stroll along the river and lunch.

July was all about eating out.  Lunch in a local eatery to thank younger son and family for my big  birthday bash at their place.  Lunch at a friends’ house in Gisborne - a  small town on the road to Bendigo for a French feast on Bastille Day - a glorious French fish soup with all the trimmings, and the annual ladies meal my pretend daughters arrange every year - ex almost daughter-in-law, but still very  much part of the family, Nic; daughter-in-law Dionne and niece Annabelle.  This year Smith Street Bistro - superb French food in super trendy inner suburban Fitzroy.

In August, with  friends we visited the rhododendron gardens high up in the Dandenongs - which are sort of the southern end of the Great Dividing Range.  They have created a new Australian garden, based, I think, on the one that was presented at the Chelsea Flower Show.  Nascent as yet, but it’s such a lovely spot at any time of the year.

 October is Nillumbik (our local council area) Open Cellars time and almost every time it’s on we take the opportunity for a drive around our  local vineyards and our stunningly scenic countryside, not to mention the odd bottle of wine.  This time  the star wine was this Yarrambat chardonnay, from the vineyard below.  It was so good in fact, David rang and organised to go and buy some more - they are not normally open.  And this time too we had a super lunch at one of our favourite local wineries - Shaws Road.   A great day out in the company of friends.   

 Last but not least we gathered at our youngest grandchild’s - Max - now aged 8 - primary school - with his mum and dad, big sisters and other grandparents for the school’s Christmas concert.  Such an Australian scene.

There have been more mini excursions - mostly with our friends Craig and Monika but I didn’t always take photos.  The river is literally over our back fence, there are very large, natural parks nearby, and laneways that thread themselves through and around Eltham.  Lots to see and do without going very far.

Family

We are blessed, in that both of our sons and their families live in Melbourne and so we see them relatively often - probably not often enough for us, maybe more than enough for them.  I partly jest.  So a rundown.

Bryn, our oldest son (in the pink T-shirt) finally bought himself a home - a three bedroom apartment in trendy  inner suburban Northcote which he loves.  He lives with his beloved cat Morocco.  He works as a senior business analyst in the worlds of superannuation and insurance, but is currently taking a sabbatical.  His choice.  He turned 50 this year which was more of a shock to me than him I think.

Dom (next to Bryn) is a builder/developer and lives just ten minutes away in the palace he built.  He recently sold his last project - another palace, and has currently taken his family to Japan for an educational and enjoyable summer break.  When he returns he will begin on the next palace, to which they will eventually move, selling the one they currently inhabit and which he also built.

Nic - Bryn’s ex - although they are the best of friends and they share the children.  It’s simultaneously sad and wonderful.  Nic is just part of the family.  She also is a business analyst and lives in the same suburb as Bryn.  For his 50th, the entire family went away to Vietnam for a holiday.  Bryn loves to travel - he takes at least three overseas breaks a year.  Nic too - she is about to take the boys to Japan for a couple of weeks.  They seem happy with it all.  What can I say?  She is always a breath of fresh air.

Dionne - Dom’s wife and a remarkable lady - well they are all remarkable - has just done her first qualification as a real estate agent, after years of full-time mum and part-time business partner for Dom.  Which she still is - Marketing Director is her title I think.  She also is an active school parent, is on the board of the local regional library group and visitor at an old-folks home.  She’s a marvel.  Oh and a great cook.  Not to mention her parents who are now our friends.

Abby - oldest grandchild, daughter of Dom and Dionne.  Sixteen - about to start on year 11 - the penultimate year of school.  Subject choices - not absolutely sure but biology, environment, psychology?  That sort of thing.  She’s a teenager, works at the local baker’s one day a week, clever, lovely, still plays basketball - for fun I think rather than for passion …  a teenager.  Everything seems to be good, excellent even.

Baden - Bryn and Nic’s son.  Turned sixteen yesterday.  Very tall - well over 6 foot and a dedicated soccer player.  Also plays basketball - and I think sport figures in his year 11 choices somehow.  Geography too.  I think, like most teenagers he doesn’t really know where he wants his future to go.  And, of course, being a teenage boy - not very communicative.  Such a lovely boy though with lots of good friends. 

 Zoe - Dom’s second - age fourteen - looks much older - very teenage girl.  Taller than her sister - someone described her as an Amazon!.  She has recently taken up playing Aussie rules football.  None of us think this is a good idea!  Arty - Art of some kind is always one of her electives.  She also has my cooking genes (her mother’s too) and talks of going to France for a year to learn to cook when she finishes school.  We shall see.

Cruz - second son of Bryn and Nic.  Age 13.  A redhead, possibly the cleverest of the family.  Quiet and affectionate.  Also a very good and dedicated soccer player.

Max - age 8 - youngest of Dom’s clan.  A charmer.  Spoilt rotten by everyone of course, but always included as one of the gang - for that is what they are.  Diagnosed with a form of epilepsy a couple of years ago but medication has it under control.  He plays basketball and footy.  As a complete failure at sport I am always astonished at their dedication to it.  David I suppose is where it comes from.  Baden was missing on this day in Northcote when we lined them up by height - on the left - and by age on the right. 

Dionne or Bryn, neither of whom are there, must have taken the one below.  Everyone pulling silly faces - at home below the Gatehouse.

Photos

One of the things I do to amuse myself in my old age is to take photos.  I try to go for longish walks four times a week and although I have more than one walking route I don’t have many and so after a while I got a bit bored.  I easily get bored - it’s a lifetime characteristic.  Anyway I started asking my family for suggestions for a topic to photograph each week.  Then a friend wanted to join in, and he brought in another friend.  In the end though I think it got a bit competitive, maybe even a chore for them, so it’s temporarily in abeyance.  Maybe next year.  Anyway, here are some of my better efforts of the year.

 

I can’t remember what they all were representing now.   Some were - bees. stripes, curves, green, wheels, spots, pets, yellow …  All taken with my iPhone, then edited a bit - mostly just cropped and straightened on my iMac.  It was fun and it makes you look at the world differently every week.

Life is tranquil and mostly uneventful, but also mostly peaceful and contented, in spite of the occasional spats - nothing new in that.  We are blessed in where we live. The move to Australia was the best decision we have ever made - well marriage and children  excepted.  Eltham is a perfect place to be - on the north, slightly east edge of Melbourne on the River Yarra and the edge of the Yarra Valley.  This view is from the top car park of our local shopping mall - out towards the Dandenongs and the ranges beyond.  It’s a prosperous and leafy area - too leafy in the hot summer months.  It may look rural but there are suburbs out to that second line of hills, perhaps not the far ones.

Our home is lovely, but the garden is getting a lot to manage - if you can call it a garden - more a chunk of bush bordering the river and so we are looking to downsize and move further into the centre of Eltham.  However I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.  We are picky.  We want a beautiful house - already existing, or built by Dom, close to the shops and on one level.  Almost impossible as Eltham is hilly.

I continue to attend Italian classes even though I doubt I shall ever see Italy again.  It’s good for the brain.  I also attend two book groups - this was the work I did for one of my groups this year.  I overdo it I know, but I enjoy the intellectual exercise, and sometimes I win them over to a slightly more difficult book - not this one I think.  Otherwise not much happens.  We visit friends and family - they visit us.  


Healthwise we are pretty good for over bloody eighty people.  I had a mild dose of COVID back in September, David has mild atrial fibrillation, which, so far only requires pills and occasional checkups with a cardiologist. 

Just before Christmas I tripped and fell in the garden and crushed my wrist.  But it was very successfully operated on, and now I am just in a long and awkward phase of recovery.  Three months the surgeon said - one almost down.  We creak a bit, and are slower in many ways, but generally there is a lot of joy and a lot of beauty.  Life has been good to us, and continues to be so - mostly due to David’s hard work in the IT industry I have to say.

80!  I can’t say I ever expected to get this far and now hope for enough years to see where my grandchildren’s futures might lie.  

I do so hope this finds you in a similarly peaceful and generally happy place.            HAPPY NEW YEAR

Life