Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Decade

My dear Mother always hated the television programs that at this time of the year go over all the events of the year. She was only interested in the latest news, what had passed had passed in her opinion. So she would not like this post of mine. I guess I am posting it mainly as a record for myself.

We watched the new century arrive at Mum's apartment from where we could see some of the fireworks on the harbour.  Mum had only moved into this apartment a month earlier which was next to my sister who was to spend the next few years caring for her.  The next morning I dropped in at the school where I worked to make sure the library computers had not been hit by the millennium bug. I had worked all year to transfer the catalogue from an aged program to a more up to date one and there were no glitches on January 1.

The city was eagerly awaiting the opening of the Sydney Olympics but I took advantage of the 3 weeks holidays in September to return to Europe. I did see the Olympic torch pass through my little mountain village but flew to Vienna a few days later.  I had not been to Europe since 1980 although I had visited the States and Canada  for Conferences in 1997 and 1999.
From Vienna I took a day boat trip to Bratislava then by train to Budapest (where I watched the opening of the Olympics on TV). I went on to Cracow including Auschwitz, Berlin, Dresden, Prague - all places off limits when I had wandered through Europe in the 70's. Finally to Munich for Oktoberfest and to Innsbruck from where I flew home. As we drove home from the airport, my sister was far more interested in telling me how great the Olympics had been rather than hear about my travels.

A conference saw me in Auckland, NZ, again returning after nearly 30 years when I spent three month-long camping holidays there in 67, 70 and 73.
I caught the train down to Wellington before flying home.
Of course like everyone I was transfixed and devastated by 9/11 but then another conference saw me driving to Queensland and the Sunshine Coast where I had owned land and spent many holidays in the late 60's and early 70's. Again it was a return after 25 years.

Began with bushfire passing through my garden on January 4, a frightening experience but thankfully no lasting damage.
Easter saw me taking leave to fly with a friend back to Europe, spending 2 days in Singapore then 13 days in Paris before visiting the Somme and my uncle's grave and then Ypres, Antwerp and Brussels. Alone I flew to Istanbul and went by bus to Cannakale and attended the Anzac Day Service at Gallipoli.
In October I resigned from full time work but was to have plenty of casual and temporary work for the next few years.

Again teaching in the State system after an absence of 28 years mainly working in Catholic schools.
I injured my back while gardening in late January which led to my first operation and stay in hospital in June. However it was successful and I was able to drive to Tasmania (okay involved taking the car on the overnight ferry from Melbourne to Devonport) for a conference in Hobart but I also visited the West Coast.

Work varied from very little in term 1 to full time in terms 2 and 3 until I took time off and flew back to New Zealand. However, hiring a large van was not a good idea and my dislike of driving plus Mum's increasing illness meant I only stayed 2 of the 4 planned weeks in the Northern parts of the North Island.

After working most of term 1, I decided to access my superannuation so then needed far less work for the rest of the year. A lot of time I was assisting my sister to care for Mum but I also joined the U3A walking group so widening my friends here in the Mountains.

The first half of the year was taken up with Mum although new interests in life began with seeing the film 'Brokeback Mountain' which led to new friends in Australia but even far more overseas. Somewhat linked, I fled the local evangelical church and began to worship in the inclusive St James, King Street despite the long journey each Sunday.
Mum's passing at the beginning of June was the most important moment of this year.
This blog was started in a fairly tentative fashion.

I flew to Christchurch in November and spent 2 weeks in train and bus over to the West Coast, up to Nelson and Picton, day ferry to Wellington and train back the East Coast. Then the next 2 weeks I drove to Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford and Dunedin. While most meant I was returning to places I had visited in the the 60's and 70's, it was my first visit to the city of Dunedin where I now plan to be living within a month.

I fulfilled a dream of taking my sister round the world to show my appreciation for those many years in which her life was constrained by caring for Mum.   Los Angeles, New Orleans (she is a jazz lover), Charleston, Washington, Philadelphia and New York before spending 11 days in Paris and surrounds (similar to my visit of 2002) and then our Uncle's grave on the Somme, Ypres, Brugges and a night in Bangkok.

Later in the year I was on the train back to Queensland and the outback towns of Longreach, Winton and Charleville as well as the more coastal cities of Rockhampton, Maryborough, Toowoomba and Brisbane.

I did not work at all this year but spent 2 months travelling in Europe. This has all been covered by my blog posts as I visited Munich and other Bavarian towns, Berlin and Leipzig in Germany, Vienna, Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria, North-east Switzerland, the Baltic countries, Sweden and Finland.
In November I took my sister to Dunedin to show her where I intend to live and we also visited Doubtful Sound, Lake Te Anau and Oamaru.

Some days working back in schools and no travel as I, like most people, was buffetted by the Financial Crisis and I also prepared my home for sale. Now after almost 3 decades (28 years next Monday) in my mountain home, I prepare to move not just to a new home but a new country.

Happy New Year and hopefully a happy decade to all my cyber friends.


Fran said...

Happy New Year! Thanks for this post - I always enjoy reading what you write and learning more about you. Perhaps I shall be similarly inspired.

In any event - all good things for you Brian.

Leonard said...

Thank you, Brian. I really liked your full report and I wish you great happiness in your new home and new a person who has lived abroad several times (from the U.S.) and currently is enjoying retirement in Latin America, I can report it´s WONDERFUL! Almost everynight I take great delight in knowing that I have FREEDOM in my life!

Again, best wishes for you in all that you do in 2010 (you´re probably almost there already and I´m still in my P.J.´s in the morning of December 31)!