May 1

May Day – a public holiday. All was quiet on the streets. My destination today was Bourbon Madrid – the area that the Bourbon royalty rebuilt in the 18th cent.

At its heart is the Prado – closed today, like almost everything. I enjoyed walking around, looking at the interesting buildings & architecture. It was nice to be asked to take people´s pics – a fun way to meet people from all over the world. Today it was an older couple from Iowa, who have an Aussie friend, & 2 girls from Rome.  A single guy with a guide-book in hand is obviously the person to ask to take a pic – & I enjoy it. The Atocha railway station was impressive – a 19th cent glass & iron structure, now featuring plants & tortoises in the glasshouse conditions. As I walked along narrow streets, I came across many plazas with bars & restaurants serving locals in the sunshine. I can understand why Hemmingway lived here! I finished up at the famous Plaza Mayor, which was full & entertaining.

At 7.30 pm I went to Vespers & Mass at another royal convent with cloistered nuns. The Monastery of the Incarnation was founded in 1611, & the chapel is beautiful.

The sisters have their chapel on the side of the sanctuary, separated by a grill, & they sang the office & joined in  Mass from there. This was the 2nd Mass of the day – 12 received HC, & some were young. After that I found a little family-owned restaurant & had the menu of the day – 12 Euros, incl a bottle of wine! 

May 2

Today was another public holiday – that meant the famous Prado museum was free! Before heading there I visited St Jeronimo Real – the church of the Spanish royalty. And very splendid it is, too.

There was a wedding about to happen & the flowers looked lovely  – wish I had brought my camera for the flower guild. Outside the church (I presumed) was the mother of the groom, looking beautiful in traditional Spanish black hat & veil, & a bright red dress. The Prado was a feast of art! It was wonderful to gaze on the works of El Greco that I have admired in books. And to be admiring Goya´s painting of the May 2 Revolt of Madrid on the day it happened was an experience. It was an enjoyable a/noon, & will fix my need of art for the rest of the year!

At 7 pm I returned to St Jeronimo church for Mass. Another uplifting celebration – so different to the casual Masses I encounter in the US. After Mass I wandered around without a city map. Usually this is a mistake, but in Madrid there are Metro stations everywhere. I found a Tapas bar & had supper, then back to the hotel.

May 3 – Easter 4

My intention was to attend St George´s, Anglican Church. However, when I arrived I discovered it was Morning Prayer! I went to the nearby RC church, where there was a Family Mass, complete with guitars. But we did have the Asperges at the start. Then I wandered around some of the interesting areas of Madrid, observing interesting buildings & more churches.  Returning to my hotel, I had to phone the US about my credit card. There had been a fraud attempt, so a few complications to be solved….the periIs of travelling! Having dealt with that I headed out to spend the a/noon in the sun at an outdoor taverna, enjoying a glass of wine – & being serenaded by the ugliest busker I have ever seen :-)

Mon 4

After 5 nice days in Madrid, at 12.45 pm I flew to Frankfurt. From there I caught the train to Koln – a pleasant 1 hour trip, with lovely German countryside to look at. Koln is as cold as it has been on my previous 2 visits. After settling in to the hotel, I went to the famous Dom – just in time for Benediction, followed by Mass. 50 people in attendance – not bad for a Monday night. Unfortunately my Koln friends are in the UK, so tonight I’ll be content to have a drink in a local bar. Tomorrow I have 3 hours to re-acquaint myself with the town, then catch the train to Frankfurt for my 5.30 pm flight back home.

Wed 6

Flights yesterday were good – except I left my shaver in Koln! It is always good to return to SD, seeing the beautiful harbor at night. In my home at 11.30 pm, but hard to get to sleep. In the office early, to catch up on things. Good to be back :-)

Fri 8

Yesterday was another busy day, including visiting – concluding with 6 pm Mass & then a meeting. Early to bed. Am still on European time, so woke up at 3 am – listened to footy from Melbourne on the internet! Busy morning, with Mass & bible study. A/noon is for my sermon. Personnel Review C/tee at 5 pm, followed by a birthday dinner at local Chinese restaurant.

Sat 9

Woke up early….listened to Port Adel get defeated by 5 points! Societies of Mary today: 11 am Rosary, 11.30 am Mass, then lunch. Always a happy gathering. Visiting in the a/noon, then driving Clare to the airport – she is off to Assisi. Nice to drive someone going overseas instead of being driven there :-)

Sun 10 – Easter 5

Mothers Day. Hard to fit into the Church Kalendar, but I managed! We gave all the mothers flowers at the end of Mass. A few people away (mothers day trips?), a few sons with their mums, & quite a few visitors.

Tues 12

A very busy day, so I was in the office at 8.15 am. After 12 noon Mass I met with the organist – we have a special music event on June 7th to plan. He played a magnificent hymn tune he has composed. We will use this for All Saints’ Day. Then I did 3 visits. I gave HC to 10 people! 7pm was Vestry.

Wed 13

Today there are labourers are on the roof making lots of noise! This is a long overdue job to fix the winter leaks. I have a lot of corespondence & phone calls – will do most of it at home this a/noon. Tonight I have 4 parishioners coming for dinner. One is vegetarian, so I’m attempting something special for her. Everyone else gets the Rector’s beef casserole :-)

Thurs 14

A beautiful sunny day today. Watched the Pope officiate at Vespers in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth….brought back memories of my visit there in 1975. SSC chapter meeting today at St Michael’s, Carlsbad. 6 pm Mass will finish the day.

Fri 15

After Mass I went to see my Dr. My right knee has been painful since Tuesday & yesterday I noticed it was quite swollen. He gave me a cortizone injection (ouch!). Then it was home to do my sermon. I am going to preach about one of the hymns: “Lord Enthroned in Heavenly Splendour” – one of my favourites. At 5 pm I had dinner with parishioners who live nearby, then I made a parish visit. At 9 pm I watched the football from Australia with an ice-pack on my knee!

Sat 16

10 at Mass this morning. I did a HC visit at 11 am & then packed for my trip to Australia next week. This is my only trip to Australia this year, & it will be a full schedule. I fly out on Sunday night & will be away 9 days. At 5.30 pm I was taken out for dinner by Terry & other parishioners to celebrate my birthday. That is May 18 – Monday……but I actually miss it because I fly over the International Dateline. This is the 2nd time I have done this – so I will actually still be 60 on Tuesday :-)

Sun 17 – Easter 6

Attendances down at both Masses – 40 & 95. They must have thought I was on vacation today! At the end of each Mass I deposited $1 for my 62 years, saying that I was now at the age where you say, “keep the change”! My sermon about the hymn, “Lord Enthroned”, had them looking at the words – & it was sung with gr8 gusto at the end….as I exhorted them to! After 10 am we had a meeting of sidesmen. At 12.30 pm it was the acolytes’ annual BBQ at George & Kathryn Dreyer’s. Then home. I will be taken to the airport at 3pm for my 4.30 pm flight to SF, then Melbourne :-)

Tues 19

My flight was delayed in SF 3 hrs, arriving in Melb at 11.30 am. It is both strange & charming to hear all the Aussie accents. Picked up hire car & drove to see Val & Jim Fraser. At 3 pm I met Ian Johnson at his city condo, where I have stayed previously. He gave me the keys & showed me that his wife, Dale, had stocked the fridge, etc! I went for a walk – Melb looks beautiful, with autumn leaves falling & the city looking gr8. In the evening I drove to St Kilda to have dinner with my oldest friend, David. In bed at 9.30 pm, awake at 3 am (= 10 am in SD), then rolled over & slept to 7.30 am. Bliss :-)

Wed 20

Went to 10.30 am Mass at All SS, E St Kilda, where I am preaching on Sunday. Fr Ramsay pleased to see me. He has recently restored the church – it looks magnificent. Returned the hire car, then met up with 2 priests. Spent an hour in Fitzroy & visited St Mark’s, giving thanks for my years there. In the evening went to dinner nearby with Val & Jim.

Thurs 21

Caught the train to Bendigo – a pleasant 2 hr journey past lovely countryside & typical Aussie towns. Bishop Andrew Curnow was waiting for me at the station – his greeting was: “I can’t believe this”! Went back to his home for lunch – good to see him & Jan after 6 years. Then at 2 pm we went to the drop-in center, via the areas devastated  by the bushfires. Hard to believe what I saw. At the center I was treated like a visiting Archbishop! The chaplain, Tracey, had organised an official welcome & thanks, with many people present & a wonderful country a/noon tea. She also had the local TV & newspaper there, & we did photo shoots, etc. Many people – only knowing that I was the priest from an American parish which had given generously – were surprised I did not have an American accent! There was a real sense of thankfulness for what All SS had given & many expressed appreciation that a parish in San Diego cared about Bendigo. It was a humbling experience for me. At 3.30 pm it was a quick visit to the diocesan office where more thanks were expressed – then Bishop Andrew took me to the railway station for the 4.30 pm train back to Melb. It was a wonderful a/noon. At the station in Melb John Thorne was waiting for me. John was at All SS on Palm  Sunday & he took me for dinner at one of Melbournes’ many fine restaurants. I am doing a lot of dining!

Fri 22

One of the nice things about my visit is having a leisurely breakfast (vegemite!) & reading the paper. At 10 am I collected a hire car & drove thru the northern suburbs to visit various old friends, including a Good Shepherd nun, Sr Angela. At 7 pm I was off to the football with an old friend, ian, who once boarded in St Mark’s vicarage. It was so good to see a game live – a gr8 game with all the wonderful skills of Aussie football to the fore & a close finish.

Sat 23

Caught up with various friends during the day, including Morgan & Eleanor, whom I married in 2001 & whose daughter I am baptising tomorrow. In the evening went to the footy at the MCG – a special match to celebrate indigenous contribution to football. 73,000 there.

Sun 24 

Today I preached at All SS, E St Kilda, then celebrated the baptism of Lois Carol. After that to Williamstown for a special lunch for Ian’s 70th birthday. 80 of us in a waterfront restaurant. Good to catch up with old friends & meet new people, incl some who have been to SD.  

Mon 25

Flew to Adelaide. Always interesting to return to the place where I grew up – lots of memories. I left here in 1974 to go to London, returned for seminary & ordination, & in 1985 moved to Melb, which is more my home. Nothing seems to have changed here…..Adel could best be described as “quaint”. Spent a/noon visiting friends & had dinner at the Port Adel Football Club with uncle, aunt & cousin.

Tues 26

8 am Mass, then coffee with friends. Visited my cousin, Noelene, on way to airport. Flew back to Melb, arriving at 3.30 pm. Had drinks with friends, then a quiet night. I fly back home tomorrow. 

Thurs 28

Flights back home were good. Am a little tired, but back into the swing of things today :-)

Fri 29

Good to back at the altar. 9.30 Mass followed by Bible Study……they wanted to hear about my trip! Sermon to do this a/noon, then Personnel C/tee meeting at 4 pm.

Sat 30

It is raining – unusual! A hive of activity at church this morning. Friends from Adelaide are in town – hope to see them at Mass tomorrow.  

Sun 31 – Pentecost

Today is the Rock & Roll Marathon – the biggest “run” in San Diego. It begins the summer season of runs which impact on accessing the church. Attendances will be down today, esp at 8 am. This a/noon I fly to Bakersfield to visit Rick & Linda Ochocki. Rick was very involved in the parish, & one of my 1st friends here. A gr8 stewardship preacher, he is still a member of the parish & chair of our centenary c/tee. He moved to Bakersfield after he & Linda were married in Dec.