Sunday Jan 1, 2012

Happy New Year! And what a wonderful start to 2012 I have had. I have been chosen to be on the Advisory Board of “Global Traveler”, a US travel magazine. I first subscribed to this magazine in 2004, & met the editor & staff at several cocktail parties they held in LA. In Sep I was invited to apply for this new board they were setting up & I subsequently made the short list for a phone interview in Nov. This morning I received an email to say that I had been elected to the Board. There are 20 on the board & I am the only international member. This certainly worked in my favour, as well as being an Aussie living in SD – but also I could not have accepted if I had not retired as Rector of All SS. The Board meets 4 times a year, & I have to attend at least 2. I shall certainly try to attend all of them, & will have to plan travel back to the US to fit in with the meetings. How good is that!

I am very excited about this, of course. This is a wonderful transition from being a busy parish priest to retirement – & something I could only dream about. It is a wonderful new stage in my adventurous life. It will be enjoyable & constructive for the next few years, & keep my mind active. This morning I went to Mass at St Paul’s, Port Adelaide, & gave thanks to God for this new venture. It is 44 years since I first attended St P’s, & I was very involved here as a layman until ordination. It was good to be back in this church which means so much to me, & I reflected on my wonderful life since those days πŸ™‚

Mon 9

This has been an exciting time as I get used to being on the board of Global Traveler. I am now waiting to be advised of the dates of the 4 meetings – then I can arrange my year around 4 trips to the US!

I flew back to Melbourne on Tues & had a week of practical things: washing, shopping, etc. Because I do not have a TV in my flat, I have been doing a lot of reading over the past 3 months. Last week I finished an 850 page book that I have been reading: “The German Genius”. This must surely be a record for my reading a book! The book traces the history of German culture, philosophy, art, music, etc from the 18th century, concluding with post-WW2. I learnt a lot to add to my little knowledge of these subjects (particularly philosophy). It was interesting to me from the view of my recent travels & the intriguing question of how such a cultured country could produce the Nazi dictatorship.

My w/e was busy & enjoyable. On Saty I had lunch with my old friends, Ros & Ian. Ros was secretary when I ran the church youth group & we have remained good friends over the past 46 years! Sun morning I was subdeacon at All SS – a good congregation for the celebration of the Epiphany. Except we didn’t carry around the 3 Kings, as we did at Fitzroy & SD πŸ™

After Mass I celebrated the Baptism of Vincent Ramone, son of Eleanor & Morgan, whom I married in 2001. A plesasant lunch followed. In the evening I had dinner with Lyn, owner of one of the units at Mandalay, where my condo is. Lyn rented mine 4 years ago & she liked it so much, she bought her own, which is a mirror image of mine. It was good to relax in the complex where I will eventually live, & get a taste of the atmosphere. It was very quiet, I am pleased to report!

Tues 17

I have just had a nice w/e in Gippsland. On Fri I caught the train to Bairnsdale, a pleasant 4 hour trip. Bairnsdale is a town of 12,000 on the edge of the Gippsland Lakes, famous for St Mary’s RC Church. This is an impressive red-brick church with a huge tower, with a stunning interior. In the 1930’s an unemployed Italian immigrant knocked on the PP’s door, looking for work. When the priest discovered that he had studied art in Venice, he put him to work painting the interior. It is a feast of art, like an Italian church. The chancel arch contains vivid scenes of heaven & hell, the nave is a succession of saints & the roof is full of angels – over 200 of them. I couldn’t wait to see it, & was not disappointed.

The town is on a pretty river, & I explored this on Saty morning. For lunch I caught up with an old St M’s parishioner who moved here 7 years ago. Mona was pleased to see me again & we had much to catch up on. She very generously offered me her car for the rest of my stay. In the a/noon I walked along yet another old rail trail. This is the 4th one in Vic that I have explored, + one in the Barossa Valley. It was an old goods line & includes a high steel bridge over the river at Nicholson.

Sunday I got in the car & drove to Lakes Entrance. This is a delightful fishing town on the lakes where they come from the ocean. I parked the car & walked over to 90 Mile Beach, then along the sand-dunes on the edge of the lake. At 1 pm I caught a cruise, which took us for miles along various lakes & inlets, past little hamlets & 2 private islands. It was an interesting tour, made delightful by a/noon tea which included home-made scones, strawberries & cream πŸ™‚

I caught the train back on Mon, enjoying chatting to various passengers. Thanks to Mona’s car, I had a very nice w/e. I have always wanted to visit Lakes Entrance, as we went there on our gr8 Aussie driving holiday when I was 10.

Sat 21

I have had a week of the usual chores + catching up with friends socially. Now I am off to Sydney for a week. Sydney was my usual January holiday destination from the time I started work. Came the 90’s, once I could afford to travel overseas, I only visited for meetings/Services. After celebrating the 9 am Mass at All SS I caught the 11 am tram to the city, then the airport bus. My flight arrived at 3.30 pm, & I was in my hotel by 4.30 pm. It was a sunny a/noon & I went for a walk to reacquaint myself, feeling that it was nice to be back in Sydney.

Sydney has a festival all thru Jan, with lots of concerts. By chance tonight the Sydney Symphony was performing in the Domain. So I joined hundreds of Sydneysiders sitting on the lawns, listening to Mozart, etc. The MC opened by telling us – several times – that Sydney is the greatest city in the world, the most beautiful city, etc. She was followed by the Mayor & Premier, who both said the same thing. Those of us who live in Melbourne can just smile, knowing that they have probably never been outside Sydney, except for meetings! I used to think Sydneysiders were arrogant in their need to put everyone else down – but now realise they are so insecure that they have to keep telling themselves they are so wonderful, perhaps hoping that we will think so too πŸ™‚

Sun 22

I went to 10 am Mass at St James’, King St – one of the 2 anglocatholic churches in Sydney. I was expecting a nice High Mass, but instead it was an orchestral Mass – a feature at St James’ in Jan. The church was packed & the music was excellent. The Mass was composed by a young English composer, Jonathan Dove, based on various Bach tunes – most interesting. We also had a Vivaldi Creed & the motet, Ubi Caritas Et Amor, composed by the young Welshman, Paul Mealor, for the royal wedding last April. This was my 1st Sunday Mass at St J’s (previously I have always gone to the other city church, but it has gone downhill over the past 10 years). The Mass reminded me very much of All SS, SD. As well as the excellent choir, what impressed me were the wonderful hymns (incl 3 of my favourites, sung to beautiful tunes), the enthusiastic singing by the congregation & the reverent ceremonial. After Mass I caught up with the Associate Rector & one of the choir, whom I knew from my days in Melb.

I spent the evening gazing at Sydney Harbor, the Bridge & Opera House from the lounge on the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel πŸ™‚

Saty 28

I have had a nice week in Sydney. Monday I walked over the Harbour Bridge & then along the shore to look at Kirribilli House – the Sydney home of the PM. I discovered that in the middle of the bridge is a seat, so you can look at the view. Tues I went to Paddington to stay with an old friend. I have known Douglas since the 70’s – thru the Society of Mary. 30 years ago he bought an old Victorian terrace-house overlooking the SCG & has restotred it into a lovely home. I haven’t seen him for 15 years, so we had lots to talk about. In the evening I had dinner with another old friend, Fr Barry Brown. Fr Barry & I were good friends when I was in Fitzroy & he in Burnley. A good prietsly colleague. 15 years ago he moved to Canada & now has returned to Australia, having bought a flat in Sydney. He is approaching retirement & like me, hopes to spend half his time here & half in Canada. We also had lots to catch up on.

Wed it rained all day. So much for Sydney’s weather being better than Melbourne! Undeterred I went for a lovely walk in Centennial Park & then into the city. In the a/noon I met up with the Bishop of South Sydney. Altho we are of different traditions – he being a Sydney evangelical – we have been friends since he came to Adelaide from Sydney in 1979. In fact, he reminded me that I introduced him to Aussie Rules football, taking him to a Port Adel game that converted him. I had less success converting him to the catholic faith!

Thurs was Australia Day. I was looking forward to spending Australia Day in Sydney, it’s real home, & there were many activities in the city. I walked into St Mary’s Basilica for a special Mass at 12 noon, complete with 4 Aussie hymns. The cathedral was having an all-day festival – incl organ & opera recitals & a display of vestments. After Mass the sun came out & I walked down to the Opera House to see the activity on the harbour, then thru the Rocks, where there was a music festival, then I walked along the harbour to Darling Harbour, & finishing at Hyde Park, where I got a free BBQ sausage. That was the most Aussie thing I experienced! I am not enthusiastic for all the flag waving/wearing & find the emphasis on boozing distasteful. After 8 years away, I am wondering what Australia Day really means.

Friday I said farewell to Douglas & walked to the Kings Cross Holiday Inn. I then walked to St Mary’s to see the vestment exhibition – it being quieter than yesterday. For my final night in Sydney I was content to have dinner in my room & look at the marvellous view of the Bridge & Opera House. Went to sleep watching the excellent tennis from Melbourne. In the morning I walked 5 mins to the station & caught the train to the airport. My flight leaves at 2 pm & will be back in Melb at 3.30 pm. Now I have 10 days to organise myself for my trip back to SD & onto Germany πŸ™‚

Thurs Feb 2 Candlemass

Today is the 32nd anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. That hot day in Adelaide seems so long ago! Many memories flood in – esp all the friends who have supported me over the years. At 6.15 am I walked to All SS for the 7 am Mass, which Fr James kindly allowed me to celebrate. The usual congregation of 4 were joined by 2 others: Fr Ian Hunter, & an old friend from St M’s. I told her that she was representing all my friends πŸ™‚

Tonight I am going to the opening night of “Yes, Prime Minister” with my old friend, David. This seems very appropriate for 2 reasons: It was when I was in London in 1975 that I really felt the call to the priesthood, & David was at my ordination 32 years ago as well as my 20th celebration at St M’s.

Mon 6

I’ve had a busy w/e. On Fri I sorted out all my documents/files for my overseas travels. Saty morning I went to the Gallery to see a 1927 silent film called, Symphony of Berlin. It was a fascinating film of a day in the life of Berlin, beginning with a train coming in thru the outer suburbs to Anhalter Station, then showing people going about their lives, until late at night. After the film I went to Herring Island. This is a man-made island in the Yarra, formerly used by the scouts & now open to all. Amongst the natural walks there are outdoor sculptures & a gallery. To get there you catch a punt across the river for $2!

On Sunday I was Deacon at High Mass. I notice the congregation is gradually growing. Fr James kindly made mention of me in the notices & thanked me for being part of All SS these past 5 months. The new Music Director began today, John Rivers, formerly of Wangaratta cathedral. As well as being one of Australia’s leading organists, he has an excellent record of running boys choirs. I immediately noticed an improvement in the music. At 5 pm I returned for Evensong & Benediction. A different choir sings for this: men, women & girls – & they were excellent. I have always loved Evensong & this was a real treat.

Now I have 2 busy days ahead. At 9 am on Wednesday I head for the airport, flying to SF & onto to SD. ETA is 2.30 pm the same day πŸ™‚

Wed 8

Excellent flight – slept for 6 hours & saw 3 movies. We arrived early, so I was able to get an earlier connection to SD. Beautiful day when we landed….& it made me realise how much I miss SD. Collected hire car & drove to the church to collect my mail, then to the SD Chinese Communuity Center to get keys to the house where I am staying, courtesy of the Tsui family. After unpacking & showering I caught up with some friends – which made me realise even more that I really do miss SD!

Thurs 9

Busy morning. Went to my old address to have coffee with the president of the HOA (Body Corp in OZ speak). Afterwards went shopping, then to the bank & to the church to meet with the new bookeeper. In the a/noon I had an appointment with my tax agent, to file my 2011 US return. It was a little complicated, but all my preps were in order. Dinner tonight with young couple. Early to bed (despite jetlag) as I have a 3 am alarm, so I can return car at 4 am, then check-in for my 6.15 am flight to Trinidad. Have always wanted to visit (it’s on “my list”) & will catch beginning of Carnival. I fly back to SD on Wesdnesday.

Sun 12

It has been a good w/e. As with places I visit for the 1st time, I have learnt a lot about the culture, etc. I arrived Fri at 9 pm, & was at my hotel by 10 pm. The hotel is on a hill overlooking the town, with the floors going down from the lobby, instead of up. A strange experience, as I kept pressing “up” to get to the 10th floor, to no avail! I slept well, despite the loud music from the nearby Carnival grounds. Saty after breakfast I went for a 3 hour walk around the town. I visited both cathedrals, & each looks like it needs urgent work! This seems to be the case everywhere……even the famous 7 colonial buildings are in a bad state, with small attempts at restoration/repair. The fact is, PoS is an unattractive port town – but the friendliness of the people & the atmosphere of Carnival makes up for that.

During my walk I came across an exhibition in the Library about the development of the steelpan. This is the sort of thing that really interests me, & happens all the time in my travels. I am now an expert on steel bands! On the way back to the hotel I called into the Carnival grounds to se the children’s masquerade competition. Amazing costumes & enthusiastic parents! At 4 pm I set off for 5 pm Vigil Mass at Holy Trinity cathedral. It was good to find a Saty night Mass in an Anglican church, but it was disappointing. 15 parishioners, & no-one to welcome me. No prayer books or hymnals were available, yet we were supposed to sing 5 hymns! Fortunately I knew them all – which surprised the nice lady in front of me. 15 of us, & I was the only visitor – but the trendy priest (who was wearing a black cap!) kept on referring to the visitors. When he spoke to me during the Greeting of Peace, did not enquire who I was or where I was from. And don’t mention the Peace! When it came time, we were instructed to come into the aisle, hold hands & sing some song known to everyone except me! Naturally I stayed in my pew! I recovered back at the hotel by enjoying free cocktails & nibbles in the lounge πŸ™‚

The main reason I attended the Saty night Mass was because Sunday Mass was at 7 am & 8 am. Who knows what time zone I am on, but I woke at 8 am, had a leisurely breakfast & then went for a walk. I discovered the embassy section of town, but rain started to fall. A break in the rain gave me a chance to visit the Botannical Gardens before returning to the hotel. It continued to rain until 3 pm, & then I walked into the town again. At 4 pm I attended a concert of calypso music performed by some of the gr8 Trinidad calypso artists. I didn’t understsnd all the lyrics, but enjoyed the music, tapping my feet & hands like everyone else. It is very engaging. I then went to the Carnival site, where the school steel bands were in competition. Gosh, this was serious business, & the sounds were wonderful. The bands ride on trailers containing anything from 6-12 players. The trailers were pushed together, so that some bands contain over 100 players. It was wonderful watching them practice as they moved up the line into the arena. It was a fitting conclusion to a wonderfuil day of Trinidad music – & I will listen to the bands from my hotel room as I settle in for the night.

Thurs 16

I had a relaxing time in Trinidad. For the rest of my time I explored the town each day – incl walking to the nearest beach & visiting the museum – & concluding each day watching the sunset from the Club Lounge. Today I am in SD for a busy 24 hours, which incl submitting my signed tax return, shopping, visiting All SS office, the bank & my former Dr. I also visited an Apple store to get my ipad looked at. They gave me a new adaptor, free-of-charge. Last night I had a lovely dinner with my hosts, Sally & Dennis, & their family. Tomorrow I fly to Boston – the next part of my travels. My flight leaves at 7.30 am….another 4.30 am rise.

Sun 19

I have had a relaxing w/e here in Boston. The weather has been quite good – sunny, with a chill in the air….perfect prep for Europe! Saturday I walked around the town, as far as Fenway Park (home of the redsox). I have visited Boston 5 times before & it is a lot like Melbourne. Sat night I attended a concert by the famous Boston Symphony. They perform 10 months of the year & the Symphony Hall reminded me of Melbourne Town Hall, even to the side gallerties where I like to sit, & did on this occasion. The program was Ravel, Stravinsky & Shostakovich – his wonderful & famous 5th.

Sunday I attended High Mass at the well-known anglocatholic Church of The Advent. The church itself is large & beautiful. It has nice windows, a hanging Rood, 7 sanctuary lamps, a sacrament pillar instead of a tabernacle & a beautiful Lady Chapel with carved wooden figures. The liturgy was not as good as All SS, SD – but we did get the Angelus at the end (albeit it said in the baptistry at the back). The organist was almost as good as Robert McLeod at All SS & the choir of 22 were excellent. The only negatives were the celebrant’s booming voice & the sermon from the assistant, which was more like a bible study. We got the giveaway line, “I think….”.!

Afterwards I joined in a 15 min tour of the church by the Verger. This was very interesting & the verger obviously loves his church. When asked, I told the verger who I was, & he deferred to me when he wasn’t quite sure of some of the symbolism, etc. I then attended coffee hour, which had nice food, sherry & wine…….but no-one spoke to me! I could have introduced myself – but when I visit other churches I like to observe how welcoming the congregation really is. This has always been a big part of my ministry & the key to growth, & I am amazed how lax clergy are on this. I wonder what they would think if they had known that the famous Fr Tony Noble was present at their church πŸ™‚

On Friday I fly to Germany. I will have 5 days travelling before commencing as the Anglican Chaplain at Heidelberg, Germany on March 1st. Details of the parish & pics of the church are on their website:

Sat 25

I arrived safely in Frankfurt at 6.45 am. From the East Coast it is only a 7 hour flight, so hard to get much sleep. I got 3 hours. Stopped in at the airport chapel to say the Morning Office, then caught the train to the Intercontinental Hotel. The guest relations staff know me from previous visits (& our shared humour) & my room was ready for me. After a wonderful shower I walked thru the city & visited my favourite churches. Walking in the fresh air is the best remedy for jet-lag – but boy, was I tired! It was a beautiful sunny morning & not cold, & this has continued all day. Tonight I will go to Vigil Mass at Liebfrauenkirche, & then relax in the Club Lounge. Being Sat night, I can break my fasting from alchohol & chocolate πŸ™‚

Mon 27

On Sun a/noon I flew to Budapest, arriving at 2.15 pm. It was a sunny a/noon, but cold. I caught the bus & metro into the city centre, observing that the communist era apartments, factories & fences hadn’t changed since I was last here in 1992! The Intercontinental was a short walk from the metro station, in Pest on the banks of the Danube. I was given a wonderful room with an excellent view over the river to the old town of Buda. After settling into my room I walked along the river bank to the impressive Parliament building, then back thru the streets & squares. In a nearby square I found a life-size bronze statue of Ronald Reagan, striding purposefully in the direction of the Soviet War memorial. I was pleased to come across this, not only because of my American home, but also because I recently read the story about his Berlin Wall speech. He certainly played his part in the end of the communist empire. No doubt that is the significance of this statue. The chilly weather saw me retreat to the Club Lounge, where I could enjoy wine & chocolates, seeing as Sundays are not part of the Lenten fast! I got the attentive & enthusiastic staff to teach me how to say “thank you” in Hungarian – a most difficult language.

Monday morning after breakfast I set out to wander around Pest & find churches. Several were not open, unfortunately – but the Franciscan church was very busy, with Mass on the hour to crowded congregations. The streets did not seem very busy – perhaps because it is Monday? I finished at the stunning St Stephen’s basilica. This is a magnificent & well-kept church. However you had to pay to enter. As I passed my “donation” to the verger I said “Pay to pray!!”

In the a/noon I walked over the Danube to Buda. This area has been rebuilt/restored since the war & contains the former royal palace & the magnificent Matthias church, where the Hapsburg Emporer Charles V was crowned. This time I did not pay the admission fee, but said I was a priest & flashed my business card. I got in, but the church is a construction site as they restore it. Noise, dust & workers, however, could not detract from this glorious house of God. The sanctuary, pulpit, windows & wall decorations were glorious. The gallery where the Emporer & his family stood for Mass contained notable artifacts, incl a crown, orb & sceptre. From the royal coronation perhaps? I reflected that this is the 2nd time I have stood in the special area reserved for an emporer to participate in the liturgy…….the other was Hagia Sophia.

I spent the rest of the a/noon wandering around the streets of the old town, observing the houses & other buildings. One was originally a 17th cent inn called the Red Fox. By chance when I came to the President’s Palace it was time for the changing of the guard. These are much the same all over the world, but will never match the Horse Guards on Whitehall. I reflected on my interest/fascination in Eastern European countries. This comes from going to school with children whose families had emigrated to Australia in the 1950’s, & being aware of these groups who had different languages & culture. It also comes from learning German in High School when the Berlin Wall went up.

I returned to the hotel with my chin almost numb from the cold! Again I had supper in the Club Lounge (but no wine or chocolates) enjoying the view across the river with the bridges & buildings all lit up.

Tues 28

It was snowing when I woke up! From my window it looked lovely. It was my intention after breakfast to walk to Varosliget, the city park in which there is a Transylvanian castle erected in 1896 for the millenium celebrations. The snow did not deter me & it was quite pretty walking past snow-covered trees, hedges & statues. I was the only person with an umbrella – the locals are used to it! The snow made the castle complex even more romantic. I remember coming here in 1991, before I went to Transylvania. It was a 45 min walk, & I was glad to retreat back to the hotel for some warmth afterwards. In the a/noon I fly to Dresden, where I will spend 2 nights, then returning to Frankfurt.

Wed 29

I arrived in Dresden at 10.30 pm. The Holiday Inn Express was a short walk from the Bahnhof & was quite nice – but checking in was a comedy of errors. In the 1st room the curtains didn’t shut properly. Shifted to the room next door, but the safe was locked. 3rd room was okay. I slept well & woke to an overcast day. No rain, but wet underfoot. Dresden is the capital of Saxony, so is a destination for those who call themselves anglosaxon, like me. The city centre was destroyed by the British on Feb 13, 1945 & many of the old buildings have been rebuilt. I was last here in 2004 & it has been transformed from its drab communist appearance, tho there are still some examples yet to be fixed.

After breakfast I set out for the Frauenkirche, which was only rebuilt in 2005. It now dominates the skyline, as in former years, but not very attractive inside . From there I walked to the famous BrΓΌhlsche Tce, which runs along the banks of the Elbe & was made famous by Canaletto. Then I visited the Hofkirche (royal church). In this part of Lutheran Germany the Hofkirche remained catholic because of the Saxon Kings & is the cathedral. It is stunning inside, with lots of space. The High Altar has a huge silver crucifix & 6 candles + another 6. You don’t even notice the modern free-standing altar (fortunately!). By chance, I was there for the weekly organ recital, which was wonderful & filled the cathedral with sound. I must return to hear the choir one Sunday.

I then walked around the Residenzschloss (palace) & the famous Zwinger – a set of baroque buildings, formerly a place for the royals to be entertained. With my usual adventure, I found the entrance to the roof & was able to wander around, taking the whole complex in & gazing down on all the visitors! I then walked over the river to Neustadt. At 6 pm I attended Mass in the Hofkirche. This was very nice. Germans sing the Mass during the week & we began with the Lenten Prose (in Deutsch) which I sang with gusto, followed by the Missa de Angelus Kyrie, then some German hymns & settings I did not know. Dinner in a typical Saxon restaurant followed (translated = The Dresden Chicken House!).