Fri Aug 5

What a busy week I have had! After a nice relaxing weekend in E Melb I caught the tram to St K at 8.30 am on Mon. The bed arrived at 11 am, & I had fun unpacking, assembling & making it! Lots of things to sort out now the flat looked lived in. It is actually spacious enough & I am quite happy to have it as a temporary base for 12 months. No room for a desk, so work will not be easy. Thank you, Vestry for the ipad! At 5pm the locksmith came to change the locks for me. After that I took myself out to dinner nearby to celebrate my new home πŸ™‚

On Tues I had a lot of practical things to do. In the a/noon l walked to All SS church, E St K – a traditional Anglocatholic parish where I have preached & worshipped on past visits. It is 25 mins walk away. A new vicar is to be inducted on Sunday night, Fr James Bishop. I have known him over 35 years, & it was good to catch him at home, albeit in the throes of moving in.

Sun Aug 7

In the morning I attended Mass at All SS, Kooyong, where a friend & fellow SSC priest is Vicar. At 5 pm I attended the Induction of Fr James at E St K…..2 All SS churches in one day! The Induction was excellent – E/song & Benediction, with a full church. All SS holds over 500! In his speech after Fr James refered to my visit on Tues πŸ™‚

Thurs Aug 31

I have just had 2 wonderful weeks in Germany & 1 week in Poland. Arrived in Berlin Thurs 11th. I came for the 50th anniversary of the Wall on Aug 13th. I have always had a gr8 interest in the Wall because it went up when I was learning German at Pulteney Grammar. I attended the official ceremony at Bernauer Str on Saty morning, & was actually filmed in the crowd (front row of course) by the BBC, & was on the BBC Word News that night. My clever cousin, Noelene, found the link on their website!

The rest of my time in Berlin I visited places associated with the Wall, incl parts of old E Berlin that still need reconstructing. On Wed 17th I caught the train to Warsaw. This is my 1st trip to Poland. Warsaw was easy to walk around & I found myself walking over a marker for the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto…..2 Walls in one trip! Some lovely baroque churches here. The city was completely rebuilt after the war, so there is not much that is really old. Went to some free museums on Sat & Sun, as well as the Royal Castle. The most interesting was the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. I found myself looking at pics taken exactly 67 years ago!

Mon 22 I caught a communist-era train to Gdansk. I have always been interested in this city because of its Teutonic history, as the Free City of Danzig after WW1 & a the birthplace of Solidarity, the trade union that ushered in the end of communism. It is a beautiful city & I stayed in a new Hilton right on the river. My room had a gable roof, which reminded me of the house I grew up in Sema4, SA. The city has some beautiful churches. On Wed I went to Malbork, which has a huge Teutonic Knight’s fortress, with magnificent church, castle & Grand Master’s Palace.

On Thurs I caught the train back to Warsaw, & shared the carriage with 2 Polish ladies 80+ & the daughter of one, who lives in Melb. We were all soon conversing in Polish, German & English, & one even read my palm. How Central European! A night in Warsaw again, then onto Berlin. Went back to the laundromat for another load of washing on Sat morning then caught the train to NΓΌrnberg at lunch-time. I was here in June but came back because there were things I did not get to see.

Sun 21st I attended Mass in the Frauenkirche. Found myself next to 2 Aussies, who thought I was German because I was answering the Mass & singing the hymns. But I gave myself away in the Greeting of Peace! In the a/noon I walked to the huge Parade Grounds that Speer designed for Hitler, as featured in Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Triumph of the Will. I came here 15 years ago, but they were neglected & ignored then. Now, as Germany comes to terms with its Nazi past, it is well signposted & there is a marvellous documentary centre in the huge unfinished Congress Hall. I spent 4 hours in it (surely a personal record!) & then walked all around the grounds. On Mon I went to Bayreuth – Wagner’s home town. Unfortunately both his home & the Festival Hall he built were closed, but I had a nice walk around the town & the city museum.

Tuesday I caught the train to Flossenberg Concentration Camp. This proved to be one of the most moving & emotional experience I have had, tho I have been to 3 other such camps. Flossenberg is a small village noted for its granite deposits. As the bus wound its way thru pretty valleys & villages, it hardly seemed that at the end was a place of evil & sadism. This came home to me when I saw homes built on the slopes where the prisoners barracks had been. Even as a memorial to death it looks more like a park! The camp was built in 1938 for political prisoners, & its aim was to mine granite for the Parade Grounds that I had visited on Sunday. Dietrich Bonhoffer was executed here just before the end of the war. It seemed a strange yet fitting conclusion to my time in NΓΌrnberg. A feature of the camp now is the Valley of Death, which the American liberators (7th Army) made the townspeople create as a memorial to those who had died. On one wall is a plaque recording grateful thanks to the Americans from the prisoners who were liberated, which I found moving.

Wed 31 I went to DΓΌsseldorf for days, then back to Berlin, to catch my flight back. But not before doing another load of washing in the familiar Berlin laundromat!

Sun Sep 3

Today I catch my flight back to the US, then onto Toronto for a few days. I am very excited, as my plane from Frankfurt is one of the new 380’s…….the huge double-decker planes, with all business class upstairs. Did I mention I was in business class? This trip is all on frequent flyer miles πŸ™‚

Thurs 8

Having a few relaxing days in Toronto. Had hoped to visit an old friend, but could not contact him. Visited Casa Loma yesterday – a huge home built as a fabulous castle, complete with secret stairways & an underground passage to the stables. Tomorrow I fly to Guatemala for a week, another place I have never visited. It has a chequered political history (ask the CIA!) but I trust I will be safe & enjoy the culture & people.

Sat 10

I arrived safely in Guatemala City at 9 pm last night. It is a beautiful country, with the city surrounded by mountains. My hotel is in a newer part of the city. This morning I walked into the old city, an hour’s walk. The centre is full of Spanish colonial churches & buildings, & at the heart is a square with large cathedral & palace – as in most Latin Americans countries. I managed to visit 12 churches, incl one where a children’s class was being taught by a young nun, complete with guitar. By chance, I am here for the Presidential election on Sunday. This means no alchohol is sold until Monday!

Sun 11

9/11……’s like the JFK question. I certainly remember what I was doing 10 years ago. It was 10.45 pm & I had just finished watching my favourite football programme on TV. I turned over to the news before retiring to bed, & on came the news flash. I could not believe it. My heart went out to the American people. I resolved that I would continue to visit America every year……..little did I know that 2 years later I would be preparing to move to San Diego!

I was up early to watch the commemorations in NYC, then went to 8 am Mass at the local church. It was a modern building & could have been Anglican, except for the assortment of Spanish American statues. After a nice breakfast in the hotel I wnet back to my room to watch more of the 9/11 commemorations. In the a/noon I walked to the zoo & spent a pleasant 2 hours there. No alchohol with dinner, but when I got back to my room, there was a huge plate of cheese & a glass of red courtesy of the manager πŸ™‚

Mon 12

This morning I walked into the centre, then a further 2 km to a park where there is a large outdoor relief map of Guatemala. The only one of its kind in Central America, the security guard said in excellent English. It is on a 1:10,000 scale – tho the mountains are bigger than that. Built in 1905, it includes Belize as part of the nation. They are still smarting from the English taking Belize off them! I then walked around, hoping to viist several museums – but all were closed. A tropical downpour at 2 pm cut short my walk.

Tues 13

Today I saw the real Latin America. I went to Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala until an earthquake destroyed the city in 1773. It is 40 km from GC, & a marvellous historical site that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. This has made it a destination for students & interested tourists. I had originally planned to travel in a local bus, but the so-called bus terminus had no ticket/info booth, no-one spoke English & it all was terribly confusing. So I went to the airport & caught a shuttle bus for $10. Antigua is in a valley in the hills surrounded by 3 volcanos. The city had 38 churches & monastries when the earthquake happened & most of them are still in ruins. The cathedral is fascinating – the former narthex is used as a parish church (which gives you an idea of how large it is) & the rest is a ruin you can visit. The town also has lovely homes & shops, & several modern hotels behind 18th cent facades. After getting my bearings I climbed up a nearby hill where a cross had been erected years ago. Wonderful views of the town & the mountains. I walked back down to the town, visiting various churches, either in ruins or restored for use. Even after all this time the ruined churches look lovely. I was able to attend 12.15 noon Mass in St Francis of Assisi – a huge church that contains the shrine of GuatemalaΒ΄s official saint, Bl Herman Pedro. After a wonderful day in Antigua I was supposed to meet my shuttle bus, but he didnΒ΄t turn up! So I caught a taxi, after bargaining for a fare of $25.

Wed 14 Holy Cross Day

Am thinking of all my SSC brethren throughout the world. Will attend the 12.15 pm Mass in the cathedral, then explore the museums I have yet to visit.

Fri 16

Good to be back in San Diego! Visited the church office, then the SD Chinese Pre-school. Supper in the evening at St Paul’s Manor with group of residents who attend All SS + the chaplain. A delightful evening, which makes me realise I miss SD & All SS….& am missed!

Sat 17

Attended 9 am Mass, then had lunch with Bob McLeod (organist). At 4.30 pm it was the 100th birthday party for Hugh McArthur. A wonderful occasion with his family. Was pleased to meet Tim May, ex-Australian cricketer who grew up in my home town, Adelaide, & is married to one of Hugh’s grand-daughters.

Sun 18

I attended the 8 am Mass, & it was so good to be back at All SS. Excellent congregation of 65, & all were so pleased to see me. I celebrated the 10 am High Mass, & remembered it all – it was as if I never left. There was a problem with the organ at the beginning…..I thought maybe they had introduced more chanting from the celebrant!! The music was as good as ever, with Bob in gr8 form on the organ & the choir singing a Haydn anthem. During HC Bob played my favourite organ piece, Rhosymedre. It was so good to see all my old parishioners & friends, & there was much catching up afterwards. I really felt I was home again, & there was much laughter over lunch with 7 parishioners, & later at supper with my hosts & their extended family.

Tues 20

I have had a wonderful w/e in San Diego. Today I fly to Australia, with 3 heavy suitcases of things. Now the next stage of my life commences. Back to Melbourne in time to see Collingwood play at the MCG on Fri night!

Mon 26

Arrived safely in Melb Thurs am, loaded up my hire-car with my 5 bags & drove to my flat in St K. Unpacked, sorted things out, then took half the stuff to my storage. My lovely wooden fire-screen from SD survived the trip. Jetlag saw me in bed before 9 pm & awake at 2.30 am! Friday was busy. Returned hire-car to the city & re-acquainted myself with Melb. Rest of the day I was settling in, going thru all my files, arranging appointments, shopping, etc. A beautiful sunny day made me glad to be back in Melb & living in St K. Fri night was the footy, for which I had a ticket. And what a game…..with C/wood coming good at the end after being beaten most of the night.

Sat I went to 9 am Mass at All SS, E St K, & got a nice welcome back from Fr James. I had more sorting of things to do, then in the a/noon went to the other footy match. That night I discovered a local bar for cheap meals. Sun I went to 10 am Mass at All SS. Gr8 sermon, but woeful music. They slaughtered a Mass by Stanford! Afterwards I was welcomed back by many of the congregation……..some of whom were wearing C/wood scarves & beanies. Afterwards I was invited to have lunch with Fr James & his family, some of whom I know – wonderful. A typical Aussie backyard bbq on a sunny a/noon. Walking back home along the main streets of St K I was amazed how busy it was, with cafes, bars & sidewalks all crowded.

A busy week now awaits me, incl seeing my tax accountant to do my 2011 return as well as planning my finances for when I turn 65 next year. But the most important thing is that today I went into the AFL office & got my ticket for the Grand Final πŸ™‚

Sep 30

Altho the weather has been terrible, it has been a busy & productive week for me. I have settled into my flat, visited the laudromat, seen my accountant to do my Aussie tax return & discuss my finances with regard to my retirement, had various other appointments & even managed to write to 30 friends to advise my new address & phone #. I have also enjoyed going to Daily Mass at All SS, & had dinner at the vicarage on Thurs night. And football has dominated the week, of course! I am very excited about Collingwood being in the Grand Final as I missed seeing them win last year. Everywhere people are wearing black & white – even in St K. On Friday I joined 100,000 fans watching the traditional parade. There is nothing like Melbourne this week… justifiably deserves the title of Australia’s sporting capital, if not the known universe, as one reporter claimed! I shall enjoy the game tomorrow – I have gr8 seats: level 2, row 2 in the middle πŸ™‚