I have been home a week now & seem to be over jet-lag. Which is just as well as tomorrow night I attend the 1st night of The Ring Cycle. This is Wagner’s grand epic of 4 operas, performed in a continuous cycle over 4 nights – 2 of which begin in the a/noon & have 2 breaks. Altho each of the individual operas can be done by itself, it is the whole cycle that one is meant to attend. But it is such a huge, expensive endeavour that presenting it is a major event & people travel all over the world to attend. I have always loved Wagner’s music & been to places in Germany associated with him, esp Bayreuth. But I have never experienced the Ring Cycle. So I eagerly bought my tickets last year & have been preparing by reading everything I can & listening to a set of 4 CD’s about it.
Sun Dec 1
The Ring Cycle has been interesting. Superb singing & music makes it a treat that has enthralled the packed house. I would have preferred traditional settings, with ancient Germanic costumes, esp Brunnhilde (the archetype of all grand opera sopranos!) but it is an Aussie version with a contemporary setting, almost like the movie, Metropolis. The opening scene is set in the Rhine River (yes, in, not at or on!) but we had an Aussie beach scene. And on Fri night the Valkerie (supposedly riding on clouds in a storm) came down from the ceiling on trapezes! Tomorrow is opera 3 at 4 pm (6 hours incl 2 intervals) & the grand finale, Gotterdammerung, is at 4 pm on Wed.
Today was my 1st Sunday in Melb for 2 months & St K was crowded with people enjoying the 1st day of summer. I attended High Mass at All SS & everyone was pleased to see me again. At 5 pm I attended the Advent Carol Service. The music was excellent, ranging from Palestrina to the traditional, Es ist ein Ros’, to Mendelssohn, to some interesting contemporary anthems. The usual enjoyable supper followed.
Well the Ring Cycle is now complete. It was quite an experience – the music & singing just superb, esp in the final opera, Gotterdammerung. I certainly enjoyed it, not least because of my interest in all things Germanic. You would think after 4 nights of Wagner I had my fill of music – but, no! Tonight was my final symphony concert for the year. It was a nice “light” follow-up to the Ring Cycle: Dvorak’s magnificent New World Symphony, an interesting Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky & Mendelssohn’s lovely Violin Concerto in E. The soloist for the latter was a brilliant young German & the conductor for the whole concert was Czech, who gave an enthusiastic rendition of his countryman’s New World Symphony.
Today I attended the SSC chapter in Bunyip. Bunyip is a lovely country town 90 mins south of Melb. The delightful church of St Thomas was given by the a’Beckett family & is supposed to be a wooden replica of the church on the a’Beckett estate in England. It was a very good meeting. The Chapter now has 2 new members & is moving forward in activity & enthusiasm.
Tomorrow I fly to Townsville for the w/e. 12 months ago I caught the train down the Queensland coast from Cairns to Brisbane. This included a 2 night stopover in Rockhampton & 1 night in Townsville. My appetite was whetted & I resolved to return to Townsville. Hopefully the weather will be better than the unusual winter storms we have had this week.
My flight from Melb on Friday was delayed because of a problem at Brisbane airport, & I arrived at 6pm. On checking into the hotel I could not get the basin hot water to work. It was the same next morning, so I phoned the front desk. A young man called Dane checked the HWS. He said that it was okay & was very apologetic, offering me to shift rooms. And would I like complimentary breakfast? Indeed I did! On returning to my room I discovered I had the tap turned to cold, not hot 🙁
Today I caught the ferry to Magnetic Is. This is one if the reasons I wanted to return to Townsville & I was not disappointed. It is a real tropical paradise, with lovely beaches, 4 small hamlets & mountains in the middle of the island. I walked along the beaches, then up the mountains, where there are trails & excellent lookouts. Towards the end the sign said, Acadia 1 km. 500 m later the sign said, Acadia 1 km, & again 500 m further on! Eventually I reached Acadia, where the island church is. I knew there is a Vigil Mass at 5.15 pm, so my day concluded with that. A parishioner then drove me to the ferry station for the 20 min journey back to Townsville. I had a wonderful day – & had walked a total of 20 km!
Sunday was a relaxing day & I returned to Melb on Monday. But I came down with the flu! So have been staying indoors & am now almost over it. This is good, as on Sunday I fly to the US. After 3 days I fly on to London, then catch the train to Norwich. After spending Saty there I catch the bus to Walsingham on Sunday a/noon. I will be in Walsingham for Christmas, & on Dec 27th return to London for a week. I am looking forward to spending Christmas in Walsingham (maybe snow?) & the New Year in London.
i had a relaxing 3 days in California, stopping in SF, then SD. Lovely sunny days in both cities. Wed I was up at 4.45 am to get to the airport at 6am for my 8 am flight to London via DC. The flight was delayed an hour – I could have had an extra hour’s sleep! Then we got to London at 5.30 am…….30 mins early! It was dark as we flew over London & it really looked gr8 lit up. When I got to St Mary’s I crashed in the nice bed in the guest room & had 3 hours of much-needed sleep. After I woke & had a shower I discovered it was a lovely sunny day. So I walked over to Buckingham Palace, then along Piccadilly & Regent St. The street & shop decorations were really something.
After 2 relaxing days in London I caught the train to Norwich. Despite the weather being damp & dark, it did not rain when I had to walk to the tube station, nor when I got to Norwich & had a 10 min walk from the station to my hotel. Then the a/noon got cold & wet! In the evening my old friend, Fr Martin Smith joined me for dinner. Next morning the sun was shining & no rain in sight, so I was able to walk to St John’s for Mass. It was a lovely Mass with good singing. People were glad to see me again – I have been coming here since 1998 & have preached several times. After Mass I was invited to join the servers for drinks in the local pub. I was driven to my hotel & then to the bus station. The bus to Walsingham left as scheduled & I arrived at 4pm. Dark clouds were looming, but once again no rain. I have been truly blessed in my travels!
It is lovely to be back at Walsingham. The Shrine does not have guests this week, nor do the Sisters – but they have kindly let me stay in the guest-house. The weather is dark & cold – but that seems appropriate for my having an English Christmas. The Shrine is quite deserted. However tomorrow the church will be full for the Children’s Crib Service at 4.30 pm. It attracts locals from the village & beyond – quite different to the year-round ministry of the Shrine.
I have been welcomed back by the staff who are here today. The quietness is such a contrast to Australia at this time – it will be a really spiritual celebration for me. I told the Sisters I did not need then to provide meals/food, so after Mass this morning I went to the Farmers Shops & bought some nice local cheese, fruit, etc. I then went to the Shrine Bookshop & bought some books I had ordered in October. Now it is 4 pm & very dark!
i have had the most wonderful Christmas. For the 1st time in 34 years of ordained ministry I was not tired by Christmas morning & could sing all the hymns – all the joy without the responsibility! I was hoping for snow, but it was sunny every day – a rare treat in Walsingham. The quietness of both the Shrine & village was perfect. It all began on Christmas Eve with the Shrine Nativity Play followed by mince pies & mulled wine. Good to catch up with locals & staff again. Afterwards I watched the Carol Service from Kings College, the 1st time I have seen it live. At 8.30 pm I concelebrated the Shrine Christmas Night Mass. Afterwards I joined the Sisters for their Christmas party.
At 11.30 pm I concelebrated Midnight Mass at St Mary’s Parish Church. I was particularly taken by the hymns, which had a real meaning in an English winter. We have never sung carols about snow or winter in Australia or California & I was quite moved when we sang “In the bleak mid-winter” during Communion. On Christmas morning the sun burst forth. I concelebrated the 11am at St Mary’s. The chief celebrant was the former Archbishop of York, Lord Hope. It is the 1st time I have concelebrated Mass with a peer of the realm!
I was invited to Christmas dinner at Bp Lindsay’s. We began by watching the Queen’s Christmas message – all of us standing. The dinner was an excellent occasion with 14 of us & I it was an honour to be a guest. It all felt so much a part of an English Christmas, which I had come for. On Boxing Day the tradition is a Solemn Mass in St Mary’s, followed by drinks in the vicarage. It was a lovely celebration & gr8 to sing “Good King Wenceslas” on the actual Feast of Stephen. We alternated parts of the verses with the women & men – a real delight. After drinks in the vicarage – & saying goodbye to the lovely parishioners – I spent a pleasant a/noon having lunch at the home of good friends, Stephen & Jo Parkinson. A gr8 way to finish my Christmas at Walsingham.
Tomorrow I say the 9.30 am Mass for the Sisters, then catch the bus to Norwich & the 12.30 pm train to London. So I have celebrated Christmas at Walsingham, a real delight.
It rained on the train trip back to London. How nice that the only days it wasn’t sunny was when I caught the train to & from Norwich. Saturday was okay, so I went for a long walk, finishing up with 3pm Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Sunday I went to High Mass at St Mary’s, Bourne St. Afterwards Joan & I had lunch at the local pub. Yesterday I had lunch with Phyl, with whom I worked in 1974/75. We met at the old office in the Strand, then went across the road to a restaurant. Phyl & I have kept in touch all these years & it always brings back memories of those exciting days. In the evening I went to a West End comedy, The 39 Steps. Very funny, in true English tradition. Tonight I will go to Trafalgar Squ, where I was in 1974, & again in 2008.
So 2013 comes to an end. What a wonderful year this has been for me. And 2014 promises to be even better!
The new year started well. I attended 12 noon Solemn Mass at St Mary the Virgin, Kenton. I joined my friend, Joan, in the choir, which was small & all women. So I added a male voice, albeit croaky after a late night! Nice to sing some favourite hymns – & to be in the choir was another pleasure of retirement. There were over 40 present……..not bad for New Year’s Day. A parish lunch followed & I enjoyed meeting parishioners I knew as well as some new ones.
Today it is bright & sunny – perfect for my last day in London. At 2.45 pm I meet Joan for afternoon tea at The Waldorf, where I have enjoyed staying before. Tomorrow I catch a 12 noon flight to DC. I have 18 days in the US before returning to Melbourne. I didn’t plan on staying in the US that long (& missing 2 weeks of summer in St Kilda) but there were no free upgrades available until Jan 21st 😉
Well what amazing weather it had been in the US! My flights from London were all delayed/changed on Friday, but the weather got worse as the w/e progressed. I had 3 days in NYC & it was freezing! Monday I spent the morning in bed in my warm hotel room, reading & watching TV. Today I fly to Houston & then on to Puerto Rica for 4 days. The weather is certainly going to be warm there 🙂
i have had a relaxing time here in San Juan – a real holiday. The weather has been 85 F each day, with winds off the ocean. I have enjoyed walking into the old town & rediscovering this Spanish Colonial town. There are 16th cent forts & turrets everywhere. Last night I went to the local parish church for Vigil Mass. The priest was wandering up the aisle before Mass, greeting parishioners. To my surprise he came up to me & asked where I was from – my shorts must have given away I was a tourist! He was pleased to hear I was from Australia & welcomed me warmly.
My holiday finished in a spectacular way – there was an earth tremor here tonight. I was standing in my hotel room & suddenly the floor was swaying! Quite an experience which I have had only twice before in SD. Tomorrow I fly to Houston & will stay there overnight before flying to SD for 2 nights.
i have just had a relaxing 3 days in Cancun. After a busy day in SD I flew to Cancun on Thursday. It was pure relaxation, having visited here twice before & explored the 2 famous Mayan ruins. Friday morning I walked around the town & in the a/noon sat on the beach reading. Saturday I walked to the Mayan Museum. This had only been opened when I last visited in Nov 2012 & I made a mental note then to return & explore it. I underestimated how long it would take me to walk there – 90 mins – but it was well worth it. As well as the museum, with excellent displays, it is set in the grounds of an old Mayan settlement. An enjoyable 2 hours……..then I caught the bus back to the hotel & spent the a/noon relaxing on the beach again.
Sunday morning I attended the English Mass at the local RC church. Over 100 people attended, many of them American retirees who have settled in Cancun. The celebrant began the Mass by saying “It is a perfect day today, just like in San Diego, where I am from”. I couldn’t agree more!
In the a/noon I flew to San Diego & stayed overnight in the Mark Hopkins Hotel. I have stayed in this wonderful hotel over the years – most significantly the night I retired as Rector of All Saints’, when the staff gave me a bottle of French champagne. Tuesday I fly back to Melbourne. I have had a wonderful 6 weeks away & will be glad to be back. Then I will plan the next trip 😉
I arrived back in Melbourne safely yesterday. All flights were good & on time. When I got off the tram in St K it was a sunny a/noon, a sea breeze was coming off the bay & I could smell the sea air. It was good to be back!
I settled back well, getting practical things done & catching up with friends. On Saturday I spoke to the All SS, E St K, Walsingham cell at their inaugural meeting. Mass was followed by a sumptuous breakfast & then I talked about the history of the shrine, my long connection & affection, & what life is like there (basically describing my time there in October).
On Tuesday I had fun & games. I went to the Chinese consulate to get a visa. I was told that they need 2 blank pages together in my passport. After 9 years of use I have a few blank pages, but not 2 together. “Too many visa stamps” the lady said! So a quick visit to the P.O to organise a new passport. I was told I could print the form online…….so back home to do that. Then back to the P.O. It was an easy process & I forked out extra for a 48 hour delivery.
Today I am going to spend 4 days with an SSC friend who has recently retired to a home near the sea. We shall enjoy the beach – the hot weather not withstanding – & dinner with friends. Sunday we will celebrate the anniversary of my priesting low-key. Back home to St K on Monday.
My new passport duly arrived on Monday & on Tues I went to the Chinese consulate to apply again for a visa. It was closed for Chinese Spring holiday! I was beginning to think I was jinxed. So on Wed I returned at 9.05 am & was seen within 20 mins. Everything was in order – copies of previous visas, hotel bookings, flight itinerary, etc – except the flight itinerary did not have my name on it! No problem, explained the nice young lady, I could email it to them. Of course I keep on Internet file all my flights & hotel bookings, so said I would go home & do it immediately. She noted I lived in St K – a mere 25 mins walk away.
On Thursday I flew to the Gold Coast for a long w/e. When I visited here for the football last year I enjoyed staying at the Hilton. The lounge manager was a delightful young German woman & I had fun speaking German to her & telling of my Germany travels. I decided I would return in the summer & she is still here to welcome me. It is nice to be here just relaxing & enjoying the beaches – tho the weather has been overcast. The Hilton upgraded me to a 2 bedroom apartment & welcomed me with a bucket of beers. The joys of being an elite traveler 😉
The main reason I went away for the w/e was because the St K Festival was on, with 100,000 at my front gate. Fortunately no mayhem happened whilst I was away! I returned Mon night & have a busy week ahead. Yesterday I went to the Chinese consulate & finally got my visa. I then visited my friend, Sr Angela, for lunch, followed by spending the a/noon sorting out my electricity bill (no payment for 6 months) & credit cards. A request to fax a form to the electricity co got my response: “Who has a fax machine these days?”!! In the evening I went to the city to have dinner with St M’s friends. Today I am catching the train to Werribee to have lunch with an old friend, then continuing on to Geelong for the AFL pre-season game between Geelong & C/wood. As I am going overseas for 6 weeks on Sunday & will miss the opening round of the AFL season I have to get a dose of footy before I go away!
Tomorrow night I have a 70th b/day celebration at the prestigious Melbourne Club & on Saty have a lunch in St K to celebrate the b/day of my oldest friend, David. Sunday I fly to SD for a 6 week vacation to various countries. I used to call this my pre-Lent holiday – but now it’s the pre-footy season vacation 😉
I am now safely in SD with all my flights arriving early. It is strange leaving Melb on a Sunday, as I think it should be Monday when I arrive in SD & it is still Sunday. Despite all the winter weather in the US, it is a gorgeous sunny a/noon.
I had calculated that when I was 1,990 miles out from SF I would pass 2.5 mill flight miles with United. So I asked the purser to wake me when we were at 2,000. She did that & I calculated from the flight map on the video screen that I passed that milestone at 6.30 am. When we landed my accomplishment was mentioned in the announcements 🙂
Today I fly to Spruce Pine, NC, to spend 4 days with my friends, Mike & Teaky. It will be cold & maybe snow in the Appalacians. Mike & Teaky are old friends from SD & I stayed with them 4 years ago, when I had to change the venue for my Lent retreat. It was a nice relaxing time & I am looking forward to this stay.
I have had a lovely time since I arrived. Mike & Teaky have shown me real Southern hospitality. On Thursday Mike took me to his Rotary Club lunch. Everyone was very welcoming & I met the local Presbyterian minister, who has a colleague on the staff Of Melbourne Uni, & a retired pilot who had been to Woomera, where my father worked. After the lunch I helped the group pack bags of food for school-kids whose parents neglect them. Memories of my 18 years at Fitzroy! In the evening we dined with 5 friends at the local Golf Club.
Today we visited Biltmore House (www.biltmore.com). This an amazing mansion built by George Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Set in huge grounds designed by the landscape architect of Central Park, the house had 255 rooms. It was a most interesting morning, made more interesting to me by the fact that George Vanderbilt was the uncle of Edith Fabbri. Edith had built the NY Italian villa now occupied by the House of the Redeemer, where I am priest-in-residence for June. The library in Biltmore was very similar to that in Edith Fabbri’s NY house. When we returned to Spruce Pine we went to see their grand-daughter, Maddie, at her clogging class 🙂
I flew to China on Tuesday, arriving in Shanghai Wed 6 pm. Strange to be flying in daylight the whole time & arriving the next evening. The Maglev train from Pudong airport is amazing. The carriages show the speed – 300 kph. It took 8 mins to travel 30 km. Unfortunately I got off the wrong station for the Pudong Intercontinental, which annoyed me as I have stayed here before in 2010 & 2011. However I saw a Marriott & asked them directions!
I slept well & next day checked into the Waldorf Astoria on the famous Bund. This was an extravagance, but I wanted to have 1 night on the Bund. And I was not disappointed. I think the room was the most luxurious I have ever stayed in. At check-in the girl giggled as she said I had the “Noble Suite”! The toilet lid rose when I entered the toilet & flushed afterwards……….I half expected it to talk to me 😉
I was on the 20th floor & had a wonderful view of the river. I went for a walk along the Bund, which continues to fascinate me……..it’s a wonderful panorama of 1930’s buildings. At night the Pudong skyscrapers were all lit up & also the restaurant boats on the river. Unfortunately next morning it was overcast & raining, so I could not take any pics.
Today I caught the subway to the French Concession, where I will be staying at another Intercontinental for my final 2 nights. This hotel only recently opened & consists of several old buildings set in beautiful grounds which include a 15th cent temple & well. This was originally the State Guest House, now beautifully restored/renovated. I am sure Mao would disapprove of a Christian priest staying in such western decadence, where previously the party elite stayed!
Tomorrow I will explore the French Concession. The whole area has become a magnet for shopping, dining, etc & many of the old buildings have been restored. To my delight there is an RC Church 15 mins walk away & they have an English Mass tomorrow at 5pm. I fly back to SD on Sunday.
Tues Mar 4
I arrived safely in SD Sunday night & have had a busy 2 days doing practical things. Today I caught the trolley to San Ysidro, where the border crossing is. I had an appointment with the US Customs & Border Protection to renew my GOES pass. GOES is a US government program that allows residents coming in from overseas to bypass US passport control & use a small kiosk for entry. You look at the camera, show your fingerprints, then your details & flight come on the screen. You fill in the customs form on the screen & it appears from a slot. It takes just 30 secs & you are thru, passing by everyone lined up to have their passports checked. It’s a real boon for me, of course, & is now renewed for 5 years.
Tomorrow I am saying the 7 am Ash Wed Mass at All SS. Ironically it is exactly 3 years since my last Mass as Rector. Immediately after the Mass I go to the airport for a 10.15 am flight to Singapore – the next trip in my 2014 adventures.
Once again it was strange to fly in daylight & arrive the next night. All flights were good & I had several sleeps between movies. Arrived in Singapore 1.30 am Thursday. Caught shuttle bus to Intercontinental & was in bed by 2.30 am. Had trouble sleeping & was up at 7 am (3 pm in SD). Spent morning relaxing in hotel & also went for a walk. This is my 3rd visit to Singapore & I have seen all the interesting sites, museums, WW2 sites, etc. Weather is very tropical. Today I went for a long walk, finishing up in Chinatown. I wore my PAFC t-shirt & several women acknowledged it. Some kindly, some not so kindly! The wonderful thing about Singapore is that it is a mix of cultures: Chinese, British, Indian & Malay. It is also an amazing modern city with vestiges of its history prominent. I have 2 more days here & will enjoy a relaxing time before flying back to SD.
After a busy 24 hours in SD I am now in Honolulu. This trip is purely to earn miles/points! I 1st visited Hawaii in 1986 – my 1st o/s trip since ordination. It was also my 1st visit to the USA & I loved it so much that the following year I went to the US proper for 8 weeks. For many years trips from Australia to the US always disembarked at Honolulu for customs/passport & I visited Honolulu at least twice a year, staying with friends I met thru ECUSA. However this is only my 2nd visit since I moved to San Diego. I have seen all the tourist things – so this is pure holiday 😉
The weather was beautiful today. In the morning I walked to Diamond Head – the crater at the end of Waikiki. This was pure reminiscing, as I remembered walking up to the top back in 1986 & there is a photo of me there hanging in my condo. In fact most of my 2014 trips will be reminiscing……as readers of this Blog will discover! In the evening there was a very loud fireworks display in the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village which I could see from my balcony.
Yesterday I flew to Frankfurt. The flight from DC was good -the seat next to me was for the captain’s meal break & only occupied for 1 hour. However, I got hardly any sleep as the trips to Europe from the east coast are not long enough for a good sleep. We arrived early (6.30 am) but thankfully, when I got to the Intercontinental my room was ready – the advantage of being an IC elite member & also knowing the staff thru previous visits. After unpacking I jumped into bed & had 3 hours sleep – wunderbar!
At 1.30 pm I had coffee with Josefine, who used to be guest relations manager, but moved to another job a year ago. Later I had coffee with the manager, Martin, whom I knew thru my visits to New Orleans IC. Both were pleased to see me again & hear about all my travels with amazement! I then walked around the old town, finishing with my attending the 6 pm Solemn Mass for St Joseph’s Day in the lovely Frauenkirche. I continued my celebration of the Feast-day by enjoying supper & a glass of red in the IC club lounge 🙂
Tomorrow I catch the 11.13 am train to Berlin, where I will spend 3 days.
The weather on Thurs was sunny – perfect for the 5.5 hour train ride to Berlin. This weather has continued – real Spring, even tho there are few leaves on the trees. It is perfect for walking around the city. Berlin has fascinated me ever since I learnt German in high school when the Wall went up. After 20 years of visiting it is very familiar to me – but there are always new buildings to see or places I have yet to visit. On Friday morning I visited the Bauhaus Museum. I have been familiar with the Bauhaus School of art as part of my interest in German history, but had not really explored it until a Bauhaus exhibition at the National Gallery of Vic in Melb 2 years ago. The Nazis considered it degenerate!
After the Museum I then did my traditional walk to the Brandenburg Gate & along Unter den Linden. This trip I am staying at the Hilton which is in Mitte – the traditional centre of Berlin. This gives me a chance to explore this interesting area. Because of its close proximity to the Wall it was neglected by the communists, but it has been transformed since the fall of the Wall. On previous visits I have stayed near the Ku’dam, the former W Berlin centre. 20 years ago I could only afford to rent rooms & 10 years ago I rented a cheap flat for 10 days. Now I enjoy the comfort of nice hotels 🙂
Today I will catch the S-Bahn to Marzahn to visit Gardens of the World. This is a huge park containing several different gardens – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Balinese, Italian, a maze, a perennial garden & one based on a monastic cloister. The hotel concierge told me it was too far to walk from the station, maybe an hour. He obviously does not know me!
This outing proved more interesting than I expected. Despite most of the communist housing blocks being renovated there are still remnants of the DDR – mainly the decrepit infrastructure, like the S-bahn stations. The big surprise was at the station – I could see memorials on the other side, the type usually denoting something from the nazi era. I decided to explore & to my surprise it was the site of the former camp the Nazis set up for gypsies. The area is still much neglected, with a former communist high school derelict.
The walk to the Gardens was a mere 30 mins – I must tell the concierge! It was an impressive park & the Chinese Garden is the largest in Europe. I decided to return via the tram to Alexander Pl……shades of Jason Bourne. Tonight I will go to the 6pm Vigil Mass at St Hedwig’s cathedral, which is just around the corner from the hotel. Tomorrow morning I catch the train to Munich, arriving there at 5.45 pm.
After a restful night in Munich I flew to the US. However, I seem to have come down with a flu virus – not surprising given all the travel & different climates I have experienced. Today I fly back to Melbourne & hope I can curl under a blanket & nod off. I arrive back in Melb on Friday morning…….just in time for the big Port Adelaide vs Adelaide AFL game at the new Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
My flight home was an endurance test – aches & shivers all the way! I didn’t eat anything except a bowl of nuts & settled under a blanket for most of the trip. Landing in Sydney on Friday I was looking forward to the quick trip down to Melb & getting home……but, alas, after an hour the flight was cancelled! So we had to exit the terminal thru passport/customs, re-book with Qantas then catch the bus to the domestic terminal – all things I hate about Sydney airport! In the end I was home in St K at 2.30 pm instead of 11.30 am. It was certainly good to be back in my condo & I slept soundly.
On Saty I was up early – as I usually am after flights from the US because of the time difference. At 7 am I was off back to the airport for my flight to Adelaide. Today was Port Adelaide’s 1st home game & the opening of the newly developed Adelaide Oval. And what a day it was! The atmosphere around the oval before the game was like a carnival & the excitement of the Port supporters was everywhere. Inside the oval all the members’ reserved seats were draped with teal t-shirts……a gift from the club so that the oval would be a sea of teal – as indeed it was when the game started. I explored the new stadium & marveled what a transformation it was from the oval where I used to line up overnight for Port Adel Grand Finals in the 60’s. By the time the game started the noise & excitement from the 50,000 mainly Port supporters was palpable. The noise was incredible & non-stop. It was a gr8 game & we won an exciting victory 🙂
I was at the end of my flu, but still feeling weak so had a quiet night in my hotel room. I discovered that a replay of the game was on TV at 8 am next morning so went to 7 am Sunday Mass, then watched the game, enjoying every minute! I spent the rest of the day not doing anything in particular. Monday I was still feeling weak, but caught the train to Alberton & visited the Football Club. I had some membership things to deal with, incl arranging a ticket for when we play in Perth in 3 weeks’ time. These are very hard to get, but I have been promised one. The rest of the day was spent relaxing. Tomorrow I fly back to Melb.
Fri April 4
Am finally over the flu virus! Long walks along the beach have me feeling normal again. It is good to be back in St K & my old routine. A lot of practical things to do. Wed night was dinner with some St M’s friends & Thurs night my oldest friend, David, came around for eats, drinks & catch up. This w/e is my 1st w/e in Melb since Feb 9th & I will enjoy footy at the MCG as well as Port Adel playing Nth Melb on Sunday night.
Both my teams lost the footy – but it was fun attending the games. Sunday I went to Mass at All SS & everyone was pleased to see me back………..but with the rejoinder, When are you off again? Monday I had lunch with a priest friend & Tuesday lunch with my Good Shepherd friend, Sr Angela. We had lunch in a small lounge & afterwards a resident came in & played the piano for us. She was a very interesting lady with a passion for music. She still attends the opera & symphony & we had a fascinating conversation about our love of music.
Tomorrow I will be at St Mark’s, assisting at a Requiem Mass for Ross Haynes, a long time parishioner there. Ross was there for the whole of my 18 years & it was kind of the Vicar to invite me to concelebrate the Mass. The death of former parishioners always affects me, not least because it reminds me of former happy days. Similar news from San Diego affects me more, because of the distance. By contrast, on Sunday I was pleased to phone Admiral David Richardson in San Diego for his 100th b/day.
The people I meet at the football! Last Saty at the MCG I was sitting next to a girl from Boston, Mass. She is living in Melbourne for a year, having met an Aussie at Uni in NYC. She loves the footy & knew the names of the Collingwood players. She has never been to SD & was impressed that I had been to Boston! Tonight another C/wood game – & I was sitting next to a young couple from Nuremberg, Germany. Speaking German & English I explained the finer points of Aussie Rules. They were fascinated with the game – even tho it was a terrible example of football!
An unusual Holy Week. I have attended different churches each day. Tonight I attend the Mass of the Last Supper at All SS, E St K. Tomorrow I will attend the liturgy at Christ Church, the parish church nearby – then I go to the airport. At 1 pm I fly to Perth. This is to attend the Port Adelaide vs West Coast game on Saty night. Unfortunately this means that I will miss attending the Easter Vigil – the 1st time since 1969. Easter Day will be a double joy therefore. I fly back to Melb on Sunday.
Easter in Perth was very enjoyable, thanks to Port Adelaide’s stirring victory over West Coast Eagles. Their stadium is called the House of Pain – & their supporters are certainly painful in their cheering & booing! I was with a loud, happy group of Port Adel supporters & we enjoyed the last 1/4ter as Port came from behind. A gr8 game with skill & courage displayed by our players. Now we are 2nd on the AFL ladder 🙂
Sunday morning I went to St George’s Cathedral for Sung Eucharist – & the faintest sniff of incense! It was typical Anglican pomp & ceremony with excellent music. Both Archbishop & Dean seemed bored with it all, tho. The problem is that, after the wonderful Holy Week & Easter Services I was responsible for at All Ss & St M’s, other churches seem boring by comparison. I returned at 5 pm for Sung Evensong, which was very good. Monday I flew back to Melb, arriving at St K in time to watch on TV the 2nd half of the gripping game at the MCG.
Last night I went to my 1st opera this year – Rigoletto. I am not an opera expert, but the singing & acting seemed exceptional. The lead role was sung by Warwick Fyfe, who was married by me at St M’s in 1992. I saw him in The Ring Cycle last year & re-established contact with him & Ruth. Back then he was an up & coming singer – now he is Australia’s leading baritone. Today they are visiting me for a/noon tea. It will be gr8 to see them after all these years.
Tomorrow is ANZAC Day & I will attend the big C/wood vs Essendon footy at the MCG. For all of the 8 years I was in SD I flew back to Melb for this. It is an amazing experience to be with 95,000 keeping 1 mins silence in memory of the fallen & then to hear the roar of a big game. On Saty I fly to Adelaide for Port Adelaide’s game against Geelong on Sunday – another quick visit for the footy!
Mon May 5
My how time flies by! We are now in the month of May & in a month I will be in NYC. A week ago I had a lovely w/e in Adel. Port Adel defeated the top team, Geelong, in an exciting game at Adel Oval & went top of the AFL ladder. The stadium has now been renamed the Portress by commentators!! The atmosphere & noise from 47,000 Port fans was fantastic. 12 months ago at the old stadium we would have got half that attendance. On the w/e I took the opportunity to catch up with family & also my old Sunday School teacher, Claire, & an old friend from 40 years ago, Arlene.
On Tues I flew back to Melb for another 3 days week. When I go interstate for a footy w/e it makes the week in Melb quite busy. Last week included my 1st symphony concert for the year, featuring a brilliant Mendelssohn piano concert & a Rachmaninoff symphony. The week also included sad news of old friends near death. This is when I miss not having a parish & being able to offer Mass. On Saty I was up early to fly to Canberra……..yes, another Port Adelaide game. I landed to find that the airport shuttle I had booked was not working! To the rescue came Ben from PAFC Membership Dept. He kindly got me a ride in a bus with the Club support staff, who were on the same flight 🙂
It was a cold, wet day in Canberra. I went to the pre-match function & met up with a guy whom I knew from the Cheer Squad 50 years ago – now very involved in the NSW supporters group. He convinced me to buy a ticket fro 1st goal-kicker & I got our leading goal-kicker, Jay Schulz! Sure enough, Schulzy kicked the 1st goal – & I got a $30 voucher for a sports store. The Canberra Oval only holds 15,000 & is like a suburban ground. With the rain & cold it reminded me of going to the footy when I was young. The game ebbed & flowed & Port won well in the end.
On Sunday I went to historic St John’s church for 8 am Mass. St John’s was built in 1845, long before Canberra was thought of. Ironically, in the graveyard there is a tombstone with the quote: “For here we have no continuing city, but seek one to come”. As is often the case in Anglican churches these days, I was one of the youngest members in the congregation! The Service was underwhelming, with no Easter hymns nor Allelluias, & a sermon more like a lecture. I left straight afterwards.
I flew back to Melbourne today, admiring the new Canberra airport.
Quite a saga about the cancelled bus. I phoned their office before I left Canberra. Was told that I would get a refund – to just email the accountant a copy of the booking, which I did. 2 days later no reply, so I emailed them again. Still no reply, so phoned them again on Friday. Was told the accountant with whom I spoke on Monday had been away all week – & the manager would email me. On Monday still no response, so phoned again. The accountant was not at her desk. They said she would phone me back. An hour later & still no response. So I emailed them again, saying it was worst customer service I had experienced & I would be contacting the ACT Office of Fair Trading if I didn’t hear from them ASAP. It was only $10 – but not to get even an acknowledgement from them was inexcusable. 5 mins later an email arrived saying I would be refunded $10 to my credit card!
I have had a cold since Friday, but this didn’t prevent me from going to Adel for the footy. On Fri night I celebrated the 60th b/day of one of my oldest friends. A quiet dinner for just 4 of us. Saturday was a fantastic game of football by Port Adel, putting us back on top of the AFL ladder. Sunday I caught up with my gr8 friend, Waine. We went to London & Europe together 40 years ago, but haven’t seen much of each over the years because he is a prawn fisherman & is often out fishing for 2 weeks or more. Good to catch up & lots of reminiscing. Later I went to Alberton Oval to see Port Adel play in the SANFL. Again, I caught up with old friends. Also had a/noon tea at 1/2 time with the Mayor in his rooms. Port defeated the old enemy, Sturt, & are are now top of the SANFL ladder as well as AFL 🙂
This week is busy. Last night I went to the symphony, which featured Brahms symphony no 1. This was quite marvellous esp the opening, which was composed 14 years after he began it. Today I have lunch at the famous Hopetoun Tea-rooms. This is the 1st of several treats in anticipation of my b/day on Sunday. It is no big celebration, but is my 1st b/day in Melb since 2003, so a party is planned. Thursday night is more opera, Carmen. In the midst of going out I have to prepare for my return to the US – In exactly 2 weeks I shall be on the plane back to San Diego, on my way to NYC.
I have had a nice week celebrating my b/day. Sunday morning I was given a chocolate cake at church by a parishioner of All SS. It took pride of place on my table for a/noon tea…….& was delicious! 14 friends called in during the a/noon – a mix of neighbours & old friends from my years at St Mark’s. On Monday I went out for dinner with my close friend, David, who lives around the corner but couldn’t make it Sunday. Wednesday I was taken out for dinner with another old friend, Nigel, who also couldn’t make it on Sunday. And last night I went to see 42nd Street at the local National Theatre. I took my good friend, Robert…….he had performed in the Australian production 25 years ago.
Today I fly to Adelaide for yet another Port Adelaide game. This is on Saty night & the stadium is sold out for a game which decides if we stay on top of the AFL ladder. Hopefully the noise of 50,000+ screaming Port supporters will get us over the line. I will catch up with family & friends over the w/e & return to Melb on Monday. On Tuesday I fly to the US & will be away 12 weeks. Last year I froze in Melbourne during July/Aug, so this year I am staying in the northern hemisphere!