Catching up in Merimbula


Tress and I planned to get away over the Australia Day long weekend, and catch up with Kiddo and Mic, whom we hadn’t met since June last year. We took Friday off and left early that morning, taking the little fellow along with us.

We headed out towards Gippsland, stopped at Traralgon for a brekky and coffee, and pushed on from there till we arrived at our destination at Merimbula. A very hot day had been forecasted, with a high of up to 45deg in Melbourne. It was just as hot as we drove through Gippsland, with the thermometer in the car constantly hovering at the 42/43 deg marks. It was a little bit cooler at Merimbula, which is at the south coast of NSW. We had stopped there a couple of times overnight, as part of a Sydney/Melbourne coastal drive summer road trip, and this was the first time we were going to stay there a few days.

We arrived just after noon, and settled down and then took a walk through the beautiful town, picking up somr groceries for the next few days. Kiddo and Mic arrived later that night and we spent the next few days catching up in that beautiful town. They were going to pick up their new puppy when they returned to Canberra so everyone was a bit excited about that too.

Kiddo and Mic appeared to have settled well into their new lives as a couple. They have both kept busy with work, social circles and most recently, a long trip to Japan. They have their usual niggles as a couple, and will no doubt have work on their hands as they continue to build on their relationship to construct the best possible foundation for a lifelong partnership. Unless event take a dramatic turn, that partnership will likely continue to play out in Canberra, where they seem to be happy.

Tress and I remain happy ourselves here in Melbourne, although the commute to work (for me) has become a growing challenge. I still wonder about what I’d do in St Alf’s this year, and how I can contribute better in Steer, and what I can do around the house to make things easier for the both of us. In short, we are all busy living. Maybe that’s why I have contemplated less in recent years – we’ve been busy living. I’m very grateful for that, every single day

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Yarra, Ethereals and “the usual”


It was a very warm week, and when I saw that Saturday was going to be milder day, I asked if Tress wanted a day out. I thought of St Andrew’s market but I then remembered Warrandyte was very nice too. I thought we could walk along the Yarra and then find a spot for lunch at Warrandyte.

So that was exactly what we did. The Yarra at Warrandyte was really nice. When we got there mid morning (around 10am) there were already many people there, many with their dogs frolicking on the river bank. Balls and frisbees were tossed into the river, with excited and energetic pooches charging in to retrieve them, wet and happy.

We trailed along the river for about an hour and a half, and then headed to the restaurant we had booked for lunch. It was a bit earlier than our reservation time so we headed to the library nearby, where we bumped into an old acquaintance. We hadn’t seen Simon Soh and his wife Margaret for a while now so it was nice bumping into them again. The lunch was very good – the restaurant (Altair) had earned really good reviews in the local papers towards the end of last year and our experience suggested those reviewes were fair dinkum.

After lunch we did our usual grocery shopping and then we walked the little guy, ending a really relaxing day. Later that night, I cooked a curry for when we head up the coast next weekend. I hadn’t cooked for a while and as usual, the exercise was therapeutic for me.

The cooler day had followed a breezy Friday. We had dinner at our usual Italian place and after that we stopped by a roadside on the way home, as Tress wanted to connect with some folks who like her, were busy chasing some ether creatures on their phones. The little group quickly expanded and in a matter of minutes, some 5-6 people had randomly pulled up at the same spot, where apparently these ethereal creatures were to be found. As I stood there inebriated and cool from the breeze, it was surreal but a little amazing.

On Sunday it felt like things are well and truly back on track routine wise. We got to St Alf’s, sat at our usual spot and met and chatted with the usual folks. We heard from someone who was going to work with the AFES at Swinburne, and decided to come alongside her. Later, we headed to lunch at our usual spot and met our usual friends there, with whom we again caught up for coffee at a mall near our home.

Back home early arvo, I started on some gardening work. The gorgeous day – sunny and warm – suggested I stayed out all arvo, which I did and completed a fair bit of work tidying up the garden. I had buggered up the lawn by being too aggressive with my mowing when we first came back from Thailand/Malaysia and the lawn had grown exponentially. It’s healing time now so I was gentler and ensured the sprinklers were on for a bit after all the work was done. Tress did the laundry and walked the little fellow and we ended the day watching some Australian Open tennis on tele. You know, the usual summer things we do…

Routine – not always a bad thing


Back in 2009, Victoria was ground zero in a swine flu pandemic. Kiddo and Tress travelled to Malaysia for a holiday and ended up being quarantined by the Malaysian authorities the whole time. Back in Melbourne alone, I was struck down with one of the worst flu episodes I had ever experienced. The Tamiflu capsules I was prescribed didn’t appear to help too much.

I was given Tamiflu again last week. I had finished my first day back at work, after our holidays to the tropics, feeling under the weather and sometime during that night, the fevers and body aches told me it wasn’t just a cold I was nursing. I was a bit ordinary and went to the doctor by Wednesday and was told I had the flu bug. I was told to stay away from work so I ended up taking the whole week off. By Friday however, I was feeling quite well so I enjoyed that day just working from home and having a good lunch with Tress, who looked like she was travelling less well.

On Saturday, we both decided to go away so after a sleep in and late brekky, we decided to trek across town to head towards Portarlington for the mussels festival. Portarlington was a couple of hours away and we were on track for a lunch time arrival but half of Melbourne must have had the same idea, as some 10km out, the traffic was crawling and it felt like Portarlington was going to be hard yakka to manoeuvre through. So, we decided to turn back and headed instead to Geelong, where we picked out a lunch spot (an Indonesian joint…) and then walked on the foreshore area for a bit. It was a lovely day out and we both enjoyed it. The warm, breezy and laid back atmosphere was such a welcomed contrast to the hustle and bustle and heat and congestion of where we were a couple of weeks back.

On Sunday we were both on communion duty but Tress’ cold meant it wasn’t a good idea for her to proceed so she got someone to replace her. It was very good to be back at St Alf’s where the laidback atmosphere and clear and concise preaching made it easier to be wholly engaged.

We were well and truly back to our usual routine when we bumped into Jason and Mel at our usual lunch spot. Later that arvo, Tress went out for one of her online game soirees and I pottered around the house, mucking around with some tap fittings to better water the gardens. As we both prepared food for the new working week, the sense of returning to familiar routines was very strong.

Reading one of Michael Bird’s books on the train this morning felt like hard work – probably because I’m not his intended audience. It takes a certain mindset (i.e., a theology student) to read that properly and I wonder if I’d survive to finish this volume. The sheer pleasure of reading on a quiet train ride in to work however, was a blessing. Some may view a life of what feels like a groundhog day, mundane and unexciting, but I’d have this, every day of a week.

2018 behind, 2019 ahead


I’m back at work today, as is Tress. We’re both down with colds and that makes returning to work even less pleasant. Otherwise, we had a decent break – mentally if not physically.

It’s hard to have a decent rest for the body, when one travels to cities like Bangkok for holiday. Tress and I wound up work on 21 Dec and headed to KL the next day (Sat). We dropped the little guy with his sitter/carer, and our hearts ached a little when he whimpered and cried a little when we were getting ready to drop him off. Anyway, we got into the airport, met some friends who were also travelling to the tropics for the Christmas/New Year break, and finally got into KL late on Sat.

We stayed in my brother’s home for that night we arrived. He and Jean picked us up from the airport, and the next day, after a really nice breakfast at a local coffee shop, we headed to the airport and met up with my mum, and my sisters and their families (bar their hubbies…). It was a really good thing we could all go away as a family in this way. It would have been perfect if my sisters’ hubbies, together with Kiddo and Mic, could also come along. One of my sisters’ hubby works in China and does not have the break we had, and the other had to care for his elderly and ill father. Kiddo and Mic had planned a holiday to Japan, by the time this family getaway was cobbled together.

So we headed off to Bangkok/Khao Yai and for the next week and a half, we had a terrific time together. Two of my nephews had done very well for their “UEC” exams and are awaiting university placements in the far east. Isaac has already earned a place in Beijing Uni to do Chemistry but is waiting for a spot in HK uni. Stan the man is waiting for a spot in Taiwan. They’re both terrific young men. Nic has just finished her first year in Med school and YJ, the baby of the group, is still in primary school. I got to know them all better and it was a memorable time. To also spend that time with my mum, sisters, brother and his wife, together with Tress, was really an experience to be treasured.

We got back to Klang just before New Year’s Day, and spent the next few days there. We bunked at Tress’ parents’ place, which as a result of all that has been happening in that household in recent months, felt very shaken up and disjointed. The living room, carved and partitioned to allow Tress’ dad to sleep downstairs, was symptomatic of what has been happening. Her dad had gotten better, and could walk up the steps to get into his usual bedroom. So Tress and I slept in his makeshift bedroom downstairs. Our mornings were always interrupted with the maid cleaning from about 5am, followed soon after by Tress’ parents starting their day early. We’d feel as though we were sleeping in without cause when/if we didn’t wake up soon after. Sleeping in makeshift arrangements with all that harried mornings was never going to provide rest that a break often brings, but I guess the break is a mental one of sorts, where the hustle and bustle of work is absent. To that end, the trip to the tropics has been wonderful.

We left Malaysia on Thursday night and got back into Melbourne on Friday (4 Jan) morning. We left a very warm Malaysia (circa 34 deg) to return to a stinking hot Melbourne (circa 42 deg). The colds we picked up meant we struggled to get back into the rhythm of things. Tress spent the rest of Friday working, while I went about grocery shopping and pottering around the house. On Saturday, we started to work on our very overgrown gardens, before rain stopped us. So we went out and got some shopping (we needed to replace our blender) and lunch and when the rain stopped we resumed work on the gardens, finishing late into the evening.

On Sunday, we decided to skip St Alf’s as we didn’t think our sniffles and coughs would be very welcomed. So we continued pottering around the house – then Tress did the laundry and I washed the very soiled cars. As the day went on, I got a bit more tired as the cold worsened. It felt like an anti-climactic turn, after a really good break in some ways.

Being away for Christmas and New Year, being harried in the busy environments of Bangkok and Klang, meant I did little (or no) reflection. What 2018 was and meant, and what 2019 may look like, were matters I did not think about at all. I have now, so the process is really only starting. Perhaps another entry would flesh these out.