We arrived in Brisbane at Geoff and Janelle’s place on 17 December - a couple of days earlier than planned - mainly due to the fact that we couldn’t find an affordable place to camp! It was the beginning of the ‘summer holidays’ so camp sites increased their prices beyond ridiculous. Thankfully Geoff and Janelle were happy for us to descend on them early - and it was lovely to sleep in a proper bed with a proper bathroom (and bath!) again. The weather was also a factor - although it’s supposed to be summer - hail storms and heavy rain were beginning to dampen our camping spirits! (Emma froze a couple of hail stones!)
Janelle and I took to swimming each morning - in the local open air pool - it’s just not normal swimming in an outdoor pool in December! We’ve managed 60 lengths and have felt really good! Even when on a couple of mornings it was raining lightly we were still able to swim outdoors.
Christmas has been really amazing in so many ways …. But it’s just not normal. And that’s not just us saying that - the Ozzies are continually telling us that things aren’t normal at the moment. We’d expected - and indeed everyone else was expecting - lovely sunshine and a temperature of 35 ish. Instead we’ve had rain, rain and a lot more rain! In the past week we’ve had about 9 inches of rain - and we’re not in the worst of it. Some areas are totally cut off. Areas have been declared national disaster areas. People who had planned camping/caravanning holidays have been washed out. Christmas on the beach has certainly not been possible. Yet it’s still a warm 25+ deg …. It’s just not normal! Apparently it’s the worst rain in December for 150 years - and we‘re here to sample it.
Another thing that’s not normal - cold meats and salad for Christmas dinner … I missed my sprouts, turkey and roast potatoes - though the meal was absolutely lovely. We went to Janelle’s nephew’s for Christmas dinner along with other ‘rellies’ …… 38 people altogether! Luckily they have a huge covered area outside where they were able to lay the tables and we enjoyed our dinner and getting to know others there. Had the weather been better - I’m sure we’d have taken advantage of the outdoor pool. We did enjoy a beautiful cooked Christmas dinner at Brian, Lisa and Grace’s home last week - the turkey cooked in the barbeque was loverleeee!
Talking of ‘pools’ I’d been reliably informed of how hot it was going to be over Christmas, so I’d commented that I might need a paddling pool to keep cool … so thanks to Emma and Neil - that’s what I got! And no that’s not what Janelle and I have been doing our 60 laps in! It’s sat in the back garden now, already full of water, waiting to be warmed up by the sunshine which apparently is due on Friday!
It was odd/strange/sad being away from family and friends on Christmas day - but thanks to modern technology we were able to talk to family members by phone or on Skype. It was great to see Heather, then Dad, Dawn, John, Rachel, Sophie and Michael who sang ‘We wish you a merry Christmas!”, and to speak with Katie, Carl, Kev, Sean and Lisa and, because Carl was at Church when I phoned him, Mark, Helen and Phil too! It’s also been lovely to receive lots of messages via face book - thank you for your lovely wishes. Missing you all lots!
Last night we helped out with a meal for the homeless … about 120 of them! Bobby, who works with the homeless people in and around Brisbane, was originally from Hong Kong and was saved from his drug/alcohol/gambling addiction and life of serious crime through the work of Jackie Pullinger - if you’ve read the book Chasing the Dragon you’ll know what sort of a life he previously led. He became a Christian and, along with his wife Branwen, they do an amazing work with people in the area, including running a car wash which then funds bus’s to pick up the homeless people on a weekly basis to bring them along for a meal. It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying their meal and then listening to Bobby’s testimony. Also amazing was the amount of volunteers willing to give time on Boxing Day … they actually had to announce in Church on Christmas Eve that they didn’t need any more volunteers thank you! Take a look at their web site - it’s worth it! http://www.fishersofmen.org.au/
We’re planning on going to see the fireworks in Brisbane on New Year’s Eve with Geoff and Janelle and Neil and Emma. Again - that won’t be normal - but it will be exciting and good to experience the Ozzy way of bringing in the new year.
So … while Christmas has been far from our normal “normal” we’re having a lovely time - are being VERY well looked after, enjoying the new experiences and not doing much of anything really. We hope you’ve all had an amazing Christmas and wish you all the best for 2011.