For the most part I have absolutely loved living in Australia over the past 30+ years, especially with the progress of technology allowing easy communication with my family in the UK. The old days of waiting in the queue at the main GPO in Sydney’s Martin Place to place an overseas call seems to belong to another world and with the advent of Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp and mobile phones the world has shrunk to feel like we are almost next door to each other. However, when BIG things happen and you can’t hop in the car and drive to be with each other you really feel the tyranny of distance. I have to keep reminding myself that it was my choice to come and live on the other side of the world and that it would inevitably bite me on the bum at some stage but mostly I have been able to be there for the special things – weddings, milestone birthdays and when our lives were turned upside down when my nephew died. This time though I have had to just watch as things played out without me being there and sadly when my lovely, twinkly eyed, rugby mad, pie loving, computer whizz, music lover and family loving Brother-in-Law lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last week I couldn’t be there to comfort my sister in person. Luckily she has many wonderful friends as well as her daughter and grandkids to help her through, as well as Mum who is still looking after us after all these years through good times and bad, and I know that my sister medicine will be needed in the months to come when hopefully her work allows and she can come out here to The Meadow to heal and enjoy some sunshine. JC will be farewelled tomorrow in what I know will be a huge send off with all those beautiful Welsh voices raising the roof with his favourite “Bread of Heaven” and we will raise a glass to him from here as we remember all the fun times we shared both here in Australia and in Wales and France on holidays. A good man through and through and gone way too soon. Adieu JC, we will miss you xxx
Luckily some distraction came with the arrival of our dear friends from Forster who had been so hospitable to JC and Sandy when they visited a few years ago, JC declaring he loved Forster and could easily retire there! They kept me company as the man of the house was away in Singapore and we reminisced about times gone and times to come, reinforcing the fact that we must make the most of every day no matter how simple and be grateful for our health while it’s good. We ate the last of the mulberries I had frozen from last years bountiful crop in a pie with lashings of cream and with a blazing fire as things have definitely regressed a little to winter temperatures! Mother Nature does this every year as we prepare to put away our winter woollies, teasing us with warm sunshine and spring blossom before she turns the table and chucks in some icy 100 km westerly winds and laughs at us as we scramble once more for our jumpers….
Speaking of cold, we and about 20 of our friends made the trip to Crookwell in the Southern Tablelands of NSW to commemorate our friend Greg Cleary who lived there most of his adult life teaching and enjoying this close knit community who are crazy on sport. We have an annual golf day in his honour and it is lovely to meet up each year and chat about the old days. The boys all went to school together from junior school and as they are all in their latter 60’s it is amazing what they can all still remember in such detail about their childhoods. They were very lucky with their golf day, cold and clear but with sunshine and blue skies. The next day the wind was blowing straight from The Snowy Mountains and an hour after we left it snowed!!!! So much for Spring!
It was especially lovely to see Greg’s kids (who now live a few hours drive away) come home to share such a special day in their Dad’s honour and Crookwell really turned it on for us with the locals becoming as much a part of the day as us. A real Aussie country town with all the friendliness and support for the family that you could hope for and I’m sure Greg was helping his mates from above as they won the local trivia night, something he was always fond of and good at “smashing it” as his daughter put it!! A great weekend with some lovely people and Greg would be very chuffed to see so many of his old mates gathering together in his hometown to remember him.
Last week I visited Merribee House, a lovely property the other side of The Shoalhaven River from us and somewhere we had looked at to hold Lauren’s wedding before deciding to take the plunge and do it at home. It’s an historic house within 7 acres of ornate gardens where 1000 David Austin, Old English and Old French roses beguile with their fragrant aroma, and a lavender paddock which transport visitors to the fields of Provence . They have a gorgeous renovated barn and an old silo which has been beautifully converted for wedding accommodation. Wednesdays are Open Days and you can wander around the gardens and enjoy morning or afternoon tea with their home made produce and flowers available for sale. My friend Sue and I enjoyed a couple of hours admiring the different garden ‘rooms’ and some hummingbird cake and coffee before heading home with my head buzzing with ideas for our garden. Of course none of them will happen because I have been told in no uncertain terms that no more flower beds necessitating whipper snippering will be planted and unless the ride on mower can glide over it I’m not allowed to do it! I must admit that what we have is more than enough work especially when we have no rain and loads of wind, both enemies of a happy garden but a girl can dream!!
This little cottage is available for functions amongst the lavender
Some wonderful garden rooms and an alfresco dining area to lust after, especially once that wisteria comes into bloom
Their horticulturalist gives lessons on veggie gardening, topiary and fruit tree pruning and they also host an open air film festival in the summer which is great fun with a picnic on a balmy evening. I absolutely love their artwork for these events, done in a beautifully detailed old fashioned way. Lots of work but worth it, I think you’d agree.
So as the wind has temporarily disappeared I better go and mulch the garden to preserve what little moisture is left in the soil and take the Chocolate Drop for a walk in the sunshine and I will be thanking my lucky stars to be healthy enough to do so whilst remembering a certain Welsh Boy with that gorgeous accent that I am so glad came into our family and who will be very much in our hearts and thoughts every day but especially tomorrow….