Ahhh - the joy of being mobile again! I love having a car and really feel only half complete without one! This morning Netta had an appointment with her eye specialist in Fairfield and so I take her over while Michael trims the bushes around the house.
All goes well and like eveyone, the specialist is amazed at how well and active and 'young' Netta is for an 87 year old person. Once home, we finish loading the car and we all head out of Sydney and north towards Newcastle and my mum's place.
Mum lives in a suburb of Newcastle just 2 hours north of Sydney. Some of you might remember that this was where Australia had it's first earthquake with fatalities - gee 10+ years ago now. Years ago there was a very large industrial base here with a steelworks and the associated type of companies that goes along with the like, but today that industry has gone along with most heavy industry of it's ilk to the cheaper offshore economies. Newcastle for some time became an economically depressed city with very high unemployment, but today has turned itself around and now has a very successful university and a vibrant tourism industry.
Mum and Dad bought their very first house in Newcastle the year before we left Sydney to move to Queensland (that was in 1990) and she still lives in it, as large as it is. Comes in handy when we all want to visit, although we keep telling here that the days of all the family being there at the same time are going to be very few and far between these days - what with us all thrown to the four corners these days. We arrive late in the afternoon and are met with tears and hugs and then the best that mum does - food food and more food! The night is spent reminiscing, catching up with the latest family news and telling tales of our trip - although we don't get those tens of thousands of photos out yet. It was enough just getting out the little keepsakes that we had bought home for her.
Wednesday dawns bright and warm. We are struggling (OK you had better make that more of me) with the adjustments we need to make due to the change in the climate we are now experiencing. We have gone from cool late autumn to the hot and humid heaviness that Australia feels in the lead up to Christmas as summer begins to take a full hold. Mum keeps the house shut up and when it really gets unbearable, puts on the airconditioner. She however NEVER feels the cold, so has no need of it for herself. Not sure whether she is lucky or not - she would have died in the European cold!!!
Mum has a sister (Catherine) and brother-in-law (Don) that had lived in another Newcastle suburb for many years and when they retired they built a beautiful new duplex with another of their sisters Rita (whose daughter Anna was recently such a godsend in England) overlooking the beach at Caves Beach. So today we are having lunch with Don and Catherine and Rita at the Caves Beach Hotel that has had a major makeover - it has gone from the (friendly) ugly duckling to a very sophisticated and lovely swan.
Rita had visited Anna and Garry and the boys during the year while we were on the continent and it is lovely to catch up and exchange stories. Don and Catherine spent part of the year travelling to the Queensland coast and had a very relaxing time. This is one of the trips they ususually do each year and when we are home, they will often call in, so it is lovely to see them all. The food was fabulous and we nearly all selected from the extensive seafood menu and we are taken back to our time on the Atlantic coasts of Europe. The seafood here is quite different from that we had earlier in the year, but nevertheless very fresh and wonderfully good.
After lunch we had back to Caves Beach for coffee at Catherine and Don's place before we head home to mums. Of course, we detour via the supermarket and it is as busy as it can be, now that we are so close to Christmas.