December 18th, 2006

Dear Friends,

Here it is again - the end of the year. This letter was supposed to be written well ahead of today so I wouldn’t be in a rush. but, as this year was at least two months shorter than last year, it didn’t happen!

2006 has been a good year for me. My domestic situation has been stable and sharing my house with Satoshi and the cats (Min & Max) has continued to be a happy arrangement, most of the time. There are occasions when our situation is a little short of domestic bliss such as when Max steals food and runs out to the cat-run with it. This is especially annoying if it happens to be one’s lunch when one is already late for school!

The January holidays began with a Church Convention at Marysville. It was with Jenny’s and Darryl’s Church and was for a period of four days. The pace was quite hectic as I was kept busy playing the hymns and helping with the computer side of things. The day after the Convention ended, there was a dinner at my place for fifteen of us. It took a few days to recover from all this activity!

The Royal School of Church Music Summer School was held in Melbourne and, although I did not attend full time, I went to an organ recital and four services associated with the course. The standard of the singing was, in general, quite high. It is always good to hear amateur choirs other than my own sing - ideas for new music or different ways of doing things can often be found.

I had been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as this has been a favourite story of mine since childhood. I was not disappointed. The film is faithful to the book and the acting and special effects are superb. I also enjoyed seeing an old favourite at the Astor Theatre, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The holidays also included several days down at Ocean Grove with Jenny and Darryl. It’s always good to spend time with special friends in relaxed, easy-going circumstances.

Just after school started, I was invited to be an extra in a movie. (Yes, hard to imagine, I know!). As I was already at school, Satoshi went in my place. He scored a part as a waiter in the film In Vino Veritas. He enjoyed the experience and the resulting footage included a novel story line certainly worth watching. We await the next instalment of Satoshi’s meteoric rise to fame.

In early February, my faithful car of many years began to play up a little. After the last visit to the mechanic, I received the dreaded phone call. “It’s gone to God,” he said. I had been expecting to get a new car some time in the near future but not quite as soon as it turned out to be! Many hours during the next couple of weeks were spent searching for a new car. After one false start, I found a 2000 Mitsubishi Magna Advanced Wagon at a car yard in Ringwood. It appeared to be in excellent condition and this was confirmed by an RACV check. I have been very happy with my purchase and it has given me no trouble at all


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My "new" car in the car yard

I have been a member of FOAM (Friends of Anglican Music) for a number of years. This is a group of people who love Anglican music. We meet about five times a year to sing Evensong in various churches. I was invited to join the committee of this organisation in March. The next occasion when FOAM meets will be on March 3rd, 2007 and will be at my Church (St.Paul’s, East Kew). The FOAM Choir will be joined by the St.Paul’s Occasional Choir resulting in 75+ voices. It promises to be quite an event!

This year, the first term holidays were only six weeks into term due to the Commonwealth Games. Some of this time was spent at Anglesea staying at the home of friends Jan and David Morris with Jenny, Darryl, Joan and Russell. We enjoyed several drives along the coast, including one day all the way to Port Campbell. It has long been an ambition of mine to gain access to the light house at Airey’s Inlet and it was, indeed a wonderful experience. The views from the top were stunning!


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Jenny, Russell and Joan near the Twelve Apostles

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Airey's Inlet Lighthouse

During April, Jenny organised a recording session. The idea is to record hymns for people who are not able to attend Church for whatever reason. If you have ever done any recording, you will know what a tedious thing it can be but we managed to retain our good humour (helped along by the wonderful food provided by Jenny and Joan!) We finished the day with about 20 hymns recorded and then went out to a very pleasant dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

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At the organ in St.John's, East Malvern, during the recording session

The June holidays saw us travel to Queensland. It was wonderful to escape the Melbourne winter for a time. We toured the hinterland of the sunshine coast where we visited places such as Lamington National Park and the tourist town Montville.

We also went to Sea World where we were amazed at the height dolphins can jump out of the water. The highlight of the trip for me was a ride on a camel! Camels are very gentle, placid creatures and the experience of riding one is far more relaxing than riding a horse.

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Camel and me (I'm on the right)


Other highlights included a visit to the Buderim Ginger Factory and a meal at a Sizzler restaurant. They really know how to cook steak there!

In July, I had a weekend away with Satoshi, Joan and Russell. We visited Sale to view an exhibition by the local artist Annemieke Mein. She uses a variety of textiles to create stunning depictions of the natural world including insects, birds and flowers. I am not usually very interested in art but this exhibition was definitely an exception. Apparently, it attracted more visitors to the Sale Art Gallery than any other exhibition ever.

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A cape created by Annemeike Mein

For my birthday, my friends organised a day in the city. We visited a variety of places including the Gold Museum (located in the old Treasury Building). One of the highlights was a video depicting the days of the cable trams in Melbourne. A visit to Melbourne’s tallest building the Eureka Tower was also planned but we found that the viewing gallery was not open yet!

After a meal at my favourite restaurant (The Spaghetti Tree), the majority of the party headed for home. Only Satoshi and I ventured out into the night to I knew not where. We ended up in McKillop Street where there were about 100 people waiting for something.... but what? It didn’t take long to discover that we were about to be part of The Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour! We were led to various places around the city where, allegedly, ghosts have been seen. Although we did not see any ghosts, we learnt a lot of history. For example, did you know that the Victoria Market is built on the site of a cemetery? Apparently, there are about 10,000 bodies still buried below!

The month of August included the school concert. This is always a major event and this one was no exception. I was given the task of looking after the sound system. It was quite stressful as there were a number of sound effects which required split-second timing but all went well.

Around this time, I was feeling very tired all the time to the extent where I did not last the whole day at school on a few occasions. On the 13th August, the St Paul’s Occasional Choir sang Evensong. I only just managed to get through the service without fainting! Then followed what I thought was just a bad cold but it didn’t seem to be getting any better. A visit to the doctor revealed that it was a form of bronchitis. I was sick for six weeks overall (including two weeks home from school - easily the longest time I have ever had off work). It takes an illness like this to appreciate how fortunate one is to have generally good health.

The September holidays were very welcome at the end of another exceptionally long term (thanks to the disruption caused to the school year by the Commonwealth Games). Satoshi, Barbara and I went to see a production of Oklahoma. The members of the cast were drawn from secondary schools all over Victoria. The standard of the performance was exceptionally high and it was great to see such talented young people.

A drive to Flinders with Joan and Russell was a pleasant way to spend another day. We visited St John’s Church (where we had several Choir Camps about 20 years ago). There were people there who kindly allowed me to have a play the church’s newly installed pipe organ. The day also included a visit to Point Nepean National Park (where is was absolutely freezing!)

The second week of the holidays was spent at one of my favourite places, Pambula Beach (near Merimbula on the south coast of New South Wales). The weather, although not warm enough for swimming, was delightfully sunny.

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Pambula Beach in the background (Friends in foreground)

We enjoyed a visit to Yellow Pinch Wildlife Park where we had the opportunity to pat a koala and hold a python.

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Another day we ventured up to Central Tilba. One of the many places to visit in that area is the spectacular Foxglove Spires Garden and we enjoyed several hours wandering along the meandering paths admiring the huge variety of plants and trees while listening to the many exclamations of delight from Joan “Oh, isn’t that beautiful!”

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On the way home, we stopped at the Genoa River Falls Park. This park is the home of many Eastern Water Dragons (a species of lizard). Fortunately, it was a warm day and we were able to spot many of these beautiful creatures sunning themselves on the rocks.

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An Eastern Water Dragon (This one was about a metre in length)

For the second time, I organised a camp for St.Paul’s at Adanac Lodge, Yarra Junction. This took place over the first week in October and was very successful. We had fantastic weather and took full advantage of the archery, canoes, flying fox and water slide. We also enjoyed a variety of board games and two services of worship. One of these was a celebration of Creation. I doubt that there is anywhere more suitable for such a Service than the beautiful surroundings and views of Adanac Lodge. The superb catering included full cooked breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper!

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On the lake at Adanac


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The trampoline was popular!

We celebrated Satoshi’s 25th birthday by visiting the Melbourne Zoo. In the evening, we went to the Cuckoo Restaurant. This included a delicious smorgasbord and a live show with a traditional German flavour. Lots of yodelling! Coincidentally, Jenny, Darryl, Joan and Russell had been there just the week before for a family occasion so they had a double dose!

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The fourth term is always very busy at school and this has been no exception. There is assessment, report writing, placing students in new classes and all the other “end of year” procedures on top of the “normal” teaching day. It is now only two days before the end of term and I certainly can’t say that I’m not looking forward to it. It has, nevertheless, been a happy year at school. My colleagues are wonderful to work with and my class has been pretty good on the whole.

Satoshi has had a very successful year in Gymnastics both in terms of his own performance and that of the children he coaches. He came fifth in his level at the Victorian State Championships and his children’s team came first in the state. Quite an achievement! Satoshi finished his university course in November and is now a Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Movement). He hopes to continue his studies next year with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) course.

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Satoshi with friend Kiel during the RMIT Graduation Parade, 13th December

Our annual Carol Service was held on Sunday night. There were twenty-seven choristers and a large congregation present to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. I was very proud of the Choir - some of the music I had chosen was quite difficult but everyone rose to the occasion and the Service was a great success.

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The Choir

And here we are, just days before Christmas once again. It’s a time to be especially thankful for good health, a safe and secure country in which to live and a wonderful group of special friends. I wish each of you a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy 2007.

With love,

Tim

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