I think this letter should begin with some kind of clarification about our holiday. When I mentioned during the Baptismal Service in June that we were off for a SKI holiday in Australia, I did explain that this was a “Spending the Kids Inheritance” kind of holiday. However, I am grateful to all those people over the following days before we left who spoke to me of their concern that I would not break my leg and enquired about which part of Australia we would be doing our ski-ing!
Without intending to further confuse the issue, we could in fact have been on a proper skiing holiday as there was news of larger than usual snowfalls in the Mountains of New South Wales (as well as storm force winds) and Sydney also had the highest July rainfall since 1950 – and I think most of it fell during one of the days we were in Sydney!
However, we had a wonderful holiday. During our first week in Melbourne we met cousins of Frances’, discovered through our daughter and her cousin in America communicating on Facebook, and had a great time meeting various branches of the family over Sunday lunch (and yes, the beef was cooked on the ‘barbie’ – that’s barbecue in case you are wondering, and not a plastic doll!) The following day they took us on a trip down the Mornington Peninsula where the rich and supposedly famous have houses priced at over £2 million.
We also had the opportunity to have coffee (and for some, ice cream!) with Joanna Johnstone and her children Lara and Luke on a wet and windy day in St Kilda – and it was good to catch up with them since they moved to Australia from Carnoustie.
After a wonderful 6 days travelling along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne – one of the great road journeys of the world where there was spectacular scenery, wonderful food and hospitality – we stayed overnight in the Adelaide Hills with my second cousin Marion whom I had last seen in 1958 when she left Glasgow with her parents, brother and sister for a new life in Brisbane. Her granny and my gran were sisters, and it was good to catch up with news of the Australian relatives.
More family reunions took place when we spent another weekend in Melbourne with third cousins (through my great grandmother). Both Cliff and Olga had been in Scotland – Olga came to Scotland at the same time we were in Australia in 2005 for the Open Golf Championship in St Andrews and spoke of her memories of playing Carnoustie at that time – and again it was good to catch up with them.
Although the four weeks were busy, we had so many wonderful experiences. The museums we visited in the various places were full of interest. Some of the food was exceptional – and sometimes surprising. When did you last order fish and chips and then be served battered fish, chips, 4 king prawns and salad? Or order a starter of Vegetable Spring Rolls and be served EIGHT Spring rolls with salad and dip!
And of course – we met someone from Bangladesh! We travelled by train from Melbourne to Sydney and arrived late one night, and decided to take a taxi to the hotel. When we got into the taxi my “radar” told me that the driver was from Bangladesh. I started chatting in English and then asked him where he came from. Bangladesh, he replied. It was probably not the wisest thing while he was driving, to then begin chatting to him in Bengali – but he did manage to keep control of his taxi and we spent the rest of the journey chatting in his first language and my second.
And so, for many of you, as it is for us, that will be the holidays over for another year. But when I look at the diary for the coming months, there will be no holiday in the church. There are a lot of exciting challenges ahead. The proposed new kitchen will take a lot of effort; there are the usual special services – Harvest, Communion, Remembrance, the service for those Bereaved in the last year and before we know it, we will be into the Christmas season. There are also various special events, like the Christmas Gift Fayre and the Scottish Evening and organisations will be starting up again.
Let’s all remember that a great deal of work goes into everything that we do as a congregation, and we look forward to the continuing support of everyone in the congregation as we move forward into an exciting and challenging time.