Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

When Margaret starts putting up the Christmas Decorations I know that I have to begin planning the Christmas Letter. Margaret's latest craft work is a certain reminder of the fast approaching season:

There is plenty to report on the activities of members of our family.

The Grand Kids

Three of our grandchildren have completed secondary education this year. Jeremy, in England, has started College studying Law, accounting and 3D graphics. Troy, has enrolled in an Certificate III as a pre-apprenticeship course, with the aim of taking up an electrician’s apprenticeship later. He is a keen basketball player, and also is a referee. Jonathan is waiting for his VCE results, before making decisions on his future and has recently returned from traveling in Tasmania with his girlfriend, Nikki. He is also active in St Johns Ambulance.   Jeremy all dressed up
Jonathan with St John's awards Troy at his 18th birthday party

Hayley is in her second year of the theology degree at the University of York. Amanda has completed year 10 at Bacchus Marsh Grammar and Spencer year 9 at Thornbury Secondary College. The photo shows Hayley with her boyfriend Richard, in snowy England.

Most of the grand kids have active sporting lives. Cameron and Troy play competitive basketball, with Troy also a referee. Josh is an excellent golfer with a handicap of 4! Amanda plays Softball and Spencer Cricket. Amanda also attends CircusFit where she is learning skills of circus activities, and works at a Roller Skating rink. Joshua continues to work as a Diesel mechanic, and Spencer regularly appears in plays with his drama group.   Cameron with Nanna at one of his basketball games

Spencer in costume at one of his plays
Joshua Teeing off

  Amanda on a ring at Circus Fit

The Kids

Catherine completed her Masters in Theology this year, and she will be taking up an appointment as Salvation Army officer in charge of Richmond corps in the New Year. She will be living within walking distance of Lygon St Melbourne, with its restaurants, bookshops, clothing shops and one of Melbourne’s best Cinemas, the Nova. She also continues to enjoy live theatre. The photo shows Cath and Spence at the Pop Up Globe
Michelle continues to excel at her wood turning. Many of our friends in the Village with a woodworking background are amazed at how quickly she has mastered working with wood. She attends the Werribee Community shed, which includes passing on her skills to a regular class of women. The photo shows one of her recent projects - a bowl
Beth continues to work in an important role in the Victorian Civil Service. She is delighted with the renovation of her kitchen and family room. Cameron, used the skills he is learning in his apprenticeship to install the flash backs. Beth and Mark celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary in November. That makes us feel old! The photo is of them at Crown for their anniversary celebration.
Philip continues to live in Preston, England, with Bev who he married last year. He has left his work with Airbus, but is still working in the aviation industry, leading a team that designs galleys for planes. Bev continues to work in the challenging field of social work. Living in England means that they can travel regularly to Europe. Lucky Ducks! The photo is at a lunch stop near the Alps
David is working on the computer systems of Australia Post, and Mark is a chaplain at Heidelberg court. They both recently updated their transport, David with a Harley and Mark with a Commodore SS, which you can see in the photo.

Margaret and Stephen

We did not go overseas this year, instead spent six weeks travelling Queensland. We travelled as far west as Winton and as far north as Cook Town. Between Charlieville and Barcaldine, driving on a long straight road, with little traffic, Margaret was chased, and fined by a policemen for driving 7 kms over the limit. She was not happy!
At Longreach we visited the Qantas Founders Museum, where many planes are displayed, see photo above.
In Barcaldine we visited the Tree of Knowledge, which has strong connections to the Trade Union movement and the Australian Labor Party (photo at left).
The bones of many large dinosaurs have been found near Winton. The Age of Dinosaurs museum, near Winton, houses, displays and prepares many of the skeletons. The photo shows bones from one of the largest dinosaurs found.
One of our overnight stops was at Paronella Park.

A photographer's paradise!

We stayed a week in Port Douglas exploring the local area.

This included a visit to an off shore island, where we saw the coral in a flat bottomed boat. Stephen also snorkelled on the reef.

We naturally visited the Daintree Forest, which included a cruise on the Daintree River, (photo below left) where we saw three crocodiles, though our best views of crocs were at Hartley's Crocodile Adventure (photo below right) near Cairns.

We did some visiting while in Queensland. Michelle, the daughter of our friends Les and Jenni, lives in Airlie Beach. We spent a very pleasant afternoon with her. As well friends from the Village, Pam and Don were staying in Maroochydore, and we had dinner with them in their swish apartment. Our longstanding friend, Jill has moved from Minyip in Victoria to a lovely house in beautiful Yeppoon. We spent three days with her and met her new partner, Edward. The photo shows Margaret and Jill's greeting on our arrival

On the way back to Victoria we visited Lightening ridge which included exploring a former opal mine as you can see in the picture.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas,  
                                and all the best for 2018,  
                                                                from Margaret and Stephen

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016


Another busy year for us and our families - involving travel and some important milestone events.

        Philip and Bev
In July Philip and Bev were married. Margaret and Michelle travelled to England to attend the wedding. They had a great time, really enjoyed catching up with our English family, and participating in such an important event.

Marg and Shelly stayed with Bronwyn and really appreciated her hospitality and company. They also enjoyed visiting York, Chester, London and Singapore.

Here is a link to more photographs of the wedding and to Margaret and Michelle's travels.
Marg Eng (20)-2
Marg Eng (32)-2-2 Marg Eng (34)-2 Marg Eng (21)-2
        Hayley and Jeremy

Hayley went to Bloemfontein in free state South Africa in August 2016 for 2 weeks.
With a group of other young people she did project work such as helping out in soup kitchens, youth groups, fitting solar lights in townships, visiting a hospice as well as visiting and experiencing different churches and the culture. Hayley is studying at York St Johns University doing Theology and Religious Studies. She has settled in well to her new life, is really enjoying the course and has made plenty of friends. She recently started to work part time at Deliveroo, which is a cycling delivery service for restaurants that wouldn't otherwise do delivery. Hayley and Jeremy 2
Jeremy is half way through year 11 has just finished his mock exams, and is now preparing for GCSE. Also he has joined a badminton club and has become the house captain in his school. He plans to go to Runshaw college and study btec sports level 3

        Catherine and Spencer
As we reported in last year’s letter, Catherine has worked very hard on her treatment for Cancer, and is continuing to recover well. This year’s project has been to improve her fitness. She regularly attends her local gym and runs around her neighbourhood. She recently participated in the Women’s Fun Run for Breast Cancer, as can be seen in the photo.

Cath as Salvation Army Officer, has filled a major role in the reorganization of the "Army's" Social Work department.
Cath run
Spencer has been attending Croxton School, and has enjoyed that caring environment, but next year he will be transferring to Thornbury Secondary College,
which will probably involve traveling on two busses or riding his bike along the local bike track. He also received a performing arts award at the school awards night. The photo shows Spence and Cath at the awards ceremony. He also appears in productions of the Victorian Youth Theatre. We saw him in two plays "Class Act & Euroheart! Forever" last June at the Guild Theatre, Melbourne University, and we were very proud! Just before publishing this letter Cath has told me of some exciting news about Spence and the VYT next year. Keep tuned at this space! Cath and Spence 3

        Jonathan and Nikki
Jonathan has had a busy time recently. He participated in the Murray River Marathon (kyacking from Mulwala to Swan Hill ) and then hurried back to Melbourne with Michelle, to accompany his girl friend, Nikki, at her Deb. I am not biased when I say that they were the best looking couple in the room. Recently Jonathan jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet in a tandem parachute jump - braver than us! Dance

Amanda completed year 9 with an outstanding effort award. She received her PFA (Provide First Aid) certificate from St Johns Ambulance. Amanda was was house captain for Braeside House at her school, Bacchus Marsh Grammar School and has started volunteering at Coopers Animal Rescue where she assists for about 3 hours every Thursday. She also plays softball in the Under 15 and Women's grades. Amanda outstanding effort 2016 v2
        Michelle and David
David has been working in his very well equipped wood working shed for many years now. In the last year Michelle has joined the Werribee "Mens Shed" (well officially the "Community Shed"). Consequently now David and Michelle have two wood working sheds as Michelle has installed wood turning equipment in the garage. She has produced some wonderful pieces, and consequently won the most improved award this year. See photo at right.

Below a pen with a wood covering and a knitting bowl.
Michelle most improved award
Michelle pen Michelle knitting bowl

Josh has completed his four year apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic and will become a qualified tradesman early in the new year. One of the most obvious things about Josh all those years ago when he was a toddler, was that he had very good ball skills. Consequently it is not a surprise that he has played ball sports as he grew up. His current love is golf which he plays at every opportunity . He has played in a number of club tournaments and has worked his handicap down to single digits.
The photo shows Josh with his girlfriend Sarah.

Cameron netball Cameron has completed the first year of his glazier's apprenticeship - "... if you need a new shower of glass splash back; that's my speciality..." . He has been selected to play in the Youth League, Big V for Broadmeadows Broncos basket ball team next year. That is one level below the Men's league. He is very excited, and training hard to keep up his fitness and skills.
The photo though shows Cam's versatility as he is playing netball!

Troy says: "Yay, finished secondary school and have a great part time job at EB Games, which I really enjoy.

I have been selected for the Under 20 Broncos Basketball Team and I am still enjoying reffing.

Looking forward to my next adventure."
        Mark and Beth
The highlight for Beth and Mark this year was the purchase of a speed boat. They have spent plenty of happy and exciting hours speeding around the bay and various local lakes. We spent a fun day on the Bay with them. The weather was perfect and the water flat which enabled some fast driving as can be seen in the video. We had a very pleasant lunch on the water off Black Rock.
Mark and boat untitled-


        New Zealand North Island

In February and March we spent a very pleasant six weeks traveling around New Zealand with our friends Les and Jenni.

        Cape Reinga (the most northerly tip of the North Island)

DSC_0780-1 DSC_0788-1

        Bay of Islands

DSC_0911-1 DSC_0678-1
BAI pano-1

        Hobbiton Outdoor Movie Set

DSC_1168-1 DSC_1177-1


DSC_1246-1 DSC_1301-1

        New Zealand South Island

        TranzAlpine Train

untitled-1649 untitled-1663

        Glaciers !

untitled-2091 untitled-2042

        Shotover Jet Boat (yes that is us in the front seat!)

untitled- untitled-2326

        Mirror Lakes and Milford Sound

untitled-2572 untitled-2605

        Dunedin, where we visited Bronwyn's parents Yvonne and John

untitled-2750 IMG_1510-3
        Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Here is a link to our New Zealand 2016 pictures

        Mansfield and Mulwala

We also did some travelling in Australia.

Thanks to Les's four wheel driving skills we saw lots of attractive Aussie bush, animals ...

_DSC4182-1 _DSC4237-1

... and iconic locations like Craigs Hut

_DSC4106-1 _DSC4099-1

Here is a link to our Mansfield and Mulwala pictures

Wishing you a great Christmas, and all the best for 2017, 

                                                from Margaret and Stephen