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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

FAMILY


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.
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        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
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

        Joshua
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.
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The photo shows Josh with his girlfriend Sarah.

        Cameron
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
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."
Troy
        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.
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TRAVEL


        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)

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        Bay of Islands

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        Hobbiton Outdoor Movie Set

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        Rotorua

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        New Zealand South Island


        TranzAlpine Train

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        Glaciers !

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

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        Mirror Lakes and Milford Sound

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

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        Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
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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 ...

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... and iconic locations like Craigs Hut

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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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015

FAMILY

We have had a mixed year.

        Dad (Eric)
In March Stephen’s father died after a brief illness. He had been living happily (or as happily as possible after mum passed away) in his nursing home. The photo show him sitting in his favourite chair in his room - which is where we invariable found him when we visited. He became increasingly frail, falling a number of times. The last fall resulted in a fractured hip, from which he never recovered. He was the last of our parents and we really miss him.


(Click photos to view a larger version.)
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Here is the video tribute that was put together by Emil



        Catherine

As well Stephen’s youngest daughter Catherine has been battling cancer this year.

She had an aggressive regime of chemotherapy and radiation which was very unpleasant, but the treatment was successful as she is currently cancer free.

She showed great strength, determination, positive attitude and remarkable good humour, during this trial.

We are very proud of her.
Cath profile pic 2015


        Philip and Bev
We are having a wedding in the family!

Philip, Margaret's son, was recently engaged to his girlfriend, Bev.

They will be married in the English summer. Margaret and Michelle will travel to England to attend.
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        Hayley
Philip’s daughter, our grand daughter, Hayley, will be going to Africa with her church soon, to assist people in poverty including helping out in soup kitchens, youth groups, fitting solar lights in township and visiting a hospice Hayley-1a


        Grandkids
All of our grandchildren continue to thrive. The oldest of them, Joshua, will turn 21 this January. Although we are doing well, a 21 year old grandson makes us feel a little old.

Another indication of the grandkids growing up is that three of them have steady girlfriends.
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cam and kim-1 Cameron and Kim Jonathan and Nikki-1 Jonathan and Nikki


The rest of the grandkids are successfully progressing their education from year 12 to year 8. Our second oldest, Cameron, has just started a glazing apprenticeship.

VILLAGE LIFE


We continue to be actively involved in the life of our Village, attending and sometimes assisting with the organisation of many events.

One continuing tradition is Carol Singing before Christmas. For the last five or six years, our son-in-law, Mark, has organised a musical ensemble to accompany the music. This is greatly appreciated in the Village.

Here is a video of the most recent Carols in the Village event:


Lunches are also a thing...


... as are dances




TRAVEL


The highlight of our travel this year was a trip to South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.
        Cape Town


In Cape Town we saw Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

The photo to the right shows his cell.
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Cape Town from Robben Island
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Colored houses in Bo-Kapp area


We also spent some time in two National Parks – Kruger (South Africa) and Chobe (Botswana).
        Kruger National Park


It is truly an amazing experience to be 20 to 30 metres away from wild lions feeding on a rhino carcass.
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        Chobe National Park




In northern Botswana, Chobe, has one of the highest concentrations of animals in Africa.
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        Livingstone

In Zambia we stayed in a hotel within walking distance of Victoria Falls.

We spent an afternoon at the water fall and also took a helicopter ride over it.

We also went on a elephant ride. (We were assured by the travel company that the elephants were treated well.)
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We have planned a six week trip to New Zealand early next year. We will travel with our good friends and neighbours, Les and Jenni. The trip will encompass both Islands, and we will spend some time with Dawn and Brian, who we met on the Africa trip. Dawn and Brian live in Oamaru.

Wishing you a great Christmas, and all the best for 2016, 

                                                from Margaret and Stephen