Helen and I flew back into Adelaide last Wednesday 5th. What a wonderful time we have had and what a homecoming this was! At the airport to welcome us were Tim (our youngest) and his dearest Kate, with their recently arrived, healthy and already spunky daughter Amy Grace, who was born less than 24 hours after we flew out of Adelaide on August 13th. Over the 7½ weeks that we were away, Tim and Kate had kept us “in the loop” with several emails of anecdotes and goss about gorgeous Grace, and we loved and crowed over the delightful and well-chosen photos they sent. But hey, there’s nothing like the real thing when it comes to seeing, hugging, admiring and (yes!) even communicating with your grandchildren.
Tim and Kate took us to our home to find everything as it should be. But… that meant a big job ahead. While the house was empty, the tiled floor in our large living area had been replaced with a timber one (well, good-looking and environmentally sensible bamboo flooring). This had meant storing all the furniture, wall hangings, blinds and curtains in other rooms before we left, and restoring them all upon our return home. Our dear kids helped get us started by gluing felt pads to the legs or feet of every furniture item that belongs in this large space. Needless to say, we’ve left the hardest items to last – the bookshelves and piano are still waiting to be returned to their usual places.
Then there was the mail that had to be sorted and dealt with. Email has reduced this task in recent years – I kept up with the email traffic as we travelled, from hotel rooms and the homes of relatives in five different countries. And electronic banking had taken care of almost all of our bills. But there was still a solid stack of material to work through.
Finally, there was the garden. Our daughter and our neighbour had each kept an eye on the house, clearing rubbish and junk mail. But that grass and those weeds!!! Since we moved into our own home in early 2007 we’ve hardly ever had to mow the grass: at most once or twice a year. Such has been Adelaide’s long years of drought, which has come with a string of broken records that seem to us to agree with what the great majority of experts tell us about our world’s climate.
But just last summer, for the first time in our 14 years in Adelaide, our grass never dried off; nor did the roadsides and much of our agricultural land. And just this winter we’ve had the grass mower out every single month. And while we were away the abundant spring rain and warmer sun had done their best to give us a luxuriant garden, a wonderful array of spring flowers… and ankle-deep grass! And of course, many weeds growing where we’ve hardly seen them, between the pavers and among our vegetables. Adelaide is the driest capital city on the world’s driest inhabited continent, so we Adelaideans don’t complain about a year of rainfall that’s now close to the long-term annual average.
On a more personal note, we were able to maintain our fitness and trim while away despite the joys of buffet breakfasts while “on tour” and many extra treats and special dinners with our Dutch relatives. No doubt being able to maintain our regular longs walks everywhere we went helped. It was especially gratifying to us that we could still swim our usual 1,000 metres (20 laps) after 8 weeks out of the pool!
Yep, we’ve had quite a homecoming after almost eight wonderful weeks.
There was very little time to post additions to Fred’s Pages since early August, although we started well. Despite my intentions (or forlorn hopes, more likely), it soon became clear that the commitments we had taken on during our overseas travel would make it impossible to do much blogging as we travelled. But with Helen taking copious notes, my 4700 photos, and the stack of informative material we gathered up, I hope to be able to reflect on some of the many interesting and significant times we had during those weeks in Europe.