Journal: 1 January 1999

A New Year and an England victory at cricket!

We drove slowly to Sydney on the Wednesday before Christmas, via Tarrago and Mittagong. Then a family dinner with Katie's mother, sister and brother-in-law, nieces etc. Some last minute shopping in Sydney the next morning and a trip to the Cruising Yacht Club to pass good wishes to the crew of the boat I had sailed to Hobart in January. I had been invited to sail with them again, but had opted for the cricket in Melbourne instead. Then back to Tarrago for Christmas with Katie's cousins, Jilly and David Pockley.

Christmas Day was hot - about 30 degrees. A pretty relaxed day - though with a long walk in the afternoon followed by three sets of tennis. The walk was needed to exercise all the dogs: Holly, Humphrey (the Pockley's retriever) and Henry (their daughter Pip's collie). As a Christmas present, Katie had done a spoof sign listing the Pockley's home as a boarding kennel!

Back to Canberra that night and then we caught the 6.40am flight to Melbourne on Boxing Day for the cricket - just making it in time for the Lord's Taverner's breakfast at 8.00am. We walked across to the MCG for the start of play - with showers threatening. After the toss and just as the players were about to come out, the rain settled in, and got heavier as the day went on. We were in the Committee Room, so we had a pleasant day chatting to people - mostly Aussies but some visiting Brits, including Tony Lewis and Alec and Eric Bedser. We gave up at about 3pm and went back to Sandringham where we were staying with Mike and Fiona Dunham.

Back to the cricket the next day. No rain, but freezing cold and very windy. Good cricket, though, with 320 runs and 12 wickets. We were guests of the Australian Cricket Board that day, along with the Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer (just in case readers think this wasn't work!).

The wind in Melbourne was the same storm that hit the Sydney-Hobart fleet. The news gradually came through of the carnage in the fleet - though details were sketchy. A yachting friend from England, Bill Edgerton, came round to see us next morning and rang us later with the news that one of those missing was Glyn Charles - who he knew through Olympic yachting. I feel helpless, but checked with our consular staff, who had already been in touch with the Foreign Office in London about informing next of kin.

We flew back to Canberra that evening, where we had some artist friends coming to a barbeque, together with the former director of the National Gallery and her husband - and Katie's mother and two nieces. We drove Katie's mother back to her home in West Wyalong the next day, listening to the cricket on the way. It got more exciting as the day wore on, and when we got there we dashed in and watched the final couple of hours on TV.

A relaxed couple of days in West Wyalong, celebrating New Year's Eve with Katie's sister-in-law. Back to Canberra this evening and then to Sydney for the Test. I would have liked to go to Hobart for the memorial service for the Sydney-Hobart victims today, but found out about it too late. So our Consul will represent me.

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