Journal: 21 October 2000

Trafalgar Day, and also my sister Jane's birthday.

In Australia, it's Caulfield Cup day this year, and I'm writing this sitting on a sofa with Katie and Holly (both asleep) in front of a huge TV. I have strict instructions to wake Katie in good time before the big race.

We are just about organised for the drive to Perth. We spent this morning struggling to fit everything in the car. Even though we've sent most of our stuff on ahead, we still seem to be packed to the gunwales - but of course leaving plenty of space for Holly's built-up bed so that she can see what's going on.

We're staying at the main house at Pylara, owned by Jill and David Pockley, who've been fantastic. Katie was living at their son Jeremy's house nearby on the property but has now moved over here. Katie's sister and brother-in-law are arriving from Sydney shortly, and we've got lots of friends from Canberra coming to a barbecue here tomorrow before we set off on Monday.

I was expecting it to be summer, but it's been raining most of the time since I got here. Two inches over the past three days. Welcome for farmers but I got soaked taking the dogs for a walk.

It was a busy couple of weeks finishing things off in the UK. We completed on the sale of Fleetwater Farm to Heather on Friday 6 October, and I went down to stay with her on the Sunday. The packers arrived on Monday and we gradually got everything sorted out over the next two days, moving our furniture out and Heather's in. Terrible weather, but we managed to dodge the showers - though another very wet walk when I volunteered to take Heather's dogs out.

On the Tuesday, Heather had organised a party - a combined house-warming for her and farewell party for me. A bit sad to be going - the house and garden look great, and lots of good friends in the Forest. But also exciting to be setting off for a very different life.

Back to work on the Thursday. I discovered I'd sent off all by smart shoes in the container, and my brother-in-law Ian was horrified to see me setting off for the office wearing a suit and brown trainers. Quite a bit to do to finish things off at work, as well as paying farewell calls on the people I'd worked closely with in DTI, Number 10 and the Cabinet Office. My successor is being appointed by open competition, which will mean a gap. But it's good that Andrew Pinder, who had been giving us advice on some of our projects, is going to hold the fort in the interim..

Drinks for my staff on Friday evening, ending up in a local pub. Rather hung over on Saturday as I struggled to lug a horrendous amount of luggage off to Waterloo. I missed the train but eventually got down to my mother's. Spent the rest of the weekend packing and writing letters, before my mother drove me to the airport on Monday.

I flew Korean Airlines via Seoul. Food very different to normal airline fare. So were the movies, but Korean martial arts is not my taste so I listened to Grateful Dead CDs instead. Then finally to Canberra where Katie and Holly met me.

There may not be much opportunity to write or upload journals during the drive across to Perth, so next update may be when we get there.

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