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News From Ayr (australia, Not Scotland!)

19th of May 1997

It is no longer ‘News from Millaroo because I made the move to join Ian at our house in Ayr last October. It took us a bit of time to adjust to living together full-time, after about 18 months of seeing each other for just a day or two at weekends, but weve got used to being together again now. Were still not seeing that much of each other as I now spend 2 to 2. 5 hours a day commuting to and from Swans Lagoon. I leave home at 6.45 a.m. and get back at about 6.00 p.m. and Ian also works Saturday mornings. As you may remember from the last report from here, Ian now has a mini-photolab./shop in Ayr. He puts in a lot of hours, but doesnt pay himself much of a wage. However, he enjoys the work, meeting people and feels as if hes doing something useful.
The renovations to the house have slowed considerably with Ian working full-time, but the inside is essentially finished and we are pleased with the result. The front verandah is finished too. The floor of that was sanded back and Ian has stained it to weather-proof it and it looks really good. I now want to fill much of it with plants. It is hard to believe it is the same house that we moved into almost 3 years ago. We are now working to get the rest of the outside painted and as it is a wooden house we have to paint all of it. It is obviously many years since it was last done and so we have had to do a lot of work sanding and grinding off the old, peeling paint. We are also trying to get some shrubs and trees planted in the yard, because it is very open and bare apart from the fruit trees which we planted at the back not long after we bought the house. When we moved from Millaroo I tried to salvage some of the plants wed put in there. I took a lot of cuttings and have planted about 80 along one fenceline. The hope is that theyll form a hedge to give us a bit more privacy. We have also had a concrete slab put down at the back of the house. The aim is to build a wooden pergola over it and grow grape-vines over it. The theory is that they will shade the house in the summer, but allow us to get the winter sun when they lose their leaves.
We are not doing all this work at the best time of year as this is the wet season and for a change we are actually getting one! December and January were pretty dry, but it has hardly stopped raining in February and March. We have had two cyclones hit us. fortunately the lowest class of severity, so havent had the damaging winds, but we have had a lot of rain. In fact the reason that this is getting written is that Ive been unable to get to work today because of a cyclone! We also had a tremendous storm a few weeks back; between about 9.30 and 11.30 p.m. we had between Sand 10 inches of rain fall. Our yard was about 4 inches under water and it was several days before the surface water went. Our chickens should have been ducks; we had to put pieces of timber down in their run so that they could get out of the water. When the concrete slab was being put down the builder got all the form-work, plastic and mesh in place and then it rained for about a week. It looked like we were building a swimming pool! My newly planted hedge has also been flattened a couple of times. When the ground here gets wet it just forms a ‘soup (and sets like concrete when it dries!), so with the strong winds the shrubs just keeled over. However, Ive propped them up and most seem to be surviving.
The weather has disrupted my work too. We were due to bring in cows and calves from one of the paddocks at the end of February, but a month on weve still been unable to do it. The paddocks have turned to ‘soup, the cattle have moved to the high, rocky ground and the creeks have been running too high to risk crossing them with horses, cows and calves. This country is certainly one of extremes; areas which have been in drought for years are now suffering devastation from floods.
Ive been doing some work in Central Queensland again, at the feedlot where I worked at the end of 1995. So, Ive been travelling the 1,000 km each way every few weeks for the last 4 months. I have had a number of trips to Brisbane too and have managed to combine a little pleasure with business and catch up with family and friends occasionally. Towards the end of last year I went to an animal behaviour conference in Canberra. The weather reminded me very much of the UK – cold, wet and windy! I was very thankful Id not thrown out all of my clothes from when I lived in Scotland! Whilst in Canberra I visited the Australian National Library where there is ‘Petherick Reading Room. I managed to get some information on the person for whom it was named – an Edward Augustus Petherick (1847-19 17), who donated, to the people of Australia, his large collection of monographs, maps and books about Australia and the Pacific region. I am wondering if we are related at all.
I am excited because I am planning a visit ‘home later this year! I hope to get to a conference in Prague and will return to the UK about mid-August. It is hard to believe that it will be nearly 4 years since I left. Unfortunately, Ian isnt able to leave the business, so once more I will be holidaying on my own. I will, of course, be spending some time with my family in and around Chipperfield. I am so looking forward to being home again and I hope I will get to meet my many friends there.

This page is edited by Tony

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