On Saturday we watched the Australian National Penny Farthing Championships, held in the historic village of Evandale in central Tasmania.
This year’s event was a scaled back event due to covid, yet still fun a fun day out. Races were run over a triangular course around the village. There were various races, sprints, mens’, ladies, juniors, veterans, relays and obstacle (run, carry and push the bike, ride it). Also ,a 20km road race.
There were food and craft stalls, an interesting village store. Some locals dressed in 1800’s costumes.
When the championships started back in 1983 the penny farthings were originals. Now many have been newly manufactured.
Christmas Carols by the Beach was a highlight of my December.
It’s been two years since I’ve experienced a summer season.
My seasons in the past 18 months have been … winter – spring – autumn – winter – spring – autumn – winter – spring – finally summer … as I was in the UK in November last year until March.
So I’ve been making the most of blue skies, warm sunny days, visits to the beach, reading on our deck, a swim on Christmas Day.
I decorated our driftwood tree and created some other tree like ornaments.
Our office elves were back, bringing lots of fun and daily hide and seek.
Face masks are now mandatory here in Tassie so we are getting used to wearing them all day in the office. Our borders opened to all of Australia on 15th December when we had zero covid cases. Today we have 520 active cases, 137 new cases in the past 24 hours. Covid is here to stay and we’ll all have to get used to living with the virus in our community.
Saying “happy new year” doesn’t really feel right today. Instead, I’ll say best wishes for 2022. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of this pandemic.
This is my contribution to “Changing Seasons” hosted by Ju-Lyn and Brian.
We moved to Australia in 2015 so my brain knows that December here is summer. But this time last year I was back in the UK from November through to March and it seems my brain has reverted to December must be winter.
Here are a couple of photos comparing my summer Christmas and my winter Christmas.
The hotel hosted a challenge to create something from the meal bags. I made use of the metal lamp that was in my room. It was a perfect shape for my gum tree. The leaves moved in the air conditioning.
I enjoyed knitting these colourful cosy socks.
The only people I saw during the 14 days were nurses for a covid test on day 2 and day 12, then a doctor with police escort on day 13 who confirmed negative test result and gave me a letter authorising my check out on the final day. It was exciting getting the wristband which eased the check-out process.
Although it’s been mandatory, this quarantine has been a good experience, a retreat, time to reflect and recharge after a hectic and intense year.
Although I was able to get a flight out of Australia within a day, it took me 3 months to get back.
Government limits on international arrivals means there are few commercial airlines actually flying to Australia, those that are flying can only have 30 or 40 passengers on each flight. Flights were cancelled or rescheduled as quotas were reduced by the government. A ludicrous situation.
On 10th December the earliest Business Class seat I could get was on 25th January. That flight got cancelled. The next available seat was 4th March. I had to pay £ 4,500 again, waiting weeks for the refund of the cancelled original booking. Ironically it was cheaper to get a return ticket One way to Sydney was over £5,000. Economy tickets were even more scarce.
The 4th March flight was also cancelled. Fortunately, my UK travel agent was able to move my booking to a flight on 9th March. Third time lucky.
I celebrated with a few glasses of bubbles and enjoyed the full Business Class experience. Heathrow long haul departures was empty.
Thousands of Australian Citizens have struggled to get home in the past 18 months. There are still 38,500 Aussies stranded overseas.
Behind this number are real people, living in highly stressful situations of uncertainty, financial impact, juggling employment, housing when expected departure dates keep changing. Missing family and friends, missing the big life events.
I was fortunate to have a house to live in, have financial stability, have a job I could do remotely and have my daughter staying with me.
The sale of Mum’s house was going smoothly but the logistics of actually clearing the house and moving out, getting specific PCR tests within 72 hours of flight, was a leap of faith, knowing that flight could still be cancelled at the last minute. It was a very tense time.
Government repatriation flights were few and expensive. For many people, they have been a last resort after multiple cancellations.
I know that we chose to live in an ex-convict settlement, but I never expect to be Locked Inside Australia, unable to leave without Government permission. That has been the reality for 18 months.
This is my experience of leaving Australia in November 2020…..
I had to get permission to leave Australia due to the total travel ban. My dual nationality helped me get permission on compassionate grounds.
At the airport, the check-in clerk had to phone the government department in Canberra to confirm each passenger. I knew there would be mandatory 14 day hotel quarantine on my return.
I arrived at Heathrow and walked straight out. No one checked where I had come from. No one said anything about quarantine or self-isolation. No one checked that I had completed the UK “Passenger Locator Form”.
Sydney had 9 international flights leaving in a 12 hour period. Flights were almost empty.
Airport was like a ghost town. Only a handful of food outlets open. A couple of shops to buy books, magazines, etc. One Duty Free shop open. All designer shops were closed and empty of all stock, abandoned spaces.
Flights were the best I’ve ever taken. I had 18 seats to myself in economy. No queues for the toilets.
Passenger gift bag had no socks or eye mask, but face mask, hand sanitizer and anti-bac wipes. Face masks were mandatory, even when seated.