This is the time of year I look forward to immensely. Summer is here; the Yuletide season, with its attendant pleasures of family, headlined by two treasured grandchildren, is soon to arrive. And I get to think mightily on the production of my annual Top 10’s, comparing them with my daughter’s. It is indulgent I know but, despite there being so many list-haters out there, it is a highlight. Some of you are probably saying ‘Get a Life’, but I assure you, my life is pretty damn fine at the moment thank you very much – and below are some of the reasons why. Yes, it is a list – a list of what rocked my world in 2013.
Month 1 -Remarkable. That’s the only word to describe her – just remarkable. In the last couple of months of 2013 Leigh has transformed the little abode by the river. The place I love has had a spruce up. It has now non-bouncy floors; new carpets – I am desperate not to be the first person to spill something on them; freshly minted built-ins and classy new items of furniture. Leigh drew it all together in her little book of dreams and has come up trumps. Of course I would live in a mud hut with my beautiful lady if she asked, but with her make-over in upping the allure of our cottage under Dromedary, sharing it with the woman I adore is even more blissful. Leigh has had to wait such an amount of time to bring her aspirations for the place to fruition. She was set to go a while back, but incorrect advice from an organisation designed to give the opposite, as well as some unfeeling bean-counters, cost her that start. But my darling is nothing if not determined, stoic and patient. She gritted her teeth, started afresh and finally made it happen. I was so in awe that she knew how to budget for such a process, saw it all come in within her parameters and then had the good taste to make it all work visually. She innately knew what would look right. Again, in this area, I proved I didn’t have a clue. Now there are only the trimmings to go. One of the endearing features of our home is the quirkiness of its imperfections, redolent of a time when constructions were put together by rule of thumb, not the tiny by-laws of petty bureaucracy. All this presented our contracted tradespeople with some challenges. Our builder, Peter was uncomplaining, bursting with good humour and was prepared to go the extra-mile for us. Our good mate Stefan was magnificent – working his way through a pluvial day making his built-ins plumb against floors, walls and ceilings that were anything but. It was Leigh, though, who pulled it all together. It was she who toiled, toiled and then toiled some more to make it the perfect transformation. The place is now almost as remarkable as she is. Each day I count my blessings that I am fortunate enough to continue to have her in my life. And I have a new man-cave!
Month 2 -There has been a homecoming that has bought with it an immense joy to this old scribbler. My beautiful, talented daughter and my gloriously brave-hearted granddaughter have left the candy pink house up north and returned to their inner Hobs’ mint green semi-detached. Since then I have taken to going on weekly ‘adventurings’ with the beloved duo, revelling in the inquisitiveness with which Tiges explores the city – it certainly has such a ‘wow’ factor for her. After doing so there is always an extra spring in my step and zing in my heart. The little one fought so desperately to be in this world and now she sucks it in for all she is worth. My daughter, so courageously stoic during that testing time, is proving an equally capable mother and to me they are both incredible beyond words. I am so proud of them both.
Month 3 – My son has settled into a new life in the little haven of Bridport with his partner Shan. The north-eastern coastline is as stunning as any other on this island of sublime beauty, with the pair of them giving me the opportunity next year of exploring it more intimately. I was thrilled when they announced that they were off to do some adventuring of their own, with a corresponding request for me to house/pet sit for them. One of my retirement dreams was to retreat to a small Tasmanian seaside community. That didn’t happen, but the dream I am living at present more than makes up for that – but thanks to the generosity of my son and his Shan, I will have a six week taste of that in the new year. And I get to renew my acquaintance with Oscar and Leopold, as well as their new addition, Memphis. And to think of the sights they will see, the people they will meet and the stories they will tell during and after their return from a European odyssey!
Month 4 – A trip to Mangoland was rich and rewarding. Reconnecting with a dear friend; reconnecting with a dear sister and brother-in law was like having gold dust in the life blood. My sister took me to see whales and plied with with fabulous news of her offspring – moments I’ll treasure. And the sun shone – it shone and shone and shone!
Month 5 – The year provided inspirations for opinion pieces and stories a plenty. As for the latter there was a room with a view and a waitress who served me a beer; there was a competent travel agent and a Sheffield party goer – just to feature a few. Of course my blog-savvy daughter and my partner’s discerning eye have been paramount in encouraging me to keep doing something I love, something that I have no doubt will continue to add gloss to my retirement years – arranging words on paper and transcribing them into the cybersphere.
Month 6 – Again the year produced much to tantalise in fine reads, cinema experiences, hits on the small screen and sublime music – stay tuned for the Top 10s! Nothing, though, moved me more than the power of the words Richard Flanagan put together to write ‘ The Narrow Road to the True North’. It was a book that constantly took my breath away. I only wished I had read it before I shook the author’s hand at his local launch – but, then again, I probably would have done a Marieke Hardly and simply been lost for words such was the impact it had on me. It also gave me immense pleasure shaking the hand of Richard’s brother Martin, having a chat with him to boot. His writings continued to delight through 2013.
Month 7 – As did my daughter’s. No book this year – the next due out in the new one. But her bloggings, haikus, poetry and ponderings of the joys of life with the Tiges continued to delight. She wrote lovingly of our trip to Wrest Point to see two Aussie knockabout music stars sing their hearts out from the great country songbook – the highlight of the live performances I attended. Adam Hills and the RocKwiz crew also came up with rollicking great shows as well.
Month 8 – All those countless cappuccinos in watering holes all around Oz are now a thing of the past as my beautiful Leigh has inadvertently introduced me to the appeal of a flat white.
Month 9 -The user-friendly joys of digital photography have turned even me into someone who can produce images of which to be quietly proud. The one, though, in the wider family who truly has ‘the eye’ is my Leigh’s daughter’s husband. This young man is quite amazing in his many capabilities relating to manly manual skills, but his prowess, his sensitivity to capture an indelible moment is equal to any I have seen. One of his latest efforts – a set of images of his son, the Little Ford Man, exploring the marvel of a play tunnel in his local park encapsulated perfectly the thrill of discovering a new experience – just one of the many reasons we all so admire Keith, as well as being so entranced by LFM.
Month 10 – On that one day in September I was high up in the air, deliberately oblivious to the events at the ‘G. On landing I soon discovered the mighty Hawks had prevailed. The victory, hard fought and gritty against a Dockers unit not at their best (although the same could be said for Hawthorn), but scratchily persistent nonetheless, was not as emotive for me as ’08. Back then I wanted it so much for my brown and gold loving daughter, who was too young for the glory years. I like the fact that they are the only team to win premierships in each decade since the Sixties, with the hope that, with them achieving the holy grail in this one, I will be able to relax. Maybe in the new year I may be able to actually watch some of their games. If there is justice, ’14 should be the year of the Purple Haze’.
Month 11 – I yet again give thanks that Willie, Leonard, Jimmy, Guy and Archie are still with us.
Month 12 – I thank She up there for the love of a mother. I thank Her for the constancy of convivial companions through life – family, neighbours and friends. By the river this existence is so sweet. I want it to go on and on and on – thanks to the wonder that is Leigh.