We extend our Seasons Greetings to you, wishing you a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
This year has been one full of highs and lows for us Wilsons. It began on a high note as we celebrated the New Year (2019) with Cathy and our Granddaughters in London after a wonderful Christmas in Bruges. It finished with Jill getting very sick on a trip to the USA and needing emergency surgery.
We have had some good times away together including a long weekend on Canberra in March to see the annual hot air balloon festival. Bruce was up at dawn on each day to photograph the balloons as they launched and out late in the evenings to photograph the illuminated buildings around the government triangle.
We flew to London via Perth in May and spent a few days with David, Yuki, Orin and Koa . The Perth Wilsons are all well with Yuki focused on her career and David doing some part time legal consulting work as he fills the role of a home Dad. He enjoys caring for the boys and has lots of fun with them. The local traditional Japanese families don’t quite understand this situation – especially when he takes Orin to his Saturday Japanese class and does all the things that they think Mums should do. Orin begins primary school in 2010.
After landing in London, we spent five weeks driving around the beautiful scenery in Wales and the eastern counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. The scenery in Wales was superb and we were fortunate to be able to visit a lady in the Norfolk town of Happisburgh and photograph the owls that she kept.
In August, we drove to Port Macquarie for a reunion of Bruce’s 85 Transport Platoon – the unit in which he served in Vietnam. It’s fifty years this year since he was posted there and we wonder just where all that time has gone. It was good to see a lot of his old mates again and he has volunteered to help organise the next reunion in Victoria in 2021.
We had a mishap on the way home. We planned to drive back home through central NSW and we stopped for our first night at a hotel in Armidale, NSW. Early in the morning, and in the dark, Bruce fell down a flight of 14 stairs while trying to take a photo of the sunrise.. He knocked himself out and didn’t know much about what happened until the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital for a check-up. Everything was OK – just a few scrapes and bruises.
On the way to Port Macquarie, we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary with dinner at a very nice winery and restaurant at Rutherglen.
Cathy and her girls are well. Audrey is now 12 and Violet is 9. We had a wonderful long weekend with them at the coastal town of Apollo Bay in the September school holidays.
Bruce continues his involvement in two veterans’ organisations. He is a regular attender of Vietnam Veterans events and lunches at Box Hill. He is also a member of the ‘Friends of the 15th Brigade’ – an association that honours the role of the 15th Brigade in WW1. His grandfather served in the 57th Battalion which was part of that Brigade. He is very grateful to a couple of his mates who invite him to attend the Melbourne Cricket Club’s quarterly War Veterans Lunches with good camaraderie and interesting speakers.
He has completed his role as president of his Probus club and is now a committee member with responsibility for organising monthly outings for the club.
In October, we had our least successful overseas trip ever when we did a trip to the USA and a cruise down the Mississippi River. This was a real flop as the river was in flood and we could only visit 4 of the 13 ports on the original itinerary.
On the night before we began the second part of this trip – a drive through the Smoky and Appalachian Mountains, Jill was experiencing a lot of pain in her abdomen. We rushed her to a regional nearby hospital where she had immediate emergency surgery for a ruptured bowel. She was in ICU for six days and in hospital for almost three weeks. It was a very worrying time indeed. Thank heavens for our travel insurance!
The regional hospital was in a little town named Sylva in North Carolina. The town was about the same size as Beechworth in Victoria. We are indebted to the very kind and welcoming people at First Sylva Baptist Church who took us under their wing and supported us in this difficult time. After three weeks, the doctors certified Jill as being fit enough to fly and we had a very arduous twenty two-hour journey back to Melbourne. Jill is recovering slowly, but surely. She has lost a portion of her stomach and her bowel so she is re-learning what she can, and cannot, eat.
Sylva has an imposing old courthouse on the top of a hill and it gives an excellent view along the main street of the little town.
This area of North Carolina has some very scenic places such as this old mill near the town of Cherokee. We were able to get out for a few short drives while Jill was convalescing.
We are looking forward to having all our family with us for Christmas. It will be a lot of fun having four grandchildren in the house and for Bruce who will be doing most of the cooking with Cathy’s help.
Once again, we wish you a very happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year,
Bruce and Jill.