No sooner were we back from our wonderful UK holiday than we were heading to North Queensland to visit our daughters and grandchildren and other family members at Mackay, Townsville and Magnetic Island. Well, actually that's not quite true. We were back in Brisbane for about six weeks before we caught the Tilt Train to Mackay, but we had still not caught up with all the little jobs we needed to do in tidying up our UK holiday - we still had some thank-you letters to write, photos to send, bills to pay and so on.
While we were winding down after our holiday, some of our British friends were trying to make the most of the remaining days before Winter chills set in. Mike King's usual bright and breezy email enclosed photos of their rain soaked holiday in Spain, and gave us this description, "After you departed we went on our annual summer holiday to Mallorca, just off the coast of Spain. We go there purely for the sun and to get away from the awful English weather! Problem was that we took it with us and then brought it back again! Out of 7 days we had only 2 sunny days and then until only 3pm. The first thing we did upon arrival was to buy an umbrella and strewth, did we need it! Lack of sun did not stop me doing miles of swimming (see photo in gallery!) while my wife sat on the beach under the umbrella - I was the only person in the sea and the rain did not bother me there......"
Chris and Julie headed for the Lakes District, which we had seen both wet and dry. Jane was wishing we could be with them, but as Chris told it, " We enjoyed our trip to the Lake district despite the wet weather. We are not so sure Jane would have envied us so much if she had been with us. Water, water everywhere, even where it shouldn't. Spurting out of roadside walls and flooding roads, some of which had to be closed !!! "
We were heading to North Queensland, where temperatures at this time of the year commonly reach 30 degrees Celsius. This was our first trip on the Tilt Train, which offers a fast passenger service to N.Q. The train is very comfortable, with wide adjustable airline type seats, two on one side of the isle and one on the other, so it's not as congested as plane seating. I believe it can reach speeds of up to 160 kph but the highest I noticed was just over 140 kph. There is a little screen that folds out of the armrest of each seat, on which you can check speed, time and distances, or watch several in-house video channels. All very comfortable and convenient, and as Queensland pensioners we are allowed two free trips a year, so I can see us enjoying the Tilt Train again.
Ngaio picked us up at Mackay and we spent a couple of days with her and the boys at Eimeo before she drove us to Townsville for the opening of Kate's fashion show "Intangible Streamings' at Pinnacles Gallery. The show opened with a parade of Kate's latest collection on the Saturday night, and continued for the following weeks, during which time Kate conducted some practical workshops for adults and hands-on art classes for kids from one of the local schools.
In Townsville we stayed with my sister Marion, whose hillside home overlooks Cleveland Bay and Magnetic Island, a magnificent view. We also visited my brother George at Arcadia on Magnetic Island and spent a weekend with friends at a gathering of the Townsville Motor Home Club at a picnic spot at the top of Harvey's Range, to the west of Townsville. Add to this some visits to some other old friends, and to Jane's brother John and his wife Elaine, and you will realise our northern trip was quite a busy one.
We spent as much time as possible with Kate and helped her as much as we could, and very much enjoyed being with her and her great duo, Balin and Imogen. Unfortunately, as we live so far away we only get to see them once or twice a year. Kate is very excited to have been invited to take part in a fashion show at New York in January, so is now busily getting ready for that.
Finally we caught the train back to Mackay to spend a few more days with Ngaio and to be present at the opening of an exhibition of some of her art at the Mackay Art Space Gallery. Her collection of collage works called 'Correspondence' relates to the expression of thoughts and ideas through letters and postcards in earlier, more leisurely times, in the days before the helter skelter of electronic communication. Her local exhibition was showing jointly with an important exhibition of Australian watercolours and bronze sculptures on loan from the Queensland Art Gallery, so it was quite an honour for her to have her work included.
More of Katelyn's work can be seen at www.katelynaslett.com and Ngaio's at www.ngaiolenz.com
Jane entered Katelyn Aslett as a search on Google and, as well as some of Kate's latest fashions she was surprised to find a reference to Ngaio Lenz' Mackay exhibition.
This has been a memorable and exciting year for us in so many ways. Now we are back in Brisbane and Christmas is already upon us, with cards and messages to send, shopping to do and plans to put in place for 2009.