Friday, 28 January 2011

Safe and Sound :)

Since I last wrote I am happy to report that all my family are safe from the floods in Australia.   Over twelve thousand homes have been flooded and I cannot imagine how awful it must feel to lose everything.  However, it is so much worse in Sri Lanka and Brazil where hundreds of people have died.  Although the floods are off the front pages here, they are still happening and the centre of the state of Victoria – my homestate – has become one very large lake.  It seems so recently that I was concerned for my family being caught up in the devastating bushfires of the summer two years ago.  One of my sisters had to evacuate three times, knowing that if the fires threatened her township the authorities had planned to let them burn so they could concentrate on saving the next town that they considered to be more strategically important.  It was only a very fortunate wind change that stopped her losing the home she and her husband had spent twenty years building.

Australia is such a land of extremes.  Everything is so big, rugged and raw.  At school we were taught the poem ‘My Country’ by Dorothea McKellar.  I could recall the first lines of the second verse which I had always remembered as the start of the poem.  It was only when I revisited it this week to write my blog that I realised there was a first verse.  I had never taken any notice of this one, but having now lived in England for over thirty years, these words really resonate for me.

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies -
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
 ‘My Country, Dorothea McKellar, 1885–1968)

There are several more verses and I became quite homesick reading it, not helped by my Skype calls to sisters complaining of too much sun and too many hot days!

I have been back at college for two weeks now. I have passed my first course work and met with my tutor for my case discussion review.  We meet in groups of five students with one tutor and each week a student presents a transcript of a recent client session.  After it is read out with students taking the ‘parts’ of counsellor, client and narrator, the presenter remains silent while the rest of the group discuss the session in detail.  The presenter takes notes of the feedback then goes away and writes it up with his/her reflection.  S/he then returns the following week to present it.  It is a fantastic learning opportunity and I get as much out of my presentation as I do from the other students’.   I am enjoying my clinical work immensely and have completed 43 of my required 80 hours. It feels like the more I do the more I have to learn!  This week marks the halfway point of our course – I’m not sure that I mean it is all downhill from here though!  I am finding this year much tougher than I expected although I am really enjoying it.

After seeing five clients on a Thursday morning followed by an hour of personal counselling- an essential requirement of the course, I am thoroughly ready for my stained glass class in the evening. There all I have to worry about is getting the right stain colour, cutting the glass accurately and choosing which pub to have a relaxing pint in afterwards!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

First Day back to Uni...

It’s my first day back at uni and the thought of the amount of work to do this term is quite scary!
We finished last year with extreme weather in London and I am starting this year concerned about my family experiencing the extreme weather in Australia.  I have an uncle in Brisbane that no one can contact as all power has been cut so I am waiting to hear how he is and a sister living a  little further south who is on higher ground and quite safe.  I come from Melbourne, 2000m miles south in the state of Victoria, where most of my family still live.  Three hundred mls of torrential rain has fallen already and the much of the state is in flood.
I remember many years ago walking through flood waters up to my neck in North Melbourne.  Over the years when I have told people, many have looked at with great scepticism and I began to doubt whether my memory was correct. I now realise that I am not dreaming - it must have been the 1974 floods that are being recalled by the newscasters commenting on the current crisis.  That day I went to play netball after work.  After catching a tram with water up to the running board (about a foot deep), I had to disembark in the centre of town when the tram could get no further.  I remember taking the hand of a woman much shorter than me to help her cross a road while the water ran swiftly past us.  I vividly seeing cars and motorbikes swept into buildings with great thuds.

At the time it didn't bother me. I really was not fully aware of the danger I was in. I was young and it seemed like an exciting adventure.  I feel differently very differently now. Two years ago, another of my sisters almost lost her house to bushfires on three separate occasions, only saved by a change in the wind direction.
This week the situation in Australia is expected to get even worse as the flood waters continue to rise.  I feel so far away from my beloved Australia and grateful to be safe. Somehow my apprehension about the coming academic term pales into insignificance!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Years Eve 2010


This is my last blog for 2010 – my 17th .  I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying the break.
My Christmas was lovely – lots of seeing friends and family, exchanging gifts and sharing wonderful food and drink. HWKATT gave me a vey useful pressie – a Sony Reader e- book thingy.  You may recall I have only just mastered his last Christmas’ present, my IPOD so I am determined I will get to and it is amazing.  I am looking forward to reading my jourmal extracts on it saving on printing ink and trees
We are still enjoying the peace and quiet of this time of the year when routines are thrown out of the window, there is such a lot of rubbish on TV, interspersed with the occasional gem, and I manage to read a few books that bear no relationship to my course whatsoever. 
We are now recovering from too much good food and wine, going for lovely long walks in the greyness of midwinter.
Although the calendar says it is the new year, to me this time after Christmas is one to still conserve energy, hunker down in the warmth with loved ones and good food.  When nature wakes up and shoots appear on the trees, to me that is the time to make new year resolutions, dust off my bicycle and spring clean the house from top to bottom around March time! Starting diets and punishing oneself at the gym when everyone either has nasty colds or is just recovering from them seems completely crazy!