Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

2000 Xmas letter

WISHING YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR.
c/o Mrs A Spooner (Glen’s sister Netty). Tel 01630 653708
41 Sambrook Crescent, Market Drayton, Shropshire. TF9 1NG. England
E-mail swatman2@hotmail.com
Christmas Greetings time again and the end of our fourth year on the road.  Where has the time gone?  Guess by now you could say we have found a liking for our new lifestyle and intend to maintain it for the foreseeable future.
This seems to have been a year for meeting friends old and new as much as visiting places. Hospitality has overwhelmed us and there would be far too many people for us to name but suffice to say we appreciated and enjoyed it all.  Ran out of time in New Zealand so would conclude that with good weather we wouldn’t have had enough time to get round it all in 6 months, will have to return.  Found the East coast of Australia very different to the West, much more commercialised and with more attractions requiring a larger financial contribution.  Overall we preferred the areas visited last year but hope to come back in the future and travel with a 4WD into more of the outback.  So a brief blow by blow account of our year:-
DECEMBER 1999 Flew to the south island of New Zealand.  On the 15th our Granddaughter Natasha made her debut.  In our exchanged motorhome we did some touring round the north-west but hovered near Nelson for Christmas and New Year.  Celebrated New Year with a party at the site and jumping into the swimming pool then packing 20 people into a 6 person hot tub.
JANUARY 2000 Set off down the west coast.  Plenty of deserted beaches or should I say deserted except for the sand flies which were a pain (literally) at times.  Driving into Milford Sound in the rain was most spectacular.  Knew New Zealand was the place for adventure sports so took on white water rafting on the Buller River, Wilkin River jet boats, tandem parachute jumping at Wanaka and Steve the bungee jump near Queenstown. Got lucky in the Catlins and swam with Hectors dolphins but unlucky with the weather and had a lot of rain and low temperatures.
FEBRUARY Enjoyed some hikes near spectacular Mount Cook but didn’t feel the whale watching trip in Kaikoura lived up to expectations.  Steve however loved his dive with the sharks there.  You pay to be sent down in a cage and have sharks swim around you, strictly for the tourists.  On the 29th we took the motorhome over on the ferry to the north island.
MARCH  Enjoyed Wellington then cut across to the east coast to Napier then in to Taupo area which we liked.  At Waitomo we abseiled into a cave, black water rafted through it, did some caving then rock climbed back out.  Loved Rotorua and visited many thermal areas and had a super night at a Maori concert and hangi meal.
APRIL  Coromandel highlights were hot water beach where we dug our own hot tub in the sand and nearby spectacular scenery at Cathedral Cove.  We were privileged to join friends at Easter when they visited their holiday home on primitive Great Barrier Island.
MAY  Toured Northland which was good making it all the way north to Cape Reinga.  Caught the annual County Rock Festival in Waitangi then turned tail cutting back down the west coast of the north island to take the ferry back to the south.
JUNE Flew to Sydney to pick up our 3rd motorhome a 28′ American luxury one.  Headed North into Queensland but the weather was poor.  Flew back to England for short visit and to meet Natasha who has red hair is beautiful and the most contented baby we’ve met.  Daniel almost 3 soon got to know us again and we were upgraded to "Special Grandma & Granddad". 
JULY  After 2 weeks in England we flew back to Australia with a 3 day whirlwind tour of Sri Lanka en route. Back to greatly improved weather we headed North making it as far as Airlie Beach.
AUGUST  Returning south down the Queensland coast we enjoyed a day trip to Lady Musgrave Island and snorkelled over the coral.  In Hervey Bay we had a fabulous whale watching trip with humpback whales coming right up to the boat.  2 days just wasn’t enough to appreciate the largest sand island in the world Fraser Island.  Gave the Gold coast a blast visiting all the theme parks at least once and winding up with an evening at Draculas cabaret restaurant then Jupiter casino.
SEPTEMBER  Made it back to Sydney in time to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary on the 13th by climbing the arch of Sydney harbour bridge then having a meal at centre point tower.  Had an absolutely brilliant time at the Olympics taking in rowing, hockey, badminton, athletics and the closing ceremony.  We were even lucky enough to be there on the night of the Cathy Freeman race when Jonathan Edwards won Gold in the triple jump for GB.  Sydney was buzzing and like New Years eve every day with lots of free entertainment and events shown on big screens. 
OCTOBER  South along the New South Wales coast.  Off for a few days in another borrowed motorhome.  This time a tiny VW Combi "The Bush Basher" which friends lent us to explore the Sapphire Coast.  Into Victoria and the typical unpredictable weather with more than our fair share of rain.  Highlights for us were the William Rickets sculptures near Melbourne,  the Great Ocean Road (Twelve Apostles Rocks and Lock Ard) and the Grampians.
NOVEMBER Had an excellent day at the Melbourne Cup Races picking the first three horses.  Sovereign Hill at Ballarat was another highlight as was Canberra which we were most impressed with.  The only blight on the month was news that Steve’s Dad had a slight stroke but we hear he is home and doing well.  Flew back to England on the 30th.
DECEMBER  Arrived back to find that one of the motorhome windows had been left open since the New Zealand people returned it in August.  With the heavy rainfall in England that leaves us with a smelly damp and in places wet motorhome.  Straight into it with us babysitting Daniel and Natasha whilst trying to get ourselves straight.  Welcome Home!  Following considerable hard graft and the expense of replacing bedding, mattress and other things we seem to be making progress.  It’s great to see everyone but we are struggling to cope with the pace of life.   The Sydney couple have asked to postpone their use of our motorhome until 2002 so we should be back exploring Europe next year hopefully starting by wintering in Morocco.  Would love to hear your news.  Take care.
Love from Steve & Glen
x
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