Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

2005 Xmas letter

Steve & Glen Swatman

c/o Mr N Dickins. 180 Rhinds Road. Wallington. Vic 3221. Australia                          E-mail Tel 0061 406 003211

Once again it’s time for me to compose my annual Christmas letter, this time from Australia.  It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were on the Canary Islands in “Charlie” our motorhome, such a lot has happened since then – read on!


Last year ended rather badly as our motorhome was broken into on our last day on Tenerife.  Parked at a shopping centre the front passenger window was smashed and our laptop, binoculars and mobile phone were stolen (typically the insurance company found a get out clause and did not pay up).  The biggest problem was getting a replacement window for an American vehicle; luckily we found a company who cut down a front windscreen to fit. 


We then took the ferry to Grand Canary Island.  This held little appeal for us as it was mainly very touristy and motorhome unfriendly.  We drove all around the island in 4 days then caught the ferry to Fuerteventura and instant paradise.  Plenty of nice free camping behind lovely white sandy beaches.  By Christmas we were in the fishing village of El Cotillo and liked it so much we spent the best part of 3 months camped at the Lagoon Beaches.  In January Claire, Daniel & Natasha and Claire’s friend Catherine joined us for a weeks holiday.  We had a super time showing them a few resorts but mainly parked at the beach and enjoying our grandchildren.  Records were broken for rainfall but at least the island looked nice and green.   Whilst parked up we put a “for sale” sign in the van.  Amazingly an English couple staying at a nearby hotel saw it and agreed to buy it with delivery to them in Portugal.


We managed to see the highlights of Lanzarote in our last week prior to catching the ship back to Cadiz in Spain.  It was a short drive to Portugal to say a sad farewell to Charlie, our home for much of the last 8 years.  If you’ve ever tried packing for a long holiday within the airline baggage allowance you can imagine what it was like for us trying to select possessions to the 20kg limit for our flight back to England.  We sold Charlie for a combination of reasons but mainly that we want to spend more time in Australia and back packing other countries and always seem to have problems when we got it out of storage.  However we do intend buying a van to tour Europe in the distant future.


Arriving back in Manchester with no car and no home we were very pleased to be met by Claire, David & Donna.  Our 4 weeks back in England were spent catching up with friends and relatives and planning our next trip. 


We intended going to India for 6 months to do voluntary work so began our course of injections in preparation.  At the last minute (but fortunately before we had booked our flights) they moved the goal posts on what they wanted us to do there and we backed out.


It took us just a few minutes to decide to go back to Australia.  Billy, our small campervan, was waiting at Bev & Norms complete with an “I’ve missed you, welcome back” sign!    We drove to the Sunshine Coast for our friend Ken’s amazing all weekend 70th birthday party.  Traveling up the Queensland coast we encountered lots of rain but had many friends to visit.   We enjoyed Christmas in July at one of our favourite naturist resorts in the Whitsundays.


With no sign of the weather improving no matter how further north we went we turned inland and made our way across country then up to Darwin to rendezvous with Bev & Norm and other friends at a naturist resort.  Talk about from one extreme to the other; we hit the hottest winter on record for the Northern Territory. 


Dropping back down through the centre we had the opportunity to visit friends at a remote Aboriginal community and what an enlightening experience that was including the 150km rough dirt road to get there.  By Alice Springs we realized there was a big problem with flies, people were even wearing fly nets in the towns.  After last years dry wet season there was little water around so we continued into South Australia and round the most enjoyable Yorke Peninsula before visiting many friends in Adelaide. 


It’s late November now and we are traveling through the Riverlands heading for Melbourne. 

We’ve been invited to a traditional Victorian Dickensian Christmas – in other words Christmas at Bev & Norm Dickins’s who live in Victoria. 


We will be in Australia until next March when Claire comes out to join us for the Commonwealth games in Melbourne.  When she flies back to England we will head to Malaysia for 7 weeks backpacking, mainland and Borneo (any tips welcome).


At this stage we are hoping to visit Southern Africa for the latter part of 2006 but as you may know we often change our plans.


Family news – (no that most certainly doesn’t mean that I am in the family way!) – David has had a few ups and downs this year.  A highlight was going to Turkey to watch Liverpool win the Champions League and a low was having an accident and breaking his ankle badly.  He still lives in Prestwich with his wife Donna and 3 of her 4 children.  Claire is happy in her job doing accounting and her husband Daz has now finished university and is working as a psychiatric nurse.  Daniel and Natasha are both doing well at school and growing up fast.  Glen’s Mum is still in Market Drayton and continues to teach music and lead an active life.   Steve’s Mum and Dad moved from their hillside mobile home into a small flat in Bingley which is much more convenient for them. 


We hope this also finds you well and that you have had a good year.  We love to hear all your news either by E-mail or snail mail – our address in Australia is good until March.


If you would like to receive my 2006 monthly diary by E-mail then please let me know.


Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year. Love from Steve and Glen xxx




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