Nine whole weeks! That’s how long we have been stationary at Karrinyup Waters resort, a campsite in Perth. We have seen ducklings grow into big ducks and have been camped not too far from our home in Moondine Drive, which is rented out. This has been a great campsite. It is very well maintained, has a small lake with an abundance of ducks, moorhens, coots and all manner of birds, as well as a great pool with spa bath.
As you may remember from my last blog we came back to deal with Roddy’s latest melanoma lumplet. After it was removed he underwent 6 doses of radiotherapy. Radio is not normally effective for melanoma and we both know that they prescribed it so as not to say, there is nothing for it but, hey,ho, another experience bagged. Roddy had no real side-effects from it as it was very localised, some tiredness perhaps, but he felt good throughout.
Staying here gave me the opportunity to deal with a few medical issues as well. Nothing as dramatic as cancer, just a check on thyroid function, iron levels, especially as I have had a few faintness attacks. My doc said it was all good though, my system runs like a well tuned diesel engine, slow and solid. I guess the onset of the menopause does have some effects on me – moodswings and the rest, just ask Roddy!
I contacted my old school, Shenton and two other schools, Morley and Churchlands for relief work and ended up being rather busy, working full-time some weeks as an English teacher as well as Science, HE, Hass (social subjects) and especially as a PE and Dance teacher! The relief-coordinator in Morley said that most relief teachers are suddenly busy when they are offered PE whereas I looked sturdy enough to take it. Roddy bought me a whistle and I got to grips with the outdoor situation on the oval and the echoey gymnasium. Quite a different teaching experience and some days were challenging. In the classroom you can use ‘teacher stance’ quite effectively but outside they can move and turn away. Pubescent girls invent streams of excuses why they can’t participate and can become quite obnoxious. One day I was supposed to run cricket. Cricket! I don’t even watch cricket so the lesson plan made no sense to me whatsoever. Might as well have been written in Greek. Fortunately it was ok to switch to soccer or ‘normal’ football as I know it – much more fun. Another day I morphed into a volleyball coach. Watching Jane play over the years proved to be useful. I even knew what a libero was!
Being relief could be disheartening if you let it. You are a nobody to them; you have no history in the school and no status, so some kids, especially the younger ones, are delighted when they see you. They nudge each other saying, “It’s a relief teacher!” clearly envisaging a carry on. Well I was not going to resign myself to that fate. Once you have lost a class, the lesson, or even the day, is sheer hell and chances are that you will have them again another day, so foresight is essential. In the end I decided to view difficult classes as a sport in itself. I was the toughest relief teacher I could be, sussed out who the ringleaders were, dealt with them and made sure they all worked. It paid off and they did respect me so that I really enjoyed my stint, made some new friends and had good relationships with the kids. I particularly enjoyed waltzing in and out at the end of the day without prep or marking and found that my social skills underwent further training in new staffroom situations.
So how did we spend our time here apart from medical and work? Jane and Karina came back from Ukraine so we have spent some time together and Jane and I had some valuable mother-daughter time. Jane is doing very well in her job and feels at home here. She is working on a plan B to make her future in Oz happen as her working holiday visa runs out in February but more to that when it has hatched. Jane and Karina are now our neighbours as their new place backs onto Moondine Drive – just that we are not currently there.
We’ve seen a fair bit of Alex as well as our friends Kate and Tim, Isabel and Matt, Nickie, Debbie and my Shenton friends Lis and Angela. I managed to be at a retirement do at Shenton; we packed in the Rhein Donau Club with Tim, Kate, Jessica and Milton and their assorted kids and neighbours, and an Abba Tribute band in Rockingham with Marion and her sister. It was the worst Abba Tribute band ever but we had a fun night. They forgot lyrics (for an Abba purist like me a no no), played too much on the apparent wife swap fantasy, had men suck lollipops from between their inflated boobs and generally got pissed, dancing on tables and the bar as the night went on. Still, it was fun meeting another one of Roddy’s ex-girlfriends; Marion, not the Abba girls. He does have good taste – mostly.
We also went for a meal with ex Q-Maccers (Q-Mac Electronics was his company for 15 years), which was interesting – always good to gain a peek into Roddy’s backpages as he was and still is much adored and admired as the best radio engineer you can imagine. This from the horses’ mouths!
For Roddy’s birthday I took him to Freo. We stayed overnight in a B&B in the previous German embassy, which in the 1980s was a notorious nightclub called Tarantella. Legend has it that blood used to run down the gutter outside after a particularly good night there. We had a more sedate night, went for a meal and the following day visited the Parliament in session as well as a criminal trial in the District Court. This was fascinating and infuriating in equal measures, because the guy, an alleged child molesting uncle, smirked throughout the proceedings. Subsequently we attended the trial a few times, Roddy more often than me. The incidents happened 20 years ago when the girl was between 9-12 years old, so clearly it was quite impossible to have clear evidence. He even admitted his error 5 years ago at a family conference after which he wrote a letter of apology to the girl but, as individual incidents were not named then, the 12 separate events were hard to prove, despite several family members testifying against him. He now denies all guilt. Makes your blood boil! Overall, though, it was very interesting to see a live trial and the predicament the jury is in if the evidence is nebulous even though the witnesses and your gut tell you otherwise.
Nine weeks in the same spot, in rainy winter Perth, crammed together in the van resulted in a slight rough patch in our relationship. I voiced this to Roddy who was a bit shocked at first. He comes from a family in which friction is usually avoided at all costs whereas I come from a slightly more outspoken and querulous Germanic tribe in which issues are tackled in a more direct manner. Having forced the issue we talked through it, explored it to the fullest, bled it dry and found that we are as solid as ever but that the circumstances have created cabin fever. Being at such close quarters with anyone is too much of a good thing but a good thing it is nevertheless. Not that long ago and over a six year period, we bridged a 10,000 mile distance. Two years ago we began to live together properly but now we have been living on top of each other. Without the external stimulus of travel that’s just a bit too close. Had I not had the diversion of work I might have become violent. Add to that the menopause and you get the idea. However, a robust exchange later and we were reassured that we are indeed on to a good thing. We made some adjustments and the rough patch is now healed.
Drumroll….. Rio is next!
Having had all necessary and recommended vaccinations for our trip to Rio de Janeiro we will be off on Wednesday. My Brazilian host son Filipe is getting married to Renata. Filipe lived with me and the kids for a year about 12 years ago. He wanted to improve his English so he thought it was a good idea to spend a year with a German living in Scotland. He went to Marr College where he was known as Phil fae Brazil. Three years ago he and Renata came to our wedding at Loch Lomond and now we can return the favour. Excited is an understatement! It will be a f**ker of a flight (11h&14H but we have booked a long stop over in Dubai to sleep in a hotel) and I am always hopeful of an upgrade. So tomorrow we will take the van to Dwellingup, where it will stay at a friend’s yard while we are in Brazil. We will stay with Jane and Karina for a few days and fly out Wednesday morning. You can therefore look forward to revealing photos of me in a bikini at the Copacabana or impersonating the Girl from Ipanema. Or maybe not but there will be photos!