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Water and Fire

Well, a fine good afternoon to you all, and a Happy Australia Day for yesterday! It's my second working day on annual leave, and I just did a quick dial-in to work to send John Tuggey some stuff. However, I fully intend to not use my laptop again for the next fourteen days (except in case of emergencies). After all, Jillian has come all the way from the States to see us!

We crawled out of bed at five thirty on Saturday morning to pick Jillian up from the airport. Her plane arrived at seven thirty, and thankfully she was able to get through customs within half an hour. We stopped off in Hornsby on the way home for some breakfast at the Café Florence, then spent the rest of the day getting Jillian settled in. I set up her digital camera's CompactFlash card reader on my PC, and we're using it to store her photos on until we can burn them onto a CD for her. We also sat her down and forced her to watch A Knight's Tale! We seem to be doing that a lot...

Yesterday was our big day on the water - Jillian had booked three tickets on the restored barque James Craig, which was taking part in the Australia Day Tall Ships Race. We had some great views of the harbour, although it was a high smog day, and plenty of photos were taken (especially of Rusty, the cute little Ship's Dog); I'll see if we can post some in the IMAGinewS Photos facility. The ship's third mate provided most of the entertainment, filling us in on the history of the James Craig (including her restoration) and singing some traditional sea shanties. Also aboard was the man who got the restoration project started in the early seventies - in fact, yesterday was the first time he'd set foot on the ship since the initial attempts to float her hull thirty years ago in Recherche Bay, Tasmania! Jillian got to help raise the top-sails, and we wound up passing under the bridge four times, but unfortunately, the James Craig came dead last in the Race.

We took dinner at the Blackbird Cafe at Cockle Bay Wharf. Jill was hoping to catch the Australia Day fireworks, but as we were all exhausted, we decided to trudge wearily home on the train and catch them on the TV. We were expecting it to be doubly big this year: on New Year's Eve, there are two lots of fireworks, one at 9.30 PM so the families with kids can see it, and another one bang on midnight. Due to fire concerns, the 9.30 show last year was cancelled, with he fireworks to be used for Australia Day. As it's been a very hot few days recently, there were fire concerns once again (in fact, a total fire ban has been declared for two weeks) and the Australia Day fireworks were also called off. It was a good thing we didn't linger in the city.

On the general topic of fires, those of you who don't keep up with local news will probably not know that we currently have bushfires raging in five states, with Victoria the hardest hit at the moment. There are several fronts burning in northern Victoria, and there are fears that they may join up into one huge, 120-kilometre-long front. To all of you in the general vicinity of a fire, we send our best wishes, and once again, we say a big thank-you to all firefighters, volunteer or full-time.

We've just had a nice big brunch, put together by Vickie and Jillian, and are going to head off to Hardwarehouse for a while. Jillian's hoping to find a tap fitting that will work with the adapter on the portable dishwasher Dan and Leslie gave us. I also gave Nick a call to see if he would like to come over; he would, but he has something of an earache at the moment, so he's lying in, in the hopes that it will pass soon.

The rest of the week will be fairly busy. I'm putting Madam Lash in for a service at Kmart Tyre and Auto, and we're going to have a big shopping day while we wait. On Wednesday, we'll be charging off to Taronga Zoo, and on Saturday, we're catching a show called Incognita in the Opera House fore court. The Black Talon players are also going to be popping over for a Board Gaming Night, but we still need to nail a date down for that.

Anyway, I'd better go; there'll be more news posts in the next few days!

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