The Beginning of the Century

I have just reconnected with some friends in the UK whom I haven’t seen for over 12 years and was preparing an explanatory note on the last 12 years of the Durrant life.  It was during that research I found this letter which describes what we were doing at the turn of the Century and I thought it worth adding to the Blog.  What a treat to look back on this special time.

9 Radstock Street, Karrinyup, Perth WA 6018

3 May 2001

Dear Dot & Dave,

Thanks for the email today, what a privilege it is ‘talking’ to you.

It has been some time since we last wrote and the Durrant family are all very well and now living back in Perth.  However, before the latest news let me fill you in on the family happenings over the last year or two.

What a year 2000 was and 2001 so far as well!  The year 2000 included a trip to UK, one to Bali, Gareth to Hong Kong, Janet almost made a trip to the snow (but fainted at the airport and missed it) and an unexpected move out of Leinster (I was made redundant).  The Durrants are on the cusp of a new life somewhere new (we know not where) but we are now based in Perth.

Time now for the year 2000 epistle and an insight to “the year that was” and possibly a glimpse at “the year that will be”.

We start in December 1999 (long way back I know but that is how log since we have written) when we flew out to Bangkok.  Thailand was great spending the time in Bangkok with a personal guide, Ying, the sister of a friend in WA.  I introduced Janet to the thrills of the local transport, (Tuk Tuks) a motorised trishaw.  I had to have cross words with one driver because he wasn’t taking us where we wanted to go.  This frightened Janet somewhat and she must have thought we would be whisked away to a fate of a long and lingering torture.  I am sure she will never use the Tuk Tuks again.

It was a different matter when we were shopping for fashions in the markets; Janet regained her interest when it meant more clothes.  Gareth joined in everything with much enthusiasm as his love of all things Asian is growing rapidly.

Flying from tropical, Thailand to London in winter was an experience.  We were welcomed at the airport by Tim and Teresa Hobdey who had travelled up from Plymouth to meet us.  A gesture that touched us as it was a long trip just to say Hi.

We ended up walking London with them, taking in the sights, and Tim confessed he had never done the sights of London on foot.  A different country, different climate and the kids still supported the MacDonald’s chain, while watching the changing of the guard.

We caught the train to Wales and camped with the Kelly Family (long standing friends from as far back as 1977).  Hired a car, visited Ireland for a few days (only in the South East corner), travelled to Bude in Cornwall for a friend, Lester Pell’s wedding.  Travelled to Plymouth via Dartmoor, to stay with Tim and Teresa, then up to Bath with the Meyers Family.  The hospitality and generosity of everyone was magnificent, particularly when they had to put up with four adults visiting.

Bath was lovely because it was there, some four days before Christmas that snow fell covering everything in sight.  The kids had snow fights and tobogganed and just loved it all, Paul and Celia Meyers looked after us very well.

Finally we made it back to the Kelly residence in Monmouth, Gwent (Wales) for Christmas and having spent a few Christmases with them before we talked over old times and generally ate and drank too much as always.

Then in-between Christmas and New Year we flew into Paris the day after a big storm and saw first hand the devastation caused by the floods and wind.  Versailles gardens will never be the same.

The New Year celebrations commenced in Portsmouth with Janet and Dave Siddall (another pair of friends of some years).  On the 31st we started the day watching the round world coverage on TV, so we had to start the drink-a-thon early as events unfolded.  I must say how pleased we were to see Sydney go off with such a bang, probably one of the most spectacular shows in the World.

Janet and Gareth stayed up all night to herald in the new millennium, videoing the experience with their new soul mate Robyn Siddall.  Some embarrassing footage now relegated to the archives I hope.

The finale for the trip was Kay and Gareth leaving UK as planned and spending more time in Thailand while Janet and I drove to Germany (Klon).  It was quite a giggle, we left Portsmouth in Dave Siddall’s car and I asked Janet to navigate.  We drove to Dover and went through the Tunnel into France, across Belgium where the first “Oops” occurred.

Janet was navigating very well and as we approached the by-pass to Brussels Janet urged me to take a right when I took a left; only to end up in the heart of Brussels, neither where I, nor (especially) Janet intended.  Janet leaned across to me and said, “You incompetent old fart”!  I was horrified that my daughter could be so insensitive.

After an hour or so driving around Brussels we were back on the motorway to Koln.  We stayed two nights and toured the city, ate good German sausage and I brushed up on my German language skills.  Janet’s favourite spot was the chocolate factory.

We drove back to Portsmouth, Dave Siddall drove us up to London and we flew out to Australia meeting up with Kay and Gareth in the Bangkok airport.  A most enjoyable holiday.

The children settled back into school life and we to Leinster at that stage.  The pace of our social life didn’t falter with our return to Leinster as I was still on the Shire Council and a board member with the GEDC (a regional development group).  Kay’s community activities continued with the set up of the coffee shop and in late September, a telecentre was opened.  For those uninitiated a telecentre brings technology and learning to the people in remote areas.

The work year in Leinster for me was a most memorable one!  I was made redundant on 15 November after being promoted to the new position in the previous April.  It’s a long story but suffice to say, WMC and I parted on amicable terms with a payout to fund a sabbatical of leisure.

Kay had some concerns for the future; however, I was not pursuing a new role until we completed a well-deserved holiday.

The family flew to Bali to attend Terry Harvey and Fiona DeSilva’s wedding in September, a day before Gareth’s 15th birthday.  We he had a special time with the crowd from Aust. Nearly 60 attending the wedding.

The wedding ceremony was held in the gardens of the Santika hotel followed by a reception overlooking the sea and the Bali sunset.  An exquisite Indonesian smorgasbord and several quiet drinks to mark the special occasion.

Gareth played a minor role in the wedding ceremony with the 1st reading, he performed his task very well considering after being told just 10 minutes before!

We spent 9 days in Bali and stayed in a two-bedroom villa (Villa Ruma Manis) with our own private courtyard equipped with our own plunge pool.  A most acceptable way of holidaying.

I had expected to spend most of my time watching the Olympics, however, the coverage was terrible.  Therefore, I managed to gobble up a few books while Kay and the kids went shopping.

The food was the highlight for me; we ate very well and very cheaply.

For Christmas 2000 we were at my Mum’s place in Bribie Island in Queensland with me arriving first on the 11th.  Kay and the kids had been in Coonabarabran with Kay’s sister Jewel and her family.  They arrived up in Queensland on 17 December and we stayed until the 27th when we flew to Sydney to spend some time with Cliff and Ada (Kay’s parents).

The kids went back at their old schools St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School and Scotch College, Janet in year 12 and Gareth year 11.  They have enjoyed school and have been kept busy all year achieving satisfactory results.

I am pleased with their progress; they are both most worldly having travelled extensively.  They conduct themselves well in varied company and are a pleasure to spend time with.  Although, it not ‘cool’ to be spending too much time with Mum and Dad, so our family holidays will soon come to an end.

I am now working for Raytheon on a fixed term contract doing small projects and managing to do a lot of the work from home.  I intend to work for myself and see how I survive.

Kay is looking for either, work for someone or a suitable business for herself to keep her off the streets.  Probably will start with the former while arranging the latter.  Kay is well and looking after us all very well as usual.

So, I believe the future for the Durrant’s will be in Perth for a while (but you never know with us, be ready for immediate and violent change without notice).

Janet is leaning towards a Business Degree majoring in Hospitality at Edith Cowan.  Gareth is looking to a combined Law and Arts (Asian Studies) degree at UWA.

Great to hear from you and we shall keep in touch.

Much love from all

Peter, Kay, Janet & Gareth

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