The Durrant Epistle For 2004

15 December 2004

To all our dear friends and family, Season Greetings, a Happy New Year and A Most Prosperous 2005.

From Kay,

Well it’s another year gone and wow what changes have happened in the Durrant household.  We are still living across the road from Kings Park enjoying the Subiaco way of life, minus our children but never without a visitor whether it’s a Rotary Exchange or friends from around the world.

Gee January seems so long ago, we began the year with Janet in the UK and Gareth returning from Taiwan after a year on exchange.  A wind back of the clock for those that have not been in the loop, Janet left in July 2003 for a nanny job in the UK so for a time we were without the kids.  Actually that was a busy time and probably only rested at Xmas with Peter’s cousins in Darwin at Xmas.  Lounging in the outdoor spa under the wonderful steamy sky.

With Gareth arriving home in January, we found our time thrown between chauffeuring him to places and letting him rediscover the Aussie food in particular (red) meat and dairy products.  He also discovered the Taiwanese places in Perth where he introduced us to Bubble tea – a mixture of Tapioca (or similar) milk and ice.  Dried Fish Chips and lots more.  It is amazing what is available and how many times you’ve walked past an Asian or different store and not gone in.  I now drop in to all the stores (food ones) as I know the food can be so interesting to experience.

We have continued with our own business and for my part have enjoyed getting back into real estate at the property management level.  I have had some good contracts this year and hope to develop more next year.

I was in the UK from 24 March to 25 April.  Visiting old friends and of course our daughter Janet and niece Amanda.  It was lovely to see the old places of fun times.  We had a wonderful time with Cyril and his family in France.  I understand now why Cyril was not fussed about our white beaches and blue water.  He lives, about 500m from the beach in Biscarrosse, a truly spectacular setting with pine trees, huge sand dunes and great surf most days (that’s what he says).  It was interesting to see all the family at some time of the morning dash off to see what the surf was doing.

We enjoyed time in little wineries (caves) near Bordeaux, visited Baritz – Napoleons Summer home and had a great time discovering the food.  No wonder we both returned with extra baggage.  Stopped by Bristol (Janet needed to Shop) enroute to Wales.  So Easter was spent in Wales with the Kelly gang.

To celebrate my “one before birthday” Janet arranged for an afternoon tea at the Ritz.  A wonderful time was had by all, I think the most impressive part was the ladies loo with a male assistant, that appeared from nowhere with an extra soft hand towel.  Just as well I wasn’t adjusting my pantyhose.

This year I followed Peter helping in a Federal seat.  My role was with Swan just south of the city.  A big chunk of very diversified people.  Our candidate, Andrew Murfin, was up against some strong labor areas, Gallop and Ripper hold 2 of the 3 state seats within.  Our achievement this time, although we didn’t win we now can claim Swan as the most marginal seat in Australia, a mere 108 difference.  I must admit I was tremendously inspired by the energy of the older members of the community.  Yes, as retired persons they have a little more time than most but for them to stand all day or deliver 500 leaflets and then offer to do more that night.  I was impressed and hope I have the energy and passion to do those things in my seventies.

Whilst doing the political thing I juggled the work contract and continued to prop Peter’s social life with a few dinner parties at home, but with a busy life style this year, my new kitchen of last year didn’t get as much use.

We often talk of the small world we live in, and this year has proven the statement. Whilst dropping her charges at school Janet spied a familiar face at the gate.  For all those Liensterites it was none other than Chrissy from Day-care.

My parents Cliff and Ada continue to travel, although not as far as before.  They seem to be in good health and are enjoying their visits to our latest family members, their great grand children.  Millie’s in Coonabarabran and William’s in Sydney.  So time has passed on and our next stage of our ageing has arrived.  I am now a great aunt, but most of all my sister is a nanny or a grandma.  Doesn’t seem so long ago we were playing dress ups under the tank stand at home.  And I’m 50 next year.  We’ll be celebrating my birthday in Beijing.  You are all welcome.

This Xmas, while Janet and Gareth are o’seas, we’ll have Amanda my niece, Cyril (ex rotary) from France, (he arrives next week with 2 mates) all to experience WA’s summer.  So our house is never empty nor is it full so should you think to visit WA please don’t hesitate to look us up.

From Janet

Hi everyone – Well it’s finally that time when dad has sent me an email saying that if I don’t write something for them to put in the Christmas letter I get taken out of the will!  So here it goes.

It’s the end of 2004, which has probably been the most exciting year of my life SO FAR!  I’ve been to Gallipoli for ANZAC day, Pamplona for the running of the bulls and Munich for Oktoberfest.

I left my first nannying job at the beginning of July and did three weeks of travelling in Spain and France.  I came back to London and started the job I’m currently in now.  Still nannying, I look after two girls, Hope (11) and May (8).  They have a brother Benedict (13) he is away at boarding school during the term and during the holidays is too cool to need a nanny except for when he needs to get somewhere!!  I live in with the family in Battersea southwest London, it’s a great location only 20 mins into central London on public transport.  In the holidays we go down to the country and stay with the grandparents in their 11-bedroom house!  This is were I manage to do a lot of things that weren’t in the job description!!  All in good fun though, tacking and grooming ponies and getting seriously muddy!

I spent six weeks in Europe in September and October.  Three weeks with a friend and three by myself.  There was nowhere I could say that I disliked and I have too many favourite places.  I had the most fun in Munich at Oktoberfest, the best scenery was in Austria and the most interesting place for history is definitely Berlin.

Being an Aussie in London is definitely not unique.  Every time I leave the house I hear an Aussie accent and all the friends that I made are Australian too!  I’ve had a few friends visit from Oz including Mum.  I am continually blown away by what a small world it is, meeting people that know people I know from home or even running into people I didn’t know were over here!!  The only thing that makes me miss home is the weather!

So I hope you’re all well and lapping up the warmth for those of you in Oz.  I hope the New Year brings you lots of exciting adventures!  Merry Christmas.  Love Janet

From Gareth

Well, 2004 has been a pretty hectic year.  The beginning of 2004 saw me return from Taiwan and start my university life in Australia.  It was harder to leave Taiwan than to go, I have to admit being back took a bit of adjustment.  But, soon as university started and I became reacquainted with old friends things were as if I never left.  I loved university, the people, the environment everything about it was great.  Made heaps of amazing friends and have a zillion laughs.  I was studying Asian studies and commerce.  Focusing on Chinese and Indonesian.  Loving every moment.  Half way through the year I applied (more on a whim than anything) for a scholarship to study university in China.  I guess I really wanted to keep travelling and the prospect of someone paying me to do so was a bit of a draw card.

And so here I am!  Studying things like contemporary Chinese literature in Beijing, spreading my time between my German, Korean, Japanese, American, and British friends.  And having a great time.  China is an amazing country and Beijing is the place to be!  It’s dry, cold and unfriendly but it’s tough and straightforward.  Beijing has the edge over the rest of china.  Beijing is the cultural centre, the political centre and just an all-round happening place.  Not sure how long I will stay, whether I finish my Asian studies degree here or will come back after the year.  I think I’m having a little too much fun to worry about all that.  If anyone wants to swing my way and have a not so average holiday, make sure to look up an old comrade!

And Finally From Peter

Life really is fantastic, I am set up for a lifestyle not necessarily working because I have to.  Obviously we need to pay the bills but I no longer want to work to live, I want to live to work.  I am up early every morning and just enjoy what every day brings.

Kay and I contract under our own banner and whilst it is sometimes disconcerting that we are not sure where the next contract and the next dollar comes from I want to give this a really good go.

Kay is not as comfortable with the process as I am, and there may come a time when I have to go and work for someone again on wages but whilst we think positively I believe we can survive.

My main role for this year started in March when I commenced as the CEO of the Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation.  The original Duyfken was a fast armed ship, a jacht, probably built for smuggling or for privateering in the Netherlands struggle for independence from Spain.

In 1606 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) sent the little ship Duyfken, captained by Willem Janszoon, to search for “south and east lands” beyond the furthest reaches of their known world.  Leaving from Banda (Indonesia), the Duyfken reached the Cape York Peninsula and charted 300km of the Australian coast.  The Duyfken is important because this was the first historically recorded voyage to Australia.  The 24 metre Duyfken replica which was built at a cost of $3.7million to help tell the little known story of Australia’s first recorded European visitors, and to counter two of Australia’s popular historical myths.  That Dirck Hartog was the first European to step ashore in Australia and that Captain Cook “discovered” Australia.

Now I have the task to organise a viable future for the Replica and that will include gifting her back to the WA Government to be vested in the WA Maritime Museum for the people of WA.  Whatever timeframe may take I have been thoroughly enjoying looking after a 16th Century wooded sailing ship.

Politics continues to play a part in my life I continue as Policy Committee Chairman for the WA Division of the Liberal Party, but no longer President of Mt Claremont Branch.

I ran the Federal campaign for the Seat of Kalgoorlie again and saw Barry Haase to an increased majority.  Now I am running a State Campaign for the new seat of Mindarie.  That will be quite a challenge as we try and arrest Government from the ALP after only one term in WA.

Again Rotary is omnipresent a role of Assistant governor and Chairman of Rotary WA’s Membership Committee was supposed to be all, however, I have remained Director for International with my Club in Karrinyup.

The main focus for me with the Karrinyup club has been the Youth Exchange Programme.  We received Gareth back from Taiwan, dispatched another young man, Matthew, to Finland, received a young lady, Angelika, from South Africa and had another young lady, Juliana from Brazil stay with us for two months.  Now we are preparing to send out Jessie to Canada, await Matthew’s return and receive a new young lady from Japan, Yoko.  What a fantastic programme it is.  Our district sends about 25 out and with all the Rotary districts in the world doing the same we have hundreds of young ambassadors experiencing life in another country every year, year after year.  That is a solid contribution to better international relationships.

This year is Rotary’s Centennial year and in March we will hold the WA Centennial Gala Conference to celebrate Rotary.  My role as Membership Chairman for all three WA Rotary districts focuses on what we can do to attract more members to this worthwhile service organisation.  A hard task in a most competitive world.  When I compare Rotary to Duyfken I see a myriad of volunteers doing so many good things for the community.  I am forever amazed at people’s generosity with their time and efforts.  Much better than listening to the news highlighting the bad examples.

In the process of marketing Rotary, or the Duyfken for that matter I cannot get good stories to print so we are looking to invent something different to enable a few good news stories to get out.

For example, shortly we will have Ian Parmenter of Consuming Passions fame conduct a media call onboard Duyfken.  Consuming Passions, is working with the Australian Government through DFAT and Tourism Australia, on a major promotion of Australia in Los Angeles.  The promotion is of food and wine, tourism, business and investment, film and art and runs from January 15 to 23.  Titled G’Day LA, it involves a host of celebrities including Mel Gibson, Greg Norman, Delta Goodrem, Keith Urban and a host of other ‘stars’ along with such politicians as Alexander Downer and Bob Carr.  They are very keen to maximise the coverage of the event within Australia and to this end are holding this media event on Duyfken.  It’s a good, positive story for the State.

The Duyfken is therefore perfect to add the tourism dimension to an otherwise foodie occasion.  Working closely with WA Fisheries, they will cook up some seafood, possibly on the ship, to attendees, which should include politicians – possibly the Premier – all TV news services, print journalists, food producers, fishers, winemakers.  Free publicity is always good.

On a sadder note we mourned the passing of Valerie Curtis and Gil Lawrence this year, two special people in our lives.  Kay and I managed to get to Darwin last Christmas and spend a delightful time with Val in her home.  I corresponded with Gil and rang him for a great chat before he deteriorated, and cherish those memories.  Makes you want to enjoy your own life that much more when you know how temporary it all is.

I went to Brisbane between 3 and 6 June for Don and Chris Valentine’s surprise 50th/ Anniversary arranged by their daughter Tammy.  I really surprised them and Tammy did a superb job keeping it all from Mum.  The bonus being I stayed with Anne and her family for that weekend and caught up on their adventures, a very special weekend.

I spent a couple of stints in Geraldton with the Duyfken, a period in Kalgoorlie with the federal Election but mainly stayed home, having a suite of visitors.  The Mellowship’s came to Perth for a couple of weeks in September, which was great to see them again.  Nephew Gregory was here for the University games and he and I had fun chatting over the period.

Christmas day will be with the Bain Family lots of fun times with the Curr family and I am sure a most festive and fun time ahead.  Still working on a New Year’s Eve plan.

Have a wonderful Christmas and all our love and kisses for a fabulous 2005!

Kay Peter Janet & Gareth


2 thoughts on “The Durrant Epistle For 2004

  1. I’m not sure if you feel the same way, but I do sometimes feel that these things are a little cringe-worthy, still the idea that I blazed off not sure how long I would stay, whether I would finish my Asian studies degree there or return after the year, is interesting. These full-steam-ahead decisions seem rash at first, cause they seem so sudden, but they’re not really, you’ve already assessed the pros and cons (even if only subconsciously), so when you things come up and every bit of you says ‘this is it’ so there isn’t a lot of need for hesitation. I also like how this epistle notes both the return and subsequent hasty departure of the prodigal son in the same year, something that has become somewhat of a M.O.

    • The interesting part of this for me is that it was and probably still is my MO. I took off from home daily as a kid. Spent time with mates – off on my bike regularly returning at dark contrary to my parental direction.

      When I got the opportunity to escape – run away and join the Navy at 16, I was gone. When I had just a glimpse of leaving the Navy to disappear into Exmouth leaving Mum with a demolished home to put back together and follow – I didn’t hesitate.

      The root cause of this was my nagging and domineering Mother and this has come out from extended chats with psychologists over the years. There is a strong sub-conscious that drives me and is really hard to control.

      As for this being a little cringe-worthy – I presume you refer to reading the epistle after all these years – it has been cathartic for me.

      This blog is helping me put all my thoughts into order and it is taking a long time but I am really enjoying the process. I think about writing in the blog a lot but rarely have the time to do it. But I think I will get better if I get more comments like this – thank you

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