Fr Jude Down Under

Part 1

Letter from Oz,
Maybe you can use some of this in the newsletter. Don't know how long it is!

Thanks to Fr Thomas who drove me to the airport the other Monday, I am sure
you are looking after him.
Golf clubs and case were soon checked in and a visit to duty free was next.
My brother In law had asked me to bring him some Saffire Gin and it was at
the entrance along with a lady wearing  a polo shirt for the gin. it was on
a crazy offer of about 2 bottles for £15 to people going beyond the E U.
Gleefully clasping two bottles she asked me where I was going."Oz". "Sorry"
she said, "Oz, only allow you 10 centilitres of liquid from the UK" I
thought that was a very small of gin and wondered about the bottle of gin
and bottle of Yellow Chartreuse already in the case! She did tell me I could
buy 2 bottles in Dubai which I did. A seven hour flight to Dubai, then an
hour wait and a 13 hour flight to Sydney! "Keep moving your ankles"!
I met the customs officer with my dog-collar on! He smiled and let all the
grog come in! He was more concerned with 'dirt on the golf clubs'. But the
were all scrubbed up. My niece met me and by now it was 11pm on Tuesday.
Straight to bed and after a good sleep I had dodged jet lag.
After a day or so in Sydney (so expensive) we flew down to Melbourne to meet
my sister Angela and have 2 days at the Melbourne Racing Carnival. They have
a super transport system where you get a special card that allows to travel
on trains, buses and the famous Melbourne trams. On Friday, All Saints day
we want to mass at St. Francis's church. So many people from the Far East,
and so friendly and happy.
Saturday was Derby Day at Flemington Race course. Some 70,000 people were
there. Men and women, young and old, so beautifully dressed, fascinators a
plenty! Breathtaking sights of the massive stands that went on and on.
Betting!? First 5 races... Nothing. Then a UK horse with Jamie Spencer
riding was in the 6th race. Money on and he soon went into the lead (unusual
for him) and he held on to win... 14-1. Apparently I was jumping up and down
and shouting my head off! I turned round to see the whole stand behind me
(we had seats in the front row) smiling and gently clapping me! It turned
even better as I had put a couple of dollars on the forecast which came too!
The Derby followed and I picked that one and the forecast again! Both days
tickets paid for and a handsome profit to boot! I bought dinner!
On Sunday we knew that mass was on the hour every hour at StFrancis. So we
ended up by pure chance at the 9.00 mass and I told Angela I would go on the
altar and concelebrate. By 10 to 9 the church was packed apart from the
'reserved benches' at the front. I saw the parish priest who was delighted
to have me join them. I went into the sacristy and there was a man holding
the Melbourne Cup. The 9.00 mass was the annual Melbourne Cup Racing
Community Mass. Trainers, jockeys, bookmakers, owners and the Premier of The
State of Victoria all did the readings and bidding prayers. Racing trophies
for the festival, saddles and memorabilia came up at the offertory
procession and yours truly turned a Few heads when I piped up in the
Eucharistic prayer in my Pommie accent. After mass I had a photo taken
holding the Melbourne Cup. The gospel was the story of Zacchaeus, who was a
little man, and according to the preacher came from a family of camel
riders! Harrison, falls on his feet again.
The big cup day was Tuesday with some 120,000 people there to watch the race
that stops a nation. 10 races today. Early start. Not too much success today
but enough to leave me happy. The atmosphere, fun, entertainment and
fashions on show was mind boggling. The 'bucket list' was ticked on a
fabulous day.
Now up in N S W to see the nephews and nieces and their big families. It is
about 30 degrees at 10.30 am... Sun cream on and just seen some pelicans on
the lake... Like you do!
God is good and I hope you are too.
All my love, prayers and thanks
Fr Jude xx


Part 2

I arrived in Albury, a 4 hour train journey north of Melbourne, on the
Wednesday after the Cup. I did not see any kangaroos on the way... I did see
an emu, a few llamas and about 10 million sheep and cows. I stayed with my
nephew and his wife and the 6 children still living at home; the 3 eldest
have flown the nest! They have a deep love for the faith. They will go to
evening mass when there is one. They always have the family rosary after
dinner and I now know the Chaplet to Immaculate Heart of Mary. Simon and his
wife Kathleen have founded a catholic school for those who wish to deepen
their faith and with help from the state 100 children attend it. I went
there and celebrated mass for them. At the assembly afterwards I wore my
England Cricket shirt/ England floppy hay and England Cape .... We had words
about the future Ashes test match that I will be going to... Lots of fun..
And booed.... Great fun.

My nephew Simon was hoping to have a day off on Thursday from the Pharmacy
he owns but his partner's wife had her baby a week early! All the plans of
mice and men! But we did mange an hour together at the local golf club for a
beer and a pie... Not the kangaroo pie I have been searching for all
holiday!

On Saturday all the six children who are all girls went with mum and I to a
town called Beechworth, an hours drive up into the hills, to take part in an
annual Celtic Festival. The girls were all part of a local dance troop.
Where there any kangaroos on the way...... No... Only a flock of cockatoos
and more sheep. Beechworth is an old gold mining town. The buildings were a
bit old Wild West style. Wooden and with verandas with iron railings. Very
historical. There was a large parade with 6 pipe bands all in kilts as well
as the dance troops. The troops did their dancing on the streets in the
relatively cool windy sunshine.

It was Saturday, so I was dressed in my Burnley top an as we walked along a
family were coming the other way and a voice said "the guy's wearing a
Burnley shirt". An exile Claret of 23 years. He knew of the present success
and parted practically brothers.

Where was I. Burnley fan.

After an hour drive back to the family house on the edge of Lake Hulme we
continued in the family 10 seater mini bus for a town called Yass. Simon and
Kathleen and the 6 girls plus 'Uncle Jude' set off for the 220 mile journey
to meet up with Anne and Andrew and their 2 girls. I would be staying with
them for the coming weekend. Simon was happy to drive then 220 miles there
and another 220 miles back after a meal ! " We don't see them too often"
Simon said. He said it was a good fast dual carriageway and so long as he
missed hitting kangaroos he would be fine to do 440 miles that afternoon/
evening and very little traffic.
Can you imagine driving to London, leaving at 4.30pm and coming home after a
meal there ! It is what they do in Oz.
It was lovely to see Anne and Andrew. I presided at their wedding in Albury
20 years ago. Andrew works for the Ozzy government in intelligence. My
sister Angela says 'Andrew is spy... But he is nice spy as he doesn't kill
people'. I had a steak in the pub at Yass. I had hoped for a kangaroo steak
but they weren't on the menu.
It was only an hour's drive to their house in Canberra, the Ozzy capital
city. A relatively modern city which was built from then1920's onward. It is
incredibly spacious and spread out and well worth a visit. We got to their
house in the rain and this continued for the two days of my stay during
which they had over 2 months rainfall. Clouds followed me as you will hear.
We went to mass on Sunday and their younger daughter Lizzie was an altar
server. Great to see the family involved at church. We toured the War
Memorial, the 8th wonder of the world in my view. It has 2 magnificent
hallways with plaques a bit like our in St Alban's but with many more names
per board than ours. On them are carved the names of 10's of 1000's of
Australian men and women who have died in combat: many in conflicts and
places I had never heard of: and they probably hadn't either. I was taken to
museum with an exhibition of Captain Cook's discovery of Oz. His actual
daily log book was on show.... A very big book! The tour guide was asked to
read some of it out loud...."put on a Yorkshire accent"... Someone asked...
She laughed with embarrassment... "Can I help" ..... Said I ... And helped
her out. I guessed that no one present would know the difference between the
Lancashire/Yorkshire accent, and I laid it on thick!
2 wet days went quickly and I was popped on a small coach to travel over the
mountains down to Bateman's Bay to my sister's, a 2 and a half hour journey.
B. Bay is the sea-side resort for Canberra. I was dropped off at Angela's
front door! A good job as I had no idea where she lived and just in time for
a beer and a G and T. Angela and Chris are such a happy couple and so
thrilled to have me with them for a week or two and are giving me a relaxing
time. Still in my jimjams writing this at 10 am! and glancing over my
shoulder at the 17th green of the golf course besides their home..... What a
spot!
I have played twice already. It would have been 3 times but it rained on my
first night.... It rained and rained.... The had 6 inches ..yes INCHES .....
It flooded their ground floor and the first day was spent on a massive clean
up operation... For once I was very useful. With my tales of rain I was now
now called Fr Noah Jonah Jude!
So far.... No kangaroo pie. All Ozzies drink full fat milk. Cockatoo birds
are noisy, especially the ones on bedroom balcony, and the cost of living
here is frightening... The first beer my niece bought me in Sydney airport
cost 11dollars for about 3/4 of a pint which worked out at £8-50 a pint....
Having a sober holiday folks! But enjoying every minute.
Lots of love. Fr Jude
 

Part 3

I have seen some Ozzy wildlife today,Sunday. With my sister and her husband
Chris we drove around the local beaches which we're all reached through the
forests that come down to the sea. At the first a blue tongued lizard took
one look at me and shot down a hole in a tree stump. A sea eagle flew
overhead and oyster catchers hurried by; one of them was a sooty oyster
catcher as big as a duck. We screeched the car to. A halt when we saw an
echidna by the roadside. It was a bit shy at first until it turned round and
stuck it's long tongue at me which became a better photo as it had looked
like a headless hedgehog.
An ibis swallowed a snake as we past by a field and kangaroos were a plenty.
A syrup winged plover (plover) with huge long legs past by, they are nasty
if you get to close to their nests. Pelicans walked a sand bank half a mile
off shore and they were huge, I reckon 3 foot tall. Termite mounds and tree
ferns littered the forest floor as we drove through the eucalyptus trees.
Chris reminded me that dad also went on this highway (Princes Highway) and
said "gum trees, bloody gumtrees".... This highway goes from Sydney to
Melbourne and there are gum trees on each slide all the way..... It is a 13
hour car journey... You work out the distance!!
The search for Ozzy wildlife continued on Monday... My day off!! Down by a
rocky coast line a sea eagle and a sea osprey glided by. We gazed out to sea
and if my eyesight was better I would seen New Zealand with Chile further
on. It was not the season for whales ... But I bet there were some under the
water out there! At another beach the little fishing boats came in and the
men were throwing fish heads back into the water and huge sting rays swished
around gobbling them up.... There is such a thing as a free lunch! We passed
everlasting oyster beds which I have already sampled.
We passed by the property which Nicole Kidman bought for umpteen millions
which included a Paddock of roos. We had an Indian take away tea..... And it
was lovely. On ordering we asked now long.... 30 minutes! Cooked fresh. Time
to go to the Old Soldiers Club no fact mosey round. Another gigantic club
and once again subsidised by the Pokies..... one armed bandits to you and
me. Idiot proof: insert money, coins or dollars; choose how much a go you
want to play for from 1 cent(penny) to a dollar (60p); choose how many lines
on a the 3 rows of symbols you want to play, usually 10; so 10 cents a
go....... THEN ..... Push go and...... Lose! Then push Go again etc.... If
you win.. You win what you win... No fancy features. My niece Ruth is doing
a M.A. In addictions etc.. And looking around the 100's of machines in that
club I don't think she will have any shortage of people to talk to!
Played 9 holes of golf with an 80 year old this morning (Tuesday) .. Gives
you hope. 9 holes is enough and the sun shone. Birdied the ninth hole and
the time was "beer o'clock".
Had a 2nd 9 holes with my sister in the afternoon, getting a. It hot now!
Sun screen and fly spay essential. No birdies but great fun. Beer o'clock
and home for a sea food dinner. I do "see food" and eT it but this time it
was the real McCoy..... I was living. Y the sea. Calamari, big prawns,
scallops and oysters form starters. It is a hard life on holiday. The
greatest tragedy was I went I to the garden to pick a lemon of the lemon
tree for the G and T and.... Horror of horrors none of them were fully ripe.
We had to make do with a 3/4 ripe one and it was still better than a lemon
from M and S!
After dinner Chris put Dr Who on the TV. Long time since I watched an
episode and it was scary with loud noisy monsters. Around then there was
also an incredibly noisy sound from outside. It was the most deafening din I
have ever heard coming from a garden at night. Chris told me it was the
noise of a colony of cicadas about come out of the ground and soon to turn
into big flies with huge eyes! I had already seen enough flies on the golf
course... More of them!
Packing now as I am off on the bus to Canberra at 6.30 am for a plane to
Brisbane to stay with my niece Frankie and her hubby Craig and their 6
children. Some poor child will be kicked out of their bed for the ageing
uncle... Yet again.
Up at 6.30am for a coach to Canberra. An amazing drive over the mountains
with gum trees all the way from the sea level to the top some 3000 feet up
the road! A few hours later I was on the plane for Brisbane and asked a lady
if I could pass her to get to my window seat. "Wow" she said, "I haven't
heard a good Lancashire for years". She came from Wetherby and we shared
news of the old country and Oz all the way to Brisbane.
I met another lovely niece Frankie and once we had dropped off my case we
had some food at local boat club! We then picked up 4 of her children from
school and soon the elder two arrived and husband Craig and we enjoyed a
happy family meal. Out to the 'man shed' for a game of killer pool which we
all played and the 13 year old daughter won! Tired out and time for bed. a
big day at The Gabba tomorrow..... Day one of the Ashes Test Match". More
next time and let's hope I have good news!!!

 

Part 4

Turned out to be long days at the cricket for a few reasons. Firstly as
Frankie and Craig live a few miles away fro the centre of the city of
Brisbane. A 5 minute walk to then us stop and await a bus for the 15 minute
journey to the train station. When the city train arrived it took some 35
minutes. We then had a 5 minute walk to the bus stop where we caught a bus
to the Gabba cricket ground,a drive of some 15 minutes. Join the massive
queues into the ground and pas through the bag security people.... No
alcohol allowed! Plenty inside!! Our seats were in different sections each
day, but we were nearly always at the very back of the stands with super
views of the pitch: a further 20 minute hike up scores of stairs. On average
we left home at 7.50am and got to our seats at 9.45 for the first ball at 10
am. The return journey was similar and we got home about 7.30 at night. So
long days and not the best cricket either!
Thursday began with Australia winning the toss... The first of many things
they won.

 

Part 5

Turned out to be long days at the cricket for a few reasons. Firstly as Frankie and Craig live a few miles away fro the centre of the city of Brisbane. A 5 minute walk to then us stop and await a bus for the 15 minute journey to the train station. When the city train arrived it took some 35 minutes. We then had a 5 minute walk to the bus stop where we caught a bus to the Gabba cricket ground,a drive of some 15 minutes. Join the massive queues into the ground and pas through the bag security people.... No alcohol allowed! Plenty inside!! Our seats were in different sections each day, but we were nearly always at the very back of the stands with super views of the pitch: a further 20 minute hike up scores of stairs. On average we left home at 7.50am and got to our seats at 9.45 for the first ball 

at 10 am

. The return journey was similar and we got home about 7.30 at night. So long days and not the best cricket either!

 

Thursday began with Australia winning the toss... The first of many things they won. England got on top early on and had the Ossies on the run. Then their wicket keeper and a bowler got them out of jail to a score of about 292. In went the Ashes winning side with a good start only to collapse like a deck of cards in the afternoon 160 runs behind. As the days rolled on so did the Australian run total. Only Stuart Broad saved our blushes which was great fun because he was barracked and booed all day and every day.... Remember he was the batsman who "did not walk" in the English test match when the umpire made a howler of a decision not giving him out!

 

By now after 3 days England need to score another 530 runs to win with 8 wickets left..... There is always hope and when fails, as it will here, there is always beer.

 

Speaking of which, the beer gave us such fun today, Saturday, because during the tea interval some in the crowd started collecting the empty plastic beer containers and popped them together as it grew.... With 100's of them it became "a snake' getting longer and longer. Eventually the stewards came along to confiscate 'the snake'..... They shuffled away from the stewards until the police arrived and it got dis malted and taken away... Much booing and chants of "save the snake"..... Before long the police went to the beer tents giving the instruction that you could now only buy 1 beer at a time...... So we have fun, and for the English this was limited to 'snake making' and now we were now on limited beer rations as well"

 

Next fun were the beach balls which folk must have brought in the their dozens. They blew them up and bashed them around the terracing, up and down the 3 tiers of the stands. The only 'end' to the ball was when it went beyond the crowd and onto the grass. THEN a steward would confiscate and deflate it..... Many oboes from the crowd. A camera man was on the edge of the grass and now and then when a beach ball went over he would throw it back into the crowd to hoots and cheers. After a while a policeman came along and escorted him away!! You can imagine the comments of a fairly beered up Ozzy had for that policeman. It all helped to keep the English spectators amused as we had very little else to cheer about. 

 

Saturday at the Gabba ended with us in dire straits and the Ozzies jubilant. What else could go wrong? After dinner it rained with biggest and longest thunderstorm I have seen.... Fr Noah had come to Brisbane ..... May be it will rain tomorrow and the game will. Be abandoned as a draw!

 

 

Part 6

Before we set off to the beach we went to 7.00 am mass. Lots of people
there. The sun rises at 5 am so lots of people get up far earlier than we do
in the UK and the sunrise does not vary a great deal all year round. The one
thing I would say about Australian church benches folk is that so far all
the kneelers are just wood, no padding at all..... So you get numb knees as
well as numb other bits! Frankie gave the youngsters a 'rain check' from
school today! It is only a few days before they break up for their summer
holidays so they weren't missing much and they certainly didn't complain.
Off we went to Mallooba beach on the Sunshine Coast. Swimmers, sunscreen and
boogie were packed into the car.... Boogie ???.... Small surf boards for
riding small waves. A 40 minute drive brought us to a beautiful sandy resort
with medium waves free of sharks and box-jelly fish. Soon we were all in the
water and the Ozzies thought it was a bit cool !! It was a warm bath to me.
I watched the youngsters 'boogieing' and soon the cry went up "uncle Jude,
have a go on a boogie'. Thank The Lord no cameras /  Facebook or videos
captured the next bit as I attempted to jump and then lie on a 4 foot flat
surf board and ride the waves. After a series of pitiful attempts I finally
held on the board and a wave for about 3 seconds; the real down side was
that the board was on top of me as I boogied along underwater. A hoard a
hungry teenagers were soon baying for food and a massive 'family box' of
fish and chips was bought for £27 and it fed 7. We ate it on by the beach on
a metal table with metal seats and I spite of it being nearly 90 degrees the
metal was cool.... Let the scientists among you work out how treated the
metal?
More food for dinner and as I hadn't been able to buy a kangaroo pie
anywhere Frankie had made one! She had the slow cooker cooking the meat
since 8 am. Roo meat is lean, healthy but needs a lot of cooking. Think
about it a cow spends it's life walking around very slowly and a kanga hops
and bounces around all it's life. They are a strip fitter and therefore
leaner and a bit tougher.... So cook slowly. A treat for starters was sushi.
They have loads of sushi places in Oz and mostly run by South Koreans. We
went to one for a 'carry out' and you choose what you wanted from a little
train that went around the middle of the restaurant. You picked off what
food you wanted on the small plates that the train pulled along! I bought 10
plates, my treat tonight, it only cost £18, then headed home to the awaiting
hoards of teenagers who demolished them like cats on a kipper...... Maybe I
should have bought 20 plates? I did manage one and it had caviar on top!
Yummy yummy. Getting late and I had to be up at ten past six tomorrow for a
plane back to Canberra and then on by coach for the 2 and a hall hour drive
to Bateman Bay. Lots of long days travelling in this big country and you
really have to be here to realise it! So far the mosquitoes haven't totally
eaten me but I have a few scars to prove their presence. The locals say they
are attracted by types of 'bod you'd or' or by the amount of CO2 you expel
or even more stranger explanations.... Personally I think there are a lot of
them and by the law of averages ' you are going to get got'.
Thursday and the golfers are out with their umbrellas up.... The sun is
scorching and it is only 9.30 am. I will join them soon.

 

Part 7

 

Friday was golf day. My sister had asked a parishioner who loved his golf to
take me out, he is keen that, I think he would play at night with headlights
on his golf buggy! He picked me up at 9.45am with drizzle in the air....
Warm drizzle, I hoped it might keep the flies away but no such luck. At one
moment there must have been about 200 flies on the buggy. The pesty things
dive bomb your nose, ears and wrists... All very testing to hitting a golf
ball! We flew round ourselves in his super charged buggy and with the
application of copious amounts of 'Off' (fly spray) the golf was excellent
and the company of Rod was lovely. In the afternoon I had another 9 holes
with my sister and her pal Marie. Equally enjoyable but a touch slower!
Chris made our evening meal, fine liver and onions, and a huge feast, yet
again. I must have put on pounds and pounds with all the food and grog put
in front of me. There is a word 'No'.... But rarely used on ones holidays!
On Saturday afternoon my niece Anne, her husband Andrew and their 2 girls
drove down from Canberra. We were soon in the car off to a local beach for
more Boogy surfing and swimming. A fine sandy beach and crashing waves. I
passed on the Boogy board and settled for simply staying alive without
drowning. We had an evening meal at the golf club. Calamari, fish special
and pizza were ordered and I went for Barramundi, a fish local to the east
coast. It is both flakey and meaty, a must if you ever get over here. After
food Angela went for her 5 dollars on the Pokies machines and Anne and I
went with her to help guard her when she won the 10,000 dollar jackpot. As
it turned out we didn't need Securicor and I also lost a similar amount. We
walked home up the 10th fairway, not via the lit up buggy track as I
suggested... More flies and a pair of wet shoes but at least there was a
Benny and Ice back home! Angela had warned that Saturday night in Bateman
Bay was often wild and raucous and merry / drunk people may well pass the
house in the early hours. True to her word at about 3.30am the rowdies woke
me up! But, I thought, it is around 4.30 pm in England (Saturday) football
time... I flicked on my Tablet and went onto the BBC news sport and got the
live text commentary of thenBurnley game. Aargh 2 nil down... Then a late
Claret goal.... One more please.. Man sent off and we lost 2 - 1... The
results told me that Rovers had won...... Now at 4am it was really dark, the
dark night of the soul, no longer top of the league!!
Sunday morning and all is well again even though the golfers pass by with
their brollies up and not for the sun either. The forecast said it will
clear up, the beach is calling again. We went to 'Surf Beach' twice today!
The Canberra family love the sea and surf. After a home mass we did more
beach combing/rock pool prodding. Our efforts led to the discovered of a
couple of,puffer fish, a 3/4 inch crab and an empty conch shell about 6
inches long, which may well come home as it was free and doesn't weigh much.
The afternoon was swimming and Boogy boarding and the 4 foot swell had a
kind of beach whale effect on me. 10 minutes after landing home, my golfing
friend Rod was on the phone..."golf?"..... 10 minutes later I was whacking
off the 19th tee. It is 27 hole golf course. We whizzed around the first 9
holes at great speed and then Rod, true to his word, suggested we will have
time for another 9 before it went dark! By the time we finished it was
nearly dark, I was shattered and very hungry.