Hazel to Andrea Giger on October 30, 1993

The seventh of a batch of eleven letters taken from Hazel's laptop.

6 Vincent Street
NSW 2041

8 October 1993

Dear Andrea and Fredy,

It was great to get your letter and I'm only sorry I haven't been able to reply sooner. We unwrapped your present the other day and it's now in our courtyard while we decide where it can best be displayed. Thank you so much for coming to the airport -- how would we have managed without the car and the moral support. We had to abandon the balloons on boarding much to J and Z's displeasure but they continued to clutch their trolls throughout the trip. You will probably not believe this, Andrea, but the children were extremely well behaved on the trip. So much so, that one female passenger in an adjoining seat told me when we touched down in Sydney that they were the best behaved children she had known on an international flight. The trick is, I believe, to administer a little anti-histamine at the appropriate time. We started off with only 3 seats -- the tickets had been booked a year before when Zoë was only 1 year and 6 months -- but fortunately they took pity on us and found us a group of 4 seats together and before long Zoë was sleeping at my feet and Joshua was curled up on the 2 seats between us. So it was a remarkably peaceful trip.

There was one unfortunate aspect. You remember when we had to repack the bags at the airport? Well, one of the items rearranged and repacked was my PowerBook computer. It got squashed during the trip and we have had to pay $700 to repair it. We were silly not to have carried it, but there you are. As you can see it's now back to normal.

When we arrived in Sydney, we were able to get all the bags into one taxi -- we had a very obliging taxi driver who wouldn't even take a tip. We stayed with friends who live near us while the tenants moved out. It was a great re-introduction to life in Sydney. A few days later we moved back into the house which was pretty dirty and totally devoid of the mountain of wood we had left to stock the open fires but otherwise the house was fine. Unfortunately it had no furniture which we had to collect from various friends which we have now done. Everyone has been very welcoming -- Balmain is part of the inner city but because it is a promontory, it is like a village and seems to have attracted like-minded people. It's nice to have a corner shop again. It's nice to walk down the street and be known. You find that things have not stayed still in 12 months -- we were upset to learn of two marrage-breakups and one suicide. Equally, there are many people "on the go" -- either just having returned from Europe or the US or about to go. One neighbour has just left for a month. A neighbour two doors down has returned from a year in Greece. Our opposite neighbours spent a year in the US 6 months ago. So we are not unique.

We returned to work almost immediately. Whatever pain I felt at being back at work was ameliorated by the swanky new premises we now occupy in the heart of the city. My office has a panoramic view of Sydney from its perch 25 floors up. Again everyone has been very welcoming. Everyone is very busy. There are strong pressures to radically reform the legal profession and the city work environment is extremely competitive. Rob has returned to find he is likely to be the sole remaining economist at his Business School as his 2 colleagues are leaving for other positions -- not without rancour towards the Dean of the School -- and it's rather coloured his view of things -- I think he would happily return to California.

The children are well. They regularly talk of California -- people, places, the house -- and they have coped very well with their new regime. Joshua will attend pre-school 3 days a week and Zoë will attend a child care centre for the same 3 days and we have hired a nanny for the other 2 days. I work until 2.00 pm so I am with them by 3.00 pm.

Now that we are settled back in Sydney I realise that, nice as it is, it lacks a certain romance that life in another country provides. Having to function in another context without your familiar framework about you is refreshing. So when I think of you both I am hoping that you are really enjoying your remaining months.

It is now 30 October, weeks after having started this letter. We recently received your postcard -- many thanks -- you sound as though you are making the most of your remaining time in the USA and I'm glad you are able to share your experience with your parents -- I am sorry we weren't able to meet them. We are unfortunately working too hard and we have had bad luck with our nanny. She failed to show up for work 2 days running and offered no explanation -- we still don't know what it was all about. Another nanny was due to start but then got a full-time job elsewhere. The third nanny seems to be going well -- fingers crossed.

I fear the children will miss the Hallowe'en festivities they enjoyed last year -- here it is not a major celebration although I expect the odd group of determined children to appear at the door tomorrow night. Well, I'd better close before the children distract me. I hope you are both very well and enjoying life. Annette and Gerhard must be home by now and you are not far behind. I hope to hear your news

Last Updated 10 December 2000