Hazel to Sarah Wild & Christopher Byrne on October 30, 1993

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

6 Vincent Street
NSW 2041

30 October 1993

Dear Sarah and Christopher,

Just a quick note to say that we arrived safely. Our computer didn't, unfortunately. I don't know whether Andrea or Anette mentioned the chaos we were in when we arrived at the airport. We had 14 pieces of luggage, the contents of which had to be rearranged to avoid paying excessive excess baggage and in the process the computer was repacked and must have got squashed in transit. It cost $700 to repair. We were silly not to have carried it on board with us. I'm sure you won't make the same mistake.

We unwrapped your present the other day and it's now in our courtyard while we decide where it can best be displayed. After having visited Mendocino I'm trying to recreate it in our little plot of land overlooking the container terminal, just around from the Opera House. Needless to say, it's not quite the same so it's great to have a genuine reminder of happy days spent in California sitting in our courtyard. Thank you again.

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 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 - or was it the other passengengers? -- 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.

When we arrived in Sydney, we were able to get all the bags into one taxi -- we had a very obliging taxi driver who wouldnąt even take a tip. We stayed with friends who live near us while the tenants moved out. Just to show what goods friends they are, Christine's first words to me were, "Gosh, it doesn't seem like you've been away for 6 months".......it's nice to know you're missed. Despite this, 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. However, your novelty value "of having just returned" rarely lasts the course of a five-minute conversation with anyone 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. It's really not surprising that Christine got it wrong.

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 the US which he is actually doing in the New Year to Boston for a week. He has been much happier ever since he made the booking.

The children are well. They regularly talk of California -- people, places, the house -- and they have coped very well with their new regime. Joshua attends pre-school 3 days a week and Zoë attends 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. Unfortunately our first nanny let us down and didn't show up for work two days running with no explanation. I arranged a second nanny who was due to start work and got a full-time job instead. The third nanny seems to be working out OK -- fingers crossed.

Everyone seems to think I look American now -- I think it's the left-over Californian tan, the ponytail, denim skirt and Teva sandals. Could be the baseball cap, I suppose.

I hope you are both well, riding, playing tennis, travelling, and managing to fit work around it. I hope you manage to fit in a trip to north California -- I really enjoyed the area. We stayed at an expensive but charming guesthouse at Tomales and I went for an early morning walk past cottage gardens, fields, cows and chatty dog owners and in my mind I entered a space which was somewhere between Australia and England -- for a matter of moments I completely forgot where I was. So if you want to see some cottage gardens head up north to Tomales and Mendocino. I recommend the Tomales Inn.

I better close now before I'm discovered by the young ones and have to close anyway.

Last Updated 10 December 2000