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Enter Isabelle...Grandpa again!


Welcome to the world Isabelle, new family member from Robin and Vy.

Isabelle is a Gemini/Taurus cusp, so she will be as smart as she is beautiful.

Robin headed off to Viet Nam for three weeks to meet his new daughter, since Vy elected to have the baby there, rather than in Sydney, so she could be with her parents in Saigon.

Now I am a double Grandfather, with a pigeon pair, all in one year.



Yanni makes a stunning debut at Remo's Winery.


What a way to come a great winery and restaurant.

The quails and guinea fowls Remo served were divine and so was the wine.

But the piece de resistance was Yanni.

He scored with everyone. As people raised glasses to toast his future, I, glowing with pride (and Remo's fantastic house red), spoke to my grandson's success in life and love, passed him around to the hordes whereupon the crowd went totally clucky.

They queued to hold him while he giggled and smiled, seducing them all with his brightness and charm. Guards went down as his victims unleashed their maternal and paternal (and child) egos without reserve. He certainly has a knack for winning people over.

Behold our future prime minister!


Robin and Vy tie the knot!


What a great day! Robyn & Vy married on the shores of beautiful Tizzana Lagoon at Ebenezer, NSW, Australia on March 19th, 2011.

It was also the day I celebrated my 65th birthday. My friend, Lydia was the Celebrant and she and her husband Daryl supplied music and vocals along with Blake Morrison as serious ceremony dissolved into wild celebrations. It was a howling success (just ask Apollo, who upstaged the entertainers with his own renditions of many favorite songs).

Congratulations to the happy couple and the very best wishes for a happy future!

Wedding pics are here


Yanni arrives...I am now grandpa!


At last I am grand dad! Lisa and Ben have finally achieved success after five years of trial and disappointment.
And what a success he is!
Enter Yanni Nicholas Alexander. A huge 9 pound hunky spunky guy!
Dogs Buddy and Lulu are intrigued by this new life form in their midst and seem to have adopted a protective stance at this early date. What will ensue as they realise that Yanni gets much of the attention they previously enjoyed is yet to be determined.
Presumably they will adjust, allowing the new babe to bask in the spotlight and taking a secondary role as henchmen...or will they?
Might they do an Alfred Hitchcock kind of thing, stealing Yanni in the night and leaving no clues other than a blanket and a whole lot of desert to comb?
Maybe they will raise him themselves?
Sell him on the black market for a container of doggie treats?
Or worse, bring him to Ebenezer and teach him to pick waterlilies and chop wood?
Stay tuned for chapter two!


Robin, Vy & John in Vietnam


John and Robin enjoyed a month together in Vietnam, visiting with Rob's fiancee Vy and her family.
Saigon was a friendly but mad sea of motor bikes and we had to place absolute faith in the Vietnamese' driving skills when crossing packed avenues. Miraculously, traffic flowed around us as we slowly but deliberately waded toward safety, sort of like a sizzling zen sundae.
Vy and Rob were very easy to spend time with so we trekked the country from south to north and back again, enduring temperatures from 34 above to 5 below as we darted around. [Note pic taken at Sa Pa in North Vietnam].
Nha Trang was a splendid resort city surrounded by sea and mountains, like a tropical version of Vancouver. Vy's aunt and uncle own a bar there with great music, cheap beer and a wonky pool table.
Dalat, the flower capital was high and cool, awaft with odours of burning garbage and the perfumery of a billion blossoms.
Hanoi was sobering...the atmosphere was chilling, corporate and conservative. People kept to themselves, until you poked your nose into their shell...then you got a polite, even friendly response.
Lake Hoan Kiem in the old quarter was ablaze with lights that appeared to dance on your breath and the atmosphere was Christmas-like. That's where we met a 4 foot 6 inch girl guide named Then (pronounced "Ten") who took us out for a day showing us the Museum of the Scholars and amazed us with her high wire act...crawling out a third story window and walking in high heeled boots across the museum roof...I have the photos to prove it.
And then there was the train to Hell...a wobbly, jerky, bouncing torture chamber that serves half-frozen inmates an overnight punishment rivalling their worst nightmare, limping into the mountains near the Chinese border to a high place called Sa Pa, where aboriginal Vietnamese eke out their existence in freezing rain and mud.
My room, though huge, had no heating and teetered five stories above the mountainside street. Breakfast was the worst in Vietnam. Robin and Vy switched to a lovely boutique hotel accross the road, whose sympathetic manager loaned me two room heaters so I could endure a second night in my elevated crypt. (They had only one room available, so I had to remain in my meat locker).
The day trip to the village and to the markets was an eye-opener, with myriad meat cuts, hand-made farm and household implements, brightly coloured wovens and puppies for barbequeing all on display for barter.
The return train was even worse than the ascent. We arrived sleepless, an hour early and were immediately kicked off the train. Lights were extinguished by tourist-hating train guards giving us no chance to organise our I inadvertently acquired a Vietnam Rail tablecloth souvenir as a result of rummaging in total darkness. Of course there was a paucity of taxis due to the earliness of our arrival. Ugh!
Ha Long Bay was a different story. Our boat was a fairly decent junk, with an excellent barkeeper who followed my instructions for a John Heron Margarita (recipe to appear on this website soon)...but after two nights of cacaphonic karioke I reached my end-point...I hate it more than burnt fish...(at least they don't try to sing)...anyway, both stink....and for the people involved, the volume is never high enough. Again Ugh!
The Bay itself was hauntingly beautiful. Ghostly monoliths loom through the mist like rock warriors. A thousand junks ferry trekkers all around the gaping quiet spaces, yet tourists rarely collide, so one often has the feeling no one else is there. Where congregations occur, tourists are guided in a quiet and orderly fashion, much like they would be at Ho Chi Min's mausoleum.
Although the warmth of Saigon again enveloped us at the end of our stay in Vietnam, I still missed the North in some strange way. Although it was cold and a bit ministerial, Hanoi was a city in which I would happily spend more time!

(I won't be "re-entertaining" a karioke junk trip, especially after one like ours sank the day we arrived home).

[Vietnam pics are here]


Apollo arrives!


Apollo came to us in November 2010.
It was with great trepidation that I granted this impressive Airedale asylum following the death of his owner and subsequent adoption by Kavita.
Until I met him, that is. Instantly his seven day trial was extended indefinitely.
He won me over with his boistrous charm, dry wit and Walt Disney looks. Now I cannot think of him as ever leaving. I let him into my heart and he will stay there for eternity. [See more of Apollo here]





Enter Isabelle! [2011.5.25]

Yanni's debut at Remo's [2011.6.12]

Robin & Vy tie the knot! [2011.3.19]

Yanni arrives! [2011.2.2]

John & Robin go to Vietnam [2011.1.2]

Apollo arrives [2010.11.30]