Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back on 2013

December is the month for receiving Christmas letters and I am always fascinated to read these little literary snapshots of the year in the life of my friends.

In lieu of actually writing one to mail out, here is my post-Christmas column, looking back on 2013.

At the start of January my expectations weren’t all that high for the coming year, for some reason 2013 didn’t seem like an auspicious number to me and the thought of turning 43 just seemed blah.

Life is constantly full of surprises and with less than a day to go until the commencement of 2014, I look back in utter amazement on my last twelve months.

Like most of us, I’ve had my share of sad, frustrating, self-doubting and lonely times throughout the year but it has been balanced out nicely with unexpected adventures, some really great times with my family and friends, visiting places that had long been on my wish list and achieving goals I had set for myself.

Two of my close friends turned fifty this year and both insisted on celebrating their birthdays in amazing locations. Thanks to Sal and Anna, I flew to Broome in March and Byron Bay in August.
Wategos Beach, Byron Bay

Publicly stating in January that I intended to complete the Great Victorian Bike Ride in November saw me buying a touring bike in February and adding between 100 – 200km of cycling to my weekly exercise regime. By April I was joining the Kerang District Health Team in the 27th Annual Murray to Moyne bike ride from Swan Hill to Port Fairy.

April also saw the start of footy season for Sam and Henry and my favourite winter weekend pastime – cheering them on at Saturday morning junior AFL – GO RAIDERS!!

In May after twelve years and 358,000km of adventuring in the Trusty Nissan I retired it and bought the Barrmobile – a 2011 model Mitsubishi Pajero – complete with power windows and a stereo.

At the end of June I embarked on my first solo overseas adventure; it was such an amazing trip where everything seemed to fall magically into place that it felt as though I was being watched over by the Angels of Travel. I flew to New York City then a few days later, boarded a train to Hartford, Connecticut to attend the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) annual conference. Afterwards I spent a wonderful few days with my friend Suzette and her family at their Cape Cod summer home.

From Cape Cod I went via New York to The Hamptons on Long Island to meet and stay with my Mother’s childhood friend, Annabel (the lady I’m named after).  Annabel was a great hostess and gave an excellent tour of the district surrounding her home. For my final four days in the United States I flew to Chicago and stayed with fellow NSNC attendee, Joani. I had a fun time exploring the windy city by Segway (a battery-powered stand-up scooter) and sharing many laughs with Joani.

For a brief moment in time in September I landed my dream job: One of two official judges for the Koondrook Barham Farmers Market annual mud cake competition. What can I say? It was a tough job but someone had to do it.
Official Chocolate Mud Cake Judges 2013

In October I took on the role of barista for the Red Gum Food Group; running their coffee machine at the monthly Koondrook Barham Farmers Market with the boys agreeing to help by taking the coffee orders and money. At the end of the month, Max, Sam, Henry and I headed off on a week’s excellent adventuring with our friends Em, Amy and Ty, to the land of theme parks: the Gold Coast in Queensland. We visited Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sea World, Outback Spectacular and Movie World.

November arrived before we knew it and suddenly the four of us were pedalling our bikes along the Great Ocean Road from Mount Gambier in South Australia to Geelong in Victoria.

I reacquainted myself with early morning swimming at the Koondrook Pool in December, dragged the kayak down the bank for some paddling on the Murray River and made good use of the riverbank for after work drinks with friends as well as being the venue for our alfresco Christmas Day lunch. The river also provided us with a number of delicious fish dinners – we dined on pan-fried Murray Cod and Yellow Belly courtesy of Max and his fishing rod.

In amongst all this excellent adventuring my full-time massage therapy business, Rosedale Health and Wellbeing continued to expand with over five hundred clients on the books and now includes two days every month at Barham’s retirement/nursing home, Murray Haven; providing massage therapy to both the residents and the staff.

So there you have it, my 2013 – reminding me once again that life is a mystery and you just never know what is around the next corner.

To my readers in Australia and around the world, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Behind the Barr in 2013 and thank you for your comments throughout the year. I wish all of you a new year filled with magical moments and excellent adventures in 2014.
Happy New Year!

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