Christmas letter 2009

It is a little after Christmas, but here is our Christmas letter…

This will be a very different letter to the ones you have received over the last few years.

For one it will be much shorter. [Thea: that didn’t happen!]

And that has nothing to do with saving our environment, one tree at a time. It has to do with the fact that this Christmas Bruce is writing the message, not Thea.

More on that later. (Please note the cunning trick inserted here, guaranteed to get you to read on).

Now the year that’s nearly over.

Thea turned 60 in February and we celebrated in a very Thea fashion. We had a party at Ocean Street, complete with our 100 year old house decorated with flowers and a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. The band was such a success that a few of our neighbours commented on how much they enjoyed the music. They live about five doors away and could hear it very clearly.

Trying to do the right thing we requested that no gifts should be given. Instead we asked people to donate to a house-building project in Vanuatu. We promised to match the donations dollar for dollar. Our goal was to build one new house – we finished up with three. [Thea: Thank you everyone for your generosity – amazing!]

Hayden came home to, yet again, sort out his Spanish Visa and to be here for Thea’s celebrations. It also gave him a great opportunity to spend time with his grandmother, Dotty.

This was very fortuitous as Dotty (Thea’s mum) died in March. You could say that she was a victim of Melbourne’s horrendous summer heat wave. On the week prior to Black Saturday, we also had temperatures in the 40s and Dotty just didn’t cope, she lost fluids and her chemistry was put out of balance. She had only been in Seaside Manor for a few weeks having moved from Kingston Green in November. In the end it was a very peaceful passing and all the family were relieved that she hadn’t suffered unduly.

We are truly ‘Empty Nesters’ now as Evan left home at the end of 2008. He moved into an apartment in Elsternwick with two school friends from St Leonard’s. They are enjoying their freedom but don’t socialise with each other as much as they had hoped. Victoria works in hospitality and has, as is to be expected, very odd working hours. Paul is a journalist and has to work weekends and on public holidays. While Evan can sometimes start at 8 am and go as late as midnight. It all depends on the work that has to be done and the shift he is doing. This is all part of being an assistant editor and working with the editors, producers and agency people in bringing finished commercials to air.

He is going to return to part time study next year by doing a Graphic Design course. He also hopes to get training as a DS (Digital Systems) operator. This is where commercials and films are finally compiled in a high-resolution digital format. This is a great opportunity for him as a DS operator can get work anywhere around the world.

Evan is currently touring Central America with his girlfriend Steph. They are going to be away for about seven weeks. They started in Panama and are working their way to Mexico via Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.

In October we had two weeks in New Zealand. We concentrated on the north island and mainly stayed in the northern part of that. Flying into Auckland and then up the coast to the Bay of Islands, back through Auckland again on our way to Hamilton and then across to the east coast via Rotorua, Lake Taupo and then down to the Art Deco city of Napier. We then headed back to Auckland via Whakatane. It was a great adventure and very different to the more cultural European experiences of the last few years. It was an adventure with a view. No matter where you go in NZ the scenery is spectacular, especially some of the mountain climbs. [Thea: photos are on Flickr at]

All in all we did about 3,000 km over the two weeks. Some of it was a little slower that it should have been, due to the fact that the Toyota Corolla we hired only had a 1.3 litre engine. On some of the mountain roads we were, embarrassingly, passed by everyone.

The main reason we went to NZ in the first place was that Thea discovered an amazing deal through Emirates. $90, one way fares. This was made even more special by the fact that we got upgraded to Business Class on both the outward and return trips.

Hayden is still in Barcelona, studying and working. He is due to finish his Masters in February but has taken on another, this time in Multi Media Design, just to fill in until the next academic year starts in Europe. He is also translating academic papers from Spanish to English for the university, and getting paid for it.

He is still working three days a week for Titan Publishing and has just written his first iPhone app (Application) – a Wallace & Gromit comic. He is very excited about this as it is currently the number one downloaded free app. in the UK.

He’s had a number of papers published relating to the work he is doing for his masters, so he is also pleased with that. He actually got to deliver one of the papers in Bangalore, India. A week on the sub continent, fully paid for by the university, was a welcome bonus.

Once he has finished both his Masters he intends to apply to do a PhD. At his stage he is hoping to go to Berlin and move from computer engineering to pure maths. This will give him the opportunity to brush up on his secondary school German. They say once you have a second language a third is easy! [Thea: Hayden’s blog site is]

Thea is still at Inmatrix, and has been there for 6 years. I was ‘Retired’ last week, as a result of company takeovers and realignments. Now you have finally got to the reason for the change of authorship of this year’s message. And it’s almost at an end. I will try and slow down a bit as I have been working 6 days a week and 10 to 14 hour days. [Thea: see Bruce’s work at]

Next year will be a year of change. We intend to put Ocean Street on the market and downsize. It will be hard as we have been here for over 30 years and that leaves an awful lot of memories, and rubbish, that needs to be sorted.

After that we don’t know, however travel will be high on the agenda so we might be headed your way.

Have a very merry Christmas and an exciting and rewarding New Year.

All our love, Thea and Bruce Stainsby.

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