Australia

Aussie 14 August Awfully messy

Messy Church Aussie-style: we took over a local church called Chaos, who kindly allowed us their anchoring presence and community and some of whom threw themselves into helping out with an afternoon Messy Church. The teenagers were fabulous and moved furniture, led a craft and welcomed people with huge glee. The children made a great welcoming team. ('Were you made welcome?' I asked one visitor nervously as we hadn't had much time to sort out roles. 'Oh yes!' she said.

Aussie 13 August Amazingness

A much sunnier day with the Opera House displaying itself much more appropriately against blue sky, then a dark night sky and nearly full moon, and a trip on the Manly Ferry (there used to be a Manly Girls' School but it no longer exists, can't think why). We bought enormous ice creams and ate them as we marvelled at the surfers doing their amazing Manly thing on the waves. It would take more than the promise of adrenalin to get me in the sea in this season.

Aussie 12 August Angst

We are tourists! Drove into Sydney (aaargh), for which act alone I deserve an OBE, and spent the day viewing Sydney 'sous la pluie' - not how it should be seen, so we saved ferry trips for a sunnier day. The Opera House is still impressive, but a white building seen against a white, cloudy sky lacks that postcard je ne sais quoi. In fact, it was very well camouflaged.

Aussie 11 August And so to Sydney

A hop over from Sunny Brisbane to sunny but chilly Sydney, where we met the wonderful Judyth Roberts, instigator of this trip, and settled happily into our new and last home for our trip. Couldn't face the drive into town in the dark so plumped in a cowardly manner for a dial-up pizza in front of Bondi Bay Coastguards on the TV being very hunky on the beach.

Aussie 10 August amusement

A last day to blob around Brisbane. I don't know any other major city that can boast a mangrove swamp boardwalk. We waddled around the Botanical Gardens, admiring palm trees and the lack of lilies in the lily ponds, fended off marauding cuckoos (or similar... my ornithological knowledge is limited - might have been kookaburras or possibly emus) over lunch and to Arthur's glee got a Magnum with a lolly stick that won him another Magnum for free. Afternoon wondering how tacky we can really go on the souvenir front and deciding that kangaroo scrotum corkscrews were beyond the pale.

Aussie 9 August animalia

A trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - a completely fun day owing to the marked similarity of koalas to teenagers: they eat vast quantities of unhealthy food and they sleep 19 hours out of every 24. They just blob around in eucalyptus trees in a ‘whateva’ type coma. How did they ever survive the rigours of evolution when they eat only 50 of the 800 species of eucalyptus leaves and even then need to do very unsavoury things to make their offspring impervious to the toxins in them?

Aussie 8 August anniversary

Brisbane! Sunshine! Warmth! Holiday! Wedding anniversary! And this is midwinter: lunch outside by the waterfall of the art gallery. It just doesn't get better. In the evening we were taken to have a meal with a Messy Church team from a local Anglican church, who had come across the concept when their curate, Jeanette Jamieson, was asking a Fresh Expressions adviser how to build on their Mainly Music successes. They've done four Messy Churches and welcome between 100 and 180 people at each one: formidable.

Aussie 7 August airport again

A day of rain as we left Adelaide. Having the cases meant we kept our expectations low and did very little but write postcards and trundle ourselves to the airport, where we had a superb view of the Adelaide hills from the departure lounge. Although I really relished meeting so many people here, I don't feel I saw much of Adelaide city centre and would like to get to know it better, perhaps in the warmer weather. Arrived after a 2000-mile flight to Brisbane's tangible change of climate: if this is winter, I'd never cope with summer here!

Aussie 6 August Adelaide adieu

The last day of the 'Church &...' Conference with a few different people as well as - by now - old friends to grin at and laugh with. I had a couple of keynotes to give on discipleship and all-age worship. It's been fascinating to see how much people appear to have appreciated the storytelling side of what I had to offer. On sober reflection, this is probably because scripture is far more informative and life-changing than my own limited experience and wisdom.

Aussie 5 August enculturalisation

A second keynote today while Paul (my husband) and Arthur (my son) prowled round Adelaide. It's fun to spot the cultural changes. To my astonishment, the 'Stone the crows!' line in my version of The Sower got a huge cheer. I hadn't twigged the Crows are the local footie team. Very serendipitous. And I did proudly manage to make Zacchaeus climb the tree 'like a possum' instead of 'like a squirrel', while Mrs Littlebottom earned dollars and cents when she went busking, not pounds and pence.