Brilliant birthday last week – great start to a new decade. Lots of flowers and fuss and nice meals and excellent company both here in Australia and by Skype. Opened beautiful book made by my sister Kate and other family members, full of family photos, memorabilia and loving messages and drawing from nephews and nieces. Really lovely gift.

Pictures show colleagues sharing pizzas – including crocodile pizza and desert pizza – former bit iffy with odd aftertaste, latter utterly gorgeous. Day included coffee and cake and a curry with other co-workers – everyone has been extraordinarily welcoming.

Work itself has been somewhat relentless – done a paper or a chapter a week since I arrived, but that is wholly down to me agreeing to do too much earlier in the year when the requests were abstract and remote. Finished the last promise on Friday so should be able to make a start on the book before term starts. The academic machine is starting up now, with requirements for outlines, and assignments and it’s time for me to start decoding CSU acronyms and getting my head round the subjects for which I am responsible. Most of my subjects are distance based, so very document-heavy. Need to work out how I’m going to manage this process – very different from face to face teaching. Planning a little break before teaching starts, a long weekend on a lake near white=sanded Jervis Bay at the end of January – amazing to have such exotic destinations so close to home.

On Saturday went for a picnic in Orange Botanical Gardens, by a lake surrounded by grand eucalyptus, then back via historical village, Millthorpe, a well preserved pioneering town. Has a wild west feel to it, like places in California.

Really tired just now so brief update and unedited pix, for which apologies.

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