2017 started with my daughter setting off on her journey to Melbourne, Australia where she and her husband have relocated. The year is ending with me visiting their lovely new home to experience a summer Christmas. We have been shopping in the sun, watching people in shorts, T-shirts and sandals walk past jolly Santas and plastic snowmen to the accompaniment of Christmas carols! That felt quite strange.
We looked at the Christmas tree in Federation Square just metres away from the the crossing at Flinders Street Station where a few days later the terrible attack took place. Christmas will be difficult for those who were injured and I join millions in thinking of them and their families and wishing them all a speedy recovery.
My mother died last January and I am missing being able to tell her about her granddaughter's new home and job in the country where she was born. I want to be able to tell her her about the sights and experiences I have encountered in the past two weeks because I know she would have loved hearing about it.
On a happier note, my writing journey has been quite exciting this year. The first good news in January was that I had won the Great British Write Off with a flash fiction piece. Soon after I was longlisted in Reflex Fiction's first flash fiction competition. I've also had a few pieces in Ad Hoc's weekly competitions - although no wins.
In July I won the Senior Travel Writing competition and have had acceptances for two of my short stories, one for inclusion in the Stories for Homes 2 anthology and, last month, the news that I had won the short story section of Hysteria's latest competition which is published in the Hysteria 6 anthology.
Inevitably there have been plenty of submissions that have got nowhere, but the number of submissions was over three times that of last year and my highest number of submissions in a year ever which feels like a small achievement in itself.
The travel experiences which inspired the Senior Travel win included some of my 2017 travels; a brief stay in Bruges, a fascinating trip to Uzbekistan and a week in Catalonia during the recent political upheavals.
In my professional life, I decided to take slightly early retirement from my career as a specialist speech and language therapist after nearly 40 years of working in the NHS. I have to say so far retirement has been a fabulous experience, although I do miss my colleagues (and some of my patients!) However, I did get to meet up with a dear friend and ex-colleague, here in Melbourne, last week.
Here's to a peaceful Christmas to all of you whether you celebrate it or not.