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After a worryingly dry year up to the end of September, we finally received some good rain-a total of 119mm for the month of October. There were quite a number of rain events but some were heavy enough to result in running water and gave us a nice top up on our dam water. Unsurprisingly October was a relatively cool month compared to September which was pretty hot. 

On the gliding front, the Australian gliding movement had a bad five week period within the last two months when four lives were lost in three accidents. I knew the instructor well who was involved in the accident that occurred at the local club. His widow and daughters arranged a social event to celebrate the life of our friend and fellow pilot. There was a large turnout which was a good indication of the respect that he had been held in.

On the personal gliding front, I made the decision to retire from gliding after more than 54 years of involvement in a sport that has meant so much to me. This is not a decision that I took lightly but the reality was that I had not flown my glider since January last year, mainly because of technical issues. Furthermore, both I and subsequently Maren have had health issues which, in Maren’s case, is still ongoing. I feel that the season of gliding in my life is now over and that God is moving us onto a different way of life-we just need to establish the where and when before we look at selling our beloved Plain Soaring!

Finally, our daughter Sonja is progressing well in her pregnancy with everything normal so far. She is due towards the end of January.

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Now into the second month of Spring. It was a very hot start to the season and remained extremely dry. In early September I travelled up to Mount Isa in North-West Queensland for a ten day period to be mentored by the Senior Pastor of Christian Outreach Centre there. It was very hot and dry up there as well but the trip was well worth it and I gained a lot.

I then went on a fishing trip with my son in law out of Townsville. We went out about 150 km from the coast on a 50 foot boat and spent three nights/four days fishing. The main objective was to catch a Black Marlin; although that didn’t happen, we caught a lot of fish and a good range of different species. We were particularly blessed with the weather throughout the whole trip and it was all a great experience. I brought around 20 kg of fish home with me so we should be good for eating fish for some months! I have decided to give the Black Marlin one more chance before year end and that will be that. Maren and I will fly up to Cairns around mid-November and we will go out for another three night/four day trip. Maren does enjoy doing some fishing, although it will be with lighter tackle and going for reef fish.

While David and I were away on our fishing expedition, Maren and Sonja went to a church conference about an hour’s drive from home. I am told that it was excellent!

As I was just about to leave Townsville, it started to rain on the Darling Downs and continued as I travelled home. Although the amount wasn’t great, it is so welcome as we got no rain at all in September and virtually none in August.

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Another month has gone by and we are now officially into the first day of Spring. It really has been the most extraordinary winter in southern Queensland with very little frost and generally pleasant warm days. It has also been extremely dry and this is now becoming a matter of some concern. We are ok domestically but the farmers have all planted crops and some follow up rain is desperately needed-but not flood proportions!

Maren and I recently attended the annual Dalby multi-cultural food festival which is called “Delightful and Delicious”. It was the first time we had gone to the event and it was most enjoyable. There were a lot of different stalls but the main emphasis was on food and there was food from India, Russia, Japan, Afghanistan, Iran, the Philippines, Thailand and Germany-not bad for a country town. There was also some very good entertainment put on during the afternoon, as well as the most amazing lantern parade when it became dark. The whole event finished with a very respectful fireworks display.

I will be flying up to Mount Isa next week for ten days of mentoring-looking forward to that. Then, at the end of the month, I will be going on a three night/four day game fishing expedition with our son in law! Good to do these things while I am still able to do them!

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Now into August, the last month of our official winter season. It has been an extraordinarily mild winter with only a couple of light frosts so far. Not so unusually, it has also been very dry which has made it difficult for the dry land farmers (those without irrigation) to make the decision as to whether or not to plant a winter crop. The one thing nobody wants is a significant late frost as that can be extremely damaging.

Not a lot to report from Plain Soaring as I have just been plodding on doing routine tasks, but there is a definite feeling that Spring is just around the corner. No news about the crankshaft from my Nimbus engine being returned from the Solo factory as yet. Once it is returned and the glider is rigged and test flown, it will be at a significantly higher standard engine-wise than when it was new. It has much improved electrical plugs and a complete new wiring harness in the engine compartment, as well as the latest modified ignition boxes. It has been a long drawn out saga and I have really learned the meaning of the word patience!

One thing that is coming up in less than two months is a game fishing trip out of Townsville with my son in law. We are booked to spend three nights on board and to say that we are both looking forward to it would be a gross understatement!

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The start of another month and Maren and I have been back in Australia for  a couple of weeks. Our time in Europe was most enjoyable, with a great variety of locations and, inevitably, weather conditions! We started in the UK visiting my sister and her husband. We then visited our son and his family in Germany before moving on to Prague for a few days. Prague is a city that we have long wanted to visit and we were not disappointed! It is a very beautiful city and the weather was great for our visit, but we were most certainly not alone as Prague is considered to be a safe city. We then returned to Germany for a few days before travelling to the Isle of Wight for six days. It was our first time there and there is a lot to see, the main attraction being Osbourne House which was the summer residence of Queen Victoria. Although the conditions remained dry for our stay, the winds were at times unbelievably strong! After the Isle of Wight we travelled to London for a couple of nights. Apart from seeing some sights, we had long wanted to go to a West End show and we finally made it-seeing the excellent musical “An American in Paris”. Finally our time in Europe was over and we made the long journey back home, thankful that everything was intact at this end when we arrived. 

We are now in the second month of winter but the cold conditions have only just started as it had been very mild while we were away. It had also been extremely dry and many farmers have not planted winter crops.

It’s now a case of getting all the winter jobs done and enjoying the warmth from our log burner during the frosty evenings!