Spring has arrived in Canberra. Warm sunny days, blossom on the trees.

It wasn't much like that at Cape Otway last weekend. It's the southern-most point of mainland Australia (south west of Melbourne), and we went there for the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the lighthouse. The day started bright, but grey skies and a bitter wind soon set in. Still, it was an enjoyable day, with lots of good local music--including an aboriginal digeridoo player who not unreasonably had trouble because his lips were so cold.

We flew down to Melbourne the previous night and drove out to friends near Ballarat who have a small farm on the edges of a lake (Ed and Susan Coleridge). Very peaceful surroundings. It was then a longish drive across country to Cape Otway, and back again that evening.

We flew back to Canberra the next morning, watching news of John Howard calling the election in the airport lounge. Then off to collect Holly from Mongarlowe, including a trip to inspect the Mongarlowe Cricket Ground (MCG) where the British High Commission will be playing a challenge match later in the summer. I bicycled most of the way, before Katie picked me up en route (I need to get fit!). The a very relaxed evening: for some reason I never quite worked out, the High Commission had a long weekend, presumably in sympathy with the holiday in the UK.

As usual, I am writing this backwards. The previous week we had had great fun having David and Gillian Keene to stay (he is a high court judge and she is a barrister). As well as being easy company, they provided the opportunity for an interesting dinner party of legal types, including the Chief Justice.

I had also given a speech in Sydney to the Australia Britain Society - mainly about being British, where agree with a lot of what Gordon Brown has been saying (eg in his Spectator lecture). It is curious how so much of the focus in Australia as well as the UK is over people's Scottish or Welsh or Yorkshire or Cornish background, with very little focus on what it is that makes Britain a nation. It's a theme I plan to develop in other speeches.

Having said that, I'm off on Friday to a Yorkshire dinner, complete with Theakstone's Old Peculiar imported for the occasion.


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