Back in Freo in warm summer temperatures following a diversion to London, Ottawa and Vancouver - just to remind me what northern hemisphere winters are like!
New Year's Eve was just before I left. It didn't get off to an auspicious start when I fell off my bicycle early that morning. Someone ahead of me in the pack braked very suddenly and I swerved to avoid them, wobbled a few times and fell off. Some skin off elbow and knee and but seemed OK otherwise so I picked myself up and kept going. Started stiffening up when I got home, and standing up and sitting down became very sore. Huge bruise on my thigh.
We were hosting a New Year's Eve party, so there was lots to do. It was warm enough to plan on eating out in the courtyard at the back of our house, but that meant setting up the garden table, the ping-pong table and a table out of Katie's studio - ow! With that, we could just seat the 25 or so people who were coming. After dinner, an opportunity to display my talents as a DJ, having rummaged through my CDs (still in cardboard boxes until we get shelves up).
A couple of days later, it was off to the airport. A former Canadian colleague of mine from G7 Summit days, Gordon Smith, had signed me up to work with him on a project looking at reform of international financial institutions. He was chairing a two-day meeting in Ottawa, and I had arranged to go via London. The usual long flight via Singapore (and Frankfurt this time), arriving to find London showery but not too cold.
Thursday and Friday were spent seeing people in London, as well as catching up with Fi and Chris Hamley overnight. Then down to see my mother and Jane and Ian (sister and brother-in-law). Nice sunny weather over the weekend - not sure what all the fuss has been about J - so got out for some walks with their dogs and young sons.
On Sunday it was off to the airport again to fly to Ottawa. Much colder there: about minus 10 degrees C when I arrived - watched lots of people out skating on the canal as I took a taxi to the hotel. Off to the gym there for some hard cycling on an exercise bike - may not have been a good idea as I ended up much stiffer than before.
That evening was a chance to meet many of the others who had flown in for the meeting - from Peru, Singapore, Lebanon, Czech Republic, South Africa, India and elsewhere. Gordon's idea had been to bring together seven think-tanks from different continents as a way of providing a different and more inclusive input into the debate about globalisation and the international financial architecture, taking advantage of the fact that Canada currently chairs the G20 group of finance ministers and will chair the G7 next year.
The next two days were round-table meetings a short (but cold) walk from the hotel. I found it fascinating to get back into the subject - one I'd worked on a lot in the past but had somewhat lost touch with during my time as e-envoy. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the project, though pulling it together into something coherent and action-oriented is going to be the next challenge. Dinner on the Monday evening was with Paul Martin, the Canadian Finance Minister, as well as officials from the Foreign and Finance Ministries, all of whom seemed interested in what the group might be able to come up with.
On Wednesday I flew with Gordon to stay with him and his wife Lise in Victoria on Vancouver Island. A great spot - spectacular views across the water to snow-covered mountains in the distance. And Victoria has a laid-back outdoor feel that's not unlike Fremantle. There was an opportunity to walk their dog Mead (golden labrador) on the beach in the morning - it made me miss Holly!
Then the long flight back to Perth via Honolulu and Sydney, with my body-clock getting completely messed up. Katie met me at the airport with just enough time to rush off to the yacht club where she was sailing. Lots to do now that I'm back but it's taking time to get back into the swing of things.
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