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Published: March 17th 2011
Throughout our recent travels, which have now stretched into a seventh month, we have kept ourselves aware of world events, especially the numerous “natural” disasters, via the internet or the TV. We have been close to some of them. We were in Queensland when the tropical rains began about a month earlier than expected causing widespread flooding and we had been through Toowoomba where there was such devastation and loss of life in the Lockyer Valley and beyond. We were stunned by the extent of the disaster and felt lucky that our only inconvenience was the occasional change of route because of closed roads. Of course, the problems were compounded by Cyclone Yasi which added further misery to those who had already suffered in Queensland.
Similarly, during our time in Victoria before and after Christmas, severe weather caused widespread havoc and, again, our route had to be altered to avoid areas like the Grampians which were virtually cut off. We later heard of bush fires in Western Australia where many houses were destroyed and our sympathies were once again with those who had lost everything.
Imagine our dismay also when, on the day before our departure to North Island
New Zealand, we became aware of the earthquake which caused so much damage and loss of life in and around Christchurch. We could so easily have chosen South Island for our brief trip to New Zealand and felt blessed that, once again, we had avoided yet another catastrophe.
But all this pales into insignificance when compared to the disasters currently affecting Japan. We feared for the parents of our dear friend Noriko whose wedding to Steve we attended a few years ago. Graham was chosen as an official witness during that splendid ceremony. We spent time with Nori’s delightful parents and are aware that they live in an area of Japan severely affected by the earthquake and tsunami. We expressed our concern to Steve and Noriko and were delighted to hear that Noriko’s parents and brother survived the ordeal. Sadly, some of Noriko’s cousins, distant relatives and family friends have not yet been accounted for so they may not be so lucky. On the very morning of the earthquake Steve was talking to Nori’s parents passing on the splendid news that Nori had just given birth to a bouncing baby boy – Oscar Takeru Charlwood, a brother for James.
At the same time, Graham’s friend from his brief time at Millfield School, Kayuri, and her daughter, Kayuki, live in Tokyo where Graham was lucky enough to spend a week with them some years ago. Tokyo was relatively un-harmed but the aftermath involving nuclear fall-out is now a grave cause for concern. We sincerely hope that they will be un-affected by all that is happening in their part of the world and hope we will hear some good news soon.
The upshot of all this is that, given what can and does happen throughout the world, good old UK has a lot going for it. Yes, there are political issues, yes, there are immigration issues, yes, there are financial stability issues but, in terms of natural disasters, it is a great place to be and we look forward to our eventual return to such a relatively safe haven.
Being so far away from the people we love makes us feel a bit isolated at times and, perhaps, a bit guilty because of the wonderful lifestyle we have at the moment. The recent disasters bring home to us what suffering some people have to endure just because of where they live. We don’t know what to say for the best but we just wished to express our sorrow for the sadness and distress which exists throughout the world and our sympathy to those who have suffered so desperately.
Fondest love and best wishes to you all.
Jan and Graham
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