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December 2012

And the year ends – not with a bang but in white. Just days off Christmas and with the world not ending – despite the dire predictions around the Mayan Calendar!

In my last blog I described visiting Rouyn Noranda (Quebec province, Canada) – then in the summer – and looking for a Moose.  The end of the year finds us back in RN visiting our daughter Jocie, her husband Pat and grandsons Alex and Beni – but with a very different landscape!  Everything is just white!  Snow is covering cars, houses, roads, lakes and trees – and is still falling.

This is very different for us – despite spending three Christmases in Holland and more in the UK.  A first white (snow) Christmas (although one winter in Holland was very frosty).  Having been born in North Queensland where we thought that a cold day was when the temperature went below 15 degrees C, some years spent in Papua New Guinea – and then of course many years in Toowoomba in Southern Queensland where our 4-6 frosts a year was considered a real challenge!

I remember years ago when we lived near Alatou in Papua New Guinea when once a month we could access a radio phone to actually talk with my parents in Australia and being amazed!  Then later – also in PNG, being in the highlands in Goroko and chatting to each my children in different parts of the world using MSN messenger on the internet.  Now Skype takes it all to new heights!  No matter where I am, I can keep in contact with friends, family and clients wherever I am in the world!  See Alex – our Grandson – off on the yellow bus in the morning in RN, and then on to the computer to check emails and write more of a report I am working on!  Such incredible flexibility!

This allows Ben, of course, to work full time for the business from Whistler near Vancouver also in Canada.  Just as well.  The demands for the evaluation management platform that he has developed is increasing all the time – and those of you using it are continually making suggestions as to how it can work even better for them – resulting in a dynamic process which is benefiting all of us.   This Canadian visit, we had a chance to visit him and his girlfriend Sim in the Canadian hub – and see Whistler in full flight.  Its quite a favourite place for working Aussies.  Amy – now working in London evaluating public relation campaigns – is coming over to RN with her husband for Christmas.  Canada is a real gathering place!

This year has seen an increase in demand for evaluation services.  I have been undertaking more work in New Zealand and increasing my dairy connections – now with Dairy Australia (as well as on-going connections with DairyNZ and the Consorcio Lechero in Chile).  There was even a quick visit to Vietnam for ACIAR to facilitate a workshop on Agribusiness projects. So life and work has been very interesting!

All of us from Coutts J&R wish you the best for Christmas and for 2013 and beyond!