Happy Birthday Jesus!

Happy Birthday Jesus

And a very happy Christmas and New Year to you, my family and friends!

2013 has been an amazing year! To begin with I moved to Guatemala on 1st January and have been living there since that time. It was not a particularly difficult transition nonetheless I gradually found I missed London and Turin, Italy, where I had been spending much of my time since leaving Australia in August 2012.

004464a St Paul's Cathedral, London, EnglandSt Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

005972a The Gran Madre di Dio Church, Turin, Italy

The Gran Madre di Dio Church, Turin, Italy

Of course, that is not to mention how much I missed family and friends in Australia! I have not missed Western Sydney’s summer heat with record temperatures last year and again this year, but I often long for my old stamping grounds and, I still call Australia home, as the famous song says. It is in my blood, it is in my heart and mind; it is part of me and I part of it. I am glad and proud to be an Australian, especially as I meet with people of so many other cultures, languages and nations and relate the joys and benefits of our great homeland when asked me what life is like in Australia. I feel I have received a true gift to have been born and raised in a land of freedom, openness, tolerance and acceptance. It has few equals among all the nations of Earth.

Australian Flag

As many of you would know, if you have been reading my blogs these past seventeen months, I met an incredible woman from Tennessee, USA, as I was walking across Scotland. Following her return to the United States and mine to London after the walk, we continued to communicate by email, and then decided to meet up in Guatemala, where she was going to Spanish school for a couple of months. We spent a month together in Guatemala then she went back to the States and I returned to Turin and made my journey through Western Europe exploring locations for my book. Later I invited Joan to come with me on the Middle Eastern leg of the research.

008229a Joan with Volcan de Agua in the background, Antigua, GuatemalaJoan with Vulcan de Agua [Volcano of Water], Antigua, Guatemala

Meeting up a month later we set up a semi-permanent home in Antigua; Joan and I married in June this year and have come to feel quite comfortable living in Guatemala despite the language and cultural differences. In fact most of the time the differences have been challenging and exciting, and experiencing another culture quite different from my own, up close and personal, has been intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, inspiring and uplifting.

012253 Mayan Dancer in Jaguar Mask, San Cristobal, MexicoMayan Dancer in Jaguar Mask, San Cristobal, Mexico

This year we have made a number of trips to other countries. Mexico we visited together over the Easter period; Joan visited El Salvador with the children’s charity at which she volunteers her time, and we have made two visits to the USA. These have been firsts for both of us except for Mexico which Joan had visited previously. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can learn from others who are different to yourself if you are prepared to accept that difference and see it as something wonderful and beautiful and instructive.

P1001096 Kitchen and Dining Room od home in El SalvadorKitchen and Dining Room of home in El Salvador – the life of the rural poor

P1010691 Barry & Joan in San Isabel National Forest, Colorado, USAAt San Isabel National Forest, Colorado, USA

With respect to the historical novel I have been devoting most of my time to, I can report making good progress. I have a projected length of around eighty thousand words, at this stage around fifty-two thousand words have made an appearance on the page, so as you can see, much has been achieved but there is still considerable work to do. If you have read my last blog entry you will know of some of the difficulties I have encountered, healthwise, timewise and with accommodation and Internet access. They have put me behind my idealised and hopeful schedule of having the book complete and ready for publication by the end of this year. Realistically, after having spent this year writing full-time, I feel it may well take me until this time next year to have the work completed to my satisfaction and the book published. In giving myself the extra year I believe I have allowed plenty of time to deal with possible ‘hiccups’; if all goes well the time may be considerably less, but already the calendar for the first half of next year is looking very full…

As I mentioned above Joan and I made two trips to the US this year. Currently we are in the midst of the second visit. This one for the Christmas and New Year season is much more low-key than the first, essentially spending time seeing family and friends. We have managed to get in a little of hiking in the Tennessee woods, which have been cold but beautiful, and hope to do more before returning to the tropics. Fortunately the worst of the winter ice and snow storms missed the southern US states but regrettably not the northern states which have been struck hard in some places.

The following photos were taken along the Fiery Gizzard Trail, part of the South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee, USA

018026 Ruth, Linda & Joan - my Angels from the Scotland walk, ready for a hike Tennessee, USA018035018114018149018158

2014 is shaping up to be another exciting year, with many visitors coming to Guatemala, further trips abroad, to the USA, a ten day hike through southern England, and an expected return to Australia. My first priority however is something I’m very excited about – the completion of this first novel. The end is in sight and that adds a great deal of impetus to successfully completing the work and having it published. As always I will keep everyone informed of my progress through this blog.

Again, a happy Christmas to all! And may the Lord of Christmas pour out his blessings upon you as you open yourself to his love and forgiveness. He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.

Apart from ‘Happy Birthday’, the image of the Australian flag and the Nativity Scene, all found on Google images, the photos included in this blog post were taken throughout the past seventeen months by me or Joan.


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, and everyone went to their family hometown to register.

So it was that Joseph, and Mary who was expecting a child, went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the town of David, to register, because Joseph belonged to the family line of King David. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son, in a stable, because there was no accommodation available in the town. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.

Nativity Scene

This was how the true light that gives light to every person came into the world… and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him for who he was. He came to his own people, but they would not receive him.

But to everyone who does receive him, to each person who believes in him, he gives the right to become children of God, born not in a natural way…. but born spiritually of God.