We have been having a marvellous time in Leeton, catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Our trip south from Brisbane was broken up so it didn’t seem as long. Our first stop was at New Italy before we continued to Grafton, surprising David’s father Hugh who cooked us a lovely breakfast.

Hugh, Brioni & Aïcha, December 06
We stopped by Grafton and introduced Brioni to David's father Woodo.

Wetting our feet in a creek
Aïcha enjoyed splashing in a creek behind Grafton.

After meandering the back way via some beautiful creeks, we stopped at Armidale for lunch. It was very, very hot in Armidale, but by the time we had gotten back into the car to keep driving, the weather had changed, bringing freezing temperatures and a hailstorm!

Armidale, 21 December 06
After suffering horrible heat, we met a terrific hailstorm in Armidale!

We arrived in Tamworth soon after, where Carla and her family welcomed us. Stephanie was also staying with the Croakers, so we got to catch up with her. We spent the next day in Tamworth, hitting the road about 7pm.

Brioni and Elora, December 06
Brioni and Elora were both early risers.

Tamworth, December 06
Breakfast in the Croaker household.

Flynn Croaker, December 06
Flynn puts his red hat on, picks up his guitar and strums it while singing 'Jingle Bells'. Very cute.

Manou with Brioni & Aïcha, December 06
After just a couple hours with Manou, Aïcha warmed up to her and loved to play with her.

We stopped for dinner in Coonabarabran, where the service in the hotel was very slow, so it was several hours before we could drive again. David drove through the night, and we arrived in Leeton very early in the morning.

Barry & Trish Tiffen let us crash out at their place, even looking after Aicha so we could keep dozing.

Sunset over the Riverina, December 06
It was very peaceful at the Tiffens' farm, aptly named 'Slow Downs'.

At Tiffens', Leeton, December 06
Trish Tiffen has created a beautiful garden oasis around her house.

After a reinvigorating shower, we drove into town to meet the Hesters. David worked for Phillip “Phid” Hester when we were last down here. However, as the Hesters had been part of the Exclusive Brethren, we didn’t socialise with them.

A couple years ago, Rachel & Phid left the Brethren and were born again! When we arrived at their home, they welcomed us very warmly.

Christmas dinner at the Hesters, 2006
Rachel cooked the traditional pork roast for Christmas lunch. Clockwise around the table from David is Rachel, Phid, Vicki, Crystal, Joel, Toby and Aïcha.

Phid and Rachel Hester, December 06
Phid and Rachel Hester, December 06

We have so far spent our time at both the Tiffens’ and the Hesters’ houses. We’ve caught up with former pastor Gavin McDowell at whose house David and I actually met. We also cooked a meal for Tiffens, Hesters and Sgrois (who were the AoG pastors ten years ago).

Catching up with the McDowells, December 06
It was fun meeting up with the McDowells. Here's Karen, Gavin (with Caleb) and Hannah (on David's lap).

Friends at Leeton, December 06
Lauren talked with Karen about homeschooling options while Hannah and Aïcha played on the swing.

It has been a wonderfully relaxing time, and David and I are wondering whether we should/could move back down here. We are overwhelmed by the community spirit here, and even though we’ve been away almost ten years, we’ve been welcomed back very warmly.