Dearest Maura,

What a treat to get your personalised email!

All I can offer you is this personalised webpage and here is Mr Marshall trying to work out an oud.  How fabulous that you get to send him videos and get them back.  I've got plenty of recordings of him from various projects over the years.  I grew up listening to David Grisman and I just enjoyed watching a video of a much older Grisman playing with MIke a few years ago - I think at the mandolin symposium or maybe a promo for same.

So, Brisbane is working out pretty well.  I teach one day a week at a Girls' School which is providing quite a few different opportunities apart from the teaching and playing in the BigBand. Next week we do a concert where I play electric guitar with one group, electric bass with another and mandolin in another.  Then in a couple of months I'm doing a piece for oud and string ensemble, plus a trio sonata with violin, cello and me on theorbo.

I'm also at Churchie, a boys' school. That's good but not so many other opportunities.

And I've been playing with lots of different people, like the 25-piece street band, and a Baroque chamber orchestra, and a new group playing original avant-garde jazz compositions, and another one starting tomorrow playing Brazilian jazz with a real live Brazilian guitarist/singer, and another one called Balkan Bop that plays high-energy Balkan funk.  And my ukulele group in NZ has just had another video edited.  HERE

The boys are doing well.  Jack's loving high-school. I worry a bit that it's so full-on and homework and no time to be 11, but he seems to love it and has made yet another circle of friends after just being at his previous school for one final year of primary school after we arrived here, just like you talk about in relation to Xave.  Gus is doing fine in a very different way.  We've managed to avoid Naplan until this year, but both of them got hit this year.  All fine, but it causes a lot of stress for schools, teachers, students and families - or at least has the potential to.

And tomorrow is a holiday for the equivalent of the Adelaide Show, the Ekka as it's known.  So the boys are off school,  We're having a bush walk and a picnic with some other families, and it's my birthday (thanks for the wishes) and Pilates at 6.30am. So, I think I'm off to bed.