Newsletter – Christmas 2013

Tim’s 75th birthday in August. Lisa arranged a weekend house-party without Tim suspecting it. He says it was “a lovely weekend celebration with family and friends. It included several surprise arrivals (our niece Sophie came from Paris and also our Dutch friends). Ten ParkinsonsThere were physical and mental challenges – a Treasure Hunt and an Adventure Trail, a lot of fun and good food”.

Sailing Success: Tim and Diana achieved a convincing win in the final race in the Yachting World Dayboat Championship in Torbay, in such strong winds that half the fleet stayed on land and only the youngsters started!

Birdwatching: we went on an exciting 2 week birdwatching trip to South East Brazil with Bird Holidays. Only 7 of us with an expert British guide and expert Brazilian ornithologist. We stayed in remote national parks with wonderful scenery in the Minas Gerais region, north-west of Rio de Janeiro. We saw 300 different species of birds from toucans to tiny humming-birds, and some mammals, including a 3-toed Sloth (asleep up a tree) and a Giant Anteater with a youngster that climbed on her back for a ride.

Croatian cruise: an idyllic week on a small ship gliding down the Croatian coast from Zadar to Dubrovnik, visiting Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the island of Korçula, catching an organ recital in the cathedral.Lisa on boat leaving Sibenik We lounged on deck in beautiful weather and transferred to traditional river boats to explore dramatic river gorges.

Kazakhstan: Lisa was invited to give 3 days of training in family mediation in Almaty, 100 km from the Chinese border The participants (over 30 in the group) were lovely. Some came from Kirghistan but they all spoke Russian and there was translation to and from Russian. Kazakhstan is as big as western Europe. It was extremely hot – outside temperature nearly 40 C. On her free day Lisa was taken by her colleague’s husband in 3 successive cable cars up to 2830m in the in the Tienshan Mountains that tower over Almaty, almost to glacier level.Mountains in Kazakstan - Lisa's photo from her trip in August Lisa has also had work trips this year to Copenhagen, Geneva and Italy – Milan, Rome, Florence, San Benedetto in Le Marche and south-east Sicily. Understanding Italian is reasonably OK, speaking is harder ….

Publications: Fifty years after Tim’s Cambridge Expedition to Russia and the Middle East, a fascinating account of the expedition, illustrated with maps and both colour and black and white photographs, was published in January – “The Kombi Trail”, by Robert Cox et al. On the day of publication, expedition members + partners enjoyed a private tour of both Houses of Parliament (one of the expedition members being a Lord) followed by a reunion lunch with reminiscences and then a book launch at Daunts Bookshop in Marylebone.

A 2nd edition of Lisa’s family mediation book has been published in Italian. Next year a 2nd edition is due to be published in Russian and 1st edition in Brazilian Portuguese!

Diana and her work partner have completed a number of very interesting evaluation projects this year, including an evaluation for the Ministry of Justice of a mentoring programme and trips to Albania and Lithuania to evaluate a programme to increase girls’ awareness of the risks of sex trafficking. They have recently won a contract to evaluate support services In the Coroner’s Court. Diana is greatly enjoying doing an M.Sc (one day a week for 2 years, with written assignments) in evaluative research methodology.

Jean-Marie (Diana’s husband)’s jazz group, Man Overboard, was invited to record their 1st CD. It’s called ‘All Hands on Deck’ and proved such a hit that they have already been asked to record another. They have played on the radio at least 4 times (BBC 3 music channel – 4:30 pm GMT programme In Tune on Friday 20th December) and at a number of concerts and at the Lord Mayor of London’s Charity Gala Dinner. Next year they have been invited to open the Arundel Festival. The band features jazz numbers from the 1930s and is very listen able!

Louis is now 22! He graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2.1 in pharmacology and after winning the British Universities Indoor Climbing Championship (Bouldering), he has been selected for the British team.

Ella is enjoying her 2nd year at Manchester, reading anthropology and sharing a house with friends. She got a 1st in her first year exams and says she doesn’t miss ballet at all.

Jonathan works for the International Water Association based in The Hague. He travels a great deal for consultancy and conferences – mainly Africa and Asia. Has run half marathons in aid of Water Aid.

Luiza, Jonathan’s wife, has been promoted to a Senior Lecturership in civil and environmental engineering at University College, London. She is also travelling more for conferences and research.

Lucas (nearly 10) and Anita (8) are both enjoying school and other activities. Lucas is learning to play the saxophone and Anita is very keen on the piano. She was a polar bear in a recent event at her school!

The year has brought great sadnesses, as well as much to treasure and celebrate. Our dear friend, Richard Shaw, died from a brain tumour after a short illness. He was Diana’s godfather. Another dear friend, Elspeth Malcolm in Scotland, died suddenly from a severe stroke. We have lost other friends as well, and a considerable number are widows or widowers or looking after a very frail and dependent partner. All this makes us extremely conscious of how precious our family and friends are to us, how fortunate we are to have them and – so far – to be active and in good health. So we are doing as much as possible while we still can.

Tim does a lot of work for our local community and for the national charity, Practical Action. He has helped to get a community garden started in a derelict kitchen garden in our local park. Lisa is Vice President of the Family Mediators Association, which she co-founded in 1988 with five London lawyers, and a member of the Family Justice Council Dispute Resolution Sub-committee.

We hope all this has not left you feeling either thoroughly bored or totally exhausted, or both!

If you would like to see a few photos of some of the highlights we’ve mentioned, click on this link

(To see slide show with captions use the menu under the pulldown on the right of the page)

However, you can skip all our news as by far the most important purpose of this letter is to bring you our very, very best wishes for a peaceful new year, with good health and lavish helpings of unexpected, as well as expected, pleasures.

With love from

Tim and Lisa

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