Anita, just 7, is bright, sociable, sensitive to other people and highly organised – will make a good senior Exec one day, meanwhile enjoys school and joining in everything that’s going on.
Lucas, 9 in February, also enjoys school, is very good at maths, keen on football and going to Cubs, thinks the “How To Train Your Dragon” series by Cressida Cowell is hilarious (which it is). He is thoughtful and comes out with unexpected questions such as “What made you interested in birds, Granny?”.
Ella, 19, did really well in her A levels (A* in English literature and Bs in History of Art – which she took in a year – and French) despite having been at full-time ballet school up to age 14, where academic teaching was not great. She is now in her 1st year at Manchester University studying social anthropology. Has recently started going to ballet classes again, just for fun.
Louis (21) signs himself “your now fully-matured grandson!”. He is in his 3rd year at Leeds University, studying pharmacology, and has decided to train as a chemistry teacher after he graduates. He is already doing some teaching practice which is going well as he works very well with young people and has infectious enthusiasm and humour. Also in the university climbing team (“bouldering”, not rock climbing). Had a finger injury and acute appendicitis this summer and made a good recovery from both.
Diana and her work partner have had very interesting assignments this year including an evaluation for the Ministry of Justice of a mentoring scheme for offenders leaving prison and evaluating a project to increase awareness of trafficking among young women in Albania. Chair of Trustees of the charity she set up called Birth Companions (providing support for pregnant women prisoners and new mothers during and after their detention). Enjoys singing in two choirs.
Jean-Marie gave up work for a while this year to concentrate on music. He plays jazz guitar and his group has a CD coming out early next year! See www.manoverboardswing.co.uk. They’ve also just been asked to record a sound track for a BBC series called “Being Human.”
Jonathan works for the International Water Association based in The Hague and goes there every six weeks or so. Often works from home and travels a great deal for conferences and consultancy on urban sanitation in developing countries. Has recently been to Korea, Mozambique, South Africa and India.
Luiza lectures in the engineering faculty at London University (UCL), supervises Ph.D students and works on research projects. She gave presentations this year in Korea, Mozambique and South Africa (not at the same time as Jonathan) and also USA.
Lisa has had another busy year teaching, travelling, writing and mediating. Invited to conferences and workshops in Finland and France, Geneva, Glasgow and Italy but not yet to Haiti, Honolulu or Hatfield! Next year’s itinerary includes Denmark, Milan, Lisbon, Florence again and Scotland twice. In October she organised a weekend on Mediation, Science and the Arts in the spectacular setting of Ilam Hall in the Peak District, with the help of splendid colleagues at The Mediation Centre in Stafford. Tremendous fun, very inspiring with participants from 10 countries (invitation only!) kicked off with a brilliant and very funny presentation on “Making connections between neuroscience and mediation” by a consultant neurologist who is a cousin of Lisa’s. On the Saturday evening the Stafford contingent entertained us with highly original scenes from “King Lear” and “Cinderella” and wonderful singing and playing. The 2nd edition of Lisa’s family mediation book was published last year. 2nd editions in Italian and Portuguese are due out next year.
Tim does a great deal of work in the community being treasurer of the Village Hall and the Community council and chair of Practical Action’s Bristol support group. He maintains a number of web sites and continues to enjoy maintaining, sailing and racing his 14′ traditional clinker dinghy. He has been very blessed in that for twenty years Diana has sailed with him in the week long class national championships almost every year. A book of the major expedition in which he participated with Cambridge colleagues in 1961 to Russia and the Middle East is being published in January. Tim’s presentation at the mediation weekend on resilience in structures was also a great success and was linked with one by Lisa on psychological resilience..
A marvellous trip to Panama in February. We visited The Canal and travelled to many different regions as it’s such a small country that one can easily get from the Pacific to the Caribbean on the same day. We saw fascinating animals including 2-toed sloths, Tamarin monkeys, White-faced Capuchin and a Tamandua! And, incredibly, 384 different species of birds including magical views of the Resplendent Quetzal and 20 different kinds of humming-bird. One was feeding tiny humming-bird chicks in the nest!
May: a long weekend in North Oxfordshire with friends, visiting gardens and National Trust properties and the Rollright Stones, where the Eldern Witch turned the Whispering Knights to stone. Tim and his friend, Richard Irons, finally completed the 178 mile Offa’s Dyke walk by completing the Hay-on-Wye to Chepstow stretch. It did take them four years but they walked every foot of the way!
June: a week in Tuscany with ADG (Alternative Travel Group) staying in their idyllic Pieve a Castello and visiting Sienna, Volterra, San Gimigniano and beautiful off-the beaten-track Romanesque monasteries and churches. A concert in the chapel at Pieve on our final evening treated us to a full-figured and feisty Italian soprano singing “Gretchen am Spinnrade” at top volume in German – or Germitalian!
August: Tim and Diana had a great time sailing together at Fishguard in Pembrokeshire in August in the National Dayboat Championships. Diana won the Ladies’ Race and they both came home with trophies.
September: some lovely days at Moydans, the country home of Marie-Joyce, our sister-in-law, in the unspoilt country between northern Provence and the Pre-Alps, followed by a weekend in the Vercors to celebrate her 70th birthday with 18 French members of the family – our nephews and nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces.
“La vie culturelle!”
Highlights included the York Early Music Festival in July with our friends Dorothy Nott from York and Anne and Peter Hayman from Glasgow. “Too Hot to Handel” with the Armonico Consort and the 1st concert in a cycle of the complete Beethoven quartets with the Elias Quartet. Lisa and Diana went to a glorious performance of “Swan Lake” at Covent Garden with Alina Cojocaru and her partner (in real life as well) Johann Koborg. The “Bronze” exhibition at the Royal Academy and exhibitions at the Ashmolean in Oxford- Edward Lear paintings and drawings and a stunning exhibition of Japanese textiles – cranes dancing among white wisteria. Visits to theatre and cinema have been thin on the ground this year as so much else has been going on.
We’ve enjoyed “Red Dust Road” by Jackie Kay, “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” by Jeanette Winterson, “Garden in the Clouds” by Antony Woodward, “At Home” by Bill Bryson (fascinating social history and much else), “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery, “The Secret Life of Bletchley Park” by Sinclair McKay, “In Defence of Wonder and other philosophical reflections” by Raymond Tallis, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “Through the Looking-Glass – why the world looks different in other languages”. Please tell us your recommendations.
We haven’t included worried and worrying reflections on 1) climate change 2) Syria, Egypt and the Middle East generally 3) many regions of Africa 4) the economy and welfare cuts 5) what’s happening to the NHS 6) what’s happening to the education system 7) Tory party policies 8) Scottish independence and rather a lot of other things – because this is a Christmas letter and it brings you our very best wishes for a happy and peaceful Christmas and good health, good company and interesting activities in the coming year.